Monday, 8 October 2012

Southill Sponsored Ride

 The morning of the sponsored ride dawned misty and murky.  Spot the horse in the misty distance!

In from the field and luckily Santana hasn't rolled overnight also, unbelievably, he's kept his socks relatively white too!

We loaded up and went to my friend's yard to load her mare, Mysti.  Mysti is not keen on travelling so we anticipated some time to get her on the lorry.  However, lunge whip with a rustly Tesco bag tied to the end strategically waved behind her worked wonders and Mysti loaded with only minor hesitation.

We stopped at a layby to await Debbie with her trailer and we were off.

We thought we would arrive early, but obviously many others had a similar idea and the parking field was already buzzing by the time we got there.  We registered, handed over our sponsorship, and collected our bibs and off we went to tack up.
Debbie and Baby with me and Santana

Angie and Mysti

I think we should go thataway!
Finally we were off and the horses caught the excitement, eager to get going.  Santana was really up for it today and started jogging soon after the start.
We're off!
We did the 10 mile ride and we hardly walked a step.  We trotted a lot and jogged even more.  I don't think he walked a single step!.  When we cantered he pulled like a train.  I thought he would run out of energy after a few miles but I was wrong - he pulled the whole time!  Where did he get so much energy from? I had been worried that he wouldn't be fit enough!  We all had a turn at the front and I found that Santana was much better in front, not to mention giving my arms a rest from pulling him back.  The estate was beautiful, particularly around the lake, but unfortunately  I had my hands full and couldn't get my phone out to take any photos.

We had a fabulous gallop on the last stretch up to the big house which was absolutely exhilarating and then we were back at the lorry, all in one piece and safe and sound.

Santana was still buzzing while we chilled out with a burger and a cup of tea.  Even when we got home, I put him in his stable and gave him a small feed while I cleaned the lorry, but he was still wired up.  I took him out to his field and he went charging off as though he'd been cooped up indoors for a couple of days.  I bet he isn't aching as much as I am today though!

We all had an absolutely wonderful day and I managed to raise £90 for the East Anglian Air Ambulance and the British Horse Society.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Loading ...or not

Sunday 2nd September was the day of the Beds South Pony Club show.  As this is just around the corner from our yard we were definately going.  I decided Santana would sit this one out and Jasmine would take Sonny.  With a space on the lorry we offered to take our yard mate's horse, Baby, as well.  We allowed plenty of time to load Sonny onto the lorry.

Sonny, of course, had other ideas and stubbornly refused to go anywhere near the ramp, rearing wildly if there was any threat of force being used.  We tried food, we tried gentle encouragement and we tried individually moving one foot at a time.  After about an hour and a half of prancing about like a lunatic in front of the ramp a front shoe was loose and Sonny was hopping lame.  That put paid to any idea of her jumping.  Our best effort was to get both front feet on the ramp and then we called it a day.  Sonny was left in her stable in disgrace and Baby went to the show with the lorry all to himself.  

Baby's owner delightedly said that Jasmine could jump Baby as that would let her off the hook and she could sit back and watch!  

We arrived only just in time to enter the 2'3" Jasmine quickly warmed up, learnt the course and off she went getting a lovely clear round.  Bearing in mind that this was only the second time she had ridden him, and he's not the most straight forward of rides, this was excellent work.  Another clear round in the jump off and Jasmine came in fourth!  Fabulous!  

We then found a friend to enter the 2'3" pairs with and they both jumped brilliant rounds to win the class!  Jasmine came out with a huge grin all over her face the like of which I haven't seen for months.  If only she could achieve this buzz with Sonny.

Unfortunately I have no pictures because in the palaver in the morning I forgot the camera - typical!


I foolishly allowed my yard mate to persuade me to go to an evening clear round event at Keysoe on 22nd August I was very dubious about jumping as I haven't done any for ages.  She said she would put some jumps up in our menage for us to do some practice a couple of days before.  Okay then, I thought, we'll see how the practice goes. 

Rather surprisingly, the practice went extremely well and when I measured the biggest jump afterwards it was 2'9"  -  he's never jumped that big before!  I didn't really have an excuse not to go then and I was strangely quite keen!    

Not too scary

We came across a diversion en route to Keysoe and managed to get lost so we were a little late arriving which meant that we were too late for the 60cm and had to jump the 70cm course.

Scary pumpkin jump

When we went in the ring Santana was all over the place, looking at the jumps and the banners round the edge.  He's lead such a sheltered life it was all rather overwhelming for him!  I showed him as many of the jumps as I could before heading towards the first - a quite innocuous straight.  When Santana realised I was expecting him to jump it his legs went all over the place and he stopped with his nose almost touching the top of the pole and legs akimbo.  We came around a second time and we were off   ... that is until we arrived at the second jump.  We managed to get round the course - eventually - and as I had paid for two rounds decided to do my second round straight away. 

