The eventing season got underway this weekend with me still no clearer on when this season I will be joining the fun. I see the consultant next Monday so guess I will learn more then. The course pictures are back up and running again with pictures from 3 of the courses at Isleham now live on site.
The weekend wasn’t totally wasted as we popped up to Vauterhill Stud to look at some TB stallions that are standing there. We had been aiming to go for a few weekends now but each time the forecast had been bad. This time early in the week the forecast for Sunday was good so the visit was arranged. Guess what? Not difficult it tipped it down the whole time we were there. We may have put it of until another week but as we were combining it with a visit to a relative we soldered on.
Vauterhill stud stands 6 TB stallions, most of which had the qualities we are looking for i.e. tough and sound with a good stride that will compliment Sarnie well.
We definitely have food for though and a couple very high on the shortlist. We are off to Aldon in a few weeks to see Sula Blue who is an advanced eventing TB stallion. Too be honest the choice is so vast I don’t think there is a right and wrong answer and at the end of the day whatever I do the outcome if going to mainly come down to luck!
A big thank you to everyone who voted we won the peoples choice (decided totally by votes) for best use of social media by an amateur rider. We were runner up in the section that was decided by judges which was disappointing as this section came with the Portugal holiday! I find it frustrating the judging is not a bit more transparent as would be lovely to know how I can improve more.
Don’t forget to keep your eye on other areas of the site. The course pictures should be coming in again this weekend, we now have dressage tests for you to see being ridden in the dressage tests area and I am adding articles in the ‘Tips, articles and training section’
Talking of which I have just loaded up an article explaining the importance of hydration for the rider. This is often something we forget about, I know I do! Hydration can really affect performance and mood. Read more here
I thought this weekend was going to be even more boring than expected as when I fetched Pip in last night she she left a shoe in the field. Testament to my farriers from Equine Foot Care that this is the first she has lost for nearly 2 years. The other advantage I have is the stables are right next to the forge, a fact I try not take advantage of, but on this occasion I was able to get the shoe popped back on and my weekend was saved!
Well I clearly have to accept at this point a dressage test is beyond me however,
I don’t need my bum in the saddle to pop some jumps and having got thoroughly bored
just hacking decided today was time for a pop! Pip was equally pleased to be back
doing something a bit more than plodding round the lanes and was jumping very neatly,
whilst my position was not perfect (well it never has been) it didn’t feel too bad.
So don’t think a jump will hurt us occasionally and maybe even a round of BS or a
I am booked in to see a local Osteopath on Monday morning as currently it is the stiffness in my back that is causing more problems than the pain in my hip. I have being exercising in the pool 6 days this week, been using the Arc Equine, doing Jon Pitts exercises on the ball and my physio exercises so hopefully not missing anything out! Might enquire whether acupuncture is worth a try then think I probably will have tried everything! Then again forgot to mention the Bowen treatment on Wednesday! Good job I am not competing at the moment as throwing everything at me! Wonder if BUPA would like to sponsor me!!
I am really pleased with how well Sarnie is looking after her winter out. I did relent and she has had 10 days in during this spell of particularly stormy weather. She has dropped a bit of weight under the coat but considering she should get some spring grass in a month or so she is about how I want her.
She went out again yesterday and tonight when I went out to check her (in the rain) there was a very hopeful look that she could come back in that nice warm stable again?? Sadly she was disappointed!
Hopefully over the next few weeks we will start looking at potential husbands. Still no clear favourites other than it must be a TB.
On my recovery it has been a bit of an up and down week. I had felt the pain in my hip was easing but yesterday I stuck the dressage saddle on (which always has been harder) and was in a lot of pain again. Also I have been finding (probably as a compensation mechanism) my back keeps seizing up too.
