Monday, 14 March 2016

The impact of outside influences

A few weeks ago I noticed a definite shift in Buddy's capability over stones... For the worse. I racked my brain wondering what it could have been that changed as B has been pretty consistent over the last three years and he has had the odd day of increased sensitivity if he's out too long but nothing that stuck around for a while. I started to worry a bit as I couldn't think of anything that had changed... Exercise had remained stable with a gradual increase (and B always gets better with more exercise), diet hadn't changed in the last 12 months, forage remains the same. I was stumped.

Ears pricked while we explore
We'd had some frosty mornings which would have explained an odd day or two but we were approaching week two and whilst he was improving I had no idea where the sensitivity was coming from. I started thinking further back and remember he'd had his vaccination three weeks before but initially dismissed it as he has never reacted before and hadn't been affected by the shedloads of sedation and antibiotics he had in January. I then realised my critical error... I usually give him a fix of Protexin when he's given any form of chemical into his body as a 'just in case' measure but I hadn't this time around.

Springtime photo call
That one small thing had kept me guessing why he had lost capability but has reminded me how important the gut is and how influential it can be over feet. Annoyingly I missed my jab date by 4 days so have had to re-start my course. B is pretty much back to normal now, almost 5 weeks after injection date, but he has his second jab on Weds so I have ordered my Protexin in readiness and will hopefully miss out the horrible side effects this time round.

Friday, 11 March 2016

First comp of the year

In a fit of insanity I entered our first BD of the year and first competition since TQ regionals in October. I've been getting really bogged down with some stuff in my personal life, plus work is incredibly busy and so, whilst on the train en route to a meeting, I decided the best thing to do would be to just get out there and do it. Totally insane. Plus I added the extra difficulty of entering the novice.. just for a laugh. Ha de ha ha.

Looking handsome in the sunshine
My preparation was thorough... I had one lesson and hardly rode the week prior but B was feeling very well and jolly and, as we hadn't been out since October I had no expectations. I'd entered the new 'bronze' section as I only wanted a qualifying sheet for Area Festivals and wasn't expecting a 66%+ score on our first run. In the days leading up to the show (and I hadn't managed to ride) I decided to withdraw from the Novice as I just didn't need the pressure so I planned to hack there and have nice relaxing warm up for the prelim.

Enjoying his tea with The Herbal Horse keeping him looking fab
I had a lovely time so plaited and cleaned tack in the morning before. It did take me almost an hour to plait though as I was trying to make them neat whilst being ever so aware that I was hideously out of practice... I seem to nail my routine around late August / September just in time for the end of the season! I was feeling very relaxed, hopped on board and off we went with my hi viz donned. For some reason B was on high alert as soon as we got on the road. This was helped (!) by the cars squeezing past us with centimetres to spare at around 50MPH. So we arrived at the venue after our tense journey with me wishing I'd just gone in the bloody lorry!

Comparison Winter '15 vs Winter'16 - delighted with how he's looking
Our warm up followed the same theme... Loss of ability to bend anywhere in his body but his neck became a plank of wood which made his trot attractively choppy and short. I spent my entire 15 minutes on a circle trying to get him to soften and he was much better by the time we were ready to go but when the steward says to you "never mind, sometimes you just have to write days off" it's never a good sign!!

A good bit!
We got in to the arena and Buddy was much more relaxed once he was on his own. We had a good trot around and I had him going much better so as the bell rang I was feeling happier. Then a car came into the car park spitting up gravel which sent him into high alert/tense donkey mode just a few strides before my turn down the centre line and I didn't have that much time left to start so I stopped, patted him and we continued. The centre line wasn't great due to this but there wasn't much else I could do so it was a bit of damage control.

Overall I was pleased with how I got him back and what we achieved despite him being not entirely on side. It was nowhere near where he has been working at home but for a first competition back I was pleased. The video doesn't look as bad as it felt but the judges comments align and there are glimpses of the standard I would have expected. We ended up with just shy of 65% which I am delighted with. I would have been annoyed if we'd got over 66% as I'd not entered a regionals qualifying section but I got my first AF sheet which was the objective so onwards and upwards.

My plan is to focus on my dressage until June purely as work is so busy and, right now, my head is not in the right place to think about eventing. That may change but for now I'm keeping the pressure off and will focus on getting my sheets for AFs, team quest, going to camp and training.