This time it all went much more smoothly.  I knew he had now seen, and jumped, all nine jumps so there was no excuse.  I sat back and rode with purpose and we flew over all of them.  The only hiccup was a run out at the second part of the double, but that was soon remedied. 

All in all I was very pleased with him as it was a big step up from anything he had done before.  I came out of the ring absolutely exhausted and pumped with adrenalin, but I was also pleased with myself for having done it.

Second part of the double - Yay!
Getting into our stride

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Sun Has Got His Hat On!

What better view is there than this!

A fabulous day for a hack and a gallop to blow the cobwebs away.  This photo was when we were coming back onto our farm after a lovely ride, just me and Jas.   We had a fabulous time.  Both horses behaved perfectly and all four of us enjoyed a gallop across the meadow before a leisurely walk back home.

Back at the yard it was definately a day for a bath so Santana had a bit of a pamper.  Whitening shampoo on the legs and a trim up of his mane.  His coat is so shiny you can almost see your face in it.  This picture shows how brown he goes in the summer and the dapples over his belly!  

They stayed in the stable for a couple of hours afterwards for a doze and to keep away from the pesky flies.  

Do you reckon summer has finally arrived!? 

Monday, 16 April 2012

Grime Busters

Where are Kim and Aggie when you need them?   I spent the whole weekend, along with some of my very good friends, washing and scrubbing and hoovering and wiping. 

On Saturday, Mechelle, came bringing with her a double duvet and various other wonderful and useful items. Angie came too and we tackled the living room and the kitchen.  By the time we'd finished it was ...well, maybe not sparkling, but certainly a whole lot cleaner.  Just being able to see out of the windows made a huge difference (Mechelle's handiwork)  We moved a lot of items of old furniture, etc. that I won't be needing into the "spare" room downstairs and shut the door on it.  That gave us room in the living room to rearrange the furniture so that it all faced the fireplace and looked nice and cosy.  The kitchen was completely cluttered with stuff so, again that needed clearing first.  The kitchen is somewhat dire to be honest with two floor standing cupboards that have come out of the ark.  No matter, I have no pots and pans to put in them yet anyway!  We couldn't face the cooker so left that for the next day. 

Sunday arrived along with Clair, another good friend.  Mechelle came again along with Angie who came bearing gifts from Tesco - a new hoover(!) a toaster, some cutlery. What is she like!  She even brought her own microwave out of her kitchen claiming that she'd been wanting a new one for ages and just needed an excuse to get rid of the old one!  I am truly humbled by my friends' generosity.

Clair, brave warrior that she is, tackled the bathroom and the cooker, only once having to run out of the door gagging at the hair she'd discovered blocking the plughole.  The cooker was attacked with a pack of Oven Pride but was so bad that it had to be left overnight to stew.

Me and Mechelle tidied up the bedrooms and Angie put up a curtain rod in the living room.  Can you believe that it took as long to hoover the walls and ceilings as it did the floors?  I've never seen so many cobwebs.

By the time we'd finished the place was transformed, maybe not into a palace, but at least into a habitable state.

Its feeling as though its mine now.  I popped in today to see how the cooker was getting on.  The shelves have cleaned up nicely but the interior of the oven ...well, I don't really want to go there.  The floor of the oven must be about an inch deep in black ...errm... stuff.  Yuk!  Another pack of Oven Pride is going to be needed.

One last hurdle to get over - that of Jasmine's disapproval.  I can only hope that she'll come round eventually.

Fingers crossed x

Friday, 13 April 2012

Moving On (non-horsey)

Things have been very ...errmm, shall we say, challenging, for me recently.  Having moved into my mum's bungalow in October I  have found things very difficult to cope with.  Jasmine stayed at home with her dad and Alex (my son) which is 15-20 minutes drive away.  I spent the winter driving over there in the morning to do the horses with Jasmine, then going to work, back to do the horses again and then back to mum's after dropping Jasmine at home.  Every time I dropped Jas off it tore another piece off my heart.  I  hated to see her walking away from me every day and I know she hated it too.  She punished me good and proper though with the full on teenager attitude.    I see my son once a week if I'm lucky.  They can't pop round for a cup of tea or a quick chat - its too far, and apart from that they can't relax here because its "grandma's house".  We could never spend a companionable evening eating dinner off trays on our laps and watching rubbish tv, that's just Not Done in grandma's house.

