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

Buckle Up Baby, We’re About to Hit Turbulance

Wow last week was challenging. Yes it had its high points, but , like all roller coasters, it had plenty of dramatic and frightening lows. So buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
It goes like this…

Monday. Not having been feeling too well for the last few days, I had a lie in and didn’t check the horses first thing. So there we both are, tucked up in bed, when the doorbell goes. There stands our young next door neighbour with the news that the horses are in the process of clambering through the hedge into our bottom field. Cue mad dash to catch them in. No harm done thankfully. Just a realisation that that stretch of hedge is no longer secure.

Monday was such a lovely day that I took the opportunity to hop on Florence and go for a ride. It was one of those rides where everything just clicked. It was like we were telepathically linked. Perfect!

Tuesday. 6.30a.m. Tuesday saw me standing in the field trying not to go into a total melt down as I listened to Florence struggling to breath e. Seriously, I’ve never heard any horse make that kind of noise. Did she puncture a lung getting through the hedge yesterday? Should I call the emergency vet? Calm down dear! A horse who is at deaths door wouldn’t be trying to steal mints of me, would she?

I waited for the Vet’s to open before calling them, and waited on tentdrhooks until a lovely new vet arrived. She was very thorough, and had a lovely way with Flo. It turns out that there was nothing wrong with Flo’s lungs, but that her upper airways where completely blocked with mucus. . The poor girl was completely bunged up. Bloods was taken and antibiotics, anti inflamatories and decongestants prescribed. Nothing but R&R for Flo for a couple of weeks.

Wednesday. With time on my hands, and the sun shining we decided we should do something with Breeze. So I hopped on board. . She went off really positively, and I was just warming to the idea that Brezd might turn out to be as nice suddenly…
Let’s just say that, even with doing everything he could to help from the ground, when Breeze naps there ain’t nothing I cann do about it. She stopped, I sent her forward. She Sam round, I turned her round. She went backward, I sent her forward with Hal leading her. Hal let go, she span, I turned her round. She went backwards…
You get the picture. Anyway, this went on for what felt like eternity. Breeze getting more and more cross, me getting increasingly dizzy and disorientated . Then a van came up the road behind us. I got off.
We walked her in hand the rest of the way, and she was an angel. Looks like we’ve got some work to do to build Breeze’s confidence..

Thursday. Riding lesson day. We both had very positive lessons . Both of us had taken steps forward. For me there was also the fact that I had ridden 3 different horses in 4 days, and, I was not in any pain! Perhaps I am finally getting back to some degree of fitness at long last.

Friday. Bloody Leonie kicked Hal! He’s OK, very sore, badly bruised and very shaken. . We’ve been putting light rugs on then at night when it’s cold and taking them off in the morning. Leoni has grown out of her rug from last year (which luckily fits Breeze) and is actually wearing one which I bought for my old horse Bella about 20 years ago. . Unlike the more modern rugs, this rug had fixed leg straps. . I prefer a fillet string, and always remove detachable leg straps and convert one into a fillet string, but in this older rug the straps were sewn into the lining of the rug. Leonie is not convinced about about the whole concept of rug wearing, and had let me know she wasn’t happy with the leg straps. Poor Hal was actually undoing one of the offending items prior to taking the rug off when she lashed out and caught him on the thigh. I’ve cut them off now!

Sunday. A lady called Clare, who works at the yard we bought had arranged to come and see her. I had originally suggested we rode out together, but the vet had told me not to ride Florence. So Clare rode Breeze while Hal, still hobbling, led Sapphire in hand. Breeze was a bit nappy, but seemed to draw confidence from Sapphire. Sapph herself seemed to really enjoy herself, and didn’t put a hoof wrong.

Tuesday. Ever known true fear? I did on Tuesday night. We checked the horses last thing as usual but there was no sign of Florence! What there was was a lot of churned up mud, some broken fence, and a huge hole in the bank, but no Florence! Now there are two things you need to know. Florence is not the horse for striking off alone. Leonie or Sapphire, it’s a point of honour with both of them to thoroughly test the security arrangements in any location, but not so Florence. In fact, in Leo’s earlier escapes, Flo really became very anxious. So something bad must have happened for Florence to have gone by herself. Secondly, a long way below where the hole in the hedge was there is a deep, corn create drainage channel, and I mean a long way below! Also, behind our land, and again, a long way down, there is a disused sunken lane, it!s only use for years, an unofficial dumping ground to the lazy. All I knew was that Florence must be down there somewhere – and she was ominously quiet!
With the others , strangely subdued and compliant, caught up and munching hay in their stables, Hal braved himself up and went on a fact finding mission. I went for reinforcements in the shape of my Dad who was staying with us.
I don’t know if horses have multiple lives in the same way cats do? Hal found Florence down in the sunken road. She was a bit wide eyed, and very pleased to see him, but stood on all fours and totally fine! If there is a God of Horses then it was certainly watching over Flo on Tuesday night. The problem was now how to get Florence back home. The obvious answer would have been to walk her down the lane to the village and back up the road. No chance! The lane is so blocked with rubbish that a cat couldn’t get through. I don’t think Hal knows how they did it, but he and Florence managed to clamber up the bank into our field. It was now about midnight!

Florence seems none the worse for her adventure, and is all better from her breathing trouble too. I don’t know what happened, but all four of them have been unusually agitated since Tuesday, and they all keep staring at that corner of the field.

All I know is that we are very lucky to still have Florencd.