Horse Of The Month – Larosa, March 2015

Welcome to horse of the month – our new regular feature here on the centre’s website.

Every month we’re going to feature one of the horses you all love so much – and who better to start with than our beautiful Larosa.

All the centre’s regulars will know that the excitement is growing because Larosa is expecting a new addition to our herd.

Larosa, a gorgeous bay Welsh Section D, is in foal to Zidane, our coloured Dutch Warmblood stallion. Everyone is talking about what the new arrival might be. The due date is May 20 – but breeding horses is always a case of wait and see.

We have had Larosa – Lola for short – for three years. She arrived as an unbroken five-year-old and proved a quick learner, always bold and confident. It wasn’t too long before our clients were enjoying riding her on the Chase.

That was one of the reasons we decided to breed from her, even though she is quite young. She is very popular here at the centre. We haven’t got enough Lolas to go around, so we decided we needed a baby one coming along behind.

Another reason for putting her in foal is that she is the ‘Nanny McPhee’ of our herd. She loves the youngsters and becomes surrogate mum to all our weanlings.

Our stud vet has loved her from the moment she first met her, and recommended it was time she had a baby of her very own.

We are counting down the days now. It is the first time we have covered a bay with Zidane and we are so excited to see what colour the little one will be.

Zidane’s offspring here at the centre start with Dakota, who was born coloured, a flashy black and white just like his dad. Now he is a spotted Appaloosa – the same as Nicoh, his mum.

Then there is Whispa’s son Oregon, who is dun with black points and a dorsal stripe. Last year’s foals are Indiana – Nicoh’s second baby – who was born a chocolate bay but is now steel grey, and Arizona, who was born a skewbald like mum Tia and has retained her original markings.

All their colourings seem to take after their mothers, and I have seen pictures of some of Zidane’s earlier babies, born before he came to us. One was coloured and another was bay.

In my mind Larosa is having a boy and he is bay. But one of the exciting things about breeding is that you simply don’t know, so we will be having a sweepstake for a bit of fun. Keep a lookout when you come to the centre and have a go. There’ll be a prize for the winner.

Larosa is thriving in pregnancy. She looks great after wintering out, but she’s now coming in at night to the comfort of her foaling box. For a maiden mare she has a really big baby bump so we’re keeping a close watch on her.

The cameras in the box are linked to a monitor in my house and I am studying her night time routine carefully so that as the due date gets closer I will spot any tiny changes in her behaviour. From now on we will also be looking for signs of the formation of her udder. I will take pictures so we can identify the changes.

When the birth is imminent I will go into the stable with her to make sure everything goes smoothly and she has no difficulties. Once the foal is standing and drinking I will leave the pair of them alone to enjoy some quiet bonding time together.

I have no doubt at all that Larosa will be a wonderful mum. She has wanted a baby of her own for so long that it is just great her time is nearly here.

We know how interested all Larosa’s friends are so we are looking into the technology of showing the foaling box feed on our website. We would love you all to share in this beautiful experience so keep an eye on our Facebook page for news.

Top Tips For Buying A Horse

Buying a new horse can be a minefield, especially for the inexperienced.

I must have looked at hundreds of horses for sale since I set up the trekking centre here on Cannock Chase and over the years I have developed my own checklist that I go through when I’m viewing a potential new candidate.

When I need to find a new recruit I listen to recommendations from people I know and I study horses for sale adverts on the internet. Then I go to view.

I like a particular type of horse for the centre, but the basics are the same even if you are buying a little pony for your children.

I always get them trotted up so I can see their action and check that they are straight behind. Check the legs for lumps and bumps and pick the feet up.

Always find out the horse’s history and have a look inside the mouth to check age. Also ask to see the passport and any other paperwork and make sure that everything matches up.

Temperament is vitally important. If you are a beginner or a happy hacker you really don’t want something feisty and fiery! If you can only ride at weekends, don’t buy something that needs schooling every day. You will soon find you have a problem on your hands.

I ask the owner to tack them up in front of me. I like to see them being tacked up – or even ask if I can do it myself – and I normally ask the owner to ride the horse for me. I always insist the owner gets on first – if it’s going to buck they can be the one who hits the ground!

Always find out what type of diet the horse is on – that can have an effect on behaviour. I also ask about the worming programme and any health problems.

If you think it is the horse for you it is worth asking your vet to check it out.

People so often buy the wrong horse, so never be afraid to look at one that is older and more experienced. We have the expertise here at the centre to break in and bring on a youngster, but some owners end up with problems that they simply can’t deal with.

Active pensioners can lead full and fun-filled lives and can prove to be the perfect best friend. Our lovely Thomas and Megan, who have recently retired, have both gone to great homes where they will be kept busy.

The important thing is to find the horse that is right for you.

New Arrival Jake Fits The Bill Here At The Centre

We have an exciting arrival here at the centre and he’s everything I look for when I’m seeking out a new horse.

Our new boy is Jake, who has joined our herd from Derbyshire, where he was living with his breeder. He is rising five, an Irish Draught cross and is 16.1hh. He is still growing right now and I think we’ll get a couple more inches out of him when he’s had a summer on our good grass.

All my horses come from private homes. Some we find from recommendations and we also keep an eye on horses for sale adverts and the internet.

I’m from a showjumping background and I still go for a certain type of horse. I like to see a straight action, a deep girth, short back and a pretty head – preferably with some sort of distinguishing mark like a star or a blaze.

If they are too heavily built they tend to suffer from ailments like sidebones and ringbone and you don’t get the longevity with them; too fine and you end up with soundness problems. I also like a horse that is forward going rather than quiet.

I want to see a kind eye. A lot depends on the feel I get from them. I know instantly if this horse is something I can work with – I have to fall in love with them.

And I did fall in love with Jake. I could see he was going to pick things up quickly. He had been lightly backed over a few months but had done nothing since October. When that has happened with a horse I like to go back to basics.

So when I brought him home to Cannock Chase I began the process as if he had not been backed at all. That way I will give him the head carriage I like and teach him my way of going.

Within an hour of arriving he had done his first photo-shoot for my yard manager Lucy’s LVR Equine horse and rider clothing company. He took to posing like a professional model – just like his new owner!

After 24 hours I had done the groundwork with him, loose schooled him and got on him. Since then I’ve been taking him out on the Chase and so far he has taken everything in his stride.

Ultimately I want a safe and forward going horse that is going to be happy in the job. I think Jake will be exactly that.

I predict he will be a popular favourite with our clients. Not only is he flashy looking and a very handsome boy, but he is also a very comfortable ride. He will have many happy years here with us.