Thursday, 9 December 2010


I haven't been blogging anything partly because nothing is happening and partly because I haven't felt like it. Thinking about it, it could be considered a funny thing to want to put all this horsey stuff on the internet. I'm not feeling the purpose of it at the moment.

Quadi is very well. He's been doing next-to-no work what with the metre of snow in the field but the same snow is making him work quite hard to move around. To that end, he is building his own topline and looking a little snug in his rug. His rug is a generous fit (and it's a Premier Equine so made to fit broad horses) and despite being in more work last year, his shoulders and neck are filling it more this year. And he's not fat!

I've sat on him a couple of times but nothing to write home about, just a little time around the paddock.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Home Again

Back to home life after my brief trip. I only have a short-ish time here before I head out for Christmas and New Year offshore...

It's quite the contrast to arrive home to the bracing cold. And snow! Sadly, as pretty as I find it, said snow is hampering me from seeing Quadi. But, he's on good form and, as ever, is enjoying the best of care.

I had some mixed reports on him whilst I was away. I'll have to rummage through my emails to remind myself of the exact circumstances but the condensed version is that Quadi rudely reverted to Everything No mode on two occassions. Sometimes, he is a neep.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

"Quadi Says...

...trot work on top of lateral work is horse abuse!"

That was the email I got from Kate yesterday *lol* Here is a little more:

"He was a good boy, we did some lateral work in walk, including some half pass! He surprised both of us by doing a step by mistake, so I made him do it on both reins ;-)

Then asked him to trot, which he did nicely until we went past the stables, then he had a stroppy nap! Once he realised I wasn’t giving in though, he worked nicely again! I was then super cruel and made him walk around the field at the end too."

Can you imagine how miffed Quadi must have been, having accidentally taken a step of half pass? He's been well and truly rumbled now! I'm sure he felt very put-upon. I mean, trot work, lateral work and a cool down walk around the field, abject cruelty(!) He'll never truly ditch his Can't, Shan't, Won't routine but it's on the wane with every work session.

Now, I really must finish my packing. I'll leave a little space so that I have room to pack some sun to bring home(!)

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Breathe, Stay Standing, And Try Not To Fall Over

Whilst the delay to my work trip is irksome, it has meant I have been home for my physio's new pilates classes, which started this evening.

I started doing a bit of pilates way back at the start of the year, but have only really had two 1-to-1 sessions with Anna. The rest has been from books and just practicing the core exercises to work on. It was nice to be in class environment :)

We went over the fundamentals of pilates and into some warm up and warm down exercises. It was like learning something new on a horse. For example, the aids for new lateral work. I found it difficult to co-ordinate my body and breath as instructed. When working on some balance exercises, I almost fell over and felt rather silly, suffering a fit of giggles as I did so! This was mainly due to my gammy right ankle, which is still not 100% after a champagne-fuelled sprain in the Spring. As we progressed it all became a little easier, to my relief. What I struggled with the most was relaxing and trying to breath fluidly, I have a habit of holding my breath when I'm concentrating. I'm usually pop-eyed and blue-faced by the end of a showjumping round!

I'm pleased that the exercises Anna had given me a few weeks ago are becoming easier at this level (Level 1), and some of the new ones were very effective, especially in indicating just how stiff some bits of me are! There is one exercise called The Clam, we were taught this one tonight. There were several groans around the room after a few repetitions! I don't know if you've ever been tortured with a mounted exercise where you have to open your hip and lift your legs off the horse from the hip? If you have and you're not quite as pliable as a Cirque du Soleil performer, you'll know how brutal this feels, and how I felt in class tonight! I can barely lift my legs of the saddle like this at a halt, I believe if you're a superfreak it's possible to maintain this pose at a canter!

Some of the upper body exercises I had to really tone down my range of movement in order that I wasn't becoming sore quickly. More work required here too!

I'm hoping, but not holding my breath, that I'll be away before the end of the week, so will miss the next couple of classes. But I've asked nicely that I can be emailed further instructions each week. I dare say even if that doesn't happen The Clam is going to keep me very busy indeed! It's brilliant I've found a way of training for horse riding offshore.

No real pony news. Quadi's bedding had swirled into funny patterns yesterday, thanks to some hefty gales, and he deemed his stable floor much too dangerous to step on because of this unauthorised change to his surroundings(!)

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Softly Softly Catchee Monkey

Brr! The sun was misleading, it was not warm today! But, at least no rain so riding was in order! Just a play in the field like we were supposed to have yesterday.

Having gone through our new stretch homework from Liz, I attempted a little in-hand to start (Fin and Kate were already in the field schooling), but my hands were icey and I lacked both the feel and the co-ordination to walk alongside, ask for forwards and flexion, and correct as required. So I hopped aboard, at least I'd eliminate the walking alongside aspect!

Once I'd mounted, naughty Quadi thought it rather too cold and windy to stand still so that I could tighten his girdle a little. We walked around for a moment till he retrieved his brain from up his bum. Sometimes that appears to be where he keeps it, I'm certain it's not always between his ears! Immediately he was forward, soft and carrying his front end properly. Ready for work :) I didn't have to do anything, just make sure I was correctly postured. Not what I was expecting at all, especially considering he found standing for girthing such an unreasonable chore! This is solely down to the fact that Kate has schooled him a few times in a row now. She is very quick with correcting aids as she's that much more balanced and experienced than I, and the penny is dropping with him that it is easier to hold himself up and not be testing every single avenue every single step! I guess some of the credit must lie with Quadi for working correctly that little bit more with every session, and for trying that little bit harder each time we ask him to step outside his comfort zone.

We just went over some suppling homework, and in doing so we tested out straightness in between school figures:

Circling, all the while aiming for true bend - this was easier today. I was observing my aids, and I'm pleased that the majority came from my seat and legs. I can now isolate the inside seatbone, control the quarters and bend with my outside leg and sustain the tempo and energy with my inside leg, all without falling over or curling in a tense ball. My hands were only really supporting what the rest of the bits of me were asking for.

Shoulder in, slowly and on three tracks - not as good as we're managed before. My hands were the problem. When I remembered(!) that I have two long legs at my disposal, I was prone to gripping up with my heel, which is the equivalent of grasping someone and shouting in their ear. At this point Quadi would come to a polite halt, and quite right too, how rude of me! For my sake I took it back a step, looking ahead and feeling, plumping for a wider rein gesture with an open wrist since I was lacking the dexterity in my fingers. Once I sat up straight, really straight, and allowed my leg to swing along with his barrel, suddenly we were shouldering-in.

Turn about the quarters, always thinking forwards - all I wanted today was to sweep a couple of strides left and right from one move to another, without losing impulsion and the feeling that with every step we could march forwards. I don't think we're anywhere near the point of restricting the hind legs to marching almost on the spot for a pirouette without either a confused halt, trying to wriggle out a shoulder or going backwards. But we can move in the direction of bend about a very small space, and do so without any knotted knitting. I'd say we can go a quarter turn effectively, so with more practice we'll aim for a 180 change of rein.

Leg yield, not an excuse to wriggle - I didn't get so far as to playing with one of my favourite exercises, which is leg yielding in and out on a circle. I merely wanted to push the buttons to test how well we could do so without the supportive bend of a circle. He was more emphatic from right to left than vice versa, presumably because my right side is dominant and easier to apply. In any case, we could do so without bending away from the direction of movement. A pleasing little milestone of progress, and no attempts from Quadi to escape.

I also wanted to use the hills to walk up and down a few times, concentrating on straightness. He was at his wriggliest here, and on the first was trying to halt on account of sheep being in the opposite field. Since he'll happily graze this fenceline at other times, I didn't deem this a decent excuse and asked politely twice to move off. When I had to ask the third time I applied leg and stick (not hard of course, but I was serious about going down that hill without nonsense), and Quadi responded with a halt and a fly buck. I asked again in the same way and this time he heeded me. A big rub on the neck for him for that!

After this we went for a stretch around the field in Kate and Fin's company, we never came out of walk but I was happy to end on a positive note and not potentially spoil such a good period of work. Kate remarked that when Quadi walks out on a free or long rein he will carry his neck level and relaxed. Obviously not when he is in full Drama Llama mode ;)

Thinking back, there are lots of aspects of ridden work I'm finding so much easier. Last summer when we were on a livery yard, I remember arguing with Kate because I was finding even holding my hand correctly an almost impossibility. I had to constantly shift my pelvis to the correct tilt, and could never maintain this for very long. When I did, I was tense because I was concentrating so hard. Quadi was dead on the right rein and tried to find every escape possible from working correctly. It's all feeling a lot better. I think I'll ask Santa for a new camera battery for Crinklemas so that I can video what we're doing and compare it to last year.

I'd like to work on the in-hand and also some clicker work. As far as the latter goes, I have plenty of books and have dabbled for specific problems or exercises. I'm more interested in the theory but am finding books and articles hard going. I need to be shown. Becky Holden is up here regularly, we need to get along to her. She was worked with Quadi before.

After our work session, I swapped Quadi into a 100g rug with neck cover. I wasn't going to, but his Amigo rainsheet is too tight in the shoulder and pressing down on his neck :s I have to say the Premier Equine rug is looking a little more snug in the front than it did when I used it a couple of months ago. It's not tight, and was rather roomy before anyway. There are no fat pads, must be topline :)

I think this will be the last schooling session for a while, I am supposed to be flying this week. Shan't hold my breath of course!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Time To Get Serious

After taking Oscar to the vet (all healing up nicely, still the same issue with his squeaky jaw sadly!), I arrived just in time to catch the end of Quadi's massage.

