Arriving in China the Journey to Quarantine! ⛩♨️

So after a 17 hour flight and a double landing pit stop in Kazakhstan, we finally made it safely to China!!

Things are a little different in China. So with a 3am landing, we were concerned that they would not unload the pony’s directly and we would not be allowed to stay with them.

However, we were lucky they agreed to unload the them immediately and the crew kindly agreed to wait for me. So as I was able to stay in the crate with the pony’s on the decent from the cargo bay.

It is very rare that horses arrive at this airport and the handling of the crate’s was a long way from the careful and professional handling at Frankfurt. So I was very relieved that I had been allowed to be in the crates to help keep the pony’s calm it was rather a bumpy ride bless them!

Directly after the pony’s were safely on the ground it was time for us to head to the main terminal with the crew, where customs would process us.

I was then time to say goodbye to Henry as he headed to Hong Kong, whilst I met Cindy from the Chinese quarantine unit who had me driven back to cargo customs to meet the pony’s.

Here we were able to walk the pony’s for over 30 minutes and give them hay and water whilst customs checked all the kit and paper work. There were a lot of Chinese staff and business men there and they were all extremely keen to get multiple photographs with the Pony’s!!

Next it was time to load my little troopers into the Chinese container lorry. Whilst they had made the ramp very easy by using a raised loading bay. Our Pony’s were understandable pretty sick off travelling and a couple of them took a little time and patience to go on.

Next there was a ceremony and more photographs to seal the lorry for customs. This is where I became concerned, the lorry are very different from our soft suspension and padded partitions and the temperature inside even at night was warmer than they were accustomed to. They are literally a partitioned container on a artic lorry & now our pony’s were padlocked in!!

I was them ushered into a car but after speaking with (who I now know to be our Hayfield’s business partner Ray) I was quickly taken to the lorry and allowed to travel in the cab of the horse-box.

It was a 3.5 h drive and I must admit I was uneasy about the journey two of them were very tired and I could hear noise but couldn’t see them or get in. Relieved to arrive, my concerns were warranted and Hugo had managed to get turned around and jammed under the head pieces of two partitions.

Luckily he had only superficial grazing and swelling and everyone else had managed well. They were extremely tired but considering the journey their tenacity was remarkable!

Hugo’s cuts were immediately treated and I gave him Bute, which I had brought with me just in case. We then discovered that you can buy it here in tablet form for people similar to paracetamol, so it has been easy to continue his pain relief.

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After giving the pony’s half German hay & half Chinese hay, along with salts and minerals in their water. We left them to rest and went and bought a big box of apples & oil.

Later I gave them a wet feed with oil and apples this was to get their digestive systems moving and try to give them an energy boast.

Temperatures are monitored 2 x a day for the first week and I am happy to say, that all our pony’s impressed the quarantine staff. They commented that they had never had horses arrive in such good condition and continue to eat and drink as normal. In addition it was unheard of that out of a batch of imported horses none had a single abnormal temperature.

The next day I let them out to play and was relieved to find that everyone was bright and moving well although I will monitor Hugo for some time and would expect a recovery period after his incident.

Classic Breakfast

This one is a no brainer if you want a light high protein breakfast with the peppery kick of rocket and a metabolism boosting dressing!

Which gives you your omega’s and an oily fish kick, that even Kate Moss swears is the secret to amazing skin!

You will need

  1. One – two free range local eggs poached.
  2. Fresh rocket.
  3. Spring onion.
  4. Vine ripened cherry or plum tomatoes.
  5. Sustainable sourced smoked salmon.
  6. Cottage cheese.
  7. Cider vinegar 2 tbs.
  8. Olive oil 1 tbs.
  9. Himalayan pink salt & black pepper.

Ohh so simple… Put a pan of boiling water on or egg poaching pan. While it’s heating chop your tomatoes and sprinkle with salt on the chopping board.

Place rocket, spring onions & pre salted tomatoes in a bowl. Put the eggs on to poach while they are cooking mix up the seasoning with the vinegar & oil into a dressing.

Place some cottage cheese or alternative onto the dressed salad, place your poached eggs on top & your ready to go!

Serve with a cup or English Tea!!

Enjoy 💜🧡💛💚

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Mish Mash Breakfast – Lunch!

A Bulgarian recipe, that really hits the spot if your craving a high protien, zinc rich delicious breakfast or for lunch just add a salad or small portion of a healthy sour dough bread.

