Competing Again

Galahad and I recently took part in another virtual event with Exiefest. We did the utility pony class again and this time had the chance to do a working hunter class as well.

The utility pony class is essentially an obstacle course – a bit like doing trec. We can do that very well but this was not one of our better days. Nothing went especially wrong but Galahad was a bit tense the whole time and we were just not as fluid as usual. I found it particularly hard to put the watering can back down in the right place – it would have been easier just to carry it around with us! In the end we came fifth out of six in that class. My sister had a much better day with Cookster – she came third.

For the working hunter class I decided to push ourselves a bit and do the 65cm plus class. I knew Galahad was more than capable and would probably actually jump better at a higher height. He doesn’t really see the point of tiny fences!

Of course, he flew around the course and made it feel tiny. It felt wonderful and I was so proud of him. We came second in that class – although there was only one other competitor so that’s not quite as good as it sounds!

I had such a great time filming the classes and am very much looking forward to the next one.

Having Fun

Sometimes it is good to get back to basics and just have a little fun with the ponies. For my sister and I today that meant building some obstacles and playing some gymkhana style games – things like rearranging my dressage letter cones on the top of some jump wings. I had intended to spell the word cake but as I couldn’t find the A I ended up just alphabetising them.

We also did some bending, threw socks in a bucket, walked over a tarpaulin and navigated our way through a maze of poles.

I spent quite some time working on neck reining with Galahad too. It isn’t something we practise often but he isn’t bad at it – at least at walk. Our ability to do it properly decreases as we speed up. Trot is okay but canter definitely needs some work. Having said that, I also played with riding without reins and even at canter that went pretty well – although my steering was somewhat limited. The brakes weren’t bad though.

I had a very fun afternoon and it has reminded me how much I enjoyed playing with the ponies when we first started riding them. I really should do it more often.

Changing Seasons

Autumn is definitely creeping up on us. I have actually had to turn the tack room light on in the evening a couple of times – it has been a while since that was necessary! I would have liked to turn the stable light on too but the swallows have a second brood in the nest built against the light so that is not currently possible.

The ponies’ winter coats are starting to come through too. They aren’t very fluffy yet but the effect of even that small extra amount of hair is already showing itself. We had a pretty hot day yesterday and Galahad got surprisingly sweaty very quickly as we went over a few jumps. So much so that I cut our schooling session a little shorter than I had planned. We need to go a little bit gently until Galahad is clipped. At least while this warm weather lasts.

Not that we didn’t still have a good ride – and this evening Galahad and I went out for a post work hack which was delightful. In fact, I love autumn – there is something about the crispness of the air in the mornings and evenings which is wonderful. Plus, we will start lighting the woodburner in the evenings – something which always makes me happy, even if it does encourage me to spend more time inside.

I actually spent a fair bit of yesterday indoors anyway though – it was wonderful to be able to watch the five star eventing from Bicton which made for a very exciting couple of days. I have missed having the big events to watch, although I very much enjoyed what I could see of the Paralympcs over the past couple of weeks. Sadly most of the dressage happened whilst I was at work but I watched what I could and I loved it. Now I’m very much looking forward to the next one!

Taking Time Out

This has been another busy week for me – what with work, an agility competition with the dog, taking my stationery to another summer fête and photographing a whole load of new cards for my online shop I haven’t had much time for myself. However, I have been making a point of going out to ride every day when I get home from work and that has definitely been beneficial.

It is so easy to get overwhelmed by the to do list and focus on getting that completed before anything else but I have learnt from experience that it is not a good idea. It is so much better for my health – both physical and mental – if I get outside, even if it is just for a half hour hack.

This evening – after the photography session – Cookster and I went for a lovely little jaunt. Not very far really but enough to blow the cobwebs away. It was a gorgeous evening and it was wonderful to be out in it. We even had a beautiful sunset to enjoy – although as usual it has not photographed well!

Getting Things Done

Friday was all about chores for me. I had several jobs that had needed doing for a while but sometimes it’s hard to make the time after work. I’d much rather be in the saddle! On Friday though I used my day off to actually get them done.

My Dad and I started by collecting a load of posts and rails from where they were lying about in a field that’s just had some work done on it. That was pretty easy but then I had to sort out the hay. The hay store needed a new roof in the spring and while that was being sorted some of the hay got a bit damp and mouldy. Obviously it couldn’t stay so I pulled out anything that looked a bit dodgy and carted it off to the muck heap. The ponies were very interested indeed!

The muck heap itself needed some work as I have not done a good job of keeping on top of the weeds this summer and just getting to it had become a bit of a fight. While I was sorting the hay my Mum did a sterling job of pulling up the weeds so access is now perfectly easy.

By that point I had got quite enthused by the tidying and even straightened out the tack room a bit. Not that it was too bad to start with but I was shocked by how much I swept off the floor! Rug washing and mending is an ongoing chore at the moment but the end is in sight!

After all that it was good to take Galahad out for a hack. We needed some time to relax and I picked our first blackberries of the season. A very good end to the day!

Thrills and Spills

Last week definitely had the full spectrum of highs and lows for me. We started off with a great schooling session which finished with some jumping. Galahad was feeling so good that I raised the fences higher than we had jumped for a while and he soared over them without a second thought. He can sometimes back off his fences a bit and so to feel him really keen to jump was wonderful.

