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Friday, 26 November 2010

It's All Good...

...but it's also freezing cold. We seem to have escaped the snow so far, though. For the past two days the ducks have come out of their coop (if that's the correct term) run to the pond, assessed the situation, and run straight back to the coop. They stand there muttering to themselves about the injustices in the world and where the next meal is coming from. This morning I realised they are actually thirsty and filled a washing up bowl full of water for them. They looked at me gratefully and tucked in.
Water seems to be the thing, actually, as everywhere is frozen. I noticed Lindy looking glumly into the trough. I went up with the largest hammer I could find, and smashed a hole in the ice. Barnaby appeared instantly, pushed Lindy to one side and began slurping through the hole. He drank for ages before submitting to Zak. Next was Hugo, then finally Lindy, by now a bit disgruntled that he'd actually been the one to point out the situation, but the last to be served.
Penny has been out of confinement with her nine babies for the last couple of weeks, as we were worried she was suffering from a lack of daylight. She reminds me so much of 'The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe...' She immediately abandoned her babies and went for a dustbath in the plant pot. Little chicks were cheeping in distress, but she just slammed the bathroom door in their faces. Mind you, if I'd spent a month in a rabbit hutch with nine babies, I'd probably want some 'me' time, too.
You have no idea how difficult it is to muck out two stables with 17 chickens in it....
Fortunately Barnaby seems to be recovering. He's actually worked every day this week, and the swelling is reducing. I asked Mr O to hack him out on Wednesday. I don't know what he did, but Bard was very calm for our hack yesterday, and impeccably behaved when I lunged him today (apart from the girly squeal at the beginning). I am so relieved he is okay.
I am wading through the cardmaking, but I am really enjoying it now. I've made two for some boys, which I'm also going to be using for my grandsons this year. I realised I am suffering from a lack of decoupage in my life, so I made this:
I love these little ticket sentiments. They are so original.
Now I can tell you that of all the cards I've made, this is my favourite Christmas card this year, not because I've made it, but because I love the stamps, the colour scheme and the simplicity of it. Again I've used the ticket sentiment stamps. I just love them.

I am a bit frustrated because I ordered some papers from an American company (which will deliberately remain nameless) which are taking absolute ages to arrive. I specifically wanted the 6"x6" size, which I couldn't get in the UK, so I ordered them from America and they haven't come. They are so beautiful, I'm dying to use them but I can't. Do I order the 8x8 size and start using it, and put the 6x6 away when they eventually arrive, to use next year? I'm not complaining about the company, I'm just champing at the bit to use these papers, and fed up with hanging round the post box all day like a disappointed bloodhound. What would you do?

Of course the plan is to go showjumping on Sunday, but I'm not building my hopes up, as I'm sure it'll be snowing here by then, and Mr O and I agree there's no way we're taking the lorry out with snow on the road.

Have a good weekend, everyone, and for goodness sake, wrap up warm!

Mrs O.


Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Great Jumping Jehoshaphat!

