I put the horses out on Friday and mucked out. After a while I realised how warm it was and that Max was probably too warm in his rug, and thought I'd better go into the field and take it off him. I clambered over the fence, and he was very near, in fact they all were, in a cluster around Max. I undid his rug and took it off, but as I looked down at his tail and back leg I could see what I thought was a big bramble or something with thorns on it, caught in his tail and leg hair. Then as I got closer I realised it was barbed wire, and he was trapped in it.
I took some deep breaths and decided not to panic. I left him standing there and went in to find something to cut the barbed wire off with, but couldn't find anything. I rang Missis and asked if she could come and help. She held onto Max while I tried to find some cutters, but he didn't want to stand with her and ran off.
I came back into the field and held him while Missis used scissors to cut all the barbed wire out of his tail and leg hair. It took quite a while, but she got it all out in the end. The sweetest thing was that Max cuddled into me, to say thankyou, then went running round the field to show everybody he was fine. Fortunately none of the barbs had dug into his skin. It is a mystery as to where the barbed wire has come from as we never use it here, it's all dry stone walls and electric fencing as a back-up. Very strange, but thank goodness he wasn't harmed. Barbed wire is lethal with horses.
And this is significant, because...
On Friday afternoon another woman rang to ask if Max was still for sale. She said it was for a mother and daughter, but to make it clear, she is the daughter, and she is 27! She said she has been riding for some years, and had a thoroughbred that she put on loan while she was pregnant, but has now allowed the loanee to buy the horse off her. She had her baby 14 months ago and desperately wants another horse now, but in the meantime, her mother (47) has also started to ride, so they were looking for something that both of them could share. She said she just wanted a horse that would hack out behind another horse, and as soon as she said that, I thought, 'You are the one.'
So they came to see him on Saturday, and we did our usual scenario. Fortunately there was no one in the manege at Jolly Farmer's. I rode Max around for a few minutes and knew he would be fine. Then the daughter got on and she rode just like me. I knew Max would be good for her. She cantered him as well, which neither of the other girls did.
Then mum got on and it became obvious she's had very few lessons. She was a bag of nerves, and was asking Max to go forwards with her legs while pulling with her hands, which obviously confused him. I talked her through it, and very soon she was trotting him round the school, and looked fine. Mr O suggested to the daughter that she might like to ride Max back up the road. I gave him a daggers look, but as it happened, Max was immaculate, and she even cantered him on the verge, the first one to do that, too. He pulled up as soon as requested, and she seemed very pleased, and rode him the rest of the way back to the yard.
I said they should go away and think about it, but by 2pm the daughter had phoned me back and said they would have him. I knew it. They asked if they could bring a deposit over, and came back just after 4pm. I wrote out a receipt. They asked if they could have him vetted, which is no problem as far as I'm concerned, as he's never been ill, and certainly doesn't have anything wrong with his legs or spine or anything like that, so I don't see how he could fail.
I showed them his passport, which obviously I will hand over on completion. I showed them what he eats, and said his vaccinations and worming are all up to date. He needs to see a dentist in July, and has brand new shoes on, so that's good.
So, obviously I have felt physically sick ever since. The daughter has just rung me to say the vet will be coming tomorrow. It is actually our own vet as well, so that should be okay. I know that at some stage I am going to bawl my head off, but I'm not sure when. I told them if they can't get transport, we will be able to take him over on Saturday, but please don't think I'm being funny if I don't go, but I can't put him in somebody else's stable and walk away and leave him, especially if he whinnies at me. I feel so sick, just thinking about it. I have had enough separations since we moved here, I can't do another one.
My whole life has revolved around this horse, for the past six years, my home life, my job, my free time, have all been based on his needs and requirements, so it feels very strange to think he won't be there. I've told Mr O to take his name plate off his stable door, because it confronts me every time I go into the stables. I have photos of him around the house and on my computer, everything is based on him. What a gap there will be.
