Turning The Corner by Laura Paine

Scarlet and I are now hacking out semi-properly at last! It would be more proper if my mum wasn’t still escorting us clutching the lead rein, which I occasionally squeak at her to attach if things get a bit...exciting. I’m so relieved Scarlet is a) staying sound and b) being less and less of a lunatic each week. Ithink the increasing workload is helping her sanity levels, but I’m 95% confident that the biggest factor is putting her on a bucket load of valerian. She gets two scoops in each feed and it’s worked wonders! She no longer has that crazed look in her eye, and she’s becoming more like the old Scarlet - fresh and forward and a joy to ride. We’ve even managed a couple of short canters! Valerian isn’t competition legal, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it...


You’ve probably noticed that the sun has made an appearance at long last, which is helping to dry the fields out. Sadly, because we’re at the foot of the South Downs, the ground is clay, so the mud is absolutely disgusting, and as it dries out, you lose horse shoes, wellies and small children if you try and go through it. Scarlet is quite the mud lark, so she launches into the mud and ploughs through it, while Mum brings up the rear, squeaking in dismay as the mud pours over the top of her wellies. I should take a moment to say I’m hugely grateful to my mother for accompanying me on on my hacks with my naughty pony, I don’t know what I’d do without her! Need to get her a nice, reliable cob really so she doesn’t have to walk everywhere - she refuses to ride Scarlet since she got bucked off and went to A&E in the back of an ambulance…


I’m absolutely thrilled to bits that after the weeks and weeks of horrors and miseries when Scarlet was being an utter monster, we are now back on track, and we’re even beginning to plan her first outing. I was hoping we’d make it to Firle hunter trials at the end of March, but because we don’t have transport, it’ll be impossible to get her out and about beforehand, and I don’t think it’s wise for our first outing since November 2012 to be at a very popular hunter trials! We need to get out to some low key clinics and clear rounds before we let her loose on a cross country course.


Speaking of horrors and miseries, Holly’s pony Blue has come back from his year at a riding school. He can be spectacularly naughty if he thinks he can get away with it (he bucked her off on her birthday a few years ago… I’m not saying it was deliberate or anything, but I’m pretty sure he was smirking) but very handsome, with an impressive beard and moustache and paces to die for. So if anyone wants to buy or loan a 13.2 gypsy cob, Blue is very much on the market. Comet is worried he has been usurped, but he’s definitely still everyone’s favourite simply because he’s so gosh darn adorable.

The Dragonfly team headed off to BETA International a few weeks ago, which is always such an exciting show to go to. We get to see the new products coming out in the next 12 months and I try out as many saddles as I can, while Holly scopes out the breeches and Mum goes dotty for the rugs. It’s nice to have a hobby! We love the fashion show, where the models parade around in their breeches and boots, keeping admirably straight faced while the audience sniggers, depsite secretly wishing they looked like that in their horsey gear. Kudos to Airowear for winning the innovation prize for their new body protector, the Hickstead - it’s designed to be as discreet as possible, so people who are a bit embarrassed to be seen wearing a body protector should definitely check this out!


Hope you are all enjoying the sun, and finally reaping the rewards of struggling through the wettest, most miserable winter known to man - we all deserve medals!


Written by Laura Paine of DRAGONFLY SADDLERY

Feeling A Bit Too Well! by Laura Paine

I haven’t blogged since before Christmas – the abysmal weather coupled with the behaviour of the subject of my posts have been too depressing – so this means you're in for a long, rambly post!

Scarlet has been back in work since the new year, with her abscess finally all cleared up and her hock pronounced as healing well by the vet. Unfortunately any brain cells that were desperately clinging on in the vast chasm of her stupid empty head have gone on holiday for the winter, and don’t seem to be in any hurry to come back. She’s been an absolute monster. I’m not unreasonable, I understand and appreciate that she’s been out of work for a year and with the vile weather her turnout is limited to a weekly hoolie round an incredibly muddy paddock, so of course she’s entitled to a few high jinks when she’s out and about.




Her behaviour is not limited to a few high jinks. Her spirits aren't so much so 'high' as 'stratospheric'. The frustrating thing is that often we can be halfway through a ride and she’ll suddenly go bananas, with no warning whatsoever. Maybe she’ll see a bird flying in the distance, or a dog walker, or, heaven forbid, another horse out in the lane. I can cope with her silliness, the odd spook and head toss, etc., but I can’t cope with her utter hysteria at these times. It’s like she just loses the plot, and there’s no reasoning with her. After maybe five to twenty minutes of turning herself inside out (which usually involves standing up, bucking, piaffe, pawing the ground, reversing, chucking her head so high she clonks me on the nose) she’ll calm down and hack home quiet as a lamb (sort of, depends on the lamb in question, really). For a while I was riding out with my mum walking with us, clutching a lead rein just in case – if I come off, the last thing we want is for Scarlet to be haring down the lane minus any humans. But as of last weekend, I’ve decided she’s just too terrifying to ride at the moment. So we’re long reining lots, and waiting for the fields to dry out so she can get some proper turnout and work off some steam. It’s going to be a bloody long wait, but she’s a danger at the moment when she goes bonkers.

Not that long reining is much safer, to be honest. She still throws her huge strops, but it’s preferable to on the ground than in the saddle when she does. And it is cheering, in an odd way, that she’ll go nuts regardless of whether she’s under saddle, ie. it’s not my electric bottom that winds her up. Last weekend was a classic example of her completely losing her head and being a danger (although it wasn’t her fault, honest…) We long reined her down a private lane up to a livery yard, which runs between two 5ish acre fields and is topped and tailed by cattle grids. The fields are unfenced where they border the lane, so in the good old days I would school her at the livery yard and give her a canter home along the edge of the field as a reward (she was always good as gold…*sob*). Anyway, we had done the gate at the first cattle grid and were nearing the second, and she was behaving herself despite the wind, when an Asda van came hurtling down the lane towards us, approaching the cattle grid. I was at the front leading her, with Mum at the back holding the long reins, and we both put up our hands to ask the driver to slow right down. We were also decked out in high vis, so he definitely saw us. He zoomed down and whizzed over the cattle grid, making a godawful racket, and Scarlet whipped round and tore off in the opposite direction, with us hanging on to the long reins. She was forced to stop by us hanging on, but of course she didn’t just stand still – she tied herself up in knots by jumping up and down, doing handstands and cartwheels. This frightened her even more, and she wrenched the reins out of our hands, and set off at a gallop down the lane, heading straight for the first cattle grid.


Mum sprinted off across the field hoping to cut her off (fat chance, she’s a Thoroughbred), while I dashed off down the lane (was I hoping my stumpy legs would somehow catch up with her?!). The Asda driver had slammed his brakes on as soon as Scarlet whipped round, and was nervously crawling along the lane behind us. All that was flashing through my mind was, oh my god she’s going to try and jump the cattle grid, she’ll break a leg and have to be put down, and I haven't even paid off her last vet bill yet. (I didn't really think that.) I waved furiously at the van driver, gesturing for him to drive up, which he did, and I threw myself in his van, screeching at him to drive me up until I said otherwise, and possibly threw in a few choice insults and threats at the same time – he certainly put his foot down anyway. When we got round the corner in view of the cattle grid I saw to my immense relief that Scarlet had roused a few of those MIA brain cells and had halted at it. The long reins and lead rein were tangled round her legs, so I have no idea how she didn’t go crashing to the ground when she bolted – my shoelaces only have to be undone for a second before I’m flat on my face. I shrieked at the driver to stop, threw myself out of the van and jogged towards Scarlet, trying to keep my voice friendly and approachable (pretty sure I didn’t achieve it). Bless her, she tripped her way towards me, just as Mum came hurtling down the hill, looking as shocked and terrified as I felt. We untangled her and checked her over, and thankfully she was fine, no cuts or lameness. The traumatised van driver was still glued to the spot (I think I bellowed DON’T BLOODY MOVE at him as I departed his passenger seat) and we crept past him and continued with our walk. I gave him a nod as we went past, to show that I wasn’t going to murder him and the horse was OK. He wiped his sweaty brow and drove off, considerably more slowly than before!


I’m thinking quite hard about getting something else, because if she carries on being a lunatic I won’t be able to do much with her, she’ll have to be retired (which she would LOVE). Fingers crossed that it’s just a combination of being confined to a stable for the best part of a year plus next to no turnout plus appalling weather which is making her loopy, because she has way too much talent and heart to be cast aside. It's just odd that she's only now decided to be crazy – why not two months ago or six months ago? Was there some kind of trigger, or has she just reached her limits of sanity? I've just started her on a valerian based supplement, so I’m hoping that will help take the edge off. She’s always been a bit of a loon, but in a manageable way – when she goes nuts now there’s nothing I can do as a rider to stop it, and that’s really scary. In the meantime, I guess I'll have to start training young Comet up to be my new event horse – he's in his twenties and stands approximately 32" high, but he does love a party…

If anyone has any similar experiences, please do share them with me!


Written by Laura Paine of Dragonfly Saddlery

Is 2013 Over Yet? By Laura Paine

My poor pony is lame again. Rode her on Saturday, she felt fine, got back to the yard to untack and she stood there holding her near hind up as if it had broken. In my usual cool, calm, capable way I immediately hit the panic button and rang my mum, instructing her to drop everything (running the shop two Saturdays before Christmas) and get to the yard immediately. I whipped the tack off, threw a cooler over her and began probing her hock and trying to find any heat or swelling in her leg. Mum then turned up, and agreed that there was none to be found. Poor Scarlet was still dangling her leg at us in a very pitiful way, and it occurred to us that the last time she did that (not including when she was kicked so hard her tendon nearly severed and part of the joint fractured) it was because of an abscess in the same foot. We wondered if the reason she was so acutely lame now when she’d been fine an hour before was because the ride had stimulated blood flow, causing a build-up of pressure (I know right, I could be a vet).


I called the emergency vet, trying not to think about my poor bank account, because even though we can treat an abscess at home with hot tubbing and poulticing, the pus first needs an exit route, which only the farrier or vet can create unless it bursts. Kat duly appeared an hour later, with an expression of pity and resignation on her face. I think I’ve had to call them out to see Scarlet outside of office hours on at least six separate occasions in the last 12 months, due to colic, kicks and abscesses. That seems rather higher than it should be.