The vet came out yesterday to have a look at The Bardy Lad. He examined him thoroughly and I trotted him up for him. Barnaby is clearly not lame and the vet said he'd be very surprised if he had an infection. He said it looked like an oedema, almost as if he's been on box rest, but it's because he's gone from lots of exercise to a week of doing nothing. It can't be helped, there's no way I'm going to ride a horse who spent the previous evening hanging about over his stable door, is there?
Basically, the vet said to exercise him to dissipate the oedema. It is pretty big actually. I rode him in the school yesterday, then Missis and I hacked out today. I only wanted to take it steady, so we walked all the way down Press, then turned and trotted all the way back up. Lindy was cantering along behind me (on the road) which really sets Barnaby off, and I can only just hold him. Missis realised what the crafty beggar was doing and put a stop to it. We trotted to the top of the steep bit, then walked the rest of the way home. I think if we'd cantered on the verge like we normally do, we'd have been home in time for tea and medals. I can just about hold Barnaby in that sort of mood, so I think I'm going to hack out in a double bridle for a while, just to remind him of his horsey manners.
When we got back, Missis tacked Hugo up and we went into the school. I gave her a lesson in 'gymnastic jumping.' Hugo was quite lazy at first, but soon perked up and did really well. She has got a lesson with Nicky tomorrow, which seems a bit pointless now, but there we are.
This is all because Mr O and Missis went showjumping a couple of weeks ago (the day before Barnaby did his leaping episode). It was at a place called Marchington, which is an hour and a half to the south, in Staffordshire. It was a really nice place, with a big indoor warm-up arena, as well as the main showjumping arena.
It was 2-phase jumping, which means you jump the first eight jumps to see if you go clear, then fence 9-14 are timed. Mr O went in and walked the course but felt like he hadn't really learned it but it was time to go and get Zak and get warmed up.
He jumped quite well in the warm-up. It's the first time Mr O's ever competed him, so we weren't sure what he'd be like. As it turned out, he was going very well, and clear, when Mr O completely forgot the course. It was difficult, because in the end I shouted, "Green planks!" but didn't want to eliminate him for outside assistance. Mr O saw a green fence and jumped it, and immediately got eliminated anyway! It was such a shame, because he was going beautifully. Mr O said when he walked the course he kept counting his strides, which he never normally bothers with, but didn't concentrate on the course itself. We've decided next time he must take longer just to walk it and learn the route and I'll walk Zak round in the collecting ring so he's warmed up a bit before Mr O gets on.
Missis also did it, but had several fences down. I've watched the camcording, and she looks terrified. I don't think it was the fences particularly, she just got totally overcome with nerves. They are going again on Sunday afternoon, so both of them have decided to get some more practise in. I have to say, for a Trailblazers competition, there were a lot of fences, and the spreads on them were really big. I know when you're competing you can think, 'the fences were huge,' but that's just nerves kicking in. I wasn't competing, and I still thought they were big!
There are 14 fences, too, which is quite a lot, but it's because it's two phase. I suppose it's quicker to get everybody to do both parts in one go, but I think I prefer a jump-off. Maybe it's calmer this way, but I find it very peculiar to jump some fences both ways when you're doing a course. It's all good experience, though, isn't it?
Overall, though, we were very pleased with Zak's performance. He certainly had no trouble with the height. I think Missis was quite surprised too, as she's been having lessons with Nicky and is on a proven event horse. We've got an ex-racehorse, coached by little old me, and he did really well.
It turns out there is a rather spectacular photo of Mr O jumping. We are both quite astonished by it and have ordered it, so as soon as it arrives, you can rest assured it will be on here, facebook, my screensaver and Mr O's computer at work!
I am interested to see what this Sunday brings, but we are forecast snow on Thursday. I've no way of knowing what sort of quantity we're talking about, but it could totally scupper our plans. Never mind.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Oh dear...

