Increasing the Workload
January was a long month of hacking wild horses… I started off with the good intentions of walking for weeks, but very quickly decided that for my own safety I needed to add some trot work! To say the horses were feeling fresh and well would be an understatement! So that they were not put under too much strain, the trot was kept to uphill parts of the hack – the rest of the way, Clare (who works a few hours a week for me) and I had to sit and hold on tight!
Needless to say, I didn’t clip any of them until they had a) started to be less wild and b) upped their workload so they didn’t get too cold while braving the January wind and rain. After a good four weeks of steadily building up the level of work, I started to introduce some short schooling sessions and a bit of canter. At this point, the hairy beasts really did need clipping so I tied it in with a day when Melissa Emson from Emson Equine Vets was visiting to do their teeth and they had a day of de-hair-ing and teeth-sorting! I like to get them checked at the start of the season to ensure all the horses are happy in their mouths, not only to help them accept the contact but also to ensure they can chew their Dengie fibre feeds! As well as this, I have had the physio out to check them all over to make sure we are starting with horses that feel good and are able to use their muscles to their full potential. The young horses have still got full coats as I think they are sharp enough during the winter without feeling the cold on their naked skin.
I have increased the work of all the horses slowly and last week they had their first jump – only over the dizzy heights of a cross pole or two, but it’s a start! As they are not able to be turned out, I haven’t increased their bucket feed yet. They are all still on Dengie Healthy Tummy and Alfa-Beet, as well as ad-lib haylage – all fibre-based feeds to ensure they are getting the energy they need without too much fizz.
Next month, I will be starting to get them out and about competing at dressage and showjumping competitions. Sparkle will start his canter work on the gallops, ready to event in April and they will all go and see some cross-country schooling fences. Now we just need to hope that the ground dries up!