The Horse Physio - Delivering care with expertise since 1992

23.9.2022: Hilary, Max, and Zen

A Guest Blog by Hilary Moses


July began for Zen with another area competition. However, this time it wasn’t on a surface, which is what Zen is used to. Competing on grass is very different, as he discovered. It also meant a much bigger atmosphere, with room for lots more horses to be warming up at the same time. Zen seemed very conscious of the ground and after tripping a couple of times he began to nap and not want to go forward. Lots of gentle persuasion was needed to get him going. The ground in the arena was good, and he went much better, but we made mistakes, and he didn’t feel very secure. Overall, I was pleased with him as it was another learning experience for him, which he handled well. We found out later that we’d won another wild card, so another championship for him to attend!

Then we had some really hot weather, which made riding a bit arduous, but we had an excellent lesson, and it seemed that Zen was happy to be back in the ménage. He had quite a bit of downtime because of the heat, but we did try to manage another xc schooling session. I say ‘try’ because he was even more tense than the first time, and I didn’t want to jump until he relaxed. So, we schooled around the field until suddenly, unexpectedly, he did a fine impression of a helicopter, and I was catapulted off. I still don’t know what sparked this, but I called it a day and went back to the indoor school, where he behaved perfectly. I felt OK at the time, but the next day I realised I’d bruised my ribs (I was wearing a body protector) and was in a bit of pain. It didn’t hurt to ride, luckily, so I was able to carry on.

A couple of weeks later, we went and did a straight prelim test. We hadn’t done many of these as we’d been concentrating on the music, but it’s good to vary things and gain more experience. Having done a few competitions, I’d worked out that Zen didn’t need as much warm up time as Max has always needed, so less time was allowed. I found it really scary to leave home so much closer to my time, but it worked well, and we won that day! Just goes to show how long it takes to understand what’s going on with your horse sometimes.

We did one more music competition before the month ended, when Zen got his highest score yet for his music. He seemed to be having a learning spurt with things clicking into place. I also feel I’m more motivated in my lessons because I want him to do well, which means I need to ride the best I can. We went to a group lesson at the riding club and did as much hacking and schooling as the boiling weather allowed, so although this month might not have been as busy as others, there was plenty to keep Zen busy.

The hot weather was more of a trial for Max. As he’s black, he absorbs more heat, so he spent a lot of time standing in his stable. He and Zen both have the option to do this as they are free-range around the field, yard, and stables. It’s interesting that they spend far more time in the stables in the summer than they do in the winter. The flies are a factor in this too. My friend’s horse went lame, so she was hacking Max for me. This is great because it meant I could exercise both horses at once and make sure that Max gets out and about too. It seemed ungrateful to wish that it wasn’t so hot and dry, but the grass was not looking good, and I was having to transport water as they were all drinking so much, so I was kind of hoping for a cooler August.

© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2021

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

September 23, 2022
Sue Palmer