It's been a very up-and-down weekend.
I got Barnaby in yesterday morning and spent an hour clipping him. He wasn't very happy about being in and wouldn't stand still much. It was as if he was saying, "If I'm in, everyone should be in." I had a feeling I was making a really bad job of it, but when I finished and tacked him up, I realised he looked lovely.
Because he was in such an argy mood, I asked John if he would jump him before me, so he took him round and over the fences. Barnaby was really good, so I decided I'd better get on, otherwise I'll only be jumping him once a fortnight, and the idea was really to be jumping him twice a week, so John got off and I got on. This is what we jumped:
The liveries arrived not long after this. They are Tim, his wife Belinda and their son Sean, who have a mare called Puzzle. They've come with their friend Becky who has a gelding called Harley. They brought them into the stables and settled them down for a while, then turned them out. They couldn't believe how much space they had and were bucking and leaping.
Of course, ours came belting down to see who the new people were. They just stayed on the other side of the wall and didn't come down to the bottom field where they could have said hello over the electric fence. Harley didn't want them to talk to Puzzle and kept blocking her off so she couldn't get to them. After about twenty minutes our horses just went back to eating.
Apparently at their old yard each horse had about 1/3 of the grazing land we've given them. Harley's stable was so small he couldn't turn round in it and had to stand diagonally across the stable to eat his hay. How awful! I think they're going to really like it here.
We went out to lunch with the family to celebrate my youngest daughter's birthday and then to drop my son back, so didn't get back until 7pm.
We got up this morning and got Zak and Barnaby in, and got them ready to go to Shipley for the last AVR ride of the year. We left Simon in the field, who started whinnying. To his surprise, Harley answered him, so they struck up a conversation together instead. Such a weird feeling to have horses in the barn.
Some of you who have followed my blog for a while will know that we have had terrible problems travelling Zak. You can read about it here. Since then John has spent a lot of time and effort repairing and improving the lorry. I had expected John to take Zak on a few short journeys over the past weeks, but he hasn't. I think it's a bit of denial going on there. I actually felt physically sick this morning at the prospect of going in the lorry with him again, but we loaded them and set off. Zak had one little bang on the 35 minute journey but was quiet the rest of the way.
We arrived and lowered the ramp and couldn't understand why we could only just see Zak's head above the partition. It turns out he'd sat down and got his leg trapped under the partition. I was horrified. John managed to kick at his hoof and luckily it went back in underneath where it should have been. I was worried sick his leg was broken. We opened the partition to have a look at him, but he seemed fine, so we brought him slowly and carefully down the ramp. To my immense relief, he was fine. He'd sweated up a lot as well, so John put a cooler rug on him and let him cool down for a while. He wasn't lame, so we tacked up and set off on what turned out to be a fabulous ride.
Last year when we did this ride they said it was ten miles, but we thought it was very quick, only about seven miles. This year they'd said it was ten miles, but had added an extra loop on, so I think we were right. This time, instead of going over the main bridge, we went down to the left on a bridleway. There was a very narrow wooden bridge at the end of it, then a wider one which Barnaby trotted straight over, then shot up the hill. There were little wooden slats across the track at set distances and Barnaby jumped over them. It was fantastic actually. Later on, we came back to the same place, and this time he was ready for it and shot up the hill, leaping over each of these wooden struts. It was fabulous!
He was very strong today, as if to say, 'Mum's not bothered by a bit of speed these days, let's crack on.' It was so lovely, though. There were some fabulous places to have canters, too, which we didn't do last year. I thoroughly enjoyed it. We have basically said we probably won't do these again next year, so I wanted the last ride to be good, and I wasn't disappointed. I've just seen the photos on the website, so I'll get one as soon as I can and put it on here.
I travelled in the back of the lorry with Zak on the way home and he was fine. He really struggles to travel sideways though, and can't balance round corners. He does fling himself against the partition for no apparent reason though, and when I said "No!" to him he didn't do it again, so I don't know what he does that for. It was quite a relief to get home, I can tell you. He'd hardly sweated up though, which is good. We won't be going anywhere between now and next April, so it should give him plenty of time to recover, then we'll decide what to do next year.
We turned the horses out and went off to the shop. When we came back there was a car blocking the drive so we had to drive through Pongo and Missis' gate. When we got to the stables I could hear voices and wondered what was going on. This woman was there and Missis said, "This is K---, she's come about liveries." I was totally confused, thinking, my number is on the advert, but she hasn't rung me, how does she even know we are doing liveries? I felt as if Pongo and Missis had set it up, it was a bit surreal. I got my wits together and asked her how many horses she had and she said, "Three." This was a bit of a shock, as I only really wanted one more horse.
Then I did the really crucial thing, and this is the bit you need to know, to make the rest of it make sense. We have 9 acres here that we can graze. It's spread over 3 fields, so say it's 3 acres per field. We always shut the furthest field off in the winter, as they take a crop of hay off it, which is fair enough. So that leaves us with the middle field and the bottom field. Missis promised me that she would leave the middle field open for this winter, that she 'was prepared to sacrifice it'. It was on this basis that I agreed to have liveries. Then the other day she said we'd have to shut the top field off soon (fair enough) and then the middle field when the time came. I should have challenged her there and then, but I didn't.
If I'd known she was going to restrict us to the smallest bottom field I wouldn't have had liveries, I would have just kept our 3 horses on it for the winter and just about made it through. Now I've already donated half of it to Puzzle and Harley, which leaves our three on the other half, which isn't ideal, but I'd just about cope. Now Missis is suggesting we put 5 horses on half the field, which is ridiculous.
I am going to have to have it out with her and say that if she has her heart set on shutting the middle field off as well then we can't have another 3 horses on the bottom field, making it seven horses on three acres. We've never had that many before, it was bad enough with six when Max and Fudge were still here.
I think I just thought I'd be happy as we are with us in our little stables with the new liveries in the barn and that would be fine. We came here because this would be our home and it would be quiet and now there are going to be loads of people all over the place and people using the manege when I want to go in it. Grrrr. But the most important thing is that I am going to have to confront Missis tomorrow and get her to make a basic decision for once. It's not fair for her to say that I'm the yard manager one minute and pull the rug from under me the next. How embarrassing is it going to be for me if one minute I say, "We've got all this grazing!" and the next minute, "Oh no we haven't!" I'd feel such a prat.
So it was a good day, and now I'm quite annoyed.
Who knows what tomorrow may bring?
Tune in for the next installment...
Jane (who is frustrated, can you tell?)