Scarlet is now a bit of a pro at being a patient, and stood nice and quietly for Kat to inspect her foot. Well, there was some dancing about while Kat removed the shoe, but on the whole she was very good. Kat pointed out where the hole from the abscess in August/September is still growing over, and pondered whether the infection had not been eradicated entirely last time as hoped. A good lot of pus came out of the enlarged hole that Kat created, and she was rather gloomy as she showed me how the abscess had tracked a long way into the hoof. She said if in a month or so the abscess comes back again, the hoof will have to have some serious excavation, and that will not be good news for either my pocket or for Scarlet’s recovery time.


It’s been nearly a year since Scarlet was kicked, and it’s been a catalogue of disasters for her. Two serious operations, colic, abscesses, stiffness from prolonged box rest – she’s really been through the mill, and yes, cost me an absolute fortune, and I still don’t have a sound horse to show for it. I’m tempted to rough her off and give her six months out in the field, but she has a tendency to go a bit feral when she’s out 24/7, and knowing her, she’d inflict some hideous injury on herself if left to her own devices in a field.


So for now, it’s back to hot tubbing, poulticing, iodine and sugar pasting, and endless hours of mucking out and filling haynets, while mournfully reading all the #twittereventing updates from people going out to do clinics, BSJA (can’t get used to calling it BS...), BD and going for lengthy hacks. Once again, Scarlet and I are housebound, with no chance of getting out and about any time soon. To say I’m feeling dispirited would be an understatement.


Luckily the saddlery is getting very busy at the weekends, which keeps me distracted, and there’ll be a lot of boots, coats, rugs and bridles getting unwrapped on Christmas Day! Probably the biggest seller has been the Cavallo Abbey quilted jacket, which has proven to be very popular amongst mums and instructors, who do a lot of standing around getting cold during lessons and competitions. This jacket is super warm and it’s knee length, so it keeps legs and bums warm too.


As I write, rain is pelting against the windows, which explains the surge in waterproof exercise sheets! The Equisafety Polite sheet is doing well, and ensures your horse will be seen even on those dark winter afternoons, and the Horseware Rhino competition sheet is being snapped up by those hardy riders who compete and have to warm up in the cold and wet.


Stocking presents are doing well, particularly the Mountain Horse Orbit Headband, which fits under riding hats, saving ears from being blasted by wind and rain. Personally I’m loving the Mark Todd neck warmer, which stops the wind finding any gaps and whistling right through to my bones – and it’s less than a fiver! Totes a bargain.


If Scarlet had been out and about this year, she would be unwrapping a new set of Professional Choice boots this Christmas, but she hasn’t, so instead she’ll get a lump of coal. Just kidding, she’ll get a Likit Boredom Breaker, so she’ll hopefully refrain from chewing her ancient stable down to matchsticks. I’ve got this Prestige jumping saddle on my Christmas list, but I’m not feeling too hopeful – Father Christmas tends to ignore my saddle requests. Comet will get an Uncle Jimmy’s Hanging Ball (sugar free, obvs), which is about the same size as his head and will keep him occupied until next Christmas. He’s been the perfect companion for young Scarlet this year – low maintenance, not interested in Scarlet’s brave attempts at flirting with him (despite the fact that she’s literally twice his size, at 16hh to his 8hh) and cute as a button.


Thank you for enduring my endless blogs about my Scarlet related dramas, I hope they’ve been vaguely interesting! I’m really hoping that 2014 will be more successful than 2013, and I look forward to another year’s blogging. Have a very merry, pony-filled Christmas, and see you in the New Year!


Written by Laura Paine of Dragonfly Saddlery 

Calming Advice Needed by Laura Paine

My horse is a monster. Does anyone want to swap? She’s (mostly) sound in wind and limb, not at all sound of mind, very beautiful and usually covered in mud. As long as you don’t want her to move in a straight line, obey basic aids, or be cost effective, of course. Think of her as an expensive, time consuming, unappreciative pet. I’m looking for a well-mannered, nicely schooled event horse, ideally competing at Novice level, to do a straight swap. Get in touch if you’re interested!


OBVIOUSLY, I love Scarlet dearly, but she IS a monster. We’ve been hacking for about 2 or 3 weeks now, and she’s turned out in a reasonably sized field from 7am to 6pm, so I really think she has no excuse to be so wicked. Surely her excess energy has been burnt off? Our quiet plods down the lane have turned into adrenaline fuelled rollercoaster rides, with piaffe, half pass and pirouettes all thrown in. I wouldn’t mind so much if she was at least on the bit while she did it, but she’s not even close! Half the time her ears are dangerously close to my own. That said, if it weren’t for the Micklem bridle, she’d be throwing her head around risking whiplash.


It doesn’t bother me hugely at the moment (though I could definitely live without it), but it does worry me that she’ll be a psychopath when we start getting out and about again. Scarlet’s always been a pretty interesting horse to take to parties, what with her lack of brain, but I felt that we were getting a handle on it, as she went out more. She was allowing me to ride her instead of just perch on top hanging white knuckled onto the neck-strap. I’m worried we’ll go right back to the beginning, and I’m not sure if I can go through it all again – being bucked off in the dressage, thrown off in the show-jumping, galloped off with at clinics – which would be very frustrating after spending all this time and money fixing her hock after her kick!


I suppose I’ll have to turn to the internet again to start searching for a calmer, which is always a hideous process, simply because there are so many calmers available and everyone has a different opinion on what works and what doesn’t. And you have to give a calmer at least 10 days trial before binning it, which is expensive and means it could take months before you find one you think might work. I think I’ll start with Valerian, which I think I’ve tried before and might have made her a bit less crazy. It’s banned in competition, which gives me some hope that it might actually be effective!


Does anyone have a happy ending story involving calmers? Recommendations welcome!

Despite being such a badly behaved ingrate, I treated Scarlet to a treatment from a physio last week. She had a two hour session, working mostly on her quarters and upper hind legs, which were tight with tension. Scarlet was of course badly behaved when the physio arrived, because she (the physio) was wearing a Stetson hat, and Scarlet refused to go anywhere near her for about 15 minutes. Eventually she allowed the physio to run her hands over her, and look for trouble spots. I told her we had real problems getting right canter lead, and wondered if she had a pelvic alignment issue, but the physio (whose name I have forgotten, sorry, but her business is called Equilibrium Veterinary Physiotherapy) said Scarlet was actually pretty symmetrical, so I guess it’s just something we have to keep working on. She used a laser to treat the tightly knotted muscle group running up from her hock to her bottom, and a few other problem areas. It’s hard to know how helpful the session was because we’re still restricted to short walks, but I’m definitely going to get her out again when schooling is back on the table.


So, please help me out with calmer recommendations and pep talks, otherwise Scarlet will be on the next bus to the Findus factory!


Written by Laura Paine of DRAGONFLY SADDLERY & PETS

A Brief Setback by Haynet Featured Blogger Laura Paine

I’m now pretty confident that Scarlet and I are cursed… I began to ride her again about two weeks ago, after her abscess had finally cleared up. She felt sound and happy, and it was lovely to be back on board. Then the farrier came out and ruined everything! He took the hind shoe off the foot where the abscess had been, and her sole came away with it! Apparently this can be a consequence of a serious abscess (a sub solar, I think?), and he assured us that it wasn’t necessarily a disaster. He advised keeping her in for the next week without a shoe, with lots of gamgee padding to support the foot while her sole grew and hardened again. He said he was amazed she hadn’t been lame on it, but I’m pretty sure Scarlet is composed of 60-70% adrenalin as opposed to the traditional water, so she probably didn’t even feel it. What she did feel was the bandage on her foot, and she proceeded to hobble for the next two days, before she realised she wasn’t actually in pain.

A week after that setback, the farrier came back and was really pleased with how the sole had grown back, and that the big hole in the wall where the abscess had exploded out had also grown down really well. So he popped a shoe back on and this weekend we ventured out once more, despite the howling wind. She was a monster, as predicted, but to be fair she hadn’t been ridden for about 10 days and it was blowing a gale.

For about a week before the sole setback, I had been trialling her in a Micklem bridle to see if it helped with her stroppy head carriage. Even though we’re still only in walk, the difference in her has been amazing – and I’m not just saying that! Scarlet is usually really argumentative when I pick up a contact and ask her to go forward; she throws her head up and down, she yaws, she sticks her neck forward like a camel and is generally a real pain in the butt. The Micklem hasn’t quite turned her into Valegro, but she is so much quieter and more accepting when I ask her to go less like a beach donkey. Her teeth grinding has all but stopped, she doesn’t try and give me a black eye and is generally a much nicer horse to ride. My only grumble about the Micklem is that the reins are too short! So instead I’ve treated me to a of bio grip reins, which are super soft with good rubber grip.

So, just in time for some epic winter storms, Scarlet and I are once again on the road to recovery, for the fifth time this year… Keep your fingers crossed that no more disasters befall us!

We’re seeing lots of awesome winter products coming in now, from perforated headbands you can wear under your riding hat to keep your ears warm without impairing your hearing to the Point Two air jacket designed especially for winter hunting, because it fits snugly over your jacket and can be worn instead of a body protector (NB: I would ALWAYS advise wearing a body protector and not just rely on an air jacket, but some people think wearing a body protector reeks of amateurism, so, whatever) – obviously for cross country an air jacket can’t be a replacement for a body protector… OK, I think I’ve covered myself sufficiently! Meanwhile I’m still umming and aahing over which jacket to get for winter riding: either the Equetech Squad jacket or the Cavallo Avril jacket… I know right, #firstworldproblems!


FYI, we do offer the Micklem bridle as a trial product, so you can use it for a week or 2 weeks and have a lesson in it, compete on it, etc., and if you like it, you keep it; if you don’t like, return it for a refund minus something like 10% of the purchase price. We do the same for the Fairfax Performance girths, too. Give us a call/email/tweet/Facebook if you’d like to know more!


Written By Laura Paine of DRAGONFLY SADDLERY

Holiday over, back to the cold, grim reality of horses in winter! By Laura Paine

Holiday over, back to the cold, grim reality of horses in winter! 

