Friday, 11 November 2011

Cuddles, carrots and country walking

I took Dee's rug off for a couple weeks because it went so mild but it's back on her again now.  It is still pretty mild but goes suddenly cold some nights and has been very wet.  She is looking really well.

As I travelled down the track to the yard today I could see that the horses were in the far fields near the motorway.  They are not usually allowed in these fields as they are kept for hay, but at this time of year they let the herd into them.  The grass there is still quite lush.  I knew it was unlikely that Dee would want to come in from there.  With so much good grass to eat she is not interested in any feed I bring her. 

She was pleased to see me and happy to come over for treats and cuddles, but I was correct that she was not interested in following me back to the yard.  That was fine by me.  I checked that she and her rugs (under-rug and waterproof sheet) were all okay and left her to it.  I'm quite happy not to be riding much at the moment.  I always enjoy just visiting the horses and it is a pleasant walk in the countryside.  I had to wade through two streams today and was pleased to discover that my wellington boots do not have any holes.

View from Briwnant
I still sometimes marvel at the recovery of my knees as I stride out with confidence across the uneven ground.  There is still the occasional twinge but mostly both knees are fine now.

Back at the yard I found Red who had just come in from an hour's ride and was enjoying some hay.  He was also happy to receive carrots and cuddles.  An enjoyable visit to Briwnant and good exercise as well.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Rug time

I decided to rug Dee today.  The weather forecast was for colder and wet weather starting this evening.  I don't know whether it is really a little early to start rugging, but I felt I left it a bit too late last year and didn't want to risk that mistake again.  Horses expend such a lot of their energy just on keeping warm and dry in the winter, and Dee is a senior citizen.

It does not seem to be so very cold this evening, but it is blowing a gale outside and the rain is hammering down, so I do not regret my decision.  It is nice to think of Dee tucked up in a waterproof rug and protected from the bite of the wind.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Riding in three seasons

The last two weekends we have had to work and so have been unable to ride together.  So yesterday 'ö-Dzin took a day off work and we went on a lovely ride together.

We decided to do the same ride as I had ridden with my friend TK a couple of weeks ago, as 'ö-Dzin had never been on the golf course bridleway.  This time we were going to do this circular route in the opposite direction however.

The Ganol
We set out in glorious sunshine.  The weather has been extraordinary in Wales for about a week – hotter than it has been at any time during the summer.  It was really too hot for riding but it seemed silly to waste this little glimpse of what summer could have been.  Unfortunately Red had already been out for an hour so he was a little reluctant.  As it was so hot and Red had already done some work, we decided to make this a slow ride.

The horses had a long drink when we crossed the stream in the Wenallt.  When we arrived at the Ganol quite a strong breeze had blown up.  All around us leaves were falling and it felt much more autumnal.  We had heard that the weather was due to break and had hoped that we would be lucky and it would hold out for the Monday.  We did not canter the horses at all on this ride.  We had a few trots.  We were content to plod and simply enjoy being out together.

Ridgeway golf course
At the end of the lane leading to Ridgeway livery, where the horses used to live, there are two gates to negotiate.  Red is not very good at gates.  He doesn't seem to understand what he needs to do – either that or I fail to ask him properly.  Dee is wonderfully intelligent with gates and so we usually ask her to take the lead and show Red what to do.  It turned out that the gates were easier to deal with in this direction as it was just a matter of pushing them open.  We succeeded in getting through them both without needing to dismount.

I love this photo of Dee
The track across the golf course was much more obvious in this direction.  Red was a bit unsure of a golfer on a green near the track.  There were two fluttering red flags and the golfer had a big bag lying on the green.  Red became very alert.  Then there was a large skip full of rubbish which he was not too keen on either and stepped sideways to give it a wide berth.  Then as we rounded the edge of the house there were two red mattresses and Red started on seeing them – but that was it: the totality of Red's concern.  He is such a steady lad.  Dee is always calm and reassured when she is with him and will follow him past anything.

