e-Petition for Equine Welfare

17 02 2014

Healing continues apace. My ankle was already broken as it turned out, and the real issue was the subluxation of my peroneal tendon, which now seems to have relocated. The swelling and bruises have certainly dissipated. I am still having to wear a ‘walker-boot‘ daily and taking a crutch outside with me wherever I go since the joint is still very weak and tires quickly, but for the most part I am not in any pain. Which is nice.

I very much doubt that at this rate I shall see a (riding) horse before my follow-up appointment with the orthopaedic consultant on 6th March. However, I did want to bring this petition to the attention of readers in the UK. It’ll probably take you less than two minutes to complete, won’t cost you anything, and concerns something I hope you’ll all agree is very close to all of our hearts.

Thank you, and happy riding!


Well… bugger.

29 01 2014

Oh noes! I spoke too soon… No horseriding for me for some time, as I have just broken my ankle. I don’t know exactly how I have broken it, as the nurses at the Minor Injury Unit I attended didn’t tell me much beyond fixing my lower leg into a plaster cast and telling me I had to go and see an orthopaedic surgeon at the fracture clinic on Friday morning. I know I have snapped a tendon. I am walking on crutches and having to keep it elevated, and I have even been told that if I have to go up stairs I need to do it on my bum.

I would like to tell you I did it doing something badass, but no, I just bent it the wrong way after landing on the wrong bit of my foot while I was pottering about at home.


On the plus side, walking on crutches is a bit like galloping. And I have taught myself to canter on them. Heh.


What, no update?…

11 06 2013

That’s right. There is no update on my riding endeavours this week. I know I said that I could now afford to go riding every week again, but unfortunately I was admitted to hospital at the weekend and was only discharged today. Thankfully it turned out to be nothing serious and I am fit and well again now. Sadly this does mean that it’s in my interests to lay off the Pilates for the remainder of this week to ensure I’ve healed completely before I exert myself again in any way, which is a shame because regardless as to whether or not it was having a positive impact on my riding, I’d developed what I thought to be a healthy addiction to it and the positive changes to my appearance it was bringing about.

More gutting, however, is that I had actually already cancelled my lesson before there was any question of my falling ill, having received an invitation to the Bramham Horse Trials from a friend from university at the eleventh hour and not really being in a position to do both, and realising that getting offered a ticket to an event like that isn’t an everyday occurrence. (I wanted to watch the eventing first and foremost, of course, and hoped to meet some of the lovely horses, but I will admit that the thought flashed through my mind that it would make an awesome blog write-up, especially if I took photos).

To add insult to injury, my friend and the mutual acquaintance who drove them there posted statuses to Facebook on the Sunday morning about how the two of them had been making and having breakfast with William Fox-Pitt, which I read from the comfort of my hospital bed on my mobile phone.

I think I am well-justified in saying, ‘Drat.’ Heh.

And after yesterday’s inspiring title…

1 07 2012

Well, I don’t know whether it was because I got there early and cracked on with mucking out a stall (which I did get finished before the register was taken), whether it was because not many people came today or whether it was because they’re going soft on me since I had a fall and it’s my last month here now, but they actually did let me ride today – and it was awesome!!!

After waking up about an hour and a half early due to itches on my right hand from being bitten on it half a dozen times by mosquitoes (I have insect repellent sunblock, but it soon rubs off my hands and then they bite the bits where it’s rubbed off) and not managing to get back to sleep, I managed to make it to the stables for 06:15 this morning. I was the first person to arrive and I didn’t know where the keys were, so I had to wait for the next person to show up before I could crack on with anything. I know where the keys live now, though, so if it happens again I can just let myself into the girl’s changing room and then crack on with stuff.

Upon arrival I set about serving my sentence right away. I mucked out Max’s stall. I understand that Max, like Hokon, has been behaving a bit on the difficult side recently; since they’re the safe horses for inexperienced riders to practice on, I wondered if it’s to do with the heat; it makes me belligerent, too. But I digress. Aside from not wanting to move out of my way when I needed to get to the opposite side of his stall, Max was fine with me.

After the register, I cracked on and mucked out Hokon’s stall next. Not entirely by choice; at this time everyone else was getting on with them, too, and Hokon had been left. He wasn’t aggressive towards me this morning, but he wasn’t especially friendly either. In any case I got him done and untethered him nice and quickly.

It was at that point that my pleasant surprise came in the form of a second-year sempai coming to tell me that she and I would be riding Max from 08:30, and that prior to that we would tack him up together. She very considerately asked me if I thought my leg would be okay. I said that I thought so. That was good enough for her.

Pleasantly shocked and resisting the urge to attempt to do cartwheels (which I can’t actually do!) down the length of the stables, I hurried off to join the others watching the upper years’ practice. Then, later, at the instruction of the second-year sempai, I headed off to collect all of Max’s tack and start grooming him. He was lying down in his freshly-cleaned stall when I got there; thankfully, as soon as I opened the door and called him he stood up.

We got him tacked up and out in fairly short order. Then, for the first time, I had a lesson given by one instructor, in a pair with another first year – in the main riding ground, and not in a cordoned-off section of it. Before the lesson began, I’d been cautioned by another first year that she’d ridden Max the day before and he’d been difficult for her to control, so I was mentally bracing to have to deal with this. Initially he wouldn’t walk, and I had trouble getting him to turn at first, but after the initial problems he was fine.

