Equestrian Gold Coast Club – 30.04.2017

After months of rain and a working roster that wouldn’t quit, I saw an opportunity to take my Freddy to a Dressage Competition. I had been training the Canter long enough and it was time to see if he could handle Preliminary Dressage.

And besides a trip interstate is always a good thing!

I decided to drive up the day before and camp out in my float, I figured this would settle Fred and I would wake up full of energy for the Sunday.

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This was also a grand opportunity for me to use my Earlwood Equine Show Rug for the first time! He looks so handsome in it!

This was also the first time I had been away competing since my PTSD diagnosis in 2014, so I wanted to go. I wanted to challenge myself mentally and physically on this weekend away. 1493457654059

It was so cold in that float! Even though I had a camp bed and a sleeping bag there was an hour or so there where it was freezing! I was happy and positive though as I ate my dinner surrounded by hay.

I had made sure to pack a Fleece Rug and a Waterproof Winter Combo for my Freddy; but I had a single sleeping bag!

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Any horse rider would know that is typical, the horses always get the best of things.  The next day I woke so excited and yet nervous at the same time.

Our draw times were Preparatory C at 07:51, Preliminary 1:2 at 08:26 and Preliminary 1:1 at 09:49.

I had my game face on at 7am as I mounted my trusty steed!

It was so cold still when IMG_0024we did our Prep C test, but it went well and Freddy tried so hard for me.

The Prelim 1:2 and 1:1 was a success. I was stoked!

My goals for this show were simple; get the correct canter lead in every test, every time.

We accomplished that and I was so proud of his efforts.  Freddy was patient when I was unbalanced at times, and he showed me nothing but respect the entire weekend. He was no trouble, didn’t fuss, never spooked and had my back throughout the whole weekend.

I felt he almost knew I needed him to support me; and he did.  I am truly blessed to have my Freddy as my equine partner in this journey.  

So… now to the scores. DSC_0254

We ended up coming 8th in the Preliminary 1:1 on a score of 59.32%, 9th in the Preliminary 1:2 on a score of 57.21% and 6th in the Preparatory C with a score of 58%. That meant we were taking home a gorgeous ribbon!  I was so proud of Freddy and me! 

We drove home, making it through the “Tick Gate” at the border unscathed and I just kept smiling. New goals now, more Dressage, more confidence building and more smiles.

It was truly a big step to even consider going and to be honest I wasn’t sure how I would go. I am so proud of myself that I did it and got through the weekend and I feel stronger from doing so!

The Gold Coast Equestrian Club was wonderful! The day  ran so smoothly and professionally and everyone was smiling. It made it such a lovely experience for us.

You can find the clubs Facebook page here if anyone would like to check it out.  

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling… Mel

 

 

 

23.08.2017 – The OTTB – Part Four

This is Part Four of a series of blogs I am writing on OTTB’s and tips for training them. Please refer to Part One , Part Two and Part Three if you have not read them as yet. 

Part Four is by far one of my favourites; Building Confidence. Building confidence is not just about your new furry friend, it is also about you. Taking an OTTB fresh from the track to a Dressage Competition, Show Jump show or a local Club day can be daunting.

Any of us who have been there will know you kind of have to roll the dice on the day! Especially the first outing.  

You can prepare as much as you like by hacking them out on trail rides and driving them around and visiting places on the float, but nothing is going to prepare you for what you might get at your first show. And you need to be mentally and physically prepared to go through it.

I relate it to the top of Everest, that’s your goal! Everest is a nice supple, soft and responsive horse who ties to the float, is a dream and stands still when you want to get a coffee or break for lunch and in the ring gets 6’s and up the entire test.

Everest sounds awesome yes! Getting there will be a hard slog of a climb, but when you are there the view will be breathtaking and everything will seem worth it.

That’s what building confidence is like. 

It’s a bit of a double-edged sword at times too. You want this awesome new horse of yours to go out and do his thing (and let’s be honest; win a ribbon or a rug maybe too!) but in order to do that you have to go to probably a dozen or shows before he/she gets their head in the game. Those shows can be hard work; plain and simple.

As I am a goal-setter from way back, (yes, my Grandmothers next door neighbours dog was quite possibly a goal-setter) I find it easier than some to conquer this part of the plan. I do not expect much and I am therefore surprised often.

