Ophelia & Brian

Things have been pretty quiet around here since Sapphire left us. At first Leomie, Florence, and Breeze were very subdued, and stayed unnaturally close to each other. One horse, three heads! Kowever, things are pretty much back to normal now. There is a little bit of a power struggle going on between Leo and Breeze over who takes over the lead of the herd. It’s all academic though. The job belongs to Breeze.

Hal has been keeping himself extremely busy repairing and reinforcing the stables. Sadly, two years after having them built, it is evident that our so called Stable Stables are actually anything but. Yes, my lovely little Welsh girl was quite destructive, but really! Last Tuesday I scrubbed out with disinfectant, and then Hal jet washed, the three actual stables, and then bedded them down for winter. Leomie has now moved out of the tack room and into Sapphire’s box, and with bedding and hay In the barn, and rugs washed and proofed, we are winter ready.

Just as well really, because the weather has been appalling. Last year I brought them In overnight on 15th November, or thereabouts, and considered that early. They are already in this year!
My dislike, well, total terror, of strong wind is no secret. So you can imagine how I felt when I heard Hurricane Ophelia was heading straight for us. HURRICANE!!! Everybody talks about the Great Storm of 1987. Weather Man Micheal Fish’s fated words, “No madam, there is not going to be a hurricane”, thousands of fallen trees, structural damage, lives lost. However, I don’t remember it being that bad in Plymouth. What I remover, and what I think is significantly responsible for my wind phobia, is what happened in January 1990. It happened to be the day that I advertised my then, second, and totally unsuitable horse, Oliver Twist, for sale. Bad timing. Believe me, nobody in Devon and Cornwall was reading horse ads that day. My memory starts with standing with a group of colleagues, in a 1st floor room of a four story office building, with my eyes out on stalks and my heart racing as the metal framed windows bowed inwards, and my companions described the roof tiles flying off the houses opposite and the street lights being bent like rubber. We had just been told not to leave the building because the cars were being blown round the car park, the cladding was falling off the building, and the flat roof was peeling back like the lid off a tin. I have never been so scared! That wasn’t the end of it though. When, the next day, I managed to get to the little Riding school where I kept Oliver on full livery, it was to discover that one of the stable blocks, a 5 box wooden unit, not unlike our stables here at Albert’s Bungalow, had been lifted clean off it’s concrete base and deposited 20 foot back behind where it had been. It was pure luck that there were no horses in any of the stables at the time. They had been turned away for a weeks winter break. My blood still runs cold when I think about what might have happened otherwise. I think some people think that I am weird, cruel, or stupid, when I keep my horses turned out during extremely windy weather. I think they would have a different opinion they had seen that stable block as I did on that day. None of the usual resident horses would have survived if they had been shut in.

As it happened, Ophelia, down graded to an X hurricane, changed her course slightly, and did most of her damage over Ireland. Yes it was windy, but we have definitely had worse. What was incredibly strange though was how Hot it became on Monday, and how strongly everything smelt of smoke. The Internet and social media Full of colour of the Sun & sky. Of course I couldn’t see this, and when I asked Hal, Who had been working on the stables all day, about it, he said he hadn’t noticed.

Feeling very relieved that we had got a way with Ophelia so lightly, imagine how I felt when I learnt that storm Brian was coming straight at us! Not even a week in between! As Brian was forecast to be bringing a lot of rain with him, Hal persuaded me to bring the girls in. Mow, it just so happens that that over the summer we have been trying to teach the horses to bring themselves in. Breeze Has obviously done this before, and Florence is getting that idea, but Sapphire and Leomie never really got idea, and would go off in all directions. On Friday afternoon, with Brian already beginning to make his presence known, and the way out of the paddock but the horses were in almost impassable, Hal suggested he let the horses out to bring their own way up to the stables. All I heard was the thundering hooves, and thought to myself that they were coming up rather sharpish. What was actually happening though, was that while Breeze and Flo were slowly working their way up to the yard, stopping every now and then to craft a mouthful of grass, Leo, God love her, had The wind well and truly under her tail, and was galloping around in excited circles, bulking and kicking like an idiot. On one of these circuits, she managed to side swipe Hal, and catch him with her back feet as she bucked. He ended up sitting in one of the water troughs, on the other side of the fence. Luckily, although he is extremely sore, and has some lovely bruises, he has not been seriously hurt. This could have been so much more serious. We won’t be doing that again in a hurry.

