Echo and I are beginning to settle. I know that these things take time, particularly when we have been at a nice, well-run livery yard and it now feels like we're 'roughing-it' a bit, but we've had a difficult couple of days.
I went away last weekend for a couple of days and left Echo with the lady who owns Gizmo, the other horse in the field. We had had a good week of riding, and even ventured out for a little hack on Friday, which Echo was brilliant on, so I was feeling really positive about the whole situation. When I arrived back on Monday morning, I found Echo wandering around outside the fenced off section of the field. She hadn't broken the fence, she had just gone through it somehow!
Now, I know that Echo has history with this, but I had really hoped that we could have got this sorted before she started breaking out. That day was a complete nightmare. Every time I put her back in, she got out again within half an hour or so. The worrying thing was that there are no gates at the moment into the garden, where the building work on the stables is still being done. Not only are there so many things for her to injure herself on, she would also destroy my parents' garden!
I was running through so many ideas in my head - moving her to a livery yard...selling her! We decided to see whether we could make the electric fencing any stronger, as it was only giving 3000 volts, which all the websites say is the minimum for horse paddocks - never mind fencing to contain a Houdini-horse! The battery also seemed to be running really slowly, only giving a click every 5 seconds or so. I'm pretty sure Echo was barely being touched by it. The battery had only just been charged, so my dad took the whole lot to the local farm suppliers and asked for their help!
He then bought a new battery - a leisure battery rather than a car battery and a new earthing stake and we had a go with that. I would still like it to have a little more oomph to it's shock - it is now giving off between 4.5 and 5000 volts, which is a big improvement. It is also clicking every 2 seconds, so this should deter her a bit more. It has luckily been very mild and dry for the last few days, so I have been leaving her without a rug on, so that she definitely gets a shock if she tries to go through it, and so far, touch wood, this seems to be working. I am loathe to say that the problem is solved, as that would probably jinx it, but so far so good. Tonight, however, it is puring with rain, so I have put a rug on and am sitting here with my fingers crossed, hoping that she stays put.
There is more grass in the other section of the field, so we are going to fence this, perhaps even this weekend, but I would like to save some grass for the winter time - even if it has little goodness in it, it is still there and they will spend their time eating it!
In contrast to all of my problems, Echo has been absolutely brilliant to ride! Seriously, she's going better than she's ever gone. I now get on by my parents' front gate and ride her round the village to the school; she stands beautifully to wait to cross the road and no longer spooks at every driveway! I've now been out for two hacks on my own, as there is no one to ride with, and she's been far better than she ever was on her own before! She seems to really enjoy being out - we went out for nearly an hour yesterday, going for two really long canters along lovely straight grass tracks that seem to go on forever. Although it's all farmland, it is much less industrial than the farms we rode round in Suffolk, where every field has some kind of machinery or activity going on. She's also so far been very good with the traffic. I have to ride along a fairly main road for a little while in order to get to the path onto the farmland, but there is a concrete path to the side of the road - this is both good and bad - it's good because we are off the road and cars don't have to go round us, but it's bad because that means that cars don't really have to slow down. Most are very courteous and do, but there was a lorry that rattled past us yesterday - she tensed up, but didn't do anything. Clever pony!
She has been going beautifully in the school too - we've been working on lateral work in trot - shoulder in and travers, and learning to do half-pass in walk. I just wish I could get out and do stuff - go to riding club training or go out competing. I need to find someone who has a trailer they aren't using, or someone local who goes to things, but I've been struggling to find anyone at all who does anything! People who have horses don't seem to ride them, or at least don't hack them out and some people have been particularly unfriendly. This is a bit of a pet hate of mine - since moving to the area I have tried to be really friendly - I smile and say hello to everyone I pass in the village - and from the looks I get sometimes, you'd think I had sworn at them or something! I'm a bit stubborn really...and this just makes me more determined to be even more friendly! I WILL make them be civil!
So...there have been some bad things and some very good things. The stables are getting there. The walls are pretty much finished and by the end of the weekend, we should be ready to start concreting - which would be fantastic - at least I will have somewhere to stand her then! She is getting much braver about everything - I brought her right over to the kitchen door today, to take her saddle off as it had begun to rain and I didn't want it to sit out and get wet, and she very nearly walked into the kitchen! Another bad thing...the Red Arrows. I'm sure I'll post more about this in future, but the Red Arrows train over my village, and they fly low. Very low. Echo is getting used to this, and no longer even looks up when she's out in the field, but I'm wary of riding when they're flying, as it's very dangerous. I waited all afternoon for them to stop today. The irony of this? I then ended up riding in a thunderstorm! You can't win.
The end of this post has become very rambling and random, so I will stop now. I will try to post some photos of the stables' progress as they are looking really good now.
The Red Arrows - not horse-friendly!!