He seemed to be quite enjoying it. At one stage he had his head over the stable door and his eyes were shutting. He is a little itchy as he is dropping his summer coat so at times was a wee bit of a fidget.

Casting back to last time, we were all a little disappointed that Quadi seemed to have taken a reverse step in terms of how comfortable he was in his body. He didn't enjoy his massage and was tense in several spots. With hindsight, this may have coincided with some hoof issues rumbling away. I'm so pleased that this time he is where we predicted he would be. Not totally without stiff bits and lacking topline, but overall soft and pliable and ready to crack on with some serious work. In particular he was stiff in his sides (his intercostal muscles I think?), which is a new one and hopefully just an occurence of field antics gone too far. He's not 5 years old any more!

Liz commented on how much more square he is standing, and also on his current bodyshape. At first glance, you'd look at his tummy and be inclined to think he is overweight. But if, as per the World Horse Welfare guidlines, you split the horse into three sections, you can see he's spot on in front and behind, and that he's not carrying too much over his back. It's merely a lack of tone. I'm suffering something the same at the moment, so really we both have to work hard to develop some core strength. He's ready for it now, and thanks to pilates I feel that I can sit properly and be effective without 'holding' myself.

We have a little homework. Liz showed me a stretch she feels every horse should do, where you hold a treat low, nearly to the floor. You have the horse stretch forward and down but without moving his feet, and doing so get a really effective stretch over the poll. Quadi's actually quite good at this stretch, he demonstrates is at the base of trailer ramps when we try to bribe him with treats *lol* Also, I regularly use a stretch where you start at the head and bring the treat along and down to the hind foot. Liz showed me a more effective stretch along the same vein. You stand at the head and step out sideways so that the horse is stretching along his entire side and really opens out his shoulder. You then move back and down to the hind foot but this requires a lot of flexibility. It'll be interesting to see how quickly we progress with this one, I plan to try and slow the tempo when he does this, I feel he rushes through in order to snatch the treat out of my hand. We need smoother movement!

Sadly I didn't get to test out that feeling today. Kate and I decided that just a wee sit on in the field, doing some gymastic flexions from the saddle, would be enough post-massage. I trapsed over to my horse and he wandered off. Everyone got a little wound up with bonfires on the horizon and sheep being herded in the next field. We approached them a couple of times and each time they bogged off, bucking and farting as they did. Probably more physical exercise than they'd have gotten under saddle and when they have their heads up their bums it's more fun to stand back and admire clean heels flying through the air!

They have a Hay Hutch in the field, Quadi was particularly terrified as it rolled towards them, but Coffee (18 months old, compared to Quadi's 13 years!), showed him it was safe! Being very pampered boys, they also have new Hay Bars in the stable. The first time Quadi saw it, he didn't clock it straight away. When he did, he was hat-dancing in the opposite corner! I should point out that this was after Coffee had already been in Quadi's stable for a mooch without batting an eyelid...*lol*

Thursday, 4 November 2010


A technical hitch has left me stuck at home until next week instead. Typical, was rather looking forward to my trip, the long flight aside. Looking on course for early next week, better late than never. Hopefully I'll be flying after the Brazilian GP, don't fancy my chances of a hotel in Rio before or during!

On the plus side, this means I will be home for Quadi's massage with Liz on Saturday. Or at least part of it, as I'll be heading straight to the boys from the vet practice anyway. We have another broken body, he'll be having his post-op checkup on Saturday.

My battlecat, Oscar, has had two tooth extractions and also had to have a puncture wound in his hip stitched. He's doing very well indeed, except when it comes to administering antibiotics at mealtimes. Understandably he's a little fed up with the unwanted attention! I don't think he realises he has had two teeth out, as soon as he came home he was weaving round legs, giving everyone 'furry beets' and demanding his dinner. He looks a little more miffed that he has a bald patch on his side though *lol*

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Gone Till December

This time last week I was blogging about how I'd been soaked through to my knickers in a hail storm...thankfully this Sunday the weather was far kinder and undergarmentals remained dry! Although the air temperatures could only have been in the high end of single figures, there was no wind and plenty of sun, so it was plenty toasty.

I rode Quadi with just a cotton numnah under his saddle. I noticed, once on board and securing the girth, that although he'd put on a bit of weight at his last weight-taping, his girth is no more snug. This goes hand-in-hand with his saddle fitting better without the need for pads or shims, rather than getting fat he's broadened over his back and wither. I could really feel his hind legs and hips pinging my hips with each stride as we set out. I also booted him, he's still feeling his frogs a little. The central sulcus of both fronts is still a little deep and contracted, so pony trainers are necessary for outings.

From the off I asked him to walk smartly without gawking or stargazing. Kate had ridden him yesterday and the effects of that were apparent, he was completely ready for work and I made little effort in my aids for forwards, soft and level. A small part of that was Kate's advice from last weekend to be more effective with my leg aids, but a whacking huge part of it was down to her riding and 'fine tuning' of my horse from the day before! I was most pleased, and grateful, as this proves how much I have to learn and improve, my horse is plenty capable :)

On the road out I could pretty much maintain this softness in hand the whole way, using my legs as I vibrated the reins (I was re-reading Heather Moffett's 'Enlightened Equitation' book tonight and she describes this like squeezing water out of a sponge, I like that a lot). He was a little head-tossy/snatchy out of the driveway, and I wonder if I ought to put the nosenet back on? He wasn't like that for Kate yesterday, but I'm not sure I was doing anything to prompt this, so I can only assume the cause is something environmental?

Also, because our normally-dependable lead pony Fin has a wee issue with passing a particular house...when he stopped, we stopped. It's just such a pain that I can't ask Quadi to take the lead in these situations! Well, I can ask, and I do ask, but by this point Drama Llama takes over and we grow roots, the farthest we can ever proceed is to Fin's shoulder *lol*

I gave him plenty of stretch breaks and played a little with some slowed lateral work, as he is prone to rushing through without bending otherwise. On the way home I could feel him tire mentally which resulted in some restless head carriage, but nothing horrid and by the time we were nearly home he'd settled down. I rewarded him with free reins along the driveway and loosened his girth, and we sauntered up the road :)

I did come home with a sore right knee, in an effort to keep him straight past the spooky house I fear I've been too crude and tense and hurt myself. I merely had my leg placed along his side but I was trying to tie myself in a knot, somehow thinking this was an effective means of aiding my horse. Lesson learned!

I'm glad he was such a good boy today and that we had such a pleasant and productive hack, it'll have to tide me over until I return from work in December!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Thwarted By Rain Clouds

I had high hopes for a ride today but by the time yard chores were done with, the gale force winds brought with them shards of rain. To that end, I gave schooling in the open field a miss!

What I did do was check Quadi's saddle fit. It now fits without the aid of a Prolite riser or a lambskin half pad :) He's looking the best he ever has, muscles (albeit soft!) in all the correct places and just the right shape. For a horse who has not been in any 'proper' work for a couple of months now, this makes me very happy indeed. Obviously I'd prefer to be able to work him a lot more often and I anticipate a quiet winter for us both, but this year has zipped past so quickly, it won't be long before spring again. Very personally, the sort of sporadic work that Quadi is in right now is a pet peeve of mine, but it can't be helped.

Rather than lose all opportunity to work, I opted to do some carrot stretches/target work. It's been months, maybe even over a year, since I did any considered clicker work with Quadi, but he hasn't forgotten anything! Unfortunately asking him to follow the target to do his stretches was too exciting, he was abrupt and jerky rather than moving smoothly as he does for a treat in-hand. But he really enjoyed the target work. I remember the excitement being why I stopped, I didn't (and perhaps still don't) have the desire to learn more about it in order to harness this enthusiasm and channel it more effectively. Once again I noticed a marked difference between stretching down and right, and down and left. The latter being his better bend for this work.

His feet were also trimmed, and are really taking shape too. The whole inner hoof capsule continues to shift back and up under him, and those slipper-like hinds are finally looking like horse feet from all angles.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Caught Out

It was sunny but windy, and Kate mooted the idea of clipping instead of hacking. I pointed out the blue skies and said we should take the opportunity to hack whilst we could. So it's my fault really...

Today I wanted to see if I could make any impact on Quadi's way of going, trying to spend at least part of the hack doing some decent flexion and softening work. What hard work! It's been an age since I was last thinking seriously about schooling, and to that end I'm a little rusty and lacking timing. I managed not to give away my contact but still use too much hand and not enough leg. When I finally redressed the balance (after a few pointers from Kate!) we were going along really nicely, I don't think I've ever managed to maintain shape and softness of my horse on a hack. Ok, so it was only for 5 minutes but hopefully next time it'll be 6 minutes, and then 7...

We investigated a lane which, once you've gone through a farm, gives us opportunity for a cheeky canter. We didn't go that far today but now I know where to go when we're out on our own >:)

As we doubled back for home I pointed out some very low grey murk in the distance. Only it wasn't really in the distance, it was on top of us. We were quickly and completely battered silly by north winds, rain and then hail! On the way out both boys had pratted once again at the llamas and ducks, but give them their dues they got us home despite facing into the weather the whole way! I broke down with giggles even though I couldn't feel most bits of myself *lol*

We could tell they really wanted to turn their bums to the weather, but apart from some sideways prancing and Quadi putting in a cheeky and uncharacteristic buck we were fine. Which is just as well as I quickly lost feeling in my hands and face! When Quadi wasn't passaging he was marching very promptly in walk. It was great to feel him lift and round his back, just wish I didn't have to ride in such wintry conditions to achieve this!

