Diary of an Equine Mum

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Yet Another Year Flashes By....

A rare picture of Mr and Mrs Hobden!
I opened my blog page today and was horrified to see four posts in draft that I had started to write and never finished.... That is shocking behaviour for someone that runs a blogging network! I can only blame it on poor time management on my part and will correct this as soon as possible. Once I start typing a blog post I really enjoy it, its just making the time to sit down and do it. 

This year has been in general a good year. A few ups and downs on my part, but some friends around me have had a terrible year. You really don't know what is around the corner in life and watching some go through very worrying times, it makes you really appreciate what you have....

In June Miles had his leaving prom (pictured top left) which was quite sentimental really as it has been sad to think my children have now all left school. He had a great time and even us parents partied into the night at Sally's. A few days later we left for a week in boiling hot Rhodes which I think will be the last time we all go away together as a family... The boys bought along some friends too and we only saw them at dinner and the occasional breakfast when they surfaced before the dining room shut at 11am!

The summer has been spent living in a building site with major building work going on with some re-roofing, walls being knocked down, floors relaid, rewiring, new plumbing and a new kitchen. Thank goodness the fantastic summer went with us on the works as it made it all so much more bearable. I am now the lucky owner of a fab new kitchen which is a complete improvement on what you can see below!

I inherited some money when I lost my lovely dad a few years ago and wanted to buy something in memory of him so I invested in an Aga! We have bought a reconditioned one with new lids and resprayed in charcoal grey and I love it. It has totally changed the way I cook and I have kissed goodbye to my kettle, toaster and tumble dryer. She is a complete work horse and we now have heat  and it is nice not having to wear my body warmer on in the day like last winter!!

All the animals are well and Harley has now calmed down quite a bit. I love having him and he really has changed our lives for the better! Nothing like a dog to make you get off your backsides and walk out the house twice a day come rain, wind, snow or sunshine! I am definitely so much fitter - it must be the running after him when he decides to belt after those errant pheasants for three fields!

Zeb is really well but despite battling a bit of mud fever which is now under control, he is all good! My riding has taken a bit of a back seat due to many reasons but I have had a friend ride him out in the week which takes the pressure off me. We have now four horses at the yard which has taken some more time and my friend Sue is sadly battling cancer so extra man power has been needed at the stables.

Baby Rio came to the yard which my friend Bev decided to take him on after being orphaned losing his mother at 6 weeks. It certainly has been a big learning curve dealing with a youngster but a very enjoyable one. He has his moments which can be challenging but overall he is a well mannered lovely young colt.

The autumn has been busy with work and Haynet is becoming more of a job than a hobby. Again, it's a very enjoyable past time but changes are needed to take it forward. I hope 2014 will be a good and developing year for the network, so watch this space!

So we have just had Christmas which I simply cannot believe another one has flashed by. Billy turned 18 on Christmas Eve and again I was very sentimental about him becoming an adult. It almost feels like "job done" but I know that simply is not the case in this day and age! Billy has had a challenging year lets say with big ups and downs. College has been hard work and he decided in the summer that uni was not for him so A Level subjects were changed and now he is on course to do an apprenticeship in accounting next year. Anyway we celebrated Billy's 18th in style on Christmas Eve and both boys went to bed a little worse for wear. 

So in just a couple of days we say goodbye to 2013. I have lots on the horizon next year featuring work, rest and play! Life is definitely too short and we must make the most of it. I absolutely promise to keep you more up to date as I have really enjoyed writing this post. Blog posting should not be a chore and write when you want to write. Well I have decided that I will write more often.


Tuesday, 30 April 2013

When Life Seems To Be A Military Operation....

The crowds and the walking @ Badminton!
So this weekend I am escaping... I haven't escaped for a while, in fact it's been a few years. With last years chaotic house move, going away was way down on the list of priorities. I'm off to Badminton Horse Trials for four days with friends, and no family in tow. I'm so looking forward to it but the countdown to the military operation in order for my household to run while I am away has started. It gets to the point where I sometimes wonder is it worth all the work! I have a huge list to do, I should be doing them now instead of writing this blog post....
The fab William Fox-Pitt who I will be rooting for!
I have work to catch up with and then do paperwork to cover when I'm away, I've got horses to sort and arrange meeting the farmer to arrange for a bale in the field for Zeb to munch while I'm gone. I've got to shop for the masses for easy to open food for the family to consume with ease. I've got to make sure the cats and dog have enough food with written instructions on how to feed them. I've got to arrange for Harley to be walked as Mr H is on crutches (torn ligaments, long laborious story, it needs a whole new blog post for that one!). The boys have a social life I was told, so walking the dog would be very tricky to fit this in.....  I've got washing and ironing to do by the ton not really for me but for the boys as they have work (uniform needed) and parties to attend.
Why do I do it, I hear some of you ask... because I'm a mum and probably a little bit of a control freak I suppose. It's normally domestic carnage upon my return so to have a plan in place makes it all so much easier!
So I head off with some friends on Friday for a totally horsey weekend in the Cotswolds. I will be mixing some business with pleasure meeting a few contacts to do with Haynet too. I am thinking of doing a stand with another company in the future so some market research is being done this weekend! We are staying with friends in an unofficial B&B capacity and we are thoroughly looked after and spoilt over the three nights we are staying there. I have robbed some money from the money tree and have a little list of necessities that I need from Premier Equine, Kate Negus and Joules!

