Easter Sunshine

A combination of lockdown and work commitments has meant that I haven’t been able to ride with my sister since before Christmas, so it was for the first time in months that we hacked out together on Friday. In a socially distanced manner of course!

It was so lovely to have the company. I do enjoy the peace and time to think when I ride out by myself but there is nothing quite like having a friend with whom you can chat as you go along. We are having the most gorgeous weather for the Easter weekend as well so it has been delightful to be out and about.

Cookster is moulting well now, whereas Galahad – predictably – is not. My sister therefore took longer to get ready than I did – you could keep grooming Cookster for hours and still be getting hair out. That meant I had some time to kill and I decided to experiment with plaiting Galahad’s feathers. I’ve seen pictures of this being done beautifully and although Galahad has nothing like the hair you get on a cob I thought it would be fun to try. I could have done with slightly longer hair but still it wasn’t bad for a first attempt!

Spring is Springing

This year I have been riding around our own fields more than ever before. It’s always been something I might do occassionally but it wasn’t until we went into lockdown – and riding away from our own property got restricted – that I fully appreciated how lovely it could be.

For lazy days like today it is the prerfect activity. There is nothing strenuous required as there would be in a schooling session and no need to keep an eye and ear open for oncoming traffic on the roads. Of course, we can’t go any great distance in a straight line but we can certainly do a decent amount of pottering – and now the ground is drying out we can even get in some reasonable canters.

The terrain is beautifully varied too. Our hills and stream might take more maintenance work than a flat paddock but they do make riding a good deal more interesting. Particularly if the pony is feeling fresh and we have to navigate a steep descent!

Some of the main joys at the moment though are the signs of spring which are popping up all over the place. The flowers are always a delight but again I have become particularly aware of them since lockdown. Very excitingly, the bare, churned up patches of mud are now showing tiny green shoots. The grass is growing!

Serene Sunday

This weekend has been an interesting mix of very busy and lazy hours. Yesterday we had a delivery of what will hopefully be our last load of hay for the year and it is very satisfying to see the shed full again.

I haven’t been getting much riding done during the week recently – I have been using my time at home to work on creating some stationery which I will be selling online very soon and it has obviously taken quite a bit of work to set up. Whatever happens during the week though, I always make sure to ride the ponies at the weekend. Yesterday’s rides were a bit rushed due to the hay delivery but this afternoon Galahd and I had a simply lovely hack around our fields. We even had a delightful paddle in the stream.

It’s still a bit wet for much cantering but we managed a bit on the grass in the lane and spent the rest of the time enjoying being out in the weather. It was a lovely breezy afternoon with just a hint of drizzle – wonderfully refreshing.

The dog had a great time too – she found a lovely bunch of feathers and very much enjoyed having a chew on them. Thankfully there was nothing else left of the pheasant for her to eat!

Tranquility and Chaos

As I was riding home on Galahad today I realised that the air was feeling slightly less wintry. Yes the fields are still absolutely sodden – no chance of recording a dressage test just yet – but there was that undefinable feeling in the air that perhaps spring is not so far away after all.

I know I have shared this view many, many times before but it gave me such a wonderful feeling of peace and tranquility today. Just that small effort of getting on the pony and riding out is so good for me and it really does make all the difference. It was a lovely feeling to have as I got home.

Then I opened the tackroom door to find this scene inside. The dog can’t be trusted out on hacks so I shut her in as I left. She has a perfectly good bed in there but she had to pull out the clean numnahs and curl up on them instead. Naturally she was wet and muddy too so I have plenty of pony laundry to do now. There is a bright side though – I had been putting off the laundry and these were the only two clean numnahs left. It was definitely time to get them washed!

Acrobatics

Yesterday was quite the adventure.

I took both ponies out for a gentle hack around the fields (separately – not together) and as Galahad and I were heading home I thought it would be a good idea to canter up the grass in the lane. The fields are absolutely sodden at the moment so it’s the only place we can actually canter.

The field gate leading back to the stables is halfway up the lane and I knew Galahad would want to go that way. Usually I can keep him going past it but he breaks into a trot in doing so. This time I was determined to keep the canter. I was actually successful in that but I failed to keep him straight and he ducked into the gateway. That wouldn’t have been so bad but the gate – which I had left wide open – had swung until it was almost closed. There was just about room for an Exmoor pony to squeeze through but not so much for my legs, one of which got caught on the latch and I was pulled out of the saddle. The next thing I knew, Galahad pulled the reins out of my hand and galloped for home.

