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!
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.
I am always trying to find new things to keep the ponies interested in what we’re doing. They don’t want to be doing the same thing all the time any more than we do so this week when my sister came over for some socially distanced riding my parents and I set up some games for us to play. They were a medley of gymkhana games and some trec style obstacles which were a lot of fun and were also good for the ponies.
Anything that involved me on Galahad picking up a pole was obviously scary for him, although the flag race went pretty well. Our version of tent pegging however took us a long time to get through. Perseverance did pay off but it’s never going to be something he’s desperate to do!
Another very good game was a kind of maze made with poles on the ground. That was excellent for the ponies’ flexibility and it was gratifying to see just how bendable they are.
My favourite activity though was riding under low branches. When we first approached Galahad was having none of it but we worked patiently and before long we could canter through. He does work so hard and makes me very proud!
Today I got to be an honorary child and join in with the children’s gymkhana games.
We had a big group of children and kept swapping ponies. That meant that not only did I get to ride a lot of different ponies – which doesn’t happen often for me these days – but my own ponies got ridden by many different riders. The children were arguing over who got to ride them – I hadn’t realised they were quite so popular!
It was a fantastic education for them – it isn’t often that they get ridden by anybody else, let alone so many within the space of a couple of hours. Plus, naturally a gymkana involves a great many scary things like flags but they both just took them all in their stride. I was so proud of them!
Equitation goes a bit by the board in gymkana!
Cookster in particular did very well in the bucket elimination round – especially as he has not done it before. We got down to three buckets before we were knocked out and came second in the older group.
I also helped out with the younger children which for a gymkhana means lots of running up and down leading ponies. I haven’t run so far in ages!
This was also the first time in years that I have taken part in gymkana games with other people away from home. I had so much fun!
On Sunday we returned to the scene of Galahad’s showing debut. This time the weather was much kinder to us, although it could hardly have been worse! We did have the odd spot of rain but it was mostly dry all day and even sunny a lot of the time.
Galahad and I again did the into dressage test which went reasonably well. Our right bend was a bit iffy to start with and Galahad tripped over something invisible but I was overall very pleased with him. I didn’t have my tame photographer with me this year so I have no pictures but I did have an audience – I met a couple of people in the warm up who are hoping to start some dressage with their own Exmoor and they walked over to watch me.
We didn’t do any actual showing this year but two jumping classes instead. The first was the 2’3″ novice pony which we flew round (we had a few wobbles in the lines between fences but jumped all the jumps well) and got into the jump off. Unfortunately our steering went a bit for that so we came at rather too acute an angle into a fence and knocked it down. There were seven of us in the jump off and two with four faults but sadly I was just a bit slower and missed out on a place.
The next class was the 2’3″ open. Although it was listed as the same height the first class had been quite a bit below height and so the fences went up and fillers were added. I knew I had to ride positively and I was very focused on getting Galahad over the wall at fence two. He sailed over and I was so pleased with him that I relaxed a bit too much and we had a runout at the next fence. It was such a shame as he popped over with no trouble at our second attempt. The rest of the course went very well apart from one rail down so I was thrilled with him.
That was the end of the day for Galahad and he spent the rest of the afternoon snoozing and munching on his haynet. I on the other hand was kept very busy – my instructor had brought several children for their first show and I was needed first as support in the mini jumping and second as a leader for the gymkhana races. It was exhausting! I did get some very good cake out of it though so I was well rewarded.
As I lovely finish to the day I went to collect my dressage score sheet and found I had come fourth with a score of 59.34%. We had some nice comments, expecially about our walk. Now we just need to work on the trot!
This has been a fun week for Galahad. We don’t have any shows lined up in the near future so we have been having a bit of a play. We had a go at some gymkhana games which can be tricky as things like flags are often scary. Just how scary varies day to day. We haven’t played games for a few months now so Galahad needed building up to the real scary stuff. I got a very bad grip on a pair of socks and dropped them. They hit one of his forelegs and he took off across the field. Still a lot of work to be done!
Jumping is something Galahad really does like though. He is always keen to jump and touch wood seems to run out a lot less now. He has been such a good teacher for me. Looking down has always been a bit of a weakness of mine but I found that if I looked down at the jump he almost always ran out. That gave me an incredible incentive to look up!
Yes that pole is going flying. It was the only jump he knocked down but the best photograph by far!
Our hacks have been pretty wet, over the weekend especially. It turns out that my waterproof trousers are now not so much waterproof and more just trousers! In one of our dry spells we went up to have a canter in the exciting galloping field only to find that it had sprouted scary round things.
After a careful look we decided perhaps they were safe.
I didn’t ride him round them though as he felt pretty wound up and I was by myself so thought I’d be sensible. The next field hadn’t been cut so we had a nice canter round that. At least, that was the plan. He started the first canter with his head well down which always unnerves me as I remember his bucking very well! The next canter started better but I could feel him wanting to go and as we got round the corner he took off and properly galloped up the hill. I don’t think we’ve ever been so fast! I almost left it at that but decided to try the last canter. Before we had even got down the hill Galahad was ready and he galloped across it then round in a nice curve. That was enough and we went home. Without someone to watch me it seemed a bad idea to have an argument with him when he was so wound up.
All in all it has been an exciting few days. This evening is much calmer – I rode before work so am now catching up on the European showjumping. I will miss having the Europeans to watch every day!
Horsey adventures - We are all told, “live your life to the fullest”; I am here to do just that. Horsey adventures serves as a vessel to project my passions, and clue in my loyal readers as to what inspires me in this crazy world. So, sit back, relax, and read on.