Thursday, September 21, 2006


im panicking.....

I'm heading off for Shaun and Kat's wedding this weekend, and I'm really looking forward to it, except I'm freaking out about leaving m'boy.

The wedding is in Lanark, bonny Scotland so I'm flying up on Saturday morning with Dan and Renae, then back on Sunday hopefully in time to see the little man before lights out.

The ever dependable and trustworthy (I know she'll read this!) Sharon is looking after Herbs and I've even taken the huge step of letting someone ride him while I'm away. Megan is looking forward to riding out with Sharon and Mr Coy and I've given strict instructions that the ride mustn't take in the pub but I don't hold out a lot of hope of them sticking to it!

I might take some photo's of my stricken, drunken, sad and missing him face during the weekend. But then again I might be too busy on the mob checking he's ok. (or just too pissed)

Only genuine horse lovers would understand.........

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Our holiday at Coldblow 4th-8th Sept

We're all back, safe and sound - it was brilliant!!

On Monday, Sharon, Rachel, Laura and I packed up horse boxes and trailers with bridles, saddles, bedding (for us), food (for us and the horses but the horses, predictably, got more!) and got the boys suited and booted for the short journey to Coldblow farm, near Detling in Kent.

We arrived after an easy journey of just over an hour and settled the horses into a large paddock to graze whilst we checked out the accommodation and facilities.

Herbs, Coy, Chief and Spyder each had a lovely stable in a huge barn with large windows to nose out of, and a huge paddock just for them.

Herbs liked his lovely big window.

and Mr Coy rather liked his, but not as much as his mum!

There were no other horses staying at the farm during our week (apart from the residents) so we pretty much had the run of the place. The farm has a lovely large outdoor sand school, a Le Trek course and a paddock specifically for show jumping.

Dora greeted us shortly after we arrived and showed us around. We could choose to put the horses in individual paddocks or in a large field all together. As they are used to each other we thought the large field would be better for them as they would be happy to graze with friends and the added bonus was that we could see them from our cottage.

The cottage was just perfect for the four of us with plenty of space and a nice kitchen and bathroom. We did do a bit of bed hopping though.. the sofa bed was a bit uncomfortable so each night a couple of us checked out the bunk house. Outside the cottage we had a couple of benches to laze around on and I was really looking forward to chilling out watching the horses each evening.

We decided to keep things relaxed on the first day. The boys were behaving impeccably but as there were so many new things to look at and sniff it wasn't sensible to push them too far. Well they say it's a small world and as it turns out, Rachel knew Leanne who works at Coldblow because they trained together at Hadlow.

So, armed with Leanne's directions we tacked up and headed off for a hack through some woods just up the road from the farm. We thought we were following Leanne's directions but after a while we found a bridle path heading us either left or right. It was trial and error to decide which way we should be going.

Not far up the right track we came across a "danger, fallen trees, do not pass, fear of death, on your head be it, I wouldn't if I were you, Uh Oh are you bonkers?" sign (well it said something like that) so we turned around and headed the other way. We soon got stumped by the overgrown hedges - well, Sharon did to be precise as Mr Coy forgot she was on board and pushed through the lot leaving a yelping Sharon hanging on and being walloped by trees. Tee hee, the rest of us did a beautiful about turn and wondered what all the fuss was about!

Well we headed back to the farm rather than go exploring and get shot for trespassing and all did some schooling in the sand school which was just wonderful to ride in, and newly harrowed - bliss.

Four hot and sweaty horses later, Herbs and Coy went out to play in the field for a bit whilst Chief and Spyder relaxed in their stables before lights out.

Sharon and I brought Herbs and Coy in at about 8:30pm just as it was getting dark, and tucked them up for the night with lovely big haynets and their usual yummy feed.

Tea for me: Thai Green Curry

Tea for Herbs: HiFi, Baileys No 4, carrots, apples, Cortaflex, garlic and mint

Day Two started with feeding the horses at about 7am (oh the joy of being young - I've forgotten about the difference in energy levels when you are 22 versus forty something). Anyway, we'd collared Leanne to take us out on a hack as it would be a good way of getting to know the place without panicking about being lost and we were to set off at 11am so the boys had some nice grass munching time before we brought them in at 10am to rest bellies and tack up.

Leanne was riding Enya, a very pretty Henson mare, who is the only mare of that breed in the country. The previous weekend she had been to a competition and done really well, picking up a respectable number of rosettes including one for 5th place in the show championship - clever girl!

It was a lovely ride, with mainly Enya or Chiefy leading the ride which was nice for Herbs. On most hacks he leads as he has such a forward walk, and isn’t terribly good at slowing his pace and staying behind, so its nice for him to relax and leave the braveness up to others once in a while.

