Day 27 – a Bit About Me

Today’sBlogtober Challenge prompt is to say a little bit about ourselves. It will come as a surprise to some, but I’m not actually very good at blowing my own trumpet. I’m actually quite shy, and despite some of the things I’ve done in recent years, i’m quite uncomfortable when it comes to being in the spotlight. Although I am a lot more confident now, right through from childhood until my 30s I was never comfortable if I felt that people were looking at me, or judging me. No I’ve hit my 50s, and have since been through quite a lot in life, if people want to look, Who am I to stop them?

Because I have a tendency to go off rambling I have decided to do this as if I was interviewing myself. So here goes.

Where were you born? I was born in Plymouth, Devon, UK.

Are you from a horsey background? No. My dad was in the Navy, and my mum worked in a newsagents in tobacconist before having my brother. We are not from a wealthy background.

What is your first horsey memory? Hmm, this is a difficult one. I do know that one of my cousins had a pony, but she lived in Staffordshire so I can have only ever seen it once. Growing up on the outskirts of Plymouth it was only a few miles to the edges of Dartmoor, and the wild maul and ponies seem to have always featured in my consciousness. The first time I remember sitting on a pony for any length of time was on the beach at Burnham on C when we were on holiday there.

When did you start learning to ride? When I was nine years old I started having weekly lessons at a local riding school

when did you get your first horse? When I was 21. I got my first job in the May, and bought my first horse in the December. He was a totally unsuitable horse for a nervous, visually impaired, novice, but I had to have him. He was a three-year-old skewbald heavyweight cob called jigsaw. I only had him for four months, and sold him to the riding school I kept him on livery . He stayed in the local area for the rest of his life, turning out to be an excellent pony club and hunting horse, he lived well into his 30s.

Do you own horses now? Yes. I have owned many horses over the years, and we currently have two cobs, Florence Who is a 15.2 heavyweight piebald traditional gypsy cob, and Breeze Who actually belongs to my husband, and is a 14.2 black traditional cob mare.

What do you do with your horses? Mostly I hack, but I enjoy having lessons, and do very occasionally take part in showing, very alone level unaffiliated dressage, and horse agility. Are used to enjoy taking part in pleasure rides, but as my eyesight has deteriorated this is no longer a straightforward as it used to be. This year I intended to take part in some online dressage competitions, but unfortunately a lot has happened away from the horses this year to prevent me from so doing.

Do you work in the equine industry? I wish! When I was a child and in my teens I wanted to be a riding instructor, but unfortunately this career path was not open to little girls who were going to go blind. Over the years I have been a civil servant and a police civilian, both careers which pay extremely well, but are mind numbingly boring. About 10 years ago I left full-time employment and went back into education, retraining as a masseuse and complementary therapist. I gained a degree in complementary health studies, as well as several qualifications in a variety of therapies. I now run a small therapies practice from home.

What do you enjoy doing other than riding horses? I am a prolific reader, I enjoy being out in the countryside, walking and I ride Stoker on the tandem. I’m interested in history, myth and legend. I like learning new things, and did start studying psychology with the open University. However, I stopped working towards my psychology degree when I put myself forward to be a research participant for a clinical trial of an electronic subretinal implant. Three years ago I took part in research project, and as a result I’ve been filmed for television and interviewed for radio and newspapers. I also do fundraising and campaigning work for Guide Dogs -.. i’m a bit of a rock chick love listening to music, although I can’t remember the last time I went to a gig.

If you could have one luxury what would it be? A cleaner. I’d much rather be outside enjoying life than stuck indoors doing housework

Worst habit? I swear too much. Wow this is really difficult!

Day 16 – What Did I do With the…?

It’s a basic fact of life. The thing you are looking for is always at the bottom of the grooming kit. For me that thing is usually the hoof pick. I have lots of hoof picks, so why can I never find one when I want one? Over the years I’ve wasted many hours scrabbling around in grooming kits looking for hoof pics. Actually, when are used to keep my horses on livery, especially when that livery was at a riding school, I spent an awful lot of my time looking for allsorts of things,. Usually these things unexpectedly developed a Wonderlust and strolled off into another persons grooming kit or equipment box. However, now it’s just me, Hal and Ben, , and it’s amazing how things have developed the ability to stay where I left them. Except for hoof picks that is. You know that mysterious place where teaspoons and the odd socks go, never to be seen again? Believe me, it’s full of hoof picks too!

Well not anymore! I’ve got them nailed down – well to be perfectly honest, i’ve actually got them hung up. Outside each of my stable doors, at a height that is out of harms way for all but the tallest horse, but still reachable by short arse like me, I have a hook on which I hang the head collar for that particular horse. Next to this hook is a smaller hook, on which is hung a hoof pick. So, although there is a hoof pick in all my grooming kits, I know that there will always be a hoof pick outside the stable door. Works a treat

Day 15 – nothing to See Here

Yesterday’s Blogtober Challenge topic was to show the last week with your horse in photos.well that wasn’t happening round here!

At first I wasn’t going to do a Day 15 post at all. After all, I don’t have any photos of the last week, and even if I did, well, nothing much has happened. Then though, as I inwardly grumbled about people insisting on using inaccessible formats such as photos and graphics to impart information that might be useful, interesting, or important to those of us who can’t see, I had a rethink.

