Wednesday, 23 May 2018 11:31

Overheard at Competitions

On the very wettest of days

"This place is a shit-ing shithole" - Overheard from a frustrated and rather wet trainer who proceeded to stamp through knee deep puddles, in a manner similar to a pissed off toddler!

On the long days

"The only thing I like about this place is that this is second time I've pressed E3 and it's given me two Yorkies" - Overheard from a desperately hungry and sugar starved boyfriend at a three day show in a very wet April.

On the eventing days

"She doesn't want to fall off, she doesn't want to waste an air canister"  - Overheard in response to a rider desperately clinging on to their horse after taking a flyer at a fence and trying not to hit the deck.

On the bad days

Shouting "NO" to your horse, and then in a whisper "Why did you do it? We talked about this!" - Overheard in response to any silly behaviour which you really wish your horse  wouldn't do in public!

On the hot days

"Water is good for you, why won't you drink for me!" - A regular comment overheard when your horse decides the water out of the container that came from home isn't the same as the stuff that it actually AT home. 

On the showjumping days

From affiliated competitions  where  you overhear "This collecting ring is a bit scary..."

To the unaffiliated days where you overhear "I can't cope with the faffing in this collecting ring". The particularly appropriate response to this was, "I think you've done too much showjumping." - Guilty as charged on that one I'm afraid!

On nearly every show and training day

"Don't just sit there!" - Overheard from nearly every trainer. Words nearly every rider has had shouted at them at some point I'm sure, particularly when nerves get the better of you.

On days where the tack shop has a sale

Person 1 - "Do you really need more <insert any horsey item>?"

Person 2 - "Well no, but it's on sale!!" - Overheard on a regular basis, usually related to some superfluous item of tack. Most commonly when you're trying to buy rugs you don't really need!

On days when the pony classes are on

"She's ten and she's making that course look like sticks on the floor. Why the hell can't I do that?" - Overheard from depressed adults who realise these kids are always going smash us when it comes to guts and speed!

On days when the non horsey family come to watch

"I'm surprised, I thought everyone would be really stuffy and posh"

Oh the irony. Us equestrians are muddy, smelly, sweaty and dirty most of the time, that is apart from the few moments when we are in the ring and then we gleam.

On all days

Exclamations of love and delight followed up with loud wet sloppy kisses and lots of hugs. Words being shouted out or whispered softly by so many riders as they exit the ring or untack at the lorry. Despite all the heartache and disasters these wonderful animals are simply fabulous in every way.


 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
Monday, 19 March 2018 11:31

Dressage Diva

Dressage is a delight, when it’s done right. It looks effortless and elegant. Non-horsey people love to tell you ” I could so do that, it’s easy, you just walk in a circle”, but when you try it’s simply the hardest thing in the world. Walking in a circle should be easy. It’s not. Crossing over from one side of the arena to other should be easy. It’s not. That is not to do it perfectly straight, in balance and without any random wiggles or change in rhythm.

After a winter’s break from dressage it feels daunting thinking about re-entering the area and trotting down the centre line. Neither Archie or I have ever particularly enjoyed dressage, competing as necessary for eventing and happy to train at home to improve both of us, but never truly embracing the dressage competition life. For one thing I fail totally at matchy matchy, everything we own is black. It’s just easier to hide the mud!

The dream of sitting on a beautifully trained horse and half passing perfectly across the area is a pipe dream for us. In fact it’s a totally unreal dream as without training yourself, you can’t expect even the best horses to understand you. The hard graft that is required to get yourself as a rider to the level when you can achieve these incredible responses from your horses is not to be underestimated. Perhaps one day we might get a glimpse, but for now we can but dream and watch on in awe.

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
Monday, 12 February 2018 10:24

British Eventing Medical Rule Changes

Many of you will be aware that British Eventing have, in the last few days, changed their rules regarding competitors who fall at an event. These changes have been made in light of ongoing research with regards to concussion and they bring BE in line with the FEI rules which have been in place for the last ten years.

Previously if you toppled off in any phase of your event you could get back on and continue the rest of your day, as long as you were unhurt. With this new rule if you fall that will be the end of your event on that horse, as all riders who fall will be eliminated. The important caveats to this are that if you fall in the warm up you can still compete or if you have more than one horse you will still be able to ride your subsequent horses, provided you get the green light from the event doctor.

