This football World Cup summer is turning out to be a game of two halves. Like most horse owners, I have a kind of a love-hate relationship with the sunshine.

Things I hate about this summer:

Flies, and all the associated paraphernalia — fly rugs, fly masks, fly spray, fly tags, fly wash. Putting them all on adds about half an hour to everything you do. And it’s so annoying to see a fly hovering over your horse, apparently deterred, then sneaking in and landing on the one bit you missed.

Fly graveyards — It doesn’t matter how often I sweep up there is always a drift of assorted flies lying with their legs in the air up against the long windows. They seem to have even more of a death wish than sheep.

Overheating — even after the tiniest of chores. I think it’s an age thing.

Hard ground — worrying about whether or not you should compete. Feeling for hard-pressed organisers who are trying so hard to make the best of the conditions. Hats off to Bicton who had a massive trough placed at the end of the cross-country so you could throw buckets of water over your horse as soon as you had finished.

Things I love about this summer:

The sunshine — warm evenings. Blue skies. Going out for the day in shorts and a T-shirt, without a boot full of wellies and waterproofs.

The football — we travelled home from an event last Saturday afternoon up what is normally a very busy, if not stationary, stretch of motorway, and at one point it was completely deserted in both directions except for us. I was listening to the match on Radio 5, of course. They make it so exciting on the radio.

Early morning riding — it’s such a pleasure when you actually get out there, but it never seems to get any easier to get out of bed to do it. At the moment though, you really have no choice.

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The great satisfaction of walloping a horse fly — they are really not that bright.

No housework — it’s far too hot to do housework, right?

And, at the end of the day, the first mouthful of an ice-stacked gin and tonic. One that you feel you have really earned. Bliss.

JG

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