Are there any more treats?
Red was completely relaxed again by the time we reached the road at the end of the bridleway.  Neither of them were bothered by facing the traffic.  It seemed more sensible to continue on the footpath to Wenallt Road facing the traffic rather than having to cross the road twice.  It is only a short distance.

Beginning the walk down Wenallt Road we could see cloud rolling in across the hills.  The top of the transmitter tower was lost in mist.  It became really cold and damp – winter seemed to have arrived!  We crossed the fields for the last part of the ride to avoid the very narrow part of Wenallt Road and soon we were home.  Dee and Red, Nor'dzin and 'ö-Dzin had all had a splendid time together.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Golf course bridleway

The trail from Briwnant yard
We've had a few lovely rides recently.  The weather is pretty changeable and we did get soaked on one ride, but then the sun came out and we were all dry again by the time we got back to the yard.

Last Thursday TK came over from Bristol again and we started on our mission to try out new rides.  This time we were aiming to find the bridleway that crosses the Ridgeway golf course.  I already knew how to access it from the Rhiwbina Hill side but did not know the way to it from Caerphilly Road  – so that was the task of the ride.

I was also trying out Red with a saddlebag with water bottles for the first time and he was fine.  It didn't bother him at all.

Across the stream from the Wenallt
We took the horses up the road to the end of Wenallt Road because we felt the trail that goes up there straight off the yard would be rather too muddy with all the rain we have had.  Red was so funny.  I was surprised at how well he was stepping out at the beginning of the ride, but when we got to the top I found out why.  He expected to turn into the track back down to the yard.  He was quite put out to be asked to carry on further.

Wenallt trail
Arriving at Caerphilly Road by The Travellers Rest we then walked the horses along the pavement by this busy road.  Fortunately there were no buses or noisy motorbikes.  In fact the entrance to the bridleway was clearly obvious.  We did miss one of the trail markers and went a little off course (well actually on course – the golf course, oops!!) but eventually arrived at the gate by the stream that marks the end of the golf course.  TK kindly dismounted and remounted to negotiate this gate and the second one near Ridgeway livery – Nell's place.  We think the horses remembered it as they used to live there.  Then it was back through the Ganol and a good canter, and home along the Wenallt trail.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Horse trail vandals

I was interested to read on White Horse Pilgrim recently about his displeasure at endurance riders marking the bridleway, because similar markings have appeared on the Wenallt trail.  I do not know whether this is from a fun ride or an endurance ride.  It definitely was NOT from the Briwnant fun ride.  The markers occur all along the horse trail so I am pretty sure they are related to horseriders.

These markers are sprayed on with bright orange fluorescent paint.  They are ugly and deface the trail.  This is horse trail vandalism.  These marks will not wash away and may be there for years.  They are not even necessary as the trail is pretty clearly marked anyway.

I hate this.  If you are a local reader and know which organisation or group did this, please ask them to stop.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Jumping on the cross country

Here are a few more photographs from the Briwnant fun ride on August bank holiday Monday.  There are a lot of jumps on the cross country course and Red was a good lad and jumped a fair number of them without any fuss.  He and his rider had a good time.

I rather wished I had taken Dee's saddle and bridle up with us.  She would have enjoyed the cross country part of the ride.  Never mind – the jumps will still be there and we can do them another time.  Nicky who leads many of the rides at Briwnant and led the fun ride, often takes people over the cross country.  She told me that sometimes Dee joins in and jumps some of the fences with them—without a rider or tack—just because she loves jumping.

Friday, 2 September 2011

The most wonderful Dee

While the first part of the fun ride was taking place on August bank holiday, we were not needed as helpers at Briwnant.  We took the opportunity to bring Dee in and groom her.

When we had first arrived the horses were all gathered by the lane.  Inevitably with the excitement of the fun ride, the remaining horses of the Briwnant herd had gone up to the top field to watch the ride head out.  They were all gathered under the trees, with Dee at the front.

