Diary of an Equine Mum

Sunday, 20 May 2012

For Sale - 14 Years Of Happy Memories

So after months of talking about the moving subject, we have finally bit the bullet and gone on the market. Well I say we have, we are not "officially" on the market until tomorrow but our agent decided to send someone round yesterday with the house in turmoil, the boys rooms resembling a squat, paint and ladders strewn in everywhere, cat footprints on the settee...but obviously the couple like than ambience of all of that and put an offer in!! We were just blown away yesterday that we would have an offer so quickly....

Anyway it was a little under what we wanted so the agent has more buyers interested so the exhausting viewings start this week. Now I know I like a bit of cleaning, but it is draining to keep the house in tip top condition. I am going to pass on the coffee simmering in the machine and home made buns aroma wafting as the potential buyer walks in the door. It will have to be a cup of instant and some co op own shortbread I'm afraid!!

So 14 years of happy memories are for sale.... I have loved living here and this house has seen so many happy times and the only odd sad time. With dad dying a couple of years ago now, I have a lot of work that he has done at this house, the sentimental side of me is looking at the bathroom he fitted, the radiators he put on. I have his plants in the garden..... He is not here to see our next change in our lives and I would of been talking all about this to him and asking his advice. Yes it is going to be very sad to leave it but it is time to move on with the boys leaving school and as Steve says, time is ticking by!

We have an eye on the next property which we are viewing on Wednesday. It will be quite a lifestyle change is this goes ahead but I am saying no more until we have seen it, and if we put an offer on it. I will keep you posted!!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Riding In An Era Gone By...

I won’t divulge my age on paper but I grew up in what is now a nostalgic time when learning to ride horses and ponies. Through the 1970’s and 1980’s, before health and safety had gone mad, riding was fun and carefree in my opinion.
I started to ride at my local riding school back in the seventies which would now be reminiscent of a Thelwell piece of artwork. It was bit of a scruffy farm with broken wheelbarrows, old tractors and guttering swinging in the wind type of riding school. We would turn up in our plastic wellies and second hand riding hats longing to see which pony would be given to us to endure the mad half an hour belting round the indoor school. The indoor school would be a loose term used for it as it was just a large corrugated shed that would creak and groan in the wind together with a mud floor.
There would be about eight of us in the lesson and my memories of the half an hour was organised but fun chaos. I was given the same pony nearly every week, and I would spend at least some part of the lesson, hanging in his mane or face down in the mud. No one worried whether I was hurt, in fact my mum would just drop me off and let me get on with it! In those days, there wasn’t a mere mention of insurance, compensation or signing a long solicited letter in order to ride. You just turned up to ride and if you fell off, you just picked yourself up, dusted yourself off and got back on.
Compensation culture is killing the everyday riding school. These days’ attitudes have changed to compensation and many feel it is their right to receive payments for injured legs or a bruised shoulder. This unfortunately hikes the prices in insurance premiums which the every day riding school of today is struggling to pay. Many are closing down because of this. If you choose to do any sport, especially horse riding you should accept that if you get hurt that is part of the hobby. I remember we used to hack out round the fields of the farm and we would all be clinging on for dear life bombing up and down the hedgerows. Sometimes there were falls that would result in injuries and broken bones but no one worried about it. It was part of horse riding after all.
I know that many riding schools now make the rider sign a disclaimer making them responsible for their own injuries, which I think is the only way a riding school today can avoid this compensation worry. When we were riding over thirty years ago, it wouldn’t have even entered our heads to “sue” the riding school if we fell off and were hurt. Riding schools have been the backbone of equestrianism, providing jockeys, equestrian experts and riders of all spheres. Those carefree horse riding years in the sixties and seventies have produced top riders of today such as Mary King, William Fox-Pitt, Pippa Funnell, The Whitakers and many more. I worry that in the future, this country will be struggling to provide riders at all levels if the starting point of using a riding school is taken away.

Now with modern age indulging in Health and Safety and No Win No Fee Claims, it is so nice to look back to these days and reminisce about Follyfoot, Black Beauty and Flambards. I don't know about you, but those days I miss...

Sunday, 13 May 2012

A Delicate Horse Riding Lesson & A Trip To The Hospital!

What a day I had yesterday.... After spending Friday night catching up with some friends over some bottles of Cava, I woke early yesterday morning thinking it may have been a better idea to move my riding lesson on a week. Yes I was feeling some what delicate! Anyway, my delicate state soon worsened when Zeb came in from the field a different colour to the bright bay he was meant to be....he was now a muddy dun. The big git was covered head to foot in mud - joy...
So after lots of scraping and brushing he finally resembled his normal colour again. My friend was having her lesson first so I decided to warm up Zeb by hacking down the long hill and back again. Coming back up the hill back to the yard, the horses across the road from us were going absolutely mental! Zeb, bless him, was not phased at all and was more interested if he could get a sneaky mouthful of grass whilst his neighbours were doing handstands!
I haven't had a lesson since November so very rusty on the schooling side of things...again. My instructor said we would have a look at transitions and do some canter work to get me back into it again. My transitions coming down from trot to walk is particularly untidy so we worked on bringing the trot from a medium trot, to a working trot to almost a jog and then a walk to smooth the transition. After working on this it did start to look almost elegant. Zeb is very sensitive to aids but probably with mixed reactions from me, to come to a walk is almost a stop! Also by adding in some half halts seem to work as well which I am going to have to put this transition work into practise (she says......I will go in the school - honest!)
Towards the end of the lesson we decided to do some canter work, particularly on the left rein as Zeb has a habit of putting in some un-asked flying changes. The problem I have is when he puts a flying change in, it puts me completely out of seat and then it all goes to pieces which results back to trot and the whole thing has gone. My instructor this time was making me sit deep, and continue on with canter by pushing him on, and not allowing him to stop even if puts in a flying change. This was done on a large circle as he does seem to be more prone to the FC on the straight. After a few practices and me pushing him on, this worked. We did it on the right rein which was so much better. So a good lesson all in all - I came out feeling positive and there is talk of going along to some low key dressage next month, so I will keep you posted on that.
That afternoon once home, my husband decided as for once as it wasn't raining (and we are putting our house on the market..another long story!) to start tidying the outside up. We have some rampaging ivy growing up the back of the house, so he got his ladder out and up he went to trim it all up. Five minutes later, a huge crash and bang, he fell straight down on to the decking! He was out cold then when he came too he was sick! So straight down to A&E....
The wait was 4 hours!! Fortunately the girl on reception I knew as we used to work together and she got us in quicker, especially with a potential head injury. (It's not what you know - it's who you know!!) The waiting room was heaving and there were patients on trolleys in the corridors. The staff were running around and I just don't know how they do it. I spoke to my friend later about her job and she told me stories that would make your hair curl! One woman came in yesterday afternoon and said "what was the wait?" She was told 4 hours, then she said ok don't worry I'll come back tomorrow!!! Priceless.....
Anyway Mr H had every test going, CT scans, XRays, bloods etc etc. Thankfully he only has a serious bout of concussion, bruises and a badly sprained ankle. It could of been so much worse.It was very humbling to see the workings of that hospital yesterday and I cannot fault the staff, they were absolutely brilliant. So if any of you that work in the NHS, especially in A&E - you need an award! We were meant to be going out to dinner with friends last nignt, which we obviously couldnt make it - so it was a drive in MacDonalds on the way home....with relief that it wasnt anything more serious and we were going home.
So a very calm Sunday for me today. We are both walking around like cripples...me from my lesson, Mr H from his fall....