Please note this content is copied from my old site and and as such the photo’s have not been transferred into this section. This page documents mine and Jay’s journey from April 2013 to July 2016 (oldest post last, newest at the top).
Following my last post over a month ago I’m saddened to say we didn’t get our happy ever after 🙁
Jay had his first PRP on the 20th June but unfortunately on the 27th June he walked out of his stable lame, for the following 3 weeks we box rested and gave antinflammatories, the weekend of the 2nd of July we hand walked and although he was better than at the start of this bout of lameness it was apparent that his gait was altered, short striding right fore and I noticed that his left fore hoof had started to grow asymmetrical.
The vet came back out on the 11th July with the plan of injecting his 2nd PRP but on seeing him walked out she said there was no point, it wasn’t going to alter what we had in front of us, only add more risk by injecting into his joint again.
She went on to say the only way we could manage him and the pain was steroids, a route I wasn’t prepared to go down on a frequent basis, it would only have been selfish and so I was left to make a decision on his future.
We talked about the fact he wasn’t entirely field sound, how the winter weather would affect him, the fact he wasn’t happy, wasn’t the boy I bought 3 years ago and so the arrangements were made for that Friday. I made the decision to be with him right until the end, a decision I am so glad I made, I think I would have regretted saying goodbye the day before.
Run free my gorgeous boy, I’m sorry I couldn’t fix you
- Jun, 2016
Sorry for the silence over the past month, we’ve had a rollercoaster of a journey and I’m finally starting to get my head around things and look positively to the future.
Jay went off for his Op on the 19th May and I eagerly awaited the call from the vet to say he had come round from surgery well and that all they had done was a joint clean up…….. The phone call came and Jay had recovered from surgery well but they had done more than a joint clean up. Jay had a flap of cartilage which need removing and has areas of cartilage which was cobbled and need smoothing over. He also has weak areas of cartilage where the consistency is seaweed like rather than the thick viscous liquid it should be. I remember not really hearing much after this point and saying to the vet can we talk further on Monday when Jay comes home.
Monday we got a call to say we couldn’t collect Jay, he hadn’t been to the toilet overnight and they were worried about colic starting…. could things get any worse?! Although in the best place possible I started to think I’d caused it by putting him through surgery, what if he didn’t come home at all…… it was all my fault, he didn’t ask for the operation!
And then we made the decision to do the journey up the A1 to see him, he was bright eyed and alert and had been to the toilet when we arrived but wow under his rug he looked so poor I felt sick 🙁 totally tucked up with no condition, definitely not the horse I’d dropped off 5 days earlier. As we turned to leave he kicked the door and gave us a whinny as though to say where are you going without me?! Feeling slightly happier about him we left.
That night the vets called to say he could come home the next day. He travelled home well and tucked into his hay and spent a couple of days in while we sorted out his paddock.
Jay then spent the next 4 weeks turned out 24/7 (bar the odd day with bad rain/wind) having total R&R and not much human contact. Quick fly spray, hoof oil and stitches check and he was left alone. He had his stitches out, boosters and the farrier in this time and then the downpours started last week so we made the decision to bring him back in on a night.
Monday we returned to Rainbow for the start of Jay’s PRP treatment. Everything went to plan, Jay was seen as a day case and 2 hours from arriving we were on the way back home. Vet was really happy with the op sites and the evenness of Jay’s strides, all very positive.
We also don’t need to return to Malton for further injections, we travelled home with a vial of his plasma and our vet will administer the next one in 2 weeks’ time and that will complete his course of treatment.
Sept will see us start to bring Jay back into work on a plan prepared by our vet at Rainbow, come 6 months post op we should have an idea of what level of work he is going to and if there will be any ongoing unsoundness/unevenness. Whilst we are not yet at the end of the tunnel there is light there! Unfortunately (or for most people fortunately) OCD of the shoulder is rare and so this brings with it lack of knowledge from a rehab and prognosis point of view. I very much believe in fairy tales and happy endings………. I hope we get ours!
- May, 2016
After my last post I had a call from my vet at Rainbow (following a conversation he’d had with my vet) to discuss next steps with Jay.
We talked about how Jay has been since the medication last month and how it has affected his lameness. Given the positive response to the medication we are happy the right area is being treated in isolation but Jay isn’t quite 100% right, uneven footfalls on hard surface and a slight shortness still remains on the lunge with resistance to moving forward evident at times.
The change in Jay’s behaviour has been nothing short of a transformation since the medication, his aversion to girths and rugs has gone and he looks soft and relaxed through his body at all times, his tail also remains loose rather than tense or clamped down as it has at times in the past.
Given that the medication has given massive improvements I was given 2 options by the vet, re-medicate the joint which will cure the remaining niggles, albeit on a time limited basis (he would need more injections in future, how far in the future we don’t know) or have him readmitted for arthroscopy so we can see what is going on inside. It could be a simple joint clean-up is needed (best case) or it could be that his cartilage is gone and bone is exposed which carries a guarded prognosis .
Yesterday I spent most of the day running things over in my head, running it by various people, mum, instructor, friends basically anyone who would listen and this morning made the decision to book him in for the op so we can get some answers.
Jay will be admitted on Weds 18th with the Op on Thurs 19th, he’ll stay in for a few days and probably come home on the Monday 23rd to start his recovery and hopefully rehabilitation.
- May, 2016
With week 4 of rehab finished my vet was back out to reassess Jay, over the final week of lunging we had noticed he was drawing back when being asked to move on in trot and although not obviously lame he wasn’t right in his behaviour.
On trot up his footfalls were heavier on the right side and stride still slightly shorter although nothing near the extent of 7 weeks prior. Put him onto a circle and the resistance to move forward was evident.
So we agreed to 3 more injections at weekly intervals to see if that can clear the last little niggles up. No more lunging and rehab to continue with straight line work so as soon as the vet left we tacked up and hopped on board .
Under saddle Jay feels good, different to the horse I got on in Dec, he was really stiff and reluctant to bend but he feels supple and easy now, he also appears happier and interested in things again.
Vet will re-assess at the end of the month, it maybe we need to re-inject the shoulder but Rainbow will need to make this decision.
- Apr, 2016
Yesterday was our owniversary, 3 years to the day since Jay became mine and what a journey it’s been! Top photo is May 2013, bottom photo April 2016
In the first month he had me off twice and was turned away from ridden work to fill out and mature, we did lots of ground work between April and November. That August we moved yards and in November I got back on board, spent lots of hours in the saddle building our relationship and working on redeveloping his incorrect muscle development.
March 2014 we entered our first dressage test and scored just over 64% We then introduced jumping for some variety and both really enjoyed it, Jay is a pleasure to jump, doesn’t rush, pull or get silly, is just a bit careless over smaller ones that he can’t be bothered with
Unfortunately in the April I took a tumble whilst jumping and as Jay went off round the corner he stood on my knee, I was out of action for months whilst I had physio and waited for the swelling to go down. That August we moved yards again, this time to one closer to home with an excellent instructor on site and became brand ambassadors for Dublin Clothing UK.
Sept 2014 I got back on board after being signed off from Physio and spent a couple of months building my strength before we started lessons again. We built enough confidence to go out jumping through the winter and had lots of fun, even getting a couple of double clears and some rosettes along the way
We then joined E-Dressage and obtained scores from 63% to 78% in the intro tests and 57% to 68% in the Prelim tests, finishing 9th in their rider league out of over 200 riders. We also finished the summer league as Intro Champions at a local venue and added Diamond Equestrian to our list of supporters.
Moving into October and Jay felt tired, really powerless and so after a good run through the summer he was turned away until December.
February saw us return to E-Dressage and score 66% in Intro C and then Jay went lame . The vet visited but nerve blocks didn’t touch the lameness and so she referred jay for bone scans and further tests.
We are now 3 weeks into a 4 week rehab plan following steroid injections into his shoulder, so far everything appears to be going well, he’s been treated to Back on Track rugs and boots which he wears overnight to help with inflammation and keep him soft and supple.
I’m hopeful we can get back to what we were doing before his lameness but only time will tell, vet is back out next week to reassess so fingers crossed……..
Following my blog on the 5th April Jay has now returned home.
Bone scans showed inflammation in his pastern/fetlock, neck and shoulder. Nerve blocks up to his knee didn’t change the lameness but blocks to his shoulder did. X-Rays showed no bony changes. Following a call from the vets I agree to injections into his shoulder and for him to return home on the Weds as planned.
And so a combination of steroids, HA and antibiotics was administered into his shoulder with the advice that if he doesn’t come sound he will need to return for a camera to be put into his shoulder to see what is causing the inflammation.
The rehab plan is pretty basic for now 2 weeks of box rest followed by return to turnout and lunging with a reassessment after 4 weeks (early May).
We are now just over a week down, bute has finished and last night he walked out really well with no signs of stiffness or lameness………… fingers crossed
- Apr, 2016
Throughout the early part of March we continued with 2 lessons a week and a couple of lunge sessions in between.
Canter transitions were coming on really well and Jay appears to really like the eggbutt over the loose ring.
Mid-March Jay went lame during one of our lessons and the lameness persisted. The vet visited and assessed him and we agreed to a follow up visit to nerve block and x-ray if necessary.
Nerve blocks up to the knee didn’t make an impact on the lameness so we felt there would be no benefit at that point of x-raying. A decision was made to refer for bone scans and an appointment was made for the 4th of April.
So yesterday morning we headed off to Rainbow at Malton. Jay loaded and travelled like a saint, I did wonder how he would settle travelling on his own but he happily tucked into his net and wasn’t an ounce of trouble.
Bounced down the ramp at the other side and was shown to his new living quarters for the next 3 days. Lots of name tags put in his mane and on his rugs and he was ready to be trotted up for the vet.
Thankfully (I was worried with the time that has elapsed since the lameness presented that he would be sound again), the lameness was seen as soon as he went off into trot. Into the round pen to be lunged and it was noted lamer on outside of circle, right fore. Vet asked if he’d ever been cast or had a rotational fall (no to both, that I am aware of) and proceeded to prod and poke around at Jay’s chest and shoulders.
Lunge on hard ground, appeared better on hard ground ……… so back off to his stable and a quick chat with the vet.
Bone scan to be conducted on neck, forelimbs and back. As we couldn’t stay for this procedure we head back home.
Had a call last night to say Jay had been scanned, was well behaved and had recovered from the sedative well. Images from the scan would be processed overnight and I could expect a call in the morning…………and so we wait for the results!
- Mar, 2016
As Brand Ambassadors for Dublin UK we feature in Equestrian Plus throughout the year and our latest feature came out on the 1st of March.
Since our last update we have been busy with recording and re-recording and re-recording again our Intro C test. The first attempt only half recorded, the 2nd test I was happy with and submitted only to realise the circles were the wrong way round!! So we re-recorded again, Jay stumbled coming down the centre line which threw us for the circle and we really struggled to get his softness back after that. However I was pleased when the results came out yesterday to see we had 66.74% and 68 collectives. The winner was on 75% and headed a class of 53!!! Our result saw us sat mid table, 71% was 10th place to show how close the scores were.
Now I am riding more I have 2 bridles, one set up for lunging and one for riding, the lunging bridle has an eggbutt fenchlink and the riding a NS Turtle top. I noticed Jay felt lighter to lunge in the eggbutt and a couple of days later our instructor suggested a change of cheek may be good for ridden work.
So in our last lesson we changed to the eggbutt and felt a big difference in reaction times to my aids, although slightly heavier in my hand now he has something fixed in his mouth we took this as a positive, it means I need to sit up tall and ride him up into the contact.
We worked on 3 transitions (walk, trot, walk) on each side of the school, no more than 6 steps in each paces before a transition. Followed this up by lengthening down the long side and collecting through the short sides. At one point I thought Wow, where did that trot come from, easily our best attempts.
Moved onto canter work on a 20m circle and used our gears within trot to encourage smooth/simple transitions into canter before back down to trot and back up into canter, using about half a circle in each pace. Leaving Jay to make the decision when to transition meant less head/neck resistance, not sure if this was luck of the draw on the night, change of bit or the fact his canter is much stronger now.
The nights are drawing out now with it still being light at 6pm, another few weeks and the clocks will change so we’ll have daylight until close to 8pm by the end of March 😀
As a little magpie I’ve bought lots of lovely little goodies from Style Reins, LVR Equine & Fur feather meds recently. I’ll post pictures into our photo album.
- Feb, 2016
Another good couple of lessons this week in which I have learnt some things about myself:
* I need to be braver, stop being so tentative when asking something of Jay and be more positive in a ” we are doing this” kind of way.
* I need to transfer the confidence I now have on the ground back into the saddle.
* In line with that I need to believe in our abilities and ask more of Jay rather than settling for the average steps/bend/ rhythm etc. I need to push the boundaries and comfort zones.
Tuesday night we worked on 10m circles in walk, serpentines starting at both ends of the school, pushing the pace on to really find those extra gears and get Jay opening up his shoulders. Finishing off with some Canter work on a circle. Really pleased with how he came out Tuesday night, it was bitterly cold & windy and after having a day off on Monday I expected him being fresher than he was. Apart from an unsteady contact at times on his left rein he worked really well.
Last night we stuck to walk and trot, dissecting the Intro C test some more and really concentrating on the more testing parts. Jay had Weds off but came out better again than Tues night, his brain really switched on. We had some sloppy rushed transitions which we’re purely my fault for being a bad pilot in the serpentine!
Both LVR Equine & Diamond Equestrian have sales on at the moment, with LVR Equine holding an auction tonight from 5pm.
- Feb, 2016
We’ve had a really productive week. Re-started lessons on Wed and where we can we’ll have 2 shorter sessions a week.