I am still determined to continue doing everything I can to get back to full fitness. However I am also having to consider that it might not be as easy as I think. It may be sad but everything I do revolves around competing and eventing. I work in order to earn the money and every bit of spare time is spent preparing, working, improving towards that end. If in the short term (determined it can’t be more that) I can’t do these things then I am not sure what I will or can do. Better make sure I don’t get too fat or I will never get back!!
At present there is no way I could ride a dressage test although I could jump a round of show jumps maybe in not such a good style as usual. Still determined to go to Ireland and find a horse, but the temperament will be very important and if it has to live in the field for a bit of this year so be it! Sadly I suspect Pip will have to be sold at some point,whilst her temperament is excellent her size and movement is not helping my problems. I rode a friends smaller horse with less elevated movement this week and certainly it was a lot easier for my body to cope.
I am still hoping that all the work I am doing, physio, Arcequine etc will mean I can fully recover without more operations. However I see the consultant now in 3 weeks so that is really going to be when I have an idea of what is going on. I could cope far better if I had a realistic idea of how complete my recovery should be and if it doesn’t happen what the alternatives and time scales are! Patience isn’t my strong point!
Yesterday I spent the morning dressage judging something I am starting to do more and more. To date I have not been lynched and I seem to be getting asked for my services by more and more riding clubs and show centres.
I am very lucky because it always reminds me of the basics and areas where I throw away marks. I would recommend that everyone who is interested in improving their dressage marks write for a judge at least once to give a perspective on what they are looking for. Yesterday it probably wasn’t the flashiest test that won but it was the one that had the best shape of movements and was accurate to the markers where as some tests that could of scored better threw away marks for lacking accuracy.
For me the following things are important:-
I put a post on Facebook about this subject and a few more tips were added
Now I have to make sure I practice what I preach as most of the mistakes above can be commonly found in my tests!
I didn’t think I would still be talking about the terrible storms that appear to be coming wave after wave. My thoughts go out to the fishermen, farmers and all the householders affected by this terrible spell of weather. It certainly puts my worries into perspective.
I don’t like to get my hopes up too quickly but I started riding again on Sunday
and things do seem to have improved. My balance is slightly better but more importantly
the pain is less than it was. I have promised myself 2 weeks of hacking to really
allow time for my riding muscles to get working and to assess what the pain levels
are like. I have added an essential bit of kit to my riding particularly considering
the weather -
I still have Aldon in mid March roughly on the agenda but that may prove an event too soon. Will need to make up my mind by the 21st Feb (ballot date) on that one. With the current weather it won’t be the end of the world to leave it a bit later.
So with the dreadful storms that has been battering the South West and the totally sodden fields I finally gave in this week and brought Sarnie in.
She is extremely smug and enjoying being queen of the yard again. I am really pleased with how she is condition wise considering the weather and the fact that she has not had any hard feed this winter, she is looking v good.
She will stay in now until the worst of the storms have cleared which may be another week yet. As far as Sarnie is concerned it can take as long as it wants.
6th February -
Readers may or may not of heard of Arc Equine, it has been on my radar for a year or more as a piece of kit that is starting to show some real results in the healing of conditions like tendon injuries. I posted a fairly despondent post on Facebook about my hip and my worries as to whether it would ever come right. A friend asked if I had considered Arc Equine? My first reaction was clearly not as it is for horses! I then proceeded to do some research.
But first what is Arc Equine?
Taken from their website
Arc Equine is a drug free, non-
Sounds wonderful but at present there are no scientific papers or veterinary evidence that supports the use of this technology. (I am told there is something pending) Whilst it is described as affordable at over £400 it is still a lot of money! So why take it seriously?
There is a post on Horse and Hound Forum (post) which has 250 responses the majority of which are very positive, a few negative cases of white hairs and minor reactions when used but lots of success stories of humans and horses.
I then used Twitter and Facebook to ask people of experiences, (FB thread) and was overwhelmed with the response. As well as people replying in open forums I had messages from Kitty King, Francis Whittington and Anthony Clark all of whom have used the machine on themselves with high levels of success. I was shown x rays of broken bones that healed in record time, spoke to people that had had similar injuries to me and just heard from a wide range of people how effective the treatment had been. With testimonials from so many people I respect I felt I had to give the technology a go.
