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We now have summer rain instead of spring rain, except that I am not sure there is much difference. Hopefully the hay paddocks are growing though, as there has been a bit of a shortage of hay round our way (South-East) as last season’s stocks run low. There is also a forecast for a number of heat-waves this summer, so watch out for rock-hard ground, dogs left in cars, and the level of water in troughs and dog-bowls. Message from the stable-cat: and cat bowls. (Also bird-baths, though don’t put them where the stable cat can get at them). Oh, and don’t forget sun protection and plenty of fluids for humans too!

We are currently having a pause after a rush of shows (as the horses have all been going out to different shows). Duke, the latest addition to the stable, has only been out twice but enjoys pointing his toes for the judges and everybody falls in love with him. Diva is progressing well and had her first big outdoor event, behaving very well and getting mid 60’s at Hickstead. She is now working at home on canter half halts as she has the medium canter down pat and just needs to find a steadier working canter, but was lovely and steady when she jumped for the first time in two years.
Lexi (with Carol) is boldly taking on Advanced Medium dressage, after a break of 6 years! It has given her a new lease of life but a combination of over-enthusiasm to be back at that level, combined with a tendency to show off her ‘party-piece’ (sequence flying changes) even when not asked for, has meant that the scores are not yet back where they were with her previous owner. However, she has only done three tests so far so there is plenty of time to improve and in the meantime she is enjoying herself. So many people write off older horses (she is 18) but if they are sound and healthy then there is no reason they cannot be out competing too.

Last month’s gripe was about lame horses being ridden at shows, and it is sad that Carol had to pull up a rider to query an obviously lame horse when she was judging dressage. The rider elected to continue the test, but fortunately retired soon after; it may just have knocked itself before going in the arena but is it really worth a ribbon to keep going when you feel your horse isn’t right?
There is a whizz-bang new machine that can assess lameness in horses (subtle and obvious) and although it doesn’t give a diagnosis we may one day see all horses having to be passed as sound before competing. However, at around £20,000 I can’t see that happening soon and it isn’t something you would have lying round the yard at home! So, until we have smartphone apps that detect lameness, we will just have to persevere with old-fashioned horsemanship and use our own common sense if our horses don’t feel quite right.

Our free article for the month is on Buttercups, so check it out if you are having a buttercup problem in your paddock or if you think your horse might be showing effects of the toxin.

Happy Riding

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