Saturday, October 25, 2008

A little while later....

...... and I’m not entirely sure what is going on in my head, but I don’t expect that I should be able to understand it either.

My best boy is home so I get to chat all day when I’m here, and I have managed to get a grip and go back to work; the trouble is I’m working ridiculous hours just to fill up all the time that I would normally have made spare to spend with Herbs.

I had changed my job situation to ensure that I got less stressed and had more time to spend with Herbs but the devastating situation I am now in is in danger of changing so that I fill up time and end up working my socks off just because I have the time to, rather than managing time and getting the balance right.

I lost my boy one month ago tomorrow and it feels like a thousand years because my life has changed so much. The beautiful flowers, cards and messages that people have left for Herbs are still in his stable and it has been important to me to make sure that he has fresh flowers over his door; tomorrow I am going to try to find another beautiful red rose to put there.

One thing that has evolved is my obsession with animal programmes on TV. I always loved them, but now I’m completely obsessed and a new programme on the mounted police has just started so I can’t miss that.

I struggled recently when I agreed to look after two friend’s horses whilst they were away for a day. Firstly it was difficult because it was my first time properly around horses, and secondly it was difficult because they were not my boy and suddenly I had to consider / deal with / accept completely different behaviour and manners from these horses and fundamentally, I didn’t understand them and found that very hard.

When you spend all your time focusing on one horse, you realise how much you don’t understand and cannot relate to any others. I knew my boys mannerisms inside out. I knew when he wasn’t right even when other experienced horse owners thought he seemed fine – there is nothing amazing in that, except that I am proud to have had that relationship and proud that we were as close as close can be, and that I wasn’t just another horse owner who didn’t really know her charge.

Two months on...

It is so very true that everyone is individual when it comes to how they deal with their grief when they lose someone who was so special to them. Whether that is a person or an animal (who are mostly far better people than humans) matters not a jot, if you loved someone unconditionally in spite of them making you cross occasionally as well as providing you with so much love in return, you will be beside yourself with how to deal with the loss.

After Herbs came home and Bren and I felt we had my baby back we began to settle ourselves a little and I turned my attention to trying to make something good come out of losing him. That came in the form of The Herbs Trust, which started off as just an umbrella name that I came up with to hold the funds which I decided would be given out over coming years to horses that need it.

Herbs was insured for veterinary fees and “loss”. The “loss” bit is something I never really thought much about except once when my premium went up quite a lot and I realised that I was paying more than some people I knew and that this was because Herbs was insured for a reasonable amount of money so that I would receive funds should Herbs be “lost” to me. I thought at the time that I should not bother with the loss insurance because I would never want the money as Herbs was priceless. It’s easy to think that I thought that after everything that has happened now, but that is truly what came to my mind some months, maybe even a year ago.

As it was, I didn’t do anything about changing the insurance and so I received a payout from the insurance company. It is just not right in my mind that I should keep that money, and so I am contented to have decided that the money should be put into a separate bank account, and even if it takes me 10 years to spent it, I am determined that every penny of that money will be donated to horse charities and causes specifically involved with enriching the lives of horses that are not as fortunate to be loved as much as Herbs was and always will be.

I decided that the first thing I would do is hold a show in honour of Herbs and this was set for 29th June 2008. The number of entries was overwhelming, to the point where it was getting scary that we would be able to complete all the classes in one day, and clearly the judges would be quite worn out after judging for at least an hour and a half for each class!

Well, everyone at the yard was so excited about the event and I received £158 in entry fees (and some hadn’t paid yet!) so the day looked like being off to a really good start.

The rosettes arrived 3 days before and I was really pleased with them and two trophies arrived duly engraved with “A Handful of Herbs Summer Show” on them so we were close to being all set.

Then, the scum of the earth came to our yard during Friday night / Saturday morning one/two days before the event and stole almost everyone’s saddles and bridles.

Well, of course the yard was in turmoil, the break in was brutal and whilst some people were lucky enough to keep their tack, some were even insensitive enough to ride out on the Saturday morning whilst others were still reeling from the shock, feeling violated and trying to work out how to deal with insurance companies.

In amongst the drama, people were talking about what would happen with the show and frankly I felt there was no option but to postpone. Not so. After a chat and a vote, it was clear that no one wanted to let the bastards give us any more grief than they already had and so a quick change saw us holding just two classes. In Hand, and Gymkhana – but both to be led / in hand classes with head collars or bridles only and NO SADDLES permitted.

The show was an amazing success. Everyone from the yard came together and had a great time, and the horses looked fabulous. We raised a whopping £410! To top it all, my friends had clubbed together and organised for a canvass to be printed with a picture of Herbs. It is absolutely beautiful and now on the wall at the end of the hallway – the first thing I see when I come through the door.

The show proved to be the start of a very successful fund raising scheme, and to find out all the latest information on what is happening with The Herbs Trust, go to where you will find details of the events that have been run, together with money raised and donations given. I am so proud to be able to do something positive for my boy, after feeling so devastated.

Herbs now has some lovely pictures permanently pinned up outside his stable, and his name painted on the floor where it was written into wet concrete some time ago, and there is a brand new notice board at the yard, especially for information about The Herbs Trust and to advertise events that are happening at other yards.

As far as I am concerned, Herbs lives on through The Herbs Trust which is one of many ways for me to remember the most amazing friend I ever had.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

My beautiful boy

Saturday, May 24, 2008

In Memory and With Love

Missing You

I had a couple of more settled days this week, and I even asked Bren why I seem to have been calmer on Wednesday and Thursday. Neither of use really knew. I've been to the yard every day to water your flowers and I put a lovely red rose on your door on Wednesday and didn't have any really bad wobbly moments. Yesterday was very difficult though. I went to the yard on my way back from London and started to chat to a few people and went to see Katy. Her big brown eyes and her grey face just reminded me so much of you I had to go away and then seeing other people stroking their ponies really got to me and I had to leave.

