Tuesday, 27 May 2008

More on Youtube

...I've posted some more footage, this time of Felix and Dexter out and about, at http://www.youtube.com/user/NicBarkerRockleyFarm

...enjoy :-)

On a sunny day...

...ie not yesterday...I grabbed some shots of Dex mooching along a stony track :-)

Mark Johnson came down at the weekend with his highly sophisticated camcorder to film the horses. He can take very high rsolution footage of hooves in motion, which we can then slow down to look at frame by frame. It gives an amazingly clear picture of how the hoof is landing, loading and breaking over - fascinating stuff.

One of the interesting ways of using it is as a way of assessing improving hoof health over time, so with horses like Bill and Dex, it will be great to film them again in a few months and assess how the strength of their hoof structures may have changed.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Back to winter?!?!

After a lovely day on Saturday, with sunshine and blue skies, today has been absolutely wild - howling gales and its been lashing with rain all day (I think they are saying a couple of inches!) and totally miserable. We have exercised, and the horses all thought we were mad to be going out, and went under protest.

They were all good, despite the storms, and I was particularly impressed with Lucy, who has the least experience but behaved outstandingly in appalling conditions - what a sweetheart she is turning out to be.

Conto has had a bit of time off, as he was kicked by another horse and was quite sore at the end of April, but he went out today and seemed thrilled to be back at work.

No doubt once the bank holiday is well and truly over the weather will improve again (!)...Roll on tomorrow...

Friday, 23 May 2008

Another week zooming by....

Thought I had blogged yesterday, and it turns out it was 5 days ago...! Meanwhile, down on the farm...

...we have been liming fields and burning the huge twiggy piles left over after hedging, as the grass has now started growing at a tremendous rate (eventually) and its time to start aiming off for cutting haylage...

...we have builders in, finally knocking the house about more than 4 years after we moved in - and we have said a fond (!) farewell to the 1970s mementoes that were in the house when we arrived...the dark blue nylon carpet, the burgundy curry-house-brocade wallpaper, the anaglypta and, who could forget, the lime green shagpile carpet that graced our bedroom...so for now its dust everywhere, but no pain without gain :-)

...Jack has started jumping little baby jumps when he is out hacking with Andy - bless him, he is not sure they are worth noticing but is making the effort anyway ;-)

...Felix and Dexter spent this morning going XC - they are terribly cocky, and far worse together (!). We are taking a posse to the Exmoor Foxhounds Hunter Trial next week and Kelly and I are wondering whether to risk taking them in the pairs, but not sure if their heads would just get way too big...!

Monday, 19 May 2008


...there are now 3 clips at http://www.youtube.com/user/NicBarkerRockleyFarm
for your delectation (!)...2 of Dexter in action, and one of Jack, which is up really just to show what a lovely boy he has turned out to be :-)

Sarah's headcam is great for taking clips when you are out and about, and I will definitely be putting more up as we get more rock-crunching barefoot footage!

Saturday, 17 May 2008


Clip of Dexter jumping barefoot


I have found the camera cable, which Andy had tidied into oblivion in the back bedroom...Yippee!

There is a clip of Kelly and Dex abov, via Youtube, to be going on with :-) and I will post photos of Andy and Bailey later on...

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Kudos to Dexter :-)

Yesterday was a day of reckoning for us and Dexter, as his vet came up to check him over, and brought Dex's farriers with him as well.

I was so impressed that they made the effort, as it is a good 3 hour round trip from the practice up to the wilds of Exmoor, they are obviously busy people, and its not something that you can just squeeze into a spare 5 minutes.

Dexter was an angel and seemed to enjoy being the centre of attention (although Felix and Ghost both made a praiseworthy attmpt to muscle in on the action).

He was lunged on a fairly tight circle in the gravel yard, to replicate as closely as possible the last time they saw him back in December, and it was great to hear them confirm that he is hugely improved. Of course, his hooves are still a work in progress - he still has about an inch of old hoof capsule to grow out, and more importantly his digital cushion and lateral cartilages are still not as good as they will be eventually, but he was moving well and only showing up a slight shortness on his left front going down the slope on the circle, which we were all pleased with.

