With winter just over the horizon we’ve been getting ready. One of the main jobs that involves is collecting apples- there are about 20 apple trees here on the estate, and nobody else does anything with them so we collect them up and store them. All last winter we were able to feed a couple to each of the horses daily right through till March. In times of snow and ice, it’s the only fresh fodder they get. It also helps to get them in the yard when we call- plus the kids love them!
Unusually we have split the herd in two, because we have some new liveries who need feeding up, but most of ours are borderline obese, and there is tons of grass. More than half our land has not been grazed for months and is waiting for winter. So the skinnies are in a field with ad-lib lush grazing that has been carefully nurtured all summer, while the fatties get a slither of a new strip to graze each night, and they have to go half a mile along the edge of the field to get it (thanks to Jamie Jackson).
It’s really important for us to make the most of opportunities to earn while the weather is still acceptably mild, and we recently had a horse in for a couple of weeks that was a spectacular success. A part-bred Arab, I met her about 6 months ago, when called out to her home. Everything was wrong about her situation, and she was rearing and unrideable, even at a walk. After getting a new saddle, seeing the physio several times, and a couple of months of long lining, she came up here for some remedial training, and the owner had a very helpful hypnotherapy session. I don’t think she had ever been properly calm under saddle, or even just around people. Well, what a horse she is becoming- and her paces are among the best we’ve ever seen. It was so rewarding to see her owner hack out on her after less than 2 weeks here, in walk, trot and canter without the slightest issue. You don’t always get the payback that her owner is getting, and she really deserves it. She didn’t want a problem horse, or expect to go on the journey she has, and didn’t have the money for training- that will be welcome income in midwinter when she pays- but when her horse would come over and put her nose right by our shoulders, we felt sure she was saying thanks for what we’ve done to help her enjoy life again. It’s all worth it for moments like that.