I'd been thinking for ages that for this 14 mile pleasure ride, it might be an idea to push the boat out a bit and wear our tweed jackets, and generally be as smart as we could.
And so we duly donned white shirt, tie, waistcoat and immaculate beige jods, plus, key item, a thermal vest, as once we'd been outside for a few minutes, we realised it was absolutely freezing!
Barnaby, as you know, has been clipped. Although it looked very good when I'd finished, it turned out I'd set the numnah too far back on him, so when I put a saddle cloth and saddle on him, you could see the long haired bit sticking out the back, so I decided it had to go, and clipped it all off on Saturday evening. Obviously it didn't have to be immaculate as it would be mostly under the saddle anyway, and as it just makes a soaking wet patch when he's worked, I decided it was a bit of a waste of time.
As it turned out, by the time we got there, it was glorious sunshine, and the thermals turned out to be a little excessive. We were sweltering within minutes. We had taken another (essential) precaution, though - we'd both filled our hip flasks with port. What an inspiration that turned out to be. We had quite a few pleasant pit-stops as a result, I can tell you!
It was beautiful to canter and trot round this fabulous landscape. No matter what season you go in, it's always slightly breathtaking, and the ground is always good.
I'd taken the decision to put Barnaby in a double bridle, for more control, which turned out to be a very good idea. I wouldn't have had brakes otherwise. I think because he's clipped, he's lovely and cool, which gives him loads of energy. Plus they know Osberton is a fast ride, and it's their cue to go like the clappers (so they do!) Mr O jumped a couple of decent sized logs, too, but I decided we'd keep our feet very firmly on the ground today.
Not far into the ride we bumped into my old friend Denny Bailey. I haven't seen her since she moved to the yard there. Suddenly I was glad I was smartly dressed, and very proud to be seen on Barnaby. She said she's really happy on the new yard, which is good, I guess.
Once we got back, we picked up our photos from the previous ride. We'd ordered an extra large close-up portrait of Zak looking quite stunning. It's an A3 size, so it's the same size as the one we have of Barnaby, so now we can have the two pictures side by side. Poor old Maurice Tilford has been photographing us for years. We've arranged for him to come to us after Christmas and take some photos of the horses galloping about in the field. He'd brought some examples along and they were absolutely stunning, so I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do with ours.
We fence judged last week at Lorna's, for the show cross, and were presented with a rug each as a thankyou present. They are travel rugs, and both horses wore them today. They are absolutely fabulous, and when the horses arrived they were bone dry. Barnaby's is navy blue, and Zak's is dark green, with sheepskin round the neck. I will have to take a photo of him, because he looks like Santa's Little Helper in it. I am so glad i clipped Barnaby, as he was dry after the ride within 15 minutes. A hunter clip may be the way to go in future.
Barnaby was as naughty as possible when I tried to load him. It took five attempts, but we got there in the end. You'd think they'd be only too keen to come home, wouldn't you?
And once we did get home they were rugged up and turned out for a good roll and a drink, then off to tell the others what they'd been up to.
All in all, a beautiful day. I look forward to seeing the photos...