Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Cards and Horses

Not a very imaginative title, is it, but that's because I've just come in from a very frustrating half an hour trying to lunge Barnaby who today went back to his old ways and would only lunge on the left rein this morning, then when I went to send him out on the right rein he just kept walking backwards and wouldn't go. He's never been keen on lungeing, but it's the first time he's done it in the new manege. Sooooo frustrating. I just gave up in the end.
The fact is, I've been really patient with everything that's going on, but today I decided enough was enough. But here's a bit of an update anyway:

As you may recall (or to re-cap if you're new to my blog) I had the back lady out last week. This is because Barnaby is having trouble bending to the right. You can read the full story here. Anyway, Lisa said his poll was way out of alignment, amongst other things, and did lots of manipulation, which Barnaby really liked. My instructions were to lunge him with no side reins or gadgets of any kind, and to school him on big circles and I could hack him out "But not in that saddle!"
So we've bought a new saddle. Not cheap, as you can imagine. But what with hay cutting and one thing and another I haven't had a chance to try it on him until last night. We have bought a Bates saddle, as they are stunning. It has the Cair system (it's filled with air) and an interchangeable gullet. This means you can buy an insert and alter the saddle to fit your horse, whether he's narrow, medium or wide, etc. Barnaby turned out to be 'very wide' because he's come in like a balloon, full of grass.
Now, this is known as the 'easy change gullet system' which is a bit of a misnomer. By the time we'd spent twenty minutes working out how to open the saddle and swap the gullet, we were exhausted. Bear in mind that Mr O is an engineer and can work most things out, but trying to get the saddle to screw back up again was virtually impossible. In the end Mr O was laying on his back on a pile of horse rugs, with the saddle on his lap, with a leg wrapped round it, grunting and swearing as he tried to fit the screw back in. Honestly, I thought he was going to give birth at any moment. No disrespect to any woman, but I think it would have been physically impossible for any girl to have the brute strength required to put it back together, except perhaps a Russian shotputter.
I was tempted at the end to suggest that maybe Barnaby was only a 'wide' and not a 'very wide' but I don't think our marriage would have stood it.
And then, to cap it all, we put it in place and found the straps on it are very high, not like his old saddle, and that the girths we've got were about twelve inches too short. Even allowing for the fact that Barnaby's new name is Jock McLardy, the girth came nowhere near. I was so frustrated as I'd really been looking forward to riding him. What a waste of time. I think Barnaby was just as fed up as me, as he'd stood there ("Any chance of some tea?) for an hour and nothing actually happened.

A bit of a different matter here. Regular readers will know that we have shovelled tonnes and tonnes of food into this beautiful boy but he is still as skinny as a rake. He is regularly wormed and his dentistry is up to date, so we have been mystified as to what is wrong with him. The back lady suggested he might have gastric ulcers. She has an ex-race horse herself and says it's very common. I immediately leapt onto the internet and began to look into it. There is even a Youtube video of a gastroscopy being performed. And indeed it is common in horses who endure a lot of stress, with race horses being the main victims, but even top dressage horses can suffer with them. A gastroscopy is required to diagnose the condition.
I rang my vet who said they don't have a gastroscope and gave me a couple of telephone numbers to ring. The upshot of this is that we have booked Zak in for an operation on Thursday 8th July. He will have to go to Chine House vets in Leicester. We will take him in the lorry and he must be 'nil by mouth' for four hours beforehand, so that will be a challenge. Basically it involves Mr O going to get Zak in from the field at 4am and not giving him any food.
I must say, I am eternally grateful to Lisa Brooke for putting us onto this, and I really feel positive that it is gastric ulcers that we are dealing with, but only the gastroscope will tell. If it does turn out to be ulcers, he will have to have a medicine called Gastrogard, which is phenomenally expensive. It's two hundred pounds for a week's supply, and he will need four week's worth. Go on, ask me if we're insured!

Add to this the fact that we should have gone to Chatsworth on Sunday to do a sponsored ride, which is the highlight of my year, but decided not to go because it was too hot, and you can see why I'm a little frustrated at the moment. I don't remember praying for patience at all recently, so I can't imagine why all this is happening!

