Happy New Year's to all of our readers in Australia and New Zealand and Happy New Year's Eve to everyone else around Eventing Nation! For most of us this holiday week has been a whirlwind of family, horses, partying, shopping, and traveling. But if my internal translator of UK English to Kentucky English is functional, it sounds like Jacky Green has had a truly historic week of insanity, as is tradition at Maizey Manor. Jacky works for Team New Zealand and also runs her Maizey Manor Farm in the UK and she is a regular Eventing Nation contributor. Thanks for writing this Jacky and thank you for reading.
The Canadians at Maizey Manor earlier this year
After two years in a row with a White Christmas (yuk) thank God this year was not. Whilst it might look cute to those city workers with a couple of weeks off everyone that knows horses knows that snow and ice and horses do not mix. This is especially so in the UK where we have absolute zero capacity for dealing with it. No salt, no grit, motorways ground to a standstill, airports closed, arenas unrideable, yards reduced to a skating rink, really not fun.
So for all those international visitors that wonder what happens at Maizey Manor Farm in the winter when the three and four star horses and all the people have departed here is an insight.....
October.....Blenheim and Burgley horses departed, we troop off to Boekelo (Holland) and Le Lion D'Angers (France) avoiding the cheap option of going to Weston Park at all costs. Tim Price (NZL) pays the ultimate price when he drops off his pupil at Weston Park only to have to pick it up before the trot up (question: why did his pupil not mention his horse had been kicked that morning and save a 10 hour round trip?) and re route to Aldon CCI * which I think is totally and utterly the pits of the eventing world and to be avoided at all costs. Aldon is a celebrated early season event which runs on top (and I mean on top) of a hill in Somerset and apart from Larkhill is the coldest event on earth. Caroline Powell (NZL) will disagree with me as she braves some Scottish events in October but dear God it really is to be avoided. Esib Power loads up 6 horses and my entire tack room whilst I am at Le Lion D'Angers and leaves me with 3 bits from my collection of 50 and hotfoots it back to Ireland whilst her amazing head girl Emily makes smart plans to boycott Ireland and head to Florida to join the O'Connor team for a few months, Emily, if you are reading this please God come back in March as I hate Seb so much........
November......very quiet. So very quiet that I pack on half a stone and resort to Nat VC for advice and subsequently join the gym, having scoffed at Will Faudree all summer and told him if he worked harder he would not need the gym. Catherine Burrell departs for home in Australia to get married and Maizey Manor Farm is very very quiet.
December.....a few icy days and the arrival of horses to me whilst their owners go on holiday. Sam Albert (Jamaica) drops off Dex, a cute TB gelding despite my protestations that I only ride warmbloods these days. Two days later I am convinced I LOVE the warmblood trot. I wanted Squirt, my adorable warmblood, but he has gone hunting with the Beaufort with legend Beanie Sturgess and I know on day 3 that Squirt would rather be doing circles with me and Dex would rather be doing anything but circles. Hey Ho..... tough! A best friend of mine invites me to her birthday party on 22nd December and I decide to host it here as a present to her. This means tackling the supermarket in the week before Christmas. Oh dear God, rammed ankles by trolleys, fights over the parsnips, a near death experience at the meat section, what is wrong with these people? Everything will be open again on the 27th! How much food can they fit in their houses and do they really need 5 boxes of chocolates? (When I found myself asking one fat lady this question I had to make a detour behind the bread section to escape). I mucked out, rode, cooked, turned out, cooked, brought in, cooked, fed, cleaned and hosted a most excellent dinner party for 12 although since the departure of the ex led to the exodus of the furniture the table arrangement consisted of the kitchen table to the dining room, the laundry table from the hall to the dining room, the dining room table to the kitchen and left the dogs about to leave home too and several very stubbed toes. My added extravanganza of table confetti and party poppers looked set to make the evening go with a bang.
23rd December. 3 am finish the party and bloody party poppers and table confetti everywhere. Stuck in dogs feet, my socks, on floor and stupid Dyson won't pick up. Me hungover, dogs knackered, house trashed and sprightly horses waiting in yard. Skip gym and collapse on sofa when have house slightly back in order. Family about to arrive for Christmas.
Christmas Eve. Dawns well since went to bed at 7pm night before. Ride horses, do yard, head to pub for traditional Christmas Eve celebration at lunch time. Well, not that traditional, my sister and I used to head for Rodney Powell's (GB) on Xmas eve on pretense of potatoes and come home slaughtered about 2 am but since the advent of hunter drink driving has arrived in Wiltshire and the infamous argument whereby I declared I had an HGV so my licence was more important than Pig's and she drove me home in 7 minutes flat to the sound of the Scissor Sisters in protest before collapsing on the sofa for the entire day it has become traditional as we can walk. Consume much alcohol with my family and friends and fail to entice anyone into yard to help me upon darkness.
Christmas Day. Chuck out whatever is not walking wounded, cook lunch, deal with house guests, bemoan crap TV, discover DVD kindly left by Esib is broken, do yard, watch mother play with dogs and take out a Guiness can (on white carpet), break open a bottle of champagne (all over kitchen) and proclaim she has dropped the loo roll down the loo. Oh, and also cook amazing lunch to find guests hunting for food at 6 pm. Struggle to stay awake for Downton Abbey and then fall asleep before Mathew proposes.
Boxing Day. Hasten departure of guests by suggesting working party on yard. Drive mother home and get busted by yet another sneaky Welsh Speed camera. Contemplate blaming on Will Faudree but he has a departure ticket for September. Do yard. Am really over December.
Aah.....New Years eve! Forever encapsulated in my mind by the sight of Nat VC in a tinsel headband on the yard at 7 am clearly having not been to bed. Since I also had not been to bed it did not seem bizarre at the time, though latterly............