Spring is in the air

Like many horse owners, I don’t have access to an arena without loading CJ into a box or traipsing down the road for nearly an hour to borrow a friend’s one. This has meant that for the last few months, all CJ and I have done is hack. While hacking is great, and it has done wonders for her topline and general muscle condition, I am ready for a bit of a change. I am ready to be able to start jumping again, to work on circles, serpentines, and poles. I am so looking forward to starting to work on poles. But as usual, all that is dependent on our wonderful Irish weather. I am getting towards the end of a winter-long countdown to when I will be able to use my fields again. I am at the stage where every storm or shower of rain feels like a personal attack on my hopes and dreams. I envy other riders on social media because, courtesy of having access to an arena, their horses are ready to compete while mine is fit and rearing to go – just with no technical prep to add to her list. To cut it short, I am starting to lose my marbles and the only solution is to wait for the fields. Same as I have done since September.

There is a flicker of hope starting to be seen through the clouds. Yesterday, it was sunny. There was actual sun in the sky and it was warm and dry – the type of weather that has me skipping through the fields to look at lambs, delighting at the sight of daffodils lining the road and looking forward to an onslaught of foal pictures on social media. There were just a few things missing. The fields were still soaking, CJ was still covered in mud – even with a rug on. And I had to wade through the mud to get headcollars on, or put hay out in the field. For all of my optimism, we are still at the winter end of Spring where snow makes surprise appearances and it is so cold when we are heading out in the mornings to feed or heading out in the evenings to bring in. Wooly hats and rainproof coats still offer a better option than hoodies or even better, t-shirts – and wellies still hold pride of place in the back porch. 

I am trying to stay optimistic, even if the start of this suggests otherwise. Like lots of us, I live for the Summer months. I can’t wait for the horses to be able to go out with no rugs on and come back in clean, to not have to clean out stables every day and for my bank account to be slightly healthier. I love nothing more than doing a good schooling session in the fields, having a jump or doing poles, and finishing up by bringing the horses for a swim in the river or hacking down to get an ice cream in the local shop. Or better still, realizing that it is 11 o’clock at night and you have been out with the horses for hours after work or school. Summer is for riding tackless when you are supposed to be leading in and for sleeping late in the mornings because the horses are out all the time anyway. Summer seems to be specially designed so that horse owners can briefly have a taste of that elusive thing non-horse people refer to as time. Summer feels like it has so many more hours in a day than winter. It definitely has more productive hours for horse people. 

I did get a glimpse of hope over the weekend. I was at a Young Breeders Event run by Teagasc in Kilkenny. As a part of it, we got to look at some amazing young stallions, some of whom were being prepped in the hopes of them going to Lanaken. They were stood up for us to look at their conformation and we discussed them, along with the mares they would suit. We also got to look at them being ridden under saddle and jumped. So what gave me so much hope? They were jumped on grass. The ground in that part of Kilkenny was good enough that these insanely talented stallions could be safely jumped on grass. The ground in my area is always a bit behind other areas. My Grandad always said our grass was three weeks behind everyone else’s. So can I hope to be able to ride in the fields in three weeks time? It will probably take a little longer for our ground to be ready but to even be able to discuss it as a possibility is a massive step in the right direction.


Spring is in the air

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