A sacral pain in the butt!!

Me and Parker competed at a an indoor championship on Saturday. I asked the venue if we could go first and managed to warm up, do two tests and be back on the road in an hour and a half so I could get home and start teaching by 11.30. That meant, of course, that I spent the whole day wondering how we did!! As it turns out we did well we got 3rd in both Prelim and Novice which I was so proud of as the horses that beat us are great and it was only our second time doing Novice. So when we returned Sunday I expected the day to run smoothly.

However things did not go as planned. I couldn’t warm up as he spent the whole time refusing to move forward, walking backwards and rearing.  He can get a little over excited when we go out so I thought, ok we will just go into the prelim and give it a run through. But I had to retire as he stood up and waved at the judge! Trying not to panic I gave him a few days off in case two days out had just blown his brain but he still refused to budge so I had the vet out this morning. I had spent the week panicking that it was everything from food intolerance’s, gastric ulcers to viruses and everything else in between. My vet watched the video of Sunday and went straight to his back poked something and Parker almost hit the floor so he diagnosed him with sacral pain, gave him bute, told to rest and wait. Potentially a few weeks might be all he needs if it’s just a knock but if it’s more deep rooted we will have to see. There was mentions of scanning and injections to the site. From what I understand it’s a hard place to treat as it can’t be ‘got to’ and manipulated like other joints.


I’m so frustrated as things were going so well and I have so many unanswered questions like how has he done himself an injury, when has he done it? Has it been brewing for a long time and it’s suddenly hurt him so much he’d had enough? Have I caused it?  If only he could speak and tell me what I could do.

So now I wait. Parker is having some time off to hang out with Tamara in his field as normal while I research rehabilitation practises like horse acupuncture and hydro therapy and prepare to sell my kidney so he can be comfortable again….

Taken on Saturday when all was still good!

Horses, who’d have them?!

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Time flies when you’re a riding instructor….

 

Errrmmm….. excuse me? Where did the summer go? I’ve just finished 8 weeks of teaching summer camps. pony club days as well as riding lessons OH and I fitted in lots of time out with Parker!
At the end of July I was entered for Frickley BE90, Oh my it was a mammoth of a drive! I haven’t driven so far in Amy the horse box and bless her she has no power steering and by the time we pulled up my wrists hurt! I got my number and headed to the xc course. It was so quiet as there weren’t any horses on the course so I was free to really take my time and take in the course. I was a little worried about the jump down to the skinny. I thought if there was a jump to upset the flow of Parker’s canter it would be that. I got back to the horsebox to find Tori who came with me enjoying the newly put in mod cons of the horsebox having a little nap in the bunk!! The Frickley curse struck and it struck hard. The second I mounted the rain started and it poured down. Warming up for the dressage was tricky as the warm up area is on a slope so i spent my time trotting and cantering up hill and walking back down as I didn’t have studs in! The dressage went well, I kept out of the corners to avoid any slips and managed to get a decent 33.8%. That was the last time the day went well! The rain had turned the show jumping into a bog, there was only a handful of clears in my section and the pro’s were celebrating a pole down as a clear. Parker was doing OK. We had a pole down on the first as I had over-ridden the jump out of fear that he would stop due to the mud and holes in front of the jumps where you could see all the other competitors had taken off. Disaster struck 2 jumps from the end. We turned toward the first part if the double which was a spread and Parker slid into the jump taking the whole thing out, we had to wait for them to rebuild the jump and then refused it, but got over it and finished on 16 which wasn’t the end of the world. The XC was strange the ground was brilliant despite the rain, the first 7 jumps were brilliant despite me almost taking the wrong turn at jump 3. Jump 7 was the jump down to the skinny and he flew it. I felt brilliant took my attention off a bit coming up to the corner and had my first refusal. From then anything that looked like a spread Parker struggled with and I realised the slid in the showjumping had definitely knocked his confidence. I left the event for the first time feeling so deflated and struggled to feel positive but decided that I would get some professional help with my jumping and improving Parkers confidence.
The week after Frickley was UK riders national final at Arena UK. This was definitely the busiest venue we’ve been to and the banners were a bit of a shock for Parker. The main highlight of my day was that my mum travelled all the way up from London to support me which was wonderful! Unfortuanly as we only had one test Parker felt a little tense under the pressure to perform and we had a few issues including Parker enjoying his canter work too much and refusing to come back to trot. Dont get me wrong it wasn’t a terrible test but it wasn’t the best test I had ever done.  I came 8th out of a class of 21 so I left happy and wanting to qualify for more champinoiships.

