Actually getting to ride!

Rehabbing a big horse like Vallu back into proper work takes a lot of time! More than I had really realised. We have just finished a week of 15 minutes of trot work and 15 minutes of canter, which is actually a long time but currently the time is just spent on trotting and cantering around the arena or doing big circles! But the basics now feel really good, so now we are moving onto lateral work both in trot and in canter (leg yields, shoulder in and half passes) and single flying changes! 
 We're at that really awkward stage where I really need help - I can feel the 8 months without lessons really affecting me, but at the same time it's just not worth going for a lesson when we can do trot and canter circles for 30 minutes but nothing else! I think after a month of lateral work and further fitness work we can start to look for a trainer (my old one is moving to Germany to go work for my brother #badtiming) and see if we could begin with short 30 minute lessons before increasing them to the full hour ones.
Anyone else in that awkward stage of needing a training session but not just being fit enough for it yet?


Swollen legs

Every summer, or whenever it gets warm Vallu struggles with swollen legs. It's just a little bit fluid consistently in every leg with no heat or soreness and absolutely no lameness! After several summers of this with many vet checks and scans later, this summer I have not freaked out as the vets and I have agreed that it is just his legs stocking up due to fluid accumulation, more than likely caused by his weaker than normal lymphatic system. His body simply struggles to to pump fluid back up from his legs. Because of this, the swelling goes away with movement so it's crucial to keep moving to help the horse's legs.

To help we do the following:
Turn out!
Magnetic boots/bandage legs

The best thing I have found is to have Vallu out 4-5 hours in the morning and when he comes in ice the legs. Then ride later in the afternoon/evening, ice the legs again then either put Back on Track boots or bandages on for the night. This type of routine helps Vallu's legs stay relatively normal looking over the worst hot days, but I don't know if this is just him!! We use Finn Tack's Ice Boots as these are the biggest ice boots that I have found and I like the fact that they cover a lot of leg! 
A quick tip for anyone who wants an extra bit of help for their horse's lymphatic system - feed good old nettles, cleaver and/or marigold. These three have been incredibly helpful in giving Vallu's system a boost. We have lots of nettles around our yard at home so I just go cut some into a bucket, put boiling water on top and then once it has cooled down after a few hours mix into his feed! #cheapfix We had fresh cleaver earlier on in spring/summer which I just chucked on top of his hay, but now that they have gone we are buying this Cleaver&Marigold dried herb mix from Hilton Herbs!
Does anyone else's horse suffer from this?


Victory over fear!

I'm SO proud of myself!! I managed to convince myself to go for a hack in the woods with Vallu on our own Friday evening!
I knew that the yard would be quiet on a Friday evening so it would be highly unlikely for us to bump into anyone on the hack and since the weather felt just right = slightly cloudy, windy enough for there not to be bugs but not too windy so that Vallu wouldn't like it, I gave myself the proverbial kick up the bum and declared to my parents that I was going for a hack and that they were to come rescue me if I called them or wasn't back in 30 minutes!

I don't know what it is about that hack and why whenever it's the 'first time' that I'm going alone with Vallu that I have to really psych myself up for it. Vallu loves hacking out nowadays, he's been so good hacking out in England and I have managed to sit to his spooks with a 99% success rate so rationally it makes no sense why I was so scared.
Anyway, I tacked up and off we went before I could chicken out. I'd decided that just for my peace of mind I was going to have the draw reins on. Not use them if everything was calm, use them if Vallu decided to do any fire breathing spaceship impressions. Around half way round the sand track I dared myself to try trotting for a bit - even a few strides of trot would be great and trot we did!! For about a minute, until it all got too exciting and Vallu threw in some really impressive bucks and I declared I was done with trotting hahah! After going round the track once without any major catastrophe, we 'cooled down' walking around the paddocks. It's still not something that I find entirely relaxing with him, but at least I stayed on and next time I can use this success to stay a bit calmer.
Anyone else done anything exciting recently?