There are some things that I think I'm only just now beginning to realise. Firstly that you're gone and I won't see you again, and secondly that because of that, I won't stroke you, groom you, ride you and talk to you, trim your feathers, plait you up, wash your tail, tack you up, sponge you off, sponge off the poo you laid in overnight, feed you titbits, give you a likit, make your breakfast, make your haynets, organise your tack, clear out your grooming kit, turn you out, bring you in, ride round the farm with you, have a blast up the permissives with you.... the things we will never do are endless.

I won't ever load you onto the box again, drive you somewhere and keep asking if you are ok, I won't take any more pictures of you, I won't know how white you go as you get older and I will never buy you another set of shoes. John won't turn you out again and tell me about your antics in the field and what a lovely boy you have grown up to be. You won't give me a playful double barrel when ask for canter on the lunge, I wont ever ride you walk to canter again and love it, your lip won't stick out again when you get scratched and I won't hear your funny hiccup again.

Life is cruel, wicked and cruel. How is it ok for you to have only 9 years and for me to have only 4 years with you?

I'm so protective of you even now that if anyone asks a dumb question I get snappy. So many people just don't get how this feels but me being snappy isn't fair because so many people have been in touch and are so sad about me losing you.

I have too much time on my hands and no motivation to do anything. I've gone from having no time and rushing everywhere, to having too much and no reason to do anything. I think that's one of the toughest parts of this, there are things I can do but they are not important and I can't generate the energy to do them.

I might bring your bridles and saddles home from the yard and clean them and put them away with your rugs and other bits and pieces. At least that's something to do that's related to you.

I have to write the other blog entries about Wye, Frensham etc but I have to write happy things so that will have to wait for another time.

It's a 3 day weekend now, and it's going to be so difficult to fill the time without you.

I miss you.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Your Tribute Drink

On the day I lost you, I told Chris and Sharon that I would like them to ride to the Fox and I would meet them there and we would all have a drink to remember you.

I then saw some other friends on Thursday and they said they would like to come. By Friday quite a few people were mentioning it so I put a note on the board telling everyone they were welcome as I didn't want people to feel I was excluding them if I hadn't mentioned it to them, I just didn't expect so many people to express a wish to come.

During Friday I decided I wanted the ponies to wear a button hole in their bridles so the florist made me five, one each for Spirit, Coy and Ludo, and one each for your stable door and your casket.

I headed to the stables first to see the girls off and pick up Alice who was going to look after me for the day and we then collected the button holes and went up to the pub. We arrived as the horses did so that was good timing; they had a wonderful ride and thought of you as they had a lovely canter up the long straight bit on the common.

We got the Stella's in and had a toast to you, then more people started arriving. I was overwhelmed and I know you were too, that so many people wanted to come along and pay their respects. The people that came were:

Sharon & Mr Coy
Chris & Spirit
Linda & Ludo
Emily and

Tim was there, and very upset the hear the news, he promptly headed over to the shop to buy carrots for the horses. David and Louis were there too and very sad. Tim asked me if he could try to press one of the button holes for me, which I said I would be delighted with - people are so thoughtful.

We all talked and talked about you, about the accident, about your life, about our relationship and about the truly amazing reaction at the stables. Your stable looks even more amazing now, as there are so so many cards, and flowers for you there. I will put some pictures on here soon.

After drinks at the Fox, went back to the yard with Megan and waiting and generally got in the way as the horses were brought in and tucked into bed.

Then a few lovely lovely friends agreed to come home and see you, so Gina, Holly, Tony, Megan, Linda, Briony and me all sat around talking about you munching on pizza and drinking wine and then putting together the classes for a show I am going to hold later in June in your honour.

The day after was really flat, nothing to focus on and no real energy but I have tidied the Herbie room and you now have pride of place in there. Its nice that I can sit here writing this with you next to me, and I've printed another lovely lovely picture of you too.

Kate phoned today, she is a real brick because I work with her and she knows how it feels to lose a horse as she lost Fafa last year. I'm going to go into work for a couple of hours tomorrow, mostly because I have to go back some time and I would rather go back when Kate is in the office.

Write more soon my lovely boy. I dreamt that there was another horse in your stable in amongst all your flowers last night so I'm going to the yard again today and I will make sure Michael knows that I am keeping your stable for some time.

You are so beautiful.

Friday, May 16, 2008

All About You

16th May 2008

All About You.

I got up and started thinking about loads more things and it came to me that I had to write all about you. I wrote you a long letter yesterday because there were so many thoughts rushing through my head that I had to get them to you somehow so I wrote them and put them in your stable.

I started writing about us on your blog a couple of years ago and was thinking yesterday that I really should put my letter on there instead of leaving the blog without a continuation and now I know that All About You is the way to continue the blog.

Pretty much every morning I would pull up in the car into the car park and you would be watching out and I would stay quiet and then say “hi honey” or “good morning gorgeous” or something similar and you would yell back when you heard my voice. I loved that, it was like our first special communication of the day.

I had some crazy sayings over the years including “how did you get so sexy when I wasn’t looking?” and “are you handsome or just pretending”, “hello my little chicken pie chips and peas” (those that heard me say it will remember it distinctly!), “night night baby boy love you” when I left the yard every evening, and “see you tonight little man, be good” when I left for work. “Hi baby blue” and “Alright my lover lad?” were things I said more recently.

In the winter, I would change your stable rug to your turnout rug before giving you your breakfast and you would get “gobby” as I did the front buckles up. You always did, never bit me, just always got gobby as if to say “get on with it and hurry up”. Sometimes I would walk to you to undo the buckles on your stable rug and I would follow you around the stable for a second or two because you would wander off. I never knew why you did that, I just put it down to impatience. Then I would walk down the barn in the morning with your breakfast and quite often you would call for it, you were certainly always looking over the door for me because you knew exactly what was coming.

