Ok firstly, I will admit that I am not the world’s best driver. I started lessons at 17 as most people do… I got my first car for my 18th birthday and had still not passed my test at this point. It was the following summer before I passed (18 months after starting lessons) and it took me four attempts. To make matters worse, I’m not a confident driver; particularly when it comes to snow, ice and wintery conditions.

The weather here over the last couple of days has been cold… damnit, it’s been freezing. It’s taking cold to a whole new level that I really don’t need to experience. I’ll hold my hands up here. When I stuck my head out of the door this morning, my initial thought was “hahaha, yea. Im staying in.” My horse is on full livery, I dont work, I’m not moving! Then one of those awful sinking thoughts that all horse owners will admit to passed over me… the “what if”. What if he’s not been on the horse walker as it’s too windy… what if he’s not been turned out in the indoor school… what if the automatic drinkers still haven’t thawed!

After wrapping up like michellin man, I set off to see Jack.

Now, I can be a bit slow at times or rather, Im blonde. It took me a good 5 minutes of driving along before I realised something was odd. The roads were bright. They’d changed colour! I was pondering this for some time before I noticed the next odd thing. They weren’t just bright, they were stripey.

I finally had a lightbulb moment where I realised, the roads were frosty – very frosty! Infact, the sun catching a reflection on part of them revealed worse; they were icey! Now, I’m from the UK. If there is a hint of cold weather there, everything gets gritted. Im from the country where the first site of a snowflake nation wide results in a massive wave of people turning on their radios to find out if the buses have stopped running, if the trains have stopped or if the schools are closing. Much more than a flurry and the country grinds to a halt and everyone goes home and admits defeat. Realising how icey the roads were literally made me want to pull over, get out and yell “THERE IS SNOW ON YOUR ROADS!!!” At this point, I was astounded to the point that I wanted to take pictures. Yes I know, I’m writing about being astonished over the road conditions and my first bright idea is to take photos while driving. Of course, the fact that the sun was shining directly onto the roads and that my camera is far from powerful (being in the back of a phone), meant that the pictures are less than impressive… so frankly, you’ll just have to go with me when I say they were bad!

I arrived at the stables whimpering to myself over the cold and was just battling my lack of enthusiasm to ride when my fiance called. I voiced by disgust over the road conditions obviously!

“You have winter tyres”
“Well, are they going to save me?”
“Yes, obviously… hence they’re called winter tyres”

I was just about to embark on a massive lecture about how, unless they have mini blow torches hidden in the treads which help to clear a path through the deathly ice I wasn’t interested, but sadly (for me), he had to cut the conversation short as he was going out.

Seriously, winter tyres… Around November time, everyone here changes their tyres for “winter tyres”. They sound impressive don’t they? Are you picturing tracter tyres or chain clad tyres? Yea… they’re normal tyres with a bit more tread (so I’m told.. and yes, I had to be told).

Aaaaanyway thats just about my only complaint for today. *Just about* πŸ˜‰

Automatic drinkers – fabulous things! No more dragging heavy buckets around, ending up with more water down your legs than in the bucket (and no one except horse riders understands the horridness of wet jodhpurs), no more horses running out of water in the middle of the night, no more tipped buckets and wet beds! Fabulous; until they freeze. Picture this – a yard of around 50 horses all used to using automatic drinkers. We have, perhaps, 5 buckets on the yard. This is the second day of temperatures of around -5 and -6 degrees… do you see where this is going?

While I was at the stables yesterday, I was aware of a really annoying clicking sound. Almost like someone was continuously smacking two plastic objects together. My curiosity led me to find out who and three stables down was a horse stood at the back of his stable pressing the lever on his drinker.. over and over again. I went to check Jack’s drinker and sure enough it was frozen solid. Looking over at the mare next door to Jack, she was staring fixatedly at her drinker while balancing on three legs. The fourth leg was being waved madly in the air as she was apparently saying “please” to the very frozen and uncooperative drinking machine. This, annoyingly, meant I had to drive all the way home to get his old water bucket and then head all the way back. Upon returning, I checked it was ok to put him a bucket in.

