I can only apologise. I am thoroughly useless and I don't mean to be, but my life is rather insanely busy at the moment. It is no excuse, and I shall endeavour to do better, as I have SO MUCH to tell you all. Lots and lots of things have changed!
Having had the saddle refitted, everything was going well and Echo was coming back to her previous form. I had an awesome lesson with Andrew Day, a dressage rider and trainer who comes regularly to a nearby yard. It was Echo's first experience of working away from home and she was an absolute angel. The lesson was truly inspiring and in more ways than one; it was at a yard that I was at years ago, and I decided while I was there that it would be a perfect place for me to keep Echo now. So I moved her! It sounds like a rash decision, but I was becoming increasingly frustrated by the state of the surfaces in the arenas at the place she was at before. The indoor was too hard and dusty, the outdoor too wet in winter and too hard in the summer; the woodchip was too boggy in winter and the small sand school completely unrideable due to its depth. I found I was not allowed to ride in any of the fields and was finding it difficult to find anywhere to school her at all. Since dressage is my main interest, it seemed ridiculous to pay so much money to have a horse in a place where I could not ride easily.
The new yard is very different; there is a 60 x 20 sand and rubber all weather arena with floodlights, she is in a 12 x 12 stable with ad lib hay and 3 feeds a day and she has individual turnout, with hay provided in the field. She has been there for just a week and a half and I am already noticing some changes in her. Not all of these changes are good, I have to add, as due to further saddle issues (I'll say mroe about that later) I have not been able to ride her since she moved and so this added to the increase in feed and decrease in turnout time is making her a bit ratty! However, some interesting changes have occurred. She always used to have filled legs at the old yard if she had not been ridden for a day or two. I was alarmed at first, but they went down completely after exercise, so I came to accept it. However, since moving, her legs have not been filled at all, despite not being worked for over a week. I have no idea why this would be. Any ideas?
The other change is in her body shape, which I think must be due to the increase in feed. She has never wintered very well and is prone to losing weight over the colder months; though it might make her a little more lively, which I discovered by the enormous buck she performed on the lunge yesterday, she looks extremely healthy and I look forward to a winter where she does not have to be on Blue Chip.
However, the saddle is a nightmare. I had the gullet changed from a wide to a medium, as it was too low on her withers before and the saddler wanted it to sit higher. This worked for a while, but then she started doing something really odd with her back when I got on, as if she could barely move her hindlegs. She would loosen up enough for me to ride her eventually, but she was uncomfortable, so I got off. I had her back checked and there was nothing muscular wrong at all. She is sound on the lunge and happy to work long and low and in side reins. What was also interesting was that when I was riding her, she seemed most uncomfortable in a higher carriage; when she was long and low, she felt as if she could move through her back but as soon as her head came up, she was unhappy. This seems to suggest a saddle issue, so I have been in touch with my saddler again.
The saddler has suggested that I should change the gullet back to the wide and use a thick numnah again, to see whether this works. If she is still unhappy, he will come out and bring a medium/wide gullet and a few saddles, so we can work out what's wrong. It is mighty infurating. If I had ever ridden her bareback, I would do that for a bit now, but having never got her used to it before, the size of that buck yesterday somewhat stops me wanting to try it for the first time right now!
There are other big and exciting plans on the horizon, which I will tell you about as soon as things are confirmed, but they involve a rather dramatic change in lifestyle for both Echo and me... but more about that another time!
p.s. - more on the Andrew Day lesson to follow too.