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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Simon Says

Still busy here, as usual.  I have decided to class Thursdays as my day off, as lately the weekends can be busier than some of my week days.
I have been going to the knitting group in the village every Thursday morning and really enjoy it.  I don't knit though, as you know, but it's really motivated me to keep doing my cross stitch. We have such a laugh, and I really need it.
The woman who owns the shop keeps alpacas.  She knits things with their wool.  It's fabulous stuff.  Imagine being able to knit wool from your own animals.  Alpacas actually sound quite easy to keep.  They don't need to be mucked out or fed much, and their little feet don't churn the ground up like horses' hooves do.  Mmmm.. (rubs chin thoughtfully!)  Unlike most animals, it's not the male that's the most valuable.  You know how you have your stallion or your stud dog?  With alpacas it's the female that counts.  Where you can buy a male for £500, the females can be £2000 or more.  Nobody's rung up about our livery spaces, so you never know, alpacas may be the way to go.
Simon, our field ornament, has settled in very well.  He likes Zak a lot.  John has been schooling him this evening and Simon has been standing in the field whinnying for him.  It's not that he doesn't like Barnaby but there's definitely an air of 'Us TB's must stick together.'  Leigh and her sister came up to see him yesterday, but he didn't seem desperately interested, to be honest.  Considering he's only been here a week and a half, he's very settled.
I have decided to clip Barnaby in the next day or two.  I keep hacking him out and not going very far but when we come back he's dripping wet.  I couldn't think what the matter was, but realised he's got very hairy very quickly.  I've never clipped him this early before, I normally do his first one in the middle of October, but needs must. 
I decided to lunge him yesterday.  I don't do it on my own very often, as he's very difficult to lunge.  He quite often runs off and eventually I have to let go of the lunge line.  I can't attach the clip to the noseband on the cavesson, I have to put it through his bit ring, over his head and clip it onto the bit ring on the other side. 
But he did get away from me, the crafty devil.  He galloped round and round and up and down until he ran out of puff.  I caught him and decided to take the lunge line off him and just freeschool him instead.  With most horses I think free schooling is a total waste of time, but I decided as long as he burned off a few calories I wouldn't mind.
And then, to my astonishment, he brought himself onto a 20m circle and started lungeing himself around me.  I decided to give him some voice commands and he obeyed them instantly.  Then I stuck the whip out in my left hand and said, "Aaand Barnaby, TURN!" and he did, and went the other way.  I was thrilled.  Again I gave him voice commands and he obeyed them all.  I have no idea what it is about being on the lunge line that he doesn't like, but he looked at me at the end as if to say, "See, I told you I could do it!"  I gave him a good rub to say 'good boy'.  He looked as if to say, "You've learned a lot today, haven't you?"(giving me that sideways, patronising look).   It was fabulous.  We've had him six years!  So I guess that's how we'll be lungeing in future. 
So all is well here, but I wouldn't mind a couple of liveries to come soon.  Here's hoping.
Jane

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

All Change! (Lyndy Leaves, Simon Arrives)