I would put your boots on when you were eating your breakfast and you never minded, you used to move your legs sometimes to help me out. When the last boot was on I often gave your leg a cuddle, always the right fore, and a kiss because I always thought you had such sexy legs and told people that too. You had nice big tough legs with lovely muscles all of which I saw grow stronger and stronger from the day I brought you home.

I did a “leg check” every evening too, to make sure you were ok from your day out in the field because you were so playful and you worried me so much. It became so important to me that even Sharon used to make sure she checked your legs when she sometimes put you to bed. When I did this in the evening I often gave your right fore a kiss then too.

You’ve got a lead rope clipped onto your stable bolt which I put on after someone let Coy out of his stable one night. The lead rope has been on there a good year or so now and it became your toy. After breakfast, teeth still full of food, you would get hold of it and chew it and fling it around. It’s got unravelled over time and it’s really grotty and it will be coming home with me soon because it holds so many memories of every time I walked down the barn and saw you with it in your mouth flinging it around.

This year when your coat was changing from winter to summer you were so itchy. We were just getting to the point where you would turn to have a scratch and I would say “show me” and you would give me an idea of where it was and I would scratch your itch for you. You loved it, and for me it was such an important bonding moment. Bonding moments were important to me from the day you came home, because I wanted you to trust and love me as I did you. And I know you did.

Back leg scratches were the best, and combing your tail always triggers itchy legs and you would lift them to tell me they needed scratching and I used my nails or a comb to give all around your hocks a nice long scratch. More often than not you wouldn’t let me stop and I quickly had to put you in your stable so you could carry on on your own in case you fell over you daft boy.

There are things that are very particular to the last few months which we didn’t do before, like the leg scratching and the cuddles at the mounting block.

I have to write all of this because I’ve always worried about my terrible memory and I can’t bear the thought of not remembering things about you.

Just looking at my pictures on the wall and one reminds me that so often I would take loads of pictures of you at a show or at home and when I looked over them there was often one or two of you with your tongue sticking out – I will have to put all of those together.

I used to give your bum and under your back legs a squeeze when I was grooming or when I walked past you when you were tied up outside your stable and I was going about mucking out and things. Again, it was part of our bonding that I should say “hi” whenever I walked past you or tell you where I was going and what I was going to do next. “Just doing your buckets honey then we’ll get going” or “two ticks buddy” was a common saying of mine. I was always talking to you, because I knew you could understand me.

When you first came home you had a stable in the barn and I thought that would be good because you were so nervous and it meant you would have other horses to see and could get used to all the noises going on and it would help to settle you a little.

Even the first weekend people told me we had a bond already. I don’t know how or why they thought it but I loved you from the minute I laid eyes on you, there was no question that you were the one for me.
A little while after you moved in, I bought some rubber for the floor because you used to sleep and stand in the same place and even if there was loads of straw in the bed you would make a hole in it down to the floor. One time you pulled a muscle in your shoulder and I worried that you did that whilst you were getting up from your snooze because you’d moved all the straw so I put the rubber down.

After a year your new lovely stable came free and I must admit I fought a bit for you to go there – sorry about that to everyone I got a bit greedy with but I was determined! That stable was lovely for you, you loved it, I loved it, and it will always be yours. When the holes in the floor got fixed I drew your name in the cement in a couple of places.

When we first went out together you spun a lot when you were scared of something and did a complete 180, often ending up with me on the deck – but you didn’t run away, you stayed with me, and after a couple of years the spinning started to stop and I could see scary things ahead and reassure you that it was ok and you would listen to me and trust me that it was ok and we’d ride past and I would tell you what a brave boy you were.

When I first brought you home you wouldn’t stand at the mounting block, and Kathie and I taught you it was ok by moving a little set of steps around for 2/3 months and giving you a treat every time I got on. In the end you stood still by the mounting block, or anywhere I asked you to when I fell off, and didn’t move a muscle until I said it was ok.

I truly believe you had as much love and respect for me as I did and still have for you.

Everyone at work knew how much I love you. They used to always give me their apples that they didn’t want and I would bring them to the stables for you. I used to tell everyone that it was a crime that they should eat apples because they were pony food only. I’ve probably eaten the odd apple over the last 4 years but actually I can’t remember eating even one and if I had I would have done it with guilt or thinking “it’s ok cos I will get my baby double the amount this week” or something like that.

Pony carrier bags were always more important that my food bags. Just ask Sharon. I would feel so guilty if I didn’t put carrots and apples in your feed and very rarely did I not. Often you had suede, turnip and pears too – but you were never that fond of brussel sprouts.

You were my life. My everything. That’s why I took so many millions of photographs of you and that’s why I kept a blog for you and that’s why I named my company after you and that’s why I named my wireless network (mad but true) after you and that’s why my passwords were about you and that’s why I bought a lorry for you, and that’s why I was making myself get brave again about jumping, because I owed it to you. My heart is broken without you.

I wrote on every rosette because I never wanted to forget just how much we had achieved, we had to bounce back after that first pleasure ride and we did. I wrote down the ribbon on the rosette “Herbie’s first outing, battered but not defeated”. I knew if I gave you so much unconditional love you would get braver and we would be an amazing partnership. We proved that, I am so proud of you and I can’t believe I have lost you, my world has fallen apart but I am so proud to have known you and I am so proud of our bond, our unbelievable bond.

I always knew when you were hurt, I always knew when you needed something, you couldn’t talk to me, but that’s what made our relationship even more special. You had to tell me in your way and I learned to understand you, just by the look in your eye or the fact that you just were different that day or at that time.

When we were riding along, if I just touched you on the neck in a certain way you stopped still and turned around to me because you knew that meant I had a sweetie for you. Although that was never a very regular thing that I did, you always knew the difference between a scratch on the neck to tell you turn around for a sweetie, and a scratch on the neck just to say hi, I love you.

