Sunday, 27 April 2014

Big plans go tits up!

Yesterday we were supposed to have been making our long awaited eventing comeback. Ok, that makes it sound way more grand than it is. The mare and I were doing our first ODE since our first and only one 7 years ago. Obviously a lot has happened since then, so pony stuff has been on the back burner. But this year was the year we were going to be getting out and doing stuff, and we actually have been.

So, back to yesterday and supposed plans. I had entered Isleham 2'6" ODE. I wanted to go out and do a small class and get a bit of confidence for us both, Isleham is the one we did before and is local so I know it pretty well. Seemed ideal.

These last few weeks haven't been going exactly to plan though. First we had the horse move, then Easter hols, then saddle issues, some very gung-ho showjumping practice, and finally a very depressing schooling session on Friday where the mare was badly behaved and generally being a bit of an argumentative baggage. So I was actually feeling a bit wobbly about it.

Saturday morning I get to the yard and go out to the field with my barrow of hay. The mare is mean to the poor gelding and always chases him away from any food, so I had plenty of opportunity to see that the mare looked a little wrong. But because she was eating it was hard to check this out properly. I decided to go and get my stuff cleaned and ready, then I could check her properly when I lunged her.

All tack cleaned, all gear packed into my two boxes - horse box and rider box - travel gear found, and a haynet soaked for the next morning. Go out to the horse, trot her up (one handed on a kind of circle, as you do when you are on your own) hmmm, picked feet out and felt legs, hmmmm,  bit of heat around the near hind heel/pastern and up to the fetlock, trotted our awkward circle again. Yup, definitely lame. Bollocks.

Suddenly all the wobbles went away and I desperately wanted to compete reguardless of whether she was going to be badly behaved and a bit wild!

Thankfully my vet/husband was home reasonably early so could come and see her. I was right, she was lame, it was the near hind, but thankfully it was some grit working it's way up into the white line (ouchy!) But not an injury from galloping down the road after the cows chased her on Thursday (bonus)

One sweaty grumpy owner later (i had to put the poultice on, Vet/husband felt he had done his bit with getting the grit out of grumpy mare's hind foot!) she was sporting a bright blue bandaged foot and was already a bit better on it.

It could explain the disastrous schooling session on Friday (or it could not, she is a mare after all!) Hoping all will be ok for our next ODE next Sunday, and at least I can get a bit more work into her and hopefully feel a little more prepared. All good in theory.

In reality, the mare has her own agenda. This includes going through the poultices, and jumping out of her field (clearly not that lame) Trollop.

Friday, 18 April 2014

New things!

It started with the news that had some good deals at the minute, and I have been after some nice competition breeches for a while. There I found some - Ariat Performance Breeches with knee patches in Tan for £39.99! Perfect, or so I hoped, having not seen them in the flesh, or tried them on. Still they are advertised as having 4 way stretch which I figured should work in my favour.

Next, S and another girl at the yard were having a saddle fitter out. Now I love my saddle, but I've never been 100% certain it was right for the horse. There have been niggles here and there, but I had had it fitted to her in the past and was told it was a good fit, but with needing to use a chamoix leather to keep it in the right place, I knew it needed checking again.

The saddle fitter that came out to us this time really was knowledgeable. She took the time to get a feel for the horse, watched her walk and trot, had a really good feel of her back before checking the saddle. It turns out my saddle is too narrow for my mare's broad spine, and too long for her short back. What I really need is almost a pony saddle with a wide gullet and short seat, and something called continental panels. Sadly, not much could be done to my saddle to make it fit properly. The saddle fitter doesn't really have much in the way of second hand saddles, and I certainly cannot afford a new one (well, not of the quality I want!) So I was advised to search eBay and the like for something suitable. This wasn't easy. Lots of saddles for sale in a 17 - 17.5 inch seat, but very few in 16.5 that were also jump saddles.

But then I looked on eBay on Wednesday (after a rather stressful day - kids are on Easter hols and running me ragged) only to find THE saddle. Someone was selling a beautiful jump saddle, made by a very good make, Buy It Now in the right size, for a very, very good price! Sadly for them it was because their horse was no longer with them after a field injury, and they had huge vets fees to pay. So we snapped it up, hoping it wasn't too good to be true. Then spent the next few days cursing Good Friday and bank holidays in general because I wanted it NOW!

