Welcome to my blog about horsey life in the North East - the good bits, bad bits, endless coffees and plenty of mud!

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Happy New Year

Not long now till 2014 clicks in and I hope you've all had a lovely Christmas time. The horses and myself are all well and collectively we wish you all the best for the New Year. When the dust settles we shall return to bore you further with our plans for the future.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of pics of Rodney and I dusting off the cobwebs.

Happy horsing everyone - have a good one x

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Calming chamomile and cantering

Just a quick post:

Someone mentioned the other day they give their mad mare a sachet of chamomile tea leaves in her feed for a calming effect.

Willing to try anything I fished some out of the back of the kitchen cupboard for Cady and swirled them hopefully into her sugarbeet.

Sadly, when I arrived at the field she trotted to the gate and then galloped off snorting when the dog stepped on a twig. I did try and catch her but she was overcome with the terror of it all so I decided she couldn't be that hungry and left her to it.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them eat chamomile tea...

On the plus side I had a charming ride on Rodney. We did some work without stirrups and then canter transitions and he was just a pleasure. Our canter work is still massively haphazard but there's progress there and it's the most fun I've ever had in an arena. 

Happy horsing everyone x

Monday, 16 December 2013

Fun :)

The Christmas spirit is so strong this year it has acted as a flamethrower to my usual Health and Safety concerns. Meaning silly ideas are entering the 'Can we do this?' Inbox ... before shooting into the 'F*ck it ! Why not?' basket.

On Sunday I had a go at riding Rodney and leading Cady at the same time. The hope is that I can take her around the farm in this manner and let Rodney's sensible, level-headed approach rub off on her. I expected it to be a disaster but it actually worked very well. Though at one point a horse grazing in the field next to the track got really excited and belted over and Cady had a little gallop on the spot. Rodney, as always, was a saint, and we all survived unmaimed.

Here he is - so beautiful I could evaporate...

Clearly have overdone the Photoshop here...
but this is what colour he is in real life -crap camera just refuses to play

We've also been having a go at mounting from the offside, riding with one hand and bending around cones, slowly and at speed. And my fabulous Gingella nut just rolls his eyes to the heavens and lets me do it. I LOVE THIS HORSE! 

Here's Cady pulling a face...(I love her too, but not because we ever achieve anything, just because she's my one and only bad penny.)

Raaaa! Gizza carrot ma !

This winter I'm going to try and win her over. If everything goes quiet on this blog then I'm failing. But to cheer me up there is always Nancy noodle, who loves our outdoor life together. She is such good company and a right little nitwit. Her favourite pastime is doing the wall of death around the haylage bale.

It seems to me that the weather is too temperamental to stick to rigid fitness plans so instead I'm trying to get the team emotionally fit - which is a posh way of saying that I want them to be able to handle walking, trotting, cantering, jumping, rein back, tractors, plastic bag etc etc with me on top and without having a meltdown.

Wish me luck and I hope you're all having fun with your chargers!

Happy horsing x

Friday, 13 December 2013

Well hello now

It's been a good week... my car brakes failed, I got held up coming to work this morning and a sucky bill I thought I might be exempt from - nope, I have to pay it.

But hand on heart and irony free, it's been a good week, backing up my personal theory that mood and circumstances aren't as closely linked as you might think.

As the temperatures have fallen, my will to ride has gone on holiday for a bit. I've probably clocked up more time in the saddle this year than any other in living memory so it feels right to have a rest for a bit while I get organised for Christmas.

That said I've hacked out a couple of times on a borrowed horse (lovely 16.2hh, bay TB) and on Wednesday me and Rodney went for a swizzle around the arena. My intention was to do some gentle walk work but we ended up just generally playing about and showing off for the sheep in the field next door. We did zoomy canters and slooooow canters, rein back, leg yielding and serpentines as the light faded. 

