Latest Blog from Para Dressage Rider Natalie Povey

Blog for November and December 2015

During November I focused on perfecting our transitions to make sure Elton is pushing into the transitions and staying soft into the contact, this is most challenging in transitions to the halt as Elton automatically hollows into the contact so I have been making the transitions more progressive so Elton has time to stay balanced and hopefully soft into the contact – well that’s the plan but as with all horses nothing ever goes as planned. So we have been halting on small circles to encourage Elton to stay connected, he’s getting better but this is still working progress as he often still does his giraffe impression. We have also been working on the freewalk as Elton is far too nosey but this has improved a great deal.

Our training became to an abrupt halt at the end of November when he came in from the field, at first he just seemed very quite and not interested in anything which is very unusual for Elton as he is always busy playing with something or looking for attention. He had seemed normal all day wondering around the field with his little companion. So we put him in his stable where he just stood at the back with his head down, he wouldn’t eat any food that we offered him or drink his water. Elton loves his food and has never turned any food away since we bought him in May. On a closer look he wouldn’t open his mouth and his gums were pale so I phoned the vet out to come as soon as possible as we were increasingly worried about him. When the vet arrived nothing had changed so the vet gave him a good examination and ruled out colic but he had a raised heart beat and was dehydrated although he had free access to water in the field. He was also passing droppings normally, he just wasn’t himself. So the vet carried on checking him over, tubed electrolytes into Elton as he was dehydrated and gave him some pain relief. After looking at him for over an hour his heart beat had thankfully returned to normal. The vet decided to let Elton rest with regular check ups and to leave him with a bowl of soaked warm grass nuts to see if we could encourage him to eat as physically the vet couldn’t find a cause for him not eating or drinking. I was to phone the vet immediately if Elton got any worse or if there was any change. Over night he remained the same but thankfully by morning was eating and drinking as normal and seemed back to his normal self. It was very worrying and strange as there was no explanation for him being unwell. As a precaution I gave him a few days off so he could rest and just to make sure there were no recurrences. Once I started working Elton again I gave him a few easier days just to make sure he was okay before picking up where we left off.

Over Christmas and New Year I decided to give Elton a holiday before picking our training up again in the New Year as he has had a lot to learn in the last few months since we bought him and has taken everything on board, after all not many five year olds have to learn a whole new set of aids and to work independently without the leg to support them. With young horses I think it’s important that they have their down time so we don’t fry their brains or become stale in the school.

Take Care

Natalie x

Latest Blog from Para Dressage Rider Natalie Povey


Natalie’s dog Oscar modelling the Snuggy Hoods Keep Warm Dog Coat

At the beginning of the month we moved to a new livery yard where Elton has settled very well and taken it all in his stride. He lived out for a few weeks to make the most of the warmer weather, but is now tucked up in his stable over night. He’s nice and warm now the temperature has started to drop, but he will continue to be turned out all day with his new little friend, a Shetland pony called Honey who is also only a baby. He knows when I am at the yard as he shouts as soon as he hears my car and waits by the gate for me to go and bring him in. He is very sweet and kind – I can even lead him from the school or field on my crutches on my own, he just walks at the side of me making sure he doesn’t accidentally knock me over, he just waits for me and never pulls– he always makes sure he is at the side of me and is very gentle taking one step at a time. If someone else leads him he tells them to wait for me and won’t leave me behind. Elton tries his very hardest to understand, he loves his work and is always wanting to please, there is never a day when he doesn’t try his hardest – I don’t know another horse like him as he is so genuine. Although Elton has only been with me a few months now we have a very special relationship and he is a horse in a million, it is as if he was bred for me. He has the most fantastic temperament and the biggest of hearts. I love working with him and learning together.

This month we have been focusing on our training, paying special attention to our straightness as he finds work quite easy along the fence line but is less confident and a bit wobbly away from the track so I have been doing lots of work away from the fence, working on keeping him straight and forward which is easier said than done without a leg aid to correct him, but he is now working a lot straighter and doing some lovely centrelines we just need to perfect the halt on the centreline now which is my next goal – after all when competing there is usually no wall to support him just white boards. My next step will be to gradually introduce white boards to work around so they become an every day thing. We have been working on our halts which are now squarer and he is learning to stay softer in the contact. We have also been building up Elton’s confidence and balance in the medium trot which is developing well – he thinks is great to be able to show off. Elton is also now a lot sharper of my aids so it is helping with our accuracy, I can now think something and he will do what I am thinking so I have to be careful not to over prepare for movements and turns. We have also be using quick transitions to walk from trot and back to trot again to develop his trot as well as engaging him to push more from behind.

Elton has also being working well on the lunge and is progressing all the time. He is normally lunged at least twice a week as well as hacking around the fields.