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Alberta Rose en route to a win at Little Downham

Its been a busy few months with plenty of up’s and down’s and started at the back end of April when we headed off to Chilham Castle with Alberta’s Rose to contend the Novice class. Our preparation hadn’t been great on the show jump front, but I couldn’t put my finger on what the problem was. Our dressage was good and showjumping despite just one unlucky rail, it wasn’t a smooth round, and Alberta’s Rose was very unsettled in the contact. What I did’t know at the time: Alberta Rose en route to a win at Little Downham.

We started cross country well until we encountered an uncharacteristic stop at the crocodile in the water. I represented, and we popped it and continued the rest of the course through several very technical downhill combinations one after the other towards the back end of the course.

Sadly, it appears it was one combination too many as we came a cropper at the final element of the last combination where Alberta’s Rose seemed to take off and then change her mind and put back down again landing belly first on the skinny roll top. This catapulted me over the fence while she pulled herself right and then ran home alone. I then had to do the walk of shame home alone to collect my horse!

Fortunately, a friend of mine was at the combination, so I was able to watch the footage to try to work out what happened.

The following day I took her up to my very helpful physio to give her the once over, as I suspected she would be a little uncomfortable and sure enough she was.

Fortunately, I was going off to Badminton for the week two days later, so Alberta’s Rose enjoyed a week off to recover.

Badminton was fun as always, and I’m still hopeful that one I might make the dizzy heights to get there.

The following week I planned to head out cross country schooling with Alberta’s Rose to ensure she hadn’t lost confidence after our fall. However, our local course was holding a hunter trial, so I thought that after the recent rain we had encountered the ground might be quite nice so I would have a pop round the 100 class.

I took both her and Alberta’s Pride (which whenever I do that, I say never again!) And this time was no exception! Alberta’s Pride becomes rather a handful screaming and barging about when left alone and my husband wasn’t too happy with the situation. So, in writing now, I am confirming that I absolutely won’t be doing that again!

Alberta’s Pride did, however, jump an easy peasy round, feeling very confident and full of running.

Then it was Alberta’s Rose. She was very unsettled in the warmup which I didn’t know whether that was because something wasn’t right or because Alberta’s Pride had been taken back to the lorry.
So I carried on with a few awkward jumps and intermittent contact issues coming into and out of the warmup fences. I was in two minds where to run her or not, but the last fence I jumped she seemed to settle down, so I decided to run.

She went out the start box crooked and not really focussing on the fences ahead of her, but I coaxed her round. She had a really good look at the roll top, ditch, roll top combination which isn’t like her. I continued, and finally, after jumping into the water well, she began to feel more her usual self.

Although not our best round ever, somehow I judged the time perfectly well coming in bang on the optimum time to win the class!

I was elated, but I wasn’t entirely happy with the intermittent contact issues I’d encountered. I arranged for the physio to attend the following day again and also the vet to come and check her mouth for any obvious signs of discomfort.

Both her back and her mouth showed no real issues, so after jumping at home and things feeling ok, we heard up to one of my favourite events, Rockingham Castle International to contend the Novice with Alberta’s Rose.

A long 3 hours journey and 120 miles covered, she produced a fair dressage test and warmed up very well for the showjumping, so I was feeling confident.

Into the main arena, we went and over number one, a straight 7 or 8 strides down to the second, heading towards the collecting ring, which is where it all ended for us. She appeared to pick up in from of the fence on a perfect stride and then basically put back down again and dropping completely to the ground and tipping over to the side where I stepped off.

I was absolutely gutted.

I took her back out to the collecting ring and popped her easily over a couple more practise fences before starting the 3-hour journey home.
I knew there and then that I really had a problem that needed sorting as this behaviour is absolutely not like her.

The following week Alberta’s Pride headed out to Borde Hill to contend the BE100.

He had a little moment in the dressage when the horse in the next arena passed us rather close, which lost is a few marks, but apart from that, he produced a fair test. The jumping didn’t go so well that day though as we took a rail down showjumping as its always a challenging course caused mainly by the hilly terrain. The cross country was absolutely fine until the very last combination where I had a slight steering issue, not once but twice.

We did finish and put that day down to experience!

The following week, both Alberta’s Rose and Alberta’s Pride were due at Little Downham to content the Novice Regional Final and BE100 plus. However, it was somewhat touch and go on whether we would take Alberta’s Rose for obvious reasons.

However, following my husband’s conversation with one of his contacts in the racing world at Newmarket, a lovely Chiropractor contacted us, advising us that she was pretty sure she knew what the problem might be. So a couple of days later we were en route to Newmarket for some treatment from her.

Immediately after the treatment, she looked relieved. The chiropractor suspected that she had a trapped nerve in the top of her head, and once this was released, she would be much happier. I was told to take her home and work her which I did. I could feel a difference; she was relaxing more and carrying her head and neck much lower than she has in quite a while. It made me think that she has not been right for quite a while.

Two days later, I decided to take her to my nearest BS venue to jump around the 1.05m and Newcommers to test things out before deciding where to attend our Regional Final.

Well, I was absolutely over the moon as she jumped two double clear rounds finishing 3rd in the 1.05m and on the money.

