As with many horsey people, I also love dogs. The idea of roaming the countryside with my pony and my dog is a dream which seems just perfect. Unfortunately, my dog is a spaniel cross and she will go off after any smell which takes her fancy. On foot I can keep her in check but I would not feel at all happy on a pony, especially if we were on or near a road – which we would be.
However, she has learnt to be sensible and look after herself when she is around the ponies in the yard. I used to have to shut her up away from the ponies and their dangerous feet but her sense of self preservation has finally kicked in and she is now more or less sensible about keeping her distance. Of course, I still keep an eye on her but I can now be much more efficient than I was.
The ponies are also very well behaved around her. They are used to dogs running round at my instructor’s yard so they barely react to them now. As long as the dog doesn’t do anything to startle them they pretty much ignore her. Which is exactly how I like it – we can all just get on with our own thing. It is wonderful.
This week I have been working several twelve hour days in a row so I have seen very little of the ponies. My parents have been looking after them for me and my Mum has written a guest post.
As our daughter is spending a week working very long hours, it’s fallen to us parents to keep an eye on the Exmoors. I suppose this is reasonable really. It was me that suggested we buy them for our teenage daughters – it seemed a good idea at the time.
I say us – in reality it’s my husband who does the hands on stuff. I am one of the world’s organisers. I have the bright ideas and others carry out the hard work. Hours in the cold and rain helping my youngest daughter to catch half wild six month old colts fell to him. I put the kettle on for when they finally succeeded. He has spent many days over the years supporting our eldest daughter competing in jumping and dressage competitions. Anxiety stopped me from following his example. I stayed at home waiting for the text saying all was well. On the days I plucked up courage to go, I have been known to hide behind the tea tent or walk the dog while she was competing. I am getting better at this now. She looks so good when competing, it is a pleasure to watch her – if only between half closed eyelids or from behind parked cars.
So this week, after our daughter has fed and mucked out the ponies early in the morning, it is up to us to put them out to their fields at the right time and make sure their grass intake is restricted so they don’t get fat which they will do without any encouragement at all. It’s me who reminds my husband it’s time to let them out of the yard. He who has to stop whatever he’s doing to let them out. Me who decides which grass they should be grazing. He who has to move them to the right field.
Our reward for all this is the pleasure they give my daughters, the sight from our windows of two beautiful Exmoors grazing in the fields and the way they wicker at us when they think it’s time for food. Also some beautifully rotted down muck, just ready for putting on flower and vegetable beds over the winter.
We don’t have a trailer we could use to collect the hay ourselves so we asked our neighbour to deliver it to the end of the drive for us. Then we used the lawn tractor’s trailer to ferry it all down to the hay store.
I did some of the driving but mostly I enjoyed having a ride on the trailer – although I did learn the hard way that if you stand right on the back of it you will bend it. We had a bit of a job getting the sides back on!
It is very satisfying to have the hay store filled with hay for the winter. It smells wonderful and I’m sure the ponies will think it delicious!
The eagle eyed amongst you may have spotted that recently I have been riding Galahad without a noseband. I actually quite like the look on him but I didn’t decide to do it to make him pretty!
I realised that Galahad had developed a small bald patch on his face and, although I am almost certain that it wasn’t caused by his noseband (which is so loose that it basically does nothing), I took it off to remove any chance of it making the rubbing worse.
It is in fact probably caused by his fly mask which I have now also taken off. It is very odd – this year both ponies have grown some white hairs where their fly masks sit, even though they have never had a problem before. Thankfully neither of them are showing any signs of sore spots so hopefully they haven’t actually been hurt by the masks.
The fly season is now drawing towards its close so I can leave the fly masks off without causing a problem. We will need to think of a new solution for next summer though!
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