Friday, 18 May 2018

The horse console..

Hours of roaming the glorious Spanish countryside what's a cowgirl to do?
Snacks, suncream, make up, power bank & data... Not to mention the hip fask.. 😀😀

Monday, 7 May 2018

Start of the 2000mileaisle part 2

Nikki striding past the site of last years disaster and hence striding onto the 2000mileaisle part 2 .. looking strong brave and lovely .....

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Back to the future!

On the road! Right now with the horses on tow - tentative, but ok, always so admire horses for allowing us to put them on a big square tin, overcoming their fear & trusting us.
So this is the last stressy bit (haha!), getting them safely there & then it's just us & them..
A few days on and us & them, we, have become the herd. After several nights of watching the stress/comfort signals of the horses, we've established a good dynamic for tent/horse/fence positioning.. Tethering is our only certain method of keeping the horses overnight, but Tio isn't an experienced tetherer, so for now, at night he's in a pretend electric fence, by day he's in supervised tether training & doing very well.
Both horses are coping brilliantly with the change & with the work.
We're coping too, amazing how one becomes adjusted to outdoor life so quickly - I'm blotting out a few days of stormy weather & tempers - but yes, even with the rain, we have coped & really enjoyed ourselves.. Infact I have felt guitily glutenous - the scenery has been so wonderful! Gorges so high & so deep, colours vivid with flowers everywhere.. (Please look to facebook for more photos).
Today is our first 2 night stop, we haven't done many kilometres yet, as we plan to increase work gradually for the horses & their packs are heavy.
It's us that are exhausted! My back, my knee where the pin gives pressure both suffering, mainly from damp & mounting which is frequent & difficult.
However! I do say that the kind of exercise needed here for survival, bending over getting things in & out of bags, putting the tent up & lots of core muscle exersion, in the saddle & otherwise, are all in favour of fitness & in that I feel well on the way.
Supplies around here, here being Murcia - at last! Are not easy to come by, at each stop we lack something but thankfully water & grass have not eluded us. We have noted a distinct bit of luck in the last hours of the day, finding a good place after passing barren & dry areas for miles.
It's no accident though I suppose as we always have a mapped aim for the day which has a town within reach if nothing is found.
Right now this is lovely, we've got both horses free in a big one-tape-wrapped-round-trees paddock with an unlikely cliff exit to the back...Mark's cooking breakfast, It's sunny but not too hot, we're next to a lake made by Presa la Risca & will take the horses down to the shore later on.
I'm very much enjoying being gadget girl - might have been the only badge I got in the guides. Some of my bespoke equipment is worth talking about all you horsey people out there! 2 short pieces of a hang glider wing skeleton, joined by slotting into a section of Hep20 plumbing pipe, make perfect fence posts in no time, small & light & portable.
Though I guess most people would have trouble finding a bit of hang gliding wing bone 😂!!
Eggs & coffee just landed beside me.. Thanks to my betrothed.
The rest of this afternoon was spent meeting (out of perhaps 4 cars in 24 hrs, she happened to pass by!!) the lovely horse analyst would you believe?! She bought knowledge, understanding, total encouragement & Gin & Tonic!!
What we don't manage to drink we leave under a tree.
Serendipity or what?!

Hopefully this one will post properly unlike the last one of which only a quarter of it was published.. Only 2 photos allowed on here, so do look out for more on our facebook page.
I'll leave you with a Spanish ditty 'Si Mayo te moja, te seca' Thankfully this seems to be true..
Love from us to you all..

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Here we go again...

Yes ! Here we go again ! I've now actually ridden my SuperRayo 4 times & we're off in about 7 weeks.. (theoretically !)
In those four rides we've been mainly walking with a few cantering-on-the-spots.
We've slid down steep muddy tractor tracks (with sqealing accompaniment ), we've teetered along on the edge of narrow cliff edged paths, which is unavoidable around these parts, so I've been thouroughly tested & Mark says I've passed with flying colours !
It's been a long and varied recovery, but I'm not going into all that, thankfully we've managed to keep both horses fit and my (though intermittent) ground work with Rayo has paid off in preparing him for the wieght of me & later saddlebags on his back.
I think our relationship has pulled through into a higher understanding & friendship, he seems so happy that things are getting back to normal, that we're getting out and about together again !
Exactly the same could be said for me & Mark. Haha !

