I actually finished The Time Traveler's Wife late on Saturday night. It has been an adventure. If you haven't read it, or seen the film, I would highly recommend it. At the end of each year, I like to pick a 'Book of the Year' from everything I've read, and I was worried I hadn't read anything outstanding enough to qualify and that I'd have to plump for Love In The Time Of Cholera (heaven forbid) but at last here comes a worthy contender. If you've read it, you don't need me to tell you the plot, and if you haven't, there's nothing I can say without spoiling it for you, so take the title and work the rest out for yourself, it'll be well worth it. This book was a treat to read, I can't praise it enough. You have to have your wits about you, though, and think and concentrate all the way through it. No shilly-shallying here.
I am feeling cautious about watching the film now and whether it will spoil it for me, as I've just seen the film of Love In The Time of Cholera and it was awful. I was ironing at the time, and the two experiences together were enough to traumatize me.
Also, when I took the book of The Time Traveler's Wife back to the library, I told the librarians how good it was, and one turned to me and asked, "Have you seen the film?" as if the book alone were not enough. Get thee behind me...
For those of you who don't know, this is the time of year when all horses, to varying degrees, turn into fluffy bears. Your previously sleek encumbent wakes up one morning and looks like a yeti (especially if he's white like mine!)
So the winter dilemma begins. If you ride a horse with his (or indeed, her) winter coat on, they sweat to death after only the minimum of exercise. So, to prevent this, you clip a little, or a lot, of their hair off. This means they cool down really quickly after they've been ridden. This is good. But it also means they will then be cold because you've clipped all their hair off. So you go and buy a nice (expensive) rug and put it on them. It is ridiculous, no matter how you look at it, but a necessity all the same. If you're not riding your horse you don't need to clip it. Nobody pops up to the New Forest ponies, or the Exmoors, brandishing clippers and shouting, "Brace yourselves!" do they?
Anyway, normally I do what's called a 'blanket clip.' This means you clip all the hair off the neck and belly, but leave the hair on their backs. The trouble with Barnaby is that it still leaves him very warm with so much hair still left on, and a rug on top. He hates being too warm and will rip holes in the rug to provide his own ventilation if necessary. This starts to be not funny when you're on the fifth rug that winter.
So I've decided to do a hunter clip. This means you take all the hair off everywhere except a saddle patch and the leg hair. The best way to show you this is to do a before and after photo, so here is Barnaby before I started, all hair on:
Notice the particularly thick hair on his belly just behind his front legs.
This is him after I'd finished clipping:Now you can notice the extraordinary thing about him. If you look carefully, especially on his neck and chest, you can see that his skin is black. This is very odd, as you can see from the previous photo, his hair is white all over. It's as though he was born a coloured cob but went white over time. Unfortunately we'll never know, but it is a bit peculiar. He was grateful I'd done it, though, and went out to tell his crew.
And in the evening, he was playing a game of tag with me in his stable, which is extraordinary,
1) because he found it funny and
2) because I am honoured that he played with me and not his dad.
I love you, Bardy Lad.