The feeling that I am being tested!
Well last time I commented on what a turn around the previous blog had been – never has a truer word been spoken the past couple of months for Casper and I! We have shared both immense highs and incredible lows which sadly have put paid to many of our future plans.
As people may be aware the Eventing Championships was for all involved one of the best experiences many of us have taken part in with the riding club. The camaraderie, team work and fun that all involved shared was narcotic and I know that all humans and horses involved had a blooming fantastic time – even if the overall results were not what we had hoped for.
Without dwelling on the past, to have been in the lead after the dressage and XC with Casper (on the leading dressage score out of almost 100 horses from across the country) was an amazing experience and whilst I did not let it consume me too much; the thought of leaving Champion did cross my mind! Having Casper trot up lame that evening and progressively get worse the next day (necessitating my withdrawal from the competition before the final trot up) was heartbreaking; for myself; the team but more importantly Casper. He was seen by the vet immediately and was well drugged to deal with the lameness. He was homebound after the competition and diagnosed by my vet with an abscess – how annoying (but treatable). The start of things to come perhaps?
After a few weeks off and being brought back into work slowly, Pontispool BE was our next aim (as there appeared to be no repercussions of lameness). Pontispool was a dream; our highest BE dressage mark of 26 (could have been even lower had he not decided to jog in the walk for the first time ever in his life) and a double clear had us second! Fantastic..
Now heed my warning – a few days later (with no signs of lameness, heat and only sporadic swelling when stabled) Casper did not seem himself; cue vet again and this time a scan – my worst fears were diagnosed: a double superficial flexor tendon injury to both fore legs! A few days later Casper had stem cell therapy on both legs and will now be on box rest for the foreseeable future (estimated he should be out of his stable after 6 months with further controlled walking to aid healing)
To say I am devastated is an understatement, but as with everything life goes on (although saying that with a 17 Hand, fit eventer on box rest is easier said than done). Not having an operational horse will not stop me being involved in horses; I have since fence judged at Aldon BE (although this was bitter sweet) and further dressage stewarding beckons at future competitions. I have also decided to pursue dressage judging and have been attending training sessions and been guided by Kingfisher Dressage with my future as a judge – so far so good – not too many offended horse and rider combinations at the competitions I have judged so far!
So take note everyone – not having a horse does not mean you cannot actively engage in riding club activities, and hopefully in 18 months / 2 years Casper will be back stronger and wiser – just watch out for me counting the days and the overly hyper grey careering round the arenas of Somerset! Believe me – the way he is going at the moment, he will definitely be keen to make up for lost time!
Team SWDG has had fantastic results this year and I am gutted that Casper and I will not be able to build on these this winter/spring but I will definitely be around to support and assist – a valuable asset in any riding club and a necessity for all competitions to go ahead (note the hint to all riding club members!)
Thank you for all the lovely messages of support for Casper and no doubt I will see people out and about competing – very little will keep me away from horses!
Happy competing everyone, ride carefully and stay safe J
PS: For those interested below is the scan image of the aforementioned tendon
Well what a turn around the past few weeks have been – It really is amazing what you can achieve when you put your mind and your energy into something!
After my “blip” in the earlier months of the year, I have well and truly tried to sort myself out – to help me relax I have started Pilates (yes…you heard me right…I am doing Pilates!!) What a great way to spend an hour in the evening relaxing – never have I used my pelvic floor so much or made myself so aware of my posture when riding – it certainly is food for thought if you have “posture” anxiety! Learning to ignore work after hours and focus on Casper has been very hard, but the results he has produced speak for themselves and this is definitely something I feel all amateur riders need to learn to be able to do battle with the big guns!
Casper has had a busy month again – lots of flatwork and showjumping practice (our Achilles heel at the moment – or rather mine – he has the scope I just don’t think I do). He has been to Pontispool, West Wilts and Nunney BE events and has been improving each time. He topped off an 18th place at Pontispool (owing to my problems and dodgy striding in the SJ) with an 8th place at West Wilts (time faults this time – riding round the SJ like a granny in a mobility scooter does not help your horse to jump and can rob you of a 1st placing) and a 5th at Nunney (this time a double clear – I couldn’t have been happier!) He really seems to be getting it now! The Area 12 competition at Bicton this weekend was the icing on the cake – 2nd place and a win in the team competition. What more could I ask for?? Well….Marie coming 10th in her first 100 competition with Danny on the same team! I always thought I was the event rider in the family and I am worried that she is now breathing down my neck!