I can't describe how horrible it feels to have the rain running off the end of my jacket making my pants rather cold and sodden :( Have to say we were rather wet-nappied walking the boys to the stables!

Still...nice to be back on board and my horse is definitely sound.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

In The Saddle

With no sign of lameness and the sun in the sky, we were invited to hack along with Kate and Fin. Just for half an hour of walking. It was the first hack Quadi and I have been on, we've only been to the end of the drive on the long reins. Whilst Quadi has been sound for a few days I thought it prudent to boot his front feet.

It really was a glorious day, but the gusts of wind were bitter. The boys were very keen to get going! Not very far into our hack, the boys took offence to not only the house with the menagerie of llamas, ducks, et al, but also the farmer on the opposite side of the road shifting big round bales of hay. Fin thought it terribly foolish and dangerous to continue, and of course Quadi could not pass Fin's shoulder because he's an insecure wimp :)

Because an issue was made, naturally we had to make sure we got the boys safely past in order that this does not become and invisible line in the sand. In the end I dismounted as pratting on the road is just not safe, of course having me on the ground made everything safe again! Some days they are just cookies!

Apart from that it was really lovely hack. Fresh air and back on my horse. We had a very brief trot and he wasn't nodding, so I guess this was just an out-of-hand foot infection we're now on top of. When I remarked about how nice it was to ride my relaxed horse on an equally relaxed rein, we were treated to some fabulous jig-jogging and sideways antics on the way home. Serves me right for making comment *lol*

I practiced asking Quadi to drop his head when he started spectating and gawking, which he maintained but soon after threw his head up. Kate observed that when I get a response I drop the contact. Instead I need to just vibrate the rein and still my fingers as soon as I achieve a positive response. This was very effective and we managed to stay together for longer and longer periods until he realised I wasn't giving him room to wiggle. He did start to curl behind and under as a result but I asked him more up and into my contact with a little leg.

On the weight tape today he measured about 510kg. Perhaps a smidge over perfect but he's not been in any meaningful work for a while so we'll forgive him that, and it's less of a big deal going into winter. I'm really pleased with his general appearance and demeanour at this juncture.

Hopefully we can squeeze in another wee jaunt tomorrow!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Little Bit By Little Bit

Lameness layoff means there isn't much to tell. Quadi's feet are being treated with Hibiscrub hot tubbing and plugging the suspect area with Red Horse Hoof Stuff. Which is easier said than done when the clay has been out in the cold! And every day he's coming in to stand in the dry.

He certainly seemed sound cantering up the field for his tea. They all displayed varying degrees of muppetry tonight, I think there was a fox in the field. For whatever reason, they were on their tippy-toes and not feeling helpful *lol*

As it happens Kate's guys have their vaccinations next week, if there's still any concern or sign of this lameness then I can have him checked out then.

He's being fussy with feed again. Am laying off the light MagOx which is making a little bit of a difference, but I think he's just not hungry. None of them are clearing their plates. They have the run of the whole field now so I guess bellyfuls of fibrous grass is all they want right now.

At least I'm seeing an improvement in soundness, long may it continue!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Haven't We Been Here Before?

Before we'd gotten together to do some flexions and trot-ups, Kate had let me know the other day that Quadi was sometimes nodding in walk in the paddock :(

There were still no external indicators of a soft tissue injury (swelling, heat) and because he'd been sound coming off the Danilon, I opted to leave him be. Plus he has wrecked his stable door for the third time so clearly it will do him no good to be cooped up.

Sometimes he's perfectly sound walking and he can put weight on that leg correctly. Sensible money is on an abscess right now. We cold-hosed the offending hoof and leg up to the fetlock, and had a good feel for heat, which was detected around the inside heel bulb. This corresponds with the separation in the hoof wall being worst on the inside of that hoof. Turning him around in the yard he looked three-legged, yet trotting him back across the paddock he never took a bum step!

After a quick chat with the vet today, we're going to try more hot-tubbing and then using Red Horse Hoof Stuff to pack the area and hopefully get on top of this. If he's not improved by the end of the week then perhaps we'll need the vet to take x-rays and resect part of the hoof wall as per the last infection Quadi had, the one in the off fore that had him laid off for weeks. He's happy for us to try this method of approach for a few days, as long as the lameness remains intermittent.

The snag is that I am due offshore again by the end of the week, but on the bright side it's more money for a car, which I still haven't been able to buy!

I'm a little annoyed with myself that this separation has potentially allowed in an infection, but the vet said he'd seen a lot of horses with similar complaints this year. The good news is that the new growth is very tight and the hoof horn is very tough. I was despondent about this but the good thing about hooves is that they keep growing and this is hopefully just a blip on the road to much better feet.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Clear As Mud

On Sunday Anna determined that even on a full dose of Danilon, Quadi was showing lameness.

He turned himself inside out in the stable a few days ago, to the point where he chested the bolted door open. Got himself in such a lather despite being ok (if not happy) in the previous days. Preventatively I had upped his dose of omeprazole but this didn't stop him having a very runny backside. The box walking and the tapdancing at his door were doing him no favours so he went out with the other two in a small paddock. Room enough for everyone but just as well our guys get on without a cross word or lifted leg.

As it happens he's been pretty good with that and there's been no evidence of idiocy in the paddock, too much grass to think about!

His last painkiller was one a day for yesterday and at lunchtime today I assessed him as best I could. In this instance there was no-one to help but the vet wanted me to call him after we ran out of painkillers.

Because it was on the lunge I noticed the lameness, and because it was the easiest place to start, I gave him a spin on a flat area of the paddock. The surface was running a little damp with recent rain and mist, but good for our purposes. He was sound if unhappy at having to trot without warming up.

I took him out onto the driveway for a trot up. Not easy running backwards in yer clumpy thermal wellies! I could see no head-nodding, I tried really hard to watch his stride length and I gave him a basic flexion test. Obviously I'm not a vet and I didn't pull him hard in case I made him sore, plus I was on my own, but I figured holding his leg up passively for one minute would certainly highlight a joint issue. Still nothing as far as I can see.

After discussion with the vet, we've decided to have him continue without painkiller for the weekend until I've had help with trot-ups. If he's sound, perhaps it was just a silly strain. I may push for scans and x-rays anyway, my gut feeling is one of negligence if I don't. Very hard to know what to do!

I can work him but he said only very lightly, and if the lameness shows even vaguely then we're onto investigative work with the portable machines. I may take him for a walk down the road under saddle (straight lines, good terrain) and see how he feels. But maybe not, there's no urgency to ride or work him.

So, in short, I wouldn't want to put a wager on him being 100%. Mostly because I'm leery of being too confident in my own judgement, I just need a fresh and unbiased pair of eyes this weekend.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Process Of Elimination

Quadi had the once over from our physio today. She said he looked unfit (lacking topline muscling, to be expected) but that there were no soft tissue problems. We did have a few attempts at his tummy reflex but we got there, he becomes more responsive to this with more attempts, so I am to persevere with those. Apparently because of the angle of his pelvis, there really isn't much more upward flex he can have, but he doesn't need to do a big flex for it to be effective for him.

Because of the initial reluctance to stretch work the day I found him lame, she gave his front end flexibility a thorough check, and could find no stiffness. He's becoming quite bendy and limber :)

We also discussed pole work. She suggested taking things right back to basics with him, which would be unraised poles on a straight, then we can graduate to a curve no smaller than 20m and then think about raising them. And to stay off the small circle work for the moment. Looking over his notes and his Pessoa programme from his back treatment, she suggested I could also go back to the beginning with this, although we both agreed we prefer long-reining our horses to lunging!

We trotted him up and she could see him lame every few strides, even though he'd had Danilon this morning.

So, what could it be? Still the slight chance of an abscess but he had no digital pulse and no heat, but not impossible of course. Those things can grumble away deep inside the foot. Or a strain from being a twit in the paddock, but again I'd have expected swelling/heat and also that he'd be more sound on painkillers. Which leaves joint issues, top of my list is arthritic changes in a joint somewhere. Disappointing if that's the case, but not unexpected. It could be that nodule on the tendon too, of course, Anna agreed that was an odd thing to find and a possible cause.

Tomorrow I'm going to lay out a new paddock, large enough for the three of them but not too big, hopefully the fresh grass will encourage them to keep their heads down and all legs on the ground!

Saturday, 9 October 2010


The vet arrived yesterday, with the x-ray machine in tow but as yet no x-rays are required.

He started with his hooves, using the pinch testers which Quadi didn't react to. He couldn't smell anything that would indicate a thrush infection, and we haven't changed the balance of his fronts recently to cause an issue. He does have separation in the walls in both fores, but they are picked clean every day and checked for stones, and again there's no smell or sign of infection up there, though obviously it's not impossible.

So we took him along the driveway for trot ups, which I always find hard work *lol* The walk and trot-ups revealed the lameness but the vet noted that it was not at every stride. We also did a flexion test on each foreleg. Flexion of the left leg revealed him to be very lame on the trot up. He was a good boy despite the Spanish contingent, on seeing us disappear up the drive, careering around the field with their bums in the air!

Upon close examination of Quadi's limbs, the vet found a small nodule or lesion on an exterior tendon on the near fore (he did tell me which tendon it was but I'd have to consult a book to remind myself!). It could be an area of bursal fluid or a lump. It might be something, it might be nothing.

