Cookster’s Adventures

The other day Cookster and I went for a little adventure in a neighbour’s field.  I had ridden Galahad in there before but it was all brand new to Cookster and he was more than a bit excited.  He is not usually the most energetic of ponies but on this occassion he was offering me a canter every time I asked for trot.

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This particular field slopes steeply down to a stream with very marshy banks.  The hill is almost terraced by a path zig-zagging its way up the slope so we skirted our way round the marsh and set off up the hill.

The path isn’t particularly wide and the hill is very steep but I was still enjoying myself immensely.  Then I got to the top and had to come back down and I realised that the branches I had happily avoided on the way up had become much more intimidating.  Ducking under branches when riding downhill is pretty nerve wracking anyway but I was suddenly very aware that I was sat on a pony who has occasionally been known to nap and try to canter home.  It was amazing how such a small moment could rob me of all confidence.

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Of course, Cookster was in fact perfectly well behaved and my momentary panic was a complete overreaction.  It made me very aware though of how fragile a thing confidence can be.

Holiday at Home

I have been working very long hours this week – almost double what I normally do.  I am utterly exhausted now but I have actually had a great time working at the Appledore Book Festival and I wouldn’t want to change it.

However, it has meant that I have had to neglect the ponies a bit.  Obviously I have made sure that they are fed and watered but that has been about it.  My Dad has done a sterling job of turning them out and bringing them in when necessary.

I think they have been a bit lonely though – they have started turning up at coffee time looking for company (and possibly treats!).

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This coming week should be more normal and I am looking forward to getting back in the saddle.  First though I need to sleep!

Sneaky Ponies

After the excitement of the past few weeks it has been nice to be back home spending time with the ponies.

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Obviously, I have had a fantastic time while I was away but it was pretty tiring and of course it meant that I wasn’t riding the ponies.  Now though I am back home and back on the ponies which is lovely.

The ponies are enjoying themselves too.  I turned them out a few days ago without checking the gate across the other side of the field because it is always closed.

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It had however been accidentally left open after a dog walk and naturally the ponies noticed – they were soon through the gate and munching on the lush grass on the other side.

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Luckily there were two more gates between them and the road.

It taught me the lesson though – always check all the gates!

Speedy Pony

Now that I’m home again it is lovely to be spending more time with the ponies.  It is good just having them to talk to but of course I am appreciating the riding as well.

The big field up behind us has just had its hay crop cut which means we can now use it for riding.  It is very exciting and definitely livens up our hacks.  The ponies love it too!

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I always try to keep Galahad to just a steady canter the first time we have the field each summer.  In the past he has been known to get far too overexcited and just take off across the field and I don’t want him to get the idea that that is okay.  Speed is fun but I do like to know that I can stop if I want!

Once we’ve established who is in charge we can have fun and Galahad likes to go fast!

He only has little legs though so Equilab still thinks we’re trotting some of the time!

We have been having a great time – it is always good to get a new place to ride!

Earning Our Keep

Today has been somewhat blustery!  My ride with Cookster was rather interesting as  he regressed back to trying to nap for home and we had to have a discussion about which way to go!

I thought Galahad would be spooking all over the place but in actual fact he was very relaxed and well behaved.  There is a for sale sign on a field gate halfway up the hill and now Galahad knows it is there he is always prepared – he slows right down and stares very hard towards the gate so that as soon as it comes into view he is ready to spook.  Today, however, it wasn’t there – it had blown off and was lying on the other side of the lane.  Galahad kept looking for it on the gate though and it was only when the sign was right under his nose that he noticed it  and had a mini spook the other way.  It was hilarious.

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Galahad has also been earning his keep this week – we needed to move the ponies into a new field and he took me round to check the fences  and for poisonous plants and litter.  The field runs along a road and passing motorists seem to think it’s okay to throw their rubbish over the hedge so we have to keep a close eye on it.  At least it’s quite fun on a pony!

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Exploring New Horizons

On Thursday Galahad and I were very lucky and were given permission to ride in a field on our neighbouring farm.

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We were very happy to set out exploring and it was wonderful to have such a big field to play in.

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There is a wood along one side of the field with lots of little entrances I would have loved to explore if I hadn’t had Galahad with me.

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In fact, I did dismount and take him along this path.  It led to the most delightful glade.

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It had been a pretty stressful day at work and by the time I got home I was not feeling great and wasn’t even sure I wanted to ride.  The lure of the field took me out though and before we got round it once I felt so much better.

In fact, the only (unimportant) downside was that my boots filled with grass seeds.  They look so beautiful though.

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It was the best end to the day.

Green Pastures

Over the winter my parents have been working hard at tidying up the ponies’ summer paddock.  Brambles have been cleared, fences mended and hedges wrestled into shape.

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I have helped a bit too of course but it was barely anything compared to the amount they have done.  The field is looking so much better for it too.

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On Sunday the ponies were turned out in the field for the first time this year.  Instead of running out – like they have been into their old field – they stopped not far in and their heads went straight down.  I think they were very happy!

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Obviously, there is a lot of grass in there at the moment so we have to be a bit careful they don’t put on weight.  Hopefully we can keep them in check!

My parents have done an amazing job and the field is looking beautiful.  The ponies – and I of course – are so incredibly lucky.

 

Sedate Excursions

Although we have had a fair bit of rain recently it is still possible to canter in my neighbour’s fields without risking slipping over.  On Sunday my sister and I went for a lovely lazy hack and took full advantage of the not too slippy fields.

Some of the electricity poles have recently been replaced so the gateways were hideously churned up but the fields themselves were fine so we had a great time.

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Both ponies behaved very well – Galahad was possibly the most sedate I have ever known him to be in the field.  Hopefully the lesson is getting through and we will have no more taking off!

It did start to rain while we were out but it was that very fine rain which is practically just mist.  Very atmospheric and nice and refreshing!

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Getting to Grips with Gates

All this wonderful weather we have been having for the past couple of weeks has meant that the fields are drying out nicely.  That is good in itself but it also means that I am able to school again – hurrah!

The very first thing I wanted to work on was our gate opening. We have another trec competition coming up next week and I really want to have improved before that.  Plus, if I work on it then the chances are it won’t come up in the course!

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I wanted to take things slowly so we started by just walking past the gate.  Working on a circle so Galahad’s head was slightly turned away from it definitely helped.  That wasn’t a problem so we moved onto stopping and standing still but still not trying to actually touch the gate.  That took a bit more work as Galahad wanted to swing away from the gate so he was facing it and could see if it tried to attack him!

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From there we progressed to lifting the rope and putting it back again and before long we could open the gate and walk through it – from both directions of course.

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We still can’t close it again but we made huge strides in just one session and I am thrilled with that.

Back to Square One

Cookster always used to be incredibly nappy when I rode him out alone.  I have been working hard on sorting that and he has come a long way – it has been while since he has tried to turn for home and if I have needed to mount whilst out on a hack he has recently been very good about standing still.  All our arguments about that seemed a thing of the past.

After the incident with the alpacas last week though, he has regressed.  If he thinks we are going anywhere near their field he will try to go home instead.   Mounting whilst out has become problematical again as well.  I feel like I have undone months of hard work just by stopping to take a picture.  We will get back to where we were but it is disheartening.

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On the bright side, Galahad is now once again the easier ride of the two and we have had some lovely hacks this week.  In between the showers of pouring rain the weather has been rather nice and refreshing.

The ponies were wormed this week and so are now in a new field with more grass than they had.  It is very exciting!

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