Cross Country At Last! by Laura Paine

A couple of weekends ago we headed off to Coombelands for our first cross country outing in 20 months. I was bricking it as usual, even though I was thrilled to be back on a cross country course. Scarlet was being suspiciously quiet and well behaved as we warmed up with the other two horses, popping the small practise fences nicely and working in a soft outline. We even got the right canter strike off! We headed off onto the course and Scarlet and I took the lead, jumping a small log to a palisade to shark teeth running downhill on a curve. She thought the sharks teeth were pretty scary and we had a tussle over it before she popped it. Unfortunately the next person fell off at the palisade - her horse over jumped and threw her off balance, so he helped her out of the saddle by putting in a cheeky buck. He then whizzed off up the field back to the lorry park.

 

Both were fine, luckily, but it caused a very long delay which made Scarlet very stressed and she started jigging around, grinding her teeth and being a pain in the butt. I whimpered at Caroline and she told me to take her off and work her, and not let her get away with anything. This helped get Scarlet's concentration back although I could see her eyeballing everything, but for the rest of the session I had to keep her trotting and cantering in between fences, whereas other horses were happy to just stand and watch. She was leaning on my hand quite heavily which she always does when she's stressed, which made her feel strong and I felt I couldn't adjust her pace much at all when approaching jumps. But, she was absolutely fantastic over the straightforward fences, cantering and popping without hesitation. She was naughty with ditches but we jumped several open ditches so I was pleased. I say naughty because she slammed the brakes on and then gazed off into the distance, totally unconcerned by the ditch in front of her. Caroline insisted she jump from a standstill but this really worried me, as Scarlet wasn't looking where her feet were going and I could imagine her falling right in it. Caroline said she wouldn't - "she's not daft" - but actually "daft" is exactly what Scarlet is. She was being stubborn rather than frightened and I knew it, because Caroline was running, yelling and waving her coat at her to make her go forward over the ditch and Scarlet took not a blind bit of notice. If she was frightened, this would have definitely had a reaction!

 

We also jumped the dreaded trakehner! I fell off at this two years ago, and would have again this time had it not been for my RS-tor! We jumped it on our third attempt and I was absolutely delighted. Scarlet's great with water, and we ended up doing steps in, steps out, and cantering through to a meaty house two strides out of the water. By this point we were soaked the skin thanks to a torrential downpour... We battled on, and went on to jump roll tops, log piles, banks, steps, and more ditches, before finishing in fine style down a line of fences, which Scarlet flew over. We ended with that amazing buzz you can only get from a brilliant cross country round. She had completely calmed down by now, and strolled back to the horsebox as cool as a cucumber.

 

She then took an hour to load. Again, we were eventually assisted by a very strong man, who walked Scarlet in a hoof at a time. She's got a neat trick of making her knees go rigid so I can't pick her feet up, but this guy deadlegged her behind the knees and she was beat. Little scamp. Loading practise next weekend!

 

So a very busy few weeks, and I'm so pleased with her progress. She's also sound as a pound, most importantly. We've got lots more planned - combined training, jump lessons, and hopefully a one day event in a few weeks. Nothing we do is pretty or stylish, but it's a heck of a lot of fun :) 

 

For some cross country clips on my round with Scarlet, please take a look at these:-

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVsWWMCwbOE

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZj12-294G0

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8vwf2FrUsA

 

 

Written by Laura Paine of Dragonfly Saddlery

Back On The Road by Laura Paine

What a month it's been! Lots to update on so I hope you're sitting comfortably.

 

Scarlet and I have finally been getting out and about to parties, our first one with Caroline Jeanne, a lovely instructor and former four star eventer, who reintroduced jumping to us a few weeks ago. Buoyed by this great experience, we rather recklessly decided to go to Coombelands for their unaffiliated show jumping, which is on a beautiful all weather arena.

 

We planned to leave with enough time to get there an hour before the 60cm clear round started, so that I could warm her up for as long as necessary. Unfortunately Scarlet had other plans, all of which involved refusing to go anywhere near my recently purchased horsebox. We're pretty good at loading horses generally, with the lunge line round the bottom usually convincing them to go in. It's always worked on Scarlet in the past, who likes to dither and daydream at the bottom of the ramp and needs a bit of gentle persuasion. This time however she wasn't budging. She had that look in her eye that only mares get, the one that says, "you and whose army?"

