Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Follyfoot Farm Again

The farrier came on Thursday and shod all the horses. Then, as you know, we did the dressage on Friday. I got Zak in on Friday evening for Mr O to ride. As soon as Mr O got on him he knew something was wrong, but set off on a litle jolly and was back in five minutes, with Zak very lame.
The Chimes of Doom soon start rattling in our heads with this boy because of all his past tendon problems. The farrier had said Zak has a bit of seedy toe, has cut the infected hoof away and we had ordered hydrogen peroxide to treat it with. (Difficult to buy from a chemist these days as apparently you can make bombs with it!) But when we looked at Zak, it was clearly a back leg that was giving him grief. Missis wondered about an abscess, so we text the farrier.
He came on Monday and took the shoe off, and sure enough, a very blatant abscess had formed. Revolting pus oozed everywhere, it was disgusting. So we drove round trying to find a tack shop open to buy some poultice material and bandages (and gaffer tape - technical term!)
So now Zak is booted, bandaged and poulticed up to the eyeballs. We can see he is better already, putting weight on the foot again, and more relaxed. I think he's been very stoical about it, considering the amount of pain he must have been in, he just walked like a horse who'd lost a shoe. When Fudge had his abscess, you'd have thought he'd broken his leg, with the level of drama he put into it.
So Mr O is very relieved, as you can imagine. He hates it when something goes wrong with one of the boys, and instantly goes into depression mode. But I managed to avoid it this time, because...
I rode Barnaby out on Saturday morning, round the usual way, but he was in a very funny mood when I got him in, and clearly didn't want to be ridden. He must have thought Zak was coming with us, as once we turned left he looked behind him, realised Zak wasn't there and started whinnying like crazy. He carried on a little bit further, but got to Lucy Goosie's house and refused to go any further. Horse riders call it 'napping' but really it just means they try to turn round and run home. As you can imagine, Barnaby is a lot stronger than me, but I was determined not to give in. In the end I was riding him backwards down the road, but he turned a couple of times until he ran into the dry stone wall. I decided to get off before we got to the rearing stage, but there was no way I was going home, so I led him further and further along the route I'd planned.
I stopped and tried to get on, but my saddle slipped. I could feel the moment my feet left the floor he was going to turn for home again anyway, so I sorted the saddle out and kept on walking. Eventually I thought he must realise it would be quicker to go home walking forwards than it would be to turn and go back the way we'd come. By this point I'd found a perfect branch. I snapped it off and Barnaby started eating the leaves off for me, but when it was bare he suddenly realised it would make the perfect whip! After that he was putty in my hands and we continued on our way, but I was so cross by the time I got home, I shouted to Mr O, "Get your hat!" I hopped off, put Mr O on (much stronger legs than me!) and made Barnaby go round again. By the the time he got back, Barnaby looked slightly more humble (not an easy look) and perfectly on the bit.
On Sunday we should have done a pleasure ride, but I wasn't very well in the morning, and, to be fair, the wind and rain were howling round the house. Obviously Mr O couldn't do it, because Zak was lame. I just felt that if I took Barnaby he would take the lorry apart, as he's not keen on travelling on his own at the best of times, so we stayed home.
I decided it would cheer Mr O up no end if he went for a hack on Barnaby, so off they went for an hour together. Mr O came back grinning like a schoolboy and Barnaby looked like he realised he knew when he was onto a good thing and would rather go on a hack with his dear old mum any day!
So yesterday I got on him and took him past the place he'd napped on Saturday and he was perfectly behaved. To cap it all, I took him straight into the school afterwards and he delivered a practically perfect dressage test. I honestly didn't know he had it in him. Life's full of surprises, isn't it?
Tomorrow it will be time for something completely different, which I hope you will like.
Mrs O.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Hot To Trot

On Friday Missis and I went to the dressage competition at Parklands. We unloaded the horses, who were very chilled. We didn't need to collect a number or anything, just get warmed up and be ready to go in when our names were called.
We tacked the boys up and went into the indoor school to warm up. We actually hired this arena on Wednesday night and I am glad we did it now, as on Wednesday it took me ages to get Lindy to walk into the indoor school. I know it was dark in there and he didn't want to leave Lindy, but he was still being naughty. This time Lindy wasn't phased and walked straight in, which was a relief. The school had been levelled and emptied so there were just horses milling about warming up.
Nicky arrived with her beautiful boy, Connor. I have to say, Hugo was easily a match for anything in there. It's obvious he's a quality animal. I asked Nicky if she could read our test, but she said it would take ages to get Connor warmed up and working well, but her friend Amy would do it. I'm so glad, as I know at one point my mind would have gone a complete blank.
Missis was due to go in before me, and once she'd gone in I couldn't see her. I warmed Lindy up a little bit more and went in once Missis came out.
There were new white boards around the arena that hadn't been there on Wednesday night, so I let him have a little look at everything. Then the bell went, so we came round, entered at A and began the test.
I got quite a good score but not high enough to get placed, but now I've seen the playback on the video I think the judge was generous with her marks and I totally agree with her comments. Lindy wasn't really on the bit at all, and my legs still move about too much, because he feels as if he's going very very slowly, but actually on the playback he doesn't look too bad, so I have to make sure I keep my legs still and not keep nagging. I think the other thing that's noticeable is that he's very wobbly where he's not very fit. Barnaby doesn't look like that at all. But Lindy is very upright and straight and I will ask a lot more of him next time.
But apart from a few nerves, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would like to do a lot more. Missis has agreed to go again, and I am going to learn to be firmer with Lindy because he does come on the bit and can look stunning. When he works properly he trots a lot faster, which makes me feel as if he's going to take off with me, so I don't let him, even though if Barnaby did that it wouldn't bother me. I need to have confidence in Lindy, but last year when I schooled him once he threw his head down and really cranked my neck, so I'm trying not to upset him really, as I don't want him to do that to me again.
I have to say, my heart has always been in dressage. This is not to say, in the slightest, that I am any good at it (and don't think I'm being modest here, because I'm not!) but it really fascinates me. I wanted to do dressage when I got Max, but he was so good at jumping I just went with the flow really. Now that I've got a score and some comments I know what to work on, and I'd be thrilled if I could do some more competitions and gradually work my way up. I find it so relaxing and stress free compared to jumping. My only disappointment is that Barnaby hates it, because he's beautifully put together. If only he'd be more obedient I'd take him instead, but hauling on his reins as I go down the centre line is not going to look attractive, is it? So I'm very grateful to Pongo for a) taking me and b)lending me his horse!
Finally, I must say that Hugo was a different animal to the other day when he chucked Missis off. He seemed to love being with Lindy. In between tests he nodded off with his chin on Lindy's back, and Lindy was nibbling at his plaits, trying to undo them, as if to say, "Don't worry mate, I'll soon have those out for you!" I think he's been quite a lonely horse up 'til now. Oh, and Missis came 6th in the Intro test and 5th in the Novice, even though she went slightly wrong. She could have a lot of fun with that boy, I think.
So came home as high as a kite, really, and can't wait to go again.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Fairy Dust and Cupcakes

