It has been a long time since the ponies last had a jump. We stopped jumping in October or November when the field got too wet to be safe and of course we had a long gap over lockdown when first I wasn’t riding at all and then I was being extra careful when I did. Now though, I have finally made the effort to set the jumps out again. Typically, the dog was the most excited about this.
I wasn’t quite sure how Galahad would react to jumping for the first time in about nine months. He loves to jump and can get very strong and over excited. There was every possibility that those months off might mean he was unmanageable to start with.
Of course, as is pretty much always the case, I need not have worried at all. Galahad behaved impeccably and was even a little sluggish to start with – but then schooling on the flat is not at all exciting as far as he is concerned. He perked up once we actually started to jump and by the end he was starting to get a bit stronger and I felt I was having to hold him back.
We had a great time and I am looking forward to a lot more jumping over the summer.
While I was at home over lockdown, I decided to take part in an online trec competition. Galahad and I haven’t done any trec in a few years because of transport issues and, although I have known about competitions online, for some reason I have never got around to taking part.
I signed up whilst I was still not riding so I only entered the in-hand classes. We have only done a handful of those before so I wasn’t entirely sure how we would get on but it promised to be a fun way to use our time.
It was fun too. Many of the tasks were things I knew we could do fairly competantly but there was the odd thing – such as getting Galahad to touch a pole with his nose and then his foot – which we had never even attampted before. I have, however, been introducing him to some clicker training which was invaluable in training for these – although we still haven’t quite got the touching with a foot yet.
I signed up for five tasks as part of a league and they were all very different. The first felt much like a ridden test but there were also tests on the lunge and a specific polework one (which felt very messy but scored a lot better than I thought it would). Unfortunately I went back to work when I had only completed three tasks and that was overwhelming enough to stop me filming the other two before the closing date.
It didn’t matter though – the main aim had been to have fun and to give me something different to do with Galahad whilst I wasn’t riding him. It was certainly successful in that.
As ever, we are busy fighting the flies this summer. The ponies often get quite nasty bites but thankfully that hasn’t happened yet this year. Fingers crossed that it will stay that way. I did try a deet fly spray for the first time but it made Cookster’s skin peel a bit so I have gone back to the plain citronella version which does seem to be pretty effective too.
More of an issue than the bites is Cookster’s eyes. A combination of flies and his long forelock mean that they can get quite weepy. The fly mask obviously helps with that but often I go out to find the ponies looking like this.
Then of course, I have to go off and find the missing mask. Cookster spent a whole day without his mask this week which led to slightly swollen eyelids and a fair bit of discharge. That prompted me to plait his forelock up – it keeps it out of his eyes and definitely makes a huge difference as they are fully back to normal again. I like to think that it makes him look a bit like a unicorn too.
Sometimes I quite welcome the wet and windy days – there are far fewer flies about then!
I am not riding as much as normal at the moment – work is still a bit strange and stressful and when I get home all I really want to do is collapse in a heap. I am therefore mostly riding on my days off. I am hopeful that will change soon but for the moment that is how I am coping.
However, when I do ride I am so grateful that I can. There is nothing quite like taking Galahad out for a hack to make me relax and calm down a bit. We are not going as far as we might otherwise have done but it is so peaceful poddling along the lanes. Ponies really are the best kind of therapy.