Le Mieux over reach boots

Move over Eskadron, there's a new favourite over reach boot brand in my life! I've been a fan of Eskadron's classic over reach boots for the longest time as they last forever and still look good. However... Living in the UK I was introduced to Le Mieux and I LOVE the brand and I'm now on my second pair of over reach boots (and mother has four saddle pads and bandages!)
I've found the depth of these boots to be really good as with over reach boots of other brands I've often found that they are just not big enough to cover the back of the hoof properly. The leather-like outer fabric feels really strong and protective. The double velcro straps means that they are very secure, and I have never lost either of my pairs during riding, lunging or hacking out.

I also loveeeeeee the fact that these are the first over reach boots that I've ever seen to have the colour of the lambskin and outer fabric co-ordinated! I've bought mine from Fur Feather Meds and had them delivered to Finland :) I can highly recommend the over reach boots as well the company!


WOW saddle fitting

Many of my readers will know of my love for WOW saddles and some of you can remember how excited and happy I was to get a WOW saddle for Vallu just over two years ago. I'm incredibly fortunate to have mum as a fully qualified WOW saddle fitter.

Basse had been a bit 'girthy' for a little over a week. He's never been a horse that shows any signs of discomfort when putting a saddle on, so him pulling his ears back and generally looking grumpy got me immediately worried. Turns out that because he has lost muscle since he's stopped working (no surprise) and changed shape, the saddle needed more air in all of the air bags. The Flair system of the WOW saddles means that there are four air bags that provide a soft and even bearing surface without pressure points and unlike a flocked saddle adjustments to the amount of air in the air bags can be made whilst the rider sits on the horse!
The 'tubes' that allow you to fill up the air bags
We're also going to take away the sheepskin pad that he's been wearing for extra comfort because with it under the saddle the head plate feels too tight, but then without it the saddle looks like it fits perfectly and all our other head plates (sizes 1, 3 and 4) look like they wouldn't fit him. Next checkup is whenever it feels like the saddle doesn't feel that good or then after 3 months to make sure everything is okay with the saddle.

Next job is to check Vallu's at the end of this month since it will have been months since it was last checked and by the end of the month Vallu will have been in work for 6 weeks and he has already started to change shape (thank god! #dietisworking) 


July goals

Well June just flew past! I've never known a month to go so quickly! A lot happened in June, but mostly I've spent my time on working with the boys, trying to get them both adjusted to more work (which they are loving) without pushing them too much too quickly. 

Vallu: Vallu is starting his 15 minutes of trot work today and by the end of the month we should be on  20 minutes of trot and 15 minutes of canter. I cannot wait to get this horse properly going and getting his brain in gear because at the minute he is just going around the arena wherever he wants at whatever speed he wants and there's not a lot I can do ahah! Yesterday was the first ride where it didn't feel like I was riding a just broken in 3 year old, as we managed a sedate trot with some leg yields and figures of 8 without a major fight #success
Every ride with Vallu...
Basse: B has another month of walking to go. Even though the vet was very positive at our last clinic visit and suggested trying trot I think walking for another month won't harm him at all. He's feeling really good in the walk, but I'd rather not push my luck and ask for trot too soon. I've been in a full over protective mode for the last few weeks with him, being really careful with kind of work I have done with him on what day so that there isn't the same amount of stress/pressure on the leg every day. I think B has been loving this, because our week normally has two days off, one day of hand walking, two days of lateral work, one pole work day and a hacking out day. Who says you can't do a lot of varied work in walk!? ;) The aim for July is to increase his work by one extra day so that he gets only one day off like the others and if all goes well then also stop the hand walking and do three days of lateral work.

We have another check up visit at the vet's at the end of the month to see how the leg is doing and if all goes well and it's healed even more, we might possibly get the green light to start trot work! :D

What has everyone else got planned for July?