Sunday, 23 November 2008

The inescapability of what is

Today we hit our lowest ebb. Red was so muddy that it took us an hour to groom him to even a reasonable level of presentability. Apparently he and a few of his mates had enjoyed a romp around the yard after breaking a fence down. His headcollar and leadrope are nowhere to be found and I shall have to buy new ones tomorrow, having improvised with an old headcollar of Dee's and several lengths of baling twine this evening.

When we had finished our chores this morning we were both exhausted – far too tired to ride; and riding is the point of the whole exercise, isn't it? 'ö-Dzin commented that it is a bit like spending a period of time knitting every day, only to find that it has been unravelled overnight and you have to start again. I added to this, that you have to go and buy the wool again as well! If our total involvement with the horses is putting feed in one end and carting away dung from the other end, there is simply no point in continuing. We have reached the end of the road, we just cannot continue like this.

I'm sorry if this sounds a little pathetic. I know that stable hands muck out half a dozen stalls every day, or more. But if it is your job, I think it is different. I still have my job to do after visiting the horses, and 3 - 4 hours a day is too much. I've still not fully recovered from my cold and the thought this morning of having to get up at dawn tomorrow to do it all over again was somewhat grim. We've tried every possble scenario to make it feasible and whichever way we do it, having one of them on full livery is the only comfortable solution and this is too expensive for us.

So, what is the solution – to enable us to return to enjoying our horses and having a manageable amount of work? Firstly we have put Red back on full livery from tomorrow. We cannot afford this in the long term, but it is an immediate relief and a short term solution. I can easily manage the work of Dee's care without 'ö-Dzin having to be involved. Secondly we have made enquiries about the possibility of Red going to a riding stables on working livery. Dee would stay where she is on part livery. The working livery would be on the same yard where our teachers keep their horses, so if it worked out it would also mean that we could ride with our Lamas occasionally, which would be marvellous. This yard is a high quality establishment where the horses are kept in spacious stalls, with regular turnout and varied work. They work two hours a day, six days a week. It is very different from Pontcanna, where Dee used to be on working livery. There the basic level of livery was three hours work a day, and in the winter she could spend up to eighteen hours a day in her stable. Only very occasionally would a lesson involve riding outside, and even then it might simply be circling in an outdoor arena. Hacks around the park were a rare treat. I would sell Red rather than put him on that sort of working livery, but we are very loathe to lose him as he is such a good horse for us. Recently a trekking centre has opened near to Wyndham, so I may enquire there, but I know nothing about them and would have to be sure Red would be looked after properly.

It may seem strange to split the horses in this way and it would be an end to our pleasant hacks around Coed y Wennallt. However to our reasoning it seems a good solution. I would never put Dee back on working livery, and she is too old anyway now that she is nearly nineteen. Although Dee and Red have stables next to each other, they do not interact at any time other than when we are riding, so we know they will not actually miss each other at all. We would very much like to keep Red, and having finally faced the fact that we cannot keep two horses at Wyndham, he is the more logical horse to move. There is a possibility that the lady from the livery yard may come and have a look at Red tomorrow. I hope she likes him and feels she could accept him on her yard so that this plan succeeds.

Everything would be so simple if we had ten acres of land outside our back door. I'm sure then the work would be manageable and I could organise it around my own schedule and for my own convenience. But this is never going to happen, so we have to work with the situation as it is as cheerfully and pragmatically as possible and with the welfare of the horses uppermost in our minds.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I feel for you. Caring for horses is a lot of work. You've gotta do what you've gotta do.

Cilla said...

i think there are a lot of us horse owners who are feeling the seasonal change and wishing for more time and less mud. it can make you feel very down as i have found.
i hope things work out for all of you. i hang on to the thought that in a months time or less the days will start to get longer and spring will be on its way!

Anonymous said...

Hi Nordzin

what an awful predicament for you, I know how much pleasure you and odzin both get being able to ride together.

I enquired at the trekking centre nearby too.. if its Briwnant Farm you mean.

Good stables and plenty of land- menage with fantastic views! But, at the time they had not really started and they wanted £105 a week, full livery, and only allowed you to go up to ride- they did not want 'tackers' as they put it, owners coming up all the time and fiddling with their horses. So as you can imagine that did not suit me!

Their aspirations may have changed now though, I enquired in August.

Have you thought about Wenallt Farm? Plan A of doing the horses before work could work there, as Dee and Red would be in the same field and would not be on their own. They have a menage of sorts, but it is not floodlit.

I hope you can resolve this without having to let Red go, you have worked so hard with him.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Come swing by my blog and pick up your special delivery. Hint: They smell nice.

Anonymous said...

I can sympathise. I know exactly what a grind it can be to look after two horses in a muddy winter, in addition to a full time job, and especially when one isn't feeling 100%. I hope that things work out well for you and the horses.

lytha said...

thanks for that pic of the mud. that is exactly the mud we have here in germany and my horse stands in it up over his pasterns.

since we have no wash rack, i have taken to using a big bucket of warm water, and teaching him to place his feet in it, one by one, and trying to scrub the mud off. after a few water changes, this seems to work.

yesterday i realized i spent about an hour trying to just de-mud his feet so i could get to his scratches (mud fever). ri-di-cu-lous.

but your picture is great - that is the soup i've been telling my husband about. the soup that makes it impossible to push a wheelbarrow through, and impossible to clean up the poop cuz the poop just floats around in it. i have to show my man your blog!

but i have an important question for you. i'm new in europe and we're shopping for our first home. we're in the process of buying a place with a tiny barn and one of the first things i want to do is get rubber mats in there. i enjoyed your blog entry about stall mats and you apparently did a lot of research.

how would you recommend i find mat manufacturers? how did you do it? did you use the horse magazines or the internet or other horse people?

back home everything was so simple, and there was no language barrier. back home most barns have mats already, and horse owners don't have to go buy them!

first thing: i have to learn the german words for "stall mats" *sigh*

maybe you can advise me in finding companies?

~lytha in germany

Nor’dzin said...

Thank you to everyone for your support. It really helps. With regard to mats, Lytha, I did a lot of looking around on the web and sent off for samples. In the end it was a compromise – I got the thickest and best quality I could afford. The lighter mats are great, but much more expensive. I am very pleased with the ones I bought fortunately. Good luck with your research and I hope you settle happily in Germany.

Anonymous said...

I am right there with you, but I'm in western Oregon, US. :)

This is what it's like here:

From my blog post on DARK...

I have the same issue facing me right now. Of moving one horse and leaving the second where he is. The mare needs special care and driving and hour round trip is killing me. But the paddock is great for the youngster... I go barn shopping tomorrow. (sigh)

The fact that the days will getting longer keeps me going. :)