It’s so easy to be over-optimistic isn’t it? In our corner of South West France, spring is always stop/go. The first little bulbs show their pretty faces and you start thinking better weather is just around the corner……..
Fine weather: usual dilemma. Horse or garden?
Whenever I’ve just ridden Pom, I’m usually buoyed up with enthusiasm to build on something that went right or try to turn around something that was downright frustrating. Or just full of fresh air and good humour from time spent out in the countryside. And always the added time spent with him reinforces that precious contact and understanding between us.
But if a couple of days go by and our schooling area’s too soggy, or the rain is threatening again or there’s no one around to hack out with, I’m appalled to find myself putting things off; waiting for the horses to come back up from the far reaches of the field, the sun to put in an appearance, someone to call………… and when the weather does turn fine, feeling guilty that I’m not doing something practical, useful or just soothingly repetitive in the garden.
(A short sidetrack) When I bought Pom a year last November, my ambition was for us to get as good as we could at dressage (for our own, non-competitive pleasure – well mine, at least), but I’ve become completely stalled. I don’t have a trailer and though I could borrow one, I don’t have the correct driving licence to tow one (called a “Permis E”, costs about 1000 euros to train for) so I’m unable, easily, to get to a riding club or school with an indoor manège and instructor. I found a good instructor to come here but her availability and practicable ground/weather conditions seem hardly ever to coincide!
Truth be told, neither Pom nor I are expert enough to be sure we’re not compounding our mistakes on our own; we do need a motivating, guiding spirit. I have taken lessons since living in France, at three separate establishments with vast intervals in between, but I’ve been unlucky enough to be in group classes given by over-disciplinarian instructors. All male, coincidentally. I’m no way sexist, but I do respond better when trainers (m or f) explain rather than bark orders, army-style. This approach is particularly hard going when terms I’m used to in English aren’t as familiar in French, so I just look slower on the uptake and try the instructor’s patience!
Now I’m sounding, even to myself, as though I need to “get a grip” and set a goal! If I’m not going to go down the same meandering route as I did with my old horse, Aly, I must get myself motivated and transported. (Sidetrack over for the moment)
As it happens, today’s dilemma was more or less decided when I discovered Pom had cast a shoe!
The dreaded LIST for work that needs doing/finishing around the house and garden fills most of a closely written A4 sheet. But at the top of the “most urgent” sub-LIST (on a smaller sheet for the purposes of morale) were some got-to-do-before-the-sap-rises jobs. I got out the secateurs and the ladders and prepared to trim back the Virginia creeper that covers most of one wall of the house and threatens every year to scramble over the roof.
Whilst I pretend to be a fairly organised person, I am shamefully easily sidetracked, by one of the horses whinnying or the post arriving or robin reminding me to put out some food….
When I’d fed the birds and collected the post I heard the Pie doing his piglet squealing impersonation and checked behind the barn to see if all was well. The others had high-tailed it down the three terraced levels and the Pie had all the haynets to himself and a big smile on his face. The Pie in winter is a one-horse Flokati rug – with the odd brown patch.
Seeing the white patch where he’d been having a good, hair-shedding roll, I took out a curry comb to give him a helping hand (and provide some luxury nesting material for the birds). The Pie is my husband’s horse, who elected domicile here (as the tax man puts it) after escaping from our neighbours so often they let him stay on with my Aly and then bowed to the inevitable and let us buy him.
I don’t often get to chat to the Pie on my own, but with Pom and Aly out of sight I set to work covering us both in loose white hair – it looks from the pic. as if he’s shed pounds!
In the end, the Virginia creeper got pruned, a clematis in a frost-cracked pot got an up-grade to an imperishable and quite convincing fake terracotta number and the pebble pond outside the bathroom window had a quick overhaul. As it’s quite shallow, the water was already warm and large tadpoles wriggled about as I hauled out handfuls of cotton-wool-like pondweed and trimmed back the frost-browned reeds. To give myself an incentive to keep up the good work, the photo below is how it should look in high summer!
I’d love to know how other horse and garden lovers deal with their dilemma…. Cav’a
(And because “procrastination” should probably be my middle name – I mis-typed “muddle” there, how apt – today’s soundtrack is Sandy Denny’s “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”. Please search it out if you haven’t heard it before, you would need a heart of stone to be unmoved!)