I will admit though, the first time I took Moo to a Dressage Comp, afterwards I cried like a child. I threw a tantrum and was very “poor me” about it all, but then I realised; Mel you set yourself up for failure, and I have never done it again. It had been a while since I had trained an OTTB and I had forgotten how awesomely bad that first show can go! 😦 I put way too much pressure on myself and him and well… I blew it.

So here is my first piece of advice to building confidence “expect the unexpected and yet expect nothing also” (maybe that should be on a shirt somewhere). 🙂 Don’t expect too much; out of you, out of your horse. It’s not fair on either of you and nerves will do you no favours come competition day.

Horses feed off energy, they are herd animals and in a herd environment, well.. they react like the rest of the herd. They do not think for themselves if there is spook in the air. They react with flight, fight or freeze the same as us humans do.

If you are a nervous wreck your OTTB will be like “Why are you nervous? Is there something to be nervous about? Am I about to be eaten by that giant yellow umbrella?” They will feed off you and you will make them anxious and they will in turn

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make you anxious by being anxious and you will again be more anxious and so will they.

(Insert a new Dr Suess book here) 🙂

This one is my favourite though just in case anyone was wondering 🙂 

All I am saying is Building Confidence and fear cannot be in the same room together.

I have learned to be scared and anxious but to not show it. But to be truthful I am not scared or anxious when I am on a horse, very unlike my two legged self. When I put my foot in the stirrup I accept that the worst possible thing that can happen is that I am killed. The second worse is in a wheel-chair. Can I accept that fate? Yes. So what is their to be anxious about really.

The way to build confidence is by having fun, making everything a positive, even when it isn’t and just getting on with it.

If your horse is nervous then I have a few little tips I use and they quite often work.

  1. Be prepared and get there early. Just be early, be prepared, try to get there when the place is empty if you can. If you arrive and there is 50 floats there and 80 horses then it is alot more daunting then pulling into a deserted show ground and cars and floats arriving.
  2. I try to walk as much as I can, I mean like for an hour or so before I start to warm up; just walk. If I am on at 10:00 I will be in the saddle by 8:30 at least. 
  3. Transitions. Just heaps of them ok. Walk to Trot, Trot to Walk, Rein backs, Halts, Canter circle for half a circle then walk for minutes. Just mix it up, keep them interested in you. 
  4. Kicking it up a gear is the one Moo responds to most. If I am walking and he is not listening I then Trot. If I am trotting and he is not listening I Canter. I go Trot to Canter, Canter to Trot until he gets a little puffed and then goes “Hey Mel, can we walk? Let’s go back to where you asked me to walk!” This one works ever time.

If you are at a show and someone offers you advice, at least listen to what they have to say. You never know, they might have trained OTTB’s for twenty years and can help you out. Never be afraid to take sound advice. Also, never be afraid to ignore advice that is not in the best interest of you or your best mate. 

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling 

Mel x 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s Executive… 22.08.2017

This is all so off topic but I got to write about it. I needed a laugh today… I said this today when I was putting Freddy’s sheepskin boots on. 

When I was younger not everybody had a mobile phone.

I know what you’re thinking. Are you from outer-space? Did you have a pet dinosaur growing up?

No to both of these, but it is true that not everyone had a mobile phone back in the late 90’s to early 2000’s. In hindsight, I am not sure how we coped as I love technology.

Anyway I remember I worked in Newcastle and at lunch we would walk down the mall to grab a bite to eat. (I miss those days, walking through the mall, going to the food court and risking food poisoning 🙂 Ah the memories, but I digress).

Anyway, when someone was on their mobile phone and walking through the mall they reminded us of Wall Street bankers, they also seemed to always be dressed in business suits and they looked as we put it “Executive”.

So when we had just walked by them, we would loudly say “That’s Executive!” and then laugh our heads off.  We would then run until our stomachs hurt from laughing and running. 

Twenty years later I still use this phrase, sure I have grown up now (well, a little) but I no longer scream it at the top of my lungs when I am walking past a person on a mobile phone. This is for two reasons. 

  1. Everyone has a mobile phone so I would be doing it all the time; and
  2. Did I mention I’m a grown up now 🙂

I do however still have my childish moments.

A few months ago I was at Mudgeeraba Dressage with Amy and I was explaining this “Executive” term to her. I remember it was freezing in that float but we didn’t notice. We ended up cracking up laughing most of the night eating $60 worth of very oily chinese food and almost making ourselves sick. It was a great time.

