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



Returning to work after a mini-break

There are many books and articles about bringing your horse back into work after months off due to illness, injury or a change of circumstances. They talk about building fitness slowly, building muscle and aerobic fitness. But what about a short holiday? How fit is a horse after a week or two off? And how quickly can you return to full work?

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Time flies!

Can’t believe it’s been a whole month since my last post!  From lessons and competitions, to hacking and interval training, Abbey has been a busy girl.

She’s starting to loose a little weight. Abbey is now doing at least an hour of work 5 times a week, including interval training. We’re up to 5 miles of trot/canter work and she’s finally burning more calories than she’s consuming.

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March: quite a month

(Featured imaged by Karen Chaplin photography)

Between the snow, the return of Abbey’s ulcer symptoms and her first season of the year, we’ve had we’ve had quite a month!

While I have kept her ticking over fitness wise, it’s all been rather low-key with no lessons and no outings.

This week, however, we’ve started to pick things up again with two flatwork lessons and a pole clinic at Swallowfields.

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Today’s lesson: improving the hind leg and suppleness

It’s always interesting having a lesson with someone new; they often see different things to your regular trainer. Today’s was no exception.

Having explained our back story and our aims (novice – improving medium trot, canter-trot-canter transitions), we warmed up.

New RI observed that I am nagging to keep Abbey forward particularly with my left leg.  Which means she’s in danger of switching off to my leg aids. It also means that I’ve nothing left to ask for medium trot.

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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.


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Straightness, suppleness, counter canter and medium trot

In preparation for moving up to novice level, we’re working on a number of elements of our flatwork: some basics that we’ve let slip (straightness and suppleness) and some new movements (medium trot and now, counter canter).

We’re using a small number of exercises to build the suppleness, which in turn makes it easier to get the straightness.



Concentrating on bend with very clear aids to change bend on both reins.  We also add in 10m circles to vary the exercise and keep Abbey listening.

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