Saturday, 31 August 2013

Bl**dy Flies!

Echo is still inconsolable first thing in the morning. She has scratches all over her from where she's rubbing her shoulders and neck in the stable and she literally drags me to the field. I'm going through a bottle of fly spray a week, have borrowed a fly rug (am going to buy one, I just can't work out which one!) and have some anti-itch wash that I've been using. But as soon as we get to the field in the morning, she walks two steps, drops down and rolls violently for about a minute. Then she gets up and bucks about 3 times, seeming to be so frustrated.

It's so weird - she wasn't itchy at all at Tammy's. she's never liked flies, but they'd never made her like this before. I always used to turn my nose up a bit at fly rugs, thinking they were more for owners who didn't like their horses to be naked. Turns out they're pretty bloomin' useful if your horse gets bitten by flies.

Any ideas? I know the flies won't be around for that much longer but it's so horrible to see my horse so miserable. (It's mostly just first thing in the morning after she's been in her stable all night - the rest of the day she grazes quite calmly.)

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Always a drama...

Echo getting reacquainted with her next door neighbour back at the old yard again - I think he likes her!

Things have certainly changed round here in the last couple of months!

As you can see from my last post where we entered the Aspire Equestrian Blogger Challenge - Echo is progressing well with her riding since her back injections. She took a couple of weeks to feel better after them, but as the physio confirmed this morning, her back is the best it's been since the beginning of this whole palava.

So we built up the work at Tammy's yard, getting back up and cantering again, which felt a lot better after the injections - we actually had brakes! However, other little niggles have emerged since the injections. We have noticed that she is quite weak on the right hind leg. I think the tension and tightness in her right side of her back was holding that right hind leg in place - and now that the tightness and soreness has gone, she is less stable on that right hind. The physio has given us some pole work to do - on the ground - stepping laterally across poles, to get her stepping out on the right hind more. This seems to be really working, although building stability is a slow process!

About a week and a half ago, I got her back home to the yard she was at before, and it's been a really strange experience. While I love having her nearer (3 minutes drive, rather than 40 minutes at Tammy's!) and I'm enjoying doing more of the stuff myself again, like mucking out and turning her out, I felt really miserable for the first few days at home. I couldn't work out why I felt so down, but I think I was just feeling really vulnerable. I'd gone from keeping her at a place where every decision was made for me by someone that I trusted absolutely. I was of course consulted, and had the final say, but at Tammy's, there was always someone who cared as much as I did about whether my horse was sound and keeping her that way. It's not that the lady who runs my current yard doesn't care - she's brilliant - but I feel like I'm the only one who is making her soundness a priority, and it feels like I'm having to fight to keep things going as they have been.

This wasn't helped by the experience we had on our second day at the yard. I hacked out with a guy who is great and hacks every day - twice a day at the weekends - and said he would show me some of the routes in the forest across the road. Despite having been at this yard for years, I've always stayed on the farmland on this side of the road, but the sand tracks are far too deep for her at the moment - she needs firm ground as her hindlegs are not stable enough for soft surfaces. So we went out with this guy for an hour's hack...and returned two hours later. I was so upset! I really thought we'd have undone all our hard work in one ride! She was exhausted, although we mostly walked, with just a few trots and one canter, and I rang Tammy in a complete panic. I gave her the next day off and put her equilibrium massage pad on twice that day, as well as doing her stretches twice, and she seemed to be ok.

Since then, we had a lesson with Tammy, where she was concerned that she might be a bit sore in her back again, so advised me to just walk and trot on hacks until Ella, the physio, had seen her again. She's felt really good over the last few days - the forest is absolutely brilliant to ride in - long straight grassy tracks and next to nobody in it. I haven't quite ventured out on my own yet, although I've been out with just someone walking with me - as well as going out with other horses, which she has been surprisingly good with, considering how rarely she did this at Tammy's.

I also rode her in a field on Monday and did a bit of schooling, which felt great. Having said this, after about 20 minutes, she started to feel really weak behind again, so I was concerned about her back. She kept sort of 'losing' her back end, as if it came right underneath her - it felt really odd and a bit alarming. But having had the all-clear from the physio over her back, I'll try and do a little more of this, building in some big circles, as this should help her stability, while keeping her on the firm surface.

One strange thing since she's been home is that she's got really really itchy. She's never been that bothered by flies before; I have always put a fly hat on her when we hack in the summer, as she shakes her head when they land on her ears, but she's awful at the moment - rolling really violently the second you put her in the field and rubbing her tail in the stable. She's even started rolling in her stable, as she gets stable stains on the top of her back! I don't really know what to do about it. I've borrowed a fly rug, which is helping - I would buy her one, but we must be getting to the end of the flies being bad now and I'll see how she is next year; I also have got her some camrosa ointment for the bits where she's really rubbed her tail and a shampoo to relieve the itching. It's so strange though - she's never been affected by flies until this year. Perhaps they're particularly bad this year.

So that's pretty much up to date! I have bought her a 'Back on Track' mesh rug, which I'm really impressed with - it apparently reflects the infrared rays of body heat back into the horse to penetrate their muscles and loosen them fully. You can read about it here. I've also got her on a joint supplement, as her farrier thinks she has stiff hocks...I'm not convinced  by this, but willing to give it a go for a few months and see if it makes any difference. I went with Suppleaze Gold and extra MSM, after much MUCH research and reading! We'll see, anyway.

And lastly, Echo's old owner came to see her last week, which was lovely. Sue owns Echo's mother Pebble, and Echo came along very unexpectedly a few months after she had bought Pebble. She came out walking with us in the forest and got some lovely photos of us.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Aspire Equestrian Monthly Virtual Training Challenge – August

I have a proper post about everything we've been doing in the last month or so to come, but I really wanted to enter this month's Aspire Equestrian training challenge. The idea is that I post a video here of a training problem I'm having, and Wiola at Aspire Equestrian Riding Academy will comment on it, giving me a mini training plan to help me work on it.

So here we are - Echo is back in full work again and much more comfortable after her back injections. She is feeling good, which is making me even more determined to get my own position sorted out. I don't think my position is horrendous, but I have a real issue with keeping my core straight and therefore I have problems keeping Echo straight too. My right hip is really inflexible and tends to clamp to the side of her, then I find it difficult to get enough weight in my left seatbone. I am working on the right hip flexibility, doing exercises on and off the horse, but I really don't know how to straighten my upper body and be stronger through my core.

We are only hacking now and I will be doing all of my schooling out hacking. As of next week, we will have more varied terrain to hack on, rather than just roads. Echo has a weak right hind, so we are doing lots of pole work to build this up, but any ideas about how to sort out my position would be much appreciated.

I'm really excited about this. I apologise that the video is not very interesting - it's mostly Echo and me walking, filmed from behind to show my wonkiness. But...Wiola's comments should be interesting for everyone :)

Echo Straightness from Suzie on Vimeo.

Daily adventures while training my young horse.