Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Liebster Award

The Liebster Award

I've been blogging for longer than I can remember really - I started in the week where I brought Echo in to be backed as a 3-year old and although it has been somewhat patchy over the years, we're still here! So it's really lovely to have been nominated for the Liebster award, by both Beckz at I will jump sweet jumps and Kat at The Sixth Stride. It really is nice to know that people read my ramblings as, even though I write this mainly as a record of my journey with Echo, it is strangely comforting to know that people are interested! :)

So here are the rules: 
  1. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog.
  2. List 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  4. Create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate.
  5. Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or fewer followers to nominate and include links to their blogs.
  6. Go to each blogger's page and let them know you have nominated them.
So here are my 11 facts!
1. I'm a little obsessed with cycling - both doing it and watching it. My boyfriend and I are avid fans of pro cycling and follow the Tour de France religiously, often going to watch it and cycling up some of the mountains of the tour too.

2. I love rubbish TV programmes and am totally addicted to two of the worst soaps  in existence: Hollyoaks and Home & Away. It's a guilty pleasure an my down time each day!

3. I'm a high school English teacher at the moment - I left teaching for a while to do an MA in journalism and I would still really like to pursue this further. But right now money calls and I wouldn't have been able to do Echo's rehab as I have this year if I hadn't been working full time. Next year I'm going part time at school so that I can write on the other days.

4. I'm writing a children's book about cycling and the Tour de France which I'm hoping to get pretty much finished over the summer - it's so much fun!

5. Not a single member of my family is 'horsey' - my mum is quite scared of horses. Considering this, my parents were amazing to let me have Echo at home while I did my MA. No one has ever been able to understand where my 'horseyness' comes from.

6. I grew up riding Fell ponies and part of me was really sad that I really got too tall to ride Fells without looking ridiculous. They have wonderful characters and are a lot of fun to ride.

7. In the first few months of owning Echo I used to wake up in a sheer panic in the night sometimes - terrified of what I had done and whether I would be able to bring on my own youngster, despite the fact that I'd backed and broken in lots of young dressage horses while I worked for David Pincus. I guess it's a milder (weirder) version of what new mothers go through - feeling totally ill equipped to deal with this dependent little creature. I sometimes still reel at the fact tht she depends on me. But usually it's a feeling of 'wow - I own a horse!)

8. I didn't have a horse when I was growing up - see fact number 5 for the reason! I'm pretty sure this is what has made me so passionate about horses and meant that Echo comes first, no matter what. I have other friends who had ponies as children, who lost interest when it wasn't handed to them on a plate anymore. For me, even mucking out still feels like a bit of a privilege and I love all the jobs people hate, like cleaning tack and plaiting.

9. Umm...I'm struggling now. I love tomato ketchup and would eat it on everything if my boyfriend (who is an amazing chef) would let me. I would quite happily have ketchup sandwiches - on their own.

10. I play the 'cello and have done since I was 5 years old. I don't play as much as I'd like, but I love it.

11. My favourite band is the Manic Street Preachers and has been since my first ever boyfriend introduced me to them when I was about 14. (I'm 30 now - is that an extra fact? I don't know - its not very interesting!)

I will try to answer both Kat's and Beckz's questions - sorry if this gets a bit boring - I'll try to be brief!!

  1. Why did you start blogging and who in real life knows that you blog?
I kind of answered this at the beginning. Most of my close friends know that I blog but I always find it weird when I hear that someone has read it who I'm not expecting to - like my Headmaster when I applied for my current job!!

    2. Black or brown tack?

Definitely black!

    3. Favorite Comfort food?

Chocolate. Without a shadow of a doubt. Any type - not fussy!

   4. Favorite Color?

In ordinary life, a kind of turquoise/teal colour. On a horse (particularly Echo) - red.

   5. If you could ride any horse (living or not), who would it be?

A childhood fantasy would be John Whittaker's Milton. (A bit) more recently Ulla Salzgeber's Rusty.

   6. What other pets do you own?

Jeff - my cross breed black and white dog - who matches my horse!

   7. What is your "hidden talent?"

I am late for everything. I know that isn't really a talent, but it's quite impressive how I manage to be late for things, even when I have loads of time and live right next door. 

   8. You win the lottery, what would you buy first?

Probably a house, closely followed by a spangly lorry.

   9. You can travel anywhere, for an infinite amount of time, with an infinite amount of money, where do you go?

America - I'd love to drive across it and spend ages exploring. I've never been so that would be amazing.

   10. You're intimidated by?

Really confident people who don't seem to have any self-doubt.

   11. Favorite movie?

This is a really tough one. Probably Apocalypse Now. But maybe Life is Beautiful. Two pretty different movies!!

And here are my answers to Beckz's questions!

1.Who was your favourite horse?

Other than Echo? If we're talking famous horses then definitely Milton.


He was the first 'celebrity' horse I knew as a child and ha posters of him all over my walls. It sounds stupid but I just loved his front leg action and his huge black eyes.

3.What person has most affected negatively or positively your attitude towards riding?

I met an amazing natural horseman when I was in my 3rd year at uni and helping out at a riding school. His name was Mark Marriott and he was the most inspirational person I have ever met. 


He had a real passion for teaching and loved to help people build relationships with their horses. I watched him teach a blind rider and her pony and it was so interesting - he could give anyone confidence and believe that they could do dressage. He died six months or so after I met him which was devastating.

5.What are the three things you couldn't live without?

Tea. I'm completely addicted and don't feel right in the day until I've had a mug of tea - with loads of milk and no sugar.

My smart phone. I know that's pathetic but I do everything on it - even blogging!

Sleep. I absolutely love sleeping and look forward all evening to going to bed. I sound truly boring now!

6.If you couldn't compete/take part in the discipline you do now, what sort of riding would you do?

