Thursday, 5 July 2012

Summer horses

As I am grounded at the moment - no riding for at least 6 more weeks have been pottering about with my camera  - here's some photos of some of the horses here at Airdits Farm enjoying a ray of sunshine at 5.30 one summers morning last week.

Amelie is recovering well from her hock operation and enjoying the company of my new mare, Flicker.
Jerry watching the sun come up.
Ams and Flicker.
It's good to see the early morning sun.
Tammy - you got any grub on you then?
20-years old and looking fantastic, shire TB x - Reuben
Gorgeous Garth - star of many a blog post.
Wa'sat over there?
Dougie and the rest of the boys.

Cornflakes is back at Airdits...

Let me clear something up right  away - in case you think I have food on my mind and am referring to a bowl of yellow crispy things that you eat with milk, I am not. Instead I am talking about a fantastic big horse that I bred. An Irish Draught x WB he was born here five years ago. He went as three year old to a great friend of mine who hoped to bring him on to event. For various reasons the dream didn't work out so I was thrilled when I was given the opportunity to buy him back.

Cornflakes as a shaggy yearling - a boy with a fabulous, easy going temperament

I have admired him from afar a few times now and to have him back at home for a while is going to be great. He has of course grown in the time he has been away and has matured into a really handsome, big horse. His slight Roman nose is made attractive by his white markings and he really does stand out in a crowd.
Then and as a strapping three-yr-old, still with lots of growing to do.

Once my shoulder is fixed (I will blog about that later) I aim to do a bit of everything with him, bit of show jumping, bit of dressage, take a turn cross countrying and possibly some cubbing with the local hunt come Autumn time. First I will give him a few weeks in the field. 1 - because I can't ride at the moment but also because I think he will benefit from a little time relaxing.
So to my husband's alarm my horse numbers are creeping up again - Me? I couldn't be happier!

Back home this week as a 16.3 5-yr-old

 Here is a fun video of Cornflakes meeting up again with old friends Jerry and Garth - not horses were hurt in the making of this film! :)

Monday, 28 May 2012

Trotting on...

I have to confess it's much harder to keep blogging when the weather is better and the nights are light so it's long past due for a catch up. There's so much to say I am not sure where to start. Amelie has been into the Clyde Vet Group and had both hocks operated on. The op was done keyhole and Andy McDiarmid was very pleased with the result. When she came home the only sign that anything had been done were two small stitches in one and three in the other hock.
The hocks were to be pressure bandaged for a week - I am lucky one of my livery clients is a nurse so I called on her expertise to make sure the huge bandages were done properly. Am's wasn't a good box rest patient and after a further week in at home started box walking so badly that I made the decision to put her out into a very small penned off bit in a small paddock. As the weather has been unseasonably hot she couldn't really be bothered trying to kick her way out so she has just been peacefully munching in a confined space - which I reckon is better than plodding around in endless small circles.
The vet is hopeful that she should come through this sound and go on to lead a good working life. I can't wait until her further six weeks off are over and I can start to gently bring her back to fitness again.

Losing Tara
Tara my gorgeous chestnut mare has unfortunately been put down. Her shivering in the end caused problems when she was ridden and after many, many sleepless nights trying to think of another job for her I just couldn't. She had unfortunately been previously difficult to get in foal, and, for me, her physical problems made her a less than ideal broodmare prospect anyway. It was a really difficult decision to come to. However I couldn't even pass her onto a friend to ride for fun and, as she easily became unsettled if her particular friends were away, she wasn't a good candidate for retiring to the field. It was a complete privilege to own and ride such an amazing mare and I learnt a huge amount from her and about her condition and I take some small comfort in knowing that she was happy in her year here on the farm. I will miss her hugely.

The stunning Tara whom it was a complete joy to own and ride.
Garth is in fine form
Garth, my grey jumping horse is in fabulous form. I have finally kicked off with some shows and he has surprised me by being incredibly rideable and behaving himself immaculately. Usually when he competes after a break he can be a bit of a strong old bugger, but something seems to have clicked and he jumped a lovely double clear in a 1.05m and then just had one down in a 1.15 at his first show. At his second show which was the super Fife Show near Cupar we were on grass - now usually he finds it irresistible to get strong and onwards in a big grass field, however he was brilliant and jumped a double clear in a 1.05m for second place. We had to give the 1.10m a miss as my youngest son Chris was getting judged in the 'best decorated gingerbread man competition'. I rushed down to find he had won first prize - what a proud mum.

