In some ways the recent cold snap was very welcome. The horses were very happy out in their winter field, with grass that would be up to their knees if it were standing upright, out of the wind, and with nice hard ground to walk across. No one seemed to bruise their feet, and some of the days were stunning, with bright sunshine showing off the amazing hoar frost. It’s also a pleasant change not to hear anyone talking about the daffodils being “confused”, and nothing so far has been tricked into thinking it’s an early spring. The snow was welcome too, and meant that when a prospective new livery client arrived, I hadn’t even felt the need to sweep the yard!
Of course, there were also downsides. We can’t get up our drive when there’s so much as a smidgeon of snow or ice, and as we won’t have a four wheel drive, it does mean that if the cold weather catches us by surprise it is possible to get snowed in. With a bit of warning, we’ll leave the car at the top of the drive, and make the slippery journey on foot (or bum, occasionally!). Then there was the issue of water and having to make sure 12 horses were getting enough to drink. Luckily there’s some running water in their field, so although they seemed pleased to come in and drink more easily out of buckets, they weren’t going thirsty. Really, the main problems came with the thaw. One pipe at the back of the feed room burst spectacularly in 2 places, and water was gushing out – luckily down a drain. However, we are on a private spring water supply, and there was every possibility of the reservoir draining out if we couldn’t get it stopped. The stop tap is located down a ceramic pipe behind some rhododendron bushes, and is not easy to get at. The pipe was full of earth, and by the time that had been dug out, it was clear that the tap was seized. Of course, it happened just as Adam was about to start teaching, and I was about to go out with a friend, and baby Marley, for a social visit. Adam and I tried everything, to no avail. To top if off, the landlord was away for his Sunday lunch down in Winchester, and was not delighted to hear the news. In the end we had to phone a plumber, who saved the day but broke the tap.
I’m just hoping that the thaw continues until our next clinic on the 23-24th January, although at least it’s an In Hand one, so no-one will be wanting to trot or canter and be limited by a frozen school. Ideally, no-one will get snowed in here with their horses, either! It would be particularly good if it didn’t rain all day as well, as “bum to the wind” is not a recognised dressage movement. We might be pushing it to attempt clinics in January – we’ll just have to wait and see.