Doncaster mum bouncing back in saddle following blood clot after AstraZeneca jab

Wow, what a crazy few weeks it’s been.

By Anita Marsh
Friday, 23rd April 2021, 1:48 pm
Anita Marsh (left) is recovering after her AstraZeneca jab leaving Sully in the capable hands of Harriette.
Anita Marsh (left) is recovering after her AstraZeneca jab leaving Sully in the capable hands of Harriette.

I’ve just got over pleurisy and then had the AstraZeneca jab, followed by a suspected DVT clot in my leg within seven days.

To top it off I was really ill in bed with side effects from the jab so my poor husband and daughter had to see to the horses.

I didn’t have too much time to dwell on things though, as I’d pre booked my young Appaloosa’s first ridden show in following his backing a year ago.

For his first ridden show I wanted to see my trainer ride him. Harriette Rushton is an excellent rider and started him for me. She runs her own livery yard and spends her time starting young horses, coaching and inbetween competing around Europe and the UK in showjumping. She’s only 22 too - makes me feel ancient.

We met Harriette at the show which was held locally in Crowle at Oakley Equestrian Centre. He’s been there before as a yearling in hand.

I’d washed and prepared Sully for two showing classes. We thought two would be enough for his first time, given the fact that he’s only ever been in an arena with our pony before. We had no idea how he’d behave in the warm up ring or the class itself.

He’s been showing in hand lots as I’ve been taking him out since he was a foal. So the atmosphere and excitement is something he’s pretty used to as well as well as travelling. However ‘ridden’ is something new to him and I wanted him to have confidence and enjoy himself for his first experience. I knew I wasn’t the best person to give him this with my nerves, so Harriette offered.

We met Harriette there along with her lovely mum, Justine, and their friend. We’d arrived early at Oakley in Crowle and the classes were further behind than we thought. He spent about an hour and a half on the trailer happily munching his hay. I was very proud of his relaxed attitude.

We decided to swap classes and bring his Two classes forward, so he didn’t have as long to wait. It worked out much better suited for him too.

Getting him ready off the trailer was all incredibly exciting and he had his ears pricked up, taking everything in. He was no doubt excited at this point. Everything was busy and there were lots to look at.

Harriette took him into the warm up ring and I think for a few minutes he was blown away, but he soon listened in to her and warmed up nicely. I did feel my heart swell seeing him in the warm up with other horses. A proud mummy moment.

When it was time for him to go in we all sat (social distance style for those who weren’t in the same household) in a ‘Team Sully’ front seat row wondering how he would be in the show ring. He just took it all in his stride. Remember he’s not in arenas in livery mixing with other horses, so again, I felt really super proud of him.

Appaloosas tend to be a little like Marmite in a showing environment in that judges either love them or hate them. Given that this wasn’t the British Appaloosa breed show we didn’t mind either way what place (if any) he was given. It was all about him having a positive experience.

Well, it turned out that Sully did really well. His behaviour was outstanding for his age and given it was his first time too. It was more than we could ask of him. When another horse was spooking in front of him in the ring he simply kept calm and carried on.

He was a bit of a fidget bum in the line up, but to be fair some people were doing really long displays for the judge. Harriette just turned him in a small circle to keep him occupied and he was fine.

When it came to his turn he was super and in the Novice Horse he pulled in a fourth place rosette.

In the second class of Open Coloured he was mentally tired but he still cantered round and did his little show, but I could see Harriette having to work him off her leg. Again, he still pulled in at fourth place. I was delighted.

He even did a lap of honour, which is his first time cantering with strange horses. It was so lovely to see. I felt like a proud parent at sports day.

It’s been good to see how he acts at a show, and to learn he’s very much like he is although he starts off excited he soon gets very tired. The two classes were definitely enough for him.

I have weekly lessons with Harriette and her support of us is incredible. She does push me which sometimes results in me swearing at her, but she knows I’m more than capable.

After a couple of falls, I’ve been working on my confidence as Sully but the next thing is to work towards a goal like simple dressage test and our breed show. There’s no rush with him-he’s here for life and we’ve got all the time in the world.

I think it’s very important when you live at home with your horses (especially young ones) to get regular lessons. It gives you time to chat about your horse and how things are going, plus an opportunity to mix things up a bit and progress together.

In livery you often have the support of others there and it can be really encouraging. When I bought April, my other horse, she was only 5 years old and I spent the first 6 months in livery. It was brilliant for us both. There was a fabulous Olympic arena and the yard owner was a brilliant instructor who helped me a lot with her before I took her home.

I’ve always said that keeping horses at home, is wonderful, but the flip side is it can be a little bit lonely. I’m lucky now that my daughter rides and hack together. We have some really precious mother/daughter time together but lessons are still an important part of progression.

Thanks Harriette for all that you do. You’ve no idea how you’re changing my life and my relationship with my Appaloosa.