In a pair, myself and the other rider practised trotting in a wide circle, one in front of the other around our instructor. I feel so much more confident in trotting now, and I have to say that I find it remarkably easier to do in the flat, wide open space of the main riding ground than in the circular pen. (It’s also less concerning, because flat ground has no camber.) After some initial criticisms of my posture and the length at which I was holding the reins, which I corrected, I was more or less left to it and told I was doing okay. We practised both the sitting trot and the rising trot. My rising trot is fine now, and doesn’t take me the same amount of physical effort it used to.

After that, I was told to continue at walking pace while my partner in training carried on with cantering practice. This went on for about another 15-20 minutes. I was told to watch as I continued riding, which I did. After he’d finished and had been offered tips and pointers, I was instructed to ride into the circular pen for a cantering lesson of my own.

The objective was to get me cantering from walking pace. On my first however many attempts, Max just went into trotting. Eventually I managed to get him to canter, but then he went back into a trot after a few paces. The reason: As my instructor carefully explained to me, inside the horses’ mind, if you’re not giving them input into what they should be doing all the time, they decide for themselves, so in order to keep Max cantering I would have to not only kick him – but keep kicking him. Initially I couldn’t make myself do this, partly because I didn’t like the thought of continuously kicking Max and partly because I was somehow convinced it would just make him go faster. But after that explanation, I did as I was being told to, and lo and behold, I got Max to canter for several laps of the ring without stopping or breaking back into a trot. My sempai said that I still need to do a fair bit more practice, but for only my second go I’d done well to have started off not being able to do it at all and ended up able to sustain it.

After that, I was told to ‘norikiri‘ – that literally means to cut the ride (as in, end it), and in practical terms means to give the horse his cool down. I let the reins go slack and rode Max around the pen for a few paces, occasionally cutting across it to change direction, and we carried on like this for some time while my sempai gave feedback to the second-year sempai who’d gone before me stood right in the entrance to the pen, so I couldn’t exactly just walk out. Eventually they realised they were blocking my way and got out of the way. At that point I rode him out into the yard and dismounted.

Before we cleaned and groomed him, I asked permission to give him a sugar cube because I was so happy with how things had gone and enthralled with Max for how good to me he’d been. I didn’t have any of my own; I never realised this before, but all the various bags of cubes hanging up around the place belong to different riders. Someone gave me one to give to him, though. It’s still making me want to hug myself every time I remember his little(-ish) face when he saw it in my hand. Awww!

After that, we washed him and groomed him and put him back. Although in general he was well behaved, it started to rain so we had to groom him indoors where he could (unfortunately) see all the other horses had been fed while he was being made to wait, which made him a bit antsy. I tried a horse-whispering trick I read about on the internet on him here; apparently, the soft spot of exposed skin under a horse’s tail (just above the anus) is a pleasure spot, and if you softly massage it, it will help an agitated horse to relax. Max certainly enjoyed this, although he looked a bit surprised when I started doing it (and I have no idea how it must have looked to anyone who might have seen what I was doing). However, any positive impact it had on his behaviour only lasted as long as I was actually doing it, and since I was trying to dry him with a towel at the time this made things a bit tricky. Still, if you don’t mind putting your fingers near a horse’s bumhole, try it! Heh.

And that was me for the day.

Incidentally, at one stage today I saw a girl who started at the same time as me having her first go at jumping! I hope I can have a go at that before I leave, too… 😀

I feel I should probably say something about my hip. No, it’s not 100% better yet, but amazingly, while it still felt sort of bruised as I was walking to the station first thing this morning and kept giving me the odd twinge while I was mucking out horses’ stalls, once I mounted and was in the saddle I was absolutely fine. No pain, no discomfort, nothing – not even when I was cantering, not even when I was rising with the trot. Dismounting was a little uncomfortable, but after riding the whole lot actually feels much better than it has since before the fall last week. Horse riding is good for you, people!

*echo* *echo* *echo* *echo*

29 06 2012

Still out! Not that it looks like anyone’s reading. Ah well. I shall continue to keep a record for myself. Heh.

As I am now only in Japan for another five weeks and the stressors that were interfering with my ability to keep up regular posts to this blog are slowly dissolving, I will endeavour to write an update for every day that I attend riding club.

Which wasn’t today. The hip is still bothering me, but it is getting a little better and a little easier to walk on every day. I hope to return tomorrow – and I will be getting there early to muck out a stall in case I’ve been penalised for having time off again. Oh well, needs must!

The plus side is that when I ventured to my local 100-yen shop this afternoon to restock on tea I found they are selling glucosamine tablets there, so I bought some. I hope this aids my recovery!

Dem Bones

27 06 2012

So, today I should have gone back to riding club but I didn’t. I continued to be in pain and stiff after my fall on Sunday, so I decided to play it safe and have a few days’ rest. Today I felt more limber than I have done since the fall, but when I actually went outside was another story – and I most certainly wasn’t comfortable walking down stairs, let alone up them again (I got the lift back up to my apartment). A second attempt will be made tomorrow morning. The pain has progressed from being around my whole coccyx and right pelvic area to just concentrated around my right hip joint in the last few days, however, and over the course of today it’s felt as though it’s loosened up considerably, so fingers crossed. I wasn’t sleeping well before either as I had to wake up every time I wanted to turn over, but I got a solid night’s sleep last night.

I will no doubt be punished again for my absence by being made to go in early and clean out one of the horses’ stalls before the register is taken again, but so be it.