So, a lot of you will have seen a new arrival to our family in the last few weeks. She is a little 15.3hh dark brown, 2004 thoroughbred mare called Pea. BUT.. this is not the first time Pea and I have crossed paths.
Her dam: Smilingatstrangers and her sire: Tragic Role.
Pea and I first met in 2013, my battle with nerves was in full flow and I wasn’t in a very happy place. Pat went out on loan whilst I dealt with some financial and emotional struggles during the breakdown of my first marriage and it was Pea that kept my eyes bright and not full of tears.
I had met her then owner Linda on a training clinic with the Wey Valley Riding Club and after a few weeks we had got chatting about this little horse. Pea was then on sales/training livery and was costing poor Linda a lot of money so we agreed she could come to me and I would have her on loan with the idea of schooling her on and eventually selling her, doing us both a favour!
For 6 months Linda and I shared her costs and I took her out hacking, jumping, XC, dressage, you name it…it was the first time in years that I was absolutely LOVING riding again to the point where I looked forward to it EVERYDAY and felt sad about giving her a day off! We just got each other, I never expected too much and she always over delivered. I taught her to jump courses and she was so trusting of me that I felt more capable than I have ever felt before.
More importantly, she taught me to enjoy riding again, and that schooling and dressing ponies up in matchy was not fun deep down and cantering down stubble fields and jumping was indeed what we both loved.
Pea and I did all the usual RC activities, we qualified for The Festival of the Horse finals in 2014 which was sadly rained off. She jumped clear so many times I lost count. But she just trusted me, never the most athletic or the most straight, but we had our way and that worked for us.
The Prodigal Son
In 2014 Pat came home under a black cloud of bronching with his loan mum, I had had a brilliant year with Pea and was all set to take on life with both of them but I just couldn’t do it. The day Pat came home I was launched into orbit when he bronched me off. The next day Pea and I jumped 2 clears and qualified for the L&SE champs… but it was the start of a rocky road for sure. It was him I should have sold. It was him breaking my heart every damn day. But he was mine, she wasn’t.
Very sadly, Pea went to another loan home not too far away, a friend of a friend but for one reason and another, that didn’t work out there either. Pea became a Feral Beryl. Turned away for 2 years not doing much other than escaping for jaunts around the village or into people’s veg gardens but she was well loved (and well fed) by Linda!
I brought her home to Lincolnshire on Thursday 20th September. A week in, she had shoes on and we got her checked over and given the all clear to start bringing her back into work.
Week one she did 3 days lunging on large circles in loose side reins, mostly in walk and a little trot so I could have a look at her and make a plan. Week 2 she walked out 4 times, three times off the lead from Pat and in walk with a little trot, still in the roller and side reins and once ridden. I rode her in the field that week for the first time, bareback because she had got a sore from the girth on the first walk out, but we worked on bending the whole body, moving off my leg; freeing the tightness in her shoulders, neck and rib cage, which is what I do every time i get on her now.
Week 3 I walked her out 3 times (1 ridden/2 on the lead), lunged once and schooled once. All of this work is done with her stepping through in as low a frame as she is comfortable. The muscles across the top of her neck and her back have started to develop more now, but they were very weak and she could only do 20-30mins maximum per session. Its important that she is happy and if she’s not, I’d take the pressure off.
Week 4 Was more of the same only her ridden hack, Daddy Carrot got on and walked her to the pub! I cantered her on the lunge for the first time too, BIG circles and only 2/3 on each rein. She also started a little more trot on the lead rides just 30sec/1min stints (x4 per 40min ride), still all in the loose side reins. I also introduced poles into lunging to get her lift through the back a little more.
Week 5 She was definitely back in work mode, she wants to please so much and the end of the week we popped a little cross pole, only in trot but she had a great big smile on her chops! We also added a little canter under saddle and she felt very nice and balanced. Definitely seeing the benefits of loosening her up. I have also introduced an old fashioned (very loose) Harbridge. This is acts like a martingale only it is elasticated and clips to the bit rather than looping on the rein. I find it helps me not fret about her head placement and I can concentrate on just getting her swinging forwards – it is absolutely NOT for people wanting to tie their horses heads to their knees and I suggest if you want to try one, that you get a knowledgeable chum or trainer to have a look at the fitting and necessity!
Week 6 (last week) she hacked twice both 30-40mins introducing a little bit of canter, schooled once in the field and lunged once. The muscle is really starting to come now and I’m really happy with how she feels.
This week we are heading out for the first time to Hill House for a pole lesson with Jo. Just half an hour but it will be enough for her. I gave her a clip yesterday too and she is much happier not being so crusty after work!
Like Pat, she lives in a field 24/7, has hay every evening and a feed of Alfa A oil and micronised linseed.
I wouldn’t give a fat rats ass if this little horse never went out to another show again, she owes me nothing but while she loves her work and loves to jump, we’ll carry on and see where 2019 takes us. She is the safest horse I have EVER ridden and has the best temperament, I just LOVE her to pieces.
I cannot thank Linda enough for letting me have her and I hope we continue to make you smile for many years to come 🙂
Thanks for reading xxx