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Looking mighty clean at UK riders!

Poor Parker I hammered him in the space of 3 weeks and finished off our little marathon at Shelford. John came and watched me ride at a BE event for the first time. Dressage was fine still a little behind the leg but nothing horrific and then we had 3 poles and a refusal in the showjumping. Me and Parker really enjoyed the course at Shelford which was interesting but on walking it nothing screamed oh my god! We happily went round the course and jumping like a little hunting machine as we went into the woods I suddenly felt a little tired and took my foot off the gas thinking Parker was in his stride and its only a little tiger trap but I hadn’t reckoned on the fact we were going from dark to light and I had a refusal. The rest of the course went well and had we not had that refusal which let to some expensive time penalties we would have had a decent score but on a positive we didn’t get eliminated so I was very happy walking back tot the box!

 


I got my results from The mane shows July Dressage test and won the prelim, novice and Prix Caprilli AND I won the Tottie spot prize for the awesome matchy matchy!!! For August I thought I’d do something different and entered the showing side of things and won one of the categories got a hand full of seconds and won arena reserve champion. I struggle with showing as to me Parker is the most beautiful horse and can’t always work out what a judge is looking for, so don’t do a lot of it (and the fact he’s the dirtiest horse in the world and I just don’t have the ability to get him DAZ white) . This month I also entered a prelim (1st) and novice (3rd) test with E-dressage. I’m really happy with the way our novice test is coming along and how well our medium trot is improving.

 

 

So as I speak Parker is at boot-camp with a local eventer working on his showjumping making him more confident and willing to jump but improving his strides into a jump and making his trot and canter bigger and more expressive. Although I’ve been having updates and she says everyone loves him the yard is so quite without his loud whinnying calls every time I go near his stable. I am taking the time to clean his stable thoroughly and have his rugs washed for winter. I cant wait to go and have a lesson on Thursday and hopefully take him home with me!!

 

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Parker looking small in his stable at bootcamp

The summer has gone by in a flash. I have Sheepgate’s unaffiliated championships to look forward to and a holiday down south for a week to recharge, refresh, reflect and restart!!!

Back on track

Suddenly I have become obsessed with Dressage again, helps that there are some great competitions to take part in. I have never taken part in any competitions that have qualifiers and finals so I’m extremely excited to have got through to the UK Riders Final at Arena UK in August. I have attempted a few Novice tests in the last month so I’m hoping that by competing at Novice when we do the UK Riders Final which I qualified at Prelim level we will find it a little easier. I entered a Novice test this month with E-dressage (watch here). As I have received over 70% three times so would go into the Open section in Prelim which is the E-dressages way of kindly pushing you to move up the levels! I have also entered a few tests with the mane show including a prelim test, novice test and a prix caprilli which was a fun mixture of jumping and dressage!

 

I decided that I should get Parker a new bridle as his current bridle doesnt fit him very well. The nose band moves about a lot and the head piece is so badly designed. I was recommeneded that I buy him a Micklem as for so many people it has been a magical transformation but turns our Parker isn’t like other horses and hated it, in fact he hated it so much our dressage scores went down almost 10%. Although he looked more secure in his outline due to the nature of the micklem it seemed to be a fake outline as he wasn’t using his back properly and started picking up the wrong canter leads and having little tantrums. I can’t put my finger on it completely but I think he didn’t like how well fitted the whole design was so we went back to the drawing board and bought him an Albion with a crank noseband which has made him so much happier and our dressage is back to normal!

So because everything was getting a little serious recently competing every week in dressage I took Parker to Adult Gymkhana at Kenwick with North Lincs riding club. I was put in a great team who didn’t mind that Parker thought the mugs and flags were going to kill him and that maybe he wasn’t as fast as the zippy ponies and best of all we won! Definitely the best way to de-stress!

It was my birthday recently and like a kid with their first pony I got my mum to buy me lots of matchy matchy things so me and Parker can look super all of which we wore to go to Field Farm to have a little play on their cross country course. After that and most importantly we went on the beach which has been on my bucket list for so long! Bless Parker he was so brave and really tried to take on the waves which were ok when we were in deep up to his belly but when we were in the shallows he kept running away from the waves when they came in and out. We had a lovely gallop up and down the beach which made me feel hopeful that during our next event we shouldnt get any time faults!