Cleaning around Dee's eyes
She was happy to wander down to the yard with us and we gave her a small feed and groomed her.  It struck me that day, that Dee's rehabilitation is complete.  She is a perfectly content mare.  When we first bought her she was head shy – she hated having her neck groomed and it was almost impossible to get near her head and face.  She did not even like being stroked on her head and neck.  Gradually this has improved.  Now she looks soft and sleepy for any part of grooming and keeps still and quiet while I clean around her eyes.

When we liveried her at Wyndham she would yank away from you as you took her head collar off in the field and immediately move off to graze.  I think this was an indication of the lack of grazing time at that yard.  Now when we put her out in the field she likes to hang around with us for quite a while before calmly making her way back to the rest of the herd.

On the day of the fun ride Dee was exceptionally relaxed and affectionate. When we put her back in the field she stayed with us for ages enjoying being stroked and petted.  She continually allowed me to stroke her face and neck without pulling away at all – so lovely to experience.  She even submitted to having her nose kissed!  My heart is full!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Briwnant fun ride

Yesterday was the August bank holiday fun ride at Briwnant Riding Centre.  We decided not to ride but to go along as helpers again.  Red was tacked up and ready to go when we arrived and we enjoyed making a fuss of him and meeting his rider.

The man riding Red has not been riding for long, but rode him competently and with confidence.  Red—as usual—was over-excited because it was a fun ride, which is why we don't usually join in.  We prefer our quiet rides out together, just the two of us.

We brought Dee in to groom while the ride completed the hacking part of the fun ride and then waited for the horses to return.  We then went out to the fields to act as marshals for the cross country part of the fun ride.  These tyres were the first jumps on the cross country course and most of the horses did not like them.  Red was acting very frisky and skirted them, barely jumping.

'ö-Dzin has a new fancy camera and succeeded in capturing some good action shots. If any readers of this blog were riding on this fun ride, ask Briwnant later in the week whether there is a picture of you among the set we are giving to Briwnant. 'ö-Dzin took a photograph of most of the cross country riders.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Riding Red

I'm getting used to Red being the horse I ride.  I'm starting to feel at home on him and not feeling so much that he is too big for me.  Today I rode out with a friend from Bristol.  We worked out that we have been trying to organise riding together for about 2 years, and today we finally achieved it.

The event was not without complications.  The first one was me forgetting Dee's hoof boots.  I had to go back home for them, leaving my friend to groom the horses.  Eventually we were ready to set off.  We had been going for about 5 minutes when I realised I had forgotten to put on my chaps.  Never mind.  I would manage.

We took the track straight out from the yard to the top of Wenallt hill.  It was extremely muddy and I wondered whether this would be a problem for Dee in her hoof boots.  It wasn't, though later in the ride the velcro straps kept coming undone because they had got so full of mud.  This does not affect the function of the boots because the primary front fastening is so secure it is not a problem if the top straps unhook themselves.

The next complication was Red's saddle cloth.  By the time we had climbed to the top of Wenallt Hill this lovely new padded saddle cloth had worked its way right under Red's saddle.  I had to get off and reset the pad and saddle.  I found a suitable log to remount.

We then rode down the top part of the Wenallt horse trail, across the stream, up to Rhiwbina Hill and into the Ganol.  Then through the Ganol into Fforest Fawr.  We had a good canter up the hill.  At the car park I had to dismount again so that I could sort out the saddle pad.  It had moved so much it was practically out the back of the saddle.  I will have to either abandon this pad for Red or sew on velcro fastenings to keep it in place.

Then it was back through the Ganol and a good canter, and home through the bottom part of the Wenallt trail.  Dee and Red behaved beautifully and we had such a good time that my friend is going to try and come and ride again next week.  We thought we might explore a trail I have not ridden before.  It was lovely to feel so relaxed and to be able to take our time.  Sometimes at the weekend the time is so precious that 'ö-Dzin and I feel that we cannot give the whole of one of the days to riding, so it feels a little pressurised fitting it in.