It’s packed with healthy fats, flavour & has lots of omega 3 & multi vitimins in the mix!!

You will need…..

  1. Coconut/bran/flaxseed oil or butter
  2. Eggs 2-3 per person lightly wisked, cut out the yolks on the 2nd & 3rd eggs if your striping weight or watching your fat content.
  3. Half a can per person tinned or fresh tomatoes (If fresh pop them in the frying pan/wok first with a little water until they burst then drain & remove).
  4. Bulgarian non dairy white cheese “Sirene” you can get this in Turkish & some Polish stores. Alternatively use feta. (Portion size of a playing card per person crumbled).
  5. Spring onions.
  6. Chives to taste.
  7. Hymilian pink salt, black pepper.
  8. Paprika Cayenne Pepper or Chilli.

So it’s super easy heat a very small amount of oil or butter on a low – medium heat. Chuck in the egg mix and keep it moving it’s going to look like scrambled egg!

When the eggs starting to cook chuck in the drained canned tomatoes or pre cooked fresh.

Now season to taste with the salt pepper & spices.

Keep it moving, when the eggs are 3/4 cooked pop in the cheese & spring onions stir it up & let the cheese melt a bit.

Drain off any excess juice and serve garnishing with fresh chives.

Enjoy 💜🧡💛💚

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Healthy 5 minute Breakfast…

So today I would like to share my first delicious nutritious healthy breakfast recipe.

Which is sure to give you a energy kick, provide protein to balance the natural sugars, whilst leaving you feeling full but light.

This has become one of my favourites here in China, as the ingredients are universal and can easily be swapped out for anything you fancy.

All you need is

  1. 1 chopped banana or 2 kiwis. (other fruit of your choice)
  2. 1 small pot or serving or natural Greek or Coconut yogurt.
  3. Chia seeds.
  4. Goa berries or berry or choice.
  5. Almonds or swap for other nuts.
  6. Super hungry add some pre soaked or cooked oats. If your cutting calories soak in water or use a dairy free milk for a creamy alternative.

Perfect served with an Oat milk honey latte!

Enjoy 💚💛🧡💜

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Six Flying Ponies!

Having arrived at Frankfurt Lufthansa Cargo and completed the initial process, we were quickly able to unload the ponies and their kit bags. After having a few minutes to walk and stretch their legs we were assisted to load them onto the specially designed container that they would complete their entire flight on.

The specially designed containers are split into three sections with moving partitions very much like an oversized trailer. They are well bedded and have more height and the ramp is much larger with less incline than on a trailer. The ponys all loaded very well with much less issue than I had anticipated. There are other animals such as dogs in the animal hotel and it is quite a big noisy and potentially frightening experience for them. The staff are extremely professional and made the process easy.

In front of each pony a breast guard is attached (this looks a lot like the guards which you can put across a stable door), if you wish to leave it open without your horse escaping. The area in front of this is not big and in this space we must pack water containers & buckets the kit bags and haynets.

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The first Leg of the Journey to China!

For those of you who have done a long driven journey with your horses you will know there is a lot to think about. Resting the horses over night stops, water, feed, hay electrolytes equipment. We have to consider so many elements to try to maintain a high level of welfare for travelling horses.

These issues are even more important when you are flying horses to the other side of the world there are some very real risks. Travel sickness is a potentially fatal condition that affects the lunges and can happen when horses stay still particularly with their heads up for long periods of time. The lack of movement can also increase the risk of colic and dehydration and exhaustion are all things to be considered.

In addition to this there is an increased risk of injury through panic or accident. So how did I minimise these risks for our ponies? Well in the days leading up to the flight I ensured the ponies had as much movement as possible increased turn out and walker time. I also put them all on a magnesium calming supplement which relaxes mind and muscles.

At 8pm I returned to feed the ponies hay again so as they have something in their stomachs before the journey begins Haulage companies tend not to feed hay during transport.

I give them all a nice groom and make sure that everything is tidy and organised so as we can leave promptly and have a calm atmosphere. Preparation for travelling with horses is very important, every pony has a specially printed tag for their head collar and a matching card for their travel bag so I ensure that they are all attached correctly. There will not be much room on the travel pallets so I need to pack everything they need carefully into one bag each considering the restrictions for airport security.

