A poorly Saf

Sorry for the recent silence, we’ve had a nightmare couple of weeks with Saf developing colic like symptoms, which turned out to be caused by inflammation. It’s a bit of a mystery and we have been so, so worried about our special girl. She’s been on bute and antibiotics at home which has kept her happy, just keeping our fingers crossed that the antibiotics help. 🐎🏥😯

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Why I’m not clipping or rugging this winter

Ah, we’re knocking on the door of October! If you’ve not already done your first clip this year I’m sure you’re seriously thinking about getting it done sooner rather than later. September has been a scorcher and with an increasingly fluffy Saf still in full work I almost found myself reaching for the clippers. Before I committed though, I nipped out for a hack last week, in what turned out to be 25C. On returning I noticed that Saf was only slightly sweaty under her girth, and considering how warm it was, we’d done 3.5 miles and that we’d included our usual incline canter/gallop, I was pleasantly surprised.

 

Short term gain, long term pain?

Thinking back to last winter, I tried my first rugless test with Misty and Saffron which was a huge success. At that time I had done my usual chaser type clip on Saf and remember feeling guilty that I had deprived her of her winter protection. It also struck me as ugly (and I admit I’m not the best clipper in the world!) but to see Saf’s beautiful, shiny winter coat interrupted by that clip irritated me more than it should have. The short term benefit of clipping her in circa September to counteract the usual September warmth vs winter coat growth, seemed pointless when there was a long winter ahead. In fact, it’s far more beneficial for Saf to clip her in late winter / early spring and there’s no guilt involved in that instance.

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Exceptions?

There are exceptions to my self-imposed rules. Last winter, Claire and I weaned ourselves and Saf and Mist down to no fill sheets only, and only used in certain circumstances. Any rugs with any sort of filling were put away. I felt a bare minimum rug was necessary due to our field having no shelter, but we listen to the horses and if they are happy in the rain, the rugs stay off. I will pop the sheet on Saf if it’s wet and I have a lesson first thing, there’s not a lot I can do with wet mud on the saddle area!

In case you’re wondering, Rosie Shetland and Raven aren’t mentioned as rugs are not on the radar for them. Rosie goes without saying, and Raven in her present state would just be unhappy if we tried. Penny is the only exception, due to being in her mid-thirties she is utterly mollycoddled but she does have her rug off as much as the weather allows and always has the lightest weight rug possible.

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I won’t attempt to explain the thermoregulation system in the horse, but the lovely people Al Holistic Horse & Hoof Care have this very informative article: Thermoregulation in horses in a cold time of year

Anyone else turning their back on rugging and clipping their working horses this winter?

Emma & (a rather fluffy) Saf x

Schooling @ home: video

Working on our lesson homework. Had a couple of moments in the trot where I really felt Saf spring up under me which I took as being on the right track. Using a steady outside rein to keep the neck straight and an opening inside rein to ask her to mobilise her jaw. Love her!

Lesson: Mobilising the jaw, poll and neck

Lesson day! Both my trusty photographer and videographer were unavailable this morning, one of them is sunning herself somewhere hot! Therefore you’ll have to do with a dodgy selfie and Raven’s first attempt at a photobomb!

Today we discussed how Saf’s default setting is a rather immobile jaw, poll and neck. This has a knock on effect down her body, giving a general stiff, stilted feel in the walk. I now need to do something about her stiffness and not be afraid to pick up my reins. As with everything riding, it’s a matter of co-ordination and timing. I need to use my outside rein to check her neck is straight, then my inside rein with an ‘opening’ feel to ask her to mobilise her jaw.

This sounds so simple when written down but I can assure that it took the whole lesson for me to combine these two simple tasks. I mustn’t give away the outside rein at the same time that my inside rein is asking for jaw mobility, but then I need to reward her when I feel her relaxing her jaw. Of course, never ever get her into a position and just hold on! 😀 As always the proof is in the pudding, and Saf felt looser and more springy when we achieved this elusive mobile jaw. Remind me again why the fashion is to strap the jaws shut with a tight noseband? I don’t get it 😦

Another fascinating lesson, thanks Max. Can’t wait to get schooling next week and get working on this.

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A new addition!!

Absolutely thrilled to introduce Claire’s new Welsh Cob mare, Lynbrie Megan Mai aka Raven. We went to see her last week and she arrived on Saturday. She’s a total sweetie, 14.3hh approx, 7 years old. She’s had a bit of a chequered past, backed at 4 then was left due to her previous owners poor health. The chap we bought her from did an amazing job with her, she is so friendly and a lot more confident than she was when he took her on, but she’s still a bit nervous and it is likely she will have to be started again.

Needless to say we’re really excited and Claire is very much in love! Watch this space!

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Introduction

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Arrived at home

Riding Tuition

Hi everyone!

So excited to announce that I am now available for riding lessons around Braintree, Halstead, Great Bardfield, Broomfield and surrounding areas in North Essex. Full details are on the ‘Riding Tuition’ page.

It is something I am truly passionate about, if you think I could help you, please do contact me via the link above, or if you know someone who may be interested you can ‘share’ the page via the links at the bottom of the page.

Happy riding,

Emma & Saf x

Hot But Chilled Dressage

Well if I thought it was hot during my lesson on Saturday, we were in for a shock doing Prelim 7 on Sunday at Codham! Having given ourselves a bench mark last time, I was aiming for more relaxation and less tension from Saf, and for me to keep my hands softer. After a boiling hack there, Saf was on her best behaviour and stood happily tied to a tree eating her haynet. It was amazing for all of us to be ‘hands free’, without one of us having to hold onto her. Simple things! After a half hour rest we headed down to the warm up, which seemed less busy compared to last time.

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Saf started out tense and looky, but we had a happy canter on each rein which seemed to get it out of her system. She then worked really rather well. Wanted to keep the warm up to a minimum due to the heat, and we were soon called.

I was so pleased with her, I remembered to relax my hips and kept my hands light rather than the usual ninja grip I develop when I feel like she’s going to run off during the test. She was understandably happier and aside from a bit of nose poking at times and ducking in on a few corners in canter I was really pleased. Came out with a grin which is always good 🙂 61% which I was happy with and felt about right from where I was sitting and particularly pleased since it’s only our second time at this venue.

 

All the photos here: https://www.facebook.com/dragondressage14/photos

Emma & Saf x