That night a large horse truck turned up at about midnight and of course we labelled it “Executive” for the remainder of the weekend. We were still laughing about it all when we drove home late the next day. 

I still use this term now and then and it has never lost it’s shine. If you go to a fancy hotel it must be said when you check out the bathroom. I am one of those people that check out the bathroom first. Do they have Executive shampoo and conditioner items? If so, this place is Executive! 🙂 

I also use it when I see a nice car, nice horse, nice watch, or get a new phone (I am awaiting a new iphone 7 as we speak so I am sure I will say it upon it’s arrival ).

Try it out the next time you put a new piece of tack on your horse. My horses look at me when I buy them a new rug or get a new bridle and announce “That’s Executive” when I put it on the first time…

I can hear the “That’s Executive movement” as we speak…

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling

Mel x 

 

 

20.08.2017- The OTTB – Part Three

This is Part Three of a series of blogs I am writing on OTTB’s and tips for training them. Please refer to Part One and Part Two if you have not read them as yet. 

Part Three is the topic that possibly takes the longest to have, but once you have it you just keep going up and up; Riding Skills and Confidence as a Rider.

You have to have strong riding skills to take on an OTTB, end of story. Ok, so on occasion yes, you can get lucky. There are those dreamy ‘cool as a cucumber’  OTTBs that just win stuff and are awesome to take for a run, that rarely buck and accept their new life as if they were born into it, they never spook are never nervous (these quite often are what I call unicorns that drop cupcakes behind them when they go to the bathroom). 

Chances are though if you take on an OTTB and your confidence and riding skills aren’t up to scratch, you are going to wind up hurt. OTTB’s not only require training, they require re-training. I always say that ‘it is harder to take something back then to give it in the first place’ and the same rings true with horses. Once a horse is allowed to have bad manners and you want to position yourself as the leader there will be tantrums and moments of rebellion.

There may also be downright battles and you have to have the seat, riding skills and confidence to be able to win those battles without resorting to any form of violence or fear driven tactics. Violence and fear based training is negative and has no part in the retraining of an OTTB. I am also a big believer that violence causes violence causes violence etc. It is a lose:lose situation with a horse. 

I appreciate that this can be difficult to not be reactive to your environment, as we humans do react rather than reply most of the time 😦  You have to be confident in your decisions and retraining and when you are training your new furry friend. When you make a decision you have to have the skills to back it up. Horses respect confidence and consistency in their training. If you are scared of them then they cannot put you in the Leader position. This is built in and it is the same for us humans so we should be able to understand their point of view.

I mean really, would you trust someone if you were on a sinking ship and they were like “Oh I am scared, we are going to die. I think the exit is this way but I’m not sure, let’s go left.. No let’s go right, oh I don’t know, what do you think we should do?” and then they cry and break down…

I would run the other way and not follow this person. I would follow someone strong. Someone who has my back. Someone who could lead me to safety. Safety to horses is everything. It trumps food, shelter and water on their scale of importance. So be a place of safety and reassurance first and foremost. 

Riding skills are also not about the ability to be able to stay on when a horse bucks. (even though if you can do that; that is awesome!) Riding skills are knowing how to train the OTTB from the mind to the hooves and having the ability to problem solve and adapt with a seconds notice and not loose your cool.

Riding skills are also about being able to ensure the safety of you and your horse.

You have to ensure:

  1. That you have a safe area to work on the ground skills, a round yard is perfect, but if not then start by leading your horse, teaching him/her how to trailer load, stand still, ‘park’ and come to you when called. 
  2. You need to have the skills to know that you must seek expert advice before attempting to ride your OTTB. You should have a Dentist, Chiropractor and Farrier see your OTTB before you attempt to mount or do any hard work with them. If you need to save money for these visits, use the time to build on the skills in Point 1 of this list in the meantime. 
  3. When you move on to teaching your OTTB to lunge you have to be patient. He/she may not have been on the lunge before. You need to have the patience, confidence and skills to teach them the sound of your voice. Your OTTB should be able to Walk, Trot & Canter on the lunge without pulling and trying to get away from you. They should respond to your voice commands and come to a halt when asked. These commands can later be used when you have your OTTB under saddle.
  4. You need to have the Riding Skills and confidence to be able to know how to fit tack correctly and supply your OTTB with the tack that suits them perfectly. Ill-fitting tack can cause your horse to be in pain and pain can cause your horse to buck to relieve that pain. 
  5. Finally you have to have the Riding Skills to know where to start training and when they have had enough for one session. It is important not to over-load your new OTTB mentally. They are used to being trained in the morning on the track, so try to stick to that if you can. It doesn’t have to be 3am, but earlier is best.

