Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Briards Everywhere

Hello, my name is Raven. I am a black Briard puppy. That is some type of French Sheep Dog, although I don’t know what a sheep is. I am a year and a half old and not as big as I should be and I don’t have really long silky hair, like I see in the poster of my dad that hangs in the computer room, but I am about as cute as they come. I haven’t learned French yet but I understand English and Spanish and have learned how to put my lips together just right to get that great French sound EEEUUUUOOOOOOW.

I live on a big farm in Spain with my adopted family with lots of room to run and animals to play with but my garden scares me just a little so I like to take my teddy out with me so I feel safe. I think some of the big trees follow me around and move when I’m not looking, like triffids do and I know that there are ghosts in the garden and others in the house. Charlie, my teacher and friend, tells me to ignore them but I can’t. My best friend is called Lasso. Lasso is always waiting for me, hanging from a tree outside the bedroom door and never gets tired of playing tug of war with me. I have a toy-box full of my favorite things and I know the names of each one and can find it when I am asked. My best one is called pretty ball; mom and dad got it for me from a Chinaman on the beach. It is a ball full of water with a light that glows and sparkles when I drop it. I actually have three because I need to have spares for when I can’t remember where I left one of them. There’s another one I like, only not to touch my mouth if you know what I mean: it’s a light-up squidgy toy.

I am a little hyperactive and scared to be alone so I like daddy to come outside with me when I have to pee, especially if it is dark outside. He just says “whizz” and I am there waiting at the door.

Lately, I have found some other Briards trying to sneak into my house. There is one upstairs on the shiny closet door and he barks at me and growls when I do, another is downstairs in the bathroom. I see him when I brush my teeth or try and get a drink of water. When I look away, I see birds and when I look back there he is again, looking at the birds in the aviary behind me in the window. Then, there is the one that looks down on me in the pig’s bathroom, I can only see the tip of his nose but he is there every time I look. We have been cleaning around the pool the last few weeks; I do hope they fill that big water hole this year; it looks like so much fun; anyway, while we were cleaning I found lots of Briards in the pool house, looking out through the windows at me. They aren’t quite as pretty as the ones inside of the house; they are sort of dirty and grey, a little blurry even.

I have to admit that I am a little bit too rough on the cats and the chicken but they don’t seem to mind, it is just that mama brought two new animals up to the stables; one looks just like me with long black hair on its feet and tail, although it’s a girl and she is huge. I love to go to the stables because I play -run round-round- then I run into a stall and jump on these new animals but they don’t seem to want to play with me and it makes mama yell at me. They just eat grass which, as anyone knows, you only eat when you want to be sick.

I know a few things, other than all my toys and a whizz, and they are called “OUT OF THE KITCHEN”, Daniel taught me that by picking me up and removing me. I will never forget that, the other is called “it is Titus’ turn”. Titus is Daniel’s dog, a big Mastín Leones. He isn’t as big as the animals at the stables but he is BIG. When I was little he would let me play with him but now that I am almost grown up he doesn’t seem to like me anymore, so every time mama says “Titus’ turn” I go and lie down in a corner and wait for her to come back.

I think when I’m not listening, daddy calls me Raving and I know the Spanish call me Ray Ban.

One day, somebody’ll bring me a sheep.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Beautiful Day

A beautiful day today. Barbara rode Frisona at the walk, bareback as always, and afterwards we both lunged her for a while. Barbara's riding helps slow down the progress of her disease, clears the toxins out of her kidneys and helps keep her heart out of arrhythmia. Regular riding helps give Barbara a feeling of well-being and - as I learn to control the lunge-line - she will be able to perform her exercises which are so vital to her progress. The horse does the work and the rider gets the benefit.

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Cost of a Horse

Here in Almería, it costs around 1,500 euros a year to feed a horse plus another 500 euros for vet, blacksmith, insurance etc. This price does not include things like tack or installations. The financial costs are about the same depending on whether the horse is for pleasure, competition or therapy. Tack can be fairly cheap, depending on your needs (I ride bareback). The installations? How much do you want to spend?
Much depends on where you live as to the price of feed. I found that in the Cadiz area alfalfa sells for around one euro a bail, here in Almería it is around six euros a bail and in Barcelona it can cost anything up to fifteen.
The largest cost comes in time spent. The amount of time depends on the type of installations you have. If the horses are outside and free then there is considerably less work involved than if they are in stalls. Stalls need daily mucking and the horses have to be taken out and exercised plus clean water must be available at all times. There is no day off when it comes to animal care, no holidays; no Sundays. Then you have the training and care of the horses depending on the type of discipline they participate in. For competition, a tremendous amount of practice hours are required, the same goes for therapy horses since, even though it is not as physically demanding, they must still be prepared for every eventuality. They also need free recreational time. The job of a therapy horse is usually very boring: standing for long periods, walking around in circles, sometimes for hours and all sorts of strange exercises besides, so it is vital that therapy horses have a good work-out or run before sessions so that they are not bored and impatient.

When people come to ride once a week, they never consider the amount of work that has gone in to keep the horse in condition to ride, regardless of the discipline. If a horse gets colic, is in foal or founders, you may have to spend days and nights caring for them and still continue with your daily routine.

Horses and centres have to have insurance and to pass inspections. If you board your horse at a stable then there is the DIY system, where a place is provided for a fee, and all of the care of the horse is your responsibility, the usual boarding arrangement is that your horse is bedded and fed for a fee and you are responsible for its exercise. If the horse is to be trained or exercised it is for an added fee. The best system is where a horse may go in and out at its desire and a daily turn out or exercise is not mandatory but this takes lots of space.

Owning a horse is a luxury but one well worth the investment if you can afford it. Riding lessons or just plain horse-rental are both good alternatives but can also be very costly and, it goes without saying that the horses will have been ridden by numerous people of all different abilities sometimes leading to unmanageable or naughty animals.