So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog

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Horse Safety


Isaiah 7, v 4, ‘Be careful,keep calm, and don’t be afraid’.

This short sentence leapt out of the page to me when I was about to begin my first job teaching riding here in the Lungau.  Each time I set out on a ride, I would check everything, didn’t rush (as I am prone), was carefull and calm but happy.   Result, in the entire summer I never had one child fall off, and didn’t myself, we had fun in every lesson and I think the horses responded to my quietness in being completely trustworthy.  When I moved on to another stables, this verse didn’t come to me naturally, my nerves after 14 months were on the rise, and it led to me leaving.  I had the occasional kid tumble, but no major accidents. Was I moving out of God’s will or just getting above myself.  I don’t know, but this verse helped me so much!

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Riding Festival at Tweng


One of the things I’ve done in the past few months, is lay down again, working with horses.  I have tried so hard here with it but there are no further possibilities.  I need to be open to the new direction from God.  So my gabber was a bit flasted when I got a job offer from the AMS for a temporary post at Tweng, which is a Norriker stud and holiday stables.


Pony playing dead in rehersal

The job nagged at me, and when  I was reading ‘Wish for a pony‘ (see book blog,  and was so happy at end, suddenly the idea of being a riding teacher filled me with  joy. How it is the only thing I’ve done well, it made me think, I’ll go to the Hoffest with Edith and just check it all out.   The joy didn’t last, was it God’s truth coming through or just emotion? I’d be such a hypocrite to suddenly return to horses.


When I arrived at Edith’s  The german couple were there who I’d taught last year  were there, it was so good to see them again.  They said that when they rode again after their trip, their riding teacher was completely amazed at how much they had improved.  My first real big compliment!  So I should have been filled up with joy and a release of expectation when we arrived at the stables, but I didn’t, and I still don’t quite understand my reactions.  I didn’t feel, oh yes, I can do this.  Admittedly when I saw the mares I thought yup, they aren’t as big as I imagined, but the yard didn’t feel right, in fact at most I wanted to cry and run away.  I very nearly rang D and got him to collect me.  Then some woman doing a demonstration was riding a lovely flea bitten, I think Andalusian stallion, and she was nagnagnagnagnag with the spurs.  She had a face like a stone. The horse jumped a little at a cloth on the floor, did she let him look? No nag, smack till he darn well went round.  Does this show where my real passion lies under the surface?  She later came in with a huge frock on, with the horse just with a neck band and did loads of stuff acting some silly sort of Princess story.  Maybe I had to eat me words, but Edith pointed out, we couldn’t see what she was wearing underneath and she probably had the spurs on. In contrast, a local girl came in and rode one of the stud stallions in dressage. I don’t really think Norrikers are built for dressage, but she had a good crack at it and he was doing really well, HER spurs rarely moved.    Later a friend said she had hard hands, but I was so engrossed in her feet I missed it! This all left me sad and not really wanting to be there. Edith did some asking and from what she heard, I’m not qualified enough for the job, phew.  I still didn’t want to identify myself there!


But this silly show, with some woman with a miniature pony doing tricks, and someone pretending to be Pippi Longstocking – she completely failed in what she was trying to do ie play with a ball and do some tricks, oh dear, she didn’t have any spurs!  It was more a case you could see that the horse wasn’t settled or listening to her and deep down I thinks she was nervous of him. They were all commenting on my expression, I hate horses being used as a circus. The stallion dressage had a point as he has to be demonstrated for stud and what better way to advertise ?

At last we left, much to my relief. I just have to tell the AMS I’m not taking the job. And as I put the pictures in this blog, I realised how they reflect my dislike, hardly any of them and no good!

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Ice Polo A Quechua at Turracher Höhe


Austria thrashing the Germans, but they lost the final 3-4 on shoot out penalites to France

I casually said to Dave that I fancied seeing the Ice Polo at Turrracherhöhe, so we went with me having kittens about the drive up the snowy hills, but the roads were clear.  I was of course entranced by the horses, and took nearly 200 photos, only one of which I feel was above standard.  I had to decide whether to photo or watch as it was so fast-moving.


