Friday, 26 May 2017

The simple life

Last night's sunset
If this post suddenly cuts out mid sentence then I've been lured back outside by the spectacularly generous weather.

I took a week off work and by some kind chance we have been bathed in unrelenting sunshine and blue, blue skies. The May blossom is out in swathes and glorious is the only way to describe it.

I may well be deluded but I think Nancy is the most beautiful dog
Zed's headshaking didn't stop or improve with the nose net so while I'd normally be riding I've had to tread a different path and find other ways to entertain myself. 

Which has not been hard. My trusty bike has been gathering some miles to and from the stables and I've been overcoming my reluctance to ride on the roads. It's only a few miles to the yard and I've always fancied biking it but I'm a bit wobbly with right-hand signals etc. Phil did a couple of test runs with me and on Sunday while he was out doing an 85-mile marathon, I plucked up the courage and did the trip alone. It was fine. Actually, it was great fun, with some good hills to fly down. Since then I've been going by bike most days as Zed has been put on Fat Camp and needs to come in for a few hours each day before he adds laminitis to his list of woes. 

Nancy has been thriving on lots of early morning walks followed by bountiful sun-worship. She would sit out every minute of every day if she could.

Phil reading under a tree with Nancy
For a couple of reasons we're being careful with money right now (explanations will follow) so it's been a holiday uninterrupted by shopping and spending which is fine by me as I've never liked either.

Instead: biking, walking, yoga and podcasts have been the order of the day. I'm really into the Happier podcast with Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft and I love their idea that you need to design your summer so it has a good feel to it.

In light of which, I've planned a trip for Phil's birthday involving beautiful scenery, camping and a sadistic amount of hill-climbing by bike. Probably not much fun to many, but definitely tempting for us, strange as we are. 

It's been a simple week, full of simple pleasures.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

I rode Zed on Thursday. Though 'rode' is a strong word in this instance.

I tacked him up and sat on him and asked him if he remembered all this nonsense from before. He turned and glanced at my right toe and gave a non-commital "Maybe."

Then we scuttled up and down the yard a couple of times before circling the indoor.

Somewhere between eviscerating his left hock and growing obese enough to waddle dangerously, he has also developed head-shaking: perfecting the triumvirate of disaster.

While I would very much like to rest his leg longer (he is sound in walk and trot now for everyone who wants to string me up) I am conscious that if he puts any more weight on he's going to crash with laminitis so reluctantly I've decided to bring him back into a bit of walk work.

So there we were on Thursday afternoon, walking around the indoor and he was thrashing his head up and down like a shark killing a seal. It was not fun, and I concluded things quickly. 

When your face feels like it's full of hatching spider eggs the last thing you need is someone sitting on you. 

I returned home and raised my fears with Phil, who furrowed his brow and said he thought I had Munchausen by Proxy. 

Finding no sympathetic audience I decided to try and buy my way out of trouble. 

After looking at equilibrium nose nets online I found a cheaper alternative on ebay that looks exactly the same for a third of the price. 

Our fate now rests on a small piece of netting and velcro. How reassuring. 

Friday, 19 May 2017

No shortcuts

There are no shortcuts in life. You can't fast-forward through tough spots. Love can't be forced, nor can friendship. Careers take time and effort. It's all plodding up a never-ending mountain with great views and no particular guarantees.

I think a life with horse falls under the same laws of physics. No one is a good rider overnight, horses don't go to sleep as green four-year-olds and wake up as schoolmasters.

I think we accept this as an idea, but in real life there's more tension around it. Yes, we know we can't be perfect straight away, but shouldn't three lessons be enough?! 

It's like watching grass grow, as Denny Emerson says.

I've been having lessons since January for my Stage 3 and there's been a lot of sweat and not much improvement.

In my heart I'd given up waiting for it, like a child who gets sick of asking if it's Christmas yet. I just figured it wasn't going to happen and my expectation fell away.

My lesson yesterday was on the lunge. We did work without stirrups, concentrating on keeping my lower leg stable through the transitions. 

At times, I could concentrate enough to feel that my leg had stayed stronger and stiller underneath me.

The grass had grown. A tiny, little bit.

Just as immediate progress is impossible, gradual progress is inevitable. You just have to keep going up the mountain. 

Thursday, 11 May 2017

When good people get together

Love this picture of Nancy, by Morson Photography Check out her topper work here
Yesterday was glorious, our first genuine, blazing summer's day. You could say the ideal day to realise that a committed group of people can achieve amazing things...

I walked Nancy early, had a lesson on Whisky and then walked down to my husband's work in the next village.

The charity, Cornerstone, moved into an even bigger workshop premises a while back and yesterday was the official opening. The former Sunderland footballer Jimmy Montgomery came to cut the ribbon and loads of supporters turned up to witness and celebrate.

I'm amazed by what they've achieved there, it's bloody terrific. It seems to be a magnet for marvellous people who can Get the Job Done. 

Cornerstone supports people who are homeless, or at risk of becoming so: and also offers alternative provision for young people who are struggling at school. The workshop is somewhere that their service users can volunteer and work and the money from the garden furniture they sell feeds back into keeping the supported housing funded.

Which all sounds very serious, and it is, but they all have a very good sense of humour and the chemistry of the whole thing just works. 

Nancy knows everyone at Cornerstone and thought it was a party just for her. To the point where she cried a bit during Jimmy's official speech because no one was fussing her. 

She also had to be extracted from the buffet by Phil. Presumably the community spirit was all a bit much and she forgot herself. That, or the waft of egg sandwiches was just too tempting. 

Cornerstone was started a few years ago by Steve Vasey and has bloomed into something that is local, but big, friendly, but important.

It's and everyday magic that does us good to see. To support, check out their Facebook page