Having Fun

I realised recently that I haven’t been making the most of the facilities we have here. Galahad and I have only done a handful of cross country competitions but at those we have done we have tended to get into trouble at any fences that look rather different to what we are used to. Galahad loves to jump but he isn’t very brave and if I’m honest my own nerves haven’t helped either.

We have several logs in the fields which we jump regularly but it suddenly came home to me that actually I can create far more of a cross country course for schooling than I have ever done. The ponies are currently turned out in a field which – until lockdown – I very rarely used for riding. Even when I did ride in it, I didn’t make use of all the natural features. We have a stream which runs right through the field and – although I have ridden through it many times – I never thought to use some of the drops down into it, instead using the gentler slopes.

Likewise, the steep slopes in the field have always scared me a bit as I do not like going downhill at speed! However, the ditches across it are perfect for schooling and in places they can even be used as a practice for drop fences – something at which we have historically been very bad.

Once I got over my nerves and realised Galahad was not going to cart me off down the hill I had so much fun playing with jumping all these new obstacles. It is obviously good for Galahad too but my confidence is soaring which is something I hadn’t anticipated when I started. Now I just want to make jumps out of anything I can find!

Unexpected Bonus

We recently had a visit from some tree surgeons as some of our trees were growing too tall and getting rather close to the power cables. They cut down an awful lot of branches but – although it made a lot of work – that is good news as it means that we are already getting a good supply of logs for next winter.

In the meantime, we might as well get some fun out of the drying logs. My parents built me a great little log pile to jump which was a lovely surprise. I thought Galahad would take some persuading to go over it – he is not a fan of new jumps – but he sailed over it without an issue.

We had a great time playing with the logs. It is wonderful to have fields that are dry enough to ride in – we had such a wet winter it seemed it might never happen again! Galahad is having a whale of a time being able to jump. He really does enjoy it and gets ever so excited when he realises what is going on. Of course, I am rather pleased too!

Mud Monsters

After several weeks of no rain at all – and, despite the downpour earlier in the year, really needing some to make the grass grow – we finally had a shower yesterday. It wasn’t really much but Galahad definitely made the most of it and covered himself in mud. Just as I’d got used to having a nice clean pony!

Both ponies are now moulting well so every grooming session involves me getting covered in hair. I have been getting targeted ads for the Groomi tool for months but had been resisting buying one because I thought I really didn’t need any more brushes. A couple of weeks ago though I weakened and treated myself. My reasoning was that I had been hoping to go to Badminton next week and as I would have allowed myself to buy something there this was perfectly acceptable. I must admit that it seems to do a good job – Galahad is very slow to moult and does not normally produce this pile of hair when I brush him.

Having cleaned off the mud we went for a lovely, relaxing ride. Yesterday was the ponies’ official birthday (as they were born on the moor we don’t know their actual dates of birth) and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate. The ponies may well have preferred the apples and carrots they had after we got home though!

Working Hard

You might expect me to have a relaxing day for my first day off after going back to work. In fact, I spent the afternoon having a mammoth tack cleaning session. It was still a nice way to spend the day – especially as the sun was shining and I could sit on the grass in the garden with a cup of tea. I even managed to get my sister to join me in cleaning Cookster’s tack which added to the fun.

As well as cleaning though, I also embarked on a mending session as all the ears of Galahad’s fly masks were full of holes but were otherwise perfectly sound. It seemed incredibly wasteful to get new ones so some darning was obviously in order. This is one of those tasks I’ve been meaning to do since last autumn but which has somehow never got to the top of the list. It just wasn’t a priority in the middle of winter! Now though the flies are starting to show their presence and the masks are definitely needed.

As you can see, I decided not to be subtle about it. There was very little chance of my mending them invisibly so I thought I might as well make a feature of the darning. I rather like the effect and Galahad doesn’t seem to mind!

The blog is up a little late today as I have been watching the Kentucky 5* Horse Trials. It was so good to have some eventing to watch again and it really was a nail biting finish. I was literally on the edge of my seat and my Mum couldn’t watch at all! It was wonderful to see Oliver Townend win and lovely to have Harry Meade in the top five too. It has been a great weekend!

Chatterbox Pony

The long dry spell we have had recently meant that I finally felt comfortble riding round my neighbour’s fields again. I am paranoid about damaging the ground by riding when it is too wet but I am definiutely safe at the moment.

Having once made the decision to do so I was quick to take advantage of the fact and within a couple of days I had taken both ponies out for a spin. They both seemed to very much appreciate the change in scene – Galahad in particular was suddenly very full of beans and happily speeding over the grass.

