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.

Dodging the Showers

This has been rather a disappointing week for me riding wise. I had my covid vaccination on Wednesday and I have been exhausted pretty much ever since. I have been managing to get through a day at work, then coming home, turning out the ponies and collapsing on the sofa.

Today however, I was determined things would be different. I had a difficult day at work but I made myself go out and tack up – between tennis matches and, fortuitously, between the rain showers.

I was so glad I made the effort. The exercise and fresh air definitely did me good and it was lovely to be outside. The rain shower that had just finished had got rid of the mugginess for a while and everything was wonderfully fresh. It was the best way to set up the week.

Ragwort Season

Yesterday I took advantage of my sister being around and roped her into helping pull up ragwort. We don’t have a huge problem with it here but every year we find some plants so vigilance is vital. I had noticed a patch so I knew it was time to go out looking (to be clear – the ponies were not in that field or I would have pulled it up right away!).

We got quite a haul which is always satisfying – but also infuriating. They never get as far as seeding, how do they keep growing? Of course, we almost certainly don’t manage to get up every bit of the roots and they are tenacious things. On the bright side, being out in the field gave me the opportunity to enjoy all the clover and other flowers. The smell is just wonderful!

In other news, we are finally getting the rain the fields so badly need. When I went out to ride today I thought the ponies might be able to have a rare afternoon mask free because there was no way there would be flies about in that downpour. Sadly, by the time we finished the rain was easing and the flies were back. It was a nice thought though!

Swallows!

I have always loved the fact that the swallows choose to nest in our stables. We started off with one nest and they have been increasing every year – although not all of them are always occupied. There are currently five swallow’s nests and one wren’s nest – although I don’t think the wrens are in residence this year. Two of the olld swallows’ nest have had fresh feathers put in them this year and there has been a brand new nest built on the side of the light – I am now afraid to turn the light on in case the heat makes the nest fall down! I also had to move the water bucket as it was right underneath and I did not want to find any drowned fledglings.

As the nests are so high it is very difficult to see inside them and I have seen no evidence of eggs in them – although I did find a broken (not hatched) egg on the floor a couple of weeks ago. This morning, however, I found the remains of hatched eggs in Cookster’s stable. This evening I had a peep at the nest and – although I didn’t get too close and so couldn’t see very well – there were definite signs of movement and the flash of a beak. The chicks are awake!

Although the swallows are constantly flying in and out they go so fast that it is almost impossible to get a decent picture of them, although you may have spotted one swooping across the beginning of a video of Galahad jumping a few weeks ago!

Father’s Day Fête

Today being Father’s Day, we held a little summer fête style event in the field. We had a lot of games to play – things like archery, cheese rolling and wellie wanging. We even built a coconut shy on one of the cross country jumps and at one point I found myself climbing a tree to retrieve my paper plane. I actually very much enjoy the climbing. It’s the getting back down again which scares me a bit!

We set up the gazebo with plenty of bunting to look pretty, although we ended up having to eat indoors because it absolutely poured down over lunch time. That didn’t stop us going out again for more games though – including a scavanger hunt. That offered extra points to anyone who found a fly mask in the field but sadly nobody earnt them. I know there are two lying around somewhere so I need to make the time to go and have another hunt for them soon – I did have a look when they were first lost but as I was in a hurry to get to work at the time it probably wasn’t the most thorough of searches.

Our day ended with turning the ponies out and I had a turn riding Cookster out bareback. I’ve never done that in a dress before so it was quite an experience. I wouldn’t risk it on Galahad – I am extra cautious when I ride him bareback anyway as he always feels ready to explode. Trying it wearing a skirt would be pushing it a bit too far I feel!

Navigating Corners

Galahad and I have been continuing our education this week. Having started a quest to build scary jumps for us to face I decided to have a go at building a corner fence – the only one we have jumped before was about six inches high.

Corners scare me because I’m convinced that I will manage to pilot the horse towards the widest bit of the fence and something catastrophic will happen when we attempt to jump it. Of course, this has never actually happened but it’s always possible that this time will be different.

As I am presumably therefore pushing the horse hard towards the narrow end of the corner, it would be very easy for them to run out and I was fairly sure that this is what Galahad would do. I was delighted that he just popped over it with barely a hesitation.

We jumped it several more times without a worry so it turned into an excellent day for me. It is great to have another skill to hand!

Summer Tasks

I write a lot about the fun things the ponies and I get up to in the summer but of course there is hard work as well. One of the worst jobs is hunting for ticks on the ponies. We don’t really have a huge number here but there are enough to making finding one on a pony a relatively regular occurance. Not that finding them is difficult – it is the removing and then dealing with them which is unpleasant. The other day Cookster had three on him at once, although one of them was not actually attached which was a very nice surprise. Of course, the other two were firmly attached to his face which is more difficult.

This time of year is of course peak fly season too and as Galahad can have a nasty reaction to fly bites I have to keep a close eye on him. Thankfully though, he has finally accepted that it is more or less safe for me to spray him with the fly spray so that job is now much easier.

I am also having to keep a close eye on any ragwort which might pop up in the field. Again, we don’t have a huge problem but every year a few plants appear – apparently from nowhere.

On the bright side, we still have gorgeous weather and I have been having a lot of fun with the ponies. Galahad is still hanging on to the last dregs of his winter coat so he can get pretty sweating riding in the heat. I do enjoy washing him off afterwards!

Playing in the Sunshine

It has been an absolutely glorious Bank Holiday Weekend here, with barely a cloud in the sky. Of course, I wanted to make the most of that with the ponies and luckily my sister was free this weekend too so we have been having a lovely time.

Yesterday we went for a relaxing hack around the lanes. Nothing too strenuous, just a lazy poddle which was very calming. It is nice for the ponies to get out together as they don’t necessarily do that too much at the moment.

Today we worked harder and got the poles out for the first time this year. It was still a lot of fun of course – and the ponies definitely seemed to enjoy it too. I did try some harder things though and even got Galahad jumping at an angle – something we very rarely do.

He jumped it beautifully and in fact didn’t put a foot wrong the whole time. It has been a great day.

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!