Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Hay Time!

Last week was pretty busy up at the farm. There was a lot of poo picking, a jumping lesson, a hack, a hay delivery and a spot of stable DIY!
Due to the weird wintry weather we experienced recently we thought we needed to stock up on hay ASAP before any more bad weather hits us. Due to the weather over the spring and summer this year it could mean there is a shortage of hay for the winter so this was another reason we wanted to stock up. The farm shop we normally buy our single small square bales of hay and straw from agreed to do us a bulk delivery. We spotted the farmer whilst we were on our hack and managed to sweet talk him into doing us a delivery. We ordered 30 square bales of hay and 5 square bales of straw. The hay is for the ponies to eat and the straw will be used as bedding for the two shelter stables. Sure enough the next day the farmer delivered us our order.
As you can see there were a lot of bales to move into the stable where we are storing them! We placed several pallets down on the floor; as if you laid the hay directly onto the concrete floor it would get damp and go mouldy. We then started stacking the bales inside the chosen storage stable. Once in we covered one side with some tarpaulin as one side of the stable roof leaks. I think we did a pretty good job at our improvised 'hay barn'.
We now feel much better about winter and the worse weather approaching as we feel prepared. We now don't have to worry about where we are going to get hay from when the weather turns or the ponies run out of grass. As well as sorting the hay we also upped security on the make shift stable 'feed room' as shown in the picture below.
Although there is nothing of any real monetary value on there, as we keep all tack etc. at home we did not want anyone including the horses to be able to gain access to the feed. Feed can be a dangerous thing to horses. If they eat too much they can colic and die. It won't go unnoticed that Betty decided to photo bomb the shot!!
As the weather was nice and Helen and I both had some time off work we decided to take the ponies for a jumping lesson at a local riding school. We managed to get booked in for a joint semi private lesson. I love showjumping, it is my favourite thing to do with Star. I don't like jumping very big however, I won't normally do more than about 65cm. Helen on the other hand can tackle much bigger jumps on Fella. The instructor we had opted to do a bounce jump lesson with us. Bounce jumps are when two or more jumps are placed in a row. They are a really good way to help horses with balance and can help slow a horse down on the approach to a fence. The instructor was brilliant, she had a great style of teaching and the arena was fabulous! We both really enjoyed the lesson as much as I think the horses did!
I think it is really important for both horse and rider to continue to have lessons as we never stop learning and it can stop bad habits from forming. It also helps to keep things interesting and is a great way to prepare for competitions. I think we are planning to take the ponies out to do some Christmas Showjumping in December so watch this space!!
Helen drove us to the riding school in her trailer. Helen got her a trailer and towing licence a number of years ago now. I am forever grateful to her for all the lifts she gives to Star and I, as without her we wouldn't be able to go anywhere. I think anyone who knows me will say it is a blessing I have never tried to get my towing licence as I think it's probably worrying enough to have me on the roads in a small car, never mind a 4x4 towing a horse trailer!!!!
The horses were quite excited to visit a new place and were very inquisitive of their unfamiliar surroundings. Below is a picture of them post lesson waiting to be loaded onto the trailer to go home for a nice roll and some chill out time in the field, which is exactly what they both did when we got back! 