 

So we stood there for about half an hour, coaxing and cajoling, occasionally muttering a rude word or threatening her with a trip to Tesco, until Mum's next door neighbour came out and offered her considerable strength. Hoof by furious hoof, she walked a very cross Scarlet into the box. So forty five minutes behind schedule, we made our stressed and sweaty way to Coombelands. By the time we'd warmed up and Scarlet had stopped being an utter tw*t over the warm up jumps, we'd missed the clear round, so we had to go straight into the 60cm class. Obviously Scarlet found the whole experience too much, and to my eternal shame we were eliminated at fence 1. We clambered over it and the tannoy told us we could do one more fence, so we carried on to fence 2, which was identical to 1. And she stopped. We were asked to leave the ring while I shrieked "IT'S THE SAME FENCE YOU STUPID HORSE" at the stupid horse, who proceeded to do a huge spook as we left the arena, earning herself a smacked bottom.

 

The organisers took pity on us and our feebleness, and said we could go in again, HC. I was feeling more determined by now (and humiliated) so I rode more positively second time around. Scarlet stopped at fence 1 again. I hissed "sausages" at her and she bravely leapt over it. We managed to complete the course this time, with about 8 refusals throughout. In her defence, it was a very spooky course, with fillers at every jump, and she hasn't seen a course of fillers since September 2012. I was thrilled to have gotten round, and quickly sent my groom to enter the next class, which was 70cm. I went back into the warm up to have a pop over the cross pole to bolster my confidence, so of course Scarlet slammed the brakes on, snorting wildly.

In we went to the 70cm, feeling quite ill (me) and furious (also me), and maybe slightly hysterical (me and Scarlet). We got round with perhaps four or five refusals this time, but at least in this round I felt that she was enjoying herself, and in fact the refusals were down to poor steering by me. The course wasn't very well designed - you'd come off the right rein, jump a related distance on a left bearing dog leg and then have to haul round to the right again. I was using an RS-tor strap for the first time, and although it saved me several times from unscheduled dismounts, it stopped me from being able to open my hands nice and wide to help my hopelessly unbalanced lunatic get round corners and turns. So I was actually very pleased with that third round. Yep, despite being technically eliminated in all three rounds, we were happy!

 

I'm not gonna lie, it's enormously frustrating that Scarlet can be such a pillock about show jumps, and it makes me green with envy when I see other people who have had their horses for far less time than I've had Scarlet jumping clear round 2'3 courses, but I also know I need to ride her more bravely. Now I have the RS-tor strap I think I'll have more confidence to kick her into a fence without worrying that she'll stop and spin. The more leg I ride with the less likely she is to do that, but she's not above a dirty stop, and there's nothing more confidence sapping that believing you're about to hit the deck.

 

Despite our poor showing at the show jumping, I booked in for a cross country session at Coombelands with Caroline Jeanne. I was super psyched about it - I know Coombelands like the back of my hand, and Scarlet's been there twice before (one fall to date)

 

Before the cross country, I had a lesson with my usual instructor, Janet, who I haven't seen since the autumn of 2012, as we were competing a lot that winter (unsuccessfully but joyously) and then Scarlet was kicked. So it was with some nerves that I warmed up one evening after work waiting for Janet to appear. Scarlet hasn't got a great track record with lessons at home - she's inattentive at best, and at worst she's nucking futs, leaping around and being an absolute tool.

 

So we were all pleasantly surprised that she behaved beautifully in the lesson, producing some really lovely trot work and even getting the right canter lead! It was easily the best lesson at home we've had, and we were both exhausted by the end from working so hard. Janet always likes us to have a jump at the end of a flatwork lesson, which Scarlet always (literally, always) disgraces herself at - jumping at home is, for some reason, more terrifying to her than when we're out. I had rather thought I'd gotten away with it as we don't have any jumps in the school we use now, but sadly Janet is very resourceful. My heart sank to my boots as she dragged out two old fence posts and set up two trotting poles. However, Sally Sensible walked and trotted over them with no drama. But imagine my horror when Janet then produced a blue water bucket(!) and set up a jump! I announced that there was no way I would get Scarlet over that and please could we just call it a day there before anyone ended up on the floor? Janet obviously told me to shut up and get on with it, so I mournfully gathered my knitting up and trotted towards the tiny jump, which may as well have been a puissance wall.