Here are some ideas to make it a bit brighter...

So, week in Spain over, it’s time to face the hairy beast currently tearing up the paddocks! Scarlet is looking very sound, and quite porky, so this weekend I’m going to saddle up and take her down the lane – it’ll be the fourth time I’ve tried to bring her back into work since January, and I’m really hoping it’s successful this time! She’s never been particularly settled in her head carriage, so I’m road testing a Micklem bridle. So many customers report great things about them that I figure I should give it a whirl. I’ll let you know how we get on!


The winter stock is now pouring in, and looking absolutely fantastic. Cavallo is one of our newest suppliers, and the coats are just gorgeous! The Adriatic is super luxurious and cosy, with fur linings to keep the wind out, and water repellent too. The Cavallo coats come in more exciting colours than the traditional blacks, browns, greens and blues of winter clothing, including silver/ivory, red, and aquamarine, so they’ll be guaranteed to brighten up those miserable winter mornings where you can’t see more than six inches past your nose, and you ask yourself for the hundredth time why you have bloody horses. A nice jazzy coat is just the tonic! They come in gilet form, riding length and instructor/frozen mother length. We’ve also got some really lovely coats in from Equetech, including a quilted jacket that I’ve added to my Christmas list.


Cavallo really do some amazing winter clothing – water repellent and fleece lined breeches, anyone?! Cosy hats and snoods will be perfect stocking fillers, and as long as you don’t drop them in a bed of shavings, will keep you looking swell and free from frostbite. Equetech have delivered some proper nice headbands, which are fab for keeping my frizzy mane off my face, and will keep your ears toasty warm when you’re doing those never ending stable chores.


We’re also drowning in new rugs, for every size and shape of horse and pony, no matter how wide their hips (Scarlet) or stumpy their legs (Comet). Bucas remains a favourite with people seeking long lasting, quality rugs – where you can chuck the horse out at 6am and minus five, and know it will remain warm and comfortable throughout the day no matter what the weather does. If the rug then gets soaked in a downpour, the horse will remain bone dry, and you can leave the rug on the horse to dry overnight! There’s nothing worse than having to hang a dirty, wet rug up, covering yourself in four inches of mud and muck, only for the rug to be depressingly cold and damp the next day. Scarlet pretty much lives in her Bucas Smartex from October to April, and is warm and comfortable no matter what the weather throws at her, even though it’s technically classed as a medium weight and she’s a delicate little Thoroughbred. The ballistic outer ensures that even the most destructive horse (or field mates) has his work cut out ripping it, while the patented stay dry lining that means you can work your horse into a muck sweat and then put the rug straight back on is also anti-bacterial.


For the smaller budget, or for a horse which doesn’t rip its rugs to shreds or wallow in mud for six months of the year, the Rhinegold Blizzard offers amazing value for a winter rug. It’s a super rug, with a rip-stop lining and heavy enough to keep horses warm in the depths of winter, so for £55 it’s a real bargain. We also do Horseware and Castle, so we’ve definitely got rugs covered this winter.

Special mention must go to Equicloth, an amazing bit of equipment which works miracles on muddy, stained horses (and cars, tack, dogs, furniture…!). A good scrub with an equicloth and some Carr Day Martin Stain Master spray (money back guarantee) and Scarlet’s four white socks are sparkling!


I popped over to Pulborough this weekend to watch the BE90 cross country, and I felt very sorry for the competitors - it was absolutely hacking it down! A lot of breeches had gone very see through indeed, which makes me think I’ll be investing in the Cavallo water repellent breeches for competitions as well as for everyday use in the winter. It was lovely to see that although everyone looked pale and miserable in the warm up, as soon as they set off cross country they were soon beaming and praising their horses after each fence - and the happy faces as they galloped through the finish, soaked to the bone and splattered in mud, really shows that horsey people (and the horses!) are tough as old boots and truly doing what they love.


And perhaps slightly insane.


Hopefully I’ll be reporting good news next week about Scarlet’s soundness, and a positive review of the Micklem bridle too. No more snatching!


Written by Laura Paine of Dragonfly Saddlery and Pets

An Unexpected Burghley By Sue and Holly Paine

Laura was lucky enough to win tickets via Horse Quest to Burghley Horse Trials including a course walk with event rider Sam Griffiths. She was also unlucky enough to have a real job that she couldn't skive off from, so Mum and I took the tickets, and Wednesday night saw us buzzing down the motorway to stay overnight in a lovely hotel!


It's safe to say that despite us both wearing our smartest Rugged breeches and having dusted off my Mountain Horse boots, we rolled into the posh hotel looking a total mess, especially next to a group of men in their evening wear (including a dapper Oliver Townend).


We set of to Burghley the next morning, full up from a luxury breakfast courtesy of Horse Quest and in our most comfortable walking boots (Mountain horse and Kanyon, of course!).


I then had my second sighting of OT who was chatting away to a bevvy of admiring fans on the Equi-Trek stand. I grabbed him for a quick photo and told him about Scarlet. He was very sweet (not what I imagined) and we wished him luck.


After a quick nose around the trade stands and much admiring of the new seasons collections (gorgeous coats from the likes of Cavallo and Equetech), we settled down to the dressage.


Watching the dressage at a 3 day event is fascinating & very different to watching the same level at a pure dressage competition. The horses main job is to go round the cross country, bravely & at a fair pace, tackling everything the course designers fiendish mind can devise! It is a fairly safe premise that dressage is not normally their first love & this was fairly well demonstrated by the horses we watched. Tension & excitement was simply too much for some & they raced round the test, simply longing to crack on with the next phase. There were also some simply stunning tests to be seen & we were lucky enough to watch Andreas Dibowski with FBH Butts Leon perform beautifully in the main arena. All the riders were interviewed after their test, which was highly entertaining. The interviewer demonstrated some fairly nifty footwork himself in an effort to keep from under their hooves!


We had just finished stuffing down some hog roast sandwiches whan we got a message to say that the course walk was now earlier than first expected, and our well planned lunch hour, leaving time for it all to settle before the marathon trek, went out the window. We sprinted to meet up with the other 20 lucky winners and meet the lovely Sam Griffiths.


This is where Mum will take over. If you know me, you'll know I get lost – a LOT. I got lost at the beginning and missed the entire walk. I spent two hours wandering around and then being befriended by some lovely old ladies who insisted I sit with them by the Grey Goose jump. All good fun!


So, to the course walk! As Holly has just confessed, she missed the lot. It was the HIGH SPOT of the day & I still can't believe I lost her – ho hum. I was not going to miss this, so I'm afraid I abandoned Holly to her fate & texted her instructing her to meet us at the end of the course as Sam walks at a fair pace & I did not think she would ever catch us up. Oh my word, Burghley is very hilly, the jumps are huge & the ground is very undulating. Even the jumps that Sam cheerfully described as “let up” were simply huge. Discovery Valley, where we began our walk, looked fairly straight forward, but took a fair bit of riding & took some very well known riders out of the running on Saturday. Sam was an excellent, informative & completely charming person to accompany on a course walk. At every fence, he would tell us his thoughts & how he planned to ride each fence, both approach & getaway.


The fence that sticks in my mind simply has to be Centaurs Leap. It is by no means complex like the HSBC Maltings complex, or twisty & tricky like the Dairy Mounds. It is just huge. Bigger, wider & more awe inspiring than anything else we saw that day, actually.  Sam did admit that, like a lot of the riders, he just looked at the hedge from the other side & walked on. He simply did not want to look into that massive ditch.


My opinion of event horses & riders (always my favourite types) is now higher than ever. To be bold, brave & yet careful, together with the demands of the dressage & the show jumping days, seems to me to be the absolute pinnacle of achievement for both horse & rider!


I would thoroughly recommend doing at least one course walk to everyone who loves eventing. It is such an eye opener & makes watching the cross country day a much richer experience.


After the walk, we stumbled upon a rider who was doing a meet and great at one of the stands. Yes I finally got to meet the very tall, very handsome William Fox-Pitt. He knelt/lay down for a photo with me, and asked me if I had a nice pony... I guess the bunches made me look about 8. I told him about Comet (probably didn't help me sound like a grown-up, what with Comet being a tiny Shetland) and told him about Scarlet (not too much, didn't want to bore him). He signed a card for Laura and myself and we left him in peace. I can die happy now.


This was our first time at Burghley and it felt very laid back compared to Badminton, however perhaps XC days are different. We loved getting up close to some of the famous jumps, including the planet, the picnic table and of course the terrifying leaf pit!


Written by Sue and Holly Paine (Haynet's Featured Bloggers Laura's mum and sister) Come and visit Dragonfly Saddlery for more information

Haynet Featured Blogger Laura Paine - Onwards and Upwards

Young Scarlet has certainly put us through the wringer this past month. She went hopping lame the moment I brought her saddle out, but I’m trying not to take it personally. The vet and farrier visited and pronounced different diagnoses (abscess and laminitis respectively), but her lameness grew worse, so the vet came back out, chopped off half the foot, and oohed and aahed over the amount of pus and blood that gushed out. (Sorry, you weren’t eating were you?) But it at least confirmed that the acute lameness was due to an abscess, instead of something more sinister.


So I’ve spent the last fortnight hot tubbing and hot poulticing the foot, wondering how much pus one horse one horse can produce. Of course, her heel then went very soft and began to bleed, even though I’d been slathering the skin in barrier cream. So now the poulticing and tubbing is over, and I’m squirting the huge hole in her foot with peroxide and hoping for the best! (As advised by the vet, I hasten to add!) Hopefully the farrier will be able to shoe her soon and we can get back on track to recovery.


Wretched horses!


The one exciting thing about the approaching colder weather is the new stock arriving in the saddlery. A huge number of Bucas rugs materialised last week (including some super cute pony rugs), and orders have been placed for winter breeches and boots - winter is cold and hard, yep, but it’s far easier to bear if you’re wearing fleece lined boots, water repellent breeches and a jacket so technical you can’t even pronounce the material it’s made out of - Mountain Horse, I’m looking at you.


