Lauren Dallison - April Blog
April has been yet another crazily busy month, as most of it was spent during the Easter holidays. I managed to fit in GCSE revision, as well as riding Donald, and another horse for a friend on the odd occasion- it was pretty hectic at times to say the least! Competition wise, April has been a very quiet month, with Larkhill taking place at the start, but due to exams, Donald will now be taking a well-deserved break (however, not the type of break we had originally planned… More on that later.) We had a lesson with Maggie Doel before Larkhill for a flatwork tune up, and she was very pleased at how far he has come on in such a short space of time. At Larkhill, Donald was an absolute star: He produced what we felt was another Impressive dressage test, but much to our disappointment it was marked at a disappointing 36.8. Anyway, moving onto Showjumping, Donald had never felt better in this phase, giving everything at least 3ft of air! To be honest, I had no idea how to ride him when he jumped like this. We picked up a frustrating 12 faults, none of which I can blame on Donald as he was mega. He felt so confident the whole way around, which was brilliant and a great confidence builder. Onto cross country, which yet again he didn’t fail to disappoint- he ran clear inside the time (I finally let the handbrake off….!) and he made it feel easy, including flying over all of the technical questions around a beefy course, without a second glance.
We had a lesson with Tom Searle later that week, to try and figure out why we were picking up so many poles show jumping, and found out I simply wasn’t doing enough to help him, considering he is such a big, long horse. After working on getting Donald in front of my leg, and me maintaining a much more upright position, he seemed to be flying. Unfortunately, something didn’t feel quite right when cooling him down. We noticed a few days after he was short behind, so he had a quiet few days hacking before taking him to Tex, our magical osteopath. Tex found he was locked up in his SI Joint, and around his withers. He released the everything, and gave us the all clear for BE Training with Darrel Scaife later on that day. Donald was fab in the flatwork session, as we worked on keeping him off the forehand and pushing from behind, by doing very quick transitions, and leg yields. However, in the jumping, something still wasn’t right as he felt incredibly weak, as though he had lost his confidence completely- finding even a 90cm course difficult.
We called B&W straight away, and Emma came to see Donald as soon as possible. Though his lameness was pretty much gone, she noticed a very minor stiffness when lunged on a circle, and referred us to the lameness specialist- Elise. A couple of days ago, we took Donald over to Willesley for a full workup, with multiple nerve blocks, X-Rays and Scans. There was a slight improvement after blocking his stifle- not the result we wanted, but both the X-Ray and Scans were normal, and we couldn’t find anything obvious. After talking to the surgeons, we are going to give him two weeks of rest to see if it is purely bruising, before re-analysing and taking more scans, and potentially a follow-up exploratory surgery to see what’s going on. At B&W everything was so well organised, and I can’t thank Elise, and the rest of the team at Willesley for being so efficient, professional, and determined to find out the problem. I’m daunted by the thought of surgery, but I feel very confident and safe that the surgeons and vets at B&W will do a great job. It was a bitter-sweet result, however it provided us, and Abi a perfect opportunity for some photos to be taken of the procedures we went through while Donald was being examined. Despite Donald’s rest not being quite the what we had originally planned, we will keep our fingers crossed going into May, and I look forward to going to Badminton, and spending some time with the team and ambassadors at the B&W Stand, right by the lake, hopefully we won’t see too many dunkings... So not the best of months despite a promising start. Horses are horses, and we are all hoping that Donald has just tweaked something having had far too much fun partying in the field, and will be feeling better soon! But for now, Donald will be in his small paddock (fun police, I know!) and I will be revising, before a busy couple of months with exams, before the hopefully getting back out onto the circuit over the summer.