Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The end of the rainbow...

Well lots has happened since my last blog. The new lorry is here - it's big and green and gorgeous. I keep going and looking at it much to Nige's amusement. The best thing is that because it is so bright and white inside, I managed to load my previously unloadable mare, Amelie. Having set aside a week to perform this task I was delighted when it was done in less than an hour. She has previously perfected a horsebox tango - cue music -  two steps forward cha cha - three steps back cha cha cha. While she would not have impressed Arlene Phillips auditioning on 'So you think you can dance', she certainly had the fancy footwork down to a fine art. It was going backwards down a ramp that caused her to nearly slice through all her tendons when she was a youngster, so you can imagine my delight when she decided this was one lorry she could tango into no bother.
Hooray. A bit of encouragment from Dr Horse Nut and she had performed this feat no less than three times. Big success.
She is a funny mare you can't apply too much pressure to her head as her reaction is to fling it back and in the end she will rear, so softly softly definately won the day here. I know that had I got grumpy with her and applied too much pressure she would have hit the roof with her head, had a paddy and exited backwards at speed. Sometime patience definately pays off.

So the truck is here and I should have been off to my first show in 6 months this weekend you would think. Ah no, that would be too easy. Garth, my grade B, has thrown a splint, probably mucking about in the field a discipline in which he has Olympic Gold. Typical of horses isn't it? I am more phlegmatic about such things now that I am a mum. My eldest son had a bad asthma attack when he was two and I sat for hours in hospital watching his tiny, ribby chest rise and fall as he struggled to breath. (He recovered and is now an unbelivably robust 9-yr-old). Then my youngest son Chris was rushed into intensive care not long after this when he was only hours old, with hypothermia. I know it all sounds a cliche and it's hard to explain the how or why, but after these dark hours with my little boys I have actually enjoyed my horses more than I did before when I used to put myself under pressure all the time to do well - the horses are a joy to me everyday, but when things go wrong with them it is never as bad as watching my little boys struggle to survive. I guess that it's called perspective. It doesn't stop me wanting to be a better rider but does stop me doing a lot of navel gazing.

Horses go lame, I ride like a muppet at a show now and again - but I now know that the world is in fact not going to end if we roll a couple of poles or my plans go awry because one of my horses throws me a curve ball and goes lame. Frustrating as it is, I just change my plans and do something else or work a bit harder on my riding. So this weekend the boys and I and Julie and Pam from the yard here went to Fife Show to have a look instead of me competing there. We had a great day - everyone was buffeted by the wind but the forcast rain stayed away. I was delighted for all the organisers (my husband among them) who have all put hours into organising and getting the show up and running. County shows like this are a fantastic showcase for great local produce and products as well as being a brilliant social gathering. Entries were strong on the livestock side, I was told that horse entries were down a little but there still seemed to be a huge quantity of every sort of equine there.

Garth should be back on track soon, I am riding him gently and I am hoping to take Amelie out for her first lesson next week. So onwards and upwards. I was going this to take Ams this week but the big gale hit. We were pretty lucky here all we suffered was a sycamore tree blown down which is now a perfect kids climbing frame. Julie took this fabulous picture of a rainbow that appeared over the fallen tree as the winds died down. It really looked like the end of the rainbow finished in my fields - perhaps it does - who knows!
Where does it end?

Monday, 9 May 2011

A mare worth her weight in chocolate

Great excitement this week I am picking up my new horsebox. Excitement tempered with a slight nervousness about owning a big diesel guzzling beast again after years of a low maintenance and pretty much cost free trailer. Oh well in for a penny in for a pound. Hopefully it will be mechanically sound and not cost me a small kings ransom to keep on the road.
I rode my youngster Amelie again today and finally everything seems to be slotting into place. She is coming right and will be worth the hard work, she is just proving the truth of the old adage, 'you tell a gelding and ask a mare'. She is long in the back and her neck confirmation, where it comes from the wither is not the best, so she balances her self with a high head carriage, which leaves me wondering some days if I am actually riding a giraffe in a horse suit.
Today I had one of those Zen like evenings with her when all went smoothly - harmony prevailed - such bliss. She is now softly working round and down and building muscle in all the right places.