To everyone's astonishment, Scarlet popped over it! She was very pleased with herself, and skipped over it several more times, without so much as a glance at the bucket. We all cheered and whooped, forgetting perhaps that I've had this horse for four years, therefore the fact that we were thrilled she decided she could an eighteen inch rail is actually is quite a depressing realisation of our painfully slow progress... That said, I'm so glad she's back and staying sound (*touches all the wood*) and even, dare I say it, relatively sane!

 

Written by Laura Paine of Dragonfly Saddlery

Our First Proper Outing In 16 Months! by Laura Paine

Finally a *proper* blog post about Scarlet that doesn’t revolve around her being lame or monstrous. A few weeks ago I bankrupted myself once more and bought a horsebox. I decided there was no point having a sound horse if we couldn’t actually go anywhere, and as my ancient 4x4 died last year and we always had to borrow a trailer anyway, it seemed like the logical option (a compelling argument I think you’ll agree, which magically my bank manager went along with. So I’m now the proud owner of a K reg Mercedes two horse lorry, which is amazing and surprises me every time I drive to the yard and see it sitting there in the driveway.

 

This meant we could finally take the mad old boot out to some parties! So we entered the Pony Club hunter trial at Wivelsden as I mentioned in my last post, thinking that as cross country is our strongest phase, it would be a good first time out. Mum then found out about some BE show jumping training with Caroline Jeanne, a brilliant and sympathetic instructor who has competed at 4* level. We did some XC arena schooling with her in 2012 and I really liked her - I was a quivering jelly and she totally put me at ease and had us happily jumping 2’9” courses by the end of the session, including skinnies, angled rails and corners. So we booked in for that as well, thinking we could do that first thing and then go cross country in the afternoon. We walked Wivelsden the evening before, and were a bit dismayed by the going -it was very rutted and overgrown with boggy patches. We decided to wait and see how the morning’s jumping went before making a decision about whether to run or not.

 

So, the following morning we got Scarlet washed and dressed (we usually travel her fully clobbered because she loves to whirl around at parties) and ready to load with plenty of time to lunge her for 20 minutes before our session began. Scarlet of course had other plans. She crept up the ramp of the box, snorting and sniffing, and then, JUST as she decided to go in, she slipped. All hell broke loose. She leapt in the air, whipped round (yanking the rope out of my hand, ouchies) and galloped down the ramp and into the lane, knocking my poor mother clean over as she went. Thankfully she stopped at a gateway to whinny at some geldings and a passing horsey person grabbed her. So with a cut fetlock (Scarlet), a grazed arm and hand (Mum) and ropeburn (me), we managed to eventually load and go. We arrived five minutes late, so that was lunging out, but Caroline was very kind and suggested we lunge until I felt Scarlet was ready. Of course, Scarlet likes to show me up, so although she came out of the box drenched in sweat as usual, she behaved beautifully on the lunge, and stood like a rock when Mum legged me up after five minutes. We joined the other two horses and riders who were warming up, and although she was a bit gobby at first, she started to settle and work nicely, which helped settle my nerves.

    

The other two then started jumping over a cross pole and upright, but Caroline told me to keep warming up as I was and to walk and trot over a couple of poles she had laid out for me. This is what I mean about her - she’s a great instructor because she assesses what she sees in front of her, not what she wants to see. It made me feel so much better, knowing she didn’t expect us to keep up with the lovely horses in the group!

 

Scarlet walked and trotted over the poles quite nicely, which cheered me up, as she’s usually an utter boob about poles on the ground. Caroline then put up a small cross pole, which, predictably, Scarlet shot sideways at. Caroline said I was riding too defensively and putting the horse off, so the next time round I tried to be more positive. Scarlet was enjoying herself now though, and refused to go near the cross pole for a while. Caroline turned her attentions back to the proper horses, and we bimbled about, eventually leaping over the dangerous cross pole. We trotted and cantered over it a few more times, and then jumped a different upright which she didn’t hesitate at, despite the dog running in front of it as we approached! We then tackled an upright on a related distance to another upright with fillers pulled out to the wings. Cue slamming on of brakes and much snorting, so Caroline put it down to a pole on the ground which we high stepped over, then represented to it as a cross pole and then as an upright, before combining the two jumps together. Scarlet was good as gold, and flew them, looking very pleased with herself. I was thrilled to bits, and actually disappointed when Caroline said that was a good place to finish. The other two had done brilliantly, jumping a 1.05m course with lots of fillers and related distances, but I couldn’t have been happier with our three fences of 1ft6! Scarlet had behaved impeccably, working well around other horses in a big open field over coloured fences. We’re not the most stylish combination yet, but the very fact that she behaved so well is more than good enough for me. And the fact that she’s sound is pretty awesome, too!

