The Ginger Missile Exploded

Due to limited time, I decided to lunge on Wednesday evening.
Whether it was spring fever, the down-pour of rain that was here all day (hence the soggy pony) or just pure excitement I do not know- all I know is that I’m very glad I wasn’t on his back!

He lunged nicely in walk and felt a bit more excited in trot so I asked mum if she could video him when I asked for canter as people don’t always believe that Rupert can be naughty, especially when he’s so laid back on the ground. Poor quality photos but you get the idea!

Bronc

Bucking

Fly Kick

Bums Up

Rupert Bucking

I schooled him the day after and (thankfully!!) we kept all 4 feet on the ground!

Charlotte x

Dressage Divas (hopefully)

Anybody who knows me knows I enjoy jumping and dressage really isn’t my thing. Obviously, I can’t jump Rupert every day of the week and to be able to jump well, flatwork is an essential.

I’ve recently gone back to having fortnightly lessons after not having lessons for over a year, and I alternate each lesson between jumping and flatwork. Since Kath has forced persuaded me to have a go at a dressage competition down at Long Lane Equestrian at the end of the series, I really need to step it up a level if I don’t want to embarrass ourselves!

I think Emma, my instructor, probably cried internally when I asked for a flatwork lesson and she saw what she had to work with! She has, however, seemed to work miracles as we’ve only had 2 flatwork lessons (and practice in between) so far and already he’s working a lot rounder and his lateral work (which I’d kind of abandoned since Rupert always got tense and galloped off when I asked for any kind of lateral movement) is slowly improving, with his leg yield and turn-on-the forehand getting better, as well as rein back.

I doubt I’ll ever prefer dressage to jumping, but flatwork is much more interesting and pleasurable now Rupert isn’t fighting me all the time.
If you see me down at Long Lane at some point with a chunky ginger horse, feel free to come and laugh at us!

Charlotte x

The Ginger Missile

Somebody was feeling a bit fresh and excited to jump!

Long stride

Rather strong and I was just a passenger! 

He started the session off by being forward (as usual) but sensible. He was finding the jumps too easy so I decided to put fillers underneath the fences and all of a sudden, he turned into a very excited ginger missile!

Filler Upright

Happy Rupert

He’s definitely enjoying his jumping!

Rupert overjump

He also decided to grow wings 

Even though he was incredibly strong and forward, making him much more difficult to ride, we both had a very positive and rewarding session. I think it might be time to start challenging him a bit more and taking him out to some competitions when I can.

Charlotte x

Loving Lunging

Rupert used to be a nightmare to lunge. He’d walk round in a lovely circle, popped him in to a trot and he went nicely for about 5 strides before he decided it was too difficult and he’d drift through his outside shoulder and gallop off, either leaving me in the middle of the school trying to calm him down before I could try again, or doing a skiing act being dragged along behind him!

It was fair to say I hated lunging and avoided it at all costs.

Until Rupert’s shoulder got so tight he wasn’t moving right, and the physio said he needed to do lots of lunging/long-reining over poles and I had no choice but to try it again.

long-lining-over-poles-in-the-sunshine

So when my old yard put in a lunging pen, I thought that he couldn’t gallop off and maybe this was the perfect way to get him to understand the concept of staying on a circle.

Long story short, he now lunges on a circle without pulling away (often!), and I love it.

Whilst attempting to pass my A-Levels, work 2 jobs and have a social life, it’s hard to find time to fit it all in, let alone with a horse on top of that. I have to be extra careful with Rupert’s weight, especially now he’s living out 24/7, meaning that he really can’t afford to have too many days off.
With the Pessoa taking just 2 minutes to pop on (once set up. I’ll admit, trying to organise each rope baffled me to start with!), I can lunge and that’s a quick 20 minutes of exercise to keep the pounds off, whilst the Pessoa encourages him to work correctly.

Pessoa

It’s also nice to be able to watch how he’s moving, as well as giving him something different to do from time-to-time so he doesn’t get bored.jumping on lunge

Although I don’t like to lunge too often, it’s safe to say I’m a lunging convert!