What a good horse he is - handsome and willing and a brilliant teacher. Definitely the kind of horse who comes along but once in a lifetime. Much in the way that Nancy has made me a full convert to lurchers as family dogs, Rodney is a superb spokesman for the mighty Welshie. 

In terms of new pics - fail! Phil's camera has no memory left and the batteries have given up on mine so I must endeavour to sort this out and get some cute Christmas pics to share. Perhaps that can be the mission for this weekend.

But for anyone wanting a Nancy fix, here she is being very beautiful.

I've done nothing much with Cady either, other than keeping her warm and well fed and picking her feet out. She looks very sweet and fuzzy at the moment (as does Rodney) - I forgot how much I love the look and feel of their luxurious winter coats. 

I hope you are all enjoying the time of year and your horses - whether through riding or tucking them in at night.

Happy horsing x 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Just checking in

Apols all round for being such a lazy toad lately. Blogland fun time is currently being sacrificed to my efforts to be warm and busy this winter, which means lots of riding and not much time to write about it.

I was due to take Rodney jumping at West Park a few weeks ago when they opened their new arena, but the Saturday beforehand he felt slightly off when I rode and when I lunged him on the hard flat there was a distinct head nod. I think he must have slipped in the field or I'd overdone it in our schooling/jumping/hacking...

A week off and he's fine again and we're fitting in rides wherever we can. We had some lovely canter work on Wednesday which was very cheering. I'm hoping to lure Phil down soon to get some fresh pics as I've had nothing new to use for ages and he feels like he's working well (Rodney, not Phil, though Phil works very hard too lol!) and we've glued together more (Still talking about Rodney). 

Cady trotted across the field in a straight-ish line the other day and looked sound so I lunged her and touch wood she seems ok on that left circle now so I want to get her back in work. I think the abscess she had in that near left must have left her quite bruised/irritated and has taken a lot of time to feel better.

The prospect of getting her back in work is both good and bad. We have too much history but like a sucker I'm also excited to see how high I can get my hopes before she crushes them into the arena sand ;)

With all this lameness several friends have stepped in and let me ride their horses over the past month. For which I am very, very grateful. Riding my own is great but variety keeps your brain hula-hooping.

Happy horsing everyone x 

Friday, 22 November 2013

Your Horse Live 2013

Cast your mind back to two weeks ago and you will remember my last post, filled with excitement as I prepared to head to Your Horse Live 2013.

Anyone who expected a prompt Monday-morning blog about said event will have grown a long grey beard and died by now.

For any survivors, still keen to hear how we got on, I apologise for my tardiness. You see, the main problem with YHL is that it makes the rest of life seem a bit shit and boring. 
Then I get too sad to write about it and avoid the prospect for, oooh, approximately two weeks.

Which brings us to now. 

Silver wristband and ticket - look how happy this makes me...

If you can't be bothered with the ins and outs, here's a short summary - 1) It was Brill 2) Book for next year if you know what's good for you 3) The End.

For those with more patience here's the long version. Driving down there is one of my favourite bits because all the fun is still to come (bit like Christmas Eve). Also, we are organised and driven by our tremendous friend Lynn, who understands how important it is to have enough cheesy puffs and mini chocolate swiss rolls to last for the whole four-hour journey. 

When we arrived at the Murder Motel there was a brief scuffle about who had to have room 13 and who would stay with who. Then we piled into one room and drank wine until midnight when exhaustion set in. I had been deemed too repulsive to share with anyone so I enjoyed a blissful night's sleep free from the nocturnal demands of Nancy puppy.

Lucinda Fredericks

On Saturday we watched the Lucinda Fredericks demo. Her famous mare, Headley Britannia, stole the show, and demonstrated her lovely nature when Lucinda's young daughter rode her for the last five minutes.