The vet doesn't think it's an abscess but obviously we can't rule it out. The plan is to give him Danilon to reduce an inflammation which is causing the lameness, but to decrease his dose quickly over the course of a week and see how he looks off of painkillers this time next week. If he is still lame, then we'll take ultrasounds and x-rays in that order. Obviously if he worsens then we'll rethink that strategy, and if he's sound in a week without medication then it's been a soft tissue strain or joint pain which has resolved itself.

I'll keep him on box rest for a couple more days, with access to the yard area under supervision, and move everyone to a new, smaller section of fresh grazing. He is allowed to be out in a restricted area and hopefully lots of new grass will stop anyone feeling an urge to hoon around. If it seems like he won't be able to behave himself then he'll have to stay in. If it's an abscess then turnout on wet long grass would be ideal but I can't be sure yet that this is the issue.

Anna's still due on Sunday. With Quadi being on painkilling meds, we will be limited to what we can look for, but if this is an upper limb or shoulder issue it should still show up.

On two Danilon twice a day for today, he's looking totally sound. We'll see how this progresses over the course of the week. Am trying to keep him amused with in-hand grazing and gentle stretch work.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Vet Tomorrow

This morning the boys seemed well and Quadi was moving freely to graze and still no heat in his legs, so I didn't feel the need to check how lame he was until taking-in time.

Everyone had their soles sprayed with purple spray, which means my hands are all stained now too *lol* Before Quadi's feet were treated, I took him out onto a flat, grazed part of the paddock to see how he's looking. Very nodding lame on the left rein on that near fore, less so on the right rein but still obvious.

Managed to get him an appointment for tomorrow afternoon, and I'll keep him in tonight. It's probably overkill, but you never know. i've given him 24 hours and he's no better. As I poo picked several worrying scenarios were rattling through my head. I'll give him pain relief tonight in case it's something which could be aggravated by standing in, really hard to know what to do. In fact, it could drive me quite mad figuring out which course of action is best!

I've requested the x-ray equipment for the appointment, hopefully they'll be able to bring it to save time and callouts!

Anna, our physio, is coming on Sunday anyway so if the vet happy there isn't a hoof or joint issue then that would be our next port of call anyway.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

We've Been Here Before

Today I found myself in a huge new garden emporium (it's way bigger than a garden centre), and whilst there I had a wee nosey in the aquatics section. I used to keep fish and really miss it. This evening I'm wondering whether it would be less hassle...

I hadn't the chance to work Quadi until taking-in time. He was fine to groom and I only noticed a hint of a problem when I was stretching out his forelegs to make sure there were no creases under his girth, where he was reluctant to lift his off fore. Normally Quadi will anticipate a leg or hoof lift so this was very unusual. Even when he gave me his leg he was leaning on me. I managed to stretch him out but he never really 'released' this leg. He did come out of the stable a little doddery but he walked it off.

We popped out for a quick spin on the lunge, starting on the left rein which was fine in walk. To check him out, I asked him up into trot and immediately he was nodding, the issue in this instance appears to be the near fore. Unsurprisingly, he was equally odd on the right rein.

So it was a very short session. I brought him in, cleaned his feet and scrubbed them with Hibiscrub. Historically when he's been showing these symptoms it's because of thrush, and we're still fighting some separation in his hoof wall. I felt all up and down his forelegs and could find no heat or pulses. Realistically though, it could be many things. Sore heels, infection up the hoof wall, thrush, ligament damage, strained tendon, shoulder pain, back pain...I don't suppose it really helps to make a list right now :(

Since I was in the stable with him, we did a couple of stretches, just some bows and the nose-to-hindfoot stretch. Once again he was a little stiffer on the right but very willing. Where food is involved, it's hard to tell whether or not he's sore, I think he'd walk through burning flames and over broken glass for a sweetie, even if it were a vet proffering said treat ;)

It's hard not to get down with recurrent lameness, I'm doing everything and more to make sure he is ok. Not planning on giving him any pain relief today, will see how he looks tomorrow.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

There's The Tell

After much fumbling with poles covered in slugs, and through long grass, I had managed to set up some poles for physio work. On reflection I ought to have set it up in an area already grazed as the grass is rather long and thick, but I can move it tomorrow :)

I did get rather caught up in trimming Quadi's feet so didn't spend as much time on the polework as I had planned. But before that I did manage to do rather a good stretching session. I had two pockets full of treats and suddenly a very keen horse! It did make me wonder if I ought to properly study clicker work since it so obviously motivates him.

One thing I did notice is that when we did one particular stretch, where he has to reach down and round to his hind foot, he struggled with this on the right side. Nothing obvious, but on the left side he can reach right around almost whereas on the right he stepped and moved with his feet to catch that pesky treat! We do this stretch as opposed to just reaching to his hip as he was hollowing his back, which he cannot do if he's trying to touch a hindfoot.

Also, when I was stretching out his hindlegs he was a little more reluctant with the near hind, but was fine after a couple of goes. At his age, with his history, I expect a few creaks so not sure if this is something or nothing. We'll repeat these stretches every day and see if there's an improvement by the end of the week.

We briefly went through the poles I'd set up. I'd placed a few in a row on the ground, not particularly carefully spaced out as I believe this makes him work harder as to where his feet are. Some were flat, some had one end raised, and one or two were just off the ground.

First time he clattered them all :) I walked with him and he was cool about it, so it was just carelessness. In fact, we both were. My Muck Boots combined with the long grass made me catch my toes several times, so I guess it was good practice for me too! We repeated a few times on both reins and he did rattle them a few times. I'll not read too much into this and move the poles to a clearer space before I think any more about this.

I also set up two poles end-to-end and raised the ends that met, the idea is that we can constantly circle over them, if that makes sense? He stopped a couple of times on the left rein doing this, which I was surprised at, but he tried hard. Ideally doing this exercise I'd stay almost still in the middle and activate his side with my hand (where my leg would be) as he's stepping over, in order that he fully engages his abdomen.

I will, before the end of the week, try Jean's idea of giving him a painkiller to see if the ridden work improves. It won't hurt him and it's not like I'm medicating him where otherwise he could not be ridden.

Interesting today but I'd no idea how to interpret what I observed...

I changed the routine yesterday, bringing the boys in at teatime and turning them out before I went to bed. So overall they're out longer, and I don't have to be greeted by knees on stables doors every morning. Last night was pretty windy but in double figures and dry. When I went out to check them they were all sleeping, it must have been a tiring night in the wind, but they seemed content to be out. I managed to catch The Baby doing his best Dying Fly:

Monday, 4 October 2010

Puzzling Pony

As advised, I gave Quadi a spin on the lunge in the Pessoa.

He was most willing today and first off I warmed him up on both reins without any attachments. As I predicted and as ever I guess, he tried to bend to the outside and was loading the inside shoulder. i didn't want to interfere too much before he was warmed up but I did take a feel in the lunge line every time he looked to the outside, coupled with using the handle-end of the whip pressed where my leg would be if I were riding. So I had to be quite close to him, and work as hard as he was on co-ordination! His carriage was nice though.

Then I hooked him in to the ropes and pulleys. I had it on the baby settings and left the reins pretty loose, but did have the inside rein shorter. So it didn't really come into play unless he threw his head up or to the outside. He did back off of it and was curling behind, but not vastly and it wasn't holding him tight like this.

On the left rein he was managing to curl behind in order that he could also bend out, yet he was light and uphill and responsive. The evasion was harder to correct in walk but more noticeable in trot. On the right he was also as light and contained and despite this being his weaker rein he didn't try to bend out so much.

When he bent to the inside in trot I praised immediately and asked him back to walk. So we had lots of transitions which really worked well, plus I didn't want to push him into maintaining the bend. On a couple of occasions on the right rein he needed a couple of revolutions to balance into walk. Once again I did have to correct the bend with rein plus a feel of the whip handle on his side, but he responded well to this. I paid close attention to his back and hind end, he was trying hard to work up into his back, which is good because I know he can reach well under himself even with a hollow back.

Strides were even and rhythmical, transitions were uphill, no really bum moments...he never seemed sour or sore. I didn't ask him to canter, I'll do that tomorrow maybe, I didn't want to spoil what we'd done. I felt he looked better than when he started, his back was more level and he looked 'engaged'.

I'll set up the pony pole physio gym tomorrow, and use the Pessoa again. It occurred to me as I was working him today that Perry had shown me flexion and in-hand work to do with him. I really ought to do that before every session (naughty me for letting that lapse), and I guess we'll have to do some form of pony pilates (pole work or carrot stretches) every day. I will get at least one more ride in this week and see if I get the same reaction. I also really need to investigate two-rein lunging!

Puzzled! He's such a tricky horse, poor chap is stuck with bumbling me *lol*

I'm not as sore as I thought I would be today, but a hot bath is on the cards tonight. It's really pleasing to see our very lovely winter hay all neatly stored :)

Sunday, 3 October 2010


100 bales of hay, and four pallets, all shifted by little me. Am pretty sore now but I know tomorrow will be worse, I may treat myself to a hot bath after turnout tomorrow, else I shall be creaking the rest of the day! I'm covered in hay scritches o_O

Sadly the weather would not allow for us (me plus physio) to go investigate some hacking routes on the boys, nor could we really lunge Quadi as it was rather unpleasant. So we went to a tack shop instead, and I was extremely disciplined indeed, managed to keep my hand out of my purse :) Both Quadi and I are booked in with her for next Sunday. In the meantime, she suggested putting the Pessoa on him on an easy setting and see how he copes with lunging in that. I could lunge him 'naked' to check his soundness but he'll do his damnedest to avoid inside bend. Perhaps this will have the same effect as two-line lunging, which Claire suggested yesterday? If he looks ok I will keep riding him and see what happens. Now all the jumps are out I can set up a gym in one corner, if we do nothing else this week that'll be really good for him.