When the driver arrives we load the ponies according to their friendship groups, taking care that the one marish mare who can kick is last and only next to the other mare. We double check that we have all the passports and the correct documents prepared by Horse Services International. They all load extremely well and we set off on our three-hour drive to Frankfurt airport.

On arrival the ponies stay on the lorry for a short time whilst the paperwork is completed and the crates that they will be loaded onto the flight  are prepared.

Check back in with me on my next blog to find out all about flying horses!! Many thanks for reading please like our page on FB nad sign up at Freefilly.blog we will ask you for your email but dont worry its just to let you know when i have Blogged!!

Training Our Ponies Part 2

Hi everyone thanks for reading it’s been super busy over the last week with all the preparations for our flight to China!!

In my last blog we spoke about fitness, condition and handling. Today we will cover the second half of the training program all which you can use as you wish to help or inspire your own training programmes.

  • Fitness
  • Condition
  • Handling
  • Ride-ability
  • Health & medical
  • Desensetization

Ride- ability & Desensization

This a variable part of any horse or ponies training and a professional rider should be able to observe the requirements of a client and the purpose for which the horse or pony will be used and train the ride ability of them accordingly.

Horses for courses for our ponies they need to be suitable for petit Chinese children in which case they must be light in their aids. I am an adult and perhaps 2-3 times as strong as a child.

What can I do to help the ponies to be light well sometimes I use two fingers on the reins instead of my usual rein grip. I ride with soft boots and carry a schooling whip to sharpen the leg aids. I also ride badly some days deliberately loosing my balance having long reins or swinging my legs around. This falls into desensization as well, as its testing and dulling the ponies reactions to unexpected movements from the rider.

I have also put plastic sacks full of more plastic in the school randomly and turned the ponies out in there so as they become desensitized to something spooky and unusual in their environment.

Many day to day things also help to desensitized that you may not even think about. Grooming, bathing, tacking up & ruging up all desensitized them to touch. More extreme versions of this include bathing, farrier vet and dentist.

Putting the pony’s on the walker or in the school or stables when the very noisy stable vacuum is on, has helped to desensitize them to noise and machinery. Which will all help them to cope with the plane, loading and loud airport atmospheres.

I have also clipped them which is again a form of desensitization and being handled and trained to stand in the wash bays whilst cross tied is good practice for the cargo stalled containers which they will travel in.

Health & Medical

There are strict government procedures in place to protect the quarentine requirements of the countries which horses are being exported to. These varie from country to country. This will include a thorough investigation into all vaccines which must be correct throughout their history and up to date.

However, all horses about to embark on a long journey and particularly to less developed countries should have a full check up or vetting before starting the quarentine process.

It is also good practice to ensure that they have been worked well in advance of the journey and that they are recently shod in front if needed and have had a recent dental.

I would prefer not to have hind shoes to prevent overreaching or kick damage during transit. But this is personal preference.

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Thanks for reading

The Interview with Neb & Porsha!!

In 2017 I was contacted by an agency who told me that they had a 5* rider & his girlfriend in need of a home flat rider who was more experienced and could take on the management of the yard in their absence.

It sounded perfect so I packed up and headed to Holland stopping with my family on in the south before flying out. On route I received a message from a friend warning me that she had heard that this rider was a chaotic nightmare and never paid anyone!

Well in true form to what was to become the norm the message was just the first sign of things getting a little unconventional! Unfortunately by niece and nephew and partner at the time were infected with some hideous virus. After my other half sneezed straight in my face in the middle of the night I had a nasty feeling that things were not going to go smoothly!

I was right, up all night with sick children my sister dropped me at the airport for the 6am flight and halfway to Holland I started to feel incredibly ill!! Chest nose ears throat the whole lot burning and an overwhelming dread set in…..

I arrived and no one was there but shortly I was collected from the airport in a horse-box by “A lady and her crazy dog” I explained I was coming down with an awful bug and she kindly took me to stock up on medicine. We arrived at the yard and I was delighted to meet 11 very nice horses and a 12th which had bitten the “Lady & her crazy dogs” (now known as L&HCD) finger half off!. However, things were a tad upside down the yard was being built around them they had just arrived days before and everything they owned was in two massive piles on the floors of stables!

