Horse hunting isn't easy and finding 'the one' can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Here's Nat to tell us how she's getting on with her search for her latest partner in crime.
Anybody who's in the middle of a horse-search, you have my full sympathy.
I’ve never really actively looked for a horse before, as all the horses I've owned over the last 25 years have usually come about via me stumbling across an advert, when I wasn’t really looking, and then ending up bringing them home after one viewing.
This time, I decided, it would be different.
I wasn't going to make any rash decisions at the side of a horse (being eyeballed by a doe-eyed hooligan in disguise is hardly conducive to sensible decision-making) and I was going to have a second viewing.
While I did view a few truly lovely animals, who, for various reasons, I decided weren’t for me, I also viewed at least one complete lunatic and realised that horse-people, a bit like parents, have an extremely over-inflated idea of how wonderful their animals are.
Being honest with yourself
Although my horses are, without doubt, the best things in my life, I've always been completely realistic about their downfalls.
I love the Diva that much that I would gladly sacrifice myself for her in some sort of demonic ritual if I had to, but I’m not afraid to admit that she can be a bargy madam on the ground, she’s that short-coupled she could fit on a postage stamp and as far as jumping is concerned, she’s about as useful as a pair of knickers on a sprout.
It would seem that others aren’t quite as honest, as I stood watching the owner of a ‘quiet and mannerly horse’ being bronchoed around an arena on a creature with such a roached back that it looked less Equine and more Alpaca.
Apparently, I’m also the only person who doesn’t have the photography skill of Ansel Adams, because the ability that people have of disguising glaring conformational faults by way of clever angling, is frankly quite incredible.
I must have responded to at least three million adverts and needless to say I got very clever at reading between the lines.
You learn a heck of a lot from what people don’t say as much as what they do.
Lucky number... eight?
Still, I started to wonder if I was being too picky, as I headed along to viewing seven.
He was lovely, but I just wasn’t really feeling it.
I did consider whether I needed a break from the whole thing, and perhaps take-up a less emotionally investing hobby, such as cross-stitch.
But it was while viewing number seven, that I fell upon number eight.
Despite my love for the Diva, I’m not actually a cob sort of person. I grew up riding a pulled/plaited/trimmed type, not a feather in sight.
And number number eight was just my sort of horse - a little 15hh sports horse mare, seven years old, flashy mover, pretty face… and she gave me a mannerly ride under saddle.
She knew enough to make her fun to get on and work with, but young enough to allow me to put my own stamp on her. I immediately arranged a second viewing a few days later. I’d found the one.
So I headed along to collect ‘Polly’ on my 33rd birthday (that’s halfway to 66..!!), with the long-suffering parental unit in tow.
What I wasn’t quite expecting, when we travelled back two hours later with Polly on board, was that we would also have a new puppy coming home with us.
Let’s just say it was one of the best impulse purchases in history and for once, it had absolutely nothing to do with me!
So, while Polly settled in at the yard, ‘Bess’ settled in at home with the rest of our zoo.
The rest of the gang
The Diva has had a relatively relaxing few weeks - we've been to the beach for a wander, which she thoroughly enjoyed, and out to a farm-ride where we mostly just sauntered about and watched my friend jumping her cob.
It was that bittersweet feeling (for me, anyway) of being back where we love to be, but unable to do anything other than walk, but I don’t think Flo is that bothered to be honest.
She seemed absolutely made-up that she was allowed to wander about on the buckle and snatch at the grass.
She also got to enjoy (endure?!) my wonderful singing to her on the journey, an event that I’m positive she has sorely missed. There’s nothing quite like a captive audience!
Speedy T went off to her new home a few weeks ago and is settling in well and the Hooligan is still embracing every second of his retirement, and looking fantastically well.
He's now barefoot, which we never thought we’d ever see, and spends his time side by side with his new girlfriend Lola.
The plan over the next few weeks is to let Polly settle in and get to know each other, step up Flo’s hacking once more and continue to worship the Hooligan during my visits.
Oh, and potty train a puppy…
‘Til next time,