If you have been lucky enough to have never suffered a fall at an event an important point to remember is that it is your responsibility to ensure that you are seen by the doctor before heading home. As an event doctor myself I can tell you that hunting for riders in a lorry park is a total nightmare, especially once you take your number bibs off!

I know that some riders are frustrated by these new rules but they stem from recent developments in guidance on managing concussion, and although it often appears mild, concussion is a serious business. We are now much more aware of the risks and long term effects of concussion and although you might think you’ve just bumped your head if not treated properly if can have long term effects on your cognitive functioning. Take the advice of medical staff seriously after even a mild concussion and of course reduce your risk as much as possible by never getting on a horse without a helmet. Ensuring no further head injuries occur, staying well rested, and giving your brain some “off” time (i.e no phones or TV) are ways of helping concussion to recover and avoid more serious long term effects.

Your brain is fragile, protect it and protect yourself.


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
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
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

 
 
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Thursday, 26 October 2017 09:40

Bend and Stretch

Archie’s health is of the upmost importance to me and so getting him seen by an equine physio who I trusted was one of the very first things I did when he joined our family. I was incredibly lucky that Samamtha Bardill-Bobyn was already looking after many horses locally and she has been keeping Archie in tip top shape ever since. She has been working for the past seven years as a veterinary physiotherapist, lending her healing hands and knowledge to both horses and dogs. Sammy started out in physiotherapy after completing her degree in animal science and further training with competition horses, giving her impressive breadth and depth of knowledge. Her rapidly expanding business is juggled with lecturing in equine physiology and anatomy, working with veterinary physio students, spending time with her family and riding her gorgeous mare Ruby. Despite her busy schedule Sammy is always happy to help, and goes out of her way to support her clients, turning up at the drop of a hat in an emergency and investing both time and emotion in their horses.

This is the first of many blogs which will feature Sammy's advice, but to start with I asked her what her top tips to the everyday rider would be, for keeping their horses in the best musculoskeletal condition possible;

A well fitted saddle

We can all be guilty of forgetting about our saddles, thinking we had it checked last month when it was actually a year ago. Horses change shape and keeping your saddle fitting correctly is vital in keeping your horse comfortable.

A strong core

A horse’s impulsion comes from its hindquarters, and to be working powerfully and effectively their abdominal muscles and core need to be strong. This allows them to work over their backs and lift up to support themselves.

Flexibility

Flexibility and suppleness mean that the horse can move freely and without restriction. This freedom of movement helps avoid stiffness and tension creeping in. Simple exercises such as a carrot stretches to the side and between the front legs help to improve both flexion and core strength. Think of it like Pilates for horses.

I am overjoyed to announce that Sammy and I have come together in a new partnership this year, and as I would have always recommended her services, without a moment’s hesitation, I am delighted to now be able to represent her and her business. On top of this we will be bringing you blogs featuring her tips and advice on how to keep your horse healthy throughout the year.

Learn more about Sammy at: http://www.facebook.com/sambardillvetphysio/


joae150 As 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
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
Monday, 02 October 2017 13:39

Did You Know? All About Melanoma

Did you know that 80% of grey horses will get melanomas at some point in their life?

A few months ago we made the startling discovery of a few small black lumps over Archie’s tail, around his bottom and on his sheath. Being grey he is of course at significant risk of developing melanomas in his lifetime but being 7 years old I was surprised to see so many. My first instinct (after a confirmed diagnosis from the vet and initial consultation regarding treatment options) was of course to head straight online to investigate the existing evidence for various treatments. Simply put melanomas in grey horses are benign, although they can become malignant, and usually cause local issues due to pressure or damage to surrounding structures. They can often result in problems with fitting tack, particularly if they are on the face. Single or large problematic melanomas are often removed surgically, however for horses with multiple small melanomas there are some exciting new treatment options.

Archie was carted off to Oakham veterinary hospital after I read about the “Oncept” melanoma vaccine. A relatively new treatment for horses, the vaccine was originally created for dogs who also suffer with the same issue of benign melanomas. So how does it work and above all does it work?

