Day 25 – Throw back Thursday – Ophelia & Brian

Below is the post I wrote on 25th October last year. What a contrast! We had just lost my little Section D , Sapphire, who had been with us for 13 years. Sadly we lost Leonie, who was only 8, this March.

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

On The Move

So once again Hal and I found ourselves desperately trawling around trying to find somewhere to keep Magnum and Sapphire. The situation hadn’t goth any better, and I was genuinely frightened about what was going to happen.
It was my Vet who saved the day. When he came on a routine visit I told him about our problem. Later that day he phoned me with details of another client of his who was looking to take on a livery. It turned out that this lady, Tina, and I used to know each other when we were in our teens! Her yard was lovely, so. In September last year Magnum and Sapphire moved to Tina’s.

Tina was very helpful and supportive, and understood that, as we were actively house hunting, we had no idea how long we were going too be with her. Om the other hand though, Tina was going through a protracted and complicated divorce, so her place was for sale! Was this meant to be? Well, no as it turned out, but that’s another story.
Eventually though we found the place we now call home amd our adventure really began.

I Didn’t See That Coming!

We stayed at Jim’s for almost exactly 2 years, and we were happy there. However, keeping horses on a working hill farm is not without its challenges, especially when you can’t see.
Cattle, sheep, dogs and chickens have a nasty habit of moving around.. Pigs escape, chickens lay eggs in your hay, kittens get born in your bedding, and yes, you do occasionally find a dog in a manger!
One of the things about being blind is that, in order to survive, you constantly make maps of where everything is in your mind. Or at least I do. It saves time, helps prevent accidents, and stops you feeling stupid when you get lost in your own home. However, it’s impossible to map anything if things are never in the same place twice. When I finally slip off this mortal coil, and the Great Auditor tallies up the ways I spent my time, I shudder to think how many years of my life will have spent either frantically searching for things that are right in front of me, or trying to find items that people have ‘helpfully’ moved so as I don’t walk into them or knock them over! So keeping horses on a working farm, or at a riding school, or busy livery yard is really hard work for us blind types, and that’s before taking the horse care into account.
It’s worth it though!
As I said, we were happy at Jim’s. However it was during our time there that our fantasies about owning our own little yard grew into solid plans.it was also during this time that Hal began to learn to ride.
What we didn’t expect was to be forced to leave Jim’s before we’d bought somewhere. Unfortunately Jim is a tenant farmer. His land lord, or rather the land agent for the estate, suddenly after 18 months of us being there, announced that Jim was breaking the terms of his tenancy by renting to us. Jim had no choice but to ask us to leave.
Once more Magnum and Sapphire had nowhere to live.