Full Speed Ahead at Last – (Re-posted with a working link from Facebook this time)

Its freezing literally outside too icy to ride, too cold to garden so I’m inside writing my review of 2022 .

Chris treated me to a 2022 annual membership for Ludlow races for Christmas, I have loved it, its such a beautiful racecourse. The members lounge is so warm and welcoming, useful for the wet weather meetings and the racing is usually good. This has meant twice a month I toddle off with my racing buddy Brian, clutching my form notes.

We had missed 2 annual holidays due to Covid so we took the girls off to Wales for a week the end of January. We had decent weather, lots of walking and a cosy cottage to return to. A much needed break .

Our horses were over at their winter field. On our return we fetched all 3 home. Pepper, Chris’s horse, seemed well and came back into work with Heath, doing the occasional hack. Harris started lunging and long reining, he would turn 3 so Chris began his education.

March dawned yippie , Crufts and Cheltenham loomed.

Crufts was surreal, I have previously written a blog about the day but needless to say I will never forget the experience. I have always said I would have loved to breed horses and who knows in another life if I could have bred a Horse of the Year show winner. Breeding Kite and getting best of breed is something I only dreamed of I am so proud ! Big tick for the “bucket list”.

I had 2 race meetings to fit in at Ludlow and the annual trip to Champion Hurdle day at Cheltenham. I am a huge fan of national hunt racing, I much prefer it to flat racing and anyway I’m too busy in the summer with garden, horses and doggies of course.

I also bit the bullet and put myself forward for the Large Munsterlander club committee. I was voted on and will strive to promote the club to all owners of Munsters, whether working gundog people, showing people, agility people or pet owners, we should encompass all.

April and Easter arrived and the first champ dog show of the season at WELKS. was going to be Pony’s first outing . She was such good girl and won her first puppy class.

The February before covid I had bought Chris a VIP day at Longleat Safari park. Obviously it was postponed and May 2022 we got to go.

The day dawned beautifully sunny . We were met by our guide for the day and climbed into a safari long wheel based Landrover to go to meet the big cats before they were let out into their enclosures.

Getting close and personal to a Tiger so close you can smell their breath and feed them is truly amazing.

The lions were next, they have 3 prides and we met them all. They are so powerful and scary, Chris and I were in awe.

The next port of call was to see Ann, an elderly rescued circus elephant, she was outside enjoying the sunshine. The facilities and care this lady receives is second to none.

We fed their enormous bull giraffe , had a personal guide and were allowed in many enclosures to see meercats, ant eaters , sloths etc .

After lunch we set off with our driver around the park going off piste to get close and personal with antelope, zebra ,giraffe . The monkey enclose was fun and happily we watched from the safety of out land rover, them peel various rubber bits off cars. Our driver had walky talky contact with the keepers who gave us the heads up where some animals were ,the cheeters were lying in the sun away from the road and we just drove over to get close . They animals are all oblivious to the striped vehicles the whole thing was amazing .

After our drive we had time to do our own thing . We both love Animal Park on the tele so knew there was a baby Koala. We walked to the enclosure saw the adults not realising mum and baby were in a separate area and thought the baby was not on public show. Chris went outside to look around the rest of the exhibit and called me to a separate area. Mum and joey were visible through a glass window and luckily for us they came outside. This was the icing on the cake . They are so cute ! Sadly we had left the camera behind.

What a day. I can recommend the experience.

June is taken up with getting the garden ready for out National Garden Scheme open day. The new potting shad was nearing completion. This had been Chris’ project. The new grass boarder was looking good, a bit immature but I filled it with annuals to bulk it out.

Sadly we lost Pepper this month. He came in out the field very lame, he was loath to put his hind foot down . He had damaged a branch of his suspensory ligament a while back and had managed with pain relief to enjoy a good quality of life. We knew this day was coming but it doesn’t make it any easier .

Pepper was such a lovely horse so kind and was with us 15 years .He and Chris had a wonderful relationship and enjoyed competing at dressage, including dressage to music. Harris has big shoes to fill .