Saddle arrived on the Saturday morning (yay!) and was truly beautiful. But was a fair bit wider than I thought. Managed to get it to fit ok with a thick prolite pad and tried it out in the school. It felt very strange, but the horse felt good in it! She was more willing to bend, and our canter transitions were instant, rather than the slight run we usually get. The next day we tried jumping in it. Again the mare seemed happy, but the pads slipped so it wasn't as secure.

I jumped the mare again on Monday in our usual saddle which felt hugely comfy to me, having moulded to my bum in the last 100 years or so that I've had it (ok, maybe nearer 15) the mare was like a rocket, but that's a whole other post.

Saddle fitter is coming today, so fingers crossed she can make this super beautiful saddle fit my horse and then I can get to work on the all important arse groove ;D

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Our Second Team Chase!

As well as all the excitement of the Big Move, we also had a rather exciting trip up to Leicestershire for the Fernie Hunt Team Chase.

This may have been the most fun I have ever had on a horse, even more than last time as I had some sort of control - result!

We had rather an early start. The alarm went off at 5am, but as the clocks had just gone forward, our bodies still very much felt it as 4am! Thankfully the children were at their first sleepover with a friend of ours, so two less things to worry about. My husband was also up at that time, but because of work.

As S, my good friend and sometime super groom was also riding today, B stepped in as team groom and general supporter (oh, and brownie maker - that girl has a gift!) 

We got a lift up with another team member in their box which was rather a novelty. I provided the entertainment in the form of endless wittering on about nothing in particular, and mild help with the sat nav. You know you are in trouble if you need me for directions!

The rest of the team got there within 10mins of us, so we all went to the Secretary to collect number bibs, and have our hats and body protectors checked. We then headed off to walk the course.

It was wonderful! Full of hedges and rails and things you could happily jump every day for the rest of your life. We did have a gate to open and close, a water combination, and a Pen though. The Pen is literally that, a pen you jump into and jump out of, except in Team Chasing you have to have 12 hooves in the pen at the same time. This was, erm, interesting, but we managed it, maybe some team tactics are in order for next time! The water was a rail, a few strides, then a step down into water, all managed very easily by our team.

The gate could have been done quicker, but I think it is the first gate any of us have had to do in competition for a long time.

All our team flew round clear, and the feeling going through the finish was wonderful.

Having gone only for a jolly, having gone clear we waited eagerly for our times. Sadly we were 40 seconds off the bogey time, leaving us out of the placings.

Added to all of this it was a beautiful day and we had a leisurely picnic in the sunshine sat on rugs in front of the lorry.

We stayed on to watch some of the open class. The speed is crazy! Where we were trying to get our horses back to us, gain some control, or whatever, these guys were just landing and kicking on! Serious spectator sport, and if you have the chance to go to a Team Chase to watch, jump at that chance, you will not be disappointed. The official British Team Chasing website has all the dates and info you may need

I've added the only half decent team picture (taken by B) It was a very difficult task getting them all to stand still after all the excitement! And as you can see one of our team is missing from the picture. 

Monday, 7 April 2014

The New Yard (finally!)

The big horse move is complete! Surprisingly stress free and very smoothly done. I lost my temper a couple of times, and my language while moving the rubber matting would have been enough to make a squaddie blush, but on the whole it didn't go too badly.

I had roped in a couple of friends and without them it could have been a very different story!

The horses travelled very well together in the trailer, so one stress factor eliminated.

They then settled very well in their (huge!) stables. The gelding does tend to box walk, well, box wander really, especially if he has the room to do so, and if stressed, so he has been quite busy.

The turnout didn't go as well as I had hoped, as grass is no longer a novelty, but grumpy cobs in the next door field are. Luckily I had had the sense to run a strip of electric fence about 4 foot away from the fence so they couldn't really touch - very wise move indeed!

We had planned a hack out on the Sunday to celebrate new yard/new hacking/new hacking friends, but actually it was windy, the horses were being idiots and I wimped out! Rode the mare in the (rather lovely) school instead, where she called to the gelding the whole time, and he called back. Not sure we are very popular now!

Glad as I am to be at the new place, it feels very much like starting a new job. You know what you are doing, you just have no idea of the rules, or how things work, and spend your time going in the wrong direction for things.

Could be a while before I stop feeling like the new girl!