I headed over to Firle Horse Trials this weekend, because even though I always feel horribly envious of everyone on their lovely horses while my own old crock is still bed bound, I do love the atmosphere of an event, and I like to scope out the cross country for future excursions with the mad old bat. I dragged the very unhorsey OH out with me (I’m determined to fix this!) and the dogs, one of whom has only been with us for about 6 weeks and ranges from being either very very reticent or obnoxiously confident. She’s a rescue, about 9 months old, and believes that other animals, particularly horses, sheep and cats, exist solely to be chased and woofed at by her. She was pretty gobsmacked by the dog show and show jumping, and spent a lot of time crawling on her belly at a snail’s pace, and then loved the cross country, straining at her lead to try and chase every single horse that galloped past. Thankfully she was in her harness, otherwise she’d definitely have slipped her collar.


It was a super event, and I think Sir Mark Todd gave us all a crumb of comfort when his gorgeous grey refused to go anywhere near the water jump! Toddy looked like he wanted to go and drown the horse in the nearest pond, but he was very sporting and acknowledged the spectators with a wry smile, before retiring from the course. The downsides of being one of the world’s most famous riders, I suppose!


Written by Laura Paine from Dragonfly Saddlery and Pets

Haynet Featured Blogger Laura Paine - More Misery For Scarlet

One day I hope to be able to write a positive update, or at least an entertaining one about Scarlet being naughty out competing. But I don't think it will be anytime soon...


The vet came out last week to check Scarlet's hock and her soundness. I walked and trotted her up, and Ali pronounced herself pleased with her progress. She said it was the most sound she had seen Scarlet, and said I could start riding her, twenty minutes a day, increasing by five minutes a week. Hurrah, I said. I saddled up, clambered on as inelegantly as ever while Scarlet whizzed around, and off we went, accompanied by Mum and a leading rein. She was very well behaved, throwing in the odd spook but really not bad at all considering how much time she's had off since January. I was absolutely thrilled to bits to be riding her again, and really hoped we were turning a corner.


The next day, I saddled up again, and off we went, all on our lonesome. About 25 yards later, I rang my mum and told her to come down the lane, as Scarlet didn't feel right in front. She agreed that she was not sound, so with a heavy heart I jumped off and led her home. She had only been shod the previous day, so I rang the farrier, hoping it was just nail bind. The farrier duly came back the next day, but said the shoes were fine. He said he thought it might be a touch of laminitis, brought on by Scarlet's two days out in the paddock after the vet's clean bill of health. I felt terrible, as it hadn't occurred to me that our sparsely covered paddock could have caused laminitis,and wished I had thought to restrict her grazing. The farrier said he thought a few days box rest should sort her out, as the laminitis had been caught early.


The next day, she was hopping lame behind. We couldn't even see how she was in front because she was so bad in her near hind (yep, the leg with the original kick injury). I called the vet - Saturday night of course, Scarlet has impeccable timing - and she diagnosed an abscess. She cut away part of her toe, and found dried pus, which suggested the abscess had been brewing for a while but had only just gone lame on it. She instructed us to hot tub and hot poultice it, and put her on Bute. Two days later she was still hopping lame and no pus had come out. I called the farrier back out to check her front feet and to see if he could explore the abscess any further. He said he could find no abscess... There was no pain when he used hoof testers, and no heat. He was quite flummoxed, and advised dry poulticing until the hole in her hoof had closed up, speculating that she had laminitis in her hind feet too.

Four days later, pus began to come out of her bad foot... So it was back on with the hot tubbing and poulticing! Pus was coming out of both her coronet band and her toe :( I hoped that this was a sign that pressure was being eased, and she would become more sound. But three days on and she is still crippled, so it's going to require another vet visit. I'm desperately worried about her - why is she so lame?! Has the infection spread? Her leg feels okay, although becoming increasingly filled, which I put down to her standing in her box day after day as both hind legs are filled.


It's so hard, because I felt that I was doing my best for her, but none of it seems to have made a difference. My poor girl has been through so much: the horrible kick in January, two surgeries, colic, and now an abscess and possibly laminitis, all in the space of eight months. I'm beginning to feel like she'll never come right, and seeing her look so lame and sore is just heartbreaking.


Any words of wisdom on abscesses and suspected laminitis gratefully received...


On a brighter note, a friend of mine invited me to ride her lovely Irish horse, Fernie, this weekend. We went out for a fab hack, and I had my first trot and canter since Scarlet and I did our combined training in the new year. He was a perfect gentleman, and reminded me why I ride in the first place. It also made me miss Scarlet even more, even if she is a silly old bat most of the time when under saddle.


Please keep your fingers crossed for Scarlet that this is just a bad abscess, and not anything more sinister...


Written By Laura Paine from Dragonfly Saddlery & Pets

Trip To The Society of Master Saddlers Demo Day By Dragonfly Saddlery & Pets

I recently attended an exhibition and demo day organised by the Society of Master Saddlers, kindly hosted by Moulton College in Northamptonshire. The purpose of the day was to showcase the best of British saddlery, and allowed saddlers like to me to get up to the minute information on the latest developments in the industry, and how these modern methods have married up with the older, more traditional aspects of saddlery. Happily, saddlery and leatherwork is still very much a British strength, and our knowledge and skills are envied across the globe. Of course, cheap imitations have sprung up, particularly in China and India, but the differences in the make, feel and quality of the leather are enormous.


Many of the UK’s leading saddle manufacturers attended the day, including some of our favourites: Jeffries, Barnsby and Ideal, to name a few. Barnsby have the Royal Warrant of course, and produce the saddlery and leatherwork used by the Royal Family. Our Barnsby area rep, Lisa, also produces delicious cakes... So I headed to Barnsby first, and admired their innovative and much celebrated i-Tree, used by riders including Mary King, Laura Collett and Victoria Bax. This fully adjustable carbon fibre tree is used with a patented heating system, and allows unparalleled adjustment to the tree to ensure the best possible fit for the horse and rider, and is a really exciting development in the industry.

I headed to the Jeffries stand next, one of our longest running relationships. We stock a lot of Jeffries leatherwork, and have always found their bridlework to be of the highest quality leather and manufacture. The new adjustable leather saddle is another breakthrough for British leather saddles, and at a very reasonable price is causing a real stir in the trade!


I was especially keen to visit the Harry Dabbs stand, particularly for their new saddle which has been designed specifically for the ex-racehorse, in collaboration with Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), the official  charity partner of British Horseracing, that seeks to rehome ex-racehorses and train them in a new career. These horses are making a real splash in the riding world, with more and more of my customers purchasing these very versatile horses to turn their hooves to eventing, dressage, Riding Club activities and hacking. I was suitably impressed with what I saw, and placed an order for some!


The day was a real success, and I have come away with renewed enthusiasm for the saddlery trade, which has taken a real bashing during the economic downturn. It is a relief to know, as we emerge from the recession, that British saddlers have refused to cut corners in order to reduce costs. Quality will always be the long term route to success.


To book a saddle fitting appointment or to have a no obligation saddle check, please call 01273 844606, drop me an email or visit our Facebook page.

For more information please also visit DRAGONFLY SADDLERY & PETS

Haynet Featured Blogger Laura Paine - Patient Update!

It’s been a loooong time since I updated my blog with the latest on Scarlet, and after so many of you were so nice and so understanding, I am happy to finally be able to give some tentatively positive news!


To bring you up to speed... Scarlet was kicked in the hock back in January (on my birthday, since you ask) and needed emergency surgery to clean the wound of infection, stitch the hole in her tendon and suture the whole sorry mess back together. It was expensive and terrifying and pretty traumatic at times, but I was sure that at the end of the recovery period she’d be back and sound as a bell. I was so confident of this, I entered us for Firle Hunter Trials in September. However, by May Scarlet was growing progressively more lame, and the vet advised scanning the area again to see what was going on. The scan revealed tendon inflammation and a suspicious shadow lurking on the bone. So the following week I boxed her up and drove her to the clinic for x rays, hoping for a more definitive answer to the on-going and unexpected lameness, when the previous 3 months had shown a steady improvement. The x rays showed that there was proud bone sticking into the tendon, causing the pain. However, what neither my vet nor the original surgeon (from Newmarket Equine Hospital) could be sure of was whether the bone was detached from the joint or not. If it was detached, it would need to be operated on to remove the dead fragments; if it was attached then it would just need time to smooth down and probably require Scarlet to be turned away for another six months or so. The dilemma I faced was whether or not to operate - if the bone was attached, operating could worsen the situation with more scar tissue and damage; if the bone was detached and she wasn’t operated, more time would worsen the situation and leave irreparable damage.    


After a hell of a lot of umming and aahing, which included but was not limited to calling the vets every day to ask more questions, asking my horsey colleagues what they would do, asking Twitter what to do and googling the injury a hundred different ways, I finally decided to go down the surgery route, Scarlet’s second op in five months. My insurance had already run out by this point, so I knew it was a huge financial commitment (with lots of sacrifices along the way, the worst of which has been having to move back home!!) but I love this horse and felt that I owed it to her to try everything possible. I knew I wouldn’t be able to watch her limp around the field for the next six to twelve months with the very real risk that it was making everything worse, so I figured that I’d rather be broke and know I’d done my best by her, than be slightly less broke but feel guilty forever.


So Scarlet went in for her surgery, performed by the same surgeon, and I chewed my fingernails to the quick praying for the call to say she’d come round from general anaesthetic and the op had gone well. Thankfully I received this call, and as usual, Scarlet had woken up much sooner that she ought to have done, and was bullying the vet nurse for some food. The surgeon had found fragmented bone floating about, and the tendon was haemorrhaging as a result of the irritation and inflammation. So, operating was the right decision, hurrah!! Makes the bills slightly less painful ;)

I was able to bring her home the day after the operation, which was a big improvement on the fortnight she’d had to stay in for back in January. She’s on box rest until August, with a twice-daily ten minute walk down the lane (this being Scarlet it’s more like a quick march, interspersed with lots of spooks, snorting and general wickedness) and lots of hand grazing to try and prevent any more colicky episodes. Oh yeah, the day after I brought her home, she decided to get colic. Bless her. She’s now had her stitches out, and is wearing a very fetching tubigrip, along with a pressage bandage and stable bandage. The hock is still quite fat, but it’s clean and dry, and she’s generally only lame on the turn, and quite stiff for the first few strides, which I guess isn’t surprising seeing as she has to spend 23 hours of the day in a stable. There have been a couple of days where she’s been hobbling, but I’ve dosed her up on Bute and she’s been OK. The vets have advised that intermittent lameness isn’t necessarily anything to be concerned about at this stage, but to call them if it’s prolonged.