They learn as children learn; in small positive sessions. I used to ride Moo for 10 or 15 minutes only when I first started. Slowly over time I built this up, 5 minutes at a time.

I also used to lunge him before I rode him, because he used to buck on the lunge at the start of training. Slowly over time I decreased the lunging so now I do not need to lunge at all if I do not want to. I saddle him up and mount straight away. A horse being “cold back” can be a state of mind. Lunging is not necessary to get them in the mood to be ridden or to get the energy out of them. Communicate with them and get them into a head space that works. 

Riding skills is also about having an independent seat and knowing how to apply the leg aids to train them. This can take years. I am still searching for my perfect seat, but year after year it gets better.

If you are in the correct riding position and your horse bucks or spooks you will not fall off. You will be able to ride this and stay with them. Also if they resist a part of training and use spooking, bolting or bucking as an evasion you can get them back under control quickly and safely.

Riding skills is about knowing how to apply the leg aids and teach your OTTB how to accept your legs, remember they are used to a jockey that has his/her legs all the way up on their back. When you first put your long stirrup legs on them, they may get a shock. 

Teach your  new OTTB to leg yield, to pirouette, to turn with your body and seat, to halt with your body and seat, to accept a light contact, to respond to pressure, to accept the training aids and techniques you set out. Most importantly have the riding skills and the confidence that ensures your OTTB will try. I always reward when my horses try for me. They may not get it right, we may fail, but if something gives it a go; for you, how can you be disappointed in them?

Skills and confidence are also about short term and long term goals, how to set them and how to achieve them. I personally always try to win the long term battle, not the short term ones. I’m not a short-term person. I do not know how to be like that.

I always have goals in the future and white-boards in the house with charts. I love to make lists and map progress.  If you are not a chart/white-board/goal-setting type of person maybe you should be. Did I mention white-boards are awesome 🙂

Increasing your knowledge, riding skills and confidence is so important if you want to own and retrain an OTTB. If you do not have the money for a mentor/coach to guide you then get on the Web, Youtube, chat forums etc. There is a wealth of knowledge to be found if you search in Google. It got me half of my skills I reckon.

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling

Mel x

p.s. Any questions please comment or email me. I’m more than happy to help 🙂

 

Currumbin District Horse Club – 13.08.2017

Mr Potato Head (Moo) and I had a lovely day at our Dressage Competition at Currumbin District Horse Club on 13.08.2017.  As always it was a relaxed and welcoming feeling on the grounds with a Committee that is encouraging, supportive and so devoted to their club! It’s a wonderful place for youngsters and green horses too. 

Hopefully I can take Mr Flashdance AKA Freddy up there in the next few months to compete before we go to QSEC in October 🙂 Anyway… I digress. Moo went so much better than last month when we went up. 426979ee-331f-480f-b92e-bebc5b7f2102

I left home super early, but I have always liked early mornings so it isn’t hard for me to get up and get going. Moo was pretty happy about being fed a few hours earlier too 🙂 DSC_2108

 

And then there was this sunrise!

 

Okay, so then there were these tunnels. DSC_2112

You have to hold your breath when you are driving through tunnels, its a thing!

(I admit that I cannot quite do the Harbor Tunnel in Sydney, it is too long and well… I need air, but I persist lol)

We arrived and he unloaded well and he was so calm. He is really starting to get his head in the game (and possibly realise that Dressage is way more awesome than racing around in the hot sun). He only has to do a few minutes and then it is back to the float for treats and hay. Be pampered. Rinse and repeat.

I was able to tie him to the float this time, last time he made constant circles in the yard he was in and I was unable to tie him as he wouldn’t be still. DSC_2115

 

This time looked like this. I smile 🙂

 

 

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We then had Preparatory E (formally B) at 8:28am which did go well.

He was still a little tense, but it was better than last time.

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Preparatory C was at 8:52am and it was only his second attempt at a Serpentine in a Competition.

I was so proud of my little monkey.

