Warm­ing up

You can’t carry on like you’re the best in the world, like some peo­ple do, un­til you are the best in the world!’

NZ Horse & Pony - - Our Month -

The warm­ing up is the most im­por­tant part of the work. We very rarely ride the Grand Prix ex­er­cises; in­stead we’re train­ing ex­er­cises that strengthen the horse’s body and work­ing on their weak­nesses. We’ve only just started putting all the Grand Prix work to­gether. What’s the point in do­ing that un­til your horse is go­ing how Jonny wants your horse to go, which is a pretty high stan­dard – he’s such a per­fec­tion­ist!

We al­ways walk the horses for quite a long time at the start, es­pe­cially in the win­ter, be­cause it’s so cold. We’ll stretch them in walk, trot and can­ter, but when they’re stretch­ing, they’re work­ing. Af­ter we’ve done the stretch­ing, we walk the horses again. Then we pick them up and usu­ally start in can­ter. I much pre­fer to do my trot work af­ter I’ve can­tered, as the can­ter im­proves the trot.

We never ride on the out­side track, but al­ways work on the in­side track, which helps to keep the horse straight. We also do a lot of counter-can­ter, around the whole arena and on cir­cles. That is hon­estly such a good ex­er­cise and it has re­ally helped me and Roy. To do it prop­erly, the way Jonny wants us to do it, with the horse in self-car­riage, is re­ally hard, but I love it and it’s what I do nearly ev­ery day for my warm-up, along with a lot of legyield­ing across the whole arena. The hind legs have to be ac­tive and un­der­neath you, and it re­quires a lot of strength.

We’ve ac­tu­ally had to change Roy’s warm-up a lot, be­cause he’s a stal­lion and he’s quite clever and finds ways out. Some­times we have to make things tricky for him or change it regularly just to keep his mind busy, be­cause he gets bored.

Another good ex­er­cise is rid­ing legyield down the wall. The horse’s head and neck are more or less in the mid­dle and you push the bum to the in­side. It’s a re­ally good strength­en­ing ex­er­cise, but again you have to wait un­til the horse can do it in self-car­riage. Ev­ery­thing comes so much more easily when the horses are car­ry­ing them­selves. As soon as they lock against you they go dead in their bod­ies. If you can get them soft in front and car­ry­ing them­selves, they re­act and move off your leg.

Of course, the horse al­ways has one side that they strug­gle with more, but the worst thing you can do is sit against it. A

lot of us push on to our out­side seat­bone when we’re try­ing to get our leg on, so although we’re want­ing the horse to move left, we’re sit­ting to the right and brac­ing against them. As soon as you sit down through your in­side seat­bone and shift your weight to the in­side you’d be sur- prised how much eas­ier they move over.

We stretch the horses to start and fin­ish. Af­ter we work them, we trot and can­ter them around pretty much on the buckle and let them go as fast as they want to – it’s like their time to let go and have fun. It’s so good for their minds and it’s the way you get more energy as well, be­cause you don’t in­ter­fere with them in any way. It’s great for horses that don’t have a nat­u­ral medium trot, be­cause they sud­denly find another gear.

Horse man­age­ment

You have to have a re­ally good main­te­nance pro­gramme in place. I’m pretty lucky – I have a great far­rier and a won­der­ful physio who works closely with Jonny’s vet. I’ve also been for­tu­nate with Roy in that he’s been a very sound horse and he han­dles the work so well. He’s 11 now and he looks com­pletely dif­fer­ent – he’s so big in the body. It’s amaz­ing to see the change.

Man­ag­ing the work­load is also so im­por­tant in a Grand Prix horse – you can’t just keep hound­ing them. If we’ve worked Roy re­ally hard one day, we ob­vi­ously change what we’ll do the next and be care­ful to let him re­cover.

I never re­ally give Roy a day off, be­cause he’s got so much energy, but some days I will free-lunge him, just with the hal­ter

An­drea’s part­ner Brett Davey, an Aus­tralian Grand Prix dres­sage rider and trainer, is with her in Ger­many and has re­cently started train­ing with Jonny too; the pair are en­joy­ing ev­ery as­pect of learn­ing about the Euro­pean scene

Some horses seem to be ac­ci­dent prone. It can be very fright­en­ing to go out and see that your horse or pony has a wound. How­ever care­ful we are with our pad­docks, sta­bles and yards, it seems that some horses are able to find some­thing to in­jure them­selves on, some­times with dis­as­trous con­se­quences.

If there is any chance that a joint or ten­don may be af­fected by a wound then it is al­ways bet­ter to get vet­eri­nary at­ten­tion sooner rather than later.

It is of­ten small, deep, punc­ture wounds that cause prob­lems.

There are a lot of ‘syn­ovial struc­tures’ in the lower legs. Syn­ovial struc­tures is the term used for joints and ten­don sheaths (the cush­ion­ing layer around some ten­dons).

Once these be­come in­fected and in­flamed there is a po­ten­tial for per­ma­nent dam­age to oc­cur. Joints of­ten have ‘pouches’, which means that the joint pocket can be some way from what we think of as the joint. A wound that is any­where near a joint should be ex­am­ined by a vet to see if the joint has been af­fected.

