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Things didn’t quite go according to plan

As usual, the week began with Emma riding Riley, and after his stiff leg last week, he seemed happy to work and Emma schooled him in walk, trot, and canter.  This gave me false hope that his leg was better, however that hope was short lived.
Riley. behaving himself. He’s such a cheeky pony but can be a real little gentleman when he wants to be

On Tuesday morning, things didn’t quite go according to plan.  We had an early lesson scheduled as the vet was coming to give Riley his Equine Influenza Vaccination and I wanted to have ridden him before then.

Riley appeared fine and walked freely to the manege, however, once I was onboard and asked him to walk, he put his head up high in a similar manner to last week. I knew immediately that he must have been feeling sore again.  On inspection, he did look a bit stiff, so we cancelled the lesson, and I took him for a gentle hack prior to the vet visit. After the hack which passed enjoyably and uneventfully, Riley and I had some stable time whilst waiting for the vet.  I took a notebook and sat with him scribbling notes and drinking tea. I love spending time like this with him and he seems perfectly relaxed and happy for me to share some stable time with him.

Bute for a week

Riley and I having a lesson with Emma in the outdoor manege
When the vet arrived to administer Riley’s injection, I mentioned about his back leg being stiff. After checking him over and observing a trot up, she wasn’t able to see any major problem so suggested that we put him on Bute for a week and determine how he is after that. In the meantime, she said that I could continue exercising him although he was to have the following day off work because of the injection.

On Thursday Emma lunged him although I couldn’t make it to the stables to watch as I normally would as I had some things to attend to for my business, Mulberry Tree at Home, but was pleased to hear that although he was still stiff, he had been fine.

So, the following day, I tacked up for a lesson although once I had climbed onboard, Riley seemed reluctant to walk.  This came as a surprise since although I knew his leg was still stiff, he had lunged well the previous day.  With this in mind I asked him to go forwards in walk and took it gently until Emma arrived so that she could see his leg from the ground. After observing him from the ground, Emma made the decision that he seemed fine to continue. Emma decided to ride him for the first half of the lesson to make sure he was fine under saddle, and then I rode for the second half. The lesson went well, and he seemed fine.

All was going swimmingly until I dropped my crop in one of the fields.

Riley and I enjoying our hack prior to the crop fiasco
I gave Riley a Saturday off and hacked on Sunday around the farm estate.  All was going swimmingly until I dropped my crop in one of the fields. (Still asking myself how that happened).  I looked down at it wondering whether to hop off straight away or come back and retrieve it on foot once Riley was back in his stable.  I was concerned that if I didn’t retrieve it immediately, I may lose it, so I decided to get off. That was the simple part of the plan. Now with crop in hand I needed to remount. Since I couldn’t easily find a nearby fence or gate that I could remount from, mounting from the ground appeared to be my only option.  I lowered the stirrup and remounted. Once safely on Riley’s back, I thought it would be easy to put the stirrup leather back to my length. In theory it should have been simple, however I hadn’t anticipated Riley not working with this theory.

Farcically, it took an age until I was able to co-ordinate Riley’s head

Once I had hold of the stirrup leather and tried to adjust, Riley took advantage of what must have seemed the perfect opportunity to lower his head and eat the grass. Knowing that this was a dangerous path to tread, I tried to prevent him putting his head down, since once he realised he could have a snack, Riley would always try to stop walking and eat the grass. This battle with his head meant that I couldn’t sort out my stirrup, so I found myself stuck between trying to keep his head away from the grass and coordinating the alteration of the stirrup leather buckle.  Riley knew when I was paying more attention to my stirrup than him and each time I attempted the adjustment, cheeky Riley lowered his head again.  Once I had mastered keeping his head away from the grass, I should have been well on the road to success with this endeavour although at this point, Riley decided he that he didn’t want to stand still. Farcically, it took an age until I was able to co-ordinate Riley’s head and keep him still whilst attempting the stirrup adjustment. I lost count of how many times I asked him to halt during this period of comedy drama.

The crop held triumphantly in my hand

Finally, once the stirrup was back at its correct length and with the crop held triumphantly in my hand, we walked round the field again, although this time I added in the occasional halt as I wanted him to understand that sometimes just being still is helpful.

If you enjoyed reading this, you can catch up on all of the earlier instalments of the life of Riley here
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Sharon Howe

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