I don’t think there is another pony that learned how to open the yard gate as well as you. I couldn’t make you back up at any other time without you worrying and saying “I don’t understand mum” but at the gate you would walk straight up to it, I would lift the latch and you would start walking backwards as I opened the gate. Then you would walk through and line up whilst I shut the gate and I only had to say “stand” and lately didn’t even do that, and you knew to stand still and wait for me even if your friends had all walked off. I was always so proud that you did that.

I thought I would have you forever, to the point where I worried so much about who would take care of you if anything happened to me. I thought many people wouldn’t consider it but actually a couple of people have since told me they had worried about it for them and their horses too. I was pleased when Chris and I made contact again because that meant that as well as Sharon who of course would need to look after your buddy Coy as well as you, Chris was around should anything happen to me and you needed to be cared for.

When you were lying in the field, Debbie and Gina said your friends were all around you pushing the other horses away, they were protecting you. When they came along the horses left and we like to think that they were protecting you until help arrived. When John called me I asked him to stay with you and not leave you and I know he did.

When I arrived I was worried about all the other horses coming over and I wanted them shooed away, but I thought about it later and felt sorry I did that because of course my grief and my wishes are one thing, but you had your friends around you, the part of your life I didn’t entirely understand and of course we humans just don’t know enough about how you bond and communicate and understand each other so I hope I didn’t upset them or you when I didn’t want them near you.

I stayed with you for a long time, just kissing you, stroking you and closing your eye. And smelling you. I will never know that smell again. I was rather rude to Lacey when I first arrived at the yard, but I quickly apologised and I know she understood. Gina and Debbie have helped by telling how very brave you were and telling me enough of what happened as they know it to comfort me but not upset us.

Lacey kindly went and found the baby blue and navy rug that Bren bought you from Ireland and I covered you with that. I think I remember only putting it on you once but it was covered in your white hairs and I think it may have even had a bit of poo on it.

John thoughtfully already had some of your mane for me to keep and kindly took some of your beautiful tail for me too. I have them here at home and think I will plait them up for you – Lauren may need to help me.

John was my brick. I never ever questioned his judgement on looking after you. Quite a few times he made a point of saying – unquestioned – how he felt that I had done you proud and that you were a different pony to the one that first came home to Wickham Court. I do feel proud. I know I did the best I could by you my baby, and I always wanted people around you that would do the best by you – sometimes I was rather over protective and didn’t “give a little” but that was purely owing to the depth of love and care I have for you.

I feel slightly differently to John’s view, in that I did what you allowed me to do and continued to do what achieved results, in that you became happier, cheekier, more handsome and healthier the more I cared for you. John loved you, John cared for you and really cared about how much I wanted you to be loved and looked after to the point where he second guessed everything I did and truly helped me to be the best mum I could be to you. I will always love John for the love he showed both of us, and I know you will too.

Last night (14) I went back to your stable and tidied your bed and put some flowers on your bed that people had sent me. I didn’t want the flowers at home with me because they are for you and they should be where you lived so they are now laying on your straw and the bow that came with them is on your name plate on your stable door.

I had that name plate made in America because I was fixated that I had to buy you a slate name plate because you are grey. I found the man that made it on the internet and ordered it. I was so excited when it came, it was perfect and I had deliberated about what name to put on and whether it should be Herbie, Herbs or A Handful of Herbs. Herbs seemed right because I like the name so much.

People called you Herbie Glynn. That’s because one day when I was telling you off I said “Herbie Glynn will you stop” it’s because I used to call my cats Foggy Glynn and Izzie Glynn so calling you Herbie Glynn was a natural progression. The funny thing is that everyone else did it too and occasionally I would hear someone call you that and it would make me smile.

Just recently you had taken to cuddles and I adored it. When we went to the mounting block in the school you would turn your head to me as I stood on it and put all your weight on my lap and I would kiss and cuddle you like no other time you would let me because you were being a teenage boy – gerroff mum and stop being soppy. You would have stood for ages and ages at that mounting block letting me fuss over you just to be cute and avoid being ridden. I never let you off but loved those cuddles meant so much, they were so special.

I wrote an online diary of you, every event we went to was recorded there because i was so worried that there would be things I would forget. This year we did some dressage at Fickleshole and sponsored rides at Wye, Frensham and Warren Barn and we were booked to go to Speedgate in 2 or 3 weeks time. I haven’t written your blog for these events yet and a day ago I didn’t honestly know if I would but now I do, because I want to have a complete story, I’m just not sure when I will because writing this is more important right now.

Everything about you is so beautiful but your white eyelashes always melted me. No one but me will remember your leafy ears. When you were only six you had black marks on the back of your ears just like the veins on a leaf; they were the first dark bits to go white. I always wondered how white you would become as you got older, you certainly changed a lot in our 4 years together but I loved the silver white colour you were going, it wasn’t a creamy grey but a silver white colour.

Christmas 2006 I made up a pin board to put all my favourite pictures of you on with all of your rosettes. Everything is clamouring for space so I’m going to buy a huge photo frame and put all my pictures in that, and your rosettes can stay on the pin board where there will be more room.

I thought long and hard about your show name. I started with Irish names related to Guinness and things but decided I had to have a reference to Herbie in your show name and so came A Handful of Herbs. I was always proud to write that on a show entry form.

Just a week or so ago I bought you a new head collar, navy blue and very soft and I bought a new while, baby blue and navy lead rope to match. I put it on you but didn’t like it, and the girls at the stables thought I was mad until I made them look at you wearing it and they agree the old one was nicer, so I kept using that. Even John didn’t like the new one and said it without me even asking him. I’ve got our favourite one at home with your lead rope now.

Remember the hail storm? We were out with Coy and heading toward the common for a ride and saw big black clouds in the distance and deliberated on what to do. Then suddenly we saw fork lightning in the distance and decided to head up pig alley towards home. More thunder and lightning as we went up the bridle path and Sharon and I were very quiet as we walked back down Queensway. Half way down the heavens opened and the most awful hail storm started. Hail was pelting at us and some people in the house nearby were looking at us out of their window as we stood there waiting for it to pass. Sharon and I didn’t have a clue how you would be react but Coy just turned his bottom to the storm and as it got worse we turned our back to it too and you just stood there, not panicking, just standing waiting, not enjoying it, but not getting upset either. You were always such a good boy and times like that made me so so so unbelievably proud of you.

