We have been in lockdown for five weeks now and although riding has not been banned riders were asked to consider whether riding was really essential for us and our horses. Obviously, the answer is different for all of us but for me personally the answer is, ‘probably not’. The ponies are not hugely fit event horses and they have plenty of turnout so have no problem in stretching their legs. I have therefore not ridden since the morning of 23rd March.
That doesn’t mean the ponies are just lazing about getting fat though. They are bound to be less fit than usual – and I know I am – but I am trying to make a habit of getting them out to do some form of exercise or different activity every day. Mostly that has meant lunging, although we have been for some nice walks together over the fields and I am planning on building ourselves some trec style obstacles this week.
When I first started trying to lunge them years ago I had completely opposite problems with them. Galahad was so scared of me that he would take off, whilst Cookster would just stand and stare at me, completely bewildered. No amount of talking, waving or being led round by someone else had any effect – he would just stand there.
Now they are both much better and go round me quite happily. In fact, Cookster is now the one who can be a bit too forward and he has got very good at leaning out of the circle and pulling me with him if I’m not careful. I find that much easier to cope with than the nothing we had before though!
In a normal world I get Galahad a full clip around February time. Exmoors don’t tend to get clipped but he is so slow to lose his winter coat that if I don’t he still has the dregs of it in June and he gets far too hot when I ride him.
This year, however, his full clip got delayed until mid March and we all know what happened then! He is therefore left with just his original clip (done in November I think) and I have not one but two moulting ponies to contend with. Every time I brush them I get absolutely covered in hair.
On the bright side, I am at home all the time so it’s not like I’m short of time to groom them. Constantly grooming can get a little wearing though so I’m trying to spend just some time every day working at getting rid of the loose hair. Luckily the exercise they’re getting has dropped too so they’re not overheating!
Our work on the hedges is continuing apace. Our focus has shifted though – the hedge behind the stables had started to grow a bit close to the buildings and needed looking at. Then a very old tree stump collapsed against the wall of Cookster’s stable and we really did have to do something about it.
It is huge and very heavy so had to be cut up into smaller sections before we could move it. That was pretty time consuming and in fact we still haven’t finished – my Dad cut off enough so we could shift it away from the wall but it blunted the chainsaw blade and we have had to leave the rest for another day.
I had the far less impressive but very satisfying job of pulling all the brambles out of an elder tree. It is so good when you can actually see the difference you are making but it really is a never ending job. You turn around and more have sprouted out of nowhere!
It does mean that we spot the most beautiful things though – just look at these tiny little toadstools I found. They are so pretty!
This week has been an exciting one for the ponies – they have been spending a few hours each day in their summer pasture. This field has a stream in it and tends to be quite wet in winter so it can only be used when the weather is dry enough. We have been having such lovely weather for the past couple of weeks though that they have finally been turned out.
Only for a few hours each day though – they haven’t been in there for about six months so it it full of lovely, lush grass. The ponies love it but it would not do their waistlines any good at all if they were turned out there full time!
I thought this first turning out might be very exciting to see but it turned out to be rather dull. They weren’t at all interesting in running about – all they wanted was to eat that delicious grass. Very disappointing!