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.