Labour of Love


When I wake up to the news of the world around me, watch the dreadful catastrophes dropping down on people everywhere, I know I have no right to complain about a thing.   But, some days, if you’re weary and spirits are low it’s hard to rise above your own petty woes ………..   Having written last time about whether we’re good for our horses, today was one of those days when I was feeling that mine weren’t good for me! 

If some kind (or even shady) soul had come along and offered to swap all three of them for a luxury break in some sunlit haven with neither a wheelbarrow nor a haynet in sight, those horses would have been up the ramp of the trailer in the blink of an eye. 

Only joking of course, but since the strenuous land clearing we’ve been doing over the past month, (for the horses’ benefit) – described in earlier posts – and the long-overdue re-roofing of an outbuilding, I have been feeling bone tired.  Although we get stuck in to hard, physical work like that with gusto, we can’t carry on doing it for the same length of time as we did when younger and we need more time to recover, which we never seem to get.  Never a day off or a lie-in, as anyone who looks after horses knows!

The winter rhythm of doing three boxes every day, getting the hay rolls from the farm next door, picking up sawdust from a friend’s sawmill and keeping on top of the land leaves little time to fit in riding the one “active” horse (Pom), and don’t even get me started on housework, cooking, admin. or the list as long as my arm of things to be done on the house and garden.  Social life? There is a bit, a precious sliver, otherwise I really would be gibbering. 

Today, having done the usual chores, I was determined to rearrange the electric fencing to give the “boys” access to their newly cleared area.  Spring is in the air and the boys are fit to bust waiting for the new, green grass to come their way.  There are enticing tufts in the hedgerows and in other peoples’ gardens, but our grazing is nowhere near ready to let the hoodlums at it.  In their boxes in the barn at night, they have the run of three terraced levels in the woodland, hay “at will” in their shelter, and the lowest, best-drained area of pasture during the day.  After a hard winter, more snowfall than usual and rain again in recent weeks, these areas have taken the toll of six pairs of iron-shod feet;  we need to rest them and let the newly-cleared ground get churned up instead.

(Just as an aside;  we have experimented with leaving the two retired and more stiff-jointed horses unshod, but on our clay soil with a pebbly underlay, their soles get tender. Our conscientious farrier recommends it and they do seem more comfortable shod.)

First I let the horses through to a “passageway” area, with a little bit of grass regrowth, to let the excitement – which mounts every time they see me move iron pickets and electric ribbon – die down a bit.  I then trudged off to assess the damage to the bottom of the big field.  Divots, slithered ruts and dug-in hoofprints everywhere.  It looked like a heavily-armoured cavalry skirmish between deadly enemies had taken place in a half-an-acre space.  I did my best to tread in as much damage as possible, wishing irrationally that the horses had some feeling for conserving their food source!  Meanwhile, squabbling over their small, interim area of grass, the horses were getting boisterous.  The Pie has a particularly annoying habit of squealing like a piglet if either of the other two looks as though they might nip him.  Pom now thinks it’s great fun to sidle up and provoke him.

Having toiled away down the field and wearying of the noise of “fisticuffs”, an hour or two later, I opened up the next, main area.  Pom and the Pie came down fairly quickly, Aly, my old horse was a little way behind, but all of a sudden he gathered speed like a cannonball and bowled straight over me.  I was knocked over, bruised and winded, not well pleased, but it could have been worse.

(This is a previous pic of Aly in a similar situation.)

Tant pis, oh well.  Just one of those imperfect days;  I’m sure you have them too, when things have to go awry for you to hold them up against the better days and appreciate the difference.  I was wondering about an appropriate soundtrack for today and perhaps Joni Mitchell’s “Shadows and Light” would do just fine. 

At least until tomorrow …..


About cavaliereattitude

Englishwoman, transplanted to SW France in '86, blogging - with a large dose of humour and self-deprecation - about life with my husband and our horses, the never-ending renovation of an ancient and crumbly stone farmhouse and the attempt to carve a beautiful garden and productive pasture out of a woodland wilderness.........
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2 Responses to Labour of Love

  1. rontuaru says:

    Oh yes, I’ve had these kinds of days too! Every spring my small herd waits for me to permit access to our fairway and lower pasture. I try to wait until I think they’re not paying any attention before opening up the gates in hopes I’ll avert their spring stampede down the hill and back …. at least four or five times in a row. But my plan never works and I have to stand there helplessly watching them slide and spin, eyes wide, nostrils flared and snorting as they proceed to trample and divot about 50% of the entire precious pasture that we labored for YEARS to clear single-handedly. Oh yes, I’ve had days like this …. but the horses sure do look pretty running to and fro, heads and tails held high, looking primal and regal. I always seem to catch myself smiling briefly at their exuberance before I start to fix their damage.

    We seem to have lots in common …. I’ll try to stop by often!


    • It’s so much worse when they’re bucketing up and downhill too! But I do agree that the spring in their step, literally, is such an uplifting thing to see. I really look forward to reading about your new horse – has she arrived?


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