Tuesday, 02 July 2019 10:06

Have You Hugged Your Horse Today?

It is so easy to get wrapped up in life. We can become so focused on the little things, forgetting about the bigger picture. Many of us have goals. Whether it is competing at BE100, or gaining >70% in a dressage test, these aims can cloud us; overcoming the joy of owning a horse.

I have been that person who has sobbed next to their horse at a competition when the test sheet came back with a low score. I have been that person who sits in the stable, moping, wondering why things didn’t go better in the show-ring. I have been there. I think we all have? At the time, you can’t understand why your horse refused the jump; why the perfectly good dressage test resulted in a low score; or why, no matter how hard you try, you just don’t seem to be winning. These feelings can overcome you. They can jeopardise the relationship which you have spent so long to build with your horse; removing the reason why we get up at such unholy hours every day to see them! 

My suggestion? 

1. Just pause when you feel like this. Think to yourself… “Am I actually going to remember losing this class in 10 years’ time?” Try and remember what it felt like BEFORE you got that score sheet, or it all went ‘wrong’. 

I don’t think I am breaking news when I say that horses cannot read test sheets, or jumping penalty scores. All they know is that they tried their hardest for you and had a wonderful day out. They can’t understand why you are upset with them for, let’s say, getting a tad expressive in the canter transition, when all they were just doing their best Valegro impression, to wow the other horses (!). Sometimes it’s rider error, too! I can openly admit that there have been days which I have not given 100%; days which stress and fear of other things in my life have overcome me. I cannot expect my horses to be perfect all of the time, if I am not? 

Horses also have bad days, too. They have their own stresses and fears in everyday life, just like us. These, we may not even recognise, because they can’t tell us! Phoebe can’t tell me if she had a really stressful night because the wind was rustling leaves on the stable roof. She can’t tell me that this has made her on-edge for our competition, so I won’t judge her for it. So, when you come first or last in that show class, make them KNOW that they have won, to you. They have won your heart, at the end of the day. Remind them of this. Regardless if you and your horse won the class, or not. Think of small victories. Remind yourself of the positives.

2. Don't compare yourself to others (easier said than done, eh?)

I am totally guilty of this. "Why didn't I win, when they did?", "I am doing the same as that rider, why aren't I as successful as them?"

- because, everyone is different. Just because someone else has the same age horse, is the same age rider, and trains at the same level, doesn't make you the same. Everyone copes differently at competitions, everyone has different strategies of training. It certainly doesn't mean that one way is better, or right, over another, it just means that you just have to find the strategy which works for you and your horse. If all horses and riders were the same, everyone would be at 'top' level! 

3. Remember you are only human, and your horse is a only a horse! 

I think it is quite easy to forget that horses aren’t humans. They are so emotional and intelligent, it makes us forget that they have only been domesticated for ~6,000 years. But, it is vital to remember that they ARE horses. They are herd animals, prey animals. They rely on numbers for safety. Naturally, horses are routine animals, and as we know, stay in the same herd for most of their life. Our domestic routine totally disrupts their natural behaviour. Just remember this when you ask your horse to go for a hack, or around the cross country course at an event. Even just bringing them in from their field for a groom, you are asking them to leave their ‘safe-place’ and their herd, making themselves vulnerable. For you. Horses get nothing from going out competing. The only thing they have, is that they are with you, so, make this the best experience for them. You deserve to be happy as a rider – after all, you are already among the privileged few to own a horse. Likewise, they deserve to be happy as a horse – they don’t owe you anything. They do what they do because they know it makes you happy (and a few treats certainly won’t go amiss!).

Equally, you are only a mere human. So what? You forgot the test movement? You almost flew off when your horse took a stride out? So what? Your horse doesn't care! Your horse is just happy that you are in their life, to feed and look after them. They don't mind if you only want to hack, or if you just want to bring them in for a cuddle tonight. Don't beat yourself up, you are doing great! 

