Joanna Thurman-Baker’s dressage blog: a whirlwind of stress and acrobatics

Hello all and welcome back!

Firstly, I was literally blown away by the response to my young horse blog. I’m so overjoyed that so many have the same thoughts as my family and I. Before putting it out there I felt we were the only ones who think this way, but now I feel like we’ve all banded together to form a supportive community. So thank you!

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of stress. Upon having a dental check up, we discovered that new boy Simba had a fractured tooth. He showed absolutely no signs of this and because it was a back molar it went unnoticed in his vetting. I can’t quite believe that he was still so happy to work and eat, but unfortunately horses are hardwired to hide their pain.

Simba undergoing surgery

The severity of it meant he had to have it out — I was horrified when we saw just how bad it was on the camera. Pete Ravenhill came in to our home vets, Scott Dunns, to perform the surgery. I felt so sorry for poor Simba, who underwent a total of five hours standing surgery. In the end, Pete had been through plans A, B and C and a fragment of root remains in place. The decision was made to leave it and reassess in four weeks time. He had to drill through the side of his cheek, so my poor pony came back with half a tooth less but gaining in some funky facial staples! In true fashion of my run of terrible luck, the exterior staple wound then become infected. Luckily with the good weather he could go out in the field to relax again, as working him became impossible with the staples positioned exactly where a bridle and even headcollar would sit. Overall it’s been a bit of a nightmare, but I’m very thankful to the wonderful vets and nurses who worked with Simba, making sure he felt as comfortable as possible during the process. It felt evil to put him through it, but of course he will feel so much better soon. It is yet another hurdle to jump and I’ve now learnt a lot more about equine dentistry!

Simba’s face

With the spring weather getting the best of the horses, I’ve had a few near misses in flying lessons! The youngsters in particular have been throwing more shapes than a goal keeper at the World Cup final, which is all fun and games until I get stiff and sore. Thankfully, my fantastic cousin and Pilates instructor Lauren, (who also jumps the horses for us) has been giving me super exercises to loosen and strengthen back up. She fits me back together like a broken jigsaw puzzle through a mixture of stretches and high intensity core work. With my labral hip tear, I’m aware that I’m not 100% straight and I involuntarily compensate it to avoid further damage. But Pilates is improving it hugely — I would really recommend it to anyone.

Horses enjoying the spring weather

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With the premier league season underway, Apollo and I are shaping back up into gear and had a super lesson with Carl. It’s pretty amazing how you feel you’ve cracked this whole dressage thing when you reach grand prix, but I now understand when people say there is just as much left to train.

With Apollo

I’ve got an exciting few weeks coming up including warming up my clients Juliette and Prince at their first CDI at Keysoe and then I’m off to Joosland CDI with Apollo in April. It will be a bit of a test drive with it being the first CDI after Brexit, which is quite nerve-wracking — as long as we make it there and back again I think I’ll be happy!

Until next time,

Joanna x

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