Then out came Oliver Townend and Geoff Billington. Geoff always seems to bring a beautiful bay mare when he does demos and this year he arrived with one called Scarlet. The showjumping/eventing pair have a well-oiled routine and I always like to watch them. Geoff plays the clown but he cannot hide his years of experience and the fact his balance is a million times better than he lets on. Oliver is better at talking through what he does and why he does it though. 

Geoff Billington

Then there was a dressage demo by the Eilbergs which was beautiful, but way over my head. They brought out a dapple grey and a black stallion and they were just something else in terms of beauty and paces. That said, I wouldn't want to turn them out in the morning - they looked like they'd eat grooms for breakfast.

Heather Moffett

Heather Moffett was very good too - we watched her both days. At first she banged on a bit about saddles and it seemed like it might turn into an advert but actually she didn't dwell too long and her demo riders were much more relevant for normal riders like me, who have wonky this and wonky that and aren't likely to trouble the Eilbergs when it comes to rosettes. 

Saturday night we went out for a curry at Omars and the joy of being able to talk horses none stop WHILE drinking wine, WHILE eating delicious food, was slightly overwhelming.

Very cute rescue pony in the pony village - all found prospective new homes.

On the Sunday I was perched early for Jason Webb, who's been there for three years and never disappoints. I love his horse Diesel, who comes each year and does a demo at the end of each session. I watched the afternoon demo too and there was a really interesting/tense moment where the horse he was riding through some spook-busting exercises looked like he wasn't going to cross the tarpaulin. It took quite a bit of time and a few people started to leave but Jason kept his cool and got the horse through it without losing patience. I think a good horseman can get that kind of result but it takes a great one to do it with hundreds of expectant people watching. 


Karen Smart was great. She had an OTTB mare with a beautiful trot who'd been bought at the sale a few days before. Between Karen and her balls-of-steel groom, she was going really nicely in a short space of time. While you always have to remember you're watching the professionals, there were some good exercises to take away.

Usually, I avoid all the shopping, but this year I got a lovely red jumper to wear for Christmas and one of those Mark Todd headbands to keep my bonce warm.

It was a sooper dooper weekend filled with loads of laughs. Now excuse me while I go and stick my head in the oven ;)

Happy horsing everyone x 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Your Horse Live 2013 - here we come!

In a just a teeny weeny few hours me and the horsey crew will be driving down to Your Horse Live 2013 stuffing our faces with crisps and anticipating this year's delights.


We have our wristbands (guaranteed seats in main arena) and are all over Facebook like a rash trying to pass the time till departure.

This year I'm looking forward to seeing Kelly Marks, Geoff Billington and Jason Webb. Sylvia Loch isn't going this year (boooooooo!) but we will have to try and manage as best we can.

Meanwhile, my own horses are shivering with dread in the field, waiting for me to arrive back on Monday all INSPIRED! This is never good as far as they are concerned, and they tend to become very difficult to catch all of a sudden.

"Ignore rider, look beautiful"
Usually I am so swotty I take a notebook to scribble notes in but this year I'm just going to relax a bit more and soak it all in. Things are going very well with Rodders and Cady is looking better (she types while touching wood and clutching a rabbit's foot) so I'm more content than previous years.

So pretty, so useless (KIDDING!)

A week after we get back Rodney and I are heading up to West Park to hire the school with Emma and Tia. The plan is to make full use of their scary fillers and beautiful showjumps though Rodney is slightly obese right now so we'll have to put some miles in beforehand.

Happy horsing everyone x 

Friday, 1 November 2013

Jumping and jackets

A couple of blogs back I mentioned that I don't wear a body protector but I always wear a hat. Writing about it got me thinking about it and I've since updated my hat and ordered a Racesafe body protector as a collective birthday present to my ancient old bones.

So then I decided there's no point having all the safety gear unless you up your risk slightly, so I've started doing some jumping on Rodders. Phil stuck a couple of cross poles up in the arena and then we upped the height into some straight bars.