Don’t get me wrong, , I’m not anti photography. I think it’s Great way of laying down memories, and commemorating special occasions, but it shouldn’t be the primary means of sharing information.

I know it’s entirely unintentional, but using inaccessible means of passing on information, or making a point, , such as photos, memes, graphics, and gifts, is the kind of everyday Ablisn that can really impact on an individuals ability to fully integrate into society.

My particular pet beef is when people take a photo of printed material and then share it. What’s the point of that!?

You see, I’m typing this using a piece of software called a Screen Reader. . The particular one I’m using at the moment it’s called voice over, and is specifically used with Apple products, but there are a great many screen readers out there, for example I also use one called JAWS, which runs with Windows. I am no computer expert, but, by and large, screen readers use something called optical character recognition

. This means that they can “see” letters, numbers, punctuation, and in the case of Voice Over r, emojis, they cannot see graphics, animations, or photos.

I love reading other people’s blogs and Social Media content, and I gain a lot from it. I always feel a bit cheated when it’s photo based.

Day 12 – PANIC!!!

The first named storm of the season is upon us, it’s only just gone 6a.m., and all my triggers have already been activated.

The wind is howling, and I can hear all sorts of things moving around out there. Opening the garage door to going get my wellies, the door caught in the wind and all but wrenched my arm off. As I stepped onto the back lawn, A strong gust of wind lifted the heavy wooden walking staff, that I carry when I’m outside with the horses, off the ground, and I could feel it trying to move my legs. It is also pouring down with rain, and I have to find my way down to the bottom field to check the horses, all by myself. This is one of those mornings when, despite me valuing this private time, I’d would really have preferred to have somebody with me.


When I got down to the horses, my already high state of alert was thrown into overdrive. I couldn’t find Breeze!

She had to be there. If she wasn’t, Florence would have been in full on melt down. So where was she? Dead? Injured? Unable to move due to laminitis, colic, or AM? Biting down the wave of panic that was threatening to engulf me, I resisted the urge to phone the house and wake Hal. If there really was a problem Flo wouldn’t be Calmly trying to go through my pockets would she?

This is where not being able to see is a real problem. Usually I can hear where the horses are, even if they are quite some distance away from me, but with the wind howling I don’t stand a chance. Everybody else can just look across the field. Yes I know, it was a dark morning, and Vreeze is dark bay, but she does have three white legs and a blades, so something that I’ve shown up.

After calmly, yeh right, walking back up to the house, and gently waking Hal, he could confirm that breeze was indeed in the field, upright, and eating. Turns out she just can’t be bothered with me this morning.hal also told me that the roof has come off the Shed of Doom overnight. Well that explains that particular noise then.

I’m going back to bed where it’s safe

Day 9 – Three Little Hooks

Historically one of the biggest problems that I have had when it comes to looking after horses myself, is filling hay nets. The whole painful process was outlined in my earlier post from about three years ago which was simply in titled”Haynets!!!😱”. I won’t go into the full gory details of exactly how difficult are used to find the process. However. My ingenious husband has come up with a very simple and extremely successful solution to the problem, and I think it’s something that will help everybody, especially if they end up having to fill nets on dark mornings or evenings.

Quite simply he has put 3 small metal hooks in the corner of the Haybarn, atabout chest height, with one actually in the corner and the other two on each wall so they make a triangle. Along the inside of the barn door he has placed a row of smaller hooks, atabout the height that you would hang a coat. . Nets a hung up by the drawstrings on the hook on the door.then, when nets need to be filled, they arranged on the three little hooks so that they all held open, and hay can simply be fed into them. Couldn’t be easier😊

Day 8 – Paws and be Thankful.

Today I’m going to go off topic. This is a post that I would be writing today even if it was not part of the Blogtober Challenge, and it’s got absolutely nothing to do with horses whatsoever. Today is my beloved retired Guide Dog, Ripley’s 13th birthday. A day which, back in April, when he was extremely ill and refused to eat for nearly a week, and all the examinations and tests known to vet could not work out what was wrong with him, I was convinced he would not see. This week also happens to be Guide Dogs Week here in the UK. So I thought it was an opportune moment to use this blog to spread the word about what a fantastic organisation Guide Dogs is.

Incredibly it’s 87 years since the first

Four in Trepid Pathfinders, ventured out on the streets of Britain with their guide dogs by their side. The idea of guiding blind people with dogs was not universally accepted bag then. In fact quite The opposite. It was considered pure lunacy, The term crackpot was used to describe both the idea and those who were advocating it. Many people considered it to be cruel both to man and dog. . I’m immeasurably greatful to those pioneers who believed in the idea, and fought to get it off the ground. Ripley was my 3rd Guide Dog, and, while it’s fair to say he wasn’t the most dedicated Guide, we had some adventures together before he took early retirement age 6.

he saw me through a career change, that took me from being a police civilian to holistic complimentary therapist. He was by mine and Hal’s side while Hal’s Health hit rock bottom. He sat through countless lectures and tutorials, both at college and university, and travelled hundreds of miles with me on my journeys to and from Hereford from Plymouth. When I graduated he graduated to. At our graduation ceremony Mary King was given an honorary doctorate by the University, and when I was receiving my degree, according to my slightly star struck husband, had a sly stroke. Everybody who has a copy of the graduates video for that ceremony will see a large black guide dog leading the students parade. He got me home in a blizzard once, after my taxi driver lost control of the car on ice at the top of our lane. .

