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

Tuesday, 23 December 2014


About two weeks after my last post I went to do morning check and found Rodney lying down in the field. He didn't get up when I walked over and when I made him stand up his back legs were splayed and not right.

I called the vet and blood tests confirmed he had atypical myopathy. There is a sycamore tree in the field but as the fields weren't over-grazed and I was feeding him, I thought this would be ok.

Rodney was put to sleep a few hours later as he rapidly went downhill. My vet did her best and put him on fluids and rang the Animal Health Trust and Liphook to discuss prognosis but because of the severity showing in his blood tests there was no hope.

I will miss him more than I can say, and have many happy memories, none of which take away the sting of letting him down so badly.

If you do read this and realise your horse is grazing near a sycamore, please take action and avoid this nightmare. There's a lot of good information readily available on the internet and there have been a record number of cases in the UK this year so it is something to be aware of.

I know that standing on this side of it, I feel haunted by what's happened and completely responsible. I won't be getting another horse and so this blog must come to an end.

Thank you for reading, take care, and enjoy every minute with your horses.

 Happy horsing x

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Hello Cady Miss

Forgot to include most important info in last blog, namely, went to see Miss Cady Pooo last week to see how she's been...

Answer: totally fine, hurrah! She is too, too fat, but very happy and set to shed the pounds over the winter as she'll be living out. Her tail has been chewed by a naughty friend but she is clearly blissful and missing me not one speckle.

While there I got to feed the orphan calf known as Moo Moo...the temptation to kidnap him was strong, but I resisted.

And for the picture-starved..here's a rather blurry video still of Rodders beasting a line of traffic cones last week. Squeezed an early morning pre-work ride in today. It was like swimming through mud trying to wake up but I was rewarded with a lovely sunrise while I practiced Not Being a Sack of Spuds during transitions. No saddle, no one about, just me and Rodney being swotty :) Though there is def something weird going on  with left side of my body - it is WEAK and uncooperative!

Happy horsing everyone x

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Peter or Paul: Part II

In my last blog , I wrote about some ideas in the way we coach/work with our horses. I think its an interesting topic because as owners I think we often turn up at the yard hoping our horses will wow us, without really thinking about what we bring to the table.

It's definitely something I experience. I know I'm somewhere between Peter and Paul, but working to become more like the former. It definitely struck a chord with me a few weeks ago when I filmed my schooling session and left out something really important...praise

I find it really easy to look at what my horse is NOT doing, without appreciating what he is giving me and without considering that there may not be much in it for the him at all...long term food for thought.

Rodney is faring well at the moment. I've given up my little field vigils as it's sooo cold at the moment but he's being good to catch and seems to hang out more these days, rather than just doing a pocket inspection and diddling off, so that feels nice. Work wise we're doing a bit of everything - raised poles, little hacks, bits of jumping - just ticking over and having fun. Or anyway, I'm having fun, and I hope he is too!

P.S, blogginig very sporadic at the moment as computer, phone and camera have all gone to heaven, hopefully will be sorted soon, bear with me :)

Happy horsing everyone x

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Which one are you?

Let's build a short story for a second...

Jane and Joanne Doe are identical twins of average health, weight and fitness. They both decide to take up running but have to find someone to run with as they can't run with each other (they work different shift patterns, let's say)

Jane runs with Peter. Peter shows up at the same time every day and he loves to run, so he's always smiley. He makes polite conversation and offers Jane a lot of encouragment, especially when her knees are aching a little or she doesn't feel that she's improving. Peter has been running for longer than Jane, and plans their routes carefully, only increasing the distance and difficulty gradually. He encourages Jane to take part in a fun run, just for the hell of it. They both complete, in average time, and have a lot of fun. The day becomes a good memory for both of them.

In time, Peter is not just a running partner, he calls round for coffee and a chat too. Jane loves to run with Peter and the friendship is really good for both of them both physically and emotionally.

Joanne runs with Paul. Paul turns up when he feels like it, and sometimes he doesn't turn up at all. Joanne never knows quite what mood he'll be in. If he's had a bad day at the office he is rude and sullen and takes it out on Joanne. But if things are going well he wants to run much, much further, which Joanne finds quite difficult. Paul is critical of Joanne's efforts, and often says she puts no effort in, but she notices that he rarely criticises his own technique.
When Joanne picks up an injury from their inconsistent training, Paul says she is just making excuses, but a doctor confirms that she has damaged a tendon.