I feel I have had a summer now that I have ridden out for a day in lovely weather.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Hay everywhere and no rain

It has been quite rainy in Wales of late – not so surprising really for Wales and yet it somehow always seems to be a cause of upset.  “It is summer.  The sun should be shining!” we cry.  But the weather is not considerate of our preferences – and so it rains despite the name of the month.

I love the way the rain rolls off a horse's coat and they do not seem to mind it too much on a mild day.

About the only drawback of which I am aware of liverying at Briwnant Riding Centre is the scarcity of stables.  The number of horses seriously outnumbers the number of stables.  This does not bother Red at all as he hates being in the stable.  He was a naughty and difficult horse when we liveried at Wyndham because he spent so much time in the stable, especially in the winter.  Dee does not mind the stable and is quite partial to a cosy night in, but she never makes a fuss about going back out to the field, whatever the weather.  They are, when all is said and done, horses – animals that live on pasture.

As there was no available stable on our last rainy visit to Briwnant we tied Dee up in the hay barn to groom her.  She seemed quite happy with this arrangement and enjoyed a happy half hour munching.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Cheeky hi-viz jacket

I bought this great hi-viz jacket from JMP Saddlery in Llanishen, Cardiff.  From a distance it looks like a police jacket and the word 'polite' could be mistaken for 'police' – which means that perhaps a motorist will be more likely to slow down when they see you.  The jacket is police approved.  It is more comfortable than my old one and doesn't ride up when I am riding.  It also has two useful zip pockets.

I often shop at Julie's – JMP Saddlery.  I think we are really lucky in North Cardiff to have a shop like this so close to a number of livery yards, a riding centre, and the Wenallt horse trail.  As well as selling a good range of quality goods, they also offer a clean-and-repair service for rugs which I use every year.  I personally think it important to support small family businesses like this, and I would highly recommend them for a friendly and personal service.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Hugs in Fforest Fawr

Last week we went on a hack which we haven't done for a long time.  Having prepared the horses at the top field we started the Wenallt trail at the top.  Then we rode over to the Ganol via the steep path.  At the end of the 'gallop' (which we cantered not galloped!), Red was a little reluctant to turn right and head for Fforest Fawr.  He knows the trails well now because he hacks out regularly for Briwnant.  Once I'd asked firmly he carried on okay though.

After a couple more good canters we arrived at the car park at Fforest Fawr and decided to let the horses graze for a while.   They were both happy to do this and Red submitted to being hugged.

Then it was back through the Ganol and into the Wenallt.  After crossing the stream we decided to go back to the top field via the steep part of the trail.  To go the other way would have taken us past the track to Briwnant and we felt the horses might not be too keen on carrying on up the hill past there.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Roadside preparation

We had a bit of a messy start to our ride on Saturday.  First of all we walked across the bottom fields to catch Dee, having seen that Red was already in, only to discover that the horses had been moved to the top fields.  Then we were told that the girls were getting Dee in for us, but we couldn't see her anywhere.  At last we discovered that the girls had kindly tried to bring Dee in for us, but she had refused to cooperate and they'd had to give it up.

Dee has quite strong opinions about who should and should not be asking anything of her and can refuse to be led in.  She occasionally does this even with 'ö-Dzin and I—if she is on new grass for example—but we have not had this happen for a long time.  As two attempts had already been made to bring her down to the yard however, we decided not to risk her running away from us, but to take our tack up and get her ready up at the top field.  So we tacked up Red and 'ö-Dzin rode him up to the top fields while I drove up there.

I don't really like dealing with the horses by the roadside.  It always feels a little bit risky – horses can be quite unpredictable.  Fortunately there is a bit of verge by the gate so they are quite well off the road itself, and there is very little traffic.

