Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Grace is at Boot Camp

Grace and I have endured another tough couple of months. I have not really written anything on this blog because I have felt really negative about our future for various reasons.

I moved all three horses to a fantastic competition yard called Northcote Stud in September, but after a few lovely months there the travelling became too much for me. The yard was 30 minutes from home and a whopping 60 minutes from work on the motorway so I was spending two and a half hours in the car every day and driving over 105 miles! As a result, my riding started to suffer as I had less and less time for riding, competitions and lessons and was constantly rushing around trying to get everything done!

In October she also had her sacroiliac medicated because the PSD had caused some strain through her way of going. Peter Scholefield assured me that it was very common following the injury and she should not require any further treatment. I plan on taking her back in the spring just to have everything checked over, but fingers crossed there will be nothing wrong!

At the beginning of December I moved all three horses to a small part livery yard just ten minutes from home... Bliss!

However, true to form as we moved Grace became really poorly. The day after the move I got to the yard to find her absolutely streaming with snot, coughing and not eating! I called the vet out immediately as she had been fine the previous day and I was embarrassed that I had moved her onto a new yard with foals and mares in foal when she was so bad.

The vet took some swabs and gave her some bute. She did not want to give her antibiotics as it can cause them to become a carrier if it is certain strains of bacteria and until she knew what it was she did not want to treat it. But Grace got gradually worse and the vet had to come out again to administer more pain relief as she simply was not eating! The swabs came back to show she had a nasty bacterial infection in her upper respiratory, but I was instructed to leave it to work its way out, which I did.

Finally the week before Christmas the snot stopped and she looked brighter and back to her old self! What a relief!

Because I have not been able to really get going with hers, I have sent both Hannah and Grace to Jo Wright-Graham, or ‘Boot Camp’ as I call it, for three weeks while I am away on holiday! I have been getting some good reports about Grace via text message, and other than a small blip when the eggbar was digging into her frog (Jo’s farrier has given her a new set of shoes) she seems to have been working well. She finds it difficult sitting back on her hinds, but she is still not strong enough to fully take the weight behind yet, and hopefully as she starts to strengthen up this will improve.

I am planning on picking the girls up on Monday afternoon and have booked a lesson on the two of them in order to get myself up to speed with what they have been doing and I am going to watch Jo ride first. I have given myself a good kick up the bottom and sent off a few competition entries before I came away. Grace’s first one is at Aintree on 24th January doing the two Prelims, and then I have booked her in for two more Prelims at Croft on 6th February. We have a busy few months ahead!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's never plain sailing...

Grace has been back from Jo’s for just over a month and true to Grace’s form, it has not all been plain sailing. She was starting to work really well and we had a few competitions booked, but on 2nd August she came in lame on her near fore. There was a small knock on her cannon bone which we assumed was causing the lameness, but that soon went down and there was still quite a bit of heat and puffiness in the leg.

A few days later, the vet came back up and thought we should take her in for xrays as she was literally on three legs and could not move around her stable. The whole event was really upsetting for me because I just did not feel able to cope with another long period of box rest and the emotionally toil it takes on us. Thankfully, the xrays showed that the pedal bone was intact and the vet believed she had some severe bruising to the toe area.

Her shoe went back on two weeks ago and I could start riding her again after a few days of turnout. Since then, I have been working quite hard on getting her in front of the leg and working from behind rather than pulling me down. She has had a few issues with her mouth and been a little fussy in the contact, so she is now in a plain eggbutt JP snaffle which she seems more settled in and is allowing me to ride her more forwards into the contact.

This evening we had a little jump, and seeing as she has not jumped for over 13 months, she was absolutely brilliant. She knocked a few poles, but she quickly learned from her mistakes and by the end was jumping beautifully.

We have a Prelim booked in for Wednesday morning, it will be her second competition since coming back into work with her first one being at Cockshot a few weeks ago. I am just hoping she stays calm enough for me to ride her because occasionally she can be very hot headed and sensitive to the leg and whip.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A quick update on her ridden progress

I am sorry for the lack of Grace updates since her freedom, but things have been so hectic that I have been coming home and just collapsing on the sofa!