The first two pubs we visited were in Bearsted,

...the second was just across the green from the first, and the third was about 30 minutes hack away. From there, it was a short hop back to the farm. All in all we were out riding for about 3.5 hours. We had a trot in places (naughty little canters from Herbs and Spyder) but kept the ride very quiet as we didn’t want to have little looneys on our hands as could easily have been the case with 5 of us riding on unfamiliar territory.

Back to the yard, and a swift decision was made to visit the pub for dinner. We brought the horses in at 7ish for tea and bed and set off across the fields (directions courtesy of Dora) toward the Hook and Hatchet. We were told it was more than half and mile away but not more than ¾ of a mile – they lied………

It was a good job we headed off in daylight; a wander along the footpath, then across a field with pigs in (oink), out onto a small road to the end, then right up another road… trust me, it was minimum 1 mile but a lovely walk – and we only had to scare one person asking for directions. He opened his door when we hailed him, goodness knows what he was expecting!!

The pub is lovely, a warm friendly welcome and really nice people. We each had a gorgeous meal followed by puddings for Laura and Rachel.

Laura’s chocolate fudge cake was obscene!

The landlady was really nice and her daughter rides so was very helpful in talking us through some other rides in the area that we decided to check out on Wednesday. She has two horses nearby so is well versed in pointing out the good canters.

Jasper, however, stole the show that night. This little beagle lives what has to be the best life a dog can get. Apparently he regularly visits nearby farms (including Coldblow – we saw him there the following day!) and has been known to take the odd train trip when the mood takes him. Generally he makes his way home because he knows his local area very well but his owners have had the odd call to come and rescue him. He got the next train back with the driver on one of his escapades!

The walk back from the pub was rather more entertaining than on the way there because we all proved ourselves to be completely pathetic in the dark!

Tea for me: Pate and Nachos
Tea for Herbs: HiFi, Baileys No 4, carrots, apples, Cortaflex, garlic and mint (he said he doesn’t get bored with it)

So, on Wednesday, we decided to split up our rides just in case all four together got a bit stupid. Herbs and Coy were turned out in the morning whilst mums went back to bed – I felt crap that morning, don’t know why – and Rachel and Laura took Spyder and Chiefy out on a hack around River Lane then into the Le Trek course.

When it came to our ride, the girls told Sharon and I that it was a lovely canter from the bottom of River Lane so we set off to ride that route then extend it. The canter was lovely and long, although the ground was a little hard and Herbs was a complete tart on the way there because he was leading and everything was sooooooooo scary.

We continued on a route Rachel from the pub had pointed out, negotiated some tracters on the road past Cobham Manor’s lovely x country course and up a steep scarp slope (past the rattle snakes, honest!) and got rather confused about just exactly which blinking left turn to take to find the next nice canter. We eventually found it after I’d thrown a few hissy fits and it was well worth it. A lovely long controlled (that’s a bonus!) canter across the fields came out at a church and a short hack later we were at the Hook and Hatchet again where Laura and Rachel met us with their boys for a drink.

Here are a few pics taken during the supping….

Back at Coldblow the horses grazed for a while before bed and we got the BBQ going.

Tea for me: Burgers, Sausages and Steak
Tea for Herbs: HiFi, Baileys No 4, carrots, apples, Cortaflex, garlic and mint (still as yummy as ever)

Thursday was a chance to ride out together so we set off on a variation to rides we’d already done which took in a ride under the M20 which we had done on the ride out with Enya. All the horses were fine about the traffic noise overhead on that day but you never can tell what they will be like without the bravery of the horse that is used to it. Fortunately, Chiefy took us through with no problems so that’s another experience all the horses can add to their repertoire.

We had a nice first canter, then headed to the Jockey Club gallops with the hope of letting the horses have their heads along a lovely all weather surface. Unfortunately the farmers were working the land so we couldn’t have a cheeky gallop for fear of being shot! Still, we headed onto the ride Sharon and I did the day before so that Rachel and Laura could enjoy the canter that we had.

Umm sorry girls, I screwed that one up. Herbs set off a bit daft and too excitable and we had agreed that we would all pull up if anyone was in trouble. Unfortunately I was telling Herbs off and telling him to “stop” his silly excitable behaviour which Laura responded to by pulling Chiefy up and me stupidly wondering why everyone was stopping. We set off again but the stop start stuff sent all their heads a little silly and the combination of that along with some walkers with dogs brought the hopeful canter to a stop.

Back to the yard and ponies got to munch again while we arranged to have a Cross Country lesson with Kadiya the following day before heading home.

Early evening we set up the monopoly board for a giggle.