Sunday, 14 January 2018

One step forward. Two steps back.

Early November and I'm able to shuffle around without crutches. It's a great thing, but painful, my whole body hurts, my right hip hurts more than my left leg, using one crutch has strained a side muscle so I just have to walk now.
Shuffling means I can do some things, so I'm building a new seating area on the roof terrace & I'm kind of lunging Rayo. I've been having such fun with him! I say kind of lunging because what I'm actually doing is asking him to bend evenly on both sides if his body, and to keep his head low, I begin my session with flexing his head to each side and encouraging him to really stretch by holding carrots just out of reach..he always gets the carrot of course! And he gets what I'm asking him to do as the session goes on.. They're only short sessions because I stop when he gets it, which is pretty quick & this is perfect because I can only do a hobbly shuffle (which is all you really need to do in the centre of his small circle). This is all done really calm and really easy.. I probably look ridiculous bending my own body, calming my own self, willing him to match me, but he does it, he looks at me out of the corner of his eye, cocks his ear towards me and drops his nose then you see his back come up, his pace goes suddenly elevated and perfect & he says oh! I'm doing it! He feels great, I feel great, because we know we understand each other & we stop then, so he realises that's all I want.
I'm trying to help him to be relaxed, soft, supple and strong, ready for riding.

The roof terrace seating is looking nice & feels very comfortable, we've all been lounging out there for hours in the late summer sun, between work sessions I should add!

Our long ride next year is still the focus of our intentions, but please forgive us! We made a sad but practical decision to sell our Golden girl.. No! I hear you saying.. But she's only gone down the road to our friends small riding centre & is in a very happy herd there. Meanwhile Rayo is overjoyed to have Tio back to himself!

So we are going with just our boys & a lot less equipment! Remember it took us 3 hours minimum to pack up & leave each day? Well next time we'll be a lot quicker!

Mark is pretty much better, though still limps occasionally.. I really can't believe how much time has gone by with both injuries.
He takes Tio out regularly & usually takes Rayo by lead rein. So both horses are gaining a bit of fitness after their restful summer.
Its rained at last so winter coats are coming, grass too in places..

Today I got on Tio! Walked him around a bit & got off again feeling elated! I look elated in the photo, though Tio doesn't look so happy, perhaps sensing the occasion by the tightness of the reins!
Also, today I drove my car! At last I can depress the clutch!
So that's two forms of transport within my reach, 'shanks pony' is going to take a bit longer as it's terribly slow & still a bit painful.

Crikey! I can't believe I wrote that in November & here I am not much further on.
Didn't realise I had left it unposted, so here you get a double whammy.

It's now 14th January.
Tomorrow I'm going to try to ride Tio again and yesterday I drove the car back from Cadiar without too much trouble (trouble being pain).
You see, my knee has been a problem, the pin and screws have caused alot of pain when under pressure, my hip and back have been problematic due to the effects of compensation.
The last time I rode Tio, I tried a trot & the jolting was unbearable. I cried.
Not through pain but through feeling totally deflated and dis-empowered.
It's just so awful not being capable if something that you have always been not just good at, but it's like second nature to me, being in the saddle, moving with the horse, able to deal with anything the horse might do.
Tio shied at something, he was playing to my weakness, he would have liked to gallop home and was looking for an excuse!
The feeling of helplessness got to me & obviously got to him!
Inspite of my insecurity I rode him home (WALKING TIO!) but haven't tried again since.

Rayo remains my prize, I can't trust him to just walk, especially after all this time not being ridden. When Mark takes the two out, I usually groom & prepare Rayo & he's desperate for me to get on! He nudges me to say it, come on! Let's go!
I can't wait! But waiting is what I have been doing now, since 30th of May - last year!