Weds we worked on a variety of things, moving him on and back within the paces, changes of rein and figures of eight to re-establish the acceptance of leg, changes of bend and flexion. Towards the end we did some quick trot canter trot transitions through figures of eight to keep him thinking forwards and finished with some long and low trot on the figure of eight.
Thursday was a lunge session working on encouraging that inside hind leg under on smaller circles, sharper trot/canter transitions and on and back within the paces.
Yesterday we had another lesson, as Intro C is this month’s E-Dressage Ltd test I took my copy up so we could have a play around with the new movements. We had a really good session and picked up some more tools for the kit bag to use in this test. I felt we had a few light bulb moments yesterday, I’d forgotten how good those moments feel!
We ended January in the midst of many storms, Gertrude & Henry to name a couple who battered our area last week after Jonas had visited prior.
However following on from my last post I let my confidence lead and we lunged in gale force winds & rain without any problems and then just to test Jay to the hilt we lunged in gales before tacking up and asking him to walk past tractor & trailer loaded with haylage, wrap merrily flapping in the wind…… Not a blink, walked straight past it and into the school. While we are in the school we’ve gradually been building up moving away from my leg, bend, flexion, little bits of lateral work and moving the paces on and back.
Saturday we’d agreed I’d film my test for E-Dressage if the weather was good……… it was beautiful, all day, until I got the yard and the big black clouds rolled in and turned grey! By the time I got in the school it was blowing a gale and we were in the middle of a blizzard. Poor Jay was most put out and kept stopping to look at me as though to say “are you for real”? Yes I was for real and as time went on he settled to do some lovely work on the lunge.
The idea of filming my test ebbing further & further from my mind, so I decided I would put his saddle on anyway as part of our groundwork session and call it a day, and then the snow stopped.
So off we trundled to do our test, here comes my constructive criticism of the test:
- Quality on a 12 year old camera is poor
- Overshot both our centre lines – suppleness is something to work on again and the lack of is expected with Jay after much time off from ridden work
- Early to walk transition at A – pilot error, the transition itself was good
- No stretch in free walk – too busy gawping at the horse coming down the drive
- No stretch on circle at A – again comes down to suppleness & working over his back
- Square halt at the end
- He felt good
- We survived the wind & the tree hugging killer pigeons
- He worked lovely in the horrible conditions
- We tested both our trust levels & went out of our comfort zones particularly with the weather
Yesterday we lunged, tacked up and I hopped on and went down the drive and back. All solo so feeling very upbeat & positive about things.
Our lovely Supporter Diamond Equestrian and their products feature in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine and the wonderful Equiflair Saddlery continue their amazing sale with amazing bargains to be had on Kingsland breeches with over 50% off. I also have to mention the amazing LVR Equine for sourcing our lovely shiny silver dressage cloth!
- Jan, 2016
A couple of months ago I was happily saying Jay didn’t scare me in the stable, fast forward to present day and I realise although I wasn’t scared of him I was scared of the potential situations he could put me in. His unpredictability scared me!
Don’t get me wrong, I’d happily go in his stable, headcollar on, rug off, brush etc without a second thought but when his body language changed to defensive or to challenge me that’s when it became a bit of a game changer.
Now his body language doesn’t phase me and if he wants to arrogant or bolshy he’ll be made to move his feet until his body language softens.
The past couple of days we have had Storm Jonas to contend with, in the past I would have looked out of the window and thought stuff it but not now, if I want him to work he’ll work productively whether we have sun, rain, wind, sleet or snow. For me work could be lunging, it could be under saddle, it could be in-hand or it could be mental work in the stable, either way I want his attention on me & not out on the yard or on the other horses in the arena.
Monday night he worked like a dream in the gales, not taking his ear off me for a second & likewise the same again tonight. I’d like to think we have taken the trust in each other to another level.
Now the nights are drawing back out I’m hoping to build time back up in the saddle, although the forecast for the next week or so is more rain 🙁 fortunately the weather doesn’t seem to be something that bothers Jay.
I’ve made a few tweaks to his diet in the past month, speedibeet has been cut out & I’ve started feeding him a handful of Alfa A molasses free before any work, he’s carry a little too much weight for me at this time of year, hopefully we can start to work some of it off through February. With good grazing and adlib hay/haylage plus fast fibre & balancer he’s still getting plenty to sustain him for the work he is doing at the moment. I’ve also added in Protexin Acid Ease after chatting to them and a fellow rider about his girthyness following his course of bute. He’s been on the acid ease around a week now & so far he seems much more chilled, no episodes of looking tucked up & the tail clamping seems to have stopped so fingers crossed.
- Jan, 2016
For the past couple of weeks we have been working hard on lone sessions. With both mum and A away I have had to man up and get on with things to ensure we keep moving forward.
My confidence is so much higher now & instead of backing off when Jay questions me I throw a question back to him, his favourite at the minute is not standing still when brought into the middle to change rein on the lunge, so he’s asked to back up or do some turns on the forehand. It didn’t take him long to realise he’s going to be asked to do something more difficult if he won’t comply the first time round.
Last Friday we had a really good session under saddle, plenty of trot work using the full school, shoulder-in & leg yield, it was so good to feel like I was riding the horse I had back in the summer.
- Jan, 2016
We’ve had a great time over the last 10 days or so, gradually building up more time in the school & less time lunging beforehand.
The majority of our time in the school has been spent in walk, changes of rein, circles of varying sizes and today we started asking him to step away through his shoulder/quarters as well as varying the stride length within the pace.
Apart from a tantrum about his side reins last week we’ve managed good solo sessions of tacking up/untacking and it felt good to get on with things while knowing A was on the yard if I needed anything. I went back to work after Christmas & that meant back to riding at night 🙁
Although we’ve had a lot of rain I’m really grateful it hasn’t snowed, we needed this good run through the Christmas break to put us back on the tracks!
We also had a really positive session last week, no issues with tacking up for lunging or riding, short 15 mins on the lunge followed by 25 mins in the school where we re-introduced trotting under saddle. He felt great, so strong through his back and stride, as good as he felt through last summer 🙂 So pleased with how he looks and feels at the moment.
Jay has retained his good memory and anticipated canter transition in one of the corners but kept his cool, lost his tension and stayed in trot as we went round the circle.
I noticed how well he looked when I took his rug off, his shine is back and he looks soft & relaxed through his frame although I’m under no illusion I could go up tonight/tomorrow/next week/next month and he’ll be tense/skittish again. While the good is rolling I’ll keep taking it.
We’ve been spending lots of time desensitising Jay, in the past a little brush against or tug on his rug would make him jump a mile so we’ve been working on this by rubbing the rug all over, pulling it from side to side etc, really just treating him as if we were just introducing things to him.
The last 3 weeks have been a big learning curve for us both but one I’ve really enjoyed, especially in terms of building my knowledge & confidence when handling Jay.
Earlier on this week things felt good while tacking Jay up so we didn’t bother lunging, just hopped straight on and had a good 25 mins in the school, lots of walk work as previous nights before finishing up with 5 mins of trot work.
We had one evening where A gave us a good routine to use when lunging for a shorter but still purposeful session. Followed up the next evening by me carrying out the session.
Saturday Jay was lunged and then I rode for 20 mins in my lunch hour. Plenty of walk followed by more trot work, this time going large around the school, diagonal changes of rein & circles. He felt good yesterday, really easy to ride, so much so that I could have stayed on a lot longer than I did but I felt happy with how he had gone, with company in the school & with all manner of things going off at the side of the arena decided to end on a really positive note & get back to work!
E-Dressage also announced the finalised Rider leagues for 2015 where we finished 9th. I’m really pleased with the placing especially as we missed the final 2 months classes.
If anyone is looking for any bargains pop over to Equiflair Saddlery who have up to 60% off brands such as Dublin, Pikeur, Eskadron, Joules & more.
- Jan, 2016
I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas & a Happy New Year to all.
We finished 2015 with more of the same lunging and ground work to re-establish the basics with Jay. Christmas Day was a day off for him but straight back to it on Boxing Day, on the Sunday we got back on 🙂 On and off a couple of times in the yard and then a walk down the drive & back. We’ve done this a few times now and earlier on this week we ventured back into the school for a walk round while A cooled one of the other horses off.
Now he’s feeling stronger through his back we have been asking more of him on the lunge in terms of smaller circles in walk & trot but sticking to big 20m circles in canter.
Today we went up and lunged, slowly reducing the amount of time lunging & increasing the amount of time on board and then got on and spent 20 mins in the school in walk just building things back up slowly and making sure each session is ended on a positive note for both of us.
We are wearing Eskadron & Eurostar from Fur Feather Meds & Bridle bling from Diamond Equestrian.
What a mild week we’ve had! Temps through the day hit 15 degrees here, strange to be working horses at this time of year in a t-shirt! Temps have now dropped back to a more seasonal 5 degrees!
We’re well into our 2nd week of building Jay back up, after our first session on Sunday last week we’ve continued working him daily, sometimes twice depending on his energy levels and whether he’s been in or out during the day.
We’ve had some really good work from Jay and touch wood tacking up seems to be more consistent now, his body language can still be defensive at times but we’ve been working on ignoring the negative and encouraging him to relax only praising the positive, in the past we have been quick to react to negative behaviour from him and I’m sure at times this reaction from us has acted as a reward to him!
Yesterday he had a day off so I did wonder how he would come out this morning but apart from ignoring me for the first 5 minutes and taking himself off into canter he was really good, foot perfect to tack up/untack and once he’d got rid of his excess energy he did everything I asked of him.
I’ve almost finished work for Christmas, I hope to work Jay every day up to and including Christmas Eve and then give him Christmas day off before back to it on Boxing Day.
- Dec, 2015
So kids gloves are off, wet, cold weather, what wet, cold weather?! 2016 preparation started at 8am today, holidays are over, at least for Jay…..
Fantastic 20 minutes on the lunge this morning, was great to see the horse in front of me that we saw so often in the summer. Happy, listening and willing and he produced some fantastic work, the suspension in his trot work towards the end was amazing.
Had a really good chat with our trainer last night and its refuelled my drive and determination, this morning’s session really kick started my mojo and actually, Jay can’t do this alone, I need to drive the focus and attention if we are to build on 2015 successes!
- Dec, 2015
As the year draws to a close and the days get wetter and colder I’d like to say a big thank you to all the people who have supported us, trained us, pushed us, loved us and taken no nonsense from us.
2015 has been a phenomenal ride and although things have been a bit pear shaped, when I look back on everything we have achieved since November 2014 it really doesn’t matter
So thank you to Ann, without you we wouldn’t have achieved anything we have this year, thank you for pushing us, believing in us and putting us back on the right track when we have needed it.
Thank you to mum who has groomed, videoed, analysed and kept us company in all weathers up at the yard. Thank you to Dad for the opportunity nearly 3 years ago and for being a horsey widow most evenings & weekends since!
Thank you to Joanne for being my sounding board at times, but mostly for holding my hand in the early days and taking us out and about last winter to build our confidence.
Thank you to my Husband Ricky for being our photographer and for putting up with anything and everything horsey that I’ve brought into your life!
Thank you to Roseanna Sunley and E-Dressage Ltd for giving us a platform to compete without leaving the yard, it’s been a massive bonus having something to work towards every month.
Here’s to 2016!
- Nov, 2015
Whilst the weather has allowed we have been moving forwards, another session in hand, fully tacked up, over poles and doing some bending/weaving through jump blocks mixed in with halts and backing up.
We’ve had another 10 min session on the lunge and then the weather changed so we’ve continued with work in the stable, tacking up, grooming and generally tidying Jay up.
Last week Jay had another ET session which he enjoyed and the issues in his back and shoulder appear to have totally cleared. It’s nice to have photos from other people to look at and this one taken at the last ET session shows his symmetry rather well from behind, a good way to assess how your horse is working and if they are working evenly on both sides.
- Nov, 2015
As we head into winter another month has flown by and Jay has spent 5 weeks out of work for various reasons.
He had a second ET session the week after his first, his back was much better and Jo worked on his neck and hindquarters. Interestingly he relaxed into the session a lot quicker than the first one.
Sarah came and checked his saddle and confirmed it had dropped low at the front now he is out of work and muscle tone has been lost so he has the half pad back on the same as last winter. She couldn’t find anything major in his back, although he wasn’t happy being girthed up he didn’t react as he has done in the past.
Last week we went away and I came back to find Jay had been a bit of a pain while I’d been gone, maybe feeling a little too fresh with no work/little human interaction recently.
Saturday I went up with my saddle and put it on, it was like backing a baby!! Head and neck up, ears back, eye balling us so on and off half a dozen times and called it a night.
He was very jumpy and skittish in the stable, something he’s never really been until recently, so we’ve moved him to a quieter side of the yard and a side where he will be fed sooner too, from watching him Friday night he box walks and swings his head/neck around until he is fed (he was last) which can’t be good for him. He’ll now be one of the first to be fed.
Went up last night and he seemed happier, saddle on and girth fastened on both sides first hole without him blowing out against me, bridle on, saddle off and then took him off to lunge him. Saddle fitter advised not to lunge in saddle due to tree being fixed and not able to curve with him on a circle. Nice to note his tail is hanging central again and not to one side like it was when he was feeling his back/shoulder.
Did 10 mins walk each rein and a couple of circuits trot on each rein before calling it a night.
Short term plans are to do something little and often with him, especially at this time of year, dark nights, bad weather, work and children, even if I only do 30 mins each night to keep things consistent and positive!