So, just a quick Grace update as I am supposed to be packing!Grace went over to Jo Wright-Graham's this morning for her 'holiday' (more like boot camp). I was completely stressed out trying to find the time to get everything done in time but somehow managed it. Grace was really chilled out in her stable, which doesn't sound a great achievment but Han was out in the field and she only shouted once. This time last year we would have had a complete screaming abdab and rearing up against the walls!!!

I put her brushing boots and over reach boots on before her travel boots because Jo said she would ride her for me when I got there. I then put her Maxwell halter on as the past few times she has been hesitating slightly which I think is down to the fact that for eight months she has been travelling to and from the vets only. But today there was no need for any pressure, she just wandered up the ramp with me and stood munching on the net while I tied her up even though Han was shouting for her (hmmm, naughty girlie).

As always, Grace travelled lovely and quietly and was as cool as a cucumber when we got to Jo's. I tacked her up and she was still being very sweet and not getting stressy at all. Jo jumped on board and just tested the water but she was soon working her really nicely and Grace just looked fab (que more tears welling up as I am trying to pretend it is rain!!!)

I watched her hinds the whole time and there was nothing at all. The only thing I have noticed is that she is not flexing them as much as I know she can do, but I think that is more down to lack of muscle than anything else and Jo has told me not to worry about it, it is something we will work on over time.Jo really liked her canter, but more than anything she said she has an extremely willing mind which is the best thing a horse can have in the dressage arena. She said she never once argued with her and took everything she threw at her, I felt so proud of my girl!

We gave her a quick rinse down and I left her tucked up in her pale blue Thermatex (she looked so pretty in it) with the strict instructions it must not be left on overnight to get covered in shavings. I left her tucking into a huge pile of hay and her Alfa A lunch. She looked as though she had been there forever, and other than a quick glance and gentle whicker as I drove the horsebox away, I don't even think she noticed I had gone. I cannot wait to see her in two weeks time, I think with the work she will be getting she will look a different horse

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Grace's life is slowly returning!

Over the past few weeks I think I have endured every emotion the human body can feel. The sheer elation at knowing Grace can start the trot work was soon replaced by anguish on the first evening we trotted. She felt like a coiled spring ready to explode at any time, but it felt great because was so full of life.

There have been several explosions which have been quite daunting, but I have managed to remain attached and just kept thinking forwards with her!

On Monday, the emotions were so mixed that I cannot begin to describe them. I could not believe that after almost eight months of box rest I could finally turn out Grace in a field to be a normal horse! However, there was a distinct feeling of dread too, not only regarding her reaction to freedom, but also how my other mare would react to sharing her field again.

Thankfully, after a few laps of the field the two girls seemed to settle well and up until last night there have been no fisticuffs between them. I think Grace tried to assert some authority last night, to which Hannah responded by ripping the rug clean off Grace’s back and chasing her mercilessly. Luckily, Grace has come away with a scratch on her shoulder where one of Hannah’s feet has skimmed the surface, but I know it could have been a lot worse. It was quite nerve wracking putting them both out this morning, but they seem to have resolved their differences now (fingers crossed).

As I have been following the surgeon’s advice to the letter, for the first few days of turnout I have let her have a reasonably easy existence. However, I then upped the trot work in each sessions (I have cut these down to 35 minutes from 45 minutes due to other commitments) and she is really starting to use her hind legs now. Because she has been a bit ‘stressy’ I have been keeping the handbrake on more than I should. So, this morning before work I decided to let the handbrake off and flick her hind legs up with my super dooper whip. At first she was just kicking out at the whip, but soon she started really picking her hinds up and worked really hard!

There is just a little glimmer of hope emerging.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Grace is back!

Well, it has been a very emotional and exhausting seven months, but we have finally come to the end of it!

On Tuesday morning, Grace and I went up to Hird’s for our 11am appointment. My very good friend Sue came with me for moral support (and to be a shoulder to cry on should the worst scenario become a reality), and for once in my life I actually set off on time!