I do still think it was napping, given that he and Fin both bucked the time before last. But I will always try to give him the benefit of the doubt. Trudi suggested video, which I'm dying to do but haven't a means of taking any at the moment, will try and sort that out though!

Hopefully tomorrow will bring more agreeable weather. Tonight, however, I feel like a rest, and a beer!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Buck Buck Splat!

Blimey, this is a fair chapter:

In the five years I've had him I've never fallen off Quadi...till today!

Yesterday was a write-off with the weather, and today the hay delivery was due, but that's been postponed till tomorrow. Which meant I had a whole dry and sunny day in which to do as I pleased today :)

Field poo-picked, I fetched in Quadi, first to take some condition and hoof photos, before I tacked up.

Our start was not the most gracious, but quite funny. I mount and dismount from both sides, and this time opted for an offside mount-up. But Quadi moved forwards as I was swinging my leg over, which takes more concentration from this side anyway, and I ended up behind the sadde, quite unable to haul myself forwards! Luckily I did manage after a few strides. Not exactly the strongest part of his back to be sitting on but bless him for not rocketing me off. Shame he wasn't so mellow for our entire session!

We warmed up by walking up and down the steepest part of the paddock, making loops and figure shapes as we went. This was on a long rein, so nice and relaxed. Then we moved up to the flattest part of the paddock to start our schooling. i must say we got off to a good start. Not great, but definitely not bad either. I felt him stiffer through the left rein than normal and, as usual, more resistant along his right side. I started off with easy stuff, shoulder in and leg yield, and we had more above-bit antics than what has been normal of late. I continued with the big open and very smooth rein gestures I've been using, which I guess is a step-back from where we were pre-move but no matter as it always has to be clear and easy for him.

I wasn't really achieving full-on softness, but we were managing a few strides before we lost it. I decided to really boil it down to very slow and deliberate lateral work. Every few steps we would change from leg yield to travers to pirouette to renvers to half pass to reinback (note that although I describe some advanced moves here, it doesn't mean they're fabulously executed!), and also changing bend very frequently. Whilst doing this I had what was a very basic but huge-to-me revelation...that if I concentrated on flexing my fingers and not using my hands I could achieve more with less effort and, rather embarrassingly, much more kindness to my horse. I'm sure it's something eyes on the ground would have spotted straight away, not always easy on your own! It's quite refreshing to not be riding in a school for this, something Perry told me was ringing in my ears - "ride the horse, not the school".

This really helped and I could feel his back and shoulders lift, it really caught me as I was worried we were about to bounce off somewhere but it felt great and contained. Quadi was, I presume because of my shouty hands, beginning to curl behind. Not always, and I raised my hands gently when this happened to ask him up a shade. Ideally I'd not want to see a horse in any one frame for too long (at this stage of training) and I know a better rider can achieve superior results, and much sooner too! But Quadi is not a blank canvas and unfortunately it's me at the controls! In any case, I feel the lesser of two evils is not to have him star-gazing and building up his braciocephalic muscle. At this stage we were able to halt softly and flex both ways, so I thought about trot.

Now, I didn't wear my new pair of jods because I thought that would be tempting fate with a big red flag. I also was conscious of a thought to have my mobile phone in my pocket and not the tack room. And for some reason, it's been in my head I might part company with him at some point. I can't explain why, this wasn't a self-fulfilling prophecy today. I wasn't nervous, nor anxious, I was prepared for bucks but didn't encourage them.

First trot came a big buck, so much so that his tail flicked right over my hat and dangled momentarily well over the peak of my hat! I wasn't unseated and pushed on. I got what I asked for, a slower more steady rhythm with correct lateral bend, in this instance on the right rein.

We came back to walk with the best carriage he could muster, which wasn't bad, so big paise for him and we regrouped for the other rein. He bucked again and once more I asked for forwards and sensible. At which point we started hippity-hopping sideways, which I corrected and was met with an even larger twisty buck. My foot pinged out of my left stirrup, I was sliding out the side door bum-first and tried to grapple for something to hang onto but such attempts were in vain. Quadi threw his head up, the expression on his face "keep it together up there woman!". I managed to get a foot down but momentum sent me on my derrière in the damp grass. Thankfully are soft so my landing wasn't at all sore :D

Pleasingly, amongst the obvious negatives of this situation, Quadi stood when I was on the ground, so no hooves on me and also no slogging across the field to catch him. I bounced back on and once mounted saw that a neighbour was over the fence straining to see if I was ok :o I gave him a big thumbs up! Mortifying, but nice that someone was there, and useful if I had been hurt.

We went over everything we'd done so far to establish balance and calm, and I asked again. I wasn't being brutish, but I needed to have a positive outcome. Prior to the move he didn't find this work much easier but he tried very hard without such physical evasion. I understand that's it's new and exciting where we are but I would rather he didn't have what may be dangerous to call a strop. Dangerous because being huffy is human and not horsey but I do think they're capable of being 'pissy', it's over as soon as it's thought of, of course! I don't feel this is a physical issue, his saddle is carefully padded for his current physique, he's on his ulcer meds and he's shown no changes or signs of physical issue.

Anyway, when we moved into trot he thought about bucking, but I growled at him and asked him to direct his energy up and forwards through is forehand ;) and then he tried to teleport sideways a few times but I only had to adjust my leg position on his barrel and we were heading straight again :) But he really was setting himself against me. At this point I figured if he's supple enough to buck that high and twist and bend himself sideways then he was ok to work on 15-20m circles at trot. i restrained the tempo with my rises and really gave him all the room a boy could want on the inside rein. He needed a lot of inside leg to stop him motorbiking and one-by-one I shut his escape routes. After a minute he gave and I halted, good boy :) Repeated this on the other rein and once again, as soon as he gave I didn't push him on but came back to walk and told him what a star he is for trying.

Funny thing is, after all that, in walk his frame was shorter and collected, and he was light as a feather. At this point he very much reminded me of the horses I rode in Portugal. For example, just shifting my weight and the feel in my reins gave me a very smooth turn around the forehand. We got in a pickle in the other direction but I broke it down into step-and-reward, step-and-reward. But really, he comes so light it's unreal!

I've been mulling everything that happened today. Should I infinitely postpone even trot work and potentially make an issue of it in my head, or push on and get these episodes over with, risking more bucks? My answer is the latter, which I am aware is not a path everyone would agree with. Also, with using stronger finger and hand aids means a shorter but more embattled periods of resistance, this means he will soften his jaw but is it correct to achieve in this manner? Is it kinder to let him go around with is head in the air and his back hollow? Is it right to have to go through such a rigmarole in order to achieve what I want? With Quadi, I don't see how I have a choice some days...

Challenging times. If someone else had been recounting to me what he's like, I'd never want to blame it on a behavioural issue. But I guess they do have feelings and moods and different personalities, so why shouldn't it be because he's unhappy at being asked to do something difficult?

Thursday, 30 September 2010

That's Better!

What a difference from yesterday! Here is Bennachie in the distance as I walked the dog:

Despite starting my day by uncovering an orgy of earwigs under a gate catch (they all wriggled out, I'll admit I shrieked and piaffed, all before brekkie too!), today was horsey bliss. Once the sun was up a couple of hours it was very cosy indeed. I cleared the field, bar one barrowful, in the afternoon sun with the boys hoovering away the grass around me. Very relaxing way to work up an appetite for dinner :) I've cleaned both the dressage saddles too.

Because it was such a fine day, and because I've seen the impending weather forecast (boo!), I made the very most of the blue skies and worked both the boys. Fin accompanied me on a bijou road hack. We were only out about half an hour but I'm keen not to venture too far on my own just yet. He was, of course, great company. Just along the road there are some llamas or alpacas (I think they're the former?):

Kate had warned me they are there but said Fin is used to things like llamas since he lives with Quadi *lol* I think the second photo is easily mistaken for my Drama Llama. The head and neckset, the splayed legs...the first guy, the brown and white, marched towards us all imposing-like. I can understand why people have them around their stock, they seem very territorial!

Once back I swapped ponies in the field, Quadi stood loose on the yard as I groomed him in the sun. I wanted to take him out along the road but felt in-hand would be a little too light. However, I'm not sure he's been across the threshold yet so didn't want to ride him out and end up having a tussle on my hands. I plumped for long-reining :) He was just super! Had to steer/yield him off someone's garden (lucky he's not shod!) but he was forwards and didn't imagine any 'mawnsters' or draw and imaginary lines he could not cross, nor did he have a fit because I wouldn't let him chat to the neighbour's horses. I played a little with some light flexions/bend and asked him not to gawk and pay attention to my contact. Nothing exciting or taxing, we were only out for 10-15 minutes, but I daren't overwhelm him and give myself months of rehab/conditioning because I've pushed him into his 'No More Questions' mode. For today, he was very onward bound and obviously keen!

Because tomorrow I know there will be grey skies, I took some phone snaps this afternoon of our nudey ponies under clear skies :)

Everyone trying to groom one another, 3 is NOT a magic number:

Quadi being coarse to The Baby:

All our duckies in a row :) Coffee looking very tall, especially his back end!

