Wednesday, 29 December 2010

What took you so long?

The horses are spending most of the day in the hay fields at the moment.  They come up for hay and feed morning and evening and then wend their way back down.  The hay fields—as the name suggests—are usually left fallow for hay and the horses are not permitted to graze there.  However the grass was still quite long there by the time the snow arrived and they are finding a lot of grazing by scraping away the snow.

On Monday we arrived at the stables early in the afternoon and the herd was still in the bottom fields.  We plodded down through the snow as far a the stream which was one field away from the herd.  We called to Dee hoping she would come to call.  Red was out on a hack and not with the herd.  At first there was no response and then gradually horses started to appear.  At first they walked towards the stream, then they began to trot, and then—in groups of twos and threes—they cantered through the stream and galloped full pelt up the fields through the snow.  Their enjoyment of racing through the snow was evident.

Dee glanced at us as she splashed through the stream, but galloped up the field with the rest of them.  We then plodded back up the fields through the snow.  Dee was waiting for us by the arena.  The expression on her face seemed to say 'what took you so long?'

She is looking great.  She was a little lame last week but it has quickly cleared up.  I think she had just twisted a leg on the uneven ground.  I'm really pleased with her new rug.  It stays in place and she looks warm, dry and comfortable.

We have had an unusual amount of snow in Wales this month.  It has stuck around for two weeks.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you a healthy and happy 2011.

Friday, 5 November 2010

No riding

Twice this week I have transported Dee's tack up to Briwnant but not succeeded in riding.  On Wednesday I went out to the field to bring her in.  Usually she just follows me up to the yard, but on Wednesday she was not interested.  I said hello, gave her a treat and patted her neck, but when I turned away to walk back she did not follow me as expected.  Now I know from previous experience with Dee that if she really does not want to come in and I try to lead her in using an ordinary head collar and lead rope it ends in trouble.  It may have been that she would have walked up quietly with me – but I decided not to risk it.  I was not feeling bright enough for an hour following Dee round the field to get the head collar off her after she'd dragged me around for a while.  Although she would not follow me she stood looking after me for a long time – in fact I think I could see her still looking for me as I drove away.

This morning I went up again but she was too wet to put a saddle on.  It has been raining for a couple of days.  Ahh well – perhaps next week will be drier and Dee will feel more cooperative.

I had a nice message from Moira in response to my post about the fun ride.  Moira owned Dee when she was a sprightly five year old.  She said:

"I laughed out loud to read about Dee jumping that stream.  I have a very similar tale to tell from years ago.  We were out on a hack with a friend of mine and her horse, Chester, and were trying to find a stream crossing.  We knew the way vaguely, just hadn’t done that particular ride for quite a while.  My friend and Chester found what they thought was the crossing (it wasn’t the right place as it turned out) and Chester scrambled down the bank, across the stream and back up the bank on the other side.  As this was happening, I could feel Dee gathering herself up for the most almighty jump.  And, like you, I had absolutely no choice but to go with her.  She flew right across and landed just to the left of a big tree, allowing just enough room for my leg.  I always believed that she would never take a jump without being certain of her doing it safely and that if I stayed with her, I’d be okay.  It sounds as if that’s still very much the case."

She is correct.  I trust Dee completely when it comes to jumping.  She is totally reliable and sensible.  I love that mare!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Fun Ride

Sunday 10th was the day of the fun ride at Briwnant Riding Centre.  We approached the arrival of this event with a mixture of trepidation and excitement.  At the last Briwnant fun ride we were able to attend I rode Red because Dee was lame.  Red got seriously over-excited with the result that I came off him over a jump that I didn't want to take but couldn't stop him.  This time I was to be riding Dee and 'ö-Dzin riding Red.  We had decided to join the quieter, shorter ride with the option of 'ö-Dzin missing out the cross country part of the ride at the end if he wished, as this was where Red was likely to get over-excited.
photo by Alfie
There was a good turn out for the ride.  Most of the centre's horse were used, plus a few of the livery horse owners were there, and a few people brought their horses in from other places.  The weather was perfect being sunny and clear.

