Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Tieing up Loose Ends

At last the sun is shining and it's beautifully warm. The swallows finally arrived yesterday (they've been at Jolly Farmer's for over two weeks!) I was concerned that they won't be able to get to their normal nesting spot in the barn now that we've put the shutter doors on, but they fly in through a gap in the top, then it's business as usual. It's wonderful to see them back, I always feel as if it's summer when they come.
I stroll to the field twice a day and put suncream on Barnaby and Lindy. They both have very delicate pink noses that burn easily. Barnaby stands still and takes it like a man. Lindy wrinkles his top lip and tries to lick it off. Polo comes over to see what all the fuss is about and asks to have some on as well. I put a splodge on him. He hates to be left out. Zak runs a mile.
I have some catching up to do on the Barnaby front. I went for a lesson at the riding school a couple of weeks ago. I had a different instructor, and I'm going to be honest and say I've never been keen on her. She's quite young and arrogant. There's nothing she hasn't ridden. I went in for the lesson with a sense of trepidation and it was... brilliant! She knew exactly what I wanted to do (jumping) what Barnaby was like, what he needed to do, etc. She put the jumps up straight away. When I have a lesson with 'the other girl' she makes you do flat work for twenty minutes, then puts a fence up. This girl had the fence up instantly, talked to me while I warmed up, and we got on with it. I didn't have time to be nervous.
Barnaby was quite hard work, though, and kept rushing his fences. Bear in mind that he hasn't really jumped since his injury and I've only jumped him a few times before that, because he wasn't my horse then, and you can see, we have a lot of work to do. In the end I was just walking him round, trotting the last two strides and jumping the fence, then going off and calming him down, and going for the fence again. It really made him listen to me and wait for instructions, instead of just charging off. The instructor was brilliant, though, I can't thank her enough.
This was all because I wanted to take him to Wingerworth show and do the showjumping, but he isn't ready. It won't take long, but we have a lot of work to put in. If I go now, I'll probably manage to jump one fence, but anything could happen after that.
I brought him in to ride in the new manege a couple of days after that. When I picked his back left (or near hind) foot up he absolutely yanked it away from me, and then wouldn't put his foot down. I tried not to panic, but after the broken pedal bone saga, you can imagine, we are very protective where his feet are concerned. It turns out he's got a mud fever wound there, which is very sore. Every time he picks his leg up he's breaking the skin again, which must hurt like heck. Anyway, he was lame after this and I couldn't ride him, and the next day he was still quite bad, refusing to move etc, so we got the vet out.
A very nice vet came, said it was mud fever, gave me some antibiotics and charged me one hundred and eleven pounds! Good grief, I'm in the wrong job. She offered me bute. "No," I said, "I have plenty." (No need to make the bill one hundred and forty pounds when I have packs of bute still in the drawer).
So he's had all of last week off, and had antibiotics in his feed twice a day, and once a day this week. He came sound within two days, but he was definitely feeling sorry for himself. When the horses were chasing each other round the field, he just stood there and wouldn't join in. When I brought him in for his feed he walked very slowly and after his tea he stood there and wasn't bothered about going out again. I can't stand seeing him like that. He is such a majestic beast normally. I was so relieved when he got his normal bolshy attitude back. It's worth a little bit of barging just to know he's well.
We trotted him up on Sunday night and he was fine. We've been putting cream on the wound twice a day, just to keep it soft and flexible really. I rode him on Monday in the school and he was beautiful. I've put three trotting poles on one side of the school, and a cross pole (jump fence) on the other side. I did exactly what I'd done in the lesson I had, and schooled him on the flat for quite a while, just to satisfy myself that he was sound, then took him over the trotting poles. They are a set distance apart, and he should trot neatly in between them. The first time he tried to jump all three, and cantered over them, but I steadied him and he was fine after that. Then, when he wasn't really expecting it, I presented him at the fence and he popped it beautifully. I carried on schooling and took him back over the poles, then jumped the fence again, and just kept going. He was very attentive, and really enjoying it, not knowing what was coming next and realising he'd better listen and be ready. In the end I put the fence up to a straight bar and put him over that a few times. He was superb and absolutely flew over it, but came back to me afterwards as well, not just going flying around the arena, which was really good.
I was as high as a kite afterwards because I was totally on my own, and wasn't the least bit nervous, wondering if I should wear a body protector/let Missis know I was jumping etc. I really had to concentrate and think about what we were doing the whole time, but it was wonderful. I do feel if I do this at least once a week, we will be ready to do a little clear round class, and maybe the 55cm class in June. It's all very well watching people show jump at Chatsworth, where the arena is huge and you have ten strides between every fence. At Wingerworth the showjumping ring is very small, and you have maybe two to three strides between each fence, so we will have to be on the ball, or we'll be jumping out of the arena!

On the domestic front, I have been saving all my empty jars with the intention of making either:
lemon curd

Having given it some consideration and researched various recipes, I have decided to have a go at lemon curd first, because
a) we love it and will actually eat it and
b) it looks really easy.

So the ingredients will be on my next shopping list. I have no idea how many jars I will end up with, or what I do about sterilizing the jars, so a little more research is needed (and probably consulting The Oracle for her wise advice in these matters). But I want to do it, because I can't help noticing that the more expensive the lemon curd, the nicer it tastes. I've read the ingredients on all the jars I've tried, from Tesco's cheapest to Highfield Farm Shop's version, (more than twice the price) and it seems the more butter or margarine they put in, the better it tastes, so I'm looking forward to making my own and seeing how it compares.
We have had the schedule in the post for this year's Ashover Show and I notice there is an entry for jam, chutney and lemon curd in the preserves section, so you never know...


  1. Thought I`d return the compliment! We have around 300 little pecking tykes! Eat us out of house and home!
    But, they are nice to have around. Like the blog, should have found you earlier! Well done!

  2. It sounds like you have just the thing to stop the horse from rushing. It's good you got a chance to work with that instructor after all.

  3. Hi, I got my Cuttlebug from QVC but loads of places sell them very reasonably - I'd google it. I am totally in love with it and use it for embossing, but mainly for diecutting. I've only used Nestabilities dies and they have been so useful. I've spent ages faffing around trying to find the right size craft punch for circles and ovals, but Nestabilities you get 5 or 6 different sizes in each pack. The Cuttlebug is so easy to use - instructions really simple. Hope this helps.
    Good luck with the lemon curd, hope it turns out well. M x


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