Saturday, 27 April 2013

Buddy bounces back...

Today was the day the one I've been looking forward to and dreading in equal measures... Our dressage re-debut. I say re-debut as we had a few outings together prior to him going lame but nothing particularly consistent - although we had always been in the ribbons.

First hurdle with Buddy is to actually get him on the lorry. We had a slight issue (ha ha) and he was a bit of a knobber to load. We were cutting it close and I was starting to think we might not make it but at the very last moment Buddy decided going to a party might be a nice idea so off we went. 

I had chosen a small, low key venue for our first outing and it was the place I first took Buds to so I was happy we'd not have a meltdown. The major let down is that the car park is incredibly stoney and as he'd been slightly footie I was worried we'd go gimping across the car park but, as usual, Buds surprised me and stomped off towards the warm up!

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Posing for the camera (note the stony car park)
We had about 20 mins to warm up which was plenty for a walk trot. We did some leg yielding and  shoulder in to keep him straight and even in both reins plus lots of transitions and half circle practise. The best thing about Buddy is that he is totally chilled wherever he goes so I can really ride him but it also means I stay relaxed. He is the only horse I have ever truly enjoyed riding at competitions because he's not stressy which means I can relax and enjoy it.

It was soon time for us to go in. The indoor they use can be pretty spooky and it has a open gallery where the judge sits but it is also a canteen so you often get people stomping up the stairs halfway through your test. Buds did tense up a bit but soon relaxed after a trot round and the bell rang and off we went. 

I smiled my biggest smile and was enjoying every second. Buddy jumped the light on the floor in our first 20m circle which made me chuckle and then the bell rang.. I'd forgotten to do my walk for a horse length. Bugger! Went back, carried on - was pleased with my 1/2 10m circles - and whilst I internally congratulated myself I missed my second 20m circle. Arse! You'll be glad to hear we finished the rest of the test with no more errors and although he lacked a bit of energy I was so pleased with my donkey. He tried really hard and I couldn't have asked for more. As we'd had a couple of errors and the class was pretty large I wasn't planning on hanging round for my sheet so got Buds untacked and into his travel gear ready for the journey home.

Well, usually Buds is pretty good at loading to come home... Notice how I say usually... Hmmm the little swine enjoyed the party so much he didn't want to come home. So after over an hour of trying he realised we weren't giving up so decided to load. He was a proper knobber!
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Mum why are you crying?!
But that did mean the class had ended and I could pick up my sheet. I crept up the stairs and mine was the last sheet. There was a rosette.... A blue one. It was our rosette....

We only went and came second!! With almost 67%. I promptly burst into tears... What a journey we have been on and less than three months after coming home from Rockley we were back at a competition which, for me, was more than I'd hoped for but to actually be competitive and beat some pretty smart horses (without my errors we would have won) was just outstanding.

I cried all the way back to the lorry - Buddy was forgiven for being a knobber - and I felt like I'd won the lottery.. And then some!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Boot Camp

So this week started as last week ended with me on the sick list! I somehow managed to tweak my neck whilst lying in bed which led to me being in agony and questioning whether it was possible to break your neck just lying in bed - I'm not at all melodramatic ;0)

However I was only badly injured in the morning, come the afternoon I was dosed up to the eyeballs on a fantastic combination of painkillers and so managed to get on my pony to enjoy the sunshine. He was, as always, a saint... I'm not entirely sure what would have happened had he not been.. I would have probably slithered off and collapsed in a drugged up heap!
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Ignore me (shoulders, head & elbows)
Sunday arrived and we decided to go and play in the river that had burst its banks and, we had been told, was up to the horses bellies. I was uber excited but it wasn't as dramatic as foretold so our pony friend didn't have to swim but Buddy made the most of it by splashing our companions - he loves a bit of water.

As we are approaching our dressage re-debut I also squeezed a lesson in this week. I wanted to run through my test, practise in my kit and just ensure that I could get gain marks wherever possible. It didn't start off too well as Buddy was a bit lame on his bad leg however, I had found a bit of mud fever prior to my lesson and had picked at it a bit so I'm hoping it was just that which made him sore but he does usually get better after a bit of work so we decided to give it five minutes and see how he went.
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Heel first!
He got much better so we continued! We focused on getting Buddy in front of the leg, straight and equal in both reins. He prefers to work in a more baby outline and so asking him to come 'up' more is pretty hard work but we got him working in a lower and then more advanced outline and he got the hang of it pretty quickly. We use lateral work to keep him straight and tonight we used leg yielding in trot and then asking for a more medium trot on the opposite side to stop him getting stuffy. We also had a bit of a canter which I've been working hard on out hacking and I was very pleased to see that it translated into the school and he is much better although we still have a little way to go but I'm hopeful we could enter a prelim dressage test in a few weeks if we work hard.