This was Dee's first trail ride in four hoof boots rather than just two at the back.  I'd ridden her in the arena in all four boots, but had not had an opportunity to hack out in them.  I wondered how they would cope with the deep sticky mud on the first track.  As it turned out Dee's hoof boots stayed on with no problems throughout the ride and she was clearly comfortable and relaxed in them.  I cannot overstress my satisfaction with these Cavallo hoof boots – they are brilliant and available from many UK stockists now.

Our group set off along the muddy track that leads up to the Wenallt trail.  Approaching the Wenallt in this direction meant that the beginning of the ride was slow with a lot of steep downward hills.  I generally prefer to ride it in this anti-clockwise direction as it means that you can have canters on the flat at the bottom of the trail, rather than all the canters being up the hills.  Dee doesn't have the stamina for uphill canters any more and we tend to get left behind.

Arriving at the bottom part of the trail, the ride became quite lively with a lot of short, fast canters.  It was most enjoyable.  We then headed back to Briwnant for the cross country ride across their fields.  I expected 'ö-Dzin to finish here, but he bravely decided to take Red out into the fields.  He felt that Red—having insisted on being in second place in the ride on the trail—had not had the opportunity for a good, go-for-it canter with all the stopping and starting, and wanted to let him go.  Wow!  I was so proud of him.

There were about 14 jumps scattered around the six or seven fields of the cross country ride.  I jumped about half of them on Dee.  She loves to jump and showed no hesitation at any of them.  I just did the smaller jumps.  I made a point of taking the jump that had unseated me on Red on the previous fun ride to lay that ghost.  The photo show us taking off over the third log jump and we did about another three slightly larger jumps after this.
photo by Helen Westlake
The biggest jump of the day for me was one I did not intend to do – isn't always like that?!  The approach to one field is via a little stream.  The stream is only a couple of feet (60cm) wide and shallow, but there is a bank about two feet (60cm) above it set back from the stream on the approach.  There is room to go down the side of the bank, plod through the stream and up the other side.  Twice I asked Dee to do this, but to her the logical approach was to jump it.  I had to submit to her reasoning and let her go for it.  It was a huge leap from a standstill to clear it, but we got across without mishap.  I went back there yesterday when I went to check on Dee to have a look at how big a jump it was and I reckon it is a 6 - 8 foot (180 - 240cm) spread going from high ground to low – a real cross country water jump.  I feel quite proud to have done it.
photo by Helen Westlake

'ö-Dzin rode Red through the first two or three fields, avoiding the jumps, and enjoyed a flat out pace back to the yard.  We both had a fantastic day.  It was great to ride with so many other people and to do something a bit more exciting and challenging for a change. 

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

I'm a two horse gal!

I rode both Dee and Red today.  Woohoo!

I brought Dee in and saddled her up to ride in the manège, but then noticed Alfie leading a horse in there.  I was a bit disappointed because it is always a bit worrying taking Dee into the arena with another horse and I cannot take her out on her own at the moment.  I have decided to leave her barefoot as the Cavallo simple boots are so successful, but do not have boots for her front hooves yet.  I also just didn't feel like trying to hack alone with her today.

Then I realised that the horse in the manège for a lesson was Red.  Dee usually behaves well with Red and Alfie was happy for me to go in there too.  So I schooled Dee for half an hour.  I took great care to keep her out of Red's way and not be a hindrance to the lesson and that all went very well.  Dee has not forgotten any of her schooling.  We practised up and down transitions, turning on the forehand, leg yielding and shoulder in.  It was good to be working with her and she was relaxed and responsive.

At the end of the lesson, I then took Red over and Alfie tied Dee up for me.  I schooled Red a little for about 10 minutes.  He is so strong and less cooperative than Dee.  I am still aware that he is too much horse for me – but it was nice to ride him a little anyway.

Saturday, 14 August 2010


At last we managed to ride today.  Hooray!  It has been about five weeks.

Dee came charging down the field to greet us and seemed very full of beans.  She shooed all the other horses away, including Red unfortunately, who then got confused about whether we wanted him as well.

