Something New Every Day

A wise man, or indeed it could have been a wise woman, once said that you never stop learning where horses are concerned. How right they were.

Two weeks ago I finally started having lessons again. At the moment I’m going over to Melissa’s and having lessons on dear old Goldie. , but I intend to start having lessons on Florence soon, she just needs to be a bit fitter. . She’s not the only one!

One of the great things about Melissa is her open mindedness. I’m not sure if she’s ever net anyone who is blind before me, let alone give them riding lessons, but that hasn’t stopped her pushing me. She’s even had me jumping!

This week we introduced my Riding School mount, a rather gorgeous 16hh Palomino mare called Goldie, to my Talking Letters. Bless her, she didn’t turn a hair. It must be very confusing for a horse, suddenly being inside a ring of visembodied human voices, all shouting letters at the top of their voice. Frankly it amazed that any horse will put up with it. While Breeze won’t even enter the school with them running quietly, it seems that Florence, and mow Goldie, are prepared to give it a go. This means that I cam concentrate on what me and my mount are actually doing, rather than worry about where we ‘re going quite so much.

I’ve had another new horsey experience this week too, but this time with Florence. Bizarrely, despite having had Flo for 2 1/2 years now, and even though this area could rightly be described as horse infested, I have never yet another horse while out riding Flo. Until Saturday that is. . So, when, on Saturday, Hal told me that we were about to pass to who were approaching us, I had no idea Florence was going to react. So I sat up, gathered up my Reims, put my leg on, and said “Good girl, walk on!”. I needn’t have worried. Bless her, she just carried on as if they weren’t there. Now even dear old Magnum would have let me down in the circumstances. He would always walk past the other horses, then when my guard was down, throw in a U-turn, and start walking behind them.

. It didn’t how prepared I was, or how hard I tried to ride him forward, when 16.3hh of ex riding school, Irish Draught, decides it’s time to joithe back of the ride, there’s nothing 5ft 3 of overweight, under fit blimd can do about it. You can take the horse out of the Riding school, but you can’t take the Riding school out of the horse. It could be a bit embarrassing really.

We met them again later. This time in a much narrower lane. Once again Florence was the epitome of politeness. She’s such a lovely horse..,n

Now That’s Better

Yes! We did it! This morning I actually went for a ride! We didn’t go very far, only down to the village square and back, so just under a mile, but, as neither Florence, Hal or I are in any way fit, it was enough.

I’m delighted to report that i was nowhere near as stiff as I thought I would be. Not only that, but I didn’t experience any pain while in the saddle.I haven’t felt any since either, although I expect I’ll be stiff tomorrow.

I truly am blessed to have Florence. If I didn’t know that she had only been ridden for 20 minutes in the last 2 months, nothing in her behaviour today would have told me. She was obviously delighted to be out and doing, but she didn’t put a foot wrong. You’d have thought she had been out only yesterday. What a star!

Really have got my mojo back now

Old Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard

I’m delighted to be able to report but I am feeling A lot better than I was this time last week. Thanks to a tried and tested emergency painkiller and anti-inflammatory protocol, several hot bath infused with essential oils, and targeted hip exercise from my yoga teacher, I am now virtually pain free again. This means I can pick up the fitness and exercise regime, which will further enhance the weight loss drive, which in turn will help support my dodgy joints. The world does not feel quite as gloomy as it did last weekend, and yesterday I seriously intended to get on Florence for the first time for awhile. However we had an emergency hay delivery, together with a visit from some horse owning folk who live in the village. As we all stood talking the weather just got worse and worse. I thought the weekend was supposed to be decent, but no, increasingly strog wind and heavy rain. Riding abandoned. The good thing though is that yesterday is the first day that I have really felt Abel to ride since November. In itself this is a highly positive thing, and has lifted my spirits massively.

I’m definitely back on track.

It’s been a busy week. . The Vet, or should that be Vet’s? There were two of them after all, came out on Tuesday morning. Some good news is that there is nothing wrong with Leone is good I, and her damaged eye has remained stable, so what ever the reason she has been misbehaving, it’s not because she’s losing her eyesight totally. You don’t know how relieved I am about this. Had quite a chat about her behaviour and what the he Tenshaw reasons for it might be, and we have an action plan. The first instalment of which is to run some blood tests. The blood was taken on Tuesday, but so far we have not had the results back. Breeze also had her cough checked out. She’s not running a temperature, and apart from demonstrating the cough nicely, wasn’t displaying any other signs of feeling poorly. The vet suspects allergy. She has quite a lot of medicine to take, and she has been eating some moist Haylage just in case. Nobody has heard her cough since Thursday morning. Result!

The problem we, and the rest of the horse owning community, have is a shortage of forage. Actually, it’s a problem for farmers too. Despite the brief spell of hot weather we had last spring, last Summer was a wet one. There were no long dry periods, so haymaking and silage making were extremely difficult. . Fast forward to now, and the world is full of empty barns, and social media is full of desperate pleas for hay. Of course, as demand exceeds supply farmers and forage merchants are cranking up the price. Economics for beginners I know, but bloody annoying just the same. As someone pointed out, it hasm’t cost any more to produce. Also, and this happens with a lot of things regardless of how much supply dare is. A premium is added to the price when the word horse enters the equation.

