Tuesday, 31 January 2012

3 weeks and counting

Its 3 weeks until our first event so starting to work through a mental checklist of things to get prepared. Drove the lorry back from the New Forest the other day and it seems to be driving much better and the brakes even work, which is a bonus! I am going to put Merlin up on it for a look this weekend and probably take him out for a little ride to get him used to it.

Merlin had his back therapy session from Grace Maxwell, a McTimoney Practitioner from lovely Ireland. She spent ages with him and took a very detalied history before putting him through his paces and getting to work. No serious problems were found, but she did go straight to a sore bit where the new saddle hadn't agreed with him, as suspected. She also did some re-alignment work around his withers and showed me some stretches i could do myself to help him along. He was given a clean bill of health and will be visited again in 6 months for another check as it will be the middle of the season. I was advised to get a fitter to look at his saddle for possible reflocking which i will get onto right away; it fits weel but Merlin has matured and changed shape so makes sense. I recommend anybody approaching the coming season to have a practiotioner look at their horses back as i have done, we ask alot of our friends and they carry us for many miles, makes sense to be sure that they are comfy.

If you live in the Wiltshire/West Hampshire area then i thouroughly recommend Grace Maxwell, she is a fountain of useful knowledge and gifted with the horses, her website is www.maxwellequinetherapy.com........

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Progress.....nearly February!

Well, its been a busy week. Received news that the box is all repaired and i can go and collect it as well as relieving myself of £800....nice. Still, won't be much of a contender in rides if we can't even get there, so will be glad to have 'Guinevere' home.

Merlin seems to have had a leap forward in the fitness stakes. Went out for 1 1/2 hour hill session on Sunday and he was fab, really lively and a bit naughty/joggy, but in a nice way, just feeling good in himself and telling me 'mum, this is easy peasy! Find me a bigger hill!' He had a day off the next day and then a schooling session that went ok and a hard lunge session last night with lots of trot/canter. He aced it last night and wasn't even breathing hard despite me holding him out there for 15 minutes of fast work each side. He can have tonight off as i am off to see 'Warhorse' with PH, but he will be back out there with 3 solid days of long slow work/hills/faster hack on Sunday.

Merlin has the physio on Saturday; turns out the work he did in the Torsion ssaddle didn't do him any favours, as i suspected, and he is a little sore and tight behind the shoulders in my opinion. Coincides with where the stirrups would have sat so makes sense. I am sure Grace will work her magic!!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Those darned hooves......

Well, the farrier has just been...not great news. Merlin has suffered from crumbly feet since i have had him and living out all last summer didnt really help them as they got very wet. He is at night now until the spring and they have improved. Last farrier visit in December the farrier recommended taking his shoes off and seeing how he went as to whether they toughened up or not. Well, they haven't :(. Salisbury Plain is notoriously stoney and he just has worn soles and rather sore feet, so all shoes back on today, cold shod to save his feet. Farrier has recommended Keratex Hoof Hardener, which i have just ordered, anybody had any success with this product? Merlin is a very good doer, so not on any hard feed despite it being January and being worked 5 days a week, so a feed supplement isn't going to help at this point. (He has 2 enormous nets of haylage a night, out 7-8 hours on good grazing and has a roller ball with a daily ration of Equibites in it.....and i still need to get some weight off him really). If anyone has any tips and would like to comment, please do.

Last night's session in the school went really well, lots of long and low work in a rounded outline, he is finding it easier and easier, maybe there is a nice dressage test in Merly-horse yet!!!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


Well, last night was pretty darned cold and spooky when i got down to see Merlin, who was already in and munching his haylage. I met my eventing friend there and she took me and Merl through a series of stretches that she had been shown by her horses physio. The stretches included neck and back exercises designed to improve suppleness and Merlin responded really well to them. I followed up with some loose lungeing in the arena; Merlin is so funny, he just trots and canters around like he is still on the lunge! My eventing friend watched on for a while before wandering away muttering something like 'bloody circus horse.....' under her breath, he he! Tonight's plan is to begin teaching Merlin to neck rein. I have recently read an endurance book that suggests teaching your horse this make things easier if you have to ride one-handed, and it involves teaching the horse to move away from rein pressure on his neck as opposed to moving in response to pressure on the bit and leg aids......i will try to get some pics....

