Saturday, 3 December 2011

Sensitive little soul!

On Wednesday, I picked up my reflocked saddle and was so excited about trying it on Echo. Thursday morning I decided to ride in the school in it, just in walk and a tiny bit of trot - pretty much all that I have been doing bareback - and see how she felt. I was really disappointed. She just didn't feel right in it. She kept stopping and napping, swishing her tail and shaking her head. Now, I know that she's had a long time off work, but this is not like her at all. I encouraged her forward and got her to keep her head carriage low, so that she could stretch under the saddle, but after ten minutes I'd had enough.

There was an instructor just coming into the school and her pupil asked how the saddle was - I briefly said that I wasn't that sure, so the instructor had a quick look. She said she thought it was tipping me forward and that the balance of the saddle was a little low at the front. She recommended that I play around with trying different pads under the saddle, to see if I can raise the front fractionally. With this in mind, I rode her on Friday morning, with a little patch of sheepskin under the front. It was like riding a different horse. She walked on as soon as I mounted, felt relaxed, wasn't pacing at all and was happy to half-halt and take a contact.

It's amazing how sensitive she is (although several people have said to me that cobs often are) but I guess it is a good thing that she is so adament when she is uncomfortable. Once I was happy that she was comfortable, I took her for a walk to the end of the track outside the yard and back. I couldn't go any further than that on my own as there is a lovely big field of pigs just round the corner and she has only seen them once before - and was not impressed! I think we need to meet them again when we have a nice calm friend with us for support.

It was a beautiful sunny day, and it was AMAZING to be out on my beautiful horse again - and here is a view that I cannot tell you how much I have missed!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Things are looking up...hopefully.

Well I moved her. We're now back at the yard she was at before I took her up to my parents' house last year, and everything is back as it should be. I feel bad, to be honest - I hadn't realised how unhappy Echo was until I got her back here: she is a different horse - she's my horse again.

It's been such a relief to have her back here; this yard suits my lifestyle so much better and evidently it suits Echo too. She's still in a field on her own, but she has a horse on each side and regularly has chats over the fence. We haven't had any stress in the stable, even though she is left in nearly until last every morning, and she has only got through the fence once. If I had written this post last week, I could have said there have been NO breakages whatsoever...but last week she decided to get into her neighbour's field. In fairness to her, the electric fence wasn't on, she had finished her hay and she didn't do anything once she was in there, so it was all OK. And best of all, there was no nastiness from the yard owner - she just said that we need to remember to put the fence on.

So in other news, we are still working on getting her sound and it's taking so long!

In the last four months, Echo has had a saddle on twice. Twice. But I am really really hoping that things are about to start improving. She had the farrier out last week, who said that at last we are starting to see some growth on the outside of her foot - not masses of it, but this is progress. He watched her walk on the hard surface and was happy to see her moving much straighter now too. With any luck, this set of shoes might be the last ones that have to have studs in, as she is starting to level out now.

So following on from this, we had a saddler come out as well. I was convinced that my saddle didn't fit - she had become so sore wearing it back in July when I first moved her down here that I thought it had to be a poor fit. The saddler measured her back and shoulders, drawing diagrams on a piece of paper. She then had a look at my saddle and said that actually she didn't have much of a problem with the way it looked on her back - it needed a bit of work, but was a good width for her right now. Interestingly, she pointed out that it is in fact a wide fit - I thought it was medium-wide. She's always been a MW when in work, so the saddler suggested that it would be worth sticking with what we have for now, as it is possible that she will change shape and need a new one at some point.

So she has totally stripped the saddle out and reflocked it, shaping it much more accurately for her back - she has quite a lot of shape in her back at the moment, and the panels were much too hard and flat for her. Unfortunately the saddler can't come out to look at it again until the middle of December, so I am going to have to pick it up from the shop, try it on her myself and hope that everything is OK.

In the meantime, I have been riding her bareback quite a lot. I was using a polypad with a surcingle, but recently a friend lent me a bareback pad - a lovely suede one that has a western style cinch to fasten it. I tried it on her last week, got on and she hated it. She has got into the habit of stopping dead and refusing to move if she doesn't like the feel of something. While this sounds as if it would be helpful, I do think she milks it a bit...When the saddler came out she tried my saddle on her with a prolite underneath it to soften the feel of the panels. When I first got on, her back came up and she refused to move. I was worried that this meant it didn't fit, but I managed to turn her and push her on and she soon settled down, eventually feeling fine in it.