I had a long chat with Ian Thirkell the creator of the technology and was really enthused by what I heard. The range of issues it can have an effect on are huge and the way I feel about my recovery it was worth the gamble that it could help me. How can I afford it on Shoestring? Well we all know there is a small budget for a second horse, well if I am unable to ride there will not be a second horse! Hence I decided to purchase the unit and if it does help the budget will be even smaller for the Sarnie replacement (I hope the bargains in Ireland are as good as they say!)
The unit arrived last Tuesday. I have spoken with Ian and been advised what programmes to use and now wear the unit every night on a 6 hour cycle. This I will be doing for 3 weeks before we change the programmes slightly. It takes time to work and some people evidently respond quicker than others. It is likely I will be using for at least 3 months.
Having chatted with Ian I have also decided to try it on Pip as well. She can be a bit of a worrier and it can really help reduce stress levels so thought it was worth a whirl. Also very beneficial for day to day maintenance and post cross country to reduce levels of lactic acid. We might as well both benefit!
A week in it is far too early to say if this is helping. One quite interesting thing though was a really bad burn I had on my finger which was open, painful and sore healed up remarkably quickly once I started using the Arc Equine. At the end of the day with a condition like mine I am never going to be able to say beyond all doubt that it has worked for me, however from the evidence I have seen and heard this can only be positive in aiding my recovery.
2nd February -
As mentioned in my post below I this week had a session with Jon Pitts via a Skype link discussing how I could improve my riding. So who is Jon Pitts and what does he do? This is taken from his website (Fit to Ride)
Jon Pitts, who has spent years researching and working with riders from grass roots level upwards to understand how the human body impacts the horses performance. Fit to Ride looks at and provides a clearer understanding of the skill of horse riding using modern techniques and language so riders can improve their safety, confidence and performance whilst riding. Fit to Ride equips riders with the mental and physical tools they need to become the rider they want to be.”
I always research people or products before getting involved and I had long been aware of the ways that Jon can help riders improve their posture, balance and performance and thus competition results. With my recent operation and subsequent falls out hacking I feel it is really key to improve on my balance, posture and stability and hope Jon can help me do this.
We had our first session on Wednesday when I discussed my situation and where I felt I was currently am and where I want to be. It was really interesting to learn as well as being left and right handed we are usually left and right footed. I immediately said I was right footed as when I used to mess around with a football that was always the leg I kicked it with. However this means I am stronger naturally on my left foot as this is the one stabilising the body when I kick the ball. This also relates to the fact we nearly all sit more heavily on one seat bone.
So the plan of action for the moment is to start doing exercises using the gym ball. This involves sitting on the ball and moving the ball forward and back, side to side, round in circles etc using the pelvis to move yet keeping the upper body still. This will in time improve my independent seat and balance on the horse. To start with this is done with my feet on the floor in time I need to be able to do this with no contact with the floor! (Think I had better get a padded room sorted!)
Jon has a very good video on his website showing these exercises (Link Here)
The next stage is for me to really analyse what is happening when I am on the horse. I need to spend some time out hacking to assess where my weight is and what my hands and legs are doing. In theory the horse should walk in a straight line in response to even body weight, but I need to be conscious of what my aids are doing to keep the horse straight. Also to try riding without stirrups and see how taking my legs out of the equation changes things.
I will be reporting back to Jon in a few weeks where we can consider how to move on. I am hoping I can arrange a mounted session with Jon and fingers crossed he is coming down to Cornwall in March. I will update on progress.
