Sunday, 11 July 2021

 What a fantastic Wimbledon it has been! I'm not sure whether I have enjoyed it more this year as I haven't been run off my feet with the shepherd huts/glamping site or that it has just been so lovely to be back to 'normal' after the virus. The standard of play has been fantastic and it was wonderful to see two new finalists in the Ladies final with Ash Barty beating Pliskova and then long standing champion, Novac Djokovic, showing his class by  beating Berrettini in a dramatic Men's Final. The best man won in the end but Berrettini will be a champion in the future. Very nice to look at too which is an added bonus..

The big Football match final is about to begin - I have to say I'm not a great fan of football but the England squad seem to be a nice bunch and they have been playing with conviction. I watched the England v Scotland match and lost the will to live, vowing never to watch another game but I gave in and watched the Eng v Germany match and was reasonably impressed.  What this hysteria does bring home is how astonishingly bad England have been in the past for this to be the first final in 55 years!! Anyway, that aside I hope the best team win and hopefully that will be England. What I really hope for though is that the England fans to not let us all down by booing when the Italian anthem is played (as they did with the Denmark anthem) not to whistle/boo when an Italian player has the ball and to behave respectfully no matter what the score is. Sermon over. 

Squeak's ears following Cloud on a sponsored ride

Saved By Sam

Mary - Squeak's three year old

For the fist summer ever I have continued to ride after the season is over. Partly because I no longer have a job due to HS2 and mainly because due to our uncertain circumstances we are trying to reduce our horse numbers - Its not going terribly well.... As everyone who knows me understands that I absolutely hate selling horses - I know that we are going to have to do it with our commercially bred youngsters but once I start riding them myself then I am reluctant to let them go - I had made the decision to keep Cloud as my 'riding pony' and sell Sam (the foal we very nearly lost) Squeak (not big enough for racing) and Mary (Squeak's 3 year old daughter). Sam was going to be entered in the sales as he is a strapping 4 year old now who should fetch a lot of money but Doug has ridden him a few times and they get on really well, so we have changed our mind on that one as it would be very difficult to find another horse like him at the right money. Hopefully, if we move to Exmoor then Doug will get back to riding regularly again. Squeak, who has been on her own in a field for four years bringing up 'children' had a saddle thrown on her and Ella rode her round the village and then we took her on a fun ride with Cloud - She was a good as gold and I have ridden her a few times since, so now I don't want to part with her and then Mary who has been lightly backed has also been really sweet. I have had 19 applications for Squeak and there seems to be a lot of odd women 'of a certain age' around at the moment who are secretly terrified but determined to prove themselves by dominating a horse and forcing them into doing dressage as they are too scared to do anything else... I have turned them all down so far and if I don't find the right home very soon I think I'll keep her. I hope Doug doesn't read this post.....!

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Popaway is at last in foal!

 It's been a long time since I last posted, partly due to the hot weather and the fact that my office is like an oven as the air conditioning isn't very good and also because I was so sad about Secret. However, yesterday we had a reason to rejoice as Popaway, who had been "not in foal", even after three visits to the stallion was unexpectedly pronounced "in foal" when least expected as she was just about to go back to the stallion for the fourth time. She had been twice to Masterstroke, who we deemed to be a very nice 'husband' for her, he was beautifully bred and very nicely put together - However, Popaway simply did not fancy him and even though she showed all the right signs of coming into season she did not conceive. We then decided to take her back to Pethers Moon, who we knew she liked from before as she very much showed it when she conceived with Popalong. Everything seemed to go really well and they seemed to recognise each other before hand whickering sweet nothings at each other pre-mating. After which we took her straight home and I was absolutely convinced she was in foal as her whole personality changed and she became really mellow and somehow maternal... However we were bitterly disappointed when she was scanned 15 days later and there was no pregnancy. We thought then that maybe 'the gift that keeps giving had now stopped' but thought we would have one last try with Pethers Moon. Yesterday the vet came out two days before she was due to visit the stallion to take swabs. In the meantime I was even more convinced that she was actually in foal and said that to the vet before she inspected her - She looked at me doubtfully but then two minutes later we were all celebrating having seen a darling little embryo on the screen!!  Such a lovely surprise and we all jumped about and hugged each other as we had just about given up hope and the breeding season was running out. The little monkey just has to do everything on her terms and clearly Masterstroke simply did not fly her kite!  

In the meantime the other five mares are very much happily in foal - We have Jess (We Never Give Up) who is in foal to Masterstroke (she's clearly not fussy!), Templegate in foal to Pether's Moon as is Velvet Steel, Velvet Dream is in foal to Arrigo. Burrows Spring is in foal to Flag of Honour   

Things are still awful with HS2 but we are continuing to fight our corner and with the help of Dame Andrea Leadsom MP it looks as though at last HS2 are going to sign the pre ADR contract so that our case can be looked at by a third party and a fair decision can be made. It has been an absolute nightmare with continued threats of eviction, bullying, delays, threats of them 'removing our horses', spiraling legal costs, blatant lies, and such deceitful behaviour that you simply would not believe but we are still strong and will fight them to the end.  Watch this space - The whole story will be told when it is all over but I have to be careful what I say at this stage....

