Well as this is my first blog post on this site I think it is only fair to start with an introduction.
My names Jo Elliott, I’m 26 years old and I am very lucky to live in a very beautiful part of the Gloucestershire Countryside. I have been around, ridden and owned horses my whole life. Over the years I have worked with many horses ranging from happy hackers through to Grand Prix Dressage horses (this is where my love for dressage stemed from). I also spent several years working on a Thoroughbred Stud breeding mostly flat race horses for Qatar Bloodstock. This is where my love for Thoroughbred’s grew, I learnt how versatile they can be and how they just love to have a job. They may not be easiest to re- train but they always want to learn, they may not always understand but they always try. Admittedly some harder than others but broadly speaking 90% of TB’s I’ve worked with just want to give you their all. Most of which are also able to turn their hoof to just about any discipline after racing.
So then this brings me to Frankie…
The 1st July 2015; Two years ago I purchased my horse Frankie (Franchesca’s Gold), a beautiful 9 year old Thoroughbred mare off the track. She is a very sweet and affectionate little horse but also has a naturally sharp, hot nature. We have had a complete rollercoaster journey throughout the last 2 years and we really haven’t had a very easy time of it.
It’s a long story, just bear with me!..
The day after Frankie arrived, I tacked up and off we went for a hack on our own. She stood perfectly to be mounted from the block, she walked quietly around the bridlepaths on the buckle end of the reins admiring her new surroundings, very chilled. All was going well!… too well!! Cue half way around the hack me totally relaxing, admiring the countrywide as you do, thinking about the beautiful weather and what I was going to do with myself that afternoon. When bam! Frankie decided it was time for a canter! It was a beautiful one, a very powerful working canter with her working into the bridle – just like she would of done in training. It wasn’t what I asked for but it felt good and we were in a safe place so I let her run with the idea and pulled her up easily after a good canter. She jogged all the way back home, during this time I came to the decision that it was only fair to her if I gave her some time out in the field to have a little break before starting our new life and career together.
The plan was to give her 2 months holiday in the field until end of September and then bring her back into work before the winter.
BUT, those of us with horses know that plans never go ‘to plan’ and that was definitely the case this time! After a month out in the field Frankie had a freak accident and managed to get caught up in fencing resulting in her slicing through her tendon sheath just under her fetlock aswell as sustaining numerous other cuts and swellings over her body. It was so important that she didn’t get an infection into the open wound around her tendon sheath – if she did it would of resulted in her being PTS. Thank fully I have the most fantastic vet that was on site straight away to flush the wound, clean her and bandage her up. Sending off bloods to make sure no infection was present – it was a long painful 12 hour wait on a Sunday (yes they ran her bloods on a Sunday! Fantastic vets!!) to find out if she was going to be okay. 7.30pm Sunday night and I get a phone call to say the bloods are clear! 🎉 I was over the moon! Frankie had 10 weeks box rest, IV fluids and pain relief delivered daily and a clean bandage change from our wonderful vet. Everything went well and the cuts were healing really well. The last few weeks of box rest Frankie had issues with both of her stifles locking, resulting in her falling over in the stable whilst trying to take a step forward. It was one of the most horrible things I have ever had to watch. It was absolutely heartbreaking to see my girl struggling. The vet agreed she could do postage stamp paddock rest to finish off her box rest period and we could gradullay increase the size of paddock slowly but bring her in on wet, muddy days (we were well into the middle of winter by this point and we have clay fields). It took us until May 2016 before she was deemed fit to start work again, she required a lot of lunge work to help rebuild the muscle she had lost and a lot of raised poles to help stop her stifles from locking.
End of June 2016 – 10 months later! We were back on board! I cried my eyes out! It was one of the hardest and longest 10 months of my life!
