May 2017

Wales has just had the driest April in ten years! A lovely welcome for us in our first spring at the new house. Also very useful as we haven’t had the arena built yet (big planning backlog apparently) so we can use the field every day.

Diva is making progress with her canter. I don’t think she has ever been on a hill before (originally she came from the Netherlands) and although the field only has a slight slope she did struggle to find her balance to start with. She has however loved the big space to canter around when they are turned out, so she has been practicing on her own!

I think we sometimes forget that horses can now live in such a controlled environment that they need to be taught things that we assume they can do naturally. Young horses raised in groups on large hilly paddocks have far more skills than those raised in small squares where they cannot get up speed once they are bigger than a foal. These skills are of course crucial to a sport like eventing, but they are also essential for the development of all horses, giving their bones, muscles, and ligaments a chance to develop and stay strong enough throughout their working life.

Enough about one of my ‘hot-under-the-collar’ topics. On the home front we have been having an entertaining time at auctions lately, both furniture and horse. Yes, I said horse! I am sure you don’t want to hear about the furniture, but I am now pleased to say that the third stable has a new occupant. “Lady” is a newly broken Welsh Section D 4yo who has a wonderful nature. As I write this she has only been here a week so Carol is just starting her off slowly, building up a partnership with walks round the orchard and river area.

Sadly the other girls are being a bit clique-y in the field so Lady has to graze slightly off to one side, but otherwise they are beginning to get along fine. I think Diva is pleased to have someone to boss because Lexi is usually the one that is in charge. I was watching Lexi eat from the hedge the other day and Diva started eating a little bit further along. Lexi immediately went and threatened her away and stole her spot! She does this quite often when they are grazing too, on the principle that “the grass is always greener where the other horse is eating”.

(P.S. for those who are interested, we are getting some fantastic furniture bargains at the local auction e.g. a double bed worth nearly £1000 for only £15, and a leather-topped wooden filing cabinet for only £12. I highly recommend auctions for bargains, although you do have to keep going until what you want turns up).

Horse auctions are however a bit sad. Lady went through with caring people who were with her at the pen, rode her around calmly to see everything, and talked people out of buying her if they thought they weren’t capable of taking on a green horse. They also kindly delivered her so that Lady could travel in a familiar vehicle with people she knew. However, some foals and young-stock were unbroken or newly halter broke and were wide-eyed and nervous, wondering what the heck was going on. For those arriving with friends that they had probably grown up with, it was going to be a really big day for them as they were going to a strange place with strange people and without their friends.

Of course, many people buying at the Welsh sales are well-meaning people offering caring homes (sometimes forever homes) and the purebred horses sold well (with one Shire colt going for £2000), but it was still going to be the biggest day of their life so far. It was amazing how well they all cope with the strange things that humans do to them.

That’s all for this month. Hope everyone is enjoying the spring weather and getting lots of riding done. But if you are in New Zealand/Australia then watch out for the cyclones.

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