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♥Dec. 10th, 2016 // 03:02 pm
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This morning, Mike went out to give the boys their breakfast and found Bugsy happily eating the front lawn.

I must have not quite latched his door last night, and then he smashed his way through the chain that's there as a second line of defence (this was odd, as previously he's just gone under it).

In retrospect, this explains the happy horse noises I heard outside late last night: at the time, I just assumed it was TWWOTV's mares and a weird echo / sound reflection, which we get plenty of. I'm surprised that GB wasn't shouting, though. He had sweat marks on his coat this morning, and his stable was a complete state (for the first time since we've been here, I just threw away his whole bed and gave him a new one. Contrast with Bugsy, who gets this about once a fortnight), so he'd obviously spent the night being a big bundle of stress.

My back was feeling much better, if still sore, yesterday morning, which was fortunate because Mike was in London so I had the whole stableyard to do on my own. My back is feeling much worse today. I have learnt my lesson and Mike will be doing the mucking out for the next couple of days.

Some experimentation has shown that the ducks will neither eat nor use their pond indoors. When Mike moved the pond outside and refilled it this morning, they charged over to have a bath and Agnes (who has a bad leg and spends a lot of time in there) doesn't seem to have left it since except when they had their corn. We're being careful about getting rid of left-over food before to corvids notice it, but I don't really think that there's much else we can do: there's no point stressing them to death to avoid the risk of catching 'flu.

We went, with a certain amount of trepidation, to get a Christmas tree this morning. Last year, when we went on the equivalent of yesterday, we had great trouble finding one. Today, though, the little garden centre had a good dozen that were much nicer than the one we ended up with last year, and the one we bought seems to be very suitable: nicely symmetrical, branches not starting too low down, no enormous bald spike on top. Phew.

Mike seems to be coming down with another cold. I have explained that this is Just Not On, as it's currently *my* turn to be lying around feeling pathetic, but he's insistent on having it. Men!
Link3 kisses // Who loves you?

Bloody animals

♥Dec. 8th, 2016 // 05:18 pm
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As we do, we rode the horses this morning. Even though it was a bit windy, Bugsy was very well behaved for me, and we started doing some (for him) fairly complicated sequences of movements. He did really well the first time through, and the second time was also going great until he caught sight of TWWOTV's two mares charging around on the side of the hill and took off after them.

In much the same way as Mike really needs to stop landing on the same shoulder every time, I really need to stop landing (almost) flat on my back. Trotting afterwards was incredibly uncomfortable.

"I'm starting to wonder if we should keep him," Mike said.

Still, I'm doing better than I was: I still can't bend over but I can now crouch down. Getting back up again is pretty horrific, mind. Pooch is wondering why she's not getting stroked as much as usual, and indeed why I keep making peculiar noises when she head-butts me to make sure I'm aware of the deficiency.

This will rather play silly buggers with plans for the next few days, including how long Mike manages to get to the office for tomorrow (rather depends on whether I can muck out; I couldn't today), the amusing scene of Mike attempting to get the Christmas tree into the car on his own on Saturday, and quite probably Mike having to porter Christmas presents and wrapping paper around the house on Sunday as I get things ready to send off.

Poor Mike's had to do everything today, including holding GB for the dreaded blood test of doom. Still, he didn't get smashed into the wall, so that's a win.
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Good / bad

♥Nov. 4th, 2016 // 04:22 pm
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Last night, we went to see The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets Do Shakespear, the last of the Canterbury Festival events that we had tickets for. It was tremendously good fun, easily our favourite thing this year, and I thoroughly recommend going if you get the chance.

(I have a vague memory there was a SFSP show at a convention some time in the last few years, possibly even Loncon even though I'd have thought I'd be less vague about it if so. Does anyone know if I'm right?)

Today, it rained all afternoon and the boys went out with their raincoats on for the first time they really needed them (they'd had them on a couple of times because it was just a bit chilly). Unfortunately, when I brought them in and put their night-time rugs on I found that GB was fine but Bugs was utterly sodden. I've sent a slightly stroppy email to the woman who cleaned and (in theory) re-proofed them. Mistakes do happen, and at least their thin raincoats will dry out quickly, and I can just order a can of spray and fix this myself, but my real concern is that some of their padded raincoats haven't been re-proofed, in which case the boys will be very uncomfortable and cold standing around in them and they'll take days to dry out before they can be used again....

Bugsy's leg was again not right when I lunged him this morning, and GB was a bit wobbly in his rear legs. I'm hoping that Bugs is having problems when he's lunged a lot, and that they'll go away if we stop doing it and just ride him instead. This might be wishful thinking, but it does fit: last year, we started Mike lunging him to get his confidence back and a few weeks later our riding instructor noticed a problem, and then this year I only started lunging him few weeks ago, when they moved back down to our field.... Wait and see.
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Things from the last ten days

♥Aug. 26th, 2016 // 07:37 am
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It's too hot. We had a thunderstorm last night, but not much actual rain: Jo was alternately terrified at being downstairs alone and then delighted when Mike went to fetch her up to our room. The trees are dropping leaves, it's been so dry.

Mike is on his third migraine day in a row, which is not so good.

As part of Project Get Bugsy Fit, I've been not having a chance to / being to hot to / putting off cantering him when he's being ridden, but I did so this morning and he was pretty much perfect, which is a relief: I was worried we were going to be back to titting about.

Jodie's been discharged by the orthopaedic vet, who was very pleased with her x-rays. She's still having swimming lessons, and she can start to go off the lead at the end of her walk in a couple more weeks. Yesterday at the vet, another dog owner said how pretty she was and then asked if she was a crossbreed. I was confused, and the other dog owner explained that she looked like one because the hair was a different length on her back and one of her legs. Pretty sure that that's not how genetics works....

We had a barbecue, and the weather was much better than it might have been, and people came and seemed to have fun. On Sunday, we have more family invasion: Mike's mother and aunt-from-America are coming to stay.

I've spent far too much time curled up on the sofa with a book, and must instead get on with gardening, making passata, and making Christmas cards and presents. Just as soon as it's less hot....

Almost inevitably, I'm feeling under-challenged by my new Pilates class. I'm going to a pole dancing try-out session next week, and am seriously considering trying out Physique 57, which seems to be BarreCore on steroids and has a lot of online classes, with a week of free access. (There is a barre class that uses my current Pilates studio space, and I think a couple of people in the class have been: I might ask them how hard it is / where the instructor trained.)
Link3 kisses // Who loves you?

Things unrelated to lame animals

♥Jul. 10th, 2016 // 06:07 pm
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A good one: this morning, I had a lovely ride on GB. He was going brilliantly, and it left me feeling very pleased with how we got on.

A less good one: my upper back / shoulders have been a bit sore for a few days, which I'd vaguely put down to being stressed about lame animals until I thought about it a bit more. I was sore in what I think was the same way about eighteen months ago, which is what lead to the hypermobility diagnosis, and which I eventually decided was being caused by something wrong (for me) in the way my then Pilates instructor taught. (And, indeed, this was a part of the reason I moved to a different one not long after.)

That instructor (as well as working where I used to go to her classes) works for the place I've just started at and, quite conceivably, had a lot of her training from my new instructor*, which makes me wonder if there's some bit of positioning that the new instructor likes but my body doesn't. I'll have a chat with her on Tuesday, I think.

* Who I am liking, although I am frantically Waiting Until The End Of The Six-Week Class Cycle before I say "I thought this was an advanced class?"

This afternoon, I made a stripy top out of knitted fabric. I'm not madly keen on the fabric, but it was cheap (nominally seconds, though I can't see any flaws in it). The sewing went pretty smoothly, once I gave up on trying to backstitch my start and end points (which just resulted in the sewing machine eating the corner of the fabric; I was using a fancy stretch stitch anyway, so it was kind of backstitching itself), and apparently I am a high street size 16. Better go and buy a new wardrobe!

Lame animal update: we're going to be Firm With Vets, so tomorrow I'm going to call Jo's vet and ask if they have a date for the op and tell them that if they don't get me one by the next day then I'm going to go elsewhere (Mrs Next Door recommended a specialist ortho vets, who will probably be able to fit her in much quicker), and then I'm going to call Bug's vet and cancel this grand day out malarky at least until after Jo's op, and tell him I want him to come and give him the same injection as he's already had in the other leg to see if that cures it.
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Bits and bobs

♥Jul. 8th, 2016 // 08:41 pm
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Duck seems fine.

Bugs had a visit from the 2nd vet, who wants to see him at the surgery. Which will be fun. And expensive. I've been texting around people that the receptionist said might be able to do transport for two horses for the day, because of course GB can't be left on his own....

No word from Jo's vet about a new surgery date, so they're probably still playing phone tag.

In the last week or so, I've had five emails (that is, half of what hits my gmail account's spam folder after going through initial screening on Mike's provider) that purport to be from someone I know, though not from their email address, and that address me in an appropriate way for that person. I suspect that if I emailed the people involved, we could figure out which service has leaked their address books (there are, for example, some yearoftheteledu addresses in the cc's, and an address belonging to someone who used to swap to a new free email address every year or so when he started getting too much crap in his inbox), but I'm not sure it's worth the effort.

We had been planning to go to the Kent County Show but thought we'd have to go tomorrow because of the vet. As it was, he was gone by 2pm, so we thought we'd go for it: it's much quieter on Friday than on Saturday. There were a few things missing: not many heavy horses, and about half the cages in the poultry tent (which is also where the rabbits are) were empty. The horses were apparently all busy haymaking, and based on the fact that all the people working the poultry tent were girls in their early teens I suspect that most of the competitors hadn't been allowed to skip a day of school to attend. On the plus side, the flower arrangements were all lovely and fresh and looking at their best, and the cakes hadn't started to sag in the heat. Plus, fewer people. We had a nice time, wandered the shop, watched bits of a handful of horse classes and saw the pig racing:

(Number five won the Grand National, which means that Teresa May will be the next Prime Minister. Previous predictions included Farrage to be PM after the last election and a Remain vote, so I wouldn't rely too much on their piggy predictive powers.)