 

I was then keen to take her cross country as planned, but my mum, Caroline and another girl in the group advised against it, given that the ground was bad and Scarlet had been so good already. They said she deserved to spend the afternoon in the field, and to not risk upsetting her delicate nature with a hunter trials. So I sulkily agreed, and accepted that this was sage advice. We’re now booked in for a cross country schooling session with Caroline at Coombelands in a couple of weeks, which I’m really looking forward to.

 

Scarlet is beginning to work really well in the school now, and we lunge her in the Equiami lungeing aid, which encourages her to drop her nose, round her back and work through from behind. Although she’s scatty and has endless energy, she can be pretty idle in the school and not work from behind, so the Equiami is a very useful tool for us. It helps to contain her high spirits and convert it to impulsion and engagement rather than speed.


That said, nothing in the world can contain her when she sees the goats in the field next to the school headbutting each other...

 

Here are some video clips of our outing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlVI32Ser4M

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKrqxWcoGaA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ff8OyRNjFFw

 

Written by Laura Paine of Dragonfly Saddlery

More Fun and Games! by Laura Paine

I've done something very silly... I've entered Scarlet into a hunter trial. It'll be her first outing since her accident last year - that's 15 months ago! I should probably write my will. For some reason I find dressage and show-jumping far more nerve racking than cross country, and it makes sense for the first time out after such a lengthy break to be something that will terrify me the least, so I can give Scarlet confidence.

 

That's the plan, anyway.

 

Scarlet is such a funny horse, full of quirks and odd behaviours that I can't understand and certainly can't predict. Sometimes I wonder if she's a bit too spicy for me, and get very gloomy about it, but then we'll have a great flatwork session or a nice, peaceful hack in the sunshine - it must have been after one of those days that I entered for the hunter trials!

 

We've started lunging her in the Equi-ami lungeing aid, and she's working really well in it. She's lunged using two lunge reins - one in the usual place and one round her bottom, which stops her turning in (she's frightened of the lunge whip, natch) - and the Equi-ami encourages her to work from behind and accept a contact. Occasionally a goat or two will pop into the school, so that keeps us all on our toes.

 

She's starting to work really well under saddle as well, accepting the contact and occasionally even carrying herself. Despite her bottomless pit of energy, she starts to flag after about 30-40 minutes, and gets very heavy in front, so I try to keep her schooling sessions to 30 minutes for now, but of course if she prats around for 20 minutes first, she has to stay much longer.

 

What's been really interesting is that we're still having the old problem of not getting canter on the right lead. She strikes off on the left lead perfectly, but the right lead, under saddle, still flummoxes her. So, given that nine times out of ten she'll strike off on the right lead on the lunge, we decided to test something... I go into sitting trot but keep my legs still, rather than sliding my outside leg back, and Mum (standing in the middle to supervise) gives her the vocal aid to canter. And it works! So obviously it's something to do with my weight distribution, and suggests she's not in physical pain whe cantering right under saddle. Which is good news! Mum gives the vocal aid because she's the one who lunges the beast, so Scarlet is tuned in to her "caaaaanTA!!!", but we'll work on that.

We're hacking out fairly tentatively at the moment. I drag poor Mum out around the hills, and occasionally hack out with my friend down the lane, which means we can go further afield. A few weeks ago we headed out for a two hour hack, with some great canter work and lots of trotting and good behaviour. I was thrilled, and waved goodbye to my friend who turned for home leaving me and Scarlet to plod the last fifteen minutes home alone. Scarlet took unexpected umbrage at this, and dumped me, before hightailing it off back in the direction we'd come. My friend saw this, and galloped off after her, along with lots of foot followers - yep, we had quite an audience! Thankfully she was caught and hadn't managed to break any bones or bleed any blood, but she had snapped her reins in several different places, so it was quite a long walk home for us. A real pity, because she'd been angelic the rest of the ride, and it knocked my confidence considerably.

 

Still, that's horses for you, and I am genuinely looking forward to our first outing on May 18th - watch this space!

 

Written by Laura Paine of Dragonfly Saddlery

 

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.

 

However.

 

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