A Guide To Shedding Tools!

It has come to the time of year when those of us who have unclipped horses are being punished for letting them grow their own rugs over winter.  Suddenly they are like bird nest machines, shedding hair everywhere and sometimes they need a little helping hand! Over the years I have used plenty of different gadgets to help Pea to shed her winter fluff so here’s a low down of our recommendations. All of these have been bought with my own money and my opinions are certainly my own and based on solid use.

The ‘Cheap and Cheerful All-Rounder’

These metal ‘shedding blades’ are pretty cheap (from £4) and effective at catching loose hairs and sweeping them away especially when you open them up like a scythe! I wouldn’t recommend using one of them on sensitive areas or legs but they do a decent enough job on the body and double up as an excellent tool to remove dry mud!

The ‘Sorry I’ve Found Better’

You know what it is like, you see a video on the internet of something looking amazing and you get sucked into buying it. That’s how my YO and I ended up ordering StripHairs from America a few years ago. When they arrived, although we were in slight shock that we’d spent so much money on what is essentially a rubber block, we thought they were great but they are hard work to use and have been far outclassed by more recent purchases! I know StripHair have changed the design of their blocks and I can’t comment on the new ones (they cost $39) but if I wanted a shedding specific tool I would certainly buy…

The ‘Best In Test’

I bought a SleekEZ two years ago with my Eqclusive brush pack (they cost £19.95 individually) and I haven’t looked back! It is so effective at taking out the hair that is ready to be shed and is so satisfying to use. The difference in all of our horses’ coats from the year before to the year we used these in the lead up to our riding school vet inspection was incredible. Because it is essentially a ridged metal blade coming from a wooden block, you have to be careful about pressure, particularly in more sensitive areas.

The ‘New Classic’

Although I use the SleekEZ on most of Pea’s body I turn to my Eqclusive curry comb (£7 each) particularly for her tummy and legs. It is the perfect reincarnation of a traditional rubber curry comb with a solid rubber structure but soft tips. In circular motions it teases all the ‘shed ready’ hair out of the coat, gets rid of any mud and provides a sort of massage for your horse.

Do you have any other shedding tools you could recommend?

January Dressage

Last week I took the plunge and entered a dressage competion. Evenlode RC, who are the ones who host dressage competitions in our fields in the summer, were hosting at Lower Haddon Livery today. I decided to just enter the intro, although we used to do prelim, as since my hip replacement we haven’t really established maintaining a comfortable canter yet!

I didn’t broadcast that I entered because I was worried something was going to go wrong (remember what happened when I tried to do a pre op competition?)

Anyway, today was the day!

The Prep

Last night I gathered together all my show things (most of which have been unused for a year and a half) and gave my boots and tack a thorough clean with Horseman’s (my favourite leather cleaner).

For fear of Pea being a fresh beast, I left her out last night which meant getting to the yard at 7 and shampooing her legs, neck and mane in semi darkness (the wash area has no light!) I’m not going to lie, she was still damp when we warmed up but was looking beautiful by the time I got off!

The Journey

We were adamant that it would take about 45 minutes to get there, it didn’t. It took just over 30 and it was such an easy route.  A plus point since I’m always nervous about travelling Pea.

The Warm Up

After faffing about getting myself ready and tacking up/trying to put off the inevitable, I went to warm up in the outdoor school. As you can see below, Pea was really rather interested in what was going on around the outside of the school. I struggled to get her as forward as I do at home and forget working in a consistent contact! I also had a bun malfunction – hairband, hairnet and scrunchie all came sliding down and I had to get off and redo it!

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The Test

The test was in the indoor school. Pea has only been in an indoor school twice and each of those times she wasn’t keen to go in and found the first few minutes rather unnerving. Today was no different except this time I didn’t have the time to sort it out like I did with lessons, I had to pretty much go straight into the test.

Firstly, there were significant pony club kicks required to get through the doorway.  Then, as the woman shut the sliding door, Pea did the most majestic rein back away from it.  We then set off around the outside of the arena, she wasn’t sure about the mirrors or the way the surface was quite compact and basically wanted to stop at each point of the test to have a look at what was going on. Apart from nearly stopping whilst doing a poo down the first centre line and nearly stopping at the door later on (causing me to forget when to transition and consequently being late to walk), I managed to keep her going through the movements though it wasn’t particularly dignified or connected.

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Reflection

Really I could have done with entering a second test because I think if we went in again, Pea would have been more comfortable in the arena. I was just so pleased to have done it – it was the first dressage competition we have done away from home and the first since my hip replacement.