I’ll start with the positive first…….. our Prelim 1 score for October E-Dressage was over 67% a 10% increase on June’s Prelim 1 test and an increase of 11 on our collectives, whilst I haven’t seen the sheet yet I have had my feedback video which was really good this month. Mainly 8’s and 7’s and 1 x 5! Costly accuracy error!! Too early on a movement which I knew when watching the test back whilst uploading it to YouTube. Accuracy is key!! The biggest change I notice with Intro to Prelim is gone are the transitions between markers, transitions at markers are the big thing! Overall really pleased with the result, 7/20 entries.
So J had an Equine Touch visit on Sunday and the lowdown on the visit was he has a sore back on the right hand side to the back of the saddle area and some heat in his right hand shoulder. So apart from being turned out he’s not really doing any work and a re-visit is booked for tomorrow night.
Saddle fitter is booked for Thursday evening and then we go away the following week.
I’m glad we’ve been able to pinpoint something as it all seems to tie in with the short stride on right fore, lack of power through his hind end at our last dressage competition and the girthing problems.
- Oct, 2015
Trotted J up in the yard on Tuesday and thankfully he was sound, full of high spirits and looking like something auditioning for the L’Oreal adverts with all the head tossing he was doing
Wednesday I popped him on the lunge just to confirm the soundness and he came out as good as ever, happy and free over his back, nicely tracking up and genuinely happy to work. Probably did 5 mins each rein before we left it for the night.
Yesterday morning he went out for the first time in a week and looked to have had a whale of a time with all the mud on his neck and in his mane last night.
During his time on box rest I’ve been pondering over the past 4 months, from the first time he went lame in June, to changing rug brands, saddles, girthing issues and finally to going lame again in October and wondering if it is all somehow connected….. Maybe he’s compensating for something else which is making him sore where his saddle sits/girth sits…. or maybe…….. Too many possibilities. The only thing I can say is I tack him up exactly the same every time and have done for the past 2.5 years, something’s obviously changed somewhere.
So plan of action, saddle fitter is coming out on the 12th Nov to check everything, I am pretty sure it is all ok but I want to tick the box before calling on physio/chiro experts to take a look at him.
I’ve also booked him in for an Equine Touch session on Sunday evening to see if we can highlight anything that way.
Sunday will see our Prelim 1 test judged, looking forward to seeing the results compared to June’s Prelim 1 test (57%).
- Oct, 2015
J continues to be on box rest, 3 days of bute with his final dose being Saturday night. Tomorrow (tues) we will re-assess him, fingers crossed he’s sound and we can start hacking out at the weekend.
He’s been quite happy on box rest and being a busy yard with holiday livery, schooling livery and rehab cases there are always horses in throughout the day to keep him company, he’s really enjoyed demolishing in 5 minutes flat, fibre blocks which have proved good boredom busters as well as giving him additional fibre through the day.
Today I received a message to say we have been selected to be brand ambassadors for Diamond Equestrian an up and coming company selling diamante browbands and other equine accessories. Being a lover of all things sparkly I’m really excited to work with Evie and her company going forward.
You can find out more about Diamond Equestrian in the links below:
diamondequestrian0 – Instagram
Please pop over and give them a like/follow
- Oct, 2015
Tuesday I got a text to say J had ripped his rug so I headed up that evening to sort another one out for Weds. His rug was trashed, no chance of saving it, looking at it I think he’s rolled, it’s slipped and he’s stood on it! It was ripped from front to back and split from top to bottom about half way down, just above surcingle level! Good job it’s pay day tomorrow, I like to have spare rug in all weights for times like this and for layering up.
So another rug sorted I decided to pop him on the lunge for a leg stretch and something different, intermittent head nodding on the left rein (right fore), took his boots off (new ones so thought the may be affecting his action) and tried again, still the same.
Trotted him out again this morning and still not right so he’s on bute and box rest for the next few days and we’ll represent after the weekend. It appears to be his shoulder and I wonder if he’s just pulled something while having his incident with the rug!
- Oct, 2015
Saturday we headed out to do some Dressage. Now up until 2pm Saturday, Friday hadn’t existed! Friday we had a lesson booked, I only say booked because said lesson never happened. J wouldn’t let me get on!!! He was totally having none of it Friday morning.
Went back up Friday afternoon and it was like a new day, got on and did a few laps of the school in walk before walking back up to the yard.
So, Friday erased from memory until after our tests we loaded up and headed off with Ann’s cheery words ringing in our ears “you’ll be fine”! “I know we will” I replied, half believing it.
Got there, unloaded, tack up and went off to warm up, not a glimpse of Friday’s problems at the mounting block. He didn’t feel his best warming up, can’t be arsed summed his mood up best and our comments and marks reflected just that.
Finished our first test with tears in my eyes, rewind 24 hours and I/we were seriously wondering where we go next with J. It wasn’t our best test, I felt like I was constantly at him to maintain his rhythm and impulsion but was elated that we made it as far as we had. Finished 2nd/12 on 68.69%
2nd test and he felt better, slightly! Didn’t have to keep at him so much but he felt tired, like his sparkle had gone….. It’s hard to put into words but when you know your horse and how they feel at their best you know when their best is missing. He gave me everything he had to give today and in the second test it was enough to win with 69.13% out of 17 seniors.
Such a rollercoaster ride with J, we just never know if the ups or downs are coming next.
Thanks to Dublin Clothing for our super white saddle cloth and lovely coat.
We finished the weekend with a lovely hack yesterday to start a few days holiday for J.
Thursday I went up and rode for 25 mins before calling it a day, poor boy was wet through and steaming like a Christmas pudding! Fortunately I can have a really productive short session on J most of the time so we managed to achieve everything I wanted to before we ended.
Friday our E-Dressage tests were judged, this month we entered Easibed sponsored Intro B and LVR Equine sponsored Prelim 18. Absolutely thrilled with the scores and results this month, 72.39% and 1st in the Intro class and 68.75% and 4th in the Prelim. Given the consistent level of scores at Intro level over the last 6 or 7 entries September was to be our last Intro entry on-line and so from October we’ll solely enter the Prelim classes.
I really was gobsmacked with the Prelim score, our last (and first ever) Prelim test in June scored 57% so to jump up 11% in 3 months is fantastic and I’m glad our homework is paying off. Really looking forward to the score sheets and video feedback coming out
Saturday we (me, husband and kids) spent the day at Osberton. The weather was great, the organisation of the event was fantastic and it was really good to see so many big names there! OH took quite a few photos which can be found on his FB page RickmarPhotography.
- Sep, 2015
I’m not sure where September has gone, here we are on the last day of the month already! With work, my husband’s shifts and children’s parties I haven’t had much time to ride recently, I’m just glad I managed to record our entries earlier in the month.
Last week we had a lesson which went really well. The first session we have worked through from start to finish without giving myself or J too much of a break, I could have done with an oxygen mask at the end of it though! We started off with lots of long and low trot work incorporating shoulder-in, leg yield and introduced a few steps of travers before moving onto canter work. J really worked his socks off for a consistent half an hour before he had a break. Finishing off with stretchy trot work on figure of 8s.
It’s been a while since mum came to watch a lesson so it’s good to hear her feedback after them, a friend had also had a lesson with A before us so she stayed to watch, the first time she has really seen me ride J since March, so again it was nice to hear her comments on how much we have come on and how J seems to have matured mentally!
Thursday J had the day off and Friday he was lunged, Saturday he had the day off and I concentrated on switching all my rugs around, taking home fleeces, travel rugs and fly rugs for washing and bringing back out the turnout rugs and other winter paraphernalia.
Sunday morning I had a lovely ride in the school, it was quite misty and we were the first ones to use the school, taking advantage of this I used it to check our accuracy on circles, centre lines and leg yields. By the time we had finished we had drawn a lovely pattern in the school and J’s ears and forelock were white from the dew
This week I’ve been really busy with work and other commitments so J has taken a bit of a back seat and had a couple of days off Monday and Tuesday, today and Friday he will be lunged.
Transport is booked for our next outing later in October and I’m looking forward to seeing our results from our E-Dressage entries later this week, particularly our Prelim entry.
- Sep, 2015
We’ve had a good week following our outing last weekend. J had a couple of days off at the start of the week and came back into the school on Weds feeling really good, really supple and fresh in his mind.
Thursday we had a lesson and are now kicking on with strengthening J’s canter. Warmed up in walk, did lots of long and low trot work and then went into canter on a large circle, concentrating on maintaining the canter without worrying about J’s outline. On his right rein he has a tendency to get a bit onward for a few strides, lose his balance and collapse back into trot so we worked on pushing him through whilst not interfering with his head and leaving him to work things out for himself.
Friday he was lunged and had a really good session with some walk to canter transitions followed by a play up and down the arena steps.
It will be our first Prelim entry since June, which was our first ever entry to get a benchmark (57.37%). The test looks ok, the trot work is nice and consistent, really pleased with his trot to halt at the end and the majority of his canter work was much better than June although a little stumble coming down one long side unfortunately meant he broke back to trot early but I’m most pleased to see his canter transitions are no longer hollow.
Yesterday was a good opportunity to take some picture as the sun was shining brightly and so I did a little comparison of Yesterday’s trot work and J’s trot a year ago when he first came back into work
- Sep, 2015
Following our trials and tribulations of the previous couple of weeks we appear to have solved the girthing issues by going back to J’s old black girth. I can only deduce that his new brown girth (same size, brand etc) is a lot stiffer than his old one and being a sensitive soul he took offence to it, so my task over the next few weeks is to stretch his new girth out!
I’m quite a superstitious person and like to keep my clothes the same for competition days but I broke with routine and wore my new Dublin Breeches and prayed they would bring us as much luck as my previous competition pair had!
Saturday we headed out to our local venue, I would go so far as to say J is just as chilled here as he is at home, unloads and gets on with eating his hay without a care in the world. We had booked in for 2 tests and had lovely times of 10.42 and 11.54, similar to last month and so we kept to the same timings for loading, tacking up and warming up.
The rain kept coming on and off but J warmed up well, not as supple as we’ve had in the past but I didn’t want to work on that too much and end up affecting other parts.
In we went for our first test, Intro A, even though it was raining it was a warm day and I felt J was a little sluggish to my leg, it was fine line in the downward transitions to keep him forward enough for the marks but not too forward that he jogged into the next transition. I came out pulling a face, it felt like hard work and not the easiest test we have ridden.
We were the last of the seniors to go so didn’t have to wait too long for our scores to go up and given how I felt the test rode I was thrilled to see we had scored 74.34% and 78 collective for 1st place :-D, I was even more chuffed to read the comments at the end of our sheet “Amazing test, superb horse, super rider. So, So much potential for the future. Pleasure to judge. Huge well done” My quirky little ISH had pulled it out of the bag and got us our best comments to date in Intro A.
Onto Intro B and that felt even harder work than A, we’d been stood about for a while, it was wet, it was warm and I think he lacked some of the impulsion and sparkle I know he’s got but we scored 69.56% and 70 collective to again take 1st place, 0.5 marks from 2nd place. Happy with the comments on the sheet which reflected my thoughts from when we were warming up “lovely test, super horse. Pleasure to judge. More suppleness for higher marks”
I was then a bit dumbstruck to be asked to tack up and head back to the arena for the championship presentation as it was the end of their summer league! In the collecting ring we were handed a lovely embroidered rug as champions(!) before heading in to collect our rosette and sash.
I don’t think it all sunk in until we got back to the yard and I saw our trainer and had a little cry , tears of happiness, relief and proudness!
We finished the weekend off with a lovely hack out last night and J will now have a few days off before we record our September E-Dressage test and start working on his canter ready to move up into Prelim classes.
- Sep, 2015
Since Wednesday A has been spending time every morning saddling J up with different girths (all elasticated at both sides) to see if this would bring a positive reaction from J, each session better than the last.
Last night I went up to ride for the first time since Weds, although I had been up on Friday to groom and generally see how he was. Yesterday felt like the most nerve-racking thing I had ever done, more so than my wedding day or any competition I’ve entered.
A came in to lend a hand should I have needed it but he was really good, stood to be bridled and stood for me to put his saddle on and finish tacking up. The only I changed was going back to his old black girth which is more supple and worn than his new brown ones.
Spent 10 minutes walking round in the school before we went out on a lovely 45 min hack. He was chilled and didn’t really bother at the crisp bags or newspapers blowing around as the winds picked up. Got back to the yard and he let me untack with no issues.
His coat is looking a lot better and he looks a lot softer through his body now he is rugged up overnight.
Less than 5 days to our next competition and I’m feeling the nerves mainly due to the run up we’ve had but hopefully over the next few nights I can work on that.
It’s always been said that horses are great levellers and aren’t they just?!
Buzzing on top of the world yesterday to see we had won the E-Dressage Intro A class with a great score over 78% and ended their summer search in 13th place out of over 90 riders, not bad going, we only submitted tests for 3 out of the 4 months.
Following on from my “if only they could talk” post we had a lesson booked last night……. got to the yard, J looked dull in his coat and slightly tucked up and I suspect he is feeling the drop in temps more than some. Bridle on, saddle over back and I could see that nervous look in his eye again, took his saddle back off, I just didn’t trust him enough to walk round and take his girth down, thread his martingale attachment through or girth him up without a strop like Friday.
So I text A and asked if she could come and hold him while I finished up, she checked his back and found nothing untoward, checked his saddle fit and proceeded to finish tacking up, one girth buckle done up, 2nd one and he repeated his spin across the stable as he had done on Sunday……….
Eventually had him tacked up and the heavens opened so we left him tacked up while we deliberated over the next stages!
It doesn’t appear to be a pain related issue, more of a mental problem with him, only occurs on fastening up the 2nd girth strap, so I’ve left my saddle at the yard for A to spend some time each day building his trust back up, ordered a new bigger girth for easier fastening (new saddle has shorter panels and shorter girth straps) and he’s now rugged up overnight.