30th January -
Things are very frustrating at the moment and I an slowly having to face facts. I had a dressage lesson with Robert Pickles and whilst it wasn’t terrible my balance was still slightly off meaning my lower leg is moving back and thus my centre of balance is tipping forward. I’m therefore not being effective with my aids and it is not fair to Pip. Whilst it is quite subtle I know I am a little way off where I want and need to be. Interestingly I struggle more with dressage than jumping.
To be fair I am still only just over 3 weeks post my operation and still hopefully can get back to a level I need to be without further operations. For the moment I have decided to have a week away from riding and then just a couple of weeks hacking. This means we won’t be ready for our planned first event of the season at Moreton although if this weather keeps up who knows if there will be much eventing early on. I will for the moment be loosely aiming at Aldon in mid March and as I have a trip to Ireland planned just after this horse hunting I do need to be fitter and stronger by then.
In the meantime I intend to be working very hard to get fit with the following already in progress and to be continued
I am determined to get back to be a fit and effective rider although within the limitations my hip and ankle set me. So no competitions reports for a few more weeks but plenty on my struggle to get fit, strong and supple.
I will tell you more about my chat with Jon Pitts in my next blog but he was encouraging and said the average age of equestrian gold medallists is 41 and although he can’t promise getting me to medal contention I mustn’t consider my age a barrier. He is confident with time, awareness and appropriate riding exercises I will be able to recapture my previous level of riding. Watch this space!
I don’t like my blogs to sound too similar but I could start off with exactly the same phrase as my last one. “Managed to fall off yesterday which wasn’t too clever” This time at least I landed on my feet albeit I wrenched my arm quite badly making sure I held onto her. Don’t know if I have just been a bit unlucky or that I am a bit weaker in the saddle and less strong in the leg and seat. Whatever I need to keep riding to get stronger so I am hoping that is my falling off done for a bit!
Luckily I had Pip being treated by Dr Dave Siemens (chiropractor) tonight, as he started off treating humans and indeed worked at the 84 Olympics he was the perfect person to get me straight again. My sore neck is not almost normal and he has also greatly increased the range of motion in my hip which is a big help. He makes regular visits to Cornwall if anyone is interested see his website. He has made a huge difference to Pip as well.
Managed to fall off yesterday which wasn’t too clever. Just one of those thing me probably not concentrating, Pip seeing a horse eating monster in the hedge and I ended up sat on the tarmac. Don’t think I will tell the doctor or physio! The main thing was landed on the other side so no harm done and seemed to bounce well enough. Saying that a little stiff this morning! Pip took herself home luckily we weren’t far away and on a quiet road and she arrived safely.
Wednesday saw me as a fish out of water in London. I am a member of the Zoo Expert Committee that advise Government on zoo policy. This is a result of the work I do with zoos in Cornwall administering the licenses. Anyway we meet 3 times a year and London is always an eye opener for me. I enjoy seeing a different side of things but I am sure I would really struggle to live or work in London.
Things that really strike me on my visits to London
All in all was quite glad to get home again!
You will see from the link above we have been nominated again for the Equestrian Social Media Awards. I really would appreciate anyone that reads and enjoys Shoestring Eventing to take a few moments to vote for us. There is two awards in each category now and one award is decided on votes alone. If you can also get friends and family voting all the better!
Yesterday we made the nearly 3 hour trek to Nathaniel Underwood’s yard to have the saddles checked. It seems a long way to go but is worth it as his attention to detail and how the saddles can affect the performance is second to none. I think I got on and off about 15 times as he checked and made minor adjustments.
Interestingly I was always was under the impression with a good fitting saddle you don’t need to use a pad. He has advised me to use a pad to help reduce concussion and spread the impact of landing from a fence out more evenly. The way the saddles are fitted there is room for such a pad without making the saddle tight.
With a hefty dose of painkiller I managed the riding and on and off not too badly. I have to say though I am feeling it today.
Following a positive post last time this isn’t so cheerful. Firstly we were not considered good enough to try out for the CIC** team which I had applied to be part of. Really been a bit of a goal for the early part of this year but clearly need to accept we didn’t make it. If we had a fantastic season we could give them a nudge so you never know.