Rodney is the right colour for autumn :)

He jumped big and clean and I very much enjoyed it, though (rider error) he stopped a couple of times near the end when he got tired. At that point we dropped the height a little, popped it once more and called it a day with a carrot, a cool off and a big pat.

After a few days of schooling and hacking I returned to jumping again and we did some smaller straight bars. Our first few times were a bit messy in terms of strides but we cleaned that up and I stopped after a couple of perfect tries, since I couldn't ask him for any more.

We're not jumping big jumps but we are having fun so I'll definitely pursue this some more as it's a good challenge and gets the adrenalin going. Other than that they are both looking well (Rodney too well ;)) and I am grateful for the ongoing good weather. 

Phil's mum bought me a lovely warm riding jacket for my birthday but I've decided it's too nice for the yard so I just look at it hanging in the wardrobe every now and again. I've got plenty of trampy old clothes to ruin first ;)

Happy horsing everyone x 

Friday, 18 October 2013

Consistent canters and speedy jumping

I got my schooling head on yesterday with dear Rodney. My plan was to work on walk to halt transitions but we quickly chucked that and tried some leg yielding, transitions and canter. 

We tend to rocket into canter, roar along for a bit and then slowly die into a messy trot but yesterday we managed some much steadier transitions, a softer seat on my part and a more rhythmical, consistent canter. I was so pleased I jumped off, gave him a big pat and then walked him round to cool off. 

I read in a Kelly Marks book that it's nice to reward your horse for doing what you want by finishing the session rather than just hammering away till it drops to bits again. I hope I've paraphrased that correctly. At any rate, Rodney is not clipped and I didn't want him to be too much of a sweat bucket...

My other horsey news this week is that I did a bit of jumping in public the other day. I'd gone to see my friend Emma compete at Centurion on Tia and she offered me a go at the clear round. I had my hat and boots with me so thought 'why not?' and off we went. 

I was nervous, though I'm not sure why, because Tia looked after me very well. We were a bit speedy and I pushed too much for longer strides (that's just habit from riding Rodney) but it was great fun - even when we got lost half way round!

Emma and Tia then went on to place second in the 65cm with a beautiful round. It was a lovely, relaxed set up for anyone fancying a bit of jumping over the winter in County Durham.

And for now, that's it, except I hope you are enjoying autumn too, and getting plenty of riding in.

Happy horsing everyone x 

Ps - I thought this blog made a good point, and the photos are beautiful - click here

Friday, 11 October 2013

Hat or no hat....Hat!!

I found this an interesting read Wear a riding Helmet even if Parelli doesn't

And it got me thinking - I'm not sure I could get on a horse if I didn't have my hat on, even for a moment.

I grew up being told to wear one, always wore one and now it's a no-brainer. I have a lot of trust in Rodney but I don't want to give him any more responsibility than he already has. I haven't fallen off him yet but I expect at some point I will and it makes me feel a bit safer to know I've got my lid on.

I always wear a hat to ride and often for groundwork too.

Riding is high risk so if I can reduce that risk, I like to think I will. Yet I don't wear a body protector or air jacket and I've no plans to change that - particularly with the latter, I find the price tag very off-putting.

What do you think? 

Ps - Perhaps Cady helped cement my view on safety the thousand or so times she opted to stand on her back legs and wave at me. I never much fancied a pat on the head from the little monkey...

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Autumn days

It's a blowy day in County Durham today, with a strong nip of cold. Not cold enough for my new balaclava yet though, as I found when I took Nancy for her morning constitutional and ended up with a very sweaty head.

No harm done though and we saw two rainbows as the weather frigged about, showing off left, right and centre.

The leaves are starting to change, I'm about to run out of dongle data and I'm waiting for my bread to rise so now seems like a good time to get a post done.

I've had some more good rides on Rodney lately, and I think I can feel some improvement in my position while in canter. I'm trying to find that thin line between staying relaxed enough to follow the movement but still using my core muscles to prevent flopping about. Every now and again we get a few strides that feel good. I must try and get someone to film me so I can see how we're doing from ground level. I might be feeling that we're getting there when really we look like a jelly on a rollercoaster...