With work, kids commitments and shorter daylight hours I won’t get to ride again until probably Sunday now, the whole backward step and limited time is not ideal with little over a week to go before we are out competing again but that’s horses for you – great levellers
- Sep, 2015
As August ends and September begins I can say we have managed a year back under saddle without any major hiccups or set backs 🙂
August was a fantastic month for us, started off with a 3rd in E-Dressage Intro class, 2 firsts in Intro classes a week later out at a local venue and being appointed a Brand Ambassador for Dublin Clothing later in the month.
We finished August with J having the dentist and then a few days off followed, the month ended with a couple of hacking sessions and one in the school.
J has some quirks, he can “sit” on you when picking his back legs up, he can throw a strop when being girthed but all once in a blue moon and then nothing for months……… so Friday night came to tack him up, bridle on, saddle on, one girth buckle done up and then bam he was gone across the stable………. he’d been tensing against the girth and I’m not sure if the sound of the buckle snapping back made him jump…. it wouldn’t be the first time a similar noise has made him spook!
So I was expecting an interesting ride in the school afterwards. In actual fact the session in the school was lovely, he gave me the lightest ride to date, I remember getting off and thinking how easy he had been to ride, something I wasn’t expecting.
Sunday we hacked out and although he was better to tack up I could tell he was nervous about it. The hack was one of our most hyper, he wasn’t settled, and basically looked for anything and everything to look at/jog past………
I’m not sure what has happened in his past, only what I can piece together from google etc, I know he went through the sales 7 months before I bought him, I know he has major trust issues and he likes routine.
A few comments have been made at various times while I’ve had him in relation to what he could have done in his younger years (harness racing is one) and I wonder if starter pistols were used………. if only they could talk!
- Aug, 2015
Last month I completed a short application to become a brand ambassador for Dublin clothing UK.
Last week I received an email to say we had been selected! I can’t believe it, still can’t now, never in a million years did I think I’d be chosen!
I’ve been a big fan of Dublin clothes and boots for many years, going back to when I was a young girl. I’m really looking forward to joining the team.
Look out for my product reviews and weekly updates along with photos. I will also be providing research and development feedback to the team and recommending products to family and friends.
Me and J have been plodding along, making the most of the rapidly diminishing daylight with hacking where we can. Last week we had a lesson and worked on some novice level work, leg yield back to track, 10 and 15m circles in trot/canter following to really work on J’s engagement.
I’ve submitted our August test to E-Dressage and we’ve booked a couple of tests for our next outing in early September.
Winter planning has started, rugs have gone to be cleaned/re-proofed where necessary, hoods have been ordered and J has the dentist this week
- Aug, 2015
During #dressage hour on Twitter last night Roseanna of E-Dressage posted a picture of the Iceberg illusion, this is an image I have posted a few times on Facebook over the past couple of years for various reasons.
- It relates to my career, I’m a mum to 2 school age children (under 8), my husband works away a lot and works most weekends and I work a fulltime job as a Facilities manager. It’s hard work, juggling the kids every morning to get them to school on time and then me to work, I usually fly through the doors by the seat of my pants at 9am looking hassled before the day even starts. I then fly back out the door at 3pm to get to school on time to collect them.
At times I have to call on the grandparents to do school runs, school collections or overnight stays so I can get to early meetings, meetings in London etc and I am so lucky and grateful to have that support to call on when hubby is working away/working late.
Evenings and weekends at appropriate times of the year consist of football training, football matches and swimming lessons……… This leads me on to number 2…………..
- It relates to my hobby, J is my 6 year olds Irish Sport Horse. I bought J in 2013 as a 4 year old, not long since backed after 15 years out of the saddle and 6 months back in it, good idea?! Maybe not but I had, still have dedication/determination to succeed where he is concerned.
During the week I head up to the yard after the children have gone to bed, lovely in the summer, nice hack out, sunny schooling sessions, winter time, not so nice!! 8pm schooling sessions in wind, rain, snow, sleet etc is no-one’s idea of fun but to get the results we have achieved in the past couple of months that is what we had to do last winter and will do again this winter.
At weekends I tend to get up before everyone else so I can head up to the yard before the horses go out and can get back home without it taking too much time away from hubby and kids (competitions excluded). Along the way there has been plenty of sacrifices, my husband and children sacrifice time with me at weekends so I can go out competing and on the flip side I take my son to football most Sunday’s during the season, it’s all about balance, something I don’t always get right. Ultimately this leads to disappointment for all included, myself, my children and my husband. We all see priorities differently.
As I get older I no longer automatically look at someone and think “they’ve got it all” because I know it probably isn’t the case, there will be hours spent behind closed doors on all of the items below the water line to achieve all that we see. Everyone has the potential to be successful if they have the passion, dedication and desire.
“Some people dream about success while others wake up and work hard at it”
- Aug, 2015
This weekend we headed out to do some Intro level Dressage, the first time we have been out to do dressage since March 2014 and the first time we have left the yard since April this year.
A few new questions for J, travelling in a 3.5t and with a new travelling companion all of which he took in his stride without hesitation.
Unloaded and left the boys to enjoying haynets whilst we went to find out if we need to declare etc. I wanted to have at least 30 mins to warm up and wasn’t too far of this, got on around 10am with my first test at 10.36. It was a warm day and J was really relaxed and listening to me. We are familiar with the venue and J loves routine so I had no worries about how he would warm up.
He warmed up really well and in we went, 6th to go out of 10. He was foot perfect, didn’t look at anything and really let me ride him, he can be hot at times and overreactive to my leg but not on Saturday.
First test out of the way, took him back to the lorry and untacked as we had an hour between the 2 tests. Mum headed off to the cafe with my daughter and returned to say that we were currently sat in first place with 70.65% and 3 left to go, gobsmacked! I knew he’d given a good test but our previous best in Intro A was 64.73%, I never expected such a big increase, especially away from home!
Tacked up ready for the 2nd test, 10mins to warm back up and 3rd to go out of a class of 17, he felt even better than the first warm up and off we went back in. Again a lovely ride, over the moon with everything about the morning, his attitude, concentration, ride ability (at times I never thought I’d say that!) and coolness.
We untacked and loaded before heading down to check the scores, 72.17%!!! Delighted 🙂 We left before the class finished but I got a call after the final test to stay we had retained the lead, winning on our collective marks!
Still smiling and feeling so much love for the boy who 12 months ago I seriously thought about selling!!
Now I need to find a new saddle so we can crack on with the canter work and start with some prelims towards the end of the year.
Earlier in the week we had our saddle fitting, Sarah last came out in February and relocked to rebalance the saddle but just before J had problems with his shoulder (late June 2015) we identified that the saddle was lifting slightly in trot and canter and so booked Sarah in for once J was back in work.
Monday she came out and straight away said his saddle was tight (without clothes underneath) and so wanted me to get on with a thin pad, sat on, didn’t even walk anywhere, nope no good. Tried with halfpad under to see if it lifted the saddle enough in the interim and whilst it did once I started working him he was reluctant to go forward, tense and had lost his movement through his shoulders, plus the lifting at the back returned.
So new saddle trying commenced, whilst we have identified a couple of saddles that suit his shape they were too wide so I’m now on the hunt for the saddles in medium-wide. Have a couple to try on over the next few days before I purchase one, I’m reluctant to go out and buy one with me having sat on it having identified in the past I can find saddles to suit him but I hate them, having a long thigh bone I need something to take up my leg without pushing it over the knee roll.
Yesterday J had the day off as a few of us packed up to go and support our Yard manager (and my instructor) at Bakewell show. It was a great day out with fantastic results, 1st Heavy Horse, 2nd Novice worker and 3rd restricted worker. We left at 6.30am and returned home 12 hours later, I wasn’t even riding but was shattered! Such a good buzz though and a fab bunch of people to be with for the day 🙂
- Aug, 2015
The first couple of weeks of J being back in work were spent out hacking, anything between 20 to 50 minutes, generally every other day.
We then had a couple of sessions in the school before we both had a few days break. Managed to record our Intro B test for E-Dressage during one of the sessions. Thrilled to score 68.04% and come 3rd out of a big class of 21 Only 4 marks between us and 1st place, looking forward to seeing our score sheet, our last and only Intro B prior to this scored 66.3%. I think B suits us better than A, it flows better than A, with all the downward transitions in A after movements its very stop start.
We’ve booked in to do Intro A and B this weekend at one of our local competition venues, it will be the first time we have done Dressage at this venue although we have SJ’d there a few times.
Looking forward to seeing what August brings.
- Jul, 2015
Saturday gone we trotted J up and he trotted up really well. So back in work from Sunday evening, nothing too taxing, walk, trot only for the time being. Last night we did a few minutes in the school and then had a walk out up the lanes. Saddle fitting is booked in for early august, feet done on Friday gone and Dentist booked in for late August. I’m hopefully we will manage to record our E-Dressage test for July but we’ll see how he is at the end of next week.
While grooming him last night I noticed he is losing his summer coat and suddenly thought to myself it’ll be clipping season before we know it
- Jul, 2015
Our rosette, DVD and score sheets arrived from E-Dressage last night. Check out the fab rosette from Easibed
Although initially I was a little disappointed with the Intro score as I felt it was one of our better tests, on reflection of our score sheet, this was true, however our collective marks let us down this month……… The score sheet for the prelim was as expected with good marks for our walk and trot work with improvement for the canter.
I keep a spreadsheet which holds all our information on all dressage tests ridden so I have a quick reference on what our weaker points are, scanning this last night our centre lines have improved from 5.5 to 7.5 since March’s test, our fwlr has gone up from 11 to 13 (double marks in Intro tests) against last month and our halt from 6 to 7.5 since March.
Our weaker points are the 2 half circles EXB in the intro test. Looking through our collectives, suppleness ranges the most from 13 down to 11 this month, contact varies between 12 and 13, aids between 12 and 14 and rhythm plus my position is steady at 14 each month.
As part of the E-Dressage package we also receive a feedback DVD where the judge for the month gives feedback on how to improve marks, another tool for the kitbag, this month the judge really helped explain where I need his neck and nose to be to get those higher marks that are evading us at the moment.
Fingers crossed for a sound J later this week so we can crack on with practicing and recording Intro B 🙂
- Jul, 2015
Crowned E-dressage rider of the month for June brought a lump to my throat, we’ve come so far but still have so much to learn. Looking forward to the journey ahead.
What have we been up to…….. It’s been a while!
In June we made it to the final 5 for sponsorship with LVR Equine which was a wonderful achievement.
10th June we had a lesson and for the first time in a long time J was hot, spooky and hard work, all because he could hear a horse walking in the rehab building but couldn’t see them, he then decided anything that moved was a threat (shadows, pigeons, bikes, wheelie bins) so we made him work! In the past we would have prayed for a good 15/20 minutes and called it a day but not now, we are so much further on than that, so we used poles to keep his attention and moved between collecting up and lengthening out, he actually produced some really good work.
The following week we did quite a bit of hacking, the more we go out the quicker he is to relax and we are now going out with various people on different horses, although we are yet to venture out on our own we are really enjoying getting out and seeing the scenery. We also did a couple of short schooling sessions, mainly working on the canter and the transition into.
The week of the 22nd June saw highs and lows…… we started off the week feeling really good so I decided to practice Prelim 1 with the aim of recording it for online submission for June along with Intro A so we concentrated on centre lines, canter circles and free walk on a long rein, J can be really nosey and the slightest sound or movement will bring his head up during this movement but on the Monday night he worked really well and it seemed to click.
On the Wednesday night I went up and recorded both Intro A and Prelim tests, both tests viewed back look good, both have their ok and better parts, in the intro we are off on the centre line entry, in the Prelim our canter is not on contact but we know this is our weak link at the moment, centre line on this test is much better and I’m really happy with the fwlr in both tests. Both videos are on You Tube if anyone wants to view them……
Thursday 25th we had a lesson, had a good 20 minutes warming up, walk, trot, canter and then started on turn on the haunches followed by halt to trot, we carried this out a few times before on one of the trot lines J went lame…….. Interestingly when sitting to wrong diagonal he was sounder but obviously lame when on the correct one. Stripped him off, trotted him up and pin pointed his shoulder as the problem. Couple of days of bute and box rest and represented on Sunday, still not right. So we carried on with Box rest until last night when we had a good look at him, he’s carrying his tail slightly left at the moment and he has tightness and soreness in his right shoulder so we’re going to bute for a week and then reassess next weekend 11/12 July. Saddle fitter is booked to come out on the 14th as well.
- Jun, 2015
While looking through old photos and videos yesterday and doing comparisons over the past few months I stumbled across a photo taken on the day I went to view J in April 2013.
I feel immensely proud of what we (me, my mum, my instructor) have nurtured this wonderful boy into over the past 2 years. It’s not been easy and there have been times I wanted to throw in the towel and sell up, especially in the first 18 months but since November we seem to have really bonded and come together.
I owe so much to my wonderful instructor who has pushed us through comfort zones and taught us (me) to believe in things instead of asking half heartedly (transitions and the like). She has given us the confidence and self-belief that actually, we can do things!
- Jun, 2015
I’ve been a bit poor at updating this recently, working for an education company we are in our busiest period (April to July) and having just added a 3rd building to my portfolio I’ve only really been finding time to juggle work, kids and riding. I do endeavour to keep my Facebook page updated daily though.
We’ve had 3 fantastic lessons since my last update, working on flexion, left, right and straight when on a circle and on the straight lines. Left rein we find this quite difficult and have to work harder to get the bend we desire. Right rein is much easier.
Last week’s lesson saw us get soaked to the bones but it was a fantastic test of J’s attitude as he didn’t put a foot wrong or show one ounce of unwillingness in the awful weather.
