On Thursday Galahad and I were very lucky and were given permission to ride in a field on our neighbouring farm.
We were very happy to set out exploring and it was wonderful to have such a big field to play in.
There is a wood along one side of the field with lots of little entrances I would have loved to explore if I hadn’t had Galahad with me.
In fact, I did dismount and take him along this path. It led to the most delightful glade.
It had been a pretty stressful day at work and by the time I got home I was not feeling great and wasn’t even sure I wanted to ride. The lure of the field took me out though and before we got round it once I felt so much better.
In fact, the only (unimportant) downside was that my boots filled with grass seeds. They look so beautiful though.
It was the best end to the day.
Every summer we are bothered by the flies but this year they seem to be even worse than usual.
Galahad had pretty much destroyed his mask now. The ears, however, are still intact so I am very happy indeed. It has also lasted much longer than his old mask so it was definitely a good investment.
As ever, we are using deosect – Galahad hates being sprayed and anything that can reduce the amount of flyspray we have to use is a bonus. NAF’s citronella gel is also great for this.
This year we have also gained some of their citronella wash which we use when we wash the ponies down after exercise. It is certainly much easier than trying to spray Galahad – although he has improved greatly and sometimes barely moves whilst he is sprayed. Other times, of course, he kicks up a huge fuss!
I have also taken to soaking the fly masks in the citronella water. As you can see, they can get covered in flies and although the ponies are protected from them it can’t be at all pleasent. It certainly doesn’t look nice.
On Thursday Galahad and I had a fantastic lesson.
The eagle eyed among you may spot that these photographs were not taken during the actual lesson. I didn’t have a tame photographer there so we had to recreate the scene afterwards!
We started off with flatwork and spent some time doing work without stirrups. Galahad hasn’t really done much of that before and he definitely hasn’t done the exercises that go with it. They can be a bit scary for a nervous pony like him so I wasn’t quite sure how he would react but he was as good as gold. It may be time for me to stop assuming that everything will scare him because most of the time that isn’t true anymore. In fact, when I think he will react badly I know I make it more likely – I tense up and that definitely affects him badly.
We then moved on to some jumping. Specifically – gridwork. Galahad hasn’t even done a single bounce fence before, let alone a line of fences. More than that, we started off without reins which was another new thing for him (and something I haven’t done for years).
Galahad just pinged through them like a pro. He never fails to amaze me and once again I was so proud of him. I feel like I say that a lot but it is true!
On Sunday Galahad and I went to a riding club dressage competition. It was our first outing since February so I was very much looking forward to it. We had a run through of our tests with my instructor the day before and she said he was looking a lot straighter than he had been and that whatever I was doing with him was working. That is always a good thing to hear!
Sunday morning dawned very grey and misty but by the time we got to the show the sun was shining and it was obviously going to be another hot day. There were also many flies about but Galahad took it all in his stride.
Green is not really de rigueur for dressage but I was determined to #weargreenforjonty. This is actually an old Guide badge but it seemed very appropriate.
He felt good in the warm up and I went into our first test (Intro C) feeling pretty positive. It definitely helped that he was nice and forward going up the first centre line. The test felt great right up until the final halt which was a bit of a struggle – Galahad was not ready to stop!
I was generally very pleased with it though and it gave me a good mindset for our next test – Prelim 7. I didn’t expect this to go quite so well because of our issues with the canter lead on the right rein. It felt a little rushed and it did take us three attempts to get the canter lead but actually I was very pleased with it. Galahad was nice and straight, he was forward going and this time he stopped when I asked him to. You can’t really ask for more than that!
After we finished and Galahad was cooled off I was on scoring duty so I made my way over to the scoreboard. I was amazed to find that we had actually won the first class. Not ony that, we had done so with a score of 70.65%. We have never scored that much before and we definitely haven’t won!
I came third in the prelim test with a score of 72.05%. When I looked through my score sheets I fond we had been given a good number of eights and even one 8.5. We also had some lovely comments, including this one which was my favourite.