We used what was left of summer 16 to crack on with lessons and start some sort of new career. It all started so well, she was lovely to ride, willing to learn and most importantly she showed no signs of lameness on her injured leg… or any other for that matter!! Come September, we were having one of our weekly lessons when she kept trying to bronc me off.. very out of character. Changed the rein to the right rein – no broncs. Changed back to the left – broncs again. Not something she had done before, so we called it quits on the lesson. We were lucky as there was a sports therapist/ McTimmony on the yard at the time, they had seen her reaction under Saddle and gave her a check up. Hour later, it turned out Frankie had quite a considerable swelling all around her left cheek bone under/ around the nose band (she is ridden in a simple loose cavesson noseband and loose ring snaffle). I monitored this swelling for a few weeks and it went down quite quickly but if you applied any pressure to this part of her face she reacted badly. So I called out the vet. Turns out Frankie has issues with the nerves on the left side of her face (possibly caused by the use of a chain over her nose – I guess from her racing days as she is/ can be a complete handful on the ground!). She had another couple of months off in the field as I don’t have an arena and we were sadly back into winter so it was difficult to get her out enough to be able to bring her back into work. During this time I purchased a rather expensive anatomical cavesson bridle for her to relieve the pressure off her face (this has been a godsend and made a massive difference!).
I told you this was a long story.. I hope you’re hanging on in there with me – I promise I’m nearly done!
February 2017 she came back into work again. I have some amazing friends that have always jumped back on her and ridden her first for me. Problem is – I’ve now lost my confidence massively! Not on any other horse.. annoyingly just on her. 😩
In 2013 I broke my back because a horse at work reared and came down on top of me on concrete. Frankie has an awful habit of rearing and striking her front feet when on the ground. All this time that she has had off work has meant my brain has been on complete overthinking over drive! I have envisioned all of the worst case scenerios I possibly could of! I have convinced myself of things that will probably never even happen! I’ve petrified myself from getting back on when poor Frankie has never given me any reason under Saddle to doubt her. 😩 I’m very, very annoyed with myself for allowing this to happen 😭
For the last few months I have been having schoolmaster lessons to improve my confidence.. but I get there and get on and have no confidence issues that need to be fixed 😤 the issues I have are in my head.. regarding my own horse.. stemed only from my negative thinking and convincing myself of all the horrible things that could potentially happen but probably never will! 🙄
So this brings me to now!
July 2017; Frankie has been back in work since Feb. I have literally sat on her once, in walk for about 5 minutes. Before I got on I felt physically sick and the colour literally drained from me! Although I felt safe when I was on. My amazing friends have done a fab job of riding her once a week and I lunge her with a Pessoa once/ twice a week which has kept her ticking over nicely and in fab condition.
Anyway, I’ve decided the time is right for me now to get some help. Some proper help! I need get over this once and for all and sort my issues out or at least learn to look my fears head on and find away around them! It was time to book a riding lesson with the wonderfully amazing Olivia Towers. Olivia is an International Dressage rider that has ridden to Grand Prix level who also specialises in riding mindset, positivity and equine sports psychology – I know amazing right!
Olivia has been training my sister and I just love her alround approach to teaching with the added concept of mindset coaching. Olivia generally just wants to help you succeed in all sapphires. So who better to help me with my issues than Olivia?!
So I go to book my lesson and suggest some dates that I’m free. The first dates I gave to Olivia are for the weekend of the 29th/ 30th July. Turns out Olivia is unable to do those dates as she is holding a 2 day riding confidence building camp that weekend with one to one coaching through mindset, fears and Frustrations and goal setting. Olivia suggested I should take the last space in her camp and convinced me it will be just what I need. Which I agree it is! Albeit the thought of it right now makes me physically sick! I have a 100 what ifs running though my head about how this weekend could potentially go!
So, with a little persuasion; okay maybe quite a lot! This was a lot bigger step than I thought it was going to be for my first! BUT… I have agreed to go! I leave in 10 days time… so the camp is the weekend of the 29th and 30th July. I will fill you all in with how it goes and if Olivia is able to work her magic on my negative nancy mindset. I have faith.. if anybody can sort this it is Olivia!!
To close I will finish with her words… “Just chill, WE HAVE GOT THIS!”