So it’s good news because the op went well, and she is now more sound than before, but it doesn’t really bring me any closer to having my lovely Scarlet back. I miss her.


Still, our sponsored rider is having more luck than me at the moment - having given birth to a healthy baby boy in May, Lisa Pilbeam is already back in the saddle and eventing her gorgeous team. She has lost none of her skills, and piloted the lovely Corby to a win in the BE100 at Eridge a couple of weeks ago! This handsome grey gelding is for sale - check out his British Eventing record if you’re on the lookout for an up and coming event horse. Lisa schools her horses beautifully, and is always at the top of the leader-board from the start, producing beautiful dressage tests and impeccable clears to ensure it stays that way!

We’re giving away a pair of Equetech breeches over on our Facebook page, so if you haven’t entered yet, now’s your chance :) Oh, and say hi to me on Twitter! I’m usually wittering on about something like, totally fascinating and hilarious.

Written by Laura Paine of Dragonfly Saddlery & Pets

Haynet Featured Blogger Laura Paine - And It Gets Worse....

We took Scarlet to the vets on Wednesday for her x-rays, which were recommended after the scans she had 3 weeks ago indicated that there was bone damage, which meant her tendon wasn’t healing as it was running over roughened bone or even a fragment of detached bone. So I booked her in and hired the little horsebox, and off went to Cinder Hill Equine Clinic. She was, as ever, hopelessly excited about a trip out, and boinged down the ramp, eagerly looking for the party. She’s barely 16hh, but when she thinks she’s on display she grows by about six inches! Sweat was running off her, despite the ceiling vents and open windows in the box, and she towed Mum all over the car park, determined to sniff out the cross country course.

Ali came out and had a look at the hock, and then we walked and trotted her up. She’s fractionally lame in walk on the 

straight, hobbly on the turn and quite lame in trot (all technical terms...) This is a serious concern, as she shouldn’t be getting more lame as time goes on; she should either be more sound or stay the same. Whereas a few weeks ago she was classed as 3/10 lame, she is now 5/10, and this is really worrying.


We’ve now discovered that if you pinch her neck on both sides and inject the off side, she’s very well behaved to have injections, so the vet was able to sedate her very easily - she used to go bananas if a needle came within ten feet of her. So she became a bit dozy and we led her over to the x ray room, which, as usual, she refused to go in. I said to Ali, “Are a lot of the horses like this?” and she said, “Er...no. Most horses walk straight in!” Poor Scarlet. She staggered in eventually, and then stood like a very sleepy little lamb for the next hour or so. She’s such a dope.


Ali and her assistant then took lots of pictures on the x ray machine from a variety of angles, including above, which meant flexing her hock and made me flinch! The x rays showed that Ali’s suspicions were right, and there was a chip of bone proud of the joint, which would be causing issues for the tendon. However, she couldn’t say definitively whether or not the chip was attached to the bone, so she put the discs onto a CD (how 20th century) and posted them to Matt Smith, the Newmarket specialist who operated on Scarlet back in January.


When we took her back out to get her ready to go home, I noticed a soft swelling on the hock. I hollered for Ali and she came out to have a look - it hadn’t been there before the x rays. She moved the swelling around, and explained that it was fluid in the bursa sac, which is usually indicative of something being amiss, whether inflammation, infection, irritation, etc. She advised me to keep an eye on it, and check that I can still move the fluid around. She said she thought it was probably just because the hock had been stressed with the trotting and the flexion for the x rays. The swelling is still there 3 days later, but it’s smaller, and she doesn’t seem perturbed by it. Apparently it is super unlikely that the sepsis has returned because she would be considerably more lame and it would have manifested itself as soon as she came off the antibiotics in February.

Ali called me two days later having spoken to Matt about the images she had sent him. Whereas before he had been quite positive about her prognosis, he is now concerned about her increasing lameness. He said he couldn’t say for sure whether the bone fragment present on the x rays was detached or not, and said the only way to know for sure, and to treat the issue, would be to operate again. If the bone is detached, he could remove it; if it’s attached he could file it down to try and make it smoother. Trouble is with either scenario, there's no certainty that it can be fixed. If the bone has fragmented, it could well happen again. If it's *just* tendon damage as a result of bone regrowth, this might never be fixed - surgery could even antagonise it. If I gamble on the bone being attached and it's not, turning her away for a few months could create more problems that surgery then can't fix.


So, I’m pretty much devastated and have no idea what to do. There is every chance that Scarlet will never be ridden again, much less evented, even if we go ahead with the surgery. No matter what I decide to do, it could easily be the wrong decision.


Possible outcomes (I think):

  • Pay £3,000 and get a sound Scarlet in 6 months to a year’s time and be penniless

  • Pay £3,000 and get a lame Scarlet and be penniless

  • Pay £3,000 and get a lame Scarlet and be penniless and get a new horse

  • Pay £3,000 and get a sound/lame Scarlet, be penniless and get a new horse for the interim

  • Turn her away for a year and a miracle happens

  • Turn her away for a year and she gets much worse and has to be retired or even put down depending on how much damage has been done

  • Turn her away to be retired and I get a new horse

  • Turn her away to be retired and I give up horses


If anyone has any helpful suggestions/advice/opinions, please voice them!

I have no idea what to do for the best. I’m trying to be as objective as possible, and of course want to minimise Scarlet’s discomfort. The vet said turning her away would not do her any more damage if the bone has not fragmented, and if she was in pain it could be relieved with things like cortisone injections and Bute.   But if it is fragmented, surgery would no longer be a viable option.


On the one hand I’m absolutely heartbroken at the idea of never riding her again, because she was coming on in leaps and bounds (with plenty of those thrown in too!) - her cross country was fantastic, her show jumping was terrifying but slowly improving, and she’s a lovely horse to hack. The less said about her dressage the better... She loves going out to parties, and once she's settled, she’s a star at clinics. Not to mention her sweet, affable nature, which makes her easy to handle on the ground. I’ve spent 3 years working on her (with the help of my mum), and slowly turning her from a neurotic, crazy ex-racehorse with a lorry load of hang ups, to a polite, responsive riding horse with a real jumping talent (when she's not full of the crazies). The last thing we want is to give up. But on the other hand, do I really want to put her through the trauma of another operation under general anaesthetic, with the lengthy recovery time that comes with it?  If I don’t go ahead with the surgery, should I call it a day with horses in general? I declared in January that if she didn’t come sound then I would quit. But the thought of not riding again makes me pretty sad... (*understatement klaxon*) If I retire her, should I get a cheap horse and start again? If I do go ahead with the op, should I get a cheap horse and sell it if Scarlet is sound in a year? I definitely can’t afford to run two! Or should I just beg and borrow rides from other people until Scarlet is sound (IF she is sound)?

Answers below, please! Or tweet me @Dragonfly_Laura. The only options I won’t consider are 1) putting her in foal (expensive, risky to health of foal and mare, and too many horses being abandoned to justify bringing another one into the world) and 2) putting her down (she would be quite happy to be retired as long as she has company and plenty of grass) but this would of course depend on how much pain she was in.

I cannot believe this has happened. Scarlet means the world to me, and to certain members of my family, and we just want to do what's right by her. What I would give to turn the clock back six months...

Written By Laura Paine of Dragonfly Saddlery and Pets

Haynet Featured Blogger Laura Paine - Yet More Disappointment!

The vet came back to scan Scarlet’s hock last week. She’s been a bit lame for a few weeks, and I was hoping that it was just a case of, “it’ll get worse before it gets better”, but that ultimately her tendon was repairing.  Sadly, this was not the case. The vet said she could see bone damage. This might not have been picked up on the original x ray because hairline fractures are really hard to spot (which is how I lived with a hairline fracture in a neck vertebrae without knowing it for ten years!!) but because the bone is now laying down new bone to repair the fracture, it becomes much easier to see. Unfortunately, the repaired bone is a rough surface which the damaged tendon runs over the top of. Until the bone is smoothed, the tendon will be repeatedly damaged, which is why she’s lame. So she’s booked in for x-rays on June 5th, and they will assess the damage. She may well need another operation if the bone is damaged, to remove any dead bone.


So, not quite the result I was looking for... Pretty gutted, to be honest. The vet said she suspects that it just needs more time, and probably another 3-6 months off work will do the trick. Either way, I’m absolutely miserable. A whole year out of action (not to mention the incredible vet bill) just from a kick? It’s quite hard seeing other people’s blogs and tweets and Facebook posts about the fun they’re having with their horses, going out to competitions, clinics, even just enjoying a nice hack. Scarlet was coming on so well and I was so proud of her, especially with her new found cross country confidence (less so the dressage!) that to have this huge setback is really hard to deal with. I can’t even look back at photos and videos of her jumping without getting upset.


She’s now more settled at least since introducing Comet to the field. She likes nothing more than marching over to him and biting him on the bottom - she lives in fear that he has a better bit of grass than her, so constantly moves him on like that! She’s also quite possessive of horses in her field, and will always poke her nose in if we show him any attentionHe’s settled in beautifully - it’s like he’s been here all his life! He’s a calming influence on her, because all he wants to do is eat! He had his jabs and a microchip fitted last week, and was really quite hurt that a cuddle and a couple of polos led to several sharp jabs in his neck! When I put him back out in the field he went zooming off, galloping and bucking, just to show how indignant he felt!


 Now the sun has finally made an appearance, we're seeing lots of customers coming in getting hats and body protectors fitted, especially Pony Club kids who have got camp this week. They very wisely also stocked up on waterproofs - a couple of days sunshine does not a summer make!


Of course, with the sun comes the flies and the midges, and poor Scarlet suffers really badly. She wears her Premier Equine bug rug and her fly mask, and I douse her in fly spray, but I still have to rub in lots of Itch Stop where she's covered in lumps and bumps. By six pm she's waiting by the gate, stamping her feet and looking hot and bothered. The Itch Stop is really effective at, well, stopping the itch!


