Monday, 22 February 2010

Fame At Last!

I'm on a forum called Trot on TV, which is turning out to be quite fun. A person I've never heard of left me a message yesterday, asking if I'm in Your Horse magazine. Now, I wrote an article for it, which went in last October, so I wondered if she meant that, but the picture that went with it was just a head shot of me, so I couldn't understand how she would have worked it out. There was no picture of Max to go with it.
So I put a message on Facebook yesterday, asking if I'm in it again, and it turns out there's a picture of me on Max (the one that I've used on my profile here) so I need to rush to Tesco and buy a copy immediately! I can't believe it, I've been in there twice now, how fab. Hope Mr O doesn't mind.
Because today, as I said, I want to tell you a little bit more about Barnaby. Let's start with some stats:

Breed: Irish Cob (the 'Irish' bit means he goes like the clappers!)
Show Name: Earl Grey
Age: 13
Height: 15.1hh (will put it in cm as soon as I've worked it out!)

We've owned him for five years. Mr O had had four riding lessons and decided it was time to buy a horse, and started scouring the adverts. A horse had been advertised three weeks in a row, in the Yorkshire Post and was quite cheap. I said there had to be something wrong with him to be put in at such a low price, especially as he kept on being advertised. After a lot of fruitless searching elsewhere, I caved in, and we drove up to Otley, near Leeds, to go and 'view' him. (It makes him sound like a house, doesn't it?)
We drove down a winding country lane and at the end was a field and a little set of stables. We were met by a very nice couple, who went and got a beautiful grey cob out of the field. This was our first sighting of the horse that was to come to mean so much. I asked her to tack him up, and to ride him, which she did (nervously) and then asked her to ride him up the road. She rode him up to an incredibly busy road, and round a roundabout. He didn't flinch at anything. She stopped on the pavement on the way back, hopped off, and I got on and rode him home. He was beautiful. Suddenly I wished we were buying him for me. I got off, handed her the reins, and said, "We'll take him, when can we pick him up?" I have never bought a horse so quickly in all my life.
So Barnaby came to live with us (by which I mean, at livery) and Mr O got on him, and learned to ride. I can honestly say, we couldn't have picked a better horse.
In those days, Lorna and Bill, who owned the yard, used to have a One Day Event every summer, only a little thing, her (very knowledgeable) friend used to judge the dressage, the show jumping used to be held in the orchard (be prepared to jump downhill, and duck under the trees!) and the cross country was over a few brand new fences, but Mr O did it, the only man to take part, and got round it all, within three months of owning The Bard.
Oh yes, he's also called Bar-dee-dee, because my grandson couldn't say Barnaby.

Since then, Mr O has gone on to do lots of hunter trials (both our horses excel at cross country) showing, hunting and various other things. Barnaby has a natural presence, that you can't ignore, and it wins him points in the show ring. Mr O rode into the ring once, and heard the judge say, "There's your winner," behind him! He beat me once, even though he went on the wrong leg in canter. I was speechless, as you can imagine. He won the Championship Working Hunter a couple of years ago at Eckington Club, too, which was fabulous. Mr O didn't know he'd won it until the presentation night, and was thrilled.
(You may not be able to tell from this picture, taken out hunting on New Year's Day 2008 with the Readyfield Bloodhounds, that the fence is about four feet high, with a six foot spread, and a huge ditch underneath. Mr O was nervous - Barnaby was not.)

And then... in May, 2008, we went out for a hack, round all the usual farmer's fields. Mr O was ahead of me, cantering along, when suddenly Barnaby's front foot went over a big rock, and as he went to take his next stride, his foot hooked the rock out of the ground, and flung it into his back foot. Barnaby was instantly and horribly lame.
To cut a long story short, after we'd managed to get him home, it transpired he'd broken his pedal bone in his back foot. We had a year of absolute trauma, trying to keep a horse on box rest that hates being kept in. He used to rear up onto his hind legs, ignoring the pain, trying to get out of the stable. The x-rays showed that it got worse before it got better. The worst case scenario was having a lot of his hoof removed and pinned, which we were dreading, and praying our socks off.
The Lord answered our prayers, and Barnaby gradually started to get better, and the bone started to fuse back together. After several months we decided to turn him away, as there were no more medications or treatments that would make any difference. It was up to Time to be the healer now.
Altogether he had exactly 52 weeks from the injury, by which time we'd moved here, before our wonderful vet Gonda gave him the all-clear. We kept very calm in front of Missis and the vet, then went in and wept for joy.

And now, to be honest, you'd never know he'd had such a serious thing wrong with him. He runs and jumps and barges his way through life, just as he's always done, and I absolutely love him for it. If ever there was a horse that you'd want to live forever, this would be the one.
He's always been the herd leader, but struggled at Lorna's with so many horses in one field. Here his leadership qualities have come to the fore. He never bullies another horse, he just lets them know how it's going to be. He is a good provider and protector, and I have come to realise how clever he is. He comes to me now and says, "I've discussed it with my men, and we'll be coming in now, please," and I go and get them in. Zak and Max especially, trust, respect and maybe even adore him, and I have to say, I'm in total agreement on that score.


  1. What a wonderful story! You really have a beautiful way with words, the story just flows along. Barnaby sounds like such a wonderful horse, the kind that you feel honored to know. When I first read about the fracture, I was worried, but so glad to know that he healed and is as good as ever!

  2. Hello -

    Pleased to meet you, thanks for stopping by my blog. Had a lovely time in Holland, and managed to only purchase 4 fat quarters from the dutch quilting shop - Very restrained for me! We did by some easter goodies for the small people though.

    Loved reading about the horses. I don't know much a out them, so its quite fascinating!

    Love Lydia xx

  3. WOW! How awesome to be featured not only once but TWICE! :> ) WOO HOO!

    As always, I love reading about your horses. They are just such majestic animals!

    And your pictures.....just wonderful!



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