I rode Barnaby yesterday, for about twenty minutes in the manege, just to see how he felt, and he was fine. I only did walk and trot, nothing manic. It felt wonderful to be on him again, and he was full of energy.
We've been to church (fantastic time) and come home. I've just got Barnaby in and been grooming him, and soon discovered two huge lumps on his belly and his sheath is massively swollen. I assume it's an infection and we'll have to get the vet out again. It's quite annoying though, when he's been on antibiotics all week. My poor boy. He certainly didn't have anything like that yesterday. The lumps don't hurt, but his sheath is sore. I can't stand it when things happen to our horses, honestly sometimes it's worse than with children. At least they can tell you which bit hurts. And it doesn't cost two hundred pounds to take them to the doctors!
Anyway, it's all go here. We started the Christmas shopping yesterday. Does anybody else miss Woolworths? Argos just seemed to have girls things in, but the items we wanted were both sold out. It was only by chance we had to go to the bank, walked past the Co-Op and realised they have a toy department. We managed to get everything in the end.
We've also been to my lovely, favourite craft shop and bought my Christmas present. Yes! I have in my own home, though not officially in my possession, a Sizzix Bigshot. It's a machine for die cutting and embossing and I'll do a 'show and tell' on Christmas Day. You may be thinking, 'Fancy going and buying your own Christmas present,' but let me explain:-
Years ago I sent Mr O to the shop to buy some nice drinks for lunch and some foil. He came back with crisps and a copy of the Times.
So the rival to Sizzix is called a Cuttlebug, and Mr O knows this. So he got Sizzix and Cuttlebug mixed up and asked me if I 'still wanted a Shuttlecock for Christmas?' which is why I felt the wisest thing was to go with him and make sure he got the right thing. I hardly want to be opening a shuttlecock on Christmas morning, do I?
And I must spend a brief moment saying how much I enjoyed C.J. Sansom's book 'Dissolution'. It's obviously set in Tudor times, and introduces the character of Matthew Shardlake, who is a lawyer. He is employed by Thomas Cromwell to go and investigate a murder in a monastery. It turned out to be extremely good. At first I thought, 'Gosh, this is hard to get into,' then when I looked I was already on chapter twelve! It can't be that bad then, can it?
As you know, Tiny Cottage is, well, tiny, so we are trying not to buy books, which take up a lot of room, so the library is a godsend, as you can imagine. I was just wondering if I would get another book in between now and Christmas, when in the market yesterday I spotted 'Dark Fire' which is the next book in the series. I am thrilled. I love it when things like that happen. I quickly handed over the money and pocketed the book (in a very 'Artful Dodger' sort of way). I might pass it on to Daughter 1 when I've finished it, she likes that sort of thing, too.
Just a quick card to show you.

This is made using the Kaisercraft 'Be Merry' papers again, which I am so in love with, but when you undo the ribbon, and open the card, it looks like this on the inside (sorry the picture quality isn't very good, and I can't take another photo as the card has already gone to its recipient:)
I really enjoyed making this, it's like a card within a card, and something a little more special. I learned from experience that it takes quite a bit of paper to do it correctly, but got there in the end and am really pleased with it.
As you can see, it ties with a bow. When Mr O gave it to the recipient he said, "That's what I don't like about it, the bow tying." Fortunately the recipient said, "I am a woman, I can do bows!" I was a bit cross with him, though, I hardly need him to say something negative about my cards as he's handing them over, do I? No wonder he isn't in sales, bless him!
Well, we are off to Worksop now, to spend some time with Daughter 2 and the Flower Fairy, who I haven't seen for ages. We are looking forward to the tale of how she got her toy bucket stuck on her head, trapped by the handle, and had to have it cut off! (The bucket, that is, not her head!!) Never a dull moment with children, is there?
Stay cosy and warm everyone,
Mrs O.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Dark and Drubblie Days

I just want you to know that it's cold, wet and miserable here. But I am a perky person, because Barnaby is finally getting better. He was totally loopy after the hunt had been past. He wouldn't come in for his tea until everyone else came in, then I took his rug off and realised he was soaking wet. I just managed to swing a sweat rug on him, but he was like a steamed pudding. Then the shaking started. Some horses are just not designed to have adrenaline. Two hunts in two days is a bit much, don't you think?
I kept his head collar and lead rope on, to keep him away from the door, and tied his lunge line round and round the door posts to keep his head in. Apart from that I just talked and talked to him, staying really calm, until it started to get through to him. I didn't leave him until he was calm enough to eat his tea and start eating his hay, which was about an hour and a half. I'm hoping this will be a bonding experience!
I am enjoying making cards at the moment, but I can't help noticing Mr O is trying to direct my artistic flair! I'm finding it quite frustrating making cards to order, and having to put a sentiment on each one like, 'To a wonderful mother at Christmas.' I'm sure she's a wonderful mother, and it is Christmas, but I just want to use some of my lovely little sentiments because they match my papers perfectly, and that's why I bought them!
It's lovely when it's cold outside to sit at my desk and get creative. I need a cup of coffee and a pile of biscuits, and am soon deeply involved in what I'm doing. I love to have the radio on. Do you work best in silence, or do you like a bit of background noise? And do you prefer to work during the day, or at night? I have noticed the light is completely different, as my desk is by the window. If I make a card at night, sometimes I come down in the morning, open the curtains, and the card looks completely different!
Anyway, these are some of the cards that I've made for people recently:

This stamp is my latest delivery from Little Claire's designs. The paper is by Kaisercraft. I am going to be so sad when I've used it all up (unless I decide to buy some more, obviously!)

Here she is again! This time she's coloured in sepia tone Promarkers after I saw a tutorial on Enfys' blog. I realised I had all but one of the Promarkers she used and decided to give it a go. I was thrilled at the result. I can't believe I can do stuff like this!

I've been down into the village today, and had to go to the post office. I asked the man behind the counter if he was the owner and he said yes. (It turns out he also owns one of the village pubs too, a busy man, obviously!) I asked him what his criteria was for buying cards, whether he was tied in to one particular supplier and he said no. He said to bring some samples down and he'd have a look. Oh my life! Now I am nervous. Will I be able to make enough to sell? Or worse, what if they don't sell? I'm not going to panic. He hasn't even said yes yet. Imagine it, though, my cards for sale in the village shop. How cool would that be?

The events of Sunday afternoon rather overtook the rest of the weekend, but there was another thing that happened on Sunday morning. Mr O was washing his hands at the kitchen sink and was admiring the view, and the 'new' wooden fencing. Then it dawned on him there was rather too much view and that the stone wall had collapsed in the night! He called me round to have a look. We stood there gaping at the hole. Then a cow hove into view. We don't normally see as much of them as this. Fortunately there is a barbed wire fence on their side, so they shouldn't be invading us just yet. We'd better phone the dry stone wall guys. Never a dull moment round here!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Thankyou

I'm not sure if I'll leave this post fairly short, but I just wanted to say a big thankyou to you all for your wonderful and uplifting messages of support after our saga on Sunday. They mean a great deal to me.
I am pleased and relieved to say that Barnaby is fine. He wasn't interested in his breakfast yesterday (which is a shame as it had antibiotics and anti-inflammatories in it!) so I just swapped his rug and put him straight out. He paced up and down a bit, but soon settled and I noticed he was having a snooze around ten o'clock. (No wonder he doesn't like being ridden in the mornings!) Hopefully this means the adrenaline is gradually leaving his system.
When the vet came she said there had been a hunt going on in our area on Sunday. She knew because her previous call was to a horse not far away who'd had colic as a result. This may well explain why Barnaby was more anxious than usual, as he gets very worked up when the hunt goes past.
I found out today it was the Four Shires Bloodhounds, and it could explain a great deal, although the person who told me is a foot follower from the Barlow Hunt who I've been talking to this morning as they met at 11am just up the road. I'd just finished mucking out and heard a strange sound. I knew instantly what it was though - hounds! I dropped everything, grabbed my jacket and a camera and hot footed it up the road.

I just hope Barnaby isn't too worked up by it, although when I looked they were all standing in the field staring at all the horses and lorries up the road. Hopefully they'll be finished by one, so the horses may have calmed down by three when I go to get them in.
One other thing. I have been wondering how this would work. It was icy everywhere this morning, so of course the pond has frozen over. I let the ducks out, who went racing along, came to a pool of water on the grass and skidded straight across it! I am sorry, but I was most amused. They went down to the pond, then a moment later they reappeared, all chuntering to themselves that the pond is frozen too. Ah well.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Disaster!

