Fat Not Fit

Oh dear. I’m feeling a bitfrustrated. Florence and I have hit a bit of a wall. No, don’t worry, that massive dose of piebald perfection hasn’t put a hoof wrong. The problem is her size, and mine, our combined level of fitness, or lack of it, and total lack of stamina. We are just as fat and unfit as eat

Ch other, and it’s impacting on the things I want to achieve.

Obviously I know this is not going to be something that gets resolved overnight, and obviously I know what the remedy is, but as we going to a phase where we both run out of steam at approximately the same time, i’m finding it very difficult push us both a little bit further. If I was fitter, stronger, and had more stamina, I would be able to push Florence for a little bit further when I feel her beginning to flag. If Florence was fitter and had more stamina, I wouldn’t have to exhaust myself trying to keep her going. We are really not helping each other. If I wasn’t so heavy, Florence wouldn’t have to struggle so much.

I’m determined that we will get, but in the meantime, if you should come across large piebald gypsy cob, and the short fat blonde blind woman, gasping their last at the top of a hill somewhere in North West Devon, please give us a decent sendoff.

Feeling Guilty

It’s not very often that I have to put my hands up, and confess that my blindness, together with my stupidity, is the direct cause of a problem for my horses. Yesterday though, well, let’s just say the buck stops squarely with me, and I’ve never felt so guilty. Anyone know the best way to apologise to a horse?

Since Leo left us, Florence and Breeze have been rubbing along quite nicely, and a general atmosphere of peace and tranquility has prevailed. Breeze is quite a dominant little soul, whereas Florence likes the quiet life, and rarely, if ever, rocks the boat. I get the impression that Breeze May have had to compete for resources In the past. She’s a real sweetie to handle, but, oh my word, can she be aggressive toward other horses, especially when there’s. Food involved! She has mellowed since she’s been with us, but nevertheless… She doesn’t actually chase other horses off their feed, but she has a large personal zone around her, and if another horse steps into it while she’s eating, well let’s just say, she’s got a powerful kick!

Ideally you wouldn’t feed your horses whilst they’re all in the field together, but this Is the real world

, and needs must. Usually with Florence And Breeze it’s not that much of a problem. Hal and I, and even Ben for that matter, are mindful of Breezes need for space, and together with the fact that we need to make sure that Florence, and nobody else, gets Florence is medication, they get fed comfortably far apart, and are closely supervised

Last night I got it very wrong, and poor Florence ended up bearing the brunt. For some reason I missed judged where both horses were in relation to each other. Thinking that Breeze was further to her left than she actually was, rather than dropping Florence his food on the far side of the water trough as usual, I dropped it a few feet inside the gate. Disaster! Breeze was actually only just on the other side of the gate. Poor Florence had only just dropped her head and started eating, when, with no obvious warning, Breeze let fly, and gave her both barrels squarely and firmly on the backside. It sounded like a gun going off! Remarkably, after I had repositioned Florence’s feed back to its usual place below the water trough, both horses carried on eating like nothing had happened. Thankfully Florence does not seem to have any nasty after affects, although I’m sure she must have one hell of a bruise. I was so horrified, and felt so guilty that my stupidity and carelessness caused this to happen, that it was all I could do not to burst into tears. I won’t make that mistake again.

They Also Break Hearts

As many of you will know, Hal’s horse, Leonie, Leo, has always had problems. Damaged left eye, covered in scars, intermittent ataxia, neurological problems, suspected Wobblers Syndrome. Over the last few months her symptoms have worsened, and she developed a head shaking issue. Her behaviour has become unpredictable, at times challenging sometimes dangerous. Hal has had some frightening near misses while handling her. Our Vets have done a lot of work to try to get to the route of the problem, and see if there is anything that could be done for her. Sadly though

, while Leo seemed to be getting worse, all the tests were inconclusive. After a long and difficult discussion with our Vet we decided that enough was enough. Leo was put to sleep yesterday morning.

This has been so hard. She was only 8, and, as far as we can tell, we were probably the longest home she had ever been in. I also have the sneaky suspicion that her problems were , whether imtemtionally or not, as a result of human action, and The view that a horse is just a thing, not a sentient being with feeling and needs. We will never know the truth, but I don’t think Leo had a good life before she came to us. I hope she felt safe and loved here.