Julie took her lovely horse Jerry to Fife to take part in his first ever RoR class and they had a great time to finish in third place. I think when Jerry first got there and heard the tannoy he thought he was back at the races, Julie did a great job and manged to keep him calm and focused and he looked beautiful in the ring. She was thrilled with the way he handled it all and I am sure they will be back for more.



This weekend we are off to West Fife show where we are going to give the 1.10 and 1.20m open a go. So here's hoping Garth still his new sensible head on when his hooves hit the green grass!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

More ups than doons.....

Well I didn't get to my show jumping clinic and show, Garth was still just a little footsore after being shod left him a little sore on the sole. However as is usual with sod's law, he is now sound as a pound two days after the event and ain't that just horses for ya'. Ah well we still have a whole summer ahead of us and hopefully it will go more smoothly.
When my trainer and friend Ernest Dillon was up here in Scotland for his clinic he showed me some fantastic photos of Coco, a mare I bred out of my good show jumping mare Modetia. He bought Coco off me as an unbroken four-year-old last summer and she is now popping her first small jumps with him. Ernest has two of my home breds and it gives me a massive thrill to hear that they are all well and coming on in leaps and bounds.

Coco out of my lovely mare Modetia, tackling her first ever jumps with Ernest.

She seems to have inherited her dam's scope, boldness and good looks!
After the wintry weather that Scotland has just plunged back into, the better weather can't come soon enough. The horses are all starting to look match fit including Tara who is now ready to take to some lessons and shows to see how she copes with a bit of travelling again. She is much fitter now and I am really looking forward to tackling our first dressage outing together in. She is also learning to jump at the moment. It is just like sitting on a green four-year-old when it comes to this but she is very careful and makes a super shape over a fence, so we will give it a go and see how she comes on, I popped a few small fences with her last year so we will add in some more stuff this spring and build up to a wee course. There is no pressure though and if it is not her thing then so be it. She has also been for her first ever fast gallop up our new grass gallop here. I have no idea if she has ever done anything like this before but she certainly enjoyed it.

Tara is looking pretty fit now - doesn't want to waste good eating time posing for the camera though!
Amelie has had some treatment to a hock at the Clyde Vet Group which has made a massive difference to her way of going - so their diagnosis has been spot on. I am to ride her away for a few weeks to see if the treatment stays working, if it doesn't there are plenty of options to try so I am relatively happy that we are on the right road with her now. She is now moving freely with none of the tension that had crept in and she is most definitely the happy horse she was, once again.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Humans and their horses revving up now spring has sprung!

Just time for a quick update - Garth and I are really looking forward to our two day Ernest Dillon jumping clinic on Friday and Saturday. It has been a bit on and off for us as he was a bit footy after being shod last week, however he has had a pad put under his shoe now and the way he was leaping around like a mad March hare in the field this morning, makes me think it may do the trick, so hopefully he will be sound to jump. Then hopefully we will head off to our first BS show of the year on Sunday, to say that I am looking forward to it would be a huge understatement. I will let you know how we get on.

Garth letting Omagh and Jerry know that his buck is back! Foot is feeling better then :)
We have also been busy on the farm, harrowing and rolling the fields, basically repairing the winter ones and getting the fresh fields ready for the horses to move into. Nigel was driving me mad calling me in the tractor and telling me I was going to fast, too slow, too squint so I put my headphones on and ignored all instructions.

Getting ready for a light spot of harrowing - I like to think I fool everyone into looking like I know what I am doing.
 Only a few fields left to do now so should get them all finished by next week. Some of the livery's have helped me make a little cross country course around our top field where we also have a grass gallop. That has already proved fun for anyone that wants to jump it and we will hopefully add a few more fences over the next couple of months till there is a proper wee course up there.

Pam's turn to have a bash with the hammer - making the first of our small X-country course.
Jackie and Jenny Lammie started off by keeping just one Shetland pony with me a few years ago, as their first foray into becoming equestrians. Now this has multiplied into keeping two Welsh Cobs for driving and another Shetland pony (popped out as an unexpected foal from the original Shetland). Jackie and Callan took to driving like ducks to water and are currently getting fit for the 2012 season. What makes me chuckle is that the family cars now live an outdoor life as the garage is full of driving carts. I am hoping Jackie will have time to give me a driving lesson one night next week as I would love to give it a go. He was out last night giving Callan a workout in the evening sunshine and I thought they looked very striking.