I had my post all planned but then something has happened today which I need to share to help me calm down.
We went to church this morning and had to pick up a few bits afterwards. By the time we got home it was really cold and overcast so I decided I wasn't going to go on the long hack with the others. I'd decided just to lunge Barnaby and then get some jobs done.
So while everyone was tacking up, I put Barney's lunge gear on, then helped everyone else to mount up and get them on their way. Once they were safely out of sight, I got Barnaby out and took him to the arena.
He lunged quite well at first, but was unusually over stressed about being on his own. In the end I let him off the lunge line and he ran up and down a bit, but when he realised there were no other horses around, he came to me, and we did join-up. It was the most fantastic thing. In the end I was running round the arena, with him running next to me, and we were jumping the fences side by side. It was fabulous. I was changing direction and he was running round after me, just superb.
Then I took him back to his stable, where he got quite stressed again, but I left him with his tea and went back to the arena to get my lunge whip.
When I came back, Barnaby was standing there, straddled over his stable door, where he'd tried to jump out and only got half way. The stable door is quite high, obviously, as it's designed to keep him in, so it was cutting into his belly as he stood there, stuck.
It took a while to sink in, it just looked like he was standing motionless out of his stable. He looked at me in shock.
I went in to ring Mr O to see how far away he was as obviously I needed him back straight away. His mobile rang on the bed upstairs. I couldn't think who else could help me so in absolute desperation I dialed 999.
I asked for the fire brigade and was put through and explained my dilemma. I told them I felt really stupid for ringing but couldn't think what else to do. She took all my details and said they were on their way.
I stayed with Barnaby and just talked calmly to him, then decided to ring the vet, as I could see blood and hair on the floor. I decided to use Mr O's phone to ring, but then couldn't get a signal. I went indoors to use the house phone, but it was completely dead. What on earth was going on? This was supposed to be so simple. I had to leave Barnaby and walk about to get a signal, to try again on the mobile. This time I got through but the voice message said they were closed and gave me a mobile number to ring. I ran inside, grabbed a pen and paper, ran back outside, dialed the vet again and this time managed to write the emergency number down.
I got through to the emergency vet, and explained the situation and she said she would come out asap, so I went back to Barnaby.
I have to tell you I wasn't entirely calm and was desperate for Mr O to come back. I had to pull myself together, because when I was upset Barnaby kept struggling to get his back legs over the door, so I kept talking to him soothingly, saying, 'Someone will come, I promise, someone will come.' I just wanted to cry and cry. My poor baby.
Every so often he tried to struggle, and at one point, sparks were flying off his shoes and going backwards into the stable. I thought, 'Marvellous, now I'm going to set light to the stable as well!' I think I'd lost it a bit by then.
I tried to ring Missis but she didn't answer. I couldn't believe it. Didn't anyone think to take a phone?
I went out onto the road to see if I could see them coming back, where to my joy, I could see a blue light flashing in the distance. I waved them in and they pulled up onto the drive. There must have been about seven men, some in a rescue vehicle and some in a landrover. They came in and looked at Barnaby. They assessed the situation and decided they would put a sling on him, hoist him up and take the stable door off its hinges and slide it out from underneath him.
I decided to try Pongo's mobile, and finally, he actually answered. I just said I'd called the fire brigade and hung up. Then I realised how ridiculous that was and rang back and said, "It's not a fire, it's Barnaby." They were quite near to home by then and Mr O put Zak straight into trot and shot home.
I have never been so relieved to see him. I held Zak, explained what had happened and he ran into the stables. He was shocked at the sight that greeted him, but went straight into action. I think Barnaby was relieved to see him, too and relaxed.
The firemen were worried that if they took the door down Barnaby would run straight off, but Mr O said he'd hold him and he'd be fine, so they went to work undoing the hinges. The firemen got the door loose, tilted it (at Mr O's insistence) and slowly pulled it out. Barnaby was calm, and once he realised he could put his legs down, he walked gingerly forwards into Zak's stables.
At this point we decided to bring the other horses in and once Barnaby saw Zak he calmed down.
As you can imagine, I thanked the firemen profusely. It turned out they are Derbyshire Animal Rescue Service, and frankly, words cannot express my gratitude to them. They did their 'think nothing of it,' routine and left. I could have hugged them quite honestly. They did ask if I was going to be alright, actually.
Then, of course, all I wanted to know was whether Barnaby was injured. He had some blood on his face, a cut on his knee, and a cut near his nether regions (which had been resting on the stable door the whole time, poor boy!) but no other obvious wounds, but I was worried about internal injuries, too.
Soon the vet arrived and checked him all over. She listened to his heart and said it was fine. We got him out of the stable and Mr O trotted him up. He was sound, bless God. We swapped him and Zak back to their own stables, as Pongo had swiftly re-attached the stable door. He was very uppity but very gradually calmed down, so I gave him his tea.
The vet left me with some antibiotics and some anti-inflammatories, and said that basically he'd been very fortunate to have come off so light. She said he could easily have broken a leg or anything.
Eventually everything calmed down, and I put Barnaby in his stable rug on just kept hugging him. Then I did the thing that really cheered him up - I went and got him a banana. I have discovered very recently that he absolutely loves them. He scoffed the whole thing, then seemed to calm down properly.
By now I'd had a hot cup of tea to calm me down and felt I could safely leave him and come indoors. I was fine until half way through dinner then I just burst into tears. I'm sure you know by now that Barnaby means everything to me. He has given me such confidence this year and I just love his character and his whole outlook on life, and this is the last thing that I want to happen to him.
Sleep well my sweet boy, although I think you're going to be slightly sore in the morning. And so am I and I have four stables to muck out. Never mind, I am just glad he is okay, it could have been so much worse.
Mrs O.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Thankyou, Thankyou!