I bought a card making magazine ages ago that had some free chipboard toppers with Flower Fairies on them. I felt they were so beautiful that I'd rather wait until I was better at card making than waste them on something I didn't like, or worse still, end up throwing them away.
Finally I've felt that all the materials are in place to make something worthwhile with them, so here is the first one:
I felt that green and gold was the right colour scheme here, and am thoroughly enjoying the peel-offs I used. I popped the green gems on for a bit of bling, and there you have it.

This one isn't really finished, as I need to put a sentiment on but can't quite decide how to do it. I feel as if the picture is complete in itself, but it doesn't say who it's for or anything. I'll keep this to one side until inspiration strikes.

I used my new square scalloped punch and have put the same little green gems in the corners of each one. They catch the light beautifully.
And yes, I have had a little flit around the cupcake market. I do see the attraction, actually, but feel they're a little bit over done (if you'll pardon the pun).
This first one came together very easily. I felt as if I understood my colour and pattern constraints, and I've been dying to use the scalloped border punch I've just bought. I'm really pleased as it's all my own work, not an idea from a magazine or anything.

The pink paper is so perfectly smooth, it's very difficult to resist constantly stroking it! Who would have thought a plain piece of paper could be so attractive?!

This one, however, took about three days to complete, as I struggled to find a backing paper I liked, made my own by printing cupcakes at random and colouring it to match the topper, then decided when I put the topper on top of it, it didn't stand out enough, but I really wanted to use what I'd made, as I found it so striking. The answer was to make an easel card and use it on the bottom half, with some calmer yellow paper as the main backing.

Now that I've found how easy it is to make an easel card, I could make one every day of the week and not get bored!

This is my scrapbook page for August.

I had great fun making this, and decided to make full use of the beautiful My Mind's Eye papers and not show the actual scrapbook paper at all, although the red from my shirt was the inspiration for the scheme. Notice I have used rub-ons to print the word 'FUN'. They came off the backing sheet really easily, thus adding to my confusion with regard to rub-ons. Oh well, practise makes perfect.
Enjoy this rich, windy weather, everyone!
Mrs O.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Horses For Courses

It's all go here, as usual. Missis had her lesson with Nicky on Saturday morning. Hugo is a very spooky horse and the far side of the arena has trees along the length of it, which he doesn't like. But on the other side we have black wrapped haylage, which the cats sit on, which he also doesn't like. Add the duck pond at the short end, and you can see Missis is having fun and games with her new boy. She lunged him for quite a while before the lesson, and I got my camera so I could film her. You can tell Missis is nervous because she told Seven to go away and Pongo to take his hi-viz jacket off! Even Nicky said she wouldn't be able to do that on the day, but it is a sign of nerves. (I used to be like that with my old mare Penny, which is why I moved to my old yard, as they had an indoor school, so I could work her without distractions).
All was going swimmingly, when, like lightening Hugo shot backwards and Missis was thrown right over the top of him and landed with a crash on the floor. I think her leg may have hit the fence as she was so close to it. She stood up and was clearly in a lot of pain. I don't know why he did it, there was nothing there to spook at. I am not impressed. She did get back on and he tried a stunt in the corner and she told him off. I think if she hadn't have done, he would have got the better of her there and then.
When she went to try him out, the woman who owned him had had a lesson on him that morning. I would have said, "I'll come another day then, when he hasn't done any work," but Missis agreed to go. The only reason I can think of for doing that would be to take the edge of his energy (and therefore stupidity) before a buyer comes to see him.
The other thing that I think is utterly extraordinary is the way the vetting was conducted. Missis paid for a five-stage vetting. This means that as an extra, the horse is ridden to check his heart recovery rate, and a sample of blood is taken and stored in case any issues arise later (up to six months). The vet refused to take a blood sample, saying, "It would cost you six hundred pounds to run the blood tests and three thousand to sue me if anything came of it. I know this yard, and you'll be fine." I'd have got another vet. Surely that's breach of practise or something? Very, very strange. Having just sold Max recently, I would have found it very odd if my vet had done that.
So, as you can imagine, Missis was very apprehensive on Sunday, when she'd decided to hack him out. Pongo and I were going, too, but when Pongo got Lindy in, he immediately noticed one of Lindy's front shoes was missing, so that was that.
So Missis and I set off and Hugo was absolutely fine. He was good on Wednesday as well. Loads of cars went past and a motorbike, and he didn't flinch. So it's only work he doesn't like then. Hmmm. I was utterly thrilled with Barnaby, though, as I'd done exactly the same ride the day before and we'd gone like the clappers. On Sunday we did it nearly all in walk and he wasn't strong or tanky or anything. Thankyou my boy.