He's a bit nervous in the arena when it's really windy because we have lots of crackling, snappy-sounding branches but he's doing well to contain himself. I usually start by letting him trot some slow laps of the arena on a long rein so he can relax but also expel any nervous energy. After a canter or two he's down to business and continues to be responsive and great fun to ride. I used to often find schooling unsatisfactory and a bit aimless but Rodney has made it a pleasure and perhaps I have a more independent brain now which helps me decide what to work on as the session progresses.

I bought Cady in yesterday just to give her a brush and put her vest on to stop shoulder rubs. She's slightly better on that left circle trot but not completely so it's the winter off for her. That aside she is happy and well and moves comfortably around the field so I've got no reservations about leaving her to it.

This year I'm not minding the thought of winter so much. Their rugs are ready, I know they can manage very well as last year was a bad one and they both thrived. I've got my balaclava, gloves and torch, yes, I feel OK about it. And I hope you do too.

Happy horsing everyone x

Friday, 4 October 2013

Rodney and Tia - The Reunion

Before I bought Rodney and cruelly moved him to a new yard, he had a rather gorgeous girlfriend - Tia, the golden dun highland.

On Wednesday we (myself and Emma, Tia's mum) finally arranged the reunion ride and stood back, waiting for the air to fill with hearts and stars.

Unfortunately, Rodney didn't seem to recognise his former beau and returned to his haynet after a quick glance. It could all have been a bit awkward but when we went for a hack his memory returned and he spent most of the ride doing shoulder in so he could stare at his beloved in disbelief!

It is you!

We've had some great rides this week, and I'm enjoying each and every one. Although Rodney may look a little rotund and muddy, he's no slouch in the school. We've been working on leg yielding, straightness, bending and none-zooming canters. He's very responsive and works extremely hard so I'm thrilled with the way things are.

I've got a bit more time on my hands at the moment and I'm working my way up to doing something with Cady Pickle..what that might be I haven't decided. I'll start small and see how it goes.

Nancy dog is still a happy little fart face. She is very good when we go to see the horses and usually has a nap in the car. Already it's hard to imagine life without her!

Happy horsing everyone x 

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Dogs and horses are a gift

We had a lovely time with Nancy last night. She is biddable and loving, with a minxy streak* of course, and is fitting into the family with alarming speed. We took her for a short walk to the shops since the excitement of her arrival means we have cupboards full of puppy food, but nothing for the humans, and she walked well on her new harness.

She was rescued by a friend of a friend of ours from someone who didn't want her and was considering drowning her or dumping her at the side of the road. I find it hard to get my head around that fact, especially when she bounces over to play, or takes herself off for a sleep on my old polypad. But there you have it, and I think it's best not to dwell but just to think of the years of fun ahead of us.

This morning Phil was up early and took her out for a short walk (she is doing very well with toilet training) and then the humans had a cup of tea sitting on the bed while Nancy Noodle had a snooze on the patch of the duvet that went on the floor. It felt like Christmas, that homey feeling that breathes over everything and makes you drag your feet when leaving for work.

Once again, I feel very lucky to have a life full of horses, and now a dog to put the cherry on the cake.

Said horses, by the way, are thriving. Cady is more or less sound except for her normal wonky hock, and Rodney looks like a chestnut bull. The mizzley weather has had absolutely no affect on their rounded tummies and bulging bottoms. I think they could go to the Arctic and put weight on. 

Happy horsing everyone x

*So far she has eaten three daddy long legs and one earwig and this morning she hid under the bed and tried to scoff some indigestion tablets.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Normal service will resume shortly...