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Weird Weather

This weekend we saw some rather bizarre weather up at the field. Saturday morning Helen checked on the ponies on her way to work at the ungodly hour of 5.30 am and said it was sleeting and snowing but it was quite wet so wasn't sticking. I awoke at 8.30 am to find it was snowing quite heavily so I decided to head up to the field. The picture below shows what I was greeted with upon my arrival.
Above is the road the field is on. I immediately decided to head to the Farm Shop to purchase a bale of hay and some emergency carrots. Luckily I currently have winter tyres on my car so I was able to quite easily get to the farm shop and back. The farm shop sells a variety of fruit and veg as well as hay, straw and horse feeds. It's only five minutes drive away so it is very handy to have, especially in emergencies! Once back at the field I shouted for the ponies. They were down at the bottom of the field instead of up at the top near the shelter!!! Common sense is not something our steeds seem to possess!!
Once I had shouted them they soon came up pretty quickly and headed straight for the hay and carrots I had placed out for them. I put three piles of hay out; one for Fella, one for Star and one for the miniatures to share. I also put a net up on the outside of the stable block. On top of each pile of hay I placed some carrots also. Fella was first to the hay. Being head of herd this was expected. 
He was closely followed by Star and Betty, then Barbara. Barbara is always last bless her. It doesn't help she is the smallest, but it's almost as if she is still figuring things out. Sometimes we wonder if she even knows she is a pony! Betty on the other hand is the complete opposite. She is everywhere and into everything, and has absolutely no concept of personal space. She regularly gets shooed away by Star and Fella, and occasionally even Barbara!!
Once the ponies were fed my next task was to crack the ice on the water trough. Next followed a rug change for Fella to a thicker one, as after all he is a Thoroughbred and lets face it they were not designed for English winters! Once Fella was sorted I removed Star's fly rug. After they had finished off all the carrots and had a taste of hay the herd decided it was time to retreat away from the shelter and back to the bottom of the field. I left the field feeling satisfied the herd would be fine until Helen visited them again in the afternoon after she had finished work. Believe it or not by the time Helen did arrive at the field the weather had made a sudden improvement and all the snow had literally disappeared!!!
It was as if it was winter in the morning and then back to Autumn in the afternoon. I wonder if this is a sign of a harsh winter to come.........The next day Helen and I were both off work so we headed out for a nice afternoon hack. It was very cold but there was no wind and the sun was out, so it made for a very pleasant ride out. Once we returned we discovered the reason behind the herd's eagerness to return to the bottom of the field. It seems the herd from the field next door has returned from their summer away.
 Our ponies, particularly Fella absolutely love to have 'Ned Natter' over the fence with them. It's quite nice actually to know they have company again over the winter. There are also a couple of new foals that have returned which are very cute to look at and a welcome distraction for Helen and I from the poo picking!

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Beach Day!

As Helen and I both had a free weekend and there were no shows we fancied competing in we decided to take Star and Fella to the beach this morning. We met at the farm at 9 am to get them ready for the road.

Neither of them seemed particularly impressed with the idea however, as exemplified by the ears back pose in the pictures! They weren't the only ones who were unimpressed by our intended plans. The miniatures were pretty miffed they were not being given the opportunity to partake! They stood watched and whinnied their way through the loading process.
After a successful loading of Star and Fella we set off on our trip to the beach. We are very lucky that both are very good loaders and travelers. It's very rare we have any issues with traveling either of them. Once we arrived at the beach their mood had improved greatly. 
We quickly got them unloaded and tacked up. Once mounted we headed for the beach! Out first attempt at access to the beach was a fail, but we soon found an entrance point. I think they were both a bit bothered by the sound of the waves to start with as neither of them would go near the sea! Star has been to the beach before so I knew she was just pretending to be scared, she is very good at that! Fella however, bless him wasn't just scared he was terrified!!! This is definitely the first time Helen has taken him to the beach. We have no idea if he was taken when he was racing but judging by his reaction today I would suspect this was maybe his first trip to the beach at the ripe old age of 12!!!!
When we arrived he would not go anywhere near the sea, but by the end of our ride Helen managed to get him to dip his toes in the ocean! Helen is a very accomplished rider, far better than I will ever be! She rode Fella incredibly well today as the little monkey even threw in a full on rear at one point that she sat to and managed to remain in the saddle despite losing a stirrup! 
The above picture was taken post rear. As you can see he seems very proud of his attempt to dump his mother!!!! Besides the initial 'fear' of the sea Star on the other hand took the whole ride literally in her stride! She's not a fan of water in general, but she did have a little dip in the sea towards the end of the ride after doing her token 'I will pretend to be scared' routine! 
I feel very lucky to live in the North East as it really is a beautiful part of the world. The coastline is simply stunning. I grew up in the North West quite close to a beach so it reminds me of home when I go to the beach, which I love. I never take anything for granted and count myself very lucky to be able to do the things we do with the ponies, such as taking them to the beach. 
The beach we were on this morning was gorgeous and a perfect coastal spot to take the ponies for a ride out. One thing we were very impressed with today was the dog walkers. Everyone was very considerate as we passed them. All the owners either put their dogs back on their leads, or got a hold of them whilst we passed. We did have one little follower at one point in the form of a very friendly little french bulldog, but he didn't bark or get aggressive he just followed us along for the ride until his owner caught up with him! 
Overall the ride was very enjoyable and it is definitely something we will be doing again in the future. The ponies certainly enjoyed it! We were lucky with the weather it was dry, warm and sunny with no wind. 
After the ride both of them needed a quick sponge off before we loaded them as it was very warm! Once we got back to the farm they both had several rolls which I am sure would have felt very satisfying for them. We were also greeted by two very noisy miniatures who were very glad to get their companions back! 

