Equestrian

Equestrian

Over the stable door: Internet dating for Baffle

Baffle, my two-year-old Patterdale bitch, has been dipping her paw into a bit of internet dating recently in the search to find a mate for her first litter of puppies. In the past finding my pooches a mate has meant a queue at the door but not this time.

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Messing about on the river had been so much fun.

Over the stable door: Charity race fun and unwelcome destruction

The point to point proved a fun day out last Saturday. The charity race in aid of Candlelighters was thoroughly enjoyed by the 14 riders. They were aboard everything from Cobs to Clydesdales, most having their first taste of racing. The crowd ‘holloaed’ every one of them home, respectful at seeing true amateurs with the guts to have a go for a worthy cause. The day raised £8,000 for the charity.

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Jo Foster and family are involved in today's Pendle point to point fixture. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Over the stable door: Health and safety is stifling traditional events

Whoever said the most stressful thing in life was going through a divorce had obviously never tried to convert a relatively unstable barn into a live-able and saleable dwelling place without breaking the bank or upsetting the planners; being in a green belt area just adds to the tension.

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Jo Foster has been in the wars during a rollercoaster week. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Over the stable door: Rollercoaster week is a knock-out

My farrier Jack has many legendary stories to tell regarding his job. He must have spent a considerable amount of time reciting them to his mother as she has gone on to write a book, loosely based on her son’s experiences as an apprentice farrier.

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Country Week columnist Jo Foster has paid tribute to her late friend and former teacher, Peggy Alpin.  Picture by Tony Johnson.

Over the stable door: Farewell to classy, charming Peggy

We are already flying through the pointing season and this weekend promises to be the busiest yet with two Yorkshire meetings scheduled. The Cleveland meeting is tomorrow at Witton Castle whilst on Easter Monday the Staintondale is to be held at Charm Park, Wykeham. Both meetings boast strong entries and promise some competitive races.

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Jo Foster sorting out the tack at her stables at Menston near Leeds.

Over the stable door: Thefts an all-too common story in rural areas

Speak to any farmer at your local livestock market and few will have been spared a visit from thieves.

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Kempton racecourse is to be sold for housing.

Over the stable door: Only luck prevents jockey mix up

We were asked for a day’s hunting with the Bedale a few weeks ago. It was lashing down with rain as we drove north up the A1, puddles were joining up along the roadside threatening to flood. I could sense Tris was about as excited as I was at the thought of spending hours in a soaking wet saddle but as we neared Masham the clouds hurried south taking the rain with them and the sun shone across James Herriot’s country.

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Jo Foster sorting out the tack at her stables at Menston near Leeds.

Over the stable door: Uplifting show of resilience adds to bright mood

It was as if the birds knew January was over and spring was on its way when we rode across the fields earlier this week. As the heavy rain clouds rolled away there came a peep of blue sky accompanied by the hearty sound of Blackbirds and a Robin to cheer us on our ride.

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Jo Foster sorting out the tack at her stables at Menston near Leeds.

Over the stable door: Point to point is underway

Today a new Yorkshire point to point season gets underway. A sociable and highly competitive days racing beckons at the Sheriff Hutton track for those willing to brave the elements and watch stars of the future in action. With the huge number of entries taken it promises to offer plenty of excitement.

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Cherry Coward who is one of Point to Point's best known Yorkshire trainers, watches jockey Jack Andrews over one of the jumps on her farm at Scackleton, near York.  Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Coward family saddles up to host point to point opener

Excitement is building at Low Moor Farm near Scackleton in the Howardian Hills. This is where Cherry Coward and her daughters Sam and Jacqueline are preparing for the 2017 Yorkshire point to point racing season that is under starters orders at her father’s Newhouse Farm at Sheriff Hutton on Sunday, January 15 - but for one of the three it will be tinged with some sadness.

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Jo Foster sorting out the tack at her stables at Menston near Leeds.

Over the stable door: Obsession reined in to enjoy what is important

The new year started with a bang for lady jockeys. On New Year’s Day, four lady riders totted up five winners between them. Lizzie Kelly from Devon won two big races at Cheltenham whilst Bridget Andrews, Lucy Gardner and Megan Carberry rode winners at Catterick, Exeter and Musselburgh respectably.

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Jo Foster sorting out the tack at her stables at Menston near Leeds.

Over the stable door: Fond farewells to some great characters

Last week the annual jockeys award ceremony, The Stobart Lesters was held in Coventry. Champion jockeys Jim Crowley and Richard Johnson won the Stobart jockey of the year for flat and jumps respectively.

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Jo Foster sorting out the tack at her stables at Menston near Leeds.

Over the stable door: Festive cheer tempered by actions of sneak thief

The Christmas trees are selling fast. Festive fever seems to arrive earlier each year. Customers were turning up in mid-November asking to choose a tree from the pallets which held hundreds of netted Nordmans waiting to be unload.

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Over the stable door: Little chance of escape from trenches and trees

Over the stable door: Little chance of escape from trenches and trees

At the moment, I walk out of my backdoor in to something that resembles the Western Front. Lines of deep muddy trenches zigzag across the yard and up the driveway dug out by the builders in order to lay the necessary utilities for the barn conversion next door. Mounds of stones, earth and mud lie next to craterous holes.

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Jo Foster sorting out the tack at her stables at Menston near Leeds.

Over the stable door: Training challenge with all but written off Jonny

One of the new horses has surprised us. Jonny the giant had arrived with a blotted copy book in the spring, having been written off by a vet due to back problems and he was deemed unrideable by the yard manager where he was stabled.

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The pursuit of hounds across wild Yorkshire countryside is nature at its most breath-taking.

Over the stable door: Exhausted by the hunt in race season down time

Last week I woke to an eiderdown covering of snow laying silently across the valley. Thankfully it had not frozen enough to prevent the wagon making it to the gallops so I could work this week’s runners. Some of my jockeys are winter maidens, having started working at the yard earlier this year missing out on the worst of Bingley Moor’s extremities. They had never experienced the delights of the snow-covered gallop.

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Jo Foster sorting out the tack at her stables at Menston near Leeds.

Over the stable door: Female jockeys long overdue recognition

Could it be women jockeys are finally receiving the recognition they deserve?

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Writing has many similarities to racing, either in the short story or long story form.

Over the stable door: Why dressing the Patterdale is leaving my baffled

From the moment I wake the days just seem to rush by. At this time of year rising from my contended slumber grows increasingly difficult.

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Pic: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire.

Over the stable door: Nasty fall but jockey with a cheeky grin will recover

One of my winning jockeys suffered a nasty fall last weekend. Henry Brooke fell in a chase at Hexham last Saturday. Whilst on the ground he was unlucky to be stood on by another runner leaving him injured.

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Jo Foster sorting out the tack at her stables at Menston near Leeds.

Over the stable door: Police chase brings drama... and a broken finger

The battered Fiat screeched to a halt in the middle of the road. Ignoring the threat from oncoming traffic four young lads burst out and leapt over the nearest wall straight in to a field.

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