This week I seem to have spent a lot of time riding out in thick fog.
Don’t worry – the visibility on the roads was much better than might be expected.
It was a bit disconcerting driving to the stables knowing that I was about to go out in the fog though!
Whilst the ponies have been away I have had some lovely rides. It is good to have some different hacking once in a while and it is definitely nice to have some company sometimes. The ponies have behaved very well and I think they enjoyed themselves too – they have a lot more energy when we hack out in company!
Whilst the ponies are away I am taking full advantage of the opportunity to use the school. I haven’t been able to school the ponies for a couple of months as the fields have been too wet so it is great to be able to play in the arena.
Galahad was possibly the noisiest he has ever been when I have been riding. He kept calling to Cookster and was rather on edge to start with. For a moment I thought my brakes were going to fail!
Actually we were fine though and Galahad worked hard. As usual his right flexion was not great but considering how long it has been since he was last schooled he did pretty well. We have plenty we can work on but it is good to be able to make start.
The ponies are spending the weekend at my instructor’s yard – sometimes it is nice to have some different hacking routes and some company is always good.
Yesterday there was a big group going out for a long ride and I was invited to join them. I didn’t think Galahad was fit enough for the whole ride but we went part way with them. I’m not sure Galahad has ever been out with such a big group before (thirteen of us altogether) and he was very excited by it. I had a bit of a job holding him back to start with but he soon settled and we had a lovely ride.
He was still full of energy though and very much looking like he was capable of doing the whole ride until we had a second canter and he ran out of steam. That was where I had been planning to turn for home anyway so we hacked back by ourselves. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed ourselves very much. Galahad can’t have been all that tired – once he was back on lanes he recognised he was full of beans again and wanting to hurry home!
When I got back I hacked Cookster out and arrived back again just after the others had got home. That meant I was in time for tea and cake! It was a lovely way to spend the day.
One of the most exciting (to me) things to happen this winter has been the addition of a new light in the yard.
Until now we have just had the lights in the stables and the tack room so although the yard hasn’t been pitch black it has been pretty murky. It is wonderful to be able to see!
Even better, the light has a remote control switch so I can turn it on before I am even in the yard. Which means I can see to open the gate. Technology is amazing!
It is pretty cold here at the moment but there are signs that spring is on the way.
The snowdrops have been out for a couple of weeks but now we are starting to see some primroses and even some brave daffodils.
Galahad and I had a lovely hack today. It was very cold but a beautiful day and I took Galahad into my neighbour’s field for the first time this year. Partly I wanted to see what sort of state the ground was in – some of it was fine, other bits were still very squelchy. I also wanted to show Galahad that we don’t always have to canter in the field. When we started riding in there he learned very quickly that it is a place where we canter and he can be inclined to take off sometimes.
We kept strictly to walk and went round the whole field. Galahad behaved much better than I expected – he did walk a lot faster once we had turned the corner back towards home but he didn’t try to take off once. I was incredibly pleased with him and I think it was definitely worth doing. I really need to remember not to canter every time we go through the field!
Last Saturday Galahad and I went out for our first trec lesson. It was a beautiful morning but still really cold – I spent my entire lesson litterally shivering in the saddle. Which is probably why Galahad was a bit more spooky than he has been recently. He still behaved pretty well though and most of the obstacles went well.
We managed to do the neck rein obstacle in trot for the first time away from home. This time it was just a tear drop shape rather than the figure of eight we normally have but it still felt like a great achievement. Sadly there wasn’t a ditch this time so we couldn’t show how much we have been working on it.
The only obstacles we really struggled with were the gate and the maypole – where the rider picks up the end of a rope and carries it in a circle round the other end. Galahad has started having a problem with the rope but we really progressed during the lesson. To start with we couldn’t even stop near the stand holding the rope but we ended up being able to pick it up – just not move very far. We had better start working on that next!
We also had a mini competition at the end of the lesson. In the control of paces section Galahad shied out of the corridor we were meant to canter along and then broke into a trot right on the finish line when we were meant to be walking. The instructor found it hilarious! We really need to work on that too – we can get decent marks for the canter when we do it properly.
We still had a great day though and I am looking forward to doing it again.
We have still been working on ‘ditches’ or water trays this week. I needed to be able to ride over them but as I am still only able to ride a couple of times a week at the moment our practise opportunities have been few!
I took full advantage of them though – every time I rode I got out the ditches too. We have had so much rain in the past week that the fields are now rather slippery so I resorted to schooling ditches in the lane.
First I led him over the ditch again. Of course, this time he caught the edge of the tray with his foot so the other side lifted and spooked him. I was worried it would send us right back where we started but luckily he got over it.
Once I was mounted I started off as I did in hand by riding between the two trays. That gave us no problem at all so I pushed them together and tried again. He walked straight over them.
We repeated the exercise successfully next time I rode and hopefully we have cracked it. Of course, it is one thing to do it at home and something entirely different when we are out at a competition!
This week I had the most wonderful hack on Cookster. He was completely calm and relaxed and it was a fantastic feeling to be riding him.
Walking back down the hill I became very conscious of how relaxed I was feeling myself. I was also weirdly aware of my own breathing and how much it had slowed down. It felt like a form of meditation and it was pretty amazing.
Galahad was not quite so relaxing but still very good. We actually made use of the saddlebags to deliver a parcel which was fun. It was heavier than the newspaper we carried up before and the bag did flap a little bit but Galahad didn’t react at all. Hurrah! Galahad was paid in apples and I had a cup of tea – Galahad got to visit a strange stable whilst I drank it.
Our ride home was a bit more eventful. There was something (goodness knows what) scary in the field so naturally we had to have a bit of a spook and a canter. He slowed down when I asked though which is a good sign.
It was a lovely morning and I definitely felt the benefit of riding that day.