Friday, 19 February 2021

Garry this morning - Very happy with himself

 Top Garry surprised us all be running a cracking race coming 6th out of 15 runners. He absolutely hated the ground and my heart sunk as he nearly got brought down at the first fence by a falling horse and then he plugged past us at the rear of the field with his head up and ears back. I thought we had made a huge mistake by running him.  However, he gradually got his confidence back and his jumping was brilliant. So much so that he jumped into third place but then got tired just before the last fence. A really good start under rules and he looks like a horse that will enjoy better ground. He has got such a huge stride which struggled in the horrible sticky ground. We also need to try and find the key to getting his head carriage lower - We have tried a lot of flat work and working him in a french martingale, but then he gets very sore back muscles and tight hamstrings. He has been treated by Thomasina Spilman and Debbie Wise, both experts in their own fields and he has been working much better on the gallops but there is still 'work in progress' on the racetrack. He is still a big unfurnished baby and will be a seriously good horse once he has filled out.  - Roy is already talking about him going to Cheltenham! If we manage to win a restricted that could be on the cards.... He is very bright today and ate up really well. It was also so lovely to be back on the race track even with all the rules and regulations. A great day out and a huge relief that he is back safe and sound.

Garry in the paddock -Beautifully turned out by Jane and Lucy Burton

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

 Eeeek! Top Garry is running at Leicester on Thursday. I assumed (hoped!?) he would be balloted out but they have split the race and he is in the second division. The ground will be ghastly but maybe the more rain there is the less sticky it will be. He will be thrown in at the deep end as he is only a restricted horse but I think he will enjoy it as long as he is pulled up if he is too tired to complete. He needs a run and as Roy says "He's got to start somewhere". Having a run at Leicester will improve his fitness for when pointing starts again, all being well. It will be great to be racing again even though things will be very different. 

Bertha is continuing to improve although the wound will look pretty ugly because of the scar tissue at least it is not infected. We have had a few really cold days when everything froze up and it was -4. All the water troughs and drinkers were frozen, so it was a job in itself thawing everything out. The wind was the worst part but now, a day later it is really mild.  The gallops remained open so we are very lucky in that respect.

I have been able to see Dad again as his vaccination should have given him some immunity. Great to see him again and he looks really well.  I am off to get the horses in and it is pouring with rain....

Monday, 1 February 2021

 All the horses were worked today - Flo in the menage, Archie around the big field and Garry and Secret up the hill. They all went really well. Secret having had a run is absolutely spot on fitness wise and it is so frustrating not being able to run her. Garry is getting there and will be spot on by the 18th, so keeping everything crossed. 

The vet came today to change the dressings on Bertha's leg - She is such a good patient and just adorable. Charlie, the vet was really pleased with the way it looked as she had been very worried about her. We are keeping everything crossed that by some miracle there isn't any long term damage. 

Secret coming back down the gallop having done a good piece of work

Friday, 29 January 2021

Poor Bertha

 We are still struggling with HS2 and the fact that they are in no hurry to proceed with our case. They were supposed to have submitted their report weeks ago and still haven't. Without this report we cannot proceed with the ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) and move from this awful construction site. Yesterday we had a swarm of HS2 surveyors around the farm making an awful noise with various bits of machinery. They really set the horses off and our lovely Bertha (Dream's foal by Telescope) must have tried to jump out of her temporary yard as we found her and her mates drenched in sweat and her with a very bad cut on her leg. The vet made a great job of stitching her up but the prognosis isn't good as the joint is likely to get infected with such a deep cut. We will just have to hope for the best. The reason why she is in temporary housing instead of her lovely barn is because HS2 have compulsory 'purchased' the barn (not paid a penny) and fenced it off with security cameras and alarms. It now stands completely empty and hasn't been touched by HS2. In the meantime our horses and youngsters are up to their bellies in mud and the yearlings were in the Nissan hut and various stables which are totally unsuitable for them as they are too big for one but too small for two, and they hate to be on their own. We have pleaded with HS2 to allow us to use the barns during the bad weather with the proviso that they can have them back as soon as they need them but they have point blank refused.  They really are the worst company ever with absolutely no moral compass and a complete lack of any compassion. Evil to the core. 

Bertha's injury caused by HS2

Bertha during the summer

Putting things in perspective, in the meantime the deaths in the UK due to Covid 19 are still horrendous at around 1200 a day. Understandably this means that point to pointing cannot go ahead until the numbers drop which won't be until at least mid March. We are still aiming for the 18th February Hunter chase for Top Garry at Leicester. There is a good chance we will get balloted out as so many pointers will be doing the same thing, however, we can but try. 

