Advent Carolling

Today being the first of December – and also Advent Sunday – I allowed myself to bring Galahad’s Christmas ears out of storage.  After all, we can use them for such a short time, we might as well make the most of them.

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As usual he did not object to them at all, despite the fact that I made a complete mess of actually getting them on in the first place.  Those pom poms can be tricky to get under the bridle!

We went out for a ride with my sister and Cookster and had a lovely time, singing as we went.  The ponies seemed to enjoy themselves too and were bouncing along until Cookster got spooked by a pheasant flying up behind him.  He’s not normally a spooky pony but he didn’t enjoy that so much!

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On our way back to the yard we stopped off at the house for some Advent carolling and the ponies were rewarded with some lovely looking apples.  We, however, had to wait until we had sorted the ponies out and got back inside for some delicious cherry shortbread stars and hot chocolate to warm up.  It was a good day!

The Open Road

I have written several times about fighting my way up the lane when it gets overgrown – it’s incredible how fast everything can grow in the summer!  For a few weeks it got so overgrown that Galahad and I could not force our way through at all.

However, my parents have recently been doing a lot of work outside and also got a man in to help with cutting the undergrowth in the lane and scraping the surface back to its original stone level.  There is even a new gate at the top so I don’t have to get off to move the hurdle any more.  Such a luxury.

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It is all looking a lot better, if still a little muddy.  The grass will grow though and I already have access to the longer rides we have been missing (and an indoor school just up the road!).  We have a lot to look forward to.

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Dressage Divas

Last Sunday was our area qualifier for the novice winter dressage championships and I am pleased to report that my superstitious hacking in my show gear did the trick – I did not fall off!

I had never actually represented the riding club in dressage before so I was pretty nervous.  I enjoy dressage but it isn’t my strong point as I am not very good at maintaining the correct outline.  Nevertheless, I was determined to do my best and not let the side down.

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I started off with Prelim 18 as a warm up class and although I felt it could have gone better it was at least not as bad as I thought it might have been (our practice the day before had not been great).  We ended up with a score of 67.88 and eighth place which pleased me immensely.  I even won my first goody bag!

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For the qualifier itself we did Prelim 12 and while it was still not perfect it felt a lot better than the first test – until we started centering and he threw his head right up in the air.  Still, we scored 67.59 and came sixth which was very exciting.

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My team mates did well too and we came away with team fifth.  No qualification this time but I was pleased and I think they were too.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself and, as we all know, that is the important thing.

On Superstition

When I was a teenager I noticed that I quite often fell off when I was wearing new clothes for the first time.  A new t-shirt or jumper was usually okay but specifically horsey things like riding hats made me fall off.  Once I wore a new hat cover and carried a new whip at the same time.  I was bucked off whilst out for a hack by myself.

I have no idea how many times things like that actually happened but it was enough for me to develop a superstition about it.  I had to make sure that if I got anything new I did not wear it for the first time at a competition.  That would just be asking for trouble.

Of course, the rational part of me knows that a new hat will not make me fall off.  However, I also know that the mind is incredibly powerful and if I think I will come off it makes it much more likely that I will.  Which is why this week I found myself hacking out in a new hat cover and new (to me) show jacket.

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It felt a bit odd but also as if I was in one of Ruby Ferguson’s Jill stories which I love so actually I was very happy.  Perhaps we should go back to hacking in hacking jackets!

Fly Season

It seems that the fly season is upon us already.  We have had to fish the deosect out of the tack room and have sprayed the ponies.  Galahad hates fly spray so he didn’t enjoy it at all but at least deosect doesn’t need to be applied so often.

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The fly masks are back out as well.  It seems very peculiar to have Galahad’s rug on at the same time but it’s still pretty cold here at night and not warm enough to leave it off yet.  He is enjoying the time without it during the day though.

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Of course, all of this means that hunting for lost fly masks in odd corners of the field is once again a regular part of my life.  That’s how I’ll be spending the next few months!

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Working Hard

Until last winter we had been using the same muck heap for several years.  Unsurprisingly it had grown rather large and needed sorting out but luckily, as we hadn’t used it all winter, it was well rotted down and disposing of it wouldn’t be an issue.  Less good was the fact that it had also got very overgrown with docks and nettles which all needed removing before we could do anything else.

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Over the course of a week we loaded the whole thing into our little trailer and carted it out to the field where we dumped each load in a pile.

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The piles were then spread out as much as we could by hand (and foot!).

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Finally the field was topped to get rid of the docks and also harrowed.

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The field is now looking beautiful and all ready for schooling the ponies.  I am so pleased with it!

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Saddle Fitting

I have recently noticed that the back of Galahad’s saddle had started sliding a little side to side.  Not all the time but enough to make me think I ought to check the fit.  Especially as I also noticed that he was moulting unevenly where his saddle sits.  You can see lighter marks on his back in the pictures from our last trec competition.

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The saddler came on Friday, took one look at Galahad and said he thought he could see the problem.  Even before he saw the saddle!

He said that Galahad is a much better shape than he was when the saddle was fitted and has more of a wither.  That means he is narrower so the saddle was tipping forward and therefore lifting at the back.  Obviously,  that allowed the saddle to slip from side to side.

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I am so glad I decided on an adjustable saddle.  All we needed was to swap the extra wide gullet for a wide one and the saddle is fine again.  It was well worth the investment!