We have had such a busy weekend. Every year, for some inexplicable reason, Pongo and Missis decide to have a Hallowe'en party. Nothing wrong with that, you may say. But they also have a bonfire and fireworks. I have never, in all my years, come across a farm with horses where they decide to let off fireworks, it's truly bizaare.
The second thing I don't understand is that they have the whole party outside. Don't misunderstand me, I have been to bonfire parties at farms before. Everyone stands outside and watches the fireworks, then troops into the big farm kitchen for soup and jacket potatoes - not a problem. But this means the whole barn has to be blitzed, to make it suitable for partygoers. The only problem is, our barn is full of ducks and chickens. So Pongo took Friday off work to move out the tractor, the JCB, the digger and the quad, sweep everything out and put round hay bales to sit on. Then he built a shed to house the ducks. Then we cleaned out the duck pen and the chickens. But on top of this, Missis complained constantly about the amount of housework she had to do to make the house presentable in case anyone wanted to come in at the end. Surely if people are coming into the house anyway, there's no need to bother tidying the farm up, just do the fireworks then all go in for food. It's a mystery to me.
It was quite a good party as parties go, and it didn't rain or anything, but I also get worried sick about the horses. Barnaby hates bangs, gunfire, bird scarers, anything that makes a loud noise like that. He was quite sweated up when I went to check on him, poor boy. We didn't stay late at the party anyway, because...
On Sunday Mr O and I went to a Hallowe'en Fun Ride organised by Derbyshire BHS (British Horse Society). Barnaby was in an absolutely foul mood while I got him ready, because the clocks had gone back and as far as he was concerned he should be out eating, not standing here having travel boots put on. Fortunately Missis had the sense to keep her horses in until we'd gone. If she'd put them out Barnaby would have gone balistic.
We drove down to Breaston and turned onto the field. I unloaded Barnaby and he really seemed to have calmed down. One of the stewards stood there looking at him. We got chatting and she said what a fit looking horse he was. I looked over at him, and could suddenly see what she meant. His clip has come out beautifully, so he looks like he's got his summer coat. He is also very muscly and looking good, so I was really pleased.
Loads and loads of people had come in fancy dress, plus loads of children, obviously. We got tacked up, had our photo taken and set off on the ride. The first thing we rode past was a graveyard, which added to the atmosphere!
Barnaby was really calm, which surprised me. There are always marshalls on a ride like this to guide you across any busy roads. Everytime we came to one we were offered sweets out of pumpkin buckets. We came to one crossing and were given instructions to go and find the name of the witch and come back, so we rode on and eventually came to a picture of a witch pinned to a gate with 'Winnie the Web' written on it, so we trundled back to tell her, then set off on the rest of the ride (much to Barnaby's disappointment, who thought we'd finished and were going home!)
The ride was six miles, and after a while we knew where we were. We rode through the village of Draycott and rode past the house of the man who sold us our lorry. It was a really strange feeling of deja vu, having only been there once, about five years ago, but recognising it instantly.
Eventually we arrived back at the field, and then it was, 'Let the games commence!'
The first game was a coconut shy (still on your horse, obviously). Mr O got four out of five and I only got two.
Then there was a football game where you had to use a witch's broomstick to hit a monster's head into the goal. This was clearly designed for children on their 13.2 ponies, so to say it was tricky was an understatement. Plus I whacked Barnaby on the leg with my broomstick. He just stood there motionless, bless 'im. My poor baby. I did score a goal though.
Then we did some proper TREC. This time for the control of paces we had to canter away and walk back, which worked really well for me as Barnaby didn't want to leave Zak so he went away really slowly, but tried to trot back. Fortunately for me he was in a double bridle so I had control. Then we had weaving poles, then a rein back, which Barnaby did. I have been working on this in our schooling, so I was really pleased. We also did the S bend and the stand still in the ring. There was a jump at the end, which I passed, but Mr O and Zak did it beautifully, which was very satisfying.
I don't think I've done justice to how much fun the day was. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and the horses behaved impeccably. We would definitely go again. For some reason though, by the end of it I was absolutely shattered. We didn't drink at the party and didn't go to bed particularly late so I can't explain it. Maybe it's because I've been mucking out all week, and knew we still had to muck out when we got back. All I do know is that I collapsed into my bed that night and slept like a log!