I wouldn’t have believed it a couple of months ago but we are in desperate need of rain. The grass is just not growing and any already there is burning brown in the sun!
I also have the problem that the ground – particularly in the yard and stables – is getting very dry and dusty. Cookster is quite sensitive to dust and so is liable to cough if he’s kept in at the moment. The ponies are therefore currently turned out all the time. With the grass not growing they shouldn’t get too fat.
I’m also giving the ponies some time turned out on the lane each day. That way they have access to some nice, fresh grass which has got to be more appetising and is more nutritious too.
I have to supervise these forays though – otherwise the ponies are liable to wander off. Yesterday the ponies grazed happily for an hour. Then Galahad determinedly walked back to the field with Cookster trailing in his wake. Cookseter was happy to stay and eat but Galahad had clearly had enough!
With the changes to the lockdown which were announced last week, the BHS relaxed its advice not to ride. I was of course delighted to think that I might be able to ride again.
I started off by taking a couple of days to lunge the ponies under saddle. I was fairly sure that I wouldn’t have any problem with them but they have had two months off and I didn’t want to take any chances. A trip to hospital is definitely not desirable at the moment. I also took them for a bit of a walk up and down the lane so they got the idea of that again too.
Neither of those posed any kind of problem so actually riding was the next step. Again, not taking any chances was the order of the day so I wore my back protector despite the fact that we were just going to poddle up the lane. I was still fairly sure that it wouldn’t be an issue but I was also aware that I was nervous and that the ponies – especially Galahad – would be sensitive to that.
In the end, both ponies were absolutely fine. Galahad behaved just as usual and Cookster’s only problem was that he was trying to nap a bit more than usual. That was only to be expected though – just a few days off can affect him.
It was so good to be back in the saddle. I had actually been intending to leave it another day before riding but in the end I couldn’t resist hopping on for a very short stroll. We still haven’t ventured out onto the road or the open fields but nonetheless it was a simply wonderful feeling.
Every winter when the field gets too wet for riding I have to put all the jumps and dressage markers away. Inevitably, I’m not very good at doing that and so they often don’t get put away until it is basically time to get them out again. Even then, they would probably just stay where they were if it were not for the fact that the field needs harrowing and that’s a lot easier if there are no jumps in the way.
That time had finally come so the dog and I spent a very hot afternoon lugging poles across the field. At least, I carried them – the dog just jumped over them.
It seems only a few weeks ago that we were knee deep in mud but the dry weather we have had since lockdown started means that the fields are now bone dry and the harrow kicked up a huge cloud of dust. I only did a tiny bit of the field but my Dad – who did most of the work – had to wear a mask for the worst parts.
It was warm work but the field looks so much better for it now.
This week I would normally have been spending many happy hours watching Badminton Horse Trails. Of course, that wasn’t possible this year and although it had to be that way, it was still rather sad and I knew I would miss it. However, I was saved by the genius of the NAF 5* Virtual Eventing who have been working hard to raise money for medical charities around the world.
The trot up outfits on Wednesday were so much fun – I especially loved Ginny Howe’s teddy bear audience and Tom Rowland’s roller blades. I also really appreciated having the opportunity to get a glimpse of some of the riders’ yards – it is so interesting to see them!
Watching in style
The dressage days were more serious but it was great to get to watch some 5* eventing dressage and again those glimpses of the riders’ set ups at home. Spencer Sturmey’s test was particularly good and I was sorry to find he was eliminated – I was very much looking forward to his cross country round!
The cross country was a brilliant obstacle course with dogs and utterly hilarious – I haven’t laughed so much for ages. Similarly, the show jumping today (with bicycles!) was great fun to watch – although it seemed to be hard work! The cross country looked as much fun to do as it was to watch but I think I would have struggled more with the show jumping.
The whole week has been wonderfully entertaining and I so much appreciated all the work done by the organisers, riders and grooms to put this on for us. If you didn’t see it I would highly recommend heading over to the Virtual Eventing website or YouTube channel where you can still watch the live streams.
I know lots of peopgle are still able to ride during the lockdown but there are many who like me have chosen not to and more who just cannot.
For those of you who are missing your riding, I invite you to join Galahad and I on a hack from last summer. Think of it as pony ASMR!