The vaccine targets tyrosinase, a protein found in melanoma cells. This protein is the enzyme which is the “rate-limiting step”, i.e the limiting factor, which controls production of melanin (the pigment produced by melanoma cells). The vaccine acts by triggering the horse’s body to produce an immune response again the protein. This means that the horse’s own immune system targets the abnormal cells, both those that are visible and those that you cannot see. As a fairly new treatment the data available regarding long term effectiveness and side effects and is limited, but in an area of equine medicine where there is little else of proven benefit it is an exciting new option in the battle against melanomas.

I am delighted to say that Archie responded well to the course of injections, and although it’s early days in his treatment we are full of hope that we have stopped this tricky beast in it’s tracks.

A huge thank you to Oakham Veterinary hospital, and in particular our friendly vet Mark, for their support and kindness during the treatment.
 
If you are looking for further information on Oncept or Melanomas theses links can get you started… (Please always consult your vet for diagnosis and advice)
 
 
Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog
Published in Trot On Blogs

Before we begin...  I am a qualified doctor currently training in Anaesthetics and I have an interest in equestrian events medicine and trauma. This blog does not aim to replace first aid training, and I would recommend that all those spending time around horses gain formal training.

Horses are inherently unpredictable and therefore there is always a chance that when you are spending time with horses an accident could happen. That’s a fact, and one that we can’t change, but what we can change is our knowledge of how we manage the situation when things go wrong. This is the first in a series of blogs on what to do if someone is hurt or injured around their horse.

As an Anaesthetic trainee with an interest in equestrian events medicine I am passionate about teaching people what to do when someone is seriously injured. This may seem basic to those of you who have had some first aid or medical training but it is the simple things that can save people’s lives. What I aim to do in this blog is to explain what you need to do if someone has a bad fall.

So here is the first scenario...

A rider falls from their horse and is lying on the ground. They are awake and talking but saying that they have pain in their back or neck. What do you do?

1. Do not move them and encourage them to keep their head and neck as still as they can. Do not let them get up if they have pain in their back or neck.  Spinal injuries are common in horse riding related falls, and keeping someone still is vital to ensure that they do not develop any further spinal cord injury.

2. Call an ambulance urgently and inform them that the patient is conscious but has pain in their back or neck. Relaying this information and details of any other injuries accurately will allow the ambulance service to allocate the correct resources to you.

3. Keep them warm. In patients who have undergone significant trauma, staying warm is key and lying in mud or on wet sand can make people cold very quickly. Horse rugs are great for this!

4. Keep them talking. This will allow you to recognise when/ if they become confused or drowsy indicating a potential head injury.

5. Keep a timeline. Try and keep track of the timing of events, and if there are any changes in the patient's condition make a note of when they occur.

So what do you do if someone is unconscious following a fall? 

If someone is unconscious you must first of all check that they are breathing. If you are confident checking for a pulse then do this as well, but if not then there are three things you need to do:

• Look – see if their chest is moving as they breathe

• Listen – put your ear to their mouth and make sure you can hear them breathing

• Feel – put your hand lightly on their chest and see if you can feel it moving

If they are not breathing and there is no pulse then you need to commence CPR immediately. (I will not cover this in detail but more information can be found at https://www.resus.org.uk/resuscitation-guidelines/adult-basic-life-support-and-automated-external-defibrillation/#sequence)

1. Once you have determined that they are breathing, do not move them. In particular make sure that you do not move their head and neck in case they have an injury here. Keep a close eye on their breathing as their condition can change very quickly.

2. Urgently calling an ambulance, keeping them warm, and keeping a timeline of events apply in this situation also.

Other things to consider:

 • How did they fall? This information is incredibly useful for the doctors at the hospital, so if you can write down what happened when they fell and how they fell to give to the ambulance crew. In addition photos or videos of the fall can be helpful.

• Does anyone there know anything about their medical history? Allergies, known medical conditions and medications are again very helpful for the ambulance. If these can be written down and given to the crew this will help on arrival at A&E.

I would strongly recommend that if you are planning to spend a significant amount of time around horses that you complete a formal first aid course. I hope that you never have to use the skills, but you will be very grateful that you have the knowledge if you ever need to use it.
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
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