Clean pair of heels

Prem’s two-part rehabilitation continues.

I’m not just rehabilitating a horse that had a a very serious injury.

I’m also rehabilitating a racehorse, and (hopefully) turning him into a nice little riding horse.

We’ve had a few bumps along the way and will, undoubtedly, have more bumps as we continue to make progress.

Since November Prem has been on eight hours of daily turnout.

He’s been having varied exercise: ridden walk and trot, building to occasional canter in December.

As he has become fitter, I’ve also introduced exercise on the lunge.

Unfortunately after a few weeks of daily turnout, the weather changed dramatically, and all of the fields flooded.

To compensate as much as possible, Prem has been having daily spells on the horsewalker and, a couple of times a week, I’ve been letting him have an unbacked turnout in the arena.

This is Prem’s turnout this afternoon. You can see how fit (and pleased) he is

Trotting on

Time for a bit of a Prem update, and because it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, the update comes in a few different flavours:

  • Leg update
  • Weight update
  • Turnout update
  • Exercise update
  • Lumpy update
  • Photo update

I’ll try and be brief, but there’s a lot to report:

Leg update
The most recent ultrasound scan shows that Prem’s injured leg (torn superficial flexor tendon) has made a near-perfect recovery

Weight update
I’ve been keeping Prem’s weight slightly light, instead of keeping his weight up (and therefore putting pressure on his limbs while he was standing in 24/7). Now that things have taken a turn for the better I’m gradually bringing Prem’s weight back to where it should be

Turnout update
I started introducing Prem to turnout very gradually. He didn’t have turnout as a racehorse, and he hasn’t been out of a stable since his injury in March 2017 – 8 months ago. In October I started him on ten minutes on grass, in a 10m by 30m post and rail enclosure, seven days a week. Very gradually I brought that up to four hours a day, then moved him to a 20m by 40m turnout five hours a day. Prem is now turned out 7.30am to 5.30pm in a 2 acre paddock

Exercise update
I picked up Prem’s exercise very gradually. Ignoring the horsewalker I started walking him out in-hand, in the arena, in August (before he started on turnout), for ten minutes a day. We stayed at that level for three weeks, and then stepped up to 15 minutes a day for two weeks. And then to 20 minutes a day for two weeks, and then increasing by five minutes a fortnight until we got to 45 minutes. When we got to 45 minutes a day of walking in-hand I started sitting on. We brought the duration of sitting-on walking down to 20 minutes a day, increasing by five minutes every two weeks. After six weeks I introduced trotting for a total of 5 minutes each day. We’re now at an hour of ridden exercise a day, and ten to fifteen minutes of trot work

Lumpy update
This is a puzzle. Prem has had two outbreaks of lumps. The first outbreak saw lumps over his back, neck, and a huge haematoma on his belly. The vet put the first outbreak down to an adverse reaction to a broad-spectrum wormer. Prem was on antibiotics for a week (have you any idea how difficult it is to get two large sachets of antibiotics a day in to a fussy eater?), and the lumps cleared up. The second outbreak was six weeks later. This time the vet couldn’t put his finger on anything. He said ‘Maybe he’s just a sensitive soul’. Hmmmm… Anyway, Prem had a shot of cortisone and is currently back on antibiotics for another week

Photo update
I’ve been spending some time tidying Prem up; his tail is looking smarter, and his mane is starting to look less like he’s borrowed it from a wild zebra. With the ridden work he is now beginning to muscle up and take proper shape again. And he loves being groomed. So after all this time, and after all these changes, the ups and the downs, this is how he looks today:

Premier Grand Cru

Premier Grand Cru

Not too shabby, I hope you’ll agree?

Four legs good!

The vet came out for Prem’s second scan today.

Backstory: the injury to his near-fore Superficial Flexor Tendon occurred in March. Since then he’s been on box rest, with in-hand exercise on an increasing scale. For the last few weeks I’ve been splitting up his in-hand: half of the day’s exercise in the morning, half in the evening.

The first thing the vet commented on was that the leg looks much reduced, and had lost its ‘banana’ appearance.

The second thing the vet said, as I was towed, at great speed, down the trot-up, was that Prem is sound.

The re-scan showed major improvements in all areas.

