It's been quite a relaxing weekend for us, but it's just as well because it's been so phenomenally hot that doing anything quickly would have been virtually impossible. It's been so hot that I've actually been seen wearing a skirt, a rare event indeed!
We felt it would be cruel to ride in the heat of the day, so we decided to go to the cinema in the afternoon and ride at night instead. So off we trolled to see the new Robin Hood film, with Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett. What can I say? It was actually a really enjoyable film, and Cate Blanchett shines like a jewel in the sand. Her costuming is perfect. The downside, as you may have gathered if you've read any reviews, is that Russell Crowe's accent is dreadful. It swings between irish and scottish in the beginning, with a dash of a good scouse accent in between, but then becomes a bit Yorkshire when they turn up in Nottingham. It was truly dreadful and offputting, and totally unnecessary. His own accent is beautiful to listen to and wouldn't have made the slightest difference. It never did Sean Connery any harm, did it? We loved the horse, except at the very end where he blatantly dishes. I don't know where it was filmed yet (it looked like Wales) but it's a shame if that's the best horse you could find (I have a perfectly good one waiting in the wings!) It strikes me that it must be a director's dream to have actors that ride so well, so you don't need to employ stunt doubles and you can get good close up shots of the actors galloping along. Russell Crowe is an extremely accomplished rider, but I've never seen Cate Blanchett ride before, and she looked stunning.
Overall it was a very good film, not the usual Robin Hood story, and builds to an excellent climax. I can think of worse ways to spend a hot Saturday afternoon and so it gets a thumbs up from me.
Pongo and Missis put on a barbeque in the evening, which was wonderful, and then we got the horses in to ride. They were a teensy bit put out, but soon settled down. Mr O and I rode in the school together, and it was quite a giggle. It was very good training for Barnaby, to have Zak in front of him and let him trot off round the arena, and not to try to whizz off behind him. I need to practise this a lot before we go to the Ashover show in August.
And so to Sunday, when the temperature was a ridiculous 28 degrees, and we had to load the horses into the lorry and drive down to Shipley Country Park. Poor Barnaby was dripping by the time we got there. We tacked up and decided to take it slowly. I had a cannister of water strapped to my saddle, for me to drink, but if it's ever as hot has this again, I'll take another cannister and pour it on Barnaby at regular intervals. As it was, they both did brilliantly, but I wouldn't say it was the most exciting ride I've ever been on, and considering it was ten miles, I think we were back in record time. We did find a huge grass area at the end, and decided to double back and do a flat out gallop on it. I found this rather stunning as it's the first time I've really let Barnaby open up. For a cob, he can't half shift, and had no problems keeping up with Zak. I am thrilled by this, because when we used to ride Max and Zak together, Max knew he didn't stand a chance and used to give up and go back to walk. It's lovely for me to be on the fearless horse, too and watch Mr O cope with a spooky one for a change. I took the decision to ride him in a pelham bit this time, and it was the right thing to do, as I held him when a group of riders overtook us, and he couldn't go trotting after them, so I was relieved I'd done it.
Before we knew it we were back at the start, and came in level with Pongo and Missis who had done the seven mile route. It turned out they'd had more canter places than we had. I may do the shorter route myself next year, then. I've seen the photos on the website this morning, but we are too far away in them, although we are side by side, so I may not bother buying them. It's only us on the flat, after all. We just doused the horses with buckets and buckets of water. As we scraped the water off them it was hot, so you can imagine what they were like. They obviously enjoyed it as they just stood there and let us get on with it without argueing.
The other totally exciting thing was the arrival of the quad bike. We've got it so that we can level the manege and buy a hoover attachment and poo pick the field. Tessa definitely gave it her seal of approval.