2020 What A Year !

Spring 2020 started so well, BoB at Crufts with Lionel and Kate , PG win for Otto and Jan. Molly and Roskos’ gorgeous litters’ arrival the very next day and Cheltenham races the following Tuesday. Whoopy, life was good.

Then the world turned upside down. Life for us here at Catherton didn’t change too significantly ,we continued to exercise the dogs and ride the horses .The weather was glorious and Chris and I spent many a happy hour outside with the puppies. Sadly their families couldn’t come and see them but we recorded lots of video footage to enable everyone to feel a part of their development .

 Jan , Rosko’s mum, was unable to make the journey to see the pups, that didn’t stop us analysing each and everyone by video and photo! 

The beginning of May the little splots went to their new homes. They were blissfully unaware of the task ahead of them, giving their owners a focus for the troubled times we were experiencing. 

The garden was beginning to get into its stride and plans were afoot to maybe open for the National Garden Scheme, after all this wasn’t until July !

We did in fact open with online prebooking and no refreshments. Picnics were encouraged , the sun shone, though it was very windy and we were fully booked. All charities will have suffered this year but we did our bit and raised almost £800 on the gate and plant sales for NGS cancer care charities . They are an amazing organisation. If you have never visited any private gardens open for the NGS look on their website, it is a lovely experience and hopefully home made teas will be allowed this year, a useful enticement for Chris particularly who loves cake! 

Chris and I have made a few alterations to the garden ready for next year, enlarging the herbaceous borders, adding steps in the shrubbery and a bird bath in the veg garden. Chris has been beavering away on a clock tower for the barn roof. There will be a weather vain on the top, a 4 sided clock with a brass bell hanging underneath striking the hour. I have been reassured that the bell will not strike through the night as the tower is in close proximity to our bedroom window! 

We were forced to postpone agility during the November lockdown ,the season normally ends around then with a competition/ party. Once the lockdown finished we arranged the competition immediately and invited everyone . We had the best day, such fun and laughter, humans and dogs were so happy. We ate pumpkin soup , Chilli and cheese scones, Ginger cake and Carrot cake, just managing to keep warm. Everyone was so appreciative, especially of Jill and Gracies’ agility to music demo, fantastic. Fingers crossed for an Easter start to the season.

The horses have been for their holidays as usual. We are preparing to fetch them back having fetched hay, painted stables, washed out the rubber flooring and put new bedding down. They are both looking fat and resemble polar bears so a bath and clipping will be order of the day made much more civilised by our gas powered hot shower, an addition last year.

Both horses had a good year competing wise after a slow start. My new cob Heathcliffe  has grown in confidence, he struggled working in with other horses, being a submissive soul he was very wary.  We finished the season on a great dressage test and I can’t wait to get going this year. 

We managed to attend a socially distanced outdoor concert in the summer at Malvern Three counties showground. A Queen tribute band played, there were 6 in our bubble, we had a picnic and thoroughly enjoyed the evening as did the band who were playing for the first time. It felt so good to be out and about with friends again.

Chris and I returned to Malvern for the Autumn flower show. We were loaded up with plants, after all I was suffering withdrawal from horticultural retail therapy! 

Our newest member of the family Puzzle, Molly and Rosko’s daughter had an arthroscopy in October on her elbow having had lameness issues. Our main concern was the practicality of her recuperation here at Catherton where our dogs are blessed with lots of space. Our amazing longstanding friends “the Harrisons” took on the challenge. Puzzle remains with them and is doing incredibly well, she has been to hydro therapy, has had weeks of controlled exercise and, fingers crossed, is looking brilliant. We will be forever in their debt, thank you. She loves her new family, and her new best mate Sox. Before the covid tiers altered The Harrisons bought them over for the first time since the op, this was harder for me than Puzzle, seeing her here again, a beautiful grown up 9 1/2month old was tough. She ran around the fields with Sox, not her mum, grand mum and great grand mum, and never cast a backward glance when getting in the car to leave. I am pleased to say all of her litter mates are doing extremely well and are much loved.

Munsterlanders are wonderful dogs and we are fortunate to still be able to influence the breeds health. As their popularity increases this may became more difficult and we must all pull together and be transparent about our pedigrees /lines and health scores . My own feeling is transparency about non tested puppies who have had issues like Puzzle is essential and once x rays are taken those plates must be scored. The improvement will be a slow journey, especially as elbow scoring  has not been around for as many years.

It is very easy to focus on the negative aspects of this year, covid continues to affect all of us in one way shape or form but I am optimistic 2021 will be better. Projects for 2021 are a revamp for the kitchen, to join British Dressage and compete in the Traditional Gypsy Cob dressage series. Chris can do veterans BD with Pepper now along with his dressage to music. We are going to redo his music this year to suit the next level for his freestyle. My fingers are crossed that some dog shows will go ahead to,  I have missed them. I also hope to be able to take our holiday with our girls and the Harrisons, Sox and Puzzle, postponed from this November.

I wish everyone a Happy New Year. Look after yourselves and I will look forward to socialising again soon.


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