It's been hectic here as usual.  Sadly, after a great deal of discussion and mind changing, Lyndy went to his new home on Saturday afternoon.  I said my goodbye's in the morning and felt quite calm about it at the time, but I miss him so much.  It's not like he and Barnaby ever got on, but he was a lovely boy, a huge cob who was lovely to ride.  He was my Big Bear. 
But while this was going on, we were driving to Nottinghamshire to pick Simon up.  I will post some photos of him very soon, but probably not while we're enduring what Hurricane Katia has to throw at us!  He sweated up a little in the lorry but we turned him straight out and he was fine.  The stress of transporting someone else's beloved equine is incredible.  There's no way I could be in the horse transport business.  Anyway, Barnaby and Zak were in the middle field, so they ran up and down the wall, trying to work out where Simon had come from.  Then they came down to get better acquainted.  Barnaby made it clear that he was in charge and was to be obeyed at all times.  He didn't like Simon being with Zak.  At the time they probably thought Lyndy had just gone for a hack and would be back any minute, so it was all very unsettling for them.
We decided to just let them be horses and get to know each other, so after watching them for about half an hour, we left them to it. 
On Sunday we decided to ride Barnaby and Zak together and leave Simon in the field, just to see what happened.  He whinnyed while we tacked up, but we could see him from up the road and he seemed to settle and just carry on eating.  This is very good news, although it's not often these days that John and I ride out together.  It really highlighted just how much we need at least 3 horses here, as we got Zak in to feed him yesterday and Barnaby began to trot up and down the fence line.  Then he remembered that he had Simon there and that things weren't as bad as he thought, and he calmed down.  He's being quite hard to bring in at the moment, though, as he's desperate to eat.  He doesn't run off, he stands there and lets me put the headcollar on, but then refuses to move.  Time for the Kemp Controller to come out of storage, I think!  They know the weather is changing and just want to stay out and eat and eat.
We've been getting Simon in every evening too, to groom him and get him used to the stables here and used to us.  I don't want him to become feral.  He's let us groom him and pick his feet out, anyway, which is good.  He isn't shod, but obviously he'll still need the farrier for trimming so he's got to be used to being handled.  I'm just so glad he's here - we'd be totally stuck without him.
I have seen the advert for us as a livery yard that Pongo and Missis have put up in a couple of local tack shops (and in the village Post Office, I think, I'll have to have a look on Thursday when I go down there).  I was astonished to see my name and mobile number on there, even though it was my idea.  Missis is in America all week and so it seems silly to put her number on it, a) because it will cost people a fortune to phone her and b) because they'll probably ring her at 4am, which won't go down very well! 
So suddenly it seems a lot more real and I am ready to be the manager of a livery yard.  I am spending this week, while Missis is away, tidying everything up, mucking out etc, to have the place how I want it.  They've hired a skip but there's a lot more stuff to chuck in it yet!  We need room for the farrier to shoe the horses indoors without bumping into things, and I want all the wheelbarrows and tools together in one place so people don't think it's acceptable to leave them in the stables.
I also need to move Missis' feed bins out of the way, as I can't have some horse sticking their nose in it on the way past and making themselves ill.  I've never been happy with having feed in the actual stables anyway, have you ever come across that?  (It's not even shut into a spare stable).
The other thing is that apparently Hugo is being very badly behaved in his schooling home.  At first it was mooted that he might come home, but I think that would be a bit strenuous on Missis, not to mention thoroughly confusing for Hugo.  There are a number of options being bandied about, so we'll have to wait and  see on that one.  Apparently he's trashed his stable and keeps escaping from his field.  I do think he'll get fed up if he's just schooled all the time, especially as he's on a lot less turn-out than he had here.  Let's hope a buyer comes along soon.
Before I go, I must just tell you something that happened on Saturday morning.  I was supposed to go to Specsavers for a contact lense appointment but decided to ring up and cancel.  The receptionist kept me on the phone for quite a while, but finally said, "Can I have your date of birth, please?"  I replied, "14.03.67."  She then said, "Is that 1967?"  I ask you!
All for now
Jane

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The Next Installment

Are you ready for the next installment?  You might want to make yourself a cup of tea...
I have to tell you, I've been seriously contemplating giving up blogging.  It's not that it's time consuming, it's because I've always kept a diary in the past and once I'd made the decision that this would be my diary I realised that there were certain things I wouldn't be able to say, as this is a public forum and I wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  But in a diary I could write the whole truth and it would be there for me to remember, warts and all.  Plus you never know how long your computer will last, and this diary is 'out there', not in my hand, as I would prefer.
But I've read through quite a bit of it recently and realised that it's quite sweet and a very good record of our lives here.  And because of all the latest stuff going on I've decided to keep going.  But you must remember that I've decided to keep it on as my diary, in which I am going to put the raw truth about how my life works, and you must form your own opinions.  I won't be offended, and it won't alter the fact.

