The count down has begun!

On Sunday Jenny and I, bum bag at the ready and selfie sticks by our sides, went into Sydney to see the Opera House (pictured) and the other typical touristy sights. The city is about an hour and half away from where we are based with traffic, so to have an afternoon out made me feel normal again from quarantine boredom.

Hilly (Fernhill Present) is on good form and getting used to the “Vegemite” grass over here.

I am increasing his lunge work day by day which includes cantering but I am using my instinct really. If I think he’s tired one day I will back off the work or vice versa if he’s fresh I will do a little bit more.

I have to bear in mind we still have another big journey in front of us; Sydney to Adelaide which by

Hilly grazing

Hilly grazing

car is around 14 hours.

You can only control the controllable and for this reason I am having vet Amy Kelly travel down with us. That way if there are any complications we can hopefully deal with them quickly. I dislike wrapping horses up in cotton wool too much. Normally from experience when you do this they somehow tend to injure themselves more. Hilly lives out as much as possible at home and even stays out in the field at night. In preparation for this trip I did have to change his routine somewhat so he was used to being in at night as I knew he would’t be able to be out at night in a field in quarantine or indeed at Adelaide.

I too am taking care of myself. Fully aware of my fitness and not being able to ride for two weeks, Jenny and I are hitting the gym daily at the hotel trying to keep my fitness levels up. I contemplated with the idea of riding at a local riding trekking centre to keep me fit. I then decided this would be a silly idea as I wouldn’t want to break or damage anything! Only control the controllable. So being a gym

Me at the gym

Me at the gym

bunny it is.

Hilly as well as being walked out and lunged is also being treated by Jenny with an electronic pulse generator. The EPG was invented by Sir Charles Strong — specialist physiotherapist to the Royal family. This machine helps the movement of Hilly’s muscles. An EPG machine works by a painless electronic pluse being passed through the muscles causing the muscle to contract. The aim of the treatment is that by using rhythmic muscular contractions this will bring good blood circulation to the muscle. Good blood circulation brings a large supply of oxygen and nutrients to the affected areas and removes waste products.

When muscles are damaged, swelling within the muscle can occur, causing compartment syndrome. If this occurs in an area where the muscle is bound by fascia (a tough fibrous tissue membrane), the pressure inside the muscle compartment can increase to the point at which blood supply to the muscle is compromised and muscle cells begin to die. The EPG machine will help simulate good blood circulation

Jenny at the gym

Jenny at the gym

and simulate good venus and lymphatic return (blood back to heart and lungs).

The EPG is used on all my horses on weekly basis by Jenny and Nikki Wiltshire who is trained in equine sports massage. Roger Stack is the the best horseman I know and he has been using the EPG for over 50 years even though very few of these machines exist. He has achieved remarkable results treating injuries to joints and muscles, pinched nerves, dislocation and muscle atrophy. Both Jenny and Nikki have been trained to use the EPG by Roger. The strength of the current is controlled by the operator while the muscles are contracting. Nikki treats all my horses and she is a vital link for Hilly and all of my horse’s success.

Hilly really enjoys his treatments and Jenny will use the EPG on his shoulders, back and hind quarters. We tend to alternate treatment according to what Hilly is telling us via how his muscles are reacting to the treatment.

Jenny treats Hilly for up to 45 minutes and as his muscles are bouncing away and he’s falling asleep (this is how relaxed they are) my mind begins to wonder.

Can horses think about the future? We know they remember the past and good or bad experiences but can they think beyond day to day routine? Does Hilly think Sydney quarantine is now home? Does Hilly think about our home in Surrey? Does he have the ability to feel homesick? I know I do. I want someone to tell me it will all be ok and it’s worth it. I want Hilly to enjoy what we are doing first and foremost. I want to tell Hilly it will all be ok and it is worth it. I want Hilly to tell me his worries so I can explain what we are doing. Do all equine folk think like this? Maybe I’m going mad. I do worry too much so I’m told, but who else will worry if I don’t?

Jenny using the EPG machine on Hilly

Jenny using the EPG machine on Hilly

I found my first grey hair yesterday. Maybe I should try to worry less. I told Jenny about my new silver fox look and she told me not to pull any grey hairs out to which I ignored her and pulled out about five. I laughed it off but to be honest there were tears in my eyes.

It’s silly really but I think it shows how wound up I am. I just so desperately want Hilly and I arrive at Adelaide fit and well to start the competition. My dream still seems so far away.

Until next time I will be drinking cans of “man up Dunsdon” and I hope to be in happier spirits.

Alice xx