This is Nancy -

She is our new lurcher puppy and also the main reason I haven't done much with the blog lately.
From tonight she'll live with us permanently and we are too excited. Even just writing the word 'Nancy' on this blog is making me feel more excited. I'm too excited to write anything sensible at any rate.

But just for anyone who worries..the horses are tip top and loving the last burst of summer sunshine.

Other than that, normal service will resume shortly!

Happy horsing everyone x

Friday, 13 September 2013

Any day you sit on a horse...is a good day

It's Friday night, there's a cake in the oven and I'm having a small beer to inspire a bit of blog juice creativity.

I woke up this morning feeling like a complete zombie - even after a coffee it took me five minutes to work out which way to turn the oven dial to make it the right temperature. A walk into town to get some meat and veg helped, but by the time I got to the yard my brain was doing the 'Shall I ride? Naaa-don't ride, manyana, manyana'.

I've done this brain indecision dance many times and now when it happens I generally ride. To paraphrase Mark Rashid - any day when you get to ride a horse is by definition a good day.

And I was glad I did. Rodney was game for a bit of schooling (or seemed to be) so we set to it. I warmed up with slightly longer stirrup leathers and then took them away altogether to try and work on my own self carriage.

I'm quite tall and Rodney is about 15hh so sometimes I ride too short and lose my balance. I could feel the difference between my right hip and left today - right is our better rein, but there were some good moments. 

I'm trying to find that happy spot where I'm just setting him up well and letting him take it from there without being too absent and letting things drop to bits. We had some better canter strides but when it's too fast I still bounce so I have to work, work, work at keeping a supporting contact otherwise he bools off and it's messy. 

It was a very absorbing ride and the exercise did me good I think. Cady was keen to say hello and I bought her in for a mouthful of feed, not that she needs it. We had some serious neck scratching bonding on Thursday after a couple of weeks of being a bit cool with each other.

I don't like to personify the horses but I definitely feel that me and her have a love/hate thing going on...Anyway, it's all love at the moment and that makes me very happy.

Before I sign off to go and check the cake, here's a couple of pics of The Beautifuls.

Happy horsing everyone! x 

Saturday, 7 September 2013

How to work with horses without destroying yourself

In my early twenties I worked as a groom for a couple of years. I rode lots of horses, shovelled lots of shit and cleaned more tack than I care to remember.

If I returned to that job now, there are things I would do differently to take care of myself.

Here they are:

1. I would look after my hands.
I suffer from eczema anyway and now I never clean tack or bath the horses unless I have rubber gloves on. The chemicals are murder on skin conditions and even if you have tough skin, gloves will stop it from drying out and protect you from blisters.

2. I would learn how to take care of waterproof clothing
Waterproof jackets and trousers are valuable pieces of kit but they need a bit of caring for. You can't wash them in normal detergent. They need to be done with tech-wash or something similar and then reproofed every three or so washes. Tech-wash and re-proofer are just liquids you add to your washing machine in the same slot where the Daz normally goes and cost a few quid from outdoor shops. If you care for your stuff it will last. Equally, invest in good footwear and follow the care instructions to keep that watertight too. Working with horses is tough anyway - ten times more so if you're soaking wet and freezing cold.

Why am I not wearing hat and gloves? Why??

3. I would have a good osteopath on speed dial.
You will say you can't afford it until the day you can't get out of bed. A bad back needs to be attended to and a good osteopath will keep you going. It's also beneficial to your riding as it will help you stay more balanced.

4. I would go to yoga once a week.
I do now, Iyengar yoga at the local sportshall, and that £4.50 is the best money I spend all week. Yoga, or pilates, will keep you supple and strong and reduce the cost of number 3. (see above)

5. I would learn how to cook. The better your diet the easier you will be able to absorb hard physical work without becoming exhausted. I can personally vouch that this bread takes ten minutes to make, an hour to prove and 25 mins to cook. Click here for the recipe. It will make good heavy sandwiches that will fill you up and keep you warm. If possible, have a hot meal for lunch and avoid chocolate and crisps. They have little nutritional value and won't satisfy real hunger. Proper food will stop you from crashing and burning. Think spag bol, curry and thick soups.

