Let’s all go to a Horseshow Again Follow-up

Last time I mentioned doing an Interdressage test, I was all gung-ho about doing a ridden test with both horses and possibly also doing a Horsemanship test with Aero.

Then things happened, as they do, and I went a bit quiet on the subject.

We went off on our Anniversary trek.  I tried to spend time with my guests, Granny and the BFF.  I sat in on a few more Training Tilou sessions.  I tried to catch up with my blogging (still not there yet) and I tried (and failed) to get some more Ballyloch stories written down.  (They’re in my head; getting them out is the problem.)

What I haven’t mentioned anywhere is that, when we came back from our trek, I had a schooling session with both Aero and Flurry to prepare for videoing the ridden test.  There are two rein back/canter moves in the test, so I wanted to practice it beforehand.  Aero was pretty good at this – and his canter after the rein back was super!  Flurry’s turn… his direct transitions aren’t as good as Aero’s, so we worked on building up to it.  Rein back/trot; walk/canter; halt/canter.  Uncharacteristically, he struck off wrong in left canter twice.  And he felt quite stiff in canter, especially to the left.  His trot felt fine, it was just the canter that seemed a bit off.  Perhaps he was stiff after the trek?

Next day, I spotted a slight swelling on the front of his right hock.  Soft and squodgy, a bursitis of some sort.  Crap.  Maybe I had overdone it with the direct transitions?  No lameness, mind you, but a swelling nonetheless.  I forgot about doing the test with him and took to treating the hock with a combination of hosing, cold packs and clay.  Rested him for a week and then took him out for a short hack with two of my friends.  Was his walk irregular or were the zillions of flies buzzing about his head bothering him?  He was striding out well, and seemed ok when we trotted a few steps… but when we got back, the hock was even more swollen and this time there was clear heat on the outside of it.  Double crap.  Back to rest and cold treatment, and I called the vet, asking for an appointment the following week.  I also consulted with a Facebook vet friend, who gave me loads of helpful information and made me feel confident I was doing the right things with him!

Meanwhile, I worked with Aero, but I wasn’t happy with how the test was shaping up.  We were aiming for Fundamental Walk, Trot, Canter 2 – you will find it here if you’re interested.  It’s very stop : start with lots of halts and rein backs, and two walk demi-pirouettes.  The more we practised rein back, the crookeder it got!  When I threw the demi-pirouettes into the mix, both of us got even more confused about which legs should go where.  So I decided to just do the Horsemanship test instead and I arranged for the LSH to come and video us after work one evening.

That morning, I had a look at some of the tests that were already on line.  There was some really impressive long-reining work and also a ridden test.  A ridden test?  Wasn’t this an in-hand class?  I checked the specification once again.  Oh yes, it said work could be ridden, in-hand, on the lunge or in long-reins (and I had already asked could I do it at liberty so I knew that was included too).  Maybe I could start off with some ridden stuff?

So I changed my plan at the last minute.  And this was the result :

I wasn’t happy with the ridden work and I regretted my last minute change.  I hadn’t warmed him up at all and he’s really tight through his back the whole time.  Also, we finished my floor-plan with about a minute to spare, so I added in a side pass over a cone and a reverse/recall on the fly.  Both of these were a little shaky – you’d never guess we hadn’t rehearsed them!!

I went to look at the video on the back of the camera, with Aero following me.  Damned if he didn’t stand with his head by my shoulder, looking at the little screen just as intently as we were!  The LSH snapped a photo with his iPhone to capture the moment :


Ok, the test wasn’t perfect but bits of it were good.  The cone-work looked well, especially the on-foot zig zag, and I was delighted with how well Aero reconnected with me after the jump.  Although the camera decided to go out of focus and you can’t really see it!  I didn’t want to go through it all again, so I gave it the thumbs up.

To my amazement, this happened :

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 13.12.11

I’m going to go all airy-fairy for a moment, please bear with me :

Normally, when I work with Aero from the ground, we both have fun.  I praise him loads, laugh out loud when he does something cute or funny (like the bow at the end, for example.  That was his idea), give him treats when he does something well, and stop frequently to give him lots of pats and rubs and scratches (and the odd kiss too).  He’ll pop over a jump and I’ll sing out “Good BOY! Yeah!” and invite him back to me for a reward.  He knows when he’s doing well and he knows when he’s not doing so well (cheekily ducking out the side of a jump, for example!)

When we’re practising and videoing a test, I’m sorry to say that there’s much less fun about it.  I’m so focussed on doing the right things in the right order that I end up praising him less.  I know I smile less; I certainly don’t laugh at all.  It lacks the joy that we have when we’re just playing.  So I think I will probably not enter an in-hand (or out-hand!) test again.  Never say never, but that’s the way I feel at the moment.

Enough introspection.

My goal for this month is to improve our ridden work and to do Fundamental Walk Trot Canter 3, class 6A.  It’s a more flowing test than last month’s and I think it will suit us better.  You can have a look at it here if you’re interested.

But how’s Flurry? I hear you ask.

He seems fine.  The swelling has become firmer and he feels 100% normal, even at canter.  So much so that I cancelled the vet visit.  I don’t need to spend €70 to be told to wait and see.  We are waiting and seeing, doing light work and continuing to put clay on the hock every day.  Fingers crossed.

If you’re interested in joining me at this month’s Interdressage test, here’s the link to the schedule :


I know Annette from Oak Creek Ranch is hoping to participate, and maybe Helen and Ali from Skyfaxa might have another go too…


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