Route: Barton in Fabis  -> Weir -> Clifton -> Codd’s Farm

Horses and Riders: Dom (me), Barney (Jess), Irish (Linda)

We decided to go and check out the rough cross country fences at the end of Brown Lane that were set up for the Readyfield hunt. For a few weeks I’d been planning to go down there as I’d heard that the caravans had moved back to their original location by the river so there was no longer a danger of dogs running out and scaring the horses.
The caravans were temporarily moved into the field after a fire back in the summer that resulted in most of the family’s property being destroyed. The gas bottles had exploded and there was quite a lot of excitement about it at the time. The dogs had apparently gone missing and it was feared that they had been burned alive. It turned out that they had just scarpered – as dogs do – very wisely – in such circumstances.
Linda regaled us with the the story of how she and Tony had seen the smoke plume and, as they live across the other side of the river, had raced down to look, fearing that it might be the yard on fire.
As we rode past one of the logs that had been pulled across the path to make a rough fence for horses to jump, we noticed that the snarled metal remains of one of the exploded gas canisters were still there. The jagged edges were dangerously close to the log. I made a mental note to go back and move it before attempting to jump the fences again. It was too wet today to do any kind of jumping.
We separated from Linda and Irish in the village (Irish is in his 20s and currently only in light work so a short ride was plenty for him). Linda turned Irish off to the right and we turned left to head out through the woods. The ground was very wet but we managed to get in a canter around Marshall’s field and headed around the weir, encountering several riders along the way.
Two appeared to be having a lesson in the field to the left of the path just beyond the horse stile. There were two cobs, a big coloured and a smaller steel grey pony. I had encountered the pony before, ridden by the same man, when I had been on foot trying to find the culvert across the ditch that separates the two parallel paths, one through the woods and the other through the adjoining fields. I’d emerged from a thicket just as this guy and a girl on a smaller pony had turned onto the path. They had appeared lost so I told them the way back onto the path (beyond the gate). The grey pony had started to misbehave at this point and was putting in mini rears that resulted in the pair retracing their steps.
Knowing that this guy had previously had some issues with his mount, we carefully walked past the lesson and didn’t canter until we were well out of sight of them. Dom sprang forward into canter from walk, as if he had been waiting for this moment. Jess came up alongside and I could see that she and Barney were thoroughly enjoying themselves too.
Along towards the weir we met another rider, jumping the cross country jumps in the field to the right of the path. These jumps are owned by the Codd family, but we do not have permission to use them, due, I believe, to some disagreement between the two yards. The guy riding them was on a large colored ISH. I didn’t recognise the horse, but I’m guessing he was from Codd’s yard. As we came around the corner by the weir we met another horse, this time a big dark bay ID/TB with a young girl riding. Dom seemed to know the horse. We exchanged pleasantries and headed off to the left, up the hill towards Clifton, much to Dom’s disgust as he expected to turn to the right (ie direction home!). Up in Clifton, Dom showed his usual interest in everything (after stopping at the steam that was coming from a heating vent, convinced it was an apparition about to materialise into a scary spectre). Dom used to live at Codd’s farm so he is always alert and shows a great interest in the place. Heading up the path behind the houses is always interesting. In the summer there are often children playing in the gardens to provide fun shying opportunities for the horses.This is especially true when children pop their heads up above the line of the fence due to trampolining antics, often squealing with pleasure at the same time. There’s also a very noisy dog that’s usually out in one of the gardens to provide even more fun. We’ve passed this many times but it never fails to take the horses by surprise. Heading into the woods we turned immediate left. Here you might find a random array of dumped rubbish to keep everyone on their toes.
By this point the horses quickened their pace as they realised that they were homeward bound. Coming out of the woods we took a right down the rough road to Marshall’s. The sun was higher in the sky at this point (about 12.00) and I looked back over the hill towards the main road to see the light streaming through the trees over the field. Breathtaking. Now we were on the last stretch, the steep downhill path past Marshall’s known as David’s Lane. The horses were clearly looking forward to getting home so we trotted back most of the way through the woods. A really enjoyable ride. Thanks Jess, Linda, and Dom 🙂