Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Still pondering

Thank you very much to my blog friend at Nuzzling Muzzles for sending me this bunch of flowers. It has brightened up my day.

We are still agonising over how to resolve the conflict of wanting to own horses but not really having the time or resources. The lady from Liege Manor is coming to look at Red next week. If we are able to move Red there, this will solve part of our difficulties. I talked to the proprietor about the possibility of also moving Dee if she is happy with Red, and she said this may also be possible. I feel strange about even thinking about this as a possibility. I have always said that I would never put Dee through having to cope with lots of different people working with her again. To contemplate moving her to a working livery feels like a betrayal of the commitment I made to her when I bought her.

It is true to say that Liege Manor is a very different establishment to Pontcanna stables. Liege Manor has an excellent reputation for tuition and care. I believe the horses' work is more varied and more interesting, and if we did move Dee there, she definitely would not be spending up to eighteen hours a day in a stable. But still it feels like a betrayal. I can't think about it anymore today. There is nothing that can be done until the lady has seen Red and said whether she'll take him, so I'll stop trying to live in the confusion and worry of 'what might be' and live in the present – nothing is going to happen or needs to be decided until next week. So I can relax into the moment and enjoy the horses for the next few days.

I pass on the blog friend bouquet to David at Approaching Aro for his interesting articles about our Lineage;
to Cilla at Frontshoesonly where I so enjoy hearing about her journey with her mare Lizzie,
and to my oldest blogging friend whom I hope to meet one day – Victoria at Teachings of the Horse.

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.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Dawn patrol

I'm back in the saddle – still rather sniffly but mostly better. Yesterday I rode Dee and this morning I rode Red. Dee is hard work in the arena. I think it is too reminiscent of her life at Pontcanna riding stables and she just switches off – I have to push her continually, which is no fun for either of us. It is such a shame she will not ride out to the Wenallt. I would happily never ask her to go in the arena again if she would hack out on her own. Red, however, was quite fun in the arena this morning. He was listening to me and energised. The first time I asked for canter he gave a little enthusiastic buck, which I found rather endearing.

One of the reasons I became so ill was because of the hard work at the stables – it is a bit of a pattern of mine: pushing myself too much physically and then getting ill. Ever since we moved back to Wyndham Livery in April we have been trying different ways of balancing the time/energy/money equation. First we tried Red on loan, but then that fell through; then we had Red on full livery and Dee on DIY – that was fine with regard to time and energy, but we couldn't afford it; then we tried me doing most of the work in the morning and 'ö-Dzin doing a little of the work in the evening – but this seemed to be exhausting for both of us and we both got ill. Since Wednesday— having put both horses on full livery for two days to give us a chance to recover—we have been trying the 'dawn patrol'.

It is a fine thing to arrive at the stables at dawn and be greeted by the snicker of your horses. We found we could complete our chores by 8.30 when 'ö-Dzin had to scoot off to work – it seemed the perfect solution. I could be home by 9 and have a full day to do everything else that is required. Our plan was that I wouldn't usually ride in the morning, but that we would ride a couple of times a week together in the arena in the evening, as the arena is lit. Unfortunately we hit a snag – neither horse could cope with being on their own for an hour or so before being joined by other horses. It is the policy at Wyndham that mares and geldings are turned out separately, so we couldn't just put them out together. The first time we left Dee out, but had to bring Red back in, but Dee was so clearly distressed by the prospect of being out there on her own for so long again on the second day, that we abandoned it. We have asked whether there is a field where we could put them out together in the morning, but Sally has said no because it would make pasture management too difficult. Our perfect plan is scuppered.

So although I am not having to work quite so hard and hence am not getting so exhausted, I haven't gained any time. The earliest that horses start to be turned out is about 9.30. It's generally after 10 before I can put both horses out, by which time there is usually some extra mucking out to do, and still the haynets to put up. I'm finding that I'm not able to finish at the stables until after 10.30 – so I am back to it taking 3½ - 4 hours. This is too huge a chunk out of my day – I simply cannot continue using this much time on the horses every day. I care a great deal for them both, but I do have a lot of other commitments that are being neglected because of this time factor, and there are many things I would like to be doing that there simply is not enough time to even start.

We are now at a loss as to where to go from here. We feel we have tried every possible approach.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Ill health

Thank you Jayne for enquiring after me – most kind. Dee and Red are fine, but I am ill. I was out of touch for a week because of the electricity problems and then I started to feel ill on Tuesday. I had hoped to be well enough to teach a workshop tomorrow (Saturday 15th), but unfortunately I'm still on the increasing symptoms side of the hill rather than the downhill slope to returned health. I'm sure I will be fine soon and will be posting enthusiastically again. Best wishes to you all until then.

I hope you like this—slightly blurry—image of Dee snoozing.

Monday, 3 November 2008


I haven't been able to blog for a week because we have had a problem with our electricity. The engineer came last Wednesday to do a routine annual service on our water heater, and while checking its electrical connection, found a fault on the fusebox. He could not safely switch everything back on – having discovered the fault. So Wednesday afternoon and all day Thursday we had no electricity at all. Of course, by Sod's Law, Thursday was the coldest day of the winter as yet. Fortunately we have a log fire in our lounge and had an ample supply of candles. Also—having been keen on camping in the past—we have a little gas stove and several LED lanterns and wind-up torches. So we managed well enough.

By Thursday evening we had the cooker and one socket, so we were able to plug in a few things to make life a bit easier. By Friday we had, in addition, the shower, hot water (bliss!), and the kitchen sockets. By the end of Saturday we had all the sockets throughout the house, but still no lights. This wasn't too much of a problem as we could plug lights in, so we insisted our plumber/electrician had Sunday off to spend with his family. We felt rather sorry for him – he turned up to do a one hour job and it has turned into a long-winded emergency. He has been having to cancel other jobs to give us priority. Today (Monday) he has got the lights in the lounge, dining room, office and hallway working, so we have assured him we can manage with things as they are now for as long as necessary—we can wash in hot water and keep warm, use all our usual appliances, and work in good light in the lounge. We have enjoyed 'camping' in our home, and snuggling up in front of the fire in a candlelit room.

It has been fun to have my life circumstances thrust me into the opportunity of experiencing that fresh, new feeling of appreciation, for something that I generally take for granted. I know that every moment-by-moment experience could always be this fresh and new, this appreciated, and have that 'for-the-first-time' feeling of wonder – if I was able to live in the moment and experience the Nature of Mind . . . if I could keep my sense fields open and avoid conceptual judgment immediately clicking in. Unfortunately I still continually slip back into my limited comfort zone, where everything is familiar, and understood within the terms of my own definitions and reference points. I find it strange that I cling to this blandness and actively miss the electricity of what is.

We succeeded in snapping another picture of Dee doing the flehmen response. This picture is actually from a video. I hadn't realised, but she wobbles her bottom lip around at the same time. I think she looks so funny. We weren't able to ride this weekend because everything was a bit chaotic, but hope that things will be a bit more normal next weekend.