Neb & Porsha arrived and were excited to pop me on the naughty finger biting chestnut horses, that was evil to tack up and had been bucking kicking the arena walls and generally trying to deck everyone for weeks!!  Well, I was coming down fast with a chest infection and hadn’t ridden for three months so it was a bit eventful and I wasn’t sure as I was struggling to breathe never mind ride that I would get the job!

But an hour later off they trotted and left me with a list of what to ride next and the next day! Somewhat bemused as to how my interview had gone, I did as I was asked. They commented on how positive I was and I was just glad to have not taken a heart attack on one of the horses! It was very excited to be there even though it seemed we had nowhere to live yet, so we were staying at a nearby hotel.

But the next day I was on the verge of pneumonia and had to go to the dutch doctor, who prescribed me Morphine!! Not quite what I was expecting so now I’m riding strange horses that were all at the time quirky, sharp and playing up in their new surroundings wit no sign of Neb and Porsha whilst off my box in a morphine induced daze of suffocation and relentless chest pain…

Ned and Porsha were later concerned about my health & arrived the next day with my requested tomato juice and delicious apple type donut cakes. Neb pulled me to one side and told me how he had been unfairly banned from 5* shows. A british rider that I had actually worked for in the past, had seemingly got an awful vendetta against him and had now used it to stop him competing. I was unsure what to think but decided that the world of horses is not always friendly and perhaps this poor guy had been unfairly treated he certainly seemed to love his horses very much. However, it seemed clear that he was in deed a whirlwind of drama and chaos!

I had been warned that organization was not his strength and that was the purpose of my placement to bring law and order and calm to the chaos of Neb Toblat and his teenage girlfriend Porsha. I had a sense that they needed someone like me and I liked them and the L&HCD I expected it would be a roller coaster ride but we were going to have a lot of fun!!

So whilst I was surprised to find that Ned and Porsha were off on holiday that day the L&HCD and I were more than capable of being left in charge and I accepted the job. I would fly home for a few days and had expected to return for the new year. However, Neb was insistent that he needed me immediately and so I was to go home for three days over christmas pack up my short term life and drive back in the Gokart (to be explained in another blog) the day after boxing day.

It was the beginning of many adventures….

 

Training Our Ponies Part 1

Hi and thanks for reading, so since the last time I blogged, I have been busy continuing with the ponies training.

I’ve been working on the following areas to improve their suitability their new jobs in China & also to help them cope with the long journey.

Today we will look at the first three areas.

  1. Fitness
  2. Condition
  3. Handling
  4. Ride-ability
  5. Health & medical
  6. Desensitization

FITNESS

The ponies had mixed low levels of fitness when they arrived. Many ponies are just ridden at weekends here.

Over the last three weeks I have been building fitness by gradually increasing their work. At first their ridden work was very light & only walk & trot. I am also increasing the level of schooling movements and have started to introduce bend and contact with the greener or unschooled pony’s.

Once a pony is able to maintain canter for a few minutes on the lunge or loose & working for longer periods in trot under saddle, then I add the ridden canter work.

Over the next few weeks I will continue to build on that until they are easily managing an active 30 min schooling session with me riding & without showing signs of fatigue.

In China they will need to do a 45 min lesson with a child. This will include warming up etc. Because I am heavier than the children I will not expect them to work hard with me on for more than 30 min.

I have also been gradually increasing their time & pace on the horse walker. This is a great way to keep them moving and build stamina.

CONDITION

Alongside their increased workload I have also monitored their feed. If a pony is tired or loosing condition we increase the hay & feed a little. If they are too excited I cut the hard feed and if they are too fat I decrease hay/feed. Depending on their energy levels. At this stage we have just 11 days until the journey to China.

I want the ponies to be in slightly plump condition. They are building muscle and looking stronger but I want a little extra fat on them so as the stress of the journey & the acclimatization in China does not break down the muscle that they have built.

HANDLING

The pony’s will be more easily reassured on the flight and cope with the journey well if they are well handled and trust me. Grooming, picking up their feet, leading them and spending time putting tack & equipment on and off all helps to build up a trusting relationship with them.

I also use ground work to build trust and to increase discipline and safety. They need to move where I want them and be respectful of my space. They need to follow me and back up if I ask them to. I will continue with this work as some of the ponies are easier to train in this way than others.

Look out for part two of this blog and don’t forget to like us on FB Instagram & freefilly.blog sign up by email you will only receive an email to say i have blogged we promise!

Thanks for reading

Best Wishes

Row 🙏🐎