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.

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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 11 – To Rug, or Not to Rug..

, How things have changed over the years. When I bought my first horse 30 years ago, when it came to buying rugs for him there was very little choice as to style, , weight, fabric or colour. For turn out it was a green, canvas, New Zealand Rug, and for the stable, a Jute Rug with a separate roller. There was also a string vest style sweat rug. If your horse was cold, you put a bed blanket under the rug. If your horse was wet, you put the jute rug on inside out, and thatched him with straw under the rug. I remember there being nothing more heavy and difficult to handle then a truly soaking wet, mud plastered, New Zealand Rug.

Fast forward 30 years

and the choice of rugs is mind blowing . The equine clothing industry is a multi billion pound sector which seems to be going from strength to strength. However I do wonder how much of this is actually Led by fashion, and owner shaming, rather than the actual needs of the horse. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t go back to using a heavy, difficult to handle, old-fashioned New Zealand Rug if you paid me. However I sometimes wonder if all these different rugs are strictly necessary, and if the basic animal needs of the horse are being forgotten.

Last year I did a quick count up, and was really shocked to discover that I had around about 40 rugs. Okay, i’ve owned horses for about 30 years, and in recent years I’ve had as many as four at any one time. I also have a tendency to keep hold of the Quitman, even when I have no real need for it, just in case.

. My attitude towards rugging has really changed since we moved here and have been doing it all ourselves

When I kept my horses on full livery I was very much influenced by what the yard owner said I needed to do. By and large, they were the ones who were actually handling my horse on a daily basis, so when they told me I need a particular rug, off I would toddle and buy one. After all, they were the expert here, Who was I to question their judgement? It wasn’t until I bought Magnum, and ended up having to keep him and Sapphire more or less on a do-it-yourself basis, that I started to question things. The actual Yurika moment came courtesy of the woman whose land are used to keep Magnum on, and who, at the time, had Sapphire on loan for one of her daughters. It was June, admittedly it wasn’t a particularly nice June, but it wasn’t what you would call cold.

I can’t remember where we were, but it would’ve taken us about an hour to get back to home. Suddenly my mobile phone rang, and when I answered it I was met with a very shouty voice, which informed me that I had to get to the field NOW! That it was raining, that I had to put a rug on my horse NOW! OR ELSE!!! When we did eventually get back to the field, it had stopped raining, and the Sun was shining. I found a comfortable and content Magnum stuff in grass like it was going out of fashion, in the company of four extremely uncomfortable ponies, all wearing rugs, and sweating profusely. Why has she shouted at me like that, and why was she letting her ponies suffer through being too hot? It wasn’t very long after this that I decided to try and move Magnum two other quarters. It was when I told her that I had found another billet for him, that she suddenly decided she didn’t want Sapphire anymore..

In recent times I have read a lot of articles written by vets and equine physiologists, which question the need for horses to be rugged except in the coldest conditions. Thereseems to be a lot of evidence now, that horse is a very good at regulating their own body temperature, and, in general, are perfectly comfortable

In temperatures between 5 – 25 degrees. This means that just because we’re cold, it doesn’t mean our horses are. Since last winter it has been my policy not to rug umtil it’s 5 or below, or under 10 if it’s hammering down. It’s fair to say that they are hardly wasting away.

Day 10 – Standing Out.

That thing that I wish everybody would wear, not just at this time of year but all year round, it’s high viz clothing. There seems to be a lot of focus on what is fashionable, but not necessarily practical, in all the horsey magazines, and websites., and sadly, there still seems to be the attitude in certain circles, that there is something wrong with wearing high viz clothing when out and about in countryside.

This was highlighted by a visitor to our house, Who took one look at my husbands Bright orange Equi safety Riding code, declared that he wouldn’t be seen dead in it.

he was totally bemused by my response”That’s the whole idea!”.

Day 7 – 10 things I love about Autumn(?)

Hmmm, today’s Blogtober Challenge is to list 10 things that I love about Autumn. The thing is though, and you better sit down here, I’m not sure that in the grand scheme of things, I am particularly fond of Autumn.partly it’s because, as regular readers will know, I am frightened of strong wind, and Autumn is usually when the storms increase. Partly it’s because hunting and shooting, and the arrogance and rudeness of people on both sides of the argument upset me.. mostly though, it’s because of living with Retinitis Pigmentosa. One of the earliest symptoms of RP, and one which I personally had since birth, is night blindness. So for people in early stages of the disease, who can see pretty well thank you very much, during daylight, or good indoor lighting. But are rendered blind from twilight onwards, the Autumnal Equinox means less hours of useful eyesight, and less independence. Nowadays I am well beyond the point where it makes any real difference to me. However, I well remember how frazzled I used to get when it did. I know several people living with RP who suffer from crippling depression and anxiety at this time of year.

I do like to try to look on the bright side though. So here are 10 things I do like about this time of year.

1. Cooler weather. Being an overweight, fair skinned, freckle Celt, I am not built for heat and humidity. In fact it can make me feel quite poorly. So when the temperature drops below 20 I am much more comfortable.

2. Frosty mornings. A rarity in these parts. That crisp, clean, clear air that makes you feel really alive, and makes it feel as if the whole world is sparkling. What’s not to like?

