I have written several times about fighting my way up the lane when it gets overgrown – it’s incredible how fast everything can grow in the summer! For a few weeks it got so overgrown that Galahad and I could not force our way through at all.
However, my parents have recently been doing a lot of work outside and also got a man in to help with cutting the undergrowth in the lane and scraping the surface back to its original stone level. There is even a new gate at the top so I don’t have to get off to move the hurdle any more. Such a luxury.
It is all looking a lot better, if still a little muddy. The grass will grow though and I already have access to the longer rides we have been missing (and an indoor school just up the road!). We have a lot to look forward to.
Every autumn I dither about when to start bringing the ponies in at night. Yes they are Exmoors and and are perfectly capable of staying out all winter but they do get fat on thin air and need their grass intake to be monitored somewhat. Besides that, it helps to save the ground a bit.
Throughout the summer I go out to do evening checks on them in the field. Often they ignore me, sometimes they skitter away as if they think I might actually make them do some work and sometimes they come to say hello.
However, for the past couple of evenings the ponies have started whickering when I go out to see them and even run over to say hello. Then they have followed me back to the yard and stood about looking hopeful. I’m pretty sure they were asking for dinner!
Therefore they came in for the first time last night. It does mean a bit more work for me but there is something very cosy about having the ponies all tucked up in bed. Autumn is a lovely time.
Last Sunday was our area qualifier for the novice winter dressage championships and I am pleased to report that my superstitious hacking in my show gear did the trick – I did not fall off!
I had never actually represented the riding club in dressage before so I was pretty nervous. I enjoy dressage but it isn’t my strong point as I am not very good at maintaining the correct outline. Nevertheless, I was determined to do my best and not let the side down.
I started off with Prelim 18 as a warm up class and although I felt it could have gone better it was at least not as bad as I thought it might have been (our practice the day before had not been great). We ended up with a score of 67.88 and eighth place which pleased me immensely. I even won my first goody bag!
For the qualifier itself we did Prelim 12 and while it was still not perfect it felt a lot better than the first test – until we started centering and he threw his head right up in the air. Still, we scored 67.59 and came sixth which was very exciting.
My team mates did well too and we came away with team fifth. No qualification this time but I was pleased and I think they were too. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and, as we all know, that is the important thing.
When I was a teenager I noticed that I quite often fell off when I was wearing new clothes for the first time. A new t-shirt or jumper was usually okay but specifically horsey things like riding hats made me fall off. Once I wore a new hat cover and carried a new whip at the same time. I was bucked off whilst out for a hack by myself.
I have no idea how many times things like that actually happened but it was enough for me to develop a superstition about it. I had to make sure that if I got anything new I did not wear it for the first time at a competition. That would just be asking for trouble.
Of course, the rational part of me knows that a new hat will not make me fall off. However, I also know that the mind is incredibly powerful and if I think I will come off it makes it much more likely that I will. Which is why this week I found myself hacking out in a new hat cover and new (to me) show jacket.
It felt a bit odd but also as if I was in one of Ruby Ferguson’s Jill stories which I love so actually I was very happy. Perhaps we should go back to hacking in hacking jackets!