Dee came to call immediately – in fact she cantered down the field to me and was happy to have her head collar put on.  'ö-Dzin and Red arrived at about the same time.  We set up haynets for them and got Dee tacked up.  They both behaved well and we were soon ready to go.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Coming to call

We had visitors from the USA staying with us recently and I took them up to Briwnant to visit the horses.  Sergio took this great little video of Red coming to call.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Horse swap

Red: That was a fun hack.
Wow!  Where did June go?  The horses are well and enjoying the warmer weather.  It took Dee a little while to pick up after the winter, but she is fully fit now.  The last time we rode out we decided to swap horses.  Red can be a little stubborn and refuse to canter for 'ö-Dzin, which can be a bit frustrating for us both.  I am a more experienced rider and know more how to deal with Red's stubbornness, so we thought we'd give swapping horses a try.  It worked a treat and we had a few good canters on the Wenallt trail.  Dee happily cantered for 'ö-Dzin following behind Red and we all had a lovely ride.
Red: No more treats?

Monday, 16 May 2011

Briwnant fun ride

The Gorgeous Red
As promised, here are a few photographs from the Briwnant fun ride on May 2nd.  I have been away on retreat (post about that on my Ngakma Nor'dzin blog tomorrow!) so I have not been able to post them earlier.  'ö-Dzin took the photos and found it a difficult task.  There are many pictures of 'horse's rear end after jumping' or 'horse approaching jump' but few that really caught the desired moment.  The delay of a digital camera can make timing almost impossible.

The experienced riders took it in turns to jump.
'ö-Dzin and I decided not to ride in the event this time.  Dee was not fit enough, we hadn't ridden much over the last few months, and Red can get a little over-excited.  We decided to help out as stewards (a slightly grand name for standing around in fields checking people are okay and putting fences back up when needed).

For the first hour we stayed with the experienced riders' group enjoying the cross country course in the Briwnant fields. We mostly helped put fences back up.  It was lovely to see Red enjoying himself in the capable hands of Jodi.  It looked as though he was calm and well-behaved - in fact the whole event was pretty calm and well organised. 

Showing the horses this scary pink and white jump
before asking them to jump it.
Then the experienced group headed off for the trail part of their ride (over Caerphilly way I think) and the novices arrived at Briwnant having completed the Wenallt trail.  Some of them rode into the fields to try a few of the smaller cross country jumps.

Although these events are called 'fun rides' there always seem to be a few youngsters for whom they become something of an ordeal.  At the beginning of the ride I tried to reassure one nervous little girl by leading her around the arena a few times to give her a chance to settle into the saddle and relax.  When the novice group were trying the jumps I stayed with a couple of riders who had stayed behind the main group to try jumping without the excitement of the larger group.  They did not really need any help but I felt it was better that they had someone with them just in case.  After this I returned to the rest of the novice group and found a young girl crying because her pony kept running away with her.  I started to lead her back to the yard and then another helper took her the rest of the way.  After a bit more jumping everyone began to head back to the yard for refreshments.
Adam showing he is becoming a confident
and able rider.

Monday, 2 May 2011


When we visited Dee at the beginning of last week I was a bit worried about her.  She was looking a good weight but her summer coat was not coming through very well.  She had a few bald and scabby patches and generally looked a bit of a mess.  We gave her a thorough groom and I rubbed some herbal balm into the bare patches.  Sarian suggested we give her a bath.

On Thursday I bought some tea tree oil soap and we went up to Briwnant on Friday to give her a bath.  The difference in Dee in just a few days was remarkable.  She no longer had bare patches.  Although her coat is still a not-very-pretty mixture of coarse winter coat and finer summer coat she is clearly feeling well.  Walking up to the yard from the field at liberty she was playful, trotting after 'ö-Dzin when he ran ahead to try to get a photo of her, and getting behind me and nudging if she thought I was being too slow.  It was lovely to see her feeling energetic and strong again after the stamina-sapping winter.

I don't usually hold with horses being bathed – especially horses that live at pasture.  I feel they need the natural oils in their skin.  I do not use shampoo on my hair—haven't done so for many years—so why would I want to use such products on my horse.  I did make an exception this time however, as she is clearly itchy and uncomfortable.  So we gave her a bath and another thorough groom.  As usual she behaved perfectly while we bathed her – she is always so to easy to handle to do anything like this.  I didn't tie her up while we did it, but just left her head collar on in case I needed to grab her for control.  The only thing that disturbed her was when the goats escaped – they have four at Briwnant.  I don't think Dee had seen a goat before.  She snorted and became quite agitated if they came near her.