6. I would not leave the house without an extra jumper, extra gloves, spare socks and a woolly hat. Even in August. Seriously, the weather in this country can be murder. Have the gear to face a snow storm and arctic winds at all times. 

Happy horsing everyone x 

A good horse will take you far

Mine took me for a lovely ride this morning, pottering around country roads. I felt a bit nervous since we hadn't hacked out alone for a while, but Rodney was as safe and sensible as always. We saw traffic, other horses, a petrol lawn mower and numerous bins, rocks and troughs that Cady would have had a dicky fit at. 

More and more I am appreciating what a super, honest horse Rodney is. He has really improved my confidence and given me so many nice rides over the past year. I am looking forward to our fun day at Cote Hill Riding School next week and have fingers crossed for fine weather. That said - 24 hours of rain has done a superb job of cleaning up his socks, mane and tail! Saves me a job anyway. When I first bought him he was very well turned out but I have not maintained such standards - he is definitely a scruff now.

Once upon a time someone used to groom me...(Rodney before I got him and allowed
him to become a grottbags)

They say good horses make good jockeys and I believe that's true. They certainly make for happy jockeys. I used to really relish the idea of a project horse but now the prospect leaves me cold. I think they are best left to the professionals, though I don't mind the odd quirk.

Riding, for me, should be safe and fun.

Happy horsing everyone x

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Five minute read

Interesting post called 'In Search of the Mythical Best'. The blog isn't horsey but is a great read.

Click here for the said post and change the word 'doctor' for 'riding instructor'. May give you some food for thought.

Happy horsing everyone! x

Nostalgia/book hoarding

While searching for something in the depths of the wardrobe the other day I found a battered old copy of Pony magazine. It transported me back to being 12-years-old and using my paper round money to buy a subscription - it was a big deal when it arrived every month. I read that magazine from cover to cover, even the icky features on worming.

Curious, I had a flick through the copy I found and I was happy to realise it had stood the test of time. Some of the articles (in fact, pretty much all of them) were really good and practical. 
Like this one - about how to be a decent yard volunteer...

I'd love to know what it's like now - perhaps I need to buy a copy and find out? I definitely remember the magazine discouraging bratty behaviour around ponies and taking the piss out of spoiled children and I hope it hasn't stopped doing that.

My fondness for old Pony magazines also stretches to pony novels and if I pass a second hand shop I can't resist a rummage. Here are some I've found over the past few years. When the dark nights roll in they are perfect for a quiet read in the bath.

When I was about seven our family moved to Durham and the house we rented had a bookcase full of the Jill books. I read every single one, again and again. Funnily enough, the Jill books never seem to appear second hand -perhaps they are collector's items now?

Anyway, the books and the magazines were a brilliant consolation when I didn't have my own horse, and remind me how grateful I am now that I do.

I'll round off with some pics of Cady from yesterday on a bright and windy day. Peanut stalked me throughout until I gave in and offered her a neck scratch. She's very persuasive and just looms until you cave in.

Cady and Peanut rollin'

Artistic bum shot

Notice me!

Shiny punk Cady

Grazing formation

Straight lines please

Monday, 2 September 2013

And before I forget..

Meant to include this before -

A really good post from Kate at A Year with Horses When to speak sharing some honest thoughts about being on a livery yard and deciding when to offer advice and when to stay

P.S - Just back from the yard and Rodney has now got one bent shoe and one missing. I 
think it's marvelous the way he keeps himself entertained!

Summer leaves slowly and quietly

I am writing this post in between trips to the kitchen to supervise batch two of blackberry jam.
It's been a batch of mixed fortunes, starting well but then going slightly off plan when I sterilized the jam jars to a supernatural temperature that made the jam angry.

