Sunday, 29 May 2016

What a cutie (horse, not me)

Phil came to watch us mill about on Saturday and Zed was super obliging and trotted around in a very innocent and delightful manner. Fine by me! 

Today he was back in restless, cross crab mode and I decided he was probably bored witless of the indoor so we had a trot up the yard and a mooch around the outdoor. He seemed to appreciate the change of scenery so this week will be all about getting him out and about. 

What a cutie :)

Friday, 27 May 2016

The tiny, angry rocket

Now minus feathers, with muscle and summer coat. Swan moment.

Some time ago my husband mentioned a bike ride he wanted to do with some of the volunteers at his work.

"That sounds marvellous, dear," was my response, laden with the warm enthusiasm only possible when it's not your arse that's going to be swarming in blisters.  

For reasons still not entirely clear (maybe some kind of hypnotism or brain-washing episode) I ended up sort of arranging the trip, and definitely taking part.

Bicycles are not my friend. They do not neigh, they do not empty my bank account, they do not eat carrots. They make NO sense to me.

And yet. We still managed to cycle 200 miles in glorious sunshine from Tynemouth to Edinburgh. No one died. No one shouted. Only one person fell off (me, natch).

Zed was left in the capable hands of YO and team and by all accounts, had a much more eventful time than I did.

It seems that my cycling jaunt upset his tidy world and at the start of the week he chucked his toys out of the pram entirely.

Fortunately, YO and team are made of sterner stuff and gently but firmly won him round and put some good miles on the clock.

Aside from a minor bronc slash cat leap slash what the f&ck is my horse doing incident on Monday, we've had some excellent rides this week. 

He's getting much more settled and confident in trot and his sanity levels are improving. On Monday I felt like I was sitting on a tiny, angry rocket but as the week has gone on he's gradually set aside his twattishness and relaxed into it. 

Which makes it all sound like a hilarious doddle. Make no mistake, young horses can be brown-trousers scary stuff and I would have given up ages ago (or never begun) if I didn't have a yard full of pros ready to tell me what I need to hear.

Namely: "There's nothing wrong with him. He's four and he's eaten fourteen tons of good grass and now he has enough energy to fart his way around Badminton twice."

I knew it would be hard, but I don't think I realised how much I'd fret over it. That said, it's also more rewarding than I expected. 

Higher risk, higher reward and all that.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Happy Monday from...

...the wombat of Crook.

Richmond Horse Trials 2016

After the roaring success of the Braes P2P we decided to offer our services at Richmond Horse Trials.

Only for charitable reasons you understand, and not at all influenced by: great hospitality (bacon sandwiches, cake etc); glorious, galloping horses; and the prospect of a free mug.

Plus, chatting in the sunshine while supporting equestrian sport? Nothing not to like here.

Any excuse for a picnic

The briefing was at the unholy time of 8.15am so it was an early start, much buffered by coffee and said bacon sandwiches. We were given fence 12 to hover next to, which was this rather friendly hay feeder/roll top. 

We had a great view of the course and not a single refusal or fall for the BE90 so all our efforts went into thinking up good commentary to radio over. "Gingerly" "Laboured" and "Wasting no time" were our favourites. 

Fence 12 BE90
We saw some lovely riding, and some great horses. Not to mention quite a lot of ponies blasting around. Nice to see I'm not the only one who likes a stumpy legged steed...

Over and away
Lynne had brought Lando along and he provided invaluable support. He snuck into the front seat and let me use him as a table, he helped us eat our sandwiches, and he looked after the whistle. The whole thing was clearly very stressful for him, as you will see below. Especially when we tried to take a selfie and it looked like we'd taken him hostage.

We need to go to selfie school methinks

Beyond cute

Our afternoon fence for the Novice was a little more Eeeep. The jump itself - triple brush skinny - was a bit scary, but the route beforehand made it extra challenging. The horses had to jump a decent pheasant feeder, head downhill, then turn sharply and meet it off around four strides. 
Would not go over it in a helicopter

Well, despite our nerves, we got to see some great riding and some bold horses. We saw a handful of run outs and one poor lady plopped off when her horse refused, but even then she remounted and rode on like a proper trooper. The under 18s were jolly impressive. There's nothing quite as overwhelming as a 12-year-old on a minuscule pony bearing down on you at 100mph and sailing over giant fences with aplomb. Shouldn't they still be colouring in at that age?

Meanwhile, I sat in the sunshine eating crispy cakes and contemplating the merits of dressage and pleasure rides, where all four of Zed's feet can stay safely on the ground. I'm fairly traditional in that I like my brains inside my skull.

Ears pricked, no bother

"Is there a carrot in here?"

