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Doyles go trekking


For our recent anniversary, Mrs D bought me a two hour horse riding trek.  Now, I have never sat on a horse before, so this was going to be an interesting challenge.  I know next to nothing about riding horses.

adrian-and-gertySo, this morning, we found ourselves (after some deft navigation through county lanes in the Quantock Hills) at Quantock Trekking.  Within minutes we had completed the forms and I was given a hat.  I am not sure what I was expecting, but seconds later I found myself sitting on Gerty, a large mare (well, I am quite heavy).  Nicole was on Billy, a young gelding.  I got a quick demonstration on turning left, right, starting and stopping and we were off.  My only extra tip was how to stop Gerty snacking on every passing bush.

Next minute, we’re walking down a hill onto a road, round a removals lorry, past a couple of cars, our instructor in front and myself at the rear.

Having worked with dogs a lot, I basically came to the conclusion that I just needed to sit tight and relax.  I figured that the more calm I was, the easier Gerty would be to handle.  This was not helped by the fact that my legs were already aching.  So, I had a quick mental word with my legs muscles telling them to relax and that helped.

nicole-and-billySure enough, Gerty was attracted to many passing bushes, but before long I was able to sense when she was about to nibble something and intercept.  I was able to just sit as Gerty walked along and admire Nicole’s more expert handling ahead of me.

Soon, we turned off the road and headed up the hill.  We had to dodge into a field to avoid a tractor and somehow I managed to get Gerty to turn round, go back through the gate and wait!  Then, up a narrow path through woodlands.  It was quite steep but the horses were surefooted and had probably been this way many times.

The scenery was magical and soon we were riding along the top of the hill with views over both farmland and the Bristol Channel.

By now, I had channelled all complaints from my legs into a mental waiting room.  They soon gave up and seemed to get used to it.

adrian-gertyI found it harder coming down, at first, but soon got the legs right and the rhythm and we walked happily down.  Well, I was quite happy but Gerty seemed miffed about something, I’m not sure she liked being the last horse.  More cars, lorries and so on to dodge but we were soon back in the stables.  Gerty made straight for the hay!

Somehow, I got my legs to work and returned to terra firma.  I rewarded Gerty with some hay and then a carrot or two.  I think I might have won her over a little.  I sometimes wonder how horses put up with us beginners on their backs.

After that, we took the dogs for a short walk where we met a horse with her foal in a field.  They were very friendly and got lots of pats and scratches, which they seemed to enjoy.

nicole-and-horsesAnd then it was back, into the car and home for lunch.  All in all, a great day out and I am sure we will do more horse trekking in the future.  A lovely anniversary present.


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Hay causes sheep rumpus


With autumn approaching faster than we’d like and the grass losing its nutriemts, it was time to put some hay in the field.  There’s plenty of grass (thanks to the recent rain), so I thought the sheep would most likely ignore the hay for now.

Not exactly.

On seeing the wheelbarrow with 2 bales of hay trundling across the field, they were over straight away and pulling hay out even as the barrow was moving.  We put one bale in the large aluminium feeder and all the sheep crowded round.

We put another bale in the other feeder (which is the other side of the field) and turned tound to watch.  Well, there’s not quite enough room for 11 sheep to all feed at once, so we had a bit of a rumpus with much headbutting, nudging, shoving and general scrapping for space.

At last, one of the sheep (Selene) noticed we had a second feeder and come running over.  Clever girl, she had a feeder all to herself while the others jostled.

Soon, the others noticed and before long, there were 4 on one feeder, 7 on the other and plenty of space to go round.

Still with the odd bit of headbutting, though it always stopped whenever I pointed the camera in their direction.

But they are happy, and that’s what matters.

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Sheep Shearing doesn’t go quite to plan

adrian and nicole shearing sheep

On a warm and sunny June day, we set out to shear our three sheep.  We set up the pens and the shearing equipment and all went smoothly.  Then we gathered the sheep into the holding pan without incident.

Now, we had decided to shear in the field rather then bring them up to the stables. The first problem was that having sat the first sheep down in the holding pen, we couldn’t drag her to the shearing station (as we had done on the course) because the ground was not smooth.  OK, we let her through, sat her down and got ready to get shearing.

shearing underwayProblem two, our sheep are entirely unlike the ones we worked on on the course.  Those had lovely great bare patches on the their tummies and brisket so it was easy to get started.  Ours are completely covered, from their heads to the tips of their toes.

So shearing the tummy are took a bit longer than planned.

Problem 3, there was a slight slope and so we ended up getting out of position rather too easily.  That caused some problems in manoeuvring the handpiece.

However, we worked as a team and slowly but surely we managed to shear her.  On the bright side, with it being hot and having new equipment, the handpiece did glide smoothly through the wool.

nicole shearing sheepBut, those tricky legs and the head were not easy, mainly as we were taking great care not to hurt her.

Now, we got nearly, very nearly to finishing the first sheep when disaster struck – the drive shaft broke.  The actual driveshaft ( the bit that spins) sheared.  That wasn’t the sort of shearing we had had in mind.

So we had to finish off with the hand clippers and abandon the shearing for the day.  Tomorrow, on the phone to order a new one.

And next time, we’ll take a bit more care on getting the positioning right as we suspect we put a little too much pressure on the bendy bit (don’t know the techie term for it).

So we now have one sheared sheep and two still covered in wool.

all sheared