He got a 6 for this move. 6’s are good! Ok, so 9’s and 10’s are better, but 6’s are good (for now)  🙂

 

Then we finally had Preliminary 1:1 at 9:52am. It was a bit of a wait so I went back to the float and tried to get him to drink some water. He was having none of it! You can lead a horse to water… (I think you know the rest). However Moo was more than happy to eat my Apples that I  had packed for my morning tea so he had those instead. He wasn’t dehydrated so I went on with the last test. A83W3501.JPG

The test in itself was okay.

We have this problem. I call it the Giraffe Halt.

This is “Hey, I halted square but I will then move my hind back and stick my head in the air like a Giraffe looking for leaves to eat. Mum will certainly agree that this is ok.”

Mum says “ah no, it’s so not ok.”

At least he showed immobility so you have to be happy with that 🙂

 

The rest of the test was okay and his canter work was phenomenal.

It felt good and he was in front of my leg and soft into the contact. Perfect, perfect, perfect. 

The only issue was he kept putting his head up and looking at something near F. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but when I watched the video back later that night I realised that the house next door had a pool with a giant pink flamingo floating in it. Clearly Flamingo’s eat horses!!!!! 🙂

All in all I was stoked. We grabbed a third and a fourth, so not too bad.

 

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I just can’t stop smiling.

I love him to bits!

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling

Mel x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15.08.2017 – The OTTB – Part Two

This is Part Two of a series of blogs I am writing on OTTB’s and tips for training them.

Please refer to Part One if you have not seen it.  So Part Two has been the biggest struggle of mine; Patience.

Anyone who knows me, knows I am not patient. I don’t try to work out whether this is an innate or a learned trait of mine, I just accept that it is who I am. I am impatient. There, I said it.

I have been able to spin this into a positive though. It seems to be a strength and a weakness. Whilst I admit that I am not patient, I also am goal oriented and self-motivated, so really I like the fact that I am a little impatient is a huge positive to me and my life, I accomplish so much and always have a full mind of “what’s next”.

But when training the OTTB it is a negative as being Patient is key to success! I have had to master the art, through NLP and truly understanding my own behavior, of being patient and seeming patient; even if I am not.

Retraining and OTTB is a slow and steady process. It can also be a long and tiresome process, so you have to stay patient and focused on the long term goals here. OTTB’s are usually highly strung after they have come from the track and quite sensitive. I find that being patient enough to desensitize them is the best place to start. This can take anywhere from 7 days to “how long is a piece of string” depending on your equine partners mind.

Desensitisation an OTTB is not for the faint hearted!  I actually at times question what the hell I am doing at 40 years old trying to have the boldness of a 20 year old and do this, ah but I love it 🙂

First things first; You have to be able to successfully and safely catch your OTTB. I always say that catching your horse is the thing you do the most, so why not make it easy.  Chapter Three in my book “So you bought a horse, now what?” is how to catch your horse. I mainly use the approach and retreat method.

I do not use treats all the time, I use treats at random; even now when the horses can be caught. I do not hide the halter and lead behind my back; I am overt and transparent with them. They do not like surprises so be upfront and honest from the out-set.

Once I am able to catch them successfully every time (and this will require patience), I bring them in and teach them how to tie up and stand still. This is something you need to be careful with; this is where if it isn’t done correctly, both you and your OTTB can get hurt.

So:

  1. Never, Ever tie your horse directly to anything; use hay string.
  2. Never, Ever leave your horse when you tie him up, Ever!!! Your OTTB could strangle himself in your absence.
  3. At first, do not tie your OTTB up at all, practice having the rope just lay over a railing and when they move, correct them, put them back where you asked them to “park” and repeat until they get it.
  4. Learn how to tie a quick release knot. I found a good video on YouTube here.

Once you have caught your OTTB and tied your OTTB you then need to move onto leading your OTTB. OTTB’s are renowned for walking all over the top of you or pulling you into the distance. This behaviour is unacceptable! I personally will not allow my horses to do that. It shows a lack of respect and also demonstrates where your OTTB sees you in the pecking order; underneath him. You need to be the alpha in your relationship and that means you lead and they follow; end of story.

If your OTTB walks all over the top of you and pushes you from behind you need to turn to face him and ask him to move out of your space, do this by being confident and then asking with your mannerisms and the lead rope for a few steps back. Then turn to walk again and ask your OTTB to walk with you. Your horse should walk beside you shoulder-to-shoulder.

