Can’t Ride, Can Horse

I have always been a big believer that there is so much more to horses than riding.  For most riders there will be a time where they can’t ride for some reason whether it is surgery, an accident, horse injury, weather or something else.  Obviously over the last few weeks I have been in this position so here are a few suggestions for things to do to keep horsey when you can’t ride (which are geared towards the non walking for obvious reasons!)

  • Give your tack a birthday!  Even if you are religious about cleaning your tack after every ride, tack can always benefit from a thorough clean and condition.  Better to get anything mended when you don’t need it!
  • Sort out your grooming kit.  Clean those brushes, chuck out anything broken, replace anything you are missing.  I have had my Eqclusive HAAS brushes for a year and love them but this is the first time they have had a proper clean!
  • Groom that horse!  I can’t get her in from the field but being able to shuffle around is good enough to give Pea a good groom, particularly if I’ve got my mum to help me.  It is amazing what you can achieve with good brushes and a bit of Canter Mane & Tail – her tail has never been so silky!
  • Organise the lotions and potions.  I tend to use my car as a moving horse care cupboard but every now and again I do a seasonal sort out – if it is July you do need fly repellent and suncream, you don’t need pig oil and mud cream.  Put the winter stuff away.. or at least for a little while longer.
  • Make some lotions and potions!  Mum and I made some hoof dressing out of lard, oil and tree tree the other day.  Next on the list is some milk, fairy liquid and glycerin based tack cleaner.
  • Sort out your photos.  Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a bit of an ‘insta kid’.  I take ALOT of photos and sometimes they don’t get very far.  Delete the bad ones, print the good ones, put them up on the walls.  Remind yourself of what you love doing and what you want to achieve.
  • Display your rosettes.  It may be because I came to riding so late but I love a rosette – even the completing the fun ride ones!  Put them up somewhere and remind yourself of what you have to be proud of or just to add a bit of colour to a wall.
  • Go and watch someone else.  I’ve been to local riding club dressage and the Hartpury Festival of Dressage.  If you can’t ride you can still pick up some tips from others.
  • Make plans.  Work out your schedule for when you can ride again whether that is planning how you are going to build up your fitness, booking lessons or looking up your next competition.

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I’m sure before long I will have a whole new set of activities to add to this as I am getting so much closer to walking.  In fact today I walked from the field shelter to the gate in Pea’s little paddock without my crutch.  I might be ‘can’t ride’ for a few weeks more but I’m nearly at ‘can walk’!

Pea’s Journey – My Favourite Story To Tell

This might be a post exclusively for me.  I am completely obsessed by my pony and am totally aware that other people might not quite be as interested.  Nevertheless it is my blog so here goes.

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One of my greatest wishes would be to know the beginnings of Pea.  As far back as I can trace her she was called Gypsy Dawn and a man swapped her with the gypsies for some hay.  In her early years she had two foals, Star and Betsy.  She was heavily pregnant when she was sold in 2012 to a lady with the words

‘This mare can be spiteful with other horses and can be difficult to load’.

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At this point ‘Gypsy Dawn’ was meant to be about four but as with many ponies of traveller descent, noone really knows her age.  Not long after, in April, beautiful baby Boo was born.

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Sadly, in May 2012, the lady who owned the renamed ‘Scarlet Sweetpea’ had a nasty fall off another horse and ended up with more broken ribs than ponies!  In the later stages of that year Pea wasn’t showing signs of having been a ridden pony (contrary to what her owner had originally been told) and with a long rib to riding recovery journey still to go, the lady was given the option for Pea to move to an equestrian centre in the Cotswolds belonging to a friend, which is exactly what happened.

At the beginning of 2013, at Bourton Vale Equestrian Centre, Pea started her ridden career with hacking, riding school activities and was leased by a child.  A year later I had my second hack at BVEC on a fluffy cob – Pea!  As I said in my earlier post, in April 2014 Pea became my lease pony, we even took part in the yard summer show!

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Pea was a challenge to catch at the beginning.  I spent many hours sat in the field with a bucket but once she was caught she was a fantastically well behaved pony to hack in groups and kept my confidence up well.  In the school she could be challenging, she used to take the mick out of the children who rode her in lessons. I learnt to block her from random turns to the side and we were able to produce a pretty acceptable intro dressage test.  We entered dressage competitions held in the field at the yard each summer.  Cantering in the school was an issue, in the early days she just used to put her head down and bomb off but it didn’t really matter!  Cantering out was fine though and we enjoyed several fun rides together.

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As time went on, I was not fully satisfied with just leasing Pea.  Other ponies from the yard were sold and I couldn’t bear to think of Pea belonging to anyone other than me.  I remember the yard owner saying

‘Are you sure you want to buy Pea?  Don’t you want ***** instead?’

But ultimately it wasn’t just a pony I wanted, it was Pea.  In January 2016 I bought myself the best late Christmas present I could have ever had.  I can’t quite describe the feeling of achieving a life long dream which had seemed impossible for so long.  She continued to ‘work’ on tourist hacks from the yard but no longer did lessons which was my choice.  No more taking advantage of children!

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In August 2017 there was another big change.  I had got a job at a school in Malvern, working at the stables.  It was time for Pea and I to both fly the nest.  My greatest fear about the move was that Pea wouldn’t be happy.  Clearly I should have been more concerned about whether my leg would hold up but we all know where that one ended!  After initially moving in as a lone pony and being a little concerned over the new situation, Pea was joined by lots of pony friends and was much happier.  We had a wonderful seven months of hacking out, we even went cubbing once – an experience that she enjoyed but I did not! Ouch!  I started to go out to dressage lessons, suddenly I had the confidence and the support to be able to work towards my dreams.  Top thanks go to my yard colleague there for her encouragement and my wonderful OH for becoming a driver, groom and pony holder!

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So here we are, back home.  I will never forget opening up the trailer the day she returned to the familiar sights and smells of BVEC.  Aside from being slightly shocked at the amount of mud and the arrival of pigs as an accessory to the arena, she settled in as though she had never been away.

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I could have very easily slipped back into our old ways of going nowhere and doing nothing.  The fantastic instructor I had found in Worcestershire was too far away now but I found another instructor closer to home and Pea and I have been making fortnightly trips to do lots of hard work!  We even went on a pleasure ride (https://younghipandhorsey.com/2018/05/20/pleasure-and-pain/).

The next chapter is a fuzzy one for Pea.  I will be incapacitated and things will certainly change in the temporary.  Pea is earmarked to do some tourists hacks to keep busy (if anyone can catch her!) and I’m hoping that she will keep ticking along until I can get back to normal.

 

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