Making the decision to take on Abbey for the winter came at the same time as starting a new job (I don’t do things by halves).  The new job was a bit of a step up and had a much longer commute than I’d been used too so I gave myself a 6 weeks to settle in and suss out routes etc (new job is the other side of Tollbar island – currently Britain’s worse roadworks!) without the stress of needing to be at the yard straight after work to bring Abbey in.

I was reluctant to move yards as the one I’d had Harley at was so nice.  I’d made some really good friends, the YO is really accommodating, it has good facilities and isn’t too far from home.  But they didn’t have any space, so Abbey was to have a temporary stable in the barn that also housed the cows over winter.   On the downside we wouldn’t be with the other liveries, on the plus side she’d get used to cows plus the telehandler used for feeding them and the YO who keeps her horses there would be on hand to make sure Abbey was settling in.

I’d endeavoured to get everything ready well in advance of Abbey’s arrival and my plans had started well.  I went through all my horsey belongings, disinfected the brushes, cleaned tack etc but soon realised that all the rugs etc were likely to be way to big so I arrange a ‘fittings’ visit.

A friend from the yard came with me and we headed north to my aunt’s.  On arrival we were given headcollars and told which field Abbey was in (with a Welsh section B) and we headed out to fetch the girls in.  Both were in high spirits as we tackled the chain and locks on the paddock and once we were in they seemed a bit bemused by the change in routine.  Nevertheless they let us catch them and bring them in.

Having not done much for a few months Abbey did forget her manners at times – perhaps she wanted to test the boundaries(!) – and I think my friend thought I was mad taking on a youngster (I’d been talking about finding a 8-10 yo 15hh  that was ready-to-go and Abbey certainly wasn’t that!).

Still, Abbey was patient as I tried (and dismissed) a hundred rugs.  She stood while we tried out overreach and brushing boots – later my aunt said she’d not had them on before!

Not missing out on an opportunity we tacked her up and headed into the school.  Even though Abbey was falling in and out on a circle, snatched at the bit (an evasion Abbey learnt at the riding school), was clearly unfit and would need some work before she’d even be ready for a prelim, I really liked her.  I loved the way she tossed her head when I didn’t let go of the reins when she snatched, her cross face when she found something I asked hard and her willingness to try anyway.

Given that she’d not been handled a lot since the accident I was really impressed at how patient she was as we fussed and fiddled and faffed with the rugs.  Took having boots on, for the first time, in her stride and although she was on her toes, she really tried to work out what I was asking.

I came away thinking I would have fun this winter whether I keep her or not (but that I also had many many rugs to sell on eBay!).