Thursday, 20 May 2021

A tribute to Secret Getaway

These photos are so difficult for me to look at but RIP to the lovely Secret who gave us so much pleasure and who had so much natural talent. She was thoroughly spoiled and wanted for nothing - She loved her jumping and all she wanted to do was race  Who knows how far she could have gone? Sadly, not to be......

Secret's last race...


Monday, 17 May 2021

 I am writing this feeling heart broken. Poor Secret Getaway slipped up when running a fabulous race and broke her front leg. Sadly, nothing could be done to save her. She was in the leading pair and only three fences from home when she slipped on the wet grass - we had just had a shower of rain which wouldn't have helped. Charlie Case was giving her a peach of a ride and she was absolutely loving being in front and jumping beautifully.  She was our horse for the future and we had been so careful with her, bringing her on so gently and doing all the right things with her. Sometimes life really isn't fair......  Thankfully she didn't suffer at all as the vets were there straight away and made sure that she was put to sleep very quickly.  We are still in shock as it all happened so quickly and it was so unexpected. There is nothing worse than going home to the empty stable...

Everyone has been lovely with all the messages of condolences and the gifts of flowers etc. Some people are so kind and it restores your faith in human nature.

Also, on the brighter side two of our past novice riders, Amy Cox and Lucy Burton both rode cracking races with Amy winning the members and Lucy coming second in a very competitive conditions race. It is wonderful to see how much they have both progressed and well done to them both.

Saturday, 15 May 2021

 Ooops! I have been a bit slack with updating my blog. Field Exhibition came fourth in a very hot Ladies Open at Kingston Blount last Sunday. Ella and Flo jumped beautifully and although it was too quick for them both, being the fastest time of the day and setting a track record, they both thoroughly enjoyed themselves, which is what it is all about. 

Tomorrow we are running Top Garry (Last Chance Saloon...) in the restricted and Secret Getaway in the maiden at Edgcote. We have just walked it and it will be testing ground so should suit the fact that both horses stay and like a cut in the ground. 

As we have got to reduce our horse numbers before moving Ella and I have been working on 're-breaking' Squeak who has been in the field for four years having babies - She was too small to put over point to point fences but as she is so nicely bred (by Midnight Legend out of a winning family) she was put in foal and has had two foals, Mary and Bubbles, both of whom are quite smart but not very big so it is sadly time that she is moved on, especially as she is still quite young at eight years of age. We managed to catch her on Friday - bearing in mind that she hasn't been in a stable or had any social contact apart from when we had to chip her foals, which were both born outside with no intervention. I thought she would be as wild as a hawk but Ella got straight on her and took her around the menage - She was as good as gold. We then took her out for a hack with Cloud leading (who hasn't been ridden for a year) and both girls were beautifully behaved. She was ridden again this morning and was still lovely so will have some shoes on next week and start jumping.  Our next somewhat challenging project will be handling her daughter, Mary, who is very sharp so could be quite a challenge... 

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

 It was my Birthday on Friday and as it was such a nice day we decided to head for the beach. The traffic was surprisingly good considering it was a bank holiday and we got there in good time to have a walk, picnic on the beach and bottle of champagne. I even went for a swim, which needless to say was somewhat chilly but compared to the river, not too bad. We then went out for an 'alfresco' bar snack on the way home, still with sand in our feet. A really wonderful day.

Holkham Beach - It's been too long away from the sea.

We also had a great weekend - Ella had a ride on Field Exhibition (Flo) at Dingley Sadly her and Flo had a slight disagreement at a fence and Ella fell off. Up to that point Ella had settled Flo beautifully so it was such a shame as everything was coming together nicely. However, I had every sympathy with Ella as I have lost count how many times I fell off at Dingley!  Ella was fine, thank goodness. Her Mum, Becs had prepared the best picnic ever and it was a lovely treat to join them and watch some good racing. 
We didn't run Secret at Mollington as the ground hadn't softened significantly and as it was a two and a half mile race I didn't want her to be rushed off her feet. The weather was foul so instead we enjoyed watching it on TV by the fire.....

Sunday, 25 April 2021

 We had a great day yesterday at Garthorpe. They had done a really good job with the ground, and although it was quick, it was safe. We decided to run Archie even though we knew it would be too quick for him. Last time he ran he was completely clueless and had no idea he was racing - This time the penny had dropped and he set off at a ridiculous pace and Zac had a job to hold him. It was lovely to see him so keen, but in his excitement he completely forgot to breathe and ground to a sudden halt after a circuit and a half.  It was lovely to see him enjoying himself and we will call it a day now for this season. He has been broken for less that a year and was only jumping poles a few months ago, so to see him jumping the big fences at such speed was very exciting.  He will be hunted next season so that he gets used to having horses around him, and it won't be quite such a big deal.  I am looking forward to next season already!

Archie has learnt so much in such a short time

The racing in general was fantastic and the weather was nice enough to enjoy a drink around the lorry (socially distanced of course!) with people we hadn't seen for a long time.