I hope that in a couple of weeks I'll be able to give a super-positive update on young Scarlet... Please keep your fingers crossed for her! 


Written By Laura Paine From Dragonfly Saddlery & Pets

Laura's Weekly Blog Post - Back To Reality After Badminton

Scarlet has sadly taken a step backwards in her recovery. We went out for a hack through the woods and I think the stress it put on her tendon from picking our way through a boggy patch of bridlepath made her really quite sore for a few days. Lesson learned: don’t go anywhere exciting until the tendon is completely healed! On the plus side, it was our first proper hack since January and she was as good as gold :) We went through an open field, which we normally have a gallop up, but she was very good and walked through, sane and sensible. The vet is coming to see her on Wednesday to re-scan the tendon, so I’m hoping that no permanent damage has been done after my slightly reckless decision to go for that hack... I gave her a week off, which coincided with a trip to Badminton anyway, and have gone back to walking her out in hand again. So I’m fed up, bored and worried! She’s also now wearing her Back On Track boot full time, which seems to have eased the stiffness in the hock. I have high hopes for her dressage when she’s wearing her Back On Track saddlecloth!


Badminton was amazing, as ever. This year was the first time we had gone up for the dressage and stayed right till the end of the show-jumping. We stayed in a lovely B&B about half an hour away, and set off each morning after a delicious cooked breakfast. Watching the dressage was great, because it’s encouraging to see how even these elite athletes can have problems! We thought some of the judging was a bit skewed... Clare Lewis, who I used to be a working pupil with, produced a beautiful, flowing test on the gorgeous Sidnificant, but she received 53 penalties, whereas Zara Phillips, who went in after Clare, did what looked to me like a halting, unimpressive test and scored 46. A few other riders received very conflicting marks - I think it was Tina Cook who was given an 8 by one judge for a movement and 4s by the other judges, and this happened a few times through the afternoon session on the Saturday. I can’t help but wonder if the judges are swayed by the name of the rider - if you see Wiliam Fox-Pitt enter the arena, maybe you’re poised to dish out 8s and 9s, whereas a relatively unknown rider has to work as hard to get 5s and 6s.


The cross country course looked exciting and tricky in parts. I was inclined to agree with Mark Todd, who said he felt it was a 3* track with a few 4* bits in the middle. Normally there are a few fences at Badminton that I look at and think, “Good God, how is anything supposed to jump that?!” but I didn’t get that this time - although the Outlander Bank looked pretty fierce! It was awesome watching Clare fly round on Sid (clear with just a few time penalties, the old slow coach) and it’s always a pleasure to watch the likes of Mary King, Mark Todd and William F-P go cross country. I’ve not seen Michael Jung ride before (apart from on TV) so it was a treat to see his rounds - the water complex got pretty dicey with Sam, and just showed what killer instincts you have to have to be a top cross country rider.


The show -jumping was disappointing from our point of view, because when I bought my tickets online, I didn’t realise that you had to buy extra tickets to sit in the grandstand... Luckily the sun was shining, so we stocked up on coffee and donuts and found a patch of grass in front of a huge TV screen to watch the action. Clare produced a beautiful round, but just rubbed a rail for 4 faults, so she finished in 32nd place. Sid usually jumps clear, so I think she’ll be a bit disappointed, but I’m just glad they both got home safely. I felt desperately sorry for Pippa Funnell who missed a shot and had a refusal, but hopefully Redesigned has learnt a lot from his Badminton experience and will be a future star for Pippa.


Andrew Nicholson admitted afterwards that he deliberately wound up the crowds before leaving the arena because WFP was in next and he wanted to unsettle the horse. I was a bit disappointed by this, it didn’t seem very sporting somehow, and I’m pretty sure WFP wouldn’t have done it to him. Other than that, I love Andrew and his cocksure style of riding. I would have liked him to win the Grand Slam simply because he seems to have always been in the shadow of others, from Mark Todd to William himself. Still, I’m sure his recent Kentucky victory will cheer him up! So we left Badminton happy, knackered and quite sunburnt - what more can you ask for from a three day event?!


In saddlery news, we’ve just commissioned a brand new logo! Our old logo was a bit dated and unwieldy, so I felt it was high time our branding was given a revamp. It’s very elegant and we’re looking forward to unveiling it very soon! Our “official” colours are now blue and gold, so I’m also eyeing up some new cross country colours from the Hows Racesafe range... They are in the style of base layers, so they’ll keep you warm when it’s cold and cool when you’re sweating buckets in the start box! I think they look a bit smarter than the old style cross country shirts, as well. 


Oh, and we’ve acquired a new horse! Comet arrived two weeks ago to serve one purpose: keeping my lonely horse company. He’s doing an excellent job so far, enthusiastically stealing her hay in the field and not paying the slightest bit of attention when she twigs and bites him on the head. He’s all of 32 inches high and isn’t remotely intimidated by her eye-rolling, teeth baring antics. He’s 20 years old and just wants to eat and indulge in the occasional flirt. Scarlet was a bit frightened of him when she first saw his hooter poking over the top of his stable door - she couldn’t quite work out what it was - but she has now settled down and is a bit more calm out in the field, not always on the alert for sheep or dog walkers to terrorise. Comet is a very confident pony, and enjoyed meeting the neighbours when we took him on a walkabout, but other than that, he is very happy doing as little as possible! 

Written By Laura Paine of Dragonfly Saddlery & Pets

Laura's Weekly Blog Post - Apologies For The Radio Silence Folks : There's Been A Lot Going On!

Apologies for the radio silence folks (pretend you noticed), there’s been a lot going on!

Young Scarlet was due to go back to the vets after our eight weeks of walking in-hand, building up from 5 minutes to 40 minutes. It has all been VERY boring, and Scarlet was baffled for the first couple of weeks as to why we were turning round and going home after two and a half minutes out! She was a good girl though, and only embarrassed me a few times. After we were on about thirty minutes I stuck her in side reins, just to ensure that I retained some semblance of control, especially if we saw another horse out in front.
As my 4x4 has now bitten the dust (sold for scrap parts on eBay, boo), I decided to rent a horsebox, rather than pay another £200 for a shouty man to drive us up. I used a site called www.myhorseboxrental.com, which basically allows people who own horseboxes to rent them out to less fortunate souls for a cheaper price than hiring one from a hire company. I think it’s a brilliant idea - people who don’t use their horseboxes all the time can make money out of them, rather than just letting them sit there unused. I paid £65 for a full day’s use, 25% of which went to the site. When I had looked at hire companies, they charged £65 minimum just for a half day. I hired a Renault Master, which was just a few miles down the road from me, funnily enough from a lady who rescues and rehomes ex-racehorses. She told us about the awful conditions over in Ireland, with horses just being dumped and left to die, because the slaughterhouses are too full. Imagine that - they don’t have the time to shoot all these poor horses. That’s why I’m not a fan of the racing industry - thousands of Thoroughbreds are dying as a result of careless over-breeding for racing stock. The horses who don’t make the cut are then chucked out on the scrapheap, which is just heartbreaking. The recession has obviously made matters a zillion times worse, but it comes down to the irresponsible breeding of the racing world. Grr!
Anyway, I picked up my nifty little horsebox and drove it home, with Mum tailing me in the car, probably slightly anxiously as I whizzed along! Scarlet nearly fell over when she saw it parked in the drive, and I felt very sorry for her, as she immediately had her party face on. She was excellent to load, and we set off for Cinder Hill vet clinic. Rather distractingly, there was CCT in the box, and the screen was just to the side of the steering wheel, so I nearly took out a few cyclists as I preferred to watch Scarlet’s adorably expressive face instead. She is very cute, to be fair. Mum then threatened to switch it off though, so I focused on the road and contented myself with stealing the occasional glance at Scarlet’s funny little face when we were at red lights.
NB: I did a stupendous job of driving the lorry, so if anyone feels like buying me one that'd be ace.
The vet assistant walked and trotted Scarlet up, and Kat (the vet) said she could see some soreness on the turns, maybe 1/10 lame. She injected sedative (Scarlet was very brave) and we coaxed her inside so she could be scanned. Kat pointed out what she was looking for on the machine, but I really don't have an eye for that kind of thing - it could have been a donkey in a snowstorm for all I know. Apparently there was a shadow over the tendon, but so faint that Kat scanned the good hock as well, in order to compare the images. She said there was definitely a shadow, so it's another six weeks of walking for us...
I can now at least ride her though, which makes the walking slightly more interesting. She has been jolly good, considering how long she's been out of action for. And she's allowed to go into the field in a fenced off area, supposedly to prevent her from galloping around, but she certainly had a good try the first time she went out! She'll be rescanned in six weeks, and the vet seems confident that the tendon will be fully repaired by that point. So I've entered us into the rescheduled hunter trial at Firle Place in September!
We managed to spend an enjoyable afternoon at the riding club hunter trials at Coombelands this weekend, jump judging the open classes. We got fence one, so it was pretty uneventful, but I have a pretty sunburnt face to show for my efforts.
Not that I'm complaining!!
Written By Laura Paine of Dragonfly Saddlery and Pets


