So here we are, the 31st December 2019, and as the stable door closes for another year it’s time to reflect on what has been a topsy-turvy year for various reasons.
At the beginning of the year plans were being made for monsoon, remember her - the lovely bay mare I had on loan - we were having regular lessons and progressing well. But unfortunately she was to return home to her owner, too many details to bother you with, but that’s life.
Jasper, well he has had a cracking year for a 2 year old, and a late one at the at! He took the supreme title at his first show of the year, and for the few we actually contested this year, he did me proud, I’m sad that my knee problems have kept his season well and truly short and sweet, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t mind not being bathed and trimmed every week! He looks like a woolly mammoth at the moment, but he’s enjoying simply eating and having fun being the yard clown!
Fast forward to October, and my latest Equine joined the family, the fabulously gorgeous Calvados Spirit, Cal to his friends! He is still enjoying his down time since retiring from his racing career, and has been taught how to “horse” by Jasper very well! He is an absolute joy to have in my family and I’m so excited for his future, once he’s had his rest time obviously.
2019 wasn’t the most exciting of years on paper, or screen (!) but that just makes me more determined to make 2020 one to have to edit in December as it’s too jam packed! Yes this year’s had its ups and downs, and although the plans made in the early part of the year were scuppered, as always it’s been a case of “if life gives you lemons, then make lemonade”, so cheers to making new plans for 2020 and should they change, then I’m going to be making new ones!
Since monsoon went home earlier in the year, there was a gap, not to mention a field and stable, left empty! For a few months I’ve spent time doing things like housework, cooking, baking, cleaning, attempting to become a good housewife, but let’s be honest here, unless I’m with my horses, doing what I wholeheartedly believe I was put on this earth to do, I’m nothing more than a bored miserable human being.
But you have Jasper, I hear you cry... yes I do have Jasper, and as a 2yr old he gets what all baby horses need, time out in the field being a horse! Barring the grooming and the odd show here and there, he requires little more than having the early education of manners and daily care, not long reigning or lunging etc, so yes, while Jasper plays horses, I play housewife!
But what about the shop and your coaching I hear you cry again.... well, yes, I run the shop, Kilminsters Equestrian and Pet Supplies, for anyone who may have been living under a rock for the last 6 yrs (!) and I do have a busy coaching schedule, but this is “work”, now if I were to say to you, well you work 40hrs a week and it’s a full on job you do, but you have nothing else apart from that other than keeping a tidy house, I think you might understand my predicament!
Anyway, moving on, over the last few months it’s been like Groundhog Day, doing the same thing over and over again, wake up, feed Jasper, do his daily jobs, work, feed Jasper, come home play housewife. Now I realise how lucky I am to even have a horse, don’t get me wrong, I adore Jasper and enjoy watching him “horse”, I love my family and enjoy cooking for them etc, I love coaching, I enjoy watching my little shop evolve and grow year upon year, (with the help of Debbie my Business Partner), however, I need that extra bit of riding, it’s like a drug, I feel like I’ve been cold turkey for months and the withdrawal symptoms have finally won, so we did something to break Groundhog Day, we went to Scotland.....
My amazingly patient, supportive husband told me to find myself a new horse, (I think he was getting fed up of me being round the house !) so after looking at some while I was sat in the shop last week (12/10/19) I wasn’t overly keen on anything I’d seen, so Dean suggested I contacted Kevin, from Solway Racehorses, the place we got the lovely Harry (mercer’s row) from a couple of years ago, who tragically suffered a field accident and we lost him, I hadn’t been in contact with Kevin since then but hey, nothing ventured......
I sent a Facebook message to Kevin at approx 2pm on the Saturday, by 4pm I had been sent a video and info on a horse called Calvados Spirit, by 4.15pm Dean had booked us a hotel at Preston and arranged to have Jasper covered, as we were off to Scotland that night!
