Coming up with a plan
His owner wasn’t in the position to take him back with limited grazing and another horse, but she wanted the best for him and his future, so I came up with a plan to work on him to get him ready for sale to a nice new home where he would be loved and cared for and have a bit of fun. Our plan included regular ET, groundwork and riding without stress and to encourage new habits in his neck carriage and posture, as well as grazing him on a hill so he had to develop a stronger hind end. I didn’t have time to do all this myself so a very good friend would ride him three times a week, and I would do the groundwork, ET and trimming and his daily care. He wasn’t going back!!!
We did arena work to start with, lots of relaxing work encouraging his head into a better carriage (but had the problem of one extreme or the other – high or behind the vertical). Elion always tried hard and seemed to enjoy his riding sessions. And he loved his ET sessions. They were regular every week for the first month or so concentrating on his neck area and then I started lengthening the times between. I felt a bit mean as my boys always have a weekly session and their backs done every time they are ridden (and as often when not ridden too) but his neck was improving, and I didn’t want him getting used to ET all the time and then having it taken away when he was sold. The dentist found him very unlevel on one side. After the dentist he was much happier in his contact. As time progressed Elion became more confident in his new surroundings, loves to roll, and loves his cuddles. He was fine when I took my boys out on a hack and left him on his own, and then as we progressed with his riding, he came out on hacks with them, and down to the beach as well.
I set up three small jumps (45 cm) in the arena to see what he thought – well he thought that was a cool game! He was a bit rusty on striding but on the lunge he consistently aimed for the centre of every jump and had a lovely rhythmic pace between them, so it was time to see what he could do with real jumps. Easy!!! The first session we took it slowly, but it wasn’t long before he was happily jumping 80 cm jumps and then 1.05m. He has looked at a few but never had any thoughts about not going over. What a cool dude! So now we have a classy horse who has a big fan club. He moves really well, uses his hindquarters rather than his shoulders to propel himself, no longer has any sign of the leg flick (that we assumed came from the tendon wound) or the double action in his elbow? He is vastly improved through his neck and poll, and now has two fingers in the wing of atlas. He will probably always need some bodywork to keep his neck in shape, but he is in a lot better shape than a lot of horses thanks to ET as well as sorting his teeth, feet and exercise programme.
Elion was sold to a lovely new home and his new owner is a quiet rider with good hands and has regular lessons and wants to learn. She will do some low-level dressage and show-hunter with him, and he will have the company of her semi-retired older horse on their beautiful property.