The Horse Physio - Delivering care with expertise since 1992

6.7.2022 Hilary, Max, and Zen

A Guest Blog by Hilary Moses

I like to be prepared for a competition. I’m not someone who can pull their horse out of the field and go off and compete without prior thought or preparation. So in May, I was already thinking about the area 5 dressage to music competition in June and how best to get ready. Actually, that’s not quite true because the music has to be pre-ordered and takes a while to arrive, and a floor plan has to be designed. I’d done the floor plan myself, so I could highlight Zen’s strengths and try to hide the weaknesses.

So, some thought had already gone in before May even arrived! However, the month started with a bit and bridle check, which was the only thing I hadn’t done with Zen. I used a lady called Amy Burr, and she certainly knew her stuff. She was very interesting to listen to, and she explained everything that she was doing. I learnt that the conformation of Zen’s head is good, that his bridle fits as it should, and that he doesn’t have a lot of room in his mouth for a bit. We tried various bits, and it’s remarkable how your horse will tell you when something’s not right. We went all round the houses and came back to the bit which he was already wearing, which Amy said was unusual, but it made me happy that everything was as it should be. She made a suggestion for a small tweak, but at least now I know what kind of thing he needs if I decide to change his bit for some reason.

The weekend after the bit and bridle check, we began our preparation for the DTM in June by entering our first long arena test. This is because the DTM is in a long arena. We went to a new venue for Zen, and he coped really well, coming second and behaving himself impeccably. Prelim tests are still quite hard for him as he’s not well balanced yet, and not supple enough, but I can’t fault his effort and enthusiasm. We followed this up with a lesson with my trainer where I hired a long arena, so she could have a look at my floor plan and listen to my music. She liked the music (thank goodness) and suggested a couple of good changes to the floor plan. This is where the extra help and an extra pair of eyes are invaluable if you want something to be the best it can be.

Then we tried a couple of new things because I don’t want Zen to be bored with his work or become sour. So, we went on our first fun ride and did a pole clinic. He was excellent on the fun ride, he didn’t get silly at all with horses coming from all directions and even popped a couple of rustic jumps.

The pole clinic was good and highlighted the need for this kind of work in Zen’s education, so there will be lots more of this.

Zen continued to hack alongside all these other activities and have his regular physio with Sue. He’s quite a busy brained horse who prefers to be moving to standing still, but he really enjoys his treatments and takes it all in.

We finished the month by hiring the arena where Zen will debut his prelim DTM and running through everything with the music on my wrist speaker. It all went well, so fingers crossed for the competition.

Meanwhile, Max continued to rebuild weight and condition. He also had a physio session with Sue, who said he was in better shape than when I was riding him competitively, so semi retirement obviously suits him! He’s still enjoying his hacking, with no pressure from me to do anything apart from what he wants to do. I think the summer and nice grass will really help him to stay fit and healthy.

So, June is set to be a busy and exciting month, with my first goal for Zen well and truly in sight.

July 6, 2022
Sue Palmer