However, I really hope I'm not ignoring a huge problem here. When the bareback pad made her stop dead, I took it off and put the polypad and surcingle back on - and she was fine - she walked out comfortably. I really just don't know what to think. Probably, the only way I will know is to try the reflocked saddle on her and see how it goes. I suppose it's possible that she is finding the feel of the girth a bit odd, as it has been so long.

So tomorrow I hope to pick up my saddle and I will let you know how it goes. Next on my list of things to do is to get her back and pelvis looked at by a Bowen specialist. But she has cost me a fortune already this month - that might have to wait until after payday!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Livery Nightmare

Echo and I have been having a bit of a tough time.

Her feet are still pretty bad - she has now been shod twice since we first realised the imbalance, but unfortunately they are still growing extremely unlevel. She has a stud in the outside of each shoe, to provide a 'false level' as my farrier calls it - this seems to really help when she's on hard ground, but it makes little difference on a soft surface as the stud just sinks in.

The farrier says it will take 5 or 6 sets of shoes to get her truly level again - it is so frustrating.

Added to this, I don't even know if her feet are the only problem. She looks really uncomfortable in her hindlegs - not lame, just a bit odd. I know that her feet are a major factor - when Gary trimmed them on Monday he said they had grown to almost an inch out - the outside of the foot is an inch shorter than the inside. All her (considerable!) weight is going through the outside of her foot and crushing it so that it doesn't grow. He trimmed loads from the inside, but nothing from the outside - there was no growth at all there.

So... I haven't been working her. Gary said the worst thing I can do is lunge, as it will put so much pressure on her joints with her feet being unlevel. The problem is, Echo loves to work and becomes really frustrated when she isn't doing anything.

The yard I moved her to is not working out - for this very reason. We tried turning her out with another mare in a field a month or so ago and although she seemed ok at first, she started chasing and kicking the other mare so violently that the other owner (understandably) wanted to take her mare out. Everything was fine for a while and Echo was on her own, but surrounded by other horses. However, a new horse arrived, so the turnout plan was rearranged and Echo got moved to a field in front of the stables. She can't really see other horses from here but there is another horse that's turned out next to her from 7-12 each morning. We started off by turning Echo out at the same time as this horse, then when he went in for the rest of the day, opening the gate through so she could have both fields - the one that she was in for the morning was tiny and had no grass at all.

However. This routine did not suit Echo at all. I don't think she could understand why she was allowed to walk through the gateway at some times of day but not at others. So...she just pushed through the tape gate. She does have a bit of a history of doing this, and we have always solved the problem by putting barrels in front of the gate - the physical barrier tends to put her off. This worked for a few days, but then she managed to find a gap and as the electric fence wasn't on (it never is really) she went straight through. She doesn't do anything when she's on the other side, she just thinks she should be allowed in there.

By this stage I had already decided to move her back to the yard I was at before moving up to my parents last year. However, the owners of the yard I'm at at the moment have got quite nasty and have said that Echo is dangerous and so they won't let her go out in the field until after the other horse comes in at 12. She has to stand in her stable all morning, while every other horse gets to go in the field.

I just find this so unfair. They moved her to a field that she clearly is unhappy in - and yet they are punishing her for behaving in the way she has been. Having already handed in my notice, I received a text message a week later (after the breaking the fence incident) telling me to leave as soon as possible - which I was trying to do anyway.

I have since been told all sorts of things that the owners have said about me - including them being cross because I'm not working her - "If only she would work the bl**dy horse, we might not have a problem" is apparently what was said. Why would I work a horse that is not right?

I am so upset by this - I take it really personally anyway when someone is rude about my horse but what gets to me the most is the fact that they are taking it out on her. She was perfectly fine until they moved her field - and yet she is the one having to stand in her stable all day. And of course when she charges about in her field when she DOES get turned out, it is obviously another sign of her being a 'dangerous' horse.

Well, the farrier suggested I start riding her now - only in straight lines and on a firm surface - so tonight I got on my 'dangerous' horse bareback (as my saddle needs checking and I'm not prepared to cause more problems) and rode her for about 15 minutes - mostly in walk, but with a couple of short trots as well. She was fabulous - and really enjoyed doing something.