This was just over 2’4″ – we have jumped this height before but not for a long time – so not huge. It felt like a big achievement for us though, especially as previously this height has seemed to intimidate him. This time, he made it feel tiny.

The low came a few days later when we were just having a gentle hack around the fields. We had just popped over a small ditch on a downhill slope when a pheasant flew up on our right, Galahad shot off to the left and I pretty much stayed where I was. Thankfully my sister was there to catch Galahad and call for reinforcements in the form of my parents – I was still lying flat on my face and she couldn’t cope with that and two ponies! I had told her I was fine so she wasn’t being callous leaving me there but at the same time I was clearly not okay – I am normally trying to stand up sooner than I should.

I was in fact fine, just rather bruised and I had pulled a few muscles which are still feeling sore a week later. The shock was the worst bit – I cannot remember the last time I cried when I fell off – although it had been a bit of a stressful week for me and I think the fall just finished me off emotionally!

It is clear that the blogging bug has infected more than just me now. Even as my Mum ran – in her slippers – out of the house to pick up the pieces she paused to wonder if she should bring a camera to record the event for posterity!

Summer Fêtes

It has been a rather busy week here as I have been preparing for my fist in-person show with my stationery. Yesterday I had a stall at a local fête and so all week I have been madly printing stationery and assembling packs of cards and letter paper. I also took along some of my vintage books to sell so I needed time to sort those as well. Naturally I made sure to have a good supply of pony books!

Not that Galahad got neglected. Months ago I booked a week’s annual leave to coincide with the second week of the Olympics – and specifically the eventing – so I still had plenty of time to ride even with all the extra time I was spending in my studio.

Riding took a definite back seat yesterday though as the fête absorbed all my time. Of course I did my usual yard chores but other than that I’m sure the ponies appreciated the day off. Not that I had a pony free day though – my favourite customer of the day was the cutest pony who was very interested in my cards!

Tomorrow I will be back at work so I am making the most of my last day of freedom to recover from the week – and of course that included a gentle ride. It has been an exhausting holiday!

Olympic Obsessions

I love the Olympics. I am always looking forward to the next one and whilst they are on I watch as much sport as I possibly can. The gymnastics events are always a favourite with me but I also love watching the althletics, swimming, diving, triathlon… Basically, if it’s on I will probably watch it. I am very much looking forward to seeing the sport climbing for the first time in a few days time – it looks so exciting! Of course, the time difference is a bit of a difficulty this time around but all last week I was getting up early to see the sports in which I was particularly interested – and catching up on what I couldn’t see in my breaks. At home, I have the luxury of more than one screen which has proved very useful more than once. The triathlon mixed relay very inconsiderately clashed with the last session of eventing dressage and I just had to watch both of them!

Naturally, my main interest is in the equestrian events. Most of the pure dressage took place while I was at work but I had a fortuitous day off for the team final (so exciting!) and everything else was seen in little snatches. I have fallen in love with Charlotte Dujardin’s ride Gio and I loved every minute of the competition.

A lot of the eventing takes place at far more unsocial hours and I booked some annual leave this week just so I would be able to watch it – and we have even decorated the fireplace in Team GB colours to add to the atmosphere. It was definitely the right decision to take as I am utterly exhausted – because of course I have other sports to watch and can’t have a lie in to recover! I don’t regret a thing though – so far the competition has been incredibly exciting and tomorrow’s showjumping should be amazing to watch. I have also been loving the midnight feasts!

Team GB have had such a brilliant few days of competition – although I found it very stressful actually watching their cross country rounds last night. Competing myself is far less nerve wracking but they had three wonderful rounds and I am keeping everything crossed for them to do well tomorrow and bring home the gold.

Managing the Heat

We have been having such a heatwave this past week! The ponies have been spending as much time as possible in the shade and the riding has taken a bit of a hit as well. When we did manage to get out it was always for something very gentle to keep down the temperature. Having said that, on Friday morning I took Galahad out for an early hack only to find that the dog had tagged along too. She isn’t really safe on the roads without a lead so our hack turned into a schooling session – albeit one that was still not too strenuous.

The evenings have been so much nicer and cooler this weekend that I have been able to get out again after work. Both ponies have enjoyed some lovely hacks – at least, I enjoyed them and I hope they did too!

I have also been very much enjoying the snippets of the Olympics I have been able to watch in between working. I will watch pretty much any Olympic sport but of course I am enjoying the dressage and am so looking forward to the team final on Tuesday which just happens to be my day off!

Evening Saunters

Galahad and I have had some lovely evening hacks this week. By the time I get home from work the heat has somewhat lessened and it is good to get out in the fresh air. We had one particularly good ride where we went a little further than usual. The sun was shining, there was a bit of a breeze and with no reason to rush we had a very relaxing saunter through the countryside.

There is something very special about the light and the air in the evenings – and the early mornings too. There is just a wonderful feeling which isn’t there in the middle of the day. Riding out in it is always a treat.

In fact, the only problem is that as the sun is getting low it can be difficult to see. We cope but it does make me wonder if a car driver will be blinded by the sun and hit us. Of course, we are very careful and it really is beautiful – still the best way to end the day.