Charlotte x

www.soarequestrian.co.uk

The Biggest Loser- Horse Edition!

Most people will watch their horse’s weight fluctuate throughout the year despite their best efforts to maintain a constant weight. However, Rupert has been weighed by professionals on 3 separate occasions, and the results range by 100kg!

Rupert has always been a chunky cob standing at approximately 15.1/15.2hh (one of my jobs this summer is to measure him properly!), but he became very ill just 3 months after I bought him. He had an issue with his liver (although the problem was never diagnosed, he had symptoms matching atypical myopathy aka sycamore seed poisoning) and his weight and muscle just seemed to drop overnight. He was weighed just 2 weeks after his health became more stable, where he weighed 492kg. And quite frankly, he looked awful. It looked like the life had been sucked out of him and his muscles had just vanished, especially over his quarters.

He gradually began to put his weight back on, but by summer, he had definitely but too much back on! A combination of 2 weeks off due to my summer holiday and having to move into a field with plenty of grass proved to be a problem in the weight department, despite having soaked hay when he came back into his stable during the day.

Rupert hacking- fat

When he moved yards, there was a 2 week quarantine period. Now my plan was to hack him around the village and lunge him in the field he was staying in as it was fairly flat. I attempted to lunge him for the first time and ended up being dragged along as he decided to gallop up the field and promptly decided that I wouldn’t even try to hack him until I could school him for a few days as I didn’t have a death wish! So, another 2 weeks off work for Rupert.

However, when he finally moved up to the yard after his quarantine period, he was the fattest he’d ever been. Not morbidly obese, but definitely something that could not be ignored. When the weigh scales came to the yard just a few weeks after I’d arrived, I was shocked to find out that Rupert now weighed 595kg. He’d gained a whole 100kg. Yes, when he was first weighed he was poorly and he was now at his heaviest, but I was still shocked. It just goes to show how quickly it can pile on!

So I decided Rupert had to go on boot camp. With 2 jobs and on my final year of A-Levels, as well as trying to see my friends and not ditch them for the horse (they know who is my favourite anyway!), it can be hard to find time to ride him every day. I aimed to exercise him 5 or 6 days a week, and on the days I didn’t have time to ride, I always popped him on the lunge for 15 minutes just to burn a few extra calories. When I can, we go on hacks with Haylie when she takes the hunters out, so we both come back sweating and rather tired as we try to keep up with the very fit hunting horses. I’d often go down to the yard in the evening and ride before it got dark, meaning that I was ready to leave at 5.30 once I’d mucked out and done all of my jobs as well as ride. Knowing that Rupert scoffs his haynet, I can’t bear the thought of leaving him at 5.30 and being certain that’ll his net will be finished by 6.30 and he’ll be stood for the rest of the night without any food. Luckily, the yard is so close to my house that I gave him a tiny net with small holes when I left my the yard to pass him over, then I’d go back at 7.30 to give him more hay that was double netted and his dinner comprising of a handful of Spillers Happy Hoof Molasses Free and Spillers Daily Balancer.

And this is the result:

Rupert 10.03.17

Rupert 10.03.17 (with a tail swish as I bribed him with a carrot to put his ears forward!)

He was weighed just last week and he’s lost 55kg since the last weigh bridge visit. There’s still a way to go with his fitness and as he’ll be living out 24/7 very soon, I’m going to have to watch his weight very careful. I’ll have plenty more time to ride soon though- that’s what study leave is for, right?!

For any equine dietary advice, I can’t recommend Spillers Care-Line enough!

Charlotte x

An Unexpected Valentine’s Day

Imagine the typical Valentine’s Day. Candle-lit dinner in a cosy, warm place and a nice relaxed dinner with your loved one, yes?

Mine was the exact opposite.

I’ve always wanted to go hunting, but with Rupert always being almost uncontrollably strong jumping in the school, I thought I ought to give it a miss if I wanted to live! But when Zoe, a lady on my yard, asked if I’d like to go to the Quorn Hunt Meet that were meeting at Grace Dieu Priory (meaning that we could hack to it) and I was on my half term holiday, it seemed silly to miss the opportunity!