When we took Dee back to the field she trotted away – again a sign that she is feeling good.  She then—of course—had a good roll in the dirt!

Briwnant has been preparing for today's fun ride all week and putting horses over the cross country course, including Red.  More about the fun ride and photos soon.  Nicki told me that Dee has been jumping the jumps that are in her grazing pasture, just for the fun of it.  That mare does love jumping!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

One distant, one close

I went up to Briwnant this afternoon with the intention of riding Red.  The sun was bright and warm - a really delightful day.  When I arrived Red had not long been turned out - and, for the first time this year, turned out into the fields that had been left for the new spring grass to grow.  I wandered down to him and he was easy enough to catch, but uncharacteristically reluctant to walk up to the yard with me.  He kept calling to the other three horses he had been with.  A couple of times I had to really insist that he continued to walk with me.

When we reached the top gate, I gave him a treat and let him go.  He accepted the treat, paused for a moment looking at me, and then headed back to the other horses at a gallop - bucking, cavorting and calling.  It was a pleasure to see his exuberance.

Did I do the right thing?  I don't know - but I reckon that a horse that is wound up, not wanting to leave the herd and not wanting to be with you is not a good proposition for a solo ride.  He may have settled down and behaved perfectly or he could have been agitated and overly anxious to get home.  I did not feel it worth the risk and decided to go with ensuring my safety and his comfort.  I'd be interested to hear my readers' comments.  Some may say that in letting him have his own way I have set a bad precedent, but I trust Red enough to know that he is usually happy to be with me and likes to go for a hack.  Usually he comes to call and follows me up to the yard without any encouragement and even without being led - but not today.

I then went up to the top fields and found Dee.  I groomed her thoroughly getting out a lot of the old winter coat.  She is not her summer colour yet, but it is coming through.  She is still looking a bit thin, but her coat is glossy and she seems happy enough.  After I finished grooming her and took off her headcollar, in contrast to Red's behaviour, Dee did not want to leave me.  She stayed with me for quite a while, letting me stroke her.  This is not usual for Dee, especially as she seemed to be enjoying my stroking her around her face and neck and kept nuzzling me.  This could be an indication that she is feeling under par so I must keep a close eye on her and ensure that she starts to put on weight now that the spring grass is coming in.  It has been a long, hard winter.

The photo of Red is in fact from the end of May last year.  The buttercups are not out yet this year.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Proud in the spring sunshine

It has been delightfully sunny, warm and spring-like in Cardiff.  The daffodils are in full bloom and the cherry and magnolia blossom is particularly beautiful this year.  Both of the camellia bushes in my garden have the most perfect flowers - one a bright pink and the other a deeper reddish pink.  The forecast however, was that the weather was due to change, with it becoming wet and colder, so I was determined to ride yesterday in the sunshine.

I have not ridden since the end of January, so there was a little nervousness in my stomach.  A ride goes out from Briwnant at 11 am on a Monday, so I set out to join this group.  Red was still out so I caught him, groomed him and tacked him up and managed to be just about ready for 11.  Four of us were going out and I knew them all except for the ride leader who has not been at Briwnant that long.

We headed out for the Wenallt horse trail.  I was surprised when the ride leader suggested a canter near the beginning of the trail because to my eye that part of the trail is downhill and we do not usually canter on group rides if there is even a slight downhill incline.  I was behind the leader so I didn't see what happened but one lady came off.  She hurt her leg and couldn't continue but felt sure she would be okay to walk back.  One of the other riders let go of her horse and the mare decided to go home.  Clearly the ride had to be abandoned.