We went to the cinema on Saturday night, just Missis and moi, to see 'Knight and Day', the new film with Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it, it had exactly what I was hoping for, action, comedy, romance, everything. Cruise and Diaz interact very well together. I would go again and will buy it when it comes out on DVD. I wasn't keen on Tom Cruise in his Top Gun/Days of Thunder era, but he is maturing very well indeed (why do men do that, and women just get old? It's not fair, is it?) Since I've seen Minority Report and The Last Samurai, a truly stupendous film, dear old Tom has gone up in my estimation a great deal. What say you?
I did feel sorry for Missis as she delicately lowered herself into the cinema seat, only to have the cinema rapidly fill up so she had to get up again to let some people come past us. Then, having sat there for an hour and a half, she had to gently prize herself up again so we could leave. I have done that so many times, crawling up the stairs at work to sink gratefully into my chair, knowing that if I needed the loo or a drink, the only place was all the way back down the stairs again.
And so to crafting. I am having a wonderful time, as usual. I have decided to tidy everything up this week, though. I have put lots of my papers into see-through pockets in a clip file so I can flip through without having to rummage. I've put all my stamps, templates and toppers into the same pockets, so I don't lose all the little tiny stamps that are in some of the sets. I've even used my cross stitch storage box to separate my ribbons out individually. It's so much easier to see everything I've got.
I went to the library on Monday and got some more brilliant books out. I'll list them on my sidebar. I am so inspired by them, but I've decided I need a sketch book, as I keep laying awake at night with ideas flowing through my head. If I wasn't married I'd probably come downstairs and start making them, but that wouldn't be fair on Mr O, so I've decided to buy a sketch book (or make one!) so I can draw out my ideas and then actually get some sleep.
I will show you some cards tomorrow, but think this post is quite long enough for today. If you want to share some ideas on how you store your stuff, it would be very interesting.
Enjoy the last rays of summer sunshine everyone.
Mrs O.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Soapbox Sunday - Are You SITTING Comfortably?

I've been meaning to write this for a while, but I know that if I do you will see a side of me I generally like to keep hidden. I came across an unfamiliar phrase a short while ago - 'grammar snob' and I think I may end up in that catagory after this, but to be honest, I may not be all that bothered. Time to nail my colours to the mast, methinks.
Let me explain. I am from Portsmouth originally, way down on the south coast. Portsmouth has many charms, but its accent and pronounciation is not one of them (no, it ain't!) So when we moved to Worksop I got used to "Eh up, duck!" "I were badly," and various other interesting phrases, all new to me. I don't have a problem with each region having it's own flavour, it all adds to life's rich tapestry, I think. (There's nowt so queer as folk).
But I've only heard people in this region saying, "I was sat," and I thought it was just a 'northern' thing. You know the sort of thing, "I was sat at me desk and this man rang me..." Yes, it makes me cringe. Is it all part of dumbing down? Does it really matter? It's partner is, of course, "I was stood," as in, "I was stood at the bus stop..." Grrr! You were standing, people, standing! It's not rocket science, look:
He sat on the chair.
He was still sitting on the chair at 3.30pm.
So I was thinking to myself, surely there are some bastions of correctness left, surely one of them being the BBC, but I don't watch soaps, so how would I know if the characters in them are not 'sat' and 'stood' somewhere every week?
And the second safe haven, surely, would be publishing? Surely we're not going to see 'I was sat,' in books? Imagine my astonishment a couple of weeks ago, when I grabbed the book, 'The Exmoor Files' by Liz Jones from my library shelf and rushed home to start reading. There are several instances in the first few chapters where she says, 'I was sat,' repeatedly. My points are:
1. It's not a local thing then. Liz Jones is a Londoner (sorry love, but you are).
2. How on earth has a publisher let this pass? Didn't somebody proofread the flipping thing? It's pathetic. If we're all going to be able to express ourselves however we see fit, eventually no one will be able to understand anyone else (you might think that's happening already!) Why don't we just publish a novel written totally in text speak? That would be a long read, wouldn't it? Bearing in mind that we don't write 'kween' anymore, we write 'queen' thanks to William Caxton (so he could set up his printing press and get on with the job) it would be a shame to go back to writing however the heck we felt like it, wouldn't it? Soon there won't be any point in going to school at all.
I will now hop off my soap box (briefly!) but I'd love to know what others think, and if I'm labelled a grammar snob because of it, then so be it.