Joanne gradually loses faith in running as the relationship with her running partner becomes more and more unsatisfactory. Eventually she gives up, and finds through a mutual friend that Paul is running with a 'better' partner now. 

When it comes to your horse, are you Peter or Paul? 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Riding from Within and Wear Your Hat!

I treated myself to a new book recently, James Shaw's Ride from Within, a meaty tomb that aims to bring the benefits of Tai Chi to horse riding.

I'm about half way through now and it's just starting to get really good. The first few chapters lay a lot of important groundwork but I found them quite slow going. Now though it's all starting to glue together a bit more and I am finding the exercises really good for figuring out when I'm balanced, when I'm not and why. 

I've realised I tip my shoulders and spine to change direction instead of turning from my centre (think pelvis) and it's been really useful in our schooling sessions. 

The big emphasis is on breathing - namely right into the abdomen and in a steady manner and while it's quite tricky at first this is something I've known is a weak point in my riding without knowing how to correct it.

My only issue with the book is that none of the people riding in the pics have a riding hat on which makes me really uncomfortable. Needless to say I will be wearing mine as normal. I do think anyone who coaches, whether through lessons, books or dvds, has a responsibility to wear a hat and make students wear one too. The evidence that this saves lives is just too strong to ignore.

Rodney seems well lately and we're getting plenty of rides in while the weather is so beautiful. He's been excellent to catch and lovely to do. I'd like to get his saddle reflocked soon but overall it's all going in a nice direction. Here's to a happy autumn and winter hopefully with lots of riding and not too much snow ;) 

Happy horsing everyone x

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Updates ...

Tuesday and Wednesday were work days so I got to the yard early to do a bit of field sitting. It was much harder knowing I was off to work as I felt much less able to relax and read my book. Also, I sort of broke the premise on Wednesday by taking him a carrot which made him pester me for a bit and then leave as soon as he knew the pockets were empty of treasure.

On Monday we did some raised trotting poles, no bother there, and today I took him for a hack and then tried some neck reining in the arena but using a neck strap. It was quite windy on the hack so her felt slightly tremulous but he was forward going and brave as always, though slightly concerned when we found two ladies blackberrying in the woods. I could feel him thinking, "We never find people here!" but a little canter made him forgot about the disruption.

 The neck reining thing was cool. He picked it up straight away and we only lost direction when I forgot what I was doing with my legs or lost concentration.

This was the clip I watched beforehand that encouraged me to try it...I think it's a good video :) Click here if you fancy a look...

Happy horsing everyone x 

Monday, 22 September 2014

How do you eat an elephant?*

Yesterday I had the treat of sharing my afternoon ride with my husband, who brought Nsncy along too. We did the little woodland ride again because it's pretty and not too far. It's so nice to ride with good company and Phil is really good at spotting different plants in the hedge, including the revelation that some cool soul has planted loads of broccoli and flowers along the path as a kind of wild garden. 

Secretly I'm slightly ashamed I never noticed! But hey ho, tasted a teeny bit of the broccoli and it was scrummy, really peppery. Nancy had a great time too as she found a dead bird stuffed with maggots to roll in. Oh, the delight! Phil made her have a bath when we got back to prevent us all contracting the plague and she is now a totally different colour. I thought she was grey, nope, she's a lovely fawn ;) We'll see how long it lasts...

Today I did some pole work with Rodney on the lunge line, just to get his hindlegs moving well. We have some plastic drainage pipes that are quite big and really good for getting them to move pelvis and hips etc. He was fabulous of course, and especially good to catch (possible due to hunger now the weather is colder but I like to think it's the soulful bond we share..) 

It's quite hard sometimes to just do these tiny bits each day with him when part of me just wants to ride for hours, but I'm seeing it as a long term investment in a) improving my patience b) keeping Rodney sound and healthy long term and c) keeping things fresh for both of us. Twenty minutes of nice work has to be better than an hour of boring-ness? 