We are extremely lucky, because of the kindness and consideration of the lovely Steve, Who is the man we usually get our hey and Haylage from,although “It has been difficult to octane hey this year, it hasn’t come as an awful shock. Steve informed us at the beginning of the season that his supply was short. Bless him though, he has bent over backwards to keep us supplied, personally searching for more hey for us. He really has gone over and above. He’s such a kind caring individual. It’s wonderful to know that they still are some good folk out there.thdre have been some breaks In the supply chain, but we’ve been able to plug the dap by buying in some expensive proprietary bagged forage, Devon Country Haylage, from Mole Valley Farmers. At £5 or thereabouts for 18 kg it works out extremely expensive, but there seems to be a ready supply, so it’s an ideal emergency stop gap. It smells gorgeous, and the horses absolutely love it. I’ve never known either Leonie or Florence decline to come to the door if they think there’s a chance of being able to scrounge a mint off of somebody, but with a net country Haylage in the stable, nothing else seems to matter. I think I will definitely be keeping a few bales in store in the future. In the meantime, Steve has managed to find some absolutely huge, 8ft x 4ft x 4ft hey Bales, One of which he delivered yesterday. So hopefully my girls are not going to start any time soon.

What has taken me by surprise though is the problem with supply of bedding. I use wood pellet bedding. The company I use, Sorbio , source the majority of their wood from Scotland. however most of their competition source their wood from Europe, and even Russia. . Apparently there are major problems with the supply chain, due I’m part to the weather. I’m told that it has been so wet in parts of Russia that it’s impossible toget into the forests to fell trees.meanwhile, back here in Britain the problem has been exacerbated by one of the biggest pellet bedding companies having a flood in their warehouse, and losing all their stock. Of course, I was blissfully unaware of all this, until I innocently phoned Sorbio to order a pallet of bedding. There’s going to be a delay. This is going to be a problem! Fingers crossed it gets here by the end of the week.

With a lack of hay and bedding our little barn resembles Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard. It’s very bare indeed. Worryingly so. However it’s already 21 January, it’s really only a few short weeks until spring arrives and we can think about turning the girls back out permanently.

Massive Achiebement

I think that Hal would be the first to admit that riding does not come naturally to him. He loves the girls, especially Leonie, dearly. However, his anxiety, muscle tightness caused by his medication , and an old back injury, can make riding both mentally and physically extremely difficult, and painful.

Although Hal has had the occasional foray into the saddle over the years, it was always made clear that horses weren’t for him. Although he did really quite successful at the carriage driving lessons we were given as a wedding present, he has historically hadd very little to do with my horses over the years. That is until I brought Magnum home, and got Sapphire back off loan that is. . One day, back when Magnum and Sapphire were living at Jim’s farm, completely out of the blue, Hal announced that he wanted to learn to ride. Result! We had two horses, soon we would be riding out together, and exploring the countryside.

Well, it’s fair to say it hasn’t been an easy journey. However, in North Devon rather than the Western edge of Dartmoor, and on Florence and Breeze, , not Magmum and Sapphire, and with a little support on the ground , yesterday, for the first time ever, Hal and I hacked out together on our own horses.

I can’t tell you how proud I am of both Hal and Breeze.

Bursting with happiness.

Fit for Purpose

Last week Hal and I started having lessons with Melissa again. Yesterday it was made blatantly , and painfully, obvious to me that I am not fit!!!

Two and a half laps of the school in 2 point seat made parts of me that I thought were in pretty good shape, scream in agony! Then a few laps of trot, , extending on the long sides and collecting round the ends, reduced me to a wheezing, wobbling wreck. I couldn’t even steer come the end.

Something needs to change. New fitness routine being worked out as I type.

What a Month!

It’s just occurred to me that it’s a month ago today that I rode at Nationals. Really! Where did that month go then?

Honestly we just haven’t stopped. Once we got home we went straight into the whole rehoming process for Peregrine. The car knows it’s own way to the Mare and Foal Sanctuary now, and naps in that direction every time we pass the junction. We’ve also been down to darkest Cornwall several times to view potential new horses, and get Mayo vetted. Then the weather did the dirty on us, so Mayo’s delivery day had to be brought forward. Not that I’m complaining, any extra time spent getting to know a new horse has got to be time well spent, but it did mean we had to suddenly prepare things, rather than having a few days to play with. Since we’ve only had 2 horses for a while, the third stable has morphed into an unofficial storage shed. Let’s face it, the tractor lived in there last winter!

In between all this, we’ve been up to Shropshire to celebrate our neice Hannah, and her lovely man Sam’s wedding. We’ve had the outside of the house cleaned, and we’ve ordered a Horse Box!

It’s no wonder we’re both so knackered!

Today though I finally feel like things are slowing down and becoming more relaxed.