Parker was very excited to take part in Pony Club Camp this year as he clearly still believes he’s a pony. Parkers Physio Sarah Harris came and helped the Pony CLub members paint Parkers muscles on him and then we lunged him over some jumps to learn about equine atatomy.

Most excitely I have two events planned and paid for so im trying to get ready for Frickley and Shelford!!!

Something old something new….

It’s a bit of a strange time at team Parker. We haven’t got any BE events booked in as work is hitting peak time and I can’t take any weekends off during the season. I feel a bit like I’ve lost my mojo as I haven’t got a lot of direction with no competitions to aim for so I’ve gone back to competing at pure dressage to keep our hand in.
I was very pleased with the the way Parker performed this month for E-dressage I really enjoy the Prelim 7 and we scored a wonderful 70.75%. Due to the quality of riding in E-Dressage my score only got us 8th. It’s so competitive!

You can view Aprils test here

We held our annual show at work and I had managed to secure a fantastic photographer so I decided to enter Parker in-hand to get a photo from him. Lets say Parker was in a show-off mood and he spent most of the time in the ring on his back legs. The judge couldn’t stop laughing as she handed me my rosette – needless to say we didn’t come first but surprisingly we didn’t come last either and I got some wonderful photos!! I don’t think Parker was impressed with in-hand he kept thinking we must be doing some jumping at some time so I don’t think we will do in-hand again!

 

Me and John managed a trip away to Verona and I left Parker with Diana for a week. When I came back it was clear she had done a lot of schooling with him and he’s really settled into a strong outline. He feels amazing at the moment and we can actually work on lateral movements with good consistent results.

I took Parker to unaffiliated dressage at Sheepgate. Its the first time I’ve done pure dressage since starting to event and I felt so sick about taking him out and how he would do in an indoor school. Parker was incredibly calm when we arrived and during the warm up. We had a little look at the doorway and the gallery when we first went in but when I asked for his attention to be on me he worked well if not a little lazy like he had been indoor all his life. I was so nervous the judge had to remind me to remove my boots…. duh!! The first test we did was Prelim 7 which we got 69.75% he felt a little under-powered. After I popped him onto the lorry where he had a wee he came out for the second test a lot more forward. Poor dude obviously was just trying to keep his legs crossed!! Our second test was Prelim 18 we got 70.83% and more excitingly we won both our classes!!!

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During the dressage we have qualified for lots of championships so have registered for SEIB trailblazers and UK riders. Its my first time ever considering qualifications so it’s all very exciting and with Parker working so well at the moment I’m keeping my fingers crossed!!!

ANNNNDD Breathe……

Wowsers what a week!

Started on Friday with a trip to Hill House showjumping. We were transported by a local company NR Equine who were lovely and helped me stay calm before jumping! Parker hasnt ever been in an indoor school so this could have gone either way, as it turned out he was such a cool dude and we jumped three clears and even managed to win the 90cm. I noticed with interest the difference in horses between the showjumpers and the eventers (there were a few out!) The eventers tended to be slower and more careful in some rounds I was 3-4 seconds slower than the winners so I suppose something I need to work on would be to work on speed!!!

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On the pilates front I have joined a class and am going weekly and finding it RIDICULOUSLY hard! The teacher found it very funny how physically fit and strong I am but at the same time how weak my core muscles are! We were performing a move where you lie face down, your arms are stretched out above your head ,and lift up your upper body and I just couldn’t do it!! However I have found my back pain has lessened for a few days after the class so I’m hoping as my body continues to get stronger the pain will stay away!

Parker and I became proud owners of a beautiful Kent and Masters Dressage saddle this week and we took it to Sheepgate to test ride it whilst filming January’s E-Dressage video. I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely happy with either of us we seemed to butt heads quite a bit. I have been think about my riding a lot recently and have come to the conclusion that I am currently at a threshold in my learning.

4stages_learningI am currently very critical of myself and my riding, particularly on the flat. I keep thinking I should be able to do this move better than that and this is affecting my actual ability to ride. Using the four stages of learning model I think im hovering between stage 2 and 3. I look back on my riding a year ago and cringe at my riding as I thought at the time it was brilliant. I realised today how important it is to video regularly as its a great tool for self reflection, and although I wish I was amazing it has helped me to realise how far me and Parker have come and how with practise and dedication hopefully in another year’s time I can look back on videos from now and think wow what a difference.

