The start of this blog coincides with a whole new beginning for Lulu and I. I’m moving from Gloucestershire to Wiltshire, and I can’t move myself without my overly large and expensive pet coming with me now can I? It’s all been pretty stressful to organise but on reflection we have no facilities at home so while it was perfect as a nursery for a semi-feral baby, we were always going to outgrow that at some point.
So a few weeks ago Lulu moved to a yard near Chippenham and I will eventually follow suit and move just down the road from her at the end of the month (horse house obviously top priority – I can live in a hole if need be!). I’m now thrilled with how it’s coming together. The yard is small and super friendly, with goats, dogs, and young kids. They have a lovely big school and some jumps (for when that’s on the agenda). Lots of off road hacking and turnout, and a niiice big hill to hack up from the yard gate to get that bottom strong. Mine or hers I’m not quite sure – I might have to start jogging up it too. My farrier has agreed to keep shoeing her and I can still use the same vets, which is such a relief as it brings some consistency when I know no-one in the area.
Before she moved I was having absolute kittens. I didn’t really have much kit for her sorted out, I was worried about her travelling, worried that she would be wild and they wouldn’t be able to handle her, worried she would get hurt. I felt like some horse guru might suddenly jump round the corner and tell me I was mad and making crazy decisions and didn’t know what I was doing. I haven’t had a horse on livery myself and I wasn’t sure what questions to ask and what are the pitfalls. I did visit the yard twice, and take my very experienced mum with me the second time and she liked the place, thought it was suitable for us, also really liked the yard owner, and that started to make me feel more confident in myself.
I think this must be what it’s like when you send your kids to school. I was half terrified she wouldn’t settle or it would be bad for her in some way, and half praying she wouldn’t embarrass me and cause a scene. As well as being kind and welcoming to me, I’ve been glad to see the girls on the yard dealing with such a big young horse brilliantly and calmly, and proud of Lu who’s been good as gold. I knew she’d properly settled in this last week because she’s been covered nose to tail in sh**t the last couple of times I’ve seen her so has clearly been having her morning kips again! THAT is the sign of a happy horse.
And now to my mistakes… when she moved I wanted to be the first person to sit on her in the new yard, just in case she threw a wobbly and I didn’t want anyone else to get hurt or scared. Lu hasn’t done much hacking where there’s traffic and had never seen a sand school. Day 1 she did nothing, just had some time to settle. Day 2 I went and turned her out in the school to have a little private investigation of her own, which went very smoothly (no great shakes says Lu). Day 3 I still thought she might need more time to settle before she was ridden so I lunged her in the school. She hasn’t done a lot of lunging and I’ve avoided it as she’s big and weak and has a problem in a hock and I don’t think repeated circles will be good for her physiology at the moment. Then I had to go to work (which is never a good idea, I don’t advise it) and leave her for 4 days. I didn’t want anyone to go splat, so I asked them to lunge her a couple more times that week.
The next weekend I had my first ever sit on her in a sand school. And it was… okay. She didn’t spook or explode. She went everywhere I asked, but she was so backward and hard to move. I was flapping about like a mad goose to try to get her to trot. Canter was a distant speedy dream. She felt basically sound, but I was all over the place trying to get her to move forward. And once you start losing your position and start acting like a pile of jelly on a bouncing ball, I think it’s a lost cause. In the field afterward she looked very stiff and just not moving forward properly there either. I was pretty deflated and worried there was something seriously wrong. The next day she walked in from the field ok in the morning so I tacked up and went for a tentative little ride out on the road and she was much more forward going and super brave dealing with traffic, signs, houses, bicycles, and again seemed sound.
I think I overdid it. She hadn’t worked on a surface before and they’re quite hard physical work. She isn’t fit, and she did three sessions of circles that week when she’s previously just had three short hacks in walk with a bit of trot. She is out at night on a hill, which is new for her and Lu is big and weak with a slightly dodgy leg, so I think she was stiff and sore. She has been seeming fine this week, which has been much quieter for her, and worked much better today when I just had a quick trot round in the school. I feel a bit of a muppet and rather guilty for not realising that would be too much, but I do think I was right to make sure I knew she was ok to ride before putting someone else up there in my absence. I also wonder if she’s not going to be one with a mega work ethic and I need to keep her out of school so she doesn’t get jaded (I will not bring up my kids like this, I swear)!
My current plan is to keep her hacking this week to let her stretch, walk out, and enjoy the world. I’ll get the back lady to come and prod her as soon as possible and take it from there. Hopefully it’s just a bit of soreness and I’ll apologise to my pony with many many polos.
Misjudgements from the off, but we live and learn and I’ll always try to do my best by her, and those lovely people who help me look after her.