Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Outside Activities for Small Children

Or, How to keep them occupied for long enough to get things done.

Of course, outside activities are mainly dependant on the weather, you cannot play in mud if there is none, or splash about with the hosepipe and water buckets in the middle of winter when everything is frozen.

Here are some things that my children like to do:

  1. Play with water. There was a time that you could not let my daughter anywhere near a bucket of water without her getting in it, fully dressed. Welly boots take a surprisingly long time to dry out once submerged!
  2. Mud. Need I say more? You can jump in it, squelch in it, stick things in it, make things out of it, eat it
  3. Sticks. Sticks are great for imagination, they can be anything you want them to be - swords, fishing rods, magic wands etc, or you can use them to poke things....
4. Making 'cakes' - this is something my daughter loves doing and I remember doing when I was small. You need a bucket, some kind of stirring utensil (sticks, see above) and whatever stuff you can find - mud, sand, leaves, grass and obviously water (to make it truly disgusting, can you sense a theme?)
5. Chalk. This is quite a good game for if the weather is a bit rubbish. My daughter likes to draw pictures on the insides of the stable walls, and on the stable doors.

6. 'Helping' - Give the children their own tools and let them help (this will actually take you far longer than if you were doing it by yourself!)

Oh, and all of these activities will involve grubby children. Enjoy!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Trailer Trouble

On Sunday, we took the horses out on their first trip in the new trailer. We were excited to be finally trying them in our own trailer, but anxious due to the last trip (which ended in a bent partition in a friend's trailer!)

We exercised the horses first so they weren't too fresh, and they had been out in the woodchip turnout. They got a bit excited when the boots and tail guard came out, but so far, so good.

We loaded the gelding first, then the mare, all fine. Before we had even started to move however, the mare started to lean on the partition and refused to stand on all four legs the trollop

It didn't get any better. While we were moving, all was quiet, but as soon as we slowed or accelerated she would throw herself about. I can quite honestly say it was not the driving that was upsetting her. I truly believe she was upsetting herself.

The good news is that an Ifor Williams 505 seems to be pretty indestructable, only a little bit of pushing back was required.

I have since been googling, asking horsey people I know and talking it through with my husband, and I now have a list of things to try to get the bloody horse travelling on four legs!

  • Put some bedding down in the trailer - even though the floor is decent rubber, apparently some horses can find it slippery.
  • Take off her boots. This sounds a bit harsh, but thinking back, the problem started around the same time I bought a really good set of travelling boots. She may find them too restrictive, and she does not have shoes behind, so damage should be limited. Perhaps some brushing boots will be a better bet?
  • Travel her on the other side. She seemed to be leaning against the partition, and scrambling her legs up the side of the box. If she leant against the side with her feet towards the partition she would find that due to the rubber skirt of the partition, she would have more foot room.
  • Either take out the partition, fold back the rear half or just travel her alone to see if it makes a difference and whether it is a confidence thing.
I will attempt them all if I have to. It is particularly stressful because she has travelled beautifully in a trailer, and with another horse too, so will she come round or not?

Any other suggestions gratefully received!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

An afternoon off - well, sort of....

DS (Darling Son) has fallen asleep on the sofa. This is not ideal really, as I do need him to sleep in the car so I can get the horses done, but I intend to make the most of this afternoon all the same.

I should really do some housework as my super tidy friend is coming over tomorrow morning. I should at least attack the laundry pile and unload the dishy, but I very rarely get an afternoon 'off' so I am going to enjoy every moment!

This means 2hrs of Midsommer Murders, my laptop and my special dip in the sofa. The only thing missing is cake...

Monday, 13 February 2012

The Horse Ideal

When people think about horses/riding/horse riders, everyone has a different picture in their head. For some it may be racehorses, or riding school ponies. Smelly, scruffy girls from the local riding school or snooty toffs in shiny boots with a penchant for whips and spurs (for anyone who has seen the cover of Riders by Jilly Cooper!)

The same applies to horsecare. Some people have muddy horses living out wearing no rug, and some have horses up to their armpits in pristine bedding, wearing four rugs and a lycra hood. There are also many inbetween. To be honest, there is no real right or wrong way as long as you follow some basic care guidelines.

The majority of horse owners do not have pots of money, a beautiful house with stables and paddocks, a groom or a super shiny horsebox. Most of us do it as cheaply as possible! (although I am sure I am not the only one who dreams of all this!)

My horses are stabled at night on a deep littered straw bed, they go out for a couple of hours each day (more in the summer, less in bad weather) they are rugged, but due to the fact I have to rely on other people for turning out, the top rugs are always turnout rugs and do not get changed for going out/staying in. I have to balance out what is best for the horses, best for us (children, financial etc) what is sensible and meet somewhere inbetween. They are at a small livery yard, about 8mins drive away, and even though it is not far, if I were to go twice a day every day it would seriously eat into the day and for me it would make having horses and small children a near impossibility.

I would like to be able to be the one who feeds my horses their breakfast in the morning, to be the last one to check they are tucked up at night with a huge haynet and a clean bed, but sadly it is not possible at this moment in time. I would like to be able to go out competing every weekend, and to schooling sessions and clinics, but as it is I have to be content with a handful of outings each year.

I used to feel guilty that my horses are wasted with me, especially the mare, seeing as the gelding is a retired flat racehorse, and has earned a retirement. But actually, what horse wouldn't love doing as little as possible, eating their heads off and being a little bit fussed over with the odd day out? Sounds pretty good to me!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Winter Blues

I am feeling very 'meh' at the moment. Everything feels like such an effort. The kids are annoying the hell out of me, I feel resentful about having to do the horses everyday with very little help and no company and DH is being a grumpy bugger.

When I think about it, I feel like this at almost exactly the same point every year. It is at the point when the novelty of winter has well and truly worn off, the horses and children are getting badly behaved from lack of exercise, and quite honestly I am sick of feeling 'weathered'. My hair constantly looks like a birds nest, my skin is dry and grey, my hands crack at the slightest movement and I am able to hide all my extra weight under huge jumpers, which doesn't give me much of an incentive to lose it.

I want some decent sunshine. I want to be able to have the windows open without freezing, to be able to hang the washing out on the line instead of all over the house. I want to enjoy spending the afternoons at the yard just pottering about without freezing my arse off or the children getting cold and grumpy.

And the extra daylight! All that extra lovely daylight to spend doing things instead of sat under a blanket eating chocolate.

I am so over Winter now!

Saturday, 4 February 2012


I am cosied up at home waiting for it to snow. I actually like snow, despite it not being very practical for someone who has to go outside and do things every day. I like the fact that it is a 'free' day. A day when I can do the bare minium and not feel guilty about it.

I have already planned on getting the sledge out tomorrow once the horses are done. For the children you understand.

Taking your children out to play in the snow definitely ticks some Good Mummy boxes (it is fun too!) as long as you take 20 pairs of spare gloves with you and have hot Ribena and crumpets on standby for when you get home.

Fingers crossed for a decent amount of snow, and being glad I bought plenty of carrots today for snowman noses.