New Year Musings

On Wednesday my parents and I went out for our traditional Boxing Day walk/ride. Yes Boxing Day was on Sunday but I’d been working since Christmas and Wednesday was my first opportunity. Cookster had apples, I had chocolate coins and everything was lovely.

At midnight on Friday evening I went outside to see if the church bells were ringing in the New Year. The ponies came over to see what was going on and whether there was any food in it for them. Naturally they ended up having a midnight feast!

Seeing in the New Year with the ponies was lovely and I have been enjoying the time I have been able to spend with them since then. It is amazing how much thinking time you get when you hack out alone. I started this blog because I found I was writing about the ponies in my head as I rode and I needed an outlet to share that.

Since I opened my stationery shop I have found that I am more likely to be designing new cards and letter paper as I ride. In fact, I have often wished that I could sketch as I ride – I end up taking a lot of pictures to try and keep the images in my head!

My stationery business has been taking up more and more of my time and as I only have limited free time I have reluctantly made the decision that it is time to stop writing this blog. I will still be posting on my Instagram account and the ponies definitely pop up on my stationery account too.

I have loved sharing my pony adventures over the past few years. Thank you for reading.

Cookster’s Adventures

Cookster and I have had quite the adventure this week. We were heading out for one of our usual hacks when we met the new owner of one of our neighbouring fields. We stopped for a chat and were invited to have a ride round the field while he collected logs. Of course, we jumped at the chance.

For one reason or another it has been a while since Cookster has been ridden in such an open space and he was somewhat excited – he held it together to walk down the hill but when I asked him to canter at the bottom he took off into a full gallop. All I had to do was sit there and steer – I was quite grateful the field was so big and I didn’t have to worry about any sharp corners at full speed.

Cookster is not normally a very forward going pony but he had plenty of energy for once and we had a lovely time stretching his legs. I was slightly worried about brakes to start with but he always slowed down when I asked and kept nice and steady when it was needed. It ended up being one of the nicest rides we’ve had and he definitely enjoyed himself too – even if he was rather puffed afterwards!

Dodging the Hail

This weekend my sister and I have been out riding together for the first time in weeks. I am very used to riding by myself but it was absolutely lovely to have someone with whom I could chat as we were riding along for a change.

It may be somewhat early to properly tinsel up the ponies but as my riding with tinsel is of necessity a bit limited I couldn’t resist getting some out and making a start. The good news is that the ponies have never seemed to mind our strange antics.

What they did mind was the incredibly heavy hailstorms we had yesterday. Most of them didn’t tend to last particularly long but they were vicious while they lasted – and the hailstones were huge too. Galahad very definitely wanted to turn his back to the weather and wait for it to be over. I was much more keen to carry on and get home!

The most exciting bit though happened when we were tacking up. The sudden downpour of hail made the most tremendous noise on the roof of the stables and made us all jump. Galahad’s rug – already undone – fell off and scared him even more, making him break the string to which he was tied. I had to hang on tight to keep him in the stable and even then he might have got away if my sister hadn’t swung the door shut. She wasn’t quite so lucky and Cookster was halfway across the field before he stopped. Thankfully though, he did not have trailing ropes like Galahad and everyone was safe. It was quite an experience!

Character Study

Having the ponies in at night gives me a fascinating insight into some of their differences which are not normally particularly apparent. Cookster, for example, will almost always leave a neat little pile of droppings all in one place which makes mucking out quick and easy. Galahad leaves his all over the stable and tramples them in well. Of course, the trampling is aided by the fact that he invariably lies down on them.

On the other hand, Galahad is a fairly neat and efficient eater – he may leave a few wisps of hay about but it is very minimal. Cookster dribbles his hay all over the place and is incredibly wasteful (he doesn’t have a problem with his teeth – both ponies have just seen the dentist).

It is very interesting to compare them but on the whole I think I prefer Cookster’s brand of untidiness. It is easier to clear up afterwards!

Hacking Joys

When Galahad and I went out for our hack yesterday morning he was clearly feeling particularly nosy. At every single gateway we passed he wanted to stop and have a look at what was going on in the field or garden. Or perhaps he just wanted to admire the view.

We took a letter which had been delivered to us in error round to our neighbour and were rewarded by a lovely ride through their woods. I hadn’t ridden that way before but I will definitely be doing so again – we had a great time! The leaves are looking glorious at the moment and as off-road riding is so scarce here it was a joy to find some more we can use.