I do want to tell you a little bit more about the book 'The Exmoor Files,' though. I borrowed it because the jacket said it was about a woman who moves from London to Exmoor and buys an ex-racehorse. The perfect book, then... It turns out I stumbled onto a hornet's nest. The first few chapters are just Liz Jones totally and utterly berating her ex husband, Nirpal Dhaliwal, for the circumstances that led up to their divorce. I am not defending him either, but it does make you wonder if she wasn't who she is (she writes for the Daily Mail) if the book would even have been published.
Once I'd found that out, I started to dig around, and it turns out the book got very mixed reviews, as she's upset all the locals in her part of Somerset. She does write in the book that she lives in the middle of Exmoor, but she doesn't. She also made the massive mistake of slating all the local eateries in the area, claiming their menus were all relics from the seventies. It sounds as though she's actually very unpopular.
I did snort a few times about her antics with her horse (eg. feeding them on organic M&S carrots - like her horse would know!) and the fact that she can't buy anything without telling you how much it cost (three thousand pounds for a handbag) but to give her her due, I did laugh a lot when I read it, and cried twice, too (once when her horse bolted - been there, done that.) Towards the end she shows more of her vulnerability and I nearly started to like her. So it was a very interesting read, but I don't think I'd recommend it, although I'd still like people to read it, as then we'd all have something to discuss over dinner!
There, I've got down off my soapbox (where I was sat) as it's quite high up. In fact, if I was stood up there I'd probably get dizzy. Getting that off my chest has made my whole Sunday worthwhile. Thanks for listening. Food for thought?

Friday, 20 August 2010

Strange Days Indeed

At the moment it would appear that we've skipped summer and gone straight on to autumn. A very wet and windy day today.
Our builder, Paul, came up at the weekend. Pongo was showing him various jobs that need doing, to the barn in particular. So on Wednesday he pulled up in his car and was looking around the barn again. I thought it was okay and came back into the house. But I thought it was odd that he'd come in an ordinary car and not his usual white landrover, so I mentioned it to Missis. She rang Paul to ask him if he'd been, and he hadn't. So it turns out this was a random thief doing a recce. But the nerve of it, to actually drive onto our land and walk about everywhere having a nose. I really thought it was Paul (it did look like him) otherwise I'd have confronted him.
This is not the first time this has happened, so we are back to being extra vigilant, locking all the buildings even when we're here and certainly doing it when we're out. Not a nice feeling at all.
The second thing is that, sadly, Mr O's brother passed away on Sunday. The whole family is very sad, and Mr O and his two brothers and nephew have flown out to Germany for the funeral, which is tomorrow. I wish I could have gone, but somebody has to hold the fort here and there has been quite a bit to do. My heart goes out to his two daughters, who will miss him terribly.
The next thing is that I got Barnaby in to ride him yesterday. I groomed him all over, as usual, but it was as I went to do his noseband up I thought he'd got a patch of really bad sunburn under his chin. On closer inspection I realised it was blood, then followed it upwards, through the laceration in his skin to the huge lump of dried blood further up. I was absolutely appalled. Fortunately he let me wash it with hibiscrub and I've put wound gel on it, then got him in last night and put MSM on it, but I've washed it today and it's a truly horrendous wound, it's actually split the skin right open. It's a lot better than yesterday, and clean, but it's borderline vet worthy. I was struggling not to cry as I cleaned it up. I shall keep an eye on it over the weekend, but if it doesn't heal up I will get a vet out. Just what we need. My poor baby.
He really wanted me to see it, and seemed relieved when I treated it. We don't have barbed wire round our fields, but he's leaned over the dry stone wall into the next field to eat the grass and either thought he'd have a good scratch until it turned nasty, or something's spooked him and he's yanked his head back and caught it. Silly, silly boy.
My first thought was that I couldn't ride him, because the wound is right where the noseband will go, but I decided I would take the noseband off and ride him without. He seemed to know I wasn't going to hurt him, and was fine in the school.
I haven't told you, have I? I have made the decision not to have any more lessons with him, because to be honest, he isn't any different, despite Nicky's best efforts. He still runs round with his head out to one side to balance himself, goodness knows why. He's good on the lunge and can balance himself, and when I ride him he is going much more deeply into the corners. His walk is fine, but the minute he trots he is dreadful. Mr O says he always hated dressage, which I suppose is true, but who wants to go into a manege and just walk all the time? I get very wound up and just end up coming out.
Mr O says to school him in the double bridle, because he's completely different in it, so I may give it a go. It's annoying though, because I like to use the double bridle sparingly so I've always got that element of surprise! I use it on the pleasure rides but don't always want to school in it. He is way, way too strong in a snaffle. When we go down the centre line to halt I can hardly stop him.
I was supposed to do a dressage competition on him on August 27th, but I don't really need to do a dressage comp for the judge to tell me what's wrong with him, I can see that for myself! But Missis has very kindly offered me Lindy. I have schooled him a couple of times, and he can get quite naughty, but he is lovely and straight and obedient, such a relief after Barnaby. So I am going to give it a go. Missis is doing the Intro A test, the same as me, but then Novice 38. Boy, what a complicated test.
Her horse is settling in quite well. He is very spooky in the school, but we went out for a hack and he was really calm. We were overtaken by a tractor and a car with a trailer, and a bike and he didn't flinch, which is a good sign. Missis was really thrilled when we came back, as the playing up in the school (in front of Nicky, and Missis' parents) was really putting her off. At least it means she'll be able to do pleasure rides on him, which is all she's worried about really.
So it's all going on here, as usual. I've got a couple of cards to show you. The first one is from my 'embossing mania' phase (and no, don't worry, I didn't really emboss the cat, although it's tempting as she's quite thin anyway!)
I've put a big picture on so you can hopefully see it's the acetate that's embossed. Not my normal style, as usually I use pastel colours, but after a while I decided I really like it.
And then there's this little one:

