The Horse Physio - Delivering care with expertise since 1992

14.11.2022 Jan and Rebel (30)

A Guest Blog By Jan Daley

Winter. Horse-girls’ least favourite season. Mud. Driving rain. Biting damp wind and dark afternoons.

It had been my plan during the winter of 2020-2021 to hire an indoor school to keep Rebel working over winter, and give myself some much-needed motivation to get out of bed and keep active. Covid rules scuppered that. Although why equestrian centres couldn’t hire out a large indoor school to a single person with 1 pony defied my every wonderment …

But anyway!

The winter of 2021-2022 was infinitely better. I agreed with my nearest establishment to book their school for an hour 1 morning a week at their least busy time, to bring the pony and drive him indoors.

My goals were simple: do bendy things, and do precision things!

With road driving, there is very little opportunity do anything other than straight lines, and as I discovered on the beach, Rebel didn’t know how to bend in a circle – especially a small, tight circle. Exactly the opposite of my ISH ex-showjumper, who didn’t realise he could gallop in a straight line the whole length of the beach!

Ever hopeful that we will in fact be able to compete in combined driving trials, I decided that the school was my only option, and winter presented the perfect opportunity to kill 2 birds with 1 stone.

The Husband found tiny cheap cones in the local supermarket, and we discovered that the owners tended to leave jumps and poles in the school, rather than clearing it for me to drive. Being the can-do, ingenious type that he is, The Husband built courses of cones, and laid the poles on the ground for me to drive between, or straddle with 1 wheel, and then reconstructed their jumps, and did poo-patrol when we finished – the man’s a saint!

A couple of months on, and we are happily doing tight turns and figure 8s around cones, trotting and cantering in circles around corners, and doing little courses of increasing technical difficulty. Rebel loves the challenge. He listens, he’s learning to ‘come’ right and left, or ‘turn’ right and left; trot and canter on voice command. Physically, he’s more supple and definitely more forward going on the couple of occasions the weather has been good enough to get out on the road. The drag on the surface gives him a good workout, so his muscle tone is still excellent considering time of year and work hours/miles completed.

Rule 30: where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Keep an eye out for my next book, ‘Recognising Pain in Ridden Horses: Performance, Partnership and Potential’, co-authored with Dr Sue Dyson, published by J A Allen, due 2023. Sign up at to be kept up to date with new information as it comes available. Watch a FREE 30-minute documentary on recognising pain in ridden horses here.

Here’s a FREE 30-minute presentation by Sue Palmer on how to recognise pain in your horse.

Other books by Sue Palmer M.Sc. MCSP:

‘Horse Massage for Horse Owners’

‘Understanding Horse Performance: Brain, Pain or Training?’

© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2022

November 14, 2022
Sue Palmer