Hello again! I’ve deliberately kept things a quiet lately with this series. The hunting season ended in March and we’ve been ticking over ever since really. Instead of turning him away for the summer the plan was to keep him ticking over with just hacking for a few weeks and then start on some flatwork, get him understanding some basic schooling. Nothing major, just some flipping contact and cornering for starters! A few fun rides if we could fit them in around my own program of photographing fun rides for the events themselves!
So here’s the update…
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So we had the saddle sorted as you might recall from the last blog , actually we had it sorted again as the original saddle wasn’t quite right, so we tweaked models and went again. That was a couple of months ago and all is well in the back world. Hoorah!
Things went a little off kilter in April as Tony sold Hugo.
It was always on the cards as it was time for him to find another youngster and start again. That’s something Tony really enjoys doing. Sad as I loved Hugo but he was the right age to move on as he heads towards the prime of his life. He’s now in the Cotswolds having been bought by one of the Hunts. Hopefully we’ll see his mug in Horse & Hound in future seasons.
I was somewhat worried about how Tiny would cope with Hugo going as he was seriously attached to Hugo. We had all kinds of antics in the stable the morning Hugo left at first. Racehorses, especially ones like Tiny who have only really been in large training yards, rarely find themselves in a solo situation. So for Tiny when he first came to us, he was quick to ‘need’ Hugo really. After Hugo left we had to adapt a few things and had arranged with friends for a horse to be available for us if we needed him to have some company. However he settled really surprisingly and seems quite comfortable with life on his own. Our situation was helped when a family member horse was temporarily at the farm too in another field. I think being able to see another horse was enough for Tiny.
His solo life was short lived though as Tony found a new horse and Moose came home recently. He’s a big, unfurnished 4 year old Irish boy, broken but fresh over on the boat from Ireland. Ready to continue his education. At the time of writing Moose has been with us for a week, has hacked out with Tiny a few times and solo too. So far so good. We’ve kept them apart though from a field and stabling aspect as it’s good management to give freshly imported horses a bit of space, just in case they’ve brought over a bit of a cough etc. Moose seems fine though so I’m sure it won’t be long before proper contact between the two is made. Hopefully Tiny won’t bond with Moose in quite the same way he did with Hugo. So far he seems quite content that they are in separate fields and get split up after their hacks together. That was never the case with Hugo, so hopefully there’s been a bit of a breakthrough on that front.
I won’t hold my breath though!
AND it has to be said he’s a lot spookier now he’s on his own. Not with traffic, but if a bluebell sways too much it’s a serious issue for him. Obviously spring grass is having an impact on many horses at the moment too, so that’s not been helping either. I’m not wishing the summer away, but oh for the sugary delights of new season grass to wain and the prospect of shoulder shuddering to stop. Last week a sheep happened to be in a gate way. A gate way we hack past most days. A gate way that frequently has sheep staring or bleeting through. That day that sheep was clearly from Jupiter in Tinys tiny mind!!!
So, back to the summer plan.
After hacking for a couple of months I wanted him to start basic school work. Before embarking on that and finding issues that might be physically blocking things in some way I called in an equine physio Rebecca Wyatt from RW Physio based in Poole. Rebecca, who is a member of ACPAT (Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy), came highly recommended by one of my portrait clients and Maxine our saddle fitter. I’d been following Rebecca for some time on social media anyway so it was really great to get that extra double word of mouth recommendation to go alongside what I’d been seeing on the internet!
At our initial assessment we discussed plans for Tiny and his past, as best as I could fill in his gaps. With no known problems it was a blank canvas situation really, just to make sure he was physically able to go on to do the things I’d got plans. I’ve never wanted to suddenly become a dressage rider, or jump a large SJ track, I just wanted him straight for the summer ahead. After some initial observations on Tinys conformation and movement Rebecca started to explain her findings. It was seriously interesting. I was already aware from the saddle fitting that Tiny has a short back, quite how short was explained further. Also how his structure may affect his way of going, and how his life as a racehorse will have affected him physically compared to other horses. There’s nothing adversely wrong with him, hes a bit one sided, and he may struggle with some aspects of schooling due to the limited space he has behind the saddle and before the point of his hip. I mean, he was never destined to be the next Valegro, but knowing this kind of information upfront is really helpful.
Rebecca gave us some exercises to help with some areas where he is a bit tight and he’s pretty good at them so far. To be fair, if there’s food involved he’ll do many things in life.
Which reminds me, we’ve nailed mounted gate opening and shutting now – generally thanks to a bit of cow parsley…
So, we are ready to move forward. Well we were, but we are currently on Nanny hacking duties with Moose, so actually heading to a school has been put back slightly. He doesn’t know this yet, but these buttercups he’s in the middle of, he’s going to have to learn some lunge moves in amongst them now….
Wonder if he’s ever been on a lunge line since he was broken as a yearling??!
Suck it up buttercup, you are about to discover it…
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With love from me and The Orange One, see you next time!
If you missed the first part of this series and you’d love to discover more, then head to Back in the Saddle – Part 1 for the original instalment…