Happy horsing everyone x

*Answer: bit by bit. (This metaphor is my new/old philosophy on life with Rodders.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Walk the walk

Went to check Rodney and his soon-to-be-new-friend were still on the correct/opposite sides of the electric fence this morning. Rodney stomped over moving super well after yesterday's monster massage. Then he stomped off again and I sat in my spot drinking coffee and pretending not to be a mentalist horse stalker (sidenote- I am officially not the weirdest person hanging around my horse. On Wednesday a man walked past playing his mouth organ)

I left feeling all was well and then got a text explaining new friend had breached the boundary and been thoroughly chased by Rodney who gets angry when people mess with his mares in the next field i.e. look at them, he is like a horrible pimp.

When I brought him in for a ride in the afternoon he had a cut on his left hind from the morning's shenanigans so I took him for a short walk to a nearby copse which turns into a nice loop ride. It was windy and he was cool, a bit looky at first but then forward and walking out well. My plan is to hack his bottom off over the winter, mainly at walk, with lots of hill work, so he becomes very fit but remains (cross fingers) injury free.

Hopefully the field situation will resolve. There has been so much change in his field all summer and I think it melts his brain a bit.

Happy horsing everyone x

Friday, 19 September 2014


I loved my horsey afternoon. I gave Rodney a really long groom before his physio and he seemed to relax and enjoy it. Probably my fault as I never normally spend much time brushing him and he seems indifferent - but today he was a happy monkey with all the fussing and polish.

While we waited for Joanne I pottered about and then read my book in the corner of his stable. Or tried to - he kept nudging me as if to say, "No, talk to me!" So I did, and we had a really nice few minutes where he let me scratch his face all over.

Joanne then arrived and spent two hours making Rodney the most chilled out horse ever. She did loads of work on him while we chatted and he had a very blissed out expression in between yawning and peering round at Joanne to see what she was up to.

I took note of the bits he particularly enjoyed and will try to recreate. So, a truly great afternoon. My week off from work and the extra time I'm spending with him is making a big difference.

Happy horsing everyone x

In praise of praise

Some of you might have seen this new video from Emma Massingale Click Here

And if you haven't  it's is well worth a watch. One of my favourite things in the video (and in Emma's other training videos) is how visibly and enthusiastically she praises her horses.
Those horses know they're amazing because she keeps telling them...

As I often do, I filmed a bit of Wednesday's spell in the school. It's good to work out how I'm doing with my position and if what I feel matches what's actually happening. The riding was ok but at the end I got off with a very stoney face and no pat, no neck stroke for Rodney - all caught on camera. Bad me :(

I feel like normally I do give lots of praise but maybe I often forget, so yesterday's ride was about having fun and rewarding efforts. I built a little obstacle course of oil drums, bending cones and canter poles and we walked round it a few times before I tried it without reins, just for a bit of fun.

More often than not Rodney (sensibly) decided it might be better to just stand at the gate hoping for rescue but with a bit of messing about we had some good moments and he got OD'd on neck rubs. 

He's got some physio booked for today so will be interesting to see how he's doing.

Happy horsing everyone x

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Day three - why rushing is no good for horses

Today Rodney showed no visible interest when I took up my perch. I wondered if he had grown bored of the novelty and thought he might just stay on the other side of the field.

Over the next twenty minutes I realised he was gradually grazing his way over to my spot. To me it seemed to show that Rodney's life moves at a very different speed to mine. He can have a direction in mind but take his time getting there. 

Sitting at my perch for the past three days has made me realise that all the horses at the farm move in a much more glacial way than I have ever appreciated. For the 23 hours a day when we're not bothering them, they just take it pretty steady.

I bet they often feel quite rushed by us...

Happy horsing everyone x

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

"Horses are great equalizers. They don't care who we are, or what we know, or how much money we have, or which trainer we follow, or how new or fancy our tack or training tools are. They only care about how they feel when they are around us. It's one of the only places in horsemanship where we all begin, more or less, as equals."

Mark Rashid

Day two

I cycled to the yard today to give myself some nice fresh air and Nancy the chance of a good blast. 

When we arrived Nancy stayed outside Rod's stable for a rest on her towel and it was rinse repeat for me. I took Mark Rashid's book with me to read, Horses Never Lie, because I just love it and it's very much in the spirit of my experiment.

Rodney came very close to graze today, I could just about see his nose under my book, and then casually grazed his way in a semi-circle. He must like the company. I enjoyed it too and felt less of a weirdo today ;)

Happy horsing everyone x

Monday, 15 September 2014

Day one

Today was the first in my new experiment so once I'd been for a lovely, rainy walk with Nancy in the forest I popped to the yard armed with my waterproof coat, a mat to sit on and a book to read.