Kelly and Dex went off for a ride while we were doing what hoof anoraks do (ie talking feet for 3 hours!) and it was another gold star to Dex, whose behaviour was perfect even when Kelly had to keep leaping on and off to do gates. Not bad for a horse who used to be so fidgety that she was saying it used to take her up to 20 minutes to get on him, and once on there was no way she could get off.

Dex was clearly a favourite with the visiting team, and we all agreed what a fantastic little horse he is. So all in all...

- kudos to Jeremy, Gary and Tim for trekking all the way up here to find out more about the lunatic fringe :-)

- kudos to Kelly and Yvonne, for having the guts to try this crazy barefoot thing, and for being so enthusiastic about it, and biggest of all...

- kudos to Dex for growing his fab new hooves and being such a lovely boy :-)

Monday, 12 May 2008

Oh the frustration!!

Perfect weather, and an exciting new headcam-type thingie to try out, courtesy of Sarah B...
So off go Kelly and Dexter, and me and Felix, for a lovely gallop around on Monday evening.

I am chuffed to bits with the headcam, and gt some great shots of Kelly and Dex zipping up the fields, and of us intrepidly going down steep hills and up through the woods...

...only problem is, I can't get the footage OFF my camera, 'cos I think I have left the connection lead with Sarah...DOH!!!!! So annoying.

Even worse, Andy and Bailey went jumping at a hunter trial at Winkleigh on Saturday, and I have a couple of lovely pics of them, and I can't get those off either... :-( Sorry folks, I will have to try and get another lead, or else the pics will have to wait till Sarah can send it down to me...

Friday, 9 May 2008

Forward planning

We've had a week now to draw breath after the end of the hunting season, and its time to start planning what the horses will be doing over the summer :-)

Unfortunately we missed several hunter trials and team chases in April, but there are a few more scheduled in May and June, including the Exmoor Foxhounds very own hunter trial, on 30th May, which we will be going to in force! After that there are lots of one day events, but before doing any of those we will all need to brush up on our dressage and SJ (!).

This weekend there are the Golden Horseshoe endurance rides, and for the last few years we have always entered the pleasure rides (and had the fastest times!) but this year we haven't got ourselves booked on in time :-( May still go along to cheer anyone we know out there, as it is usually a great day out.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Glorious ;-)

As usual, the minute the bank holiday is over, and all the surfers and sunbathers have gone back to London, the sun comes out, the weather warms up, and summer actually starts ;-)

I feel sorry for all the people who spent yesterday on their way back to towns, just as it turned glorious down here...We had friends round for dinner in the evening and it was for the first time this year warm enough to sit outside as the sun went down...A bit midgey, but you can't have everything!

All horses' rugs are off, and they are loving being able to roll and scratch out all their remaining fluffy bits of winter coat. Now the grass is shooting up, and they are back on the track during the day and most of them are able to be out at night, although Bailey needs a careful eye kept on her; her hooves certainly won't cope with being out every night, but they are looking fantastic - will post some pics of her new, crack-free look soon.

No sooner does the grass start growing, of course, than we start planning our haylage crop, and the cattle and sheep have to move off the best fields as we aim to cut as early as we reasonably can - last year it wasn't till August, but this year we are hoping things will be a bit easier!

Friday, 2 May 2008

A week off...

...for the hunting pones, and very well deserved. So Charlie, Felix, Bailey and Conto have been hangin' out all week, and have even (oh heavens!) been turned out at night. Ghost has also had a week off, more because we felt like it than because he needed it, but he is not complaining ;-)

The weather hasn't been great, but at least its been warm - no chance to take rugs off yet though, but fingers crossed for the bank holiday...

The others have carried on working, especially Jack and Dex, who are the only ones who have actually broken into a sweat this week!

Dex has been a very good boy, and has built on his great weekend, when his owners came to ride him, and he went jumping again :-) Since then we've been gradually doing a bit more schooling with him, interspersed with his normal hacking out. We are hoping that he will be able to compete along to the Exmoor Foxhounds hunter trial on the moor at the end of this month, as a gentle re-introduction to his competitive career.