We were a team, a partnership and now I’m on my own without you. I am devastated. You are so handsome and so everything to me I can’t stop the tears streaming down my face.

Bren is worried that I will give up being involved with horses but I already know that I owe it to you not to do that. To give up being involved with horses would be letting you down and I could never do that. I have to keep going back to the yard because that is where you lived and so much of my life is there that not to go back would be like leaving you.

Today (16) and thankfully only two days later you are home now. Bren and I drove down and picked you up this morning. Bren immediately felt so much better and when we arrived there I just didn’t know whether I would be able to go in but I was blown away by how wonderful the man was. You always worry about someone looking after your baby because you know it won’t be how you would, but honestly little man I have nothing to regret about you being with those people. Your casket is so beautiful I broke down again, you name is engraved on it and it is written so beautifully, and your shoes are wrapped up for me and they look so beautiful. They even gave me a card for you with a poem inside. I am just overwhelmed and I was stroking you and blowing you kisses all the way home.

I wasn’t sure where I was going to keep you but last night I mentioned this to some friends at the stables as we all stood outside your door talking, and I said that Bren had mentioned the study. They agreed that this was a good idea because I have pictures there and when I thought about the fact that this is where I would have been when I thought about you most at home, printing pictures, writing the blog etc, I decided that the study is where you should be. Bren said we now call it Herbie’s room and not the study anymore.

I thought about taking you to your stable once you were with me and saying a few words there but to be honest that isn’t really going to be practical. Bless them Tony and Megan said they would help me do that if I wanted to.

I talked to the girls on Wednesday (14) about them having to ride on Saturday and that they must go to your pub and have a drink there and I would meet them and we would toast you. Lots of friends at the yard said they would come to the pub too even if they didn’t ride their horses there.

I also thought of organising a little show for all your friends to come to and we will have rosettes to give everyone with “Remembering Herbs” written on them. I would like to do that in remembrance of you because I can’t simply let you go because I owe you so much for everything you have given me. I talked to people about this last night and they thought it was a lovely idea and Tony reminded me of the show he organised at the yard last year so we are going to try to organise the same thing again for you and I am going to ask Kathie, Stan and Anita to come too. Bren is right when he says that “Remembering Herbs” isn’t quite the right thing to put on the rosettes so I think something like “Sponsored by Herbs” would be a good idea.

I’m going to put a photo book together too. I was going to do this a while ago and cover everything from the day you came home to our first red. Now I will include our pictures from Wye and Frensham this year too.
Not many people are that obsessed that they have a room in their house named after their horse and a separate car just for the stables. I have so many things of yours I just don’t know how I am going to cope with seeing everything. Your rugs, your numnahs, your bridles, your two saddles, your lorry, your pessoa, your feed, your veggies, your field boots, just everything was yours and about you. I have to stay strong and brave for you though don’t I? Because you were so brave for me.

I truly can’t believe you have gone. I’m so desperately sad that I have lost you just at the time when I had sorted so much out that I would be able to spend even more time with you. What did you do? You were only in the field about half an hour before it happened. I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for you all the time but I hope you know I stayed with you and looked after you. I hope you know that I would never ever leave you and that I thought and felt so desperately for you as soon as I knew you needed help. This was always unquestionable and unconditional. There would be no doubt that I would always be there for you, come what may.

It is simply not possible in this world for anyone to love their horse more than I love you. You were my world, my life, my priority, my every minute thought. I rang John if I ever forgot my phone and gave him a different number in case he had to contact me. My phone never left my side when I was away from you so I was always there if you needed me. I would sometimes check it at around 4pm and think to myself that you were fine because by then I knew you were in from the field and that if you had got yourself into trouble then I would know about it by then.

I could never bring myself to leave you and go on holiday so we went together instead. I came to see you every day when you were at Bell because not to was unthinkable, I remember how touched I felt when I walked into the barn that you were staying in and you yelled at me when I hadn’t even spoken and you didn’t know I had arrived until you saw me at that moment. There is just nothing more powerful that that swell of love that I felt.

I do believe you knew how much I loved you because I told you and you were so honest you would have believed me. I don’t think you would ever have doubted me, because I never doubted you.

You will never leave that special place you have in my heart that you settled into the first day I laid eyes on you. I will love you until the day I die and I hope I will see you again then. Until that time comes I will never stop thinking about you, caring for you, talking about you and reliving my memories of our time together. Until then, I hope you will also come to me in my dreams.

I love you with all of my heart my precious beautiful baby boy.

Other people loved you so much too, and I am overwhelmed at the reaction from people at the stables, my friends, Bren’s friends and the people we both worked with.

Your stable looks amazing. When I went to the stables yesterday I found cards left for us and that Kathie had left you flowers with a special note saying she loved you. By the time I left the yard I had spoken to so many people about you and more people gave me flowers for you. Lauren, Pat and Jo bought you a beautiful arrangement, Rachel gave you flowers and me a card from her and her family, and Hannah gave you flowers from her and Scampi. Liz, Fred’s mum gave you some beautiful lilies too and they are in your stable in water in the hope that the flowers will come out. I spoke with Chris today and she said John had never seen such a reaction, that’s how much people care about us and loved you. I’ve had lots of text messages for you, and I thought I would write them here too so here goes:

Hi Sarah. Give me a call when you can. Pls try not to worry, Thinking of you and herbs. If you need anything pls ask. Can come up to yard anytime. Love Sx (Sharon)

Sarah. Maxine just told me about Herbie. I’m so sorry 4 u. Can only imagine how upset u r. Luv lynn/ludo x

Oh my god I can’t believe wot I’ve just hard u poor thing. I no u hv lots of friends but if I can do anything 2 help ease the pain pls let me no. Take care. Linda x (Ludo)