Eventually we were ready and set off.  It was an interesting ride in many ways, not least because we are so out of practice.  Just as we set out I dropped a glove.  I dismounted, picked it up and used the grass bank to stand on to remount.  Dee swung her quarters out, wanting to eat the grass on the bank and I had to do a quick and nimble manoevre to get on - but did so successfully, which was pleasing.

As Dee seemed to be in an assertive mood–when is she not!—I suggested 'ö-Dzin go ahead on Red, but he was reluctant to go ahead of Dee and she had other ideas.  We could have insisted, but as she seemed to want to lead we let her.  She led off at a bold pace.  She continued in the lead the whole length of the track... and down the road... and into Wenallt woods... along the whole length of the Wenallt horse trail... back down the road... and along the track home to Briwnant.  This was amazing.  It is the first time she has ever done that since I have owned her.

So what was different about today?
Dee has been growing in confidence and is now one of the lead mares of the herd.
She is happy, secure and relaxed at Briwnant.
She is more comfortable on the trail now that we use hoof boots on her hind hooves.
I have lost 11lb in weight which I think enables me to sit more deeply in the saddle.
I have been practising a lot of sKu-mNyé (Tibetan yoga) recently and may be a bit fitter.
I seemed very able to feel how Dee was doing today—perhaps because I am thinner and fitter—and every time I sensed her becoming hesitant I pushed with my seat and talked to her or made noises until her ears flicked back to me and she remembered I was there.
I carried a whip, which I do not usually do when I ride Dee.

I do not know which factor, or combination of factors made a difference, but it is a wonderful difference.  Dee stayed as the lead horse at walk, trot and canter.  Occasionally she was clearly nervous, but mostly she was relaxed.  This is fantastic.  Perhaps I will finally have my happy hacker that I have always wanted and we shall just be able to head out together whenever we want without having to wait until there is someone else with whom we can ride.  Perhaps this is jumping the gun – but I feel optimistic.

I love this picture of Dee yawning!

Red is licking my hand in this photograph – can you see his big tongue under my hand?

My new book Relaxing into Meditation was launched yesterday.  It's available from Aro Books worldwide if anyone is interested...

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Red jumping

We have been able to watch Red jumping with Alfie at last, and here is the promised video.  It was a really hot day when this was recorded and I don't think Red was as keen as usual.

July was really crazy for me with a trip to the US, followed by teaching Up North in Whitley Bay, and then last week I was teaching at Surya Eco Yoga Camp in Cornwall.  All events were most successful and enjoyable.  Unfortunately this has meant that riding has been impossible and I have even only seen the horses a few times.  It is wonderful knowing they are so content at Briwnant.

We went to Sunnybank Equestrian Centre one evening when the Briwnant folk took four horses for show jumping.  Red was there with Alfie.  We do not know how much jumping Red has actually done, or whether he has any experience in a show arena.  It is quite a lot for horses to cope with if they have not done it before.  The arena is large and well lit; the jumps are quite fancy with colourful fills; the tannoy is loud; and there are people wandering up and down on two sides of the arena. 

Alfie entered Red into the 2ft 9in class.  There were two other classes: 2ft 3in and 2ft 6in.  Although we know that Red can easily jump 2ft 9in, I think it would have been a good idea to have entered him in the first round as well.  It would have given him some experience of the arena and Red would not have been hanging around such a long time for his class.  He got quite upset when Saffron went into the arena to jump.  He didn't like being separated from her.  Funny he should like a horse called Saffron, when it was another mare with this name that used to be a nightmare to ride at Pontcanna and yet they would give me her week after week.

Hopefully they will be taking Red over to Sunnybank again soon and we'll go and watch again.  He should do better the second time.  Alfie did manage to get him around the course but he was eliminated with 12 faults.  He did not refuse anything though – just ploughed through a couple of them!

Monday, 31 May 2010

Hoof boots

Hmm... not too sure whether I want to leave this lovely field of grazing to go to Nor'dzin...
Oh, well... alright then.