The lesson before we did some pole work and finishes of with some cross poles which we both really enjoyed 🙂
Last night’s lesson we warmed up on 20, 10 and 7m circles in walk before moving onto the trot work and leg yielding followed by flexion work. We followed this up by canter work on a roughly 20m circle. I found some new buttons to push and it felt amazing, the power from his quarters was fabulous. The highest point though was the fact he let me put my leg on as I did, 6 months ago he would have taken off round the school with his head up my nose!!
Lots of photos added to my photo album from these lessons.
We have also been doing some hacking out, at least once a week up to about 90 minutes in walk to build his muscle even more.
Really pleased with how things are progressing and how J is maturing. Quite excited for the future 😀
- May, 2015
After a 6 weeks break from lessons we got back to it last week. Working on tempo, rhythm and transitions with in the paces. Playing around with medium trot and walk. We then did plenty of canter work on a circle at B or E so J couldn’t use the fence line to balance.
We then did some work on straightness and lateral movement (leg yield and working on the 3/4 line).
Last night we worked on more trot work and more of the canter work as above. We also worked on me using my right leg more, I’ve found since the accident last year my right leg doesn’t hug his side like my left leg so I really had to work on applying my leg to his side to keep the canter going on the right rein.
- May, 2015
A big Dressage Anywhere class this month with 23 entries! Scores of 66.30% and 67 collective. Just out of the prizes in 8th.
Over the moon and slightly disappointed all at the same time. Really pleased with only our 2nd entry, almost 2% increase on last month, edging closer to 70% with an 8 in there for our transitions.
Slightly disappointing as we were less than 0.25% (half a mark) off 5th place and less than 2% off 3rd place.
Lovely comments from another list 2a judge, steps correct, it’s all there just needs tweaking for carriage and suppleness in frame to be shown to earn the higher marks for us both.
Tempted to start submitting a prelim entry every now and then for benchmarking.
So 2 years! 27th of April was our 2 year anniversary, amazing!! I’m so proud of how far we have come, especially in the past 6 months or so, from being anxious about getting on him to going out competing at new venues, indoor, outdoor, SJ and in hand and each time he’s been foot perfect.
There are many things I want to be out doing with J through this summer, CHAPS qualifiers, more dressage and some XC schooling but we’ll have to see how we get on with transport. I’d also like to introduce other rides to him as eventually he will have to work for a ride judge….
Today Petplan crowned J horse of the month, I’m sure there are lots of other horses (and owners) out there worthy of this award so it is a real honour to receive this and cements my thoughts that hard work, patience and perseverance really does pay off.
- Apr, 2015
Lots to update on from the last few weeks:
Due to the weather and a personal circumstances for my trainer we haven’t had a lesson since the 19th March. I feel we’re at a stage now where it’s not so critical to have a lesson every week as we can spend time fine tuning a lot of the things we have been working on in past lessons.
J’s canter transitions have come on so much and I put a lot of this down to his lunge session once a week. Here he can find his rhythm and balance without me on his back. He’s happily working in self carriage in walk consistently and we are getting there in trot, usually lifting his head to be nosy!
The results were finalised for our Dressage Anywhere entry, we finished in 5th place with 64.78% (and 68 collective). I’m thrilled with the mark for many reasons but primarily it was the first time we have done a dressage test since March 2014 and 4 weeks prior to recording the test we changed bits (moved from pelham to snaffle). Our collective mark of 68 is 3rd highest (current leader on 73) and as these are the marks awarded for contact, suppleness, correct paces, my position and aids I am really pleased.
On recording the test I knew there were mistakes, centre lines overshot and halt not straight at the end being the main ones, I could have re-recorded the test but for this to be a useful training tool you have to be honest and use the first recording of the day, after all, out at a competition you don’t get a re-run if things don’t go to plan.
I then went away for a few days with the family, it was nice to get away and recharge the batteries. On returning we started trimming and preening ready for the outdoor show season starting on the 12th April.
Yesterday we braved the winds and headed out to our local Riding club with a plan of doing a couple of in hand classes and maybe novice working hunter. As always with horses things didn’t quite go to plan and the wind on the showground made us question entering anything!
So we scrapped the working hunter idea and decided to enter just the 1 in hand class in which we came 2nd
The winds had steadily got stronger so we decided to call it a day on a good note before we all got fed up and too cold.
Another good experience to put under our belts.
- Mar, 2015
J had Mon off following our outing on Sunday, went up and rode on Tuesday for around 40 minutes. It’s so rewarding to now get on and him be ready to work within a few minutes of warming up. I left his martingale on but felt it was restrictive at times, especially through our canter transitions.
He worked well but felt tired so planned to have a chat with A during our lesson on Thursday night.
Thursday we had our lesson (best one to date according to A), splitting the lesson between moving him on into a more purposeful working trot (rather than working in his comfort zone), stretching for medium steps, canter transitions and lots of flexion questions for J. I took his martingale off again and found it isn’t really needed (although I will probably still use it for jumping and hacking for the time being).
I had a good chat with A about his energy levels and his overall condition and decided to stick with his current feed for now with a view of looking at conditioning cubes depending on how he goes through spring/early summer. We are both reluctant to change/add anything at the moment while he is going so well, one thing I am going to add is Forever Freedom (Aloe Vera gel) on a maintenance dose for his joints now he is doing a fair amount of work.
Only a week to go until the clocks go forward, the light is in sight 🙂
- Mar, 2015
It’s been a long, hard slog but I really feel lately that every time I get on J he wants to work with me instead of against me, even when he’s being a spooky so and so like during our lesson on Thursday night
Coats, men coughing, shadows, cars, the gate, none existent things, you name it, he looked for and found it, or imagined it anyway.
In all we had another really good lesson and spent the session working on our trot work and transitions to and from the walk while keeping the softness and suppleness through both of us.
Saturday I recorded Intro A to submit online for March’s dressage anywhere competition. Scored at 64.78% with lovely comments from the judge:
Rhythmic, correct paces, at times needing to be more over the back with greater energy.
Very willing horse with a lot of potential when more forward.
Really pleased with the score and the comments, a few marks thrown away for silly errors (overshooting CL, halt not straight at end) but encouraging to know we are on the right track and that only a month ago we were still riding in a pelham.
Sunday we went out SJ (4th time out) and got our first double clear, taking it steady in the jump off for 2nd place Next class he’d gone off the boil due to the time between both classes, unfortunate 2 down and 8 faults for 5th. Lots of positives from the day as well, jumped in the snaffle for the first time, lots of hanging around, busy collecting ring, class was all uprights (no spreads or oxers) and he was foot perfect.
I enjoyed jumping him in the snaffle, he didn’t get strong or silly and I think not having the extra brakes of the curb rein played in our favour as I wasn’t collecting him up as much as I have done previous. In turn he had more impulsion to the uprights and found them easier to jump than he has in previous weeks.
A few weeks break now from competing before the outdoor season starts so time to start pulling and trimming ready for bathing and plaiting!!
- Mar, 2015
Last night I rode, without a coat! It was mild enough for a T-Shirt 🙂 We worked for a good 40 mins mainly on our trot work and J’s straightness, lots of circles with some shoulder-fore thrown in to keep him thinking. Did a small amount of canter work but with another livery in (and jumps out) at the same time space was limited to do what I wanted so kept it short with just a few transitions on each rein.
Finished off by popping over a cross pole with white blocks under half a dozen times with the aim of building his confidence enough to jump fillers etc first time round.
J was lunged on Friday and had a day off to enjoy the lovely weather yesterday.
This morning I took advantage of a late football kick off and rode first thing. 20mins schooling and then a nice 20 mins walk out with mum. The first time we have hacked out since November for various reasons (mainly the time I tend to go up to ride).
We seem to be getting on quite well with the Turtle top bit and I’m glad I made the switch from the pelham. For those who are interested I have posted a couple of videos on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/apachediamond of the first time in the Turtle top and then one from this morning (less than 3 weeks and 4 hours riding time later).
Still very much a work in progress but all heading in the right direction 🙂
- Mar, 2015
Last night we had a fantastic lesson 🙂 J got straight down to work, none of the usual 15 mins of nose poking and trying to evade the contact (at this point I have to start thinking this is down to him being happier in his mouth in the turtle top). before relaxing.
We started off with some sitting trot, something we haven’t done much of since he has been back in work, before moving onto trot for a few strides, into walk, small circle in walk, back in to sitting trot. Lots of quick sharp transitions to keep him thinking, working, stepping under and supple.
We then did some canter work on both reins, the video is much a happier picture than a few weeks ago and this is only our 4th lesson this year. Finishing off with more trot to work on the bends through changes of rein over a figure of 8.
Mum got on to cool him down, only the 2nd time anyone else has sat on him since I bought him. He appeared less anxious than the first time she got on and he soon dropped his head and neck and relaxed.
Starting to feel excited about where we could be heading!
- Mar, 2015
I’m delighted to announce we have been selected to join the Selwood Equine senior team for 2015. Our branded saddle cloth arrived yesterday along with a pair of Tattini breeches which I am looking forward to trying out.
Selwood Equine stock a huge range of quality equine clothing, including leading equestrian riding brands such as Tattini, Animo and Kingsland at the most competitive prices you will find. Tattini is an Italian brand created in 1860. They combine Italian styling with high quality materials to produce a range of equestrian sporting goods. This stylish brand has products such as Breeches, Show Shirts, Show Jackets, Tack, Rugs and Footwear. While Animo equestrian clothing concentrates more on standing out in the ring with its lively, colourful collections that reveals the typical charm of products! It also stands out for its advanced technology. Kingsland equestrian clothing is a more fashionable, every day, yard wear. Kingsland also stock some fantastic competition wear for the ring, but they also have many coats, jackets and hoodies for everyday fashionable wear with an equine twist.
Selwood products have been distributing climbing frames since 2004.
My own children have a clair-monte climbing frame which is proving to be a fantastic buy. We have had the frame just under 2 years and is still looking as good as new, the kids spend many hours throughout the year playing on the various sections come rain or shine.
- Feb, 2015
As usual J had a couple of days off following the weekend to chill out and process everything what had been asked of him.
The past couple of evenings I’ve spent more time riding in the snaffle and each night has shown improvement in his acceptance of the contact and each time he has been quicker to warm up and start working over his back.
Last night his canter work was particularly nice, quick transitions, steady pace and rhythm we moved off circles and went large round the school on each rein. We also had some poles out across the diagonal for a bit of variation.
Really pleased with how things are progressing at the moment.
- Feb, 2015
We’ve been out Showjumping 3 times now since late Jan. Yesterday we moved up a class to 65cm and came 4th, not world beating but for us it’s a massive achievement in terms of building confidence.
I’m so proud of how far we have come since I got back in the saddle in September and what we have achieved so far in the few competitions we have entered so this year. Every outing has been a learning curve for both of us for various reasons but every questions J has taken in his stride and learnt from them.
Yesterday we had a couple of refusals in the first class at the 2nd jump, wavy fish planks!! Most scary to novice J, but in the 2nd class he flew straight over them, even if he did make sure the fish weren’t going to bite his belly by giving it massive clearance!!
Looking forward to making a start on some dressage competitions next month and then early spring shows in April 🙂
Last night we had a lesson, the first one we’ve had with J in a snaffle. He worked hard (sweating for the first time since clipping started in October) for the full session.
I feel we’ve almost taken a step back in the snaffle as we have gone back to the giraffe head carriage in trot and J arguing against the contact but I know the step needs to be taken for us to continue moving forward and we did manage some nice work at time.
- Feb, 2015
As we haven’t been out competing since our last post I’ve taken advantage of the times he is ridden to concentrate on everything we have been doing in our lessons to strengthen his top line and get him even (in terms of suppleness) on both sides.
I rode him the day after our last competition for 20 mins at most, he felt tired so we just did some stretching work and called it a day.
He’s been lunged a few times (generally once a week) to help with his canter and it is definitely noticeable under saddle, so much smoother and the motor biking round circles is becoming less.
Mum videoed a few of our sessions earlier this week, it’s funny how things feel so much worse under you than how they look back on the video. It’s nice in a way because if he can look ok when he feels like a tense plank of wood what does he look like when he feels good (we’ve never managed to video this!!)?
We’ve done a few sessions back in the snaffle now, each time he has worked well, walk he works on a lovely soft contact, trot his head carriage is higher than I would like but nowhere near what it was 5 months ago and surprisingly his canter is really nice, at least on the same level as when ridden in the pelham. All really promising, I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to make his snaffle the everyday bit and keep the pelham for showing.
Weather permitting we are off out SJ again this weekend, will give the clear round a miss and step up a class and do 55 and 65cm (against clear round and 55cm last time out)
- Feb, 2015
Sunday we headed out to do some more novice SJ. We decided to forego the clear round and use the 45cm as our warm up round and then enter the 55cm afterwards. We went to the same venue as a couple of weeks ago but J was in a totally different frame of mind, not as quick to settle once in the collecting ring, took a dislike to puddles, ponies and was nappy at times.
Warmed up, popped a couple of cross poles and went in for the 45cm, 1 pole down and 6th overall. We then had a bit of a wait for the next class while the jump finished so I jumped off and let him have a bit of a break from the atmosphere in the collecting ring.
Jump off over and we were 5th to go in the 55cm, warmed back up and headed back in, 2 poles down for 2nd place The round wasn’t brilliant, I didn’t set him up well enough for the first jump which he had down, I don’t think he was ready it for it and trailed his back legs. The other we had down was a skinny upright and again he trailed his back legs, I have no doubt if they had been oxers or spreads he would have left them up, he just gets lazy at times.