The fantastic season seems a little way away at the moment. Struggling to find a second horse and I think even with a budget 3 times what I have got I may be struggling. Following my operation my mobility is good but the same old riding pain in my groin is still there and at the moment worse. Clearly it is far too early to say the operation hasn’t worked and I need to work hard on my exercises and rehab. So my gut is quite negative regarding the outcome but my head says I need to wait a month 6 weeks to really give it a chance.
Anyway it has been a bit of a resolution in 2014 to be more positive so I am trying not to let things get me down and still planning for the season ahead. At worst I just need to find some v effective painkillers!
So far so good on the recovery front. I had my first amble round the block on Pip today. Mounting was no problem and riding was no more uncomfortable than normal, I am hoping this will ease but that is the big question. I will be taking it slowly but things are moving in the right direction.
In the meantime I have been working on my website. You may notice some new tabs at the top? I have added a database of dressage tests being ridden so people can get an idea of what the tests look like in an arena. In time I want to coverall the BE / BD / RC and PC tests. You can see at the moment there are quite a few missing particularly on the PC / RC pages. If anyone does have a video of any missing test being ridden (for a good score) please get in contact.
I have also added a section with a variety of Tips, Training exercises and general articles all with a Shoestring theme. This will build up and develop in time but you should be able to see how it will work. It has started off with a few jumping exercises, an article on looking for sponsors, a bit about my working life, a link to an article I wrote about Goresbridge sales and a piece about a horse simulator. Again if there is anything you would particularly like to see do get in contact and let me know. I am always very happy to hear from my Shoestring followers via the contact me page, email, Twitter or Facebook.
Not the blog I was expecting to write, particularly reading the post below. The weather as we all know has been dreadful meaning v little can be done, even the indoor SJ on Sunday was cancelled. However events took an unexpected turn on Tuesday with a phone call at 8.30 in the morning. It was the consultants secretary to say two people had pulled out of Mr Norton’s operating schedule that morning and if I wanted to make my way to Hayle hospital I could have the keyhole operation (Hip Arthroscopy). Whilst I knew it might be short notice that was even shorter than I expected.
There came a mad hour where I phoned work, arranged for the horses to be looked after, found a kind friend to ferry me to hospital and finished arranging a clinic I was organising. Packed a case jumped in the shower and an hour later I was there.
I was taken down to theatre at 2pm and was back on ward at about 4pm. Sadly my consultant had to rush off after the operation and I only had a groggy conversation with the anaesthetist. He reported that they had removed quite a big bone spur and tidied up some cartilage damage.
I had a good sleep and then even managed to escape without a night in the hospital. I was discharged at 8pm so less than 12 hours after I had the initial phone call inviting me in (Good job I am not a breakfast person!)
I am pleased to report writing this 48 hours later I am mobile without crutches,
the joint is stiff but functioning. I am not taking painkillers and there is very
little pain except from the wound. I am religiously following the physio’s exercises
in order to get it fully mobile. I was told originally I could ride in 2-
I don’t now see the consultant now for 2 months although I think by then I should have a good idea of the success or otherwise.
Not sure if it was a good omen or bad but new year was certainly spectacular. As per my custom I was in bed on New Years Eve by 10pm and asleep as midnight arrived. However on the stroke of midnight I was woken by a huge thunder storm overhead with thunder and lightening that tripped our electrics. Poor Daisy dog was terrified! I am just hoping it is a not a indication of the year to come.
I am struggling to really plan out the next 3 months riding, training and competing wise. There are some good training opportunities and competitions coming up but I am loath to enter anything too far in advance as I am waiting to hear when my operation will be. At the latest it should be mid March but I am hoping as I am on the cancellation list it will be sooner rather than later. Hoping we can go show jumping on Sunday but the forecast is not looking good.
in position again to really get her hind legs active.