Lightening the load

On the run up to any competition there is always a ridiculous amount of planning that goes into making sure as little as possible is left to chance. And unless you are happy to hack around the countryside, everyone at one stage or another wants to go to a show and be proud of what they have achieved and compare how well they are doing in their horse’s training, with like-minded horse owners.

Following a winter of dressage and a couple of tester run shows with Tag, it was quickly coming round to the annual event that is Balmoral Show. Having had a bit of a disaster last year at the show, with Tag not sharing the same enthusiasm for doing a ‘Ridden Horse’ class as I did, I was looking forward to having an opportunity to do the ‘Racehorse to Riding Horse Class’ again.

On top of the normal pre-show organising of tack, outfits and schedules, it is crucial to keep on top of schooling outings, feed plans, coat condition and one of the main things; soundness and maintaining cold legs. I have been lucky with Tag and I love running my hand down his cold legs as I pick his feet out – something which has stayed with me since working with showjumpers, when the tiniest bit of leg heat could mean ‘game over’ for show day. And all of this prep starts months before the show, with the final ‘nail-biting’ stages carefully planned out as the show gets closer.

So as I set off for my final schooling session pre-Balmoral Show, my main concerns were that; Tag would travel badly and either bang or cut himself or remove a shoe, or basically any unimaginable thing would happen, resulting in Tag not being fit to go to the show.

I’ve made no secret of my various injuries and the fact that recent surgery not only removed my gall bladder, but must have taken my ‘core’ at the same time. This has meant that over the past six months I’ve been getting a sore back, because (unrealised by me) it had been taking the strain of my missing core, but usually any pain would disappear after a few days. Although it is amazing how you can push through these things and when I’m riding I generally don’t feel a lot of the aches and pains that I grumble about when my feet are on the ground.

So when I was schooling Tag and feeling that this was a good training session before a show, he suddenly got excited at the horses galloping in the field beside the arena and did a silly, head in the air, tense canter for a few strides, until I got him back listening to me again. I knew my back had taken a bit of a hammering at the time, but only realised how bad it was when I got off and had been still for a bit.

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Turns out that was the straw that broke this camel’s back and I had managed to move disks in my back creating a painful, spasmodic situation. So, after a physio consultation it became clear that taking a nervous, ex-racer into the main arena at Balmoral Show was not going to be part of my plan for 2019, or I would risk wrecking my back even more. And even with the many kind offers to warm Tag up for me and help getting ready for the ring, I have to be sensible (something I’m not particularly good at, especially when it comes to horses), but even I have to admit defeat and take the advice of the professionals and allow my back time to heal. So I’m missing Balmoral Show – which I am truly gutted about – but with the way time flies I’ll be in that main arena again in no time. And I know I’m better fixing myself for another day.

So as Tag stands in the field, trimmed up, shiny and carrying more weight than he ever has while I’ve had him, he is blissfully unaware of what he won’t be doing and I will use the time to give him a break, while the weather is good and he can get the sun on his back. I on the other hand will lie in bed drinking tea and eating Ben & Jerry’s ‘Lighten the Load’ cookie dough ice cream, (the irony is too much) which would be lovely under normal circumstances, but is proving a bit hard to swallow just at the minute.

#didntseethatcoming #becauseitwasbehindme #soreback #nocraic #restandrepair #pilateshereicome #missmybalmoralmates #hopealltheponiesgowell #racehorsetoridinghorse

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