So sorry to hear about herb. All you can do is think what a great life you gave him x (Anita)

So so sorry about herbie sa don’t know what else 2 say 2 u. i do know how u feel and its so unfair take care max and family x

Hi Sarah im v sad to hear bout herbie cant believe it god knows how you feel. We should hold a funeral 4 him. He was such a lovely horse. Take care. Luv Ruth x

Sarah im so so sorry to hear about Herbie I cant believe its happened am thinking of you. Sue xx (Marbee)
Sorry 2 hear about herb thinking of you sarah (Sarah & Jemma)

Im so sorry im really upset lots of love a and g (Alice & Grace)

Im so so so so so so so sorry i feel terrible luv a and g (Alice & Grace)

Hope ur ok hon. Cant stop thinking about u. Take care. Love u lots. Spk tom Cx (Chris)

There are no words 2 say how we feel 4 u and herbs. Love u sarah and we r here 4 u. Love Soph & Gina.

This message is for a few of you very special people. Others I don’t have numbers for but I will see. Times how much you understand that I love Herbs by 1000 and even then it’s not close. He was and is my world. Sincere love and gratitude to you for understanding what kind of relationship we had and for your messages. When you pass his stable, please blow him a kiss. Sx

Thank you for your lovely message, our thoughts are with you. Love Lacey xx

Love and respect u 4 your ability 2 respond when not expected to feelings for u both r real no one person or horse can ease your pain fan was upset as im sure many older ones were they r aware n will be unstable too (Linda & Maddy)

He’ll be sure 2 get loads of kisses from me. Much love Lx (Linda & Ludo)

sad (Dan)

We were all terribly sorry to hear about Herbs. I know how you feel even thought it must be much worse than losing Milton. Take your time getting yourself back together. See you when you come back. (Kev)

Hi, just want you to know i am thinking of you. If you need anything just let me know or i can pop round if you want me to Sxxx (Susie)

We are so sorry that you have lost herbie he was so precious to you. God bless love carrie and georgie xx xx

Very sorry to hear (sad) let me know if I can do anything here to help you out. Big hug, Stu

Hi Sarah, Thinkin bout you. Call if you would like to talk. Love S x (Sharon)

Hi hon, how r u feeling? Been thinking about you all day. Cx (Chris)

Hey hun. Ive sent you the show stuff I have at the mo. I hope today goes wel. Thinking of u x x x x (Tony)

Sarah, so sorry to hear the awful news, hope ur bearing up, good wishes from Debbie, lucie and ellie x

Hi Sarah. I’ve just heard about your boy. Soo sorry to hear. I hope you’re ok. Thinking of you Xxx (Steph)

Hi how r u doing – I can’t stop thinking abt u & herbs it all seems so unreal Hp2 c u sn. Lx (Linda & Ludo)

Honey it's rather late on Friday night and we’re going to the Fox tomorrow to have a drink and think about you. I was at the stables tonight and there is so much more to say, but for now, I will post these thoughts of mine about you, and the messages from others who are missing you already.

I love you. You will always be in my heart.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Everyone Loves Stella

Click on this post to see three fabulous videos....

Friday, October 12, 2007

Speedgate Sponsored Ride

Speedgate Sponsored Ride 16th October 2007 .......

We booked this ride before the holiday and its 5am finish so by the night before I wasn’t sure I could handle more driving and lorry loading but by the time the morning came I didn’t want to miss out so we set off again.

This ride was organised in July this year too but the take up was so overwhelming they had to turn away over 100 riders so I really wanted to check it out this time.

Apart from probably wondering whether their lives would now be a constant round of loading and unloading after the events of the last week the boys loading beautifully (Coy first time again!) and we arrived after a 45 minute journey.

At the beginning of the ride there were loads of jumps all looking rather scary and I would have had to be a lot braver than I am to attempt them, especially after no warm up. The rest of the ride before returning to the woods and jumps again was all off road around the edges of huge big inviting fields and I think was one of the best rides I’ve ever done, largely because Herbs was so chilled out and I felt so much more confident.

For almost 2 hours we walked, trotted and cantered according to the ground and I’m pleased to say there were loads of canter opportunities, I even managed a jump at the end of the ride and arrived back at the box with a very happy, sweaty horse.

I’m so glad I made the decision to do the ride because it was wicked, and I won’t hesitate to do it all again.

HE IS SUCH A GOOD BOY!!! ~very proud mum~

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Coldblow revisited.........

Coldblow – again! 10th to 15th September 2007

Well last year was such a success that we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go again so Sharon and I booked to take the boys back to Coldblow Farm in Detling for a week.

We booked to arrive on Monday 10th September and initially hoped that Chris would be able to join us for a day and evening so she could accompany us on a ride and have a few bevies with us at the cottage. Well, Chris didn’t manage the ride on account of the girls being at school and it looked like we might get even more company – read on for the details!

Having ridden the BBAG ride on the Sunday (see previous post) saddles and bridles stayed on board the lorry and once we got back we started to get everything else loaded so that we were almost ready to load the horses and go on the Monday morning.

As only girls can do, we did the good old Sainsbury’s shop on Sunday afternoon and came back to the yard with so much food and drink (non-alcoholic of course) anyone would have thought we were going for a month! So, having a mini panic attack I decided to take everything out of the lorry that wasn’t essential - “we don’t need this sponge do we?” – just in case the weight was a bit OTT once we were loaded. Completely ridiculous but it’s a Sarah thing – you wouldn’t understand.

So, we were surprisingly organised and set off (on time – hurrah!) at 11am on Monday. Oh, lest I forget – organised yes, knackered yes! Sharon had the really intelligent idea of completely clearing out her stable in the morning so guess who got roped into that?

The drive down was easy, fairly quiet and this time we didn’t go wrong. Just before 1pm we arrived and led two very chilled out horses into their stables. The lovely big barn was all ours for the week so we chose two lovely huge stables....