I am a Bear of very little sleep. It was so stormy last night I thought the roof was going to come right off. I clung onto Mr O like Piglet clinging onto Pooh. I was awake for ages at midnight, then again at 2am. Then I fell asleep and (so I'm told) started snoring, which woke up Mr O. A night of very little sleep all round, then!
Well, first things first. I have been awarded an award. Right now I can't think of a better way of writing that (because of my lack of sleep). Anyway, the award is from my dear friend Margaret over at Christian Chick Crafts, and here it is.
Thankyou, Margaret, I am delighted!

Before I pass this award on, I have to list three reasons why I'm special. Hmmm, now let me see....
Oh yes! 1. I am a daughter of the King, and have been for 25 years. I know my place!
2. I am unique and I like it. There is no one else on this planet quite like me (good job, right?)
3. I am an eternal optimist. I firmly believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel, every cloud has a silver lining and that the sun will come out tomorrow. It is November now, so I am clinging on to that optimism as I write. Some call this denial, but I deny that.

And so, without further ado, I am passing this award on to the following recipients:

Auntie Gwen (You go, girl!)
Sue (A day without a blog post from her is not the same)
Dottie Angel (Everyone should read this blog!)

More, much more, tomorrow, but right now I am off to my desk, because something astonishing has happened. Mr O took some cards into work today for one of his colleagues, who had ordered seven Christmas cards from me for various members of her family. I finally finished them, and breathed a sigh of relief, when I got an email this morning from another colleague saying the cards are really good, and could she order some. Yes, some. It turns out she wants 28! Good grief, where am I supposed to find the time?
Ah well, mustn't grumble...
Mrs O.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

We Will Remember Them

This year I've decided to share my all time favourite poem with you. I made up my mind about this quite a while ago. Because this year, I am dedicating this poem to my recently departed brother-in-law, Peter. Peter served for many years in the RAF, based in Germany, where he married and had two beautiful daughters. This poem, from my heart, is for him, and for all those who've lost their lives in service to our country. We will remember them.