Sunday, 14 October 2018

The Troublesome Twosome!!

A year ago today we brought Betty and Barbara home. As I mentioned in a an earlier post we adopted them from an RSPCA rescue centre. We decided to adopt rather than private purchase as we really wanted to give something a second chance whilst donating to a charity at the same time. Our initial plan was to adopt one Shetland as a companion for Star and Fella when one of them was absent from the field. Both of them have a bit of an unhealthy attachment issue in that if either leaves the field for a ride alone, the other gets more than a tad upset. When I say more than a tad upset, I mean has a full on meltdown!!!! We initially had our eye on a standard black Shetland pony called Olly who was lovely. We did not end up adopting Olly as the purchase of the field did not complete on time so he ended up going to a lovely home down south instead. This also gave us time to rethink our decision of getting one companion as if both Star and Fella were out of the field then the one companion would be left alone, hence we decided to adopt two companions.
If I am honest I don't think Miniature Shetlands were Helen's first choice of companion pony but bless her like a trooper she went along with the search! Once the field had completed we went along to the rescue centre to have a look at some potential companions. If I am honest being only 5'1 myself I had always had a soft spot for Shetland ponies. I just loved how small and naughty they were!!! At the centre we had a choice of B and B or a mother and daughter pair. It was a really hard choice as both sets of ponies were absolutely gorgeous and so damn cute!!!! We took our friend Alex with us to help us decide and she made a really good point that as the other two were so confident in comparison to B and B they would probably find homes quicker. This really helped use to decide on choosing B  and B. We also chose them because of their backstory as well as the stories from the centre staff about the girls-one of them being that fact they were escaping each night into the boys field next door then putting themselves back into their field on a morning once they saw the staff arriving for work. We should have known then we were going to have trouble with keeping these two confined to a paddock!!!!

Above are pictures of the girls the day we went to view them.
Before we were allowed to adopt the girls an adoption worker had to come and check out the field, check the condition of Star and Fella, plus we were both interviewed and tested on our equine knowledge. We then had a 6 month check up visit followed by a later final visit when they were officially signed over to us.
Above is a picture of the girls the day we brought them home. As you can imagine they didn't end up staying in their assigned paddock for long! A couple of days after they arrived I remember getting a phone call from Helen at work to inform me Barbara had escaped and she had been trying to catch her for over an hour!!! The prospect of catching an 8h miniature pony in a 3 and a 1/2 acre is a little bit like trying to find a needle in a haystack. This became a repeated scenario over the coming weeks that became worse once Betty learned how to escape too!!!! It seemed an electric fence was no match for two miniature Shetlands! In the end we gave up and put them in the same paddock with Star and Fella to make our herd of four as shown in the picture below.
B and B originally came to us as Misty and Tilly. The staff at the shelter had named them as they came nameless from the place they had been rescued from. Those names just did not feel right so Helen let me go ahead and rename them!!! She really is a trooper!!! Barbara and Betty I feel just fit the girls so much more adequately. 
B and B have certainly brightened up our lives and have provided extra company for Star and Fella. We are never short of stories to tell about their misbehaving and antics. Most recently we had the vet booked to give them their injections. We had already spent over an hour trying to catch Barbara to no avail, even the vet joined in when he arrived. So picture the scenario myself, Helen and Nick our vet- an ex army major I might add running around with a lunge line trying to catch an 8h pudding on legs!!! After a rope burn and an 'a over t' fall for one of us we respectfully retired and rescheduled the appointment with Nick. Sure enough the moment Nick's car drove away the little madam came over onto the yard!!!!!
It has been a slow process gaining the girls trust after the abuse they have had from their previous owner. Betty is certainly the more outgoing of the two, you literally can't get rid of her now, she is like a shadow! We are hopeful she will become a great little lead rein pony for our friends' and families children and eventually our own to ride. Barbara is taking longer to fully tame however. Although catching her is getting easier we still have a way to go with her. We would love to eventually get the girls out into the community to perhaps do some 'pets as therapy' work with them. 
Our greatest achievement to date with them was taking them to an in hand show over the summer. Betty embraced it but Barbara was less enthused!!!
Overall it has been a great year with B and B and we are very grateful to the RSPCA for rescuing them and allowing us to adopt them. The work that they do with all animals is outstanding and long may it continue as without them who knows what would have happened to our two little devils!!!!