....and wandered off to check the fences before turning the horses out in their own big field.

In Herbie’s case, he could have the luxury of being bootless for a week because he and Coy are not likely to play or mess about together, so no sexy porn star look -naked except for black boots , get it? ;-)

The fences were fine, no loose stakes or anything but there was another small problem.


Sugar the Sheep.

Not entirely sure she should be there we checked with Dora who told us she was fine but lonely. Her mate Pickle died the day after they were both sheared and they were organising to put her back with a flock as soon as possible, Foot and Mouth movement restrictions permitting.

Turning the horses out with Sugar was hysterical. Neither one of the boys knew what to make of her and she kept running off into the bushes whenever they came near. We left them alone and set about unpacking the lorry. It’s only when we had to take it all out that we realised quite how much stuff we had, but within an hour we were unpacked and sitting outside our cottage watching the ponies in the field with a glass of red in our hand – oh, and texting everyone to tell them what we were doing whilst they were hard at work! I know, it’s a bit unkind but they all do it so why not!?

Every now and again both the boys would canter off toward the bushes, tails high, when they caught sight of Sugar, then leg it back the other way before settling down to eat again. Poor little Sugar was terrified!

After a busy weekend for them and us, we gave the boys the Monday off and brought them in from the field at about 7:30pm with bulging bellies and a lovely dinner to look forward to – except with Coy still being on a diet his was yummy but didn’t last as long!

One of the wonderful things about being away with the boys is that there is no need to drive anywhere. When your normal day is to load the car with work and horsey clothes, drive to the stables, then on to the station, do a day’s work, then back to the station drive to the stables, ride, feed, then drive home; it’s just so wonderful to have everything with you and not have to go anywhere – except on horses of course – so after feeding the boys and putting them to bed it was quite a novelty to wander back to the cottage and just sit there – again! – not having to do anything, go anywhere or organise anything – bliss! Dinner and more wine followed.............YUM!

Tuesday morning we fed the horses, turned them out, mucked out and set about working out a route for a nice long ride.

Dora and co have set up another TROT ride since last year so we settled on the Rattlesnake ride (if you don’t know what I mean you should have read last year’s blog so there) which we extended to take in the new off road ride which had beautiful views over the River Thames.

One thing that was really noticeable from the beginning of the ride was how much more chilled out Herbs was compared to last year when every hedge or garden wall had something scary behind it. This time, wandering along the road Herbs was really relaxed so he is obviously growing up!

The Rattlesnake part of the ride was stony as we expected and we didn’t get any chances to canter as the ground was so hard but at the top of the hill Mrs Map Reader (moi) took over to try to connect this part of the ride with the TROT part. We went wrong twice – but I knew we did so that’s ok :-)and finally found the gates we needed. Some mad woman was off wandering with a baby and a dog whilst leaving another load of dogs (must have been 30 of them, it sounded like it) in the back of a van in cages yelling their heads off right next to where we needed to ride, so once she came back, lobbed the baby in the back of the van and buggered off, we could continue.

The TROT ride isn’t extensive but a lovely welcome addition to the ride, and the boys got to stare out cows and freak at sheep so some good experience there! Coy nearly galloped off backwards down the hill when the sheep came running in our direction to get out of our way – mad, but that’s sheep for you. whoever said they were intelligent?

Of course no ride would be complete without a trip to the Hook and Hatchet so we made our way to the pub at the end of the ride for a well earned beer or two and some crisps for the horses. The weather was beautiful, lovely and dry but not too hot and after a short 30 minute ride we wandered into the yard at about 5pm, untacked the sweaty horses and turned them out for a couple of hours more grazing whilst we had a GnT.

It was a wonderful ride to start us off and the evening routine was another joyous combination of horses, dinner and vino with NO driving – bliss.

I was fairly snap happy on the day so here are the results:


Time to tackle the underpass, be afraid, be very afraid.

We’ve done it once so we can do it again. That’s the attitude. Nice and confident.


A nice long route was planned for today, taking in two lovely underpasses beneath the M20. The ride down involved walking over some loggy things that are set at each end of a bridlepath to stop motorbikes etc. going down. Last year it was an effort to get Coy over these as they were for some reason ridiculously scary but this year he proved how much he has grown up too as he didn’t even seem to notice they were there.

The first underpass was very uninviting and both the horses froze when we asked them to walk underneath. After a few moments we decided to walk under in hand as they were becoming quite beside themselves with worry. Herbs was naughtily walking backwards when I asked him forwards and Coy was rooted to the spot so there was no point in forcing them.

From the other side, we made our way along another bridlepath which had a small log on the ground between two sections. To the left of this was a pallet up the bank and right alongside the log was a scary flower pot.

I asked Herbs forwards and all I was rewarded with was walking backwards again, little sod. This seems to be a new way of dealing with something scary and its only when they start doing it that you realise how hard it is to make them walk forwards against their will. I fought and fought and the whole thing ended up being a battle of wills. I was certainly not going to give up because, for one, walking backwards isn’t acceptable, and secondly, the objects in the way were not THAT scary – goodness me we’ve seen worse loads of times.

I think if Herbs had got his way his ideal would have just been to back off enough times that I let Coy go first – I think he just couldn’t be bothered to be the brave one. I wasn’t having it so after a while I managed to get him past everything quite nicely whilst proclaiming quite loudly that he was a complete tart.

Coy followed us along a nice bridleway that sloped downwards slightly and at the end it seemed compulsory to turn and canter back up it as the ground was so hard everywhere and you just never knew when you’d get another opportunity. It’s amazing how short these stretches are when you canter – we reached the end in no time!

A short ride through Bearsted and we spotted The Oak on the Green, nicely situated for a pint or two before the ride back. We planned a different route home and cut across a field (permitted!) for a nice canter before finding the underpass that would take us back over the other side of the motorway again. This direction and bridge was rather more inviting as it wasn’t as dark and I’m pleased that Herbs didn’t really think much before just wandering underneath. Yippee!