Having got off to a very poor start with peel-offs, they are my new best friend. I am going to have a lot of fun with these, I can tell, especially around Christmas time.
And can I just say, having really struggled with rub-ons, I bought a special tool on Tuesday night at my class, that makes it really easy to get the rub-ons off their backing paper and onto your card. I tried it on the ones that came with my Sizzix machine and still can't get them to work, so I think they're a duff batch of rub-ons. I'll show you how I used them on my latest scrapbook page very soon.
Have a good weekend, everyone, think of me all alone, without Mr O for company (but going to the cinema tomorrow night to see Knight and Day anyway! Tom Cruise - Mmmmm.)
Mrs O.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Card Crazy

I'm having a really busy week, so this has been the first real opportunity to sit down for five minutes and have a breather. We've been busy settling the new horse in. So far, so good, but more to say on that subject another time.
For now though, I've had a bit of a card making explosion. I love it when a plan comes together. Do you remember I had a self-imposed ban on buying anything craft related in July? Well, let's just say, I've more than made up for it in August! I'm going to ban myself again in September (whilst somehow making a card for Daughter 1.)
So here are a few of the things I've been making.

I think I'll be giving this to Son 1 near the end of August, but it's satisfied my urge to make a gatefold card. The stamp was a freebie with a magazine, which is doing the rounds a bit (isn't it Margaret!) and I'm pleased to be able to use up some of this pack of papers, as I don't really like it and have found it very difficult to work with. I'll know better next time!

I've made this card using my Sizzix Texture Boutique to emboss the main card and the little flower topper. Sorry the picture quality isn't very good, but I think you get the general idea. I am obsessed with embossing (see my attempt at embossing acetate tomorrow). I emboss everything that doesn't move. My sister sent me a postcard from Malta and I absentmindedly embossed it. I have to say it was much improved (the colours seemed more pronounced, somehow).

Do you remember I made a little shed card last week? Well, following on from that, here is my greenhouse:

I am really pleased with this card. My mum would have loved it. Quite a time-consuming card to make, as you have to cut out a template first, then do all the cutting of the card, backing it with acetate (I can't help feeling acetate is going to feature quite heavily in my work for a while!) and finding just the right colour to back it with, then making the little tree and the plant in the pot, but it was a labour of love. I'll be hard pushed to give this one away!

I went to my local craft class last night. I have made the decision to go every time it's on as an aid to my flagging social life. I was a bit down in the dumps before we went on holiday as I spend a heck of a lot of time on my own here, and am craving some 'girl time'. The craft class is an ideal way to satisfy my urge for female company, plus I get to make some brilliant things and learn a lot at the same time.
We were meant to be doing quilling, so we all had a go and decided it was far too fiddly (ever tried it?) It might be something I do more of in the future but it'll take a lot of patience. We decided it was time to make a stepper card instead, so this is mine:

Considering I'm avoiding Christmas like the plague until November, I was only too pleased to have a go at this, as I think stepper cards are fantastic. Hope you like it.

Well I'm off to emboss the cat. Have a good day, everyone.
Mrs O.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

R.I.P. Polo

Finally it's time to tell you the thing I've been putting off for quite a while...

As you know, Missis has a horse called Polo. He is a beautiful thoroughbred, with perfect manners on the ground, but he is quite barmy to ride. Missis has been very nervous about riding him, as he is very bad in traffic. He runs backwards if a car comes towards him too fast, and as you may know, we come straight out of the house onto a 60mph road, which has made things very difficult for her. She didn't ride very much at all until we came.
He is a lovely gentle boy, though, and he and Barnaby have become good friends since Max left. Unfortunately Missis made up her mind a few weeks ago to have Polo put to sleep, claiming that he is lame. When she was being rational, she did say that no one would buy him because he's bonkers, and that he's too old to sell, which I agree with, but she could have let him go as a field companion, although are people doing that since the recession?
Our farrier pointed out that he had seedy toe, but she never treated it because her mind was made up by then. I have found all of this stressful beyond belief, as you can imagine.
She got her vet out a few weeks ago, and he refused to put Polo down, but while we were away, the deed was done. I am heartbroken (as is Missis, actually) and miss him very much. Lindy looks quite lost in the field and Barnaby was looking for him when we got back yesterday. Awful.
But this decision has been prompted because Missis decided to look for a new horse. On the Friday before we went away, she and I travelled down to Gloucester to look at an Andalusian gelding. He was very nice, and black and beautiful. She rode him out for quite a while, and I filmed her riding him in the school. Later on, while watching the video, we realised he dishes. This is a fault in a horse where his lower leg rotates outwards from the knee down, instead of going straight. They wanted eight thousand pounds for this horse, recently imported from Spain. I wouldn't pay two thousand pounds for a horse that dishes (you can't do dressage or showing with it) and Missis wisely decided to walk away.
But then on Sunday she travelled north to see an event horse for sale, a thoroughbred cross Connemara. She tried him out and said he was very calm, had good paces and jumped very well (I should think so for the level he's at). I did say this was the one for her to go for. She put in an offer on Wednesday, while we were on holiday, which was accepted, so she went yesterday to pick him up. They got back at about 9.30pm. He came into his stable and spent the night in with Fudge for company. He seemed very calm and laid back, sniffed everything and tucked into his haynet. He is a beautiful bright bay, and very nicely put together (I will add some photos soon). This morning he's been turned out and met everybody, which went very well, without too much argueing. Barnaby waited until last to greet him. He is totally secure in his status as herd leader. I missed Max then. It was always his job to introduce newcomers and show them round the field, where the trough and the shelter are (but always reserving the best eating spots for himself!)
So the new boy (Hugo) is settling in. But there is still a huge gaping hole in my heart that Polo used to occupy. It won't be the same without him. Goodbye sweet man, we will miss you.