Jackie and Callan. Hopefully Callan will cope with a novice like me having a go next week!

Friday, 9 March 2012

Gearing up for the season ahead...

Had a great jumping lesson on Garth at Balcormo last weekend with Sandra Low Mitchell. He is still looking hairy and needs a clip but the belly is shrinking (wish mine was) and he is feeling fitter and I think we will head out to a show soon.
We did some grid work in the lesson; once upon a time he would have rushed down the line of fences making me feel like I was in a wind tunnel but he now takes his time, measures his strides and backs off off to give himself plenty of space to clear everything neatly. It was a joy to ride him down the line a few times and I was really enjoying myself.
Next we moved onto an small double on the other side of the school, concentrating on not letting him cut the corner to this we popped it a couple of times then Sandra started putting it up. Garth felt fantastic and we ended up popping out over a 1.40m oxer which is probably the nearest I will ever get to flying without paying Ryanair !
I have to take my sons to various dates in their hectic social diaries this Saturday then I have to drop Amelie off at the vets near Lanark this Sunday as she is having a scan. Next weekend though I am definitely going to find a show to take Garth to.

Garth popped this 1.40m oxer for fun - the closest I will come to flying without involving Ryanair!

Lots in the diary..
At the end of March, after three days of my next magazine deadline, I am really looking forward to a three day jumping clinic at Howe Country Centre with my other regular trainer, Ernest Dillon. Sadly I can only do two days due to my a dayjob appointment, but I am sure that my clever horse will catch up pretty quickly when we come in on day two.
Then on the Sunday after the clinic I am going to head to Gleneagles to jump there. They haven't held a BS show there for a few years now. I used to love jumping here in the winter on both Cavalla and Modetia so I am really looking forward to taking Garth - I think he will love the big indoor arena there.

As I mentioned Ams is off for a scan - the vets at The Clyde Vet Hospital found that she was moving stiffly and is very mildly lame so I am hoping the scan shows any hot spot and that we can sort out whatever is bothering her so she will be comfortable to begin her jumping career proper.

Amoureva by Amoureux.
New arrival...
We have a gorgeous new arrival on the yard - Amoureva, known as Ziva, is a beautiful rising-three-year-old by Amoureux. She belongs to Ferne who is hoping to break her and bring her on over the next few years to event. She is going to be a big, beautiful horse, she is very gangly at the moment but what a mover. She has a very sensible head on her shoulders, loves people and attention and has settled in brilliantly. I am looking forward to seeing her grow into herself - she is going to be a stunning horse.

Friday, 2 March 2012

The view from my cab...

I knew I should have pulled my finger out and got updating my blog as now there is so much to tell you all that I am not sure where to start. Lets begin by sitting beside Scotland's busiest road with two horses on the back of my broken down lorry. Yes that was a day I will remember for a long time. I was on my way to the Clyde Vet Group with Amelie and Garth loaded up when there was an almighty explosion under my lorry. I stopped at once and saw clouds of black smoke billowing out from the back. I got out, had a look underneath and was alarmed to see that the truck was nearly on fire. Both of my back brake discs were glowing orange like mini suns. Panic swept over me as I was just at the end of a slipway joining the motorway so I had three lanes of traffic roaring past me, plus the two lanes on the other side and a steel barrier on the left of me - there was no where to let the horses off if fire caught hold - I would have caused a pile-up. I went and got my phone and kept an eye on everything while I called my horsebox breakdown number.

Luckily the bang of my two back tyres exploding (caused by the heat) seemed to have stopped me in time to avert fire, as the smoke died down so I calmed down a bit.

Thankfully Big Brother was watching me..
Now I have never been a fan of CCTV cameras everywhere but I was very grateful that they run the length of the M8 because someone monitoring them had seen my lorry stop with smoke puring out, the me peering ineffectually under it and they alerted Peter and Stevie, two great guys who work for BEAR Scotland. They turned up in their yellow van within 15 minutes. They then turned on their huge flashing yellow arrow which made sure that other drivers gave the truck more room. This settled the horses down, as the big HGV's flying past were making it sway and Ams was finding that unnerving. Peter and Stevie then sat there with me all day and were excellent company when it was all getting very cold and boring!

