I've finally admitted that I'm not going to ride either of My Boys before I leave. I've made valiant attempts to get them back into "ticking over" mode, but have failed to keep it going every time. Plans to meet up with Anne for a last hack with her and Gigi have evaporated into thin air, good intentions of getting down to Skevanish for a few more lessons have fallen by the wayside, and any notions of competing one last time were never going to be achievable.
Aero is sound and looks good on the lunge, thank goodness. My horse plan now is to get them going once they arrive in Provence - they'll have a day or two off and then we'll start again and work on getting all three of us fit - plus the LSH, of course, if he's going to join me on trail-rides at the weekends.
Both horses have had their teeth done in advance of the trip.
Aero had his usual little growths right at the back - to any other horse, these would be nothing, but with Aero, they make him to clench his jaw and tilt his head when being ridden, causing further tension in his back, so it's essential to keep them in check.
Flurry had a major dental issue two years ago, when I bought him. He was quidding - dropping chunks of chewed hay - so I knew something was going on, but I expected it to be nothing more than a couple of overgrown molars. Unfortunately, I was wrong - he had large gaps between his teeth where they enter the gums, called Diastemas.
Ideally, a horse's molars sit tight to each other the whole way down :
The pain from the periodontitis was preventing him from masticating properly, and by god it was painful - when John-the-senior-vet touched it, he groaned and practically sat down in his attempt to escape. He had seven diastemas in total, on both the upper and lower jaws, on both sides.
The treatment plan was to carefully open up from the grinding surface to the diastema, thereby allowing food to travel through the gap rather than get wedged there.
He had to have a general anaesthetic so that the vets could work away for as long as it took. The end result was something like this :
It worked, but it was expensive! I often wonder if I would have bought him, if I had known how much his future dental treatment was going to cost! But he's worth it!
Before we left for Provence last year, I had his teeth checked, nervous that he might have grown a few more Diastemas, and unfortunately, he had - another three. Another round of anaesthesia, another stay in Tower Equine Hospital, another big bill.
So, yeah, I made sure that, this year, I booked their check-up with plenty of time for follow-on treatment and recovery time, if it became necessary.
Thankfully, no more diastemas, but his teeth were very up and down - not providing a level grinding surface, so he required a lot of floating to level them off. He was difficult to treat, too - he has unpleasant associations with dental treatment, unfortunately.
At least the job is done, and I will have plenty of time to sort out a horse-dentist for next year.
We've had our last visit from Anja the equine podiatrist, too.
Aero's hind feet are great, but his fronts are still showing signs of hoof-wall separation. I'm planning on giving him a light rasp every couple of weeks to keep any flare in check, which will, I think, help prevent the separation.
Flurry's feet are great! What can I say, he's a model! I will be interested to see how he wears them once he is continuously on hard ground - I have a suspicion he will need very little trimming in France.
So that's where we are with the horses.
As for Everything Else :
We had an Au Revoir party last weekend. It was great - we got to see loads of people who we would otherwise have missed. The only problem is that people were very generous and brought wine and food, adding to the supply we already had, so we are now trying to rehome beer and wine, having successfully found an appreciative home for some cakes!
I behaved myself exceptionally well at the party - I only had, at most, two glasses of wine. I made up for it the following night, when some of my family visited. We had a great evening, wine flowed ceaselessly and I found myself in a very sorry state the next morning, struggling to pack boxes with a pounding head and a churning stomach. Never again...
Still, my family were a great help, the house is almost entirely cleared of our possessions and there's a stack of boxes labelled "France" or "Office" waiting to be moved into the jeep or into storage.
And finally, we have a nice, unhealthy dose of uncertainty, thanks to striking crew and reacting management at Brittany Ferries, but I think that merits a post all of its own - maybe tomorrow, when we might possibly have some idea of when we will be sailing. At the moment, we could be leaving on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. My countdown clock at the top of the page is almost definitely wrong!
À bientôt! (see, I'm still practicing the French!)