It's been a strange and peculiar week, and I could do without too many like this, thankyou very much.
It started on Monday when my riding instructor rang to say she couldn't come on Tuesday because someone had stolen her car. She found it not very far away, burnt to a cinder. She'd arranged to get another car but wasn't sure when she could come. "Come any time!" I said, and I meant it. So I waited all day Tuesday and Wednesday and she didn't ring me. I didn't want to ride Barnaby in the morning in case she rang at lunch time and said she could give me a lesson in the afternoon. In the end I lunged him Tuesday evening and hacked him out Wednesday evening.
By which time Mr O had buzzed off to Germany. The bed is cold without him. 'Er Indoors takes up too much space and snores even more than he does, so that didn't work. She's pining for him, too, nearly as much as me.
Then my instructor rang to say she could come on Thursday morning, by which time I had to turn her down as I knew I'd be riding Thursday evening, and I don't think even Barnaby would tolerate being ridden twice in one day (though goodness knows, he could do with it).
Then the kind, but confusing bit. There is a pleasure ride on Sunday, which I am really looking forward to. Missis said that as she is flying back from America on Saturday she probably won't have the energy to do it, but thinking she was doing me a favour, said that Pongo would go, and take me in their lorry as well (at the time assuming Mr O would still be in Germany) so I was grateful, as you can imagine.
This has involved taking Pongo out for a hack last night, as he very rarely rides. Personally I wouldn't wake up one morning and think, "I know, I'll go for a seven mile hack!" if I only rode once every two months, but each to his own.
But the thing is, Mr O will be back tonight, and more than able to ride on Sunday. He will want to do the fourteen mile route, which leaves me trailing round with Pongo for seven miles, on a horse he can't control, which will wind up the horse I'm trying to control. Lord help us if there are lots of cantering places.
So I got his horse in, and Barnaby, and groomed them and had them tacked up and ready to go by the time Pongo got in from work. Barnaby was a bit miffed, as I usually ride him in the mornings, and evenings are strictly only for tea in his book, but he did let me tack him up without throwing me round the stable like a ragdoll, so I was grateful.
We set off, on the route I'd planned, and wallked straight down the hill, me stopping every few yards for Pongo's horse to catch up. He always crawls along going away from home, but has a total change of heart when he realises he's heading towards home, and his internal compass tells him exactly when this is, and it can take you by surprise if you're not ready for it.
We got so far and then had to stop, as the cows were coming up the road and turning off where we wanted to go. Some of them were going the wrong way (no internal compass in a cow, obviously!) so I took Barnaby down to block the road. He stood there, bold as brass, chest out, defying any of these loose women to try to go past him. They took the hint and trundled home.
As soon as the road was clear, we carried on our way, with a girl on another horse, who'd joined us. I decided we'd better be careful, as she was bareback, riding her horse down to the field to turn it out. Fortunately she wasn't going the same way as us as I had visions of Barnaby trotting up the road, her horse deciding it wanted to come with us and the rider falling off on the tarmac.
But no worries. We continued on our way. I explained to Pongo that we would trot along this road and that Barnaby would go like the clappers and not to push his horse to keep up, and I would stop as soon as I could for him to catch up.
It was all fine actually, down onto the main road, then turn right and go steaming up the hill. Both of them were trying to canter. Barnaby has been like this a couple of times recently, so I think a spell in a double bridle might be a good idea.
Then we came to the road where we normally go steaming along and have a canter on the verge, but unfortunately I could see a woman ahead on a warmblood type who seemed to be struggling. It would be very bad form for us to go crashing up behind her, so I had to make Barnaby walk. The effort nearly killed him (and me) but I'm quite pleased because he listened. We ended up walking nearly all the way home, as we approached this woman who explained that her horse was only allowed to walk. It was jigging about in the road a bit, and there was a car behind us. Pongo kept saying, "Car behind!" as if I could do something about it. I decided the car would have to wait. I can only cope with so many things at once, and horses come first.
Eventually the car was able to overtake, with a girl in the passenger seat pulling faces at me, as if it's my fault. Perhaps she'd like to get out and lead one of these horses home? She'd be very welcome.
The other woman continued on her way, and we turned right to continue home, and finally Barnaby got the trotting session he'd been itching for, and settled down. I'd had to ask Pongo a few times to keep his horse behind Barnaby, as otherwise they'd start racing and we'd be home a lot quicker than we'd intended. As it was, we were home in time for tea and medals, the whole ride only having taken half an hour, including standing to let the cows go past, and us walking most of the way home instead of trotting. Things tend to be a bit like that when Barnaby goes out.
So goodness knows what Sunday will be like, as I'm taking a man who can only just canter, and there will be loads of wide open spaces where the horses will expect to be allowed to go. As long as I remember to smile for the photographer...