The view from my cab - Jim's massive tow truck waiting to take me away!
To cut a long story short getting me and the horses safely off the road eventually involved a cast of 8 people roadside, including two policemen, plus a lovely lady making various phone calls on my behalf. As everything took so long it was decided that shutting the M8 while I offloaded the horses was no longer an option as we were now well into rush hour, so it was decided that the safest thing to do was to tow the truck, with the horses still in it, to a quiet place where they could be loaded onto a rescue lorry. By this time it was after 5pm and Garth and Ams had been patiently standing munching haynets in the truck since 11am. They were fantastic though - it was as if they wanted to get home too - they loaded straight onto the other lorry and eventually we arrived back home at around 6.30pm. My lorry was towed by the cheery Jim with his huge tow truck back to my mechanics.

I make sure that my horse transport is always well maintained and in all the years that I have been driving horseboxes and trailers around that's the first time that I have ever had a major breakdown. I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to get me and my horses home safely - it was a pretty Herculean operation.

Check your cover
Just a word to the wise though for everyone that has horsebox breakdown cover - double check your policy. A few weeks ago before this a friend of mine broke down in her truck and duly called her horsebox breakdown assist, only to be told that it covered the recovery of the lorry but NOT the horses. She then had to pay a fortune for the horsebox that took her horses home. Now I always assumed that my cover took care of the horses as well but I thought I should double check. When I called the NFU they told me that my breakdown package also only covered the lorry and not the cost of getting the horses home but that they could add this for a very minimal fee which I asked them to do. So if you aren't sure exactly what your policy covers it might be worth that quick phonecall.

I am also really glad that I opt to pay slightly more for a policy that covers the whole incident rather than a pay-per-use policy as I happen to know that my bill for that day for mechanics and tow trucks etc came to a staggering £1600.

Onwards and upwards..
Anyway my truck is now fixed plus has a shiny new fire extinguisher (I will never again leave home without one) and the least said about the bill for mending that the better however, on the plus side, two weeks later when I reloaded Ams to try to get to the vets again she walked on with no problems so the trip obviously didn't faze her too much.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Garth and I jumping

Here is a video of my gorgeous grey Garth and I jumping some tracks over the last couple of years.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Amelie is hospital bound, Garth is onward bound

I came to a decision this week, Amelie is happier in her new Micklem bridle but not enough for my liking and in fact was completely and unusually out of sorts under saddle last weekend. So much so that I called my vet on Monday and asked him to make her an appointment at the Clyde vet hospital with Andy McDiarmid. I think that I need to get her jaw, back and withers all scanned or X-rayed - whatever they  recommend, once they have assessed her being ridden, to double check that there is no pain leading to her somewhat odd ridden behaviour right now
Although there have been long periods where she has worked so well that I have believed we were on the right track - she is very erratic at the moment and I need to make sure all is well physically. She has previously had her back, saddle and teeth all checked so now it is time for a thorough investigation so I can work out which way to go with her next. If she is just being a young horse with attitude so be it, but I have a niggle in the back of my head that there is something up and that means I absolutely give her the benefit of the doubt.
I haven't ridden her since last weekend and won't do so until she has had her check-up.

Amelie (3rd from left) with some of my other homebreds

Questions that I need to answer before I go any further:

Are her withers ok, or has she damaged them somehow.

Is her jaw ok, or is there a bone or tooth splinter meaning that any sort of contact with the bit is causing pain? Are the bars of her mouth damaged in some way?

Is her spinous process ok, are there any kissing spines?

Is there some other unseen condition which is causing her discomfort under saddle?

All these questions need to be answered now as she was so nappy and unhappy the other day and that is just not like her at all. I would hate to go any further with her training if there is pain I am unaware of. Our appointment is at the end of next week on my birthday in fact - it would be a great present to find out there is nothing serious bothering her, or if there is that it is something that the vets can do something about. So keep your fingers crossed for us.

Up the Clyde...
My Peewee bit arrived (see earlier post) but interestingly it was a copy of the bit and not the real thing - the mouthpiece which was supposed to be sweet iron was just stainless steel painted black - so I have sent it straight back. Sometimes I think these sellers think that we come up the Clyde in a banana boat!