The Scoresheet

I got 64.78% and a rosette for coming 3rd out of 4! My comments were as expected, she needs to be softer to the contact, more supple to the bend on both reins and generally more connected. The general comment did say that we were a ‘lovely partnership’ and that we ‘show real promise for the future’ which was amazing. I’m so aware we have got a long way to go even to do a passable prelim test (which I’m hoping to start entering next month) but at least we are showing promise!

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Final Thoughts 

It was a great, low key, friendly event today (thank you Evenlode RC) and I feel so proud of Pea for being generally so well behaved in a completely new environment.  Hopefully there will be another competition in February for us to have a go at.

As ever, all the thanks go to my boyfriend for his help – it wasn’t ideal for him to have to sacrifice his Sunday lie in to support me BUT we were right next to Brize Norton so at least he saw some aeroplanes!

One 2019 goal ticked off!

Tack Tales

Today I am taking up the challenge from Haynet and Equestrian Co to write about my tack because a.  I love talking about anything and everything to do with Pea (if you haven’t read her story please do) and b.  I would really love to win a tack trolley to help my post hip replacement body not have to carry so much!  For me, each piece of Pea’s tack is special.  It represents her new (or now not so new) life as a single human owner.  It represents me and us and the sheer joy of PopPea (our totally cringe couple name).

The Bridle

Long before I bought Pea (while I was leasing her), I bought her a Kincade flash bridle from Countrywide (RIP).  It was no different to the bridle she had already, aside from the fact that it was my first proper purchase for her (numnahs dont count!)  It is now hung on the wall in my spare room/study with our rosettes.

The Browband(s)

I learnt how to make patterned browbands out of ribbon when I first started leasing Pea in April 2014 which was the start of a series of girly browbands for Pea.  I have always run with the theory that if I’m going to have a pretty little mare, I can get away with pink, sparkles, patterns and all things girly.  Once Pea had gone through blue and white ribbons, pink ribbons and all sorts of other bright and beautifuls, I treated her to her first diamonds (ha!)  In November 2015, Rachel (my top hacking buddy) and I celebrated our birthdays with a trip to Your Horse Live.  It was amazing, we loved it and I came away with the most tasteful sparkly browband I could find!

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The Saddle

This was the biggy.  Once I had bought Pea (in 2016), I needed and wanted to get her a saddle of her own.  The saddle Pea has before I bought her used to belong to a different pony.  It fitted fine but it wasn’t altered to fit her and it certainly didn’t fit my bum very well!  I opted for a Thorowgood T8 Cob GP saddle.  I wanted to buy new but my budget was pretty limited having just, for the first time in my life, bought a pony!  We had a few Thorowgoods at the yard and I liked the flexibility of the changeable gullets.  The Thorowgoods we had were T4s and I had seen far too often how long it takes for a suede seat to dry out after a rainy hack so I knew I didn’t want one of those.  The day the saddler came to fit my saddle was the day I truly felt the difference a saddle could make.  At that point I could barely pick up canter but with my new saddle, I was cantering all round the school!  My saddle genuinely went home to bed with me in the early days.  I loved it then and I always will however much some people frown upon it for only being part leather!

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The Girth

At the same time I bought the saddle I bought Pea her own girth.  It is non slip and elasticated on both ends from Dever.  My saddler recommended it to me due to the rather round belly of Pea.  I have never had any saddle slip issues so it must do its job – it is a regular reminder of how well Pea’s diet plan is going!

The Stirrups

In the summer of 2016 I bought my own stirrups – chunky Compositi Reflex stirrups with a wide tread.  These are more a representation of my failings rather than the joy of some of the rest of our tack.  I did and still have found it hard to keep my feet where they should be, particularly my left (formerly known as my ‘bad side’!)  I figured the width and non slippy nature of these stirrups would help me.  I hope that with my new ‘new side’ and improved bionic body (post hip replacement) I will be able to graduate to Compositi Profiles instead – we will have to see!

The Bit

Until I started writing this, the significance of some of my tack was forgotton – Pea’s bit for example.  In August 2017 Pea and I embarked on our adventure to a new home and, after using the same bit from our original yard up until this point, there we started a bit (ha!) of bit experimentation.  I tried a hanging cheek snaffle after an exciting trip out cubbing but went back to a loose ring snaffle with a lozenge like we had before – simple and familiar.  I’d love to go to a bit clinic and see what bit would really suit Pea – has anyone been to one?