As it happens, Brian seemed to be much worse than Ophelia. The wind was much stronger, and oh boy did it rain! The horses seem to be quite content in the stables. Both oh philia and Brian, came from the south, so we were relatively sheltered in both cases. I read on the Internet yesterday, that we are expected to have another 11 storms that are strong enough to be named over autumn and winter here in the UK. Another 11! We’ve already had two and it’s not even the end of October yet.

It’s going to be a long winter

Love it When a Plan Comes Together

I’m very happy, So excited I could burst, and extremely relieved! I really don’t know whether to dance around laughing, burst into gears, or sleep th sleep of the truly Exhausted. . . . It’s been a stressful couple of months. Unnecessarily so, thanks to a stupid mistake on our part, and the childish behaviour of a third party.. now though, things are on the up!

Yesterday we got notice that we have been granted planning consent for a 20 x 40 ménage.

I don’t actually know how to explain exactly what this means to me. Six years ago, although it was a dream, if you’d told me I’d be living in a house with land and stables, I’d have laughed at you. Throw in a s hool and I’ have told you you were mad! You know, Hal and I aren’t rich. Everything we have achieved is as a result of hard work, in soul destroying jobs, hours of overtime, especially by Hal, some canny decision making on both our parts even before we met, and some massive sacrifices. Yes, we’ve had some help here and there from those who love us, but we wouldn’t have if we weren’t prepared to put in the graft. Neither of us have ever had anything handed to us on a plate. That’s why this is such a monumental achievement.

We already have a trusted builder lined, so just neee some decent weather so the work can be done. Not asking for much eh?!

This is going too make such a difference to us, on so many levels. Nobody pinch me, I don’t want to wake up.

Time Flies

Wow, where has the last 6 weeks gone? Time has just flown by. Strangely, it feels like we’ve been so busy that we’ve been running to stand still, and struggling , sometimes almost literally, to keep our heads above water. We don’t actually seem to have actually achieved much though.

Colic & Cushings

Back at the end of January Florence had a second bout of colic. It presented slightly differently from the first one, and thankfully she only had to be flushed through once. It was still scarey though! Because we have no idea what is causing Flo to colic, our lovely Vet Gemma ran a whole load of blood tdests. They all came back normal, except one. Cushings Syndrome, or more more correctly PPID, is caused by a benign tumour on the Petuitory Gland. It causes the body to make excess Adrenal Cortical Trophic Hormone (ACTH). This leads to reduced immunity, , increased inflammatory response, increased thirst, excessivd urinatination, excessive sweating, muscled waist img, fat deposits in strange places, heavy, sometimes curly coat that doesn’t shed, and, frighteningly, a predisposition to laminitis. A horses ACTH level should be 28 or less. Florence’s is 39! ! Cushings is actually very common. A vet once told me that the majority of horses over the age of 15 have it to some degree. . Back in the day thdre wasn’t much you could do about Cushings, except manage the symptoms as they arose. Nowadays there’s nedication. . Fantastic!

For the last 6 weeks Florence has been taking 1 tiny tablet a day. They really are small. It controls the ACTH. On Monday the vet will return to take more blood to check if Flo’s ACTH levels have dropped. I’ve definitely noticed less wee, and also less sweating. So fingers crossed.