And now to briefly describe the antics of Sunday as Mr O and I took Barnaby and Zak to a show. It was a beautifully warm day, and the horses were very clean in the morning after their bath the night before. Missis had plaited Zak and he looked fabulous. She'd done his tail as well. We've never seen him plaited before. It felt very peculiar not to be taking Max, though. We loaded up and set off. The showground is only about 20 minutes away, so it wasn't long before we were pulling onto the field and unloading. I must admit, I was very proud to be unloading this gleaming white horse.
We had a look round the showground, to see which ring was which, as we've never been to Wingerworth show before. We signed in at the secretary's tent, and I put Barnaby down for Cob/Hunter, Most Handsome Horse and Ridden Cob/Hunter. We decided to have a go at the minimus (clear round jumping) as well as it looked really easy.
We watched several of the classes, then went to put the horse's bridles on, as we were doing an in-hand class first. Missis turned up by then, with Seven and Ten. We were standing chatting, when Zak, unbeknown to Mr O, stood on his reins. Mr O pushed him gently backwards, Zak turned his head and half his bridle snapped and fell onto the floor. Mr O was very swift, and caught him by the remaining bit of bridle. Now it was panic stations as we didn't have any spare tack. Even his bit had fallen onto the floor. With great presence of mind, Missis dashed over to the sale stall and bought a new bridle. We had to carefully lead Zak back to the lorry, tie him up and quickly take off the old bridle, attach his bit to the new one and put it on quick! By the time we'd done it and gone back up it was time to go in the ring.
This is where the fun started really, as Barnaby didn't want to be separated from Zak. It was a nightmare. It took all my strength to hold onto him. In the end I managed to circle away and come in behind Zak so Barnaby knew where he was, but when we had to come out individually and run our horses up in front of the judge, Barnaby just tanked up the field with me holding on for dear life. He nearly wrenched my arm off, and he was in a double bridle, so I couldn't do much else anyway. If that doesn't stop him, nothing will.
I found it very odd, because I had Barnaby on my right, which is correct, but I couldn't see over him or past him to the judge. I am so used to Max being small that I can see over him to what the judge is directing us to do. She didn't say anything out loud either, so it was quite disorienting, knowing when to stop, go, start trotting etc.
Then of course Mr O had to take Zak out of the line to the judge and run him up and Barnaby was desperate to go with him, so I had to cling on and make him stand. By the time we got out I thought my arm was going to drop off. Neither of us got placed, which I can understand about Barnaby, because of his behaviour, but Zak looked fabulous and was impeccably behaved throughout. Showing is a funny game, though. It's all down to what the judge likes, which is why Mr O got fed up with it before.
When he said that I actually realised that Barnaby hasn't been to a show since 2007, because of his injury, and when Mr O did show him he did things like show jumping and Working Hunter, which Barnaby did really well in, so that may be the way forward for me.
BUT Mr O decided to go and jump Zak and Barnaby went ballistic left by himself at the lorry. He was pawing the floor, leaning on the lorry, trying to pull away and break the lead rope, then started rearing. At the really big one, I could see his tummy button, so you can imagine how high he was. I put some gloves on so that if he got free I could grab the lead rope without burning my hands, although I had visions of being carted across the showground, being dragged along on the grass, in true James Herriot style. Fortunately Mr O could see what was happening and came back. The queue at the clear round was really long, anyway.
So a bit of a disaster, really. I decided to withdraw from my other classes and we came home. I had suggested we take Max with us so there would always be company for the horse left at the lorry, and really that would have been a very good idea, but if Max is sold, we won't be able to do that at future shows anyway (unless we borrow Fudge?) so we need to think what to do next time. Part of the reason for selling Max is that he and Barnaby are too attached to each other, but if Barnaby is going to attach himself to Zak instead, it won't have made any difference, will it? I think I am so amazed, because Barnaby is such a strong, bold horse, I can't believe he gets into such a state by being left on his own. I could go on about this, but I think I'll leave it there, and we'll see what happens at the next show in May. If not, it's pleasure rides for us, or we'll have to take one horse and leave the other one at home, but that's such a shame for the one who can't bring their horse. I'm sure a solution will present itself in time.
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