So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog


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Ice Polo A Quechua at Turracher Höhe

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Austria thrashing the Germans, but they lost the final 3-4 on shoot out penalites to France

I casually said to Dave that I fancied seeing the Ice Polo at Turrracherhöhe, so we went with me having kittens about the drive up the snowy hills, but the roads were clear.  I was of course entranced by the horses, and took nearly 200 photos, only one of which I feel was above standard.  I had to decide whether to photo or watch as it was so fast-moving.

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Walking around, I was talking to a tied horse and the rider came over and me being a big mouth I was asking about the shoeing. Even more than the Icelandics,the shoes have  rubber in-sole and six enormous studs, probably more grip than on the grass, she said they were very expensive. Then she asked me to hold the horse, talk about a childhood dream, I was so chuffed, as a kid it was always a hope to be asked to help at an event! Later on a horse tethered to one of these crowd barriers was scared by a loose poster and pulled back.  Of course I leapt to help again, much to Dave’s embarrassment.  The horse was quickly dealt with, but I was appalled at the lack of even a safety knot or slip link on the headcollar, the horse probably had a sore poll afterwards.  So I got to looking at the horses and concluded they were very quiet and switched off. You couldn’t reach them, or maybe they have this all the time from the public.  But the bits, from a standard double to gags, to the one in the photo, looked a bit brutal. Along with the martingales that were worn, I couldn’t hep feeling these horses were strung up like a bunch of onions. They seemed to come alive when ridden but outside were all like zombies.

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I know nothing about training them, but couldn’t help feeling that this training may be stuck in the past, of hardness, with almost a breaking of the horse’s spirit.   I hope I’m wrong.  I’d love to see what Monty Roberts or Pat Parelli could do with such a horse.  I would like to feel that you could play as good a game in a snaffle if you trained the horse with sympathy. Then most of the riders while amateur/Professionals, I wondered how many, if any are horsemen  rather than sportsman?  Obviously a lot of cash is thrown at the sport, but……

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Yet, I did enjoy watching, it was thrilling, there was a certain amount of showmanship especially from the Swiss team, and we had great fun cheering the Austrian team.  I will go again to see the sand Polo in the summer.  Now if the snow didn’t pull tendons, I bet this does……


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Snow report – Matters back to normal!

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After our weird week with no snow and the grass showing, we’ve had more white stuff, not as much as last year, but enough!  The  ski resorts  have plenty, and I’ve heard that skiing is great.   We haven’t got enough here to go Cross Country skiing in the valleys, but there’s still time.  The temperatures seem to be swinging between normal cold and up to about+7.  There’s supposed to be shedloads of the white stuff coming in February.  We’ll see!

Our new neighbour in the block, who we’ve nicknamed ‘Nipper‘  in English dialect (he’s in his early 20s) has got a snow blower and a plough, so on the first snow was tinkering away, neither of them working. The little he did do just seemed to make the snow a mess, not actually move it. After the next snowfall overnight, by the time he got up, Linda and the GB contingent had already cleared it away, how long till he admits defeat and buys a shovel?

So of course, the UK is nicking our snow and its quite funny for us to see them all enjoying the little they’re getting!


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Birds – Swallows passing through

Had real trouble getting this in focus, I suppose I really ought to put the glasses on!

We’ve just enjoyed another Bank Holiday and have Whitsun to come. Such a shame I was lame with my bad foot, we could have had a walk in the mountains, still it’s getting better.  Yet if we had, I’d have missed these Swallows passing through.  They really did look  a bit tired and manky.

It reminded me of when I worked at  the Fortune Centre of Riding therapy – maybe these guys were on their way there.  They would nest in the stables and you’d have to duck as the feeding parents would hurtle in and out through the stable doors.  I even got a disruptive student interested in counting the nests and babies.  Once the fledglings were out, they would rest on the lights in the stables, waiting to be fed, we would then have several weeks of the horses having white spotted backs.  Quiet early evenings would have the yard filled with swooping birds and then with regret we’d watch them sitting on the electricity lines to fly home in the autumn.