Anyway must dash and stop talking and start "doing"! I will be back with all the news from Badminton very soon!



Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Winter Depression Has Lifted!

Harley First Time In The Snow
This was dear Harley only a few weeks ago - hard to believe when I am typing this with sunglasses on (must sort out a blind for the window!) with the temperature gage showing a positively tropical 17 deg at 6.30pm in  the evening!

It's been a very tough and long winter. Being in our new place which has not received any maintenance for some years has been a draughty and expensive house to heat in the last six months. Layer upon layer I have put on and we still fed the oil company and the log man twenty pound note after twenty pound note. I cannot write down what we have spent on fuel  this winter but I could have had a five star luxury break in Bermuda with the money! 
Zeb In His Winter Coat!

It's also been incredibly hard work with the horses this year. It's either been a frozen ice rink making riding impossible or monsoon wind and rain. I make no secret of it, I will not ride in damp conditions! Zeb has continued to settle over the last few months and I can honestly say he is now back to the old Zeb that I know and love. Moving has been an upheaval for all of us but I really did not take into account how it affects the animals in our lives!

Life has been super busy with work starting on the house with the front room now finished and a shower room upstairs which has been a god send. Having daily baths has been bit of a bind and also really time consuming! We have finally moved the office in the workshop outside and I am really thrilled with it!
Haynets New Little Office

The boys are fine and busy consumed with school and college as the last term starts with exams looming. Billy has found this years work with the A Levels quite tough as the workload is far higher than he has ever had to deal with before. We are off to college next week for a University meeting to start the process of applying for 2014..how scary! Billy has also been driving and has his theory test this week. I am dreading him driving when he passes his test. Do mums ever stop worrying?! He has also got a job part time at Herstmonceux Castle which he grumbled about at first but is now enjoying, especially with the pennies rolling in. He seem quite reluctant to part with them when I said he could now contribute towards his driving lessons and car tax - funny that!

Miles is leaving school in a months time and then he will have his GCSE's to do through May and June. He has been accepted to do a BTEC Engineering course for two years at college which we are really pleased about. 
The Beautiful South Downs Of Sussex

So Spring has sprung this week and my winter depression has definitely lifted. I was out today walking Harley with a tshirt on and he was shattered as it was the first time he has manically run about in this heat. I am very lucky the dog walks around here are just stunning with views towards the South Downs. It's amazing how the air just changes with a bit of warmth and sunshine. I have now got back in the saddle more frequently with the change of weather which has been great. Zeb has been a very good boy with no obvious spring nonsense (she says **touchwood**)!
Me and The Big Guy
A Fistful Of Horse Hair!
I have spent the last few days brushing and brushing and brushing his coat which is coming off in fistfuls.  You could honestly make a lovely horse hair mattress out of it! I even think Zeb has come out of a winter depression and I was watching him in the field today with the sun on his back, looking a very happy horse!

So I hope the summer is going to be kind to us this year because I think we all pretty much deserve a run of good weather. I have a lot going on in the next few months from Proms to Holidays, a trip to Badminton, Hickstead and Brightling for my horse fixes and then Hen Parties with an Alice and Wonderland theme among others!

I hope to keep up to date with all my goings on and will keep you posted with my trips out! Roll on summer of 2013!


Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Coughs, Colds And A Horse Meat Scandal

Well the last few weeks in this house has been full of the sounds of coughing, sniffing and generally moaning. We have spent half the weekly shopping budget on Lemsip and Sudafed and I am not sure they make a huge difference to be honest. Miles came home a few weeks ago feeling dreadful which developed into man flu, then Steve had the man flu and now I have a thick cold...which is what the true diagnosis is!

Trouble is I cannot take to my bed when I feel ill (like certain males in this house did), the cogs of the household wheel would fall off. So I put on my "martyr" badge and carry on....with work, the dog walking, horse mucking out and exercising, washing, being a taxi driver and the food shopping. Talking of which what we put in out trollies has been full on in the media and social networks this week with this dreadful horse meat scandal.
This scandal is very close to my heart being a horse lover and being married to a qualified butcher. The whole lesson of this whole sorry saga is the need and necessity to buy cheap food. My food bill like everyone's has soared over the last few years and to eat healthy and good locally sourced food is too expensive. This is why the beef lasgane in question is only £1.29 because it has not got any beef in it. If it had, it would be double the price. To be duped by the manufacturers that they are selling beef is down to them checking their supplier. 

Being a horse lover, I really have no problem in people eating horse meat, that is their choice. I personally wouldn't eat it, as it would be like me eating Zeb, or my cat or my dog. The whole issue of this scandal is the manufacturers making huge profits from their products lying through their teeth as to what is in them. However, I know that some families struggle to put food on the table because of the costs and to go to the butcher seems off limits with their budgets. My feelings are to try and go back to the good old days when a joint of meat should go further than the one roast, with cold meats used the next day and then whatever is left minced for the third. It may be more labour intensive but at least you know what you are eating and I think you would save money in the long run.

