The Horse Physio - Delivering care with expertise since 1992

23.1.2022 Hilary, Max and Zen

A Guest Blog by Hilary Moses

February began with some appalling weather. Really high winds and 3 storms in a row. Zen was booked to start his proper jump education but it was cancelled. He was also entered into another walk and trot competition at a new venue for him, but this was cancelled too.

We managed to get to another combined training competition where things went badly wrong. Zen got very distracted whilst trotting around the outside of the dressage arena, and it seemed to frighten him so much that he refused to go back down to the same area. The judge was very good and gave us extra time to calm down, but when we started the test it was obvious that he wasn’t happy and was still unwilling to go to the far end of the arena. In the end I retired from the test and, because he seemed so upset, I didn’t bother going to jump. This experience was a good reality check, reminding me that Zen is not a machine or an angel, but a youngster who sometimes doesn’t understand the world and needs time and training. It also shook my confidence a tiny bit, so it was good to have a lesson the following week, where harmony was restored!

I’d set myself the goal of doing Zen’s first prelim test at the beginning of March. This was a good thing because we’d been training mostly in walk and trot. Partly because we needed to, but also because we’d been doing walk and trot tests competitively. The canter is big and powerful and it feels as though his back end is really coming up behind you while the front end disappears!

However, watching videos of the canter I could see that it looks fine and I just needed to get used to it. I was also a little worried about keeping my leg on, but it turns out I really do need to keep my leg on and just sit up straight.

With these realisations came a lot more confidence and a lot more cantering. The transitions aren’t brilliant yet, but I’m sure it won’t be long before they start to improve. I feel recently that Zen and I are getting to know each other a lot better. I’m getting to understand how he’ll react to things and to trust him more. He’s responding to me by trying hard with whatever I ask, but showing me that sometimes it’s all a bit too much. There is definitely more of a bond between us.

The situation with Max wasn’t good at the beginning of the month. He suddenly seemed to drop a lot of condition and weight. He looked thin and his coat wasn’t its normal glossy self. I had a good hard think before doing a worm count and a tape worm test. Both came back clear so the next step was to change his diet to try and get some weight and condition back on him. This has helped, along with adding turmeric and a gut balancer to his feed. He seemed slightly happier in himself and has continued to hack out and take part in his monthly Trec competition. I think the Spring grass will do him the world of good, but I’ll have to watch him carefully.

So March is looking exciting, with Zen’s first championship (combined training), his first proper arena Trec and his first prelim test. Can’t wait!

© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio 2021

Treating your horse with care, connection, curiosity, and compassion

March 23, 2022
Sue Palmer