  • Sharon spent most of her time in jail and probably collected the most rent as a result of being locked up and not landing on anyone else’s property
  • I was accused of cheating – the dealer always is but I promise I didn’t!
  • Laura spent £10,000,000 on a property worth about £300,000 and kept complaining that people didn’t land on her properties when they did. She had to take a couple of loans out….
  • Rachel was quietly confident but kept trying to buy my property so she could get a set and build loads of apartments. No consideration for green belt – shameful!
  • No one managed to build any apartments or hotels – that either shows that we are careful investors or crap at risk taking… your guess
  • Why can’t you collect £2,000,000 when you pass go in real life? I’d just find a sign and drive backwards and forwards loads of times.
  • I think Rachel probably won but we didn’t get that far. Oh, she made a great barmaid :-)

Tea for me: Roast Turkey, Potatoes and Veggies
Tea for Herbs: HiFi, Baileys No 4, carrots, apples, Cortaflex, garlic and mint (thanks for giving me more nuts mum because the hay tastes like s**t)

On Friday we had our X country lesson booked for 12 so the horses went out for a bit in the morning.

I thought Kadiya’s lesson was very interesting. She gave us quite a few techniques to use at home and we started off the lesson by cantering standing in the stirrups. Left rein combined with mine not being short enough meant we were very wobbly but for balance it is definitely something I will try to do at home.

The x country course is very inviting as there are jumps alongside each other of varying heights so there is nothing to encourage the horses to duck out and every opportunity for them to jump with confidence.

We all started off jumping an inviting practice fence, approached in trot then canter and got some advice from Kadiya as to our good and bad points. Herbs is a very honest jumper and completely unfazed at natural jumps so he flew over quite happily.

My main thing to learn is to let him go, rather than hold him over the fences. I did this quite successfully a couple of times over the practice jumps but I must admit it doesn’t come as naturally as it should.

We progressed from that to jumping the tyres which I knew Herbs didn’t fuss about so each jump was lovely. We learned that when a horse stops, then reaches down for a sniff and inspection of the jump before going over, generally they are not refusing, just checking it out. So if this happens on the approach, keep your hands down on the withers so that your horse knows where they are then let him jump over.

At one point over the next jump which was a large log, I felt my confidence slip but knew Herbs would do it, so I put my hands on his neck and let him get on with it. Predictably, he jumped it beautifully.

We moved on to a course which was very exciting to jump. It was great to have Kadiya there for confidence and I did struggle a bit with letting Herbs go but he had a fantastic time jumping the course twice and I have taken some top tips away with me.

The key thing is that I know that Herbs is not scared of x country jumps; quite the opposite, he is a confident but not cheeky ride.

I will remember lots of the tips that I was given and put them into practice when show jumping and I’m hoping to set up a x country lesson nearer home in the very near future. Key things to remember – “soften the hands!!!” and “trust your horse”.

We didn’t get any pics of the jumping I’m afraid. Disappointing for us that we didn’t have anyone to capture it but I will try to be better organised next time.

I did however, take a couple of shots of the state of the cottage at the end of the week. I guess when ponies are your priority you dont think too much about living in tidyness!

Rachel pretending to clear up

our very tidy cottage....

Our week was over, we had a ball. The horses were so well behaved and settled into their new surroundings beautifully. The sun shone and we didn’t have one spot of rain all week. As far as I know, Herbs has never stayed away from home and been expected to work before and I am very proud of him. He relaxed into things very well, largely because his mates were there with him and both Herbs and Coy loaded and travelled like pros.

Enormous thanks to Dora, Jeff, Leanne, Kadiya and everyone else at Coldblow for their generosity and for making our stay so relaxed and flexible.

Back at home, Herbs chilled out and I think he was very happy to be back on familiar territory. Owing to the number of poo stains on him on Saturday morning, I think he really enjoyed his stable on the first night home!

Well I’m very determined to try this again. Next time I would like to take Herbs somewhere for a week’s training; both flatwork and jumping, so watch this space, it may be Coldblow!

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Anita's jumping clinic

Anita holds these training sessions reasonably regularly at our yard and they are alway enjoyable.

Just before I took Herbs on holiday we joined in on another session and really enjoyed ourselves.

The jumps were small but the session was all about technique, not height - thats my excuse and I'm sticking to it! Actually it was very very windy that day and so I think we were all grateful just to be able to have a go as it was touch and go as to whether it would be sensible.

Fortunately, only a couple of jumps fell with the wind and none at the point of take off so we had a great time and stayed on board.

Rachel took lots of pics of Laura, Sharon and I as we were in the same session; and Kirsty took some of Rachel in the earlier group. Enjoy....