Yes Ireland…that’s what we like to see!

It’s taken a few days but Ireland has finally given me the sunshine I’ve been so desperately needing. It makes all the difference, waking up to a golden view rather than a hazy grey one. This place is still pretty amazing to look at even when the clouds are low and the weather is closed in, but it reminds how special the landscape is when the sun comes out. There’s this untouched, unspoilt beauty that you just can’t help but appreciate.

Tillie and I were so buoyed up by the beautiful morning yesterday that we positively skipped along to the centre. We splished and splashed and sploshed in the puddles, skipped along and pulled faces the whole way. See, a bit of sunlight makes such a huge difference to the souls of young women. It doesn’t take much. Just a touch of sun, the promise of a riding lesson later and a reminder of just how lucky we are to be alive and be here, in this place.

The rest of the day yesterday went pretty well. Keli and I took out an early trek, some friends of Athos and Anita who came to stay in one of the houses for a few days. They were a really lovely family, and an absolute delight to take out. The residential campers were quite hard to get going for their riding lesson unfortunately, which involved a lot of complaining from them, and repeated instructions from us.

Once the campers had ridden, and the three day-campers we had were also done with riding ponies, Sophie was able to give Keli, Silene, Tillie and myself a lesson while the campers all went to lunch. I rode my dear Skelatchi once again. It really is a shame that he’s so weak in his back, just behind the saddle, because he could be absolutely fantastic. He’s got potential to work in a beautiful shape and be a real gem of a horse. The weakness in his back, however, prevents him from being able to move forward without jerking himself around.

I had him in a lovely outline in walk, with a wonderful light feeling in my hands and a real swing underneath me. The minute I applied any pressure to ask for trot though, he reacted as if I’d shoved a firecracker up his arse! His old injury doesn’t help, but mostly his only excuse is that he’s weak. What was interesting is that his trot/halt transitions were perfect. Absolutely on the button! Trot, trot, trot, halt on the bit. Oh what a beauty! The complete opposite of Keli’s horse, Hayley, who was refusing to stop altogether!

I did enjoy my lovely Skelatchi. I think he’s a darling. He has a very sweet nature and is easy to handle and deal with. You don’t even need to hold onto him most of the time when leading, he just sticks his nose on your shoulder and walks along with you, stopping when you stop, speeding up when you do. Honestly, he’s so lovely. And to ride, he’s pretty good. It takes a lot of leg to get him working properly and balancing out his trot (which is a bit odd at first), but on the whole he’s a nice ride. He jumps well, and although he’s a bit strung out in canter, it wouldn’t take much to bring him back together. He just needs reminding that all four of those legs are his!

I had him working pretty well by the end of the lesson though. What was frustrating was that it took until 5 minutes before we finished for him to realise that it was okay to stay relaxed and soft through the transition to trot. We finally got a good transition, keeping the nice outline and gentle contact, and then it was the end of our riding time. I suppose in a way that’s good though, because we certainly ended on a high note. I wish I was able to ride him on a daily basis for the next few months, because I really do feel like he could come on a lot!

Yesterday evening brought on another treat! The residential campers finally presented us with the scary play they’d been working on for the past couple of days. Athos and Anita had their friends up for dinner as well, so the girls had a large audience. To be fair to them, they did well. It was short and sweet, but they put in a lot of effort and made the little lad call out “Holy Moly” half way through. We then managed to get them all sitting quietly (after a fashion) watching Avengers while Athos and Anita entertained their guests. I do love that movie. The hulk is my favourite, by far! He’s so awesome. Cara described it (the film) in the most brilliant way. “It’s just a list of butts I want to touch.” She cracks me up! Although, she does have a point… There are some seriously beautiful butts in that film.

Today was not quite as gloriously golden as yesterday, as the clouds did descend at various intervals throughout the day, but in general it was pretty decent. I got a pretty good shot of the view from the house (yes another one) in the sunlight at lunchtime.

We rode again today, and jumped a bit this time. Sophie decided to teach the campers some equine first aid, and said we could go and have a ride while she did that so long as we were done in time for her to leave. So we knocked up a couple of cross-poles, and got our noble steeds ready. This time I saddled up the ever lovely Cleo. I love that mare, she’s such a cracker of a horse. She’s got some jump on her too! We were cat-leaping everything today. It’s without question that she’s had people pulling at her mouth while jumping before, because she’s constantly trying to snatch at the reins over the jump. When I gave her the reins as we went over, she didn’t quite know what to do with herself. So, instead of relaxing and taking it easy, she launched herself as high as she could, arching her back and snaking her neck towards the ground on landing. Honestly, for a fabulous horse she can be a right idiot! I did manage to get her popping over one of them nicely before the end though, so I do feel like we achieved something.

I also accompanied Keli on a trek with the residential campers after lunch, which was entertaining throughout. The girls were on top form, chattering away merrily while Keli and I rode on in bemusement. The sky stayed mostly clear, so the horses seemed quite happy to be riding out, as were we. The highlight of the trek for me though, was watching little Sparky (the love of my life) galloping as fast as his little legs could carry him, and still not catching up the pony in front. Buddy and I cantered sedately at the back, keeping an eye on everyone, but I will admit to spending much of my time giggling at the sight of Sparky hooning up the hill with Rebecca on his back, urging him on with every stride. So cute and so funny!

It’s funny, this place has a very different feel about it at this time of year. There isn’t the same buzz and busy-ness going on that we had all summer. There are fewer people in the house, for a start, and everyone is less excitable on the whole (pony campers not included). The days have a slower pace to them, but then we finish earlier on the yard due to the shorter daylight hours, and as there is less going on, everything just happens when it happens rather than it being a case of people having to run hither and thither to get things done. It’s both weird and pleasant at the same time. This house holds a lot of memories from the summer, which are made very vivid by the fact that we are actually here again. So it seems odd not to have the summer bunch popping up all over the place. But at the same time, the more prevalent feeling of peace in the house is not without it’s good points. It’s nice to just sit and chill, like I am now, in the dining/sitting room with some music going. I know there are other people around but there is less noise and movement most of the time. Until the campers arrive that is….

Having said all that, this evening was a rather roudy affair. One of the families from the holiday homes came down to the house to play table tennis and join in with the evenings activities. Which meant that after dinner the residential campers chucked on some rather bad, loud music and danced around like crazy things! I was washing up until I found myself unceremoniously dragged across the kitchen by three thirteen year olds and placed in the middle of them all while they danced around me. It was a peculiar position to be in. Fortunately, Tillie was there too and we stood and panicked together!

We then proceeded to watch various members of the residential camp take part in a dance-off while everyone else looked on in utter bemusement at just how fast these kids can talk! I swear, they’re all just throwing nonsense words out half the time. My plan for a quiet evening and early night kinda didn’t work out though. Tillie and I ended up with a couple of the little girls from the family attaching themselves to us and clinging like limpets for the rest of the night. Who knew that going to college to study Horse Management would teach you how to actually be a horse?! If I was a pony, I’d be freaking awesome. I can do flying changes and everything. Not like Tillie. She just gets her feet in a muddle.

It is, however, later than expected which means I must to bed! Goodnight my loves, all of you. And have this to make you smile.



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