Rodney thought it was pretty shocking behaviour for me to set up camp in his field and did some snorty heavy breathing when I unfurled my mat and settled in. 

I was surprised how hard I found it not to just stare at him the whole time, which is where the book came in handy. After deciding that I was just mad rather than harmful, Rodney grazed no more than five feet away the whole time I was there. I think he misses his field friend and likes company.

I loved listening to him munch too, there's something really satisfying about that sound. After ten minutes or so I just quietly left, and he kept on grazing. 

After today's riding lesson (on Hudson -really starting to enjoy riding him and he was super dooper) the girls came to meet Rods for the first time. He was good to catch and stood for a long time while they gave him a really nice fuss. He seemed perfectly calm and happy. A couple of times he started to walk back, as if to say "ok, I'm done now, I'd like to leave," but the friend who had his leadrope was really good and just asked him to come forward again.

All good :)

Happy horsing everyone x

Sunday, 14 September 2014

An experiment in better connection

More than anything else I want in my list of horsey wants - is for Rodney to want to be with me. 

In fact, it's the thing I want that eclipses all other wants because without it, there's no other achievement that is truly worthwhile.

If he jumps a clear round because I make him, or I can ride him only by keeping him in his stable (iffy to catch for anyone new) or we can do flying changes but he runs away as soon as he can -then all those things are a fail to me.

In nearly two years there's a definite kinship between us. He lets me touch his ears and is fine with being bridled, he trusts me to hold him for the farrier, he lets me get on pretty much anywhere and anyhow - there are many practical, daily things where he looks a bit worried but shows trust and sees them through.

So I want to build on these good things and hopefully encourage an even better bond. So for the next month I'm going to spend a bit of time in his field at least three times a week. Not asking anything, not catching him, not staring at him. Just hanging around and expecting nothing.

I've chosen this task for two reasons. 1) It was suggested to me five years ago and I never did it yet keep remembering it so my brain is clearly curious and 2) Because I read a nice article on liberty work that suggested just this as a starting point.

It might change things between us, and it might not, but at the very least it will change me - hopefully into someone with slightly more patience, slightly fewer demands and possibly a clearer head with which to go about my day.

I'll let you know how it goes ...

Happy horsing everyone x 

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Weekend rides

I've had a busy work week but was greatly boosted at the thought of playing ponies on Friday afternoon with my friend Emma. And against all probability the day rolled around fair and bright.

Rodney's field pal has been sent to boarding school so catching is fine and he even seemed quite pleased to come in and do something different to munching/flirting over the fence with the mares.

We stayed in the arena as Nancy was with us and just did a few transitions, a bit of walk, trot, canter etc. I wouldn't call it schooling, as there's nothing I can teach Rodney, but the sun shone and he was very obliging. We swapped ponies, Emma on to Rod and me on Tia and carried on. 

I really liked seeing someone else on Rodney, I forget how beautiful he is in that rhythmic trot and his rocking horse transitions into canter.

Near the end we did a walk/trot/lead race which was funny and then we cooled them off. Saturday morning was overcast and a little rainy and my engine light came on while I was driving to the farm. Fortunately a garage was open and took pity on me and even gave me a coffee before I went on my way. Before long we were trotting up the stubble fields with the tractor ploughing in the distance - a very English scene.

It was a great ride. The ponies were itching for a gallop and we were too - there's a brilliant hill we can use that's tremendous for that sort of thing - it goes on for ever and we always gallop there so the ponies know it and we know it and everyone's keen to let rip. In between canters we had a good laugh and made half-hearted attempts to stop the ponies dragging us along when they fancied going faster. 

On the way home we passed a bale on fire - they were pretty curious, maybe a bit worried, but no drama. They are two pretty sensible beans when you get down to it. I really enjoyed our hack and I hope Rodney did too. He got lots of praise and a treat or two when we got back and hopefully next weekend we can do a bit of the same.

I'm definitely not an ambitious rider at the moment - the only aim is to ride a little and enjoy it and that's fine with me. Hopefully Rodney agrees.

Happy horsing everyone x

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Grateful again

A funny thing happens whenever I choose to vent a bit of misery on this blog - it forces me to take a closer look and separate slightly unfortunate circumstances (horse that's not keen to be caught) from the whingey, helpless feelings that follow (which need not be listened to).