As you can probably tell, this has all been getting to me a bit - and I am so so busy with a job and finishing my dissertation, so I could really do without it. I went round to the new/old yard this week to see if there was any way she could squeeze us in before the date I was originally given. Lyn asked how Echo was and I promptly burst into tears (I've been doing this a lot recently!) She took pity on me and has agreed to come and get Echo early next week - this will be before my month's notice is due, but as I was told to leave as soon as possible, I don't think it will be a problem. I did, however, receive a bill for the whole of October yesterday - when I tried to ask the owner about this - querying the fact that, as I handed my notice in in the middle of September, surely I wouldn't have to pay a whole month's livery, he said: "We charge for full months here," and he walked away from me, refusing to discuss it.

I'm not really sure what to do. I want to get out of that place as soon as possible - Echo is miserable and so am I - the best thing we can do is go, but if I am paying for a stable for the whole month, perhaps I could leave some feed bins in there or something. I am very conscious of the fact that they have a waiting list and will be able to fill the space immediately - I think it's unfair if they are just trying to make money from me...what do you think?

My goodness - this was going to be a quick update and it has turned into a full-blown rant! Hopefully, by this time next week, things will be looking a lot more positive and I will have a happier horse on my hands.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Crazy flying circus horse

My goodness, there is some catching up to do. Every time I think I will have time to get going again, life gets in the way. I have now moved Echo back to where we lived before, although to a different yard, as we are now doing DIY livery. Things are good - I managed to get a horse transport company to move her, relatively cheaply, as I was too stressed out by the idea of hiring a lorry and driving her myself. She travelled really well and arrived relaxed and settled in quickly to her new yard.

And then she came into season.

I have seriously never known her like this. She is in a field on her own, but has three horses on one side and one on the other, so she is far from lonely. Actually, in the field, she is fine. And to be honest, she is fine in her stable too - she just has rather different ideas about when it is time to leave her stable. On Sunday, when I arrived at the yard, they told me she had jumped out of her stable when the horse n ext to her was turned out. Literally, jumped her stable door and galloped off down the track to her field.

Amazingly, there was not a scratch on her, but I was pretty worried. Echo has a bit of a history of getting her legs over the stable door, but she hasn't done it since she was a 2 year old, so although I still have anti-weave bars, I haven't had to use them for so long. They were too big for her stable door, and the guy who was able to cut them down was not at the yard until yesterday, so yesterday morning, she tried again. When the horse next to her was turned out (he has to go first as he's in an adjoining field) she got her legs up over the door and it took two people to wave their arms at her to keep her from jumping out.

The bars have now been fitted, and she is also back on Oestress, a supplement to soothe hormonal mares, but I am a little baffled. I guess as she has been out for a year and not in work for 8 months, she has got a bit used to thinking for herself...and being rather stubborn about getting her own way!

I can't even keep her occupied by working her, as she has to have more time off. I have been riding her in the new saddle - it fits adequately, although when I can ride again I'm going to get a saddler out again to check it. However, I could tell that things were not right with her hindlegs. She started pacing in walk, creating a 2-time gait, and felt uncomfortable behind. She would not half-halt in trot and felt as though she were running onto her forehand all the time. I honestly didn't know what to think - I had had the vet in November, who thought she was a little stiff behind and mentioned the possibility of arthritic changes in her hocks, but I hadn't pursued this any further, as I wanted to see what she was like when she came back into work.

I booked a massage for her, and got my old farrier to come and take a look, thinking that I would be best off starting with her feet. It's a good job I did - her foot balance is so dreadful, after a year with a different farrier, that he said it's a wonder she can walk at all. He showed me her heels and the vast difference in levels: In her left hind, the outside heel is an inch shorter than the inside, and it is similar in her right hind. He explained what this would do to her pelvis and her hind-leg action, then showed me what he meant as she walked away from me. He said it would be at its most pronounced in walk (which it is) and that each time I ride, I will be doing damage.

I am mortified. You put your trust (and money!) into professional people who have passed exams, and then they wreck your horse. He has said that he wants more foot to work with, so I have to wait until her shoes are nearly falling off before he will start working on getting them level again. He said it'll be at least 8 weeks of not riding, but it will be nearly a year before her feet will be truly level.

One of my friends has just qualified as an equine physio, so I got her to have a look at her, the day before her massage was booked for. She watched her on the lunge and said she was obviously uncomfortable, but also that she looked a bit lame on her right hind. Echo has always had strength issues with the right hind, but when she is fit, you hardly notice it. She also said she was really tight through her right side and sore in her lumbar area. When the massage therapist came the next day, she agreed with this, so set about releasing her muscles through her rib-cage and loosening the lumbar region. She was really quite uncomfortable and found it hard to stand still, but she did release through those muscles, and seemed a lot happier afterwards.

