Snow Days & a Glimpse of Spring

Originally posted 21st February 2012

Sunday after Bury Farm was an opportunity for a nice, lazy snow day. The horses all got turned out for a few hours. They are always dead keen for a massive roll, sometimes it is quite an effort to get the young ones as far as the field before their knees go weak, and a rather nerve-wracking gallop around. With both Anna and Sophie at home it was a lovely chance for a proper Sunday lunch and catch up before they set off for London.

As Sunday and Monday weren’t too cold, the road outside was dry and clear by Monday morning which let me give them all a short ride in the woods in the beautiful new snow. I had booked them all a session with Jose Gomez, the equine chiropractor, who had been recommended to me by dressage rider Sarah Hall, after a chance remark about the similarities between her dressage horses by Ferro, and my Ferro and Emma who are granddaughters of Ferro. Although I am a bit of a sceptic about the benefits of alternative therapies in general, Biscuit has always been difficult to keep straight and very is peculiar about having her rugs on or her neck rubbed, so I was interested to hear his observations. Jose had a really lovely rapport with the horses, his observations broadly matched my own and the girls looked very relaxed during their treatments, and exhausted afterwards, which is how I feel if I have my back manipulated. I definitely think Biscuit is a little bit straighter after her treatment, but honestly can’t really tell the difference with the others. Hopefully, they have all benefitted, and I am doing their daily exercises with them so that any benefit is maintained.

From Tuesday onwards it got colder and colder. My worst icy job is taking the ice out of the water troughs, although a hammer and a cullender do make this easier. As the road was dry I hacked round the roads until I managed to borrow a 4×4 to harrow the snow off the school. Unlike the very posh surfaces our rubber school is never frozen, but it is a bit of a challenge persuading a Ford Fiesta to drag the harrows over the snow.

Wednesday brought a trip to London, primarily to visit the bank to sort out taking over some of my late Dad’s trustee responsibilities. An interesting day: I asked which bus to take to Trafalgar Square at tourist information at Victoria, very helpful personnel, but they don’t really speak English, which must give a strange impression when you step off the Gatwick Express, unless you actually are from Poland, in which case it must be a huge relief! Then off to the Royal Bank of Scotland where it took an hour and a half to establish that my Dad wasn’t coming to the meeting because he was dead, to print various forms off the computer and to learn that apparently they don’t do email or direct telephone lines (a little bit disbelieving about both those). I then had a lovely lunch with Anna, sadly Sophie couldn’t come as she had overdone it so badly in the gym that she couldn’t move her neck. Rushing for the train back to Haywards Heath I managed to twist my ankle so badly that the pain actually made me puff. I am very prone to random, non horse related injuries.

Andy, Caroline, Lilac and Xander took the half-term opportunity to visit Ruby. She was so thrilled to see them all – bouncing about, and they were so pleased to see her too. She and Twiglet got two lovely long walks. Lilac is a mad keen rider, so while Caroline kindly finished cooking Sunday lunch, Lilac rode Ferro in the school. Lilac has spent a lot of time learning to ride in New York, and now at Wellington in England, and did a really good job, meaning that on Monday we were able to go for a lovely hack.

We had saved Coke and beer cans all week so that Xander, Mark and Andy could make use of Mark’s very swanky air rifle and shoot at them. Cans were piled up, hung on bushes and trees, and targets were propped up on a cardboard box.  As children we spent hours lying on the haystack shooting washing off the line and holes in the gutters, but I don’t know anywhere else but here where the snipers kneel on pillows and shoot out of the window of a centrally heated bedroom.

Wednesday brought the opportunity of a lesson with Biscuit, as I felt we were both a little bit chicken after our fall. Sadly, this was only too true. I was a bit ineffective and Biscuit was a bit worried, with the result that Shane kindly had a quick sit on her, followed by me being a bit more determined and a bit less wet and we were hopefully cured. I practiced again on Thursday and Saturday with the result that I felt that we were both really confident for Crofton Manor on Sunday. Somehow Emma managed to have a bit of a bruised sole, probably from the snow followed by a long canter on Ashdown Forest, so she stayed at home while Biscuit, Ferro and I embarked on a long day at Crofton on Sunday. Biscuit jumped two lovely rounds in the Discovery and 1.05, just having the same fence in both rounds when I slightly fired her, and Ferro had one down in the Foxhunter for no good reason, but felt easy, classy and confident.

Yesterday I took a thankfully sound Emma to Little Manor for a “Fit to Ride” session with Jon Pitts. I am always very aware that I am inclined to sit to the left, and the videos from Bury Farm confirmed this. Jon videoed me, initially walking in a straight line, then trotting and cantering. All this confirmed that I do sit a little to the left, and that I lean too far forward. Although this wasn’t news to me I was amazed in the change in Emma’s stride and head and neck carriage when I really kept my weight back over her centre of balance (just behind the saddle flap). We then watched the videos and Jon showed me some exercises to do on the exercise ball. It was all incredibly helpful, and I obviously worked hard as I felt completely wacked by the time I got halfway home.

We have had a sad family day today going to Mark’s Aunt Gill’s funeral near Tring. A lovely service, but a sad goodbye to a lady who had struggled bravely with Parkinson’s for the last 10 years. The discovery that Twiglet has been upstairs and chewed the heel of my Christmas Present Jimmy Choos certainly was not the perfect end to the day, or her finest hour. Another Lewis challenge for the cobblers in Lewes – hopefully one he will rise too!

Sophie & I ready to hack out Biscuit & Ferro

Sophie & I ready to hack out Biscuit & Ferro