This week I’ve also found time to spend with the other man in my life! We travelled to Hull and had a wonderful meal at the Michelin starred restaurant the Pipe and Glass and then stayed the night at dog friendly B&B the Boxtree house. Both were amazing and come highly recommended! I have to say I left Yorkshire slightly heavier to say the least. “Sorry Parker!” I think its good to sometimes get away from my horsey life and remind myself that there is a life away from jodhpurs and mud which has helped me relax and be ready to get back to it!

Last on my list this week was a quick jaunt back to Hill Hose to meet Lisa Smith an eventer from ‘p north’ who was holding an arena XC clinic. It was a fantastic experience once again I was told to stop riding so dressage and had to shorten up my reins and have them much more out in front of me. Although the jump height was not huge we worked in approaches to skinnies and corners and how to find a line and jump through a awkward grid of jumps. I was very happy with Parkers work ethic and was so happy with his fitness, we could have carried on for another hour given half a chance.  Lisa seemed to like him telling me that he was intelligent and could work out a lot of the stuff for himself and to stop interfering so much! Looking back on the videos much of our jumping is a bit rough and I got left behind a few times but Parker was bold and had a go at everything!

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So thats me done for a while. I’m going back to work to earn some pennies to pay for Parker the money eating machine! (I’m a little skint now!) Oasby has opened so it’s time to enter my first event of the season!

Beating the Winter Blues……

So after a few well deserved weeks off for both me and Parker after competing at Norton Disney, it was back to normal with a dull thud. I felt the familiar feeling of I can’t be bothered creeping into my riding routine. It was always dark or raining or both. Hacking was out of the question unless it was on a day off, galloping was out as it was so wet, Parker was always dirty – who buys a grey? Schooling was too much hard work or the school surface was too boggy ….. I realised then that I needed to change my mindset. The winter Blues were setting in!

This year I’ve worked really hard to keep Parker going strong not just ticking over ready for the beginning of the season. One of the main ways of doing this for me was joining an on-line dressage site called E-dressage. They set a dressage test for you to video and upload, BD judges judge it and you get really good feedback to work on for the next month (and if your lucky a frillie!) Another great thing about on-line dressage is no need for transport and hours of cleaning as although you should look smart they don’t want you in show gear. Since joining E-Dressage I’ve become obsessed with schooling and dressage again. It’s been brilliant and I’ve even had a go at a Novice test which I might not have done out and about. It’s brilliant except on the day the results are published as I’m so competitive I find myself clicking refresh over and over again!

Me and Parkers first attempt at on-line dressage

My plan for January was to get myself stretched out. I promised myself I would work on  my own body to make myself stronger in the core in order to improve my Dressage score. So far this month Parker has had a visit from the equine physio Sarah Harris who told me apart from a few tight spots Parker is beautifully built. I then went to see Laura Payne for physio. She believes I am indeed hyperflexible which sounds brilliant but instead is the cause of my back pain as my muscles are protecting important joints. So I will indeed have to do lots of stretching and pilates in order to strengthen everything! (Boo I just wanted to pay someone to fix me!) Cod liver oil and Aloe Vera Gel on the go. Watch this space!

It’s all about the PANTS! So I was reliably informed by my instructor that full seat breeches would change my life. Once she said this to me I went into full detective mode and got into the weird and wonderful world of dressage pants! I’m always up for trying anything that may help improve my riding so for Christmas this year I have ended up with a pair of gel padded dressage pants, seam free pants and the most amazing faux fur lined under-jod thermal leggings as well as a pair of Ariat full seat breeches.

So a few days after Christmas and giggling insanely to myself  I got dressed in all my Christmas presents and prepared to start riding like Charlotte! Alas although I had a really comfortable ride without any of the possible underwear ‘malfunctions’ my riding didn’t really improve although I am looking forward to our first event to wear the seam free pants, always embarrassing to have VPL!

I have also realised that stressing about not wanting to ride only causes more stress. If I’m really not in the mood Parker doesn’t care as long as he’s warm, fed and has a hug. We’ve done a lot of long distance hacks on days off and to keep me fit trotting in a light seat ah the burn! Parker has been amazing out by himself as we explore the countryside. We have discovered the painted SLOW letters on the road. At first he was’t sure about them and we had to jump over each and any every one. Lucky we can trot over them now!

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So now it’s back out to the freezing cold (of course wearing my thermal long johns and all my christmas socks, gloves, hats…) checking the BE website for when the first events open. We have a few weeks of fun planned including some showjumping, an arena eventing clinic at the end of Jan not to forget this months E-Dressage test!