As I was on my own horse of course, it was up to me what I did then.  I could not help the lady who had come off and she was well attended with two other people to help her back to the yard, so I decided to carry on alone.  This must be the first time I have ridden completely alone in nearly two years.  I sang to Red to relax us both and he was a good lad.  He tried to turn round a few times when he thought I might not be paying attention, but I was quite tuned in to Red's intention and was able to respond so immediately that it was never a serious issue.  We had a few canters and trots and enjoyed ourselves.

When we reached the end of the Wenallt trail I decided to turn left instead of right to come back through the woodland and along the track that leads straight into Briwnant's yard.  This route avoids the extremely narrow and steep stretch of Wenallt Road which I never like riding.  If you meet a car someone has to turn round.  As it is so close to home horses can object to turning round at this point and car drivers are not always considerate.  Red was a little unsure about being asked to turn left out of the Wenallt trail, but soon settled down again.

Half way down the track we discovered a closed gate so I had to jump off, untie it and open it.  I had resolved myself to walking the rest of the way leading Red, but then spotted a handy log and successfully lined Red up and jumped back on.  He was most cooperative.  He is a better schooled horse than he was 2 years ago and much easier to work with.  That is down to Briwnant and their expert care.

I feel so happy and proud of myself and Red to have had such a successful solo ride.  It bodes well for my riding this year.

After seeing to Red I drove up to the top fields and found Dee.  I groomed her and gave her a feed.  She is looking a bit moth eaten but otherwise pretty good.  I think I'll start making sure I have her saddle with me when I go up to Briwnant from now on, and if she is down the bottom I can bring her in and ride her a little.  There is a fun ride at the beginning of May.  I will have to ride Dee a few times before then if there is any chance of her being up for it.

Monday, 28 February 2011

missing the horses

My van is off the road so I'm not able to get up to see the horses at the moment.  I'm really missing seeing them every day.  Of course I could get up there if it was absolutely essential, but i am blessed with Paul and Sarian taking such good care of Red and Dee that they will manage without me for a few days.  Hopefully we will be back on the road tomorrow.

I took these pictures last week on my new mobile – an HTC Wildfire.  Very flash – and taking a bit of getting used to.  I keep embarrassingly having to ask my sons how to do things on it.  The first one of Red was to show the state of the front of his rug.  He moved his head at the last minute so it is not a very good image.  How does he manage to wreck his rugs?  It was new this winter—at the same time as Dee's—and hers still looks pretty new.  He is a vandal!

Dee's mane and forelock is looking longer and thicker than I have ever seen it.  Perhaps it is the oil I've been adding to her feed this winter. Her mane also has all sorts of colours in it ranging from rusty brown to black.  Really beautiful – but it doesn't really show up in the photograph unfortunately.  I'll try and get a close-up – if I can work out how to do that on my mobile's camera!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Dusk photography

At the weekend 'ö-Dzin always comes with me to see the horses and he takes photographs.  These were taken when it was starting to get dark.

I like this picture of me – I think it really shows how much weight I have lost.

No point in losing it if it doesn't show, now is there!

And Dee doing her usual post-feed thing.  I love the way the flash has highlighted her mouth.  Her teeth look cleaner than usual.

Friday, 11 February 2011


Life has been a bit hectic over the last three weeks.  My mother—who is 94—fell and broke her wrist.  She was in hospital for a couple of weeks and now is in a 'transitional care' home for up to six weeks.  They will then assess whether she can go home – whether she can realistically continue to live on her own.

The care home is lovely.  She has a large room with an en suite bathroom.  The meals are good.  There is a pleasant garden.  The staff are friendly and efficient.  There is a lounge with the TV always on and a quiet lounge with no TV.  There is a kitchenette where I can make mum and I a cup of tea when I visit.

Mum is determined to hate it, and is convinced that it is her evil daughter's fault that she is there – that I want to rob her of her freedom.  Sigh. . .

Needless to say there has not been much time for anything other than visiting mum.  The horses are in the top fields at the moment as there is still quite a lot of grass there for them.  I have been going straight up there every day and feeding Dee by the fence, rather than trying to take her down to the yard.

