I got Packenham (Paddy for short) - an ex point-to-pointer in May of 2012, after having a break from riding of about 20 years. There have been some ups and downs (mostly downs) over the past 18 months & this is our journey together from Paddy being a racehorse to hopefully eventually a riding horse!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Lightbulb moment??

Over the last week I have felt really down - had a lot going on, and then paddy has not been going well at all and I have been getting more & more despondent about whether we will ever achieve anything!!

I was looking forward to my lesson with Jon with some trepidation as I had not been able to work paddy in canter without it all falling apart!! Jon hot on him first and of course paddy did not buck at all!! I then got and and we did quite a lot of work getting a more active working trot, using poles to help him activate his back end and lift his back. This felt good and I found it very helpful to feel what his trot should be like - I am someone who needs to feel how things should be, rather than be told!!

We then moved up into canter and yes he bucked a couple of times, but then he settled and continued to work really well. Jon had to remind me to sit up, support him with my hands and ensure I keep my legs wrapped round him & it seemed to work!! Then went on to do circles at either end with simple changes through trot at x and paddy did them really well, and even his downwards transitions weren't too bad!!

By the end of the lesson I felt more confident and hopeful that we might get somewhere after all!!

This process has helped me come to a few conclusions as follows:
1. I am too nice with paddy - I have been so worried about asking too much from him that I have allowed him to pootle round looking pretty, but he has not been working through his back, so I need to ask more of him in order to develop his muscle and now I know what it should feel like, I will be asking for more activity from him.

2. All this is new to paddy and yes it is hard work for him, but if I don't ask for more he will never get strong enough to do more advanced work.

3. I need to do all I can to build up his topline. His neck has muscled up amazingly well, and although he has put on some muscle from his withers to his tail, it is no where near enough and therefore he is just not sting enough yet. I  have started strapping him to help muscle development, and I am going to do more pole work to help this, plus carrot stretches etc. I have also restarted using a band round his bottom when schooling which creates resistance and makes him work harder when he's being ridden.

4. I need more regular lessons as having them monthly is not enough. If anything goes wrong in between I am liable to let things drift which means that they get worse and I end up losing confidence, so plan to try weekly or fortnightly lessons until we are more established.

5. It will take time and there will be ups and downs but I need to remain hopeful that we will get there in the end. I need to persevere rather than give up.

6. I need to set goals to work towards, particularly in the form of competitions as this helps focus me and helps prevent me from allowing things to drift along.

Here's a couple of videos of Jon riding paddy yesterday:

Long awaited update part 2

As mentioned in my previous post I had booked a lesson with Jon Bard - he asked me to just warm up how I would normally and then he asked me to canter on both reins - I was not looking forward to this as his canter, which was one of passus best paces had deteriorated so much I dreaded doing it, but I did try and true to form paddy bucked, kicked and generally behaved like a nob...... Then Jon said he would have a ride on him - cue huge sigh of relief from me!!

Paddy still did the bucking and kicking with Jon, but he did manage to get some decent canter, so I then got back on & we worked on getting a much more active relaxed trot, so that he bunches up less when cantering, I did manage some canter where he did not kick and go disunited so was really pleased with this.

I booked a lesson for the next week and over the week have hacked him and schooled him - my attempts at canter still had him bucking so gave up on that it did work him we'll in trot.

I was planning to take him to do 2 prelim tests at Milton at the beginning of November but I am starting to think that if I can't get him going well enough there's not much point - paddy has had so many ups and downs that it is getting very hard to keep motivated - particularly when you see others improving and going out and about and doing really well.....

Hoping that the next lesson with Jon will help!!

Long awaited update! Part 1

It has been a while since I put anything on the blog and quite a bit has happened since I last posted, some of it good and some not so good. 

Since I came back from holiday we haven't really done loads, I was meant to be taking paddy to Over show, but the weather was awful with persistent rain, so Gillian & I decided not to go - showing is bad enough but showing in the rain is definitely an experience to be avoided if at all possible!!

I then had a Matt Cox lesson, where paddy went really well - he is improving all the time. We are currently working on leg yield, shoulder in, medium trot and canter loops, building up to counter canter.

We then went cross country schooling the day after at ickworth which I will put into a separate post as it was an interesting experience!!  

He was great in the Matt cox lesson, but when I schooled him at home in the following week, he started bucking in canter and changing legs and going disunited, so of course I thought I had broken him!! Managed to get the lovely Mish Brooker out to see him and she found that he was a little sore along his back, so sorted that out, after which I thought he would be better.....spoke too soon!! Had another lesson with Matt and in the trot work paddy was going well, but canter was awful! He just bucked, kicked out  and kept going disunited - I was so disappointed as canter has always been one of his best paces. After this he seemed a little unlevel on his dodgy foot (he hit a jump hard at ickworth) so this meant that we were not able to go the the Rockley Rehab Reunion, which I was really looking forward to. I gave him a few days off, then hacked him and he seemed a lot better, then bought him in from the field to ride and his hock was really swollen & puffy - trotted him up and he was more stiff than hopping lame, so cue cold hosing and more time off with him mooching round the field. This also meant that we had to miss the ROR inter county challenge and a lesson with Matt. 

I finally managed to get back on him for a gentle hack at the end of September and he seemed to be sound thank goodness!