Cookster was less speedy but I have never known him to be such a chatterbox! He wanted to talk to all the horses we saw and spent the whole time we were in the fields giving little squeals of excitement. They sounded exactly like he was planning to buck and go charging off but he was far too sedate to do that!

I had two lovely rides – it was so good to be exploring different horizons again. Every little change in scenery is always an excitement and I am very much looking forward to going out again.

Hacking Joys

The easing of Covid restrictions this week has seen me returning to work for the first time in three months. It has been nice to talk to people about books again but it has still been pretty stressful – I am just not used to seeing people! The ponies have been a huge help to me though – if I’m having a tough time I just remind myself that in a few hours I can go home and take a pony out for a ride. It really does help me get through the day.

I have been very lucky too that the weather has been glorious all week. There has been no chance of me being reluctant to ride out in the rain. Instead, every evening I have been desperate to get out to the stables, tack up as fast as I can and make the most of the dying light. It has been simply beautiful.

It is a lot of fun too. Ten year old me would have been so happy to be able to do this after school and in a way I feel I have created a lot of that same feeling for myself now. There has been no pressure to do anything clever or exciting – it is just me and a pony poddling around the fields and enjoying each other’s company. It is a balm for the soul.

Summer Pastures

One evening this week the ponies got turned out into their summer grazing for the first time this year. Although, they had in fact sneaked in a little early – I was busy at work and got sent pictures of them having a high old time eating the forbidden grass. Not that I can really blame them – they have eaten almost all the grass everywhere else!

Apparently they were surprisingly easy to get back out again – I fully expected them to run a mile from anyone.

Having failed to keep his access to the field, Cookster then barged his way through the gate onto our lawn. Luckily neither he nor the gate were hurt – but the gate post does need replacing.

Since they were clearly desperate to get into the field I thought their actual turnout would be very exciting indeed. Instead, it was highly disappointing.

Evidently eating grass is far more important than running right now!

Easter Sunshine

A combination of lockdown and work commitments has meant that I haven’t been able to ride with my sister since before Christmas, so it was for the first time in months that we hacked out together on Friday. In a socially distanced manner of course!

It was so lovely to have the company. I do enjoy the peace and time to think when I ride out by myself but there is nothing quite like having a friend with whom you can chat as you go along. We are having the most gorgeous weather for the Easter weekend as well so it has been delightful to be out and about.

Cookster is moulting well now, whereas Galahad – predictably – is not. My sister therefore took longer to get ready than I did – you could keep grooming Cookster for hours and still be getting hair out. That meant I had some time to kill and I decided to experiment with plaiting Galahad’s feathers. I’ve seen pictures of this being done beautifully and although Galahad has nothing like the hair you get on a cob I thought it would be fun to try. I could have done with slightly longer hair but still it wasn’t bad for a first attempt!

Spring is Springing

This year I have been riding around our own fields more than ever before. It’s always been something I might do occassionally but it wasn’t until we went into lockdown – and riding away from our own property got restricted – that I fully appreciated how lovely it could be.

For lazy days like today it is the prerfect activity. There is nothing strenuous required as there would be in a schooling session and no need to keep an eye and ear open for oncoming traffic on the roads. Of course, we can’t go any great distance in a straight line but we can certainly do a decent amount of pottering – and now the ground is drying out we can even get in some reasonable canters.

The terrain is beautifully varied too. Our hills and stream might take more maintenance work than a flat paddock but they do make riding a good deal more interesting. Particularly if the pony is feeling fresh and we have to navigate a steep descent!

Some of the main joys at the moment though are the signs of spring which are popping up all over the place. The flowers are always a delight but again I have become particularly aware of them since lockdown. Very excitingly, the bare, churned up patches of mud are now showing tiny green shoots. The grass is growing!

Exciting New Ventures

As I mentioned last week, I have been getting significantly less riding recently. I have been working very hard to launch an online stationery business and unfortunately riding has had to take a back seat to that. I have loved creating the designs for the stationery but it has been sad not to be able to ride as much as I would like.

Yesterday though, I opened my (virtual) shop doors – do come for a browse – and the pace of life is returning to normal. I have no ponies in my shop yet but I am working on new designs all the time and I know it won’t be long before they make an appearance.

This is a beautiful, sunny day, just perfect for spending time with the ponies. I have been for a lovely hack with each of them and even found the time to trim Cookster’s bridle path which was getting unruly. Time now to find a book and some tea and to settle down in the sunshine for a rest. I may even end up having a nap!