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.
Over Christmas Cookster and I had a Very Exciting Adventure. We were riding up the hill and met a flock of sheep – not actually all that unusual but these sheep were neither in their field nor accompanied by a human. We drove them back up the hill away from the main road and hoped that they would be obliging and slip back into their field. Of course, they didn’t.
Luckily my parents were also out with the dog so my Dad could skirt round them and drive them back towards me and the gate. Cookster had been boggling at the sheep the whole time so it was a lot easier for us to stand still and block the way back to the main road.
This time the sheep were very obliging. I swung the gate open, they trotted in and I shut it behind them. All very simple really in the end!
On Boxing Day my sister came round to ride and we set off for our very tinselly Christmas hack.
I always love riding out but it is especially great at the moment – it is such fun to dress the ponies up and carol our way along the lanes. Good King Wenseslas was obviously the first choice for Boxing Day singing!
Added to that, our parents usually come out on Boxing Day as well – their company is lovely but it also means we may get some tasty treats which are very welcome!
Today being the first of December – and also Advent Sunday – I allowed myself to bring Galahad’s Christmas ears out of storage. After all, we can use them for such a short time, we might as well make the most of them.
As usual he did not object to them at all, despite the fact that I made a complete mess of actually getting them on in the first place. Those pom poms can be tricky to get under the bridle!
We went out for a ride with my sister and Cookster and had a lovely time, singing as we went. The ponies seemed to enjoy themselves too and were bouncing along until Cookster got spooked by a pheasant flying up behind him. He’s not normally a spooky pony but he didn’t enjoy that so much!
On our way back to the yard we stopped off at the house for some Advent carolling and the ponies were rewarded with some lovely looking apples. We, however, had to wait until we had sorted the ponies out and got back inside for some delicious cherry shortbread stars and hot chocolate to warm up. It was a good day!
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.
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.
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.
Today was very exciting for me – I wore my riding skirt out on a pony for the first time since last winter.
I actually don’t wear it riding as much as I would like because I love to wear it as an ordinary skirt so much and it isn’t really sociable to wear it around town when it smells of horse! Today though it was raining and I decided it was time to take it out.
We had a beautiful ride as all the leaves are turning and the countryside is a blaze of colour. My sister and I turned a corner and it was like we came out into the light – we were surrounded by bright orange leaves. It was absolutely stunning and we sat there for a good five minutes just drinking it all in.
I love autumn!