We bought very little that wasn't edible, and I several times uttered the words "Oh, I neededn't have bought that on Amazon the other day". In reality, though, the one I bought on Amazon was probably cheaper. This probably has something to do with why the shows are all struggling a bit: once upon a time, they were a serious shopping opportunity.

We also looked at some new garden furniture, but didn't see anything that made us want to rush to buy. We were intrigued by the fact that two different places had almost identical stock. One, in a nice marquee, was more expensive than the other, which boasted of huge show discounts, all display stock must go, delivery this evening after we close. The latter had no proper signage or fliers, which made it look dodgy as hell, but also offered a 12-month payment plan, which was odd. But, I suppose, may well have involved a big bloke coming 'round to check you hadn't forgotten to make your payments....
Link3 kisses // Who loves you?

Lame animal count: 3

♥Jul. 7th, 2016 // 08:06 pm
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Esk was looking quite lame when we went out to put her to bed, so I traumatised her back into health caught her and checked that there was nothing obviously wrong, after which I put her down and she ran away looking perfectly normal. This is not the first time one of the ducks has done this!

Bugs is now consistently lame again, so I've got the second-opinion vet coming back for him tomorrow.

And Jo Jo is still hobbling around like a hobbly thing. Annoyingly, I had a call from her vets today, saying that the surgeon has said he *can't* do her op next Friday, because he won't have time for three surgeries. It sounds like they've been playing voice mail tag with him: they now going to try to actually speak to him and find out when he can do it. Depending on what the answer is (and, indeed, how long it takes for it to come), we might have to look at getting it done somewhere else.
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Oh, you shouldn't have....

♥Jul. 6th, 2016 // 08:19 pm
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Today's Tesco delivery came with a very pleased delivery woman who handed me a special box containing a "thank you for being such a great customer" (we probably are: we get a delivery maybe 45 weeks of the year).

"What's in it?" I asked.

"Open it and see!" she gushed. So I did.

I took out the box of strawberries, and put it on the table next to the small pile of freshly-picked ones that were drying on a piece of kitchen roll. Then I took out the teeny tiny single serving bottle of elderflower cordial, and put it on the table next to the half dozen full-sized bottles of same that she's just unpacked. As I took out a pack of Warburton's finest, I refrained from telling her how good Mike's crumpets are. Still, the pot of cream will come in handy, I'm sure....

ION, Jodie is doing remarkably well on the bunny catching league for an invalid, even if the one she got this evening had mixa. Just think of all the baby crows she's providing for!

Bugsy had his back checked this morning (unexpectedly: she appeared (to much barking from Jo) outside the school while I was lunging Bugs this morning. "I wasn't expecting you until 3 o'clock," I said, confused. "Actually, I wasn't expecting you until tomorrow!" -- there had been an undelivered iMessage mix-up), and she's "as confident as she can possibly be" that it's not his back, which is just what I expected. Now -- as he's finally got back to being nicely lame after I foolishly listened when the vet told me to give him the week off -- I just need to get hold of the second opinion vet and get him back here. I'll give it one more not-returned phone call and then just book a visit anyway.

Yesterday, I was birthday present hunting on a blog I follow: I read it for the patchwork stuff, but she's also a dressmaker, and for all that I usually skim those posts I knew there were some pattern and book recommendations. And then I had a Thought, thusly: "I can never find tops that I like. Maybe I should...." It is the case that the tops I fail to find are made from knit fabrics, which are infamously A Bugger To Sew, especially without an overlocker (which I Can Not Justify At All, although I loved it when I got to play with them at school), but maybe I should have a little try.... I've ordered what claims to be a simple pattern, and some end-of-bolt-cheap fabric, so I'll give it a go. In an attempt to remind myself what a dressmaking pattern looks like (school wasn't the last time I used one, but it wasn't long after), I (mostly: ran out of time to make bias binding before it was time to start dinner) made a very simple sleeveless top out of some left-over quilt fabric this afternoon, so I think I'll give it a go and see what happens.

(I am suffering from too many projects on the go, at the moment: I'm making a silk wall hanging, which is now mostly done except some hand sewing, and I've got a blanket woven but in need of (hand) sewing together, and I've got a bolt of linen that I need to cut up for a quilt, and then do fiddly folding things with before I do the machine sewing, and I've just made something for my sister's birthday.... on the other hand, I'm kind-of stacking up hand sewing things in the expectation of wanting to stay in the living room with Jo rather than leave her to go to the study and my sewing machine. On the other other hand, I'm thinking of moving a table in here, for that and for meals, so that she's not left on her own.)
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♥Jun. 25th, 2016 // 08:11 pm
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Jo seems to be doing better today, which is good. When we went to the vet yesterday, the nurse who did her laser session* said she was probably sore from being posed for the x-rays.

* I'm increasingly thinking that the laser is, to use the technical term, Woo Woo Shite: "results no better than a placebo" Wikipedia says on the use of the treatment in humans. Well, I suppose it can't hurt for a coupke of weeks.

I've now got doggy massage instructions, so we've been doing that: Jo just thinks it's a strange kind of snuggle, I think, so she's quite happy with it (but wishes I'd just get on to the tummy rubs!).

Bugs, on the other hand, is getting nicely lame again now that he's not spending all his time loafing about in the field. I'll give it a few more days and then have the second-opinion-vet back.
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♥Jun. 18th, 2016 // 06:06 pm
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This morning, we rode the boys. Mike went on GB, and I briefly lunged Bugs and then rode him as the vet instructed.

They both seemed fine. GB was a little reluctant to stay in the canter, but whether that was because he was sore or because he's lazy is hard to say. Mike reported that Bugs looked very good, and he didn't feel at all lame to ride, so fingers are crossed.

(Although, as I said to my riding instructor, and never mind what the vet says, my current plan is to work Bugs every day for a week so that next week I can go back to the vet and say "right, he's lame again, please will you come and see him when he's not just had a week off?")

One of the things that the vet was muttering about yesterday was sacroiliac, which is some variety of gubbins in the back - a nerve, maybe? It's not a terribly common problem. This vet has been in the area for about six or eight months. He also diagnosed it for The Horse Next Door (wrong) and for Not Very Next Door Neighbour's horse (has had the treatment and is now having the summer off, after which we'll see if it worked). This does rather make it seem as though it's his pet diagnosis.

Jo seems to be hobbling less today. Whether that's because of the laser treatment that the vet did or because we're trying to get her to rest it is a mystery. She's feeling enough better that she's doing that 'hang behind when the humans walk off so that I can run to catch up' thing that she does when walk-deprived....
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Good news?

♥Jun. 17th, 2016 // 11:21 am
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The (different) vet's been out to see Bugs, and thinks he's basically going to be ok. He wasn't lame today, although I showed a video of him hopping around the school last week.

The provisional conclusion is that his back is sore from trying to avoid the pain (now solved) in his leg, not helped by being out of work for three months or so. I'm to bring him back into work gradually, and get the back lady out to check him ASAP (which might be the harder part, as she's hard to get hold of at times).

As that went so quickly, I asked him to have a quick look at GB, who obligingly trotted one way down the school then threw his heels up in the air and charged back again like a loon. "Yes," the vet said, "you can get back on him!"

Jo, on the other hand, is feeling very sorry for herself. I'm not sure how much is pain and how much is the thunder we've being having. (The vet nurse went and got her dog out of the car, because he was also scared, but not before he'd ripped the headrest of one of the seats in his panic.) At least the vet was here during a lull in the rain!
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Busy busy....

♥Jun. 10th, 2016 // 07:32 pm
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With impeccable timing, the vet could only come out on a day when Mike was in London.

That meant that this morning I was out early, to ride GB before she got here for her first appointment (he comes out of his stable each morning looking ok, and only starts to limp when he's done a bit of exercise or spent time wandering around in the field). She was puzzled by both of them, which meant I spent a lot of time running up and down the school so that she could see them in action, and didn't really get much less puzzled as the time went on.

GB is indeed lame on his 'good' leg, but she can't find anything obviously wrong. There was a choice of lots of nerve blocking injections to try to narrow it down or just waiting and seeing, and we decided on the latter. "You could try giving him a week or two off," she said, but then I pointed out that the bad leg would seize up if I did. "You could try 'bute," she said, but then I pointed out that he was already on that for the bad leg and she looked a bit worried that it wasn't helping.

Bugs is also lame, on both the leg that hasn't yet been done and the one that has. She did offer to do the injection in the un-done leg, but worried that the as-yet-unidentified other thing wrong with the done leg would be there with the un-done one too so she preferred to get a second opinion: we've got another appointment, with a more senior vet, next week, so he's off work again until that happens.

And then I did the usual horse-related jobs, washed my hair, had lunch and walked the pooch, and this afternoon I did a bit of sewing, finishing the current quilt top, and a bit of gardening, managing several whole meters of the front border in an hour (all the seeds that have been sitting there going 'bloody leylandii' have now gone 'wahay!') and watering the veg and various new plants (and, bugger, I still haven't potted on those bloody penstemon plug plants that are sitting in the conservatory, maybe I should just throw them to their doom in the garden), and then I got ready for the quilt class I'm going to tomorrow, and put away the laundry, and then it was time to get dinner ready, and there was some fannish stuff I'd had to abandon when the internet got crappier than usual yesterday and forgotten to go back to, and now that I've eaten dinner and washed up I'm just going to sit on the sofa, I think.

Well, once we've put the boys to bed.

I might have found a Pilates class, though. It's an evening one, but I'm starting to think I'll just have to put up with that. It's the first time I've seen anywhere actually listing an advanced class in Kent: I'd been hoping I could find an intermediate, and am now slightly wondering if I'm up to it!
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♥Jun. 8th, 2016 // 06:32 pm
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GB still lame. Bugs still lame. First class with new Pilates instructor and she's the wrong bloody branch of Pilates so that's me in search of a new class again.

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Animal magic

♥Jun. 7th, 2016 // 07:09 pm
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Jodie: unsettled*
Swallows: impatient**
Ang: grumpy***
Bugs: long-suffering****
Cow: confused*****

* We had a lovely big thunder storm this afternoon. When Mike was half way through mowing the lawn and I was in the middle of potting on veg plants.