So to combat all this, I have been throwing myself into card making with gusto. I have been thrilled to find that a set of papers sitting in my drawer have matched up beautifully with a set of toppers that I've been trying to use up for ages. I love it when a plan comes together!
Check these out:

The patterened paper is from a free Kate Knight stack that came with a magazine. I've been trying to use the topper up for ages, as I said, but love it on this purple pearlescent card. Usually I am a 'less is more' merchant, but as you can see, on this card I've put a purple brad in each corner, tiny heart beads at the bottom of the pearlescent card, and a sentiment at the top. The lettering wasn't inside the sentiment, I had to add that myself. This is a breakthrough for me, as I can't stand peel-offs, they are so fiddly, but using my craft-knife and tweezers made it so much easier. I might make friends with them now!

Kate Knight papers again on this one, with glitter in strategic places on the backing paper. I'm not sure if the photo does it justice, it's one of those you have to hold in your hand to appreciate it.
And as it's Mr O's birthday today (Happy Birthday Darling - I do like a man that can drive a tractor!) I'd better show you what I made him, too.

I've had the plan for this card in my head since March, and was so glad I was able to do it as I'd intended. The horses are painted different colours because they are (from L to R) Polo, Lindy, Zak, Barnaby and Fudge. I knew I wanted to use the brown ribbon, all the embellishments just came together, and I wanted to print directly onto the card, which I very rarely do, but it worked really well. The wording is stamped and says, 'Peeking over, to wish you, a happy birthday.' I can't give it to him until tonight. I hope he likes it.
So all is not lost just yet, then.
Have a great day everyone!
Mrs O
P.S. If anyone knows of any good scrapbooking blogs, where people show you what they've made (and use sketches) I'd love to hear from you.


  1. You`ve certainly come on in leaps and bounds, since I first read your site! Cards, gastroscopys! I dont know! But here I must ask a question, why go straight to "Ulcers"? Some TB`s and crosses, have a built in "thinness", I know you worry about Zak, but just in case. My neighbour down the road (about a half mile away!) has a TB, ex racehorse, female and very calm. But cant keep weight on! Looks like a hatrack! However, and she`s been tested for ulcers, and found none. It was a decision by the vet(s) that they believe she is just a thin horse! Sad but true. She is now 13, and been with my neighbour for 4 years. And believe me she has tried every mortal thing to help keep her weight on!
    Even to the extent of putting her in a really lush field of grass! Nothing!

  2. Hi there,
    Firstly I hope Zaks operation goes well! And you find the source of his problem.
    We had the 'back lady' out a couple of weeks ago for Dylan, as he had a "mysterious lameness" and the vet said he was very tense. She did her magic and Dylan really enjoyed it, and she left me with lots of exercises to do (as he hates bending to the left!). She thought hunting and cross country were the source of his tension but recommended we get the saddle checked. So had the saddler out last week, and thankfully that went well, and his saddle is perfect for him! Just needed a different girth and new stirrup leathers to stop it slipping to the left! So I know what you've been going through! The saddler said Dylan was one of the widest horses he had seen, and he's only 14.3 and not fat!
    I came back from uni at the end of may, rode for about two weeks and then Dylan went lame, its so frustrating when you have a fun summer planned and they go lame. But he's on the mend now!! His way of avoiding doing anything too challenging I think!

    Beautiful cards too by the way! While Dylan was lame I did a lot of sewing and it is quite calming when you're quite frustrated!

    Tamzin X X

    ps: Sorry about the essay! I l aways get carried away with horse talk!

  3. As I don't know a thing about horses I can't really comment on what's happening with your horses, but the cards, that's in my comfort zone lol. They're really lovely, I've got that paper stack too and not used it as yet. A little tip for using peeloffs, cut a strip of masking tape about 1" longer than the peeloff that you want to use. Put it on your arm a couple of times, to reduce the stickiness, then lay it on top of the peeloff with the edge level with the bottom of the words. Rub it to grip the peeloff and gently pull the tape up. You might have to give it a little help with the tip of a craft knife but it should all lift off the backing sheet, lay it where you want it to be and give a gentle pressure along the tape. Lift the tape and if the peeloff doesn't stick to the card you might have to give a helping hand in reverse, taking it off the tape. I use that method all the time and everything is lined up perfectly with no stretching. It's brilliant for putting borders on or lifting up the waste so that you can use the "negative" image.

    Let me know how you get on with it.

    If you look at the sites that I follow you should be able to find some layouts that you can use for scrapbooking, just look at it like a huge card lol Or look on my blog entries to see if I've put it into a challenge using a sketch.
    Margaret xx


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