Dodging the Hail

This weekend my sister and I have been out riding together for the first time in weeks. I am very used to riding by myself but it was absolutely lovely to have someone with whom I could chat as we were riding along for a change.

It may be somewhat early to properly tinsel up the ponies but as my riding with tinsel is of necessity a bit limited I couldn’t resist getting some out and making a start. The good news is that the ponies have never seemed to mind our strange antics.

What they did mind was the incredibly heavy hailstorms we had yesterday. Most of them didn’t tend to last particularly long but they were vicious while they lasted – and the hailstones were huge too. Galahad very definitely wanted to turn his back to the weather and wait for it to be over. I was much more keen to carry on and get home!

The most exciting bit though happened when we were tacking up. The sudden downpour of hail made the most tremendous noise on the roof of the stables and made us all jump. Galahad’s rug – already undone – fell off and scared him even more, making him break the string to which he was tied. I had to hang on tight to keep him in the stable and even then he might have got away if my sister hadn’t swung the door shut. She wasn’t quite so lucky and Cookster was halfway across the field before he stopped. Thankfully though, he did not have trailing ropes like Galahad and everyone was safe. It was quite an experience!

Character Study

Having the ponies in at night gives me a fascinating insight into some of their differences which are not normally particularly apparent. Cookster, for example, will almost always leave a neat little pile of droppings all in one place which makes mucking out quick and easy. Galahad leaves his all over the stable and tramples them in well. Of course, the trampling is aided by the fact that he invariably lies down on them.

On the other hand, Galahad is a fairly neat and efficient eater – he may leave a few wisps of hay about but it is very minimal. Cookster dribbles his hay all over the place and is incredibly wasteful (he doesn’t have a problem with his teeth – both ponies have just seen the dentist).

It is very interesting to compare them but on the whole I think I prefer Cookster’s brand of untidiness. It is easier to clear up afterwards!

Hacking Joys

When Galahad and I went out for our hack yesterday morning he was clearly feeling particularly nosy. At every single gateway we passed he wanted to stop and have a look at what was going on in the field or garden. Or perhaps he just wanted to admire the view.

We took a letter which had been delivered to us in error round to our neighbour and were rewarded by a lovely ride through their woods. I hadn’t ridden that way before but I will definitely be doing so again – we had a great time! The leaves are looking glorious at the moment and as off-road riding is so scarce here it was a joy to find some more we can use.

Riding along a different track we came across a horse which has been turned out there to graze. He seemed delighted to see us and followed us for some way. I began to be worried that he would follow us out onto the road but thankfully he eventually grew bored with us and went back to the grass.

It was a gorgeous morning and and there can’t have been many better ways to spend it.

Taking Charge

The ponies naturally keep me pretty busy. I ride them as much as I can and they are always needing feeding, grooming, turning out or bringing in. My parents are very generous with helping out but I always feel guilty if I go away and leave them in charge.

When I was away last month though, my sister decided to take charge. She came over every day to pick out feet and spent hours here most days practising for the Exiefest competition. There was an in-hand jumping class which she did with both ponies and of course the utility pony class needed a course to be built and practised. You can’t really present a pony with scary objects and expect them to just deal with them!

By all acounts it was a lot of fun. Cookster in particular took great delight in apple bobbing and would clear out a bucket very quickly. Galahad did not really get it – he just drank the water!

Compensations

I have never particularly liked getting up in the morning. I want to get up early but sometimes it is very hard to actually get out of bed. Of course, having the ponies means I don’t really have a choice and I have to force myself up.

There are a great many compensations though. Obviously I get to play with the ponies but I also get to see the sunrise – and be outside to appreciate it fully rather than just noticing a bit of pink through the window. We have had some glorious sunrises recently and I have even taken the dog for an extra bit of walk just to soak it in. All the mist in the valley glows pink and it is wonderful.

The ponies are spending a week away with my instructor which made Friday evening feel very quiet and odd. However, when our neighbours said they were holding a fireworks display, for once I didn’t have to worry about how the ponies would react – not well usually – but instead I could just enjoy the show.

Just another compensation!

Gaining Time

The clocks going back this morning, I decided to forgo the extra hour’s sleep and squeeze in a ride before work instead. It has been too dark in the mornings to do that for several weeks now and I was very much looking forward to the excursion. Of course, what I had forgotten was that if I got up an hour earlier it would still be as dark as yesterday.

