As with every winter, we are now finding that we have very little grass left in the fields and we are looking for ways to keep the ponies fed without feeding them too much of our hay – it would be nice if that lasted a bit longer! Our main problem at the moment is that the fields are so incredibly wet – nothing has a chance to grow.
The lane still has a decent amount of grass in it though so the ponies have been having an hour or two of turnout there most days. It is very difficult to fence off securely so we normally sit out there with them to make sure they don’t wander off – although so far their heads have pretty much stayed down in the grass and they have barely moved. This is something we usually do in the summer when it is lovely to sit out in a deckchair with a book. Things are obviously a bit different at the moment so we have a car parked at the end of the lane, I make sure I am wearing many layers and I always take a blanket and a cup of tea. Providing I manage to keep myself warm enough it is actually quite enjoyable.
The ponies never take long to learn a new routine – especially where food is involved. By the second day they were quick to come when called to the gate. Now every time we walk up the lane they come running – just in case we feel like feeding them!
They have also got a little more adventurous now – one of their favourite places to graze is on the top of this bank. It doesn’t look like the most appetising grass to me but apparently it is worth the climb – and the effort involved in getting down again!
I took both ponies out for a gentle hack around the fields (separately – not together) and as Galahad and I were heading home I thought it would be a good idea to canter up the grass in the lane. The fields are absolutely sodden at the moment so it’s the only place we can actually canter.
The field gate leading back to the stables is halfway up the lane and I knew Galahad would want to go that way. Usually I can keep him going past it but he breaks into a trot in doing so. This time I was determined to keep the canter. I was actually successful in that but I failed to keep him straight and he ducked into the gateway. That wouldn’t have been so bad but the gate – which I had left wide open – had swung until it was almost closed. There was just about room for an Exmoor pony to squeeze through but not so much for my legs, one of which got caught on the latch and I was pulled out of the saddle. The next thing I knew, Galahad pulled the reins out of my hand and galloped for home.
No, I should not have been wearing wellies for riding – I was lazy and hadn’t bothered to change them. Chances are I might not have come off if I had. I was incredibly lucky – no broken bones, just some bruises and pulled muscles. Galahad too was lucky – he could easily have seriously damaged himself on the bolt on the gate. That being so, my training kicked in and I got back in the saddle – which is now covered in mud and in serious need of a clean – and we cantered past the gate a few times. This time though it was firmly shut!
My clothes were in no fit state to go in the washing machine and as the hosepipe is frozen I made use of the stream to get rid of the worst of the mud. It’s an incredibly useful resource!
Every year we make sure to wassail our apple trees to ensure that we get a good harvest in the autumn. Our wassailing last year was certainly effective – we had an excellent crop of apples and we still have a good number of jars of apple jam waiting to be eaten. We almost left it too late this year (today was the last day for wassailing) but we weren’t going to leave it out.
On the odd occassion in the past the ponies have joined in this ritual. This year they were just bystanders – but they were very interested in what was going on and followed us from tree to tree to see if there was anything in it for them.
They were not fans of the noise intended to scare away evil spirits though!
The dog has always accompanied us on these ritual trips but like the ponies she has normally been a bystander. This year she was an enthusiastic participant – she barked and even played the tambourine.
With all that noise we should have a bumper crop of apples this year!
Galahad and I had one last ‘outing’ for the year when we took part in the utility pony class for the Christmas Exiefest. I was very tempted by the dressage and Prix Caprilli tests as well but decided that the field was too soggy for us to perform at our best. The utility pony gave us plenty of work to do by itself!
Most of the obstacles didn’t worry us too much but I did have some issues with the curtain. Galahad didn’t even want to go near it to start with and it took a lot of patience and cajoling to get him walking through. Even then, we had to pin the curtain to the side. Luckily the test sheet specifically stated that we wouldn’t be penalised for dismounting for this obstacle.
Any other problems were mine rather than Galahad’s – things like my getting the scarf completely tangled up in the reins on our first attempt. Galahad stood like a rock though, just turning his head to see what on earth I was trying to do to him.
Despite letting myself get frustrated by the curtain I had a lot of fun doing this class. I didn’t think we had done well enough to place but I was glad we had taken part. I was therefore astonished to get the results sheet and find that we had won the class. Galahad had worked very hard though and he definitely deserved the win.
I was so proud of him and I would definitely recommend that anyone who gets the chance to do a class like this should take it – it is a lot of fun!
Much of the country has had snow over the past few days. We have not but we did get some heavy hailstorms and as it has been so cold the hail didn’t melt but lay about on the ground looking absolutely beautiful.
We went out for a little potter on the ponies to enjoy it. We had a look at the roads but decided they were just too icy to be safe so we stuck to riding about the fields and up our own lane. Its surprising how much of a ride you can get in a few fields!
Both ponies were feeling very jolly and bouncy so I was fully prepared for them to explode and for me to end up on the floor. However, they behaved impeccably and we had what may have been the most sedate trot ever. That was a relief and so I had a lovely time admiring the view. It was the best way to start the new year!
Horsey adventures - We are all told, “live your life to the fullest”; I am here to do just that. Horsey adventures serves as a vessel to project my passions, and clue in my loyal readers as to what inspires me in this crazy world. So, sit back, relax, and read on.