** The pair of them have been spotted flying in and out of the spare stable, beaks crammed full. While we're mucking out, however, they sit on the telephone wires, alternately preening and wishing we'd get on with it so that they can get back to feeding duty. We are in fact tremendously pleased to see them: Previous Owners always left that stable door open with good results, but we'd never seen any interest in previous years. Then I caught them checking out the inside of the barn and the duck's stable, neither of which we can leave open at night, so we opened the stable up instead.

*** Ok, not much different to usual there then. On Sunday evening, he came in from the field limping: probably just had a spat with Bugs. But then he came in limping last night, too. We trotted him up this morning and he looked ok, but Mike reported that it came back / got worse as he was ridden. This is Ominous, and will hopefully go away before the vet comes on Friday. Even if it has, he'll still be grumpy because he's due for a blood test.

**** He was very well behaved when I lunged him today, even though he was hopping along like a hoppy thing in the canter. I got Mike to video it, just in case he's sound when the vet comes, and later booked her in to see them both on Friday. 95% sure it's the same thing as he just had treated in the other leg: there were signs of it, and now that the other leg isn't sore any more he's suddenly noticed that it hurts.

***** As am I: how the hell did it get through a closed gate and into our garden? Or, alternatively, what kind of idiot drives along a road, goes 'oh dear, some previous person left the gate open and now a cow has wandered through' and then carefully shuts the gate as they go through, leaving the cow on the wrong side of it, without saying anything?
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Positive things

♥Jun. 5th, 2016 // 05:33 pm
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This morning, Mike rode Bugs for the first time in a couple of months (I've been on him a couple of times in the last week or so). Even though it was windy, and he'd had a hissy fit the last time I lunged him, Bugs was very well behaved. It would be even more of a result if our riding instructor wasn't convinced that he isn't right in the *other* back leg as well / now that the one he had done isn't bothering him. We're currently trying to make him do enough work that it gets sore, so that I can then have the vet come when there's definitely something to see.

(Yesterday, they all went a bit mad: our two and The Horse Next Door spent a good couple of hours running up and down their fields. GB was covered in dried sweat when he came in for dinner. We've no idea what got into them, but hypothesise that it might have had something to do with the deer that have been spotted in the area recently. If it is that, I hope they get used to it.)

This afternoon, I went to the Quilt Club show, where I saw Mrs Up The Hill. I was working around to asking if we could use the field by saying how lovely the grass looked when she asked if we could put the boys in there to keep it looking neat, so that's a result. Must get a new battery for the portable electric fence. ("What do you want me to do with the poo?" I asked, hoping that we wouldn't have to cart it down the hill to our skip. "Oh, if you could make a heap that would be wonderful, I need it for my new garden!" "You must be so annoyed to have to start a new compost heap, after all that manure you carted around last summer!" "Oh, no, I took my old compost heap with us when we moved!")

Then I had a look at the quilts on display. Lots of them weren't my sort of thing, and very few of them were the same style that I do (and, coff, those that were weren't as good [g]), but I have come away with a few ideas. When I got to the display of the on-the-theme-of-30 quilts, I had a nice surprise:

Joint second, because (a note said) while first had been blazingly obvious they struggled with second / third. (First was blazingly obvious: the person who made it seems to specialise in dolls'-house-sized quilts anyway, and she'd done a gorgeous sampler with thirty different quilt blocks in miniature.) And Mrs Up The Hill didn't get a rosette [smug].

Also, points to Hazel for plant identification skills, as my plant-or-weed was indeed a poppy:
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Good / bad

♥May. 19th, 2016 // 09:00 pm
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Today, the vet came to have another look at Bugs.

The good news is that she has pronounced him successfully medicated, so a) it is bone spavins and b) we'll start bringing him back into work tomorrow. This injection will wear off in a few months, after which we'll have the longer-lasting one that should just need repeating once a year until the bones fuse (hopefully not too long!).

The bad news is that part of the way he demonstrated that was by going 'you want me to trot from one one of the school to the other? it'd be much quicker if I just flung all my legs into the air and then ran at full speed!'

Well, *actually* the bad news is the fact that my leg was in the way of one of his feet when he did the first part of that.

Sigh. Just as the bruise on my other leg was fading....

(Mrs Next Door came over to see how the vet visit went whinge about her useless boyfriend. When I hobbled out onto the patio to talk to her, she gave me a look and said "Oh, not again?")
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Updatey, and Xanth, and clothes

♥May. 6th, 2016 // 08:36 pm
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This morning, I rode GB, taking it quite gently: both of us seemed to be fine with our bad legs!

Later, the vet came back to see Bugs. She sedated him and had one go at the injection he got worked up about last time then, when he got worked up again, went on to try the next part of the sequence. He wasn't having that, either, so she doped him up even more* and just gave him the medication, after a bit of woozy complaining on his part. Now we wait another couple of weeks and see how he is: if the medication works, we have a diagnosis.

* She couldn't just do that for the first two tries because he would have needed to be able to trot around afterwards so couldn't be too heavily sedated. He was very doped, and kept drooling on my shoes....

In the mean time, GB was hanging around the stableyard stuffing himself: when I just went out to give them their evening hay, his dinner haynet was still conspicuously full. On the plus side, the field looks better just for having a day off, so we're going to keep them on other bits of grass again tomorrow, so that hopefully the grass can grow a bit more and get enough of a head start to stay ahead of them! (On the minus side, the flies have woken up and started pestering them. It really does seem to have gone from winter to summer in a week.)

When I got my new phone, the one thing that didn't transfer over was my local ebook library. It's not a great hardship, as they're all stored elsewhere, but is slightly annoying because I couldn't just scroll through it and go 'oh, I'll re-read that next'. Mike suggested that I start at A and work my way through and, indeed, I re-read HHGG for the first time in years, as well as trying Watership Down (which I'd never read). I got to Anthony, P, and started on the Xanth books: I know that they're tosh, but I did love them when I first read them, and knew I hadn't actually read all of them. I got into the low teens, and then ploughed through Isle of View, aka the-one-where-he-wrote-in-a-kid-who'd-been-in-an-accident. I don't think I'd read Question Quest before, and found it rather odd: a re-cap of the history of Xanth, that added in a few background details about Magician Humphrey's life / take on events (with a bit of random retconning), and I was sure I must have read The Color of Her Panties but didn't really remember (or enjoy) it and whoa mega retconning going on there.

I've skipped on ahead to Asimov, now, but has anyone actually read all the Xanth books? Is he just having a tedious and sexually charged patch that coincided with the realisation he was running out of ideas so needed to put some more back-story in, or is it just not worth bothering to carry on (given that I did quite like the early ones: I know there are those who would tell me that it wasn't worth carrying on after page two of the first book if I even got that far!)?

I went into Canterbury this afternoon and, amongst other things, popped into Primark and got half a dozen lightweight tops (to replace the ones that I took out of winter storage yesterday and went 'hmm, that's a bit manky'). Then I did the obligatory walk around M&S without seeing anything much that I liked other than a single lightweight top, almost identical to one of the Primark ones and the same price as the total for the ones I'd already bought. I'd like to say that I'm sure the M&S one would last longer, but the ones I threw away were a pretty even mix of the two brands so I'm not sure it's true.

What I really want is a nice, longish, snuggly-but-lightweight sweater, but I didn't find anything that fit the bill. Bah.
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Invaded and battered....

♥May. 4th, 2016 // 04:53 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1154538.html]

We've had repeated incursions of visitors, some significantly more enjoyable than others, over the last week or so, which is why I've been so quiet.

On the plus side, Mike manfully removed the less enjoyable ones when he could, so I managed to get all of the background of the flying birds quilt quilted. Now I just need to decide what to do with the actual birds: the background is quite dense, so should I do something similar for the birds but in a different pattern, or should I leave them as oases of calm?

It has been very cold and miserable, but now it's nice and sunny: hopefully this means that our grass is finally going to start growing, because I'm getting quite worried about the state of the field (and, indeed, the prospects for the hay crop). This time last year, the boys were coming in when it was getting dark and only getting one hay net in the evening; this year, they're still on full winter rations and we're bringing them in before dinner because otherwise they're ravenous and grumpy when we let them in.

(We do at least think we have enough hay to last even with the late start, which is good as I've been getting friend-of-a-friend 'do you know anyone with any hay' queries and that suggests we'd struggle to get more. I'd much rather throw away (or onto the garden) half a dozen bales than be scrabbling around looking for more.)

(Actually, they're still pretty ravenous and grumpy, and would much rather stay in the stableyard and stuff their faces on slightly better grass for a while before they have their actual dinner. On Monday, Bugs was doing his usual trick of refusing to let Mike catch him and spooked GB, who ran off in panic. I was mid-way through putting GB's headcollar on at the time, and so unfortunately his pre-emptive wave of the back legs in Bugsy's direction got me instead. I have a truly *spectacular* bruise, and am finding walking up and down hills to be almost impossible, which is tricky around here. I--whisper it--skipped Pilates this morning, but at least now I have a good excuse for not going to London for a boring meeting tomrrow.)

Bugsy has had the vet to visit, trying to narrow down what's wrong with his leg (or rather, trying to confirm that the problem is what we think it is). He was a very good boy about it all, right up to the point where he suddenly decided that he'd had enough. She tried sedating him a couple of times, but he (quite politely) made it clear that he wasn't having any of it, so she's back again tomorrow for round two, which will (just in case) not involve the exact (long-shot) thing that she was trying to do when he stopped cooperating. In the mean time, he's getting to swan around in the field doing no work: I would say he's getting fat, but he's not because no bloody grass.

GB, on the other hand, has maybe gone slightly backwards in his spring-time improvement. I'm hoping that this is just because I was pushing him a bit too hard in my delight at his getting better, and a time when I'm not really able to ride seems to be a good one to test the theory!

Today, I have mostly been gardening: there were a batch of seedlings that needed potting on, and then I was running out of space on the conservatory shelves so I figured that, if I sat on the walls around the beds, I could plant out some bedding plants I'd grown that were getting a bit sad at being tuck inside. Then I thought I could probably manage some hoeing, but mostly ended up contorting into strange positions so that I could dig out blobs of grass from the flower beds: one of those 'it's lucky I'm strong' occasions, I think. Really need to do more weeding.