“Jack’s drinker is frozen… can i put a bucket in with him?”
“Yes yes, sparrow drink”
“Drinkers frozen?!”
“Yes, drinkers frozen and the mare next door is thirsty but I let her drink from Jacks bucket before I left it with him”
“No! Drinkers frozen! This NOT good!”

I went up today to find his bucket half full so assumed someone had been filling them as his drinker was still frozen solid. As lunch time approached, a rather comical scene played out.

“Jack has bucket – allowed water”
(person proceeds to fill his bucket)
“Yes, thankyou”
“Lucky Jack – those with buckets allowed water”
“Cant we get more buckets?”
“Shop no got”
“It doesnt have buckets?”
“No, owners bought last two yesterday – no buckets left. Need more buckets!”
(I suddenly became very happy that Jack’s name was scrawled all over his bucket in bright pink nail varnish as it seemed they were becoming a rather valuable commodity and images of stealthy liveries sneaking around and stealing buckets was starting to creep into my head)

This of course led me to wondering what about those poor horses without. Next thing there was yelling in the barn telling the two trainees to put water into all the feedbowls when the horses had eaten lunch. This apparently had to be done “pronto pronto!”

One of the trainees reached the little mare next door and started pouring the water into her feed bowl. A multitude of expletives commenced and I turned round to see a very focused little mare trying to drink as fast as she possibly could, while water flooded out of her stable. Evidently, she had a hole in her food bowl. There was a lot of yelling backwards and forwards along the corridor until the second trainee appeared and went into her stable; placed his finger into the hole in her food bowl and stood there while the first trainee filled it. Now, keeping in mind it was around -5 degrees and the water was cold. Those two trainees stood there for a good ten minutes, one pouring, one with his finger in the hole while the little mare drank.

While Im impressed about the lengths they went to to ensure she drank, surely there would have been a better solution to this! Im back at home sat in the warm and pondering as to how many times today, those two trainees will stand in that stable allowing the mare to drink while losing all feeling in their fingers. Life as a groom in denmark is a tough business it seems.

Finally, Jack had a young girl who took care of him. She’d let him loose in the indoor schools or take him for walks for a small amount of money extra per month. She was invaluable to me as I cant be up twice a day to ensure he’s out enough. We even went to the lengths of buying her a Christmas present.

After having not seen her for a few days, I asked the boy with his finger inserted into the hole filled feed bowl, where she was.

” Lisbeth! Lisette stoppet!”
“Stoppet?! Stoppet doesnt sound good. She quit?!”
“Cant tell you in the English – friend will”

Along came a young girl from the other end of the yard.

“She no work here anymore, she gone.”
‘”Oh! Do we know why?”
“No, she gone home and not coming back”

This wasn’t good. Jack really needed someone to let him loose in the arenas as he can be sharp at the best of times. After speaking to the chief rider, I was sent in search of Markus (pronounced in a rather Eldorado style Markoooooooooooooooooooos – apologies to those who don’t remember that show). He agree’d to take over responsibility for Jack’s daily turnout and seemed rather shocked that we were willing to pay him to do so. I ensured Jack’s headcollar, leadrope and turnout carpet were outside his stable and thanked Markus again before saying goodbye. (Incidently, this carpet business is quite catchy. Im tempted to go into business producing a new range of carpets for the modern day horse. I could even make underblankets and market them as Underlay! (yea i know… but it amused me))

“No problem! I’ll look after Jack the Maniac! Goodbye!”

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And so ends another day and another rant.

Incidently, just as Im linking this blog to a forum there is much shouting in the house. My fiance frantically started putting on his shoes and I’m left looking around wondering what on earth all the yelling is about.

“Be back soon – I have to go help my mom. The boat is stuck on the land”
“The boat is what?!”

You got it… its freezing cold, blowing gale force winds and they’re off searching for a stuck boat. These people are crazy…

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