Bleed­ing from wounds

OF­TEN IT CAN like look a lot of blood has been lost and this is, of course, of great con­cern – but horses do have a lot of blood. Around 8% of a horse’s body­weight is blood, so a 500kg horse has about 40 litres of blood. Some­thing to bear in mind is that a 500kg horse can lose 6-8 litres of blood be­fore it would phys­i­cally af­fect the horse, and 12-16 litres be­fore it be­comes life-threat­en­ing. How­ever, bleed­ing should still be stopped (if you can do so safely) by ap­ply­ing pres­sure to a wound while wait­ing for the vet to ar­rive.

Clock­wise from above left: this horse was found in the pad­dock in late March last year, cov­ered in blood, with an in­tial wound that looked like two huge punc­tures and a deep tear, as if he had got caught on some­thing. Af­ter a week in a vet clinic, the outer layer of skin sloughed off, leav­ing a gap­ing wound (top left, im­age taken in early April). The vet de­brided the proud flesh around a month later (top right). By July, heal­ing was well un­der way (above) and by Au­gust 21, (left and cen­tre) it was com­pletely healed

Top and above: cold hos­ing is an ef­fec­tive first aid re­sponse to a nasty leg gash. Above right: a back wound caused by a kick in the pad­dock; painful but not se­ri­ous with a ban­dage change slow­ing down the heal­ing.

Fi­nally once the ep­ithe­lial­i­sa­tion has closed over the wound, we get re­mod­elling. This min­imises scar size and can still be hap­pen­ing three weeks to more than a year af­ter the wound has hap­pened. (This may also ex­plain why some oint­ments ap­pear to re­duce a scar – it could be that re­mod­elling was min­imis­ing the scar any­way).

Fac­tors that de­lay heal­ing

THERE ARE SEV­ERAL fac­tors that will de­lay wound heal­ing. A lot of these are more com­mon in leg wounds. These de­lay­ing fac­tors can re­sult ei­ther in a wound that is slow to heal or in one that de­vel­ops proud flesh. Here are 10 main fac­tors that can de­lay heal­ing: 1. In­fec­tion – by bac­te­ria, viruses and fungi will de­lay heal­ing. A wound must be cleaned thor­oughly and a good ban­dage will pre­vent re­in­fec­tion. An­tibi­otics may be used by your vet if they are in­di­cated. Move­ment – this is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant on the legs. Move­ment makes it harder for the wound to fill in, de­lays heal­ing and can of­ten re­sult in proud flesh. Con­fin­ing the horse to a small area, us­ing a thick padded ban­dage and some­times even a cast are all ways that move­ment is re­stricted to en­cour­age heal­ing.


Poor blood and/or oxy­gen sup­ply.

These are both im­por­tant for heal­ing. It is thought that us­ing a dress­ing that pre­vents oxy­gen get­ting to the wound may en­cour­age the for­ma­tion of proud flesh, so us­ing a breath­able dress­ing is ad­vised. Health sta­tus of the horse. The age of the horse af­fects heal­ing (young horses usu­ally heal bet­ter than older ones), whether it is a pony or a horse af­fects heal­ing (ponies usu­ally heal bet­ter than horses) and if the horse has Cush­ing’s syn­drome then heal­ing can be de­layed. 10. Sar­coid. Wounds can turn into sar­coids. We don’t know if this is be­cause flies which can carry a virus (bovine pa­pil­lo­mavirus type1, BPV) are at­tracted to the wound and de­posit the virus there, re­sult­ing in a sar­coid,

9. Con­tin­ued trauma – this is quite ob­vi­ous but a wound caused by some­thing rub­bing won’t heal if what­ever caused it is still rub­bing. Hu­man fac­tors – some­thing that we may do to the wound that de­lays heal­ing. It can mean the wrong dress­ing, a ban­dage that isn’t changed of­ten enough or is too tight or the use of a top­i­cal oint­ment that in­hibits rather than helps heal­ing. Large deficit – a large wound with a lot of tis­sue miss­ing will take longer to heal as the gran­u­la­tion tis­sue has to fill in the gap. The blood sup­ply also has to grow back.


Com­mon com­pli­ca­tions are proud flesh and in­fec­tion. With any com­pli­ca­tions of wound heal­ing, you should seek vet­eri­nary ad­vice. In­fec­tions will need to be treated, proud flesh re­moved and then if any of the other above fac­tors are present these will need to be man­aged to al­low heal­ing to take place.

Hope­fully, by hav­ing an un­der­stand­ing of how heal­ing oc­curs and also what stops heal­ing, then you will be able to man­age any wounds you are un­for­tu­nate enough to en­counter, and so keep con­di­tions as ideal as pos­si­ble for heal­ing.

A ba­sic first aid kit

You can buy elab­o­rate (and ex­pen­sive) equine first aid kits made up for you, but they of­ten have items you’ll never use. Here are my sug­ges­tions for a sim­ple kit that will cover most emer­gen­cies. • Wa­ter/sa­line. A sim­ple so­lu­tion can be made with 9g salt (1.5 tea­spoons) in a litre of wa­ter, or buy con­tact lens sa­line so­lu­tion from a chemist. Ban­dage ma­te­rial. You need a poul­tice such as An­i­ma­l­in­tex, dress­ings such as Melonin or Telfa pads, an ab­sorbable pad­ding such as gamgee, and an outer layer such as Vetwrap. Stock up with plenty of each. Io­dine - use very di­lute. A torch with longlife qual­ity bat­ter­ies. Hard­ware. You need wire cut­ters, scis­sors and tweez­ers. Cot­ton swabs and cot­ton wool. A few cool packs, or grab frozen peas from the freezer. Your vet’s phone num­ber.

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