If your OTTB pulls you and storms out in front, not only is this disrespectful but it puts you in a very dangerous position, right near the hindquarters; a quick leap or spin and you are in target for a kick. You need to correct this behaviour by, pulling on the lead rope and turning the horse toward you. This move will instantly take you out of the danger zone and also you will then have the attention of your horse. Then position yourself shoulder-to-shoulder and ask again. Use the lead rope and be firm, not cruel, firm. There is a massive difference!

I still practice ground skills with my horses at least once or so a week. I walk a step, then see if they will walk a single step. I walk two steps, they should walk two steps. I back up or move and they should move out of my space. It is how the body language of horses works in the herd and if we mimic it and speak their language we understand them, but also communicate in a way that they can understand.

This can take some time, again be patient, but if you master this discipline on the ground it will carry over to the horse when they are under saddle.

Patience is key to training your OTTB, it can be time consuming and take a lot of energy from you as retraining is often harder than training a horse that knows nothing of the world. You have to undo bad behaviour and retrain good behaviour. At times, the tantrums your OTTB will throw is nothing short of a 5 year old child that has been refused lollies. But persist as this fantastic breed of horse will be a unicorn soon enough.

Next topic is Your Riding Skills…

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling

Mel x

 

 

 

 

 

12.08.2017 – The OTTB – Part One

I’ve just had the first part of my Level One Horse Management Slips signed off and I am rather excited about it all. 🙂

I remember when I first wanted to do the Equestrian Australia Coaching Courses  it was back in 2003; such a long time ago. My dream was to own my own Equestrian Centre and teach people to ride.

My goals have now grown and evolved to where I also want to be able to prove that the OTTB is just as good a horse as any other breed in Dressage. The OTTB generally gets a bad name because of their spooky and unpredictable nature. But are they really that spooky or is it a self fulfilling prophecy?

For example; I wanted to trade in my Ford Ranger for a Pajero and someone said to me; “Don’t do that, Ranger’s are a heaps better car and have better pulling power”.

Suddenly, I am more in love with my car and when I pull the float I think to myself “Yes, this car is awesome at pulling the horses.” 🙂 Is this actually true? or am I just confirming an idea I put in my head? I’m not saying OTTB’s are not spooky, not at all, I am saying they do get a bit of a hard wrap at times considering that every weekend all over Australia someone takes home a pretty neat ribbon, trophy or prize money on one of these types of horses. I think they are incredible and I can’t say enough about them.

OTTB’s are everywhere! The Racing Industry is alive and well and you only have to look at how many races are on all over the world everyday to see the abundance of horses giving it a go. Not many of them make it to be a Superstar (same as people I guess) and so once they are done you have a horse anywhere from a few years old to approximately 7 years old that suddenly are not wanted and put up for sale.

And along comes us, the hopefuls for a free or at the very least “cheap” horse. I’ve put together a list of what I think you need and have to have before taking on this task.

I do not believe it is difficult to train an OTTB, but it does take experience and confidence. If you do not know how to ride and you suddenly are given an OTTB (like I was by my parents at 18), you can be in for a whole world of injuries and frustration.

If you are a beginner; unless you have a trainer/coach that will be mentoring you or a family with a horse background in OTTB’s I would strongly advise against owning one as your first horse.  In the next few posts I will do a list of what I think is key to training our ex-racehorse.

Understanding Racing:

I think this is so important. The old adage of “you don’t know where you are going until you know where you have been” rings true here.  Your OTTB has come from a completely different world and quite possibly, even if you like racing, you will have no idea of what it has been like for him/her.

Horses are all different, with differing personalities, emotional needs, physical wants and psychological set-ups; just like us. I believe they also have different coping levels to each other and what some horses can handle, others can not.

I found it beneficial to go down to the track and watch the horses work. Go and have a look at the stables, find a trainer to do some work experience with so you can see what a Day in the life of your OTTB is like. This taught me a great deal about them. It didn’t look fun to me. It felt claustrophobic and very controlled. But they do love to run, I honestly believe that part they enjoy.

Despite being claustrophobic and a bit boring when they weren’t at a race, it was methodical and routine based and that is what OTTB’s like and thrive on. They love routine because they are used to it. So when you get an OTTB have a routine, especially when you are tacking up; they know what is coming next that way and they can predict the future; this leads to a calm mind.