My physio friend came to look at her again a couple of days later and said that she was much more sound now - it's amazing what muscle tightness can do! She said the right hind is still weaker, but it could well be the old issue and when she is able to work again, she will give us some exercises to do to work on that weakness.

So...things are not quite as grim as they looked at the beginning of last week, but there is a way to go. First thing is to sort her feet out...and to stop her injuring herself while she's in season! She is hopefully going to be turned out with another horse soon, so perhaps that might take her mind off things.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Experimenting Bareback

Well...the saddle arrived...and I have no idea whether it fits. You know when someone says 'obviously you'll know whether it basically fits or not'...well I don't. I have always been absolutely useless at judging the fit of saddles, and I have lost all faith in getting a saddle to fit Echo recently. It's so frustrating.

I popped the Ideal Jessica on her the day it arrived, but only literally dropped it on her back to have a look, and my first impressions were pretty positive. I think it looks quite short, but that is the length my saddler told me to go for, as Echo tends to push the saddle forwards onto her shoulders if it's any longer.

I then lunged her in it on Friday and had a proper look at it and...I don't know! I think it needs adjusting, as it seemed to sit a bit high at the back, but I hope that this will be possible. I had a chat with a friend yesterday about it and she was explaining that as Echo has next to no muscle tone at the moment, saddles are not going to fit her that well. As long as it isn't pinching and I can pad it out underneath to fit, then it will give her muscles the space to build up correctly under it.

So, feeling a little despondent about it all, I decided to ride her bareback on Monday. It was the hottest day of the year (so I figured she'd be a little lethargic) and so I just lunged her gently in a polypad and surcingle for 15 minutes. Then I got on! She was a little surprised, and walked fairly hesitantly for a minute or so, stopping regularly to check that I was seriously going to make her walk like this, then I think as I relaxed, she relaxed and she really started to enjoy it. She stretched her neck down and strode out happily.

It was so unbelievably good to be sitting on my horse again - I was grinning from ear to ear and all I was doing was walking! We had a hairy moment near the beginning when she spooked at something in the bushes. Gripping with knees and no saddle equals one very big response from Echo!

I walked her forward on both reins, doing a few circles and just a couple of steps of leg yielding, then had a trot down the long side on each rein. I actually think that if I can be brave enough, I'd be better off cantering, as it would be more comforable for both of us. I don't know if I did the right thing putting the polypad and surcingle on, but it definitely made me feel a little more secure and comfortable.

She was a little reluctant to take a contact to begin with and I couldn't work out why. But then I realised that I have changed her bit since I last rode her - the dentist recommended that I get her a thinner, double jointed bit with a lozenge in the middle. I can imagine this feels quite different, and, although she's used to it on the lunge, she hasn't really ever had any contact on it before.

The saddler is coming out tomorrow to take a look at this saddle and I have absolutely everything crossed that she can make it fit somehow. Echo has put on quite a bit of weight round her shoulders, but this is usually the place she loses it from first, so this makes saddle fitting a little tricky!

I imagine that if she can alter it she will take it away with her, so I expect we will get to have a few more bareback adventures in the next week or so.


I meant to post yesterday too - as yesterday was Echo's 7th birthday! I know I've posted this pic before, but it's cute enough to look at twice I reckon! This is Echo at a few hours old.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Exciting things

The last few months have been rather exciting. So although I haven't been riding, the future is starting to take shape. This year I've been doing a Master's degree in journalism, living at home with my parents while doing the course. It has been incredibly hard work - even more than I thought it would be, but also extremely rewarding.

As part of my course, I had to do a 2 week placement at a newspaper or magazine. I sent out loads of emails with my CV, asking if they would take a work experience placement, but had very little success. However, I then sent an email to Horse magazine - one of the national monthly equestrian magazines - and had a reply within about 20 minutes, saying that I could definitely go there and to let them know my dates. It was so exciting - writing for a magazine like that has been a dream for so long!

Horse is based in London, so I had to leave Echo with the person who shares the field. It was the most awesome two weeks ever - I got to write one of the magazine's main news articles on horse passports (on which I am now an expert!) and then do all sorts of interesting things, including interviewing Joanne Eccles, the World champion vaulter, writing an article on building your own stables and writing captions for readers' photos of their horses.

It was tough, particularly writing the news article - I am much more of a features specialist and I found the hard news style quite a challenge, but they were happy with it and it got published in this month's edition, which was unbelievably exciting! I have more things in the issue coming out at the end of this month too, so my name should keep appearing for a while.