Driving back from work yesterday I still had my blog and its subject on my mind and I was thinking about how little I get to ride (whinge, whinge, poor me with my privileged 'problems'). I realised there was nothing to stop me at least trying to ride on the way home. Sure enough, Rodney was happy to be caught and we went for an amble around the stubble fields. 

It was nice, pony was nice, the sun shone -life was happy :) Tonight I had a good chat with my friend about the catching situation and it was good to clarify what the plan is. In case you're interested it is 1) check teeth 2) book physio 3) continue his weight loss and when he's normal get his saddle looked at. If there's no improvement I may change yards next year (in case it is herd dynamics stressing him out), but hopefully winter will work better as he'll be coming in for a bit of hay and feed anyway which never hurts diplomatic relations. 

On the way home I called in at the farm to see him and he stomped over all handsome and happy and stayed for all his stretching exercises, just like old times, which felt goooood.

So now I'm writing this blog on our big oak table with lots of nice candles and Nancy lying at my feet and feeling that when things don't go your way it's important to not just give up and be sulky because it's easy to stop riding, to stop trying, to stop blogging etc. It's easy but it's not very good for the mind so you do have to keep plugging on until that gratitude returns. I am grateful again - for many things.

Happy horsing everyone x

Saturday, 30 August 2014

A little hard to know what to write...I wish I had tales of huge success, giant jumps and rosettes to pass on. But no, Rodney remains variable to catch and my heart's not in it right now.
He'll be getting his teeth checked again soon, and some physio, and I may have to think about changing yards..
He was good to catch the first 18 months I had him and improved while staying with my friend over the summer so it's possible his current home is stressing him out for some reason?
It's where he was when I bought him and he was iffy to catch then. Hard to know why but definitely the dates and the behaviour match up and I'm not riding more or asking more. So we'll get him checked over and see. I don't want to move but if I never get to ride or even spend time with him then it's a problem.
Also, having a horse that won't be caught can be dangerous. He was kicked a couple of weeks ago and I couldn't catch him to clean it and get a proper look. He was ok (thank goodness) but it's far from ideal.
No riding lessons for a couple of weeks as I'm covering holidays at work so right now, life is low on horse time. Sadness! :(
Happy horsing everyone, I hope you're having more fun than I am x

Monday, 11 August 2014

Today the arse end of hurricane Bertha is whipping about outside. I had loose plans to ride Rodney but he's a bit of a tit to catch in the wind so I was fully prepared for that. He did stomp over but was a bit shy about having his headcollar on so I stood still and just kept calling him back till he settled and let me catch him. 

At that point it was very tempting to take him in and tack up but I felt it would be a good moment to let him go and reward him for being canny. So I did, and left the yard feeling that sometimes you've got to take what's offered and be glad of it rather than always wanting more.

In the afternoon I had a riding lesson with my friend. The first horse I rode was lame on her LF so I switched on to Brooke who I've ridden quite a bit. I really like her and we seemed to click quite well today and tried a bit of counter canter which was fun.

Last week I rode a horse called Hudson. He has a giant canter (like sitting on a space hopper) and aged four he is full of try and potential. This pic in no way does him justice.

The photo of Rodney and Tia snogging is from last week at stupid o'clock am when me and my friend decided to go for an early gallop before work. It was so much fun we couldn't stop laughing and the lines are so overgrown we had to practice some stunt galloping to avoid getting wiped out by branches. Tia and Rod loved it too.

Happy horsing everyone x

Monday, 28 July 2014

Pony is well - a little too well.

In fact, he is a lard arse. Wedding and honeymoon jammed his exercise schedule (he was not at all gutted) and now he has rippling bits of fat clinging to him, despite my kind friend using his grazing muzzle interspersed with nights in on soaked hay.

Yesterday I lunged him for five minutes just to remind him that his legs still work and today we put an hour in. We practiced riding in straight lines at walk, trot and canter and though rusty, there were some nice moments. 

Assuming I can catch him we'll do as much as possible to limit the lard. I do fret about fat ponies, even if they don't go down with laminitis it's so much strain on their legs and feet...

Me and Rodney waddling about

Today I also had my weekly riding lesson, which is helping to whip me into shape for my Stage 2 exam. I ride a very sweet pony called Brooke and today we did some work without stirrups and some walk to canter transitions. The sweat was pouring off us by the end but it was great - I do love a lesson that gives me things to practice with Rodney.