However, my most enduring memory is of one early summer morning when I rode my horse Monty out and across onto what in the New Forest is called a green – an open area of grass, free from other vegetation.  As we cantered, the Swallows came and flew around and through Monty’s legs, catching the insects as they rose.  Monty of course took absolutely not notice, it was wonderful!


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Missing the horses

Monty

When I took my new job on, I was at the same time offered an application as a Riding teacher for the summer at a stables near Tweng. I turned down the idea as its full-time and seasonal.  But its been bugging me.  And I don’t know whether its my own desire or part of God‘s plan. Is it me or him?  I wish only to  follow his plan, but I keep on remembering teaching riding and how I get such a buzz and it fulfils me.  I’m sure God gave me the cleaning job and these people to serve, but the hours are two few to keep even me occupied. I will not give that up.  I’m at home on my own too much and I need another couple of days to earn my share of our income.  Of course, my job has coincided with Dave working six days a week in the spring madness at the garden centre -60,000 Pansies sold before Easter! Maybe that makes it feel worse.  But I’m missing the horses.  Edith and I have a EAGALA Workshop planned for the 21st, but at most  she wants to do this once or twice a week,  maybe I’m jumping the gun and we’ll be overrun with clients!  I’m missing the company too, too much time on my own mucking around with this computer! Lonely even.  So Edith helped me write an application letter, and the Lady at the Job Centre said send it, even though I specify quite clearly I can only work 2/3 days a week and not at weekends – he can just say no!


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Icestockshiessen (Ice Skittles!)

It was in our first summer that we first saw the lanes which are made with low wooden sides and couldn’t make out what they were for. Come the winter we saw how they were filled with Ice and it all made sense.  I had my first go at it last week with the Ramingstein Trachtenfrauen, and it was a real giggle. Some of the Fraus were a bit dubious, see the photos!  The men who were there were those who support and help with the group throughput the year- but not so usually dressed!

Roberta!

I was given a huge pair of felt slippers with foam on the underneath which stopped the slipping, thanks heavens (not my feet in the photo though!).  Most people here are used to sliding on ice and did it in their boots. 

The Stocks were put on the ice and two teams decided.  I had a go, there’s a metal stand you must keep one foot on as you throw.  My first effort (and several after) had the stock bouncing down the ice.  There’s a nack in swinging it and letting go low so it skims along.  I nearly got it eventually. Each time all the stocks had gone, those nearest in the black puck won for the team, and then we’d all change ends.  There was loads of Gluhwine and some schnapps, it certainly kept the chill off.  The Poles with the flowers were sometimes used to brush the ice – as they do now in Curling, I guess this is the origin of it. After four goes my team won -not due to any help from me and we adjourned to the Pub. 

We were then served Bacon Dumpling either in soup or with sauerkraut, then some of the guys were singing and playing guitar and kazoo.  There was also a sort of Tombola where you had to throw three dice and the total was written down, the highest and lowest winning. My feminist feelings were awakened a bit, why do the Trachtenfrauen need men to support them – unless its to buy the dirndls, after all they do is get together and march about a bit, all a bit male patriarchal if you ask me!!!!!!!!


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Spring – finally

This week has been wonderfully warm, and as I said to Edie, ok, it’s the Lungau, next week it’ll snow again, but right now, to bask in the sun and hear the birds letting rip in song through the woods is really uplifting!

Later, Tina and I rode out into this, going carefully because my horse no longer has the special winter shoes with big studs and a rubber pad so that it can grip on the ice.  Once again, the therapeutic effect of horses and riding took hold as she chatted about her marriage and her life (well, so did I) as we ambled about the icy woods.  We’d never have chatted so across a coffee table. Maybe when Edie and I start the new therapy, for some people a hack and a chat will help more than any amount of working on the ground in the riding school.

God gave us horses as our work mates and friends.  What an imagination created such a creature.  Whether it’s through domesticity, a survival tactic or not, they are so tuned into people that they mirror our feelings and their movements soothe the hurt and abused. Just  see the effect a stroppy teenager has on a horse!

Then  I got Lois‘d.  Can help with a bit of lungeing and feeding after you ride? So what did I do?  Mucked out, took a lesson, lunged a lame horse and  Andreas did the feeds.   Yet, it was great to actually feel hot again!