Prep For 2017
The second month of 2017 is nearly through. Wow! Very soon I will be getting my two horses, Jet and Dude back from their time away in the field. This means bringing them back into work! It is going to be a huge challenge, but challenge accepted! I will be taking them back to a yard in Cookham where I was before. I love it here and it’s the best yard we’ve ever been at! They have all the facilities including a horse walker!
Where my horses at the moment:
My ex-racehorse Dude inflamed his suspensory ligament in May 2016. Since then he has been on box rest and field rest. Sadly, with winter approaching last October, and not having the correct facilities, I was not able to bring him back into work. At this time, the event season had finished and my other horse Jet was ready to go off on a well earned rest. So we decided to put them in a field together and give them both some “real horsey” time and recuperate for the 2017 Event season. Dude’s leg is now fully healed and they are both ready to start working again to event this season.
Slowly but surely:
Before I even start bringing them both back into work I must make sure that they are sound, get their backs checked for any tweaks they may have from being out in the field. They also need a visit from the farrier as they are currently barefoot as there wasn’t much need for shoes out in the field.
Before You "Spring" into Action
As both horses have lost a lot of muscle I will be slowly increasing their workload. Starting with lots of groundwork and walking before I get on. I will also be lunging them both up to 4 times a week to help improve their progress and help to engage and increase their muscle.
I use the practice of intelligent horsemanship quite a lot and have used it to help a lot with Jet. She is a naturally fizzy horse and has lots of energy, which can mean she is quite strong, mare-ish and stubborn. Using intelligent horsemanship (created and practiced by Monty Roberts and Kelly Marks, more to come in my March Blog; stay tuned) I have trained Jet to respond to my voice commands on the lunge, free schooling and also to ride her tackles (without a saddle or bridle). It took a lot of hard work, from both Jet and I, and a lot of patience. Jet is such a clever horse and picked it up quite easily. The times I have gone to see Jet in the field she has been very frisky and nervous, due to not being around humans for around two months while she has been in the field. To get her re-familiarised with myself, I will be using a lot of intelligent horsemanship techniques to bring back her confidence around humans and start practicing our tackles riding. It will also be essential that I touch up on her voice commands as Lunging will be a big part of her training program so she must listen and respond to me well, for the most effective results. I will also work with Dude on the ground a lot before I ride him, as I didn’t get much time to practice Intelligent horsemanship with him before he went on box rest. I shall hopefully bring him up to speed and get him listening and responding on the lunge; and you never know, you may even see me riding him tackles in the future!
Here is a link to a video on my YouTube channel of my first time riding Jet tackles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lz0Zo88M-rw&t=2s
Bungee and Pessoa Lunging:
As I will be using a lot of lunge work, before and while I increase their workload, I will be using different equipment to enhance lunging. I will firstly use a Pessoa 1-2 times a week. A Pessoa is a lunging aid that goes across the whole horse’s body. It helps the horse work through from behind, engaging their hindquarters and working the muscle over their topline.
The other piece of equipment I will be using is called a bungee. It is a piece of elastic stretches over the horse head on either side and can be attached to a roller between the legs or like side reins. It helps the horse stretch its head long and low, allowing them to work over their back, to increase their topline.
YouTube Video Diary:
I will be making 1-2 video episodes of the horses’ progress and the exercises and techniques I am using, per week, up to our first event of the season. I am doing this to show their progress, how they are coming along and also to share with all of you guys what its like to bring competition event horses back into full work, ready to event in a few months time. Keep an eye out on my YouTube channel, I’ll be wearing loads of amazing Tottie clothing products.