The Soldier
If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by sons of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
Rupert Brooke

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Dressage Diva - Again

I've been so busy I haven't really had a chance to tell you about the dressage on Sunday.
The first thing was, the weather was beautiful. I was dreading doing it in the rain (again) so was thrilled to see clear skies and realise there was no wind. Perfect.
I booted up The Boy, ditto Zak, and we set off. We only had to get to Derby College, which took about 40 minutes. We unloaded the horses and tied them to the lorry. It soon became obvious how things worked. Instead of a warm-up arena and a competition arena separately, there was just one enormous arena, divided into two. One side was for warming up and one side was for doing the test. Brilliant.
We couldn't find a secretary or anyone to sign in with, it was all a bit chaotic really. I decided to tack Barnaby up as I was on at 10.15 and wanted to get as much warming up time as possible. I rode down to the arena with no problems about leaving Zak. There was a steward down there who explained where the secretary (his wife) was. (In a classroom up the hill). He said just to do my test and go and see her afterwards. You pay on the day here, you see, not in advance.
At this stage, the judge was in her car but there was no writer, so I decided to crack on and warm up. To my astonishment and joy, Barnaby was really well behaved. He still had energy, but was quite willing to be schooled, and could hear Zak whinnying for him but wasn't bothered. I had to go carefully as there was a young woman on a grey mare who looked extremely nervous. I didn't want to go whizzing past her and upset her horse, so I just kept things nice and steady.
In the end Barnaby was so calm I could stand talking to Mr O and Barnaby just stood there. It was lovely to think I was going to actually do a dressage test on my own horse.
Soon the first girl went in, and I was second, so I decided to keep Barnaby moving until it was our turn to go in. Before I knew it, the girl had finished and came out, and we were waved in.
I set off in trot. For those of you who don't know, there are lots of letters around the arena and the test says things like, 'Walk at A, trot at B' etc. You have to be accurate and your horse has to go well, in a good position, what we call an 'outline'.
You always enter at A, and as I approached it, I expected the judge to beep her horn so I could start, but she didn't so I went sailing past. I actually went past three times and went back to walk before she beeped the horn. I stayed very calm, as I never let this phase me now, went sailing round and entered at A.
Mr O called the test, but actually I knew it anyway. It always pays to learn it in case you can't get a caller (or aren't allowed) or it's so windy you can't hear them anyway. It just helps you not to get flustered if you know what you should be doing at every stage.
Barnaby was really listening to me and was extremely well behaved and obedient. I was thrilled when I finally halted, and saluted the judge. I couldn't have asked for more at this stage.
We left the arena and I gave Barnaby a big pat.
We had quite a while to wait before Mr O's turn, but the horses stood contentedly eating their haynets. We went up to the secretary's area to introduce ourselves and to pay.
Then Mr O tacked Zak up and went down to warm up. Barnaby did want to go with him, so I untied him and led him along. We came to a big patch of grass, where he decided he'd rather eat than follow Zak, which was fabulous. He looked as if to say, "I know where he is, I'm not blind!" and carried on eating. I was delighted. The only drawback was that I couldn't go down to call the test for Mr O, but fortunately he remembered it. (Actually he said his mind went blank twice but he remembered in the nick of time!) Zak looked rather beautiful, actually, I was quite surprised myself.
Eventually the results were put up and we were disappointed to find we were 9th (me) and 10th (Mr O) out of 12, which isn't brilliant. I have to say, I do disagree with a couple of comments on my sheet, but there we are, can't be helped. It's a different test next time, one I've never done on Barnaby, so we'll see.
Really I didn't want the results to take the shine off the occasion, because I am delighted with how Barnaby behaved. At least it means I can do some dressage and next year we should be able to do some showing, which is all I ask.
So all in all I thoroughly enjoyed it. And now, of course, I want to go again in December, but I dare say we'll have snow by then.
I do love Barnaby. He is really everything I've ever wanted in a horse. Thankyou, my man, the boy done good.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

And The Winner Is...