4. Remember this... 

So, when life gets in the way, and you find yourself getting caught up, hug your horse. Hug them. Appreciate them and everything they do for you. Remind yourself how lucky you are to be a part of the privileged few. Forget about the red ribbon. Focus on the small victories, even if you have to micromanage. Sometimes, just getting the bridle on is a victory in itself. Own them, own the victories – celebrate them.
 
Enjoy the moment. Every time you ride your horse, it is one less ride you will get with them. Every day is one less, every day could be the last. Sorry to be fatalistic, but it’s the truth. 
 
Hug your horse. 
Emily Hancock
  
They love to compete, affiliated in showing, and enjoy unaffiliated dressage and showjumping. And ,of course, they adore hacking out together...
   

Published in Trot On Blogs
Monday, 26 February 2018 15:39

Ice and a Slice with an Equestrian Twist

Here's something warming for the current cold spell! Ginkhana. 

Launched as a “local spirit with an equestrian twist”, it is the lastest in Scottish Gins from Royal Deeside.

Themed around the Horse Culture in the area, its ‘horsey’ inspiration doesn’t stop at the name - the gin is infused with Meadow Hay, Carrots, Apple and Mint.

Ginkhana is described as a fantastically smooth and sweet gin, which makes it perfect dram to sip neat, over ice with a mint leaf, or as a Gin Martini with a high quality Vermouth. It is equally at home as a Gin and Tonic with Mint and Apple.

Sounds like a top tipple if ever there was one. Cheers!


 
Published in Trot On Blogs
Wednesday, 24 January 2018 12:21

How to Spot the Car of a Horse Rider!

Let’s be honest, most horsey people don’t spend lots of time cleaning and preening their cars and their most important function is getting us to and from the yard whatever the weather, and as a result are often subject to being forced through mud and pond-sized puddles. In the countryside, these dirt-caked cars are the norm, but prepare to stand out from the crowd when you drive your mud-mobile into town to be greeted by raised eyebrows and concerned looks as you park upside a sports car that has been polished to within an inch of its life! 

Here are some of my top ways for spotting the car of a horse-rider from a mile off…

• Your car becomes your tack room… We’ve all been there…we say to ourselves, “Oh I’ll just keep this rug in my boot in case I need it next week,” or “I’ll just put these spare reins on the back seat so I don’t loose them.” Why is it that equestriennes tend to gradually move the entire contents of their tack room into their car?! And that's not to mention extra jackets, boots, scarves etc for myself.  Whether it’s a sponge, a saddle or a stray exercise boot, you will struggle to find the actual seats beneath all the horsey items. My car is basically like a moveable saddlery shop, much to the bemusement of my poor non-horsey friends who have to drive anywhere with me. Anyone who gets in my car is now fully prepared to have to sit on a numnah with a riding hat on their lap!

• It also becomes a hay barn… Not only do we shed hay and straw from our clothing wherever we go but ONLY horsey people would think it’s a good idea to stuff an entire bale of hay on the back seat (for the record, it definitely isn’t a good idea). Putting wedges of hay in the car seems like a wonderful solution for taking it up to the field, but actually it leaves your car looking like a combine harvester has just driven through it.

• The smell…  Sadly, no amount of air freshener can conceal the aroma of horse poo, horse sweat and tack cleaner. Over the years I have tried pretty much every scent the local garage has to offer, yet people still get in my car and make polite comments about the ‘countryside smell’. Unfortunately, I don't think if I bottled it, they'd buy it!

• The ever- present wellies… I just counted, and I have an impressive three pairs of wellies crammed into my boot. Given that I am at a university in the middle of the city, three pairs of wellies really doesn’t seem necessary. However, a mud-clad pair of wellies is an essential part of my car – after all, I guess you never know when you’re going to need to wade through a field of mud!