Dee came happily to have her headcollar put on after only a few moments of hesitation.  Red also did not come to call as readily as usual, but was pretty obliging.  Who can blame them for not wanting to leave their pasture after the winter we have just been through.  Yet despite the hard winter they are both fit and really well.  I cannot get over how athletic Dee is looking at age 20.  She moves with great suppleness and energy. 

We took them on the longest hack we have ventured in quite a while and were out for 2 hours.  Today was also the first time we have taken Dee out for a proper ride in her hoofboots.  She has been feeling some discomfort from the stony tracks in her unshod back hooves – always seeking the soft ground and being reluctant to move faster than a walk on some parts of the trail.  She got used to the boots quickly and soon realised that she was more comfortable.  It was amusing to watch her going for the softer bank, realising she didn't need to, and then strolling across the stones.  She was definitely more relaxed and much more willing to sustain the higher gaits.  We had a few nice canters today.  It was also a relief to not be teetering on the banks of the trail which I used to worry were not always too safe.

Today's ride certainly put the Cavallo Simple boots through their paces.  We took the route across the stream in the Wenallt and then up the really steep track to Ridgeway Lane, near where we used to livery them.  Then we rode into Ganol Wood and back across Rhiwbina Hill into the Wenallt, taking a left after the stream so that we ended up at the top of the hill to ride back through Briwnant fields.  'ö-Dzin nobly dismounted and remounted twice in order to negotiate the gates.  He took the next picture from Red as we rode these fields.
The boots are really... well... simple... to put on and the pastern wraps reassuring that they will not rub.  One pastern wrap had worked its way down into the boot on this ride, but Dee had no sign of any rubbing or sensitivity to wearing the boots.  It was a delight to experience her feeling more relaxed on the trails.  I know how I feel when my feet hurt, so it is not surprising she was a bit tense and reluctant to go forward sometimes.  I'm really pleased with the boots and would recommend them.  They seem quite wide but Dee did not seem to feel insecure in them and the length is a good fit.  They also stayed on without moving out of the correct fit, and showed no sign of working loose despite scrambling up hills and sploshing through the stream twice.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Red - the wonder horse

It's been a long time since I posted – and quite an eventful time.  Dee suddenly started to lose condition at the end of the winter.  This clashed coincidentally with our vehicle being off the road for five weeks.  I therefore made an arrangement with Briwnant for them to feed Dee every day for me and she quickly was back to looking better.  It is difficult to get Briwnant without transport – expensive by taxi or a long uphill walk from the nearest bus stop, so this delayed our getting back in the saddle.
I lunged Dee when I could and managed two or three rides over that time.  She now looks fantastic – fit, shiny coat and athletic.  The herd have been in the top fields for the last few weeks.  They have to go right to the top for the best grass, but back down to the bottom for water, so she has had her strengthening exercise just by living at grass.  When I eventually was able to take her round the Wenallt horse trail, she seemed as fit as at the end of last summer.
We've had several nice rides over the last couple of weeks, and my elder son, Daniel, came out with me last Wednesday.  This was good because it gave me the opportunity to ride Red for a change.

When we first decided to put Red on working livery at Briwnant I had my concerns.  I do not think Dee's experience of working livery was very good most of the time at Pontcanna, but Red is having a great time.  As well as the lessons and treks he does for the riding school, he also gets schooled regularly and this has included some jumping.  Now some time ago I commented on my blog that I thought Red was a good horse and could potentially be a very good horse with an experienced and more capable rider than me to bring him on.  This is happening for him at Briwnant.  They have a new tutor, Alfie, who is an experienced and excellent rider, and he has been putting Red through his paces.  It turns out that Red is a bold and confident jumper and we are going to start competing him in a few weeks with Alfie riding him.  He is such an extraordinary horse.  'ö-Dzin can ride him perfectly safely and he will be quiet and well behaved.  They put beginners on him for lessons.  Yet he can also be a powerful, forward-going and adventurous horse. 