Then when I decided to go, it seemed silly to go. I only had one day notice as it was a very last minute decision for us to go, which became problematic when I realised that 1) I had a very hairy horse as his clip had grown out 2) I can’t clip (well). Thankfully, Haylie managed to find time to clip the hairy beast so he looked a bit more presentable than bog pony!

rupert-clipped

Clipped and looking much smarter

My second problem was how strong Rupert is, making the idea of galloping and jumping in open spaces in a pack of fit, enthusiastic horses that know their job slightly daunting. As he is usually ridden in a Pelham with roundings (that doesn’t really offer much brakes!), I decided to opt for the shock tactic and change his bit the day before back to the Cheltenham Gag (which, when I previously tried it to jump in, made very minimal difference) as a last resort.

With our tack cleaned, boots cleaned, horses’ legs washed, jackets on, girths tightened and hip flasks full to the brim, we headed off. We were running a tad late which meant I didn’t have time to plait his mane (which I’m soooo gutted about- not! Let’s just say plaiting is not my forte) but I went with the mindset that although he didn’t look quite as smart, it was something extra to grab on to if necessary!

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Very traditional for hunting- Jagermeister and a sparkly pink hip flask!

We arrived at Grace Dieu Priory and Bea (Zoe’s horse), a relatively experienced hunter, started prancing about. My newbie horse stood like a rock- instant brownie points to him. After a glass (or two) of port, we set off. Rupert and Bea both wore red ribbons in their tails as a precaution, and due to mine and Rupert’s inexperience, we stayed near the back of the pack. A fall at the first fence for a girl I know from my previous yard definitely didn’t help my confidence! Luckily, she and her horse were fine and we all continued.

I was expecting Rupert to be bolting, tanking and yanking my arms out of their sockets all day long. I was wrong. He was a total angel the entire day, I didn’t have to fight to pull him up once, yet he was as responsive to my leg as ever. He was very brave about everything and was especially clever when we had to turn round to find another route and we had to negotiate a gap in a wall followed immediately by a leafy drop into a ditch and back up a slope that was even more difficult due to the overhanging branches, particularly as he was the first horse to go through (bar the Field Masters). There were several questions that day and he didn’t question me once which is incredible for a horse that some times decides to run out at a 20cm cross pole! Very proud mummy moment.

hunting-break

Even though I was aching all over (we concluded I hadn’t quite drank enough sloe gin and jager!), I loved the entire day and I’m so grateful for Zoe accompanying us and for the Quorn Hunt being so welcoming. I think we’ve finally found Rupert’s niche in life, so we’ll try to get out to Hunt Meets as often as possible now and work on our fitness.

Next stop: Quorn Hunt Ball on Saturday!

out-hunting

P.S: the boyfriend did treat me that evening, didn’t hate me for choosing the horse over him and coped with my complains of aching by making sure my wine glass was never empty!

 

Re-location, Re-location, Re-location!

Lots has happened since I last checked in!

After a space came up on a livery yard just a 1.5 minute drive from my house (or a 10 minute walk if the weather is nice and I decide that I can be bothered to walk!), we realised it was the right time to move Rupert from his previous yard due to practical reasons.

rupert-new-yard

Anybody who knows me knows I LOVE buying rugs, and as I can go down to see Rupert in the morning because it’s so close, I can change his rugs in the morning. Now, for some people that is completely irrelevant, but there’s something lovely about seeing him wrapped up and cosy in his pyjamas at night and then he can have a lighter rug during the day.

This new yard also has an indoor school (that I swore I’d never need as, since my old yard didn’t have an indoor, I was a tough, hardened rider that would exercise my horse in any conditions). Despite my previous thoughts that I would rarely use this indoor arena, I can conclude that it is a brilliant luxury that I’d struggle to be without now. Because why would we choose to get soaked-through with rain and whipped in the face by the wind when we could be inside? Especially since he needs to be exercised 5/6 days per week to keep his shoulder loose as his muscle became tight again at the start of winter (as it did last year as well) and I’ve been working him through it. I can also conclude that I now count as a fair-weather rider!

