Summer Pastures

One evening this week the ponies got turned out into their summer grazing for the first time this year. Although, they had in fact sneaked in a little early – I was busy at work and got sent pictures of them having a high old time eating the forbidden grass. Not that I can really blame them – they have eaten almost all the grass everywhere else!

Apparently they were surprisingly easy to get back out again – I fully expected them to run a mile from anyone.

Having failed to keep his access to the field, Cookster then barged his way through the gate onto our lawn. Luckily neither he nor the gate were hurt – but the gate post does need replacing.

Since they were clearly desperate to get into the field I thought their actual turnout would be very exciting indeed. Instead, it was highly disappointing.

Evidently eating grass is far more important than running right now!

Easter Sunshine

A combination of lockdown and work commitments has meant that I haven’t been able to ride with my sister since before Christmas, so it was for the first time in months that we hacked out together on Friday. In a socially distanced manner of course!

It was so lovely to have the company. I do enjoy the peace and time to think when I ride out by myself but there is nothing quite like having a friend with whom you can chat as you go along. We are having the most gorgeous weather for the Easter weekend as well so it has been delightful to be out and about.

Cookster is moulting well now, whereas Galahad – predictably – is not. My sister therefore took longer to get ready than I did – you could keep grooming Cookster for hours and still be getting hair out. That meant I had some time to kill and I decided to experiment with plaiting Galahad’s feathers. I’ve seen pictures of this being done beautifully and although Galahad has nothing like the hair you get on a cob I thought it would be fun to try. I could have done with slightly longer hair but still it wasn’t bad for a first attempt!

Spring is Springing

This year I have been riding around our own fields more than ever before. It’s always been something I might do occassionally but it wasn’t until we went into lockdown – and riding away from our own property got restricted – that I fully appreciated how lovely it could be.

For lazy days like today it is the prerfect activity. There is nothing strenuous required as there would be in a schooling session and no need to keep an eye and ear open for oncoming traffic on the roads. Of course, we can’t go any great distance in a straight line but we can certainly do a decent amount of pottering – and now the ground is drying out we can even get in some reasonable canters.

The terrain is beautifully varied too. Our hills and stream might take more maintenance work than a flat paddock but they do make riding a good deal more interesting. Particularly if the pony is feeling fresh and we have to navigate a steep descent!

Some of the main joys at the moment though are the signs of spring which are popping up all over the place. The flowers are always a delight but again I have become particularly aware of them since lockdown. Very excitingly, the bare, churned up patches of mud are now showing tiny green shoots. The grass is growing!

Exciting New Ventures

As I mentioned last week, I have been getting significantly less riding recently. I have been working very hard to launch an online stationery business and unfortunately riding has had to take a back seat to that. I have loved creating the designs for the stationery but it has been sad not to be able to ride as much as I would like.

Yesterday though, I opened my (virtual) shop doors – do come for a browse – and the pace of life is returning to normal. I have no ponies in my shop yet but I am working on new designs all the time and I know it won’t be long before they make an appearance.

This is a beautiful, sunny day, just perfect for spending time with the ponies. I have been for a lovely hack with each of them and even found the time to trim Cookster’s bridle path which was getting unruly. Time now to find a book and some tea and to settle down in the sunshine for a rest. I may even end up having a nap!

Serene Sunday

This weekend has been an interesting mix of very busy and lazy hours. Yesterday we had a delivery of what will hopefully be our last load of hay for the year and it is very satisfying to see the shed full again.

I haven’t been getting much riding done during the week recently – I have been using my time at home to work on creating some stationery which I will be selling online very soon and it has obviously taken quite a bit of work to set up. Whatever happens during the week though, I always make sure to ride the ponies at the weekend. Yesterday’s rides were a bit rushed due to the hay delivery but this afternoon Galahd and I had a simply lovely hack around our fields. We even had a delightful paddle in the stream.

It’s still a bit wet for much cantering but we managed a bit on the grass in the lane and spent the rest of the time enjoying being out in the weather. It was a lovely breezy afternoon with just a hint of drizzle – wonderfully refreshing.

The dog had a great time too – she found a lovely bunch of feathers and very much enjoyed having a chew on them. Thankfully there was nothing else left of the pheasant for her to eat!

Sunshine and Sheep

This weekend has been another filled with glorious sunshine. It makes such a difference not to be battling the elements when I am out with the ponies and of course the sunshine does a lot to make everyone smile too.

Cookster is now fully recovered and is pottering along on ours hacks just as usual. He may even be feeling the joys of spring himself – he had quite a turn of speed when we cantered this morning. The ground is not quite up to schooling yet – it is so much drier but very thick and sticky. Not at all conducive to nice riding!

Galahad is also carrying on as usual. We had a fun experience yesterday when a whole flock of sheep looked like they wanted to see us off the premises.

