As with many horsey people, I also love dogs. The idea of roaming the countryside with my pony and my dog is a dream which seems just perfect. Unfortunately, my dog is a spaniel cross and she will go off after any smell which takes her fancy. On foot I can keep her in check but I would not feel at all happy on a pony, especially if we were on or near a road – which we would be.
However, she has learnt to be sensible and look after herself when she is around the ponies in the yard. I used to have to shut her up away from the ponies and their dangerous feet but her sense of self preservation has finally kicked in and she is now more or less sensible about keeping her distance. Of course, I still keep an eye on her but I can now be much more efficient than I was.
The ponies are also very well behaved around her. They are used to dogs running round at my instructor’s yard so they barely react to them now. As long as the dog doesn’t do anything to startle them they pretty much ignore her. Which is exactly how I like it – we can all just get on with our own thing. It is wonderful.
Yesterday I was jumping the ponies in the field but today I tried an alternative form of show jumping – I finally managed to take my dog to our first agility competition.
The show ground is a bit overwhelming at first – it seems to just be a sea of jumps and other obstacles and it is only when you get closer that you can pick out the different rings. They are separated by a single strand of string and as I have seen dogs in the past running amok, leaving their own ring and invading the others, I was more than a little nervous about our first runs. I was not at all confident that the dog would listen to me!
Our first two classes were on first thing so we arrived bright and early to walk and try to remember two courses at once. Luckily my years of showjumping stood me in good stead for that!
More importantly though, the dog stayed beautifully focussed on me and although we didn’t quite get clear rounds (we had trouble with the weaves in both classes) we got round with very little trouble. I could not have been more pleased with her.
The scoring system was amazing – as each dog finished, their score was immediately posted up on a tablet at the ringside. You could see exactly how you did and keep track as the rest of the competitors went as well. It was brilliant!
We don’t have to do this with the horses!
We had a long wait until our next class so we watched some of the other dogs running before heading back to the car for lunch. The dog was already very tired and couldn’t really keep her eyes open but every time a dog barked – which was often – she would jerk back awake again. Poor dog. At least she was resting.
Most of the rings had finished by the time we got to our last class so the show ground was getting quieter and less distracting. I thought we might be in trouble though when the dog before us ran off with someone else’s treat box. In fact my dog was right with me for most of the course – the only problem being the weaves (again – we need to work on those) when she decided she really had to stop for a scratch. We got a cricket score in time faults but again I was so incredibly proud of her.
Yes, I did nearly run into the fence myself!
Today went so much better than I thought it might and it has given me a lot of confidence for the next competition. Hopefully I’ll remember that when the time comes! The dog is currently fast asleep and looking like she might stay that way – these days are as hard work for her as they are for me! Definitely worth it though.
The ponies have been continuing their education in meeting new people. My Uncle came to lunch recently and he was a brand new person they had never met before. Galahad wasn’t too sure about him but didn’t actually shy which is an improvement.
The puppy is also assisting in their education – and being educated herself. They have met plenty of times before but it was new for them to meet when I was riding.
Neither of them were particularly bothered so it was a good lesson!
The grass has definitely been growing recently! It really became noticeable whilst the ponies were away just because there was nothing eating it. Now they are back it has been getting back under control, although we have obviously had to keep an eye on their waistlines.
However, we get quite a lot of docks in the field which the ponies do not eat and which can make it difficult to school as we have to weave between the plants. The rain lately made it impossible to get a tractor in to cut them but we have had enough of a dry spell to get the field topped this week. It has made a huge difference and the field is now looking beautiful.
I didn’t get any pictures of the actual topping as we were busy introducing the puppy to the noise of the tractor. She kept an eye on it but was really much more interested in playing with a flowerpot!
Molly is a collie spaniel cross and is nine weeks old. We picked her up at the weekend and in the few days she has been here she has really blossomed and become a proper person. Quite a cheeky person but utterly adorable.
The cat is not so sure and is remaining aloof.
She is quite restricted at the moment while she waits for her second set of vaccinations but she has been to meet the ponies. She thought they were very large and a bit scary. They thought she was very small and a bit scary!
She is settling in well and I am looking forward to having a lot of fun with her.
Join us on our adventure with our two horses as we navigate the equestrian world. From product reviews to monthly exercises, inside scoops with top equestrians, we’ve got enough to keep you reading for hours!