Oh Happy New year! In which we will make it to England with our horses & get hitched!
I'll tell you what, to be on the trail again, to be just us on our two boys in the wilderness, come hell or high water! That's where I'm gonna be!

Monday, 4 September 2017

Coming back to life..

I'm just SO going to walk soon, I'm really on the brink of it!
I've perfected just about every form of chair dancing this weekend & taken it to the MAX!
Yesterday it felt strong, today was going to be THE day - but now it feels over worked and painful.
Funny as well as fortunate that we can block out the joys of normal life and accept a new state quite readily, or is that just me? Or is it just because it's temporary?
So I've grown accustomed to being in valid - yes, that's what we call it!
I only realised that when I was disgusted at the Spanish word 'Menosvalido' translating to less valid which isn't quite as bad as our simply not valid at all! 

The perks (no washing up, no housework, no poo picking etc etc) are short lived. Sitting around watching films, going on facebook, smoking, it becomes an acceptable way of life, you find some happiness, some relief as pain subsides..
Then boredom boredom boredom
..but thankfully in my case the realisation that I will walk again, I will ride again & I will dance!

Oh to ride my horse! Or simply to groom him, be with him, watch him working nicely on the long reins..
As I said before its been difficult to spend any time with Rayo in the last 3 months, but the other day we had a fabulous morning.. 

A trimming session for Rayo developed into a lovely horsey event with our Spanish trimmer Dani doing the work which was overseen by Rachel our local lady with the knowledge and passion for healthy hooves.. Rayo has underun back feet and contracted fronts (with thrush).. These problems had been on the mend prior to our departure in May, but of course after three months of nothing going on, his feet have grown, the angle is still showing improvement on his hinds, but his front frogs have closed up again with a thrush infection..
With Rayo being worked on and separated from the others I could actually spend some time close up and enjoyed watching the bustle of stooped bodies discussing and working away on each foot.
So what has struck me is that with this forced rest Rayo has had, it's kind of like I have a blank canvas to work with & to work up to our departure in April..
Sitting around here, I've had time to reflect on mine and Rayo's partnership, not that it's ever been a bad one, but there is always more to learn..
So, I want to bring him back into work in a more conscious manner, rather than just hopping on and building up through time in the saddle..I've been reading loads & want to combine some things that have struck a chord with me.
I'm planning a more holistic approach, I can start now or very soon, just spending time sitting near him and building on our connection, trying to feel a oneness with him.. 

Meantime, we've got his feet going in the right direction, his frogs are opening up now quite quickly as the thrush clears.
His back is like newborn, I'm keen to build his muscles before I get on, whilst taking a further step towards bringing his head down, not just in walk and trot as I've managed so far, but to keep that roundness through canter on both reins..
When he came to me, Rayo didn't know how to walk, he was a perfect prancer for the Spanish fiesta's, head high, back concave, his canter was impossible to sit to.. Come to think of it he only felt right at full gallop, perhaps that's why he loves it so (that point has only just struck me!) being the only time he isn't being compromised. Interesting.
Anyway so he's come a long way already since then, and now I have the opportunity to take it further.
I'd like to go bitless, something that seems - and has proven to be - impossible up until now.
I'm really not convinced this is possible, but I'm going to work a bit differently with him, cool my bottom, and see where we get to. 

So after the initial togetherness thing, I'm going to develop a place where Rayo can feel relaxed, I mean within, a place that I can help him find any time.
I want us to have a connection like an Avatar with his horse or bird. How apt that I've had a bird connection too!
So phase one will be easy, it's hard to describe the pure pleasure one has by just sitting, watching and being with your horse.

Meanwhile Rayo is the fattest I've ever known him, I think he's a bit bored too, as he is the one to lead the galloping frolics they enjoy some evenings when the heat drops..and last night he cheekily zapped back out of the gate when they were brought in at supper time!

Good job we postponed the wedding, the pair of us are a comedy sketch, him with his stick & me on my crutches, I do often feel the need to point out to people that we are actually both pretty good riders!

