In part two of her blog Dressage Anywhere regular, Marianne shares more ups and downs, getting started with Dressage Anywhere and making a heart-breaking decision.
In 2013, Enif had turned two and in the August we decided to crack on. He had had a year where he had done nothing other than be a young horse, his knees had swollen up a couple of times and Eamon had told us to put ice boots on every day for 20 minutes to help the swelling. We put a simple rubber bit in his mouth and I started walking him about. When he turned three, we put a saddle on for the first time and being a typical Spaniard, he didn't notice, so it was onwards and upwards! I had started taking him out with my other horse Kalief so we could ride and lead and he loved it! He enjoyed going out so much and as he got used to it, we started going around our little block.
I have to say, I started getting very excited, Enif took to backing incredibly easily and soon we were out hacking. His knees weren't giving him any problems he was perfectly sound, though he looked pretty odd when trotting up, he dished (as PREs should) and coupled with his pretty large knees I did worry that a dressage judge was bound to pull me up on the state of them, Eamon also warned me that I was likely to get questioned about it and he would happily provide a vets letter to show that there were no problems and he would be fit to compete.
Enif was turned away for the winter and his shoes were removed. This proved to be a massive mistake; six weeks without shoes had worn away the lateral wall of both front feet. His leg looked horrendously bowed and his knees were really swollen, I couldn't believe it, so Eamon came back out to take a look. There was no lameness on either rein and his shoes had to go back on. I could ride him once the swelling went down at a walk until his hoof wall grew back to normal. A few weeks later, we had an enormous swelling on his knees again. Eamon decided that we should inject his knees with a steroid and Sodium Hyaluronate that would help the joints to heal. Yet again, I was crossing fingers and hoping things would work out. This was really the last chance saloon for Enif. Eamon had told me that if this didn't work we would have to have a Very Serious Chat.
Amazingly I could get back on and ride after a week. During that week I had ended up having chats with my friends about what to do with Enif. The consensus was to 'make it or break it'. I always had to be very careful riding Enif, he had a tendency to trip, a lot. It could happen coming in from the field, in the school or out hacking. He occasionally would fall onto his face regardless of whether he was being ridden or not though curiously he never fell over out hacking.
At the beginning of May 2015 I had my first lesson in the school and by the end of May, we thought we should have a crack at our first dressage test riding Intro A.
Dressage Anywhere was the obvious choice, we could do it at home where we were both at our most comfortable and we could redo it as many times as we needed! We ended up only videoing twice and uploaded it to the website. I've used Dressage Anywhere in the past with my previous horse and another horse I was kindly allowed to have lessons on whilst Sara was schooling Enif for me. This test however was so different, the waiting for a score was agonizing! I was terrified the judge would think he looked lame, that his balance was off or worst of all that he simply wouldn't be able to do any dressage at all. We got an amazing score of 63.48%. I was astounded and utterly, utterly relieved! Our comments were fair and useful but the best bit of all was the final comment: 'A willing horse with a lot of potential.' There it was in black and white, we were going to be just fine! We entered the Intro B the next month and got a score of 62.61% and that was the encouragement I needed to get Enif to a venue and so we entered our first event. We got a respectable 56.5%, which for Enif's first time in an indoor school and seeing a judge (of which he was absolutely not keen on at all!) was amazing! Our second time out we got an even better score of 66.7%. The icing on the cake so far this year was getting a personal best with our July Dressage Anywhere entry of 69.7%!
Without Dressage Anywhere I would never have had the confidence to get that first all-important test done and dusted. I simply would have been too worried that the judge would only see his 'Black Beauty' knees and dismiss us straight away. I am so proud of my little Spaniard; he is everything I have ever wanted in a horse, fun, clever and brave.
I discovered I was pregnant with my second child in September 2015 and rode a bit but found it very uncomfortable and I was wary of his tripping and me falling off. My friend rode him for me but in March 2017 he fell over in the school with her. Luckily neither were seriously hurt but Enif was lame for the first time and so we called Eamon.
It was the worst possible news. He was in real pain and very uncomfortable due to arthritic changes in his knees and so we decided that he should be put to sleep. I had always known this time would come, but I really wished I could have had just one more summer with him, but it was not to be. He was put to sleep on 20 April 2016 by Eamon and surrounded by me, George, Head Groom Kate and my friend Jo.