• The horsey stickers on the back windscreen… Something I’ve noticed over the years is that horse riders always have stickers plastering the windows of their car. Whether it’s a Countryside Alliance sticker, the British Dressage logo, or, in my case, a sticker that promotes horse & rider road safety, it's a sure sign it's an equestrian's car. I also have a load of rosettes pinned up on my parcel tray above my boot, just in case the driver in the car behind me cares that I won a show last week.

three dogs on leads tethered to a car bumper at horse event

• The dog… A canine is a valuable addition to many horsey families, and are almost always bundled in the car on the way to the yard. As a result, muddy paw prints and dog hairs (combined, of course, with horse hairs) are likely to decorate your car seats, along with various chewed up toys and leads. Dogs are also an essential companion at shows, and more often than not have their own special spot in our lorries.  

• The mud… Last, but by no-means least, is the mud that seems to get ingrained into the paintwork of our cars. Driving up country lanes and through fields sure takes its toll, and no amount of cleaning will make my car shine like it used to. It is not just the outside that has suffered – people always half-heartedly ask if they should take their muddy boots off when they get in to my car, but sadly it is far too late for that. Muddy boot prints are now a permanent feature of the interior design. 

Although keeping our cars tidy may not be at the top of our priorities, I have picked up a few tips which have helped to keep my car at least slightly presentable….

• Make use of a tarpaulin… Lining your boot with a sheet of tarpaulin can make all the difference, particularly if you are using your car to move hay and straw around. It means that all the little bits of hay can’t work their way right into the fabric of your back seats, and then when you get to the yard you can just shake the tarpaulin out. You can buy them online for about £5, so it is a super cheap and easy solution. 

• Recycle old feed sacks… Old feed bags are the PERFECT shape for recycling as wellie bags. I keep all my wellies in old plastic sugar beet sacks, which saves my car boot getting quite so embarrassingly muddy. 

• Keep a spare pair of shoes with you… On a similar note, I always keep a pair of clean (ish…) trainers in my boot. Then when I finish at the yard, I can put them on to prevent the inside of my car from turning into a field. Wellies also aren’t safe to drive in, so I always make sure I change my shoes before I go anywhere. 

• Invest in a clothes roller… These can be brought from most high street retailers, and are the life-saving essential that you never knew you needed! They are brilliant for picking up bits of horse hair from your clothes and car seats, and are a must during clipping season (unless you want to end up hairier than your pony). 

Of course, there are a few exceptions – some horsey people do somehow manage to keep their cars looking pristine, but I’m certainly not one of them! Do you have any tips for keeping your car clean? Or have you, like me, reached the point of no return… 
Published in Trot On Blogs
Monday, 22 January 2018 12:42

"Ohh, Mother"

There are plenty of things that we say and do which I’m sure our horses think are totally ridiculous. I sometimes imagine I can hear Archie sighing “Ohh Mother” in a similar tone to how a bored teenager would express their exasperation to an embarrassing parent. For example…

• We insist on an excessive amount kisses and hugs. A hello one, a goodbye one, one when you’ve had to tell them off and now feel guilty…

• We fight the eternal battle against mud and stable stains when quite frankly a roll appears to be the preferred activity at all times.

• We get hyped up about a competition for which we spend month preparing and then approximately 10 minutes actually showing what we can do.

• We turn up with fancy colour coordinated kit and exclaim at how much they must love it when in fact their eyesight has pretty limited colour vision.

• We put words in their mouths (a prime example being the title of this blog!) when in reality all they probably care about is who is delivering the next meal.

The relationship between humans and horses has had a long, sometimes stormy, but often beautiful history. It’s safe to say that a lot of our behaviour makes no sense to them but they are kind enough to tolerate our foibles and love us anyway!

joae150As it says on the tin, this is a personal blog about the journey Archie and I are taking in discovering the world of eventing. Archie is a 6 year old Irish gelding, and I am a 26 year old horse addict. I didn’t grow up in a family with horses, and Archie was the first horse I ever owned, having loaned for over 20 years. I hope that we can show other riders who perhaps don’t feel that they can achieve their dreams, that anything is possible!
 
