Saturday 6 January 2024

 Just a few photos of Xmas and NYE - Dad and Peter have just gone back and we all had a wonderful time together. 

On Xmas morning Sarah and Ann came for a ride on the moors - This was followed by Champagne, pigs in blankets and bacon butties - Chris and Tortie our farming next door neighbours joined us. We then went to Lee Bay for a Xmas swim

Doctor Kingsley looking less than amused

After our swim we went straight on to the Ancient Mariner for Xmas drinks and then in the evening having done afternoon stables we had the most delicious Xmas meal with our other neighbours Jim and Jill - David, Barbara, Paula, Sam and Anita were also there.  It was a really fabulous Xmas and I have to say that having cooked for everyone else for the past 35 odd years it was lovely to be completely selfish and do what we wanted to do for a change!
The week before Christmas I had caught up with my lovely friend Tricia, My Dad and some of my Grandchildren (Henry and Jessica were on holiday in Antigua)

India on her lovely pony

Hector and Archie with Maverick the harrier hawk

Emma with my seventh grandchild, born on NYE. A beautiful boy. 

New Years Eve was spent in Lynmouth harbour - There was a party after a gala dinner which was yummy followed by fireworks. On New Years Day we followed the tradition of having a swim in the sea at high tide. VERY refreshing! Brrrr.

Wednesday 3 January 2024

 Well - I'm back!!! Huge apologies for leaving it for so long but as I am sure most of you already know we had a huge battle with HS2 and I have to be very careful with what I can say due to 'Non disclosure' reasons. Thankfully we won our case and the adjudicator judged in our favour.  A HUGE thank you to those who helped us do this including Andrea Leadsom our MP and our fantastic solicitor, Sarah Beer. Also our great friends who supported us along the way. We could not have done it without you. THANK YOU. 

We have been lucky enough to find a beautiful small farm on Exmoor High Bullen Farm  which has sea views and the moors right on our doorstep. To say that we are happy would be an understatement. We thought we would really miss our friends in Northamptonshire/Oxfordshire but we have been inundated with visitors from 'up country' which has been wonderful and meant that although we don't see them quite as often we have spent quality time with them when they visit. The grandchildren also LOVE it here so we are seeing more of them than we did before!

The community has also made as really welcome and we are are thoroughly enjoying the social side of this area. 

We still have far too many horses around and although we are not pointing this year we have some nice youngsters for next season. Popaway's daughter (Miss Popalong) is in training with Philip Hobbs. She came bog last out of 16 in her first race (a bumper) which was very disappointing but she ran too keen and ran out of puff - Her next race was a huge improvement. She was jumping hurdles and the penny suddenly dropped. She finished like a train and jumped like a bunny. She will go over 3 miles once she has a handicap mark. We have got a great syndicate for her and I think we are going to have a lot of fun.... 

Although we are not pointing this season we are doing a lot more hunting and absolutely loving it. We have four horses in work - Two 'ole timers Doctor Kingsley (Jake) and We Never Give Up (Jess) We also have 'Saved by Sam' and his younger sister Stacey - She is too nice to be a racehorse so is going hunting instead. 

My Dad and brother Peter have just arrived as they are staying for a few days, so I will sign off with a few photos for now. It's good to be back!

Our back garden

Valley of Rocks - Within walking distance

Lynmouth Harbour

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...