It was finally dry enough for me to be able to get some schooling in over the weekend. Galahad can still take a while to start listening properly but once he is listening he does try hard. We even did a little jumping which excited him very much. It is definitely his favourite thing to do. I would love to take him cross country jumping so now he is happy jumping tyres laid flat I have started introducing upright ones as well.
We are just jumping the pole in the middle at the moment. It took him by surprise the first time he saw it and he slid to a stop but after that he popped over it happily. I will fill in the gap soon so we are actually jumping the tyres themselves.
I also schooled my sister’s pony on Saturday. He is completely different to ride and is a pony of extremes. It is either a struggle to get him moving forward or he is nice and forward but with dodgy brakes and steering. Saturday was a dodgy brakes day! We still had quite a good session though and jumped a few jumps. He is really good for my riding as he forces me to use my legs not my hands and I always feel I have learnt something when I finish riding him.
Yesterday Galahad and I rode out with my sister and we braved the hay bales in the field up the hill. They are apparently safe enough to ride past now, although they still have to be closely watched. We had a couple of proper gallops again but this time Galahad went where I was intending and stopped when I wanted. He is clearly a lot fitter than he was a few months ago as he can now canter the whole way up hills where he couldn’t before. It is something that seems to have happened all of a sudden without me noticing! It’s rather gratifying – we must be doing something right!
So far this week it has rained. A lot. There is no chance of schooling or anything else in the field at the moment – it is far too slippery. We are doing a lot of hacking. Which is lovely, plus it has to be hillwork here so Galahad should be keeping nice and fit at least.
We are also getting the opportunity to perfect our puddle splashing technique. Galahad has never been overly fond of puddles and will normally bend every which way to avoid them. It is funny though – he will happily walk through a stream. Most of the time.
‘Are you sure this is safe?’
The nights are definitely drawing in. My summertime routine of coming home, having a cup of tea and a chat, wandering out to ride the pony(ies) and still having plenty of light afterwards is not really feasible any more. On the bright side the stable looks ever so cosy with the light on.
Also, having to rush the riding a little bit has meant I have finally strung up Galahad’s rosettes. Such a proud moment!
This has been a fun week for Galahad. We don’t have any shows lined up in the near future so we have been having a bit of a play. We had a go at some gymkhana games which can be tricky as things like flags are often scary. Just how scary varies day to day. We haven’t played games for a few months now so Galahad needed building up to the real scary stuff. I got a very bad grip on a pair of socks and dropped them. They hit one of his forelegs and he took off across the field. Still a lot of work to be done!
Jumping is something Galahad really does like though. He is always keen to jump and touch wood seems to run out a lot less now. He has been such a good teacher for me. Looking down has always been a bit of a weakness of mine but I found that if I looked down at the jump he almost always ran out. That gave me an incredible incentive to look up!
Yes that pole is going flying. It was the only jump he knocked down but the best photograph by far!
Our hacks have been pretty wet, over the weekend especially. It turns out that my waterproof trousers are now not so much waterproof and more just trousers! In one of our dry spells we went up to have a canter in the exciting galloping field only to find that it had sprouted scary round things.
After a careful look we decided perhaps they were safe.
I didn’t ride him round them though as he felt pretty wound up and I was by myself so thought I’d be sensible. The next field hadn’t been cut so we had a nice canter round that. At least, that was the plan. He started the first canter with his head well down which always unnerves me as I remember his bucking very well! The next canter started better but I could feel him wanting to go and as we got round the corner he took off and properly galloped up the hill. I don’t think we’ve ever been so fast! I almost left it at that but decided to try the last canter. Before we had even got down the hill Galahad was ready and he galloped across it then round in a nice curve. That was enough and we went home. Without someone to watch me it seemed a bad idea to have an argument with him when he was so wound up.
All in all it has been an exciting few days. This evening is much calmer – I rode before work so am now catching up on the European showjumping. I will miss having the Europeans to watch every day!
Sunday was the day of our riding club’s dressage show. I have only recently rejoined after an extended university break so it was both mine and Galahad’s first outing to the club. The entrants were almost all novice combinations and it was quite a low key event which seemed ideal for us.
Galahad was upgraded from the trailer to the big lorry for the first time which I thought he might worry about – especially as he was also wearing his new boots in earnest for the first time. Surprisingly he walked straight in but he did put in an enormous leap getting out again!
He seems to be getting used to shows now and was nice and relaxed as we walked around. Unfortunately the judge had a very scary (very small!) dog so the C end of the arena was pretty much off limits as far as Galahad was concerned. It didn’t help that there was also an apparently dodgy looking trough and a few spectators. This all meant that our centre lines were ‘not at all straight’ and riding in that half of the arena was a bit interesting!
See the scary dog lurking in the background?
It was only Galahad’s second dressage test though and his first canter test. Apart from the spooking he behaved very well and was sometimes working in an outline. Overall I was very pleased with him – he might have been spooky but he didn’t take off which he would have done last year.
Our first test was walk and trot and we managed to come fifth so even bagged a rosette! Strangely he got more spooky in the second test and we came ninth. Some of our canter work was rather unbalanced but for a first go it wasn’t bad and it is something we are working on.
I came home and spent the rest of the afternoon being inspired by the professionals at the European Championships. I can only dream of riding like that!
