Thursday, 26 September 2013

I am a leaf on the wind... Watch how I soar

Not me, obviously. Ali has been doing a fair bit of soaring this week. Jumping practise with Nahiade yesterday, ready for another comp on Sunday, she's entered in the 80cm class....

Nahiade has a habit of drifting to one side to get back to her mates quicker so Ali had to address that, and at the same time stopping her from rushing the fence. She's a complicated beastie due to past treatment and it's taken Ali weeks of patience to get to know how to handle her, but she's getting there..... :-)

After the riding lesson, she went to ride Chester as he's not done much recently. He really isn't a complicated beastie, he doesn't see the point of exerting himself when he could be eating some nice grass but when revved up to it he can jump nicely, anything up to 80cms is nae bother.....
But when Ali put it up to the next notch (which is 104cms, strange grading on those plastic jumps) he decided actually that would require some serious effort and thinking about it, he'd really rather not....
But with a bit of encouragement, he actually did it, and left the pole up!
That's the most work he's done for ages.........he's not exactly showjumper material (we got him on a weighbridge recently, at 13.3 hh he weighs 530 kilos, even Gandalf only weighs in at 554!) but I think it does him good to do something different once in a while.

Love him :-)

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Fete du Cheval

For once there was a Fete du Cheval local to us, in Ste Foy la Grande, so we toddled off this afternoon in the sunshine. To be honest, having been to a few of these things I was wondering if we'd see some sorry sights, and there were one or two who were looking a bit unhappy.....

These guys were all flinching away from people trying to stroke them, maybe not the best thing to bring them out in public.....

But there were many more nice looking horses, this huge girl is a Percheron belonging to the guy who sold me Gandalf, she must be twice as wide as him!

She was earning her keep doing carriage rides today....
As were some less than impressed looking donkeys!
And for the first time I actually saw some barefoot and bitless people, this Friesian stallion had beautiful feet, not just unshod but properly barefoot with lovely fat frogs on show when he did his party trick
Pretty sure I've seen them out riding before, with no bridle at all,  only a neckstrap. There were a couple of others in rope headcollars too.
My friend Marianne was there with her lovely paintings, handsome chap in the middle of the top row ;-)
And the Ste Foy Poney Club had some artwork on display too, rather liked this one :-)
There is a spectacle on later, but we had to come home as the SNO was having a tantrum at not being allowed to have a  Barbe à Papa, mainly due to buggering off when she should have stayed in the play area and giving Ali and me a hectic 10 minutes looking for her......
Never mind, she's back at school tomorrow.......

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Who needs tack, anyway......?

Went down to do the horses the other day and as we had a bit of time, we decided to get on and ride even though we didn't have our tack with us (or a decent camera either, just the ancient iPhone someone has lent me since mine no longer works - getting them really clean on a 40 degree wash cycle isn't good for them, apparently- so apologies for the state of the pictures)

I rode Gandalf I the rope headcollar and practised some of the moves we learned at Sheila's the other week.

He was a bit hesitant at first, probably thinking "what are you doing this time, woman?" but he was very easy to guide and we did some lateral work at walk and trot.
Nice to know the controls still work without all our usual equipment! But I think ditching the saddle long term is not an option, makes my legs hurt!

Ali had a little go on Sky too, she's much better at riding without a saddle than I am....
But I don't think either of us is ready for this yet.....!!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Darth Vaders, Princess Leias, Star Fleet Command, a Wookie or two, some unlikely looking aliens.......and a bloke in fishnet tights.

Yes, it's that time of the year again, our annual pilgrimage to the Médoc Marathon, the biggest excuse to dress up, go running and drink wine on the French marathon calendar.

So I got dragged round the shops on Friday by my very own MAMIL to purchase some pipe insulation, dowelling, silver paint, cotton wool, an Alice band and a plastic wineglass so he could have a bit of a Blue Peter moment with his fancy dress idea.

