Sticks and stones (2)…

The title proved to be prophetic in a way.

This morning’s timing got changed; I rang William at 08.00 and said I was still up for the session but was going to be late down to Hilltop.

He said they had a cancellation overnight and did I fancy a slot at 11.00.

Did I?

Is the pope a Catholic?

I jogged back in to the barn and broke the news to Vin.

He looked at me inscrutably over his haynet, paused mid-munch, thought complex equine thoughts then continued munching.

I fannied about the yard, had a hot chocolate, did a final run through the checklist and went to get Vin.

Getting Vin was incredibly tough.

I walked past his stable – no large orange-coloured head looking over the door at me.

I did a comedy double-take and walked right up to the door.

He was in.

Lying down.

Fast asleep.

And I mean fast asleep!

I’d already groomed him but Vin (bless!) had got down on to his knees, rolled over on to his side, curled his legs underneath him and fallen fast asleep.

In a pile of specially laid (oh yes, I have no doubt of this!) horse poo.

He had a green stable stain right up his belly, left side of his barrel and left shoulder.

I called him.

His body language said ‘La la la I’m not listening’.

He wasn’t.

He was actually fast asleep.

I walked up to his slightly snoring form, slipped the head collar on and started calling him.

He looked up at me as if I were out of my head, turned and rested his head on a foreleg and closed his eyes again.

Sue and Laura were wetting themselves.

I eventually got him to wake and with a little (lot) more coaxing got him to stagger to his feet.

By now I was running out of time so I just loaded him, closed the lorry up and at 10.10 we drove out of the yard and headed down the A38, M5, M50 and on to Ledbury.

We arrived in good time, I unloaded a very settled-looking boy and set about getting him ready.

His stable stain brushed out as did the bedding shreds that were still all over him.

With Vin tacked up and booted and his rider wearing the customary degree of protection I mounted up and hacked down to the start of the cross country course.

We were late starting our session (we being three females aged between late teens and mid-thirties), late because one horse in the earlier group had lots of problems and William doesn’t like to give up on anyone.

When our group started Vin’s initial canter-lengthening scared the living daylights out of me; he slipped straight in to racehorse mode and tried to tank away with me.

I brought him back to the pace I wanted and we established a smarter rhythm and began popping over the warm-up fences in a short-course.

William called on us to give a lead to one of the other competitors several times – I couldn’t decide if the horse or the rider was having the problems.

We soon moved to the next field and Vin was absolutely brilliant, confidently jumping tree-trunks, shark’s teeth, helsinki rails and railway sleepers – light in to dark, dark in to light; my nerves long since vanished, Vin and I working together as a determined team with an objective at every fence.

It was brilliant.

We were brilliant.

It didn’t last though; we didn’t approach one set of steps with sufficient impulsion and he clattered the first element with his near fore.

The blood was flowing pretty fast; he’d cut himself on the coronet band – a very small cut but I don’t take chances, our day out ended there.

Sarah (bless) walked back to the lorry with us to make sure we were ok; it was nice to have a little chat with her.

Vin seemed fine, I flushed the cut with eight gallons of water, inspected the wound then flushed it some more, just for good measure.

Then I gave him a bath; he loved that!

We loaded up and made our way home.

Back at the yard I flushed his cut some more, groomed him then turned him out, then I went and snuggled Beech before cleaning the lorry out, putting the tack away and parking the lorry in its bay.

And then I got in my car and drove home, as high as a kite on adrenaline – despite Vin’s little mishap.

A brilliant day!