Text messages with my sister:
Sister: [a date, next summer, presumably for her wedding]
Me: Do you want a quilt?
Sister: What kind of quilt?
Me: One for your bed. If you do, I need to start it in plenty of time.
Sister: No thanks, I have a nice throw on my bed.
Me: Ok then, let me know what you do want.
Sister: Just having you there will be enough, we don't need presents.
[a short pause]
Sister: I really like that stuffed rabbit you made for mum.
Sister: Here's a photo of my living room decor.
Sister: Here's a close-up of my tartan feature wallpaper.
Me: Yes, I was already going to make you a rabbit for your birthday....
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In the quilting mines

♥Apr. 23rd, 2016 // 08:23 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1153844.html]

It's getting there: I'm about half way done. I had to order more thread, I thought that the enormous reel I'd bought would be enough but apparently not!

Note to self: life is much easier (or at least, more forgiving) when the quilt backing is a similar colour to the background of the front so that the stitches don't show so much on the back. I fear that I have learnt this lesson before but it failed to sink in.

I'm now using the new laptop: seems to be going ok, although I'm still not quite used to the keyboard: even for me it's got very little travel, so I'm sometimes failing to hit a key / hitting a key accidentally on my way past it. People who like Proper Clicky Keyboards shouldn't get the new MacBook. It doesn't have a magsafe power connector (which makes sense given that it's the same port as the USB), but even allowing for that it needs a serious (two-handed) yank to pull it out. I dare say I'll get used to that, though.

Bugs finished his two week rest today, and was still lame: time to get the vet back and spend some serious money....
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Coff (one of an occasional but intense series.)

♥Apr. 11th, 2016 // 08:26 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1151833.html]

I'm, finally, much better: basically fine other than occasionally trying to cough my guts up. Annoyingly, that's still happening most often when I lie down to go to sleep.

We've had a lovely weekend full of visitors and bluebells: there would be a picture, but the LJ app is failing to upload it. See Mike's Facebook instead.

This evening, I saw the first bat of the year.

The vet phoned this morning (damn, she's keen: I was still getting dressed!) with GB's blood test results: very slightly over what they should be, so she's happy to say it's ok. No more tests until June, now, and then it will be every few weeks in the hope of catching it before his levels of whatever-it-is skyrocket and we have to increase his medication for a few months. He's shedding, which is always a bonus and a sign that we've got the levels about right. (New Vet still needs training in his ways: she will keep going on about laminitis, which he's (unusually) never had a problem with.)

Bugs was looking quite perky as he trotted along the edge of the field this evening, so the drugs are probably working: we'll see what happens when he comes off them again.

A little while ago, Mrs Up The Hill told me that they were moving. We (and Mrs Farmer) been speculating for a few weeks that they had in fact already moved: the car was rarely there, and when it was it looked like it was being loaded up; the pots had gone from the front patio. I saw her today and they have indeed gone, and the house will be going on the market next month. If the price is right then we'll buy one of their fields, but we suspect it won't be.
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Oh, Buggles-ation!

♥Apr. 7th, 2016 // 07:35 pm
[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1151729.html]

Bugs has been intermittently slightly lame for a few weeks now, and after the second cut-short riding lesson in a row I thought "Sod this" and called the vet: GB was due for a blood test anyway, so it made sense to combine the two.

I was slightly worried that today might be one of the days when he was fine, but the vet saw it straight away, and said "I think I know what it is, let's do a flexion test." That involves holding the leg up in the air for a minute and then immediately having the horse trot. We did the non-lame leg first, and she said "hmm, not right on that side", and then we did the lame leg, and he decided to rear instead of trotting. On principle, I made him trot anyway after he'd come back down, and she could still see whatever she was looking for even with a pause before the trot.

Her working theory is that he has arthritis in both hocks, worse on one side than on the other. AKA bone spavins, a fine old fashioned horsey term that didn't once pass the lips of our lovely young vet. What she wants to do is a full on investigation, with x-rays and nerve blocks, at c£350 per leg. What we're actually going to do is two weeks off with pony ibuprofen and then have another look: if he's better, it's something else. After which we're probably going to end up with the investigation, given how certain she was of the diagnosis.

If she's right, he'll never compete again (but he wasn't going to anyway) and he'll be in pain until such time as the bones of the joint fuse together, after which he'll be a bit stiff but otherwise fine. Probably.

(And bucking on the canter transition is a symptom....)
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Good animals!

♥Apr. 3rd, 2016 // 09:11 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1150219.html]

This morning, we went out for a little hack on the boys, and took Jo along. They all did wonderfully: GB only balked slightly as he went past a Scary Thing, Bugs didn't get himself worked up about anything and, just as we were nearly home, both of them went very calmly past a terrified lamb that was in the road, on the wrong side of the fence. This last was very fortunate, because Jo was Rather Interested, to the extent of starting to slink towards in until I got her attention and brought her back to heel. We're not sure if she was hunting or herding, but either way we're glad she stopped. (I sent Bad Farmer a text to let him know....)

This afternoon, we have been in the Potting Shed Conservatory: we've been a bit slack about starting new seeds in the propagator, so we're rather behind on last year. On the other hand, I think we were a bit early with some things last year, so it should be ok in the end.

This evening, just as I was on the phone to my mother, there was a big crash of thunder. A quick look at the rainfall radar and I said "I'll call you back" and dashed out to give the boys their supper before the rain arrived. Not that much rain, in the end, but lots of thunder and lightning, to Jo's misery. She's mostly calmed down now, but it's a measure of how worried she was that Mike's let her lie in front of our sofa, In The Way. Seems to have stopped now, thankfully.
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Catching up, yet again

♥Mar. 31st, 2016 // 06:50 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1149537.html]

Eastercon was good, except the bit where I woke up snotty one day and voiceless the next. I'm back to talking again, but still sniffly and with a bit of a sore throat. Still, an almost-entirely enjoyable con, other than a few wobbles that were either relatively minor or only short-lived. As I am weak-willed, I managed to get roped into doing things next year and the year after. As I am feeling crappy, I have failed to do most of the post-con jobs that need doing.

While we were in the area, we had dinner with my parents (but not my sister and other half: he tripped over one of the dogs, fell down the stairs, ripped the child gate (there to keep the dogs from going upstairs, um), and came to a halt on the back door, which is now needs new hinges. In one of those 'could have been worse' ways, he's got a broken wrist and toe, is black and blue, and only didn't break his hip because he had it replaced a year or so ago). Mike also had dinner and some time wandering around town with his mother, but I didn't make it along as they were running late and I had jobs to do by the time they went to eat.

We had a crappy journey up but a fairly good run coming home, so I suppose that it balances out. Mike finally gave in and got the Tom Tom app on his phone, so that I no longer have to spend the journey hitting refresh on Google Maps and trying to work around problems (which Google seems to be frankly crap at: there's no point telling me that Route 1 has a one hour delay and Route 2 a two hour one, tell me Route 3 that - gasp - leaves the motorway for a couple of junctions to avoid it!), although I did spend the trip home being an occasional stunt iPhone holder (proper one now acquired).

We don't seem to have suffered much damage from the storm, other than one of the stems of the elder on the drive having split and (fortunately) landed on the fence rather than the sitter's car. There are a lot of broken branches on the roads and in the woods, though. Animals all seem fine, although Bugs was a tiny wee bit lame (in the same leg again) today: worrying but probably not reliably enough present for a vet visit.

Today, my new iPhone arrived. I didn't make it to the Virgin shop at weekend, and I failed to order a new SIM yesterday, so that will be arriving tomorrow. It's a moot point anyway, though, as it turns out that I once enabled encryption of my iTunes phone backups and none of the passwords I'd expect to work did so. We're now, very tediously, doing an iCloud backup: it's been wandering between 19 and 22 hours remaining for about the last two hours. And, of course, once it's done and I've got the SIM, I'll have to re-download it, and then download all my apps. Mike's in work tomorrow, and if the process is at a stage where it makes sense to do so I may have him take the new phone and syphon off a bit of the office wifi.

I also made wild garlic pesto, so there's a stock of that in the freezer. There's also still masses of garlic left, and I'm vaguely wondering if I could bottle it instead of freezing.
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Hello again

♥Mar. 21st, 2016 // 03:34 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1148601.html]

I've been very remiss at telling you all about the exciting things I've been doing, haven't I? Must try harder, probably not helped by the fact that I'll be away from home at weekend!

Recently, I have:
- taken Bugsy's saddle to the saddler, to make sure that he didn't damage it when he rolled in it (he didn't)
- done things with seedlings, including putting some of them outside to harden off (they're back in now, though, as I expect a frost tonight)
- worked on my little quilt, which is very nearly done other than embroidery. I still haven't figured out how to do the geese without them looking crap.
- heard rumours that a very large red deer stag has been spotted at the top of the hill
- got a blister on my heel (spent the whole riding lesson lunging Bugs, in my riding boots), which finally (after a week) now no longer needs plasters
- tidied the barn and (with Mike) moved the hay we had been storing in a spare stable into it. We now have enough pallets that we don't need to balance the stacks of hay bales on a grid of old fence posts, which will be vastly more convenient
- rescued a bumblebee from the front porch, and moved her to inside one of the crocuses so that she could have a nice breakfast
- got various things ready for the Eastercon newsletter
- watched the lambs.

Bugs is doing very well, and last Monday we tried lunging him with side reins for the first time. He'd obviously had them on in the past, inevitably much too tight, but he seems to be relaxing a bit now that we've used them a few times. He's also had a Proper Ride, because it occurred to me that he's either just been lunged or been lunged and then ridden for fifteen minutes a lot recently. I think it was a bit of a shock to his system, but he did very well.

I'm rather concerned about GB, though. Other than the day when Jodie stayed in the garden while I rode him (when he was spooky as a spooky thing until I went and got her, after which he was fine: I don't know if he was worried she was going to jump out from somewhere or if he just missed her), he's been fine to ride, and his leg seems to be doing ok. Unfortunately, for the last week or TWWOTV has been having building work done, replacing water pipes, and he's very unhappy about both the noise of the machinery (which echoes oddly around our stableyard and makes him nervous because he can't see what's causing it even though it's All Around Him) and about the changes that mysteriously happen each day while he's in the field, which he only sees as he's coming in.

