We have had a very busy Christmas and New Year period, but not without hiccups. I will elaborate further…

When people (often non-horsey types) ask me if I had a good Christmas, my reply is simple: ‘it’s another day for me — the same routine as usual’.

However I’m not ungrateful and I do love my presents, both received and given! This year was pretty bumper for me — while there was no Tristar lorry in my stocking, I did get a beautiful new hacking jacket with shirt and tie to match, plus loads of other goodies. My particular favourite was a cracking pair of patterned Ralph Lauren jeans — cheers mother!

Back to the horses and namely Harry. As you may have read in previous blogs, Christmas is not a good time for Harry, and this year proved to be no exception.

Poorly Harry

Having cantered amazingly on the Monday before Christmas, a quiet hack the next two days and Christmas Day off was in order for Harry. He hacked well on the Tuesday, but on Christmas Eve disaster struck. He looked very miserable when I went out to feed him and on entering his stable his discomfort was very clear.

He is bandaged behind overnight at all times, so when I removed his bandages I was horrified to see his whole leg from the fetlock to above the hock looking like the leg of an elephant — poor Harry was awfully lame. So it was Paul the vet to the rescue!

My vets, Calweton of Callington, are amazing. I am fortunate that Paul lives a stone’s throw from my house and he’s always a friendly face (apart form around Christmas — as he says: “It’s a waste of bloody time”…bah humbug).

He was as baffled as I was, so he gave Harry an intravenous pain killer, which was fab as Harry clearly thought his leg was falling off and the world was about to end! He also administered antibiotics, saying: “You’ll be OK injecting this one Liz, he’s as quiet as a church mouse”. Hmmmm I majorly disagree — lots of bucking and angry faces is not that nice to be behind while attached to a needle and syringe!

I meticulously scrubbed every inch of Harry’s leg searching for a cut, but to no avail. Baffled, AGAIN. I initially put the infection down to Harry’s poor skin. His ability to get an infection could be likened to Usain Bolt’s ability over 100m. Awesome!

Cue sad faces at Yeat Farm and a bit more head scratching.

On Christmas (disastrous) Day, Harry was a lot more comfortable but still stiff Harry and Becky hackingfrom the swelling, so I popped him in the sand school to stretch his legs and try to work some of the swelling down. It worked to a certain extent, but he was still rather swollen and there was intense heat in the hock.

The weather on Boxing Day was dire in Devon, but Harry had to go out and stretch his legs and to my delight/frustration he was wild in the school. Lots of bucking and squealing and a much happier Harry all-round.

The leg swelling had reduced considerably and although still warm, the hock was coming along nicely. After another two or three days things settled down, but he has been left with a really strange swelling just above the fetlock.

I was again left scratching my head… PAUL!

Paul was able to have a really good feel of the leg once Harry had stopped prancing around like a drama queen. He felt it best to carry on icing the leg, cold hosing and start work to see what happens.

Back to Christmas Day

Why is it that on one day of the year, everything goes wrong at Yeat Farm? Here’s what happened on Christmas Day.

Obviously Harry kicked off proceedings by being lame on Christmas Eve. Mum’s bitch then decided to whelp and she had seven cracking pups in the early hours of Christmas Day. I am duty midwife so I had a sleepless night.

Then my dog Roscoe (pictured below), who’s normally so sweet and innocent, decided to steal a whole joint of cooked ham, intended as a present to Grandma. Roscoe then proceeded to make a mess (and not a pretty one) all over the kitchen floor. To say I was unpopular was the UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE CENTURY!

The present-opening process went smoothly, as did the cooking until the gas oven went bang. This left me having to take the veg to my brother’s house (thankfully a two minute drive away) to finish cooking them.

Then the Rayburn attempted to catch fire while we were eating our turkey.

Lastly, but by no means least, my two home-bred yearlings, Boris and Bernie unhung their field gate and wandered past the house at about 4pm.

WHY???!! WHY ON CHRISTMAS DAY!!!???

Roscoe

Business as usual

Anyway, Harry resumed work and has been sound all the way along. He’s done heaps of hacking this last week. We even squeezed in a hack with my school friend Becky Mitchell. Becks has no faith in her ability and is a little nervous, but Harry duly obliged and was a true gent (pictured above right), unlike his friend Teddy, who was a bit on his toes.

On Sunday (4 January) Jo Buck and David Noonan came for a schooling session. Verity Nichols, another local trainer, brought her horse Dicky Bob along too. Verity’s father trained a horse called Dicky Bob back in the day, who was ridden by Steve Long, who coincidentally bred mum’s horse Tiz (Baldhu High Tide). Tiz schooled with Dicky Bob on Sunday (see video top) — it’s a small world!

Jo was very impressed with Tiz. He has evented to novice level with me, but started to struggle with a few mechanical issues he has in the dressage, so I twisted mother’s arm to race him and I have to say I like what I’m seeing already. His jumping is sound and I hope he stays as well as he jumps and gallops. Bring on Buckfastleigh in February!

Harry has had his first canter since his setback, and he was a touch on the fresh side but sensible enough, so I’m hoping he hasn’t upset anything. When we next work him it will be our biggest indicator yet as to whether he has a major underlying issue or he just gave himself a big old bang in the field the day before Christmas Eve — here’s hoping it’s the latter.

Disappointingly he will now miss his intended run at Wadebridge on 11 January, but I will try and aim him for Chipley Park on 25 January — fingers crossed!

As you can see things are never plain sailing, but it’s character building and Harry lives to fight another day.

So I hope you all had a less eventful Christmas period than I did. Happy New year everyone. I do hope that 2015 will bring you masses of success and enjoyment. A bit of good luck won’t go amiss either!

Lizzie & Harry