So yesterday turned out to be a phenomenally busy day.  The two boys next door went back to school, the eldest to secondary school for the very first time.  This was slightly overshadowed by other events, though.
The two women who came on Sunday to look round rang to say they wouldn't be coming.  I am quite relieved about this, because although they were calling themselves DIY, which really means what the title says, you come, you muck out, you ride your horse and you put your horse away, really they were part livery and needed quite a lot of jobs doing for them.  I'm really after DIY as I don't  want to do lots of mucking out for other people.  So anyway, I'm quite pleased.
Then Mr O came home and went out again.  More of that later (eventually).
Then the farrier came.  I'd made a mistake and booked him in for Barnaby but we really needed Lyndy doing as well, but he only had time to tighten his shoes.  I showed him Zak's wound.  He said one of his clients took his horse to a show at Killamarsh at the weekend.  The horse wouldn't load to come home and reared up and fell over backwards.  They got a vet out (imagine the call-out) who said he was fine.  The horse still wouldn't go in the lorry so the owner decided to walk him home.  He'd gone quite a way when the horse fell down dead in the road.  Sorry to shock you, but how absolutely awful is that?  I knew we'd got off light with Zak on that Sunday, and this just goes to show, doesn't it?  Count your blessings, people.
So we turned the horses back out and waited for Sally to come, which she duly did at 4.30.  I'd been feeling sick all day (and Lyndy isn't even my horse).  It just brought all the memories of selling Max flooding back.  Plus Missis wanted me to escort this woman on a ride and the weather was dreadful, gale force winds and rain.  I got Barnaby in and Lyndy was already there.  Sally and her groom and her son were looking Lyndy over.  The groom came straight over to Barnaby, "He's handsome, isn't he?"  Barnaby just stood there with that smug look on his face. 
In the end they didn't even want to ride Lyndy.  He was to be the young boy's birthday present.  They just trotted him up to see that he was sound and said they'd have him.  'Struth.  I hope they're not thinking cob = plod, because he isn't.  But there we are.
Because Barnaby had had Sunday and Monday off, I still had to ride him,  so I carried on tacking him up and got on.  The wind was howling, but fortunately the rain had stopped, so off I went.  Do you know, that horse didn't put a foot wrong?  He is so amazing.  And he needs to be, as it'll be windy like this for the next few months (then it will snow!)   We went past the yellow circle painted on the road, that he spooked at last week.  I thought we'd make a thing of it and go over it a couple of times but Barnaby couldn't have cared less.  "Yes, it's a yellow circle, I've seen it before.  Can we get on?" 
So, as I was riding up towards the livery yard, I thought, 'Shall I go in and say, "I haven't come to poach your liveries, but if you know of anyone who wants to stick their horse in my field as a field companion for a few months, that would be fantastic!"' but then really felt the Lord saying, "Don't panic.  I WILL PROVIDE."  His voice was quite insistent, almost stern, it isn't always like that. 
I was quite stunned as I haven't heard from the Lord like that in a while and carried on riding thinking, 'well you've never let us down before, if you've said it, I believe it.'  In fact, the last time he spoke to me like that was when I was selling Max and the Lord said he'd bring me a buyer within 3 weeks.  And He did.
So I told John this when he eventually got home.  We were so starving we decided to go and get fish and chips.  When I got back I found my mobile and on it was a message from Leigh, who bought Max from me.  She'd put, 'If you seriously want a companion, give me a ring,' so I did.
It turns out they have an 18yr old TB called Simon.  I do remember him when she showed him to us when we visited Max in May.  They have been considering putting him on loan as a field companion for a while.  I said straight away that I might only want him for 3 weeks, or it could be 6 months and she said that was fine.  She said I could leave him in the field and take Zak and Barnaby out and it wouldn't stress him.  He isn't shod and only needs trimming every 10 weeks.  I am totally gobsmacked.  My status on facebook this morning says, 'All I can say is, God moves phenomenally fast these days.'  The thing is, companion horses that you can give back are as rare as hen's teeth.  He won't need a stable at the moment, I've said he can stay until we get liveries.  But of course, if it snows in that time, we'll keep him for as long as necessary.
I'm not sure if I've explained why this is so good.  The problem is that Lyndy will go on Saturday and then I just have my two boys in the field.
If I take Barnaby out, Zak will be a bit stressed.  In fact, this happened yesterday with Lyndy and Barnaby in.  Zak was trotting up and down whinnying because he's on his own.  But, to be fair, he did calm down and it wasn't long before Lyndy went back out.  But this is what it will be like with just the two of them if I take Barnaby out to ride him.  BUT more significantly, if John takes Zak out, Barnaby will go mental.  He will either injure himself or do some serious damage to Pongo's brand new post and rail.  If I leave him in the stable it will be worse.  Don't forget, this is the horse that jumped over the stable door last November and got stuck.
So this is a massive answer to prayer.  I am so happy I could cry.  I am trying to get hold of Leigh now to say we'll come and get him at the weekend.  So we'll have two TB's and one cob.  Crisis over.
More soon,
Thanks for wading through this!
Jane