Whatever she was, Leo was no shrinking violet. . She was first at the gate, followed you around, a knocker over of poo ladies wheelbarrows, a grabber of hoses, a biter of bums, and a door banger. There was something about her though that everyone liked.

In Memory

Leonie

15hh Black Irish Cob mare. Passported in Newry, but could have come from anywhere. Exact age unknown, but approximately 8. Taken far far too young.

Very much loved

Next time it thunders, don’t worry, it’s just Leo banging on the gates of heaven because she’s not getting enough attention,

Blind man’s fog

It’s fair to say that it’s been very cold all week. It didn’t actually rain for roughly 10 days which quite honestly feels like a bit of a triumph. We’ve coped with frozen water troughs, and if I’m perfectly honest, rejoiced in the hard frozen ground whichas made such a refreshing change from wading through mud. However things became a bit more tricky when the water started freezing in the buckets in the actual stables. However, we do have a working kettle in the tackroom now, so this wasn’t an unsurmountable problem. That is until Wednesday when disaster struck. The tap on the yard finally froze solid and refused to be revived by boiling water. The tap on the house didn’t want to know either. . So now we’re hauling water from the house to the yard. Hal has been doing the water carrier relay. Back and forth with a wheelbarrow loaded with our enormous water carrier. However, yesterday morning I had to carry the water carrier from the house to the yard, as pushing A wheelbarrow whilst carrying a stick doesn’t really work. I had to make two trips, because I’m not strong enough to carry the water carrier when it is completely full, and on my second trip I really struggled as I had put too much water in and the container was too heavy for me. However I managed it, so my horses did not go thirsty.

All this cold weather has been having quite a serious effect on Hal. Although he has not been formally diagnosed, we believe he has a condition called Raynolds syndrome. This means that, when he gets cold, The blood vessels in his hands contract too much, his hands go pale, and numb, and can be very painful if he touches something. He has really been struggling this week. To try to combat the problem, he has some hand warmer sachets called Little Hotties, which he keeps in his pockets, or can slip inside his gloves if necessary. You just shake them, and they warm up, staying warm for about eight hours. Well they say that necessity is the mother of invention, so when

He was struggling with his hands the other day, Hal had a sudden lightbulb moment. If he placed a little Hottie hand warmer under the water troughs and buckets would it prevent them from freezing? Erm, well yes actually it would! It’s not perfect, but it definitely makes quite a difference.

Yesterday though things got a whole lot more challenging. Storm Emma and the beast from the east had a hot, or should that be cold, date in Devon. The wind blew, and it snowed big-time, and because the Wind blue, The snow drifted. Enter a whole new level of difficulty for yours truly.

It’s not for nothing that some people refer to snow as blind man’s fog. It is the most difficult thing to orientate yourself in if you cannot see. Snow dead and sounv, so you lose all those audible clues, like echoes for example, that you rely on to tell you where you are. Neither can you feel all those tactile clues you get from the ground through your feet. Not just the official tact tiles that you get at road crossings and junctions et cetera, but also those unofficial things tell you where you are, like that even piece of pavement for example. Curbs, sleeping policeman, Grass verges, steps, ramps, and low walls, all things that you might use to tell you where you are, become hidden by deep snow and snow drifts. Using a long cane is extremely difficult, and even Guide Dogs can struggle.

It took us over an hour last night just to give them water. Hal hauling a wheelbarrow through thick drifting snow, and me floundering around trying to find the path I use several times every day. The thought of having to get water to the horses by myself this morning nearly reduced me to tears.

I did it though! I only took a gallon, but added to the remains of their overnight water it kept them going.

Frankly though we are both exhausted. Please let it be Spring soon!

The Terror of the Missing Carrot Bag😓

You know that feeling. You’ve been enjoying your nightly ritual. Check the horses, top up their water, give them their nighttime hay nets, give them some carrots and apples. It’s a lovely routine that brings joy to all who take part.. The horses enjoyed the fuss and attention, and of course the treats,whilst for Hal and I it’s an ideal way to wind down from the day. The fruit and veg, carrots for Leo and Flo, apples for Breeze,are all chopped up and placed in old plastic bread bags so it’s easy to carry and distribute them.