I left there on a real high - then a week later, just as I was finishing all my university work, I had an email from the editor, commissioning me to write two more features for them - paid this time - for future issues. How flattering is that?! I was absolutely over the moon. It's come at a pretty tricky time though...I had to finish all the work for last semester; I'm also teaching part time at a local school to earn enough money to live, then I've also been marking exam papers, so time-wise it wasn't great...but I did it! I have now written an article on the information you need if you're considering sharing a horse and one on adults who choose to ride ponies rather than horses. The latter, particularly, was great fun and I got to speak to some really interesting people.

I think the editor was pretty happy with what I wrote, and she's said she'll keep me in mind for future articles - I have also said that I will continue to suggest feature ideas, as it shows enthusiasm and commitment. And NOW...a job has just come up at one of the other national equestrian magazines. But it's in the wrong place in the country. Damn. I think I'm going to apply for it anyway, as the experience of applying is so useful, but seriously - I would LOVE that job.

So with my career looking a little more structured, I can fill you in on what's been happening with Echo. The answer? Not a lot. Her mysterious weight-loss problem disappeared when we moved them onto a field with lots of grass (funny that!) and she is now probably too far the other way. We had our field fertilised and rested for a few weeks, and now they're back on it and looking really well. I now just need to get her back into work!

With the articles done and everything at uni except my final project finished, I can start spending a bit more time with her now. I lunged her yesterday and it was a bit depressing - she was absolutely wild - has forgotten all her manners and didn't seem interested in doing what I wanted her to at all. However, the reason I am all motivated to get her going again is that I have just bought a new saddle! It was a bit of an impulse buy - I saw it on ebay and the auction was ending soon. It was a good price and the style and size that I have been told she needs, so I just went for it! It arrived today and I put it on after lunging her. Now, I don't trust my judgement at all, so I have a saddler coming out next week to look at it, but I think it might fit. She is bound to lose her excess weight when she starts working properly, so there will have to be some adjustment, but it does look like it sits on her quite well.

I will have a proper look at it on Thursday and perhaps lunge her in it. She was much more sane and sensible today, so it seems that she hasn't forgotten everything after all. I absolutely can't wait to get back on - it's been far too long!

The next bit of news is that we're moving back to where we were soon - but I'll write more about that next time. We will be here until the end of July, then moving back to our old area...although not our old yard, as my change of career is going to require DIY livery. And perhaps a sharer, but more about that later too!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Bit of a conundrum!

You would think that now that the weather is so much nicer and the grass is starting to grow again (at last), that Echo would be putting on weight and I would be struggling to keep her trim. It is therefore a bit of a mystery to me, why she is in fact losing weight. It's really weird and has only really been in the last few weeks. All over the winter she looked pretty good and I was feeling rather smug that I had managed to keep weight on her through all of that snow and freezing temperatures. Now, as far as I am concerned, I haven't been doing anything differently: she is still being fed twice a day (in the last two weeks I have nearly doubled her feed to try to put some weight on her) she is still getting hay at lunchtime and at night (although I don't have anything to do with this - it's given to the three horses by the lady that owns the other two. She has been wormed, had her teeth done only 4 months ago and yet looks terrible.

The lady who shares the field with me has a thermal imaging camera and sent me a text on Thursday to say that she had scanned Echo's head and there was something going on with one of her teeth. I couldn't really see much - there is a little heat spot around one of her teeth -once I can work out a way of getting the scans on to here, you can see what you think. She emailed the scans to the dentist we both use and I had a long chat with her about what she thought. The dentist didn't think that there is a problem with her teeth - she said the heat spot was not pronounced enough to be anything serious - she might just have some forage stuck there and that I should check myself (I'm not sure quite how - I rather value all of my fingers!) I had a look as much as I could and couldn't seem to find anything. The dentist then questioned me about worming and the hay situation - she suggested I check that the horses are having the hay in separate piles that are far enough away from each other - Echo is no longer the dominant horse in the field and gets rather pushed around by Faye's big ex-eventer. I mentioned this to Faye, although it is hard not to sound like I'm being critical - I just really want my horse to put some weight on!!

In the mean time, the dentist suggested that I really try to build up Echo's work load - it's tricky with no saddle (we still haven't found one to fit) but she said that as she starts to build muscle she will put weight on. I know this, but it's hard to motivate myself when I know there is no chance of riding Echo and so we just lunge all the time - that MUST get boring. I will start lunging her with poles etc, and I would love to learn to long-rein her, but I have never long-reined, so am cautious about trying. I have asked a friend of mine to teach me some Parelli games so that I can try to keep Echo's mind busy - it's getting to the time of year when she is in season and escapes from the field - I found her in the back garden on Friday morning, happily mowing the lawn!!