Rupert has also had to learn about the big, scary world that is road hacking. There are plenty of lovely, off-road hacks around us, but they all involve at least a short stretch on very quiet roads. He was well-behaved when I took him on the road as an almost 5 year old before I owned him, but that’s as far as his experience spanned. As he gets excited in the company of other horses, I decided to take him on a very short hack up to my house (with the non-horsey parents as back up at home if necessary) at 1pm on a Saturday, working on the idea that it would be quiet- and it was. On the way there. On the way back, however, down our small country roads, we met an arctic lorry. Of all things to meet, it had to be that. Rupert turned into a snorting, fire-breathing dragon and flew past as I attempted to throw an apologetic hand up to the lorry driver. Then, as soon as he was one metre past the lorry, he turned back into a donkey- got to love them keeping you on your toes.

With it being half-term next month, I might be able to take Rupert on a little trip in the trailer to go jumping, which may be eventful!

Charlotte x

Charlotte reviews Verm-X

Until I came to Soar Equestrian, I had never heard of herbal intestinal hygiene, or Verm-X.  However, a herbal product makes so much more sense than a chemical wormer! I don’t want to be dosing my horse with unnecessary chemicals, especially when it’s likely to build up a resistance in the worms to your typical chemical wormer (this is a acknowledged problem we are facing).

Not only is it gently effective for worms, but it’s also good for their general intestinal health due to the herbal qualities (see more at http://www.herbsinmedicine.com).  Verm-X are so confident in their products that each pack includes 2 free faecal egg counts, so you can be just as confident that your horse is worm free.
For encysted red worms and tapeworm, a saliva test or a chemical wormer must still be used at least once a year so they are protected against all types of worms.  However, keep an eye out on the progress being made on this by Westgate Labs.

Rupert loves his Verm-X!

Rupert loves his Verm-X!

Now on to my favourite bit- how easy it is! Gone are the days of fighting to get your horse to take all the wormer from a syringe, it’s now a pleasure to worm your horse! I chose to use the pellets for my horse Rupert because I could ensure that he was getting his full dose of Verm-X (as they can either be fed as a treat or added to their feed, and Rupert makes sure his feed bowl has been polished off!), but there are also other options such as liquid.

Rupert loved Verm-X, and I love how easy and effective it is- it’s safe to say I’m a convert!

Verm-X for Rupert the horse

Charlotte reports back on how her horse got on with Verm-X for the first time.

Rupert tried his Verm-X pellets for the first time tonight and as you can see, he loved them!

Rupert has now completed his 5 day Verm-X course- he is protected against worms as well as having a healthy gut, and I can honestly say it’s the easiest way I’ve ever wormed! No hassle, just open the ready-measured packet and pour all the pellets in his dinner- it only 5 seconds each day to worm your horse, and best of all, Rupert loved them and didn’t even realise he was being wormed. Safe to say I’m a convert!

Verm-x pellets for horses and ponies

Charlotte x

Back in Action! 31/3/16

Today, Rupert had a visit from his physiotherapist again to check how he was getting on. Thankfully, she confirmed my thoughts: he looked and felt so much better than he did previously.

First, we popped him on the lunge (anybody who knows Rupert knows that this is normally a challenge which results in him galloping around the school looking rather pleased with himself!) to see how his movement looked. Lots of distractions with horses going out and diggers going by, but he was incredibly well behaved, so brownie points go to Rupert!

We took him back up to the yard where Rupert sunbathed and had a massage whilst Maxine worked over his muscles, particularly his left shoulder which is the tightest and causing the problems.

Back down to the school we went to long line him over some poles to encourage him to stretch and reach forward. This was a new experience for us both, but I think we got on okay, and with more practice it’ll only get better.

long-lining-over-poles-in-the-sunshine

And my favourite news from this session: I can start collecting him again, get him fitter, pop some little jumps and gradually start getting back to normal!

 

Charlotte x