Sunday, 30 June 2013

Perfect (ish) Prelim

Yesterday was another big test for Buddy and I. We've not been out since our fantastic re- debut what with moving and our slight (!) loading issues so I decided that this weekend would be good to go and practise somewhere different and also to tackle our prelim debut.

Work was manic last week as it was my company's financial year end so our riding was a bit more sporadic than I would have wanted but we practised in the school one evening and I was happy we could do the right bits in the right places and so was relatively confident we'd make it through.
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Heel first (just!)
I then realised two night prior that I'd learnt the wrong prelim test (doh!).. It was Buddy's day off so I then debated whether to take him in the school on the Friday evening or to stick with my hacking plan. I chose the latter and hoped we'd be ok - our canter isn't good enough at the moment and it was a qualifier so I wasn't going to be competitive so it was just a tick in the box for us.
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Smile for the judge
Saturday dawned and as we had quite civilised times it was a lovely, leisurely morning where I could get all my jobs done. I gave myself a 30 minute window for loading, just in case, but we didn't need it and he strolled on. Good pony and praise be to Rachel Morey!

First up was our intro test, intro a which was the same as last time. We did a good, accurate test but Buddy seemed to die when we went inside (it was quite warm in the indoor) so the trot work wasn't as active as I would have liked. I think I need to do some canter work in my warm up to really jazz him up before we go in so I will do that next time and see what effect that has on our marks. As a result we finished fractionally below our score from last time with 66.9% and 3rd place in a very competitive class of 25.
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Pretty boy
Next up was the prelim, I took on the comments from my previous sheet and decided to wind him up a bit but then give him a break before we went in as it was getting hot at this point so I kept my warm up minimal with a canter on each rein and some sharp transitions before a walk and then a chat! As a result he was much sharper in the test and his trot work got 8's across the board which was fantastic. The canter work was a bit yee ha (as expected) but I was really pleased with the test. I watched some other tests and the standard was really high so I wasn't expecting to be placed as the were 15 in the class.
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Onward bound - yee haaaa
Took B back to the lorry, untacked, washed off, packed away and the class was nearly over so we decided to load him (knowing it'd taken us a fair while last time ;0) ) and then see where we we at by then. As it was he loaded immediately (more praise to Rachel!) and so we decided to hang around if he stayed chilled as its good practise for him. He was happy munching on his hay so I went up to get my sheet and was surprised to see we had come 5th on 64%. Great marks for our trot work but the canter let us down as I knew it would however its great to be at that score knowing that there are more marks to win with some small improvements. So Buddy continues his rosette collection... We haven't returned empty handed yet!
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Big grins and frillies
I have promised Buddy that we will start jumping soon so we may have one more dressage outing and then I'll be planning our first jumping competition (eek!).

Monday, 24 June 2013

Nearly neat feet

It's been a couple of weeks of adventures for Buddy and I as we are exploring our new domain and finding lots of exciting new places to see. Buddy has, in his usual form, settled in like he has been there all this life and has developed a new bromance with another barefoot horse. His new friend has the most awesome feet, big chunky frogs and beautiful heel first landings - its the stuff of my dreams! Buddy has put on the weight that he lost at the old yard and is starting to look really good again, he is being really spoilt and the new YO gives him plenty of scratches in the right places which he loves.

Buddy's feet are continuing to head in the right direction. We are taking on much more challenging terrain more often now and we have a couple of tricky, stony tracks that we have to negotiate to get out to our longer hacks so it has been interesting to see how Buddy has coped. He is not quite rock crunching but we are getting to the stage where he will occassionally gimp (small stones on concrete) but his stride length is only altering slightly. There is still a difference between his stride length on easier surfaces (grass, tarmac etc) and tricker surfaces (stones) but it is reducing more and more and I am confident that it will come in time. Plus we are still on daytime grazing as I wanted Buddy to be settled before I changed his whole routine at once so that will happen in the next week as well.

We are rapidly approaching our 5 months home from rockley-aversary and we are so nearly there when it comes to Buddy's neat new feet. There is a slither of old stuff left but there is some flare to the inside which I am looking at and am umming and ahhing as to whether I get the farrier to neaten it up. My gut is saying not to touch it for now but if we still have it there in a few weeks then I will re-evaluate. Its so tough as his feet have been totally self trimming since he went to Rockley and I wonder if my drive to get cracking and start jumping again is clouding my view somewhat as I decided when he came home that I wouldn't jump him until the new hoof was through and with the teeny bit thats left I think I'm like an excited child leading up to Christmas and I just want it now!!

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Wk 25 vs Wk 32 (LF Lat)

You can see with the lateral shot above just how close we are to having a full new hoof. I'm pleased that we don't seem to have any event lines coming through after the move as there were a lot of changes in his diet that I was worried mught affect his feet but *touches wood* we seem to have been lucky. I'm still rubbish at taking the pictures as his feet always look longer then in real life but we are definitely beefing up behind the more time goes on.

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Wk 25 vs Wk 32 (LF sole)

The sole shots I must get better at as I just don't seem to get the same angle twice in a row which is annoying but you can see his frog has beefed up and you can see the flare that is left on the inside and the old hoof that is stretched and rubbish (technical term!). The collateral grooves are wider and deeper which can only mean a thicker sole developing.