Last night I got stuck in traffic coming back from the care home, which is right the other side of town from me.  It was dark and wet by the time I arrived at Wenallt Road.  Although all other roads had been clear up till then, there was thick fog on the Wenallt.  I called Dee and a horse came over to me through the gloom.  The horse looked the right sort of size, appeared to have a white star and two white socks and was wearing a Masta rug, though I could not discern the colour.  So I fed it / her. 
After finishing the feed this horse put its head in the air to do the flehmen response – so at that point I was confident that it was Dee that I had fed!  She always does this several times after being fed even a treat.  She was quite nervous being away from the herd in the dark and the fog and quickly headed back to its safety as soon as she had finished eating.  I was also glad to get out of the rain and go home for my feed. 

I still had to go a way up the hill until I could get off Wenallt Road though and the fog got so thick that I was crawling along desperately trying to find what was road and what was verge as there are no road markings on this single track lane.  I haven't been in fog that thick for many years.  It was a relief to finally arrive at the main road opposite 'The Traveller's Rest' – where the fog miraculously disappeared.

Today Dee was waiting for me by the same bit of fence where I have fed her for the last three days.  Red was close by too so I went over and gave him a few treats and a bit of fuss while Dee ate her feed.  He would have already had his dinner as part of his livery.  There was another horse with them—Saffron perhaps—and Red was quite happy to share the treats with her.  It is sweet to see that Dee and Red still stay close to one another, as all the rest of the herd were one field further down.

Sunday, 30 January 2011


It's difficult finding time to ride at the moment.  We did manage to hack out one weekend earlier this month.  It poured with rain for the second half of the ride and we all got soaked – but it was still fun.

One of the reasons there is little time to ride is because I am visiting the hospital nearly every day.  My mother—who is 94 years old—had a fall last Saturday and unfortunately broke her wrist.  It seems that this is going to be the end of her independent living.  She will be in hospital for another week and then in a care home for a few weeks where she will receive occupational and physio- therapy.  The decision will then be made whether she goes home or into another care home.  It is mostly likely to be a care home as this is the third fall where she has hurt herself enough to end up in hospital.  It will be something of a relief for me if she goes into a care home as I worry every day that she will have another fall, but I do sympathise with her for her loss of independence.  I am hoping that the company will compensate, because she has been lonely this winter not being able to get out at all.

Today we just managed a trip to Briwnant to visit Dee and Red.  They are both so well and have amazingly shiny coats.  I don't know whether there is something special about this winter – but I have never seen them look so shiny or feel so silky.  Dee has lost a little fitness but is still a good weight.

I have been hearing amusing stories about Dee from the folks at Briwnant.  She is an honorary member of the stables' herd because Red is on working livery and they did not want to separate Dee and Red.  The working horses, old or ill horses, and warmbloods receive hard feed every day whereas those not working are just fed field hay.  Apparently every now and then Dee decides she quite fancies a feed and tries to come in with those who come in every morning.  Sometimes she pretends to be Red – they are not easy to tell apart at a glance as I have them in identical turn out rugs, especially if their hind feet are muddy and you cannot discern Red's one white foot and Dee's two white feet.  Red is bigger than Dee, but only by a hand.  Alternatively she will try to 'hide' among the big horses and sneak in with them – as if she were small enough to come in unnoticed!  They usually indulge her and give her a little feed. 

A few weeks ago she had practically a tree caught in her tail.  The stable girls do not really know Dee as she is not generally handled by them, and were a little apprehensive of helping her out.  Their main experience of her is seeing her bullying the other horses in the herd to assert her dominance.  They were amazed and pleased therefore, to discover what a sweet girl she is to handle when they went out to free her tail of its attachment.  I can understand that they are wary of her—she can seem intimidating in the field—but given the choice I would always prefer to be in the confines of a stable with Dee rather than Red.  Dee is respectful, cooperative and sensible, whereas Red can be pushy and uncooperative.

Dee is certainly a mare with plenty of character!