The (Other) Bridle

On our return home to our original yard in Gloucestershire a few months ago, I bought Pea a Micklem bridle (with a sparkly browband of course).  I had considered it for a long time and lots of my friends have or had them for their horses.  I am yet to discover whether the ‘kind and sympathetic’ design has any positive effect on Pea as I barely had a chance to ride her in it before I had to stop for my operation but it doesn’t appear to have done any harm!

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The Future

I dream of having a dressage saddle.  Now that I have found the discipline I want to pursue it has become the top of my fantasy shopping list and I am rather enjoying the research for it.  A dressage saddle would represent the next stage in the journey for me and Pea and you never know, we might be lucky enough to have a tack trolley to put it on!

Sleeping, Scoffing And Stepping Through Week Two

I did pretty well with week one (The Highs And Lows Of Week One), week two has been a little more challenging.  My goals for week two were to be less tired, eat proper meals, walk more and be allowed to shower.

I hoped that I would be less tired but what has actually happened is that I am just as tired but I am sleeping more.  Considering recovery is meant to be an uphill climb I felt a bit miffed to be going back to bed in the day on Friday (for the first time since I left hospital) although a. that had more to do with my dad watching tennis on TV downstairs and b. I felt much better for it!  I am following the old adage of ‘listening to my body’ and while I’m still drugged up, sleepy and not at work, I am resigned to the fact that whether I like it is not, I clearly need sleep so I should just do it.  It is still frustrating though, the simplest things knacker me out – yesterday I went to see my zebra pony for over-the-gate cuddles, cleaned my tack, was completely whacked and spent the rest of the afternoon asleep!

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I have completely smashed the eating thing.  I watched a few old episodes of Supersize vs Superskinny at the beginning of the week and seeing people munching down takeaways seemed to relight something in me!  I’ve had a Chinese takeaway, fish and chips and a meal out in the last week (and a whole host of much healthier things).

Walking more was another of my aims.  My ‘hip replacement bible’ booklet said to walk at least 100 yards for weeks one and two, progressing to at least a quarter of a mile from week two.  I think if I stuck to that my walking would be done just by trips to the toilet and my chair!  I have been averaging between one and two kilometres each day and it still feels like nothing!  Although it is more than the booklet says, I’m certainly not overdoing it on the walking.  Walking from the house to the car and from the yard to Pea’s field is fairly effortless racking up of steps.  In addition to doing a bit more walking, my physio gave me a few challenges to add to my normal hip exercises.  As well as doing my standing exercises with my ‘new leg’ she suggested I also do my standing exercises with my other leg while standing on the new one and gripping onto a sofa/chair/anything!  It feels very weird to be putting so much weight on it for so long but it actually feels ok.  What doesn’t feel good is using the ‘yellow band of pain’ (an elastic resistance band) for my hip abduction and bridging exercises.  This is definitely one of those ‘no pain no gain’ things!

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Today I went to the nurse so that she could take off my dressing and see whether I needed a new one put on or whether I could go bare and have a shower.  The dressing came off almost perfectly clean – a good sign.  The poor nurse then had to contend with the worlds largest collection of steri-strips.  She kept apologising as they were stuck very well and quite tricky to peel off but I couldn’t have minded less..  I was so excited!  She was really impressed with how neat the wound is and although there are still some scabby bits, gave me the all important news that tomorrow I can SHOWER!  She said I have to be careful of it, pat it dry and apply Vaseline to the wound afterwards but that I should be all good to keep it uncovered.  Before my operation, my surgeon told me that as he would be opening up the top of my old scar, he would try to neaten it up when he stitched it back together.  I said I didn’t really mind as to me a scar is a scar; it is a record of something you have been through and it is nothing to be ashamed of but he did what he said he would and it looks amazing!  Look away now if you don’t want to see it!

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One thing that I didn’t say I was going to do but I had decided to do was to start reducing my drugs, more specifically, my codeine.  In my discharge documents it said that I should take 30 or 60mg of codeine four times a day for two weeks.  For the first week I was taking 60mg four times a day without fail but I know what codeine is like and I don’t really want to be taking it for a long time.  Since Thursday I have been gradually reducing my doses and the pain still seems to be ok.  Fingers crossed I can kick the codeine completely this week.

On what I assume to be a related point to the drugs, my mood has been all over the place.  I have had some days where I have felt so rubbish with no real rhyme of reason to it but other days I feel good.  I think I’m being quite levelled and coping fairly well even when I feel completely down; I’m generally not screaming, shouting, crying, lashing out or anything like that, I am just quiet and flat.  It is horrible to feel so down when actually I’m on the mend, I’ve got fantastic support around me and I should be feeling good.  I feel a bit like I can’t control how I feel which is not nice (being such a control freak myself!)  I am hopeful that once the horrible drugs are out of my system I’ll start feeling a bit more in control.