It's almond time now so I have a productive use at last! Mark knocks them off the tree and I take the husks off..hopefully the price is good this year.
The nuts are humungus! All down to horse manure - a generous pile under each tree..

Up until now, Mark still beats me in our 1 crutch across the kitchen floor para-olympics, but I am gaining..

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Bird Whispering

Well I really feel there's not alot to entertain you with.. I'm obviously not doing an awful lot!
However, word has spread amongst the local bird population and I have had fledglings lining up at my bedroom door!
Literally, the other night there was one waiting for me and then in the morning, another one was there! These two were house martin or perhaps swallow babies, already feathered but only able to flutter downwards (hence ending up at my bedroom door as its downstairs).
We put them back into their nest and left them hopefully to it, whilst keeping a close eye on the movements of our 3 cats..
Through my limited experience I could tell they weren't ready to fly properly but the parents clearly didn't agree and came and went calling and flying away encouraging their babies to follow..
After finding them several times on the floor again, I put them into our birdcage and hung it close to the nest with the babies inside and the door open, but sadly later on we found one dead and the other almost hanging from it's feet clamped on to the cage doorway..
Up until this point I had been careful not to take the babies directly under my wing knowing that I was still on the rebound from my last affair, reminding myself that the babies were better off with bird parents, but at this point I decided it was time for auntie Niki, the bird whisperer, to step in.
I righteously brought the remaining baby in and revived it with a very diluted saline solution using a soaked cotton bud and dragging it around the sides of its beak.. It remained lying down in a flopped position all afternoon but gradually regained strength by evening when I began to almost force feed it, opening its mouth gently and putting a dead fly down its throat.
It's always a surprise when you find your patient still alive in the morning and throughout the next day it began feeding voluntarily, I could hardly keep up with it's needs, trying to kill flies has varying results, clapping your hands just above them can work every time, but sometimes it doesn't work any time and I seemed to be getting worse at it rather than better!
The next day, Mark pointed out that the parents were still flying in and out of the back room looking for baby, so I decided to set up the cage with its door shut in the back room on a pully system so that I could continue to feed it.
The family reunion was a lovely sight and to my amazement after a couple of hours from my hidden view point I saw the parents feeding baby through the bars of the cage!
Happy to be able to give up my haphazard fly hunting occupation I have since left them to it and will open the cage door when baby is ready to take to the wing!

Remember I'm doing all this stealth work on crutches, perhaps amusing to imagine me watching from various hide outs standing on one leg until I have to break cover and go to sit down.
Regarding my leg, which I'm thoroughly bored with dragging around, I have had two panicked hospital trips both caused by unqualified but well meaning medical staff, both verbally horrified by the state of the bones in my leg! One being the local doctor and the other the X-ray man.
PLEASE! I really am better off not knowing! Though I did actually catch a glimpse of the X-ray myself and it does look a bit messy.
I have been reassured by the specialists that it is doing really well, they say I can put weight on it now and almost told me off for not having done so already!
I am trying, its the mind that gets in the way.. A good trick is to shorten the crutches, making ground contact unavoidable and weight bearing more likely.
Marks foot too is still painful and swollen, he can walk with a limp, but now and again he makes a wrong move and sets it back. Of course he is having to do all the chores and be at my beck and call (possibly his worst nightmare!), but he is doing a splendid job.
People have said, if you two can get through this you can get through anything - well so far, so good!

The horses, by the way, are enjoying a summer break, fat and lazy, all day spent in the stable out of the sun, free range for whatever grass they can find in the evenings & in their paddock over night.
I miss them, you just have to give them up when you have a bad injury, its not wise to go in their midst on crutches, not because they are bad horses or anything, but they bicker sometimes, or just move each other around and one just can't move quick enough on one leg..

Right, I'm off to try and walk again...

The photos show the horses in the stable staying out of the Sun.. 

And a rather artistic photo of baby bird with mother bird swooping down to encourage baby to fly.. Today, baby flew away!