Comparison photos and measurements showed how much Prem has improved. And it’s a lot.

The vet has said that we should continue the walking exercise, but there’s no need to stay in-hand; we can progress to being ridden in walk.

Prem's near fore being ultrasound scanned

Prem’s near fore being ultrasound scanned


For the last two weeks I’ve been walking Prem out in-hand, but tacked up, so that when I do put a saddle on him, it isn’t going to trip his mind out.

So the next time I tack him up, I’m going to try to sit on (if Prem will let me!).

I’ve put together a bridle from Beech’s tack which fits Prem as if it had been measured for him.

When we reach 45 minutes of walk, we can introduce five minutes of trot.

And in four weeks Prem can have an hour of turnout a day.

This is all such positive news, the vet said I was to keep on doing what we’ve been doing.

So we shall.

Horsing about (a bit)

It’s been two months since Prem/Bob arrived at his new home in sunny Leicestershire, and his character is really showing through now.

From the gentle little wicker I get in the mornings, to the full-blown YES!’ of a wicker I get at tea-time, he’s proving he has a sense of occasion.

And a sense of humour.

Like when I’m skipping out and he clamps his teeth on the shavings fork and tries to carry it around the box for me.

And the way he won’t let me top up his water bucket without taking a good long pull at the water before I put it in.

And let’s also mention the way he won’t take water from the automatic drinker in the first place.

Such a character.


Prem/Bob is up to 15-minutes of in-hand walking per day.

The vet said he would rather that we didn’t use the walker, so for 15-minutes a day Prem/Bob and I walk purposefully around the arena.

After just ambling about, leaving random tracks in the equirubber/sand surface, I hit on a cunning plan to raise the boredom threshold.

We are walking almost every dressage test I’ve ever ridden (and a couple that I’ve only judged, not ridden).

We had a few sticky moments with Medium 71 the other day, but that was partly down to a young horse pratting about in a nearby paddock, and Prem’s/Bob’s natural inclination to run through the bridle (we almost didn’t stay at walk).

As well as following these patterns in walk, we are also working on our halt to walk, and walk to halt transitions.

They’re not exactly snappy yet, but at least these transitions are becoming established.

His halts are now usually square in front, but he trails his hind legs as if they were stuck on with Bluetack as an afterthought.


Prem’s/Bob’s second leg-scan is due mid-to-late September.

I’m hoping that the Vet will say we can consider saddling up, even if we do need to keep the work at low-level, zero-impact.

In the meantime, we’re just going to keep working our way through British Dressage and British Eventing dressage tests.

An unexpected bonus of mucking Prem/Bob out twice a day is that I have shed 3/4 of a stone, and I’m nearly back at my riding competition weight.


Sam is away on business.

She’s supposed to be in Myanmar, before heading on to Vietnam, but Dubai airport was too busy to dock her arriving aircraft, so she missed her connecting flight.

Frankly, Emirates, it’s not much of a connection if the outbound flight won’t wait for passengers who are booked on it, when they’re sitting on another of your flights waiting to dock.


As a result of the Emirates/Dubai airport screw up, Sam has had to spend 24 hours in a Dubai hotel, at Emirates expense, and lose a working day of her itinerary.



But as you might expect, while the cat’s away the mice will play!

And oh boy has this mouse been playing?

Has he?



This mouse is too diseased to do any playing.

Apart from a brief couple of laps around the village this evening, I haven’t even been up to taking the Ninja out this weekend.


It’s that bad.

There is the possibility that, tomorrow, after doing Prem (who is still called Prem and not yet named Bob), I shall pay a visit to the excellent chippy in the next village.

For some delicious potato-based foodstuff.

And perhaps some vomit Vimto.

If I’m well enough, obv.

But it is the Law of Sod that sayeth that a fine-weathered weekend with a free pass will be frittered away on illness.


Anyway, what is this revolution of which you speak, I hear you ask?

It is me, my friends.

I am revolting.

In her absence I am shunning Sam’s instruction to use the dishwasher.


Revolution and rebellion are rife in this house.


Until she gets back,obv.

Leg up

Prem (who may be on the cusp of being renamed ‘Bob’) had his injured leg scanned by the Vet today.