 
Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog
Published in Trot On Blogs

Trot On member, Kaitlin Woods, continues her blog sharing her journey - the ups and the downs, with her new ex-racing thoroughbred steed, Freddie. Here, in this posting, (originally written back in October last year), Kaitlin explains how she's had to deal with a dramatic loss of condition in Freddie shortly after his arrival.

Well that has flown by! 2 whole months and one week my boy has been home and it's honestly been amazing but a hell of a journey already...

If you haven't read my first blog posting, my lovely new ex racehorse came home on the 14th August, but with a superficial digital flexor tendon injury (more info on the blog, go have a read!) Since arriving home I've been ensuring Freddie remains as calm and sane as possible as to not damage the leg further by dancing and running about. The leg has continued to not show any signs of heat or swelling so fingers crossed he is fixing well. 

Our first hurdle to overcome arose a week and a half after Fred came home. He came to me in amazing condition, which as we all know with racehorses isn't always the case. I believe that if a horse is well on the inside, he will shine on the outside. Well fed, very loved and cared for and there you have it, a magnificent looking animal. Marie Mcguinness, Freddie's old trainer honestly adores her horses and my god does it show. (I believe that is why Freddie is one of the kindest horses I have ever met, he has been loved and cared for like a true king.) However, once Freddie came home, he had a bit of an adrenaline shock, I think it all hit him (as many ex racehorses out of training experience) - a new home and environment and a completely different routine, and he drastically lost condition and almost sagged... 

Freddie when he arrived                                                                                             Freddie 1 week in

Freddie 2 months in

He has lost back muscle from no work but his overall condition really fell. Very worrying that a horse can change so much in such a short space of time… Time for operation feed that can help! One problem… feed really isn't my thing, having had the pony for 8 years that really did not need feeding I was stuck on where to even begin! Thankfully help was on hand at my local country and feed store, a lady who had thoroughbreds too helped me to decide on what was best for Fred. He hasn't been confirmed for ulcers but being a racehorse and their high sugar, low fibre diets and the fact he was windsucking after eating his handful of high fibre nuts (although he does windsuck out of boredom too), I have gone for a molasses free chaff, in particular the Dengie Alfafa A one as well as Coolstance Copra meal which is well known for being a weight gaining feed especially used by many thoroughbred owners. What a transformation this has given! Freddie is looking so much better, I’m very pleased. However, with Freddie hopefully coming into work very soon once he’s been scanned I am slightly dropping his feed as he is feeling quite well from an oil based feed and I don’t want unnecessary fizz in the early stages. I’ll keep you updated on what he’s eating and how we are getting on!

Freddie has continued to be hand walked daily to strengthen the leg and see the world. He’s been such a good boy, even in the worst of weather conditions and traffic he has maintained a very cool and level head and I’m so proud of him for that. We have the odd excited moment but overall a very good boy, it’s honestly like walking your dog! Long may it continue when I’m on board him!!

Over the last 3 weeks Freddie has been moved into a bigger paddock, finally no more squares! He’s so happy bless him, the first time I turned him out I was expecting a bit of an explosion but he just walked the perimeter of his new field before giving me a little glance of approval and then of course got straight down to business… eating! He does have the occasional play about but no heat or swelling appears from the leg and unfortunately he cannot be bubble wrapped forever! He is definitely a food boy though, and as long as there is good food the excitement soon passes so he can munch away again. 

The other big step we took was to turn him out with Inky, the other ex-racehorse who is a true gentlemen and looks after everyone. All being well all three will be turned out together full time after we know whether the leg is ok and so an introduction to Inky seemed a good idea. It was like dropping my child off at school!! “Be nice, don’t hurt anyone and don’t hurt yourself!!” They loved each other, a little trot around in excitement and then settled straight down to eating the same blade of grass… bromance blossoming!

We have also reduced the length of time that Freddie is wearing his stable bandages, from 24/7 when he was on complete box rest to only at night when he came home. I then started to apply the bandages every other night and so on. He now doesn’t wear them at all and there has been no swelling at all. Good sign!

