Talisman’s next friend (number 5 in 10 months) was Polly, a small but rotund little person from just up the road. I was hoping she would be ‘Polly Perfect’ but it was not to be. She was great with Talisman and he adored her though, in fairness, he adores all friends. But when I took him away to work and left her tied up on the yard (as I had been told she would most likely run around in the field and the turnout arena), she wasn’t best pleased. She spun around on the end of the rope, poohed and peed for Britain and performed threatening mini-rears even when Talisman was on the walker just a few yards away. I thought she would get used to the routine and just needed time.
However, on the second day when I returned from the school with Talisman, I found her literally climbing over the fence! She was heaving herself over with her front legs, the back legs had already left the ground. Thankfully the fence was solid made from railway sleepers but dragging her back from the brink was scary. I tied her as short as possible lower down the fence so she couldn’t get her head and her front legs anywhere near the top…….or so I thought?! I quickly washed Talisman down and returned, to my horror, to find her in the same position as before. I hoisted her off the fence again fearing she might break a leg or hang herself in the drop on the other side. I am pretty ‘bomb-proof’ but I must admit I was trembling at this point!
So I tied her up in the stable adjoining the solarium where Talisman was drying off, only to find her with her front legs on the window sill (thankfully, I had closed the window) a few minutes later. Clearly, I couldn’t tie her anywhere without Talisman being right next to her. She was a liability to herself and to me and had to go – immediately! I concluded she had been on her own with limited handling, doing what she pleased for most of her life (she was 24) and wasn’t about to change any time soon.
A couple more weeks passed (peacefully with just Talisman and me) before a beautiful ‘Rose’ wafted onto the yard. She’s an 8 year old Morgan horse (my first encounter with this breed), a tall girl with a divine nature, if not a little shy. She has a lot of lumps, bumps and scars sadly and I don’t know the whole story but, most recently, she was broken in by the son of a local farrier and mainly used as a companion for his competition horse, so had the experience of her one and only friend leaving her to work, which is the all important factor for me. Her main issue is that she won’t tolerate her back feet being picked up – at all!
So far, she has accepted (with minimum fuss) Talisman going on the walker and working in the school when she is in the turnout arena and can see both which is a good start and the two of them are in love which is lovely to see. I have discovered she can pull back when tied up, as on the first day she broke the rubber bungee she was tied to and badly cut the back of her chin, arghh! At this stage I am taking one day at a time, gradually testing her separation tolerance and will see how we go over the course of a month’s trial.
The same day that Rose arrived, there was another arrival. A flock of sheep from next door escaped from their field and raided my grazing which they decided was preferential to their own. This wasn’t ideal as they were ‘free-ranging’ around all 10 acres and spooking the horses on their first day together. They were reclaimed the following morning and the fence repaired, so crisis over. You can imagine then, when I came out later on and found a cow grazing on my precious canter track, I thought I was hallucinating. I blinked and looked again but it will still there and on my side of the fence!
I managed to herd the rather glamorous specimen (it has to be said) with uber-long eyelashes down to the bottom of the canter track and enclose her in a small paddock, so I could go and phone the farmer – again! But when I returned, she had ploughed through the fence, breaking it and was back at the top of the canter track next to her friends who were on the other side. The herd, including a very large bull was mooing and braying and pushing at the fence, not at all happy with the separation and I was concerned they would break through. The farmer didn’t get to me until midnight by which time the cow was no-where to be found – a mystery, as I hadn’t been able to detect any breaks in the newly repaired fence.
On closer inspection the next morning and using footprints as a clue, it was concluded that the cow had jumped in and out of my land! This wasn’t unheard of apparently, so we raised the height of the fence where the farmer thought she had come across and I started to fantasise about show jumping cows at The Royal Welsh Show……could it catch on, do you think? I also wondered whether Rose was responsible. She was brought up in a herd of horses which mingled with a herd of cows and when she arrived at her previous home, she promptly jumped out of the field to be with the cows next door. So, could she have put out a call to the cow to visit? In any event, I now have several large cow pats on my canter track that I am not best pleased about!
In the quiet period prior to Rose arriving, Talisman and I braved the intense heat to go to a local dressage clinic. We had been twice before (our only outings this year) and the trainer was thrilled with how much improvement Talisman had made since the previous visit, two months earlier. I felt he had moved up a gear in his work but it’s very useful to have an expert pair of eyes from time to time, also to give you homework. I dosed Talisman up with calming homeopathy for a few days beforehand, as he’s short on trailer practise and it paid off. He travelled well and was focused in the session. It’s only 8 months since he stopped doing endurance and started re-training in dressage and jumping, so he’s come a long way and best of all, he’s loving it, as am I.
On a different note, I have been trying to solve the mystery of his teeth. About a year after arriving in the UK from France, the equine dentist reported that Talisman had developed something called Peripheral Caries along the gum edges of the inside lower teeth. This can be nasty in the long term (as the saliva attacks the tooth wall). The bad news was there was almost no research regards the cause – very frustrating.
Clearly it was down to different management or a different environment as he didn’t have it when he arrived. So I tried a number of possible remedies. I wondered if it might be the metal in his bit, which I changed. This didn’t make any difference on the following check-up. Removing the stress of intensive training and competition was another possibility, as it could affect gut conditions that would change saliva. No joy.
Obviously, diet was a big possible factor, so once he stopped endurance, I changed his food significantly and on the most recent visit from the dentist which was last week, he found new tooth growth than was healthy. So it must have been the food. Or was it?
It just so happened that the latest edition of the equine dental magazine was sitting in the dentist’s truck and, on glancing through it, there happened to be an article on Peripheral Caries. Research had just been published which concluded that the PH of rain water (which is more acidic than ground water) could be the cause. Guess what? For the last three and a half months while Talisman has been living out 24/7, he has been drinking ground water in the field troughs which is more alkaline than rain water in the water butts which he was previously drinking when stabled. So it looks like it was the water and not the food. One belief I hold dear is that all life’s challenges are puzzles to be solved and all puzzles have solutions. Don’t you just love it when synchronisities like this solve the puzzles? (A new ‘spiritual musings’ video coming up, I feel!) I will now do a PH test on both my water sources to compare them to the critical levels indicated in the article.
Otherwise, life continues with a variety of other little puzzles, including the plumbing. The hot water taps in the house were reduced to a trickle which was very annoying, the shower was too hot to use because stored hot water wasn’t being drawn from the tank via the taps, I had water coming through the ceiling in the kitchen from the bathroom and when I flushed the loo, it sounded like it was running under the bath! Several visits later, local hero Pete (who previously featured in my blog solving the puzzle of the chimney cowls) got things back under control and all is well….for the time being.
The weather continues to be unbelievably wonderful and nature is blooming in all directions. The last full moon was outstanding, sunsets have been breathtaking and I saw an orange Saturn winking at me from my bedroom window. The bank under the turnout arena which has rewilded is alive with ‘the sound of’…..well, crickets and there is a symphony of bird life too. For the last few days (including today) I have seen a pair of eagles gliding on thermals right above me when having coffee and cake in the garden. I nearly fell off my chair on the first visitation, as I have never seen birds so big before – they are the epitome of grace and power.
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Pics: Polly ‘not so perfect’; the lovely Rose; it must be love; Talisman at the dressage clinic; an intruder; Talisman rests his heavy head before I put his bridle on; blue barn matches the sky; silhouette at sunset; magnificent colours of the setting sun; a fabulous rose in the garden; love that boy!; country scene (through my ‘not so clean’ windscreen); the bank is alive with the sound of crickets.
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