The search for a suitable companion for Talisman continued and in the end, helped by fellow equestrians, I went to see a few local candidates and chose a lovely little Welsh Section A x B mare called Pip who’s 8 years old, in rude good health and very cute! She hasn’t been handled much, though she was lightly backed earlier this year; she has a lovely temperament, is bright and learning the fundamentals of yard life very quickly – she has been used to making all her own decisions so it’s a bit of a change to have a ‘top dog’ (me) and my deputy (Talisman) make most of them for her now! Talisman adores her and loves having a little person to be in charge of, as he has never been boss of anyone before.
However, it meant a long day driving round the countryside to return the previous incumbent and collect Pip. Liquid pooh on the inside of the trailer was matched by liquid mud on the outside, aggravated by a flat tyre (from hedge cuttings on the road) by the time I arrived at Pip’s yard ………“inhale!” She’s been here a couple of weeks now, is settled in her stable and keeps it very tidy which is good news for ‘room service’ (yours truly), is mostly calm in the field and largely tolerates Talisman leaving her to go out riding (which was a big concern), though she still shouts for him – I could hear her half way up the mountain yesterday! On the down-side, she doesn’t always allow herself to be caught and hasn’t fully mastered leading, being tied up or having her feet picked yet but I have re-acquainted myself with my clicker and will start teaching her with that. She’s a big ‘foody’, so it should work a treat.
Something that surprised me though, was the realisation that I need to like the pony (even if they are just a companion) and their vibe must fit in with the yard. Taking on an elderly or ailing ‘person’ really didn’t work. It created extra work and worry for me which was not in the plan. Pip is young with lots of vitality but is also pretty balanced and calm – a good formula. It’s difficult to identify exactly what you need (especially if you haven’t been in this situation before) but you know it when you see it and I liked her from the moment I saw her and so did Talisman! It is a relief having found the right pony after three failed attempts with others, which allows me to focus on other things now.
Talisman’s re-training continues to progress well and, I have to say, it’s thrilling when it all starts to come together after working on the individual elements for so long. He is off the aids, straight through the shoulder, round in his transitions with correct flexion in the lateral work, light and in self-carriage a lot of the time and is a joy to ride. He loves learning and I love training him. I am really enjoying putting into practise so much of what I have learned over the years, especially filming with scores of amazing trainers for Horse Hero. Added to that, being out and about in breath-taking countryside makes the experience all the more sublime. His jumping is also coming on in leaps and bounds – less of the unscheduled bounds now! After Christmas I aim to get out to some unaffiliated dressage and the odd jumping clinic.
On the house front, I have been grappling with the ‘chimney challenge’! There are four flues and all of them are problematic. The Rayburn has been smelling badly of oil in the kitchen and outside (including on the yard) for weeks. I just couldn’t get away from it and opening all the windows and doors in the cold and wet weather wasn’t fun, so I had to turn it off altogether at times when I had enough of intoxicating myself and the animals. Having investigated extensively, it seems the cowl is the most likely cause of the problem (plus possibly having the temperature a bit low) but it’s been fine most of the time I have lived here, so that’s not conclusive. In any event, I have a shiny new cowl now waiting to be fitted. Fingers, toes and everything crossed! And yes, meanwhile, you guessed, it’s been running perfectly!
Then there is the cowl on the new biomass boiler which lets rain in when the boiler is not on and that’s not the only thing that got in! A bird recently was trapped in the flue, flapping around for several days until it gave up the ghost, poor thing! So a new flu is winging it’s way (excuse the pun) to me as we speak. Then there is the erratic heartbeat noise that I can sometimes hear in my bedroom at night. At first I thought it was me and if that was the case, I wasn’t sure how I was still alive?! But after listening to every single device in the house and switching them all off at night (bar the fridge), it seems the most likely cause is wind noise in the wood burner flues and over the top of the cowls on the roof above my bedroom (plus possibly the redundant TV aerial on the chimney which flaps around in the wind). Why is everything so complicated. I feel like ‘Sherlock Holmes gone feral’! Two more cowls are required but that should mean I no longer have to wear ear plugs to sleep. I live in hope!
I have been in the property for three years and pray I know everything there is to know now (inside and out) so there will be no more surprises. But there was one a few days ago and just for a change, it was pleasant. There is a large void upstairs which I thought just housed the flues from the wood burners and various electrical wires, plus some piping. You have to unscrew a small section of wood panelling to peep inside which I did when investigating the source of the ‘heart beat’ noise and.……surprise!!! It’s actually a hidden room. When the upstairs was rearranged to give separate access to the bedrooms (originally all connected) sometime in ancient history, the void must have been considered too tricky to use, or superfluous to requirement. So, there is another project (not on any visible horizon at the moment). Otherwise, NO MORE SURPRISES pleeeease!
On the cat front – the most recent resident (now called Lloyd) crowned himself ‘king of the barn’ which caused a big problem for Bryngywn (my house cat) and his feral wife Elizabeth, as this is their main residence for eating and sleeping during the day. There have been fisticuffs and standoffs, plus howling and whining and Bryngwyn moves around in ‘slow-mo’ to avoid attracting Lloyd’s attention as he was the perpetrator of the scraps. Lloyd, however, bears scars from his scuffs with warrior queen Elizabeth who relieved him of several large patches of hair and skin! So I think he is ‘all meow and not much trousers’; he certainly isn’t the best of fighters.
In the cat equivalent of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it’s interesting to observe that now that he has a plentiful supply of food, a warm bed and a roof over his head, his urge to hunt has all but gone and when he is not following me around like a shadow (Bryngwyn’s rightful place and another source of sour grapes), he is in his bed cleaning his hitherto unkempt fur, or sleeping! So I have moved the ‘feeding stations’ to opposite ends of the barn ensuring the cats eat out of their own bowls, and separated the beds (though Elizabeth is roughing it outside at the moment, in the horrid weather, poor girl). They should settle down once Lloyd’s hormones subside (the vet assures me) which is about a month after neutering. It’s all been quite traumatic as the two other cats used to play and hunt together beautifully and cuddle up in the same bed in the barn before Lloyd arrived and maybe, in the end, I will have to find another home for him as he is unbelievably friendly and affectionate, loves cuddles and would far rather live inside with me!
Otherwise, it’s bloody cold, not that it makes any difference to riding or training or life in general, as I carry on regardless as far as possible. Mustn’t grumble though, as one person who follows my blog lives in Canada where she tells me for several months of the year it is as low as minus 30! That doesn’t even bear thinking about. Nonetheless, in minus 3 here with a strong northerly wind, Talisman and I look like Yetties in multiple layers of clothing.
Finally, I am pleased to announce that as I am not spending endless hours on the tractor at the moment (for obvious reasons), I am taking the opportunity to revive the vlogging section of the site and I am also gearing up to enter the modern age with a regular ‘FB Live’ broadcast. So, lots more rewilding will be coming ‘to a screen near you soon’, as the advert says!
Pics: Gorgeous Pip; Talisman in love; grid training; riding in sub-zero temperatures; Bryngwyn makes use of yard apparatus; Lloyd chillaxing in his colour co-ordinated bed; a storm brews; a woman’s work is never done!