Well, thankyou to everyone who left comments on my previous post. I am delighted to announce that the winner is... (drum roll!)

Michelle!

Now, I don't want to assume here, Michelle, but I can't imagine you want a horse mag, so of course I want to send you a craft mag. Can you please email your address details to
squigglypigs@live.com and your prize will be winging its way to you. (If there's a particular mag you'd like, please let me know, as it would be silly to send you something you may already have).

Thankyou to everyone who took part, I appreciate all your comments and the fact that you are following along. Here's to the next 200 posts!
Best wishes everyone
Mrs O.

Friday, 5 November 2010

200th Post Giveaway

Well, I can hardly believe it. I have been blogging for a year, we've lived on the farm for 2 years, I have reached my 50 followers milestone and this is my 200th post. Wow! I had no idea a year ago just how important blogging would become to me. I have 'met' some wonderful people through blogging and learned so many fantastic things. I personally believe I've grown and stretched as a human being through it, challenged myself and gained self confidence through it.
So come and celebrate with me as I enjoy the moment of my 200th post. To celebrate I've decided to hold a give-away, as a thankyou to my lovely followers. It's taken me ages to decide what to give, because some of my followers are horsey, and some crafty (in the nice sense).
So I've decided to do a magazine give-away. You can choose either a horsey magazine, a card-making magazine or, if you prefer, an english homes and interiors magazine. I'll put in some of my cards, too. I'm happy to send anywhere in the world. All you have to do is leave a comment on my blog. I'll leave it open until Tuesday.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Tea and Sympathy

It's all very well, this card making malarkey, but it has its ups and downs. Sadly, a colleague of Mr O's died a couple of weeks ago, and his funeral was last Friday. Of course, two days before the funeral, Mr O asked me to make a 'With sympathy' card. I decided it was within my capabilities and made a card with a poppy on it (poppies for remembrance, I thought, especially as it's November). It was discreet but quite feminine. Mr O came home and I showed him the card. It turned out he didn't want a card for the widow, he wanted a card for the son in law of the deceased man, who he also works with. So then I had to make a card from a man, to a man, regarding a man who had passed away. Unfortunately I can't show you what I made, as no sooner was it finished than it was whisked away. I'll know better next time. More communication, I think.
Another of Mr O's colleagues has a sister who is emigrating to Australia, and requested a Bon Voyage card. When someone commissions you to make a card they can be very specific about what they require. I do point out that I am not an artist, but Mr O is so confident in my capabilities (for some inexplicable reason, please don't think I'm being bigheaded here) he just agrees to the request. All we knew was, she is moving to Australia and likes castles.
Unfortunately, again, I can't show you what I made, but I made a card that looked like a castle on the outside, with an acetate window, with a kangaroo peeking through from inside the card. The wording said, 'From castle views... to kangaroos.' Mr O took it in on Monday. His colleague saw it and burst into tears! It turns out her sister likes castles so much she had bought a house with a view of Bolsover Castle and cut the garden hedge as low as possible in order to make the most of the view. I had no idea. The card obviously touched a chord, and I hope the recipient is as blessed as the giver on this occasion. Just shows what you can do when you put your mind to it, doesn't it?
Now, do you remember this card I made last week?


Cute, but a bit plain. The flowers I ordered from Wild Orchid Crafts came on Tuesday, so I was able to put the finishing touches I really wanted to add, and now it looks like this.

I could rave on about these flowers all day, they are absolutely beautiful, easy to use and totally transform a card.
I'm really pleased with it, so made a similar one:


It's going to be 'flowers with everything' from now on, isn't it?
These have already been ordered and will be winging their way to their new home on Monday.
Just to say, that tomorrow is my 200th post, so to mark the milestone, I will be doing a give-away, so pop back soon to see what I'm doing.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Hallowe'en Ride

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!