I'd love to be an eventer....I've just never been brave enough.

7.What is your dream job?

To be a full time best-selling novelist.

8. If you were given $100,000 tax free what would you buy first?

Is that a lot? It sounds a lot. So probably a house. If it's not enough for a house, then a horse box!

9. Do you like Feijoas?

Just googling it...

10.When you are all worn out and need a drink, what is it that you drink?

Tea! Or if it's the evening then a big glass of white wine.

11.What are your favourite pair of footwear?

Hmmm... Riding footwear? Cavallo long boots. They're sooo pretty.

Ok - so here are my questions for other bloggers:

1. If you could be one rider for a day, who would you be?

2. If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would you go?

3. Who was the horse or pony that you first fell in love with?

4. If you don't already, would you want to work with horses as a career? And if you do, why do you?

5. If you didn't ride horses, what would you spend all your money on? ;) 

6. What does your other half or family think of your hobbie? 

7. How often do you clean your tack?

8. Who would you most like to have a riding lesson from and why?

9. You're buying a new horse: what qualities do you look for?

10. Have you/would you ever buy a 'project horse' to sell on?

11. Lorry or trailer and why?

I don't really have 11 - and I have no idea whether they have less/more than 200 followers as I can't see that information on my phone. But for this award I'd like to nominate:

Wiola (although I'm sure she's been nominated before!)
Achieve1Dream at Equestrian Journey

This has been fun - although time-consuming!! 
Blogging will resume as usual from here on. I went to see Echo today and she was in a great mood - really happy and affectionate. We long reined out for about 20 minutes and she was pleased to be out and doing something after a couple of days of box rest after her injections. One more day of long reining tomorrow, then Tammy will ride her in walk for 5 days before picking up a bit of trot and then canter again in about 10 days time.  

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Injections...and soundness!

Things have been a bit quiet for a little while with Echo, as last time Ella the physio visited her, she was much more sore than she had been for a while, so we decided now would be a good time to get the vet out to medicate her back. Last time he saw her - about 6 weeks ago - he said he wanted to come back when she'd started cantering properly with the idea of medicating her lumbar spine area and sacroiliac. But last week Tammy had felt her go very weird when she was riding her - almost as if her back went into spasm and then Ella found the soreness in the same place, so we booked the vet to come out. So for the last 5 or 6 days she has only been walking and then Ben came out to see her yesterday.

I couldn't be there, but I had a long chat with Ben afterwards and it all sounds really positive. He watched Echo trot up, lunge, did flexion tests and did loads of manipulation on her back and said that she is 100% sound and looks the best he's ever seen her. He said he really put her through her paces but couldn't see anything that he could pick up on - he said if he looked at her for the first time, he would say she was sound. Which is fantastic. It really is. But at the same time, she is consistently getting sore in that one area and I was really hoping that we could do something to eliminate this so we can get on with getting her to full fitness. Luckily, Ben thought that it was worth medicating the lumbar thoracic junction where she is getting the pain, although he didn't inject the sacroiliac as he said that he couldn't get any kind of pain reaction from this area at all. He said to keep an eye on it and we'll see whether the pain further forward is a result of the sacroiliac or whether it's just a tricky area that she finds it difficult to mobilise. 

The only thing I had thought is that watching her from behind on the video my boyfriend took on our hack, I noticed just how close together her hind legs are at the bottom when she moves. She's always brushed a bit behind, but watching videos of her when she was sound before, her hock action was much straighter. I had wondered whether this was something to do with some sacroiliac pain. Ben said that was unlikely and could well be a way she has developed over a prolonged period of suspensory pain - a way of compensating for the pain. Another reason for me to feel guilty for not realising what was wrong earlier. But he said we probably can't do much to change that (it was also probably the reason her feet wore down on the outsides) and we should just work to get her stronger.

So she has a couple of days off, then the rest of the week just walking, then hopefully, provided she isn't too sore from the medication, she should be able to pick up the work again. I've sold my old saddle, so as soon as she's back in work again, we will sort out getting her a new one specially made for her. I WILL get a saddle to fit my horse! From then, we will get her home at the end of July  and start to have some fun! Long term, both the vet and Jo Spear - the Animal Health Trust physio - have advised that we do very little work on a surface, only using a surface when we want to compete. Ella suggested I look for affiliated dressage shows that are on grass rather than on a surface - or at least where the warm up is on grass. The more hacking I do, the happier I get with this situation - I am just loving riding my horse again, so if we can't do much dressage that really is fine. We will do some pleasure rides - maybe even some Le Trec and just have a lot of fun. I need to start to contain and limit her movement to keep her sound, so this sort of thing will be great. I think if I did too much schooling, the perfectionist in me would want to push for more.

So I'm seeing her on Saturday but she probably won't be up to being ridden yet by then. Annoyingly I am away next weekend so it will be a while before I get to ride her now...but hopefully she will be back in proper work and feeling good by then. I can't wait to get her home in the summer! 

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Tired pony

Had a lovely ride on Echo this morning - and two fantastic rides last weekend. It's so nice being able to properly ride my horse again. Tammy's upped the work a bit this week - particularly the canter work - so she was a little tired. We decided to just go down the hill today and do some trot work on the hills. She felt great- really relaxed, even though it was really windy. She was really sleepy though. Hopefully, having ha a fairly easy day today, she will have a bit more energy to do our canter route tomorrow.
I'm starting to get really excited about getting her home and riding her over the summer. I've found a 12 mile pleasure ride that I'd like to work towards at the end of August. Since we're mostly going to be hacking, I want to have some things to aim for. 
After my ride today, I did her stretches, turned her out and she showed how tired she was straight away! I still love the sight of her rolling - it must be such a great feeling!

Daily adventures while training my young horse.