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March-April 2015

Cassie’s Column

I had originally written this instalment, but after a busy few weeks had completely forgotten to send it to Horsehage ‘HQ’, so as I went to send it today, I realised that so much had changed I needed to do it again!


I am currently in my Easter holidays as I write this, where the main aim is to finish my research project, write a very long essay on insect behaviour and revise for two exams as well as working and riding. The research project is going well and I am not far from the finish line now. I have been looking at shoaling behaviours in zebrafish in order to try and improve welfare for those kept in captivity for either research or as pets. Not many people know this, but zebrafish are very closely related to humans, sharing a lot of similarities in their genetic makeup (around 70%!) making them a key part in science. As they are transparent fish they can be studied without the need to even be touched. I have been left in charge of 70 zebrafish in the University Aquarium, and as much as I find it odd to say, I have become quite fond of them! To the point I called into our local pet store and treated them to some fish tank goodies!

Zebra fish

The next exciting thing to report before I even mention the horses, is that we have a new puppy called Bart! Bart is a Beagle and came from a rescue kennels. He is going to be joining Simon out on calls and also providing a bit of security (hopefully!) at home and on the yard. So far he has settled in well and had his first outing to some horse trials as a vet’s assistant.

Bart the Beagle


Poppy somehow managed to aggravate an old knee injury and so is currently having a little bit of time off which she seems ok with. Simon plans to re-scan her knee next week. It’s nothing serious and should just heal with rest and anti-inflammatories (bute).


Patch waiting to do his dressage

Patch has also been in the wars – I am starting to think there is a conspiracy going on here! He has had some bruising in his hoof that I think was caused by rocky ground. Our farrier was very quick to get on the case, changing his shoe slightly and applying a gel pad to protect his sole. So far so good and he is back in work! It did mean that we had to miss our first event of the season at Stafford, however the ground would not have suited him due to an old ligament injury so maybe things really do just happen for a reason!


Rupert show jumping

Rupert stood in for Patch at Stafford horse trials. He really does not want to be an event horse, he is far too precious and wussy! I am blaming all the pampering and attention he gets from his showing – it’s made him hate mud so let’s just say we didn’t do very well! I took him back to see Geoff Billington who had us back on track in no time. Geoff rode Rupert again and I got the chance to see from the ground how much Rupert really does love to show-jump. In the jumping arena, no matter how spooky it is, he is brave, and has so much scope. We jumped gates and skinnies with Geoff effortlessly.  This in mind we show- jumped over the weekend and Rupert came 3rd in a 90cm class. I am now going to listen to my head and only show- jump him for the time being. After my lesson I was also fortunate to watch some old DVDs of Geoff competing, it was very inspiring and I feel very lucky!


So that’s my news in nutshell. I always say this, but all three horses are looking fantastic at the moment. Rupert and Patch are still getting Mollichaff Alfalfa Oil and Poppy is on Mollichaff Showshine. I have noticed for the last few years how easily they lose their winter coats since being on this feed. Underneath is also always so shiny! Their temperaments also remain consistent throughout the seasons even when Patch and Poppy have been off injured, I have hardly had to change their feed at all which makes it really easy, especially with them both being Thoroughbreds.

Next time I write I will be just a few weeks away from finishing uni… I can’t believe it’s nearly here.

All the best,