Wednesday was the day of the Exford Show. We go every year as it is such a lovely little event. My favourite part may be the used tack stall which always has so much I want to buy. I almost bought a gorgeous numnah this year but by the time I had made up my mind it was gone.
It is always fun to compare all the ponies to Galahad – especially now that he is going to shows himself. Hopefully next year we will be able to compete here too.
This obviously wouldn’t be our class but look at the tiny foal!
Yesterday we went for a dressage lesson which we shared with five other people so was very exciting. Even more exciting was the foal in the paddock next to the school. It was all a bit overwhelming – Galahad was very wound up and it took all my energy just to get him listening to me and sticking to the speed I wanted. It has been a while since he felt so keyed up but then he hasn’t had a group lesson for a while either so it was understandable. I was proud of myself too – not that long ago I would have really worried which would have made him so much worse.
Once he was settled he actually did some fairly nice tests. As long as I can keep him moving he is starting to relax into a nice outline. It is not consistent yet but it has never been my strong point either so we are learning together.
Afterwards (once we had cleaned tack and packed for the show!) we had a yard trip to a driving competition in the village. The competition itself was actually the next day but we went to have a nose around and see what a different sport is like. One of the competitors had a whole stable attachment on the side of their lorry which was amazing!
I watched the driving at the World Equestrian Games last year and it looks like so much fun. I would love to drive our ponies but I’m not sure how well Galahad would cope with it – he hates things coming up behind him so a cart would probably be a bit too much! Even if he could cope it might take me a while to get my head round the obstacles on the marathon course. Those things can be complicated!
On Saturday my sister and I went for an early morning ride. The valley was still full of mist but as we climbed the hill it got thinner and thinner and it was obvious that we would be in sunshine before long. There were loads of cobwebs looking absolutely beautiful.
This is me breaking all the rules to take my photograph!
Once we were above the mist the sun was actually rather hot and the view over the valley was spectacular.
We had a lovely gallop over the fields. Galahad was rather keen and inclined to cut corners so there was a fair bit of circling on my part. He wasn’t actually out of control, just enjoying himself very much!
By the time we made our way back down the mist was more or less gone but there was just enough left for these magical rays.
Galahad has added a new trick to his repertoire. Apparently fly masks are worn over one ear this year.
You wouldn’t think it was only a couple of months old would you? He does like to destroy it!
This has been a very exciting week for me. As Galahad is an Exmoor he needs very little stuff – no rugs or anything. This is a shame because I love buying horsey things. However, since we have started going to a couple of shows it seems like an excellent excuse to do some shopping! Hence – Galahad’s first boots.
Sorry the video is rather short, my camera ran out of battery. He was surprisingly unfazed by them. I also bought him a tail bandage. Unfortunately I needed it at rather short notice for our show last week and the only colour left was bright pink:
In the end it didn’t come in time and I did consider returning it in favour of a blue or green one but as I would have to pay the return postage which would be more than the cost of the thing itself it didn’t seem worth it. Galahad is going to be one snazzy pony!
In other news, we are able to gallop on our neighbour’s fields again, hurrah! We have a lovely wide path to play with, although Galahad still thinks that sometimes it is fun to swerve into the long stuff. My boots get filled up with grass seeds!
Galahad’s second show was on Friday and a lot drier than his first attempt! For the first time he just walked straight into the trailer without even a pause on the ramp. He has never been bad at loading but he does normally stop on the ramp for a bit of a look so it seemed like a good omen. He was a lot more settled at the show itself than he was last time as well – he wasn’t calling for his friend all the time which was more restful for me! He did reply to the other ponies though. He was a bit more distracted while we were warming up this time but he did eventually settle and start listening properly.
Our first class was the 2’3″ jumping but I decided that we might as well have a go at the clear round too as a warm up. He felt quite strong over the practice fence but once we were jumping the actual course it was better. For one thing I didn’t want to stop him! He jumped the clear round very well and only looked at a few things. We knocked the last fence down which was a shame but I was so pleased with the way he jumped that it didn’t matter.
It was then a race to see which of my classes would be next as the showing rings were progressing much faster than the jumping ring. I put myself down to jump early in the hope that I could squeeze it in before my showing class. In the end I almost managed it – the showing class started as I was jumping. He jumped just as nicely in the actual class, although we did have two down this time. Just like the last show he was more worried about things in the hedge than the jumps themselves. That is definitely something to work on.
We then had a mad dash across the showground for the rare breeds class – the first in hand showing Galahad has done. We were obviously a bit late but he behaved very well, the only trouble being that he was scared of the chairs being moved about in the next ring. We got pulled in sixth out of seven but were moved up to fifth which seemed a pretty good result!
Next was the mountain and moorland class. Whilst we were waiting for it to start an old friend came up to speak to us and Galahad was very good about letting her stroke him. Much better than he usually is with strangers, especially with me riding as well. The class itself went well. There were several lead rein combinations so we didn’t do individual shows, just a walk up and trot back. He wasn’t too happy about the judge looking at him – he has a thing about hats – but she was very nice, letting him sniff her hands and get used to her. Again we were called in sixth and moved up to fifth but this time it was out of nine so was even better!
That was Galahad’s day finished. He had a couple of spooks but nothing major and overall behaved incredibly well. I had the best of days.