Walking around, I was talking to a tied horse and the rider came over and me being a big mouth I was asking about the shoeing. Even more than the Icelandics,the shoes have  rubber in-sole and six enormous studs, probably more grip than on the grass, she said they were very expensive. Then she asked me to hold the horse, talk about a childhood dream, I was so chuffed, as a kid it was always a hope to be asked to help at an event! Later on a horse tethered to one of these crowd barriers was scared by a loose poster and pulled back.  Of course I leapt to help again, much to Dave’s embarrassment.  The horse was quickly dealt with, but I was appalled at the lack of even a safety knot or slip link on the headcollar, the horse probably had a sore poll afterwards.  So I got to looking at the horses and concluded they were very quiet and switched off. You couldn’t reach them, or maybe they have this all the time from the public.  But the bits, from a standard double to gags, to the one in the photo, looked a bit brutal. Along with the martingales that were worn, I couldn’t hep feeling these horses were strung up like a bunch of onions. They seemed to come alive when ridden but outside were all like zombies.


I know nothing about training them, but couldn’t help feeling that this training may be stuck in the past, of hardness, with almost a breaking of the horse’s spirit.   I hope I’m wrong.  I’d love to see what Monty Roberts or Pat Parelli could do with such a horse.  I would like to feel that you could play as good a game in a snaffle if you trained the horse with sympathy. Then most of the riders while amateur/Professionals, I wondered how many, if any are horsemen  rather than sportsman?  Obviously a lot of cash is thrown at the sport, but……


Yet, I did enjoy watching, it was thrilling, there was a certain amount of showmanship especially from the Swiss team, and we had great fun cheering the Austrian team.  I will go again to see the sand Polo in the summer.  Now if the snow didn’t pull tendons, I bet this does……


Weekly Photo Challenge;Growth

It would just have taken too long to choose from my garden piccies, so here’s a horse or two, also close to my heart.  When I left my dream job teaching riding, the mares were sold, this is one of them in her new home and with her foal. Quite a backdrop too!Foals are often timed to be born in the winter here, where they are fed and looked after in the stables, then are big enough to go up on the Alms in the summer. Seems daft to me, all that extra feeding, when a summer foal gets the benefit of all that wonderful grass!

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Horses and Salzburg – the Fiakers


One of the attractions of visiting Salzburg is having a coach ride around the town, with a pair of Haflingers or thoroughbreds.  The first time I saw them I was horrified by the big nails in the back of the shoes (not studs) but when you see the cobbles they go over, maybe they are needed, but still it puts a lot of weight on the toes.  I’ve seen the coaches lined up in the rain with the horses all wearing Gortex rugs, so I guess they are regulated and cared for. I like it too that many don’t wear blinkers, which I’ve long thought stupid as the horse must be near blinded, only seeing a little bit in front.

However, there was this article about a Norriker stallion who was so aggravated by flies that he kicked the traces and galloped home across the city, causing damage to cars and scaring folks.   There’s  been a resultant conversation about having the horses etc, etc.  However, no one has asked why use a stallion?  In my books, its part of the package that they react and act differently than a mare or a gelding, and I think only an idiot would use a stallion for such work.

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Birds – Swallows passing through

Had real trouble getting this in focus, I suppose I really ought to put the glasses on!

We’ve just enjoyed another Bank Holiday and have Whitsun to come. Such a shame I was lame with my bad foot, we could have had a walk in the mountains, still it’s getting better.  Yet if we had, I’d have missed these Swallows passing through.  They really did look  a bit tired and manky.

It reminded me of when I worked at  the Fortune Centre of Riding therapy – maybe these guys were on their way there.  They would nest in the stables and you’d have to duck as the feeding parents would hurtle in and out through the stable doors.  I even got a disruptive student interested in counting the nests and babies.  Once the fledglings were out, they would rest on the lights in the stables, waiting to be fed, we would then have several weeks of the horses having white spotted backs.  Quiet early evenings would have the yard filled with swooping birds and then with regret we’d watch them sitting on the electricity lines to fly home in the autumn.

However, my most enduring memory is of one early summer morning when I rode my horse Monty out and across onto what in the New Forest is called a green – an open area of grass, free from other vegetation.  As we cantered, the Swallows came and flew around and through Monty’s legs, catching the insects as they rose.  Monty of course took absolutely not notice, it was wonderful!