Friday, 20 July 2007

Bag Lady!

The farrier kindly came out to Echo first thing yesterday morning. I decided it was necessary for her to see a farrier and I am really glad that I did. After a bit of a root around in her right fore, he found a small stone, about the size of a small piece of gravel, that had worked its way up into her foot and was about an inch deep. No wonder she was sore! He dug the stone out and didn't think that there was any infection, but he was worried that this had exposed the delicate laminae to dirt and bacteria, so he recommended that I poultice the foot for a few days to make sure.

So Echo is now on box rest. It's typical - she has just got used to her routine and now it has changed again. She isn't a bad patient really - she has accepted having her foot held up for long periods of time, while we fiddle around with animalintex and vetrap! However, she's not impressed by compulsory imprisonment and has started kicking her door noisily in the hope that somebody will remember that she is there and put her out in her field with her friends.

When poulticing her foot, I couldn't find any duct tape and so in order to protect the vetrap and keep the poultice in place, I have been putting a bag around her foot and bandaging it in place - not very glamorous, but it does the trick! She has one more night of staying in, then she can go out on Sunday afternoon, after the hole in her foot has been plugged with Stockholm tar. The unfortunate outcome of this situation is that my farrier is adamant that she needs front shoes on now; this is a shame, as I was hoping to keep her barefoot for another year if possible. Her feet are normally fine, but I can't risk this happening again, so front shoes it is. Proper grown up girl.

It has been rather bad timing, as I was hoping to have sat on her again before I went on holiday, but that is not an option. At least she will have a week to fully recover before we get going in earnest. Fingers crossed! The enormous relief in all of this is that the farrier entirely dismissed my laminitis worries and said that although she is a little overweight (but shrinking rapidly!) she is definitely not laminitic. It could have been a lot worse.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Bit of a problem...

How do horses manage to be so frustrating? Echo has been unquestionably sound in the two years I have had her, and yet now that I am ready to start doing things properly with her, everything goes wrong. Yesterday I noticed that Echo was not quite level when trotting on the right rein on the lunge. I thought she might have just trodden on a stone, so I didn't think any more of it, but then today she was still a bit lame.

I have put some keratex hoof hardener on her feet to try to toughen them up - all the time off she had in the field was not great for her hooves. However, today she was still not right on her off-side fore. The stable manager had a look at her legs and feet and thinks that she has developed a small amount of 'seedy toe'. I've never heard of this condition, but I know the quality of her hooves isn't great at the moment. It seems to be a separation of the hoof wall from the white line and sole of the foot, which then gets filled with sand and grit. This sounds right, as she has been very stroppy over the last week, scraping her feet on the floor in order to try to get attention. Naughty pony.

So, after the yard manager put some peroxide in the hole and sealed it with stockholm tar, I went home feeling fine. Until I did some research on the Internet - always a bad move. Some of the websites I looked at said that it could be an indication of laminitis. Oh my God. It better not be. So I rang my old trainer and panicked on the phone to her. She was really helpful, and said that it was unlikely to be laminitis, but a farrier would be able to confirm this. Although, having only just moved her, I haven't yet got a farrier that I use, so I'm having to ring lots of people and find someone who will come out and see her this week. I'm going on holiday on Monday (spectacularly bad timing, I know) and need her to be seen before I go.

It's such a shame that this has happened, as she was doing so so well - she had a saddle on today and was absolutely fine about it. We went for a lovely walk - she started off a little spooky, but gave up after a while and just let me lead her around! We went to one of the water jumps on the cross country course and although she wouldn't go in the water she did attempt a step - not exactly a jump, more of of an exaggerated step up!

I think I will let her have next week completely off now - a friend was going to lunge her for me, but I don't want her to be uncomfortable. I obviously can't get on her while she's lame, or she'll associate being ridden with discomfort - not the best start for a young horse! Anyway - before I make plans I will wait to see what the farrier thinks. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Getting There!

What a star! Echo is really settling down now. Her stable even looked like it had a bed in it today, rather than looking like a whirlwind had ripped through it, as it has for the last few days! Hopefully this means that she is not running round it so much and is starting to get used to all the noises. Her stable looks out over the sand school and the fields at the back, so she spends quite a lot of time watching what is going on.

Well, today I tied Echo up outside her stable for the first time at the new yard and gave a thorough groom. I left her tied up while I went off to get something, and she stayed where she was, busy eating her haynet. As you can see in the photo, she is looking a bit rough around the edges after her six months in a field, so it will be a while before we can win any turnout classes!