Laura's Weekly Blog Post - Confessions Of A Secret ‘Fair Weather’ Rider

OK, I admit, I’m not actually *that* sorry to be missing out on riding at the moment. I’m not a ‘fair weather’ rider in practise, but I definitely don’t miss the chilblains, the frozen fingers and toes or the streaming eyes that riding in the freezing wind and rain brings. People have offered me rides on their horses, which is very sweet of them, and if we we were in the middle of a lovely summer I would definitely take them up on it... But we ain’t. So I traipse up and down the lane with Scarlet, and she stops and stares at the sheep and the alpacas, and frightens joggers and cyclists by leaping sideways just as they go past, and generally makes a bit of a nuisance herself, but then I think, Golly, I’m glad we’re not wading through knee deep mud right now, or getting blown across the Downs into the path of an angry herd of cows. I miss the satisfaction you feel after braving all that, and I miss riding Scarlet in general because she was coming on so well and aside from her occasional hysterics is a pleasure to ride, but I’m glad that if she had to be off work, she chose to do it while the weather was still so utterly rubbish.
Events are being cancelled all over the place, and Twitter is a constant stream of enraged eventers lamenting another weekend of dressage after their scheduled ODE was cancelled. I’m praying that Badminton Horse Trials is OK, because we’ve got tickets and a B&B booked, and I want to immerse myself in glorious horsey-ness for 4 days! I’ve studied the list of riders and am super excited to see the amazing Sidnificant is in, piloted by the excellent Clare Lewis. He hasn’t had a run since Burghley though, and I think like many 4* riders, Clare is struggling to find an event to run at which isn’t under water/snow at the moment. I wonder if riders will begin to withdraw from Badminton if the bad weather continues?
Our sponsored rider, Lisa Pilbeam, is getting out and about, despite her advancing pregnancy! She headed off to the BRC dressage championships at the weekend, and evidently pulled off some beautiful tests with her home produced team. She’s one of the most stylish riders on the circuit, always impeccably turned out, and her horses even more so. She’s currently sporting the very beautiful Mountain Horse Supreme High Riders, which are the softest, nicest competition boots I have ever seen. Like, ever. She is also the proud owner of a new Charles Owen ‘leather look’ Ayr 8, which she collected last week from us. She went for the navy hat with red and white piping, a la Charlotte Dujardin, so this no doubt inspired her to perform some Dujardin style tests at the weekend!
We’ve also just taken delivery of some Mark Todd “summer style” breeches, which, despite the distinctly “winter style” weather, have been selling well! They must know something I don’t!
Scarlet is due to be scanned in a couple of weeks, so fingers crossed the scans will show that her tendon has repaired and I can start to ride her again :) Of course, what she doesn’t know is that her jabs are due around the same time, and likewise her teeth, which need to be drilled, so I’m going to ask the vets and horse dentist to do it all at once... Jabs, sedation and drills - lucky Scarlet!
Written By Laura Paine of Dragonfly Saddlery and Pets

Laura's Weekly Blog Post - Scarlet Being "Special" And Will The Zebra Stripes Work?

OK, looks like I jinxed the weather, sorry about that. The photos from Tweseldown last weekend are so sad - it looks like 2013 is following in 2012’s soggy footsteps...
Scarlet continues to improve, and she is very glad her shoes are back on! She behaves herself out on our walks, but when we turn around to go home she keeps stopping, and plants herself. She can’t understand why we’re not doing our usual 2 hour hacks, and doesn’t think much of a fifteen minute meander!
I’m trying to prevent any hock issues after the kick, so Scarlet is dosed up on Cortaflex, which is designed to ease prevent and repair damage done to joints from wear and tear. We also bought her a hock boot and wrap from Back on Track. She wears her pressage bandage at night and then we put her hock boot on during the day. The technology is supposed to ease stiffness and treat inflammation, both of which an injury like Scarlet’s could easily throw up.
She’s devilishy tricky to keep condition on, and as she isn’t doing any work she’s lost any muscle tone she had kept on over the winter. Her pelvis sticks out and her bottom slopes away instead of being nice and round like it was when we were jumping and hacking and doing all sorts of interesting and exciting things. I spoke to the vet about it when she came up a couple of weeks ago, and she asked about Scarlet’s regime. The vet owns a skinny Thoroughbred herself, so she was very sympathetic! She advised the usual stuff - ad lib hay being the crucial point, but Scarlet, like many TBs, will only eat when she’s hungry. I can give her as much hay as I like, but if she;s not hungry it won’t get eaten! She’s on more supplements than you can shake a stick at - the aforementioned Cortaflex, garlic, NAF Pink Powder for general health and wellbeing, Equine America Magnitude, linseed oil, not to mention lots of lovingly chopped carrots. I’m going to put her on micronised linseed as well, and see if that makes a difference. Since putting her on linseed oil her coat has definitely improved: she’s quite shiny and her mane isn’t scurfy anymore. The farrier is pleased with her feet as well, so I don’t think she’s lacking in nutrients, particularly. I think what she needs is some lush grass and some hard work, and sadly she can’t have either at the moment. Magnitude certainly seems to be working well, as her loony moments are few and far between, which is most unlike her, especially as she must be bored out of her mind. I’m planning to put her on linseed meal though, as recommended by the vet.
Does anyone use Brewers Yeast as a supplement on its own? It’s meant to be beneficial for digestion and absorption of nutrients, so if anyone has any experience with it, please let me know, as it’s flipping expensive!
She did have a pretty special moment last week - as it was snowing pretty heavily I put her fleecy jammies on under her Smartex. They have to be pulled over her head, which normally she’s fine with, but not this time, oh no. We went whirling round her stable, shavings flying, eyes rolling (both of us), nostrils flaring (hmm, also both of us) before she’d let me get the wretched thing over her head. Then she stood stock still while I did all the straps like nothing had happened! Someone on the Horse & Hound forum has the tagline: “Thoroughbreds: making a drama out of a crisis since the 1700s” and that really rang true tonight!
The exciting new products we ordered at BETA are going really well, which is always a bit of a relief! The HS1 hats and the Champion X Airs are basically selling themselves, and despite the rain and snow we’ve already sold several of the new Bucas Zebra fly rug! These have to be seen to believed... I’m a traditionalist at heart and ordinarily wouldn’t dream of inflicting zebra stripes on my horses, but apparently research has proven that horseflies hate stripes! So I might have to grit my teeth and go with the science :)
So that’s what’s happening here at Dragonfly Saddlery - do get in touch if you need any advice re. bitting, saddlery, rugs, feed, hats, body protectors, etc. Our email is dragonflysaddlery@gmail.com, our phone is 01273 844606, or find us on Twitter (@Dragonfly_Laura) and Facebook!
And in the meantime I’ll try not to feel too jealous when I see the likes of Headstrong Equestrian jumping her lovely new ex-racehorse, or Gift Horse Eventing out winning all the dressage competitions on her stunning ex-racehorse... hmm, seems to be a theme there! Still, maybe by the time Scarlet is all better the summer will be here...
Written by Laura Paine of Dragonfly Saddlery and Pets

Laura's Weekly Blog Post - Spring Is In The Air And The Saddlery Stock Is Flooding In!

Hurray, it feels like spring might actually be imminent! Daffodils and snowdrops are finally blooming in the lanes around us here in Sussex, and it’s fab to be on the yard with a bit of daylight in the morning and the evening.
The eventing season is getting underway, and while I’m incredibly jealous that my horse is still broken and we won’t be going cross-country for a few months yet, it’s still exciting to see people getting themselves ready for the season.
Speaking of my horse… Scarlet is doing really well, and the vet is pleased with her progress. We’ve done two weeks of walking, and have built up to 15 minutes a day. She’s been really well behaved mostly, walking by my side very nicely. Sunday mornings are pretty interesting, with lots of cyclists to frighten and other horses and riders to try and catch up with, but I can’t be too cross with her, she hasn’t been out for 6 weeks! The wound has healed over completely and she just has a bit of a fat hock to show for it now. She’s also got front shoes back on, as she was really struggling on her typically Thoroughbred feet.
The spoils of BETA are flooding in now, and we’re thrilled with how well the stock is already selling. The Gatehouse HS1 hats are doing brilliantly, as we knew they would, and they make a great addition to our range. The iconic silver skull definitely complements the Champion and Charles Owen hats that have always been our stalwart sellers. We have also taken delivery of the gorgeous leather lined Charles Owen Ayr 8 hats with coloured piping, as worn by the fantastically talented Charlotte Dujardin at the Olympics if you want to splurge a little and really look the business in the dressage arena! The Champion X Air have also sold really well, with their excellent price point of £59.99 helping to ease the pain for a lot of Pony Club parents.
The Point Two air jackets will no doubt start attracting a big following as cross-country season gets underway, with people prepared to spend that bit more on safety having seen riders in air jackets walk away from crashing falls that would have caused broken bones at least, even with a body protector on. Riding is a risky business, and the amazing safety equipment on the market is worth its weight in gold. When I start jumping my lunatic again I will be wearing a new hat (hoping the HS1 fits my huge head), my Airowear body protector and a Point Two air jacket!
I’ve also been admiring the new John Whitaker saddles that have arrived, and the Fairfax Performance girths, AND the Horseware Micklem bridles, which I definitely want to try out on Scarlet. I may have to work a few extra hours…
Don’t forget we offer free delivery on orders over £100 :)
PS. Pop over to our Facebook page and check out the brilliant Mothers Day competition we’re running! Just tell us the daftest horse related thing your mum has done and the one with the most likes wins a bevy of goodies :) I related the story of when Mum took me and my friend out for a long hack and only realised when we got back that she hadn’t been wearing a hat...!!! There are plenty of other times when she’s been a total plonker but I have to remember that she pays my wages... We run regular Facebook competitions with some fab prizes so do come over and have a look.
Written By Laura Paine of Dragonfly Saddlery and Pets

Laura's Weekly Blog Post - BETA International And Scarlet On The Mend

As I type this, the sun is actually shining through the window! The sun! SHINING! Happy days.

Firstly, an update on the patient. She’s getting very bored of box rest, and this is manifesting itself in some rude behaviour, including pushing me around the stable when I go in to change rugs or pick her feet out, and charging out of the stable when I take her out to muck her stable out. I can’t bring myself to tell her off, because she looks so gloomy, and giving me a good shove with her nose is the only form of entertainment she gets!

Her injury is looking really good, and has healed over beautifully. Debs, from Cinder Hill, removed the staples last week, and had to do it without sedating her as she is so frightened of needles, bless her. It looked flipping painful, and she waved her leg around a bit, but she was a superstar really and Debs was very pleased with how it was all looking. It was a bit swollen, but she said that that comes with the territory with tendon injuries. She showed me how to do the dressing, which I had to do every 3 days for 9 days, and then Kat came out this afternoon to check our progress. She said that she couldn’t believe how well the wound had healed – it has completely closed over – and said tendon damage would be assessed in a couple of weeks with a scan. Given that Scarlet seems pretty sound when she walks on the yard, this is a pretty good sign that the tendon is healing  Excitingly, Scarlet can now be turned out onto the yard during the day to wander around, and I can egin walking her out in hand. Five minutes a day for a week, increasing by a further 5 minutes each week for 8 weeks. If that all goes well, we can think about ridden work!

