By Beth Eckley.
I’ll start off by introducing myself and my horse, Quickbeam aka Beamish.
Beamish is an 11 yo ex racehorse who I have owned for 2 years, and we are attempting to embark on our 1st season eventing together.
Unlike some people who acquire ex-racers I was lucky enough to have known Beamish in his previous life – in fact I had looked after him since 2007, took him racing 28/30 times and rode him nearly everyday since 2009, so the retraining had been quietly underway for a few years now. Whilst still in training he would work nicely on the bit in walk, trot and canter and was a pleasure to ride.
Of course like most ex-racers he does have his quirks and ongoing problems that you have to deal with on a daily basis – The top 3:
No 1 – He is scared of doorways! This has been a problem ever since he came from Ireland as a 4yo and has remained a problem. You can pull, push, reverse or bribe but if he doesn’t want to go in he won’t – my longest time was over an hour and I gave up!!
No 2 – He likes to put his back down, yes down! – Again he’s done this for most of his life, although it does happen a lot less now. I got very good at jumping on and getting my feet straight into the stirrups when he was at work as you couldn’t sit on his back for the first few minutes of exercise. Now he just throws it in when he feels like it.
No 3 – He knocks his hind coronet bands so I look rather silly putting fluffy over reach boots behind and all times, the other solution is bandaging him behind but with full size fibergees, again I get funny looks and get asked if I’ve forgotten to take my travel bandages off!
And myself – I have produced and evented a variety of horses up to Intermediate since I was 16 and finally won my 1st event last year on a horse owned by my trainer.
In the last few weeks we have progressed from flat work to jumping – all very exciting in Beamish’s eyes, cue a lot of bucking and jumping around and generally not concentrating on me, something we will have to work on!
For the first few times at home we have just stuck to trotting in to fences and if he cantered I let him, just to keep things as simple as I could. This is where I realised how he managed to fall so many times when in racing – he just takes off from anywhere. So my solution for him has been to have as short and as bouncy a canter as we can manage and try to get him as close to the fence as possible which has been proving to be quite successful.
After jumping him at home we headed out for our first very low key XC schooling session with our Nanny – Song who was my Intermediate horse. We started off over some very small fences so even if he stopped and looked they were small enough to walk over and keep him going forward.
The first things we tackled were some logs as we have one on a hack so I was going for something familiar to him and then on to things like dog kennels, roll tops and even a mini castle! After this went so well I thought I would jump some of the 2ft 3 course with a lead and to my surprise he took it all in his stride, at this point I was in shock and very happy with him as he can be a bit of a wimp! We carried on and he just kept jumping including a ditch palisade, skinnies & water. He did have a good look at the ditch but again we just stopped, looked, waited and had Song keep walking calmly walking over it and once he had proceed what he had to do and he happily popped over it and then without thinking popped over the log afterwards! To say I am happy with this session was an understatement – next week we will be heading to do some SJ schooling and our 1st dressage lesson of the year!