I was living with my mum but I felt so alone.  Even now, six months later I sit here in this room surrounded with boxes containing a few of my things because there is nowhere to put them.  I feel like a lodger.  I can't relax and feel very uncomfortable.  Mum doesn't make things any easier by making me feel I have to be in by a certain time and even told me off one day when I came in at 2am the previous night (I'm 51 years old for God's sake!)  She doesn't understand the distress I feel for having left my children behind, even though I see Jasmine every day.  She considers that they are old enough now to have their own lives so I should let them get on with it!!! (and what else, mum? forget about them?  is that what you're suggesting?)

I have traded one intolerable situation for another and I have to think of something else.  Now ... I knew that the farmer where we keep our horses had an empty house where a farm worker used to live.  Its been empty for many months and I was aware that they did not intend to let it out again.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I asked whether they would consider letting it to me.  After a week on tenterhooks, they came back to me and said yes.  Of course it is very run down and dirty with no central heating, but it is habitable.

I will therefore be spending my weekend with a couple of my good friends cleaning and scrubbing to make the place clean before moving in.  I can't wait.  I will of course have no money and I'm not quite sure how I'm going to manage but I can feel the pull of "freedom"

What else is there?  Oh yes, I will be able to see my horse from my bedroom window *sigh*

Saturday, 3 March 2012


The second lesson in two weeks.  Wow, that's unheard of! I think that's the highest concentration of lessons I've ever had in my life.  I was self taught when I was a child.  In those days, many moons ago, it was a case of - there's your pony - up you get, hang on tight and off you go!  I learnt to stay on and that was riding.  Since then, over the years, I've only had the odd lesson as a treat when on holiday.  So I guess I'm not doing too bad ...for a beginner!

Here are some photos from today...

Beginning of the lesson and working hard
Lovely ears!

My hands are too close together but otherwise - lovely!
Gorgeous gor

We both got a little hot halfway through the lesson and I had the luxury of being able to take my coat off.  Unfortunately Santana just had to sweat it out.  It was a breakthrough moment though because I took my jacket off while still on board and he didn't freak out!

Finally, I am starting to sit up when cantering, without trying to hunch forward and cling like a limpet!

Now all I need to do is get that inside shoulder back (mine, not his!)

Bella, the faithful Instructor's Assistant

All in all it was another fantastic lesson which just proved to me that last week wasn't just a fluke and that I may be able to do some more dressage tests this summer and really feel as though I am a worthy competitor.  It is all feeling so exciting at the moment, I just can't wait until the next time I can ride.  Although of course tomorrow we will be hacking - I think Santana has worked hard enough for one weekend!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

The Dutch Gag Makes an Entrance

My Beautiful Boy!

Oh my goodness!  What a difference. I never thought Santana could look like this.  He looks like a different horse.  Is this really my Santana?  I can't quite believe it.  

Lovely horse - shame about the rider!

Loving it!

This was the first time riding in a Dutch Gag and, it would seem that he loves it.   He just 'got it' as soon as I started to take up a contact and separated my hands he dropped straight into the contact.

I still have a whole heap of work to do on my position.  My weight is way too far forward which sends my leg back.  I still nag nag nag at him with my legs which I must stop doing.  He has so much potential - I can see that now, after only one lesson he's looking fantastic.

We even cantered several times round the track and on a 20m circle.  I had no worries that he was going to shoot off.  Mind you he was pretty tired by then - we haven't worked this hard for ages!

 I really think he enjoyed himself though.  He felt relaxed and happy.  I am still flying high and I can't wait for next Saturday now because I'm going to keep this good thing going while I can.

I can't believe that my humble cob can look so good, not only that but even with me rocking about on his back too!


Thursday, 23 February 2012

Pelham's Swan Song

Oh yes!  I have removed the Pelham from the bridle.  The Pelham has now left the building. Yikes!!!

On Sunday, I rode out with Jasmine.  I had loosened the curb chain so much the last couple of weeks that it was now dangling around his chin and probably annoying him more than it had been when it was tight.  So, off it came.  (I put it in my pocket while we rode - just in case.  I could hear it jingling comfortingly).  Anyway, the ride went without a hitch.  I have to admit that there were no incidents where I could really put my brakes to the test, but he generally stopped or slowed down when I asked him to.  I can't ask for more than that can I?

So, I was offered the loan of a three ring gag as a mid-way step between the Pelham and hanging cheek snaffle so I took the opportunity.  I also booked a lesson for next Saturday which will be the first time trying it out.

Here is the Pelham, "sans curb", after our ride.  Do you think Santana has a cheeky glint in his eye - like he has something up his sleeve?  (Please don't look at the muddy socks!)

