OUR SCHOOL HORSES AT OVERDALE 

ASTRO 16.2, 17 year old gelding. We were given Astro in 2001 by someone who really wanted to sell him, but could not find a buyer. He was at that time not a wonderfully sellable prospect, but he has changed a lot since. In 2003 he had nearly a year off after (we believe) fracturing his pelvis, and the time off changed his outlook on life. We do not jump him any more following that injury, but otherwise he is pretty robust, and much easier to motivate than he was before. Getting him forward and bringing him into carriage is not easy or guaranteed (and he is being extremely well ridden in the photograph), but especially once you have reached a certain stage, he is a good horse for building skills on. He has a big trot, and a very nice canter. He is also a delightful soul, who would really like to be a 'laphorse' - he would much rather cuddle you than do all this trotting round and round, but he does his job with increasingly good grace.

 

GOLLY, 18 year old Hanoverian gelding. Golly has been with us for nearly two years, firstly on loan, and now as one of our treasured home-owned horses. He has competed in both dressage and show jumping to a reasonable level, and is an unusually good horse - forward going and fun. He is low mileage for his age. He has good lateral work, and also flying changes. However, he is adapt at 'taking the rider' who cannot control the speed of his legs, and he used to do this with his nose virtually on his chest! He is a very good challenge for some of our more advanced riders, and is becoming much easier to get 'through' and more tollerant of people who are struggling more.

 

 

QUITE (pronounced 'KEET'), 12 year old Lusitano gelding. Quite is one of my personal horses, but has started to do some lessons with the coaches and more organised riders. He has evolved from being the most self-richeous, opinionated, impatient horse I have ever met to a much more generous and willing ride. He has shoulder in and half pass, piaffe, passage and tempo changes. We are beginning canter pirouettes. He also has a whole variety of trots, which are an education in themselves! I found him in Portugal, where he had been handled and ridden in a very 'macho' way, and it has taken all my skills to undo the effects of his early experiences. I love him to bits, and have learnt so much on him and that I owe him a life time of grass and the best riding I can muster!

 

ELLIE, 14.1 hand Palomino pony.

Ellie is now in partial retirement, but she just might have to come and help us out on courses. She is one of the world's great enthusiasts, and will not want to be left out!

I have always believed that her breeding is Heinz 57 with a liberal smattering of Welsh, although it has been suggested that she may be part or all Haflinger! Ellie is over 20, but like all of our horses, she does not show her age. Whilst being very safe, she is also forward going in the school, and is a good lunge pony. She has a very good walk, although you would not write home about her trot or canter (in fact, we don’t talk about her canter – even though it finally shows signs of becoming halfway decent!). Ellie has jumped well, giving people a lot of confidence, but I prefer not to jump her now. She is a very confident pony who is great fun to hack out. She is a delight in the stable, and is always cheerful – in fact everyone who rides her falls for her eventually, even if they find her challenging to ride initially.

Ellie is a very strict teacher, showing chalk-from-cheese differences when she comes into carriage and shows her (very convincing) ‘dressage horse’ imitation – but you have to be well set up to get this to happen. She used to ‘push back’ a lot, and initially she was so intractable that we called her ‘the concrete pony’! But she has improved enormously over time and particularly over the 2000-2001 winter (thanks to some good and consistent riding by Anna Gordon). It is becoming far easier to organise oneself so that she reaches into the rein, and she now has a far more fluid trot than people who have ridden her previously might ever imagine... The ‘concrete pony’ has finally let go, and can even do medium trot! Although the size, the shape, and the feathers may not leave you feeling inspired about riding her, neither I nor she will let you dismiss her as not-worth-learning-from. Several of our longer-term students have made their most important breakthroughs riding Ellie, and I personally have learnt a lot from her.

I bought Ellie in 1998 from a relatively novice rider who had bought her when a riding school had closed down, so she does have a ‘school pony gear’. However, she is much more interesting to ride than this suggests, and she has value to a large spectrum of riders. Her lateral work is one of her great strengths (derived from hours of running sideways up and down the fence-line when her pal is removed from the field!), and she is great for learning this on. She also has an amazing talent for piaffe, and is beginning this in hand. Watch this space.... my prediction is that she will be a brilliant teacher for this too!

 

Solomon, a shire gelding. Solomon is a new addition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HEATHER, 14.3, 14 year old Welsh mare. Heather joined us as a livery in late 2004, and has worked on many of the courses since. Her owner also has lessons with us, and is very generous in letting us use her. Over the last year Heather has changed from a general all round fun but uneducated pony to a much more ridable, knowledgeable little horse. She is proving a good and generous teacher, who happily gets herself more right whenever the rider gets  more right. Her trot work is becoming good, although her canter is still a bit hollow and speedy. She is loves to jump, and jumps well. She can be a bit fast, but not in a way that would push many people's buttons. She is also a very sweet soul in the stable, and we are happy to have her on board.