Friday, 13 August 2010

All At Sea!

Finally, we are back, after a three hour journey. Have you missed me? I've spent the last hour catching up on all your blogs.
We have had a wonderful time. I hardly know where to start.
We have been to Field Farm in Mumby, Lincolnshire (on the east coast to those of you who don't know Britain very well). Have a look at the website if you get time. We arrived Monday lunchtime, to be welcomed by Andrea, one of the owners. She showed us where to park the lorry and we unloaded the horses. They were given a nice paddock about ten yards from where the lorry was parked. They ran up and down in it, trying to figure out why they were there, and forming an immediate 'emergency action' bond i.e. 'I only know you and you only know me, so let's stick together!'
Andrea showed us round the (immaculate) yard, which two stables we would have, where to put our tack etc. She showed us the indoor and outdoor schools, the jumping paddock and the way to the cross country course. So strange to be on a livery yard again.
We went out for a hack that evening with a woman on her mare and her daughter leading a youngster in front. There was a girl behind me, too, on a beautiful pale grey cob. I saw the pink saddle cloth and asked, "What's her name?" The girl replied, "Hercules." A gelding then. Clever old me.
It was a very nice ride, and Barnaby and Zak were impeccably behaved. The youngster decided to trot every so often, and at first Barnaby thought it was his cue to join in, but he soon settled. Then when we got back Mr O decided he really must go and have a 'look' at the cross country course. Barnaby was fine until I put him in his stable and he realised Zak wasn't there, then went ballistic, kicking the door of his very smart American barn stable, which echoed around the yard. I was so embarrassed, and not very happy with Mr O when he got back. Of course he'd jumped most of the fences on the course, so he was quite happy.
We turned them out and clambered back into the lorry to cook dinner, which was lovely. We read until the light faded, then put on the DVD player, but we had no real television all week, and didn't miss it in the slightest.
Getting to bed is always fun, as the lorry has a luton, a bed above the cab. I hauled myself up and snuggled down for the night. In the quiet and dark Mr O asked, "Why have we left our one-bedroomed cottage where the horses are outside, to sleep in a lorry with our horses outside?" I said, "We're downsizing. Now go to sleep," and lay there giggling to myself.
On Tuesday morning I decided to school Barnaby (more of that on a separate post I think) and then went onto the cross country course. I expected him to be really on his toes, but he was very calm. He did swell up slightly in recognition, but there wasn't even a hint of tanking me round everywhere. I was very surprised. I couldn't go mad as I only had him in a snaffle, but we walked round and looked at the fences, and decided to go up over the bank, then got round to the water jump.
I don't know what it is about water jumps, but I can't resist them. This is the first one I've done on Barnaby, though. He went straight in and we walked along in the water. It is a very long water jump compared to most, and quite deep. We turned round and decided to go back the way we'd come, with Mr O behind me. I put Barnaby into trot and was soon wet up to my knees, but unbeknown to me, Mr O, who was behind me, was soaked from head to foot! Ah well.
That evening we decided to ride to the beach. We just had to go along a green track with serious ditches on either side (Lincolnshire countryside is obsessed with ditches) for about a mile and a half, then up a little quiet road, into a car park. There was a sandtrack ahead of us, climbing upwards, and then, suddenly, the panorama of sand, sky and sea, spread out before us. Barnaby took one look and said, "Seen it," and trolleyed along quite happily. Bit of an anticlimax, really. I at least expected some skipping about and snorting, but no.
Zak on the other hand, took one look and just said, "No!" in his best officer and a gentleman voice and turned away. He's a well travelled lad, but he's obviously never seen the sea before.
We walked along the sand for a while, but neither of them were keen on the big blue wobbly thing on their left. Barnaby must have looked stunning as his chin was on his chest, staring at the foamy waves. The tide was in, but there was still loads of room. We walked along, taking in the sights. Barnaby didn't spook at anything. We rode down to Chapel-St-Leonards, then turned back, having a little trot, but nothing outrageous.
When we got back, Andrea's daughter said the best time to go was at lunch time, as the tide would be out, so the next day we set off at twelve. The horses knew what was coming this time, and basically said, "Stop trying to get us into the sea!" It made me dizzy as Barnaby was backing up, not wanting to get his feet wet, but the water was milling about underneath him. He didn't like the crashing sound it made. Obviously he's not frightened of water per se, as proven by his ability on the cross country course.
And so we went from walk to trot, their hooves making a strange 'tick-tock' sound on the sand, and then we moved up a gear, into canter. Zak looked stunning, more than happy to bowl along, now he knew that water wasn't involved.
And then, the race horse and the war horse moved up into fourth gear and it was stunning. They whizzed across the sand, people, dogs and fisherman flitting past in the blink of an eye. Resisting the urge to shout out for sheer joy, we let them bowl on and on and on, Mr O and I exchanging glances of pure exhiliration. No wonder they take race horses onto the beach. It's the only place where you can really open up and still have room to gradually slow down and still have miles of sand in front of you.
Eventually we came back to walk and let the horses catch their breath. We'd easily reached Chapel St. Leonards and turned round to come home, changing between walk, trot and canter as we felt led. It was amazing being able to ride Barnaby like this, knowing he wasn't going to take off with me and would stop when asked. I am so proud of him and thrilled to share this experience with him.
Then I have to confess, Mr O said, "That woman's walking through that pool and it looks fine - let's trot through it." I expressed my doubts about safety, which he dismissed, so we set off trotting through the water. Zak must have gone a bit faster as Barnaby broke into a canter. I could hardly see in front of me as the water was everywhere. Barnaby was very bouncy, too, he must have looked stunning, but I shouted at Mr O to pull up. Then suddenly Barnaby stumbled on a sand ridge and his nose must have gone into the water he was so low, but I came off into the water next to him. It was quite funny actually, and Barnaby was fine. I got a soaking but was unhurt. Fortunately Mr O had the sense to grab Barnaby's bridle. I don't think he'd have left Zak to be honest, but I caught up the reins and got back on. I was glad it was a warm day and was dry by the time we got home. I had sand all up one leg, and all over my gloves. The only thing that annoyed me is (as usual) Mr O's lack of safety and the fact that I've never come off Barnaby and had hoped not to, really. It doesn't help me put my faith in Mr O's ideas.
Unfortunately there are no photos of these events as I couldn't think how to gallop and take pictures at the same time! And when I fell off I was really glad I didn't have a camera round my neck as it would have been quite dangerous (and ruined the camera!)
More tomorrow, I dare say, as I still have quite a few things to tell you.
Take care, everyone
Mrs O.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Pleasure Ride - Wirksworth