If anyone has any ideas for interesting groundwork to do with her, I would love to hear them! I don't like walking her in hand as if hacking, as she is really spooky in that situation - it's much better when I'm riding her; we are therefore somewhat limited to the school...

I lunged her yesterday and took some photos and video. In the back of my mind is the fact that we had all of those soundness issues at the start of the winter, which were never fully resolved - I'm just sort of hoping that all the time off she has had has made them go away. I took several clips of video, and as you can see, she starts off fairly stiff, but looks a lot better by the end. She has lost all of her balance and ability to carry herself, so rushes quite a bit on the lunge, but she hasn't been worked consistently since October, so I'm hoping that this is the reason behind it.

I have been reading an article on straightness that was recommended to me by Wiola - I will post properly about that another time, but I think it is the key to many of our problems.

This first one is just a short clip showing her walking on the right rein. She had already walked and trotted free on the left rein before this, but I hadn't got my act together with the camera!

This next one shows her trotting on the left rein having just had the side reins on - she is a little stiff and resistant at first.

This is a little later on on the left rein - more stretching and submission.

This is moving onto the right rein, still in the side reins - really rushing and not really stretching.

A little later on on the right rein - starting to half halt her a little with my voice and she is relaxing into the side reins a bit more. She's still quite unbalanced here.

Echo's favourite thing - stretching at the end of a lunging session!

Enjoying a bit of grass at the yard before going home.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

I need some luck, please!

What a winter! I definitely spoke too soon in my previous post...the stables were very much NOT finished before the worst weather hit and poor Echo and her two friends were living out through some of the worst snow I have ever seen. We had two feet of snow, followed by temperatures as low as -16! There were some things to be thankful for however - she is just outside my back door, so I didn't have to travel to feed her etc. As well as this, I hadn't clipped her as I had been having so many problems and thought I would wait until I knew what was going to happen - thank goodness! She needed all the warmth she could get!

The stables are still not finished, although the roof is now going on. It's getting to the stage where I don't really need her to be stabled over night, but they will be very useful for feeding and handling purposes. It seems a bit of a shame, as I will be moving by the end of May - we won't have made the most of a really beautiful little yard. Never mind.

Just before the snow arrived, I had a visit from the vet, who looked at Echo on the lunge and confirmed that she was very stiff and uncomfortable in her back and hindlegs. She gave her a course of 10 days of Bute, to see whether she was just holding her back tightly due to past discomfort. Unfortunately, the last of these 10 days was the first day of the snow, so I wasn't able to find out whether it worked. The vet also mentioned the possibility that the problem might be in her hocks rather than originating in her back. She dropped the phrase 'arthritic changes' into the conversation but then said that she thought it was unlikely. I really hope that this is not what is causing Echo's discomfort, but if it is, I would rather know, so that I can do something about it!

For now, I think that as the saddle has been classified as seriously not fitting her, I will try to fix this problem next. That's the difficulty with these discomfort issues - it's impossible to know where to start solving them! I have at last sold my beautiful (but badly fitting) dressage saddle and my saddler thinks that she has something that has just come in that may fit. So...I now have to prepare to get on her back after her having had nearly four months as a field pony!

I lunged her last week and she galloped around wildly for about ten minutes before settling - hard to tell whether she's stiff if she does that! I then lunged her today and things made a much nicer looking picture! She was much calmer and didn't look stiff in her hind legs, although I'm not very good at judging! One thing that was positive, however, was that I put side reins on her for the first time since having her teeth done; last time I used side reins she fought them and rushed, looking dreadfully uncomfortable. Since having the dentist out and getting a new bit, she looks much happier in them. I made them very long today, encouraging her to stretch into them, which she did, so it's looking much more positive.

My plan is to lunge her a bit more this week, then if she is nice and calm, get on her bareback a couple of times before the saddler comes next week. I really really hope that this saddle fits; the lady wants rather a lot of money for it, but I can probably get somewhere close to the price. I am really struggling for money at the moment as I am also trying to buy a car - I wrote mine off when I crashed on the ice just before Christmas - it really hasn't been a very lucky few months, so I'm holding out for my luck to change a bit now!

I will write again after the saddler come on Wednesday - think lucky thoughts, everyone!!

Daily adventures while training my young horse.