Now as a team we are Championship bound and I really cannot wait – it will be so interesting how Casper finds doing the long event format (something I have not done for a number of years!).
One thing that people have asked me about Casper is whether or not I will go Novice BE with him this season – the answer I give is no. In my eyes he is still a young 6 year old and he is too innocent and honest for me to put him in at the deep end (although I am sure he would relish the challenge). I want to maintain the novelty factor for him this year and push him the years after when he has had the winter to mature and come out stronger again. This is something that I imagine we all think about with our horses and ourselves – pushing oneself is the best motivator, but making sure it is done at the right time is so important. We have all seen people at competitions who are way out of their own and their horses comfort zones. When it goes wrong it can be very demoralising and getting the timing right is key. Food for thought for all perhaps?
Casper now has some BSJA (for the SJ practice), Hatherleigh and West Buckland as his future events, leading up to the Championships – here’s hoping the weather improves somewhat – I’m getting a little bored of the rain and miserable days, as I am sure we all are! Congrats to the Greenwoods on a fantastic combined training competition – more please, and warmest thanks to Tracy Scammell for organising the teams for the Area 12 – how she manages this; eventing and working full time I will never know!
Good luck to all, keep smiling; sit back and kick on
W and C
Before I start reeling off my life story let me introduce myself – My name is Wayne Clarke and my horse is called Casper (Lobinstown Rock to his posh friends). I have been riding since the age of 13 and have owned Casper for almost 2 years. My aim this year is to BE him at BE100 level and finish the season off at Aldon three day event (although October does seem a long way off at the moment).
What a mixed bag this spring has been – I am sure that I am not the only one who utters the proverbial “well it can’t be any worse than last year?” phrase at New Years; but in all honesty, we all seem to be in the same boat so we may as well aim to enjoy every second with our horses (and make work a second priority) – this is something that I always seem to struggle with.
Casper has had a busy winter/spring this year compared to last year (he had the majority of 2012 off recovering from injury and spent time growing). He has faced a move to Kingfisher Equestrian Centre (I got fed up of riding in the dark and longed for an indoor school); the Area 12 dressage qualifier (and in the process he was dressaged, competed and schooled to death by my new trainer and myself – our scores have drastically improved as has his shape); fantastic XC clinics with Jo May; Showjumping up to new heights (no more 90cm for him) and trips to the gallops – all in prep for the new season!
Ah the BE season….Well it all started off promising – Moreton was fantastic and he was 10th in the BE90 (great considering he had done no XC since April 2012 and he bronched and reared most of his dressage warm up) and even though Aldon was an absolute washout (congrats to the Battens for doing a sterling job) he was 14th in his first BE100 – making it feel ridiculously easy! Onwards and upwards I thought – well – as with horses there was a catch (but in his defence he was not to blame – his father was!) It is always tough managing a full time career and eventing and this year for my college (and my job) it seems to be harder than normal – what with the pressures of Ofsted, redundancies (again) squeezing of departments and an increase in workload I struggled –and eventually cracked! And we all know what happens – the riding goes tits up! I promptly withdrew from Bicton and West Buckland (citing a nervous breakdown – of which it wasn’t) and hastily found my inner rider with the help of Sally @ Kingfisher – don’t worry I am now back on track (after an extended detox at Badminton HT – wasn’t it amazing) and I am entered up for Pontispool, West Wilts and I think we’ll give Nunney a stab – the course looked amazing last year!
This goes to show we all put up with so much (and it seems to be a ubiquitous trait that all horse riders must take on far too much work than everyone else).We are most definitely not bionic, and aside from horses we do need down time! I recommend a good hack or gallop – schooling can be far too stressful at times J
That’s enough from me; get praying for better weather, softer ground and less wind! Till next time…Hopefully see some of you out competing
W and C