Thankfully, Uncle Ross has come out of hospital but he isn't out of the woods yet. He was on a trolley for the first night as Coleraine Hospital was completely full and had to go in full lock down as they had no more beds. Under normal circumstances he would probably still be in hospital but his family were desperate to get him out as they were so busy. His brother, Roy Torrens , sadly died in the same hospital from Covid 19 the very next day. He was a famous cricketer and a larger than life character. Very sad.


Tuesday, 19 January 2021

 A miserable day today, made slightly worse as I'm not able to visit Dad at the moment as he still hasn't had the vaccine and with the new Covid variant I don't want to risk it.  He was supposed to have had it last Friday. However, the batch of vaccines arrived at his local doctors on Thursday and they forgot to put it in the fridge so the whole batch was ruined..... I guess it was very honest of them to admit to this mistake but you would have thought with something as important as this they would have checked and double checked.  It makes you wonder how often this has happened in other surgeries.

The other sad news is that my lovely Uncle Ross was taken to hospital this morning with Covid - The doctor has been monitoring him at home but he took a turn for the worse and was rushed in to go on oxygen. He is such a larger than life character, always full of fun and even with the fairly recent death of his beloved wife, Margaret, he is such a joyful character. It is awful to think that he is on his own as he wasn't allowed to have any of his family with him. He was really fit as he played a lot of top level golf so hopefully that will help him pull through.

Ross and Margaret - Such a glamorous couple

Ross with Margaret shortly before she died

During this misery it is lovely to have the horses to play around with even though the weather isn't great. Lucy and Ella came in on Sunday to give Archie and Flo a little jump over the hurdles. Flo was a keen as mustard but jumped like a stag and Archie is getting better all the time. He finds everything so easy that after he has jumped the same hurdle a couple of times he gets bored and starts looking around and not concentrating. He needs to start jumping the big fences sooner rather than later. 

I'm thinking of running Top Garry in the Dick Saunders novice chase at Leicester on Feb 18th. He may as well have a run and then if pointing starts again at the end of March he will be ready to go back to pointing. Fingers crossed that pointing does start again this season as under rules doesn't really light my fire and I certainly wouldn't want to run the maidens over the regulation fences until they have had more experience. 

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Today would have been my Mum's 91st Birthday. Sadly she passed away six years ago after fighting a very bad stroke which left her virtually unable to communicate or use her right arm for 29 years. She spent this time determinedly learning to speak, read and write again which was a huge achievement as she was only given a 5% chance of surviving the stroke. 

On my regular visits to see Dad we have been going through old photo albums and it has brought back to me how lucky we are to live in the times we do, even though things appear grim (in more ways than one) at the moment. 

Mum had a really tough life and her Mother (Nanny) even more so. She was born into a long standing farming family and was one of five.  She was the only girl and the only one to survive into adulthood. Her three younger brothers all died of various childhood illnesses (meningitis being the main cause I believe) and her older brother died when he was sixteen in a combine harvester accident which Mum had the horror of witnessing. Mum never really spoke much about the deaths of her brothers and I had always thought that the younger ones were sickly and had died at birth. I got quite a shock when I saw photos of them in the album as three of them looked really happy and healthy. I assume one died as a baby.  It brought it all home how tragic their deaths were, particularly for a farming family to lose all their sons. I do remember staying at the farm and finding five locks of children's hair which Nanny had obviously kept. 

The story doesn't get any happier I'm afraid - Six months after the eldest boy died Mum's Dad died of a heart attack at the young age of 53  - Some said he died of a broken heart, and then her uncle (her Dad's brother) who was helping on the farm shot himself and Mum found him. He had taken himself away to the bottom of the field and she was sent to find him as it was tea time.  Nanny eventually married again to the next door bachelor farmer but never got over the death of her family. She was also less than impressed when Mum decide to marry an Irish Baptist minister rather than all the available young farmers in the area and refused to give Dad permission to marry Mum.  They married eventually and she softened up a bit towards him but was understandably never really happy about it. Sadly she never lived long enough to know about my passion for farming. 

Mum was always very stoic about everything and never ever complained even after her dreadful stroke. She always had a smile on her face and whenever I think things are bad I think about her and what she went through.  I have the utmost respect and admiration for her. 

Mum's brothers

Mum with her older brother

Mum with her Dad

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Field Exhibition and Peppa

 Whilst Ella was trying to do some circle work Peppa took an insane liking to Flo and squeezed under the fence to say hello to her making 'quacking' sounds, which she does when she is really excited. She then kept on following her around the menage and just wouldn't leave her alone. In the end I had to entice her away with some household scraps and shut her up in her stable. Every year she suddenly gets a crush on a different horse and 'stalks' them. It was Murphy last year and Popaway the year before. She completely ignores Percy, so she obviously doesn't realise she is a pig and prefers equine company!