Back on the lunge

Monday 23 April

I gave Bruce (and myself) a day off on Sunday; I’m pretty tired at the moment and very busy with other things going on.

I decided to try him on the lunge this evening after work. It was breezy and I didn’t fancy the idea of being towed around the lanes by a horse on high alert.

Bearing in mind, last time I tried to lunge Bruce, I wasn’t happy with his soundness in trot on a circle and gave up on the idea pretty quickly – I was worried about what he was going to be like. I couldn’t be bothered putting his bridle and gadgets on (gosh, I am getting lazy!) so just stuck his rope halter and lunge line on.

I walked him around the school a couple of times first, using the tactics Dan Wain taught me; not pulling on his head but getting him to move with my body language and the long cane. He was responsive but seemed eager, so I decided to put him on a circle and see how we went. I was slightly concerned about my ability to stop him if he tanked off (as he so often used to on the lunge – motorbiking around, bucking and farting and generally behaving like a hooligan was his usual style).

On the lunge 23 april

I needn’t have worried. He was amazingly responsive, trotted when asked, walked when asked, didn’t canter (I didn’t want him to as he hasn’t been lunged or worked properly in so long). He seemed pretty chilled the whole way through!

His head carriage is still pretty high but he had fleeting moments of relaxation and lowering. I think I’ll carry on like this rather than putting him back in his bridle and cotton lunging aid – see how he gets on without.

All in all, very pleased with him!

The negative from tonight was that the Red Horse Sweet Oil I’ve been applying to his butt seems to have caused an allergic reaction. I thought it was just oil collecting in the hair but there were definite raised bumps on his skin tonight and peeling.

I’ve applied some aqueous cream instead, used for human dry skin conditions, until I order some more Camrosa ointment. Poor Bruce, he really is a delicate little flower, bless him!



A lovely walk in the sun

Saturday 21 April

After a very pleasant midweek hack with Elle and Copper, I decided to go solo with Bruce on Saturday morning. The weather was absolutely gorgeous – bright, sunny and warm. We walked along a route we’ve done many times before; at first he was intermittently calling the others, but he soon settled (with the aid of treats…).

We walked down a track which we normally turn back about half way along; but I decided to keep going. It turns into a sort of service road, for – as I found out at the end – a sewage treatment plant! Nice. It didn’t smell or anything though.

At the end there was a footpath/bridleway, but the gate was mostly blocked off by a huge tree trunk and a load of fly tipped rubbish. I knew I could get through the gap but wasn’t sure about Bruce. I decided to try it. I went first – and he followed most obligingly, without hesitation or spooking at the rubbish. We went all the way to the end of the track, under a motorway bridge and alongside the train tracks. I was desperately hoping a train didn’t come at the same time as we were under the bridge, not sure he would have been so keen on that..!

We got as far as we could before the footpath required the crossing of stiles and we had to turn back. I let Bruce have a graze of the long grass at this point, and then we turned for home.

hack sat 21 april

He was hoof perfect on the muddy track; and fine on the smooth tarmac service road. He picked his way over a patch of gravel, but that’s to be expected.

Half way back to the main road, we stopped for a second to let a car out of a gateway on the right; and to my complete shock, a goat stepped out of a gateway just ahead and to our left! Bruce had a good look at it, but wasn’t overly worried and walked past without batting an eyelid.

Who is this super chilled horse, and where has my horse gone?


15 week barefoot update

Tuesday 17 April

It’s been 15 weeks since Bruce had his shoes pulled. We’ve had some ups and downs, but he seems to be making definite progress now. His new trimmers, Three County Feet, have been nothing short of brilliant – their advice and very conservative trimming have enabled Bruce to stay comfortable.

The changes in his feet are becoming more apparent. Photos aren’t that great, but you get the idea.

I haven’t been walking him out on the roads as regularly as I should have been, for various reasons which will become apparent at a later date. I am taking him out tomorrow though, and thereafter at least every other day.

I am moving Bruce to a new yard at the end of the month; I’m putting him on part livery, so he’ll be turned out, mucked out, brought in etc for me during the week. This will give me more time to spend working with him. The new yard is at the end of a very long lane with only a couple of other livery yards on it; so very light traffic, perfect for walking out in hand! For longer walks, there are plenty of bridleways nearby, I am told. The school is huge, and the surface lovely and flat, really well drained and uniform all over. Really looking forward to it.