At the beginning of the week I schooled him and whilst his trot work is coming along nicely, his canter seemed to be getting worse. I am at a bit if a loss as to what's going on other than he is finding things more difficult, so I booked a lesson with Jon Bard, who teaches Gillian so that I can get some help with paddy......

Nest instalment in a new post :-)

Monday, 11 August 2014

Holiday's over!

I got back from Yorkshire on Saturday afternoon and decided that as the weather was good I would ride Paddy, particularly as the forecast was horrid for Sunday. 
I was expecting the worst as I hadn't ridden him for over a week, but was amazed that he behaved himself, wasn't stupid and settled down to work - he also felt better for his week off. 

I didn't do too much with him, started off in walk, circles and spirals, plus transitions, then moved up into trot, again worked on transitions, leg yield and shoulder in. I then went back into walk and did transitions within the pace from collected to medium to slightly more extended.

He was very happy to finish & get his dinner!!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Matt Cox lesson

So off we went to our first lesson with Matt Cox. Paddy was good to load - probably because he had daisy next to him who he thinks is lovely!
Went into the indoor arena at Rosewood stud & he was very spooky and snorted at everything! Had a chat with Matt & told him all of Paddy's problems & I think he was surprised at all Paddy had gone through in the last year as a half!

We started off in walk, then up into trot & he got us leg yielding on a circle, then doing shoulder in on a 15 metre circle. This was to stop Paddy from hugging the wall and falling out through his shoulder. I did actually admit that I didn't know whether I had been doing it right but it appears that I had been. When doing tis paddy really started working across his back, but because it is such hard work for him he couldn't maintain the outline we wanted for very long. We were aiming for a fairly low head carriage with him working from behind in order that he lifted his back. When he did achieve it he felt lovely, with more cadence and suspension. 
Lots to be working on before our next lesson which is in May. 

Of course Paddy couldn't maintain his good behavoiur for very long, because as soon as he spotted the horses outside who were in the next lesson he kept neighing to them & wouldn't shut up!! He aparently only needs to glimpse another horse before he thinks it's his new best friend!!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Paddy's feet 14 months since his shoes were removed

I haven't done an update on Paddys feet for some time so thought I would post today as he has had his first trim since December 2012. I have to say the farrier was very shocked when I told him how long he had gone without a trim especially when he saw that there was nothing to take off from the walls at all - all that work he's done on smooth hard surfaces has certainly kept them trimmed, although the edges were looking really ratty where bits had chipped off, so the farrier did just what I told him to and left his soles & frogs alone and just beveled off the edges a little to neaten them up. This was mainly  because we have our first competitive endurance ride this weekend and they have to be checked by a farrier & I didn't want to be thrown out because if the state if his feet.....though even if they don't look pretty, they are obviously functioning far better than they ever did with shoes on!!

Right front

Right front sole

Right hind

Right hind sole

Left front

Left front sole 

Left hind

Left hind sole

And Paddy looking lovely! .....not bad for a skinny thoroughbred coming out of winter :-)

We have our first Matt Cox lesson this Saturday which I am really looking forward to, and then our 20 mile endurance ride on Sunday near Brandon in Suffolk. Hopefully Team Balsham (Balsham & District Riding Club) will do well with lots of fast times & low heart rates!!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Jumping.....sort of!!

So it was with some trepidation that Gillian & I set off to Prestige Show Centre to have a jumping lesson - Paddy's first time jumping since 2012, pre lameness and back op & legs' first time out since last year. 

Paddy was on his toes when I loaded him & this continued when I unloaded him at the other end! 

With my heart in my mouth I got on him & we went into the arena, where Paddy proceeded to gawp at everything, but thankfully he didn't do anything stupid. 

Started off walking in & out of the jumps, then went over trotting poles in walk & trot, which he did well & didn't seem bothered by them at all. Then went on to do some single jumps (all very tiny thankfully!!)

Then went on to do some combinations & this is where the fun started! Paddy was giving the poles a very wide berth when going over them & it felt like he was adding in a buck mid air! I have to say it was very disconcerting to ride and I had to remember to sit up, otherwise I would have been catapulted out of the front door!

And again...

And again!....

The previous times I have jumped him he's not done this, so I can only presume that either he's feeling really good, the jumps are too small for him, or that now that his back is more free, it feels unusual. I am hoping it is not hurting him, though I think if this was the case, he would have acted up more, which he didn't. He had to use his back in a way that he has not had to for over a year, so it's all going to feel strange to him although I have got the physio coming at the end of April to check him over again & iron out any kinks that might be there. 

We also jumped a filler & paddy took great offence to it - I had forgotten that he had never seen a filler before!....any way we managed to get over it, but without any style what so ever!!

Don't like the look of that!!!

All in all I was pleased with both Paddy & I.....it was something that I really wanted to do again, but was absolutely dreading it! Hopefully Paddy's over jumping will calm down a little once he's done a bit more, and I think that some jumping will also help him use his back a bit more. 

Having looked at the photos, I can see that I look down, rather than ahead, so I need to remember to look where I'm going, otherwise I will end up where I am looking!!

We are planning another lesson in a month, then the riding club is going to be holding jumping clinics for show jumping & cross country, so the plan is to go along to these in order to keep practicing and to gain some much needed confidence!