This weekend we leave the ground
I am off on Saturday for a jumping lesson on Garth with Sandra Low-Mitchell over at Balcormo. I am sharing with a lovely friend of mine who I haven't seen for ages. It's something that I have enjoyed down the years - making some great friends because of a shared equestrian interest. You just never know who you might meet on a horse!
Garth is starting to look more streamlined again, the lesson won't be too full on as this will be his first jumping session for a while.
Garth  as he looks fit and going  - this pic was taken by a lovely friend of mine Hannah Paterson who is an ace photographer

The daft horse managed to get himself a fat knee for a couple of days - probably because of his annoying habit of galloping up behind a buddy, using their backend as a ABS braking system, then trying to rub his face all over their bottom. It's fine if they see him coming but if he catches them unawares, well you can guess. Sometimes I do wonder where his brains are! Luckily he wasn't lame at all and it is back to normal now.
Then David Harland is coming to my yard to teach on Sunday so I will sneak Garth into someones lesson and join in some of the exercises. All in all that will mean a good weekends workout for Garth. Perhaps that will use up all his excess energy - well a girl can dream.

If you like dogs then check out Hannah's brilliant pics here

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Bit by bit - the key to Amelie's mouth

Well that's all my horses back in work properly now. Amelie is further ahead as she had been kept ticking over. Garth and Tara are working gently until they get their fitness levels back up. It is great turning them out onto the hill fields that I have here everyday, as it means that their fitness levels don't drop back to nothing if they do get a holiday. Walking up and down the slopes for a few hours every day keeps up a pretty good basic fitness level even if the horses aren't in full work.
Thankfully last weekend the wind finally died down here for a bit and we enjoyed a couple of beautiful still, frosty days. Luckily it has also been dry so it isn't particularly icy, therefore some of riders from the yard took advantage of this and got out for a couple of good hacks in the sunshine.

Some of the horses head out on a beautiful frosty day.
Some of the girls had lessons with trainer David Harland here on Saturday so I took the opportunity to join in one lesson with Amelie who was ready for a gentle session. She worked around the other two horses and then David put some poles out for us while the other two gave their horses a breather. Ams was feeling pretty fresh so we did a bit of slow trotting into poles then some small jumps just to remind her to stay steady into them and not get too excited and rush. She finished up working in a relaxed frame and settled well to the job in hand.

Finding the key
I am still finding it frustrating though, that I don't yet have the key to her mouth - she can still be incredibly fussy and resistant at times and I am not sure why. I am going to go down the route of trying some new things until I find a combination that she finds more acceptable. So with that in mind I have a Micklem bridle coming. I have used one of these before on another horse with great results, unfortunately the one I had was too small to fit any of my other horses so Amelie has her own shiny new one on the way - I knew my Christmas money would come in handy. I have also hired a couple of bits to try including the intriguing Peewee bit.

One of those lightbulb moments
I had a bit of a lightbulb moment on her the other day when I wondered if it was pressure on the sides of her face she is objecting too, so I took off her noseband. The bridle she has on at the moment is a very good one but it does have a thick padded noseband which means when the bit is used the cheekpieces must put pressure on this band and therefore on her teeth. I am starting to think that perhaps she hates the pressure of both the noseband and the bit pressing against the sides of her face against her teeth. When I took the noseband off there was a pretty instant 60-70% change for the better in her - until she got her tongue over the bit and I stopped. The Micklem is cleverly designed with a drop noseband system but no other pressure on the sides of the face and the Peewee bit is supposed to sit off the sides of the face as well. So here's hoping that I am on the right track theory wise.

The cleverly designed Micklem Multibridle
After lots of research it seems like a combination that's worth trying. The other thing in favour of the Peewee is that it has a very thin mouthpiece and Ams has quite a fleshy tongue so that should suit her too.
I have her in a comfort Myler at the moment and although it is the best bit I have tried so far, it is certainly far from perfect for her.

A pee wee - the bit sits lower in the mouth and sits off the sides of the face

I should add that I have also tried her in a hackamore and there was no discernible difference which again leads me to think that she is objecting to pressure against the sides of her teeth. I have also had her teeth done, back checked and saddle checked and fitted. I am pretty certain that this is not a pain thing because interestingly if you put draw reins on her, not to haul her head down, but to show her how to go long and low you can easily ride her incredibly lightly, just with one finger on the buckle end of them and she happily goes in a lovely, low swinging trot. There is no fighting, tension or arguing with them - which I would expect there to be if she was in pain - in fact I would expect quite a violent reaction - just the opposite of what she gives.

Anyone else been there and got this t-shirt?
If anyone else has been through this with a horse of theirs I would love to hear if you found the perfect solution and what it was.

