The Horse Physio - Delivering care with expertise since 1992

10.10.2021 Listening to Derby

A Guest Blog from Joy McGibbon

Both myself and my lovely horse have struggled with our weight. I am not the smallest of people and she sees green and puts on weight – we are very much alike in that respect! I bought her because of another mare but Derby is the best thing I ever stumbled upon!!! I had to start her myself (with help, but she was pretty compliant, to be honest) and we had many an issue with her mouth (didn’t like bits/leant on them/bruised her mouth…We now have more of an understanding.

My girl gives so many indications that something isn’t right. But she also cries wolf, in that she will over-react, so when something is wrong, you have to work out if she is just annoyed with you or that she is trying to tell you something. The latest “tell” is to stand at the mounting block until you are ready to get on…then she moves! This has happened twice – she’s not daft!!! It helped the first time, so she has tried it again recently.

The first time came about because she was carrying too much weight – mine and her own. Lockdown meant I had put on over a stone (and I wasn’t small anyway) and she always struggled with weight in summer. Too much summer grass – even on a strip grazing regime – meant she piled on weight. She started to move away from the mounting block in August. Sue came to see her as I was worried. She recommended Derby needed to lose weight and I confessed I was trying to do the same thing. In a few months we were back on track – I had been weigh taping Derby regularly to keep my eye on her weight and it worked! She was out at night (on much less grass) and in during the day on a restricted, but spaced out, diet. Spaced out, in that I went up regularly to give her “little and often” – as close to a “trickle feed” as I could. There would still be a few hours when she wasn’t eating but it was less than the recommended 6 hours. I had lost 3 stone (I was very pleased!) and Derby stood by the mounting block, giving her approval to my weight loss!

The second time Derby moved away from the mounting block was because her saddle was hurting her. She has issues with her suspensory ligaments (front legs) and hamstrings (back legs). When the vet came to do vaccinations, he checked her legs and she was fine! Teeth had been checked so the next check is the saddle, isn’t it!? Saddler came out, and sure enough, it needed more flocking near the stirrup bars.

As I said, my mare isn’t daft. She tries so hard to communicate with this human and I try very hard to listen. The saddle issue was so much easier than the weight issue, but after discussion with Sue about her weight, I am keeping a really close eye on her weight (and mine) by using a weigh tape and taking photos. It may not seem like much, but when your horse tries to stop you getting on her back by moving away from the mounting block, you know you need to listen, and listen well.

© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2021

Treating your horse with care, connection, curiosity and compassion