In The Saddle: Summertime - and the living is easy

Anita Marsh

Anita Marsh

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Dare I say it? Summer has finally arrived and with that comes a stack of outdoor jobs for the equine enthusiast as well as plenty of beautiful sunny days in the saddle.

Over the last fortnight I’ve been battling with the huge amount of growth in the paddock – thistles and ragwort which seem to pop up the moment we hit these rainy and sunny patches.

It’s great for the grass growing in the new paddock, which we seeded at the end of spring, but it also means the weeds and poisonous plants shoot up too.

I’m lucky that my horse is a very ‘clean’ mare when it comes to her toilet arrangements. She has assigned two areas where she will go, which is fab for me when I clear it up every day. I don’t have to trail round the field. It also means she eats down the majority of the grass, so it looks prettier too.

Horses are fickle creatures. They won’t usually eat where they have gone to the loo, which is why you tend to see paddocks with long patches of grass. I think I have an obsession with it, as I regularly send my husband out to strim the toilet areas to keep it neat and tidy, much to his delight!

In addition to keeping on top of the weeds, I take the opportunity to paint the stables in the patches where her hay net has worn away the paint. But it doesn’t stop there. It’s much nicer to be out in the sun fixing fencing. It’s a rare chance to get my bare white legs out, which are usually hidden away behind a pair of breeches and long boots. Thankfully I’m tucked away where no-one can see me.

Owning a coloured mare (that is brown and white) also means I get the chance to bath her and wash away the winter dirt which has built up. I used to use a whitening shampoo but at £7 a bottle (more than my own shampoo) I tend to use a baby shampoo and save my expensive ones for shows.

It was a lovely day the other day, so I bathed her and tidied up her mane and forelock (fringe) and she looked stunning. I stood there, wet through, covered in dirt and horse hair admiring her for all of about three minutes, before she promptly got down and rolled.

That’s the time when I wish she was just a plain black horse. It didn’t matter I was yelling at her to get up, she just eyeballed me and rolled some more. That’s horses for you or rather, that’s my horse for you.

I think summer is fab for anyone who loves outdoor pursuits, but for equestrians it is definitely payback from a gruelling winter, it all seems worth it for these precious months of warmth and long sunny days.

There are competitions on the go, aimed at all levels in all disciplines. There are leisurely rides out in the countryside. And, well, just everything seems right in the horse world. Our horses are outdoors longer, living a more natural lifestyle and there is a lot less cleaning to do in the stable.

If you’ve never tried riding, these next few months are the time to have a go. However, be warned – horses are bad for housework. I prefer horse work to house work any day of the year ... and I’m sure there are plenty more out there that know exactly what I mean.