And again, Quadi being a bully:

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

5 Good Things About Winter

Have to say I was rather grumpy as I mucked out in sideways rain and galeforce winds, which was blowing directly into two of the stables to boot. I hope I don't have to shut their top doors overnight but at the same time I'm quite sure they won't want another night of sodden bedding! My comments on Claire's blog the other day were ringing in my ears as I had to slip-slide my way to the muck heap with a heaving barrow, soaked to my knickers and the wind is driving the cold rain into my ears *lol*

To snap myself out of my foul humour, I managed to find 5 reasons why winter will be good:

1. Quadi is now out of his nosenet, so we can enjoy a winter without headshaking and I'll have a little less tack to clean. I prefer the aesthetics of no noseband, and presently this suits us training-wise too.

2. No crawlies and flies, which means no flyspray and facemasks.

3. Whilst there is always a risk of laminitis from frost and snow, I'm glad to see the back of the summer grass, Quadi is far easier to regulate on hay.

4. The horses will be rugged so they'll always be clean which saves grooming time. I know that's shallow but with thenights fair drawing in, time is limited!

5. If we get lots of powdery snow again this year, it'll give us great footing to ride in the field. And it keeps our horses' hooves clean and bug-free.

You'll gather the weather is too foul today for anything but basic chores. I even neglected to sweep out in front of the stables. Only once over the course of the day have I seen any of the horses not grazing, they've had their butts to the wind the whole time :)

Hopefully this weekend half of our winter hay supply will be delivered, weather permitting. 100 bales for me to shift, I may have to rope in some helpers in exchange for a cooked meal and copious cups of tea/bottles of beer!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010


Today's weather is best described as mizzle. The sort of opacity you get from lots of drizzle. It's not cold though :)

This afternoon there was still lots of moisture in the air, and it's very grey, but the wind subsided some and it wasn't rainy. I mucked out and swept up, and started to think about tidying/arranging the tack room. I wigged out at least a dozen times at 'forkytails'...earwigs! They give me the shivers, I really hate them. Spiders and beetles and bees are always welcome, in factI don't have a problem with bugs in general. But forkytails are, to my irrational mind, hideous and I admit without much shame I stomp on 'em. I apologise if that offends, I do try to respect all creatures but I really really hate these things and my blood runs cold at the thought of one nipping me. When I'm in the stable block and, for example, a tag on my top is bugging me, I'm now worrying perhaps one of the little blighters is in my clothes jabbing me! So I spent a good while last night and today flamenco-dancing on them. And squawking like a prodded parrot every time I happened across yet another one.

Virtuously, I also poo-picked the boys' old paddock and took a good heaped barrowful out of their current paddock. It'll take a lot more to clear it but in a couple of days I'll be back to clean grazing. I'm won't do any work with them tonight but I have brought in some of their gear to wash, and all the bridles are in the house to be cleaned tonight.

Have to say, I'm a little miffed about Quadi. I wonder if he's feeling 100%? This morning his stable only had one poop in it. He had peed too, it wasn't terribly smelly, and he's obviously eaten some of his hay, but there was a good bit left. I've been leaving their feeds in overnight since no-one's super-hungry at teatime, I only stay until I know they've eaten their omeprazole which I heap at the top of the feed so it is definitely consumed and not wasted.

It's just not like him to not have an appetite and I can only assume the grass in the field is really doing it for everyone, therefore they're not ravenous when they come in. But the lack of droppings is unusual for Quadi, he did stop once when we were working last night and then there was one in the stable, which is low output for him, so to speak. I turned him out as normal and checked him every half hour for a few hours, don't think he's stopped eating all day and he seems well in himself, tummy noises are normal and he's not distended or in any discomfort.

I'll take his temperature tonight and check it in the morning. I am aware of my back tonight, presumably from the today's barrow-wielding. Perhaps Quadi and I have swapped appetites, I can't stop stuffing my face *lol* I was quite happy to burn a few calories in the field today!

Monday, 27 September 2010

I Won't Be Greedy

The rain I was anticipating never came today, so in between walking the dog and cooking dinner, I rode two horses in the field! one at a time of course...

Fin first. He was a very good boy, apart from two bucking instances. Very rude! I pushed him up to trot and when I saw his forelegs start to dish I knew what would happen next. Just as well I made a deliberate effort to allow more weight down through my stirrup as we went into trot, as I thought he would buck in the transition. He bucked very high but I surprised even myself by asked him on, which I felt as a better solution than allowing him to continue to coil under me. He did it again in similar circumstance, and again we worked on as if it didn't happen. Luckily my butt never left the saddle to unseat me! He's just immense fun to be on and very pliable, I played with all sorts of bendy lateral work, and focused on being straight and not nagging with my right hand. Again, like yesterday on Quadi, I felt a little 'handsy' but he didn't curl behind so I guess it was the right strategy to contain the tickle in his toes.

Quadi, well, he stood in the yard loose whilst I groomed and tacked him. I guess he does have some redeeming features ;)

We started by doing some figure 8s, loops and serpentines on the grazed part of the paddock, which sits on a hill. not very far in I was aware of his breathing. I find hill work vital but have been frustrated by the lack of varied ground at our previous locations. I aim to be clever with the slopes of the paddock in our schooling work.

We moved onto our usual checks and balances of circling, maintaining softness through bend and transitions in and out of halt. he was a little more equal in both reins, which on reflection means he was more resistant in his left rein than usual. We worked through it as we leg-yielded in and out of our circles, trying out some shoulder-in and quarters-in too. When I asked him up into trot he didn't felt backward and threw his head up. I asked him down and to flex with big, babyish, inviting rein aids. They wouldn't have been pretty but they were sensitive despite appearances, I concentrated on my hands being of a fair height where the bit would be acting on his lips and not the bars of his gums. He tried to run through my hands, flung his head up Drama Llama-style and flicked a big buck. Not big compared to the much taller and much more lithe Fin of course ;)

After that though, he really knuckled down and yielded some great soft moments, peppered with gawping at the cows and protests that he shan't, can't and won't. As soon as he gave to me, we came back to walk and he got lots of verbal praise. We worked some more in walk and it was much softer. Of course I ask myself why we need to have this fight but he hasn't settled in here so I expected him to revert to type. Is he mentally settled enough for me to be asking him to trot in the field? Well, whether I was right or wrong, I ended on a great note before he was tired and starting to sour.

I only rode for 20 minutes so had he been fit we would have just been warmed up for proper work, but he tired physically and mentally. I gave him a long rein and walked him off, and called it a day.

Both boys were warm and a smidge damp under their girths after only 20 minutes of work. The girths are synthetic so it's partly that, but also a combination of lack of fitness and hairy bellies. Some clipping needs to happen soon!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Back To School

Man, I'm beat. I had to partake in a Sunday Sofa Siesta this afternoon.

I have a few horsey chores outstanding but i guess my travels are catching up with me. in fact, I know this is the case, because i'm grumpy and sore and tired! My first day mucking out took a toll on my unexercised muscles, having been sedentary for the best part of two months.

I did ride both boys tonight. Fin and I went along the road in the bright dusk light, fully geared in high-viz of course. He was lovely and relaxed on the way out, checking out his new surroundings. On the way back he was a little more curled, the cows were looking at him funny, or something *lol*

Fin was duly turned out after his leg stretch and I collected Quadi. The other two helpfully bounced and bucked and bronced as Quadi stood transfixed in the yard. They'd been quiet all day of course, sometimes I'm sure the Spanishees conspire against me! Quadi didn't seem keen on work but it's hard to read with him if he's just being pissy.

Either way, we set about the field. I've checked it over for rabbit holes, I know there are rabbits but don't want any broken fetlocks.

He was really very good indeed. As soon as my bum touched the saddle i had a huge grin on my face, it was great to be back on board. For the first few strides it was apparent he was more interested in his field-mates So i asked for his attention and some relaxation. This meant some vert big and open rein gestures. I did feel i was being rather 'handsy' with him, not strong or abrupt but I was aware i was overdoing the asks on the rein. None of this was in the vein of what i have been taught, nor what has been right for Quadi. But in the circumstances of a brand new yard, next to his fieldmates, in an open field, and my not having ridden for two months, I felt this kept us safe.

The open reins were great to establish bend and to stop giraffing and snooping around. I have to say, his attitude impressed me. He cracked on with our work without quibble or tantrum. I did feel him leaden in my right hand and fragile in my left, but he responded to my every aid.

I didn't want to ride for a long time. This is his new home and him being settled here is of prime importance, so I wasn't to be greedy and push for too much from Quadi, he is a delicate chap. I got about 20 minutes in but every one of those minutes was good :) Would i have been saying that a few months ago?! in any case, he's not fit so we're back to muscle-building basics.

i started out just asking for a slight flexion either left or right with the correspondingly correct carriage (ie. not star-gazing!), moving out in an active rhythm. Then we moved onto circling and shoulder-in, all the while i tried to give him room to lift his back. I didn't have it the whole time but a good proportion of our session, i'm pretty pleased! We also played a little with leg-yielding in and out on a circle, i switched between the two every few strides to keep Quadi from starting to lean on the hand. Weight in the right-rein aside, he was wonderfully responsive. i also schooled him a bit through the jumps set up in the field, and up and down the slope of the paddock.

He had a little moment when Fin and Coffee tried to rile him from the fenceline with their antics. He slowed, threw his head up and took a couple of steps sideways. I halted him and stroked his neck until the naughty PREs settled. Have to say how pleased i am at how he responded to me, I told him how good he was for standing still for me. Happy days with my handsome horse :)

I teased him into his stable, unheadcollared, with a small handful of The Baby's balancer. He came right in, so it can't be too scary. It's the biggest stable and just the same as the others. I wonder if perhaps he wind blows in differently or the view from the door casts a blind spot which makes him nervous? I hope in the next couple of weeks I can teach him it's a fine stable for him and a positive place to be.

