First weekend back at the yard

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The air was fresh, the morning early. Rosie looked up from her hay, Larry jiggled and tried to nip ‘hello’, while Jim kicked his stable door associating me with breakfast.

And the day flew by… from putting the feeds round; a debate about rugs as the wind picked up and it looked like rain; horses on the walker and those not on the walker out to the field; a sit down with coffee and some spanish biscuits; mucking out; dealing with a laminitic pony, a lost vet and an anxious owner of aforementioned pony; a dash to the fields to rid the horses of their rugs as the storm clouds had gone, the sun was blazing and the horses sweating; a little sweep; bringing the horses in; the application of lotions, potions and creams – the yard had turned into animal hospital with mud fever cream for three horses, bandages for a horse that had had an op, some mystery liquid for a horse with a splint, benzyl benzoate for two horses with itchy tails and soothing wound cream for three brood mares in the field who’d got bites in spite of fly rugs and rubs because of them; fly spray for most; taking one horse to the field for overnight; feeding the horses in the stable and the ones that live out, to a final sweep the yard …

But to make a busy day even busier, the straw beds had warranted an extreme muck out; the live out pony with laminitis needed a stable sorting out, special shoes, cold hosing and the live out pony’s buddy also had to be stabled; all the horses had drunk most of their water as soon as they had come in and needed their buckets refilling; still half the horses on the yard needed hay when it was delivered late afternoon, not to mention the non arrival of a new horse, who finally arrived as I was closing the gates.

By Saturday night my legs were aching and my feet were throbbing, a combination of the ground being so hard, so much walking to and from the fields and having been on holiday.

So, was I lively enough to cook dinner for eight people on Saturday night?

No chance. It was fish and chips for all, served with a few bottles of Sauvignon Blanc!

 

Back to work or play

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This doesn’t sound like a post about playing but I can assure you it is. And I’ll tell you a secret, but shh, don’t tell anyone…

The reason it is about playing is because I love my job! Not many people can say they really love their job, but I really love mine!

In fact I’d do it for nothing and I think when he saw me, the boss thought, she’d do it for nothing and so he decided to pay me as little as he could get away with and me, being happy to do it for nothing, agreed. I’d like him to pay me a bit more now but that’s another story!

So what is the job that I love so much that pays so poorly but that gives me a body so lithe and toned, it is the envy of devout gym goers, with no gym involved?

Well, since January I’ve been working as a weekend groom at a yard with about twenty five horses.

The only thing that concerns me is that having been away for two weeks sunning myelf in Spain is that I am going to die as it’s pretty physical, not just physical but enormously physical and these last two weeks I’ve done nothing more physical than splash in the sea, laze on a lounger and try too many tapas! So much so that I now have 10 lbs to lose.

Mind you, when I think about the impending manual labour I can feel the the weight dropping off already!

And after I’ve had a day with the horses, a long bath and dinner, there will be no place like bed!

It’s just a shame we have friends staying this weekend!

 

 

The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art

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On Saturday we fly to Spain. I can hardly contain myself. Having flicked through the Lonely Planet guide to Andalucía I want to pinch myself that the Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre is in the region where we are staying!

The Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre or the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, Jerez in Spain is where Spanish thoroughbreds known as the Cartujano or Andaluz are trained and showcase their incredible dressage. You can watch the horses in training and on certain days of the week throughout the year they perform at midday. There is also a carriage driving museum and a botanical garden (www.realescuela.org).

My finger hovered over ‘buy now,’ for tickets to one of the midday performances, but something made me quickly check the distance from where we will be staying before I pressed. But now I wish I hadn’t. This out of this world equestrian facility is three hours drive away.

How can it be in the same region and be three hours away? I’m not sure I can face three hours in the car there and three hours back with a ‘not especially horsey’ husband and two ‘are we nearly there yet?’ children, not even for the hottest horses on hooves, and they could be hot or we could be by the time we get there as it is nearly 40 degrees Celsius in August. However, looking at the opulence of their stabling, they could well be air conditioned, but I’m not sure our hire car necessarily will be!

This will be a future visit, where we will fly to Jerez de la Frontera airport (the one on the doorstep) and combine it with the week long Feria del Caballo in early May, one of Andalusia’s biggest festivals, where horses go through the Parque Gonzales Hontoria Fairgrounds in the north of the town with traditionally dressed Spanish male riders in flat topped hats and frilly, white shirts with their female partners, wearing long, frilly, spotted dresses riding ‘crupera’ (translated as sideways pillion – they must mean side-saddle and not two riders on a horse?); or later in the year the September Fiestas de Otoño which culminates in a massive parade of horses, riders and horsedrawn carriages could be fun.

I wonder whether the Feria del Caballo ties up with half-term?…