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Monday, 6 May 2019

April Round Up

Well, where exactly have I been? I know, I can hear you all asking... My last post is our March round up, which definitely had a different spin on it and really showed just where & what & why we'd been up to what we had during March.

Well, I'm very pleased to say that throughout April, we've been in a much better headspace and although silent on the blog and a little quiet across our social media, we'd been back to our usual "behind the scenes". If fact, with a crazy life right now, I'm appreciating my down time in the saddle more and more... I love not even thinking about everything that's going on and for a short period of time, not even looking at a phone screen. Looking through my camera roll, I haven't even got as many photos of us out hacking as I used to.

Downtime is great for the mind, so I'm glad I'm managing to find it one way or another. So sit back and relax as we talk you through all we've been up to this month...

April kicked off with a trip to Copenhagen (I know, I promised I wouldn't talk about work!), BUT when I arrived back home, it was fantastic to see a huge box filled with Silvermoor goodies for Louie to enjoy. I've literally never seen as many treats & Louie definitely thought all his birthdays had come at once!

Included was a selection of Treatsies treats in three different flavours - Unicorn with extra sparkle a.k.a mint, calming Chamomile and tremendous Tumeric. But that wasn't all... there was also a bunch of Swingers in grass, apple and carrot flavours.

Our flatwork training started back up... Started back up? When did it stop? Well, if you remember to the back of March, Louie revisited the vets for his re-scoping which looked lovely and healthy. While there, he had a bit of a mechanical workup too so for the first week in April, he didn't do anything.

I climbed back onboard on 6th April and it felt fantastic! Not only to be back up and riding Louie, but also he just felt fabulous. Loose, bouncy, powerful, and fresh minded... Great!

A few days later, we had our reguarly monthly session with Cathy Burrell. It went well and we really worked on getting a more consistent and still outside rein contact. I took this as my biggest learning and went home with this as the thing to work on.

It was a great session, but I could still feel and see that I didn't think Louie was completely comfortable in his bitting and bridle, so I reached out and contacted a specialist to come and help us figure out what would be comfortable. Read on to see how that went... I also asked my physio to come out and make sure Louie was comfortable all over too.

A week later our physio, Lee Clark, came to visit us. Lee was really happy with Louie's movement and balance during his trot up. He was happy with his overall foot balance and said he was moving very well. Working over his body, Lee found some tightness on the right side behind the saddle and over the top of the quarters. He used a temms machine on this area for 10-15 minutes and released a lot of the tension so Louie showed no reaction when working that area. I always find Lee's sessions really interesting - he's clearly very passionate about what he does, very driven to always be improving his practices and gives great explanations that you can really understand. Although, I'm pretty sure he gets sick of all the questions that I always seem to ask!

Two days later, we were joined by Louise Bates from Bit to Perfection. Louie is a BHSII freelance coach, Lantra accredited and Neue Schule qualified. I've never met Louise before, but on her arriving it was quite quickly clear she wanted to really understand you and your horse, and I mean REALLY understand. After the completion of a comprehensive questionnaire, Louise gave Louie a thorough exam of his head, face and mouth, explaining each step so I really understood what it was she was assessing.

Louise also took time to understand who Louie is, describing him as a delicate little flower, but impressively taking all the time needed to take a look in his mouth, and making sure the reactions he gave weren't just the Louie-isms that he has. She highlighted a couple of sore points over the cheeky bones, just where the grackle rings sit and explained all about the nerves in the skull that reach this point in the face.

After a ridden assessment, we swapped my existing bit - a NS turtle top loose ring - to a Micklem bridle. Instantly Louie felt more relaxed and even Andrew commented on his jaw looking more relaxed and comfortable. OK, looks like we need to invest in a Micklem for Louie... Next, and after I'd described the instability feeling I get, Louise suggested an eggbutt turtle top to try as well as a hunter D turtle top. I tried the eggbutt first. I loved it - Louie was way less fussy and just much more consistent. I rode round for 10 minutes or so and concluded it was for us, but rather than just agreeing, Louise made me try the hunter D. After all, that could be better again... It wasn't. I hated it! Although a more rigid bit, it felt it moved all over, more than the loose ring, and after about 30 seconds I gave up. Louise said walk away and give it another try. I did for 5 minutes or so, but I didn't like it and went back to the eggbutt. In the hunter D, Louie had become unsettled in the contact at the sinpliest of things, but as soon as I rode in the eggbutt, he was back to stable and taking the contact.

It really highlighted how much of a difference a bit could make, and if you find one that makes a difference, you really can feel it instantly. Typically, the size of eggbutt turtle top is sold out nationally... So we've bought the size up and will swap it when our's comes into stock. We're also on the hunt for a Micklem bridle...

Then is was Easter.... Wahoo, four full days away from work to have plenty of pony fun!

We kicked things off going to hire a local cross country field. While I'm very lucky to have a course on my yard, I wanted to be able to jump, circle and come back to elements, and our one at home is on a track so much better for working on stringing things together and working on your rhythm and pace.

We've been a few times before, but recently they have invested in many new fences up to 1m, so we were looking forward to what was there and what we could have a play over. You wouldn't have known that it's over 6 months since Louie looked at a cross country fence, bearing in mind how spooky he can be! He loved it!

We started off with a few of the smaller options to get him into jump mode, but he was soon in rhythm and we pieced together a few things, as you can see in the video.

I was also curious about Louie's confidence with water, but soon found out he has bags of it as be bounded through the water, no questions asked! It was quite hot and Louie hasn't done a lot recently so we ended after the last jump in the video, but I'm looking forward to going back and doing a bit more very soon!

Easter Sunday was a beautiful and warm morning, so Louie, Andrew and I set off on an 8 mile ride around 8.30am. It was heaps of fun as we rode along together (Andrew on the bike) and watched Andrew try to master the ability to cycle, taking selfies and manage to get us in the picture! It was very funny to watch him avoid the tree roots and branches while filming us!

I gave Louie the Monday off work and headed down to Masham in North Yorkshire to visit my Grandma for the day, taking her out for lunch. Just another great way to enjoy a day off and totally forget the hustle and bustle of everyday life!

We enjoyed a hack throughout the week as well as heading into the arena for a schooling session. But one thing I have aimed to increase back to at least once every ten days is lunging Louie. It's such a great way to build up his muscles without the interference of a saddle or rider. Now it is lighter nights, I'm happy to do this on a weekend which also frees up some of my day to enjoy with Andrew or doing the bits & pieces that you always find to do.

It also means he has a bit more energy for the next day when we went on a super long few hours hack to really unwind before jetting off to Oslo at 6am the following morning. And with these views, what's there better to do...

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