The news is that there is only slight damage to his Suspensory Ligament.


However there is evidence of severe damage to his Superficial Flexor Tendon which, the Vet said, would seem to be about 3-4 months old.

This estimate corresponds with Prem’s/Bob’s last race, when he was pulled up due to injury.

The Vet has suggested that Prem/Bob stays on box rest, but is walked out in-hand for five minutes a day, increasing by five minutes every two weeks.

Prem/Bob will have a re-scan in three months, to determine how things are healing, by which time he should be walking, in-hand, for 30 minutes a day.

As you can tell from this photo, Prem/Bob is thrilled to bits at this prospect!



New family member!

Last Friday was a special day.

We left Nottingham and drove to Sheffield, where we transferred from my car in to a lorry.

Then we drove to:



Once we had reached our destination, we loaded up the lorry, said goodbye to one and all, then headed back southwards.

At our destination, we unloaded the lorry:



I’m thrilled that Prem has come to live with us.

We have a bit of a long-term project on our hands, but I hope that by this time next year, Prem and I will be off bothering various equestrian officials.

Sam was brilliant, esp given that she’s not horsey in any way.

I think she secretly loved driving the lorry!

Anyway, here he is today:



Saturday horse stuff

I slept as if I’d been doped last night; instantly unconscious and waking through a cloying foggy gunge of sleep.

The new cunning plan of not drinking tea or coffee after 1pm seems to be working. And, as a result, my intake of fizzy water has gone through the roof. And that has to be good, too, right?

It’s 8am; I’m going to leave here to ride Vin soon. I’ll go up on the Bandit with a clean numnah and my riding hat stuffed in a rucksack.

I’ll go up the long-but-pretty way, to avoid the waterlogged lanes; A40 from Witney to Burford, down the hill through the village and up to the yard via the Chipping Norton road.

I’m taking Vin for a hack (read: scare every motorist to death).

Thoughts of the Grand Plan of moving house later this year make me nervous about being able to find Vin the quality home that he deserves to have.

I explained to a friend, the other day, that it’s a bit like taking the time and care to find the right Day Nursery for a child. Yes, it’s a bit like that. But more so.

Good thoughts about moving. It won’t be happening for six-eight months. But it’s still daunting. And exciting.

Ponies and stuff

Accompanying five attractive young ladies to the London International Horse Show at Olympia is just one of those, you know, ‘it’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it’, kind of things.

So yesterday I took my bravery pills, drove to Oxford, jumped on a train and headed in to that London, to do that thing.

We had a giggle.

There was the inevitable amount of piss-taking (Clare and Tor taking the piss out of me, obv), and laughs and oohs and aahs and gossip (so much gossip!) and champagne.

We also got to watch some very talented ponies (horses) jump staggering heights (said someone who starts to get nervy above 1.25m).

And it was fun to meet up with a bunch of fiends friends and have a chuckle.

The time is now rapidly approaching 2am and I should be asleep but my head is still winding down.

So I’ll pootle about on the internet for a while.

And then fall asle……

Video documentary

The reason:
Because of Sammi’s illness, I am looking for a new subject (or possibly two, but we’ll see) for a short documentary film I want to make.

The topic:
Eventing; I want to paint the sport in a more ‘every day person’ light, make it more accessible. Ideally, the subject will be winding up to his/her first Intermediate or * (One Star) level.

How will it work?
The film will run to around 18-20 minutes. It will be structured in such a way as to follow, over a period of time, the passage of time. Day-to-day routine scenes, from schooling to tack-cleaning (and everything else involved), will build a picture of what goes in to getting a partnership to an Event.

The film will close with scenes of the competition day, from loading, arriving, unloading, grooming, tacking up, working in, dressage, show-jumping, cross-country, untacking, wash-down and relaxing afterwards.

In my head, the film will not have any narration. It will will feature a subdued musical backing track, I intend the film to speak for itself and should not need a narrator (though there will be titles on-screen to introduce scene changes).

Is that it?
Well, not quite. Ideally the subject should live within fairly reasonable reach of the OX28 area. And, obviously, I’m not a professional film-maker, so it will be a learning experience, but I have lots of video editing skills, years of audio editing experience and I’m confident I can do it.