Getting Fit Again – Part 2: Great Progress, but not without frustration

I’m now into week five of “Getting fit again for eventing”, and I have to say the progress has been very rewarding if a little frustrating at times. So far I’ve managed to keep the horse’s weight down so that I not fighting fatness as well as fitness. The ‘cold back’ seems to be getting warmer  as his top line comes back and he builds more muscle, the patience and time spent on the lunge is really paying off.  My own weight has gone back to normal too (lost half a stone in two weeks, and now fit into my jeans again!).

We’re still mostly lungeing with 10 minutes or so mounted afterwards just to help bring a few things together, and the occasional hack around the schooling field (and through the water!) or up and down the lane just to break up the monotony of the indoor school. I’m finding lunge work quite rewarding especially if we work outside. Although I am looking forward to getting some canter work done and being able to work on grass a little more often.

To helps things along I made two investments, the first being to get our local equine physio to give the horse a good full body massage. It has not been all plain sailing though – the poor horse has been almost drained dry by horse flies, despite a fly sheet, fly spray and a summer turnout rug at night, thankfully none on his saddle or girth areas, but nonetheless irritating for him. His front feet, bless him, have never been perfect, he spreads a little if left too long between shoeings, and having spent four months out in the field with no front shoes he’ll take another trim up to get his feet into reasonable shape ready for canter work, and provide better posture. We’re suffering a little from loose shoe syndrome, but I put that down to his first shoeing in a while and the dry weather.

Now city tech stock analysts would probably class me an an ‘early adopter’, just what every tech company loves, as I buy useful tech as soon as it’s available, but where my horse is concerned I’m a little more cautious, however my second investment was a Micklem Multi Bridle. When it comes to new gadgets for the horse I always prefer ones that have been thoroughly road tested and have some form of science behind them. I’ve never used anything other than a simple snaffle bit to ride my horses, including the stallion I once owned, and don’t like going with the latest fad.

Here’s where this post might become a bit of a product review, apologies. I only came across this bridle in the last few weeks even though it’s been out on the market for a few years, and ‘in the making’ for the last ten years. The general gist of this bridle is it has been designed to put less pressure on the sensitive areas of the horse’s head and can be safely used to lunge and ride with (just what I was looking for). Here’s a video from the designer explaining it.

If you search the web you’ll find a few conflicting opinions on the bridle but so far it’s working well for me. I’m finding my horse works much softer in the hand on an outline and this means he’s also more balanced. Now the fact that I’ve spent a lot more time lunging this horse is probably a contributing factor, but I have seen a noticeable difference between bridles (usually I use a grackle nose band), and it’s saving a lot of hassle I would otherwise have wanting to lunge then ride. I’ll be interested to see how the horse jumps in this bridle.

I only have two small criticisms of the bridle, both of which I intend to have fixed by my local saddler. 1) The back straps need to be marginally longer to accomodate the larger horses and these should also be padded as they rest on the exposed bony areas of the lower jaw. 2) The optional bit clips will rub the horses face just beside the mouth.

Anyway, I have a new farrier starting next week (last one is retiring), and I’ll be able to start cantering and a little jumping. Hopefully I can also persuade someone to hold the video camera so I can track the progress.

Amateur event rider, aspiring photographer. Technologist by day.

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