A Coat of Many Colours

Its a horrid day at Catherton foggy, drizzly. It seemed like an ideal day to write my recap of 2021.

The horses came home in the new year having been on their break at Margaret’s, sadly the first time Chris rode Pepper it was apparent he was not sound behind. He had been slightly unlevel before Christmas but nothing a 16 year old horse would not experience. This was a different level altogether. Our vet Clare came out and we arranged for him to go to their clinic for further investigation, she was suspicious of a branch of his suspensory ligament. This proved correct. Pepper is currently out again with the others (note plural!). He continued to enjoy his light hacking through the summer but his competitive days are over. 

February ticked along and plans were afoot to mate Molly at her next season. Crufts was postponed and Cheltenham festival ran under closed doors in March. Several prospective puppy families came to visit as soon as covid permitted. Chris was struggling with the prognosis for Pepper and I really pushed for him to get another horse. Monday 15th Feb I spotted an advert for a 2 year old Friesian cross gypsy cob. I loved him, so gingerly went to show Chris. After remonstrating for a while he too fell for the photo so I telephoned to enquire.

Harris was delivered here at the end of February, Chris and I spent an exhausting week building another stable. Thanks must go to Phil for door building skills. Harris has proven to be a wonderful boy, so easy to handle He has been given the best start in life having been bred on the farm where we got him.

The beginning of April I started beginners dog training classes here at home outdoors, slowly but surely whittling down my huge waitlist. Everything seemed” tickerty boo”. Jim our farrier was doing sterling work shoeing Pepper to keep him comfy. I entered a show with my gorgeous cob Heathcliffe with a plan of trying to qualify for the Ridden Traditional Cob Championships later in the year. Heath was shampooed and fluffed to within an inch of his life and looked a picture. I dusted off my showing jacket and off we went. As was minuted before in my blog, it went T.U. Heath sat down and fell on top of  me. The older you get the less forgiving the body and I was black and blue. Still after a physio check up for Heath, who had a tiny  sore area where the cantle of his saddle had pushed into his back , Chris took him to a dressage competition I had entered the following weekend and rode him for a second place. I hobbled around and did my best grooming. 

Molly’s husband to be ditched her at the alter. She didn’t appear too devastated, I was though and so began the search for another. In May Otto came to the rescue like a knight in shining armour,  a handsome suiter. First date went well and wedding plans were formed. May also meant we had our first covid jab, hurrah. I was back riding by then too, tentatively! We were opening the garden again for the NGS in July so we were beavering away. We had previously enlarged both herbaceous boarders so they were planted and a new set of  sleeper steps were put in the shrubbery. Chris’s clock tower was nearing completion, everything was going to plan.

June was beautiful weather, we had a lovely day out with some friends, David and Maggie, at Helens Festival – music, gardens and food. The Large Munsterlander Club managed to hold its champ show and Molly came into season. The rendezvous with Otto went well though Chris and I got a little wet holding them while they were tied in a short downpour. 

In July the weather was not so generous, on the day of our opening it was dull but we stayed dry with one short shower in the morning . The evening was a different matter, it poured. We still managed to have a helpers party outdoors under a huge gazebo with plenty of food and drink. I must mention one person was missing, our dear friend Al who was in hospital. He usually did a sterling job car parking. Little did we know what was to follow. Molly had her scan and had a tummy full of pups. 

Heath went out dressaging several times and qualified for British Dressage, My Quest and the gypsy cob associated championships. Sadly though, he was not right, after investigation he was diagnosed with laminitis. A horrid disease within the foot. I really took this hard, I have kept horses for decades and never experienced this issue. I blamed myself for allowing him to have access to too much grass. The summer had been mixed and normally by August we had no grass, not this year!  Plus he hadn’t had his usual amount of work after my accident. Box rest, muzzles, x-rays and blood tests ensued.  Heath was on a strict diet and was ravenous all the time. He was struggling psychologically with box rest getting stressed and grumpy, not him at all. I researched muzzles and thought it was worth a shot. Initially he hated it, tried to rub it off though it did allow him to go out onto his field but it was so distressing for me. Bless him, after a short while he accepted it and returned to daily turnout with his friend Harris. 

August 28th Molly and Otto’s pups arrived. They were a delight.  Heath continued to improve and began work gradually. Pepper was hacking out steadily but that worked well because Heath could only walk. Families came to visit the pups who were blooming.

September Chris and I were busy with our new extended family.  Chris entered Harris for his first trip out to an in-hand show. This is not Chris’s “thing” but important to do for Harris’ education. He blew us away by winning the youngstock class 1-3 years, running with Chris beautifully. Next on the horizon will be backing in the Spring.

Sadly this month we lost Al, our gorgeous friend who died at home. He and Sally had become wonderful friends and we will both miss him immensely. His curries were legendary. Al and I also enjoyed a tot or two of Whiskey. I will always toast him when I indulge, quite frequently in the Winter! 

Pups were booked in for their microchips and health checks late October and I made my decision on a puppy whom we had called Pony as she had a perfect black saddle patch on her back. This name has stuck though the saddle is not so obvious now.

November dawned and we took delivery of a new, larger greenhouse. Erecting a greenhouse is not for the faint hearted. John and Jas came over to help, 3 days later it was up. Pony our puppy had “helped” running off with tools, instructions and chewing the never ending supply of cardboard boxes. 

Christmas was on the horizon and Chris, Sal and I drove to London to watch the London International (formally Olympia). We chose the freestyle dressage day which was amazing . Charlotte and Pumpkin were incredible. We picked up Sal’s mum who lives nearby the Excel arena and returned home the same night. The day finished with Chris and I sat up in bed at 3.00pm eating mince pies and sharing a cup of tea (don’t ask!) 

Pony loved the Christmas tree, baubles were delicately removed, red beads were pulled off and the red reindeer blanket round the base had fringes on, how lucky was she!  Seriously, no baubles, beads or reindeer were harmed, well so far anyway! Her focus is back on to her plethora of toys. 

Her growth has been amazing, her personality is adorable and she is so much fun. I am excited to bring her out showing next year. Molly has been spayed so can have an uninterrupted season. 

I am delighted whatever my families choose to do with their Munster babies. Jan and Tony have continued success with Otto and his daughter Caoime in the showring. Jo and Morgan have taken to their new hobby, showing amazingly well. Katie brings Lionel out on occasions, he is a full champion, the perfect dog! Hope to see Amos out next year, he is maturing beautifully. It will be lovely to see Sarah, Keiko and Lincoln to. I am so proud of you all. Lets hope we see a few more Crumpsbrook  Munsters out next year.

This blog is just a snapshot of a busy year at Catherton, Chris and I adore our lifestyle though at this time of year there are not enough daylight hours. Evenings are special though, roaring fire, Munsters on our laps, horses fed and happy, chucks shut away from Mr Fox. What more is there? 

Wishing you all a wonderful 2022  however you choose to spend it.


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