The Ups and Downs of Horses with Hannah Bown

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Gosh, it seems a long time since I have written a proper blog for British Horse Feeds. I am incredibly grateful for their on-going support; my horses always look a million dollars and their muscle development is second to none with the combination of Fibre-Beet and Cooked Linseed.
2021 certainly hasn’t panned out as I had anticipated back in January!
First of all COVID reared its ugly head again which sent us all back into a post-Christmas lockdown. Such a pity as the majority of us had just got our horses back to full fitness after the ups and downs of 2020 and we were ready to get back out competing and aiming for the BD Winter Regionals. Alas that wasn’t to be (I was secretly a little grateful to not have the added pressure prepping for big competitions as working for the NHS was even tougher than normal) so when possible we knuckled down and focussed on our training. Stanley continued to give his all and before I knew it we were teaching him the Grand Prix moves and even riding some one time changes – they were a little green and only came in rows of four but anyone who has trained their own horse through the levels will understand just how exciting it is when they learn something new even if it’s not quite perfect!
By the time the world opened back up in April we were ready and raring to go. Those of you who have followed Stanley’s rocky journey to the top will know that he has been plagued by infections in his mandible (jaw bone) this has often halted our journey overnight and his future has been in the balance a few times due to lack of response to antibiotics. I therefore decided that there was no time like the present and our first Inter1 test was entered (can you believe that small weedy black pony British Horse Feeds saw and believed in five years ago had got that far – I can’t!). 
Unfortunately this is where Stanley’s journey once again ground to a halt. I am a firm believer that all horses should be turned out on the grass to enjoy their lives and have time to themselves to relax but unfortunately this does bring its own risks; he went out in the morning fine and came in on three legs… Gutted.
I have been very fortunate that the incredible team at Liphook Equine Hospital once again took charge of his care – a distal medial suspensory branch injury was identified and here started an intense routine of round the clock care to give it the best chance of healing. Unfortunately we are now six months down the line and his prognosis is not looking as we had hoped; my dear, generous, willing little horse is unlikely to ever dance again and that has been very difficult to accept.
I will however be forever grateful for the memories we have made together; he has made dreams I didn’t know I had come true and been not only been the best dancing partner but the best friend through some really challenging times.
As one door closes another tends to open and many of you may have seen a small brown pony has wiggled his way into our lives. We always knew that when Stanley’s dancing journey came to an end (presumably through facegate and not this!) our lives were going to have to look pretty different. Whilst I wouldn’t change Stanley for anything in the world, his complex health conditions have meant that my savings have taken a bit of a hit in order to keep him happy and on the road. Alongside that, having a full time horse, a full time job and a full time life can be really difficult to juggle at times and I decided that at this stage in my life buying another ‘Dressage horse’ is not the route I am ready to take.

I am incredibly grateful to a good friend who saw our predicament and told me that she had a lovely native pony who would love to do more than be furloughed in his field. It took some persuading but gosh he has made my heart smile again and given me the opportunity to start a new and different journey. I have no expectations of Rodney, very few plans, but lots of fun planned for the little chap and to see where dreaming big takes us this time!