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My journey with Abbey & other horsey bits 'n' bobs

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barefoot

Why I choose an equine podiatrist (rather than a farrier)

I first learnt about about barefoot when my first horse, Harley was diagnosed with multiple issues in his feet (navicular).

Extensive research into his issues had brought up Rockley Farm – a rehabilitation centre that has successfully helped horses with similar issues return to sound, useful lives.

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Stressage at the weekend

On Saturday we competed at Swallowfields in the 2nd round of the Trailblazers qualifiers.

All in all, it went rather well. We’d not done as much prep as I would have liked and Abbey isn’t as fit as she should be so to come home with 65.86% and 61.92% was quite an achievement!

The first test was Novice 24 and a warm-up class. As I didn’t want to tire Abbey out, I kept the warm-up very short – 10 mins.  This seemed to suit her and something I am going to try again at our next competition.

 

The venue was running a little late for the next test and there were more horses in the warm-up arena. So we warmed-up, then walked and stretched (having realised that we’d a little wait) and then did a couple of transitions before going in. Abbey started to get a little crabby, tossing her head in the warm up and pulling faces when another horse got too close (in her opinion, nobody actually got too close!).

In this test she felt more tense than in the first. I think I was rushing her while also trying to steady her, which made her cross!

New year and a new me!

We’re less than two weeks into 2018 and so far it’s going well.

Abbey is back in work and she’s remembered the vast majority of the novice work that we were doing last year. It’ll be a while before she’s fit enough and strong enough to move the work on but it’s a great start.

The fitness work is hacking only at the moment – a) it’s supposed to be the best way to start them off, and b) the fields are a swamp.

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The hardest month

December is always a hard month for horse owners. This is my 8th winter with a pony and I’ve finally learnt to not to fight my urge to be indoors.

The short dark days, the cold wet weather and the mud sap my motivation. This year, for the first time, I resolved to take the pressure and give Abbey some time off.

I must admit, it’s been lovely. Only riding when I’ve been in the mood has really taken the pressure off and our relationship has been all the better for it.

The last 2 weeks the weather has been awful.  First we had snow, then the snow melted turning the paddocks into sludgy swamps and now we’ve had copious amounts of rain.

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Two fourths and a great schooling session

Last Thursday Abbey and I ventured out in 40mph gusts to do Novice 24 and 34.  Despite the wind we came home with just over 63% and 65% and two green rosettes.

Abbey settled much more quickly in the warm up this time and in comparison with our last outing, was slightly less tense and spooky (though I still could have kissed her ears many times during the test!).  I thought she was fairly fit but I guess she’d used up most of her energy being anxious and her engine died for the second test.  This did mean, however, that she got the the relaxation.

 

Continue reading “Two fourths and a great schooling session”

Abbey’s bouncing back

It’s been a busy week for me and a good one for Abbey.

On Wednesday I went to Horse of the Year Show (see my report here). I got up early to see the Connemara class and was delighted to read later this week that Skaergaarden Delicious Love won the overall M&M championship (click here to find the showing tips I picked up).

Thursday was dressage schooling. I’m having to get used to Abbey’s new way of going. She’s so chilled that I’m having to generate energy and engage her hind end through exercises rather than containing the anxious energy that she’s been giving me for the last couple of months.

Determined to get more ‘ping’, Abbey and I headed to the school again on Friday evening and I’m please to report that there was a small improvement.

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Lesson with Ken Sudsbury (shoulder-in, medium trot, canter on a named lead)

On Sunday I had a lesson with Ken Sudsbury.  He teaches ‘fusion dressage’ (a mix of traditional classical riding and modern training sometimes called ‘neo classical’).

It was fascinating. I picked up some real ‘gems’ (of knowledge) and some great exercises that I’ll be building into our schooling. Abbey was a superstar too – considering she’d only been on antacids for four days, she was focused and willing throughout – feels like my ol’ponio is back 🙂

Ken first looked at Abbey’s walk.  He really liked it and gave me strict instructions not to ‘fuss’ with it.  All I am permitted to do is close my hands and shoulders to ask for a slightly more collected walk, and ask for a little more extension by opening my fingers on the reins and giving Abbey a small nudge with the legs.  He explained that with a small horse, the extended walk is not going to be huge. If I shorten my reins too much and push with my seat, I will flatten the walk – this is forbidden!

Continue reading “Lesson with Ken Sudsbury (shoulder-in, medium trot, canter on a named lead)”

Abbey was crabby for very good reason

After the ODE, Abbey’s attitude didn’t get better, in fact it got worse.  I’ve wondered for a while whether she’s ulcers – many of her ‘quirks’ are classic symptoms and it’s estimated that one in three horses suffer from them.

So to cut a long story short, I had her scoped on Wednesday.  She’s grade 2 ulcers (they are graded on a scale of 1-4) and is now being treated with a course of Peptizole.

The vet has also recommended I swap her chaff for Alfa-A, adding up to 200ml of linseed oil to her feed daily and giving her a bowl of chaff about half hour before riding.

Continue reading “Abbey was crabby for very good reason”

XC schooling – easy, peasy :)

 

In less than a week Abbey and I will be doing her 2nd (my 3rd) one day event.  XC is probably our weakest phase as we don’t get to do much practice. Two days ago I had a day off, put my brave pants on and headed to a local yard which has a selection of little fences.

Abbey was a little excited when we got there but soon settled and got down to work. She’s come on so far – all the grid work and show jumping practice has paid off. She now maintains a lovely rhythm going into a fence and after, listens to where we’re going next and has the confidence to jump new fences without hesitation.

Continue reading “XC schooling – easy, peasy :)”

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