So this morning, after a week of dragging myself out of bed to turn out or bring in the horses, and a friend doing the other end of the day while I fought off the latest winter bug from the confines of a warm house, I felt well enough to do more than the bare minimum. I`ll be honest, I contemplated riding, but then decided it would probably hinder my recovery process wearing myself out with a schooling session, and if I went for a hack I`d probably get iced over it was so chilly this morning. Lunging was the only option left.
I fed my other charge his breakfast and telling my boy that holidays were over, stripped him of his rugs, booted him up, and took him to the lunging arena. He was quiet enough on the way there, but as soon as I shut the gate he started twitching, shuffling forwards and backwards until I stepped away and let him go. I`ve seen worse, I`ve seen bucking explosions while the handler is trying to get themselves out of reach, so in all respects this was fairly tame. Three or four laps of canter with a couple of bucks, and then he settled himself into what I call his “Welsh trot”. Head up, back inflexible, high, driving action with the knees and shoulders, back legs powering along behind playing catch up. He settled eventually, dropped his nose and started stretching over his back, but by this time I was getting dizzy so wanted to change the rein. Do you think I could get him to stop? No. Not a chance. Everytime I half halted he would canter, everytime I tried to bring him in he would tug on the lunge line and just keep going at his speed! We came to a stop eventually, and repeated the procedure on the other rein before finishing off with a couple of jumps. By which point I was exhausted, and he was ready for breakfast.
Now, lunging wasn`t the purpose of my post, it is just an introduction. I was wondering what everyone contingency plans were. For when they`re ill or injured. It`s not so bad at a livery yard when you can ring the livery groom, or in the summer if you`re ill as the horse can be turned away and live out 24/7 and be checked by a passing friend. But typically, we`re not usually ill in the summer.
I have a couple of plans up my sleeve; I share duties with our neighbour (no pun intended) as the boys fields are next door and it seems silly walking to the same place and not bringing the other horse with you. It saves a lot of time for both parties, but it can be difficult to ensure that the arrangement is fair, ie one person doesn`t do every single early morning, even if they are a lark, not an owl. I think we`ve got it down to a tee though and everyone`s happy. So far!
I also have my uncle in reserve, who is quite capable of mucking out, catching and turning out. And the couple who own the other horse in my field are more than happy to assist me if ever I need to. But that`s when I feel like I`m taking advantage, even though they say there are two of them so they don`t mind it, and they like my horse so enjoy it. I look after their horse when they go on holiday too. Has anyone trained their partners to do stable duties? A couple of the liveries have very devoted husbands who come up three or four times during the week to give them a break. I`m impressed. And wonder how they managed to train them so well! I once asked one husband and he said “Go to stupid-ville, there`s a lot of us there”.
Even if sharing isn`t the option for you, it`s always good to keep on friendly terms with everyone at the yard as you never know when you need a helping hand! When I was a teenager I had a massive row with one of my friends which resulted in us not talking to each other for a few weeks. Then one day I found her pony cast in the stable, fetched her and helped pull him round, and suddenly we were best of friends again!