Riding along a different track we came across a horse which has been turned out there to graze. He seemed delighted to see us and followed us for some way. I began to be worried that he would follow us out onto the road but thankfully he eventually grew bored with us and went back to the grass.

It was a gorgeous morning and and there can’t have been many better ways to spend it.

Compensations

I have never particularly liked getting up in the morning. I want to get up early but sometimes it is very hard to actually get out of bed. Of course, having the ponies means I don’t really have a choice and I have to force myself up.

There are a great many compensations though. Obviously I get to play with the ponies but I also get to see the sunrise – and be outside to appreciate it fully rather than just noticing a bit of pink through the window. We have had some glorious sunrises recently and I have even taken the dog for an extra bit of walk just to soak it in. All the mist in the valley glows pink and it is wonderful.

The ponies are spending a week away with my instructor which made Friday evening feel very quiet and odd. However, when our neighbours said they were holding a fireworks display, for once I didn’t have to worry about how the ponies would react – not well usually – but instead I could just enjoy the show.

Just another compensation!

Gaining Time

The clocks going back this morning, I decided to forgo the extra hour’s sleep and squeeze in a ride before work instead. It has been too dark in the mornings to do that for several weeks now and I was very much looking forward to the excursion. Of course, what I had forgotten was that if I got up an hour earlier it would still be as dark as yesterday.

However, it did get light in time to ride and Galahad and I had a lovely poddle along the lanes. Nobody else was about and it was just wonderful. I have never been very good at getting up in the mornings but this is definitely worth it.

It was a contrast to the rush to finish filming my Exiefest entries this week but we finally got them all done on Thursday and my sister very kindly uploaded the videos for me as her internet is so much faster. We had a lot of fun doing it and couldn’t resist some Halloween additions to the jumps. The ponies were not at all bothered by jumping pumpkins which I found very encouraging indeed.

Taking a Break

As the ponies had been staying away I took the opportunity to hack over some different routes to our usual fare and also to squeeze in a couple of lessons. Galahad and I had a lovely time roaming around the countryside and it was amazing what a change had come over him in little more than a week. He was beginning to get a bit fluffy before he went away but now his winter coat is most definitely coming through – even his ears are starting to look fluffy!

The lessons were great too and I was plesaed with the way both ponies went. Cookster especially jumped beautifully – once you get him straight he really does have a good jump.

Despite enjoying the time away it was good to have the ponies home again. There is nothing quite like walking out of the door and the ponies being right there. However, I don’t get to enjoy that for long. My parents and sister are taking over the care of them as I am going away for a fortnight to work at the Cheltenham Literary Festival. I am so excited about going but I will miss the ponies and I know I will feel the lack of riding when I get back! I have decided to take two weeks off from writing the blog as I will have no pony content to share – and I know I am going to be incredibly busy while I am away. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks desperate to share everything the ponies have been doing!

Pony Holidays

This isn’t really a blog post today as I have actually been without the ponies for a week now. I have been woking flat out all week, doing 13 – 14 hour days – plus a couple of hours driving – and just haven’t had time to ride. In fact, I have abandoned the ponies to the care of my instructor. It is very strange not to have them to look after but it was definitely the best decision for me – I am utterly exhausted and the time taken to care for the ponies – and especially ride them – would have been too much for me.

The ponies have been having a great time with the children though – they have taken part in a gymkhana and a one day event and by all accounts are enjoying their time away. Somebody even managed to put 26 plaits into Galahad’s mane which I find hugely impressive. They won’t want to come home – although they do have back checks due tomorrow which may put a damper on things!

Having Fun

Sometimes it is good to get back to basics and just have a little fun with the ponies. For my sister and I today that meant building some obstacles and playing some gymkhana style games – things like rearranging my dressage letter cones on the top of some jump wings. I had intended to spell the word cake but as I couldn’t find the A I ended up just alphabetising them.

We also did some bending, threw socks in a bucket, walked over a tarpaulin and navigated our way through a maze of poles.

I spent quite some time working on neck reining with Galahad too. It isn’t something we practise often but he isn’t bad at it – at least at walk. Our ability to do it properly decreases as we speed up. Trot is okay but canter definitely needs some work. Having said that, I also played with riding without reins and even at canter that went pretty well – although my steering was somewhat limited. The brakes weren’t bad though.

I had a very fun afternoon and it has reminded me how much I enjoyed playing with the ponies when we first started riding them. I really should do it more often.