I have been very much enjoying the autumn colouring recently. The hedges and trees have been simply glorious with colour and I have been revelling in it. I know that the lockdown in England means many people are not able to ride at the moment so I thought I would share one of my rides with you.
It all started out well as I headed off up the lane but before I reached the road I realised that I didn’t have my hi-viz tabard on. I did debate about going out anyway but it wasn’t really sensible – it may be a small, quiet road but it it is also a small, twisty road and cars coming round the corners don’t have much time to see you. I was riding a brown pony and wearing a dull green jacket. I was basically invisible.
So, here is a very small section of a hack.
I didn’t really have time to grab the tabard and go out again so Galahad and I had a little canter in the field to use up the time we did have instead.
It was just as well that I hadn’t gone too far as I found that my paranoia about having not shut the dog away in the tack room was for once not paranoia at all and she had wandered off. I panicked terribly but found that she had just gone back home and was waiting patiently outside the back door. Evidently the tack room is far too boring!
This week I decided it was time to switch the ponies to being stabled at night. It has been raining so much and at least if they are out during the day we can see if they are being stupid standing out in the rain getting cold (Cookster especially is very prone to to doing this) and do something about it. At night they are just left to their own devices.
Of course, the ponies were not aware of this and were waiting impatiently to be brought in on the morning of the day of the change. They were very miffed to be left out in the field! Then in the evening I had to traipse across the field in the dark (because of course I didn’t remember a torch) to find them. By the next evening though, they had it sussed and were all ready and waiting for their dinner.
It is obviously much more work to have the ponies properly stabled but there is something so cosy and satisfying about tucking them up in bed. Plus, it guarantees me the best welcome in the mornings!
This weekend autumn seems to have hit us with a vengeance. We have had two days of driving rain and splashing through puddles. Of course, that didn’t stop us going out to ride – it just meant that we got very wet indeed. We also spent a lot of time inspecting the hedges as the ponies turned their heads away from the wind. Gettng out at all was interesting – we had to ride across a field and turn into the wind. The ponies were quite happy to walk forward but they definitely did not want to turn left!
I also made the mistake of wearing my spare pair of waterproof trousers as they were handily in the tackroom , as opposed to in the house. It turns out that I did buy the newer pair for a reason and there is not really any point in keeping the old ones for emergencies. They didn’t keep me dry at all.
In brighter news, the ponies had their back checks this week. Galahad hasn’t seen the back lady in about a year (he normally gets looked at ewvery six months or so but covid caused a hiatus) and he miraculously only needed a few tweaks – no full treatment and no time off afterwards. That is a first and a definite reason to celebrate.
Today was very exciting for me – I wore my riding skirt out on a pony for the first time since last winter.
I actually don’t wear it riding as much as I would like because I love to wear it as an ordinary skirt so much and it isn’t really sociable to wear it around town when it smells of horse! Today though it was raining and I decided it was time to take it out.
We had a beautiful ride as all the leaves are turning and the countryside is a blaze of colour. My sister and I turned a corner and it was like we came out into the light – we were surrounded by bright orange leaves. It was absolutely stunning and we sat there for a good five minutes just drinking it all in.
Every autumn I dither about when to start bringing the ponies in at night. Yes they are Exmoors and and are perfectly capable of staying out all winter but they do get fat on thin air and need their grass intake to be monitored somewhat. Besides that, it helps to save the ground a bit.
Throughout the summer I go out to do evening checks on them in the field. Often they ignore me, sometimes they skitter away as if they think I might actually make them do some work and sometimes they come to say hello.
However, for the past couple of evenings the ponies have started whickering when I go out to see them and even run over to say hello. Then they have followed me back to the yard and stood about looking hopeful. I’m pretty sure they were asking for dinner!
Therefore they came in for the first time last night. It does mean a bit more work for me but there is something very cosy about having the ponies all tucked up in bed. Autumn is a lovely time.
The ponies being away for a few days doesn’t just give me a chance to use the school. We also get to explore some different hacking routes which is always a nice change.
The other day I arrived a bit late but I had been looking forward to my hack and the sun was still a little way off setting so I decided I could get out as long as I was super quick getting ready. I was soon on and we set off up the drive – me giving firm instructions that we would be walking nice and fast and trotting as much as possible.
At first Galahad was not impressed but before too long he decided it was quite fun after all. In fact, I’d wound him up so much that he didn’t really want to walk at all and thought that canter would be much more fun than trotting. He had a whale of a time!
I was not quite so convinced but it did the job – we got home before it was too dark!
I have written a lot recently about our hacks but I have been schooling Galahad as well.
We had a great session on Thursday – Galahad really felt like he was listening to me, was nicely forward going and seemed very willing. We did some work on turns on the forehand and they felt amazing. I had no eyes on the ground so I don’t know how they looked!
When we moved onto canter work I was even more pleased as Galahad struck off with the correct lead every time – I’m not sure that’s ever happened on the right rein before.
I finished up feeling very positive indeed and looking forward to more. Hopefully the ground will hold up for a while yet before we have to stop for the winter.
We have had a lot of rain over the past few days. Also hail and sleet. Things are starting to look a little soggy!
In fact, the gateway into the yard got to the point where we just had to do something about it. We had some branches taken out in our woodland and the work has left us with a large pile of wood chippings. These are excellent for putting down on the mud!
My parents were very kind and put down a load of chippings on Friday. They are wonderful! I can now get into the yard without having a struggle and getting covered in mud. The dog likes it too – she might be a country dog but she hates mud and will do her best to get round it!
The rain hasn’t stopped us getting out and about though – although other people’s fields are looking even wetter than ours!
Things are getting pretty dark here. It has been dark when I get home for weeks but now it is also almost too dark to ride before work as well.
Not quite though – I can still squeeze in a hack if I am super quick and don’t go very far. In fact, the only good thing about working on Sundays is that when I have to do so I start an hour later – plenty of time to ride!
It hasn’t helped that this week I have had a terrible cold which has made my energy levels plummet. Getting up in the morning has been even harder than usual. I am on the mend now though and hopefully I’ll manage to have a few more early morning rides before the darkness sets in.