So on the whole, it’s pretty awesome news, although I am gutted that we’re going to miss the eventing season.

Team Dragonfly went off to BETA International yesterday at the NEC in Birmingham. We love this annual trade fair, meeting and greeting old and new suppliers and manufacturers. They do great demos and have big name riders there as well, supporting the companies who sponsor them. We arrived at about 11am, and headed straight for the coffee bar, to revive ourselves after a 3 hour drive and figure out a game plan. My main aims for the day were to meet as many riders as possible, do lots of tweets and write a wish list of all the new stock that’s being brought out in the next twelve months.

This got off to a pretty good start – we were perusing the Westgate stand and spotted Francis Whittington! I promptly tweeted this ( I know, I’m *that* person) and was thrilled to get a response later in the afternoon! We then chatted to the Gatehouse rep, and tried on some of their hats. We promptly placed an order for their iconic silver HS1 helmets, and some of their gorgeous show jumping hats. Can’t wait to get those in next week, and put up lots of images in-store of Zara Phillips and Sir Mark Todd wearing theirs!

So we were off to a pretty solid start, and we headed over to the John Whitaker International stand, because Mum wants to stock their show-jumping saddles. After about ten minutes, I noticed an older gentleman walk on to the stand. I nudged Holly so hard she squeaked and whispered that the one and only JOHN WHITAKER had just turned up!!! She looked unimpressed, because she has only been “horsey” for the past three years or so, whereas I idolised riders like the Whitakers from the age of four. I have his autograph on a Union Jack flag from stalking him at Hickstead when I was thirteen! Along with Nick Skelton, Geoff Billington, William Funnell, Guy Williams... you get the picture. I then spent a further ten minutes dithering before Holly prodded me into action and, blushing furiously, I asked His Holiness for a photo, which he was very nice about and is probably used to 14 year olds asking for his picture all the time.

Unfortunately I’m 26 and that’s just a bit sad.

 Mum, in the meantime, had been left unsupervised and as a result had placed a huge order for saddles...

So, we beat a hasty retreat and I gleefully pored over the photos of me and my mate John, but was a bit disappointed – in the first photo he was looking away from the camera in a slightly puzzled fashion, and in the second he was looking in the right place and I was gurning at something over Holly’s shoulder. I’ll still put them all over Facebook, Twitter and my blog, of course!

Next up we visited Neue Schule, Horseware, Verdo Bedding, and Griffin NuuMed before deciding it was time for lunch, where we found ourselves sat next to a chronic cougher... We missed Charlotte Dujardin’s meet and greet in the Demonstration Arena, which I was a bit gutted about – when we arrived they were interviewing Alistair Stewart, rather randomly. However, I cheered myself up with a trip to see our rep at Barnsby Saddles, Lisa. They won the BETA Innovation prize last year for their i-tree, and have been building up a lot of excitement and interest around the product since then. Barnsby sponsor some great riders, including Victoria Bax, who I’m sure lots of you follow on social media and does a fab job in retraining ex racehorses, and Laura Collett, who I basically want to be. Sadly I’m lacking in the talent and sponsorship department... Most excitingly of all, Barnsby sponsor Mary King, and she just happened to be on the stand at the same time as us!!! Again, I’m pretty sure I have her autograph stashed away somewhere as well, but we went one better this time and I got a photo with her  She did a double take when she saw me and said, “Don’t I recognise you?” and I though, uh-oh, my stalking has gone too far! but I just stammered something about god knows what, and thrust the camera at the rep. Of course, now I wish I’d said, “Oh, maybe you saw my article in Horse & Hound last month?” and then I could have bored her to death about Scarlet and she would have said that she LOVED my article and would I please ghost her next autobiography, and perhaps I could go and stay with her in Devon and try out some of her horses, maybe even keep one as a thank you...? But I’m a goon and didn’t say any of that, and nor did she. So instead I have a photo of tall, slim Mary next to a short, blushing idiot.

That excitement over, we visited more stands, talked to more lovely reps and oohed and aahed over more exciting products. Kanyon’s MD was on their stand, and he talked to us about a really smart new short boot coming out, which is waterproof and warm but stylish with it. We caught the tail end of the MD of Charles Owen discussing hat safety, and giving retailers tips on how to cope with the people who buy hats online, and thus don’t bother to get them fitted, or WORSE, people who come in and get hats fitted and then go and buy them online from somewhere else! I’m sure you lot all know that hats HAVE to be fitted if they’re going to be any good at protecting your noggin, but we do get people in who don’t realise that all hats, even same makes and models, can vary in size and shape according to batch, so it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference if you “know” your hat size. Hat safety is not something to be scrimped on!

I then spotted Headstrong Equestrian, one of my social media buddies, and said hello and we had a quick chat about our horses. We’ve both suffered setbacks with our mares in terms of injury, and we both have similar ambitions in terms of bringing on green horses to event. She’s got a lovely young Welton mare, and has just bought an ex-racehorse who looks jolly nice – pop over and see how they’re getting on at her blog.

I then had to leave this wondrous place and drive home to put Scarlet to bed, but Mum and Holly stayed overnight, as they had appointments to see the likes of Toggi, Tredstep, Charles Owen, Champion, Fairfax (formerly Thorowgood) etc etc. So they will fill me in over the course of the week and if Scarlet hasn’t done anything interesting I’ll blog about that too!

PS. Speaking of Fairfax, their new Performance Girths (standard and dressage) are going incredibly well. Given their price point, I admit this has taken me by surprise, though there’s no denying it’s a brilliant and innovative product! Gift Horse Eventing has bought one and loves it, and we’ve sold a fair number in the shop and online... Who knew! We do offer a trial service for them, if you’re not convinced.

Written by Laura Paine From Dragonfly Saddlery And Pets

Laura's Weekly Blog Post - An Update On The Patient

Firstly, thanks so much to everyone who has sent such nice messages and comments of support – Scarlet and I are very grateful! I’m so happy to be able to say that Scarlet’s operation went well, and her recovery seems to be coming along nicely.
The day of the operation was pretty tense, as the operation was scheduled for mid morning, but as it involved a general anaesthetic the vet warned that we shouldn’t expect a phone call until 5pm at the very earliest as they don’t call the owners until the horse has come round and is safely back in the stables. So it was an unexpected treat to get the phone call at 3:45pm! Apparently Scarlet had thrown off the anaesthetic in the same way she fights sedation!
The specialist from Newmarket said there was a hole in the superficial digital flexor tendon, which runs over the hock joint and bursar sac. He stitched it up, after having a good poke around with his camera, and stitched a stent bandage over the top. Then he put a plaster cast (a proper, solid plaster cast!) over the hock joint, to immobilise it.
The vet advised us that this cast would need to be kept on for two weeks, which seemed extraordinary to me – I had no idea a plaster cast could be put on a horse, much less over the hock joint! If a person had their knee in a cast, they wouldn’t be able to walk without the help of crutches, at least!
We went up to visit her the next day, thrilled to bits that she was OK after the general anaesthetic. She looked a bit sorry for herself, and it was weird seeing her trying to move around her box without being able to move her hock – she had to swing her leg from the stifle, which looked very awkward.
The next few days were much the same, with Scarlet full of antibiotics and painkillers and adjusting to limited movement. By Tuesday, however, she was in real discomfort. I drove over to see her after work and she was unable to bear any weight on her injured leg. The specialist happened to be at the surgery, operating on another horse, and he had said he would pop by to see how she was doing. Seeing her in that state led him to advise removing the cast, to see if it was the source of the pain. I watched the vet lead her out of her box and it was awful - she was hopping like she had been the first day of the injury. She was sweating up and her ears were back. Bless her, she followed the vet, instead of just refusing to budge which I think I would have done! They gave her sedation so she wouldn’t be worried by the noise and feel of the electric saw (one false move!) and I stood by her head, pulling her ears and stroking her as she grew sleepy. I was in tears by this point, convinced that infection had reared its ugly head and she’d have to be put to sleep. The vets were very kind, and they busied themselves with the saw and coaxing the cast off.
The specialist pointed out where the cast had rubbed, and said that although it was difficult to say for sure, as the stent bandage was stitched in place, it looked as though the wound was free from sepsis. He said he felt the best course of action was to leave the cast off and use the pressage bandage instead. He said it wasn’t ideal, as this would allow for more movement and thus risked opening up the wound, but the poor horse was in too much pain to put the cast back on. He said the next 48 hours were crucial - if she improved dramatically it would confirm his theory that it was the cast causing problems; if she remained the same, the wound would need further x rays and scans. This could mean she needed the operation to be done again, which I knew my insurance would not stretch to.
As ever, Scarlet began to come round from the sedation more quickly than anticipated, so the bandage was put on as quickly as possible and she wobbled back into her stable. Just minutes last she started whickering for her dinner and nibbling my fingers, so she was certainly feeling better. I finally left, feeling utterly sick. I spent the rest of the evening in tears, utterly panic stricken and miserable.
Mum promised that she would visit her the next morning and report back to me, so I whiled away an anxious morning at work, wondering how she was. It was a huge relief when Mum rang at lunchtime to tell me that Scarlet was “a hundred times better” than the previous evening. She was bearing weight on the leg, had devoured two haynets and was generally a happy bunny.
Happily, my little poppet has continued to improve. The vets and the nurse have all remarked on her, um, healthy appetite (one of them actually called her greedy) and agreed that she was getting cheekier as her condition improved. She was having noisy conversations with the horse in the next door stable, and was also getting through twice as many haynets as him! I’ve visited her every evening after work and at the weekend, and she’s improved each time I’ve seen her - bearing weight and moving more comfortably, looking bright eyed and poking her nose in my pockets searching for carrots and “Uncle Jimmy’s Squeezy Buns”!
Scarlet still has a long road ahead of her before she is fighting fit again and making a nuisance of herself - and of course, there is the possibility that she will never be 100% sound - but she has shown tremendous resilience and strength already. She’ll be allowed home this week, and we have weeks of box rest and controlled exercise stretching ahead of us, but given that less than a week ago I thought she was going to die, I will gladly stick with this boring regime!
I’ll keep you posted on her progress, and thanks again for all your kind words. They’ve made a hideous two weeks almost bearable…

Written By Laura from Dragonfly Saddlery & Pets