Today we had sun and no wind, i don't think we'll be quite so lucky for the next few days!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Playing Ponies

For the next three weeks I'm house-, horse- and dog-sitting. So in addition to spending every day with Quadi, i'll be enjoying the company of Kate's horses and dog whilst she heads for more tropical climes :)

Today was a lazy day in that I wasn't going to ride, but I was busy.

Upon arrival and for the past week or two, the gang were on restricted grazing, a big concern was an attack of laminitis or a colic because of too much new grass. They've gradually strip-grazed their way to a reasonably-sized paddock but today was the day to give them a whole fresh paddock. So I busied myself with electric fencing for a couple of hours, then mucking out. It was windy and rainy which initially irked me, and then I reminded myself I was desperate to be home to do this *lol*

They were most dull in that they had their faces in the grasses as soon as I removed their headcollars, but surfaced a little later to oblige my need to take cameraphone snaps:

I laughed when I took the last one, he was looking very alert and pretty, and I managed to catch him with his eyes closed :)

I'll be up at 7am every day to punt the boys out. My PJ bottoms were on under my jeans this morning, couldn't bear to change properly for the sake of turnout *lol* I had a vague idea I might lunge Quadi this evening but I didn't have the energy to do it properly.

Everyone was fussy about their dinners, not surprising given they'd had a brand new part of the field to graze through. Well, The Baby finished his, good lad! I left the grown-up boys with theirs, I'm sure they'll pick at them overnight. Annoyingly, their daily feeds contain their omperazole. But this is heaped at the top of the feed rather than stirred through so I think they ate the bulk of their meds immediately.

My Prima Ballerina Drama Llama Extraordinaire, however, has apparently been picking at his dinners of late anyway. Anyone ever lucky or unlucky enough to make my horse's acquaintance will know this is outrageous! One of his many monikers is Noo-Noo after the slurpy hoover-thing in Teletubbies which noisily cleans up spilled food :)

I thought i might start giving him sugarbeet now that we're out of summer and Quadi will need to build muscle and have energy for work. But given that he's just moved paddocks I didn't feel an increase in feed would be wise. Sugarbeet would have been ideal to encourage him to eat. I tried adding mint. That was enticing for a second. Then I tried adding a smidgeon of the yearling's balancer (which in retrospect was probably worse than adding the sugarbeet but it was immediately available!). This sort of worked but even still he stopped eating way before I left them in darkness.

Quadi also has a problem with the stable he's been giving, I'm rolling my eyes as I type this...he won't tell me if it's a question of feng shui, dimensions, furnishings, light sources, etc, but I'll try and find out tomorrow ;)

Friday, 24 September 2010

There's No Place Like Home

I made it, and without too much of a delay. Flight times were changed but no extra journeys or routes, lucky me! I did get very wet feet crossing the tarmac in flip-flops, and I'm a little wonky and crumpled, but it's bliss to be home :D Even if it is 26C cooler here than Rio *lol*

Tonight I'll see The Boys, very excited about that!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Never Make Plans

It would seem they always have a habit of being scuppered!

There is some species of strike happening in France on Thursday (which is when I arrive in Paris) which may prevent me from getting home on my planned flight. Air France are operating their long-haul as planned but there are supposed to be disruptions to short- and medium-haul. Who knows when I'll get home and by what means?! *lol*

This, of course, has nothing to do with either mine nor Quadi's Broken Body :) Although it's worth mentioning I've been on a vessel with free access to all manner of sugary treats and have not seen the inside of the gym since I had my induction seven weeks ago! I suspect my horse may feel the difference when I finally managed to scramble onboard...

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

One Week

One more week and I'm home, 7 weeks offshore is plenty for anyone I think, looking forward to getting home and back to real life!

Word on The Boys is that life is slowly settling down, they're all having their little princess dramas in turn but nothing exceedingly dramatic. Quadi continues to broaden out a little over his back and has crept up to 485kg on the weight tape.

Fingers crossed I am home in time for lunch next Thursday :)

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Here He Is

Thanks to Kate's OH for this gorgeous photo of Quadrado

There were a couple more headshots but that's it for the moment. I think this was taken as he waited for the other two boys to arrive, glad to see he wasn't so stressed he couldn't eat :)

All is well so far, save some high jinx from the three of them whilst rules and manners are established at taking-in time. The stables look over the paddocks so everyone's keen to get in for tea when it gets to that time. Once they know the routine they'll be back to their amenable selves.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Three Horses + Five Acres = Two Happy Owners

Bleurgh, 12 hours of pipeline processing is leaving me bog-eyed at the end of my shifts. Sadly this means I haven't the time nor energy to comment on blogs, I'm reduced to communicating with my colleagues in clicks, whistles and grunts! But I'm still reading everyone's entries, your blogs are keeping me sane and I'm learning lots as always :)

Last update from home was that the boys moved safe and well. Quadi loaded just with a little beet bribery and a special treat to tease his back feet in...a little taste of The Baby's balancer *lol* I expect we'll have to take some backward steps and reiterate loading practice post-move, but that's to be expected.

Everyone's settling in well and Quadi's general health is under close monitor. I'm very lucky to have a friend whom I trust to treat my horse as if he were her very own :) I hope to be able to post next week with some photos!

Part of Quadi's last schooling session was continuing the good canter work, practice and reward will breed more and more of this pleasing progress...I hope Kate won't mind reproducing a small part of her email to me:

I schooled Quadi last night, who was a very good boy again. We did some canter work again, and got a great uphill canter on the left. Not quite so nice on the right as he seemed to think he couldn’t bend and canter at the same time, so kept losing it and trying to motorbike on the short sides. We got some nice moments though when he did bend, and we did make it round the short side without motorbiking once, plus a circle in the middle (where somehow it was easier to bend, probably the lack of necessity!).

Whilst there is obviously room for practice and improvement, it's so encouraging that he is steadily developing flexibility and strength. I guess it helps having a balanced rider! I also hear he is carrying a little more healthy condition and his back is looking a little broader. Although probably not so good for Kate who is far narrower in the pelvis than me!

Sunday, 29 August 2010


A little OT... of my cousin's cats passed away two days ago :( I'm still offshore and especially hate to get such news when away from home, so just wanted somewhere to say 'something'. It always hurts to lose a four-legged member of the family.

Jet was a little black cat of 23 years (yes, 23!) and his health was deteriorating. Poor love was going deaf and blind and had no teeth left, but still enjoying his little world until very recently, and what a character! You couldn't visit the house without Jet having a little shottie of curling up on each visitor's lap :)

I know two little stories about this little guy, they made me smile as I thought of him today. On the one hand, when my cousin's son was a toddler, he used to drag Jet by the tail across the wooden floor (the floor is pretty slick so there wasn't much resistance). My cousin would always freak out about this and explain why pulling cats by the tail is a bad idea for everyone, but Jet would always just lay there passively and be dragged along until the floor was suitably polished with cat hair! (Said child is very scared of our cat after attempting the same thing and not receiving the warmest of responses regarding such activity :s )

On the other hand, I remember one time when there were shouts from the front gate of the house. A man walking his Alsatian shouting, begging them to call off their cat!!! Jet had sprung out and wouldn't let them pass the gate, the poor dog was curled behind his owner! I think at that point Jet had just one canine tooth left and was baring it menacingly *lol*

Some pets are just extra special :) And 23 years old, what a credit to them, how old is that in cat years?!

Can't wait to get home and give my two rogues extra bosies!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The Diet Worked. A Little Too Well.

Feedback from the equine massage therapist is more of the same. Keep up with our carrot stretches and more pole work. She felt he was ok but subdued, and I guess we're all in agreement the feet are the issue there, and diet (grass) at the moment is the cause. Bum, poor boy. I wish I could make him better faster than this.

So, the plan of action is for Quadi and I to have a joint physio session once I'm home. I'll demonstrate his stretchiness for treats and make sure we're executing those properly, and furthermore we will review his performance over poles and tweak those exercises if need be. I'll have to demonstrate my ability to sit upright without falling over, and my core strength progress.

As part of our routine with our guys, Kate weight-taped Quadi. 470kg. I seem to remember him regularly measuring 520kg and at one point I recall seeing 570kg somewhere. So whilst the actual figures are rough it would seem he's shed at leat 50kg and possibly up to 100kg. He's no hat rack of course, but needs more correct muscle and perhaps could carry a little more condition. He's not a ribby, lean guy and whilst I don't want him to carry excess fat anywhere he doesn't look right running this 'light'. I anticipate he should look healthy around 490-500kg, carrying much more muscle with that.

He's also started his omperazole, which should also help with any pre-, during and post-move stresses. And of course will allow any suspected digestive tract ulcers to heal.

Moving day is midweek next week. Have requested photos in eager anticipation. Can't wait for my first proper visit to Kate's new house, I'll enjoy that first cup of tea in the kitchen as we stand and watch our horses, like giant goldfish, out through the kitchen window, very soothing :)

I spent yesterday in Rio. 37C in the sunshine! Which, coincidentally, is the melting point of a Caucasian Scottish female-person in direct sunlight *lol* Factor 40 was liberally applied! Of course I'd rather be back in Blighty, at the yard in two jumpers and a scarf, having my hair 'groomed' by The Baby, my tummy boofed by Fin and Quadi wiping his sloppy alfalfa-stubbled muzzle all over the backside of my jeans...heaven!