I was told that the first two weeks would be the rubbish ones.  Although week one started off horribly, it improved massively whereas week two has been a bit more of a plateau.  I have high hopes for week three!  Firstly I’m aiming to get off the sleep inducing, mood altering codeine.  My second week three aim is to progress to using one crutch around the house and in safe places as I am now pretty stable and putting a fair amount of weight on my left leg.  With one hand free, this will also help with aim three which is to be a bit more independent; if I can prove that I am safe to do things myself and stop getting so tired, I might have a bit more freedom!  When I was at university we had the catch phrase of being ‘strong, independent women’ – I’m not feeling strong or independent at the moment but hopefully I will be soon!

Adjustments, Improvements And Paranoia

The last time I blogged I was feeling what can only be described as the ‘post op blues’.  The fantastic community on the Hip Replacement for Active People group on Facebook which was started by Avril from https://avrilsjourney.com/ confirmed that it is completely normal to feel really rubbish for the first few days.  It has been so reassuring to be able to hear from other people who have come out the other side of a hip replacement.  Top advice was to get outside, make small plans, focus on eating and sleeping and to get stuck into mindless TV until I can focus on reading and writing (which is what I really want to be doing!)

I’m not doing too bad.  Each day since I have been back from hospital I have been down to the yard to see Pea which involves a bit of walking, fresh air, sunshine and some refreshing human and animal contact.  It is really hard to see other people riding Pea, untacking her, washing her, taking her to the field and all of that stuff that I can’t do but I appreciate so much that she is being looked after and getting exercise. I am immensely grateful for everyone at the yard that is doing that.

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I have had my first proper visitors; my little (not very little) brother and his girlfriend.  As top blog readers I didn’t have to start at the beginning of the journey I have been on since Tuesday because they already knew what had been going on!  It was lovely to get out of my head for a while and to be able to talk about other things.  I’ve got more visitors due this week along with a BBQ to go to tonight and a dressage competition to watch on Wednesday.  It is definitely helping to have stuff going on!

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Eating has certainly started getting easier though I’ve still got a long way to go.  Two pizza slices and some carrot and cucumber at Saturday lunch felt like the biggest achievement ever!  Two Weetabix this morning was the next.  Those of you who know me know that at least six Weetabix each morning is my life blood so I’m definitely not there yet but I am moving in the right direction.

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Sleep is still an area that I am finding quite distressing.  I have always been a pretty good sleeper, I could curl up in a ball in the corner of a stable if I had to and would probably sleep all night.  Sleeping flat on my back with my legs straight is not proving to be conducive to a whole night of sleep or comfort when I wake up.  I have tried a variety of pillow formations to sit me up more or support me more but nothing seems to be working so far.  I have been waking up with back ache and a tight tummy.  If anyone has any bright ideas that would be amazing.  Now that I am a lot less sleepy in the day I really need to sleep at night!

I am not usually a big TV watcher, curling up on the sofa for a bit of evening TV is one thing but on the advice of the hip replacement community, I have allowed myself to mindlessly get lost in TV when I don’t have visitors or when I am not going anywhere.  Love Island was a standard anyway but my boyfriend and I have got several series deep in The Walking Dead (not sure how well that will go with sleep) and I’m finding things like Cops UK: Bodycam Squad and GPs: Behind Closed Doors sufficiently mindless.  I’m starting to feel more and more mentally with it so reading and writing is next on my list.

Although I am feeling less drowsy and a little more positive, the next stage of mental recovery has hit hard.  I’m calling it the paranoia stage.  For a few days I have been panicking that my left leg is now lots longer than my right.  It was 1.5cms shorter before, they said they had made up some length but that it still might be short but to me it just feels like it looks longer.  I obviously won’t know for sure until my muscles are more normal, the implant is settled (ouch) and I can stand properly but I am struggling to get it out of my head.  I am fully aware that my legs are never going to be the same length and that regardless of leg length this operation is going to have done wonderful things for me but in my illogical head I would rather I was still short on the left than wonked the other way.  Don’t know why, can’t explain it, just another thing for my brain to worry about.