We are also approaching our insurance expiry date and I have my vet, Chris Tufnell from Coach House, coming out to have a look at his feet and I am planning to discuss getting some new x-rays and possibly an MRI just to see where we are at and it will be interesting to see if there are any changes or evidence of healing.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

What a difference a day makes...

After our extended loading period at our show I had decided to get some outside help as I was clearly not getting anywhere on my own! Then, as if sent by a high power, I saw a thread on HHO recommending someone locally. So I got in touch and Rachel Morey from Tarrsteps Services arrived at the yard on Friday. She was fully up to speed with our history and watched me try to load (we got halfway up the ramp and was told to stop) before she took over.
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Butter wouldn't melt
I expected Buddy to be a pickle and was ready for an afternoon loading. But Rachel was fantastic and got on top of his antics pretty quickly and summed him up immediately. She felt that his loading issues stemmed from his feet as he is willing to load the wrong way round into my lorry even though its uncomfortable for him to stand that way (as his head is wedged against the bulkhead of the lorry!!) as he turns on his better foot. Had never really thought of that so was interesting and made complete sense.

After a couple of goes the wrong way it was time to load properly. He hesitated a bit and then rushed on at 100MPH! Good that he went on but we had to break it down and go slooooow. Getting off was also done in a rush so that also needed the tortoise treatment.

Rachel got Buddy thinking a step at a time and each phase was broken down into little steps. Being on the lorry was rewarded with a treat, more to get him to breathe, lick and chew than as a bribe. Getting off was done in the same way. Buddy was thinking about everything and was getting confident with every step.

We had to be careful that Buddy didn't get too cocky so we kept time on the box to 30 seconds max and once he 'got it' we didn't repeat too often, just enough to consolidate the 'good' behaviour.

Next was my go. I was anxious that I would mess it up so I listened carefully to what Rachel advised and tried to put it all into practise. First time we got on straight away but it was too fast and a bit wonky! Second time I adjusted my approach, kept each stride slow and deliberate and exited straight. Much better. One more time for luck and then we had a break to let it sink in and also to leave enough time for a problem to develop.

After a short break it was time to try again. Straight at the bottom of the ramp.. Then B swung his bum round. I corrected and put him straight again. He stayed straight so we started our ascent. Spot on. Descent was the same. Big pats and smiles all round.

Our lesson was done and my confidence was high ready for the great move.
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Putting his best foot forward
Moving day dawned and after all my stuff was moved it was time to load. I'd had some texts from Rachel reminding me to keep calm and remember the system and she was available if I needed her to be.

So I got Buddy ready. We had a bit of a crowd so I was a bit more anxious but Rachel had said to think of the adrenaline/anxiety as a dial and to mentally turn it down - it really works! I had warned people that he may not load immediately and may revert to swinging to the right but we would get there in the end (and hopefully faster than last time).

I lined him up at the bottom of the ramp... And he walked calmly in! Text book!

I could not believe it (nor could my onlookers who were rather open mouthed!). It was a super calm experience! Then coming off the other side, despite being wired, he concentrated on me and our exit was cool, calm and collected. Successful mission all round.
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Whaddya mean I won't load
I'm having Rachel back in a couple of months to teach Buddy to load himself - now THAT will be a cool trick - one for RRR13 ;0)

I would highly recommend Rachel and her work (obviously) and if any of you are having loading issues or have tricky horses she has a lot of experience that she can share so please feel free to get in touch with her.

You can find her on Facebook or

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Busy times and a couple of goodbyes

It's been a strange time here so apologies for the long delay between posts. I had a work trip to Las Vegas (sounds fun but isn't, honest!), a big birthday and then I've been catching up with work since coming back plus I've got a yard move on the cards!

We had some very sad news whilst I was away as my MiL's horse Rolo was put down after a massive colic episode. Sadly he'd been colicking all night and wasn't well enough to travel for the operation when they found him so my MiL very courageously made the right decision to say goodbye. He was a grumpy old boy but we miss him terribly and my MiL has been knocked for six by it. She's not ready for another horse right now but I hope, in time, that she may miss a pony in her life but only time will tell. For now Buddy is on call for any horse snuggles she needs.

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RIP Rolo - You'll be missed

In happier news, Buddy has been improving with the addition of bicarb into his diet and we are pretty much rock crunching. He does have the occasional gimp on the odd stone but I can't remember the last time he did it which is fantastic. We went on a yard hack over the weekend and almost everyone commented on how good Buddy looked and how well he coped with the challenging surfaces which was lovely to hear. I've been lazy and haven't had a lesson (or been in the school) since our dressage test! I've been doing lots of schooling out hacking and we both prefer it that way and Buddy is muscling up very nicely so I'm hoping to go out again at the end of the month and as soon as the old hoof goes we will start jumping properly again.

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Buddy stomping over some serious stones

As per my opening post we are, sadly, moving yards soon. The new yard will allow us to turn out overnight, has access to gallops for fitness (and fun) and some other barefoot horses which will be lovely. I will be sad to say goodbye to my friends at the yard but they understand why we are moving on.

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Buddy will be sad to say goodbye to Bert