Wednesday, 25 January 2012

War Horse

Poor John was off sick from work for a few days last week.  But unlike other people, he doesn't 'do' ill.  So he helped me muck out, and I should be grateful, but it's hard work mucking out with military precision and being told how to do the things  you do every day of your life.  That's all I have to say about that!
The high point, though, was making it to the cinema to see War Horse.  Have you seen it yet?
Basically, all I can tell you is that I cried from start to finish.  Because I can't spoil it for you if you haven't seen it, I will tell you there are a couple of places where I cried like a babe and one scene that was quite harrowing.  I haven't cried like that since Schindler's List (also a Steven Spielberg production - coincidence?)  If I tell you it's Black Beauty + war, that should just about sum it up. 
The acting was a bit stilted at first, but the setting is stunning (part Dartmoor, part Dorset) and of course, the horse is beautiful. His name is Joey and it's all about his relationship with the boy he goes to live with.  Later he has a horsey friend called Topthorne, and the way they were together is exactly how Barnaby and Zak relate to one another, it was so sweet to see other horses doing it, especially as they probably didn't even knew each other before filming started.  They clearly had a bond.
Of course it was set during World War I and I kept wanting to shout, "Put a hat on!" but of course very few people bothered with that sort of thing in those days, did they?
And so I learned: We owe a massive debt of gratitude to all the horses that went to war during that time. Micheal Morpurgo wrote the book and during his research learned that a million horses died on the British side; he extrapolated an overall figure of 10 million horse deaths on all sides. Of the million horses that were sent abroad from the UK, only 62,000 returned, the rest dying in the war or slaughtered in France for meat.
When the film ended there was not a dry eye in the house.  We could hear sniffing sounds as the audience collectively tried to pull itself together.
John and I drove home and went straight into the stables, to hug our boys and bury our faces in their necks, sighing  with relief that they would never have to go through what those poor brave animals endured.
So yes, War Horse is a marvellous film, I can't recommend it enough.  Go and see it if you can.
Jane x

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Make A New Plan, Stan

Hello there!  Sorry for not blogging for a while (on this blog, anyway!)  I know many of you read my card making blog so you know I'm still alive, but things are happening on the farm, too, so I'm going to try to keep this blog up to date as often as I can.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about why I ride Barnaby in the afternoons, as I don't think it's ideal.  It starts when it's icy in the mornings, but it's usually gone by lunch time.  I get Barnaby in, wash his legs off, ride him and then get Zak in and feed them both, which is fine, but:
The field is very muddy at the moment, so once I've turned Barnaby out he gets filthy, right up to his armpits.  His legs are covered in mud, and I know I can hose them off, but it's all over his belly as well.  I really worry about putting a girth on him in case it makes him sore.
The other thing is that I have all my physical energy in the mornings.  I know this because at the weekend John will often suggest we go shopping first thing, but by the time we've done everything I don't have any energy left to ride.  I feel like that during the week, too, as if I've done all that mucking out, finally sat down, and now I have to get up and go and ride.
So, my plan for the last couple of weeks has been to ride Barnaby straight from the stables in the morning.  I give breakfast out at 7.30am as usual, then see to the ducks and chickens.  I move Barnaby and Zak into the two empty stables (such luxury!) and muck Zak out.  By this time it's 8.30 and I down tools and start grooming Barnaby.  It is such bliss to ride out a horse who is actually the colour he is meant to be and feel confident that I can tack him up without the girth rubbing him.  He always seems pleased when I get his tack out, as if he has got one over on Zak, because he is being ridden.
The first couple of rides were fab, as the sun hadn't quite come up when we set off (always in hi-viz) but as we continued it got higher and higher and was the most beautiful morning.
Today (after several days of ice that have totally scuppered my plans) the weather was quite cold and miserable.  If I'd come out to ride in the afternoon and it was like that, I'd have changed my mind and gone back indoors, but there's something about the fact that I'm dry and Barnaby's dry that makes me tack up and decide to take my chances.  It was amazing weather this morning, with mist rolling down into the village, and Barnaby going like the clappers, as he has so much more energy first thing.  I gave a woman putting her dustbin out a bit of a fright, I think, as Barnaby sailed past and decided to canter up the road!
We come back and Zak has been waiting patiently for us (so glad he's a good boy and I can leave him) so I put both horses in their turn-outs, and out they go for the rest of the day. 
Good plan, basically, so I'll be sticking to this as long as I can.
The good thing, though, is that John rode Zak a couple of times over Christmas, and again on Sunday, leaving Barnaby in the field, and he's been fine.  This Sunday, John rode Zak in the manege and Barnaby just stood there watching, munching on a pile of hay.  Such a relief, I can tell you. 
Nearly forgot to say:- This morning I'd put Barnaby and Zak in their day stables and realised Barnaby's water bucket was completely empty, so I dragged the hose over, put it in the bucket and left it to fill while I carried on mucking out.  A few minutes later I looked up to see Barnaby with the hose in his mouth, swinging it around with all his might, impressing Zak and generally having fun.  To my horror, when I looked in the stable, there was water everywhere, so I don't know how long he'd been doing it for.   How can you tell a horse off when he's got a big grin on his face, who made it clear that you didn't give him any attention, so he decided to devise a game to amuse himself?!  Just peachey.
So all is well at the moment, but plenty more going on, so I'll write again as soon as I can.
Jane x