Hello! It’s been a while hasn’t it?! The reason I haven’t blogged much is that I had an operation on my abdomen at the end of April, which ended up being a bigger op than expected and Gracie has been turned away since the beginning of April. So there was not a lot to write about.

I did want to write a post on my experience of turning Gracie away. As I really didn’t want to do it. It actually worked out perfectly as I couldn’t even go down to see her for 3 weeks after my op as I could barely walk and then I couldn’t drive until 6 weeks after so she had to have a little break anyway.

What is ‘Turning Away’?

Turning away normally happens just after you have backed your young horse and have started riding it. In the UK it’s normally when the horse is 3-4 years old and normally done over the winter months. The reason many people turn away their horses is so they can develop physically and mentally in preparation for their ridden lives.

Why did I decide to turn Gracie away?

Gracie’s osteo actually suggested that she should be turned away for 3-6 months when she saw her in April. She basically said that Gracie needed time to be able to grow. As her body was struggling with the physical demands that I was asking of her. Even in the short time I was riding Gracie & I was only riding max 4 times a week 30 mins each time. That frightened me as I didn’t think I was asking very much of her.

My concerns about turning Gracie away

To be honest with you I was gutted when the osteo told me this would be the best treatment for Gracie. I wanted to continue riding but of course I would do what is best for Gracie.

I was concerned that:

  • Gracie would get bored out in the field
  • We wouldn’t enjoy in hand work
  • Gracie would forget everything that she had been taught
  • I wouldn’t see any real results and feel like it would be a waste of time.
  • I felt like we were behind already as Gracie is actually 5 years old now.

What actually happened after 3 months off

Well if I could eat my words I would have!! For me the experience was well worth the time out of the saddle. I saw massive changes in Gracie physically and mentally she is very keen to work now. The bits that weren’t as good were issues that were addressed and perhaps wouldn’t have been if not for this.

After I saw Gracie for the first time after my operation. It had been nearly 4 weeks that I hadn’t been able to go see her. When I saw her I couldn’t believe my eyes! She had grown sooo much!! She looks like an adult horse now instead of a big baby horse like before. She is taller and stronger.

She did not forget anything! Of course she didn’t forget what a saddle was. I lunged her twice before I hopped back in the saddle with no problems at all. I even rode her in a halter for the first time less than 2 weeks after I started riding her again!!!!

In regards to being bored in the field to be truthful we have had some problems with her pulling her shoes off in the fencing. But we are not sure if she is trying to escape or just playing with the fence due to boredom. It seems better now she is being ridden again and has been given hay in her field and a few toys to play with!

I was kind of right about the in hand work. In hand hacking was suggested by many. That I found incredibly difficult with Gracie as she would often pull or push me around. She even knocked me completely off my feet once. So after my operation it was many weeks before I was strong enough to risk handling her. However this did encourage me to do a natural horsemanship clinic with her, which has since improved things a lot and was a brilliant experience for us both.

I would recommend turning away to other young horse owners. At first I thought it was maybe an old fashioned tradition that all my english friends did as that’s what people do with young horses! However, for me and Gracie it gave us better results than I hoped for.

What now?

So now I am back in the saddle I am doing light hacking or very short arena sessions with Gracie a few times a week. Gracie will have most of August off again as I am away and she will see the osteo for a follow up appointment at the end of August. I am hoping that she will say that she has matured a lot since her last visit and I can carefully up her workload. But we will see. It may well be that we should continue hacking to build her up some more. Whatever she says I will do what is best for Gracie as if she is happy so am I!

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