Today I had a loose arrangement with a friend to ride out; but when I was at the yard I got a text saying she was running late and that I should ride without her because we might not have time to ride before it gets dark by the time she gets there. So my first thought was ‘oh well I’ll just ride in the school then’ I had planned to ride in the school first anyway, because I hadn’t hacked out in a while. SO I went into the school and after cantering round a few times and letting him think he was about to go in so he got all sleepy, thought ‘No, pull yourself together Maddi, you’re going to have to hack out by yourself at some point’. Now you see the thing is I have hacked out by myself before, but not since The Deer Episode. So I was a bit nervous. For those of you who missed The Deer Episode, basically lots of scary little things meant meeting a pain-associated deer was all too much, and we had too run away very fast and it was all a disaster… So I thought I’ll just go round one field, the field closest to the yard, so I don’t have far to get back if anything happens, and I can always be seen from the yard.
Let me describe the field:
The field is near enough a perfect square. The yard and farm buildings are off the bottom left corner. The bottom shares an edge with the paddocks, and the others with arable fields. There are ditches around the top 3 sides with bridges to get into the adjoining fields, and hedges too. Along the right hand side is The Hedge. It begins with an old oak tree about half way down the field, and then a line of scraggley sloe bushes. It’s not much to start off with. As it runs down the field it thickens, first with rabbit warrens, then badger sets, then, as you reach the old, negelected pheasant release pen, it’s deer territory. Now these aren’t just nay deer. They can strike fear into the hearts of the yards most seasoned hunters. Deer like no other. Only yesterday my friend was riding down The Hedge at dusk. There was something there, and it was following her…
So I had two ways to go round this field, clockwise or anti-clockwise. I thought anti-clockwise would be a good idea, get The Hedge over and done with first, so I could relax for the rest of the ride. If any of these horse-eating deer jumped out after that then we wouldn’t be going towards them, and they would be far enough away to deal with, not run away from. And off we went. Out of the yard, round the tractor shed and past the paddocks, chucked a right towards The Hedge.
‘Oh no!’ – I hear you cry- ‘Has one of these terrifying creatures lept from deepest darkest deer-ville and sprung a suprise attack on Maddi and Oscar!?’ No, that would be a water container. You know the ones; plastic, hold 1000l and sit in fields that don’t have plumbed in troughs so you can do the field waters easily? Well, despite having one in his field for a length of time, these were just too much for Oscar! So, deciding he might go past them better on the way home, we turned around, and turned right up the left hand side of the field.
This was a bit squelchy and muddy, which didn’t go well with his over-reach boots. Never mind, we survived it, even if it did take us a few minutes longer than normal. At the corner we had a quick glance in the other field for grazing deer which might disturb out ride on their route home, and turned right along the top edge. Here I was less than relaxed. I totally understand that this didn’t help Oscar chill out in the least, but the only way I was going to relax was by doing it, so I just sang a little song in my head in the hope he would think I was relaxed…. The whole time my eyes were scanning The Hedge for movement or beady eyes peering out at us. Oscar was doing the same.
After a while we came onto the third edge of the field. As we neared the hedge, the sun dipped behind a cloud, the wind picked up and a wolf howled in the distance [OK, maybe the wolf is a bit too far, but it got colder, honest!!]. As we passed first rabbit warrens then badgers sets, I looked as deep into the hedge as I could. It was pretty dense, nothing could live in there, surely? Got to the point where the deer jumped out before- lots of pats for Oscar- and we were through! We’d actually done it! We survived The Hedge of Challow!!!!
And so now I could relax.
Oh, but I’d forgotten about the water tanks… Well, he wouldn’t go too close to them, so we hobbled across the field a bit onto the flat tractor tracks, because that was as close as we could get to them. Past one- lots of pats- past the second -even more pats! Finally we arrived home at the yard (after negociating the scary bonfire) with big smiles =)
Felt so good to have done that, next time hopefully I won’t be so nervous and we can have a bit more fun!
In other news, mum has got those cool backs which you pack stuff into then suck all the air out with a vacuum cleaner. We managed to get 3 duvets and 2 pillows reduced to the size of one pillow!! How cool is that!? :L
Keep riding folks ;)