The first thing I do with an OTTB is to give him a rest, a spell. Give him some time and space. Anywhere from a month to six months; it’s up to him/her and you. Let them graze in a field, hang out with other horses and scratch each other. Roll in the dust and lay in the sun. Let them feel freedom. I really do believe, and this is for people too, that “Only those denied freedom can understand it’s value”.  If you do this, the rewards will be great.

I also found that sticking to a routine is an asset. Feed and rug at the same times each day. Keep a routine and always be the same happy confident person each time you show up.

When racehorses are being ridden they are taught to lean against the contact, to lean into pressure, to run-run and run some more. Very different to what you want if you want a supple horse that responds to your aids. If you pull on your ex-racehorse it will have an opposite effect of what you are after. They will simply pull back.

I don’t know about you, but I have never won a tug-of-war with a horse yet!

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He/she may want to put their head in the air like a Giraffe and for a while that is okay. I allow them that freedom as long as they are not trying to get away from me.

I just concentrate on the German Training Scale.

I work on Rhythm and Relaxation. Without these you have nothing!

Racehorses are not taught Relaxation and Rhythm, life is just to jump out of a barrier, run and be whipped if you are not running enough.  I think if you can understand racing you will be able to understand just what your horses needs are to be able to become a pleasure horse.

Next topic will be patience.

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling

Mel x

 

We Walked, We Trotted, We Cantered. 10.08.2017

This is now my business mission. It may sound simple but I love it!

I came up with it a few weeks ago. This is how it played itself out; I was at a Dressage Day and I was in a group. Other people were talking of how they were going and discussing Cadence and Rhythm and Impulsion. I was asked how I went and I said “We walked, We trotted, We cantered.” Someone laughed and I realised it was a bit funny, which is so me 🙂

I wasn’t being sarcastic at all and the truth was that had been my goal for the day; to just do those three things.

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I have decided to put it on a range of items to sell. 

So I created a store.

You can find this link on the Website Menu or by clicking here 

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I also have my business logo on some items and you will find them by clicking here.

 

I am also thinking of starting an International Dressage Team.

If anyone thinks it’s a good idea and is interested please contact me via the contact form on the Website Menu or by direct email melissa@melroseequestrianservices.com.au

I’m still working on the details. I want to build exposure for everyone out there and create a whole bunch of positive vibes.

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling

Mel x 

Chiropractor Update – 31.07.2017

YAY … There is good news for Mr Flashdance AKA Freddy.

I had the Chiropractor out last week and we have localised the lameness issue to the near-side front Fetlock joint! scan_20170803.jpg

I have been so concerned about tendons and ligaments, even though my gut was telling me that couldn’t be true (I am so over the top about bandaging and icing his legs).

Anyway, even though this is not fantastic ‘let’s throw a party news’, more and more my experts and myself are suspecting Arthritis.

Arthritis is a perfectly manageable illness with the correct treatment. However, as I am not a ‘fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl’ I want to make sure before I start injections into my precious friend. So Fred is having an X-Ray on both front legs on August 24.

Stay tuned and keep fingers crossed for us that “Arthur Ritis” (that is a bad joke but I just couldn’t resist) is not our friend and indeed is the cause of Fred’s lameness.

I have been managing his pain and keeping him warm, it’s all I can do for the next 3 weeks as that was the first appointment I could get.

The rest of his Chiropractic exam showed Fred is completely sound otherwise.

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling

Mel x

Farrier Update 26.07.2017

Anybody who knows me knows that I love Freddy. We have had a love/hate relationship at times. A relationship where he would buck going into the Canter and I would fall off then I’d say I hate you!

Then I would hug him and take it back. We are solid as a rock now and all of that is behind us!! We were having a marvellous time competing and spending time together and then my poor little monkey went lame. He has had a history of lameness and it all relates to his conformation issue on his front right hoof.1500953545449

He has contracted heels and a thin sole, so it is hard to keep him barefoot as he needs a shoe/boot because of this and also the fact that he weighs 550 kg.

But if you keep a shoe on and it is muddy then the mud gets stuck around the hoof and the hoof rot gets worse!

(Insert a visual of me pulling my hair out here!)

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I have a fantastic farrier and I am so blessed. In the few months he has been doing my horses feet they have improved so much. His back feet are completely heeled and we have a healthy frog that hits the ground. Impressive stuff to say the least!

We have treated his hooves and wrapped them. I saw a massive improvement in only two days.

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I need to keep treating them and re-wrapping them for the next 30 days and then see what my farrier says.