Finally I have half an hour to put a few thoughts on paper (or screen!) before we go away.
We had a wonderful time yesterday doing a pleasure ride around a place called Wirksworth. Mr O, Missis and I did it together. The photo above is actually from the previous one around Newhaven, but the look is very similar.
Actually this time we set off ('Beware of cows hiding in the gorse bushes!' it said on the map) and walked down a beautifully grassy field, where the photographer's sign was positioned. He took some photos as we went past, then said that if we wanted to go down to the bottom of the field we could turn and gallop back up and he would get some more shots. So sure enough, we got to the bottom of the field, turned round and Mr O set off in a flat out gallop! He streaked up the field in a blur. And of course, not to be outdone (or worried sick about being left behind) Barnaby set off, after rearing, in hot pursuit. I have seen the photos, and actually they look quite good, but you can see from the last one that I am screaming, "Pull up!!" in a desperate attempt to stop them. I could only sit there, with grass whizzing past me, knowing that Barnaby wouldn't pull up unless Zak did. Fortunately Mr O did pull up in front of the dry stone wall but Barnaby shot through the gap and took another ten strides before I could stop him. Missis thought I was going for the wall, but I managed to steer him through the gap. I was not impressed, I can tell you. Mr O said he didn't know Zak was going to do it. Hmmm. This bodes well for galloping on the beach next week, doesn't it?
After that we carried on reasonably calmly, but went past a railway bridge, when we should have gone under it. We got quite a long way down the road when a woman in front of us said, "I think this is the wrong way!" We retraced our steps and realised we had gone wrong.
We got to the point where the five mile route turned for home, but the twelve mile route continued, so Missis and I gave Mr O the map and carried on back to the start (having seen some stunning views on the way round). Barnaby was stressed at being separated from Zak, but I managed to keep him under control. We carried on and rode under a very low bridge. Barnaby fully expected Zak to be on the other side, so his face must have been a picture when he realised he wasn't there. We trotted the rest of the way up the road and back to the start, but it was obvious that Barnaby would start to get stressed if Zak didn't come back soon, so we did what any sensible women would do in that situation, and set off to go round again!
Barnaby was a bit miffed at first, but I was determined and he gave in with good grace. It seemed much quicker this time (especially as we didn't get lost at the railway bridge!) and before I knew it we were back. Mr O had arrived back and the marshall had told him we'd decided to do it twice, so he didn't worry about where we were.
So we did ten miles altogether. The horses weren't tired at all, which shows how fit they are. As I say, the photos are fab, so I'll show you as soon as they arrive.
We've spent all of today packing. I don't know if I've explained that we are taking the horses on holiday with us, to the Lincolnshire coast. I had no idea the two horses had so much stuff, by the time we've packed tack, rugs, feeds etc, let alone clothes and food for us. 'Er Indoors is coming too, so we have to pack her bed, feed etc. I am worried about being cold at night (we are sleeping in the lorry) so have packed loads of jumpers, pyjamas, etc. It's supposed to rain at least on Monday and Tuesday, but if I'm galloping along the beach, I probably won't care, will I?
So we'll be back on Friday afternoon. Presumably I'll have hundreds of posts to read on here and loads of stuff to wade through on facebook.
Have a great week, everyone.
Mrs O.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Just Passing Through!