Next time we head out (hopefully at the end of the month) I think we’ll do the 55cm as warm up and enter the 65cm as well to give him more to think about.
Who would have thought before Christmas I’d said “I’ll be happy if our feet never leave the ground again”
- Feb, 2015
Weather has been kind enough to manage a couple of rides since our saddle fitting – even managed a ride after work in the daylight!! Spring is on its way 😀
Last night we had a lesson for the first time in what feels like ages, I think we have now managed 2 this year……. Warmed up, during which J nearly had heart attack at a lady stood at the gate watching the lesson before me, all because she was wearing a big puffa coat and a bobble hat the next time round past her he was happier, I wouldn’t say settled but he didn’t try taking off with me in the opposite direction.
That kind of set the tone for the first half of the lesson, ears up, neck and head up so we worked on bringing his poll down and asking him to relax by doing lots of circles, changes of rein and gear changes within trot.
We then moved on to some canter transitions, something we haven’t done much of since the end of last year but I was pleasantly surprised how easy he now offers the canter on both reins without throwing his head up and back and then using the underside of his neck to balance and wizz round like a motorbike. We had a couple of episodes where if I had my leg on stronger we would have had walk to canter, again it’s nice that he is so willing and eager to please and get things right, even if he does try running before he can walk so to speak.
We finished the session off with some direct pressure work, turn on the haunches, turn on the forehand and rein back, all to get him used to the fact leg on does not always mean go! It is the first time we have ever done the turns under saddle and he picked it up quite quickly once he understood what was being asked.
- Feb, 2015
Today we had a routine saddle fit/check. Sarah from Yorkshire saddlery repairs came to check our saddle in April 2014 and concluded that it no longer fitted J, so I came away with a shiny new one (for us).
A week later I had the fall and so the saddle was stored pretty much for the next 5 months. Now J is back in work I wanted to have the fit checked before we move on with more jumping/faster work.
Happily J hasn’t changed shape much to say he has been in out and out of work like he has but the saddle did need some flocking doing to rebalance it and fill a couple of flat spots that had appeared. Through the leaner months we are to girth on the 2nd/3rd straps and summer go back to 1st and 3rd straps. Sarah’s first comments (as they were the first time round) were look at the size of his shoulders for the size of him and how forward is his girth groove…….
Whilst J is having a few days off mainly due to the weather I thought I’d post my views on Jin Stirrups.
I started looking at different types of stirrups after the injury to my knee last April left it feeling achy and stiff after lengthy periods of time in the saddle. I did the usual google searches, sprengers came up, as did Jins, Mountain Horse, Anky and JW to name a few. I then visited a local tack shop and came across the sprengers, initial thoughts were they’re heavy, being used to plastic stirrups it immediately put me off.
I then posted in a FB group asking for opinions and Jin were the clear winner so I decided to bite the bullet and ordered a pair in December.
The first time I rode in them I noticed the difference straight away, no aching knee, better leg position (more consistent) and I felt more secure. Now 6 weeks into using them I can 100% say they are one of the best purchases I have made (along with NS bits). It’s hard to describe the feeling they give but being so lightweight you don’t really feel like you have your feet in stirrups.
Even jumping last weekend I felt secure and my leg position was good, I’d recommend them to anyone who is thinking about buying them.
- Jan, 2015
Today we headed out to our first competition of 2015 and our first ever SJ one! Now, I haven’t jumped more than 2 cross poles since my fall while jumping last April so I had moments of thinking I must have gone slightly mad to have contemplated it and hoping the snow stayed on the ground so we couldn’t get off the yard.
So we headed off with my friend Jo and her horse A. I’d decided that regardless of the result I wanted to come away having had a nice warm up session in the collecting ring and both of us to have enjoyed it.
Got there, tacked up and got on. The collecting ring was quiet to start with but progressively got busier and I could feel J bubbling and getting hotter underneath me so I sat quiet and let him get over things (mainly ponies wizzing past him/up behind him), after a couple of jogging outbursts I asked him to trot on and he surprised me with how calm and collected he was 🙂
We only popped a couple of crosses before we headed in for the clear round, I gave him a good walk round so he could see the fillers and the spectators and off we went………… Clear! Absolutely over the moon, I could have cried, he was so brave, I could feel him backing off at times but I kept my leg on and nursed him round.
We then went in the 55cm class and had 1 down which gave us 5th place . Can’t believe it, so proud of J and how he behaved today, I would happily have gone home after we warmed up the collecting ring so to come home with 2 rosettes was just the icing on the cake.
- Jan, 2015
After enjoying the ride so much on Sunday I text my instructor to see if she could fit me in Tuesday night for a lesson, brilliant as she always is, she could
So last night we had our lesson, it was sub-zero and my fingers went cold quite quickly but soon warmed back up once A started us working.
We spent most of the session in trot, going back to where left off without last lesson in December. Asking J to bend round my inside leg, move away from my outside leg and get him stepping under with his inside hind.
So small circles in trot followed by 20m circles in trot, followed by shoulder in down the long sides, small trot strides on short sides and longer trot strides on the long sides, at one point he felt great, until he decided to spook at some cord tied to the gate!!
I had lost his attention then so we moved to working on a 20m circle in one half of the school and did lots of 20/15/10m circles in trot, he was shattered bless him. His stretching was really good and A made some really positive comments about the changes in his neck and the way his muscles are re-building.
Good to get back into lessons and have 1 which left us on a high as we woke up to snow this morning so it maybe a while before we do much again (praying for rain tonight)!
- Jan, 2015
Yesterday I got to ride – Yippee! To be fair I did have to wait most of the morning for the ice to thaw on the ground for it to be safe enough but it was worth the wait!
Again J has had almost 2 weeks off from ridden work due to the weather but he was foot perfect. A little nosey at times at the neighbours riding in the fields over the road and the liveries boxing up to go out competing but he really felt like he was enjoying himself. A few poles had been left scattered about the arena so we used those to keep him thinking about where his feet were and keep the rhythm consistent.
We stuck to walk and trot due to the frost underfoot so did plenty of different size circles, serpentines and halt transitions.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and from the veins showing on J’s neck and shoulder and steam coming from his quarters I think J worked quite hard for me.
All being well we are off jumping this weekend!! Wish us luck
- Jan, 2015
Really quiet here at the moment……… weather has been mainly nasty, high winds and rain. It’s now turned cold but the winds and rain are forecast to be back tonight for a couple for days 🙁
Lessons I had booked have been cancelled, 1 is in for tomorrow night but with forecast I suspect that one will be re-arranged. I’m finding it hard to stay motivated at the moment with the weather and things going off at work and home but last night I made the effort to go up and see J after a few nights of not.
I spent a good hour pampering him, grooming, massaging, oiling his feet and generally just chilling out with him which was nice, no pressure to do anything and nothing to rush around for.
The New Year is in full swing now and we’ve managed to ride a handful of times and lunge once 🙂
Hubby came up to the yard one evening and took some photos which J happily posed for!
The last time I rode I tried him under saddle in the turtle top bit for 15 minutes just to get a quick idea of how he felt and if there was any immediate resistance. J seemed happy enough in his mouth, the only difference I noticed was a slightly higher head carriage but I would expect that compared to riding in the pelham. I also wasn’t overly pushing him to work, the majority of the session was in walk with a couple of trot circles.
We’ve started making plans to get out and about in the next month, first off a Novice jumping event to give J a break from the school environment and have a bit of fun together, then fingers crossed our first showing show early March.
Saddle fitter is booked for 26th Jan and we have a lesson booked for next Thurs 15th.
- Jan, 2015
Happy New Year!! Things on the riding front have been very quiet since my last post. We had some horrible gales which lasted a few days, easing on Christmas Eve so I took the opportunity to lunge J and try out the new bit. He worked well and seemed settled in his mouth so I’ll be interested to see how it transfers under saddle.
We did lots of sharp transitions, 10 trot, 5 walk, 10 trot. 10 walk, halt 5 seconds etc and worked on slowing and quickening, larger and smaller circles just things to keep him thinking and working.
Then on Boxing Day we had SNOW! It totally halted play. The roads were bad so I walked up to the yard on the weekend and then didn’t go up again until yesterday but with the snow still on the ground and icy in places I only went to show my face and give him some treats.
Now the grass has died off I’ve reintroduced a balancer which he did well on last winter and he’ll probably remain on this until April time.
The snow finally disappeared this morning but has been replaced with winds and rain so J is on an extended unplanned holiday, not what I had in mind for the Christmas break, 3 days and I’m back at work.
Hopefully the weather will be kind enough tomorrow for us to get back in the saddle. I don’t aim to be out and about on him until March but I do hope to submit an entry to dressage anywhere this month.
- Dec, 2014
J has had a few intermittent days off recently. J’s been ridden once since our lesson on Friday, busy sorting the last bits and bobs for Christmas, kids finishing school and the weather not being brilliant has all contributed to me not spending much time at the yard lately.
The time I have had spare I’ve spent sending off registration forms to the various associations and clubs (BSPA, CHAPS, BD and PDRC), giving all our tack a good thorough clean and check over (full strip, leather dressing on, bits soaked, leather soaped and all put back together again) and planning some shows for 2015 (added to our show diary page).
This morning I took delivery of the new Neue Schule turtle top bit on trial for the next month.
I’m really enjoying riding in Jin stirrups, my knees are noticeable less achy after riding, stirrups are easy to find and I really like the wide foot bed.
A real happy note to end this post on – the nights are starting to draw back out from today
- Dec, 2014
Today we headed off for a lesson with Nicola Wilson. After the wobbles and quirkiness earlier in the week just going was an achievement in itself! I came so close to cancelling so many times (Thanks to Ann, mum and Jo for kicking me up the bum)
J loaded and travelled lovely. Unloaded and popped him into a stable while we sorted ourselves out. He went straight for the hay and made himself at home. A good sign, he was relaxed and happy!
Tacked up and went into the arena which had mirrors (he loved admiring himself) and stables which looked into the area but he took it all in his stride and didn’t really give anything a second glance.
As we haven’t really done any jumping since April we asked for a flatwork session so Nicola suggested working on straightness, impulsion and transitions.
Nicola picked up immediately how nervous I was (not of the riding but not really knowing what J was going to be like) and set about putting me at ease by talking about his blingy browband and his colouring/markings (and comparisons to Beltane Queen).
So we set off in walk to let J have a look round and then went into trot, 10m circles on alternate corners with walk transitions on the long sides to establish a rhythm and concentration. We then did some work on his transition into trot because he has a habit of hollowing slightly and almost hopping into trot before moving onto some trot to halt transitions which he did really well.
Swapped reins and repeated before we came into the middle for a de-brief prior to canter work. Nicola identified the rein he finds things more difficult on and also commented that I (without knowing it) half halt as I ask for the trot transition which contributes to his hollowing/hopping, so something for me to work on!!
Back out onto the track to canter large before coming onto a 20m circle, back to trot and walk and repeat on each rein. Before I knew it time was up!
Nicola gave us some really positive comments about his paces and how he reads me and knows what I’m going to ask, almost before I even ask it of him.
Me – It wasn’t the best ride J’s given me, however, I couldn’t be happier with the way he behaved today, the weather was foul at times, he was in an unfamiliar venue and hasn’t been ridden much this past week but he pulled it out of the bag for me today
- Dec, 2014
It’s been a busy few days with Family, work and J. This is my final week at work before I break for Christmas, a whole 18 days off!!
We finished last week off with a newsletter from Haynet where we are mentioned as the “This week Haynet loves” blog 🙂 We did some lunging when the weather finally calmed down enough and I rode on Friday morning;
J was quite nosey to start with so we got on with some circles, changes of rein and transitions between walk, trot and halt with some half decent shoulder-in on both reins, something which evaded us on Monday night (one rein was good, the other none existent) to bring his attention to me.
We then worked on the canter transition, following the exercise from Mon night, small walk circle and into canter asap. Again J offered walk to canter a couple of times and I noticed the transitions on the right rein (the rein he struggles with) are starting to become sharper.
A week today we have a lesson booked with THE Nicola Wilson!! Really looking forward to that, oh and I took the flash off J’s noseband today.
On Sunday I test rode my new Jins from www.horse-security.com for the first time.
Initial thoughts are I love them, my legs (especially my right) felt much more stable in them and I really like the wide footbed. I’m used to riding in lightweight stirrups so that didn’t bring anything different to me, and they are Oh so Pretty!!
J was rather fresh and unimpressed by his 8am wake up call but needs must, a day out with Family meant either rising with the birds or no riding.
It was quite windy and J was spooky from the off. Kept the session short and sweet, with his attention on me and finished with some canter work.
I’ve managed to keep the flash attachment off and J seems quite settled and happy (touch wood no attempts to get his tongue over the bit), I’m hoping to transition him back into a snaffle in the New Year.
I’ve been busy raising the profile of my FB page through Instagram and twitter and this website is heading towards 55,000 visits in just over 8 weeks of activity
I’m also going to start populating the show diary section with dates for 2015 and I plan to enter the dressage anywhere online tests once a month from January.
The power of social media and the World Wide Web really is something, little over 5 weeks since starting our website/blog we are already close to 7000 hits!! I’d just like to take the opportunity to say Thank You to everyone who has taken the time to have a look/read x
- Dec, 2014
Yesterday I was over the moon to receive an email from Chrysalis Photography in Chesterfield:
Further to your entry into our competition in conjunction with Becci Harrold, I’m delighted to let you know that you have been selected to receive a fantastic portrait experience with Chrysalis Photography worth £175 as one of our runners up.
Your prize includes a full 2 hour Equine session worth £100 either at Dunston Hole Farm, Chesterfield or the location your horse is stabled (within a 35 mile radius). Also included is a beautiful framed desk portrait worth £75.