Add to that the fact that there's Something Worrying (possibly the stag?) up in the woods, and the fact that Mrs Next Door has been away, so The Horse Next Door has been bored/lonely/cold and so running along the fence as we walk down the road (asking to come in for dinner as well) and bringing him in from the field hasn't been a whole barrel of fun. He's getting really worked up and stressed, which isn't usual and can't be good for him At His Age. I called the vet today, and they've posted me a sedative to try (one that's usually used before clipping nervous horses). I have to go out and feed it to him half an hour before he comes in, but if it breaks the stress cycle then it'll be worth the hassle. Hopefully the landscape plumbers will be done by the end of this week, but she's talking about having a new drive put in as well....

(The landscape plumbers are rather terrifying. I'm forever seeing one of them in a hole in the ground while the other one is digging it with a back hoe. Plus the one in charge not only looks 'im from from Twin Peaks but apparently is called Bob as well....)
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Bloody animals

♥Mar. 10th, 2016 // 02:17 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1146930.html]

This morning, Mike being at work, I groomed the boys (took a while to get a certain blue-eyed boy scraped clean, as ever) and then took them round to the school to ride. It was a five-sigh session.... )
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Things for today

♥Mar. 1st, 2016 // 01:57 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1143972.html]

My parents have been to visit this weekend: we set my father to work doing DIY, and my mother was discovered cleaning the kitchen windows about half an hour after she arrived, so I guess they had a good time...?

My father has an Android tablet, which he waved at us in a 'make it work' sort of way. I've put an ad blocker on it for him, but was stumped by an email problem. He has two accounts set up on it, and if he creates a new message then he has a drop-down in the from field where he can choose which account to use, as I'd expect. If he's replying to or forwarding an email, though, there's no dropdown and he can only send it from the same account that the original email was sent to. Was I missing something, or is the default mail client crap and, if so, what's a better one for him to use?

Last night, we went to the Granville, which used to be run by some people whose *other* pub had a Michelin star. It's changed management, though, and is now serving food that is (by local standards) just perfectly ordinary pub food: rather disappointing.

I was pleased that it was dry while they were here, as it meant that the kitchen floor stayed reasonably clean. Today has been making up for it, however. Bugs, who had been looking positively clean, was covered in mud within about a minute of going into the field. We poo picked the field this morning, and when we'd finished GB saw us heading for the gate and came charging down the hill (Bugs came too and beat him to the bottom) before skidding to a halt against the gate and looking pleadingly at me. We left them out there, but I looked up a bit before noon and saw them both standing by the gate looking pathetic, so now they're tucked up in their stables again. (It has actually stopped raining, now, but there's a nasty wind and (Mike's in London) I don't fancy bringing them in through the mud for a second time on my own, so I think they can just stay inside.
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Bunnies are safe

♥Feb. 18th, 2016 // 07:45 pm
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[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1142295.html]

Having said that she'd come tomorrow to see Bugs, his former owner then emailed to say that she wouldn't: she was sure he was well looked after, no need to travel all that way, etc.

Fair enough, we thought. Probably for the best, given I was a little worried. Probably someone pointed out that there wasn't much that she could do if she wasn't happy with where he is now anyway.

Then Mike realised that she'd said in her email that she wished us luck getting the passport signed over to us, when he hadn't actually said anything about it to her. Presumably she did a bit more digging in Mike's LJ and found mine, and my previous post.

(If that's the case, and you're checking back, Former Owner, you have pretty much shown you're not a bunny boiler! Please feel free to check back here or here to see future posts about him, and feel free to ask if you have questions!)

(Ooh, typoing that second link has revealed that [livejournal.com profile] flick has been purged. Do I want to rename? Hmm. Thoughts? Can't find anything in the help files to confirm that it wouldn't damage my perm account status, though I'm sure it wouldn't.... There is an auto-redirect option, though not sure how long it lasts for if someone then signs up for the same username.)

This evening, Mike being at work (well, the dentist actually), and it having rained this morning, I rode the boys on the way in from the field. In retrospect, leaving GB munching grass by the school while I took Bugs to the stableyard was a mistake (I did call him, and he did look up and see what was going on): by the time I'd tied Bugs up he was screaming, and there was no point even trying to actually lead him in rather than letting him run along on his own after I went back and opened the gate for him....
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Internet stalker!

♥Feb. 13th, 2016 // 08:28 pm
[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1141174.html]

Not us: Bugsy.

Mike had an LJ message last night, from someone who'd set up an account just to send it: she was Bugsy's last-but-two owner, and had lost track of where he'd got to, so she (we assume) did a Google Image search for horses called Bugsy and found a post Mike made shortly after we got him. (Much easier to do when you're looking for such a distinctive horse!)

It turns out that she sold him, when she went to Uni, to a woman who evented him until she had a baby and sold him to the girl we got him from. She was very unhappy when she found out where he'd ended up (I'd love to have the story in full, but it sounds she already had a bad opinion of the girl we bought him from, and then she turned up at the yard one time to find him looking poorly, so she tried to buy him back but was refused), and was hoping he was somewhere better now.

We've said she can come and see him if she wants, and she says she'd like to. If nothing else, we can get her to sign the paperwork to transfer his passport into our names: we'd been putting it off because we had no way of contacting the last name in it (her mother's), and (with the brand of passport he has) it's a faff to do if you don't get the last official owner's signature.
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Diversions and alarums

♥Jan. 28th, 2016 // 12:32 pm
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[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1136106.html]

Mike's in London working so, as I often do on such days, this morning I led both of the boys down to the school to put them through their paces.

Whenever I do this, I stop outside the school, let them both go, close the gates to stop them getting out, and then reclaim the one who's going first and take him into the school. I do this safe in the knowledge that they will go "ooh, grass" rather than "ooh, the chance to ESCAPE". This morning, for reasons best known to my subconscious, I took them into the school before letting them go.

They looked at the floor, briefly, to check for grass, and then Bugs wandered off to the other end of the school to stare down the valley. I sighed, started to go after him, and then got diverted by the fact that GB, ignoring the fact that he was wearing a saddle, had decided that this was a good time to lie down and have a nice roll. Then Bugs decided that the view down the valley wasn't sufficiently diverting and decided that he'd like to perform a complex series of acrobatic manoeuvres, preferably without touching the ground.

GB, by this time, had realised that something was interfering with his rolling, and so performed his own aerial acrobatics in an attempt to remove the obstruction. After a little while, he stopped and lay down on the other side to see if that worked better. It didn't, so he joined back in with Bugs.

I sighed and went back out of the school to close the gates.

Round and round they went, until GB got tired of it and came to stand apologetically by the gate. Bugs, however, was enjoying himself too much, so he came charging back to the gate himself and off they went again. And again. And again.

Eventually, I was quick enough to nip in and remove GB before Bugs realised I was spoiling the fun and, by the time I'd taken GB's saddle off and reattached it on the top of his back, rather than under his belly*, Bugs had also come to stand by the gate and look innocent.

* Bugs was going first, so I'd left the girth very slack, but I was still quite impressed.

I started off lunging Bugs (still not riding him when I'm on my own, Just In Case) with a certain amount of trepidation, in case he decided that he'd been having such fun that he wanted to carry on, but actually he was good as gold: I guess he'd worked his fidgets out. When I was done, I put his rug back on and discovered that he'd managed to break the clip on one of the straps. This was particularly impressive given that (as he was only supposed to be wearing it for a short, sedate walk to the school) I'd not actually fastened that strap.

There was also a little trepidation when I go on GB, in case he'd done himself an injury, but he seemed to be fine and, given that he'd recently been charging about the place like something a tenth of his age, I figured he could work a bit harder than usual and we had a good session.

Note to self: just leave them outside to eat the grass next time, ok?
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Animal update

♥Jan. 24th, 2016 // 11:15 am
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[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1135608.html]

Another promising session with Bugs this morning: it was foggy here, and fog is frequently Scary, so I decided I'd just lunge him and not risk climbing on board, but actually I think we would have been ok. Even before we got to the school, a pheasant flew out under his nose and he just looked at it worriedly, rather than throwing himself around in panic. In the school, he directed a couple of suspicious looks down the valley at the fog but then settled down quite well. We had one unauthorised canter, but only three or four steps, and another where something worried him and he was about to go but didn't, which is really good: he's starting to use his brain. The halts were vary variable: two or three were spot on perfect, two or three (especially towards the end, when his brain was getting tired) were really ropey, the rest were somewhere in between.

Mike rode GB, and wasn't terribly happy with him. It's harder for me to watch him when I'm lunging than when I'm riding, and what I did see was pretty variable. I'll have a short lesson on him on Tuesday, though, so we'll see how he is then.

Three of the ducks keep getting into the field, which is annoying. Esk is a good girl and stays in the stableyeard, squawking in an annoyed tone at being left alone. (Actually, I suspect it may just be that she's the biggest of them and can't fit under the gate.) I did put another piece of chicken wire on the gate yesterday, but they got back through it anyway. Mike's muttering about hooking the chicken wire up to the portable electric fence energiser....

And Jo is her usual lovely self, if slightly badger-y at present!
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♥Jan. 16th, 2016 // 04:16 pm
[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1133719.html]

I've just had a really positive session on Bugs, which is really heartening after the trouble we've been having: I've gone very much back to basics with him, and it seems to be having results.

We started off with a bit of lunging, which went fairly well: he's getting better at halting and standing still, rather than coming in towards me (which is probably what he was trained / allowed to do before), and there wasn't a hint of running off (even when he spooked slightly at a dust mote, he just trotted faster).

Then I climbed on board, and straight away got a nice walk and trot with minimal nagging. He spooked once, started to strike off for a mad dash canter, and then changed his mind almost before I'd had time to react, and later on he stiffened up as though something had scared him but just carried on trotting again: really good progress!

