So much has happened in The Life of Riley over the last couple of months and trying to condense it all into one article isn’t easy, however once we have caught up to date the weekly ones will recommence.
Riley has had his first and second EHV-1 injection. Both times he was well behaved for the vet although, did get bored waiting for the vet to arrive and so started nibbling at his head collar and throwing it on the floor which became a fun game for him. Whilst I didn’t particularly want to keep picking it up, his look of amusement did make me chuckle.
It was a joy to see him splashing around
We have remained on schooling livery at my instructors yard, and Riley has been coming on tremendously well. We have also had some great lessons together and my confidence in canter has improved.
In a change from normal lessons, Emma took Riley into the big pond on the estate where her yard is based. Many years ago, it was used as part of the cross- country course for a local horse trials event which has since ceased, however it’s still in use on the yard for the horses to have a dip. He went into the water much better than I had anticipated and Emma briefly lunged him in the pond whilst I watched. He seemed to really enjoy being in the water and it was a joy to see him splashing around.
Whilst Riley’s ground manners have improved enormously since I have owned him, every now and then he likes to remind me that he is a cheeky Welsh Section C. We did have a couple of incidents where he was resisting having his bridle put on and headed for a nibble on the plants in the large stone planter which is situated just outside his stable. On these occasions, I resorted to leading him back into his stable to put the bridle on so that there was nowhere for him to escape to. To be fair to Riley, he normally stands like a gentleman when being groomed or tacked-up however he does like to display his playful side every once in a while
Riley’s very first set of shoes
Riley had only ever been barefoot during his life to date; however, the farrier had mentioned that one day he may need shoeing. Well, about a few weeks ago, that day arrived. Riley was fitted with his first pair of front shoes. I was concerned how he would be with smoke and nailing so Sam our farrier cold shoed him and he was an absolute angel.
The shavings in his mane and tail each day are a real giveaway.
A few weeks after the clocks went forward, Riley’s routine changed completely. Prior to this, he had been turned out during the day and stabled overnight. Now he is turned out overnight and stabled for a few hours during the day. This means more time in the field which he enjoys very much. He seems very content during the day and likes to have a lie down in his stable which I have witnessed occasionally and love to see. If I’m not on the yard during the day, I can still tell when he has had a nap as the shavings in his mane and tail each day are a real giveaway.
A series of unfortunate events
The last few months have been frustrating with a catalogue of reasons why Riley has been off work. At times I have wondered if there is a book entitled ‘101 excuses for escaping work’ hidden somewhere in his stable which perhaps he was enjoying reading whilst having a restful lie down.
The first of these began when I was about to tack him up for a schooling session and noticed that his leg was swollen and had heat in it although he was walking perfectly well. I pointed this out to Emma, and we decided to err on the side of caution and lightly lunge him instead.
Just as the swelling healed and he was back in work he began bucking when going into canter, so the next day, rather than work him, Emma gave Riley a back massage and we gave him a few days off. We then attempted to ride him again and had more of the same, so came to conclusion that his saddle was probably the issue causing him some discomfort as his body shape had altered since moving to the new yard and doing so much work.
I booked the physio and also the saddle fitter, however appointments were not readily available so there was to be a long wait and a few weeks off for Riley.
When the physio finally was able to see Riley, told me that he had mild pain in his back and that this could be remedied by seeing the saddle fitter and altering the saddle to fit properly. She advised that once we had seen the saddle fitter, Riley could get back to work. This proved troublesome however as when the saddle fitter finally arrived, Riley had been out of work so long that he had gone back to his old body shape, so the saddle was no longer a problem, and he was good to go again. although it would need altering once his body shape changed again.
After the saddle fitter appointment, I asked the physio to come and see Riley again. During the visit, the physio informed me that his back was much improved and that we could start riding again. Emma schooled him the following day and I was looking forward to riding him myself the day after, however when I arrived at the stable the following morning to bring him in from the field, I noticed that he had a cut in the girth area. It wasn’t a serious cut, just in the most awkward place so Riley is off work again until the cut heals. In the meantime, I’m leading him around the farm ride on the estate to try and keep him in shape.
Hope springs eternal
Once the cut has healed, we can start riding again and tone him up so that the saddle fitter can come again and alter his saddle. Hopefully then we will be back to working towards our dressage journey together…
If you enjoyed reading this. You can read more about the life of Riley here