We then ran through our test and it was ok, there are some half circles which I rode really badly the first couple of times so we worked on those and turning a bit earlier for our centre line. After 19 months we are ready to get back out the again!
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Gorgeous boy though want more heel first landing here
I had hoped that I would be able to sneak to our first competition relatively easily but found out that YO, her husband and some followers are also entering the same class. I am super competitive and can't help putting pressure on myself to do well and I know, whatever happens, I will be really disappointed if we don't perform well - especially if we are beaten (which is incredibly likely - so much so that I'm wondering why I would be disappointed as its pretty much a given). I really wanted to have a no pressure, low key debut but that's not going to happen now and I'm pretty sad about it. But hey ho.. Onwards and upwards. I'm still really excited about it :0D

If you're interested there's some raw footage of our lesson here:

Friday, 19 April 2013

Manic times

Phew it has been a hectic week and I've also been ill so that has put us back somewhat in our plans. However I'm back on form (as much as I ever am) so it's time to crack on again. It's the first time I've given Buds any longer than a day off and I was a bit worried he would have regressed a tad but nope, he's fine! 
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Footprints (I got ridiculously excited about this)
He has been back out in the field again after getting on top of the mud fever and I've learnt even more again... Movement all day makes a massive difference.. I know we 'know' this but I now know for Buddy this is a definite fact! I kept him exercised for  around an hour plus I grazed him for an hour or so at weekends when he was in all day but now, feeling the difference when he's been out for a week consistently, he thrives on far more movement than that. I was panicking on day three that he hadn't hadn't any work and after dragging my sorry self up to the yard and barely getting home (I thought I was going to die.. Or at least pass out!) I was definitely not going to be able to ride. But when I did finally get on he stormed up the driveway and was full of beans with no detriment to his feet whatsoever. Panic averted!

It has also helped ease my mind a bit as I'm away with work in a few weeks time and I was worrying about what to do with him. I can now rest easy that he can have a holiday and he'll be fine when I get back. 

In other exciting news... We have entered a local walk trot test and I am ridiculously excited! I will give you the run down as and when but we are going to have a bit of boot camp this week to practise as I haven't been in the school since the clocks went forward (oooops)!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Sometimes we can be wrong...

Another week of learning for Mr Donkey and I... We'd been relegated to roadwork only for our exercise as he was recovering from his mud fever and I was a bit worried how his feet would cope with an increase in work. Well I needn't have worried, sticking to the 2:1 ratio we managed to cover almost 20 miles this week which is a massive improvement  (thank god for British Summetime) and its not made him sore or footy at all.. In fact it is really helping him get rid of that old crappy hoof and they are changing shape once again.

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Week 21 - Compared to last week there are changes afoot!
This fact has made me doubt whether his footiness a few weeks ago was actually grass and not an upload in work after all. I was contacted by one of the team from the Laminitis app at the time who said there had been a spike in the sugars at the same time but I was so convinced that it was work related that I logged it but moved on. Having upped his work pretty significantly this week I'm pretty convinced now that I was wrong.

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Handsome donkey in the sunshine
As Buddy has been in with his mud fever I haven't had to worry about grass so much but he managed to recover enough that Saturday was the day for the big release. It was an amber day on the app but I decided to risk it and see what happened as his footiness shows up within 24hrs. He was fine today and managed to get round a hack 20 mins faster than when he first came back from Rockley which is fantastic as, apart from a slightly long trot at one point, our paces were pretty much the same.

As today was a red day (my first since he's been home) I decided to keep him in and will continue to do so on red days as for me it's just not worth the risk. I now have the delightful task of remembering to text my YO every day to say whether he can go out or not - I hope Buddy appreciates all this!

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Red is for danger
Here's hoping the sun continues to shine and spring is finally on the way - everyone was far happier today with some sun on their back.

Hopefully I'll have a lesson report for you at some point this week as I'm planning our nudey feet dressage debut for a few weeks time and we need some practise!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Nudey feet - 20 week comparison

Buddy has been home for seven weeks now which just seems crazy but at the same time it doesn't seem possible that we've been on this journey for almost five months! There was a post on HHO  about a lady with another Buddy who was starting her barefoot journey albeit slightly unwittingly but felt that barefoot was an extremist movement so she didn't want to say she was 'going barefoot' so her Buddy now has 'nudey feet'. I love it and so am totally jumping on the nudey feet bandwagon... I wonder if this term will spread? If I see it on the Rockley blog I know we've made it ;o)
Its been five weeks since I last took pictures of Buddy's feet and there have been some serious changes going on. His feet are starting to look seriously odd now there is more new growth than old but as I can see him wearing them away I'm not concerned and I think we will have a full hoof in another 6 weeks or so which is crazily exciting!
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Week 20 vs Week 15 (LF lat)
Sole shots show a change too (apologies for the messiness on wk 20 - I promise I'll wash his feet for the next update!). His collateral grooves are getting deeper and longer which tells me his sole is thickening so we are heading in the right direction still. His frog is getting thicker and beefier athough looking at these it also looks like there is a slight deviation so I will be keeping a close eye on that.
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Week 20 vs Week 15 (LF sole)
I wanted to try and get some shots to show how he was starting to almost square off his toes to reduce the old flare that was there but it hasn't really shown up on any of the shots I took but you can see the slight gap in the center where he is wearing the old growth away and getting closer to his proper breakover point.
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Freaky nudey feet 
In other news Buddy's mud fever is on its way out so I'm hoping to get back to normal again by the weekend. He's enjoying hacking out and we've been trying some new routes as we've been sticking to the road as everywhere is so muddy. I'm also avoiding the school as the sand doesn't help but we're doing plenty of schooling out and about so I'm hoping we'll be ready for our competition debut soon.

In a previous blog post I said I thought Buddy would be speedy Gonzales soon enough and it appears that he must have been listening and we hit 51.2MPH according to endomondo on Friday! I'm not sure how as we only trotted but it can't possibly be an error.. can it??

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Go Buddy go!