This afternoon we went back up to Briwnant to watch Red in his jumping practice.  Unfortunately there was a mix up over the time and Red had already been jumped and fed by the time we arrived.  So we watched Alfie jumping Saffron (below) and then Kalif.  He is a brilliant rider.  He told us they put the jumps up to the top notch when they are training Red.  I can't wait to see that and will definitely post some photos when we have them.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The emptiness of change

Life can change so fast sometimes that it reminds us to live in the moment and not become complacent.  It is good to be reminded that everything changes in every moment – form arises and dissolves.  Last Tuesday I had a great time with both horses working on ground exercises with them in the arena.  It was so good to be with Red, working with him more closely than I have in a while.  He is such a fascinating mixture of sweetness and belligerence, willingness and stubborness.

Then by Thursday I was too ill to drive to the yard.  It hit me so fast, and I am still recovering.  We went up together on Saturday, but I was too shaky to walk down the field for Dee.  I wish I'd had my camera with me.  It was such a wonderful thing to watch her walk up with 'ö-Dzin – not too close, but continually looking across and checking he was still there.  Then she waited patiently for him at the gate and put her head in the head collar. 

The weather is also so changeable – one day quite warm and then snow the following day.  There is a magical quality of seeing the world through flakes of falling snow; the greyness of the sky with hints of rainbow colours; blazing red-gold sunsets; brave buds and sprouting plants.

And then there are the sadder changes – the emptiness of loss.  Two of my blog friends have lost their horses in recent weeks: first Cilla of Front Shoes Only lost Lizzie last month, and now Linda at 7MSN has lost Lyle.  I feel I know these people and have loved their horses even though I only know them through reading their blog.  A little cold shiver runs down my back mirroring the wetness of my face as I read of their loss.

I'm blogging when I should be going to bed because I didn't enjoy being in bed last night,  I didn't sleep much for coughing.  But tonight is another night and so it will be different.  There is no point in anticipating an unpleasant night – I might sleep deeply and well.  Even if I do not sleep it is still a new night, a new experience and will not be the same as last night.  I may feel refreshed and have my strength back in the morning.  Whatever the night or the morning brings it will be a unique experience and there will be something to appreciate through my senses if I am open enough to embrace that. 

And so... good night.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Fun and fine weather

 We have been having fun with the horses over the last few days.  On Thursday we called Dee in from the 12 acre field.  She probably started ambling over as usual, but then the whole herd decided to follow her, so she put on a turn of speed.  The picture shows them heading round the corner at full pelt – Dee at the front closely followed by the rest of the herd (Red is in the red rug on the right).  We climbed the ridge and let them head past us – we didn't fancy getting in their way!  Dee stopped as soon as she reached us and the rest of the herd broke like a wave around her and settled down.

She's looking good – a good weight and with a nice shiny coat.  There are a few places where her rug has rubbed a little – but nothing serious.

Today we called her and there she was waiting at the gate for us when we got to the bottom of the field.

She walked up on her own without a headcollar.  'ö-Dzin kept trying to jog ahead to get photographs and she thought this was a great game and started trotting by him every time he tried to get in front.

Today was the day to try out the new saddle.  We've bought a Thorowgood Maxam.  It came with a wide gullet, but we have changed this to a medium for Dee.  Nicky checked it for me and said it looked a good fit on her.  The Thorowgood website said to try the saddle at all paces to check that it didn't move or lift up at the back.  So we did that.  It gives her good wither clearance and fits really well.  I decided to pop Dee over this little jump a few times as a final check.  Dee so loves to jump and she really enjoyed this.  The arena is waterlogged so there wasn't much room to get a good distance for a run up on the jump, so this one was a bit of a bunny hop.

On our way out we gave Red a few treats.  He'd been out on a hack for the school.  He decided it was too slow being given a treat one at a time, and decided to snaffle the rest straight out of the tub!  Today the weather has been bright and sunny – and even quite warm.  If it continues like this we may actually ride them both out next weekend.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Magical moments

I have had a few wonderful visits with Dee over the last week.  One day I was going out to the field to get Dee and Nicky asked me to bring Red in as well to see the farrier.  I knew Red would follow us in, so I only took Dee's headcollar.  I still do not feel too confident about leading both my horses at the same time – they are so much bigger than me and I am not always confident of my footing with my dodgy knees!