The weather came out lovely for the afternoon and we tempted fate by sitting out. Behind us we had a lovely babbling stream and it was all terribly outdoorsy and idyllic except somewhere nearby there was a demented ice cream van running through his entire collection of tunes.

Stressed to the max

Our alternative fence, a little less bat shit crazy
Nine hours of fence judging passed extremely quickly and it was a fabulous day out. If, like me, you prefer to enjoy eventing from the safety of a deckchair, I highly recommend it. The only danger is over-dosing on pringles...

Monday, 2 May 2016

Trotting, charity ride and the joy of fleece leggings

Look how no bother he is <3

After some long-lining on Saturday, the yard owner gave me a leg up and encouraged us to try a trot under close supervision (we are still a liability quite frankly). Zed took no issue with this whatsoever which was great, and we rode solo for a while too. He's still ver ver alert and meerkat-like, but, no violent displays so much happiness from me.

Possibly even more exciting was going to catch him yesterday and he trotted over to the gate straight away from quite far off. I couldn't believe it. He often walks/trots over as I get close but this was even cooler. I'm much more used to horses trotting away from me - RIP Rodney you adorable little f@cker! 
Stone-cold awesome - except for when the spring grass arrived and he went awol ;)

As the weeks pass, Zed is burrowing his way firmly into my cold, dead heart. Trotting up to me in the field looking cute is blatantly manipulative. He's playing me like a violin. His winsome ways were rewarded too, as he only had to come in for his tea and a chill while I went on a charity ride organised by the yard.

Despite pouring rain beforehand it brightened up a fair bit and it was lovely to go clattering around the countryside for a couple of hours on the wonderful Freddie ginger horse mountain of mightiness. 

I tried out my fleece-lined leggings on the ride and they were everything I'd dreamed of and more. Highly recommend if you often feel like a human ice pop plus they are less than a tenner off the tinterweb.

They are also the only thing standing between me and hypothermia when we cycle to Edinburgh in a couple of weeks time. I'm scared but also faintly curious. Bikes are not my thing but the thought of having steely thighs is quite appealing. 

While I'm away I plan to enrol Zed with the professionals at the yard, so they can put some miles on the clock. If it's left to me he's going to have arthritis before he canters or hacks out. 

I'll be in my fifties, he'll be in his late twenties and we'll be wobbling around the walk/trot test at the local dressage. 

I won't allow it. The shame is too much. 

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Hamsterley Forest - Saturday 10k

Though I tote this blog as being about dogs, yoga, running etc - it's basically been taken over by horsezilla lately. So in a bid to redress the balance a tiny bit, here's a photo fest from my Saturday run at Hamsterley.

It was such a beautiful day for running - glorious (longed for) sunshine but not baking enough to shrivel us into raisins. The air was clean and cool and still. I had my intrepid running partner with me (Nancy) and both of us were dying to jump about and chase squirrels. Erm, maybe just one of us for the squirrel thing.

Majestic trees

More majestic trees

About 30 minutes in we heard mad crashing from the undergrowth and I grabbed Nancy's collar just in time to see two stunning adult roe deer gallop past us and bounce off back into the forest. Moments like that are so special. We've seen millions of deer over the year but it still makes the hairs on my neck stand up. 

Majestic trees and small, unruly lurcher

Lime and leopardskin - making great sock choices since never

We'd parked at Windy Nook and ran back towards the visitor centre, where it was crowded with families enjoying the weather and the play park. 

Hamsterley is so popular but within five minutes of turning around and heading up the far side we were alone again for another hour. There's so much forest to lose yourself in and actually we did get lost a couple of times. I blame Nancy, she's hopeless at map reading.

After crossing a stream and wandering in circles we found a familiar landmark, a stone ruin, and stopped for a selfie. Nancy was not co-operating, as you will see below. I'm glad no one was watching.
Smaller, twisty tree. Still majestic

Enjoying the view

I started running last August and, with a couple of small breaks, I've been trotting about for most of the winter. The wider purpose is to be fit for riding, but on Saturday the only reason was for pure enjoyment. What started as a grudging hobby has turned into a small but significant love affair. Life is very surprising sometimes!

Being made to sit on the bridge for a photo. Not pleased.

So pretty

Thrashing about in a drainage ditch

Thrashing about in a drainage ditch - the sequel

Not a soul in sight

The scene of a heroic crossing which led to a seriously wet trainer

Nancy: "Wtf?" 

Forced cooperation, unhappy face

May blossom

I can think of no caption for this except maybe -- 'Oooh, a big dead tree!"
All in all I think we covered a steady 10k and because I did a whack of yoga beforehand it wasn't too painful so must remember that for future ref. 

Ten years ago Saturdays were for work or hangovers and if you'd told me the future I would have laughed. But there you go...