Our garden opened on July 3rd , Weather was good , and my, did the public turn out, we were busier than ever . Jan, Otto’ mum, manned the plant stall , my usual team of ladies served tea and cake and their hubby’s did a sterling job with car parking. Wendy and Bill meet and greet and take the entrance fee .

Huge thanks to everyone we couldn’t do it without your help, we raised £1300 for cancer care charities.

August brings our local agricultural shows neither of which had been held during covid. We had a wonderful day out at Burwarton and had decided to take Chris’ young horse Harris to Tenbury in- hand for the experience. Agricultural shows are busy places and this year both Burwarton and Tenbury had record crowds . Harris had his wash and brush up and traveled in the lorry to strut his stuff. His class was in the main ring surrounded with flags, banners, tanoys blaring and other horses. He and Chris looked stunning. The class was open coloured, all types ages and sizes. Chris ran his socks off to keep up with Harris’ floating trot, I struggle to keep up with my dogs, but he did a cracking job. Harris was pulled in first. Amazing.

We put him back on the lorry to wait for the championship against the ridden coloured winner.

Off he came again “happy as Larry ” a quick polish and back to the main ring. The ridden winner had won the championship twice before and gave a lovely show. Chris ran Harris around the huge ring beautifully and went back into the line up. I was so excited when the judge came over and awarded them the Championship. The cup they won is huge and is in pride of place on the side board.

Harris has now been backed and done a small amount of ridden work.

I was now on a mission to qualify my pony for the Traditional Gypsy Cob associated dressage championships in October. All qualifying had to be completed by the end of August so Heath and I had a busy month getting the required qualifying scores.

Heath’s dressage championships were mid October at Bury Farm Buckinghamshire a huge journey for him. A nerve wracking time for me. I have never attended anything like it, so many horses. I was so nervous but my gorgeous boy did me proud. A couple of rider errors but in the blink of an eye it was all over. We met Andy and Cathy there who live nearby and have Pepper, a Munster of mine. We had a bite to eat and a glass or two of wine, well I did , and a lovely chat to them. The results came out and Heath and I finished 5th, brilliant.

The horses then went on their holidays and we went away with our 2 friends Harry and Julie with a total of 6 dogs. We went to a part of the country we hadn’t explored before near the now infamous Barnard’s Castle. Beautiful part of the country, lots of lovely walks and houses and gardens to visit ,perfection .

I took a huge decision in November to contact my puppy families and enquire about the health of their Munsters. I was so pleased at the uptake and received wonderful emails and lots of photos. Of 74 puppies bred 69 owners replied. I entered into the exercise because I want to breed the healthiest Munsterlanders I can. Having a history of health for my homebreds gives me the knowledge and security that I am doing as good a job as is feasibly possible. Temperament and ability are of course equally important. I must say the whole exercise began with trepidation but has resulted in a very positive result.

My plan is to have a health section on my website. In the meantime if anyone wishes to talk about my findings I am happy to share.

Our Munsterlander club organises a breed health survey which flags up any issues creeping into our breed but sadly for a breeder like myself the results are anonymous.

Information of health issues and character traits are often kept under wraps, not ideal for selecting dogs for breeding. Most common health problems in dogs generally are hip and elbow dysplasia, arthritis, cancer, allergies, epilepsy.

Munsters are genetically tested for HUU (kidney stones), eye cataracts and veterinary science are making huge advances in understanding hereditabity factors, but this is such a complicated subject. Issues can skip whole generations.

Hip and Elbow scores are published, but only a small percentage of Munsters are x-rayed.

Luckily Munsters are inherently healthy and are predisposed to few innate problems. I fear this will change if breeders are not transparent.

I am looking forward to 2023 which is already well underway, Crufts is only a few weeks away. I hope whatever ambitions you have, whether they involve dogs or anything else, are fulfilled.

As you can tell its taken me weeks to get this Blog sorted, hey ho, better late than never.

See you round the shows!

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