Last night I headed off for a lesson at Balcormo with my good friend - show jumper and trainer Sandra Low Mitchell, she is helping me get Amelie to take her time jumping so that she learns to make a good shape rather than rush and flatten out. She does this by reminding me that I have to stay as still and quiet as I can and under no circumstances must I give her any signals to jump - just to keep her ticking into the fence in a good rhythm. I discussed what I was going to try with Amelie in detail and Sandra agrees that this seems a good combination of bridle and bit to try as finding something that the mare is happier with is the key to progress now.

Ams working at home - this is the frame she starts in - I try to do at least 15 minutes in a long very low frame once she has relaxed.
Must keep up the New Year diet!
Two notes to self though on looking at this picture above - it's time to haul all the jumps in under cover and have a painting session. May as well get it done before spring because there are much more exciting things to be doing once the warm weather is here. Secondly I MUST keep up with the New Year's diet so I don't look so much of a wee fat puddock on a horse!

Looking down towards our farm at the weekend.

Omagh and grey boy Garth, snoozing in the winter sunshine with ShirexTB Reuben (black) and ex racer Jerry.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Freestyle pairs dressage!...

Very, very windy here today, local wind speeds of over 100mph were recorded. We were incredibly lucky in that the only damage was some old roof tiles blowing off a shed.  Needless to say we didn't turn the horses out but I let them have a play in pairs in the school later on once the wind had died down a bit. Here's some pics I took of them enjoying some freestyle pairs dressage! Fingers crossed that the weather in Jan and Feb is calmer so that I can crack on getting them back to fill fitness for spring.
Amelie and Tara enjoying a canter around

Enjoying a trot around.
Amelie showing how nicely she moves
Tara, my mare by Jazz, wearing half the arena surface!
Next out were the boys,  Omagh (chestnut) and Garth
Garth getting woolly but looking happy during his holiday
Garth stretches out
Hi handsome.
My ginger giant, Omagh.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Here's to 2012....

So that's the end of 2011 and on we go into 2012, albeit with a very hoarse voice after a great night of New Year's Eve, village karaoke. I have decided to give my horses an easy time over the next month as the weather here has been incredibly windy and wet and it's been frustratingly difficult to ride them consistently. Plus sadly, my local show centre has stopped running indoor BS jumping and cancelled all their winter shows. As they have also completely closed their indoor small arena as well, it means that their winter dressage league, which I was looking forward to doing, has an outdoor warm-up - not very tempting on wet, cold, winter nights.

Over the next couple of months that leaves only a handful of AP jumping shows on within an hour away from here, so it seems like a good idea to give the horses an easy time over January with a view to competing again in early spring.

Garth my grey and Jerry, enjoying some time off.

It is also getting far too expensive for a hobby show jumper, in terms of diesel costs, to drive for over two hours to get to Rowallan or Ingliston to compete, as they are right over on the west of Scotland.
I queried my local BS representative about the fact that there seem to be lots of intro shows on near us at the moment but a lack of AP one and she told that intro shows are changing in April to 'Amateur' ones, which will hold classes up to 1.15m instead of stopping at 1m. I hope this is the case as it will give me much more opportunity to get out jumping locally without spending £80-£100 an outing, in fuel.

On the home front some of my livery clients are going to come and spend a day helping me use my spare time to make some more cross country jumps for our top field. Our hay shed collapsed last winter under the weight of snow and we salvaged some big round poles which will be perfect for jumps. The horses all enjoy bobbing over them so it will be fun to have some new ones to play with.

There's a rat in ma muck heap what I'm a gonna do?...
Coming down our drive one dark night over Christmas I was startled to see a massive rat running across the drive out of the muck heap. EEEEK. Now I don't mind mice but rats don't feature in my top ten of the world's creatures I want to get within 10ft of. I went back out to feed the horses and gave my three farm cats, Rockstar, Bob the Builder and Smokey (guess which two the kids named) a good talking too, pointing them in the general direction of the muck heap and explaining that eating Kitty Kat is all well and good but they had a job to do. Three pairs of yellow eyes watched me solemnly. They were definitely taking it all in.

They are actually looking pretty porky for farm cats in the middle of winter - in fact they look like well fed, doze in front of the Aga cats, not sleek mean mousing machines. I discovered that, not only were they getting their tea from me at night but that they were also turning sad, pleading eyes on some of my livery clients who were feeding them too. So I'm afraid extra snacks are off the menu until they get down to work and catch those rats!

Rockstar one of our farmcats, in slimmer days!.
Happy New Year to you all - hope it's a lucky one for everyone.