I did notice about a month in that he had a slight cold and snotty nose, I took it a bit easy on the walking in case he was feeling a bit under the weather. But he was soon fine and I didn’t have to have snot wiped over me when I was trying to lead him! Always a bonus  

Freddie also has a new medium weight rug for the chilly winter nights as I will be keeping him out mostly as they have a large field shelter which we bed down with straw. I also love the detachable hood and ‘atlantic blue’ suits him rather well don’t you think?!

So that’s it for our second update! I fall in love with him more each day and can't wait to see what the future holds, it’s not always easy but a very good journey never is! Just over one week to go until his scan and then fingers crossed the real fun can begin, mega excited!

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for more news on Mr Fred. 

kandf 250

 

 

 

 

 

Kaitlin and Freddie xxx

Published in Member Blogs

Trot On member, Kaitlin Woods, continues her blog sharing her journey - the ups and the downs, with her new ex-racing thoroughbred steed, Freddie. Here, in this posting, (originally written back in October last year), Kaitlin explains how she's had to deal with a dramatic loss of condition in Freddie shortly after his arrival.

Well that has flown by! 2 whole months and one week my boy has been home and it's honestly been amazing but a hell of a journey already...

If you haven't read my first blog posting, my lovely new ex racehorse came home on the 14th August, but with a superficial digital flexor tendon injury (more info on the blog, go have a read!) Since arriving home I've been ensuring Freddie remains as calm and sane as possible as to not damage the leg further by dancing and running about. The leg has continued to not show any signs of heat or swelling so fingers crossed he is fixing well. 

Our first hurdle to overcome arose a week and a half after Fred came home. He came to me in amazing condition, which as we all know with racehorses isn't always the case. I believe that if a horse is well on the inside, he will shine on the outside. Well fed, very loved and cared for and there you have it, a magnificent looking animal. Marie Mcguinness, Freddie's old trainer honestly adores her horses and my god does it show. (I believe that is why Freddie is one of the kindest horses I have ever met, he has been loved and cared for like a true king.) However, once Freddie came home, he had a bit of an adrenaline shock, I think it all hit him (as many ex racehorses out of training experience) - a new home and environment and a completely different routine, and he drastically lost condition and almost sagged... 

Freddie when he arrived                                                                                             Freddie 1 week in

Freddie 2 months in

He has lost back muscle from no work but his overall condition really fell. Very worrying that a horse can change so much in such a short space of time… Time for operation feed that can help! One problem… feed really isn't my thing, having had the pony for 8 years that really did not need feeding I was stuck on where to even begin! Thankfully help was on hand at my local country and feed store, a lady who had thoroughbreds too helped me to decide on what was best for Fred. He hasn't been confirmed for ulcers but being a racehorse and their high sugar, low fibre diets and the fact he was windsucking after eating his handful of high fibre nuts (although he does windsuck out of boredom too), I have gone for a molasses free chaff, in particular the Dengie Alfafa A one as well as Coolstance Copra meal which is well known for being a weight gaining feed especially used by many thoroughbred owners. What a transformation this has given! Freddie is looking so much better, I’m very pleased. However, with Freddie hopefully coming into work very soon once he’s been scanned I am slightly dropping his feed as he is feeling quite well from an oil based feed and I don’t want unnecessary fizz in the early stages. I’ll keep you updated on what he’s eating and how we are getting on!

Freddie has continued to be hand walked daily to strengthen the leg and see the world. He’s been such a good boy, even in the worst of weather conditions and traffic he has maintained a very cool and level head and I’m so proud of him for that. We have the odd excited moment but overall a very good boy, it’s honestly like walking your dog! Long may it continue when I’m on board him!!

Over the last 3 weeks Freddie has been moved into a bigger paddock, finally no more squares! He’s so happy bless him, the first time I turned him out I was expecting a bit of an explosion but he just walked the perimeter of his new field before giving me a little glance of approval and then of course got straight down to business… eating! He does have the occasional play about but no heat or swelling appears from the leg and unfortunately he cannot be bubble wrapped forever! He is definitely a food boy though, and as long as there is good food the excitement soon passes so he can munch away again. 