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


My God, it was cold doing Merlin this morning! I am still on leave before returning to work next month, so i am up and off to the stables to let Merl out then back to walk dogs before hubby has to go to work..in exchange he gets Gorgeous Baby (GB) up and breakfast-ed (there will be brand new shiny words throughout this blog!) and does the hoovering etc...its a dream team!! Merlin went out just as a beautiful dawn was spreading its orangey-red fingers across Salisbury Plain, made breaking the ice on his water trough with my bare hands almost poetic.....

I am lucky enough to have the support of  the lovely yard staff to assist with Merlin's livery when i go back to work. I do all his chores in the morning and then he is brought in for me and rug-changed/fed in the afternoon for a small fee. It means there is no mad rush in the evening when i will be picking GB up from the childminder and i can go back in the evenings and train with Merl under the floodlights. But seriously!! How slowly does January go?? I have amused myself in the evenings this week by organising my rides for this season by month, the first of which is 18th February and is in the New Forset, organised by the Mid-South endurance group. It is known as the Silver Gambler series and is an introduction to endurance for both members and non-members of EGB. Me and Merlin are aiming at the 30km ride and posting off the entry today. Please God let the lorry be back in time!!! Tonight is a lunging night for Merl, 40mins, 20 mins each side of which 15 mins will be in trot. No trappings or sidereins as i am trying to get his head carriage more relaxed and a nice free striding trot to develop. Afterwards will be muscle stretches shown to me by an eventing friend and then he will be wrapped up warm with his haynet for the night.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Well, the last few weeks since Christmas have been a little dramatic to say the least. I bought a 3.5tn lorry so that me and Merl can go out and about to rides on our own this season, as there are surprisingly few takers down the yard that want to ride solidly for 30km.....why i ask?? Ha! Anyway, i was probably asking for trouble, 'Guinevere' is only 5 years younger than me, leant a bit to one side and was so slow on the drive home from Devon that i thought i would actually miss New Year (its was Dec 27th when i went to pick her up). Before putting brave Merl on the box i decided to have the lorry looked at by a mechanic.....NOT good news.....i was advised to scrap it and i could feel my dreams slipping away. I do not have my B + E licence, the training and test is so expensive, plus a new trailer, tow bar for our elderly estate, that frankly has enough to deal with as it is without attatching a half ton horse to it....well, despair crept in. Much soul searching with the hubby that night.....we decided to seek a second opinion from a specialist in, ahem, 'older' horseboxes. The next day i found myself driving Guinevere down to the New Forset for a final supper, i mean evaluation. Good news!! She can be fixed! Current status, she is still there (And will be for a while methinks) being completely revamped by a genius with a passion for all things old and rusty......brilliant! Back on target for our first ride!
Hi, my name is Meg and i am lucky enough to be owned by a fabulous horse called Merlin; we are attempting to enter the world of Endurance Riding and i have decided to keep a blog of our adventures! This is for both for future reference to look back on and hopefully also to get chatting to some new people who are already in this world competing, or who are thinking of taking the plunge themselves and would like to learn from our mistakes!! A little background......i am a 27 year old mother of a gorgeous 9 month old son, married to a wonderfully supportive man....and serving in the British Army! I have only had Merlin for 7 months, me and my husband bought him while i was on maternity leave and he is a 15.3hh palomino PBA (Part-bred Arab), aged 6 years, with the most fabulous temperament you could imagine and a very kind heart......together so far we have done some mega long hacks and pleasure rides and are currently training towards our first Competitive Ride (CR) on 18th February in the New Forest......so let us begin!!