Happy horsing everyone x

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The rage passes

I stopped blogging for a while due to the rage-inducing return of Rodney's favourite summer habit - The Grass is Here and Now You Can't Catch Me.

Last year was my first summer with him and the habit was short lived. We had two weeks were he went AWOL, rounded him up with a band of helpers and then kept him on much poorer grazing for the duration combined with catching him a lot just for a treat and a groom.

This year I could feel it coming when he gradually became spookier to catch and sure enough the day arrived when I had to walk away empty handed.

Combined with starting a new, busy job and planning the wedding, I just totally lost heart with him and any interest in riding as I felt I couldn't make any plans.

Recently, things are a bit better. He's (temporarily) at my friend's place as her companion horse is poorly and her ridden horse needed a friend. The grass is too good there so he's been in a grazing muzzle and my friend usually brings them in in the evening for a fuss and a time out from the grass.

He'll come in when his friend does so we've had some nice rides, hacking about and a bit of jumping in the field. My enthusiasm has returned and I feel much less cross with him. Although I know it's silly to get annoyed I still do because I love to ride out and the catching issue drains the fun out of it. Always for me the biggest challenge in the all-consuming-ness of horses is handling the disappointment that inevitably happens from time to time.

In other news, I passed my Riding and Road Safety test. The whole group passed which was great as the training has been a right laugh. One of the ladies even organised some fizz and cakes for after which was a lovely conclusion to it all.

One of the ladies who did the training has a lesson each Monday so I've now joined her for that while I to brush up for my Stage Two. The syllabus looks good - I've done most things on it but I'm keen to revisit everything thoroughly and brush off the cobwebs.

Not everyone likes the BHS qualifications but I think they're comprehensive and encourage you to be better - wish me luck with the revision. A friend (who is a vet) has lent me the most beautiful book on anatomy so I am doing my level best to make sense of it...

Happy horsing everyone x

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Riding in the rain

On Monday I headed out for a hack with Emma. Rodney is obsessed with Tia and chats to her while we ride along which is creepy but cute. On the way back there's a good spot for a canter and they looked at each other and decided to just P off which was hilarious. We felt like Thelwell Pony Clubbers being run away with by our overgrown ponies.

Handsome Rodney 

It was a very English summer's day, with a bit of rain and everything looking very lush and alive - my favourite riding weather, even if it is a bit soggy. Once home I put a little jump up for Rodney and he aced it - it was so much fun.

Nancy in the hay barn

Happy horsing everyone x

Sunday, 11 May 2014


Just a little ride today - maybe thirty minutes in the school. The sun was blasting and we did some walk, trot, canter and lots of turns, with me just concentrating on staying balanced and asking him to use his back end. I also asked for some rein back with various levels of success.

We're (I'm) rusty - no matter, great to ride.

I spent the afternoon doing a bit of teaching at the RDA riding school where I volunteer. I've never taught any of the Sunday groups before so I was nervous but it went ok and I always enjoy it -hopefully the riders did too.

Happy horsing everyone x

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Sunny Saturday ride

Went for a little ride today around lunchtime, just me and Rodney and some flies the size of pterodactyls. The ground was very wet and everything looked very luscious and overgrown. 

We rode around the fields, jumped a tempting water-filled ditch a couple of times and played about on a quiet country road that floods a bit - so lots of water obstacles.

It felt good to be back in the saddle and a big tap on the shoulder-style reminder "Hey, Alison. Your horse didn't get ridden for two weeks and hauled your ass around for an hour with no complaints or funny business." Lucky girl I am.

Happy horsing everyone x 

Friday, 9 May 2014

No bragging, just riding

I wrote my last post in a fit of optimism which promptly collapsed under the weight of a snotty cold and Rodney getting very foot sore.

Fortunately he has had his shoes tip tapped back on and looks miles better. So tomorrow, before any dreams of conquering the world on horseback can even be dreamt, my task is to sit on my horse...

...and go for a ride. There, that wasn't so painful, was it? ;)

Happy horsing everyone x

Monday, 28 April 2014

Not dead

I am not dead. And neither is Rodney. 

But I have been absent from blogland for a few weeks due to starting a new job and getting organised to become a landlord.