The other big step we took was to turn him out with Inky, the other ex-racehorse who is a true gentlemen and looks after everyone. All being well all three will be turned out together full time after we know whether the leg is ok and so an introduction to Inky seemed a good idea. It was like dropping my child off at school!! “Be nice, don’t hurt anyone and don’t hurt yourself!!” They loved each other, a little trot around in excitement and then settled straight down to eating the same blade of grass… bromance blossoming!

We have also reduced the length of time that Freddie is wearing his stable bandages, from 24/7 when he was on complete box rest to only at night when he came home. I then started to apply the bandages every other night and so on. He now doesn’t wear them at all and there has been no swelling at all. Good sign!

I did notice about a month in that he had a slight cold and snotty nose, I took it a bit easy on the walking in case he was feeling a bit under the weather. But he was soon fine and I didn’t have to have snot wiped over me when I was trying to lead him! Always a bonus  

Freddie also has a new medium weight rug for the chilly winter nights as I will be keeping him out mostly as they have a large field shelter which we bed down with straw. I also love the detachable hood and ‘atlantic blue’ suits him rather well don’t you think?!

So that’s it for our second update! I fall in love with him more each day and can't wait to see what the future holds, it’s not always easy but a very good journey never is! Just over one week to go until his scan and then fingers crossed the real fun can begin, mega excited!

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for more news on Mr Fred. 

kandf 250

 

 

 

 

 

Kaitlin and Freddie xxx

Published in Trot On Blogs
Thursday, 11 January 2018 10:27

Healthy Equestrians

At this time of year there are endless articles popping up on my news feed about “how to change your life” and “how to make this year your year“. I eventually succumbed to the pressure of Facebook’s advertising and clicked on a link which boldly suggested it would provide lifestyle habits that would make me healthier. I was then pleasantly surprised (and rather smug) to see that nearly all of these habits are part of my daily life thanks to horses. So that you too can all feel justified about the small fortune you spend on your horses here’s the magic list…

1. Find a form of exercise that you love doing. Easy. Done. Next.

2. Use meditation and ‘mindful’ exercise in your daily life. When I’m schooling Archie I don’t have enough brain space to work him properly and stress about life. To get the best from your horse you have to give them your absolute focus. This is my version of mediation and it’s very effective. On top of that a blue-sky day out hacking is equally as cathartic and a fast gallop up a grassy track really blows your cares away.

3. Rising early. Impossible not to when you have horses, even if they are on full livery! Eventing days result in alarm times that are simply criminal for a Sunday morning.

4. Have a good bedtime routine.  I’m usually so knackered after a day at work, a long commute and then an evening ride that a bedtime routine is unnecessary. Sleep is never a problem.

5. Find friends who identify with your challenges. Fellow equestrians are the only ones who really understand the highs and lows of horses. It’s through horses that I have made true friends for life.

6. Find a passion or creative outlet. Whether you love dressage, showing, or eventing, what with all the amazing shows throughout the year and the never-ending  stream of social media the options are endless. We are spoilt for choice!

So there you have it. Horses tick every box on their list of “Habits for a Healthy Mind and Body”. You might be broke and covered in mud all the time, but you’re healthier, and happier, for it.
 
 
Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog
Published in Trot On Blogs
Monday, 27 November 2017 10:37

Keep Dreaming

When your dreams come true, sometimes they don’t look quite like you imagined. Years of yearning can mean that reality can be a little harsh, and the inevitable complications that come all too often with horses can be challenging. I spent twenty years learning to ride on riding school horses and having other people’s horses on loan, but during that time I dreamed of a horse to call my own. It wasn’t until two years ago that I was finally able to buy Archie, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing…

In the early days Archie was a scrawny 5 year old who was full of potential but also full of quirks. He refused to lead, regularly planting himself on the yard and steadfastly refusing to move. The embarrassing sweaty argument that ensued was miserable for all involved and often meant it could take ten minutes to walk the twenty metres to the arena.
A dirty, scrawny but beautifully dappled 5 year old Archie once we finally made it to the arena!