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Another year passes by...

I had a nice day today which is just as well as it was my birthday :D It started with mucking out Sonny and Santana on my own as Jasmine is living the high life skiing in Austria. I did think it was going to be stressful and hard work doing both of the horses on my own but I have found that it is quite the opposite and have actually enjoyed 'doing my own thang'. I put the horses out and went off to work. Someone randomly brought a large box of Milk Tray in today so I claimed them in honour of my birthday :p.

Back to the farm after work to bring horses in (in daylight - what a novelty!). Took their rugs off and gave them each a brush before putting on their pj's and giving them dinner.

Next stop to my very good friend's house as she was taking me out to dinner. Now feeling stuffed with nachos, enchiladas and key lime pie washed down with a half of lager.


Sunday, 5 February 2012

A Quiet Walk ...Not!

On Saturday, as the ground was so hard from the freezing temperatures over the last few days, we thought we'd just have a quiet walk around a couple of fields on the farm.  We knew snow was forecast for Saturday night so we were not likely to be able to ride on Sunday and Jasmine goes off skiing next Friday so it was the last chance for her to ride before then.

We tacked up with frostbitten fingers and set off out of the yard.  All went according to plan until halfway around the second field when we met a yard mate coming the other way.  She took her horse to the side of the track and waited for us to pass.  Well, by the reaction from our two you'd have thought she was riding a dragon or something.  Jogging and giraffe impressions went from bad to worse until Santana could take it no more and shot off across the field.  He didn't get too far before I brought him back (remember, I have no curb chain anymore - yikes!). 

Once we had passed the horse-eating monster we thought they would settle down. Unfortunately not.  Sonny was so lively Jasmine had to get off and make sure there was nothing wrong with her tack.  While we were waiting Santana was dancing on the spot.  Having checked all was okay Jasmine got back on and we danced and pranced our way back to the yard.  So much for a nice quiet relaxing walk!

Jasmine was quite upset but I tried to point out the positives - nothing had really gone badly wrong, although both of them had been very full of themselves and lively - Sonny didn't rear or do anything else untoward - they were both just uncharacteristically energetic, and they were egging each other on.  We congratulated ourselves on coping and getting back home with both of us in one piece and still on board!

No pictures I'm afraid, I rather had my hands full!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Frequent Farrier

I think I need to book a regular weekly slot with the farrier.  Sonny is losing shoes on a regular basis at the moment.  I wouldn't mind, but she's only got two to look after.  You wouldn't think that was too onerous a task would you?  Also, I don't have a gorgeous, hunky farrier like some people seem to have, although he is young so I suppose I should be grateful for small mercies. 

So, what is the cause of the mysterious disappearing shoes?  Does Sonny have a shoe fetish and she's storing them up in a corner of the field so she can go and drool over them during the day?  Maybe someone is coming in and stealing them from under her nose.  Whatever it is, they come off cleanly, almost as if they had no nails in.  Hooves are intact and not ripped up as you might expect if she'd been over reaching.  There's not even any sign of them becoming loose first.  Its just there one day and gone the next. 

We do have the small matter of the bog at the end of the field and I have a sneaking suspicion that this is the culprit.  I would still expect a shoe to last longer than two weeks before being sucked off in the bog. 

Anyway, friendly frequent farrier has suggested overreach boots to turn out in so that is what we will try first. 

Any other suggestions would be welcomed!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

A Happy Hack

I was invited to hack out with some friends on Saturday afternoon. So I arrived at the farm an hour before anticipating a muddy horse. I was right, Santana no longer had white socks, so the shampoo and a stiff brush had to be deployed vigorously to restore them, along with copious amounts of water. Santana is such a sweetie - he lifts up each hind hoof spontaneously so I can scrub his heels. (I suspect this is really his way of trying to avoid the cold water but I like to think he's trying to be helpful!) Once we were all scrubbed and tacked up we were ready to roll. Five of us set off for 'the meadow' - one of our regular hacks. I haven't been there for ages, but one of the last times I went Santana had a fit of excitement and bucked me off, so that memory came flooding back. I was determined this was going to be a good ride and nothing was going to spoil it.

Halfway round the meadow three of our party decided they wanted to have a canter up the hill. Me and my friend were happy to continue walking around the path and we agreed to meet up back at the top. They thundered off up the hill at a full gallop and Santana craned his neck trying to see them and jogged to let me know that he would quite like to do that too. I told him in no uncertain terms that that was not going to happen and he reluctantly accepted it.

All in all it was a fabulous ride. Santana behaved wonderfully and listened to me the whole time. A happy hack was had by all!

Here he is back home enjoying a well earned dinner.