This is a bit of a catchup on the last quarter of 2018 which has been a bit slower than usual and its all explained here… Back in October we had a positive start to the month, a frustrating middle and a disappointing but promising end, which was to be follow by a couple of months of patience.

We really got off to a good start.  Aslan was looking great, building on the strength he had demonstrated in August and getting back into some serious and focussed training, after a disjointed summer holiday period.  We were also looking forward to Stephen returning from WEG so that we could continue our training and get back out competing in order to pick up the 5 points which remained for us to compete at the Individual and Team tests at the National Championships in Myerscough College next February.

Aslan showing off his first clip of the Autumn in the October sunshine

Training was going well, working Aslan back into some of the more advanced school movements that we need to cover in those tests.

Canter Training in October

Stephen returned from WEG and we had our first session together after a month, but Aslan did not feel quite right.  We gave Aslan a few days off, but when I got back on him it was clear that Aslan was limping.

One of the benefits of moving yards was that it allowed us to reconsider everything we had in place to support Aslan.  Coaches, trainers, vets, farriers, dentists (yes horses need to see a dentist), saddlers, physiotherapists (yes competition horses have physiotherapists too) and everything else that goes with the commitment.  We didn’t plan to change everything at once as stability and controlled changes are important, but it was an opportunity to revaluate and make changes when is made sense.

We had already looked to change vets to someone more local and having heard good things and recommendations, and decided to get help from Chiltern Equine who have great facilities and support our local area.  Sarah came out to see Aslan who was clearly sore and showing signs of lameness.   He went off to the Chiltern Equine Clinic in the Chalfonts and it wasn’t long before his soreness and the source of his lameness was isolated and we had a treatment plan in place. So it was some medication, time off and some work on his feet with new shoes.

Back on the yard and turned out after his box rest and treatment at Chiltern Equine

We were faced with the option to rush back into work in order to collect the remaining points we needed for the Winters, or to slow everything down and take some proper time out to build Aslan back up to full fitness. It was a no-brainer. Aslan came first and we decided to miss the Winters. This was both frustrating and disappointing, given we had also had to trade the Summers this year too in order to qualify for the Bishop Burton International, but it was the right thing to do. Aslan had his treatment at Chiltern Equines BlueBerry Farm Clinic followed by some box rest and a few weeks of no exercise and some more treatment. Thankfully he could be turned out as Im sure he would go crazy with any more box rest!! And then we started the purposely slow and steady road back to fitness. This meant a lot of work in walk before building the other paces back into place and an awful lot of patience.

While Aslan was getting some rest I had a very busy half term. The week began with BEF Excel Squads at Solihull, followed by a couple of days at Hartpury College for my Equestrian Diploma in Sporting Excellence and finally off up to Moulton College in Northamptonshire for a Cross Discipline session with the Excel Squad at the end of the week. I was pretty much ready to get back to school for a break!

November was a quiet month with only gentle exercise in hand for Aslan. I did attend the National Dressage Convention at Hartpury College for the first time which was a great experience. I attended with my DiSE course which came with some extra benefits including the opportunity to meet Gareth Hughes who was really informative and really lovely to talk to.

As the weather turned we treated Aslan to a new turn out rug as his old now was a bit worse for wear. We choose a Titan 450 from Premier Equine which is super tough and very cosy with a really well fitted hood. Here is Aslan wearing his before his first roll in it. It’s quite a bit muddier now.

Aslan in his new Titan 450 Heavyweight Turnout Rug by Premier Equine

December started with a home visit from my DiSE mentor Claire Moir. Aslan was still in walk work only but building a lot of strength back up with sessions twice a day but I had a good session with Claire. I really want to say a big thank you to Donna and the girls at the yard who have supported us with getting Aslan back to fitness as I could not always be at the yard due to school. As you can see from the photo below, even with just walking exercise he regained his shape.

Aslan rocking the walk
My brilliant SportsAid Sponsors The Royal Bank of Canda

As we approached Christmas we had some big events planned. My SportsAid sponsor Royal Bank of Canada invited me and my family to attend a performance of A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic. As well as sponsoring SportsAid they also sponsor the Old Vic and this performance was for the RBC families to celebrate Christmas. It was a genuinely amazing performance, we had brilliant seats thanks to my RBC SportsAid Buddy Dave who went out of his way to make me and my whole family feel welcome. My brother loved it too as they had free pick n mix and photobooth !

While the Old Vic was amazing, I also was very fortunate to have a days work experience with RBC just before Christmas. It was only for a day so a bit of a sneak preview as I am going back in February. I really loved it though and it was such a fantastic opportunity and again thank you to Bromwynn who looked after me.

In the City for work experience with RBC

That was followed up by a trip to Olympia for the London International Horse Show. Last year I went with my Dad to see the FreeStyle but this year we went to see the Grand Prix in the new shortened format. It was a great night topped off my dad winning tickets for next year thanks to Horse & Hound, so could not have been better!

A night at Olympia with my family for the Grand Prix

So a great finish to the year socially, but best of all was that Aslan was back into trot work and while we are still taking it slow and steady in preparation for Summer qualification, he is looking good and building back up very nicely, so bring on 2019!

Aslan back in Trot

That’s it, you’re all caught up. Thanks for reading my catch up blog, I will be back to monthly updates once we are back fighting fit which I hope won’t be too much later. I have started posting more pictures at @ilsedressage on Instagram so if you’d like to see more of me and Aslan working together make sure to follow us there as well as on Facebook.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas and I hope you have a fabulous 2019.

Happy New Year.

Ilse x

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