Horses - a sure bet to lose money!

When I'm not gardening I'm invariably doing something with horses or dogs - or preferably both. And as I have been writing recently about the Gatcombe and Burghley Horse Trials it seems a good time to introduce you to some equine friends, past and present.

Grunta was a character - and a dangerous one at that! A pleasure to ride and as quiet as anything until he saw a fence or a hedge. Then you would feel the tension rise in him and off he would gallop and sail straight over without hesitation. Woe betide you if you tried to stop him for he would rear up on his hind legs and go for it either with or without you. His silly name came from his grunting with excitement before the take off!

A thin, worm ridden, timid creature, when we got Daisy May. We realised she would be too light for us to ride but we took delight in building up her trust and her body. She was sold some time later to be a brood mare.
Dior was the most beautiful of all the horses that we have owned - and the best quality. Bought to show as a youngster, we lost both her and her unborn foal to ragwort poisoning. A most terrible and distressing death to witness and a plea to all who have ragwort growing on their land - destroy it.
Barney is the wonder horse and still going strong after many years. A 17 hands 3" Irish Draught he is a great companion. His main picture is to the right but he also appears on the one below with Squirrel and Polly, the 30 year old pony that we 'inherited' along with the paddock. Barney is another great jumper and will tackle the biggest fences with ease - but in a kind and considerate sort of way. Squirrel was another danger horse who would try his utmost to throw you off when you first mounted him. Providing you stayed on he would settle down and be a good lad for the rest of the day. However, in the end he proved too hot to handle and, just when we were wondering what to do with him, he had to be put down. A good thing probably - I think he might have killed us in the end. Now white with age, Henry our grey Irish Draught and Rambo, our young Shire horse, along with Barney make up our stables at the moment. Rambo is ridden occasionally and has all the makings of a good horse as he gets older. Enormous, towering over Barney, but a gentle giant.

Carriage driving is not for the faint hearted either! This belongs to a friend and it is great fun when travelling off road and at speed....

Ragwort is an introduced plant to the UK and an absolute curse. It needs to be destroyed but care must be taken - pull it out wearing gloves for the toxins that attack the liver are absorbed through the skin. Then burn it or put it in your refuse bin where it can go for industrial composting. Garden compost heaps will not heat up enough to destroy it so don't put it there. I plan to write about ragwort and other introduced aliens in due course.
A final word of warning: horses eat money - but they are worth it!

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  1. I have always called horse 'May Drug of Choice'. If my other half knew what I spent on them he would have me eat hay. Of course, I've dropped a dollar (pound) on my dogs as well.
    Where does the Ragwort come from? Never heard of it.

  2. I need to check my spelling before I post!

  3. Hi Jim. Yes, dogs are another luxury item! Lucky you don't have Ragwort where you are. It was introduced as a garden flower from eastern Europe way back and is totally out of control here. Horses avoid it when it is growing but like it if it gets in hay. Accoording to Wikipedia it has also been introduced to the USA - but is only in the northern states. I think it might be called Tansy over there although tansy is a different plant over here. Confusing! Johnson

  4. I have wanted to try carriage driving since we saw it at the Malvern show - haven't seen it round here though.

  5. I love your horses. They are such special animals.

  6. Thanks Mary Delle & PG. Carriage driving people are always on the lookout for people to accompany them. And they are usually very helpful when it comes to people that would like to try it out. Have a look at - their homepage lists all the county clubs and contacts. Have a go, even if it's only once! Johnson

  7. My husband grew up with horses and misses them terribly still. He also learned to drive a buggy many years ago for the filming of 'Out of Africa' and had great fun with it. Dogs we do have, really life would hardly be worth it without a couple of dogs. We tried to do without them in the rented house, but gave up after two years and got ourselves two lunatics!

  8. Heckety, Out of Africa is such a great film - what was his part in it? As for dogs - the dog I was given for my 21st birthday (a long time ago now!) - was given on the proviso that I collected it. It was in Co. Clare and I have been in love with Ireland ever since! Johnson

  9. Oh, yes, they are ornery, stubborn, moody, wild... But, what better way to waste my money? :) I can't imagine life without a few horses in it.

  10. Couldn't agree more Kate! I was out on Barney today riding around the farm on the most perfect Autumn day - very warm, clear air, great views. Wouldn't be without them - especially Barney!

  11. i love horses, in fact i think its safe to say i am obsessed with them. I have 3 horses of my own: Jasper, Taylor and Scooby, all beautiful. I am sorry to hear that some of your horses either died or got put down. What a downer. I loved looking though your profiles for them and i hope you get some more :)

  12. Thanks Mary for visiting and interested to hear of your three horses.

    We often 'adopt' older horses or ones that people can't handle or are lame and try to get them back to health or safe to handle once again. Sometimes it just doesn't happen or they die of old age which is why we seem to have had a lot of 'past' horses.

    Since I wrote this post (2009) Barney, too has gone. He had a great and very active life so although sad it was nice to know that his last years were joyful.

    We now have three others - one very old and retired but have taken two younger ones. One was very difficult but has calmed down a lot and we hope that these might just keep going for many years.

    It's an emotional roller coaster taking having to keep calling the vet and wondering if this is the time that they will recover or not. On the other hand, when everything works and you see a horse having fun that would have been euthanased, well it's a terrific feeling.



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