This also shows what happens when we import meat from abroad because it is cheaper. In this country we have strict guidelines with our meat production which I know is reflected in the costs when you have good quality, UK sourced meat. I hope our attitudes change with this and we all look more carefully at what we are buying. If we do change our buying habits then the need for cheap imported "meat" products will decline putting a stop to the dodgy practices and the awful animal welfare issues that have been seen in countries abroad that have been supply us with so called "beef".
The animal welfare that is around this scandal is particularly upsetting, especially for the much loved horse. I have read some very upsetting articles about this. Truly shocking....

Anyway must sign off, lots to do and I have got to do some food shopping today as the cupboards are bare. I will be very careful label watching today and thinking a bit more about what I will buy. I just hope when the furor of this dies down, our attitudes to processed meats and cheap meat products has changed.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

I Have Been Nominated! It's Not An Oscar But An ESMA!

Well what a start to the week! My equestrian social blogging network aka Haynet (hay-net.co.uk) has been nominated for two awards!! I have been nominated for BEST BLOG and BEST EQUESTRIAN SOCIAL NETWORK! I am so excited and really thrilled.  I haven't given my website 100% over the last six months as moving house twice and Zeb twice has been incredibly time consuming. However I did make sure that every day it was checked, content was added and chatted with members, even if it was only for a short while. 

Haynet has been going for 16 months now and as the membership has increased and with over 245 equestrian blogs listed, members are starting to use it for themselves. I have some brilliant members that write some fantastic blogs showing us all the ups and downs that come with life with horses. It is also great to see members that do not blog, just use the site to meet with other horse riders. I am also so pleased to see members that haven't blogged before, start through Haynet.
To be nominated for these awards have given me the boost I need to progress into this year with the site. I have quite a few ideas and changes that I would like to make. From hours that I spent approaching equestrian companies to provide content or advertise, they now contact me.  To have this site as my main job would be my dream, but pennies are hard to find in the social network/blogging game. It is out there, but you have to work very hard to get there.
So if you would like to give me a VOTE, then please do and have a look and tick a box for someone else in the many categories. Voting closes on 8th February and the winners will be announced in March. Very exciting indeed! I will keep you posted...

Come and visit HAYNET, the UK's No1 Equine Social Blogging Network

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Teenage Party Aftermath & A New Computer

As promised and my New Years resolution was to blog more so its the 2nd January and here I am updating. Yesterday wasn't a very relaxing day in our household, yes far from it. In a moment of weakness I agreed to Billy (17 year old oldest son) to have a New Years Eve party. As we have moved into a house that is in the early stages of being done up, I talked myself into the fact that the aging carpets could cope with a "few" teenagers. Through my rose tinted glasses I thought perhaps his party may be as refined as in the picture above....the glasses didnt work - I needed black shades to cover the sight upon my return at 12.45am...
A Few Sneaky Pictures From Facebook I Spied!

Me and Stephen declined a couple of NYE parties with the view that we needed to stay sober and also we had to find somewhere we could take Harley Pup Pups who would of had a nervous breakdown with the onslaught of a teenage invasion. We went to a friends to slop out on her sofas drinking coke and eating our own body weight again in crisps, sausage rolls and handfuls of Celebrations. When we returned home (I was dreading it) the first thing that greeted us was toilet rolls that were lobbed on the drive. When we went in the house the floor was a sea of lager with bottle tops to match. We fought our way through a throng of 20 teens and that was just in the kitchen. The small gathering was more hitting the 50 mark... (yes I have read the horror stories of teen parties ending up ripping out bathroom suites etc and they would of done us a favour if this had been the case!)

To cut a long story short, it took nearly an hour to turf them out, amongst bin liners full of bottles and biscuits and ham.. Yes biscuits and ham! We left no food but they raided our cupboards and fridge to eat and squash in the carpet biscuits and ham.. each to their own.

We finally got to bed at 3am with about 5 staying over. I didn't really sleep very well as my OCD was kicking in big time. I went downstairs on New Years Day about 7.30am, put my Ministry of Sound 80's Anthems on full blast, started the hoover which the dog hates and barks constantly at and started the clear up. I spent the next 5 hours wringing lager out the cushions, clearing up ten toilet rolls from the garden, picking up garments, odd shoes and then flashing the house from top to bottom.
To be fair nothing was broken, and it was just dirty and a mess. There is a blob of chewing gum on the carpet but if any one has some top tips to remove it, please let me know. They all had a good time which I am glad BUT I am never having a teenage party again! 
My other news is that I have bought myself a new computer. My old one was getting slow and we just want to use for our business so it was time to replace it. After lots of searching and researching and bargain hunting in the sales, I have gone for a HP Pavilion All In One 23. So far very impressed and typing on it as we speak.
Anyway must go - the washing machine full of cushion covers bought back to life I hope from not stinking of Bulmers and Fosters are ready... Until next time!