No, I should not have been wearing wellies for riding – I was lazy and hadn’t bothered to change them. Chances are I might not have come off if I had. I was incredibly lucky – no broken bones, just some bruises and pulled muscles. Galahad too was lucky – he could easily have seriously damaged himself on the bolt on the gate. That being so, my training kicked in and I got back in the saddle – which is now covered in mud and in serious need of a clean – and we cantered past the gate a few times. This time though it was firmly shut!

My clothes were in no fit state to go in the washing machine and as the hosepipe is frozen I made use of the stream to get rid of the worst of the mud. It’s an incredibly useful resource!

Wintry Landscapes

Much of the country has had snow over the past few days. We have not but we did get some heavy hailstorms and as it has been so cold the hail didn’t melt but lay about on the ground looking absolutely beautiful.

We went out for a little potter on the ponies to enjoy it. We had a look at the roads but decided they were just too icy to be safe so we stuck to riding about the fields and up our own lane. Its surprising how much of a ride you can get in a few fields!

Both ponies were feeling very jolly and bouncy so I was fully prepared for them to explode and for me to end up on the floor. However, they behaved impeccably and we had what may have been the most sedate trot ever. That was a relief and so I had a lovely time admiring the view. It was the best way to start the new year!

Christmas Cheer

The ponies and I have been having a lovely, restful Christmas. It began for the ponies on Christmas Eve with apples and carrots added to their dinner. Then they had treats brought out to them early on Christmas morning.

The dog was very interested in them too – she has brilliant balance on two legs!

Today we went for our Boxing Day walk (yes we were a day late but I had to work yesterday) and I brought Galahad along too. He was somewhat inclined to think that the slower pace was designed to allow him to snack but was otherwise well behaved and happy to amble aong with the others. He may have been influenced by the knowledge that these rare walks together usually mean apples at some point! I on the other hand was kept going by chocolate coins.

We had a lovely time and had plenty to look at – the river has burst its banks and is rushing along very noisily. The weather was glorious while we were out but by the time I finished untacking it was hailing and the dog and I were glad to get back indoors for hot chocolate and stollen. For me at least – the dog had to make do with water!

Once we’re back on our own land the dog can come off the lead. She’s getting much better at coming along with me on a pony but is definitely not ready to do so on the roads!

Autumn Adventures

I have been very much enjoying the autumn colouring recently. The hedges and trees have been simply glorious with colour and I have been revelling in it. I know that the lockdown in England means many people are not able to ride at the moment so I thought I would share one of my rides with you.

It all started out well as I headed off up the lane but before I reached the road I realised that I didn’t have my hi-viz tabard on. I did debate about going out anyway but it wasn’t really sensible – it may be a small, quiet road but it it is also a small, twisty road and cars coming round the corners don’t have much time to see you. I was riding a brown pony and wearing a dull green jacket. I was basically invisible.

So, here is a very small section of a hack.

I didn’t really have time to grab the tabard and go out again so Galahad and I had a little canter in the field to use up the time we did have instead.

It was just as well that I hadn’t gone too far as I found that my paranoia about having not shut the dog away in the tack room was for once not paranoia at all and she had wandered off. I panicked terribly but found that she had just gone back home and was waiting patiently outside the back door. Evidently the tack room is far too boring!

Autumn Riding

This weekend autumn seems to have hit us with a vengeance. We have had two days of driving rain and splashing through puddles. Of course, that didn’t stop us going out to ride – it just meant that we got very wet indeed. We also spent a lot of time inspecting the hedges as the ponies turned their heads away from the wind. Gettng out at all was interesting – we had to ride across a field and turn into the wind. The ponies were quite happy to walk forward but they definitely did not want to turn left!

I also made the mistake of wearing my spare pair of waterproof trousers as they were handily in the tackroom , as opposed to in the house. It turns out that I did buy the newer pair for a reason and there is not really any point in keeping the old ones for emergencies. They didn’t keep me dry at all.

In brighter news, the ponies had their back checks this week. Galahad hasn’t seen the back lady in about a year (he normally gets looked at ewvery six months or so but covid caused a hiatus) and he miraculously only needed a few tweaks – no full treatment and no time off afterwards. That is a first and a definite reason to celebrate.

Bubble Bath

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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