I lunged her yesterday for about 2 minutes, just to remind her of what it is all about and she was very good. Today, I lunged her for a bit longer and on both reins. She's so funny, as she was quite on edge as I led her into the school, but as soon as she was in position, she was in lunging mode and settled down. She trotted round beautifully - no bucking or getting stressed - it's hard to believe she hasn't been lunged for about seven months! She seems to really enjoy her work, which should hopefully be good for the future!

I can tell she's relaxing more, as today we even had an argument over the caravan on the way down to her field - she's walked past it twice a day for the last few days, but today she thought it would be best to give it a wide berth, just in case. So we went past it, and back again, and again and again, until she was persuaded that she could walk calmly next to it! She must be feeling better!

Tomorrow I think we will lunge again, but this time with a roller on and maybe even a bridle. Aren't we getting adventurous!

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Stress Head! Me as much as Echo!

Echo was introduced to her new stable today - can't say she was overly impressed! She didn't do anything particularly silly, she just ran around in circles calling for a while. I left her to it, as she kept expecting me to help her when she saw me. Apparently the only bad thig she did was when another horse was led past her stable - she reared up at the bars in her stable door. Knew there was a reason they were there!

She should settle down when she gets used to the new routine. We'll see how tomorrow goes! I'll try to take her for a bit of a walk tomorrow and see how she gets on. We may even venture into the school.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Clever girl

Well she is safely installed in her new home - what a big relief! I had my stressful moments this morning, as the person driving her insisted on taking a lorry rather than a trailer, which is what she is used to. Having never been on a lorry before, she was extremely well-behaved. She walked straight up the ramp and stood quietly at the top while the doors were shut. We made a very swift exit as soon as she was on the box and she was very good all the way back (only about 25 minutes). She was apparently very vocal all the way to the yard though, according to the poor girl who was sitting in the groom's compartment!

She is now out in a field with about six others and seems to have established some kind of pecking order - she had become very much the boss in her previous field, so it will be a shock to the system to have other horses putting her in her place! She did look lovely as she was prancing round the field - lots of elevation in her trot!

Tomorrow morning is the next big hurdle to cross, as she will discover that she is expected to stand in a stable for several hours a day. This should not be too much of a problem, as before she was turned away, she was in from four in the afternoon until eight in the morning every day. However, she has become rather feral in her enormous field and might take some persuading that this is a good idea! She'll only be in for about seven hours each day and I will start to work her soon, so hopefully she will find this acceptable! The only problem we have had before is that when she is cross and can see an escape route (i.e. the doorway) she will go for it. At all costs. It is a rather alarming sight - a horse with its legs stuck over the door! To prevent this, she now has a set of Hannibal Lector bars in her stable doorway, which I will hopefully be able to take down soon.

I can't wait to get going; it's so exciting!

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Scary and Exciting

And so it all begins! Echo came to me nearly two years ago, when I was looking for a yearling to work on as a project. I was looking for a coloured horse as I had become very attached to a coloured cob who sadly died. I saw Echo advertised on a website and she looked perfect. Getting her was somewhat tricky, as she had evidently provoked some interest! However, at the beginning of September 2005 Echo made the long journey over to Hereford and took her place in a field with a pair of yearling ponies.

Echo has an interesting history: her mother was brought over from Ireland and sold to a lady looking for her perfect first horse. After several very happy months, it was discovered that she was in fact in foal and due to give birth any minute! Echo came along and I bought her a year later. I am extremely grateful for the fantastic start her mother's owners gave her, as she is well-mannered, affectionate and a very happy horse. Her mother's owner tried desperately to find out who Echo's sire was, but to no avail. She even had an article about her experience published in Horse and Rider magazine.

August 2006 led to another change in location, as my job moved to Suffolk, and therefore Echo was transported the 250 miles across the country to get here. She was stabled for six months, while I taught her to lunge and be a civilised grown up horse, and at the end of this period I backed her and she was very sensible.

This was in December, and straight after Christmas I decided that she needed some time to grow before I could break her in properly. She has now spent the last six months in a 30 acre field becoming very wild and very fat. But now the time has come, and tomorrow I will bring her in to begin her education in earnest. It will be something of a trial and error exercise, as it is a good two years since I have broken in a youngster, and I have never had the pressure of it being my own horse to deal with! However, I am looking forward to the challenge and to finally being able to ride my beloved horse.

In this blog I will try to keep a diary of our progress, so fingers crossed that it will be a smooth process!

Daily adventures while training my young horse.