Mr O went down to dish out breakfast to the horses, "Morning Barnaby,"
It turned out it wasn't foggy, windy, raining, icy or snowing, so I got up quickly and went out to groom Max. He was less than thrilled with the prospect, but I feel as if it's ages since I last rode. Missis rode her horse yesterday and when she came back he was sweating like a trooper and she said he didn't seem very fit. I was expecting something similar from Max, but as I was riding I could feel a little volcano inside him, waiting to erupt. The trouble with living on a hill is that everywhere you ride away from home is downhill, and trying to keep a lively horse under control for that first stretch is hard work. I guess Max was fairly relaxed as he hasn't been out with another horse for weeks, and prefers company.
We went all the way down Press Lane, and trotted along very nicely. I had asked Mr O to keep control of Barnaby, which he did so well that Max started to overtake him. I said, "Be warned, as we turn the corner and come up the hill, Max will have a little canter. It's nothing to worry about, and I'll have him under control after a few strides." Sure enough, we turned right and Max shot off up the hill. The trouble is, he loves hard ground and has always done this to me. I've got used to it over the years, but the first time he did it, it really put the wind up me. I got him back, and they trotted boldy up the steep hill. We were stopped suddenly by a woman in her gateway who said, "I heard horses, so I came out to have a look. I'm socialising him." and pointed to a tiny, black labrador puppy zipped into the front of her jacket. Under normal circumstances I would have been off Max, cradling puppy and inviting myself in for a coffee, but the boys were on a roll, and we couldn't really stop. I must stroll past some time and introduce myself, as I know they're new in the neighbourhood.
We continued on up the hill at a decent trot. I thought I'd be nice and give Max a bit of head where it's steep. He just said, "Thankyou very much!" and went straight back into canter. I hauled him back in. So much for being generous. We then turned left to go up Tinkley Lane. There is a small but significant bridleway at the end of this narrow road. Barnaby went into flat out gallop up it, and Max seemed to lift up in the air, throw himself forward, and was off like a rocket. It was fantastic. I can't wait to go to Osberton on Friday.
Max hasn't lost any of his fitness, energy or stamina, and I am frankly surprised. I'll just have to stick to my plan, even if it means I ride on days when I've got six stables to do, as he needs the work and loves to be out and about.
When we got back I jumped in the shower, got changed and we set off for church. I am so grateful for this amazing place. We only started going there in May, and we absolutely loved it the minute we walked in the door. Today was the family Christmas service. The little ones did a nativity. It was so sweet. Considering none of the children in it are either my own children or grandchildren, I didn't expect to be affected by it, but it brought a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat. It brings it all down to the simplest level, doesn't it? And yet it was so powerful, too. So I have at least sung Silent Night and O Come All Ye Faithful so far this year, but there is a carol service next Sunday evening, so we'll try to go.
When we got back, Mr O went out on Zak, while I mucked Max out. He came back totally sweated up, but had done a long ride. His tendon seems to be holding up extremely well, which is fantastic. We have only scratched the surface with this amazing horse, as he had a tendon injury six weeks after we got him, and was on box rest for a year. I am dying to see what he can really do. He is such a beautiful boy. We are blessed to have him. Mr O put him in Barnaby's stable when he got back, and this is what happened next:
He is reaching across from Barnaby's stable to eat Max's haylage, the greedy beggar! We are going to have fun when they move into the new stables, because Zak, Barnaby and Max are going to be in a row, with no bars in between, so they will still be able to reach over like this. I hope not too much of this sort of thing goes on, because if Zak tries to eat Barnaby's haylage, there will be trouble. But Zak will be very fawning and willing to mutually groom Barnaby for as long as he likes, which Barnaby will love. I can't wait to see how it pans out.
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