Dappled and drowsy

Drifter is a firm believer that he needs to get his winter coat on as soon as the longest day of the year is over. Consequently he is now getting rather bearlike. As we’re still confined to walk the sweating issue is not yet a problem, so he’s not yet been clipped.

He had a bath at the end of last week and now he’s a shiny fluffy kitty-horse. He also has dapples. It’s hard to get them to show up in a picture, but when you get the light right they look more obvious in the picture than they do in real life. In person they look black and blacker; not lighter and darker exactly, but reflecting light differently.


I didn’t know a black horse could have dapples, but apparently it’s a genetic thing that could be present in horses of many different coat colours. However they will only show up when the coat is healthy. So I’m pleased that a) I’m not imagining the dapples and b) despite the lameness, my horse must be pretty healthy otherwise! I’ve seen hints of them before, but as he spends the majority of his time clipped and apparently dapples show more or less depending on the seasons this is probably why it’s taken this long for them to be this clearly visible.

Regarding the legs, Drifter is sound but still moves carefully. The vet is pleased with his progress. We are to spend one more week in walk, before starting to introduce trot first on straight lines and then, after another week, with circles, corners, etc.

I need to book him in for clipping now that trot is on the horizon but I’m reluctant because I fear that as soon as I pay for a clip it’s jinxing him to go lame again. Also I really enjoy his fluffy cuteness!



Okapis are my favourite zoo animal. The only place I’ve ever seen them is at Chester Zoo, where we went again this week. Last time we got a glimpse of one of their two okapi but no pictures. Okapi are very shy and private so I wasn’t expecting to see massive amounts of them. But this time, look, a lovely picture! This one is Dicky (although I couldn’t see any name signs so I googled him just now). I was pretty chuffed to get lots of great pictures of Dicky, doing his tree eating thing with his long tongue and generally pottering around.

Then we moved on to the next enclosure (Okapi don’t like company except when they want to breed) to find another one which the website tells me is Stuma.


Stuma is bigger and redder and she also gave me lots of pictures. I was delighted. After a time she wandered behind a bush and Mr S and I went to watch the giraffes for a while.

I like giraffes but compared to okapi they couldn’t compete. Still, watching the adults scramble for their “haynet” (a load of branches winched up, and up, and up) was fun. Then I saw a sign about okapi and we went inside, to the indoor part of the giraffe and okapi enclosures. The giraffe indoor areas were open and fairly uninteresting but the okapi bit was much more private, with only little windows to view their indoor areas. I peeked into Stuma’s area and saw…


Stuma and Usuala! According to the website, Usuala was born 13 March this year and is male. I had no idea they’d got a calf (and again didn’t see any signage about it) so I was blown away. Stuma licked him throughout his nursing session and when he was done they went outside together! When he started posing for pictures I thought I might explode with excitement!


Mr S was very patient. Yes, he thought they were very nice, but when we heard someone shout that a giraffe was running around, he went to check it out and quickly came back for me.

The giraffes were not all sedate adults – there were several youngsters, including one (relatively) tiny one. DSCN2226

And this little one was indeed running. If you have never seen a giraffe galloping, here is a video (not mine) of the same herd, although probably made before this particular calf was born.

I have to say I think this little one was even cuter because the older giraffes didn’t get involved. I think maybe the wind was stirring him up because he’d suddenly just sprint off from a standing start, gradually slowing into a slow motion cater before stopping. But then in no time he’d be off again!

In all likelihood I did explode then from the overload of awesomeness. Despite the fact that we’d only seen about 1/3 of the zoo I told Mr S that anything else I saw would be a bonus and he was in charge of where we went for the rest of the trip. But just to prove that we did see other animals as well… here’s an 8 day old elephant!


High heels for Drifter

I’m not sure Drifter appreciates me calling his wedge shoeing “high heels” but that’s just what they are and just what they do.

He seems to be swinging his hips more now he’s in them, and is he really acting more sassy?

Regardless, he seems considerably less lame and more content. I have been aboard, only in walk, with and without a saddle, and he seems to be doing fine, everything considered. He does offer trotting although the vet advised walk only for the moment, so I’m not taking him up on it.

In clicker training we’ve added “touch your chin to your chest” and generally he is eager to play and come to me. If I come to him with a head collar in the field he starts trying to stuff his face in regardless of whether I’m holding it ready for him. This leads to confusion when he gets his nose in the wrong hole, so I’m learning to start holding it open before I get close to him!

The left hind leg

Verdict from the vet:
Some irregularities in the fetlock but also an issue in the suspensory ligament. Initially, treat with corrective farriery to change the angle of the foot. If not significantly improved by end of month, consider medication.

Verdict from stable staff who assisted vet (as I couldn’t be there):
He was so good! He didn’t need to be sedated and he was fine with the clippers and just so good! (l think they mean the horse, not the vet!)

Verdict from my inner child:
l told you he was broken!

Verdict from Drifter:
More human pallaver today but it didn’t interfere with food. Hay -good. Grass – lacking. Hard feed – more please!

Seeing plenty of the vet

So the vet’s been back and Drifter is officially lame in both back legs.

When he is first trotted up his right is lamer, but as he warms up and does more that one eases and his left becomes worse. The left, which is a little swollen around the fetlock, is being scanned and x-rayed today. I’ll keep you posted.

Clicker training is providing us both with much entertainment in the meantime. At the weekend I clicker trained in the little outdoor school. The adjoining large school contained two little girls on their ponies, belting around bareback, at times without reins, and squealing pretty much constantly. Also, turned out in clear sight, one of the owners’ horses was galloping like a wild thing. Drifter was at liberty in the school with me but despite the potential distractions his attention did not waver from me, the clicker, and the all important bag of treats.

Writing something else

If I’m conspicuous by my absence here it’s because I’m busy writing a professional (I hope) article. Professional as in “regarding a profession”, and as in “of a serious nature,” not as in “I’ll be paid for it”.

Anyway, the week-day lunchtimes when I usually get round to glueing some words together for you are currently filled with a different type of word-gluing. Also, lunchtimes are the only point when I can get access to the archive material I need to inform some of the words.

The main thing I have learnt by reading minutes of meetings from the 1920s and 30s is that nothing ever changes except technology. I would minute meetings so much more nicely if my minutes were going into a massive leather bound volume, but I’m glad our department is no longer having to make a case to get a typist because hand writing the index cards is taking too long.