A grey who is scared of water sounds like a terrible idea right? Indeed it was! He was petrified of the stuff, and being the worst colour of all a bath could easily take up to two hours with a sponge and endless reassurance. He was also scared of the hose and spray (spray bottles being an issue we still haven’t quite cracked!) so washing off legs and summer rinse downs were challenging.

Being young and fairly inexperienced I knew I had work to do on his schooling, and our first challenge was the  left canter lead which Archie didn’t know existed. He was always  more balanced on the right and he would chose it every time no matter how many different ways I asked. I was also stronger on my right side which made everything more tricky, and it took weeks of work to get him to even think about cantering comfortably on the left.

Apart from a fear of spray bottles most of theses quirks have now been ironed out. We have had a whole host more problems since then but we have worked on our differences and we understand each other better. A lot of hard work and even more love has meant that Archie has become the horse of my dreams; my horse of a lifetime. I’m lucky because I know it doesn’t always work out that way. When I first realised this dream it didn’t look quite like I expected it to, but two years on it is everything I imagined it could be. Keep dreaming, and one day your dreams will come true!
 
 

Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog

 
 
Published in Trot On Blogs
Wednesday, 11 October 2017 11:44

Simply Easy

Riding horses. In theory it's so simple. Easy some might say.

We've all heard the rage inducing comment from non-horse riders;

"Don't you just sit there?"

Someone once likened it to buying a lottery ticket, just pick the right numbers and you'll win. Sounds effortlessly easy, however we know it's anything but.

Breaking down a problem that feels complicated when you're trying to fit all the parts together is a technique that good trainers use. It allows you to build back up when you're on your own, which helps to create an independent focused rider. There's no point having endless lessons if you can't do the job when your trainer isn't on the ground with you.

In a recent lesson, this is how jumping was broken down for me. There are three essential elements that you need as your building blocks;

1. Be straight
2. Be in balance

3. Be energetic

These three things, which appear to be no trouble at all on paper, in reality take focus, commitment and a lot of energy to achieve!

Whilst Archie is learning to change his way of going and work in a more balanced uphill canter, I am having to work harder. When he understands what I'm asking I hope that he will be more responsive to my aids, allowing me to be the one working a little less hard. At least that's my goal! But it's a conversation that we are having, where often I need to have little more authority, following our motto of "Be More Yorkshire". 

Flying round the cross country is exhilarating and exciting but it can be easy to make the mistake of flying flat out between fences and then asking for focus and attention when the fence is approaching. This is a mistake many of us amateurs make, as we compete and train much less frequently, but one that can be easily rectified. 

In reponse to the earlier question which is often asked, I find the best answer is to put those people on a horse. They soon change their tune...!
 
 
Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog
Published in Trot On Blogs
Thursday, 31 August 2017 17:30

To Give Up Or To Give It One More Shot?

With every challenge or obstacle in life, there is always the underlying question as to whether you should give up or give it one more shot when times get tough. I recently read ‘Forever Amber’ by Katy Dixon, and as it so truthfully says

“When the impossible is your reality, be prepared to fight harder”.

Whether you are a child trying to learn to ride your bike and can’t quite grasp the concept without stabilisers or you’re trying to perfect your canter or jump your biggest course, there are times in life when giving up feels like the only option. It’s impossible, I can’t do it. It’s just easier to walk away.

Now this isn’t a sob story, oh no, see I want this to be a motivational post to anyone whose facing a difficult time or situation and just feels the need and want to give up. I want everyone to realise that there is always a glimpse of hope in any situation and that this should be your foundation on which to grow. As most of you will have seen on my profile, I recently got a new horse called Freddie! He’s 16’2hh with the biggest pony personality and honestly one of the kindest horses I have ever met. He’s such a food addict for a thoroughbred but we could work with that, after all it’s better than a worrier! So the countdown began from the 21st May for my new superstar to come home once I’d finished my A Level exams. However a phone call on the 15th June was one of those heart sinking moments where to give up or give it one more shot became real. 