I finished work in the shop at 5pm , Dean went off to do Jaspers evening duties, I rescheduled the weekends lessons, (thank you ladies!) and by 6.15pm we were driving to Scotland, arriving at the overnight hotel at around 10pm. Morning came, we had breakfast and headed off on the final leg to Canonbie, arriving at 11am as scheduled.
This was surreal, I had now met the man who sold me harry, I was in Scotland, I was about to ride a horse, I was saying to myself “what are you doing” over and over, however, the moment I set eyes on Cal (that’s his name now!) it suddenly felt “right”.
The tricky part was mounting, I have a very dodgy knee which I am awaiting a hospital appointment for as it locks and causes immense pain with no warning, so a leg up was going to be out the question, Cal only finished racing the previous Saturday and was (is!) still racing fit, and they don’t do mounting blocks do they.... well, if I were to ride him, I needed to get on, so Kevin took him to their mounting block and we hoped (prayed?!) he would be ok with it, I fumbled up the block, knee already hurting, one foot in the stirrup and, clumsily mounted, now, a lot of older horses would have questioned this imbecile fumbling around trying to unlock a locked knee to find the other stirrup, let alone a fit 16.2hh racehorse! Yet Cal stood like a rock until I had my stupid leg under control, then we went off for hack, alone, in a place neither of us had been before, unchartered territory, on a horse who I met 10 minutes ago, who hadn’t been out the stable for 2 day, while Kevin and Dean waited back at the Stables! What could possibly have gone wrong... well quite a lot really, mainly my sense of direction, but I decided it would be best not to have to have a search party sent out after us and after 20 minutes or so, we turned for home, Cal didn’t put a hoof wrong, he was an absolute saint. Once we returned back to base, I took him into their school to try him out, he’d been in there once previously, when Kevin’s daughter rode him for the video he sent me, but that was it, however once I got over the stunning views from the arena, we walked, trotted and cantered on both reins even did some trot poles, some transitions and changes of rein, Cal did not feel like a horse who had raced only a week ago, just an uneducated youngster, which at 6yrs old he is, he was so willing and tried to understand what I asked of him, unfazed by the poles on the ground, or the fillers under the jumps we passed, he just did what I asked. I loved him!
Once we got back into the yard the I had that aweful realisation that I now had to dismount, omg, my knee was firmly locked in the right stirrup and any movement caused me to catch my breath, I was stuck on a 6yr old racehorse! Kevin took hold of his reins while I managed to literally throw my right leg, still in its fixed position, over Cals quarters, with Dean catching me like some kind of superhero! Testimony to Cals temperament right there, he didn’t give a hoot, just looked at me like “what are you doing?”
So, there we were, Dean agreed to buy Cal for me, but we had to wait on transport, I didn’t want to travel him all that way in a trailer, so Kevin sorted transport out for me.
Cal arrived on Thursday 17th October, at 8pm, following an 8hour trip, our yard isn’t accessible to lorries so once again I had to trust that Cals previous good behaviour was going to be continued as he now had to walk, in the pitch black darkness up a long lane, up a muddy field, to his new stable, with me on the end of a rope! This really was madness! However he unloaded and waited while we sorted his passport and stuff out, then walked like a little lamb next to me into the abys, where we were met by a very intregued Jasper!
He went to bed and after a while I gave him his supper and left him to chill.
By morning he’d woken up to views across the fields and Jasper next to him, and I was greeted with two happy faces. Breakfast eaten and rugs changed, I led him out to his field, unclipped his rope, stood back, but Cal just sauntered off to have a look around, not fussed about running or anything. Calm as a cucumber! That couldn’t be said for Jasper, he left the gate at mac 9 and squealed like anything until Cal went over to say hi!
Now, day 4 beckons, and in those 3 days he’s been here, he’s not changed a bit, he follows me round like a dog, is so gentle you could leave him with your frail granny, is learning to “horse” with the help of Jasper, and is enjoying life.
I‘ve no immediate plans to get on and ride, he’s having some down time and a full MOT before we even begin retraining, but having been asked a lot about why we suddenly ended up travelling to Scotland for a day out (!) this was why...