It's been a hectic week and it's about to get even busier as we are going on holiday next week (can't wait!) I am trying to iron and tidy up and do everything all at once. I get up in the morning and have a plan in my head of how my day is going to be, then something happens to change it and everything goes out of the window. But hey...
Finally, the whole riding thing is coming together. Most instructors can tell you what you're doing wrong, but they can't (or don't!) all tell you how to correct it. I did all the riding this week and was able to explain the things that frustrate me and my instructor sorted them out. She says I worry too much and analyse too much (what me?) But also I am too lax with Barnaby and don't take charge really, which is probably true. Like, halt means halt, not "Why don't you wander over there for a while?" She says I rise too high in trot and I do too much generally, which is also true. She wants me to do a dressage comp at the end of August. It's what's called an Intro test, which is a walk and trot test, they're lower than a Prelim even. We will be dreadful, but I've got to start somewhere.
I rang Mr O to see if he could get the day off work (the competition is on a Friday) but he can't so I've asked Missis if she fancies having a go and she said yes, much to my surprise. I'm going to take a copy of the test on holiday with me so I can have a couple of practises. The comp is on August 27th, so I'll only have two more lessons before it's on.

I have made a couple of cards, to show you:

This one was a freebie on a website, very simple, elegant and effective, but it took ages to get it to print out correctly first. I have a recipient in mind for this one.

This next one was really fun to make:

Quite cute, and really easy to do.
This is the inside:

Good for Father's Day or dad's birthday I think.

And this is my latest scrapbook page...

I really enjoyed making this. The photos are the ones of Barnaby rolling. The writing says, "Why is it that before you were mine, you were always clean?" Then at the bottom it says, 'And now it's just mud, mud, glorious mud!' Which is so true! But underneath the heart it says, 'But I still love you.' As you can see, the base paper is a lilac/purple colour. Of course, I could cover it up completely, but I decided to work with it. The main photo is backed by lilac paper, and the gingham worked really well with it. The whole 'washing line' idea came to me in a dream (no kidding!) and I woke up and did it. Can you see the little pegs clipping the photo onto the washing line? I liked the idea of bathing him and hanging him out to dry! I won't get time to do July's page until after the holiday now.
In fact, I will be lucky to get one more post in before we set off on Monday morning.
I am going to look at a horse with Missis tomorrow (an Andalusian) which is all part of an ongoing saga, which I won't get time to explain until after the holiday either. So much to say, so little time!

Monday, 2 August 2010

A Busy Weekend

Well, this weekend has been incredibly busy. We've hardly been in the house.
On Saturday we took 'Er Indoors to have her annual vaccination booster. It's open surgery on a Saturday morning, so you just come and register and take your place in the waiting room until you're called. 'Er Indoors hates the vet. It stems from the one and only time we put her in kennels and she had to have the kennel cough jab, which actually isn't an injection, it's puffed up the dog's nose. She absolutely hated it and has never wanted to go to the vets since.
We waited ages to be seen. We couldn't help hearing the receptionist's conversations on the phone. At one point she said, "Yes, Mrs De Ville, that would be fine. Certainly Mrs De Ville, just bring them in on Thursday, that's no problem." Mr O and I looked at each other and shuddered.
Finally, it was our turn to be seen. Mr O put 'Er Indoors on the examining table. 'Er Indoors took a flying leap off it. Mr O hoisted her back up and held on for all he was worth. (I knew all that playing rugby for the navy would come in handy one day). The vet examined her all over. She said, "She's carrying a little weight." I thought, 'Blimey, you should see my horse.' 'Er Indoors hardly even noticed the actual injection. All done for another year.
We dropped 'Er back home, then went off to do the more exciting thing we'd planned - to go and see the film 'Inception' with Leonardo DiCaprio. We've seen the trailer and really wanted to go and see it. It is extremely good, but slightly surreal (all 2hrs and 28 mins of it). I do think Leo has honed himself as an actor, and his recent films have shown his impressive maturity, but more than that, there aren't many men who look as spellbindingly gorgeous as he does in a well cut suit. That's all I have to say about that (before I incriminate myself in any way!)
The film is slightly 'The Matrix' in style, but much better and very clever. I was a bit confused half way through, but really enjoyed it. I came out into the daylight, blinking, not sure if this was a dream, or if this was reality...
And so to Sunday, which was hectic, to say the least. First stop was church, for a family service, which was lovely.
Then up to Worksop

to celebrate

this young lady's third birthday.

The thought first struck me at the wedding, but came back to me more strongly today: I wonder if this little girl has any idea how many people love her? Parents, aunts, uncles, friends, grandparents, everybody adores her, nobody bears her the slightest malice. Do you know, at that age, that you are adored? I wonder.
Then we drove to near Nottingham, to drop Son 1 at home (At this stage you may be wondering just how large my family is!)
And then, as arranged, we drove to the yard of Max's new owner, to go and see the boy himself. As soon as we pulled into the driveway, Mr O and I recognised the place. The woman who'd bought my old mare Penny from me years ago, also liveried here. How strange. I sell all my old horses to the same yard!
We drove past grazing fields, and there he was. I'd recognise him anywhere. His new owner went and got him and he came poddling up. Of course, he hasn't changed a bit. She tacked him up and rode him. He did look sweet, but small, now I've got used to Barnaby's bulk ('summering well' is an understatement!) and very hairy, considering they've clipped a lot of his leg hair off. He seemed very well in himself, and not the slightest bit interested in me until I produced an apple at the end. I am glad he is well and happy. I have to say, I never went to visit Crispin in his new home, when I sold him, because I knew I would sob and want to take him back with me, but I knew if I saw Max I would be all right. I knew I had Barnaby to rush home to, and I'm glad to say he more than makes up for my loss, which is good, isn't it? It made me realise how far I've come with The Bardy Lad and that he is the horse I've truly been waiting all my life for.
And so today I am going to relax and enjoy sitting here, reaquainting myself with the four walls I've hardly seen all weekend!
Have a good week, everyone.
Mrs O.