Florence came home exactly a fortnight after we lost poor Breeze, and Melissa took her over to Kingsland. Peregrine came home on the same day, and Mayo came home on Thursday. It’s early days; but all of them are now turned out in the same paddock, and all really does seem to be going incredibly well. I’ve never had such a smooth, or quick introduction of new horses.They all seem totally relaxed about everything. In fact this is the most chilled I’ve ever seen Florence; she really does seem to be warming to her new found status as the matriarch of the herd, and is being remarkably tolerant of having a small pony almost perminantly welded to her side. She called to the boys the other day when I had her out, and called to them both yesterday when they were being worked in the school and she wasn’t. It really couldn’t be going better really.

So now we can relax again and start having fun. I’ve just booked my first lesson since Nationals and I have a plan to try and get Florence hacking out again, I’ve got lots of plans for Mayo, and Peregrine is beginning agility and beginning to walk out in hand. All three horses are far too fat, so are, along with their equally porky owners, officially on boot camp, well, OK, more like comfy slipper camp really, but we all need to be fitter and slimmer.

So now we’re waiting for some concreting to be done. Yes folks, Digger Man Pat is returning, and for the Horse lorry to be built, then the world is our lobster, as Arthur Daily would say.

From where I’m sitting the future is looking very positive indeed.

Unbalanced! Me? #HorseHour #PonyHour #HorseBloggers

I seem to be having a real problem with my balance of late. It’s not a new thing, but in this last few months it really seems to be getting worse, ad I don’t really know why.

Everybody assumes that balance is all inthe ears. Afterall, aren’t we taught as children that the mechanisms behind balance are in the middle and innner ear? However, eyesight and proprioception both have their part to play. This is why people with certain neurological conditions, and those of us living with blindness or visual impairment, have problems with our balance to some degree. Strangely though, I have met a lot of blind people who just plain do not accept this to be a fact. They often just can’t understand wy they get travel sick, or seem to trip over thin air, or blame their Guide Dog for pulling them over, but if you explain to them about their innately rubbish balance, they will argue black is white with you that you are wrong. Not me though, I know my balance is compromised. . What i don’t understand is why it’s as bad as it is at the moment.

OK, so in my case I am specifically talking about my balance in the saddle, but actually, it all amounts to the same thing. Unbalanced on the ground, very unbalanced in the saddle.

For a while now I’ve been having a problemdismounting. At first I thought it was a fitness/flexibility thing; I was just too stiff and fat to lean forward and swing my leg over the horse to get off. However, since the beginning of the year I’ve lost a stone and a half, and, while there’s still a lot of weight to come off and a lot more fitness to gain, I am a lot more fit than I was, but dismounting is still a problem. It is getting better, but I’m also convinced that there’s more to this than just being a bloater. Now, I should point out that. In all the years I have been riding, I have never fallen over the front of a horse while dismounting, but, that’s exactly what my bodymind is telling me is going to happen when I try to lean forward before swinging my leg over. I am totally convinced that I am going to fall forward, over the horses head, It’s not even a conscious thought, I just feel very insecure and unbalanced. I don’t feel dizzy or lightheaded at all, and I haven’t had a cold or ear infection. It’s more a body control/proprioception/confidence issue, but what do I do to overcome it?

I do also have some problems when mounting, but thee are definately physical. I have arthritis in my left hip which was as the result of an injury I recieved whe I was in my 20’s., so I am restricted in the range of movement I have in that hip and putting my whole weight through that hip can sometimes be painful. That’s normal for me though, and tall mounting blocks are the order of the day. That doesn’t explain what has happened to me twice this week though. On Thursday I went to try a horse with a view to purchasing him. He was a lovely horse, but as it happens, not the horse for me. That’s not the point here though. Perhaps it is down to me being fitter and lighter, and so having more power in my left leg, or perhaps it’s because I just couldn’t judge the size of the horse properly, or maybe it’s down to my appaulling balance, and, this horse was a part bred Freisian, so narrower than Florence, Willow, Goldie or Alphie, who are the horses I ride the most; but I very nearly threw myself off the other side of him when I was getting on! I had real problems riding him too. I truly hadn’t realised just how large an action he would have, and when I asked him to go forward to trot, I completely lost my balance, and had to grab everything to stop me having an unscheduled dismount. Embarrassing! Even more embarrassing though was my mount and dismount yesterday, and this not even with a real life horse. The Riding Club once again had a Mechanical Horse Clinic with Emily Lloyd of E Equine and Mechanical Millie. So, once again I nearly threw myself off Millie as I was getting om her, and my dismount was dreadful, not helped by the fact that Millie only has half a neck and no head.

Core stability! I hear you all shout, and, yes, as I freely admit to being overweight and unfit, my core isn’t as strong as I’d like it to be; but compared to some it’s not that bad. I also think there’s more to my problems than just muscle control, and I really do think they are down to not being able to see. In the case of nearly throwing myself over both the real live horse and the mehanical one, I think it’s got a lot to do with not being able to gauge how far I have to move to get my leg over and sit in the saddle. I know all the horses I ride regularly, so I have a muscle memory of how much I need to do to get on them. This is something I can learn with any horse I ride on a regular basis. However, the dismounting problem goes deeper, and I’m really struggling to work out how to over come it.

I’d be interested in any input or suggestions from others please.