Anyway, this is a horse blog, not a food blog, and I am a horse rider, not a cook - as the above anecdote demonstrates. But the fact that blackberry jam is happening is significant, because it marks a change in the seasons.

Summer seems to be slipping away. I took some pics of the horses at the weekend and when I looked back through them, something didn't look right.

"Oh my God," I thought, "They've both got Cushings!" After I'd calmed down I realised that my (eight and nine-year-old) horses do not have Cushings - they're getting their winter coats.

And even though autumn is my favourite season, it still makes me feel a bit sad. It's been - no question - a brilliant summer. Rodney has been fantastic and I will think about our hacks around the farm together when the dark nights draw in.

I'm interested to see where we'll end up together. He's a really interesting horse to own. I feel like he's as deep as the ocean sometimes, but for now I think we've found a good pace to go at that suits both of us. My ambitions for the horses and myself waver about but right now I just enjoy spending time with them and taking a very slow approach. 

As mentioned in other posts, I've been riding Rod in his headcollar as he's never been super happy to bridle and I wondered if it was the head shy issue that troubled him or if he doesn't like being ridden in a bit? No conclusive evidence really except I think it's helped me have more consistent hands. I carry them too high and I twiddle too much normally so for now I'm concentrating on keeping them low and soft.

Sadly, Cady is still not right, but she is very happy in the field and coming to no harm. I have my suspicions and hopes that it's just a stubborn abscess bothering her and the blacksmith is due this week to have another dig about. At any rate she is hail and hearty in all other respects and if she ends up as a field ornament - so be it.

Rodney has bent his shoe in a strange way so I haven't ridden over the weekend, but he looks well too and remains good to catch.

In a couple of weeks we are going to a fun day. I'm hoping he'll be good to load but if not then I may attempt to hack to it as it's not very far away.

I'll finish this post with a good rally of photos - some from the weekend, some from last winter and one of Cady's adorable field friend, called Peanut. She is fabulous.

Happy horsing everyone x

Looks wistfully into the distance...

Cady and Phil last year having a cuddle in the middle of a snow storm

The treat inspector sauntering over on Sunday morning

Peanut! Peanut! Peanut!

Human, why don't you leave that last carrot in my tummy for safekeeping?

Rodney last autumn - reminds me how long his mane is now!

Ill-advised: hacking in a blizzard

Me being all 'cool and country' Rodney looking embarrassed

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Bitless Rodney and Stampy Cady

Our good weather continues, which may explain why this blog has been quiet...

That said, the past weekend was Phil's birthday and a big gathering of the families so riding has been on the back-burner. And I have missed spending time with the horses, which is a pleasure and a treat.

I did manage a short ride on Rodney on Monday evening. I keep meaning to change his bit and browband and then forgetting to do it so I decided to ride in his normal headcollar with leather reins attached. He was extremely good and responsive and relaxed about it. Did he prefer it? Possibly, and I'll certainly repeat the experience to see if that's the case.

I did notice that when I kicked my feet out of the stirrups he stopped. he doesn't mind when this happens on hacks but in the arena he seems wary about it. Something to practice/investigate. I suspect it's his careful nature checking to see if everything is ok? Please excuse my shockingly wonky legs in the photos. My leathers are worn out and I am crooked so I dropped the right leather by one which made it worse rather than better.

Cady is less enormous and less lame - tonight I may circle her and see how that left rein trot/hop is coming along. She's moved fields and got some new friends and last night when I was picking her feet out she very carefully and deliberately tried to put one down on my foot.
I was not very impressed with this mini rebellion and firmly told her to Sod Off, which is the technical term used in all good riding establishments.

Tonight I think I'll take Rodney for a ride around the farm. I am really enjoying his company more and more these days. He's always been lovely but I think we're really getting used to each other now. He went in a different field at the weekend with much more grass and still walked over to be caught.

He looks happy to me in this one

I relax...

So does he...