July is meant to bring horse flies in abundance, which makes teaching clinics a bit of a nightmare, so this year we’ve decided to have a lull in the middle of the summer, which also gives us a chance to catch our breath. However, as I write this the rain continues to pour down outside, and there is little sign of any insect activity, although the slugs are enjoying destroying our hard work in the vegetable garden. Last year there was proper flooding in Gloucestershire, and the newspapers on Marley’s birth day show the whole region underwater. We were spared here, largely due to Adam’s heroic efforts battling with the stream, but I’m sure there are lots of people looking anxiously to the skies. The horses had been enjoying not being too hot, and not having to come in to avoid the flies, but they were all delighted to come in today and warm up with some hay.
Before our summer break we had one of our most International riding clinics, with participants from Israel and Andorra, and spectators from Kenya. We also had that even rarer thing – a local participant from just up the road in Cheltenham. We brought in a lovely horse to help with the large number of people borrowing horses, and he also worked for us on the previous weekend course, but he turned out to be an adept escapologist, merrily hopping over electric tape and four foot fencing on his quest for better rations. Given that we have more grass than we know what to do with at the moment, and are very carefully strip grazing our gang, who are almost all “good doers” , he didn’t have to travel far to be up to his belly in fabulous grass. By the time we had retrieved him for the 5th time, we were beginning to question the wisdom of having him come along.
The clinic was very intense, with the urgency that people always seem to feel when they have travelled from afar – that they want to get the most out of every possible moment. This suits us fine, although we are also happy with the more laid-back who are coming on a clinic principally to have fun and learn at a more leisurely pace. I personally always love the epiphany moments, when students suddenly understand something they’ve been uncertain about for years, or when they’re able to do something that previously eluded them, and realise it’s not so difficult after all.
My Canadian relatives arrived during the course, making for even more lively lunchtime discussions, and they’re here until August, and so are making themselves very useful around the yard, getting very good at the inevitable muck clearance and fence moving.
If it ever stops raining, we might even get to go out for a ride, but for the moment, apart from my teaching on the Intelligent Horsemanship Foundation Courses at Witney, the horses are taking a bit of a back seat.