I took a couple of pictures of her the other day and I am going to take some more every couple of months so I can chart the physical changes in her and show that the work she is doing building a correct topline. 
Amelie in April 2011
On the plus side she is a real people horse who stands peacefully on her own in the shed even when the other horses are charging around outside, she loves a shower with the hose after a workout and fell asleep when the blacksmith put her first set of back shoes on last week. Sometimes a horse like that is worth it's weight in chocolate. My next task with her is to get her loading in the lorry like a good'un - I am hoping that her great greed and love of carrots will persuade her to hot-foot it up the ramp.

On another bright note, my lovely horse Omagh (short for Omagh Darlin) who damaged a tendon over a year ago is back in work with Debby, who loans him from me. I bought Omagh from my friend Sandra Low Mitchell when I  was starting to ride again having had a my first baby break. Omagh was perfect, a completely gentle giant of 17.2, he taught me to be a confident rider again when, unlike a weeble, I did fall down and off. He jumped anything I put in front of him no matter what dodgy stride I was on. We suited each other perfectly for a few years. He is a great all rounder, but once I was ready to do some more concentrated show jumping again he wasn't so keen, so instead of boring him to death I decided to to loan him out rather than sell him (you just never know when you might need the ultimate gentleman back in your life.). He still lives here at my yard but Debby rides and looks after him. She actually suits him more than me as she is tall and he's a big boy. Anyway I wish them both luck as he slowly gets fit again.
The fabulous gentle giant - Omagh - every girl should have one - pity I always looked like a pea on a drum on him.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

L'eau de Sausage......

We headed off as a family for the Easter weekend - camping up at Rothiemurchus, near Aviemore. This was a first for us and I was a bit worried about the weather forecast for rain, as my hubby was less of a happy camper and more of a 'nappy' one - I did wonder if I would get him out of the starting gate. However come the hour he manfully packed the car with all manner of camping gadgets and gizmos and off we set. The rain on the way up failed to dampen the kids spirits and, hallelujah, the rain was fading as we neared the campsite. (I saw Nige make a mental note as we passed a Hilton Hotel just before the campsite) But as we drew up at our pitch, the last few drops of rain cleared and as camping virgins we managed to get the tent up with only a few mutterd oaths.

Happy campers - well the one with the beer is anyway.

We ended up having a fantastic weekend, the rain stayed away and we spent Sunday at an outdoor adventure place where we climbed, flumed, Tarzan walked and other activities that my two boys had no problem outshining thier parents at. 'Come on mum - you're a bit slow' became the day's refrain. Great fun though.
About to be overtaken by my six year old
 My only disappointment was that the campsite was in the shade of remnents of the Caledonian Pine Forest - majestic to look at but brrrrr, a bit cool and chilly to sit in, especially as campfires were forbidden due to peaty ground. I have never huddled so close to a tinfoil BBQ in my life before. In fact I quickly resigned myself to smelling of 'L'eau de Sausage' for the weekend! 
Waiting patiently for the sausages to cook
Heading home I had an exciting phone call from the man who is building my new horsebox, telling me that it is nearly ready - Yippee. I sold my trailer a while ago now to a super lady, Heather Mitchell - otherwise known as the Frilly Ghillie who, among other things makes the most fantastic hats - look out for her at The Scottish Game Fair at Scone - so I have been grounded for ages.

Look out for Heather, 'The Frilly Ghillie' at the game fairs - her hats are fabulous. Healther trains ponies for stalking and does stalking demos
Went to see my truck a couple of days later - I have chosen to paint it racing green - it looked great even though it had no wheels on and was all taped up against paint smudges. Hopefully I will be driving it home next week and then there will be no stopping me this summer. It is a 7.5t truck - I haven't had the living fitted out as I rarely use it and it means I can legally fit 3 horses in it and stay under weight without having to faff about and get an HGV licence. .Good for me and other road users according to Nige.

Although I don't plan to compete three horses, I have a big problem with the lovely Garth, (see previous posts). He is a funny horse - he can cope with going to a show on his own but take him with another horse and take that horse away from him and he flips out. I have had his head stitched up twice after he reared and went through the roof of my trailer and a friends lorry. My solution which may seem little extreme, is to go back to a truck so that I can always have a horse in the back keeping him company. Believe you me, when he flips it is just not safe for either him or any handler trying to calm him down. My old show jumper Modetia will be a great nanny - she loves tootling to shows and is quite happy to hang around calmly for hours as long as she has plenty of haylage to munch.

Should be picking my lorry up at the end of this week - can't wait - look out all you truckers!