Saturday 21 February 2009


You won't believe this, but its ALMOST Spring-like here - no doubt only a brief respite before it starts snowing, hailing or freezing again, buts its fantastic while it lasts :-)

Sadly for me, this gorgeous break in the weather has coincided with a week of absolutely full on inside boring paperwork...So I am doing horses in the morning in the dark then just as it gets warm and lovely coming inside and getting my head stuck into the books...DOH!!!!!

Fortunately for my horses, there has been hunting this week, so Hector and Felix have had a busy one, with friends who have been out on various days - sadly not me - and they are thrilled to be back out there again.  

Charlie is still stomping around looking decidedly cross and sorry for himself, missing all the fun, but will just have to stay at home until he is 100% again, silly boy.  

Meanwhile its so warm that the clipped horses are down to single rugs, and the unclipped ones are going naked - what a lovely change!

Tuesday 17 February 2009

The boys are back in town..mostly!

Snow has thawed and, yippee ki-ay, we have above-freezing temperatures nearly all the time ;-)

Yesterday we had our meet at Rockley, a real neighbours' Monday morning job, with only a few riders but a good number of foot and quad bike followers, who, with great commitment, managed to eat nearly all the sandwiches, sausages and chocolate brownie and drink a respectable amount of tea, whisky macs and port :-)

Charlie is off games for a few days :-( He went out on exercise on Sunday morning with me and Sam over the moor as happy as a sand-boy but came in from the field later that afternoon with a definite unlevelness - the field is steep, slippery and it had been a sunny day, so its odds on he has pulled something, stupid boy...There is no heat in his leg so its either very deep or up in his shoulder - what a muppet. So he missed hunting yesterday, entirely his own fault, and Felix went as master's horse instead.

I took Hector the Space Hopper and Andy had wacko Jacko, and despite not having hunted for 2 weeks in H's case and longer in Jack's, they more or less behaved(!) and we had a lovely day with Spring-like temperatures and SUNSHINE - a bit at least :-)

Saturday 14 February 2009

What a change...

...from last week! Its taken a long time for the snow to go - there is still stuff lying on the hill tops and here and there, but its back to normal, more or less. The horses are relieved to be able to see green stuff again, even though its more yellow than green...

Its warmed up a lot too, and I think that before too long it will be time to stop the sensitive horses from having access to it during the day. Spring is far from here yet, but at least we now have the odd (brave!) crocus or daff poking a blade up :-)

Saturday 7 February 2009


Felix and I went to see if the snow plough could ckear the lane...!


The horses made it to the field!

Headcam such fun!

Can't get out, can't hunt but CAN take lots of pics and video clips in the snow :-)

Then uploading them indoors next to the woodburner is the perfect way to thaw out ;-)

Thanks to Sarah Braithwaite and her cool headcam for the ability to video handsfree while riding!

Snowing again :-)

Thank goodness for barefoot horses - a friend had one of her shod horses fall over with huge iceballs in his feet yesterday. I imagine even turnout is no-go for them, but our horses are loving the snow and are careering around the track having a ball :-)

They haven't ventured into the back field, probably because the snow has drifted so deeply at the gateways that its hard work even plouging through it!

Our hound puppies still think its the most marvellous stuff ever - and its keeping them and the horses absolutely sparkling clean :-)

Friday 6 February 2009

...nothing is leaving Rockley today except emails!

We ended up having about a foot of snow, but the winds were so strong overnight that its piled up way deeper in places :-)

We couldn't resist recce-ing the lane in the Land Rover... but round the corner there was a really big drift...

Totally snowed in!

Woke up this morning and we have MASSES of least 6 inches first thing this morning and its not stopped yet...

Felix and I had to plough through the blizzard, with Andy and the dogs helping, to move the sheep, which were only one field away from the house but rapidly getting stuck in the snow. One we saw just in time as it was being buried by snowdrifts against the hedge, and being a sheep it was just going to lie down and die(!).

Horses thought it was quite exciting at first (apart from Jack, who is slightly traumatised and has decided that its safer not to leave the barn or set foot on the snow at all!) but have now realised that driving wind and snow in your eyes is most uncomfortable, so all are now undercover eating haylage.

Poor Ghost lay down to roll in the snow, and got himself cast in a snowdrift in the middle of the yard...he was looking rather like a large hairy beached whale, and we thought we would have to dig him out, but fortunately the sight of Andy running towards him with a bright orange spade shocked him so much that he managed to thrash himself upright...

So its been an eventful day already and its not even 11.30...Will update later as to snow depth...!

Wednesday 4 February 2009

Now its frozen slush...

Not so pretty today, and a whole lot more dangerous! Nearly came a cropper several times trying to push wheelbarrows up slopes and skidding on the ice (!)...

The powdery snow yesterday was a perfect surface to ride on - as long as your horses are barefoot of course :-) but today its lethal, so the horses will have to content themselves with being on the track till it thaws. I think it will be gone by tomorrow, but the ground was frozen underneath so this afternoon its all still pretty grim.

Still, snow does a fantastic job of polishing up hooves...

By way of comparison, here are the hooves on one of the rehab horses, the top photo taken yesterday and the lower photo when he arrived in December.

Sunday 1 February 2009

Hector - wild and free (!)

All about Hector this week...First of all I took him back to see the vet who diagnosed him with navicular in July.

We are running a research project here on horses with navicular, deep flexor tendon lesions and caudal foot pain to try and demonstrate how they can improve aftr rehabilitation here. The project was inspired by Dexter, and was the brainchild of his vet, and we are now trying to document the progress of as many horses as we can.

Hector was an obvious choice, as he arrived just after Dex left, and his original vet kindly agreed to reassess him this week and do a lameness assessment on the same basis as the one he did in July, so that we had a good comparison.

The assessment involved a fairly tough lunging test - trotting a 5 metre circle on tarmac overlaid with grit, on both reins. When he first came here, he couldn't even lunge a 10 metre circle on sand without being unlevel, especially on the left rein, so it was good to see him going round confidently last week on a much more testing surface.

After performing so well on Thursday, it was only fair to take him hunting yesterday :-) Charlie was the master's horse again, and we all had a lovely day, right up until Hex and I managed to catch his bridle on an awkward gate-catch and the whole thing came to pieces...! We were still a good couple of miles from the trailer, ad it was getting dark, so there was nothing for it but to carry on, with Hex wearing the remains of his bridle as a fetching but completely useless necklace :-)

So the last couple of miles (3 open fields at canter, a mile or so of (admittedly country lanes) roadwork in the dusk then 2 more fields down steep slopes), we just went totally au naturel, relying on the fact that he is very good in traffic and that at least Charlie and the master knew where they were going

I must admit it wouldn't have worked so well at the beginning of the day, when Hex had much stronger opinions about where he should be going and at what speeds but as it was we both rather enjoyed ourselves :-)

What made me smile though was imaging what was going through the minds of the drivers who passed us..."No effing shoes, no effing bridle, riding along in the dark..."!!