So – hoof update photos… Near fore first:

Near-Week15 comparison picSide-Week15 comparison picDC Near Fore Week15 comparison

What I see is:

  • A clear change in shape of hoof – toe has shortened, point of frog is closer to the toe, the hoof is rounder in shape.
  • The frog is more developed, as are the heels
  • Retracted soles apparent along with some old bruising. There is new sole growing underneath so just got to wait for the old sole to shed.
  • Improved digital cushion.
  • Improved angle between hoof and leg.
  • Hoof wall is very thin in lower quarter to third; stimulation required by walking out on roads to encourage new growth. Once this has grown down it should be perfectly healthy and he can stop load bearing on his soles (as apparent at toe).


Off fore:

Off-Week15 comparison picDC Off Fore Week15 comparison

Very similar results here.

Overall I’m happy  – Bruce is comfortable and that’s what’s most important. His feet may look worse before they look better, but that’s fine by me as long as he’s sound!


Thwarted by the weather… Again

Saturday 17 March

Managed to get out for an early morning walk round the block, with Elle and Copper today, against all the odds – wind, snow, sleet, the weather wasn’t on our side but we put mind over matter and got on with it.

Bruce was on his toes, it felt a bit like flying a kite at times… He was booted up for most of the way round the block, and I took the boots off for the last 5 minutes to let those feet get some stimulation.

I also went to look at a few yards today, but none were suitable in the end. Not sure if what I’m looking for is impossible.

Sunday 18 March

It properly snowed overnight. Again. Bastard weather. The taps and pipes froze again; cue lugging more containers of water. Really not what I needed – and it was only the second day of Bruce’s bootcamp! We had to call it off as it was too snowy and icy.

Monday 19 March

Went up to muck out at 5.30am today in case the horses were staying in. I thought it would be too hard on Bruce’s feet, without boots, in the field.

Wrong! Apparently he went galloping off without a care in the world.

He came in with a chunk of his face missing – must have been playing rough with the boys over the fence. Why doesn’t he move out of the way?! Had to take the noseband off his bridle as it would sit right where the chunk is missing. He was surprisingly not as fidgety in his mouth – I might try without the noseband again.

Took him for a short walk up the road and back, to stimulate those feet. He was absolutely golden, even with it being windy and cold.

Went to lunge him in the school afterwards but he wasn’t sound in trot – I think a combination of the school being slightly frozen still, and him hooning around like an idiot on a frozen field this morning. I hope so anyway; I’ll see how he is tomorrow.

I has a small showdown with him over bathing the wound on his face with hibiscrub. He was doing his best giraffe impression; but I have more patience than he does.

I tried him with the Thunderbrooks healthy muesli tonight – he gobbled it down. Woohoo, I’ve found something he will eat! He didn’t bat an eyelid at the supplements or linseed in it either. Hopefully this means I can risk buying a proper sized bag of it next time, as this was just a sample pack.

Plan for tomorrow is to walk him out for 5 minutes on the road again, then do some in-hand work as per Dan Wain’s clinic. I must get another one of those booked soon.


Good news!

Sunday 11 March – Bruce has the dentist

What better way to start Mother’s Day than getting to the yard for an 8am dentist appointment?

I’d got this dentist, Matthew Bradley, out on a personal recommendation. He was absolutely lovely and put both me and Bruce at ease from the start. I had been told that Bruce last had his teeth done in September, and that he’s good for the dentist.

True on both counts! His teeth were in good condition, with minimal work needing to be done. The parting comment on Bruce’s treatment sheet was that he is one of the easiest horses that Matt does! Good boy, Brucey. That’s one thing that’s going to plan, at least..!

Monday 12 March –  Bruce has massage therapy

The wonderful Sue Connolly came out again on Monday morning. Fair play to her for daring to enter the barn – I was exhibiting symptoms of the Plague, coughing my guts up. I really hope she doesn’t catch my lurgy!

Sue checked Bruce over – I had run my fingers down his spine periodically myself, and had noticed no muscle spasming. I was quite right. His back was almost completely better. He did have some tightness in the muscles running along the side of his ribcage – this could be from walking short, trying to protect his feet.

Sue worked methodically along Bruce’s back; across the SI joint; did some work on one side, and then the other. As she was working, we noticed Bruce kept turning his head and pointing to his side with his muzzle. I thought he wanted a scratch – but Sue said he was asking to be treated there! I have to admit, I was a bit sceptical; until she put her hands on him, and he instantly dropped his head, his eyes half closed and his lower lip started twitching. Amazing.

Sue also treated Bruce’s neck and head, as it was tight from the dentist yesterday – no fault of the dentist, it just tends to happen. She said that was the best thing to do actually – have him treated the day after the dentist, to instantly release the tightness in the muscles.