I arrived at the second field and called them both.  Red defers to Dee, so she came to me first.  Usually I would put on her headcollar and then struggle to hold her and deal with the gate while I ushered Red through.  Because I inherited the notion of Dee being a difficult horse to manage when I bought her, I have always tended to feel I must make sure I have her fully under control.  I think this can make me tense and her naughty.  So this time I opened the gate and just let Dee wander through while I waited for Red.  The worst that could happen was that she was in the wrong field and wouldn't be caught.  When Red arrived I guided him through the gate and shut it.  My intention had been to then go and put on Dee's headcollar and lead her up to the yard, but she had already set out.  And so I had a lovely, relaxed walk up the field with Dee slightly ahead of me, occasionally stopping to look back and check we were still there, and Red walking right by my side – both happily going up to the yard of their own accord.  Magic!

Each time since then I have been letting Dee walk up to the yard on her own.  Today she was in what I call 'the wet field'.  It can be quite awkward getting them in from this field as there is a stream running through it which has formed a couple of deep trenches in the meadow.  If your horse comes to you by the car park, the only way to bring them in from there is to go all the way to the bottom of the field, across the stream and then back up – a steep and muddy walk.  Dee was at the bottom of the field.  She came to call, but stopped about 20 metres away, on the wrong side of one of the stream trenches.  I knew she could get across it and didn't fancy going down there to struggle in the mud.  She kept looking as I called, but didn't move and eventually turned her butt to me.  'Two can play that game,' I thought, and turned away from her and started to slowly walk back to the yard, still calling her.  Suddenly she remembered how to cross the trench, did so, and trotted up the slope to me.  Sensible mare – not to miss out on a feed for being stubborn.

I know she will not come to call so easily when the spring grass begins to grow – but I am enjoying it at the moment.  It is still very cold, so no riding yet.  I'm having fun looking for a saddle.  There are a few I like on ebay, but cannot decide whether to go for those or pay the extra £100 - £150 to get a brand new one. 

The fields at Briwnant are starting to look rather well cropped, but both horses are looking a good weight – as good as they did last winter when they lived at Wyndham.  The livery care at Wyndham was excellent, and there the horses had hard feed twice a day.  I'm pleased that they are doing just as well at Briwnant on grass livery with hard feed less often.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Healthy horses

We had a lovely visit to Briwnant yesterday.  Red was being used for a hack, so we met him half way down the field being led in.  He accepted treats and cuddles.  He looks really well and fit again.  Dee was also pleased to see us and happy to come in.

I was interested to read Victoria's recent post on Teachings of the Horse.  It made me think about how I approach Dee.  Because of her history as a 'difficult' or 'challenging' horse, I think I can tend to approach her with this in mind.  Having given myself permission not to ride for a while, I feel I have time to just enjoy being with her.  If she decides she doesn't want to come in, does it actually matter?  Well I guess it does from the perspective of having asked, one should follow through.  But does there need to be a time element?  Do I need to feel rushed?

With this in mind I asked Dee to accept her headcollar by holding it open and did not make any attempt to put it round her neck.  At first she turned away a little, but she wanted to stay with me.  After only a few minutes she gave me her head, placing her nose in the headcollar.  We then had a pleasant stroll up the field on a looped leadrope that was practically companion walking.

I was keen to get her rug off and see how she looked.  At around this same time two winters ago, after I had been away for a week and left her in the care of the livery owner, she was looking thin and scrawny.  I knew she would be fine – the care at Briwnant is first class, and I was correct.  She is a good weight and her coat has a lovely shine.  She has a slight sore spot on her chest where her under-rug has rubbed, but her proper winter turnout rug has been repaired now so I shall be able to put that back on her tomorrow.

Another blog I follow is the Carolyn Resnick blog.  Currently she is teaching her Uberstreichen exercises and I have been looking forward to trying them with Dee.  We tried the first one yesterday, and considering it was so busy at Briwnant with a lot of distractions, we made a good start.  I also hope to find time to work with Red with these exercises as well.