That was the decider; we were off to the Regional Final!

Upon our arrival at Little Downham a couple of days later Alberta’s Rose produced a superb dressage test for her first effort at an Intermediate test to lie 3rd after the dressage.

We had a little bit of a shady warmup for the show jumping as out of the blue she stopped several times in the warmup. I just couldn’t understand what was going on. I mean she jumped double clear round a Newcommers only two days before and now was stopping at a cross pole? I very nearly decided not to go in, but after picking up a bit of confidence again, we cantered into the ring.

We started well and got round to fence 5, a double off a relatively tight right-hand turn. We didn’t meet the first part of the double very well, so she stopped. I represented, and she continued well.

Fence 9 was a treble, again off a right turn, we approached the first, but she didn’t take me into the combination with any confidence, so we scrambled out over the second part which left us well off the final element, so she stopped again.

This meant I had to represent to the whole treble which I did and pretty much exactly the same thing happened again, so that was elimination for us.

As you can imagine, again, I was terribly upset, and there were plenty of tears. What could be so wrong that it was causing my beautifully talented willing horse to dislike her job so very much???

The decision was made there and then that she needed to be seen by vets for a poor performance workup.

Two days later we returned to Little Downham with Alberta’s a Pride to contend his first BE100 plus. He warmed up beautifully for the dressage but then managed to completely mess up both the canter by becoming disunited, therefore losing plenty of marks to finish with a 32, rather than a 22!

He then produced a super show jump round and was very unlucky just to take the second from last rail. He then skipped around the cross country course, making nothing of it.

Due to his new extra moves in the dressage arena, I thought I’d make use of my local riding club running a dressage show on grass the following week. Well, I’m sure glad I did as he produced two super error-free tests to win them both!

The following week, I ran Alberta’s Rose up to my local vets to get referral up to Newmarket Equine Hospital. As suspected, my vets couldn’t find anything amiss and were very happy to refer us.

The following Tuesday we were en route to NEH.

Upon arrival, I was met by the vet Will Barker. I had written a diary of events from right back in March of this year when I think things started to go wrong. I provided him with video and photos to help show the problems we have been having.

We then went out to see Alberta’s Rose and gave her a full lameness workup and unsurprisingly she was as sound as a bell on all surfaces and in all directions!

I then rode her, as I had requested I jump her in front of the vet and sure enough on command, we trotted round to a tiny cross, and she promptly put the brakes on and stopped. Thank goodness she had produced the goods when needed!

We then went around and jumped it a few times before finishing.

After another consultation with the vet, it was decided the best course of action was for her to undergo a full Bone Scan as nothing obvious was showing up.

A couple of days later I received the results of the bone scan to find four hot spot areas;

One at the top of her head (could this have been as a result of the trapped nerve?)
One on her withers,
One on her right jock and
One on her right lower jaw.
The vet advised he would X-Ray each area to try and find out more.

The following day I received another call to advise three areas were absolutely fine, but the right lower jaw area had shown up a deep-rooted tooth infection. This, was rather a concern as there was no evidence of how long the infection had been in there.

It was decided to try to hit it with a considerable Antibiotic dose for a month and to continue working her to see if she improved.
If this doesn’t work, it may result in the tooth being removed, which in itself is not an easy thing to do, so it was best to try the antibiotics first.

Since then, her flatwork is improving rapidly, and she has produced some more clear showjumping rounds; however, we do still appear to have some issues jumping downhill cross country. I am still in contact with the vet at NEH, and we are trying other options as I am convinced it is not just the tooth problem that is causing our issues. So she is still very much ‘work in progress’, and I doubt very much that she will return to eventing this year, but only time will tell.

So the focus has been in Alberta’s Pride to step up to the mark!

I have focused little more on his showjumping, as that has been letting us down over the last few months, so he has now completed a couple of Newcommer rounds himself and made an outstanding effort, which I’ve been delighted with.

We headed back up to Little Downham at the end of July to contend our very first BE 105 class.

Things went rather well I have to say as we produced a decent dressage test to be lying 3rd after dressage followed by a super-duper double clear to WIN the class!

I was absolutely over the moon, more so I think as we won a lovely bottle of Champagne along with glassware and some money… result!

Two weeks later we popped down to Chilham Castle to run in the BE 100 plus where we produced another top ten result finishing 6th.
From here rather than travelling home we headed up to Keysoe where Alberta’s Pride attended his very first Pony Club Camp. I was coaching all week on behalf of Puckeridge Western and Enfield Chace Hunt Pony Clubs and staying up there so decided to take him with me so I could use the beautiful facilities to keep him in work.

A super but extremely tiring week was had, and I’m not sure if Alberta’s Pride was that impressed with being worked twice a day, but what he did love was all the attention he received from the kids!

To end a super busy week, no sooner had I arrived home with Alberta’s Pride from camp, I made a quick change and headed up to Newmarket for an evening of racing and music with good friends; A superb night and a lovely hotel to stay in for the night too, which was a lovely treat!

I have plans to move Alberta’s Pride up to Novice before the season is out, so keeping everything crossed that he continues to produce the goods and fingers crossed for Alberta’s Rose’s continued recovery.

Until next time!

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