Settling in period
Rosco is continuing to do everything we ask of him, but I had started to notice he seemed a bit grouchy - grinding his teeth when I was tightening his girth. Our vet, Ridings Equine Vets, coincidentally had a discounted ulcer clinic with an endoscopy inspection and it turns out Rosco has some ulcers. We gave him 10 days rest and a course of 4 Omeprazole injections over 4 weeks. After a re-scope, our vet advised us to continue with managing the ulcers with food. Our vet instructed that we can continue to work but with 3-4 days off per week during the treatments.
In terms of food management, I trawled through multiple websites and Facebook forums looking at every “expert” opinion out there. In the end, we settled on a concoction of Baileys Ease and Excel and Speedi-Beet, mixed with a gastric supplement from the vet, some charcoal, sunflower oil and Alfa-A oil.
We’ve been out to some show jumping clinics, and we had a great lesson with Ian Bennet who encouraged me to let Rosco go forward – it is quite difficult on a new horse as instinctively I seem to hold him back a bit just in case he spooks, which isn’t helping.
We also went to Speetley cross country training - our first real outing and my first time on him over a cross country fence. We set off in murky cold fog but by the time we got there it was a beautiful sunny day. I warmed him up really carefully and eventually it was time to bite the bullet and go for my first cross country jump. We started relatively small and after a few awkward ones (with me having quite a bit of daylight between the saddle) we started to get into a rhythm - letting him go forward seemed to be the key to a good jump.
I started to get a bit more confident in the main field with a wedge corner, but POP, there goes my air jacket and Rosco is trotting off into the distance! I had just been saying to my sister-in-law, Sally, last week about having a good “seat” - maybe it was a bit of karma! It’s the first time I’ve had an air jacket go off, and although it was quite a gentle fall (mainly due to my lack of forward impulsion), the compression of the air jacket was not as bad as I had expected.
A friendly rider in the show jumping arena thankfully caught Rosco, and after a quick check over, we were back on-board. A few more confidence building roll tops and back onto the wedge corner, this time a BIG jump and I stayed on. I tested Rosco over most of the course, water, drops, coffins even an owl hole - all of which he took in his stride. The only think that caused a stir was some wooden rabbits! But wow, being 3/4 thoroughbred, he really covers the ground and just wants to gallop - hopefully I’ll have no problem with time on the course!
Rosco has been a model patient during his ulcer treatment, hardly flinching even though the injection is a very big needle that contains quite thick fluid. Fortunately he has shown no signs of swelling, which apparently can happen with this type of injection. He was re-scoped after the 4 weeks of injections and although they’ve improved, the ulcers are still there. This means more omeprazole injections and sucralfate paste to be given orally by a syringe, twice a day, and a re-scope in another 4 weeks. With this in mind, my early season competitions are on hold until he has got the all clear from the vet - this probably isn’t a bad thing considering the wet weather and ground conditions.
We also got Rosco checked out by our friendly physio, Faith, he had a few tight sections in his back and ham-strings, but nothing out of the ordinary. She suspects he’s had a growing spurt and his bones and muscles are still catching each other up. I’ve got loads of stretching exercises for Rosco to do, so hopefully he’ll be happy as he loves treats and will do anything for them.
With Rosco having a pause it will give me a bit of time to focus on Walter and get him fit for the upcoming season - I’m tempted to rename Walter “Shackleton”. One thing is true, a new horse certainly makes you realise just how good Walter is at his job. Riding him is just like sitting in your favourite arm chair and pointing him in the right direction.
By Ian Pycock