This all began with a a horse. Magnum to be precise. Long story short, sapphire was out on what I thought was perminant loan, I had left work and gone back to college, and Hal really wasn’t very welll at all. Reluctantly I came round to the fact that my horse owning days were probably over. I was miserable. I started to have a weekly ride at a local riding school, and the horse they put me on was Magnum. So there I was, 5ft 3in of frustrated ex-equestrian , unfit, very overweight, virtually totally blind, and so stiff with arthritis that getting on the mounting block was a challenge, never mind getting on the horse! The lady who ran the riding school introduced herself and then said “Sorry, but I’m going to have to put you on Magnum. My other horse is Ill”. Odd really as they had about 20 horses. So you can imagine how uncertain I felt when they led out an enormous, skinny and scruffy battle charger and invited me to climb aboard.
Then I landed in the saddle and fell hopelessly and irretrievably in love.
To cut a long story short,and it is a long and complicated story, just over a year later Magnum became mine. Later that year Sapphire suddenly and unexpectedly came back from her loan home. After buying Magnum I’d kept him on land rented by the family who had Sapphire. However there were no stables there., so I wanted to move him to a yard where he could come in overnight during winter. This was wen I discovered that , since putting Sapphire out on loan, all the decent, affordable livery yards in our area had closed! Those that there were, were either hideously expensive, or the kind of place you wouldn’t keep a clothes horse. Luckily, we found Magmum a billet on a local farm. Then the woman who had Sapphire suddenly announced that if we were taking Magnum we better take Sapphire too! This caused a few problems as Farmer Jim had only allowed for one horse, but he kindly agreed for us to keep Sapphire with Magnum so long as we only needed one stable.
So there we were, with 2 horses that we couldn’t really afford. Keeping them on rented land on a Dartmoor hill farm, and with the dream of owning our own land just setting seed in our minds.
So before we really get started it might be helpful if I introduce the stars of the show
People wise there’s me, who you already vaguely know, and there’s Hal.
Hal is my long suffering husband. Although I have owned horses for much longer than I’ve owned him, it’s really only in the last 3 years or so that he’s taken to horses himself .. This might be because of his Asperger Symdrome, general anxiety disorder , obsessive personality disorder , and bouts of depression ; but it could also be down to not being able to beat me, so joining me instead. Anyway, whatever the reason, Hal has become very hands on, helpful, and is even learning to ride.
There are several cats. These include our own two naughty torties, Stella (fat cat) and Tabbitha (Li’l Tyke), and Toggle, the black and white cat who used to live in our house and thinks she still owns it.
Dogs are also important. Ripley is my retired guide dog, and Quincey, AKA Q, is my working guide dog. However, Zak and Poppy, the dogs who live on either side of us, are keen to voice their opinions too!
The real stars of the show are the horses though. Magnum is a 16.3hh grey gelding. He is reputed to be Irish Draught cross, but crossed with what nobody knows – it ain’t no Thoroughbred though! His age is an equally closely guarded secret. His passport gives his date of birth as 1st January 1995, the smart money says he’s older! Scheduled ancient monument or not, he’s the kindest horse in the world. I’ve owned him for approaching 4 years now and he is, quite simply , the centre of my universe! Magnum’s best friend and almost constant companion is Sapphire. Sapphire is a very pretty dark bay, 14hh, 14 year old Welsh Section D mare. I’ve owned Sapphire since she was 5, although she has been out on loan in the past. She used to do well in the show ring when she was younger, and even qualified for Royal Cornwall Show. Sadly though those days are over . Sapphire has Maast Cell Cytoma, a condition more normally seen in dogs, not horses. As a result she has several large lumps, the position of some prevent her wearing a saddle. She’s a quirky little lady who holds strong opinions, and with whom life is never dull, but like Magnum, she doesn’t have a nasty bone in her body.
So there we all are. I hope you enjoy hearing about our adventures 😎
As long as I can remember I have been 100% horse mad, some might say horse sad. There was never a Eureeka moment when I suddenly looked at a horse and thought’Wow!’, it was just always there, like a seed had been sewn in my soul before I was born. Strange really, because I don’t come from a horsey background at all. I love all other animals as well (although I freely admit to being terrified of geese, and a little bit spooked by the uncannily human hands that monkeys have), but with horses it’s different! I just can’t get enough of them. I don’t actually have to ride very often to be happy, but I do need to be able to touch them, smell them, interact with them. They feed my soul and they ground me. Remove me from horses for more than, say, 3 weeks, and I am a very unhappy, and very unsettled human being.
I was also born with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). A genetic condition that makes people slowly go blind.
The problem is, that in many peoples minds, these two things do not go together. You can be horsey, or you can be blind. You cannot, under any circumstances be both.
I beg to differ!
As soon as I could talk, I talked about horses. AS soon as I could walk, I trotted and cantered around on my invisible pony. My bike was a horse. If a toy wasn’t a toy horse I wasn’t really interested (unless it was a dog). The little girl next door was also horse mad which helped.
After much nagging (pardon the pun) I was finally allowed to have riding lessons when I was nine. I didn’t get my first horse until I got my first job at twenty-one though.
I’ve had several different horses over the years. Because of working full time, and needing a little more support with horse care because of my deteriorating eyesight I have always kept them on livery. However, in May this year that changed. My husband and I bought a bungalow with four and a half acres of land on which to keep our horses.
Poo Picking in the Dark is the story of our new adventure. Looking after the horses and the land on our own terms for the first time.
Wish us luck
Hi, and welcome to Poo Picking in the Dark. An everyday story of horse ownership without prejudice. There is also little by way of money, expertise or eyesight! What there is though is love, joy and laughter – oh yes, and plenty of mud😄