Mud Monsters

After several weeks of no rain at all – and, despite the downpour earlier in the year, really needing some to make the grass grow – we finally had a shower yesterday. It wasn’t really much but Galahad definitely made the most of it and covered himself in mud. Just as I’d got used to having a nice clean pony!

Both ponies are now moulting well so every grooming session involves me getting covered in hair. I have been getting targeted ads for the Groomi tool for months but had been resisting buying one because I thought I really didn’t need any more brushes. A couple of weeks ago though I weakened and treated myself. My reasoning was that I had been hoping to go to Badminton next week and as I would have allowed myself to buy something there this was perfectly acceptable. I must admit that it seems to do a good job – Galahad is very slow to moult and does not normally produce this pile of hair when I brush him.

Having cleaned off the mud we went for a lovely, relaxing ride. Yesterday was the ponies’ official birthday (as they were born on the moor we don’t know their actual dates of birth) and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate. The ponies may well have preferred the apples and carrots they had after we got home though!

Working Hard

You might expect me to have a relaxing day for my first day off after going back to work. In fact, I spent the afternoon having a mammoth tack cleaning session. It was still a nice way to spend the day – especially as the sun was shining and I could sit on the grass in the garden with a cup of tea. I even managed to get my sister to join me in cleaning Cookster’s tack which added to the fun.

As well as cleaning though, I also embarked on a mending session as all the ears of Galahad’s fly masks were full of holes but were otherwise perfectly sound. It seemed incredibly wasteful to get new ones so some darning was obviously in order. This is one of those tasks I’ve been meaning to do since last autumn but which has somehow never got to the top of the list. It just wasn’t a priority in the middle of winter! Now though the flies are starting to show their presence and the masks are definitely needed.

As you can see, I decided not to be subtle about it. There was very little chance of my mending them invisibly so I thought I might as well make a feature of the darning. I rather like the effect and Galahad doesn’t seem to mind!

The blog is up a little late today as I have been watching the Kentucky 5* Horse Trials. It was so good to have some eventing to watch again and it really was a nail biting finish. I was literally on the edge of my seat and my Mum couldn’t watch at all! It was wonderful to see Oliver Townend win and lovely to have Harry Meade in the top five too. It has been a great weekend!

Hacking Joys

The easing of Covid restrictions this week has seen me returning to work for the first time in three months. It has been nice to talk to people about books again but it has still been pretty stressful – I am just not used to seeing people! The ponies have been a huge help to me though – if I’m having a tough time I just remind myself that in a few hours I can go home and take a pony out for a ride. It really does help me get through the day.

I have been very lucky too that the weather has been glorious all week. There has been no chance of me being reluctant to ride out in the rain. Instead, every evening I have been desperate to get out to the stables, tack up as fast as I can and make the most of the dying light. It has been simply beautiful.

It is a lot of fun too. Ten year old me would have been so happy to be able to do this after school and in a way I feel I have created a lot of that same feeling for myself now. There has been no pressure to do anything clever or exciting – it is just me and a pony poddling around the fields and enjoying each other’s company. It is a balm for the soul.

Summer Pastures

One evening this week the ponies got turned out into their summer grazing for the first time this year. Although, they had in fact sneaked in a little early – I was busy at work and got sent pictures of them having a high old time eating the forbidden grass. Not that I can really blame them – they have eaten almost all the grass everywhere else!

Apparently they were surprisingly easy to get back out again – I fully expected them to run a mile from anyone.

Having failed to keep his access to the field, Cookster then barged his way through the gate onto our lawn. Luckily neither he nor the gate were hurt – but the gate post does need replacing.

Since they were clearly desperate to get into the field I thought their actual turnout would be very exciting indeed. Instead, it was highly disappointing.

Evidently eating grass is far more important than running right now!

Easter Sunshine

A combination of lockdown and work commitments has meant that I haven’t been able to ride with my sister since before Christmas, so it was for the first time in months that we hacked out together on Friday. In a socially distanced manner of course!

It was so lovely to have the company. I do enjoy the peace and time to think when I ride out by myself but there is nothing quite like having a friend with whom you can chat as you go along. We are having the most gorgeous weather for the Easter weekend as well so it has been delightful to be out and about.

Cookster is moulting well now, whereas Galahad – predictably – is not. My sister therefore took longer to get ready than I did – you could keep grooming Cookster for hours and still be getting hair out. That meant I had some time to kill and I decided to experiment with plaiting Galahad’s feathers. I’ve seen pictures of this being done beautifully and although Galahad has nothing like the hair you get on a cob I thought it would be fun to try. I could have done with slightly longer hair but still it wasn’t bad for a first attempt!