The other source of paranoia is my wound.  I haven’t been actually showering, just my ‘stagnant showers’ in front of the basin but I can’t get out of my head what the HCA said about infection getting into my wound and going straight to where the metal is.  Every time I splash water too vigorously and water goes on my thigh or the dressing I go into supreme panic mode.  I think part of it is that for the first few days my wound was numb but now I’ve got that old familiar ITCHY feeling of the skin and flesh knitting back together (sorry for the mental image on that one!)  When I think clearly I don’t think anything bad is happening to it, I have vague memories of my wound healing up when I was a child and it feels just like those memories.  I can’t help but worry though.  I wish I could see what is going on under the big dressing.  In case you are interested, the bottom half of the dressing is covering my old scar.  On Tuesday they opened up the top of it and carried on up from there.  If you don’t want to see some exposed flesh, look away now!

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Home Sweet Home

I was so tired last night – not surprising really! I’m still reeling from my progress. I actually managed to sleep through until six o’clock this morning and then, after some much needed painkillers, back to sleep again until about eight. My family have always been ‘fresh air, exercise and sleep are the best healers’ kind of people as I totally stand by that.

I enjoyed my toast breakfast for the first time, the pain was managed and I didn’t feel sick AT ALL. I’m guessing that the anaesthetic or the morphine were responsible for the sickness and they’ve been kicked now. Such a massive relief.

The other young doctor (not the Scottish one) came to see me and told me that my X-ray looked great and so did my bloods. Felt rather smug actually! He said that from their point of view they were done with me too. I said I was worried that I was finding it hard to move my leg to the side when on the bed but he said that wasn’t a concern as I am allowed assistance to get me going and it is just because of the tissue affected when they went in. Ouch! He confirmed that they managed to do a ceramic implant in a ceramic socket which means they followed best case scenario plan A!

Although the doctor said I could have a shower when I went home, a healthcare assistant said absolutely not until my wound is properly healed as if steam lifts the dressing and anything gets into the wound I am in big trouble. I was allowed to give myself a wash in the bathroom this morning. It was a massive mission! With no one to help me, I had to somehow carry all my washing stuff, clothes and litter picker/‘helping hand’ into the bathroom and then negotiate the whole situation without dropping anything on the floor. Typically I managed to drop the ‘helping hand’ on the floor! It is a good job  I can pick things up with my right foot toes! For the first time I actually thought I would be better off at home now as I will have people around to make things like this a bit easier.

The nurse confirmed that once my drugs had come up from the pharmacy (and someone had come to pick me up) I could go home. Thankfully I don’t have to have the horrible tummy injections at home, I’ve got tablets instead to thin my blood. I don’t know who was more pleased, me or the boyfriend. When he arrived he did have to put a DVT stocking onto my bad leg though as apparently I should have had one there already! That was trust test number 1.

Trust test number 2 was wheeling me through the hospital and in and out of lifts and doors as carefully as he possibly could. Not a bad job. Trust test number 3 was somehow helping me into the truck without any bending or twisting followed closely by trust test number 4 – driving as smoothly as humanly possible which isn’t easy in a big truck. I told him to imagine he was towing precious Pea in the trailer! I could feel every bump in the road but aside from that the journey was pretty good.

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Home is where the horse is so first stop was to the yard to see Pea. It took me a million times longer to get across the yard than normal but it felt so good to be out in the fresh air, with all my usual people and animals. I played it safe and cuddled Pea over the stable door – the best therapy there is.

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Next stop was actual home where my parents had already settled in. They are staying nearby (but not in the house) for the next six weeks. Considering I had to be completely independent this morning, suddenly having two active fussing supporters (Mum and boyfriend) and one more stationary one (Dad) is a bit strange (though obviously I appreciate it!)

I am so pleased to be back home. I can tell I am going to find it frustrating to be back in my normal environment but in a completely abnormal situation. Once I have established my new drug and exercise routine I suppose I can establish a new ‘normal’. I shall just keep counting my chickens that it is all temporary and that things will get better.

My Last Week Of Pony Freedom

In my last post (https://younghipandhorsey.com/2018/06/11/positive-thoughts/) I said that I has plans for making the most of my last ‘normal’ week with Pea.  It didn’t quite go to plan!  I really wanted to put all of our progress into practise at a dressage competition so I booked ourselves up for a Prelim test at Rectory Farm.  I have always been lucky with Pea, she is generally in good health with the exception of her weight issues.  In true typical horse style though, on Tuesday, the day of the dressage competition, this is what I found at the yard..

