Joanna Thurman-Baker’s dressage blog: scans, extreme weather and two very cute new recruits

  • Welcome readers to my second blog. I hope you enjoyed the first, so grab a cuppa and settle down the for the next instalment of my life.

    Following my beloved dog passing away on New Year’s Eve, I was absolutely desperate to get another to keep me company. My sister’s dog was getting increasingly lonely, so we set about finding a puppy to join the family.

    I would have loved to have a rescue dog, but many couldn’t come for months, or couldn’t go to a home with another dog. Thanks to the powers of a Facebook post, we had recommended litters within 24 hours of putting out a plea for Jack Russell pups. There was one boy Jack Russell x Shih Tzu puppy that we loved up in Yorkshire. But there was also a scruffy pure Jack Russell from the Forest of Dean that we loved as well. Obviously we made the natural choice and got both! So a big welcome to Sprout and Tommy. They are only a day apart in age and are already best friends.

    We’ve had them two weeks now, and they’ve already got me wrapped round their little toes! I’ll admit I wasn’t fully prepared for how early they wake up and how late they go to sleep. They are complete time wasters but I love them so much, poos and all! This year we will be training them up to be proper lorry dogs and I will update you all on the puppy training process.

    My gorgeous puppies

    As any horse rider will know, we all suffer form some kind of pain throughout the day, whether it be from previous falls or repetitive strain from mucking out. For the past few years, I have had constant pain in my right hip. It will actually click in and out of the socket throughout the day.

    With the help of the fantastic World Class physio and doctor, I was sent off for an MRI scan to see what the problem was. For anyone who doesn’t know, MRIs are absolutely horrible. Being caged in to a giant machine that looks like a space ship and needing to lie still for 20 minutes while the spaceship around you sounds like it’s ready for take off.

    Normally I hate small spaces, but I have been working on the Chimp Paradox with the World Class psychologist Leonie Lightfoot for the past year. It works on the basis that you have a chimp part of your brain that is your natural survival instinct. I told myself that even though my chimp thought I was about to die, I wasn’t actually going to.

    I got through the MRI and the result showed that I have a tear in the labral muscle within my hip. I don’t particularly remember falling off and complaining of hip pain, so it was most likely something I was born with through hip dysphasia. This can’t be fixed without surgery, but I want to explore other options first. Now that I have physio twice weekly with Caryl Becker from Bisham Abbey, we are hoping the muscles surrounding the tear can strengthen to protect it. This should mean I will be straight going down the centre line! I’m so thankful for the World Class team for organising this for me, as without them the tear would have gone undetected.

    The unhelpful weather

    Some days, the weather is just too foul to ride the horses. They stand at the back of the stable and look at me like ‘please don’t make me go out there.’ To battle this, we have been taking some of the horses down to New Hatches rehab centre to go on the water treadmill. I’d always been sceptical about how they would improve the horses, but after 10 sessions Apollo is looking in the best condition of his life. The team at New Hatches are fantastic and the treadmill has the added benefit of being salt water. Plus Apollo loves his weekly splash!

    Continued below…

    While we did get a few rare days of glorious January sunshine, last weekend we had the worst day weather wise that we’ve had for years. It snowed in the morning, but snowed on top of ice so the yard was an ice rink. Then it rained all afternoon and by rain, I mean it was pretty much a tsunami. The snow was washed away, a river ran down the yard and the arena was a swimming pool. On days like that, when you can’t even get the lorry out, you just have the admit defeat. Sometimes having a duvet day is better for the horses then attempting to work.


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