I had been dreading the appointment all week, which culminated in me throwing my guts up on Tuesday morning through nerves, fear, dread and whatever else I was feeling. After everything I have been through with Grace, I think I expect the worst rather than hope for the best.

Grace loaded quietly as always and travelled perfectly. It still amazes me how well she travels after all the journeys she has made in pain or following surgery. I guess it shows what a genuine girl she really is!

The journey went well with only a small amount of traffic on the M62 following an accident and we got to Hird’s in perfect timing at 10.55am... again, another first, I was actually early!!!

As we arrived, one of the staff came out to tell us that there was a bit of a delay because a horse was having an emergency colic operation. Having been there myself, my thoughts went out to its owners, and we waited patiently while Peter performed the surgery. The staff plied us with cups of tea leaving Sue and I to devour the last of the new Digestive biscuits in the lorry (the ones with yoghurt on top... they are highly recommended).

Finally, after an hour and a half wait, it was Grace’s turn. I think the nerves by this point had hit screaming pitch. My hands were shaking as I undid her headcollar and put the bridle on, and Sue had to take her travel boots off because I had turned to jelly. Thankfully, one of the staff trotted her up for me on the flat because I do not think my legs would have carried me at this point.

Grace trotted up completely sound on the straight, but I did not take any comfort from this as she has always been sound in this situation. The moment of truth was yet to come; she would be put on the lunge and trotted in a circle. However, due to her ‘antics’ when being trotted up in hand, Peter decided to give her a small injection of ACP to take the edge off her.

The ACP worked pretty instantly and Grace seems to go under quite heavily with just a small amount. However, the member of staff put her out onto the lunge and no matter how hard I looked for it, both hocks were moving evenly! I still did not allow myself to breathe, as Peter had not said a word other than instructing the member of staff to change reins.

He put her on the left rein twice which set off alarm bells in my head... what was he seeing that I was not??? However, he turned around to me smiling said she was absolutely fine, looked great in fact, and that she no longer needed to come back to the practise!!!

Peter explained that she did look a bit stiff, but nothing else could be expected after seven months of box rest. I said I could see that and asked whether it was anything to be concerned about, to which he replied that it was not.

So, she is now walking for 45 minutes and having 12 long sides of trot incorporated into this for two weeks. After this, she is allowed to be turned out in a normal sized paddock which is fantastic news! However, the piece of news which just brought tears to my eyes is that once she starts the turnout, I have to let her go easy for a few days and then she is to be brought back into work over a 6 weeks period just like any other horse!!! He even encouraged me to work with a trainer towards the end of this period to make sure I am not backing off her, as I have to be very firm and make sure she engages her hind legs to ensure maximum healing. The scar tissue will still be tight at the moment, and we will hit some sticky bits, but he has assured me that there is no stopping her now!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ode to Sedalin!

After a long day competing, my lovely husband came up to the yard to meet me for some moral support... It was the first time in over 6 weeks (with 4 weeks complete box rest) that I had ridden Grace.

On Saturday I had walked her to the end of the yard and back a few times, and let's just say I was glad I was not sat on her!!! I have never seen a buck like it in all my life. Because of this, I decided Sedalin was the best way forwards to ensure I was safe, but more importantly that Grace did not cause any more damage to her legs after the operation.

I gave her 4ml as the vet had suggested, and 40 minutes later when I got on her she had heavy eyes and seemed to be quite out of it. I walked her into the arena, but as our feet touched the surface she came around abit, enough for me to feel happy getting on her.

She had a few spooks, but whereas that would have been an explosion of bucks, rears, spins and squealing, it was a small spook and nothing more. Thank goodness for Sedalin!

Tonight I am going to go it alone, but I am also going to give her 2ml as I still felt she was a bit too sedated at first... by the end she was coming around, so I think 2ml will just take the edge off her enough for me to walk her around for 20 minutes.

My husband couldn't stop laughing at me because I was blubbering all the way around I never thought we would get back to this stage, and Grace felt so fantastic, I had forgotten just how beautiful her walk is!!! The bounce and ping just made me realise how determined I am to get her back in work and out there competing! She is such a natural mover, and I know she has so much more yet to offer.