Doesn’t time fly, I’ve been writing blogs for Huufe now for a year! A whole year! It’s been so much fun. I really hope some of you guys reading my blog have learnt a bit about Western training… maybe you’ve even considered giving it a go?
Over the last year, me and Toby have had ups and downs. Which I am sure many of you can relate to. This year started off more promising, despite it throwing me a few curve balls. In this blog I’ll be talking about our latest hurdle, what our plans for the future are, along with what we need to do to keep going!
If you are a regular reader of my blogs, you’ll know how much I listen to my gut instinct. Sometimes, I do question myself, and wonder if I am becoming a paranoid owner. But each time I “just go with it” something is discovered.
Recently Toby has been a bit naughty with his back legs. If you try to pick them up and hold them for longer periods of time, he becomes quite agitated and starts kicking out. The farrier was the one who noticed it first. After having a chat with him and my vet, it was decided to take Toby to the vets for a lameness work up.
It was very interesting watching him being put through his paces. They fitted him with 3 different sensors that recorded how he was moving. Showing if he was putting more weight on one foot than the other or wasn’t level. The vets focused on his hocks after the initial work up and went ahead with nerve blocking them both. There was an instant improvement with his movement, he was a lot less “stuffy”. They x-rayed both hocks afterwards which confirmed he had arthritic changes in both hocks.
It wasn’t a huge shock to me, as the vet had already mentioned it could be arthritis. However, I was shocked it was both hocks. They have mentioned Steroid injections, but these can increase the risk of laminitis. They ran an insulin test to check his levels, which came back higher than normal. This was only fractionally higher. I manage his diet very strictly, with the aim for him to lose at least 50kg! He’s back on woodchips and his turnout paddock has been halved.
With regards to exercising, the vet recommended lots of hacking, and very little arena work, especially circles. At least until we see how he responds to the Steroid injections. It’s a good job I had started building up our hacking work beforehand. Every evening now, subject to the weather (which thankfully has really improved!) we hack. We are lucky that we have enough field access onsite that we don’t need to ride on the roads to get anywhere. The fields are perfect for his confidence as they are the same fields he gets turned out in through the year. He is really enjoying the hacking (and so am I to be honest) and we spend at least 30 mins walking around the fields and paddocks – using our Huufe app each time of course!
I’ve just started to have the confidence to pick the pace up a bit now, and we’ve been doing some jog work and lope work whilst hacking. It’s been so relaxing for both of us and if the vet said he could only ever be a “happy hacker” I don’t think I would feel like we’ve failed. Every cloud has a silver lining, and who knows, this could be the start of something new for us.
I use the Huufe app when hacking out to track our rides. I’ve noticed on that Huufe can be used for tracking Brooke’s #MyHackaton which I’m considering taking part in. What with Toby doing more hacking, we’d be able to complete our 100 miles in no time! It’d also be great to do it with a few of our friends, as well as we’ve recently been out hacking in new locations with friends. We recently popped in the lorry to go hacking like our local woodland, and he was such a good boy. We accompanied our friend to help build her horse’s confidence when out with others and they both got on so well. They were both very happy and relaxed as they both settled into hacking in a new place.
In this blog, I thought I could show you some of the bits that you may see being used in western riding. Some of them may look quite harsh, but when you think a western trained horse doesn’t require a lot if any rein contact, then the bit itself is rarely being used. Its more used for refining the horse’s carriage.
I ride Toby in two types bits, depending on what we are doing in our training. He is ridden in a single jointed, loose ring sweet iron snaffle and I also ride him in a Darnall NSBA High Port shank.
Both snaffle and shank bits are ridden with curb straps, similar to what would be used with an English Pelham bit. Except with snaffle bits they are completely leather, and with shanks the middle section is linked chain.
As with all bits, there is a huge variety in mouth pieces available for snaffles and shanks.
Emma has been riding for 20+ years. She started off riding dressage, with a small amount of jumping. With Toby at her side she’s been building up her confidence in riding again after loosing it a few years ago. She & Toby are hoping to get out to some western shows this year. She also works full time, plus run a business with her partner and enjoys modifying cars and attending car shows.