It was dark this morning as I came out to greet the horses. John had fed them before he left for work, which speeds things up quite considerably, especially if the horses have stayed in their turnouts overnight, which they are quite happy to do. It means I can walk out the door and turn the horses straight out and start mucking out much earlier.
It was cold, wet and windy, by far the worst weather of the week, so I decided to go for a ride. Why didn't I go on Monday (too busy) or Wednesday (too tired) when it was reasonable? There's no logic to it, is there? I wore my hi-viz gear again, as it still wasn't very light by nine o'clock, so I was lit up like a Christmas tree. The thing is, if I don't ride when it's raining, I'll never ride at all, and the hi-viz is totally waterproof, you can't even feel the rain on you.
We came out of the farm and turned right, and went down the steep hill. Max was a little surprised as I don't go this way very often, as it's a lot of main road, and it's usually very slippery, even though all our horses have road nails. Then we turned right again. I know there is a dog on a chain round the corner, so I was ready, but Max wasn't, and flung himself sideways when it started barking at him. I managed to stay on. I wouldn't say I was lying on his neck, but I was definitely up there somewhere, whispering sweet nothings into his ears.
The thing is, Max was full of energy. He and Barnaby are only on half a scoop of economy mix night and morning, with some Mollichop to stop Max being greedy, some cod liver oil and some vitamins. I'm blaming the cod liver oil. By now they'd normally be on a scoop night and morning, but there's certainly no need to increase their feed just yet. They seem to be absolutely thriving on very little, which is wonderful.
We turned right again, and trotted purposefully up the road. I offered a canter on the verge, but Max tested it and decided it was too soft. We turned right again. More uphill trotting, but not steep this time. If we'd turned right again, we'd have been home, but we only seemed to have been out for five minutes, so I decided to keep going. I was expecting resistance at the turning, but Max's mind was elsewhere, and it was another two minutes before he'd realised he'd missed his opportunity to go home. He did a huge snort and stumped off up the road.
I wouldn't say he was being strong, or about to bolt, but he was definitely in charge. "I think we'll trot here!" and "I think we'll walk here!" I felt like saying, "Hello! Rider on board! I'll be making the decisions today, thankyou." We continued past the livery yard, where a grey horse whinnied at him, but Max was on a mission. He reminded me of Zazu in The Lion King - 'The sooner we get there, the sooner we can leave!'
I knew we were approaching a steep downhill track, but actually he was very well behaved, and didn't rush down it or slip. I was thinking how hard it is for a horse to bolt up a road, when he went into canter at the bottom and set off, as if to say, "No, it's easy really, watch!" Cheeky beggar! I made him trot all the way back up to the next junction, much further than he would normally go, but he obviously had the energy, and it's all up hill, which is why I took him that way. I really thought his fitness might have dropped off a bit as I haven't been riding him half as much as I normally would, but there isn't a hint of it so far. I think I'd better get him clipped this weekend after all.
I flew through the rest of the mucking out when I got back. It's amazing how a ride can lift your spirits. I have Radio 2 on as I work. It has become a good friend. Terry Wogan is finishing in January. He has been there, warbling away, all my life. I will miss him. Chris Evans has a lot to live up to.And then, major joy, my shopping was delivered. Yes, I have finally worked out how to do my Tesco shopping online. It did take an hour to wade through it, but it was well worth the effort, not having to drive there, doing it in the comfort of my own home, etc. The driver was quite young and actually said, "There's a shop in Chesterfield you know." I said, "Yes, there is, but I don't drive." He looked astonished. Silly person. I derived great pleasure from putting my own shopping away instead of John doing it, and hid the receipt as it turns out I accidentally ordered 3 bags of frozen sweetcorn. I must have got carried away. I think I saw one sort and forgot to delete when I spotted the one I really wanted. Oh well, good job we like sweetcorn.
I have actually spent the afternoon cleaning my poor old tack. Actually it's the one job I've never got over the thrill of doing. Not like mucking out and filling haynets, which I'd gladly give up tomorrow. Right from the very beginning, having tack to clean has meant I own a horse and I've never got over the joy of being able to do it. My new discovery is 'oiling my tack' which John has always done, but I've only ever used saddle soap. I don't know what has happened to saddle soap over the past few years, though. It used to be a thick, creamy substance you could wipe on your leather and rely on to do a good job, but the bars I've bought recently seem to be 'watered down' and don't seem to have any effect at all. So I have taken to oiling it instead, and the leather absolutely drinks in the stuff. I've used loads of it, and you can see it's doing the leather good. I may even try it on my leather riding boots. Golly, they were a mistake. I specifically didn't want ones with zips up the back like John's got, as they are very masculine. I opted for a dressage boot. They were well over a hundred pounds, and are the most uncomfortable things I have ever worn. It's like wearing cardboard tubes on your legs. I've tried everything to soften them, but nothing has ever worked. I only wear them out hunting and for showing, not even hunter trials any more. I have to wear sweat bands round my ankles to ease the pain. I'll have to get them out of the lorry and have a go.
I've read another article today about a woman whose horse died a couple of months ago. There seem to have been several this year, and my heart goes out to all of them. We all moan about our horses, what they won't do, how annoying or spooky or dirty they are, but at least we have got them. It's just been a reminder that we have something so very precious and to make the most of it and be grateful for what we've got, because you never know what's around the corner. I am only glad that I can put my trust in God on this one, as He promised I would keep my horse and that's why we ended up moving here. I had no idea he was going to do something so extraordinary to enable Him to keep His promise, but that is why my trust is in Him. I was designed for two things: to worship God and to ride horses, and I intend to do both for as long as I am physically capable.