What was I thinking clipping Bob a few days before a lesson? He was a bit “fresh”, shall we say, for the majority of the lesson, easily distracted and ready to zoom at the slightest touch. My poor legs – due to his feistiness we had to do a lot more trotting and flat schooling to get him to rejoin us on earth before we could even progress to pole work. We did get there though, and we even managed to get back to doing some jumping.

Horse eating

This time we had three fences up – one in the middle of the short side at either end of the arena and one diagonally in the middle, so we could do it almost as a figure of eight. It did blow Bob’s mind the first few times and we had a few naps, spins and reverse moments at the centre fence, so we decided to work him over that one on its own and slowly bring in one of the other fences before combining all three. By the end of the lesson, he was jumping the three happily together – my instructor has so much patience! At one point I did feel like I was sitting on a jack hammer as he was so bouncy on approach to the fences. It was good though as he was actually bouncing underneath me and using his power in the right way instead of just charging, so we are definitely making progress with him – just need to perfect my seat and invest in some stickier breeches!

The cold weather turn was a bit of a shock – we went from 7 degrees Celsius to -1 in one day, which I wasn’t prepared for. The temperature dropped to -3 on some days, but luckily the ground was okay, so the horses could still go out during the day with grass and additional hay. I was very lucky to still be able to ride as the arena didn’t freeze, although one day Bob was not impressed as I think he felt a bit chilly with the mist descending on us.

Horse and rider

I did find my locks freezing more, so I definitely advise having a couple of cans of WD-40 handy and working it completely through your padlocks. I made sure the horses still had access to water easily in the field. A stamp with my boot or tap of the hammer broke the ice in the troughs. Then a kitchen sieve helped me clear it out of the trough, so it didn’t refreeze and my hands didn’t either (I also use the sieve to capture any hay floating in the stable water buckets – a very handy tool!).

My neighbour, who comes to see the horses once a week, has kindly bought them some new salt licks and they arrived at the perfect time for this cold weather. I give them salt licks for the minerals, but also to encourage them to drink more as some horses drink less when it’s cold, which can lead to digestion problems. I still soak their hay nets, or at least hose them off if the weather is bad, and make sure they have a watery mash as part of their dinner to keep their fluid intake up.

The horses have unfortunately had to be inside the last couple of days, as we have had nonstop rain straight after some snow, so the fields are underwater. I’ve kept them entertained with turnout twice a day, whilst I muck out, and also the usual treat balls, hay nets, treats and now their mini nets that contain a fibre block. Bob was highly interested in his one this morning, to the point he ignored the offer of a polo! It will be interesting to see how much of them are left later, especially as this time they are in the proper small nets, so it should take a lot longer to eat them.

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