Grumpy Pony

Florence isn’t the only one who has been causing us some concerns. Quite frankly Sapphire is being a right royal pain in the neck! As well as being intermittently lame, she is being a complete misery. She swings from sulking and doing the full on ‘I want to be alone’ routine, to the full on aggressive bully. The vet can’t find a cause for the lameness, and a full blood screening came back with everything showing as normal. We did put Sapphire on a Tim amount of Bute for a while, but all that happened was that she escaped, and it took Hal and I an hour to catch her!

Sapphire has been so horrible towards Florence, that she kicked the partition wall between their stables out of position. No sooner had Hal mended , and reinforced it, she did it again! We’ve swapped them around now, on the hope she’ll kick it back. No luck so far.

Sweet Freedom

We’ve actually turned them out over night now. It’s a bit wet and cold still, but they all seem happy with the arrangement.

So that’s it. We’ve all survived another winter. Here’s to summer!

The Shed of Doom!😱

I don’t know if it’s because I’m turning into a grumpy old moo, or if it’s a blindy thing, but I’m finding it increasingly difficult to cope with disorganisation and chaos. Surprising really, as anyone who knows me well would never describe me as tidy or well organised. The exact opposite in fact! I am finding it increasingly tedious, not to say stressful, wasting time searching around for things that aren’t where I think they are. For most people, all it takes to find something they are looking for, that they aren’t sure where they left, or that someone has ‘helpfully’ moved, is a quick visual scan. For me it’s the full on fingertip search. I shudder to think how many years of my life have been used up by the simple act of searching around for things that are hidden in plain sight!. This was always a real challenge while keeping horses at livery, or on someone else’s yard. . Over the years I’ve experienced everything from the basic not enough space at the yard, so tack and equipment has to be carried to and fro, through other people “borrowing ‘ stuff, only for it to disappear , never to be seem again, or to mysteriously reappear in it’s rightful place anything up to a year later, filthy and/or broken, to having hens raise their chicks in my bedding! This is why, when I came here, I was really looking forward to having my own, spacious, well organised, tack room. Every thing to hand near the stables, no fetching and carrying, no borrowers, no hens! A place for everything and everything in it’s place.

So far it hasn’t happened like that.

Now that Breeze has joined us, I have had to relinquish the 12 X 12 unit that was always meant to be my tack room once and for all. Florence did live in there last winter, but I really thought I had it back and could get sorted. Suddenly though I’m back to square one!

So, to overcome this problem we bought a shed. A cheap, flimsy, 10 x6 garden shed. It’s all we could afford, and all we have space for. . If ever a building was inherently malevolent, it’s this shed of doom! It was described as quick and easy to erect. The shed has other ideas! 1. The floor is so weak that it bent and wobbled really badly under the feet of our 9 y.o. next door neighbour. There was no way it was going to hold all I need to keep on it., let alone Hal and I, AKA Mr & Mrs Bloater walking around on it. So Hal reinforced it with decking timber.

2. The newly reinforced floor is now too heavy for us to lift! We had to recruit back up to help us get it into position.

3. When we began to put it up, the wind got up to such a strength that no sooner was a wall up, than it was straight back down again! Also, while I was desperately trying not to become the record holder for the longest flight powered only by a panel of Feather Edge, that I realised exactly how low the roof was going to be!

4. So Hal has put a frame around the base to raise the so that, all of 5ft 3, me won’t keep banging my head!

5. So finally the walls are up, and the roof is on. Now for the roofing felt. 2 days, and near hypothermia later, it was finally on. What a p palaver!

6. Of course, because the walls had been raised, the doors have to be extended! Then, in the shed’s final attempt at thwaughting us, the doors were too wide and wouldn’t shut! Cue the planer and sand paper.

The shed arrived on 13th September. Was that an omen? We started trying to build it on 17th. We finally got the doors on yesterday, 3rd October!