Galahad knew what was happening long before I did, standing stock still and staring up the hill. I assumed he was just aware of the pheasants in the hedgerow but no – all the sheep in the field came running over to see what we were up to. That was one thing but when they started following us along the fence line it became somewhat unnerving.

I assume they were just looking for food but it was still quite a surreal experience. They did the same thing when we came back the other way so it really seemed a bit personal. Luckily Galahad was not fazed at all – we used to keep sheep at home so he is used to them. Not that that would stop him spooking at them if he felt like it!

Tranquility and Chaos

As I was riding home on Galahad today I realised that the air was feeling slightly less wintry. Yes the fields are still absolutely sodden – no chance of recording a dressage test just yet – but there was that undefinable feeling in the air that perhaps spring is not so far away after all.

I know I have shared this view many, many times before but it gave me such a wonderful feeling of peace and tranquility today. Just that small effort of getting on the pony and riding out is so good for me and it really does make all the difference. It was a lovely feeling to have as I got home.

Then I opened the tackroom door to find this scene inside. The dog can’t be trusted out on hacks so I shut her in as I left. She has a perfectly good bed in there but she had to pull out the clean numnahs and curl up on them instead. Naturally she was wet and muddy too so I have plenty of pony laundry to do now. There is a bright side though – I had been putting off the laundry and these were the only two clean numnahs left. It was definitely time to get them washed!

Frozen Mud

I seem to be writing a lot about the state of the ground at the moment – but it is a big factor in my life right now. I was meant to be doing an online dressage competition with my riding club in January but the ground was so sodden that there was no chance we could do a decent test. Even at walk and trot Galahad was reluctant to go forward.

This week has been wonderful though. All those minus temperatures – and very strong winds – froze and dried the mud up so we could just walk over the top of it. It still wasn’t suitable for schooling of course but it did make life so much easier. The dog was happy too – she hates mud and always takes twice as long to get somewhere as she should because she goes the long way round to keep her feet dry.

Today the rain is back – and with a vengeance too! It has been absolutely tipping it down and the mud is pretty much back to where we started. Dry feet were nice while they lasted!

Galahad and I still enjoyed ourselves on our hack though and we admired these very cosy looking sheep. At least, I admired the sheep – Galahad was probably eying up all that lovely hay!

First Aid

It feels like it has been raining for weeks. The fields are absolutely sodden and there is even standing water in places. It’s not ideal but it’s something we have to expect in the winter – although I don’t remember them being quite so wet before! It can cause a whole host of problems though and I was not entirely surprised when Cookster came in slightly lame the other day – standing around in wet mud is ideal for causing hoof abscesses.

I was well prepared to deal with that, although I did have to order more duct tape as we were getting rather low. What I did not expect was that Cookster would stand so patiently in an Epsom salts solution. He is not a fan of standing still at the best of times. Apparently though all it takes is a haynet and he won’t budge. Again, that isn’t something that should have surprised me!

All of this did mean that I finally got some use out of Galahad’s treat ball which has been gathering dust because it is far too scary for Galahad to contemplate. Cookster though will do anything for food so it was a great tool to keep him from boredom.

Not that he spent all that much time cooped up – I wanted to keep him outside as much as possible and tried to pick out the least muddy spots for him. Of course, all the fields are wet but we managed pretty well considering.

Cookster is of course not mine but my sister’s pony and as she couldn’t come to visit him she sent him his own special delivery of some polos and a postcard.

The polos were very popular and the postcard is now decorating the stable and looking cheerful. The polos had to be shared with Galahad who was glad of that but still seemed to be jealous of all the attention Cookster was getting. Or possibly he just wanted extra food!

Cookster seems to be better now and is running around the field without a care. It is always such a relief when they get better.

Pony Watching

As with every winter, we are now finding that we have very little grass left in the fields and we are looking for ways to keep the ponies fed without feeding them too much of our hay – it would be nice if that lasted a bit longer! Our main problem at the moment is that the fields are so incredibly wet – nothing has a chance to grow.

The lane still has a decent amount of grass in it though so the ponies have been having an hour or two of turnout there most days. It is very difficult to fence off securely so we normally sit out there with them to make sure they don’t wander off – although so far their heads have pretty much stayed down in the grass and they have barely moved. This is something we usually do in the summer when it is lovely to sit out in a deckchair with a book. Things are obviously a bit different at the moment so we have a car parked at the end of the lane, I make sure I am wearing many layers and I always take a blanket and a cup of tea. Providing I manage to keep myself warm enough it is actually quite enjoyable.

The ponies never take long to learn a new routine – especially where food is involved. By the second day they were quick to come when called to the gate. Now every time we walk up the lane they come running – just in case we feel like feeding them!

They have also got a little more adventurous now – one of their favourite places to graze is on the top of this bank. It doesn’t look like the most appetising grass to me but apparently it is worth the climb – and the effort involved in getting down again!