The routine goes like this:

Walk down to yard

Feed fruit and veg to horses

Hal tops up water

I replace hay nets.

Check everything is secure

Say a final goodnight to the girls

Return to house

At this point I normally hand my empty bag back to Hal so it can be reused the next day. So imagine my horrorwhen we got back into the house on Tuesday night, I put my hand in my pocket to fine no plastic bag!

Hal did offer to go and look for it , but it was pitch black and raining sideways, so it was unlikely he’d find it.

I spent a very wide eyed and sleepless night on Tuesday, imagining all the terrible things that could be for a horse who ingested a plastic bag. Was it in a water bucket? Had it become caught in a hey net? Was it lying on stable? Would it get chewed out of curiosity, or accidentally swallowed a drink? Would it cause choke or colic? I spent the night with my ears straining towards the stables. Every slight noise, and there were plenty because it was so windy, was a potential dying horse. I was so relieved on Wednesday morning, when I found three happy, healthy horses, all eager for breakfast. Waiting for me.

Hal found the bag just on the garden side of the gate. Thankfully no harm done – what a relief. I must be more careful

Mud Mud Glorious Mud

Will it ever stop raining? More to the point, when will it stop raining for Long enough for everything to start drying out? Please! We need to have a summer this year.

Everything is permanently filthy and saturated at the moment. The horses never seem to be entirely dry. It’s far too warm to put a rug on then, so they seem to have developed a shell of mud which is virtually impossible to remove. Manes, tails, feathers, and even beards are rapidly morphing into mud encrusted dreadlocks. . Although we haven’t entirely run out of grass, the top field is mostly a trashed boggy wasteland that will need reseeding, if we ever get a Spring that is. Sweeping the yard has given me a deep empathy with King Canute

,I can’t hold the tide back either. Even the avenue down to the bottom field and the muck heap, where no horse treads at this time of year, is so wet and slippery that Hal is having massive problems getting the barrow too and from the muck heap. It’s fair to say that it’s all a bit of a struggle at the moment.

It is strangely comforting to know that we are not the only people who are struggling. Nearly everybody you meet who keeps horses is in the same boat. Really though., it’s getting to the point where that boat should be an Ark! It must be just as frustrating for anybody who is a cattle or sheep farmer, or makes a living off the land in some way.

Sadly the mud Took a terrible toll this week. In a field which is only just down the road from us, an elderly horse got so badly stuck in the mud that a full blown rescue had to be launched. . I don’t know the horses owners, or much about the horse, but I really feel for them and their plight. The ground is so wet at the moment that it was impossible to get a tractor onto the field in order to attempt to lift the horse. Fire and rescue, The specialist animal rescue team, had to attend. It took several hours to get the horses out and up. The horse was taken to a nearby stable, but sadly it didn’t survive. Apparently the horse was 34 years old, A remarkable age, and has been a part of that family for over 30 years. After such an ordeal the poor Thing must have been exhausted I can only imagine how devastated the onus must be. Horses leave extremely big holes in our hearts.

The mud poses A whole new set of different challenges for those of us you can’t see. Firstly, and similar to ice in a way, it is not always easy to tell where it is safe to walk. Yes you can poke at the ground with a stick, but unless you do this you have no way of knowing if your Nextep is going to take you into deep impenetrable bog. The other problem is when you drop something. A classic example of this happened to me yesterday. When we were bringing the horses in, this prime example of human intelligence dropped a head collar into the quagmire. Then had to scrabble around with her bare hands to find it. Cue One short fat middle-aged Horse, owner completely plastered in mud from head to toe, clutching a slippery mud in crusted pile of mank which vaguely resembled a head collar and lead rope, and one totally disgusted horse, onto whom said horse owner was trying to place the aforementioned item.

For a brief moment this morning, when I was giving the horses their breakfast, that magical special time it is just me and then, there was a brief hint of spring in the air. The temperature was just right, there was a gentle breeze, The dawn chorus was in full tune, and, I kid you not, it wasn’t raining. Could this be a sign of things to come? Sadly it didn’t last long. Oh well, it’stime to buckle up, and go and face the elements. I wonder if my coat is dried out yet?