Horse welfare is paramount ...

Please, not another day like that

Monday, 09 March 2015

"We turn not older with years, but newer every day."

Emily Dickinson.

Humphry Repton (Yaz)

It started off a bright sunny morning, but has progressively got cloudier as the day has gone on. There was plenty of red sky as I came in at 5.45 and you know the old saying ‘red sky in the morning, shepherds warning’, well it was certainly right today. With Jimmy and Joe in it has been a good morning exercise wise, and the horses have done some good long canters on Bury Side. The two-year-olds are progressing just like I want them to and it looks like we have got a good mix of early and later sorts. I will be starting to bunch them up on the grass soon and we will find out for sure then.

     64_Ex_Lady_Bellatrix     65_Ex_Lady_Bellatrix
Colt foal by Excelebration ex Lady Bellatrix

What a nightmare of a day yesterday. It was one of those days you just couldn’t make up. With a maiden mare foaling, we decided I would drive the box down to Tweenhills and get Astromagick covered by Charm Spirit. David, our stud groom, and Angie would remain at home keeping an eye on the mare. She is well overdue and as a maiden, could foal at anytime.

It was all going well until we pulled up for diesel a mile from the stud. Getting back in and turning on the ignition, there was no response. Absolutely nothing. A phone call to our horsebox recovery service and to Tweenhills, resulted in Tweenhills becoming like Starsky and Hutch coming to my rescue with some jump leads. The stud groom and Graham McCourt (who many of you will remember as a top class jockey and a great bloke) helped me to get the wagon started once again. A loose connection on the battery was the problem. We progressed to the stud and the covering went well. He is a really nice horse, Charm Spirit, and I am sure will be a great success at stud.

Half an hour later we were back on the road, only for the box to lose power on the first hill of the M42 and we struggled into a service station. The second call of the day to the horsebox recovery service resulted in a mechanic arriving an hour later. The diagnosis was that a hose on the engine was sucking in air. Taping it up, he told me, would do the job. We set off only to get on the M5 and lose power for the second time. Finding a police lay-by, we looked under the bonnet and the hose had blown again. Using a bandage from our medical box, we mended it, hoping that had done the trick. However, when we got on the M6 there was black smoke and loss of power yet again. Struggling down the hard shoulder with the hazard lights on, black smoke filling the motorway, everybody flashing, hooting, and gesticulating to us, we were like new age travellers! The mare and foal meanwhile, were absolutely brilliant. With feed and water, they were oblivious to what was going on. Somehow we crept into a service station and phoned the rescue people for the third time. This time the same mechanic arrived and announced it was the turbo, with an oil pipe gone and that ‘you won’t get one of those today’. The outcome, an hour and a half later, was the mare and foal were transferred to another horsebox and I travelled back to Dullingham with them and Ben, who was with me, went back on a low loader to our garage we use in Fordham.

In the meantime the mare had foaled, a colt foal by Excelebration. She was very foal proud and Angie had got very badly kicked when trying to help. She was very lucky and is amazingly only hobbling, but badly bruised and shaken. The mare is usually the kindest person, but sometimes just after foaling, they can become very protective of their foals and can get quite aggressive. This I am sure will disappear in a few days, but what a day it was. I will write a book one day and this is certainly worth a mention in it.

Prayer Time

Photograph credited to Pro-Shot Photography and Tony Knapton

Cheltenham starts tomorrow and Richard Marriott and I will be having our annual tipping competition and let’s hope we can point you in the way of several winners. We won’t be having a runner until Friday when Prayer Time runs once again at Wolverhampton, all being well.