Monday, 23 August 2010

News From Home

Lucky Quadi had his massage today :)

The good news is that he has no specific spasms about his person. This pleased me greatly but isn't a suprise since he's not exactly working hard at the moment prior to moving house.

He is still stiffer through his left side, which would explain why he is so blocked on the right rein I guess? As this means on a right rein flexion he has to stretch along his left side, which is tricky if he's not as flexible that way. There was a lack of lumbar flexion but he produced some good back lifts (where you 'activate' the pressure point on the chest where the girth lies). I'm awaiting email homework from the bodyworker (as I'm still in the Southern Hemisphere) if that will be necessary. He's probably due another physio check up too, more stretches and more pole work methinks. Given that I have previously fallen over from a seated position trying to flex right (for the physio), it's probably worth booking us both in for some further exercises!

In other Quadi news he has been back in the school and by all accounts it sounds like some rest has done him good. He's carrying that little smidge of extra condition he was lacking, and with Kate up he can canter both reins in the school, proper circles too! Whereas before we'd have to let him build up a little head of steam and run into it, now he is offering freely. Amazing what horses can do with a balanced pilot! I should also mention this was with the distraction of a pony careering around outside the school, and he was very happy and willing to work, so I'm very proud of him!

Soon he will commence his ulcer meds too. He is footsore at the moment, it wasn't my expectation that this would be the time of year he'd be most susceptible to LGL. Is it wrong that I'm looking forward to winter, cold and all? It makes keeping an IR/EMS horse that little bit easier...I hope I'm not eating my words come Christmas!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Thinking Purely of Brakes

Further to the post below, where I publicly state that I wish to take my barmy pony out in company and hare across the countryside and all the obstacles it has to offer whilst trying not to maim or injure other participants...I was thinking about brakes. Mostly because I'm offshore and thinking of ponies keeps me sane :D

Now, I'm not for overbitting instead of proper training. Far from it, I like as little tack as possible (less to clean!). But I have to remember that there will be lots of other people and horses who will not appreciate having Quadi's flared nostrils rammed up their backside, or making enthusiastic banana shapes around them at speed. He's already strong in hand just doing fast work around our current hacks, although this tends to ease off as he becomes fitter.

I was thinking about a pelham with two reins. My reason for this is that I don't want to have to use a strong action until it's necessary, so would have the bottom rein in hand but looser. I'd also pad the curb chain. He's worn a pelham before so wouldn't be too surprised about it in the first instance, although obviously I'll be trying out new tack way before we go anywhere.

My only concern is that he might need a breastplate with running martingale, and I wouldn't want to use a martingale with a pelham. He's worn a martingale before, not with me, so again wouldn't be totally surprised if it came in to play.

I'm really not into lots of tack but don't wish to be left wanting for safety at a critical moment, far away from home. Thoughts are, as always, very welcome.

I guess the title is a lie because I'm not thinking purely of brakes, I wanted to ask a question. Can anyone recommend a good liver supporting addition to feed? Something that will aid and heal minor liver damage in an equine?

Friday, 13 August 2010

Call Me Crazy...

...but I'm planning to go hunting this winter! There are two meets I can go to. Both have non-jumping groups.

I'm not sure on turnout though. For me or him, will have to do some research.

With Lusitanos, it is supposedly tantamount to sacrilege to pull their manes. Trouble is, as Quadi lives out he has a real neither-here-nor-there mane. It's not so short that plaits would be neat and small, but not so long that a healthy running plait would hold for the day.

For ease, I was thinking of hogging it and leaving his forelock on. Actually, I was thinking of doing that anyway...

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Better Boys

Quadi was a Very Good Boy for his jab! The vet was female, which I think would have helped. He's not inherently scared of men, but mannie vets he can spot a mile off! She also gave him a little once over before jabbing him so I reckon that will have eased him in her company. Perhaps it's because I absent from proceedings *lol*

He's being very well-tended to and having his feet disinfected for nastiness (thanks Kate!) so he's looking a lot happier on them.

News from home is that Oscar, my cat, is feeling much better after a night sleeping on my Mum's legs :) She said he's seeming more normal. If he remains so then I'll get him to the vet for an MOT and some bloods when I get home. Mum said she'd get him straight to the vet if it happens again in the meantime. He finds the vet very stressful (I don't know what it is about my guys and vets!) so it's just a whole lot easier if I'm there. Plus I'm well-versed in Cat Judo and don't flinch if my hand is used as a means of distraction for his teeth and claws! Poor little guy, have never found the right way to explain to him that being handled, poked, prodded, having thermometers up his bum and needles in his neck actually aids his wellbeing!

Monday, 9 August 2010

My 'Manimals' Conspire Against Me!

It surely is the way of the world, when you're away from home, animals get sick *lol*

My Mum emailed to say my cat is poorly, hopefully nothing serious. And I had another email to say my horse was footsore over the weekend. He has a sore frog so, although he's finding it pretty painful, I'm hoping for this resistant infection rather than LGL. Although he had run out of yea-sacc as the delivery hasn't turned up yet, so toxic LGL is a possibility. We're doing everything in our means at the moment but I think next year will spell grass-free periods for him :(

He has his flu jabs tomorrow, the vet can give him a run over.

Kate and I have been musing ulcers and are pretty much of the opinion once they move to her new place we'll give them a course of treatment. On my part it'll mean foregoing a chance to ride at a Perry Wood clinic but needs must.

Monday, 2 August 2010

People Are Not Chew Toys

Not much happened today. A bit of a kerfuffle at work, I thought I may have to fly to Brazil tonight but was granted a reprieve until tomorrow, and it's still not 100% certain.

Once I knew I wasn't travelling today I scooted straight up to the yard as per my original plan. Where I spent a happy-ish hour poo picking. Only happy-ish because there were a lot of weathered poops in long grass! But The Baby thought it was time for high jinx, which was fun. It always takes me longer to poo pick with him around but he is very entertaining. Taking off bucking and farting, leaping around to encourage me to play, etc. At one point he was lifting a fully laden poop scoop in his mouth. When I offered and then succeeded to remove it from his mouth I was met with a love bite! He got his teeth right around my (albeit scrawny) wrist. Luckily I reprimanded him before he bit down, naughty little guy! *lol* You definitely have to watch the mouths of curious and cheeky babies :)

Before I poo picked I took off Quadi's muzzle but was sneaky and put on his headcollar at the same time so that he couldn't sneak off and pretend he was too hungry to be caught. So he was first to come in, and he had his feet soaked again.

Apart from that and a few kisses and cuddles, that was it! I may or may not be flying to Rio tomorrow, for an undisclosed period of time. Makes my job sound very mysterious but the truth is it's simply disorganised...

Sunday, 1 August 2010

A Little Too Svelte?

I got a call last week from my office, looks like I'll be offshore this coming week. So I've been squeezing in some horsey time :)

Because he's been lame there's not much to report with Quadi. Today though, I discovered what I think has caused his sore foot. A pocket of separation in the white line, near the toe, which has been growing tight until now. I scraped it out and it stank. Given that he had to have two months box rest for a deeply infected hoof crack last autumn I'm not surprised he's so gimpy. He was looking better but he's sorer again. In fact, he was looking so much sounder across the yard yesterday, not really putting a hoof wrong, that I took him in the school for a spot of free lunging, nothing taxing. First trot = nodding lame :(

Today both fronts had a good long soak in a warm solution which was anti-everything, and then I plastered the sore bits in Sudocrem. He is sometimes landing toe-first which would suggest heel pain, but it's not constant, and then there's the now obvious WLD...

Now that all three are in a new paddock I've also muzzled him for the time being. Poor Quadi, his eyes were on stalks the first day he saw it, he backed away from me in total horror. I think muzzling must be the suckiest part of owning a good doer, I hate to do it to him but at least it's only temporary. I poked a few treats through the hole once it was on, which went much smoother than I'd imagined. So once I'm home and have more time I'll have to clicker train him to at least not wig out at the sight of it.

He's also lost a bunch of weight, and some condition has departed with it. With me not working him in the school very often (slapped wrist for that!) I'd put it down to lack of correct work but it's been suggested I could up his feed a smidge whilst still restricting his grass intake. That'll allow him to build muscle without soring his feet or upsetting his tummy. So we'll do that. I have some condition photos of him from mid-July (see below), they really show off his lack of tone and his saggy tummy :( What they don't show is just how much he's dropped off his butt. Muscling aside, I'm pleased we've managed to slim him down, it can only be a good thing for his general health.

A little bit of the problem here is the angle of the photo, but you can see how much he's lacking over his backside. In fact, you can see he's lost something all along his topline. His feet still have a way to go but look way better than they were. This was two weeks ago and they're even smarter looking now.

He has a well sprung ribcage but it's nice at least that his backside is wider than his tummy!

I just thought this was a terribly sweet photo of him and it shows how much squarer he can stand of his own accord. Shame his high neck set is showing how dippy his back can be though :x Actually, I can see his under neck muscles bulging in this one. He is straining on the leadrope but still they are still too prominent.

I hacked Fin yesterday, which was lovely and it gave me a chance to work some more on feel, timing and my posture. Today I had a brief spin on him again, but this time in his Spanish Alta Escuela (sp?) saddle. It really holds you in place. What I found interesting was that I found it more comfortable than Kate did, which is odd given how much work my position needs! You can't rise to the trot in it so we even cracked some sitting trot, very comfy indeed!