To keep at the cross country, in May I entered him in our local HT which was not the best of courses for him. It didn’t flow and had some very spooky dressed up jumps that he backed off and refused throughout the course. I somehow got him round but only because they didn’t throw us off course. If it had been BE rules, we’d not have got past jump 1!
I was pleased I’d got him round and kept at the xc training even though it was pretty terrible!
The following week we went to Chilham for a Hunter trial. We entered the 70 and the 80 class and it was perfect. It’s another BE venue in the most gorgeous castle settings and the course just flowed. The course was the same for all levels so after a couple of stops in the 70, we returned and flew round clear in the 80, finishing 2nd! I couldn’t believe it – this was our turning point 😊
Having survived a couple of dressage competitions and showjumping on grass, I thought I’d risk entering the ODE representing our local riding club, Ingatestone & Blackmore (IBRC). It was at Poplar which was ideal after having done a few clinics and camps by now. I knew there was a fair chance we’d be eliminated as he wouldn’t have a practice run on the course this time. So I just saw it as an experience with the chance to see how he behaved.
Well, he exceeded expectations again. He performed a lovely obedient dressage test, his first on grass. I was very nervous about the showjumping as it was a decent course! We took out a few poles, because he made up the distance so well and still wasn’t strong enough to be lifting in front as needed. But, we got to the fun part of the day and despite several questions that I’d have forgiven him for stops he went clear! I was on cloud nine, this horse loves his cross country too! Hurrah!
I gave Willy some downtime after all this and returned to Chilham for their August Hunter Trial. I entered the 80 and 90 this time. This felt a bit bold but it was too long a journey for just one round and remembering how their previous competition had lined the 90s up next to the 80s, I thought he might just go round a 2nd time not noticing!!
I then saw the course on FB the day before and realised this time it followed the proper BE course and whilst sharing a good few of the same jumps, there were some good 90 questions for him with skinnies, water and a huge hill which was almost vertical!
Well, I don’t know why I was worried. He won the 80 and came 2nd in the 90! Plus he was his usual well behaved self at the lorry, what a good boy!
The icing on top was when I was then contacted by Chilham to announce us as the winners of their 2020-21 Championships!
Throughout these successes, I had moved into a new house and had even less time to ride around work. Connor helped me with him more. It was helpful having him ride him. But whilst Willy was giving me confidence-building rounds and fun days out, he was being really difficult for Connor who was asking that bit more from him at home.
I started to experience this myself when I increased the focus on his flatwork. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t relax and move forwards. He certainly didn’t have any trouble when jumping which is why I dismissed any consideration of ulcers.
I followed the usual process of revisiting everything. Teeth (which were a little sharp), back (which was a little sore), saddles (which needed flocking). I expected him to feel better and improve.
He didn’t though and the 2 week trip for Willy to go to Connors to work through his ‘teenage behaviour’ started with a scoping for ulcers. The intention was to rule this out and start the work.
Well I couldn’t believe it when I was told the news. Him having what looked like possibly the worst ulcers the vet has seen before ☹. I felt awful.
How has this horse given me so much whilst being in such pain?!
Bless him, I feel so sad for him. I’d encourage anyone experiencing these issues to just do it and get them scoped!
The good news is that it’s a simple approach to fix. Two weeks of 2 syringes a day to line his stomach and treat the ulcers with unlimited supply of grass and hay. He’ll be happy about that!
Then light lungeing and hacking before picking up trot and canter in the saddle in the 4th week before being scoped again. Hopefully he’ll respond well to prevent anything further being required.
He’s been such a trooper dealing with it so well. I feel so positive for him in bouncing back. I can only imagine how he will be when he builds his condition back up and isn’t in pain any more.
I owe him so much. I’m determined to give him back the joy he’s brought me. I can only hope this is a straight forward process so he can return to jumping and doing all the things he clearly enjoys so much.
In the meantime, I’ll pick up my running again and make sure I can stay fit to be a strong team mate for him also!
More updates in the New Year! Can’t wait for Spring and more Eventing!
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