Monday, 5 September 2011

Farewell Hugo

We went to fence judge at our old yard yesterday, for the showcross.  It poured with rain most of the day, and we got drenched, but it was a good day.  Three cheers for my friend Leanne, who won the Novice Senior section, having only just got back on a horse in recent weeks.
As arranged, Missis took Hugo to Nicky's yard at lunch time.  I made sure I said goodbye to him on Saturday.  I hope he finds a good new owner and gets back into competing as he is such a talented horse and only nine.  He was wasted here, really. 
Missis came out to see us before we set off for Lorna's, to say that a prospective livery was coming to look round in the evening and that she wanted me to be there, as she'd like to introduce me as the Yard Manager.  To be honest, I am delighted by this, and have cheered up considerably.  Missis has told me how much she wants from each livery and that I can charge to turn out, bring in and muck out, although I don't want to do too many.
So the two girls came at 5pm.  They share a horse between them.  In fact, the younger girl owns him but is away at university and the older woman does him four days a week (including the weekend fortunately).  They would want me to turn out every day, bring in three days and muck out three days.  A woman helped them out at the yard they're on, but she's left as she had to have her horse put to sleep, so they've got no one to do him and need help on the days they can't be there.
The main thing for me is that they're quite happy to poo pick the field.
They had a good look round and seemed quite happy, but they have to give 30 days notice at the yard they're on, so hopefully they will do, and then they'll come, but we'll see.
Missis has complied with all my requests, like:
proper tack storage (one of the stables in the new barn will have a heavy door put on it like Pongo's got on his workshop, and each livery will be given a key.)
No smoking on site at all.
No dogs.
Everyone uses the same gate we use, which John will unlock in the morning and lock up at night.

So we'll have to wait and see.  Missis is going to advertise in local tack shops and in the village shop.  Hopefully they'll all be DIY as I don't want to be mucking out other people's horses all day and be worse off than I was before (physically) but at least I'll be being paid for it this time, and we really need a couple of horses to be companions for Barnaby and Zak once Lyndy goes.
Watch this space.
More very soon
Jane