I didn't canter him, because I didn't want to risk spoiling a good session when he was a bit twitchy already (the light was going, and it's cold!), but I'm really pleased with how he's getting on.
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♥Dec. 29th, 2015 // 08:27 pm
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Sofa. Gin. Tonic. Home-grown lemon. Happy pooch.

(We've just got back from dinner out, as Mike was feeling Sick Of Cooking. We went to the Mexican place in Canterbury, which was absolutely rammed when we got there and barely less so when we left: they had people waiting at the bar for couples tables. If we'd known, we probably would have just gone to the pub but, in fact, the food arrived so quickly that I assumed they'd brought it to the wrong table and it never took more than about thirty seconds of staring at the till/kitchen entrance before our waitress dashed over to help, which I was very impressed by given that she said they were as surprised as we were by the numbers.)

This morning, we had our somewhat disrupted riding lessons: I did twenty minutes on GB, and then our instructor spent half an hour seeing how Bugs did with being lunged (which she thinks will help him). As expected (and the reason we got her to do it first), as soon as she started he went "time to run around like a loon!", but she did manage to get him being mostly calm after a while, so we now just need to keep working on it: five or ten minutes each time we're going to ride him.
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Stupid animals

♥Dec. 23rd, 2015 // 06:49 pm
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Both of the boys have been idiots, today.

This morning, we managed to get them into the field but only in the top part. After we'd let them go and put the fence across the middle to keep them up there, I was standing keeping an eye on Bugs while Mike squelched down to connect the fence to the power, just in case he decided to make a break for it.

We think that he didn't realise I'd closed the temporary 'gate', and thought he could make a break for it and get to some tastier grass: all of a sudden, he came charging down the hill towards me, which meant that he was going much too fast to successfully slam the brakes on when he realised he was going to hit the fence.... It bowed out in an alarming way when he skidded into it, but fortunately the tape didn't snap. It was probably also fortunate that Mike was still a few seconds away from turning the power on, because Bugs was already terrified enough without getting zapped!

This afternoon, we decided to ride them down the lane and back before taking them for a spin in the school (partly because Jo had only had a short walk, as we were worried about the light going). GB was a bit fretful as we went out, being worried about something in the woods, but nothing too bad and Bugs was as happy as he ever is. We got to the turning around point, and I pointed Bugs back towards home. Mike got about three quarters of the way through turning GB when he suddenly took off and fled up the field: most uncharacteristic behaviour! Fortunately, Mike did All The Right Things, and I managed to keep hold of Bugs so GB stopped fairly quickly (he doesn't like to run off on his own).

We've no idea what set him off, but I do note that he's been looking fretfully at that patch of woods for a few months now, and we've had an occasional spook when he's been on the way in from the field and turned to corner to face it. One of Mrs Next Door's dogs got very fretful about going outside after dark, around this time last year, and she thought she'd seen glowing eyes up there one night. I do wonder if there might be a wild boar up there. I do rather hope that there isn't.

(As a general rule, horses are scared stiff of pigs, because wild boar are dangerous. GB is actually ok with pigs, as he used to see them on the farm, but it's the only thing I can think of.)

ION, my parents kept talking up Lee Child's Jack Reacher books, and in the end I said "send them to me, then". They are absolute, unmitigated, implausible tosh, full of ludicrous conspiracies with even more ludicrous foreshadowing (none of which is remotely relevant to the even *more* ludicrous leaps of intuition that Our Hero takes in order to solve the case), and have the unfortunate habit of starting the climactic scene about three quarters of the way through the book, which has resulted in severe damage to my sleep patterns lately. (I was really quite glad to spend a few days reading the less compelling books I'd bought with my Amazon credits, as it let me catch up on my rest.) While they were here, my mother reported that one of them ended on a cliff-hanger without you knowing if he was dead or alive (although the presence of a further five or six books does rather give the game away). We also worked out that she was reading them completely out of sequence, though, so I didn't really think much of it. I've just finished that one and, on going to Wikipedia to check what the next title is, discovered that that was the last of the ones that they gave me.... Fortunately, Amazon has provided.

I had been assuming that "K-turn" was an OCR error for U-turn*, but it's very consistent: is it American for three point turn? (Mike says not, and either he or my father suggested it was an OCR error for J-turn, being a reverse-fast-then-use-the-momentum-to-swing-180-and-accellerate-away, but the K-turns don't seem that urgent, and anyway there is one of those and it just gets described and then has admiring noises made about the driving skill involved.)

* Some of them are a little dodgy, although infinitely better than some old SF books I've read OCR copies of. The best is the one where 'Glock' has been consistently rendered as 'Clock'. The bad guys keep making me laugh, when they pull out their Clocks and wave them threateningly at Our Hero.
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Oh, Bugs, you were doing so well....

♥Nov. 29th, 2015 // 04:43 pm
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Yesterday, we took the boys out for a little hack. It's rather muddy, so we went a different way to the usual one, more on the roads. Bugs was a bit nervous once we got past the places he's been to before, and started a couple of times at dust motes, but he didn't work himself up and calmed right back down once he was back on familiar ground.

Today, we took them in the school. It was very windy, so I didn't have high hopes for his behaviour (indeed, it was really Mike's turn to ride him but we thought it best to swap), and he was rather nervous at first but he settled down eventually so I thought I'd risk a canter. Absolutely perfect: instant reaction to the aid, lovely transition, nice steady pace, all the way around once and then a creditable circle at one end, didn't break down to trot until I asked him to. Brilliant.

We had a little rest while Mike cantered GB (I'm still being a bit careful with keeping Bugs under control and out of the way when GB's having a run) and then tried again in the other direction. Pretty good transition, started to get a bit fast at one point but came back down when I asked, all the way around nicely, asked for the circle and woosh. Up in the air, charging across the school. Sigh. On the plus side, this convinces me further that it's happening when he has a case of the don't-wannas, not because he's in any discomfort or struggling to actually canter. He doesn't like doing circles because his balance isn't quite there yet, I know that. I also know that he has to learn, so once I'd got him back under control we did another five, rather than the one he would have done if he'd behaved himself.

I also finally got around to giving GB a hair cut, so he looks much better now. I had tried last week (it had got to the flopping over stage) but couldn't find the big clippers, and the little once just aren't up to that enormous mane. Eventually, I asked Mrs Next Door if I could borrow hers, kinda hoping she's say "Yup, I'll get them, here you go" rather than the "Sure, I'll get them for you later" that was what I actually expected and got. When that hadn't done any good after a couple of days, I told Mike that we'd have to have a better look in the barn for them. "Here they are," he said. "Those are the little ones!" "No, they're the big ones. I wonder where the little ones are...?"

That bloody blue tit's still around, and he's got a mate to join in as well, now. Fortunately, they seem to be splitting their time between the living room and the study, so at least it's not continuous!

Baby Next Door's quilt is very nearly finished, I just need to do the hand-sewn side of the binding. However, my hands are objecting to the fact that I used the clippers and then did an hour of neatening up the quilting around the animals, so I think that will have to wait for another day.
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♥Nov. 24th, 2015 // 05:45 pm
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It's been a bit damp, today. It was supposed to stop by about 10am, but actually we had very heavy, soaking drizzle until about noon and then occasional showers for the rest of the day.

Mike was in France for the first part of the day, so I was on my own doing the horses (and gossiping with Mrs Next Door; she really needs to give up a bad job and find a new bloke, poor thing). When I'd done, and had lunch, and the rain was showing no signs of stopping I brought the horses back in and fed them hay: the field's getting a bit worryingly sodden, and it's very muddy near the gate, so it seemed like a good plan. Mike's in London tomorrow, but on Thursday I think we'll have to rig up a fence across the middle so that they have to stay at the top.

After he got back, we had a quick ride: I don't like having them cooped up inside, and if we'd left it until tomorrow then I'd have had to ride both of them. GB was a good boy for a rather weary Mike. Bugs was being a good boy for me (if his usual lazy self at first) but then, between the first and second canters, suddenly started tossing his head about as though he was really irritated. If it hadn't been November, I'd have said he had a horsefly on his face. As it is November, the only thing I can think of is that it had just started to rain a bit, and either he really doesn't like working in the rain or he thought the drops were flies. Either way, I decided safe was better than sorry and cancelled the second canter.
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Novacon and coming back home

♥Nov. 16th, 2015 // 04:22 pm
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That was Novacon, that was.

I had a nice time, although some of it involved drinking too much. I did have some epic lie-ins, though, so result there! Very glad we left before people started plotting Eastercons and Worldcons, though. Got a reasonable amount of sewing done, which was good. I even went to the art show and bought a book from a dealer!

We had a very good run home, so somewhat surprised the sitter before she was ready for us. Jo was, as ever, very pleased to see us, though. "It sounds like she's eating you!" the sitter said as she put her boots on to come outside and say hello. Today, I am somewhat grumpy with her (the sitter, that is), though: she's obviously not actually read the notes we left her, just done stuff based on what she remembers having done before, some of which has changed and some of which she's mis-remembered. I don't think that the bird feeders have been filled while we were away, but the ducks had a big pile of nicely mixed poo and corn on their floor where she'd over-fed them but not cleaned up the poo properly, for example. I also suspect that she's not included the weight of the nets when doing the boys' hay, because the ones I put in last night felt heavy and GB didn't finish his. Sigh. We'll have to Have A Word next time she's here.

She said GB felt a bit off when she rode him, which was worrying. She didn't ride Bugs (we'd told her she might be safer lunging him, and it was very windy so he would have been hard work anyway): he had a terrific time leaping around and throwing his heels up in the air, so I think she made the right call. When we went to poo pick this morning, GB looked very lame in his bad leg, which worried me even more. I think he must have just tweaked it shortly before we went out, though, because I got on him this afternoon and he was a little stiff but basically fine. After I'd decided that, we swapped horses and I gave Bugs a bit of a run: no problems, thankfully.
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♥Nov. 10th, 2015 // 05:33 pm
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This week, one of the "done a bit before" women didn't come to the needle felting class, so I suspect she's decided it's too noddy and jacked it in. The instructor remembered that there was a form we were all supposed to complete last week. Just as we were packing up, she remembered another one and promised we'd do it next week. It's only a three week course, so I hope for her sake that that's all the paperwork....

