New Additions, Reporter Duties & Getting My Leg Over: The August Roundup!

So here it is: my first monthly roundup! I post ‘mini updates’ regularly on my Facebook page – a few times a week, sometimes even daily – but not all of these updates are worth posting to the blog too (or at least that’s what I think!). However the purpose of the blog itself was to track progress, and those mini-updates are definitely worth getting onto the blog somehow – and I really like the idea of reviewing progress and looking at how far we’ve come over time too.

So from here the idea of starting monthly roundups was born! I got the idea from Sophie Tunnah of Team Tunnah Eventing, who has been doing these a while now. I hope you like our first one, and we always welcome feedback on what you’d like to see included in these roundups, or any improvements we could make!

New Additions

I took advantage of the forced hiatus from Paddy being off work, and went on holidays to Greece for a week! Over there, I had lots of time on my hands, and as the saying goes “An Idle Mind is the Devil’s Workshop” – this is where the idea of buying a project was born! I had always planned to buy a young horse, but hadn’t decided when – with Paddy coming slowly back into work, now seemed like a better time than ever, and it meant I would be less likely to rush him back to work when I had another to be preoccupied with!

And so there were two – along came Willow!

I was looking at sale ads online, and spotted a blurry picture of a coloured horse jumping with its knees up by its ears! Try as I might, I just couldn’t get her out of my head, and following a quick phone call to a friend to make sure I wasn’t totally insane, we decided to go and view her! She had only been brought in from the field shortly before this, and in the arena just a couple of times – never under lights! When I saw her loose schooling, and then found out her grandsire was Cavalier Jump for Joy, I knew I’d found a good one!

My first introduction to Willow:

The video from the day we viewed her:

 

I am very excited about her, she has gone from minimal handling to living in, being groomed, having tack on, lunging and long-reining all in the space of a month! We plan to start backing her soon – so far she is cool as a cucumber!

Reporter Duties

So much has happened in August, but if you asked me for a highlight I would have to say it was my experience being selected to be a Social Reporter for the FEI, to cover the Aga Khan/Nations Cup at the Dublin Horse Show!

It was the most phenomenal experience – from getting to see what goes on behind the scenes in organising a competition like this, to meeting top international riders, and learning totally new skills, I had such a wonderful experience from start to finish, and the team at the FEI and the Dublin Horse Show were incredibly helpful. A few highlights:

Getting to interview Bertram Allen:

Witnessing history being made, as Team USA are first all-female team to win the Aga Khan:

Meeting Lucinda Green at the coffee machine in the press box!

You can read my full post-event report here.

I left at the end of Horse Show week feeling thrilled that I got to have an experience like that, and definitely felt more confident in my journalism skills, as well as feeling so lucky to have met the likes of Bertram Allen, Rodrigo Pessoa, Beezie Madden and Lillie Keenan.

The FEI ran this initiative across a number of qualifiers, with the best reporter(s) from across all of the qualifiers being chosen to fly to Barcelona (all expenses paid) and cover the final as Social Reporter. I was absolutely over the moon to receive the news just a week later that I had won! The FEI were thrilled with my work and have chosen me to cover the final in Barcelona – I travel at the end of the month. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I still have to pinch myself that my little blog allows me opportunities like this!

Getting My Leg Over

The day I came home from holidays marked three months to the day that Paddy started box rest! In this time, he spent two months on strict box rest at home with some light daily hand walking, and then moved to Redhills Stud, in their custom-built box rest pens to allow him more movement. He had four shockwave therapy treatments to stimulate faster healing of the cells in his foot, and subsequently began building up time on the walker. The vet came to check him every 10 days or so, to see how he was coping with the increased exercise, and how he was progressing in general. He was completely sound in a straight line, and just slightly off on a circle – the fact that he looked a bit stiff both ways led us to believe this was likely stiffness from the box rest, so we continued to increase the exercise, and good news was he improved with each passing week!

The reason I sent him away was to avoid in-hand walking (as our yard at home does not have a walker), and because he couldn’t be turned out. We got the go ahead to start ridden work (to include trotting in straight lines), and also that he could be turned out in a small paddock provided there were no hijnks – so all in all this meant he could come home! I was beyond excited to get him back home, as trying to see two horses in two different yards (one that was over an hour away) was proving challenging, but I am still beyond grateful for the support and help Redhills Stud gave to me when we needed them most – you can read my review of their rehab services here.

Before we got him home, I had the scary task of sitting up on him for the first time in four months! I needn’t have worried, he was an absolute star and didn’t put a foot out of place. He is naturally a laid-back horse, and even when we started trot work there were no moments where I felt unsafe or nervous – one little buck and that was it!

Here is a little video of day three in the saddle!

We are to walk for an hour every day, with 5 minutes of trotting in straight lines in the middle. I was recommended by my vet to ice the legs after exercise, so my lovely other half bought me an early birthday present of the Ice Vibe boots so that I could use them to prepare the tendons before exercise, and ice after!

We have also been booked into the vets for a few weeks time for his four month checkup to see how he is progressing – whether any more rest or treatment is required, or he is ready to return gently to full work. I am a bit nervous about this understandably, but feel I have done everything I can to set Paddy up for success, and will follow the vet’s recommendations to the letter up until the appointment.

The Month Ahead

The focus for September will be to back Willow and get her riding (eek!), ensure Paddy’s rehab runs smoothly, and make a plan following the vet checkup, and finally travel to Barcelona for the FEI Nations Cup Final!

Here’s to September – my favourite month of the year!

Natalie xo

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