However, it did get light in time to ride and Galahad and I had a lovely poddle along the lanes. Nobody else was about and it was just wonderful. I have never been very good at getting up in the mornings but this is definitely worth it.

It was a contrast to the rush to finish filming my Exiefest entries this week but we finally got them all done on Thursday and my sister very kindly uploaded the videos for me as her internet is so much faster. We had a lot of fun doing it and couldn’t resist some Halloween additions to the jumps. The ponies were not at all bothered by jumping pumpkins which I found very encouraging indeed.

Dressing Up

I have had the most amazing couple of weeks at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. Being so immersed in books was just wonderful and I did not want it to end but at the same time I missed being at home and I was very glad to see the ponies again – plus my family of course!

Naturally I was exhausted when I got home – and I’m not really much better now – so it has been a bit of a slow week for me. Nevertheless, the ponies and I have been working hard as we are once again entering the online Exiefest competition. Galahad and I are doing the utility pony class as usual and are trying a jumping class again. This time however, we are also having a go at fancy dress.

I don’t think I’ve ever done fancy dress with a pony before – not even when I was a child – and it was a lot of fun seeing what costumes I could come up with at short notice. My parents were a big help with that – my Mum has all the imagination and my Dad adapted a mask for Galahad. Little Red Riding Hood was where we ended up and I was pretty pleased with the result.

I still have a little more filming to do this week but I’m looking forward to seeing all the other competitors – and I’m very grateful Exiefest have continued running the online competitions. We have had so much fun!

Taking a Break

As the ponies had been staying away I took the opportunity to hack over some different routes to our usual fare and also to squeeze in a couple of lessons. Galahad and I had a lovely time roaming around the countryside and it was amazing what a change had come over him in little more than a week. He was beginning to get a bit fluffy before he went away but now his winter coat is most definitely coming through – even his ears are starting to look fluffy!

The lessons were great too and I was plesaed with the way both ponies went. Cookster especially jumped beautifully – once you get him straight he really does have a good jump.

Despite enjoying the time away it was good to have the ponies home again. There is nothing quite like walking out of the door and the ponies being right there. However, I don’t get to enjoy that for long. My parents and sister are taking over the care of them as I am going away for a fortnight to work at the Cheltenham Literary Festival. I am so excited about going but I will miss the ponies and I know I will feel the lack of riding when I get back! I have decided to take two weeks off from writing the blog as I will have no pony content to share – and I know I am going to be incredibly busy while I am away. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks desperate to share everything the ponies have been doing!

Pony Holidays

This isn’t really a blog post today as I have actually been without the ponies for a week now. I have been woking flat out all week, doing 13 – 14 hour days – plus a couple of hours driving – and just haven’t had time to ride. In fact, I have abandoned the ponies to the care of my instructor. It is very strange not to have them to look after but it was definitely the best decision for me – I am utterly exhausted and the time taken to care for the ponies – and especially ride them – would have been too much for me.

The ponies have been having a great time with the children though – they have taken part in a gymkhana and a one day event and by all accounts are enjoying their time away. Somebody even managed to put 26 plaits into Galahad’s mane which I find hugely impressive. They won’t want to come home – although they do have back checks due tomorrow which may put a damper on things!

Competing Again

Galahad and I recently took part in another virtual event with Exiefest. We did the utility pony class again and this time had the chance to do a working hunter class as well.

The utility pony class is essentially an obstacle course – a bit like doing trec. We can do that very well but this was not one of our better days. Nothing went especially wrong but Galahad was a bit tense the whole time and we were just not as fluid as usual. I found it particularly hard to put the watering can back down in the right place – it would have been easier just to carry it around with us! In the end we came fifth out of six in that class. My sister had a much better day with Cookster – she came third.

For the working hunter class I decided to push ourselves a bit and do the 65cm plus class. I knew Galahad was more than capable and would probably actually jump better at a higher height. He doesn’t really see the point of tiny fences!

Of course, he flew around the course and made it feel tiny. It felt wonderful and I was so proud of him. We came second in that class – although there was only one other competitor so that’s not quite as good as it sounds!

I had such a great time filming the classes and am very much looking forward to the next one.