Today I finished my birdie, and made the little spherical robin I'd been originally planning to do as well:

It took about a quarter or fifth as long, and I much prefer it!

This afternoon, we rode (thankfully getting it done before the rain arrived). It wasn't a terribly positive session: GB's dodgy leg was dodgy, so I was worried about him, and then Mike couldn't really get Bugs to canter on a circle (Bugs doesn't like cantering on a circle-- his balance isn't quite up to it--so it's hard work to get him to do it. Because his balance isn't quite up to it, he can't go running off, so Mike feels safer that way and wants to work up to going all the way around the school when he feels he can trust Bugs to behave on a circle. It's a wee bit Catch 22-ish) so I jumped on him for the last five minutes. I had to give him a bit of a kick to get it, but he did as he was told. Then I tried in the other direction, and got what was very definitely a "don't /wanna/" buck out of him. Made him do it anyway, trotted for a bit, asked him to canter again and he did with no bother, so I told him he was a good boy and stopped on a good note. I wish I could figure out what's going on in his head. We're going to suggest that the sitter lunge rather than ride him this weekend....
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Tired Flick

♥Nov. 4th, 2015 // 04:58 pm
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I was quite tired yesterday, but today I am really rather knackered.

Today, we did the horses and attacked some leylandii, and then I went to Pilates. While I was there, the horses' dentist came to check them both (and pronounced them both fine, which is always good to hear).

Then we had lunch, and I took Jo for her walk, and did laundry, and then I sat down for half an hour, and then we went out, groomed and rode the horses and then put them to bed.

Bugs was doing so well, until he had a small attack of the don't wannas when I asked him for a second nice canter. So after I got him back under control I made him do a much longer nice canter than I otherwise would have. I hope that this isn't going to be a permanent thing: in theory, if he keeps doing it and it keeps failing to achieve his objective then he should stop.... My back is still a bit sore from his Moment the other week (which probably isn't helping with the knackered), and I suspect that, small though they are, these little bucking fits aren't helping it to get better.

Then I did some charity stuff. (I've got out of going to the boxing night! Yay!)

And now I would like to just stay here on the sofa, please. Rather than going and emptying the dishwasher. Say.

Tomorrow, on the plus side, there will be no leylandii to drag across the lawn and stack up by the bonfire. On the minus side, that's because Mike's in town again. He'll be at the ton for a bit, though, so some of you will probably see him there.

Here, have a picture of a cute little moss-and-Jodie-hair nest that Mike found in a leylandii:
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Trees and things

♥Nov. 1st, 2015 // 04:14 pm
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This morning, after some mist first thing, we decided to take advantage of the lovely weather (riding in a t-shirt in November!) and walk the boys down the lane and back before we took them in the school. I'm pleased to report that Bugs was only a little nervous, trying to see if there were any cows around. Then we took them in the school for a bit, which went almost entirely well: for reasons best known to himself, on his second canter Bugs decided to throw a couple of bucks and then try to run away with me. They were, as I told Mike, very *smooth* bucks, and my bum never actually left the saddle. I think that it was just high spirits: we've been being quite careful with him, and when we *have* cantered him since his little Moment we've been quite careful to have him very firmly held back. Today, though, I was letting him have his head, and he decided to make use of that! Still, no harm done.

This afternoon, there has been a raking of leaves and a chainsawing of leylandii (Mike did indeed console himself over his loss by buying himself a bigger one). The first one was very tricky, because Mike had to cut his way through to it, but the second and third, which he did today, went much more quickly and were removed in much bigger chunks. Interestingly, two of the three he's got out, and at least the next one along, are completely rotted through the main truck, which does make me wonder if the whole hedge isn't on the verge keeling over anyway.

Given what a lovely sunny day it was, I had planned on taking a nice picture of the house, on the way back from walking Jo, to show the recent changes (and the relatively tiny bit of leylandii hedge that's no longer there!). But then the mist came back down, and indeed kept coming: we moved the electric fence for the first time this evening, and couldn't actually see from one end to the other to check that the line was straight.

So, instead, have a nice picture of his grumpiness that Mike took this morning:

And duck bath-time:

(Which reminds me: I've been steadfastly refusing to upgrade the LJ iPhone app from 1.2.3, because the newer version was so horribly broken the two times that I tried it (and I've seen so many reports of it doing bloody stupid things, like removing all the apostrophes or capitalising the first letter of each word in a post). However, for the past several months I've been unable to upload images to scrapbook using it. Given that's the only thing that I do use it for, does anyone use the current version? How is it, these days?)
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Oh, the excitement. With qualifications.

♥Oct. 23rd, 2015 // 02:44 pm
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This morning, I rode Bugs, who was a bit nervous to start off with but calmed down fairly quickly. (This is not the exciting part, by any means.)

While I was doing so, I tried to figure out what the small lorry that had disgorged a small gaggle of hi-viz-wearing people was doing, stopped randomly in the road a little way off. I did worry that it was the bin lorry, broken down, but eventually decided (and later confirmed, when they came further along and stopped near our house) that they were actually fixing the road! Very exciting, although we haven't yet had a chance to see what they've fixed it with. Given that, further along, they've cleared away a pile of washed-down-the-hill crap that I reported a little while ago, I have a slight fear that I might know what they've shovelled into the pot holes. Mike says I'm just being cynical, though.

(And, of course, the fact that they'd put a sign at the end of the road saying "Long delays likely" meant that the bin lorry crew went "meh, sod that" and didn't actually turn up....)

I was also wondering, as I rode and then mucked out, where the Aga Guys were: the Nice Man From Aga had promised me that we were their first job of the day, but apparently lied as they didn't get here until noon. Fortunately, this wasn't a problem: the decorator had already said he wouldn't come until tomorrow, and they and the electricians (who arrived at about the same time) were working in different places.

It turns out that Agas of A Certain Vintage are insulated with magic pixie dust. You can tell that it's magic pixie dust because it's so teeny tiny that it just goes right through the filter on a vacuum cleaner. It also hangs in the air beautifully, thus ensuring that the layer of pinkish dust that covers every flat surface in your nice big open-plan kitchen/dining room is even throughout. That was terribly exciting, in a sweary sort of way.

Not to be out-done, the electricians reported exciting rodent damage to some of the electrical cables running through the ceiling, as well as needing unscheduled emptying of part of not-a-loo, rearrangement of the study, and emptying of the fridge. On the plus side, they also temporarily took up some of the carpet upstairs and we have *lovely* floorboards. On the minus side, that's in the old bit of the house, so we still don't know what it's like downstairs or in the new bit, but it does lend encouragement to the vague plan to take up the downstairs (and, possibly, now, upstairs hall) carpets.

Pleasingly, behind the Aga is in much better shape than we'd feared, with barely any need to chip away plaster, so the decorator's job for this weekend will hopefully be nice and quick.

They didn't all clear off until gone 5pm, so by the time we'd (mostly) put things back where they belong and wiped away the dust we took an executive decision to go to the pub for dinner. Rabbit ragu was a bit of a win.

In between times, we've been reading the new Miles novel. That's quite exciting, too, but I shan't do spoilers.
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Old pains and new

♥Oct. 20th, 2015 // 05:54 pm
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We're both feeling much better, now, and only a little achy. Unfortunately, Mike's decided to celebrate this with one of the worst migraines he's had in a while, with none of his usual triggers in anything he's eaten, which is odd and very unpleasant for him.

This morning, I Got Back On The Horse. He was rather nervous at first, even though there weren't any cows nearby (or possibly because he was waiting for them to pop up out of nowhere), but he did calm down eventually. I decided to play it safe, though, so we mostly walked with a little trotting, tucked away in the centre of the the school where it's safe(er).
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'Thud!' goes the human!

♥Oct. 17th, 2015 // 02:37 pm
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And 'thud!' goes the other human!

Yes, Bugs has been having a fun time of things today.

He was a bit unhappy when Mike rode him out to the school, because there were cows around half of it, but he was calming down nicely, so I carried on riding GB and left them to it. I was giving GB his first canter, and Mike kindly moved off the edge of the school so that I could have space. As we went past, I heard rather more rapid footfalls behind, and stopped GB just as Mike went 'thud'. Bugs had apparently thought "GB is running away from the cows! Must go with him!" (even though we were all going *towards* them. Sigh) and set off with a nice buck or two to catch up.

Mike was feeling a bit sore, so I got him loaded up on GB to have a walk around and climbed on Bugs myself. It seemed to be going ok, so we had a little trot, and then I asked for canter at the furthest point away from the cows. Which was just by the gate. Where, as she always does, Jodie was waiting for us to finish being inexplicable and pay some attention to her again. "Argh!" went Bugs, who is a bit of a drama queen when he gets himself worked up, "First cows everywhere and now an enormous wolf is lying in wait for me!" and 'woosh' I went, flying off and around in a big arc on the end of the reins. Until they snapped, and I went 'thud' flat on my back. Which wasn't very pleasant.

Took GB's reins off his bridle and put them on Bugs's and climbed back on again. He did eventually calm down, and we had a little canter well away from either cows or wolves, and then I decided that that was very much Enough and we put them in the field.

I did a bit of rather slow mucking out until Mike asked me to take him to Minor Injuries, then finished it off after they sent him home again with instructions to rest. He has a very sore foot, and various other aches and pains. My back is mostly ok when I'm moving about but stiffens up rather when I stop. Who knows what state we'll be in tomorrow? Could be fun....
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Winter pasture

♥Oct. 8th, 2015 // 03:53 pm
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This morning, we took the boys out for a short hack, and met several pheasants. Bugs is still very much not keen, but on the plus side he didn't actually try to spin around and flee today. Then again, he wasn't in front, so not sure if it's real progress or not. Jo was very helpfully running on ahead and flushing them before the boys got too close, but she didn't manage to catch any of today.

(I'm half-seriously wondering about getting a recording of 'pissed off pheasant taking off from inside a bush' and playing it at him in his stable.)

After we'd done that, we put them in the summer pasture and took down the electric fence there, brought it back down the hill and set it up again in our field. We've just come in from moving the boys back down so that they can have a few hours here before they come in for the evening. They were very unimpressed to be coming in so early, until they got out there and saw All That Grass. Our field's looking really well for having had almost three months to rest.

