I have just got back from the most fabulous ride. I've been so determined to go, even though I'm still a bit ill. I had planned to bath Barnaby, but it was chilly first thing and as it had rained in the night I think it would have been rather mean, so I just put his tail bandage on and away we went.
It was a nice smooth journey up through Nottinghamshire. The weather was a bit different to last year, when it was pouring with rain with loads of thunder and lightening.
The plan was for Mr O to do the 14 miles and for me to only do the 7. I was a bit nervous about this, as you know that Barnaby and Zak don't like being separated once they've travelled together. I could have taken my double bridle (for more control) but decided to do it in my dutch (continental) gag, which I normally hack out in.
We'd decided that Mr O should set off first, as once he got going there's no way I'd catch up with him, so I led Barnaby off to introduce him to some other horses as a distraction technique. I managed to get on him and just kept walking him around the car park for another five minutes, then decided to set off.
The thing with Osberton is that it's miles and miles of off-road riding, and it's blissful. More so today, as the sun decided to come out, the ground was beautiful, and we just cruised along. Barnaby was whinnying all the way round, which absolutely shook his body. But he didn't pull or do anything silly.
When I did the ride round Clumber Park he kept going like the clappers to catch up with any horse he could see in front of him, and I'd fully expected him to go round pulling my arms out, but he was lovely and just trolleyed along, looking for Zak.
I caught up with a woman and a child (on a Norwegian Fjord Pony, aren't they beautiful?) and stayed with them for a while, but then carried on. We've ridden here so often Barnaby knows exactly where he is all the way round, so I just let him get on with it. We did a lot of cantering, but that was the whole point of going, to let him have a run on grass, as we get so little opportunity at home. All of our hacking here is roadwork of some sort, so they love to go for a good gallop when they get the chance.
I caught up with another two women and stayed with them for a while, going through the cow fields, then I parted from them and turned up towards the Green Mile, so named because that's exactly what it is, a mile of wonderful green grass, made for galloping, so... we did!
I remembered, in the nick of time, about the big stone at the end that we normally jump, that is to say, Mr O would have jumped it on Barnaby and I would have winged over it on Max, but thought we'd better not today, and that's just as well, as there was a woman sitting in a deckchair right next to it, so she'd have got a fright, wouldn't she?
She asked if we were going to 'do the water,' to which I said yes, and thought she meant the ford in the village, so I was confused when she said to turn left and keep going (the ford is along to the right) but I obeyed her instructions and followed the track all the way down, mostly cantering again. I had definitely underestimated Barnaby's fitness, but because I'd been ill all of last week and the weather had been bad the week before that, I haven't ridden half as much as I'd have liked and I didn't think he'd be really fit enough, but I really needn't have worried, he had so much energy, but wasn't pulling me, it was wonderful. I love this horse.
I turned right and followed the track and saw some really weird skid marks on the track. I thought, 'a car can't have done that, because it's not black rubber,' they were like white scratch marks on the surface of the road. I didn't think too much more of it, and carried on my way.
When I say 'road' here, they are technically roads, but you hardly ever get any cars, as it's a private estate, but even if you do, there are ten foot wide verges on either side, so you never need to go near a car anyway, that's why it's so blissful to ride there.
I caught up with a girl on her own on a coloured cob and fell into step with her and decided to go along together for a while. Her horse was called Drummer, which is my favourite horse's name of all time. I'd love it for Barnaby actually.
It wasn't long before we came to the water, and it's where Mark Cavell (an old friend, and the manager of the estate) holds his cross country water clinics, so it's a run across a river. It turned out this is where Maurice Tilford, the photographer, was standing. I led the girl on Drummer through the water, and she was thrilled as it turned out she'd never done water before. Then Maurice said to walk up the river and turn round and trot back through the water and he would take some photos, which we duly did. The water was splashing up above my head, so I'm dying to see the photos. I am delighted that Barnaby did it for me as he's not keen on water. He doesn't mind walking through it, but he's not great at jumping into it, but I was just thrilled that he did as I asked (especially as Missis came along later and her ex-novice-event horse wouldn't go in it!)
We carried on and later had to go across the river again, and he went straight in. I'm so pleased with him. After that we made our way back to the lorry park and were done for the day. It was so lovely, I haven't enjoyed myself so much in ages. On the way round, I was thinking that this is how I'd wanted the TREC competition to be, so maybe endurance is the way to go (more about this in a future post).
I got back to the lorry park and of course Zak and Mr O were there waiting for us. They'd done 14 miles, and as it turned out, we'd done 11, so we hadn't done too badly at all.
The first thing I noticed was that Mr O had blood on his nose, so I was somewhat concerned and thought, 'What's he done now?' and decided to ask. It turns out he'd jumped one of the logs on the course (nothing wrong with that, I was pretty tempted to pop a few myself.) Then he got onto the road, still in trot, and turned sharply round the corner and Zak slipped and slid across the road until he fell over and Mr O came off. It sounds like it was quite a crashing fall and Zak has cut himself. Of course this was the cause of the skid marks I'd seen on the road. Mr O managed to get back on and continued on the ride, but he is going to ache like mad tomorrow. What I haven't told you is that he jumped Zak last Saturday, came off and landed on the fence, but kept hold of Zak, who dragged him across the floor for a while before I yelled at him to let go. So there is already hardly a patch of his body that doesn't have a bruise on it at the moment as it is, so you can see this is the last thing he needs. I'm just glad they're both okay really.
And so we loaded up our beautiful boys and brought them home, where they went into the field and had a roll, a scratch and a drink before commencing munching. Of course, I said thankyou to my beautiful, wonderful boy, with whom I had the most amazing time. Thankyou, My Lionheart, it was a pleasure.