Friday, 2 September 2011

All Go

Hello everybody.  I am a bit stunned.  I'd better tell you what's been going on.
Missis told me on Monday that she'd decided to sell Hugo.  He will go to Nicky Hunt's yard for a couple of weeks, to be schooled, then she will compete him and advertise him for sale.  He is going on Sunday.  John and I will be out fence judging, so at least it gives Missis time to recover a bit before we get home.  I am quite upset by this, as you can imagine.
But then the second blow came today.  It seems they have decided to let Lyndy go as well.  Missis sold Fudge to a dealer (a very nice dealer, I think) called Sally.  Missis has obviously been discussing her predicament with Sally, who has said that she has someone very interested in Lyndy and Missis has agreed to let him go (which she must have planned, to have rung Sally in the first place). 
I am absolutely devastated.  I love Lyndy so much and he is such good friends with Zak.  It serves me right for getting attached to someone else's horse, doesn't it?  I considered saying we'd have him, but to be honest, by the time I've mucked out in the winter I've just about got the energy to ride Barnaby (plus I lunge Zak 3 days a week).  Plus Barnaby is very much a one-woman horse and doesn't like Lyndy at all, and would hate me to ride him!
Obviously we are very worried that Pongo and Missis won't need/want us here if there are no horses to do.  I asked her and she said it's absolutely essential that we're here, a) because I have the boys after school anyway, but also just to have someone about the place when they're not here, which is quite often, as you know. 
Of course, I could look on the bright side, as I'll now only have my horses to muck out in the winter, which is a big bonus.  Missis has said she'll advertise for liveries, but I don't think she's really thought it through.  I mentioned today that if she goes ahead with it, liveries will expect some lockable storage for their tack.  I didn't even mention rug storage and a feed room.  (We keep our tack locked in the house).  
She did say today that if we have liveries they won't use our showjumps (which is John's main worry), but at the moment I am the only person that poo picks the fields and I'm not doing it for other people's horses.  I also level the manege, which will have to be done more often, won't it?  I don't mind cleaning the trough out as I do that for my own horses anyway. 
It is so quiet and peaceful here that it will be odd having virtual strangers about the place.  I don't really want people who smoke (but it will have to be made clear at the outset that people can't smoke on site) and I hope we get some nice people who don't swear and steal other people's stuff, as that's a side to livery yard life that I definitely don't miss.  You have to remember that the whole point of coming here was that this isn't a livery yard.
But it's not going to happen over night, is it?  Lyndy is going on Tuesday.  I've got the farrier coming at 1pm, so it'll be a strange and hectic day.  I think this Sally might want to try Lyndy out as Missis asked me if I'd hack out with her, which isn't a problem.  Maybe she won't think he's suitable?  Who knows?
And then of course, the really big, immediate problem, is that only our two horses will be left.  This is going to cause problems when I want to ride Barnaby out as it will mean leaving Zak on his own.  And even worse will be if John wants to ride Zak out, as Barnaby will go ballistic.  Marvellous.  But I'm not panicking as I think John isn't going to ride Zak until he's completely better.  His wound is not an attractive sight.  So maybe we'll have a livery by then.  It's either that or we'll have to get a field companion.  John actually suggested this himself, much to my surprise.  I wouldn't mind a little 13.2 that we could take to shows! 
So I feel very strange this evening.  I feel as if someone is taking my horse away, which is silly, but there we are.  I keep wanting to go outside and make sure Barnaby is still there.  I feel sorry for him too, because he loved Max and he went, then he loved Polo, and he went and now he likes Hugo (albeit a love-hate relationship) and now he's going.  I suppose, as long as he's got Zak, he'll be fine, but this will make them more inseparable than ever. 
Missis has said we can have her stables if we want.  I might consider it, as they are bigger than ours and Zak's stable is really a bit on the small side for him, plus he'll be out of the doorway and a bit more sheltered.  But I don't really want Zak and Barnaby to be able to touch each other as they'll mutually groom and Barnaby will pull all of Zak's mane out like he did to Max ("I haven't got a mane - you shouldn't have a mane!")
So I feel very unsettled at the moment and am going to drown my sorrows in the most enormous bar of Dairy Milk I've ever seen.  It's either that or a bottle of wine, and I'm not a big drinker and don't really want to wake up with a hangover. 
Thanks for wading through this mega-post.  Your comments are, as always, much appreciated.
Jane

Thursday, 1 September 2011

It's been a hectic few days.  I suppose I am blessed really that I am too busy living life to have time to sit down and write about it!
I hacked Barnaby out yesterday.  As you know, he is a bold horse, who is afraid of nothing.  So when we went down the first lane and a pigeon flew out of the trees just above our heads, and Barnaby leapt to the right, I thought it was acceptable.  It actually startled both of us.  Fair do's.
We continued down into the village, where a number of the scarecrows from the weekend were still lounging about, minding their own business.  Barnaby didn't turn a hair, and was quite close to some of them, including Lady Gaga... 
And yet, when we came to the yellow circle painted in the road, apparently this was terrifying and required an energetic leap to the left ('It's just a jump to the LEFT!) in front of some elderly types at the entrance to the nursing home.  I was not embarrassed, no siree!
We trotted on until we came to a gate.  Not just any gate, but the gate, beyond which lives the love of Barnaby's life.  Yes, Maud the donkey resides there.  Barnaby arched his neck, ("Hello, Pretty!") Maud batted her eyelashes, ("Oh Sir Barnaby, how lovely to see you!")  Oh for goodness sake, can we get on
Instead of going straight home, I decided to take a detour.  At one point there is a garden which is about 2 feet above our heads.  I don't know how to explain why it's so high above the lane, but it is.  I know there is a dog in this garden and that he will come out all guns blazing, which he does, so it's a good job I'm ready as Barnaby does another death defying leap to the right.  It's amazing that something so heavy can leap so speedily in the opposite direction to that in which it was originally travelling.  I guess I can forgive him for this one, too, as, let's face it, a barking dog must look pretty scary to a horse when it's above him, it must look as though it's about to leap on his back or something. 
So I got home in one piece, and so did my noble steed.  Or not so noble, now I come to think of it.  All we needed was a few guns going off and I'd have ended up in Derby!
Jane xx