I’ve booked the session for the 23rd of July 2015 in the evening. Really looking forward to it
- Dec, 2014
Oh my, J was fantastic tonight! So chuffed with him. Lots of difficult work today, spiral trot circles, small walk circles in to canter as soon as possible (which gave us a couple of walk to canter transitions), baby shoulder fore/in exercises and lots of stretchy work.
At one point his canter felt soooo good, balanced steady and powerful (rocking horse canter). Yep, he felt good tonight and tried so hard with everything I asked of him.
I have to give a mention to Ann, her teaching style just suits us so well, everything she says is easy to understand and put into practice and because of that we are so much further on than I could ever imagine after only 4 lessons
- Dec, 2014
Timed tonight’s lunge session well, it’s now throwing it down with rain and the wind has got up.
Yesterday I rode, just half an hour in the school. It was quite buzzy, lots of people around, vehicles and machinery moving and all parts of the school being used.
I half expected the atmosphere to blow his brain but apart from a few episodes of ear pinning as other horses went past he worked really well and quite relaxed. It was a bit like dodge ball in the school on occasion, people jumping and cantering past, something he’s not used to but he responded well and it’s all good experience for him.
Lesson tomorrow afternoon 🙂
- Dec, 2014
December already! The year has flown by, I’ve been so busy with work and the kids (plus husband working away) that I’ve not had a chance to blog for a week or more so I have quite a bit to put down.
26th Nov and I rode in the evening, 30 mins of more long and low in trot, really encouraging him to seek and take the contact down while swinging through his back. Canter transitions, not really thinking about his head carriage as this will come with time and rearrangement (if that’s the word) of his neck muscles.
27th Nov J had the farrier, he’s barefoot and has been for a good 18 months now. I’m blessed (or he is) that he has really good hard feet (even though he has 4 white stockings) and the only issue I have encountered while he’s been barefoot was a touch of thrush caused by poor drainage in his stable earlier in the year.
While doing dressage will not change anything for his feet I’m not sure the same can be said for county standard shows, some of the classes rule that horses must be shod so that is a bridge we will cross if we need to.
28th Nov due to fog the previous night we moved our lesson to the Friday. We had a fabulous time with A. I don’t really know where to begin or what to say about the session. J was fantastic, he gave 100% for every minute of the lesson! Every so often I see glimpses of the horse he can be (and what he is capable of)
we’ve been working hard through the week on softness, working low (poll level with withers) as much as possible and our canter transitions. Nights like this remind me that even if I only manage 20-30 minutes a session as long as it’s positive and productive it’s enough to keep us moving forward.
We finished the session with mum getting on to cool him down, while he was as good as gold the anxiety he sometimes displays was still there bubbling under the surface. He’s not brilliant with new situations (such as new riders) but he coped well.
29th Nov A suggested I ride again to see how much J had retained from the night before. So I headed down to the school, his suppleness, bend and softness was apparent from the off, no spending 10-15 minutes working him in, it was just there! We did 10 minutes trot work and then went straight into the canter and managed some spirals 🙂 I was over the moon, not so many weeks back I was lucky to get half a 20m circle from him in canter and here we were spiralling in from 20m to cantering round A and her horse. It felt great and then we span round onto the other rein and did the same, although not as easy for him he still gave it a good shot.
A then left us to it and we went back to more long and low trot work before cooling him off and calling it a day.
J then had a couple of well-deserved days off mainly due to husband working away and poorly children/children’s sporting activities.
2nd Dec I popped J on the lunge for 20 mins, 5 mins warm up, 10 mins with side reins on followed by 5 mins cool down. He is finding the work in the side reins much easier now he knows what is expected of him.
4th Dec our lesson was re-arranged due to A feeling under the weather following a trip to the dentist. My lovely (non horsey) Dad came to babysit the kids while me and mum went to the yard so I could ride.
It was feeding time at the yard when we arrived so we tricked J with a couple of handfuls of feed in his bucket before tacking up. I’ve been breaking my Ariats in over the past few nights so I decide to ride in them tonight, they’ve only been sat in the cupboard 2 years!
J was quite fizzy, having not been ridden for 6 days this is normal for him, it just means a good 20 -25 minutes of working him in before I get decent work out of him. It didn’t take quite that long tonight, his walk and trot work was pretty good from the off but he felt buzzy and not really listening to me so we did some canter work to take the edge off before doing more trot work. Finished off with more canter circles and then called it a night as he had started sweating.
Riding in the Ariats was quite refreshing (which I expected when I normally ride in my Toggi Canyons), I could actually feel his side and know how much pressure I was putting on when asking for bend, transitions etc.
I thought I’d do a quick blog post on what products and suppliers I use on a regular basis.
Fur Feather Meds and Equissential Dressage are my one stop shops for all things pretty! Saddlecloths, bandages, boots, headcollars, rugs etc. Lili (FFM) and the girls at Equissential (Hayley and Nic) are so friendly and nothing is too much trouble for them, you even get free goodies!!
Items are available from Eskadron, Eurostar, Lamicell, Scapa, Harry’s Horse and HV Polo to name a few.
Equine Health & Wellbeing (who are also our sponsor) provide myself and J with lotions and potions to ensure we are feeling and looking well. One item I have used a lot so far this autumn is the Aloe Lips. It’s a fantastic lip balm which took me through 8 weeks of having a cold and keep my lips hydrated (usually they would have dried up and cracked).
Our other go to products are NS bits, Sabre for our bridles, GFS for our saddle and Feedmark for our supplements.
All of the above companies provide top quality items at a fair price with outstanding customer service.
- Nov, 2014
Last Thurs we had another lesson with A. We warmed up while A finished off with the session before me and then we went straight into canter exercises.
A had set 2 poles up, 1 on each corner in the bottom of the school near C. The aim to trot over the pole and the momentum would then give us the canter. The first time I was all over the place, J stood on the pole and as I squeezed for canter he bucked. We regrouped and came at it again. We continued on both reins and then added in other exercises and took the poles away.
Trotting large round the school, 10m circle at E & B and then canter just after C onto a 20m circle and keep it going and the switch to the other rein. It was a good session and he worked so hard, I did make a bit of error and that was putting his exercise fleece on, he was wet through by the time we finished, even though he is clipped out (lesson learnt there!)
Friday he had the evening off work, I went up and tidied his tail/mane etc and ran some mane and tail conditioner through to help with keeping some of the mud at bay.
Saturday I did more of what we had done on Thursday night with A and then Sunday I lunged him. A had mentioned lunging him once a week in side reins so I’d dug those out.
In walk he naturally holds his head/neck low so the reins didn’t really have a job to do but they did come into play in trot and it took him a couple of circles to realise what he needed to do before he stretched down into them. His better rein he picked up quicker and did some really nice forward work, albeit a bit bent to the outside, so I need to shorten the inside rein by a notch to bring his bend round the right way.
Monday I rode again, just walk and trot for half an hour before I called it a day, he was starting to sweat up again and I was short on time to be hanging around waiting for him to dry off and I was happy with the work he had done.
Last night I gave him the day off, he’s averaging 5 days a week in work now, between 30 mins and an hour with a good variety of walk, trot and canter, plus at least 1 lunge session.
I really want to get out and about on him over the winter, so many shows keep popping up that I think Oo that’d be a nice one to go too but the lack of transport is putting a stop to that, although I could hire a box (at a cost of £100 a day) I’d rather the money be spent on lessons at this moment in time. Who knows maybe one day Hubby will surprise me
- Nov, 2014
Tuesday night I put J on the lunge, I can’t remember the last time he was lunged as I feel we can achieve so much more under saddle but I want to keep him working properly while we have the good weather still here (around 10 degrees during the day).
Warmed him up and then put a bungee on, now we are working on building his neck up properly I need to make sure he is using himself correctly, especially in trot, in walk he is very good at over tracking and working long and low but in trot on the lunge he does replicate a swan at times (partly due to being so nosey!).
He worked really well, I could tell he was finding it hard work so we kept the session short (10mins max) with the bungee on before removing it and going back to walk work to cool off.
Yesterday I went up and rode during the day. We ticked a massive box :), I went up on my own and apart from A opening the gate to the arena we did everything with no one watching, supporting or helping. The first time in 19 months of owning J I’ve just got on with riding him and not felt nervous. I’ve done plenty of groundwork (lunging/leading out in hand) on my own but just not felt confident enough to get on and ride without Mum being there.
We concentrated on what A had us doing in our lesson last week and finished off with some canter work, circles and round the whole arena. Also alternating the corner I ask for the transition to stop him anticipating when it is going to come.
Tonight we have a lesson and I’m hoping A will see that we have been working on what she left us with last week.
- Nov, 2014
J had a couple of days of after our lesson, I like to give him at least a day off to process things and give his back a rest.
Friday I put him back in his snaffle, bit of a mistake, he spent most of the trot work flitting between a pogo stick and a camel, so we resorted to mostly walk work where he did work quite nicely long and low.
He then had another couple of days off due to me feeling rubbish again and the weather.
Tonight I went up and rode again, back in the Pelham and we were both a lot happier, walk and trot work as I would expect and the canter transitions are coming, right rein is almost perfect just a little bit of work still to do on the left rein but all in all really happy with how he went tonight, in company too 🙂
Another lesson booked with A for Thursday night, I’ll try to stick to these every 10 days, or 3 a month while the weather allows.
- Nov, 2014
Last night we had a lesson with my YM, although it was mild it was raining quite heavily so I pampered J and put his exercise rug on to keep him dry and warm now he’s clipped.
We started off by having a good chat around his conformational weaknesses (muscle built under neck mainly) and his (and my) reliance on my right hand to support him in balance.
So we warmed up, moved into trot round the school getting him listening to my legs and the speed of my rise and realising it doesn’t always mean “go” but can mean sideways, longer or bigger. We then worked on hands low, forming a triangle for him to work in, encouraging him long and low to start building his muscle up in the right places.
He then started hanging on my right hand so we came back to walk and did some exercises round poles to move him away from my leg, using his hindquarters instead of his neck to turn and then went back off into trot on a circle working low again but making sure I don’t give him anything in my right hand to resist into. A good analogy A used was think of the rein as my child’s hand when crossing the road, there to support not to squash and that changed things for me (light bulb!) Once I stopped giving him something to bounce off he softened and worked himself. His back started swinging and he felt good 🙂 He tired and then started snatching at the reins so again I was told to push him on through it (bit like us being at the gym with the last 10 press ups to do) for a bit longer before resting.
We had a little break and then did some canter work to finish off, just a couple of transitions on each rein, not worrying about the quality of the canter, but the quality of the strike off. Again my right hand provides too much security to both of us and as soon as I stopped the stiffness/resistance down the rein in canter he came back to trot.
So we transitioned to canter, 7 strides then released the rein and he trotted, again we went but this time I rode him with my seat to keep him going and then again on the other rein. We also worked on his anticipation of the transition to canter by sitting for 4 beats and then rising again so he didn’t know what was going to come next, after a couple of half circles he clicked and realised that just because he’s been asked to canter once it doesn’t mean he will be asked in every corner.
Overall it was a good session and I learnt A LOT! We both rely on each other for security and we need to stop it, I need to spend 3 sessions a week working long and low to start turning his neck muscles round and I need to relax the canter transition but once I have the strike off established I must ride him on round the school and keep the right rein released so he can’t lean.
He did me proud and the fact the weather was so miserable made me even happier, his exercise sheet (by Swish) also stood up to the weather, even though it’s not waterproof (thermo cell) he was bone dry when I untacked him.
His feed has been altered to take the winter into account, Fast Fibre, Hi-Fi original, Speedibeet and his supplements (Feedmark’s Benevit advance and Steady up). I’ll look to introduce something more if he needs it, probably in the form of a pasture mix or Balancer.
The days following our lesson saw a bit of a lull, wind, rain and fireworks put a stop to play for a few nights, almost a week in fact!
The lack of riding gave me a chance to sort out tack and rugs ready for the winter, changed stable rugs over and added necks to turnouts in readiness for the forecast rain.
It’s also given me time with the family, we went to the local firework display on Bonfire night and on Saturday evening we went to watch Disney on Ice at Sheffield Arena which was fantastic!
Yesterday I had the day off work, the cat has been spayed and so she was booked in for her stitches out in the morning. After lunch I talked my long suffering hubby into coming to the yard to take some photos while I made the most of being able to ride in the daylight.
I put J back in his pelham and he got down to work pretty quickly, I wasn’t expecting him to be so easy, nearly a week off work, quite a fresh chilly day (with a freshly clipped horse is usually interesting) and another livery in the top arena lunging I totally expected his attention being elsewhere.
Around half way through the session a tractor came in to the yard with a load full of hay and haylage but he didn’t bother even when another tractor appeared to unload everything. I did a bit of canter work but had missed the window with him, he’d gone off the boil and was looking for things to dance around (namely poles that had been on the floor the whole time!) so we went back to doing 10m circles in each corner of the school to bring him back round my leg and get him listening to me again.
Once he was working nicely again we called it a day, I had hoped the tractors would be gone but no such luck so we manned up and left the school to walk back up the yard past the machinery and into the yard without any dramas 🙂
His reward for being such a good boy a lovely new saddlecloth from the wonderful Fur Feather meds, I might also have treat myself to a new winter coat for riding in – Eurostar Estelle, can’t wait for it arrive. I think we are all set for winter now
- Nov, 2014
Last night we headed off to Bromley with Jo for our lesson. I decided to brave it and stick with the snaffle and I’m so pleased I did.
I’m not sure if he is generally more comfortable with the environment now (3 other horses in a riding school scenario) or if he feels more relaxed in the snaffle but he felt different, not so tense…… We worked on warming up, circles, transitions, changes of rein, flexing and just generally getting him listening to me.
