Cookster and I had a most exciting ride on Monday. We got to the top of the hill and were walking along happily when he suddenly noticed that the alpacas were back in the field on our left. Then he remembered how terrifying they are and spun around to go home.
I stopped that idea and we faced the alpaca again. We took a few tentative steps and then stood stock still, head in the air and eyes bulging. He has a very ewe neck so his head can go extremely high when he chooses! In the end I got off to lead him past. I could probably have eventually forced him to be ridden but neither of us would have enjoyed it and it wouldn’t really have done any good.
On our way we stopped to look over the gate at the awful animal. By then Cookster seemed pretty calm but kept staring off along the lane – it wasn’t long before a van turned up and we had to scurry out of the way.
We continued our hack – at a very fast trot – and had a lovely time until we had to pass the same field going home. By then the alpaca was nowhere in sight but Cookster was wary in his approach and as soon as we got past the spot where it had been earlier he was ready to fly again.
I had to keep very awake to stop him bolting for home. We had to navigate a steep downwards slope and despite my best efforts we descended at a very fast walk!
Of course the whole thing was my fault – I hadn’t been feeling too well but wanted to ride anyway. Stupidly I had said, ‘I’ll just sit on a pony and ride up the lane. What could happen?’ That’ll teach me!
For obvious reasons I took no photographs on this particular adventure. Instead, here is Cookster looking beautiful in the evening sunshine.
Cookster always used to be incredibly nappy when I rode him out alone. I have been working hard on sorting that and he has come a long way – it has been while since he has tried to turn for home and if I have needed to mount whilst out on a hack he has recently been very good about standing still. All our arguments about that seemed a thing of the past.
After the incident with the alpacas last week though, he has regressed. If he thinks we are going anywhere near their field he will try to go home instead. Mounting whilst out has become problematical again as well. I feel like I have undone months of hard work just by stopping to take a picture. We will get back to where we were but it is disheartening.
On the bright side, Galahad is now once again the easier ride of the two and we have had some lovely hacks this week. In between the showers of pouring rain the weather has been rather nice and refreshing.
The ponies were wormed this week and so are now in a new field with more grass than they had. It is very exciting!
I mentioned on Sunday that I took all my photographs when riding Cookster because he was being far more sensible. Unfortunately, that was only true up to a point.
I was quite happily taking pictures of the alpacas when one came up very close to the fence. That was rather nice and we stood there looking at it. I could feel Cookster trembling a bit but didn’t think anything of it – after all, we have seen them many times before.
Cookster suddenly whipped round and charged off back towards home. At that point I was only wearing one glove and I was holding my phone so I didn’t have a great grip on the reins and our braking was not doing too well. To make it worse, Cookster’s braking can be iffy at the best of times and hauling on the reins is not the way to stop him.
Luckily though we did manage to stop before we ran down the hill to the main road. It is steeper than it looks in the photograph!
I led him back past the alpacas and we carried on our way. He was absolutely fine after that but I knew we would have to go back past them. Cookster knew it too and was stopping dead a hundred yards before the alpacas’ field. I could get him moving again but I ended up leading him past. I didn’t really fancy charging down the hill to the main road.
We have definitely got something to work on now!
As we rode out yesterday we said hello to the alpacas as we usually do. Also as usual they were supremely indifferent to our presence. Coming home however they were much closer to the road and Galahad – having decided they are safe – was desperate to make friends with them. He was practically leaning through the fence!
This time the alpacas showed a bit of interest too and actually started walking towards us. Sadly Galahad in his eagerness shifted his weight forward and made them run off but they had been much closer than ever before. They started following us home and every time there was a gap in the hedge Galahad would have another go at talking to them. It was very exciting for him. My sister’s pony on the other hand was not at all convinced they were safe and stayed firmly in the background. He did not like them following us!
In other news I found this water bottle in our local farm shop and couldn’t resist it.
Isn’t it great?!