Freddie was staying at the racing yard he’d retired from which is a stone’s throw away from where my horses are kept now, which meant I could still visit him even though he wasn’t with me full time. On the 15th June 2017 I got a phone to say that Freddie had contracted a swelling on his near fore tendon. I was heartbroken and so worried as a suspected tendon injury as we all know could jeopardise a horse’s future and wellbeing altogether. It was also awful timing with a history exam the very next day! But nevertheless the vets were contacted and Freddie was due to be scanned the following week. 

Wednesday 21st June Freddie travelled down to Whitelodge Veterinary Clinic. He got off the lorry happy as larry, even in the sweltering heat and was such a good boy standing impeccably the whole time. I was so proud of him. We had the best man on the job, Phil our vet is honestly the best in the South West, especially anything leg related, his advice and verdict was to be crucial. After carrying out the X-ray Phil confirmed our worst nightmare, Freddie had injured his superficial digital flexor tendon. To be precise he had created a complete hole, more than likely caused in his last race but had come to the surface a few weeks later, Phil classed it as a 3/10 injury. I was heartbroken, my darling Freddie was injured and there was nothing that could be done. I tried to remain positive and held onto the thought that Freddie was not lame or actually feeling any pain, he was as happy as ever eating away, not a worry in the world! Phil explained a rehab plan which included:

4/5 months of complete controlled rest 
Ice treatment for no more than one hour at a time for around 2/3 weeks until swelling reduced
Bandage both front legs- gradually after 3/4 weeks begin to take bandages off for around 4 hours and then if no swelling or heat appears keep bandages off for longer etc.
NOT complete box rest- a controlled environment (small paddock + stable) – must not gallop! 

Walk him gently and gradually 

 A lot of discussions were now needed with my parents as to what we were going to do.

This wasn’t the same as purchasing your average horse. Freddie has lived a million stories, he’s battled through the good and the bad and having been at a national hunt yard from age 4-9 and then the point to point yard for the last two seasons, he sure has given it his all. Freddie was a horse that deserved this chance, no it wasn’t ideal, it sounded completely obscured to most people. But from the very first day I met him I had the biggest dreams for him and they still stand, I know he will be a superstar. My amazing parents agreed that I could give Freddie this chance and after agreeing it with the owner of the pony which I ride and where Freddie would be staying, the countdown began again! 

 

14th August 2017- 84 days since my countdown began back in May, after trying and falling in love with Fred, he finally made his way home. To say he was excited was an understatement! Being a 4 minute walk down the road to his new home, it was much easier than fussing about with travelling! After over 8 weeks on confined rest, he saw his bridle and thought “Yeehaaa!” So I walked my 18hh+ stallion home clinging to the reins for dear life and thinking “Oh dear god what have I done?!?!” But Freddie being the Freddie I knew settled immediately, happily snacking away on his haynet and poking his head out to talk to his new friends! Definitely time for a cuppa by this point! 

Freddie has been such an angel since, he’s been walked out in hand, behaving so, so well and has begun to go out by day in his little paddock. He’s as happy as anything as his ‘all-inclusive holiday’ has continued! Not sure when to warn him he’s not retired …!! I honestly feel so lucky to be able to keep my boy with my other best friends, they all get on so well which is so important. For now its lots of care for his leg, lots of good food to keep him looking and feeling well and lots of kisses and cuddles! (He’s getting bored of these already!!)  

I know Freddie will be a superstar, and I have the biggest of dreams for him. One day I hope everyone will have heard of OHIO GOLD, for being the true champion he is. I love him dearly and can’t wait for the real adventures to begin. But for now, that’s our story, chapter one I like to call it of a book that I am sure will be a rollercoaster journey but whether it be up or down, to have my lionhearted best friend by my side means the absolute world to me. 

 
Stay tuned for more updates! 
Kaitlin & Freddie xx
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