The ponies being the colour they are, they very rarely get bathed. Even when we go to a show, a proper bath isn’t strictly necessary to get them properly clean and, of course, this year we haven’t even had shows to clean for.
Even so, I do like to bath them sometimes – Galahad can get quite dandruffy and Cookster’s mane gets very greasy over time. Obviously I don’t want to overdo the bathing – they do live out after all – but I have been meaning to bath them for a long time. Sadly, when I’ve had time to spare the weather tends to be cold and windy – the hot, sunny days are all very busy!
Today though, the ponies had got very hot and sweaty on a long hack so they needed washing down anyway and I took the opportunity to give Galahad a proper bath (my sister was in charge of Cookster). It felt amazingly good to be doing it (nostalgic too – it took me right back to my childhood) and it certainly made Galahad look very sleek and shiny.
He was very well behaved too. The last time I bathed him I had a terrible job rinsing out the bubbles – he wouldn’t let me near him with a hosepipe and a bucket of water was even worse. This time he thought about panicking but actually just stood still and even relaxed reasonably well.
Bathing is tiring work!
Naturally neither pony stayed clean for long but I was very pleased to have finally got round to it and it was a lovely way to spend the morning.
We do not have the best hacking out here. Everything involves a long trek on a road and there are no bridle paths near us. I have, however, been very lucky with my neighbours and a couple of them let me ride over their fields.
Unfortunately those fields have both been sold but I have relatively new neighbours in the other direction who have now given me permission to ride in their fields.
This is a lovely space for riding and I am so grateful to have access to it. We can wend our way round several fields (and a bit of woodland!) and make a very decent length ride with only a short amount of roadwork to get there. It is wonderful.
I am not riding as much as normal at the moment – work is still a bit strange and stressful and when I get home all I really want to do is collapse in a heap. I am therefore mostly riding on my days off. I am hopeful that will change soon but for the moment that is how I am coping.
However, when I do ride I am so grateful that I can. There is nothing quite like taking Galahad out for a hack to make me relax and calm down a bit. We are not going as far as we might otherwise have done but it is so peaceful poddling along the lanes. Ponies really are the best kind of therapy.
With the changes to the lockdown which were announced last week, the BHS relaxed its advice not to ride. I was of course delighted to think that I might be able to ride again.
I started off by taking a couple of days to lunge the ponies under saddle. I was fairly sure that I wouldn’t have any problem with them but they have had two months off and I didn’t want to take any chances. A trip to hospital is definitely not desirable at the moment. I also took them for a bit of a walk up and down the lane so they got the idea of that again too.
Neither of those posed any kind of problem so actually riding was the next step. Again, not taking any chances was the order of the day so I wore my back protector despite the fact that we were just going to poddle up the lane. I was still fairly sure that it wouldn’t be an issue but I was also aware that I was nervous and that the ponies – especially Galahad – would be sensitive to that.
In the end, both ponies were absolutely fine. Galahad behaved just as usual and Cookster’s only problem was that he was trying to nap a bit more than usual. That was only to be expected though – just a few days off can affect him.
It was so good to be back in the saddle. I had actually been intending to leave it another day before riding but in the end I couldn’t resist hopping on for a very short stroll. We still haven’t ventured out onto the road or the open fields but nonetheless it was a simply wonderful feeling.
I know lots of peopgle are still able to ride during the lockdown but there are many who like me have chosen not to and more who just cannot.
For those of you who are missing your riding, I invite you to join Galahad and I on a hack from last summer. Think of it as pony ASMR!
It has been a very strange week for all of us but there have been some lovely, positive moments for us here as well.
Firstly, Galahad has a cheerful new set of ears which is really brightening up our hacks.
Secondly – as you can see if you look closely – the pussy willow is coming out and spring is definitely springing. It is always a wonderful feeling.
Today has been utterly glorious, with blue skies all day long. I managed to sit outside with my cup of tea and even felt like I was running the risk of burning. The dog had some time in the sun and Galahad enjoyed a day without his rug. I’m pretty sure he appreciated that!
We have had rain nearly every day for weeks. The fields are absolutely sodden and the ponies are very often dripping when they come in.
However, we do have the odd day when we can really feel that spring is coming. I rode out on Tuesday in beautiful sunshine – it was still rather cold but perfect weather for hacking out.
Galahad and I had a lovely time pottering along the lanes. The primroses and daffodils were out looking cheerful and making life feel good. It is amazing how uplifting a bit of sunshine can be!
Today I was meant to be show jumping with the riding club but Storm Ciara meant that it was understandably postponed and I had an unexpected day at home.
I have spent much of the day cosied up indoors – there’s nothing quite like a log fire and a book when the storm is raging. However, I did manage to venture outside for a hack.
I rode out in the morning when the weather wasn’t too bad. There was of course constant rain – at times we couldn’t even see to the other side of the valley – and it was blowing a gale but actually it was quite exhilarating.
The ponies didn’t think so. I thought they would be completely wound up but in fact they were pretty sluggish today and moped along with their heads lowered. Not that I could really blame them – I’m sure they would have much preferred to be tucked up in the stables!
I love living in the countryside. I am very lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world and the scenery just adds to my enjoyment when we go out for a hack.
Some days though, it seems that somebody is trying to spoil that. We go out for a ride and see so much rubbish littering the lanes. These are tiny little lanes too with very little traffic – I know bigger roads are far worse.
Apart from the aesthetic and environmental implications, the rubbish is actually dangerous for us personally. We have to keep a very close eye on our field which runs along the side of the road as there is almost always some rubbish which ends up in there. If the ponies ate it there could be terrible consequences.
I just cannot understand how anyone can think it is okay to throw litter out of a car window. I used to assume that it was people used to road sweepers coming along every so often. Realistically though, these lanes are only used by locals. I don’t know if they think someone will pick up after them or if they just don’t care but it makes me sad to see so much rubbish filling up the lane. Please, always take you litter home to a bin or to be recycled!
I had to go out pretty early this morning so was lazy and left the mucking out until I got home again. I did have a nice free afternoon though, so – barring the mucking out – I could spend time just playing with the ponies.
First of all, of course, I had to bring the ponies in. I rode Cookster while Galahad plodded in beside us. It is so wonderful to be able to wander along riding bareback.
I had two lovely, gentle hacks with the ponies, just pootling along the lanes. It was a very relaxing way to spend the afternoon.
Now of course, I am tucked up by the fire with a blanket, a cup of tea and a book just waiting to be read. Perfect.