3. Less flies. Daddy Longlegs (shudder) not withstanding, there are noticeably less flying, buzzing, biting, stinging, irritating pests around.

4. Silence. I refer you to my earlier post, the Sound of Silence.

5. Fallen leaves. OK, I know all about the dangers of sycamores , but you really have to be made of granite if the inner child in you doesn’t enjoy kicking through freshly fallen leaves.

6. The smell of somebodyelses wood smoke. We don’t have an open fire or a wood burner ourselves but plenty of folk around here do. , and I love the smell of woodsmoke, especially when it’s cold outside.

7. Being Able to take the dogs to the beach. Woo hoo! The holiday season is over, and so on the punitive restrictions placed on dogs being allowed to go on to Devon and Cornwall speeches. I mean it’s not as if there are any families who have both children and dogs is it? I’m going to stop now in case I go into full frontal rant mode. Hopefully though, if we do manage to get our own trailer, riding on the beach might be a realistic possibility next year.

8. Quieter roads. Both as a pedestrian who lives innan area with few pavements, and as a rider who lives in an area with zero off road riding, I really appreciate it when the tourists have gone home and the roads are a tiny bit quieter.

9. The West Country Christmas Equine Fair at Westpoint Arena. OK, as it takes place in December it’s really a Winter thing, but it’s my 1 guaranteed horsey day out each year, and I really look forward to it.

10. Strictly Come Dancing. I love it! From September to Christmas it’s like having a big glittery panto party in your living room every weekend.

Day 6 – ..And Suddenly it’s Autumn

Yesterday was gorgeous. Blue sky, gentle breeze, and really very warm. Poor Florence was already in a muck sweat tby the afternoon when we caught her and Breeze in for some TLC. . The midges were out in force and biting for all their worth..

Today, somebody somewhere has finally got the memo about it being October. The temperature has suddenly and dramatically dropped, the wind is blowing, and, oh my word, that rain is cold!

Sometimes I think that sudden changes in weather conditions like this can really upset a horse. Professionally I am a holistic complementary therapist, and I’m used to looking at a person’s wellbeing as a whole, body, mind, and spirit. It is impossible for one to be affected by something without there being a knock on affect on the other two. We call this the triad of health. To be truly well all three elements need to be in balance. Easier said than done. I try to treat my horses in the same way. I’ve noticed that, when the weather gets cooler there is a tendency for horses to become a little bit more sharp and spooky. Even my laid-back cobs can be affected by this. So maybe that’s why, when one of my neighbours started up his pressure washer this afternoon, something happened so regularly that I would’ve thought neither of the horses will take any notice now, Breeze shot off down the field like she was trying to win the Derby. Paul Florence thought the breeze was going to have a go at her, Lept into the air and shot off in the other direction. I have to admit this came as a little bit of a shock to me, I was only a couple of foot away from them at the time, albeit on the other side of the fence. Still it’s nice to know that this pair of elderly porkers have still got it in them

Day 4 – Haygain

Our expensive new toy arrived yesterday. . I’ve been kicking the idea around for a while now, but finally we’ve done it. We’ve bought a Haygain hay steamer. We’re both childishly excited about it, and can’t wait to steam our first bale.

Florence has always had trouble with her breathing. Dry hay is an absolute no no, even dryer Haylage can set her off wheezing. She does a really good Darth Vader impression . Up until this year I would’ve said that Breeze didn’t have a problem. However, back in January she developed a really nasty cough. Steroids, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, Ventapulmin, several vet visits, soaked hey, and it didn’t really go away until she was turned out full time.

I hate soaking hay, it’s a real faff. This year, the unusually cold weather we had in March made hay soaking a massive problem as the hay nets froze in the soaking bin. . Good quality, moist Haylage is at a premium in these parts, unless you are buying proprietary brands, and they are rediculously expensive!

So enter the Haygain. Hopefully both horses will breathe easier this Winter.

WinterReady

ow can it be the end of September already?especially when we are still being blessed with such gorgeous weather. This time last year Mark had just finished the school, and the drains around it were running like fast flowing streams. We still had four horses back then, and we were already supplementing hay in the field, as our land was just a barren boggy wasteland. It was so wet that we couldn’t get a tractor on it to cut the hedges.

Compare then to now. Well, at the end of August, the unusually hot, dry Summer had left us with a bit of a dust bowl! The ground was rock hard, and, like last ear , we hardly had a blade of grass to our name. Since then, a smattering of rain, nixed in with lovely warm, sunny days, and cooler, dewy, nights, and, Hey Presto!, a textbook September flush. Now we only have the two horses, both of whom are extremely good doers, I am having to be very careful. That said, I’d far rather be facing Winter with too much grass than none at all.

We have a barn full of hay, a few bales of good quality haylage left over from earlier in the year, and more hay up at Steve’s. leonie’s stable is full of bedding. The hedges were cut on Thursday, and the bigger trees are being trimmed this week. The horses have been clipped. Rugs washed and ready. At the moment, our land is lush, green and dry under foot. I think we are as ready for Winter as we can be.

Let’s just hope it isn’t the four solid months of snow that the local News people keep going on about.