It's been soggy lately, so Jo hadn't had a good brush for a while and she was a bit of a mess. Mike gave her a good brush this morning, ready for her trip to the vet tomorrow, so inevitably she acquired a load of small burrs on the hack, waded into and lay down in a big muddy puddle on the way back, and rolled in badger poo while we were taking the fence down. Sigh. I guess she'll be having another brush later: at least she's dry!

(She's going to have her teeth cleaned tomorrow. I suspect that in practice they could just give her a sedative shot and have me hold her still, but policy is to knock them out to have it done. As Mike's back into London for the day, I shall be really All Alone for the day.)
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Three things

♥Aug. 8th, 2015 // 10:55 am
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1) We had the saddler out on Thursday, and she fitted Baby's old saddle to Bugs: he's muscled up enough that the one he came with (which we never liked much anyway) didn't fit any more. I was a wee bit nervous about getting on him today (after what happened last time his saddle was tweaked), so had Mike hold him for me and was very careful when I sat down, but he was absolutely fine, and does seem to be moving better in the 'new' saddle.

2) Made passata!

3) Hot air balloons overhead, as we were putting the boys to bed. One of them came down just over the hill from us, presumably in the enormous field that was combined a week or so ago.
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♥Jul. 20th, 2015 // 02:23 pm
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Off to the hospital this afternoon, to start the (double blind) ultrasound trial on my wrists. Before we started, the consultant did more measurements and said my nerves were at 11mm on the right and 9mm on the left. This was with a different machine to last time (when I got 9mm on both), and it usually gives results that are about a mm smaller than the other one does.

Then I had goop poured on my right wrist and had it ultrasounded for fifteen minutes. I suspect that we're going to get low on small talk by the end of this. It's a bit stiff now, but that could just as easily be because I had to hold it still while someone rubbed it with a lump of plastic for fifteen minutes....

On the pony front, since GB got his hat off (twice: I left it on him overnight to try and stop him from rubbing his eyes) I've been deliberately tangling it up in his headcollar and leaving them both on him all the time, which seems to be working: he's not had it off again, and while they're still a bit sore-looking and weepy they're not nearly as bad as they were either on Saturday or for a large chunk of last summer. I think Bugs may have had a lightbulb moment, because we've gone from "fight for a couple of circuits of the school to get me to loosen the reins before grudgingly doing three steps with his head in the correct position" to "hold head up in the air for a quarter of a circuit and then go all the way around with it correct, only stopping when I let go". He's coming on really well.
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♥Mar. 20th, 2015 // 10:12 am
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"Hmm... looks like it's going to start throwing it down.... Oh, wait, no, it's the eclipse."

ION, this morning Bugface briefly studied the electric fence and then walked under it again. So I went and put a grazing muzzle on him: he's not terribly impressed.
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Fear the mighty FEDGE!

♥Mar. 19th, 2015 // 04:36 pm
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After a fair bit of consideration, and comparison of prices, we decided what we were going to do to replace the leylandii hedge that we chopped down in the back garden. There is a stock netting fence there as well, but a) it's fairly ugly and b) half the posts are rotted through, meaning that it would be pretty ineffective at preventing a theoretical* horse invasion of the garden.

This afternoon, then, we 'planted' (for values of planting that involve sticking a conveniently sized bit of metal in the ground to make a hole and then poking one of four different colours of twig into said hole) a fedge, wot is a cross between a fence and a hedge. Apparently, the willow will grow 6' in the first year, after which you chop it down to a more sensible height so that it thickens up. Apparently, if you tie the stems together where they cross, they graft onto each other and make a nice sturdy structure. Apparently, it establishes more quickly if you put a weed barrier under it for the first couple of years. Apparently, we'll be able to pull the old fence down Real Soon Now. Apparently....

* Guess who got into the wrong part of the field again this afternoon....?
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Ow, you bugger....

♥Mar. 4th, 2015 // 01:20 pm
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This morning, Mike rode GB and I rode Bugs. Eventually.

He waited until I had just touched his back, but before I actually had both feet in the stirrups, before going off like a loon. Mike reports that I managed to sit through the first two bucks but the third was my undoing. I had thought I'd successfully thrown myself onto my side coming down, which the grazed elbow seemed to support, but my coccyx reports otherwise. And I chipped a nail, mutter.

Then he ran/bucked his way around the school a few times, miraculously not catching a leg in his reins, and eventually decided he'd had enough and would consent to be caught.

Once I was on him the second time, he did go really nicely. Not sure if that was the running around or the saddler, but I suspect the latter: he felt much less downhill in the canter.

Then we put him in the field, and in the time it took me to go into the house, give Jo her breakfast and go upstairs to set the camera up he was on the wrong side of the fence again. Sigh.

On the plus side, since we went and moved him back to the right side he's not tried it again: I suspect that he must have scared himself getting through it and decided it's not worth it. I've decided that if he does it again then he can stay there but he's getting a grazing muzzle.

Jo, poor thing, went under the fence to her toilet patch quite successfully but then got zapped on the way back through. Unfortunately, she panicked and ran back under the fence, so she was still on the wrong side of it. She did manage to make it back unscathed for a big cuddle.
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♥Mar. 3rd, 2015 // 12:21 pm
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This morning, it rained quite a bit, so we waited until after Pilates to make a decision on putting the boys out in the field.

(Pilates sucked, big time. The class is nominally 9:30-10:30, but is usually more like 9:40-10:45; this must annoy the people in the next class even more than it does me. Today, though, she spent until 10:05 (not that I was watching the clock) telling us about a new book she's reading. At least when my old riding instructor used to go on about a new book she was reading, you could ride around in a circle while she was doing it, and try out the things she mentioned. I really hope that it's not going to be a regular thing. *And* the actual class, what little there was of it, was dull and easy. Bah.)

We decided that they could go out, but just in the top half of the field. Half an hour later, we looked out of the window to see Bugs in the bottom half, but decided that at least this meant that they weren't chasing each other around and churning the place up.

Then we looked out again, just before we took Jo for her walk, and found him on the unused part of the field.... Mike went and captured Bugs and brought him back to where he should be (for 'at least they aren't chasing each other around' values of 'should') and we let him go again. Bugs walked over to the wire, ducked his head and walked back under the fence to the fallow part. I've been saying for a while that I didn't think the fence there was working properly, because I've seen Baby sticking his head right under it so that it rests on his mane, so Mike went and recaptured Bugs while I deployed sophisticated measuring equipment (aka the back of my hand) to determine that there was no current in the bottom strand of the fence on that side of the field (the other side and the top strand are fine. Given that it's a continuous piece of wire, there must just be a break in it), which we fixed by tying a spare bit of tape between the two strands. Testing showed that it was live, so we let him go again.

This time, he walked over to the fence and then pulled back when he realised that it was live. Then, I swear, he paused to get his timings (it's a periodic pulse, not a continuous thing), ducked his head and walked quickly back under the fence to the fallow part.

We only have two strands to our electric fence, because that's all you need for horses other small ponies. The posts do have space for more, though, so we got the spare tape out and put another, lower strand in. Mike recaptured Bugs again, and after I'd put the power back on he let him go.

Bugs walked over to the fence, made a couple of 'will I fit?' motions under the bottom wire with his head, decided he wouldn't, trotted up the length of the fence to check it was like that the whole way, then took a small run up and (fairly) neatly popped over it. (He did clip it with a back foot, and pull some of it over, but it was quite a nice jump on awkward ground.)

We left him to it and took Jo for her walk, which was nice other than the hail shower. We realised after leaving the house that we should have put a grazing muzzle on him before we went out, so that he at least couldn't eat the tasty grass he'd escaped into.

When they come in this evening, the plan is to put a second line of tape about 1.5m from the first, in the hope that he'll decide that that's too far to jump. And, apparently, always *always* remember to turn it on....

(Why did we have no problems when he was out there in his little pen on his own? I suspect that it was because that was in the already-used part of the field, so the grass on the other side of the fence wasn't literally greener than what he was supposed to be eating. I have a nasty feeling that Bugs might be smarter than GB, in which case I fear for what he'll be like with a couple more decades of experience under his belt girth.)
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♥Feb. 19th, 2015 // 02:38 pm
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While I was riding this morning, a big lorry with various bits sticking out and towed behind went very slowly and carefully past the school. "Cor," I thought (whilst appreciating the care they were taking not to spook the horses), "I bet they regret having come down the hill!"

Only then they (equally carefully) went back again the other way about half an hour later. And, half an hour after that, I was mucking out when Mike reported that they were coming back down the hill with our Tesco delivery following after. When they got down the hill that time they just stopped and asked the Tesco guy where he was going next (reply: not back up the hill), before heading back up the hill. Tesco guy later told Mike that they were, wait for it, actually fixing the road! I deliberately went that way with Jo later, and they had indeed started work on the road. I couldn't actually see any bits that they'd fixed, but it was reassuring to see that they'd actually stripped the top layer off the whole width of the road at the place where they were currently working, rather than just patching it by sticking some tarmac in the holes ready to wash down the hill the next time it rains. We shall see!

Speaking of riding, this morning I took GB and Bugs in the school. I foolishly gave Mike the ok to take the Baby up to the field before I was actually sitting on GB's back, which meant that we had five minutes of screaming, foot stamping, dragging me around the yard, and so on before we managed to wrestle him into his bridle and get him to the mounting block. Once I was on him, he was fine other than a bit of a tendency to run down the road past the house so that he could see the Baby again. As soon as that happened, and we went in the school (so he knew he wasn't being Taken Away), he was all sweetness and light again. Well, other than a bit of face pulling when Mike brought Bugs over and tied him up next to the school ready for me to ride after GB.

Bugs was a bit stiff in the back end at first, but this may be just because he had his first hack with us yesterday (Mike rode the Baby, GB stood in the field and shouted his little head off the whole time we were away), and thus had to go up and down some hills: they're not very well stocked with hills on Thanet, so I wasn't surprised that he struggled a bit. He'll get used to it.

I just hope that GB does.
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