Saturday, 28 January 2012


I went to the local tack shop today to pick up a couple more bales of shavings.  The owner was in and we had a chat. She had the saddle fitter visiting yesterday (missed her AGAIN!  Back in March, so not long to wait.) and took a thumping fall off her Welsh D, to which she casually added that Merlin chucked her off into a cement mixer once and he'd had her in the ditch often enough.  Now, she's one of the better riders in the county at sticking on horses that want to get you off them, so if she was having problems hacking him out I'm not entirely certain I'm ever going to be able to do it. 

On the plus side, he's a dope on a rope if I'm leading him (apart from when we meet a strange gelding) and does seem to love being out and about, so if I do ever get a ploddy native or cob to amble around the moors on, it's possible I'll be able to ride and lead and he can expand his world a bit that way.  I did clean his bridle yesterday, so that's a step closer to getting back on him ;o)

Weight today smack on the marker between the 498kg and 490kg bands.  He's got a coat like a yak, is plastered in mud like a swamp donkey and seems very content with his life at the moment.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Up and down

It's been a horrible week weather-wise - rain, hail, high winds, you name it.  Yet somehow my unrugged, out 24/7, doesn't-do-winters horse has managed to put on weight and is now in the 498kg band again.  Back to 4 large handfuls of beet per meal then.

I was very proud of him on Monday.  The salmon fishing station at the end of the road put in a concrete loading dock last year which I was eyeing up as a perfect mounting block.  Would Merlin set hoof on the concrete?  Would he hell.  Every time I've gone that way walking him out he's carefully side-stepped the concrete area and flatly refused to walk on it if I asked him to.  I tried again when we were down there on Monday and he walked straight across it with no hesitation at all.  No idea what's changed, but he got lots of praise and we did it again on the way back just to prove it wasn't a fluke.

I finished the last bale of hay in the storage side of the pig palace this morning.  Just the bales in the pig-sleeping side now (I think that's 27 or 28, I can't remember) plus 10 bales of HorseHage.  It should be enough to get us through to the good grass.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Summer plans

I think I'm married to the most wonderful man in the world.  He's announced that this year's big summer project is going to be sorting the drainage in the 3rd field, building another field shelter in the gap between the current one and the feed/tack shed, expanding the hardcore area around the shelters, fencing it in and then covering with pea gravel.  So I'll have enough shelter space for three horses and an area where they can choose to be in or out 24/7 regardless of the weather and sogginess of the rest of the fields.  Time to start saving up for some company for Merlin :o)

Mr M himself is still happily naked and muddy.  I took him for a 3 mile walk on Friday, down to the layby for the beach and back.  We didn't go down to the beach itself, because the farmer who has the field we have to cross has got an enormous pile of neeps stored by the gate and I decided not to risk him trying to snag a neep on the way through and sending the whole pile avalanching into the burn.  Good decision, as he wound up her horse spectacularly on the way back home - Boxer came thundering down the hill to see who this new horse was and Merlin grew a hand, screamed his head off, waved his willy and started passaging down the middle of the A836.  Fortunately no logging lorries came through while he was being a prat.  He seems to do this whenever he meets a new gelding, whether it's because he was gelded late or because he got beaten up so regularly by a Shetland stallion and HighlandxWelsh colt in his last home, I don't know, but he's determined to be boss horse over any other gelding he encounters.  I guess I'll just have to keep walking him past there until he gets used to it.

The good news is that his feet looked great when we got home, 3 miles on tarmac is obviously no trouble at all for him.  Mine weren't so happy after 3 miles in wellies with slipping socks!

Weight loss is going well for both of us.  I've lost 4lbs so far this year and am running three times a week - just a mile each session while my body gets used to it again, but I'm planning to make today's run a mile and a half.  Merlin is now down to the bottom of the 490kg band, which is coming off a little bit too quick, so he's now on 5 handfuls of beet flakes per feed.  Hay supplies are holding up well, I have 3 bales in the main shed plus however many are in the pig bedroom side of the shed (I *think* it's 28) out of 50 purchased at the start of autumn, plus 12 bales of HorseHage, so that should be enough to see us through to the grass coming in properly.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Mud, mud, glorious mud

Last year it froze solid here for nearly two months and everyone complained bitterly.  This year it's rained nearly non-stop for two months and on balance I think I'd rather have the snow.  The top half of the bottom two fields, where the shelter is, has got a blocked drain somewhere, so Merlin has a half-moat round his shelter and the top 10 metres of field is like chocolate custard with green speckles on top.  And the winds lifted the felt on the shelter roof - we nailed it back down straight away but it's still leaking if the rain is hard enough.  We're going to put corrugated sheets over the top of the felt, once the wind dies down enough for Mick to get up there and measure up.

Not much news here.  Merlin is down to the bottom of the 498kg band and with only 10 weeks-ish to go until we start getting spring grass through, I'm going to keep his diet as is until either a) he starts moving a whole band on the weight tape in a week or b) he hits his target weight of 470kg.  I'm keeping a close eye on his wobbly bits, the fat pads on his quarters are about half what they were at the beginning of the winter but are still there, he still has a very small crest and I still can't even feel his ribs, though his shoulder is starting to look defined now.