I looked into therapy boots which are a good idea but I think the issue is a conformation issue and a boot will not fix that.

Also, we cannot compete in therapy boots for Dressage (Insert unhappy face). Honestly I do not see why we cannot. Horses with sensitive backs can have a sheepskin numnah and a gel pad. You can also have sheepskin under the poll and the noseband and protective ear coverings and yet I cannot have a therapy boot? HMM. So I got to thinking; Perhaps there is a rule there that needs to be changed?

Here is the current rule:

2.16 Over-boots/Hoof boots
In regards to horse wearing shoes or hoof coverings:
a) it is not mandatory for horses to be shod
b) removable over-boots/hoof boots are permitted in the warm-up area but NOT permitted past the gear check or into the competition surrounds or arena
c) glued-on shoes cannot cover any more of the hoof than does a nailed shoe, and the bulbs of the heel and full circumference of coronary band must be clearly visible.

I love that it is not mandatory for horses to be shod, because some horses simply can’t be. So Part C is my focus. I think I need to come up with something that can protect the sole of the hoof (as he has thin soles) and also something cushiony (if that is a word) for his sensitive frog/heels.

I am open to suggestions/idea’s or even creations from anybody, anywhere! 

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I am persistent by nature and I do not give up easy. I also refuse to accept “No” for an answer so because of this I just keep on keeping-on to have my Freddy sound.

For the moment I will just keep treating his frogs and keeping his legs warm to fend off arthritis.

Yesterday I gave him some Bute. I am not a massive fan of Bute, but he looked in pain and my Freddy in pain simply will not do! 

I’m currently looking into Ginger and Tumeric to assist with arthritis, blood flow and reducing inflammations. 

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Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Happy Riding and Keep Smiling

Mel x

Tamworth Judges Clinic – 21 to 22.07.2017

So… (I love ellipses, just saying) anyway, I took a drive to Tamworth on Friday morning to attend a Judges Seminar and also to check out AELEC as the Tamworth Dressage Club Championships were on! It was win:win all round for me! 1500606766440

I have all intent and purposes of competing there next year. The facilities are amazing. 

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Moo would feel very special to be dancing around on this. The outdoors are awesome too. So it’s in the diary and let’s see if me and Mr Potato-Head or Mr Flashdance can pick us up some of this stuff!

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So the Judges Clinic went really super.

I did the F/E Seminar as I wanted to get my G-Level signed off by the end of the weekend and be ready to upgrade to F-Level in 2018. So off I went…

The Seminar was so interesting and I learned a great deal. It’s always such an insight as a rider to see what the Judges are looking for and since I have been completing the Judging, my riding has improved. DSC_2075

We had a break for lunch so of course I went to get the obligatory picture by the Big Guitar. DSC_2076

I then had a quiche and salad with a pot of Earl Grey Tea (mmmm my favourite) for lunch.

There was a bird there keeping me company but he wouldn’t shut-up and stared at me the whole time I ate.

It was kind of weird

 

We then went to watch the Elementary 3:3 and learn what to look for. One of the horses could do Travers to Renvers with the most seamless transition I have ever seen! Talk about #goals

I was absolutely exhausted by the time I got back to the hotel and fell asleep about 7pm. I was excited for what tomorrow would bring though!
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I had left the hotel at 7.30am and had to use a whole bottle of water to clear the ice off my windscreen. Apparently it was -3 outside.

YAY I love the cold. NOT!

It was freezing in that Arena at 8am on the Saturday.

I was Shadow Judging Novice 2.2 which was going to be interesting as I had never penciled for 2.2 nor ridden it, but I figured if I called it as I saw it I should do okay.

Once I finished I then went to pencil for the Preliminary 1:3. My favorite test to ride at the moment so it was fun to do.

Then we stopped for lunch while I got my papers sorted and waited for the Judge Mentor to take a look and let me know if I passed or not.

Fingers were crossed big time!

AND…… YAY I passed. The Judge Mentor scored 67.29% for 1st Place and I scored 66.85% and her lowest score was 57.86% and mine was 52.43% so I think I did pretty well. I would recommend doing this to any dressage rider. If you want to learn more follow the link to Equestrian Australia. This will take you to the Officials Resources page.

So that is another goal ticked off the bucket list of Melissa Rose. Only a thousand more things to go. 

Happy Riding & Keep Smiling

Mel x