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!

Summer Tasks

I write a lot about the fun things the ponies and I get up to in the summer but of course there is hard work as well. One of the worst jobs is hunting for ticks on the ponies. We don’t really have a huge number here but there are enough to making finding one on a pony a relatively regular occurance. Not that finding them is difficult – it is the removing and then dealing with them which is unpleasant. The other day Cookster had three on him at once, although one of them was not actually attached which was a very nice surprise. Of course, the other two were firmly attached to his face which is more difficult.

This time of year is of course peak fly season too and as Galahad can have a nasty reaction to fly bites I have to keep a close eye on him. Thankfully though, he has finally accepted that it is more or less safe for me to spray him with the fly spray so that job is now much easier.

I am also having to keep a close eye on any ragwort which might pop up in the field. Again, we don’t have a huge problem but every year a few plants appear – apparently from nowhere.

On the bright side, we still have gorgeous weather and I have been having a lot of fun with the ponies. Galahad is still hanging on to the last dregs of his winter coat so he can get pretty sweating riding in the heat. I do enjoy washing him off afterwards!

Working Hard

You might expect me to have a relaxing day for my first day off after going back to work. In fact, I spent the afternoon having a mammoth tack cleaning session. It was still a nice way to spend the day – especially as the sun was shining and I could sit on the grass in the garden with a cup of tea. I even managed to get my sister to join me in cleaning Cookster’s tack which added to the fun.

As well as cleaning though, I also embarked on a mending session as all the ears of Galahad’s fly masks were full of holes but were otherwise perfectly sound. It seemed incredibly wasteful to get new ones so some darning was obviously in order. This is one of those tasks I’ve been meaning to do since last autumn but which has somehow never got to the top of the list. It just wasn’t a priority in the middle of winter! Now though the flies are starting to show their presence and the masks are definitely needed.

As you can see, I decided not to be subtle about it. There was very little chance of my mending them invisibly so I thought I might as well make a feature of the darning. I rather like the effect and Galahad doesn’t seem to mind!

The blog is up a little late today as I have been watching the Kentucky 5* Horse Trials. It was so good to have some eventing to watch again and it really was a nail biting finish. I was literally on the edge of my seat and my Mum couldn’t watch at all! It was wonderful to see Oliver Townend win and lovely to have Harry Meade in the top five too. It has been a great weekend!

Fighting the Flies

As ever, we are busy fighting the flies this summer.  The ponies often get quite nasty bites but thankfully that hasn’t happened yet this year.  Fingers crossed that it will stay that way.  I did try a deet fly spray for the first time but it made Cookster’s skin peel a bit so I have gone back to the plain citronella version which does seem to be pretty effective too.

More of an issue than the bites is Cookster’s eyes.  A combination of flies and his long forelock mean that they can get quite weepy.  The fly mask obviously helps with that but often I go out to find the ponies looking like this.

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Then of course, I have to go off and find the missing mask.  Cookster spent a whole day without his mask this week which led to slightly swollen eyelids and a fair bit of discharge.  That prompted me to plait his forelock up – it keeps it out of his eyes and definitely makes a huge difference as they are fully back to normal again.  I like to think that it makes him look a bit like a unicorn too.

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Sometimes I quite welcome the wet and windy days – there are far fewer flies about then!

Fly Season

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.

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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.

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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!

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Keeping the Flies at Bay

Every summer we are bothered by the flies but this year they seem to be even worse than usual.

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Galahad had pretty much destroyed his mask now. The ears, however, are still intact so I am very happy indeed. It has also lasted much longer than his old mask so it was definitely a good investment.

As ever, we are using deosect – Galahad hates being sprayed and anything that can reduce the amount of flyspray we have to use is a bonus.  NAF’s citronella gel is also great for this.

This year we have also gained some of their citronella wash which we use when we wash the ponies down after exercise.  It is certainly much easier than trying to spray Galahad – although he has improved greatly and sometimes barely moves whilst he is sprayed.  Other times, of course, he kicks up a huge fuss!

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I have also taken to soaking the fly masks in the citronella water.  As you can see, they can get covered in flies and although the ponies are protected from them it can’t be at all pleasent.  It certainly doesn’t look nice.

Being Bugged

I mentioned last week that the flies were being very bothersome.  The next day Galahad came in from the field looking like this.

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I thought at first that he was just incredibly scruffy but when I looked closer I realised that he was in fact covered with fly bites.

He does have a tendency to react badly to bites – every year he gets lumps where he has been bitten.  Never so many at once though.  I can only assume that he rolled on something which fought back!

Thankfully he didn’t seem bothered by the bites and didn’t react at all when they were touched.  Within a couple of days they had started to go down and they are now almost completely gone.  They can’t have been nice though.  Poor little pony.

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Galahad’s New Hat

I have mentioned before the trouble we have with fly masks.   Firstly, the ponies are constantly losing them.  Secondly, they tear many holes in the ears.  Since the main reason they wear them is because they get terrible bites inside their ears, the holes make the masks practically useless.

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This week I decided to do something about it so I marched into our local tack shop and demanded a mask with heavy duty ears.  I came away with a LeMieux one which has two layers of nice thick fabric on the ears and which will hopefully do the trick.

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Galahad has been wearing it now for three days and has managed to lose it three times.

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However, so far the ears have no holes at all so I am very hopeful.

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I have never owned anything from LeMieux before – I feel like a proper equestrian!

 

A Really Useful Pony

The ponies are constantly escaping from their fly masks.  At the moment it is just a fact of life that when I go out to see them the chances of them both wearing hats are fairly slim.

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When we first put them on this year they actually managed not to remove them for a couple of weeks and I was very hopeful I would have a summer without having to walk round the fields hat hunting.

Obviously that is not going to happen but I have found I can make use of the ponies – or at least Cookster – to find them.

As you can see, Cookster is great at this game.  Me – less so!

I haven’t tried it with Galahad yet – mainly because I haven’t had the chance.  I’m sure it is something which will scare him at first but it’s probably quite a good exercise to try and it might even help us with our trec obstacles.  Plus, it’s fun!

Spring, Spring, Spring

I think that spring can definitely be said to be here.  We have had some beautiful days this week – the sun has been shining and things are beginning to blossom.

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I’ve talked about the primroses before but it is a really good year for them!

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I have been routinely riding without a coat and have even brought my short boots out from their winter retirement.  It has been a lovely week.

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There is a downside though – the flies are suddenly about in droves.  It was only a few weeks ago that we were covered in snow.  How can we possibly need the fly masks already?!

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