Now I'm starting to fall back into normal land so it's time for a catch up.

Rodney has settled really well and been great to catch which is ace. And we've had some lovely rides around the fields, which are flanked by dramatic forests full of wildlife. His new home is very pretty and so near to where I live that I love to go there. 

At the moment though, he's missing a shoe, so he's having a little holiday while I keep fit walking Nancy, who has turned into a giant :) 

I'm liking the idea of getting Rodney backed to drive so I'm also investigating costs for harness, costs and a suitable person to get him started.

I've got a few avenues to explore with this idea and I'll write further as soon as there is more news. I also start my BHS Riding and Road Safety training tonight, which will enable me to progress onto Stage 2. At the end of June I'm going to the Northern College of Racing for a taster day where I'm hoping to speak to staff about a course that would be suitable for me. I've had some very small but happy dealings with the world of racing and it's time to scratch the itch and see how I can get more involved.

And in general - life is good! Work/free time is nicely balanced and Phil and I have some camping holidays coming up. 

I hope you are all well too - happy horsing x

Ps - found this beatiful poem in the back of a book the other day and it really spoke to me. Not horsey but relevant to most of us I think.

Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.
Do you run through each day
On the fly?
When you ask "How are you?"
Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done
Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?
You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.
Ever told your child,
We'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time
To call and say "Hi"?
You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.
When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift....
Thrown away.
Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

Written by  Dr. David L. Weatherford

Friday, 28 March 2014

More faith

Moving Rodney to a new home was a daunting prospect for me. I was worried that the bond we've worked very hard to build would drop to bits if I uprooted him from the farm where we've been for the past 18 months.

The yard we left was great in every respect - facilities, people, price - but a good thirty minute drive, often through thick traffic.

His new home is eight minutes away through quiet country lanes and has many great points - it has good facilities, amazing off-road hacking and I know lots of nice people there already. In fact, it's the yard where Rodney was living when I bought him in 2012.

We've been there for nearly a week and so far, so good. Rodney had a couple of days confined to his box after being wormed and then we've gradually been introducing him to his new field friend.

This pic was taken the first time I ever rode Rodney, way before he was even for sale.
It shows a) how cute his ears are and b) how good the riding is at our new/old yard

Before Rodney arrived, new field friend ended up getting kicked to bits and quite seriously injured in fights, so we're doing all we can to avoid this happening again. 

Which has meant rigging up a fair bit of electric fence and some artful introductions. There was one minor disaster when Rodney snapped the fence of his pen and new field friend trotted in for a brief boxing match, but thankfully no lasting damage was done.

I've been at the yard three times a day doing various bits and bobs which has given me a great opportunity to spend loads of time with Rodders, grooming, riding, doing carrot stretches with him or just giving him a neck scratch in the field. 

He's been really quite relaxed and brave despite the upheaval and my fears have subsided. Now I'm looking forward to riding out with my friends and hacking to local shows with him. Lesson learned - I should have more faith in my horse.

Happy horsing everyone x

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Rally and a new home

I've cheered up after the last gloomy post but time is short, so here's a photo dump from this morning's rally and Rodney settling in his new home. Words to follow :)

Friday, 21 March 2014

Not in the mood

Horsey finally has his shoes back on but my enthusiasm for riding blew away this week and remains missing in action.

Not riding, no thank you
I've gradually been getting more and more exhausted and have now reached the point where I'm driving along and have no idea where I'm going, whether the dog is with me or not and how I'm going to remember important details such as this.

The final straw came on Wednesday when when we rode out in a gale. On bin day. Cue battling down the road on two brave tbs who had no clue what to make of it while wheelie bins and massive chunks of rubbish blew at us like a special effects hurricane.

More windy than this

At one point the wind was so strong we were doing a stationary trot. Lots of effort but no forward movement. And my personal highlight was feeling the heat from the tyres of the van driver who forced his way past me while horsey shit his pants at a workman with some vast noisy machine surrounded by yet more bins and rubbish.

But things are looking up. Last night we were woken at 2am by Nancy howling to get out and lay some explosive diarrhoea all over the joint. As she scampered around me crying and the unpleasant fumes reached my nostrils I looked up at the ghostly moon, wiped the sleep from my eyes and realised the wind had dropped.

How lovely. 

