On Sunday it was the first lovely day of the year. The sun shone all day. I got to the yard fairly early and stood him in the sunshine to groom. Dust and hair flew until he was as clean as brushes would make him, and instead of checking which schools were free, I broke out the hi-vis and the geeky knee boots – we were going hacking. Hopefully as it was still early-ish for a Sunday the roads would be quite quiet.
4 luminous leg bands (his), 1 yellow tabard (mine), 1 fluorescent hat band (mine), 1 fly bonnet (his) and the 2 geeky knee boots (his) later … and we were ready to get the tack out! I tacked up, popped to the toilet and then we were good to go.
My least favourite part of the route is the beginning. The lane there is fairly busy, narrow enough that you can only pass in the passing spaces, twisting so that you can’t see any useful distance ahead and the hedges are high so you and any drivers have no way of seeing each other ahead of time. It was therefore pleasing to me that the first driver we met was the lady whose horse is next-door-but-one from Drifter. Obviously she gave us plenty of space and respect and pulled into a passing place for us. Then we didn’t meet any more cars until the road widens further up. That friendly face early on relaxed me a bit, which of course relaxed him. He looked at a few puddles, but really there wasn’t much that worried him. As we got the lanes which cross the golf course he did see a golf buggy that he wasn’t fond of, but the person driving it (the other side of a hedge from us) was very aware and stopped until we had passed, which was very kind of them. Almost all of the road users we met were equally considerate. The cyclists all seemed to know bikes might worry horses and slowed down. Even the golfers didn’t seem to tee off with such a CRACK as usual, but I assume that was coincidence, not care!
Of course we had the odd moment that startled him, but I was more assured than before in dealing with them and I think he was more willing to trust me as well. I think the jumping has really helped our relationship and our bond-in-the-face-of-adversity. It was a more pleasant experience than previous hacks and it was nice to do something different for once, so I think we’ll hack more this summer than last.
Back on the yard that sun was beating down … so I commandeered the hose. Time to get him properly clean!
As I was aware it wasn’t that hot and I was washing him in cold water I wanted to be as fast as I could. To that end I tried three new tactics. 1) wash the back end, rinse and scrape off and then wash the front end, so the back end can be drying while the front is washed. 2) Dampen the horse with a little water, then squirt on a very weak solution of shampoo and lather before rinsing with the hose, so he’s only soaked in the really cold water at the rinse stage, just before getting scraped off. 3) Provide a swede to distract horse during the process.
I have to say that I will employ all of these methods again. I ended up with a clean dry horse much quicker than on previous attempts. As always though, washing his mane was a battle. And unfortunately there was a point at which he tried to get away from the hose by stepping into me. I simultaneously yelled, thumped him and fell on his shoulder as my toe was ground under his hoof. After assuring myself it wasn’t broken and assuring the concerned bystanders that I’d survive, we finished the job – me grimly and he with a penitent attitude that permitted me to finish rinsing the mane in relative ease before hobbling around walking him in the sun to dry. As I put him away I realised my flies were wide open, and must have been ever since I went to the toilet before the hack, about 3 hours earlier! Doh!
I suspect I may lose the big toenail from the stomped foot but it could have been worse. I have been generous with the ice, painkillers and elevation which has helped.
In the afternoon Mr S and I went for a drive to a garden centre which, it transpired, has been knocked down. But we saw signs for a Craft Centre and followed those to a place with a handful of shops, including a garden centre, an antiques shop and a saddlery. Mr S was not only patient, he encouraged me to get items I was dithering over. In addition to the spare headcollar and lead rope we needed, I also got a very cheap but very comfortable pair of riding boots (they’re brown, but for that price I could overlook it), a bag of horse treats and, indulgence of indulgences, the very Shires raincoat I’ve admired in the catalogues but thought I’d not be able to justify (it was reduced 🙂 ). We were lucky enough to turn up on their one-day sale. Hurray!
So although I’m limping heavily and managed to show half of the county my underwear before I realised my jodhpurs were undone, I rose to the challenges in my jump lesson, had the best hack we’ve enjoyed so far, found a new horse supplies shop that’s open on Sundays (unlike my regular one) and am the proud owner of new boots and a new raincoat! Rather a good weekend all told.