Navigating Corners

Galahad and I have been continuing our education this week. Having started a quest to build scary jumps for us to face I decided to have a go at building a corner fence – the only one we have jumped before was about six inches high.

Corners scare me because I’m convinced that I will manage to pilot the horse towards the widest bit of the fence and something catastrophic will happen when we attempt to jump it. Of course, this has never actually happened but it’s always possible that this time will be different.

As I am presumably therefore pushing the horse hard towards the narrow end of the corner, it would be very easy for them to run out and I was fairly sure that this is what Galahad would do. I was delighted that he just popped over it with barely a hesitation.

We jumped it several more times without a worry so it turned into an excellent day for me. It is great to have another skill to hand!

Summer Tasks

I write a lot about the fun things the ponies and I get up to in the summer but of course there is hard work as well. One of the worst jobs is hunting for ticks on the ponies. We don’t really have a huge number here but there are enough to making finding one on a pony a relatively regular occurance. Not that finding them is difficult – it is the removing and then dealing with them which is unpleasant. The other day Cookster had three on him at once, although one of them was not actually attached which was a very nice surprise. Of course, the other two were firmly attached to his face which is more difficult.

This time of year is of course peak fly season too and as Galahad can have a nasty reaction to fly bites I have to keep a close eye on him. Thankfully though, he has finally accepted that it is more or less safe for me to spray him with the fly spray so that job is now much easier.

I am also having to keep a close eye on any ragwort which might pop up in the field. Again, we don’t have a huge problem but every year a few plants appear – apparently from nowhere.

On the bright side, we still have gorgeous weather and I have been having a lot of fun with the ponies. Galahad is still hanging on to the last dregs of his winter coat so he can get pretty sweating riding in the heat. I do enjoy washing him off afterwards!

Playing in the Sunshine

It has been an absolutely glorious Bank Holiday Weekend here, with barely a cloud in the sky. Of course, I wanted to make the most of that with the ponies and luckily my sister was free this weekend too so we have been having a lovely time.

Yesterday we went for a relaxing hack around the lanes. Nothing too strenuous, just a lazy poddle which was very calming. It is nice for the ponies to get out together as they don’t necessarily do that too much at the moment.

Today we worked harder and got the poles out for the first time this year. It was still a lot of fun of course – and the ponies definitely seemed to enjoy it too. I did try some harder things though and even got Galahad jumping at an angle – something we very rarely do.

He jumped it beautifully and in fact didn’t put a foot wrong the whole time. It has been a great day.

Having Fun

I realised recently that I haven’t been making the most of the facilities we have here. Galahad and I have only done a handful of cross country competitions but at those we have done we have tended to get into trouble at any fences that look rather different to what we are used to. Galahad loves to jump but he isn’t very brave and if I’m honest my own nerves haven’t helped either.

We have several logs in the fields which we jump regularly but it suddenly came home to me that actually I can create far more of a cross country course for schooling than I have ever done. The ponies are currently turned out in a field which – until lockdown – I very rarely used for riding. Even when I did ride in it, I didn’t make use of all the natural features. We have a stream which runs right through the field and – although I have ridden through it many times – I never thought to use some of the drops down into it, instead using the gentler slopes.

Likewise, the steep slopes in the field have always scared me a bit as I do not like going downhill at speed! However, the ditches across it are perfect for schooling and in places they can even be used as a practice for drop fences – something at which we have historically been very bad.

Once I got over my nerves and realised Galahad was not going to cart me off down the hill I had so much fun playing with jumping all these new obstacles. It is obviously good for Galahad too but my confidence is soaring which is something I hadn’t anticipated when I started. Now I just want to make jumps out of anything I can find!

Unexpected Bonus

We recently had a visit from some tree surgeons as some of our trees were growing too tall and getting rather close to the power cables. They cut down an awful lot of branches but – although it made a lot of work – that is good news as it means that we are already getting a good supply of logs for next winter.

In the meantime, we might as well get some fun out of the drying logs. My parents built me a great little log pile to jump which was a lovely surprise. I thought Galahad would take some persuading to go over it – he is not a fan of new jumps – but he sailed over it without an issue.

We had a great time playing with the logs. It is wonderful to have fields that are dry enough to ride in – we had such a wet winter it seemed it might never happen again! Galahad is having a whale of a time being able to jump. He really does enjoy it and gets ever so excited when he realises what is going on. Of course, I am rather pleased too!

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!

Chatterbox Pony

The long dry spell we have had recently meant that I finally felt comfortble riding round my neighbour’s fields again. I am paranoid about damaging the ground by riding when it is too wet but I am definiutely safe at the moment.

Having once made the decision to do so I was quick to take advantage of the fact and within a couple of days I had taken both ponies out for a spin. They both seemed to very much appreciate the change in scene – Galahad in particular was suddenly very full of beans and happily speeding over the grass.

Cookster was less speedy but I have never known him to be such a chatterbox! He wanted to talk to all the horses we saw and spent the whole time we were in the fields giving little squeals of excitement. They sounded exactly like he was planning to buck and go charging off but he was far too sedate to do that!

I had two lovely rides – it was so good to be exploring different horizons again. Every little change in scenery is always an excitement and I am very much looking forward to going out again.

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!