My first guide dog, Odine, came down the aisle with me when I got married. Guide Dog Number two, Annie, saw me through a career change from being a civil servant to being a police civilian. Annie and I were presented to her Majesty the Queen once, on the behalf of guide dogs, and Annie, bless her, jumped up at her Majesty and left wet Pawprint on her coat. When Annie retired, aged 10 and half, my colleagues love to so much that they arranged a retirement party for her at work, and presented her with a certificate signed by the chief constable. My current guide dog, Number four, Quincey, has already been by my side through the lifestyle change which brought us to this village, and living with the horses in the back garden so to speak. He’s been there with me well I’ve gone through being a participant in a clinical research trial, and looked after me well I’ve been recuperating from a lot of eye surgery.

These are the extraordinary examples of what having a guide dog can help somebody achieve. The reality though is much more fundamental. Without odine, Annie, Ripley, or Quincey, my life would have been completely different. Doing the most basic things in life, like the shopping, going to the postbox, going to work, would have become much more difficult as my eyesight deteriorated,. Yes I am capable of, and apparently very good at, using a long cane, but using a long cane is so difficult, stressful, and at times even painful. Without my dogs I doubt I would have achieved anywhere near things that I have with my life.

many people living with sight loss rely in a guy dog to help them Live their lives to the full. Those things that the majority of people take for granted. Going to the pub, taking the kids to school, going to work.. .. if you can think it, chances are there’s a Guide Dog Ownersomewhere doing with the help of their faithful hound.

All of this can only happen because of the kindness and generosity of people who make donations to a fundraiser for guide dogs

So if you have ever put your change in a guide dog collecting box in the shop, bought merchandise from all taken part in the tombola at a guide dogs stand at a large show, If you sponsor A puppy, or take part in the guide dog lottery, or if you have ever sponsored anybody taking part in a guy dog fund raising event. thank you from the bottom of my heart..

Day 3 – The Sound of Silence,

I’ve blogged before about my morning routine, and how special and important this , all too brief, private time is to me. .. in fact, I was going to write about something else today, but it can wait, this morning was just gorgeous.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally antisocial, but it is fair to say that I do naturally tend towards the solitary. I enjoy good company, a good laugh, and a good gossip, as much as the next person. I like to belong, and be part of the community. However, I am quite misphonic, hate loud shouty voices, find crowds disorientating and claustrophobic, and I’m very comfortable in my own company. . Part of this is of course a nature thing, I am a solitary creature, always have been always Wilby. However, I am willing to bet that, in part at least, it is a reaction to having to rely on other people so much. I think that, to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the individual circumstance, everybody who lives with some form of disability, has at some point, got to hand over their freedom, safety, privacy, and dignity, to somebody else. If we want to be fully functioning members of society we don’t have much choice. Which is why mornings like this morning are so special.

As I stepped out of the back door I was struck by how still everything was. It was about 6.30, so still dark, and, unusually, there wasn’t a breath of wind. Neither was it raining. The whole world was very still, and oh so silent. This is what is meant by tranquillity. This is the kind of inherent natural calmness that enables the inner peace usually sought through meditation. I could very easily be the only living Being on the planet. Lovely. The effect was spoiled somewhat a few minutes later, when our next door neighbours central heating boiler fired up. , but this didn’t

Last very long as it was so mild, and all was soon quiet again. Across the garden, down the drive, across the yard, on with the water, back across the yard, to the paddock, off with the electric, fill the troughs. All the time with me being the only source of noise. No light, because it makes little difference to me whether they’re on or off.

, just Mother Nature and I taking a moment to breathe. Then I heard it. Purposeful hoof beats marching up the field. The sort of walk that, if you could achieve it on a long rein between K and M, would gain 10’s every time. . A slight wheeze and a friendly wicker. Florence is on her way. Then a slower walk, and some clicking joints, Breeze, who quite frankly, isn’t a morning person, has woken up, and is on a course to intercept Flo, and get to me first. Both horses are walking in their normal rhythm, both keen to interact with me, ears pricked, full of cheek. Nothing to worry about here just me and 2 content cobs in the whole wide world.

As I drag myself away from the horses the rest of the world begins to wake up. Walking across the yard I here a Robin’s alarm call somewhere in the adjoining field. While I’m turning off the water a Thrush starts singing in the neighbour’s garden, and a Blackbird joins in from somewhere near the lake.

. As I walk back to the gate a Cockerel crows on the other side of the valley and a cow moos once. Reaching the gate the Dawn Chorus is full on, and as I linger there I hear one of the horses enjoying a really good roll.

Sadly, as I walk back across the garden, the spell is broken when a car drives down into the village. . I am back in the real world, and have a real World things to get on with.