If you saw my jungle post last week you will have seen just how quickly the undergrowth springs up here. It is wonderful being able to have the ponies at home but it does mean a lot of hard work. There wouldn’t be quite so much if we had a couple of flat fields with fences but we have hills, a stream and hedges so there is constantly something which needs work.
Obviously the hedges are always growing so they need keeping in check – although only outside of the nesting season. At the moment they are spreading quite happily!
They do spread too – a whole mini forest has sprung up in the field. They start off as little shoots and saplings so you think you have plenty of time to deal with them, then suddenly they are fully fledged trees. Just like that!
Then there are the weeds. The obvious poisonous ones like ragwort are got rid of as soon as they appear (if they do) but if we’re not careful the non poisonous ones can easily get left and begin to take over the field. Sadly, the ponies aren’t so keen on eating them as they are the grass.
Of course, I don’t do all of that on my own. In fact, I do very little at all. I am so lucky to have parents who do most of the work – I couldn’t possibly cope without them.
Even the dog helps out!
As happens most years, this week I went up the lane from our house for the first time in a couple of weeks and poor Galahad had to fight his way through a wall of greenery.
I’m sure it’s worse this year than it has been before – probably thanks to the rain we have had over the past few weeks. The picture doesn’t quite do it justice as I took it on the return trip after we had already trampled it down once.
It’s amazing how quickly it gets overgrown – nature rally is powerful. Galahad was also extremely impressive in the way he just ploughed through it all – I wouldn’t have enjoyed it much on foot! As it was I got badly stung by all the nettles. We managed to bring a fair bit of it with us too.
It was pretty dark under the trees, hence the rather blurry picture.
It was an exciting adventure but I must remember to keep using all our routes regularly if I don’t want to get stuck!
Yesterday I was jumping the ponies in the field but today I tried an alternative form of show jumping – I finally managed to take my dog to our first agility competition.
The show ground is a bit overwhelming at first – it seems to just be a sea of jumps and other obstacles and it is only when you get closer that you can pick out the different rings. They are separated by a single strand of string and as I have seen dogs in the past running amok, leaving their own ring and invading the others, I was more than a little nervous about our first runs. I was not at all confident that the dog would listen to me!
Our first two classes were on first thing so we arrived bright and early to walk and try to remember two courses at once. Luckily my years of showjumping stood me in good stead for that!
More importantly though, the dog stayed beautifully focussed on me and although we didn’t quite get clear rounds (we had trouble with the weaves in both classes) we got round with very little trouble. I could not have been more pleased with her.
The scoring system was amazing – as each dog finished, their score was immediately posted up on a tablet at the ringside. You could see exactly how you did and keep track as the rest of the competitors went as well. It was brilliant!
We don’t have to do this with the horses!
We had a long wait until our next class so we watched some of the other dogs running before heading back to the car for lunch. The dog was already very tired and couldn’t really keep her eyes open but every time a dog barked – which was often – she would jerk back awake again. Poor dog. At least she was resting.
Most of the rings had finished by the time we got to our last class so the show ground was getting quieter and less distracting. I thought we might be in trouble though when the dog before us ran off with someone else’s treat box. In fact my dog was right with me for most of the course – the only problem being the weaves (again – we need to work on those) when she decided she really had to stop for a scratch. We got a cricket score in time faults but again I was so incredibly proud of her.
Yes, I did nearly run into the fence myself!
Today went so much better than I thought it might and it has given me a lot of confidence for the next competition. Hopefully I’ll remember that when the time comes! The dog is currently fast asleep and looking like she might stay that way – these days are as hard work for her as they are for me! Definitely worth it though.
Today has been extremely busy for me. I went to help my riding club team at the horse trials qualifier and it was a long but very fun day.
I got to walk the cross country course with the team, then it was all hands on deck to tack up and get the first riders down to the dressage warm up.
Once the first rider was finished with dressage I helped adjust their tack for jumping, then I became our team’s chief pole putter-upper in the warm up ring. I spent several hours adjusting poles and getting rather sandy in the process.
I also got drenched – when I left the lorry it was blazing sunshine and I was worried about sunburn but before too long there was an almighty crack of tbunder and the heavens opened. I was in the middle of the warm up at the time and had no chance to get my coat.
By the time our last team member was finished show jumping most of the others had finished completely so once I’d helped her get ready for her cross country round it was time to start removing studs and getting the horses booted up and ready for the journey home.
I had a great day helping out and hopefully learned a lot too. I managed not to fall asleep on the way home but I was definitely not the world’s greatest conversationalist!
Yesterday I went to have a lesson on a mechanical horse.
The riding club have organised several of these days but I have never before managed to get there so I was very excited to finally be able to have a go. I was more than a little nervous as well though as I really didn’t know what to expect.
I honestly do not know what I’m doing with my hands here. I can only assume I am describing something but I cannot remember what!
This particular mechanical horse is people powered so it is the rider using their weight correctly which makes the horse move in different gaits. It’s incredibly clever and means that if you do something wrong you can really feel it because the horse stops what it should be doing. At one point I was trying to get the horse to canter and instead managed to make it buck!
It was such a fun experience and extremely interesting too. I learnt a lot about how to use my body more effectively in the saddle and got some useful pointers about my feet too – they always want to turn out! Being sat on a mechanical horse rather than a real one means you can concentrate properly on how your body is working rather than on what the horse might be doing. I woud definitely recommend the experience if you get the chance.
Now I know how it should feel when I’m using it correctly – all I need to do is put it into practice when I’m riding the ponies!