Several times recently I have been at demos which have told me that when I’m working on something with a horse and they get it right I should stop. This is something I know very well in theory but for some reason I find it very hard to put into practice.
It is just so tempting to think, ‘Hurrah he’s got it – we’ll just do it once more and then we can stop.’ Of course, then we make a complete mess of it and end up doing whatever it was five times more until we get it right again. Every time it happens I remind myself that next time I must reward Galahad by stopping as soon as we get it right.
Yes Galahad is still wearing tinsel here. I took the picture last weekend – before Twelfth Night. All tinsel has since been removed!
It’s not necessarily that easy though. We have recently been working on a pole work exercise which doesn’t always go to plan. Today we got it right first time and it’s very difficult to stop after only one attempt – it doesn’t feel like a proper schooling session at all! It’s yet another thing which will take time to learn.
One of the exciting parts of Christmas for me is delivering our local Christmas cards by pony post. We always dress up the ponies with tinsel and set off around the lanes carolling – although usually only when we think we can’t be heard!
This year for the first time we were spotted by one of the recipients who very much admired us. It is always nece to feel appreciated!
Of course, such a ride has to be rounded off with hot chocolate and Christmas goodies. The ponies got some carrots too.
If you celebrate I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.
I love feed samples. It is just so fun to try out different food for the ponies. Of course, they usually come with a short conversation about the ponies and what they need, which means I get some samples of food that are actually recommended for them and not just random food which would not be suitable. I lugged a huge range of samples all the way back from Burghley and I tried every single one.
It works too – I have actually bought a bag of Allen and Page’s Fast Fibre to try on the strength of the sample I got at Burghley. It has lots of things to recommend it but I have to admit that the fact it can be served warm was a huge draw for me!
This week Christmas came early for the ponies as we received a huge box of samples from Mikholl Ltd. This is a new feed company based in the UK who makes organic horse feeds from what sounds like great ingredients. They come in recyclable packaging too which is a excellent point for me – I love the sample bags!
They have only just arrived so I can’t comment much on them yet except to say that the ponies seem to like the alfalfa treats and the apple flakes went down well too. I am very excited about trying them though.
For a couple of months every winter I can usually only ride twice a week on my days off. It is almost dark when I leave for work and definitely dark when I get home so – as I don’t have floodlights – it is just not possible to ride. Having said that, I did ride Galahad in the very, very dim the other day. It was only around our fields and not on the road but was still rather nervewracking!
This year I seem to be more than usually burdened (though they are not really burdens) with odd hours at work and extra rehearsals for Christmas concerts so that even when I have a day off I am still not free to ride in the daytime. I am currently in the middle of what will be almost two weeks off for the ponies – something which can make me feel incredibly guilty, even though there is not really anything I can do about it. It is what comes of having too many hobbies!
I have to remember that the ponies really don’t care if they don’t get ridden. They have a whole field to gallop round and each other to play with so it’s not as if they are cooped up and getting bored. In fact, it is quite possible that they prefer being left alone!
It does sometimes seem as if I have all the hard work and none of the fun at the moment – the ponies still need mucking out and feeding even when they are not being ridden. However, I do really enjoy all of that too – just spending time with them is wonderful and I wouldn’t want to ride instead. Besides, I will get to ride soon!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
The piles were then spread out as much as we could by hand (and foot!).
Finally the field was topped to get rid of the docks and also harrowed.
The field is now looking beautiful and all ready for schooling the ponies. I am so pleased with it!