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I am going to buy Dee a new saddle.  There are several reasons for this:
  • I feel I want a saddle with a little more substance under me
  • I worry that the treeless saddle does not give Dee sufficient clearance at the wither.  She has never become sore, but it is a concern.
  • The padded numnah necessary under a treeless saddle is quite inconvenient for washing.  They take a long time to dry and only just fit in my washing machine.  It would be nice to go back to a simple numnah that it is easy to change regularly.
  • The padded numnah must be accurately placed over the spine so that the padding is each side of the spine.  As I am not very tall I cannot see how well it is placed until I mount, and then if it is wrong and not central so that the padding is over the spine on one side, I have to get off and re saddle her.  This is a real nuisance.
  • The Torsion saddle I have uses a dressage girth, and I have never succeeded in learning how to tighten it when mounted.  It is just too far down for me and too awkward.
This saddle that I am going to replace has never been my favourite.  The previous Torsion that I had stolen from Wyndham was a beautiful saddle and is sorely missed.  If I still had that one I would probably be sticking with it, but I cannot afford to buy another like it.  Nicky is going to help me measure her up for a saddle and I'll let you know what I buy.  No excuses for not riding then!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

I'm still here!

I'm feeling guilty that I have neglected my blog since November and completely failed to offer my readers Seasons Greetings.  I hope you had a lovely Christmas and belated Happy New Year wishes to you all.  I hope everything is going well for you.

It has been a busy time here in Wales and both horses have been ill.  I was also ill at the beginning of December, then we had a trip to Nepal, then Christmas happened and new year, then the weather got really wintery... so all in all life has been happening, but not blogging.

Dee had a snotty nose in December and a chill.  We kept her in for a few days and then brought her in just at night for a few more days and then she was fine.  Red's illness was a little more serious as he has had strangles.  He was confined to his stabe for about 6 weeks, and considering how much he hates being in the stable for a long time, he behaved very well.  The strangles abscess on his throat was huge and produced a bucket-load of pus when it burst.  The folk at Briwnant have been amazing and nursed him so well.  I am eternally grateful for their expertise and care.  In all I think it was five horses that had strangles, and they have all come through it with no long-term problems.  Red is still convalescing, being given extra feed to build up his strength again, but is back out with the herd now.  He has been declared fit by the vet.  He definitely wants to be out in the field and not kept in.  He looks fine and has only lost a little weight.

As Red is on full working livery at Briwnant he is groomed every day and fed as necessary, whereas Dee is just on grass livery.  So Dee tends to get more attention because she needs it.  Just after Christmas we went up to give Dee a feed and groom her, but as we led her in from the field Red followed us.  He didn't want to miss out on the family gathering.  If anything he is more affectionate since being ill and likes to come in as well for some TLC.

I have not been riding because the yard has been on quarantine and the fields were so wet, but I have decided I'm not going to ride until the weather gets warmer anyway.  I find that I get clumsy and tense in the cold and feel that I am a bit of a liability in the saddle.  I think I may not clip Dee next year and simply not ride for the coldest months of the year.  We have had such a lot of snow, that I have not been able to get my car up the lane to Briwnant.  I tried one day last week and nearly ended up in a hedge.  I miss seeing the horses but know they are well cared for and that Paul would let me know immediately if there was any problem with them.  If the snow continues till the weekend, we may try hiking over to see them.

The whole family went on the week's trip to Nepal which was wonderful.  Our sons liked it there and had a good time.  Straight after we returned home it was into Christmas preparations, and we had a lovely family Christmas.

A lot more snow arrived yesterday and more is forecast for Sunday.  It has thawed quite a lot today though, so hopefully it will go away for long enough that we shall be able to get up and see the horses.  We so rarely have snow in Cardiff that lasts for more than a day, that we are not really set up for coping with it.  It has not snowed like this here for nearly 30 years.  I think it is quite good to have a 'real' winter for a change though, and we are nice and snug in front of the wood stove.  I hope you are all snug and warm too.