I am about to embark on a massive game of, how many things can you fit in a matchbox.
Wish me luck

All bedded Down and Back in the Saddle

Stable matting has got to be some of the heaviest, and most difficult to handle, stuff on Earth! Since my last post Hal has singlehandedly matted out the stables. This involved moving the existing matting out of the garage, power washing it, and then moving it down to the new yard. Thankfully we bought an old wooden trailer from some friends a while back, but even lifting the mats onto it nearly crippled us! We also had to buy extra matting, 18 of them! Kindly though, the delivery men took it down to the yard. So Hal has spent a lot of the last week on his hands and knees cutting and fitting matting.

Job done!

As of yesterday all the matting is down, and the beds are laid. Our stables are open to residents.

Mind you, getting the bedding delivered wasn’t without it’s hazards. It arrived on an enormous wagon, just one man. The Lordy didn’t fit down the road, so I asked if he could leave the pallet of bedding on the drive to the field. However the pallet fell of his pallettrolly , narrowly missing him, and trapping the trolly underneath it. Thankfully he wasn’t hurt, and , together with our lovely neighbour Lynne, moved all 65 sacks off the pallet so he could get his trolly back. The next day Hal and I shifted it all down to the barn in the wheelbarrows. Only 3 bags had split. It could have been so much worse, especially as the entire pallet full weighs 1 tonne!

The other good news is that I am back in the saddle. Yesterday I actually rode Sappphire! First time for years! We didn’t go very far, and she felt like she was about to explode at the slightest provocation , but she didn’t ! Nothing bad happened, so it was a very positive experience all round.

Onwards and upwards!!

It’s Been a While, but Have I Got News for You!

Sorry it’s been so long since I last posted, but it’s been extremely busy round here throughout September.

Some of you may be aware that I am taking part in a clinical research trial of an electronic retinal implant. Well, I had surges at the beginning of September. It took 10 hours! Consequently I’ve been feeling quite ropey all month. I also wasn’t allowed to handle or ride the horses during this time either. I’d have been climbing the walls if I hadn’t been so fatigued. Thanks to Hal for taking over completely during this time, and to Amy for stepping in while we were both in Oxford. Anyway, this week Hal and I went back to Oxford , and on Monday the implant was switched on.

It works!

It won’t give me anything like 20 20 vision, and believe me, it’s hard work , but it works which has completely rocked my world.

As if this wasn’t enough good news to contend with, we’ve only got stables!

Yes you read that correctly! During the gap between surgery and switch on , Nick came and almost singlehandedly built them from scratch. They are beautiful !

We’ve had so many problems with planners and scammers, and it’s taken a whole year longer than we intended, but thanks to the combined effort of Pat May and Nick Rutty our horses have a much more comfortable and secure future. Hal will also soon get his garage and workshop back.

The horses are all fine, and are entering Autumn with very fat bellies . Magnum is still well and harassing his ladie. Long may that last. Leonie had her wolf teeth removed last week , is recovering well.i’m allowed to ride again now, so watch this space, Sapphire has got a shock coming to her .

Life is good😃

Guess Who’s Back … Back Again…?

So Hal got a call on Monday morning from our ground worker, Pat May. Pat said that he hoped to be with us later in the week. True to his word, a text late on Tuesday told us he was coming the next day. He has not come alone this time though. He has a chap called Johnny with him. There are also a whole army of men dealing with the concrete.

As of the end of play on Friday, we have a hard core drive, hard core turning circle, and a good portion of the stable floor laid. Hopefully today the rest of the concrete can be done. Then it’s just putting the engineering blocks down and Pat’s work here is done!😂

My poor horses are being a little bit neglected while all this going on though. They are in the bottom field for the duration, and I can’t get down there by myself. Normally when they are down there Hal rigs up a guideline that takes me to the gate, but that’s not possible with them working in the top field. Also, there’s all kinds of machinery and equipment strewn about the place. It’s a death trap out there!

Magnum is doing well. Of c, he doesn’t know how I’ll he is. He was galloping around the field like a 3 year old on Tuesday. The old fraud will outlive the lot of us😉

Magnum’s state of health has focussed the mind somewhat, and we are now looking for a new horse. Wish us luck!sd