We then moved on to more of the same in trot before being called together as a ride. Lisa then had us working in turn from the front of ride to the back seeing how many walk, trot, halt transitions we could get in before we hit the back of the ride.
We then moved onto trot/canter transitions. Our aim for the night was a nice as possible transition and to keep the canter going as long as possible and we managed it quite nicely.
Feedback from L, I have a very small window with J between contact being perfect and being too much which results in him coiling back to me and hollowing. I have to find that split second where he seeks the contact and give to him (as in soften fingers only) otherwise we miss it and the hollowing comes. She also mentioned how in tune with me he is, that I can be lighter with my leg aids because he knows what I want so I have no need to be so heavy at times and that she’s sure if I prepare him and think what I want he’ll do it, so we’ll try that next time we ride!
L was thrilled at how he had worked last night and equally happy that we have moved into the snaffle. She did say to swap him about between that and the pelham so we’ll see how we go.
She also asked about his breeding and wonders if there maybe Gelderlander/Hackney in him and paid reference to Stephanie Croxford and her 2 horses Mr President and Mr Hyde and how similar J is to them.
Interesting these 2 horses have competed at Grand prix level and represented GB on numerous occasions so I’m going to spend some time looking at their history and training blogs.
The journey home was most interesting, we broke down! The horses were saints and spent a good hour stood on the box while we waited on recovery. Eventually the police came and cordoned part of the 3 lane roundabout off so we could unload and reload into my yard owner’s lorry and get the horses home.
I’m so lucky to have such a level headed horse who really takes everything in his stride and gives his all
- Nov, 2014
Last night I put him back in his snaffle and put my brave pants on! We did lots of walk work, working on a contact, lots of circles and serpentines before moving into trot, most of which was in an outline, just breaking to be nosy at comings and goings and mum who was sat in the corner!
I then thought stuff it, in for a penny in for a pound, canter. Now we haven’t cantered in a snaffle for around a year and it resembled something that looked like a camel! Not last night it wasn’t perfect in terms of outline but he didn’t rush or throw his head up so we just did one transition on each rein and called it a night.
He’s got tonight off and then all being well Bromley tomorrow night for our lesson with Lisa, question is snaffle or Pelham?!
- Nov, 2014
Saturday we had another lesson with Liz at our yard, he was freshly clipped and had not been ridden since Tues so I expected some freshness but if anything I really had to ride him, I find the more comfortable he is with a situation/venue/person the quieter he is, he’s always ride able and eager to learn and try but sometimes he’s too eager.
So we did more pole work and then moved onto canter, I’d mentioned to L I want to build his neck back up, so poles and long and low as well as hill work. Again he was foot perfect, lots of canter large round the school, working on getting a smooth strike off above anything else. Glad he had been clipped beforehand, he was still sweaty under saddle/girth.
- Nov, 2014
Last night we headed off to Bromley with Jo and Argos, J bounced up the ramp, gave Argos a quick smooch and settled lovely.
I was a bit anxious how he was going to ride given the way he was with his mouth on the hack but he was fine. Lisa did mention tension through his poll on down his right hand neck so he’s booked in with our YM who also does equine massage and rehab. He worked quite well and the canter was a million times better than the week before.
We’ve been carrying on with the snaffle and even popped a couple of cross poles to finish the session, our first jumps since my fall in April. Didn’t feel nervous once and J appeared to enjoy himself I think the jumps were a dizzy height of 50cms
Yesterday we initially planned to go to Milton EC with Jo but due to a mix up with entries we didn’t go and made arrangements to all hack out (me, Jo and mum). I’d put J back in his Pelham ready for the trip to Milton and anticipating a bit of excitement so I left him in that for the hack. Our first in company!! All in all we had a fab ride out, the wind was horrible where the roads opened up to fields and being out in front for the majority I was frequently asking Jo if there were cars coming up behind as I couldn’t hear anything beyond the wind.
We had a fair few cars pass us, some walkers and a bloke with a dog, he was very forward and strode out the whole way out and most of the way back. We did some trotting on the straight, not too much as he isn’t overly fit, is barefoot (and is the most we’ve done out on the roads) and with the wind I didn’t want him side stepping at speed into anything I couldn’t hear coming. He was also being an absolute ****** with his mouth once we started trotting, more out of excitement than anything, he just wanted a good canter and at one point was doing so on the spot on the road (naughty pony!).
He reminds me so much of my old pony, she loved a good blast round the countryside too, now to find a nice safe hill to canter up where he can tire himself out lol
- Nov, 2014
Went up and rode weds night, only did 15 mins, he just wasn’t overly settled in his mouth so we concentrated on supplying and listening to my leg.
Last night went up, again not brilliant in his mouth. I’d worn some sticky bum breeches (never again) I hated them, he hated them but we made the most of a bad situation and did 30mins of walk work, 10m circles, turn on quarters, halts etc. funnily enough that 30mins went quicker than the 15 mins on weds night?!
Today we had another lesson with L, she last saw us 3 weeks ago in which I don’t feel we’ve done much but her comments said different, she commented on how he was a different horse, so much softer and suppler, carrying himself. We did pole work, serpentines, lots of changes of direction, everything I asked he just worked with me :-D. He felt so much better in his mouth as well.
Feels so good knowing that even though we haven’t done much recently, what we have done has been productive, even if only for 15 mins. Considering how hard he worked he wasn’t too sweaty and by the time we’d cooled off his neck had dried and he was just slightly damp under his saddle and girth so I’m confident we are working within his fitness level comfortably at the moment.
- Nov, 2014
I noticed J was evading the contact on one side and hanging to one side, the dentist is due soon so I’ll move the appointment forward and get him checked sooner. He worked well and didn’t lose concentration when the big roller shutters went up or the tractor emerged from the barn 100m away from us nor when it hitched the muck trailer up and came down the side of the school to go out of the gates.
Last night we went and did a bit in the school whilst another livery was in there, foot perfect he was! Every time I have little confidence wobbles about how he will react to things he surprises me by how unfazed he is and last night he went the best he’s gone since I brought him back into work 😀 I didn’t think he’d worked too hard but when I took his tack off he was sweating under his saddle and girth area and had just broken out on his neck – not sure how much longer we can hold off clipping although it has dropped cooler here and rain is forecast. I’m hoping to make it into November before he’s done.
- Nov, 2014
Into July and things were progressing slowly with my leg, I could now sit cross legged and run up the stairs, little things pleased me immensely and I realised how much we take simple things such as kneeling down for granted.
For J things continued on the lunge and walking out in hand, we happily spent hours walking through the woods on our own and most of the time I forget I have a 5 year old that really has done very little since being backed in 2013.
16 weeks post injury (August) and I got on a friends noble steed to test my leg and my symmetry and all felt good. We were going away the following week so there was no chance of me getting back on J so close to that.
We also moved yards, to one closer to home and on to full livery. J travelled beautifully and settled straight in without any bother.
The night before we went on hols I took him into the new school and lunged before bidding him farewell for a couple of weeks.
On my return I was determined to get straight back into it, knowing my leg was good I did just that. Got home Friday and was back on by Sunday. I lunged him first to test his mood and then spent 15 mins just wandering around in walk.
In to September and we progressed from lunging before getting on to just getting straight on, knowing the accident was just one of those things and not down to malice or naughtiness on J’s side we started trotting and building both of us back up. I was also discharged from Physio, 20 weeks from the first appointment.
We weren’t overly consistent with work through September but we did have one lesson which really tested both of us in terms of fitness. J feels a different horse to the one I rode in April, stronger in himself but lighter/softer in my hands. We also started hacking out round our new village.
- Nov, 2014
April was a mixed bag, we carried on with lessons, swapped between the NS Hanging cheek and NS Pelham. Built on hacking out and jumping and had a saddle fitting and bought a shiny new one 🙂
We bought goodies from Equiture and Fur Feather Meds and the clocks had gone back forward – hacking on an evening
Our jumping was progressing well and we decided it was time to introduce fillers into the equation.
Here’s what happened:
Yesterday we had a lesson and as above we introduced fillers and it all went wrong the lesson started off fantastically, Bea noticed a difference in him since the saddle change, we did lots of trot figures of 8 and then canter figures of 8 before moving onto some jumps…… One spread fence down the long side and one small upright with a filler under across the diagonal. The spreads he bounced over without a thought, I’m generally leaving him to it and not checking or pushing for strides and he’s generally pretty good at finding his own stride. So we did the spread a dozen times then went to move onto the fillers.
Now I know he isn’t overly keen on the filler in question so I walked him past it a few times, even stopped in front of it to talk to Bea, not a look off him. So off we trotted to come down the diagonal, I anticipated him cat leaping and so with this in mind kept my legs wrapped round and squeezed him on, at the last minute he cat leaped sideways round the wings as he did I banged down on his back and he shot off into the corner off the school, he went one way and I went out the side door and got stood on. I can only assume as it was the corner, he went round and his back end came round and stood on my leg
I really wanted to get back on him to at least cool him off but I wasn’t convinced I could bend my leg enough to get the angle for the stirrups to feel comfortable enough.
So then the what if thoughts started last night, if only I’d stayed on, if I’d held my position better and not slammed onto the saddle, if I’d kicked him would he have gone over, albeit at a cat leap?? Gah so frustrating!
The positive is I know it wasn’t any of our faults (well maybe a little of mine) and that its one of those things, he’s still a youngster and it’s to be expected BUT I wanted to get straight back on. I’m hoping to be on before the week is out as we go away on Monday and I don’t want to leave it on this session. So fingers crossed even if I only get on and hack him round the village on Sunday, in the meantime I’ll do some spook busting on the lunge
The fall resulted in a trip to A&E on the Saturday (fall occurred on Tuesday) and a referral to a knee specialist to check my ligaments and tendons out which all proved to be intact, thankfully.
Physio followed and I spent 20 weeks under the care of an amazing lady who also rides so it was good to bounce ideas off her and she really boosted my confidence as to how much I could do without doing any damage. My first sit on J came 6 weeks after the fall and it felt awful! My leg was wooden, my muscle had wasted but it did my confidence the world of good to just potter round the school once before getting off.
Once I was more mobile we moved to leading out in hand to build my leg back up and keep him at some level of fitness, he was also being lunged a couple of times a week.
January saw us carry on with lessons, I would say when the weather allowed but we rode whatever the weather! We introduced pole work and canter work in January and continued to work on building his strength and softness.
Bea also got on and rode him so she could get a feel for him. We made a change to tack, from an eggbutt snaffle to a Neue Schule Hanging cheek and the difference was immediate. He stopped leaning so much on my hands.
More lessons and more hacking were the order of January and it felt good to be progressing with him after the massive lows of 2013.
February saw more lessons, lunging, hacking, free schooling and a full clip. We really progressed with everything to the point we entered our first competition for the 1st of March. Intro A at Bromley Farm.
Report from Dressage competition:
I don’t really know where to start, I’m so happy with J I could burst with pride.
Today we took the plunge and headed out with JWK to do some dressage. We entered Intro A and decided the rest of the time we were there would all be good experience for him, waiting around between classes, being around other horses (we usually ride on our own) and just being away from home.
He loaded and travelled well, stood and pinched Argos’s hay whilst being tacked up and spent the rest of the day behaving like the perfect gentlemen . He didn’t put a foot wrong and settled in the arenas as though he knew them inside out.
We did our test and scored 64.13% with the winning combination getting 69.?%. Overall it was a fantastic morning and I couldn’t have asked for more from him
Although we weren’t placed on the day I was over the moon, there were 12 people in the class and only 5% between me and first place (I think it worked out we were 6th or 7th) in what was clearly a tight class.
J then had a little break as the school was resurfaced, I felt rubbish with usual winter colds etc and then once the school was finished we had a couple of cancelled lessons for various reasons.
By the end of March we got back to it with lessons and booked a saddle fitting for early April. We even started jumping which we equally enjoyed.
- Nov, 2014
2013 proved to be full of trials and tribulation. A few days into owning J I had a fall, he spooked at something and took off across the field showing no signs of slowing, so I bailed out.
I then went on holiday for a week and arranged a saddle fitting for early June, this lead to a bronking session and me wondering what the hell had I bought?!
So J was turned away from ridden work and we went back to basics on the ground. Leading out down the lanes/fields and lunging.
In August I made the decision to move him to a yard with more facilities, if I was to make any progress through the darker nights I needed somewhere with a school and lights.
The new yard was perfect for what we needed. Part Livery for J, so I could concentrate on the kids, work and husband through the week and then spend time with J on an evening. Then at weekends I had the joy of mucking out and making the most of cold crisp winter morning hacks. At least that was the plan!
I had a wonderful physio out to check J, the dentist came out and he had his feet done, all in preparation for me getting back on board. I even booked my first lesson on him!
October 7th and I received a phone call from the groom at the yard to say he wasn’t well and was laid in the field and that his breathing was right. I called the vet, rang work and headed to the yard.
J spent a week at Minster Equine clinic in York having been diagnosed with streptococcus zooepidemicus. A respiratory disease in horses, closely related to Strangles.
J was discharged on the 15th October and allowed home onto box rest with enough antibiotics to last 3 weeks, in the end he remained on antibiotics until 14th November. A visit from the vet and a good session listening to his lungs and checking out his throat (he had massive swellings in his guttural pouches) he was deemed fit enough to return to work slowly.
A couple of weeks of walking out in hand and hill work and I was ready to get back on. I booked a lesson for the 25/11 and off we went.
We had lessons weekly through to the end of 2013 and finished on the year on high. We’d done lots of hacking on our own (albeit with mum on foot), he enjoyed some loose jumping in the school and we looked forward to 2014.