Rodney and I are going to a flatwork rally on Sunday and the same day we move to a new yard much closer to home. Nothing is organised, I haven't ridden in ages and I'm pretty sure Rodney will enter the meltdown zone when he realises that Home Sweet Home has become Random Stable and Random Field. 

I'm sure it will all be fine eventually, but I must remember not to stab myself in the eye with a biro in the meantime.

Happy horsing everyone x

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Cady visit, lambing and Rodney riding with no saddle

Well I couldn't stay away for too long before a visit to Cady in her new home became too tempting. Gail, her new owner, lives up north on a farm and invited me up for the afternoon to see the lambs being born and visit Cadillac. 

I was itching to finish work and get up there because the sun was blazing and I felt like me and Nancy really needed a girls' road trip. So we blasted up there at warp speed and soon Nancy was running laps around the kitchen with Gail's new lurcher pup.

Then we wandered down to see Cady, who had thoughtfully travelled up to the gate with her new herd. Once I'd stuffed her with carrots and ascertained that she is thriving, it was time to visit the lambing shed.

Here, I sharp got to grips with all the different varieties of slime that hang out of sheep before, during and after they give birth. Honestly, it was totally gross. But also bloody amazing, especially watching Gail's partner wrestle a giant momma sheep to the ground and dragging a one stone lamb out of it. 

Watching the lambs take their first breath, and then their first steps a few minutes later was extraordinary, and I'll be going back next week to see some more slimy miracles.

Rodney news is pretty cool too. I'm still waiting to get his shoe back on so we've had a really nice week of just hanging out with each other. Today I led him up to the arena and just turned him loose so he could have a roll without his rug and a mooch about. Then I groomed him and did his feet but without having him tied up, to practice us working together willingly and with mutual co-operation.

The sun was shining and it all went really well so I decided to see how he might feel about being ridden without his saddle. I've been itching to try it for a while but he can be quite sensitive and I wasn't sure if he'd wig out. So I just lay over him for a while till he seemed quite happy with that and then I got on and we went for a little walk about. It was really nice - really nice.

Happy horsing everyone x

Friday, 7 March 2014

Shoeless-ness leads to blog silence

Rodney popped his shoe off again while jumping a small course in the arena at the weekend so all riding is suspended until further notice. BOOOOOO! (hiss)

Farrier not due until March 19 and I haven't got any free time to try and organise an interim visit so it's just going to have to wait a while.

Immma havin' a hollidayyy!

In the meantime I'm going to just make a fuss of him, pet his ginger whiskers and let him have a break as he's worked pretty consistently through the winter.

Our next rally is at the end of the month but it's flatwork so it should be manageable to bring him back in to work for that.

In other news, I've just survived my first assessment/step to becoming an RDA instructor! Lots more work to do but it's something I really enjoy so much exciting times :) And at the end of April I'm doing my Riding and Road Safety so I can do my BHS Stage 2. Honestly, as a kid you avoid exams like the plague and then as an adult you go and seek them out...

Don't panic - as soon as I saw this pic I went and sorted out my eyebrows so they're no longer mad wonky

Happy horsing everyone x

Friday, 28 February 2014

So - jumping...

So last Sunday I definitely experienced a new highpoint with Rodders. 

A few weeks ago I joined a local riding club and decided Enough Is Enough Goddam I Want To Go Places And Do Stuff With My Horse So Everyone Can See How Beautiful His Tail Is And How Cute His Face Is!!!

See what I mean??

And since Cady monster departed I have a teeny bit more cash and so I booked some transport and took him to a jumping rally. And it was a big deal for me, because he made the whole day easy and fun. I just had to scrub the mud off and walk him on to the box and he was a delight.

The rally itself was a good confidence builder, no huge jumps, just some grid work progressing to a couple of extra jumps - some fillers and an oxer. Rodney tried so hard the instructor called him Zebedee because of his lovely springing efforts over anything remotely exciting. He did everything he was asked to do and didn't so much as touch a pole. What a superstar.

If you're interested in a little vid of our efforts, click here

Job done and he went straight back on the box and travelled home for a well earned tea before returning to his field pals.

I cannot stress enough how nice it is to own a kind, cooperative and straightforward horse. My first horse was a gentleman but I took it for granted a bit because I didn't realise how special that was. Years later, and now I'm blessed with another supertrooper, I will not be taking a single second for granted.

Happy horsing everyone x