This year's marathon theme was science fiction. We do have a fair few costumes already, being the sort of geeks who have been known to frequent sci fi conventions in the past, but none of them would be exactly comfortable for running 42kms in, and having learned his lesson from last year's idiotic plan of running in plate armour, he chose a wiser course this year and made this:

So off he trotted, amidst the host of Star Wars/Trek characters, bizarre aliens, Supermen, Pirates (?), the odd flying saucer and even a Tardis, to start the race.

We watched the whole marathon go past the start and got pics of some great/bizarre/downright weird costumes, like this:

..and this:

and. erm this:

...because every marathon I've ever been to has always had at least one Frenchman in fishnet tights running (I can't imagine how bad the chafing must be!!) usually sporting a pair of comedy breasts and grinning inanely. This year I even saw a Princess Leia with comedy breasts but sadly failed to get a decent photo. And Mike was gutted not to see any women dressed as slave girl Leia from Return of the Jedi, although there were a host of men in drag doing it :-/

I think this guy took Mike's "most uncomfortable costume to run in" prize:

I bet he was glad it wasn't as warm as last year!! And here are pics some of the more bizarre offerings on view:
 Captain America in drag?
 Some of him at least has been assimilated by the borg.....
Nice touch with the underpants here:
Not sure about these guys, Space Rats from Blake's 7, perhaps? ;-)
Leia's really let herself go these days...
Star Fleet officers like to wear drag too.....
During the race, we went off and had some lunch, but decided to pass on the 16€ menu:

But I did try some of the beer!
And the old boy managed to run the marathon in about 5 and a half hours which isn't bad for him. Although we missed him at the finish due to the SNO seriously living up to her nickname and annoying not only her sister but innocent bystanders so I had to take her away and find a playground to occupy her.........

Oh and whilst we were away for the weekend, guess what? Tari escaped again. How does she know....???

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Houston, we have a problem......

So last week, the mother-in-law took the girls away on holiday and we had FOUR WHOLE DAYS without them. Heady with our new found freedom, we decided to head off for a couple of days camping on the Ile d'Oléron. First time we'd been away without the kids for a very long time. A couple of days to relax and unwind and do whatever the hell we wanted. What could be better?

But guess what? On the first day I get a phone call - one of the horses decided to escape from the field......

So I called Tanya who was on duty whilst I was away, thinking that dear old Gandalf had done his trick of getting to the other side of a fence leaving it intact, which he's done a couple of times if the electricity isn't working too well, with all the dry hot weather we've had, the earth spike probably needed watering....but no, I did him a disservice, it was Tari who was out, having left lots of tape trailing.

Who, me?

So she was duly recaptured and the horses were shut in the half of the field fenced with proper wooden posts rather than plastic ones, and given hay to lessen the temptation of that greener grass on the other side.

When I got back I went to check on them and all was well. However , the next morning, Mademoiselle had done her trick again and was out sampling the new grass alongside the fence. Sky and Gandalf were very good and stayed on the right side of the fence, watching her. I put her back in the field and went off round the fence to check it all again. At the bottom of the field it isn't fenced due to the abundance of brambles in front of a  wide stream with steep banks. Deterrent enough, I thought. But as I walked along to make sure no enterprising wildlife had forced its way through, dear Tari decides to follow me and investigate a slight gap herself, forces her way through the brambles with seemingly no ill effects and goes down the steep bank of the stream. Which, due to all the hot dry weather we've been having, is no longer a stream but a series of green, mosquito breeding puddles interspersed with black sticky mud.

Which it turns out is no deterrent at all to the curiosity of a baby horse......

So I followed her down into the sticky mud, lost a shoe on the way, got bitten by the multitude of mozzies, swore a lot and by the time I'd caught up with her, she'd decided that it wasn't so interesting down there, turned round and cantered back up into the field!

So after some more colourful language I retraced my steps, fetched some white tape and set about closing off the gap in the brambles and incidentally acquiring a series of holes in my clothing and adding lots of scratches to my collection of mozzie bites.

Ah, the joys of horse ownership...............