Sue recommended that I do not rush to get back in the saddle with Bruce. She said his feet need to come right, before anything else will now. I need to focus on in-hand work, focus on getting those feet right. Bruce will guide me, with his feet – whether he can be rehabilitated in an acceptable time frame, or will need to have his front shoes back on. Whichever option we end up going with, his back will not be right until he is moving correctly.

Sue will give me the details of a saddle fitter that can help find the best possible saddle for him, when the time is right. For now, I really need to focus on his feet.

Wednesday 14 March – “And you will know me by the trail of the snotty tissues”

I have had to enslave Mark again the last few days, to help me with stable duties because I’ve been so ill. Today I couldn’t even manage to get to the yard at all. I barely slept last night because I simply cannot breathe. I haven’t had a cold like this in years! Thankfully the lovely Elle helped me out and did Bruce for me. I am so exhausted and feeling very frustrated – two weeks out of kilter due to jury service and snow, then my first “normal” week, where it’s actually light until about 6pm now, and I get ill! Very annoying.

I’ve spent this evening writing this blog and planning out a return to exercise plan for Bruce – I’m hoping that I will feel better enough, by the weekend, to start it.

Hence the photo for this  post – the rainbow I spotted at the weekend, signifying (to me) hope, that with the coming spring Bruce and I will get to do lots more together and I might even get those feet right..!



Bruce on the loose

Friday 09 March

Up until now, Bruce has been in a small paddock within the large field shared by the two smaller girls, Mary and Rosie. I don’t like individual turnout really, I prefer a horse to be allowed to be a horse and socialise; but Bruce has shown some aggressive tendencies previously (admittedly mainly towards geldings), and has also been kicked very badly, so it wasn’t something I had wanted to risk.

As time went on, at this yard, it became clear that Bruce was chilling out. I would often arrive at the yard to find him and the two mares on the other side of the fence standing heads together, dozing.

So, we decided – myself, Mary and Rosie’s owners – that we would try them in the field together. The idea was that they would go in together, see how they got on, and then the paddock would be removed and they’d have a fair sized field for the three of them to roam in.

Initial introductions were full of squealing, field acrobatics and about five solid minutes of hooning around like maniacs.

I had to take Bruce’s rug off, he sweated up that much. He wasted no time in going down for a roll!

Bruce on the loose 3

He then started socialising with the geldings over the fence. I thought one of them was coming over the fence at one point, he had his whole chest over the fence! They seem to have settled down since though.

Bruce on the loose 4

Bruce did seem to prefer the girls to keep away from the geldings at first; he kept herding them away from the fence line. However, he seems to have got over this and barely bats an eyelid at them now. There are more important things in life than girls, y’know – like eating!

I am so pleased for him, that he’s now able to go out with these girls. My heart was in my mouth of course, I wasn’t sure if it was going to work out or if I’d be ringing the emergency vet! But so far so good. I just want him to be able to be a horse, have normal interactions and enjoy a bit of mutual grooming.

I asked YM if I could take down the fencing to Bruce’s old paddock, but was told this was going to be used for a couple of the mares, in order to rest their field, which admittedly was rather trashed. Fair enough, I thought.

Saturday 10 March

The next morning I got to the yard to find that Bruce’s paddock was now occupied by a completely new horse – a gelding, with the electric fence not even turned on between him and Bruce.

I am annoyed about this for the following reasons:

  1. Bruce, Rosie and Mary have now lost grazing – we have more horses on less space. The fields are trashed as it is, putting more horses on less grazing is sheer lunacy. We have nowhere confirmed to move to in the summer – how on earth will our fields recover for next winter?
  2. A completely new horse, from god knows where, has come onto the yard and is not quarantined, even using the term loosely – it is fully able to reach my horse easily over the fence.
  3. My horse has just settled in to his new field space, with new field mates, new pecking order etc. This new horse has been plonked in next to him without even telling me, or warning me that I should put the electric fence on.

I am not best pleased, I can assure you. I’m currently weighing up my options. It’d be a shame to move as the people on the yard are just so lovely. Good fellow liveries are worth their weight in gold; but the place is falling short of my expectations, and it’s not even the cheapest place around locally. I’ve got some thinking to do.

As is always the case, simultaneously I have an awful lot going on in my personal life at the moment too. Why does everything seem to happen at once?! I could do without the stress of a yard move – will have to see what the next few weeks bring.


Snow days!

Well, just as I was feeling like getting going with the in-hand work…. It decided to snow again. Big time.

At least this meant I could keep Bruce in, with the company of all the other horses. The ground was frozen so solid, even the shod horses were struggling to walk on it.

The pipes and taps froze, we had to lug containers of water down to the yard. It was a bleddy nightmare.

I did, however, get some lovely photos with my boy. snow1

Here we are having a little play together:


More detailed update coming soon 😉