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May 2016

As I write this the clouds are coming over black and the forecast is for hail, which will be something of a shock for all the new-born lambs and foals. However, nature is a wonderful thing and animals are fully adapted to cope with this, so long as they have sufficient food and are healthy. In contrast, there are many adult horses fully rugged up with thick waterproof duvets (and sometimes more than one) because their owners feel cold. Not surprisingly, there is an increase in metabolic problems in horses in modern times, and over-feeding and over-rugging are significant factors in causing these i.e. some people are ‘killing with kindness’ because they refuse to let horses be horses. On the other hand, the most clicked-on page on this website is the article on rugging, so hopefully some of the science behind how a horse controls its thermoneutral zone will sink in.

Carol has been very busy giving lessons, and is off to Badminton Horse Trials to help someone competing in the Grassroots trial. Best wishes to Tanya for a successful event – her horse is going so well at the moment.
The horses on the yard have also been busy, with Diva having her first go at Novice dressage despite only learning a couple of moves the week before (for a very encouraging 63%). We wanted her to have two tests on the same day so that she could gain more experience in the arena, and she was very good for her level of training. Although it is tempting to keep her at the lower levels until she is regularly scoring in the 70’s, it isn’t always the best thing for a horse’s long-term education. Her next goal is to perform the same in outdoor tests as indoors but, as she has been out to Brightling gallops (to trot and canter) and behaved perfectly, we don’t expect this to take long.
Lexi also behaved beautifully on the gallops, but she did think that the uphill bit was hard work! She much prefers doing her ‘tricks’ in the arena, with flying changes and canter half-pass her favourites. We did try to explain to her that being fitter would make these easier though, but she thinks eating is more important! However, it will be good to get the horses out on the hills more this summer and get them fitter, and it also gives them excellent variety and the chance to use their muscles evenly.

It was very disappointing recently though to see at least one lame horse at every venue we have watched. Although one judge was brave enough to pull up a competitor and give them the opportunity to withdraw, others don’t seem to take action. It was interesting recently that a research article found that over half of riders do not even notice when their horse is lame, but one rider clearly did know as she was overheard to say that she would keep riding the horse the whole time between tests as she didn’t want him to stiffen up again – God knows how sore that horse was the next morning!

However, I am sure that readers here would not do that, so enjoy your riding and try to aim for the patches of gorgeous sunshine.

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