My Life With Horses - Part 6
At the end of the last hub, we had started looking for somewhere new to keep the horses - the yard we moved to came under the heading “OK”, but there was very little land and it was a drag from home. The next couple of years were relatively quiet in equestrian terms, just me, my son and the horses getting on with life.
Then a farmer friend of mine suggested I took the horses to his farm, nothing spectacular but not awful and much closer to home – in fact it was on the way to where I was working at the time. It sounded like a good plan so I gave notice on the yard I was renting and set about arranging to move.
My friends from the equestrian centre offered to pick us up in their lorry so all was prepared for the grand move. As the entrance to my yard was impossible to get a lorry in we arranged with the riding school next door to load in their car park. I took my lovely one whilst my friend brought the ex-racehorse and we duly loaded them with no problems. Then came the chestnut .........
He was rising three and still entire then, a bit green and a lot arrogant. As we approached the ramp to load, he totally flipped for no apparent reason. He reared as high as he could manage and waved his front feet at me. Enough of that I thought, as I got him down and re-approached the ramp. Unfortunately he had different ideas – he proceeded to not only rear but do everything he could to hit me in the process. I can’t actually remember how many times he got me, I can remember it hurt! Of course, the friends who were with me tried to help but he was having none of it. Every time anyone tried to approach he would stay on the ground long enough to let fly with his heels – very effective at keeping people away, I can tell you.
He stopped as suddenly as he started and just walked straight up the ramp. Hastily someone shut the back, leaving me with what I now felt was a total psychotic, who, to prove his point, managed to add insult to injury by stamping on my foot as I tied him up! I made my way to the jockey door and discovered it was locked, the rest of them had disappeared! Much shouting and banging of doors later someone heard me and let me out. At the time I couldn’t see the funny side of it, bruised and battered as I was, but everyone else thought it was hilarious. So now I had a reason to dislike chestnuts and my revenge was swift and sure, within two weeks the offending creature was no longer a stallion!
HORSES, SHEEP AND HENS
So, we duly arrived at our new home and all was well. It was a bit unfortunate that if there was the least sign of rain I wasn’t allowed to turn the horses out in the field but I had a large, secure yard that they could wander round so it wasn’t too bad.
Hay and straw arrived before I knew I needed it and if anything needed fixing I only had to mention it – except the lighting, that was never installed despite many attempts. Still, now I’m an expert at mucking out by car headlights and a torch in the winter!
We shared the farm with assorted animals, but it was mainly sheep that were close by. The farmer’s wife was pregnant and there is a risk associated with lambing ewes and expectant mums so I was roped in to do sheep watch at night! This involved getting the torch and going out to the barns every hour to see if anyone was giving birth – sheep that is, not his wife! I didn’t mind and I was on hand to do the horses in the morning before going to get ready for work so it saved time and petrol. Unusually the sheep were very good to me, no-one got into difficulty nor dropped dead while I was taking care of them, thankfully. I am quite fond of sheep and didn't mind the time spent with them and I was also happy to look after the two hundred or so hens for a few days when the baby arrived. It was an awful lot of hens and I was very proud of myself, feeding and watering them twice a day - I was bird phobic at the time and was quite scared of them!
We had one near disaster while I was suffering a bout of flu. It was a winter evening and the horses were ambling around the yard while I did my best to muck out. I was going through the gate to empty the wheelbarrow but didn’t quite shut it, you know how it is when your ill and working – everything goes against you. One of the horses nipped through the gate and set off at a jolly gallop up the hill. That was fine until he turned and came down the hill at the same speed. What I knew and he didn’t was that there was a barbed wire fence to the neighbours field at the bottom of the hill. He spotted it at the last moment and took off but the top strand caught over his knees and somersaulted him into the other field. In seconds he was on his feet and heading back, this time he cleared the fence and disappeared into the woods. I was mortified – I had no idea where he was nor what state he was in. My son came to my rescue and set off into the dark woods to find him. A little later he called from the dark that he’d found him and was bringing him back.
Seconds later my son came out of the darkness holding on to a snorting, prancing thoroughbred in a shredded rug. We got him into his stable and with a good deal of trepidation undid the rug, needless to say I was confronted by quantities of blood and torn skin. Much cleaning and dressing later, he had calmed down and I was a wreck! H was treated with bute and magnetic therapy (I’m a magnotherapist). Believe me, that horse is one tough cookie, he even refused to be lame and within the week was out in the paddock as though nothing had happened. He healed without external scarring and you would never know how badly he was hurt.
The next couple of years were quiet and peaceful in our world, just work and everyday life, then during a show jumping judging session I had a visitor. My son was working for a rider at the yard I used to teach and apparently I came up in conversation, which was what provoked the visit from the yard owner. He stood in the judges’ box and asked me when I was bringing the horses back to his yard! I thought about it for a few days and felt that it was time to do more with the horses. To do that we needed better equestrian facilities than our pleasant farm could offer, so, in fear of history repeating itself, I arranged to move back - more of that tale later.