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.

Taking Time Out

This has been another busy week for me – what with work, an agility competition with the dog, taking my stationery to another summer fête and photographing a whole load of new cards for my online shop I haven’t had much time for myself. However, I have been making a point of going out to ride every day when I get home from work and that has definitely been beneficial.

It is so easy to get overwhelmed by the to do list and focus on getting that completed before anything else but I have learnt from experience that it is not a good idea. It is so much better for my health – both physical and mental – if I get outside, even if it is just for a half hour hack.

This evening – after the photography session – Cookster and I went for a lovely little jaunt. Not very far really but enough to blow the cobwebs away. It was a gorgeous evening and it was wonderful to be out in it. We even had a beautiful sunset to enjoy – although as usual it has not photographed well!

Getting Things Done

Friday was all about chores for me. I had several jobs that had needed doing for a while but sometimes it’s hard to make the time after work. I’d much rather be in the saddle! On Friday though I used my day off to actually get them done.

My Dad and I started by collecting a load of posts and rails from where they were lying about in a field that’s just had some work done on it. That was pretty easy but then I had to sort out the hay. The hay store needed a new roof in the spring and while that was being sorted some of the hay got a bit damp and mouldy. Obviously it couldn’t stay so I pulled out anything that looked a bit dodgy and carted it off to the muck heap. The ponies were very interested indeed!

The muck heap itself needed some work as I have not done a good job of keeping on top of the weeds this summer and just getting to it had become a bit of a fight. While I was sorting the hay my Mum did a sterling job of pulling up the weeds so access is now perfectly easy.

By that point I had got quite enthused by the tidying and even straightened out the tack room a bit. Not that it was too bad to start with but I was shocked by how much I swept off the floor! Rug washing and mending is an ongoing chore at the moment but the end is in sight!

After all that it was good to take Galahad out for a hack. We needed some time to relax and I picked our first blackberries of the season. A very good end to the day!

Thrills and Spills

Last week definitely had the full spectrum of highs and lows for me. We started off with a great schooling session which finished with some jumping. Galahad was feeling so good that I raised the fences higher than we had jumped for a while and he soared over them without a second thought. He can sometimes back off his fences a bit and so to feel him really keen to jump was wonderful.

This was just over 2’4″ – we have jumped this height before but not for a long time – so not huge. It felt like a big achievement for us though, especially as previously this height has seemed to intimidate him. This time, he made it feel tiny.

The low came a few days later when we were just having a gentle hack around the fields. We had just popped over a small ditch on a downhill slope when a pheasant flew up on our right, Galahad shot off to the left and I pretty much stayed where I was. Thankfully my sister was there to catch Galahad and call for reinforcements in the form of my parents – I was still lying flat on my face and she couldn’t cope with that and two ponies! I had told her I was fine so she wasn’t being callous leaving me there but at the same time I was clearly not okay – I am normally trying to stand up sooner than I should.

I was in fact fine, just rather bruised and I had pulled a few muscles which are still feeling sore a week later. The shock was the worst bit – I cannot remember the last time I cried when I fell off – although it had been a bit of a stressful week for me and I think the fall just finished me off emotionally!

It is clear that the blogging bug has infected more than just me now. Even as my Mum ran – in her slippers – out of the house to pick up the pieces she paused to wonder if she should bring a camera to record the event for posterity!

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!