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Thoughtful Thursday

I had some spectators watching me poo pick this evening at the field. They seemed very interested in what I was doing! I wish they could have helped me as it's tiring poo picking after a full day at work.
I was however happy to keep the cows entertained, as they do say its always a good thing to stay on the right side of the neighbours!
Once I had finished clearing the field of that beautiful brown stuff the ponies were very clear in letting me know they were ready for their tea! Star and Fella both get a small feed as Fella gets a calmer in his and Star gets an antihistamine for her sweet itch in hers. So the miniatures don't feel too left out they get half an apple each. Star was clearly over the moon with her evening meal today!
Whilst Fella enjoyed a post meal taste of the salt lick. 
Once I had finished everything I took a minute to sit down and process my thoughts as well as enjoy the view. I never take anything for granted. The older I get the more I appreciate the simple things in life, such as taking a moment for myself after a busy day.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

It has been a busy weekend up at the field. Our field is currently being rested so we are renting the one next door that happens to come equipped with a small stable block and yard, making it ideal for our purposes.

 First on our list yesterday was to take Star and Fella out for a hack. Due to our field's location we have to ride along two pretty busy roads for about ten minutes before we reach the bridle path. Helen and I are very lucky Star and Fella are really good in traffic as otherwise we would not be able to ride out. It is a good job too as the way some people drive past us is so dangerous! I rode out alone on Star this morning and out of 24 vehicles only 4 of them passed me in the correct manner-wide and slow. Some drivers pass wide but don't slow down, some slow down but don't pass wide and some do neither! One idiot in a van overtook me on a blind bend, meaning he narrowly missed an oncoming car! I really think there needs to be more education in driver training about how to drive around horses. It's like drivers see us as a hindrance not realising horses have as much right to be on the road as they do; in fact some might say more as horses were around before cars! On Saturday once we were off the road our hack along the bridleways was very pleasant apart from Fella spooking at a tree, I kid you not!!! Star outdid herself this morning by spooking at a white cow in the field across the road from ours. This makes no sense to me as she lives in a field next to a herd of cows, plus she was born and bred on a beef farm! But when did horses and ponies ever make sense!? Any type of vehicle, buses, coaches, tractors, cars, lorries, vans, you name it can pass them on the road at speed and they don't even bat an eye lid, yet a tree and a cow come into their path and they spook!!!

 Once our Saturday hack was done we moved onto our next task which was not quite so enjoyable.....washing Betty and Barbara's bottoms and tails!! Barbara in particular is still quite nervous (her and Betty were cruelty cases, hence why they came into the ownership of the RSPCA) so she has a habit of having lots of 'nervous poos'. Apologies for the poorly written English there but I have said it how it is! Betty is just greedy with the grass at the minute hence her dirty behind! Both ponies were understandably unimpressed with the bathing situation as shown in the picture below!!!

They did however pay me back for it today when I couldn't catch Barbara and Betty helped herself to several unauthorised apples out of the feed room meaning I was unable to take either of them for their 'Bootcamp' hand walk. Both of our little ladies are a a tad 'portly' as the vet described them so they are on a diet and exercise plan. I am sure the pair of them were rather pleased with their exercise avoidance for the day!

Sunday afternoon lent itself nicely to the poo picking. It was my turn so I put 'Smooth Radio' on my phone and got to work. I find poo picking a great way to stay fit both physically and mentally. It is a great way to burn calories and tone up as well as giving you time to think and clear your head.  I always get a lovely 'accomplished' feeling knowing the field has been cleared of the herds  'brown mess'.
That rounds off another lovely weekend at our humble field!

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Welcome to our new Bucknut Farm Stables Blog. After years of stabling our horse and pony on livery yards one of my best friends and I decided to take the plunge and purchase our own field for our horse and ponies to live on. After over a year of looking we finally managed to persuade a local farmer to sell us a small plot of land within close proximity to where we both live.
It was not an easy process and took many months for the sale to complete. Once the land was ours we had six weeks to erect appropriate fencing and sort out a water supply.
At the time of purchasing the land we had one horse and one pony between us; a thoroughbred called Fella and a Fell pony called Star. The day we moved our steeds on felt amazing. Finally we had our own field!!! No more having to deal with livery yard politics!!!! Freedom for us came in the form of our field!!!
Shortly after getting Star and Fella settled on the land we adopted two Shetland ponies from the RSPCA called Betty and Barbara. More about these two little 'darlings' later.......

Hay Time!

Last week was pretty busy up at the farm. There was a lot of poo picking, a jumping lesson, a hack, a hay delivery and a spot of stable DIY!...