Well, it's a little bit frustrating. A company called Maple Arenas have been booked to put a manege in for us. This is a big (40mx20m) rectangular area with a fence round it, that will have a special sand surface with rubber on the top, that we can ride the horses in to do their 'schooling'.
Now in order to put the manege in, the field in front of it has to be drained, which involves digging lots of it up, to put pipes in that will drain the water away. Maple Arenas can do that. They can also landscape the whole area, as we are keeping the pond at the road end. All the soil they dig up will be transported to make a bigger garden for us. The post and rail fencing has to be moved eight metres further into the field to leave a space big enough for the manege. The company will do all of that. They will also put in a roadway down to the second gate, and some other guys are coming to restructure the entrance so that we can get in and out with the lorry.
A guy came on Thursday and said work would commence on Monday (ie, yesterday) and to get the stone ordered for the roadway, which Pongo did. Missis and I did our thing yesterday, and waited and waited, and nobody came. In the end Missis rang up and spoke to someone else, who said, "I do the scheduling, and you're not down 'til Thursday."
And Travis Perkins were due to deliver some concrete pipe today, and that hasn't come, either! Honestly, workmen, eh? It's nearly six o'clock, so it's not likely to turn up now, is it?
Missis and I are so excited about everything being done, it's such a let-down. It had better come soon, that's all I can say...
I had a very nice afternoon yesterday, putting lots of my plants into their new homes. I have two big stone pots near the back door, that both contained a very nice cordyline australis, but both have snuffed it over the winter. RIP little plants. I have been ruthless and pulled them out and replaced them with the busy lizzies and the lobelia (I am struggling to decide whether busy lizzie should begin with capital letters, but then I feel sorry for lobelia, which doesn't, as I'm sure it will work just as hard, but doesn't deserve a capital letter, for some reason. It's not fair, is it?) It will all be pink and lilac one day, which will be lovely.
I have thrown away the opened grow-bag that the cats have used as a litter tray over the winter, bless 'em. I don't think I'll be discussing that any further, in case you're eating while you read this.
I got carried away and dug loads of moss out of the cracks in the stone work, pulled lots of weeds out and swept up loads of leaves and general garden debris. I am very pleased with the result, and my teeny-tiny greenhouse looks very smart. There will be a competition between the cucumbers and the courgettes now, I can see. The courgettes have a smug air about them.
I have ridden Barnaby today, and he was extremely good. I rode him in a double bridle for the first time. It strikes me that if you ride Western, you might not have seen one, and I meant to take a photo of him in it, so you can see. Basically, it has two bits and two reins. This picture of Max will have to suffice.
The knack is in knowing how to hold the reins, and Barnaby's are a lot thicker than Max's. One of the reins is plaited, too. Our saga is that we are going to a show on Sunday and at the moment, Barnaby has a black double bride and a brown saddle. This is because his black saddle is now on Zak (it's adjustable). We have ordered a brown bridle, but if it doesn't come in time I don't know what we're going to do. I tried Max's (black) saddle on him today, but it's too small. I don't want to risk riding him in it even for one class, in case it hurts him.
Normally I ride Barnaby and Max in a martingale. It helps to keep their head down, but also means you get a leather strap around their neck and chest, which is useful for getting on the horse. When you have a double bridle, there is no neck strap, plus, of course, Barnaby doesn't have a mane (we shave it off, or 'hog' him) so I felt a bit peculiar when I got on him, but he was wonderful in the bridle, very responsive.
I took him down to the school, and he worked very well. The idea is that the horse uses their powerful back end to propel them along, and they work 'up into the bridle', which gives them the lovely shape you see, when the horse's neck is arched. This is known as 'coming on the bit.' It makes them look like a chess piece. Barnaby did it very quickly and felt beautifully light in my hands, not leaning on me like I said last week. His cantering is a bit 'rough' but we can work on that. We had a beautiful canter on the way home again. I am loving this horse more and more each time I ride him. I think we'll go for a hack tomorrow...