Stormy Days

How is everyone surviving this stormy week? I’m glad today’s over! Or nearly anyway.

We all knew it was going to be horrific, it’s all the newspapers have talked about this week, but this morning was relatively calm and dry. I was in two minds whether to pop the boy out for an hour or two, but decided against it. And he wasn’t leaning at the door pestering me to go out! He must’ve felt the storm in his bones.

Over the morning the wind picked up and we had a few showers, but so far it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. The stabled horses stayed in and the weekend ones came up from the valley. The mornings hack was cancelled, and then at lunchtime I spoke to one of the parents of my 4pm lesson. We decided to do another rain check after lunch as the weather wasn’t too bad, and I was loathe to cancel when we could get away with the lesson being indoors.

Over lunch it poured down! I let my boy into the indoor while I skipped him out and he had a buck and a play. Then I ran and got a friends horse in before he decided to bring himself in.

The afternoon only got worse, heavy showers and so much wind the shavings blew up in big spirals! I called it a day with the 4pm lesson, and a good job I did because at 4.15 the heavens opened and drowned us all. Thankfully we were skipping out in the barn, the rain was blowing sideways, which was quite spectacular to watch.

Then the lights went out.

Not a problem, we can see well enough to mix feeds and haylage the horses, there were only a couple more beds to do. So I asked one of the students to get the mares off the walker. Which she went to do, only to come back and say “I can’t”. Of course! The walker is electric!

What a dilemma. I have no idea if there’s an override, I sure know that you can’t push it when it’s on. So when there was a break in the new shower a few of us went out and I pressed the emergency button. I think that turned off the mechanics because it was then quite easy to push the partition round. Except we got so far before realising that we’d left the door open and all of us were in the middle of the walker! Someone then ducked under and caught the mares as they arrived at the door.

Once back in the barn one of the grooms asked an interesting question; would you rather be without water or without electric?

Having been without both on several occasions (I can vividly remember using a bucket and rope over a little bridge and hoisting up buckets for the stables) I would definitely rather be without electric! You can usually see well enough, or by torch, to do the essentials, but it’s a nightmare trying to source enough water for them.

However, at home, I’d much rather have my electric. I’ll forgo a hot bath so long as I can have an electric blanket and hot chocolate (milk obviously as I don’t have water)!

Water Water Everywhere

Anyone reading this in Britain will know what I’m talking about. The rain has been incessant since December.

I was just wondering what everyone else was doing. It’s a nightmare for a number of reasons.

1. Rugs. It’s impossible to dry a rug properly, which means damp heavy rugs going back on horses. We’ve found the best way to dry a rug is to leave it on the horse for a couple of hours, so long as the horse is dry underneath obviously. It’s a real test of the quality of your rugs. All the shops have sold out of turnouts so heaven help you if yours has given up the ghost.

2. Turnout. Most pastures are under water or if not very boggy which means stabled horses are on very limited or no turnout. This brings the problem of exercise. No one wants to ride in this weather, and the horses don’t want to work in the wind and rain. Our horse walker has never been so popular! Then there’s the field kept horses to pity. I’ve double rugged all the school horses and their fields are surrounded on two sides by woods so they have plenty of shelter. Haylage is given by the bale, and they come in for a few hours if they’re working and all weekend. Even so, I feel mean with the winds buffeting around us all.

3. Lessons. These are invariably cancelled, postponed, or changed in some form or another. For example, I may not be able to use a certain horse in the wind. Or the arena’s too saturated to jump. Or the horse is being exciteable due to limited exercise or turnout and I can’t take away my rider’s stirrups. For whatever reason, lessons at the moment keep you on your toes.

4. Staying warm and dry. Easier said than done! I’m currently living in my waterproof chaps, but last week had to resort to a pair of joggers over the Jodhpurs whilst my chaps were washed (they were so muddy they could stand up on their own). By the afternoons downpour I was soaked to my skin. Top wise, I’m living in my gilet and coat, plus a spare coat in my car, and numerous tshirts and jumpers. Hundreds of gloves dry on my dashboard on the way home, and I’m sporting a very attractive Bobble hat. But at least my head and ears are dry. Cups of tea are a must, as are microwaveable lunches to get the insides warm.

5. Depression. Yes, it’s a scary word, but you do fall into this trench of seeing rain for the rest of your life. Even in my dreams it’s raining! When will the summer come? But you need to hold on to the short spring like days (like Monday and Tuesday) remember what it is like to only wear one layer of clothes and hold on for the next few weeks until spring comes for real.

If it’s like this tomorrow I’m working from home!

Rain Rain Go Away

So … Who’s seen the forecast for this weeks weather?

Horrendous. Wind. Rain. Thunder. You name it the UK is getting it.

Friday I got caught in a hail storm teaching. It wasn’t pleasant but at least I was eating lunch when the second storm hit us.

Yesterday I knew the weather was supposed to be better in the morning and afternoon. So, hedging my bets and knowing that I would not want to be riding after work when I was cold and damp, I opted for the super early alarm call to ride before work.
4.55 the alarm woke me up. Good, it wasn’t raining. So I allowed myself another ten minutes before getting up for the bathroom, and was pleased to hear it was still dry. Or at least to not hear rain. I dressed and had breakfast, opened the front door and it was torrential rain 😦
By then though I was awake, contact lenses in there’s now way I can have another hours sleep.

Hoping for the best, I drove to the yard regardless. Then sat in my car, hiding from the downpour for a few minutes. There was no way I was getting this wet before work! Eventually I decided to give my boy a good groom, ready to go out in the field. Yes I know, pointless but still good quality time with him. Once I’m awake early I enjoy being alone in the world and watching the sunrise.

After a little while the rain eased, so I took the opportunity to go for a lunge in the semi darkness. He was pretty good, albeit not best impressed at being naked at 6am! Once the rain began again we ran for cover and did some stretching exercises. Then I got him dressed again, and fitted his new heavyweight turnout. A very manly blue check combi. Unfortunately, the bum was designed for horses with a less ample bottom than O. A real “does my bum look big in this?” At the same time, the neck also provided ear protection as an added bonus – it was so big! I even considered getting in there too!

By this time it’s only 6.45 … So I decide that today is muck out day. Not tomorrow, but today. I let his banks work down last week so he could have fresh straw and the banks were cleaned. So by 7.15 feeds were made, haylage in, a fresh bed and banks done, and I was on my way to the field in the semi darkness. By this time the rain had eased but I was still being blown sideways. At one point the wind blew straight down O’s neck, making the whole rug lift up like a puffa jacket!

Then the rain came again 😦 by 9am and my first lesson, I was soaked. Luckily I had come prepared with waterproof full chaps. Complete with fleecey lining.
Shivering and cold, despite having to run a few laps of canter, I got back to the yard to find I had to take a hack next – great! Hoicking my chaps back up to keep my bum warm I dug round in my car and found a riding coat. It was bought for me as a teenager, expecting me to grow into it. However, it still flaps round my ankles to everyone’s amusement. No matter, at least I would be dry.

Or so I thought.

Upon our return to the yard I discovered that my coat is definitely no longer waterproof 😦 in fact I was a drowned rat. Actually, a drowned rat was drier. Time for coat number three. My next lesson was spent avoiding splash back in the arena, warming my hands on the inside of my chaps while my gloves and the rest of my clothes dried on the radiator.

Thankfully, the day cleared up and I dried off enough to be classified as “damp”, and we managed to finish the rest of the day without a hitch, and boy did I hurry home for a nice hot bath!

Don’t you love working outside?!