Then we had a nice canter along the Water Lane bridlepath, then walked through the lanes and up a steep hill to extend the ride onto the paths that come out opposite Coldblow Farm.

Now this bit was tricky because the map was quite clear but the land wasn’t. If only those people that spend so much time making sure maps are accurate would spend as much time making the land fit the maps we would be fine but oh no, signposts are completely unnecessary! A few wrong turns later we found what we were looking for, a rundown old shack with dogs yelling their heads off. Nice.

According to Dora it is dogs that make this route little used but she described a small path with a fence one side which the dogs would leap up at and a big fat tree the other, nicely placed to wallop your knee on so we knew we were in the right place.

As luck would have it the dogs couldn’t get to the fence but the fence was corrugated and the light was shining on it so whilst not being bothered at all about the horrendous noise the dogs were making Herbs was too blinking scared to go past the scary shining lights – such a weed/wooss (how the hell DO you spell that?/tart - so we had the walking backwards routine again which made his mother rather cross! Needless to say, after borrowing Sharon's crop and being a little threatening he did walk down the scary scary track in the lead despite it taking a little while to get him to “WALK FORWARDS!”

The spritely Sharon did a bit of fence repair a little farther on and we returned to the farm in one piece and having thoroughly enjoyed our day quite a few hours later!
We got company on Wednesday when two other girls, Nina and Mel turned up with their horses Max and Harry. They were camping and their horses living out so we moved our boys to a different paddock so that they were nearer theirs whilst they grazed overnight. They were a bit looney too so we got on well!


No grazing for the boys Wednesday evening as we were back so late so Thursday we took a plod in the other direction for a ride through the woods then onto the Hook and Hatchet for chill out time. The ponies had worked so hard the last two days we thought it only fair to have a bit of a breather, and Chris was due to visit with the girls so we didn’t want to get back too late.

As it was they arrived as we were untacking so we turned the ponies out and then got the BBQ going before bringing them back in for bed. The girls had school Friday morning so Chris had to take them back home but promised to come back Friday evening with Gina for a boozy night and left with a lovely long shopping list.


Sharon felt less than perfect in the morning - AND IT WASN'T ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE FOOD! but we set off for a reasonably long ride and thought we’d just see how we got on. We hadn’t intended to stay Friday night but on account of the girls coming down we booked to stay for longer so it seemed only right to get another long ride in.

We worked out a route than gave us as many cantering opportunities as possible (not that we're speed freaks) and set off once again for the underpass – albeit the nice one. Hey? We’re experts. No dramas this time, the horses took it relatively in their stride and we headed back down to The Oak on the Green.

It was kill or cure for Sharon and she felt surprisingly better afterwards – work that one out!

The ride back was lovely, long soft canters with chilled out horses and a perfect end to a perfect week.

The riding at Coldblow isn’t the best in the world but then I reckon you would go a long way before you found somewhere that offered such wonderful facilities (and pubs!) as well as all off road riding.

Our horses are very used to roads and in fact the drivers in the Detling area are so considerate and the roads so quiet it is far less stressful than negotiating the roads at home.

The grazing at Coldblow is lovely, we have a cottage to ourselves and Dora, Jeff and the team are very relaxed so it’s a very easy break for us. They have a lovely sand school but we didn’t use it once which is nothing short of a miracle considering what we’d be doing at home, and I truly believe the horses enjoyed the break just as much as we did.

On that point, Herbs continued his relaxed mood all week and he really was a different horse to ride compared with last year. At the grand age of 9 I suppose the effort of taking him to so many new places over the last few months has paid off and he is relaxing more in new situations – bless – he’s just getting cheeky with the backwards thing!

That about does it for an account of the holiday, with one exception – the party.

We knew that drinking with Gina would be a new kind of experience but I don’t think any of us was really prepared it. Here are the highlights....

1. Decided to take pictures of all of us wearing glasses and a stern expression – go figure (Chris couldn’t do it) ...
2. Decided to ---- --- ---- -- and take pictures of our ---- anyone good at hangman? – Oh, Chris? I still have that picture, sorry, I couldn’t find the delete button ;-)
3. Sarah and Gina chased each other around the cottage and fell over in a heap on the floor
4. Gina kept topping up Jeff’s wine glass (he’d only come out of the house to check on the chickens) and ended up making him sick
5. Jeff’s daughter rang him to find out if he was ok as he had left the house hours ago
6. Dora thought it was the unpasteurised soft cheese that Jeff ate before bed that made him ill ;-)
7. Gina dropped a massive plate of salad onto the floor outside then jumped in it several times
8. Chris spent all evening tell me she loved me and trying to delete aforementioned picture – but was too pissed to succeed
9. Sharon was so smashed she missed her mouth with a marshmallow and kept asking us to get her something but we couldn’t understand what she wanted so just ignored her and left her alone to mumble. Finally found out she wanted a quilt
10. Chris and Sharon tried to put the sofa bed together when drunk – hopeless
11. I was Little Miss Perfect all evening as I was driving the lorry the following day so didn’t drink too much and I didn’t do anything stupid and no-one will ever know if I’m telling the truth or not because I’m the only one who can edit this blog so there
12. Gina and Chris said Sharon and I could have a lie in the next day and they would put the boys out

Finally, the evening ended at 5am with everyone crashing out and doing lots of snoring.

The fun continued the following day:

1. Gina and Chris DIDN'T put the boys out - yeah what a surprise!
2. Gina was nearly sick whilst mucking out and had to keep sticking her head out the door for fresh air.
3. Chris was rough, rough, rough
4. Sharon just looked vacant most of the day and had the cheek to fall asleep on the way home – so much for co-pilot!

We arrived back at the yard at about 5pm. Knackered but safe, and settled the horses into their lovely familiar beds. We all had a great time and I think half the yard wants to come next year!

Maybe we can sneak in another visit in the Spring????.............

Here are the rest of the pics...........