Over The Stable Door: Winners need their egos stroking even if being obnoxious

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Carlisle racecourse is holding a lady jockeys’ evening flat meet on August 1 which we plan to support by running a few horses.

It may mark the return of an old yard favourite, Nounou, who has been off the track since February 2009 following a leg injury.

The pint-sized pony has been with us five years, won nine races throughout his career and is now 10 years old.

He was my first winner with a professional licence and has left his mark on all who have ridden him – depositing most of us on the ground at ill-prepared moments with his squealing shoulder drop (he gives out a squeal the split second before performing the dastardly deed).

He and Winged Farasi are stabled in adjacent pens, both pushing for top-dog status. They belligerently eyeball each other when one is eating or getting brushed, kicking out like spoilt children demanding attention.

Much as I dislike ill-behaved horses (or children) these two are the slight exceptions.

For these two, being fit and healthy is only 80 per cent of the battle to pass the post first. Neither will win unless he feels like the bees’ knees, and so the odd compromise is made in return for results.

Winged Farasi loves the track, having won there last time, so we should have a good chance.

I recently had the time to visit a farmer friend of mine from North Yorkshire who has an arable and beef farm.

He had asked me months ago to look at his new hedgerows which his hunt helped lay two winters ago, and as the whiff of autumn is blowing in the air, my time will be limited in months to come.

I never escape without sharing a few glasses of whisky and hearing some amusing farm tales, but the opportunity is so worthwhile.

Farmers spend much of their life in the company of wildlife and love to see it prosper. The ones I know all actively encourage it (despite what some people may have you think).

My friend is just one example and explained “it also provides the local hunt with something to jump, so it suits us all”.

He explained that in the wide strip left at either side of his perfectly laid hedges, seeds had been sown, a combination of red clover, birds-foot trefoil, meadow fescue – flowering plants to help the bees.

And so he went on in intricate detail of every species of bird to butterfly he had noted returning this summer.

My mind was awash with information; I was moved by such obvious passion he held for this side of his job.

I left feeling happy and positive about life – he always has that effect on people, or maybe that was the whisky.

I implore any of those who blame the keepers of our land solely for its decline and destruction to visit those who live, breathe and work the countryside before condemning them. Working together would be far more positive.

It seems that our equine thieves are on the prowl. Last week, a livery yard in Arthington was burgled despite CCTV cameras.

Fencing was removed enabling thieves to drive a transit van up behind the yard. Three hours later, the buildings had been emptied of £40,000 worth of tack.

They obviously knew the place well, only breaking in where the best equipment was kept.

So be on the look-out for suspiciously cheap marked tack on offer at the local sales – it is amazing how much does turn up.

Trading via the internet has opened the floodgates for a more profitable form of equine theft – stealing to order.

Owners in Ilkley were recently alerted when they noticed a single plait had been placed in some of their horses’ manes while out at grass.

It’s a signal for the returning thieves, marking out those needed to fill a bogus seller’s order.

Police were informed but could do little until a theft had occurred. The horses were moved but vigilance seems the most worthwhile prevention against this growing crime wave.