Spring is Springing

This year I have been riding around our own fields more than ever before. It’s always been something I might do occassionally but it wasn’t until we went into lockdown – and riding away from our own property got restricted – that I fully appreciated how lovely it could be.

For lazy days like today it is the prerfect activity. There is nothing strenuous required as there would be in a schooling session and no need to keep an eye and ear open for oncoming traffic on the roads. Of course, we can’t go any great distance in a straight line but we can certainly do a decent amount of pottering – and now the ground is drying out we can even get in some reasonable canters.

The terrain is beautifully varied too. Our hills and stream might take more maintenance work than a flat paddock but they do make riding a good deal more interesting. Particularly if the pony is feeling fresh and we have to navigate a steep descent!

Some of the main joys at the moment though are the signs of spring which are popping up all over the place. The flowers are always a delight but again I have become particularly aware of them since lockdown. Very excitingly, the bare, churned up patches of mud are now showing tiny green shoots. The grass is growing!

Exciting New Ventures

As I mentioned last week, I have been getting significantly less riding recently. I have been working very hard to launch an online stationery business and unfortunately riding has had to take a back seat to that. I have loved creating the designs for the stationery but it has been sad not to be able to ride as much as I would like.

Yesterday though, I opened my (virtual) shop doors – do come for a browse – and the pace of life is returning to normal. I have no ponies in my shop yet but I am working on new designs all the time and I know it won’t be long before they make an appearance.

This is a beautiful, sunny day, just perfect for spending time with the ponies. I have been for a lovely hack with each of them and even found the time to trim Cookster’s bridle path which was getting unruly. Time now to find a book and some tea and to settle down in the sunshine for a rest. I may even end up having a nap!

Serene Sunday

This weekend has been an interesting mix of very busy and lazy hours. Yesterday we had a delivery of what will hopefully be our last load of hay for the year and it is very satisfying to see the shed full again.

I haven’t been getting much riding done during the week recently – I have been using my time at home to work on creating some stationery which I will be selling online very soon and it has obviously taken quite a bit of work to set up. Whatever happens during the week though, I always make sure to ride the ponies at the weekend. Yesterday’s rides were a bit rushed due to the hay delivery but this afternoon Galahd and I had a simply lovely hack around our fields. We even had a delightful paddle in the stream.

It’s still a bit wet for much cantering but we managed a bit on the grass in the lane and spent the rest of the time enjoying being out in the weather. It was a lovely breezy afternoon with just a hint of drizzle – wonderfully refreshing.

The dog had a great time too – she found a lovely bunch of feathers and very much enjoyed having a chew on them. Thankfully there was nothing else left of the pheasant for her to eat!

Being Seen

I have just had a birthday and my sister gave me a fluorescent sweatshirt so that when it is warm enough to ride without a coat I don’t need to wear a tabard out hacking. It had never occurred to me that this was an option but it is certainly bright and there is no way a driver could miss seeing me now. Plus, of course it is more convenient and I can definitely recommend it.

There is a matching t-shirt too so I’m all set, even when it is too hot to ride in a jumper. Yesterday was still pretty chilly – so I wasn’t going to ride in just a t-shirt – but I was determined to manage without a coat and Galahad and I had a delightful ride.

The other lovely thing about yesterday was the first appearance of the lambs. We have been hearing them for weeks but have had none in the fields we ride past. Now they are starting to appear and I am, as ever, very happy indeed to see them. They even came up to say hello – Galahad was very interested too! This morning there were a few more visible, including a lovely little spotted one which was too far away to get a decent photograph. I am so going to enjoy watching them grow up over the next few months.

Sunshine and Sheep

This weekend has been another filled with glorious sunshine. It makes such a difference not to be battling the elements when I am out with the ponies and of course the sunshine does a lot to make everyone smile too.

Cookster is now fully recovered and is pottering along on ours hacks just as usual. He may even be feeling the joys of spring himself – he had quite a turn of speed when we cantered this morning. The ground is not quite up to schooling yet – it is so much drier but very thick and sticky. Not at all conducive to nice riding!

Galahad is also carrying on as usual. We had a fun experience yesterday when a whole flock of sheep looked like they wanted to see us off the premises.

Galahad knew what was happening long before I did, standing stock still and staring up the hill. I assumed he was just aware of the pheasants in the hedgerow but no – all the sheep in the field came running over to see what we were up to. That was one thing but when they started following us along the fence line it became somewhat unnerving.

I assume they were just looking for food but it was still quite a surreal experience. They did the same thing when we came back the other way so it really seemed a bit personal. Luckily Galahad was not fazed at all – we used to keep sheep at home so he is used to them. Not that that would stop him spooking at them if he felt like it!