I came across this blog hop from Budget Equestrian via The Horse Is Not Black the other day, while browsing for inspiration. I’d like to get back to regular posting – weekly, at least – but I’m out and about this weekend (see question three), so here’s a bit of a filler post. It seems to be summer-themed, but a girl can dream, right? I am not a fan of winter and a looking forward to long days, dry fields and sunshine once again.
What are your summer goals?
Hahahaha … I’ve learnt the hard way not to set goals when it comes to my mules. It never goes to plan. I would like to get back on Xato at some point; to do that, I need to change his mind about running away when faced with something he doesn’t understand. All the confidence coaching in the world isn’t going to help me if my mule still does the thing I’m scared of! That’s pretty much my main interest as far as Xato is concerned; Marty is Marty and therefore has no goals set for him at all, although I would like to pick up where we left off with starting him under saddle. It will be interesting to see how far we get.
Do you have any tips or tricks for fly control?
Oh boy – so I’ve never really worried much about flies before, apart from making sure the horses are wearing veils or masks. Fly creams and sprays do very little as far as I can tell. However, last summer Xato seemed to really suffer with the flies which surprised me, as he comes from a much hotter country. He trashed two, maybe three masks, and as we all know the fly rug I bought him lasted a grand total of 12 hours before Marty ripped it to shreds. In our new home (see the travel question below) my plan is to either allow them free access to a barn or shelter, or to just bring them in to stables during the day.
One thing I will say is that carrying a long dressage whip is brilliant for knocking horse flies off those hard-to-reach areas. I never had a problem with horse flies when I lived in Cambridgeshire, but round here they’re ubiquitous – I think it’s the bracken that attracts them, as it’s bracken-y areas where they seem the most numerous.
How often do you bathe your horse?
I don’t, really. I am aware that some people view that as tantamount to neglect, but honestly mine might get bathed once or twice a year if that. They all live out 24/7 so I don’t want to strip them of their protective oils; and honestly, bathing a horse or mule only to put it back in a paddock and watch it roll in the dirt feels rather pointless to me. We also don’t own a horse shower, so it would have to be very hot before I’d feel good about making the poor things stand under the hosepipe!
Do you have any upcoming travel plans? Equine related or otherwise?
Well: in August Ben and I are hoping to visit our friend Friederike in Germany, and go walking with her and little Victor donkey again (Victor was who we borrowed for the International Pack Animal Meeting in Austria last year). So that’s exciting! I’m really looking forward to learning more about packing. My friend Sam, who runs Dartmoor Pony And Pack, is potentially going to start walking tours this year so I’d really like to get along to one of those as well.
Joe Wolter is teaching again in Devon, and although I don’t think I’ll be riding in it this time – we have a very expensive year ahead of us – we will almost certainly head down to spectate.
Our biggest travel plans, however, revolve around the fact that we are hoping to uproot from our home in South East England and relocate to South Wales. In Wales, we can afford to buy somewhere with land and keep our herd at home – exactly the way we want to, with no one to tell us otherwise! Transporting all four of them is going to be interesting; part of me feels like this is an ideal opportunity for me to do the long distance walk with my mules that I’ve dreamed of, but realistically I don’t think I can afford to take it. The closest place we’re looking at is 150 miles away, so if we did an average of 15 miles a day then we could make it there in a little over a week; but of course we’d have to find accommodation along the way, I wouldn’t be able to work at all during the trek, and so on. Also, having one mule who bolts if he gets worried and one mule who’s Marty just sounds like a recipe for disaster. I think the smart thing to do would be to work up to a trek of that size, rather than dive in at the deep end – but it would make a good story if we all survived…
What is your favourite way to beat the heat?
Get up early! My friend Samantha introduced me to the novel concept of getting up at 4:30am in order to ride out at daybreak and beat the heatwave we had last summer. I actually really enjoyed being in the saddle at that time of day and it’s one of my favourite memories.
Of course, when we Brits refer to heat, we mean something like 20c plus … that’s pretty warm as far as we’re concerned. If the weather isn’t wet then we don’t know how to deal with it.
Do you do anything to prevent your horse from sun bleaching?
Nope … I guess I’ve never had a dark enough horse/mule.
How hot is too hot for you to ride?
I’m not sure – 29c and above? I have mules, though, and mules cope much better with the heat than horses do. It’s why they use mules to pull the carriages in New Orleans.
How important is sun protection for you riding or just in general?
You will never see me without a brimmed hat on in summer! …In fact I wear a brimmed hat pretty much most of the time. I hate the sun on my face and I don’t like things being too bright, so I hide in the shade as much as possible. I am notorious for forgetting to put on sun cream, though; Ben often has to remind me. He pays a lot more attention to my well-being than I do.
As for our horses, we have to put sun cream on Cash’s little pink nose but the rest of them are dark-skinned and don’t have a problem there.
Have you ever gone swimming with your horse?
No, but I want to! Xato is such a water baby and he knows all about the sea, as in Mallorca they have a tradition where the farm animals are taken down to the sea to be blessed. So I don’t think I’d have much of a problem trying it with him … although he may well decide that swimming is too much like hard work and refuse to go in deep enough.
And because shopping is always on my mind, what’s on your summer wish list?
A farm! Ha. Honestly, very little this summer, as I am borderline broke already and I’m going to have to give up my groom work when we move. But in an imaginary world where I’ve won the lottery … I would love a pack saddle and all the related gear. Specifically one of the Formfitters, but it did cross my mind that I could potentially get an old army one like Friederike has while I’m in Germany…