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I’m not going to lie, I was immensely disappointed.  I really wanted to be able to say that we had gone out and done something before all my time off started.  I am fully aware that horses can carry on with only one eye but if you had a swollen, itchy eye, would you want to go in a trailer to a place where you had never been before and do a dressage test?  I wouldn’t.  As much as I am becoming more confident and ambitious, my pony’s welfare comes first.

The second grand plan for the week was to have a reunion hack with my old (not old at all) hacking buddy, Rachel.  A couple of years ago we were regular hacking buddies, we used to go out for slow and steady hacks in the evening when noone else was around and gossip about our lives whilst enjoying pony time in the sunshine!  I’m sure she won’t mind me saying that she wasn’t the most confident rider either so it worked well for us to ride together.  Exams and life got in the way for her and she stopped leasing.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy hacking with lots of different people but when I have been working until late and ride out in the evening when noone else is around, I miss the casual pace of our rides.  It was a long time coming but this Thursday we managed a reunion ride!

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I decided that Thursday’s hack would be my last ride before the operation.  I feel like I need to be well rested by Tuesday, I can’t risk hurting myself at this late stage and actually, I have aways been a firm believer that there is more to being involved with horses than riding.  I like nothing better than just being with Pea and the other horses at Bourton Vale.  I’m not going to be able to sit in the field and just enjoy the view for a while so I have been making the most of it.  Doesn’t she look fantastic in her new fly mask?

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In other news, Whiskey, the horse who built my confidence from absolutely nothing to something I could work with (https://younghipandhorsey.com/2018/05/13/riding-how-it-all-started/)  has returned to the yard after being away as a companion.  Just like Pea, she started life as a gypsy pony and seeing them together in the field makes me think of how far they have come and how far I have come!  And if Whiskey can cope with having had burns to her chest (from long before we had her) and losing an eye (having had a tumour in it), a little hip replacement should be no problem for me!

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The next couple of months is going to be a very different ball game when it comes to me having ‘pony time’.  Fingers crossed I can work around the hip precautions and the crutches!

 

Making Preparations

It is now June which means I can no longer say that my operation is next month.. it is actually this month!  No more months to wait!  I still have plenty of unanswered questions about what is to come, even after reading the extensive booklet I was given at my pre op (https://younghipandhorsey.com/2018/05/17/practically-passable-in-every-way/), but proper preparations have started.

Firstly, my lovely boyfriend has started shifting the furniture so that it is more ‘crutch friendly’.  When we moved in together we amalgamated most of our furniture but the house isn’t really big enough to cope.  Until this week you had to be pretty slim to get past the furniture to the bedroom and the shower room but that clearly wasn’t going to work for me post op.  Now the spare room can only be accessed if you are a mouse but the important rooms are far more accessible.  We used to have an equal, foot wide passage either side of our bed but the bed is now shifted all the way to one side so he has been practising climbing whilst I have been enjoying the luxury of space!

After the conversations at my pre op about not being able to shower at least for the first day after my operation, hygiene and cleanliness have been at the forefront of my ‘first world problem’ panics.  I took a trip to Boots to stock up on the things I think I’m going to want whilst I’m in hospital to help me to try to feel more normal.  It felt a little funny buying one of those travel bags of empty bottles to fill for hospital rather than for a holiday.  I also got a free gift of travel sized Liz Earle products when I bought my usual products from them – again, perfect for hospital!  Two and a half weeks to go and my wash bag is packed – not bad considering these days I tend to take one day at a time.

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I also bought a few new, loose dresses.  I know that there are tips and tricks as to how to get trousers on – men must do it!  I can’t help thinking that in the early stages it might just be easier to wear dresses.  As for the funny gadgets to help you put your socks on (that I have seen in my booklet) I feel like if I don’t wear socks for the rest of June and July, it is not the end of the world!

Physically, I’m doing my best effort at my physio exercises and trying to keep my muscles going whilst not knackering myself out completely.  I am having varied success with that as I still have nights where the pain completely takes over and I realise I have  overdone it in one way or another.  It is hard to break the habit of a lifetime!  I have started to do a bit of yoga (strictly in house using videos to help me) and of course I am still riding.  Not for long, not far and since the pleasure ride (https://younghipandhorsey.com/2018/05/20/pleasure-and-pain/) barely out of a walk!  Sometimes I feel like I can’t actually move my leg while I’m riding (not good if you need to put a bit of leg on when your pony sees a monster in the bushes!)  Most nights I’m happy just to spend some time with Pea.  Apart from the walking required to get to her, that is relatively painless!

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At this stage I’m not sure what other preparations I need to make!  If anyone has any ideas I would love to hear them.

 

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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