I was so proud of Galahad. He did try very hard and it really was fun to ride him. We have some things we can work on but we have improved so much and I could not be happier.
I have mentioned before that in my non-pony life I sell books. That meant that I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of Pony on the Twelfth Floor from Walker Books.
The book is by Polly Faber and illustrated by Sarah Jennings. It is obviously aimed at children but it is no secret that I love pony books so I was excited to try this one.
Kizzy finds Flapjack in the bakery isle of the supermarket and he is everything she ever wanted. The trouble is that it turns out it’s quite hard to keep a pony in a twelfth-floor flat without your Mum finding out.
Apparently, saddles are very comfortable to lean on. Also – the apples are nearly ready!
This is a fun story and I very much enjoyed reading it. I also loved the illustrations, especially those of the twins Lopa and Ali who are adorable. It is a great read for any pony lover – especially those who long for a pony but cannot have one.
After the excitement of getting the jumps out, I finally got the chance to use some of my birthday presents (from March!).
First I had a wall jump for the first time. It’s a great design and fits neatly over a straw bale.
It might be meant for the ponies but the first jump belonged to the dog.
When I did get to jump it with Galahad I was fully expecting him to try to run out so I set up some guide poles but he actually popped over it with no trouble at all. I think my face shows how astonished I was.
The wall is double sided so of course we had to jump it both ways. This time Galahad did run out at our first attempt but as usual it was because I didn’t keep my eyes up.
I also got some pole sleeves which just needed trimming and sliding on. As always, my Dad came in very useful.
Once again I looked down at the jump and Galahad ran out. After that he jumped very well but I really must work on looking up!
As you can see, there were enough trimmings to make an extra interestingly coloured pole.
We had a great time playing with the jumps and I am looking forward to using them more. It is good to get Galahad jumping as many different things as possible but apart from that it is fun!
One of our hacking routes takes us up a very overgrown lane. Galahad used to object strongly to walking up it but now he amazes me by the way he so willingly walks through a wall of greenery.
He normally comes out the far side rather well decorated. I haven’t managed to get a great picture but he does tend to look very pretty!
It is definitely worth fighting our way through though – we get to go much further afield this way and the views are stunning.
We have been having some lovely hacks, meandering through the countryside. It is too hot to do anything too strenuous but we are enjoying exploring nonetheless. I think Galahad enjoys his baths afterwards too!
Now we have finished the work on the field we can get the jumps out again. It has been seven or eight months since we have been able to jump at home so this was a very exciting moment.
We went out to jump as soon as we could but as it has been so hot recently we wanted to ride reasonably early. We got out into the field by about eight but even so the sun was blazing and it was still very hot.
Considering how little jumping the ponies have done recently, they both did really well. Galahad and I had a few run outs to start with but once we got going he jumped really nicely.
The run outs are mostly my fault. I know very well that if I look down at a jump Galahad is almost certainly going to try and run out. The trouble is that if I think Galahad will be worried about a jump I find it very difficult not to look at it. At least I know what I need to do to get better!
We had a lovely play in the sunshine and even the lambs next door seemed to enjoy it!
It is wonderful to have the jumps out again and we are looking forward to using them over the summer. Let’s just hope the ground doesn’t get too hard!
Until last winter we had been using the same muck heap for several years. Unsurprisingly it had grown rather large and needed sorting out but luckily, as we hadn’t used it all winter, it was well rotted down and disposing of it wouldn’t be an issue. Less good was the fact that it had also got very overgrown with docks and nettles which all needed removing before we could do anything else.
Over the course of a week we loaded the whole thing into our little trailer and carted it out to the field where we dumped each load in a pile.
The piles were then spread out as much as we could by hand (and foot!).
Finally the field was topped to get rid of the docks and also harrowed.
The field is now looking beautiful and all ready for schooling the ponies. I am so pleased with it!