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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!