I’ve included a little slideshow of all those first signs of spring hoping to gladden the heart of any “outdoors” type, like me, longing for winter to be over! (Mini daffodils, snowdrops, hellebores, croci and violets are out!) Roll on springtime …..
So how does it catch me out every year? You think you’re more or less on top of things (touch wood); the horses seem happy, the garden is readied for action, and a week of fine weather tempts you out riding and visiting friends, then you stroll down to check out the veg. patch and ….. the grass paths have invaded the beds and hairy bittercress, such a prolific self-seeder (though actually quite tasty – like rocket, have you tried it?) is showing up in swathes of instant rosettes with its tiny white flowers ready to go to seed and pop. So this afternoon I was forced to do some weeding – which, if you’re in the mood and the weather is with you, is actually quite soothing. (Soundtrack needed here – Crowded House’s immortal “Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you” would do nicely!)
The job I started with was clipping some box hedging into shape before serious growth kicks in and that left me with loads of potential cuttings. I love the structure and classicism of clipped box. I also love it as twirls, lollipops and fantastical shapes. (This year I’m aiming for some birds; swans and peacocks, but they’re not quite recognisable yet, more like heffalumps and hippos at the moment!) It’s not necessarily the right time to take cuttings, but it’s always worth taking a chance with box, so I slipped a few dozen promising sprigs into that empty (newly weeded!) bed in the “potager”.
But during this fine, warm week, I’ve been itching to ride my lovely Andalusian, Pom, when I can. My schooling area is grass, so conditions at the moment are good and will be quickly spoiled as soon as it rains.
In the fourteen months we’ve been together, I’ve sometimes been frustrated that Pom’s default speed is fast forward. Thrilling as it is to ride a really forward-going horse through the countryside, (as long as you feel sure of him and that he will stop – eventually,) getting to grips with any kind of precision moves on the school has been, well, particularly exasperating. But this week – breakthrough! Standing still for me to mount is better, we can open and close the “gate” into the school (unelectrified fencing tape with hook) without dismounting. And we have mastered walking, not jogging; being nicely rounded and on the bit; great transitions, walk, stop, trot, stop, back, etc.; a little bit of leg-yield and shoulder in. OK, I’m over-doing the proud Mum bit, but before, all he wanted to do was canter round in ever decreasing circles! How happy I am to have him walking and trotting, nice and relaxed and stretching down; we keep it short and sweet, no-one gets bored and I can tell he’s really pleased with himself for getting it right for me at last.
Much credit for this goes to my recently met, but greatly appreciated friend, a dressage expert whose encouragement and tips have kept me striving to improve. We met up this week – it isn’t often enough as we live quite far apart – and seeing her and her 2 wonderful, top-of-the-range dressage mares is as much of a spring tonic as I could wish for. Plus enjoying a scrumptious lunch out as a foursome with our longsuffering men was a timely treat!
Wherever you are I hope the weather is with you too,