Nat's blog: Longer days… and lame Diva’s…

Nat's not had the smoothest of starts to the year. Here she explains what mischief her horses have been getting up to recently (including several savvy escapes from every grazing muzzle known to man) 

I write this blog as we approach the end of January and I'm starting to noticeably see the days drawing out. 

It’s been a long time coming. Despite my 33 years, I appear to have an incredibly hard time coming to terms with the end of the festive season. 

When I was younger, I assumed that I'd grow out of this but if anything, it’s actually got harder.  Watching the decorations come down is incredibly traumatic and I mope around the house for at least a week afterwards, telling anyone who’ll listen that they ‘stole Christmas from me’. 

I've noticed the evenings and mornings getting lighter, but it’s only been this past week - since it started to stay light after 5pm - that I'm starting to feel more positive about the situation. I now accept that Christmas is over and I'm ready for spring.

Not so spring-like 

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for my horses. On Christmas Eve, feeling extremely giddy about the impending visit from Santa, I was rather dismayed to see the Diva trotting awkwardly towards me. 

 Florence braving the frost 

Florence braving the frost 

This pony hasn’t been lame for the three and a half years that I’ve had her and she chooses now of all times. Cheers, Florence. 

There was nothing obvious wrong - no heat, swelling, stones stuck in her feet etc… and she was walking fine… so I decided that;

a) she didn’t need a vet as a matter of any emergency

b) I wasn’t going to let this ruin my Christmas

I did, however, mentally write her off until after the New Year, when I hoped that whatever it was might have sorted itself out. 

She'd been out of action since November, with everything else going on (see previous blog of doom) so I could only assume that she’d done something idiotic in the field… Tobi would be so proud!

Unfortunately, as you might remember, the Diva has some strange aversion to being trotted up in-hand, unless someone is chasing her. 

She sees it as a complete waste of her resources and eyeballs me with complete disdain if I try.

When I eventually saw her trot-up in the New Year, I was pleasantly surprised to see she appeared sound, so gave her an extra week off and then hopped on board to begin a month's worth of walking. 

She marched out beautifully and genuinely seemed delighted to be back out. I was also enjoying being back in the saddle, even if only for general sightseeing around the farm tracks. 

Unfortunately this lasted two days, when she came trotting over in the field again, looking ever-so-slightly lame again.  

I brought her in and somehow, with much flapping and whooping, persuaded her to trot-up on the hard ground. Sound. I then took her in the school with a lunge line and she gave the very occasional off-stride. 

Weighty worries 

So her return to work was short lived and she's been rested again for the remainder of January.  This is doing nothing for her weight of course and I’m having a slight panic. 

In about six weeks, our grass will start coming through thick and fast and I haven’t been able to get the weight off her that I normally do during the winter. 

This, added to her ability to remove every grazing muzzle that makes its way onto her face, is not boding well for spring. 

If there’s a muzzle-making company out there who want to take on this challenge then I welcome you with open arms! 

 Showing exactly why she's nicknamed 'Diva'!

Showing exactly why she's nicknamed 'Diva'!

Of course, a Diva out of action is never a good thing and, as predicted, she's kept herself amused in other ways. 

A particular highlight of this being the day that I actually had to let go of her while on the way in from the field, leaving Polly and I to watch her matronly backside as it disappeared off up the yard without us. 

When we finally caught up with her, she was in the barn rifling through the drawers I keep outside her stable. She had the cheek to look totally put out when I removed her from them. Needless to say she spent the next week being brought in in a bridle!

A bumpy start to the year (but it's not all bad!)

Polly has also enjoyed a quiet winter and I'll hold my hands up and admit that her rehab work has gone on hold for the time being. 

 Polly's been making the most of her time off over winter 

Polly's been making the most of her time off over winter 

She's done some in-hand work and some long reining, but not nearly enough for me to be back on board by February, which was the plan. 

The January weather hasn’t really been on our side and I’ve had some struggles with my own health (or lack of) due to an auto-immune disorder that, as usual, appears to be making its own decisions and leaving me to tag along reluctantly behind it. 

Polly has wintered well and is just an absolute sweetheart in every way. If nothing else, I feel like I've got to know her even more during these last two months and our bond has grown even stronger. 

Her ground manners are exemplary and she's an absolute pleasure to handle at all times (take note Florence!). 

The lighter nights are cheering me up somewhat and I intend to crack on with her rehab shortly, with the hope that we'll be back on board by March to enjoy whatever we can together.

It's highly likely that Polly will be very limited as to what she can do, with many of the things we'd hoped for being definitely off the table, so I'll be adding a third member to the team in the not-too-distant future.

I do hope you'll all join me on that journey. God help me!

‘Til next time!

Nat x

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