Having the ponies in at night over the winter is of course more labour intensive than their summer routine. Apart from the mucking out, I have to deal with Cookster’s mild dust allergy.
Over the summer it can sometimes be difficult even to shut him in the stable – the dry weather makes everything too dusty. With a reasonable amount of rain we lose that problem but I do still have to think about haynets which need soaking for him.
We don’t have a hay steamer but have developed our own system and soak the nets in the stream. That works perfectly as it washes all the dust away so the nets aren’t sat in dusty water. The only problem is that hay floats so we have to stand on the nets to weigh them down.
As you can see this is a job for all the family!
It does make us look a bit odd though – my sister once found herself being watched by an estate agent and the people he was showing round the field next door. They didn’t buy the house and we still don’t know if it’s because they thought the neighbours were mad!
We don’t have a trailer we could use to collect the hay ourselves so we asked our neighbour to deliver it to the end of the drive for us. Then we used the lawn tractor’s trailer to ferry it all down to the hay store.
I did some of the driving but mostly I enjoyed having a ride on the trailer – although I did learn the hard way that if you stand right on the back of it you will bend it. We had a bit of a job getting the sides back on!
It is very satisfying to have the hay store filled with hay for the winter. It smells wonderful and I’m sure the ponies will think it delicious!
We have been having a run of very hot and muggy (up to 99% humidity!) days so we are surrounded by people making hay at the moment. The field up behind us is being baled as I write and the ponies have been taking a great interest in that. On the day it was cut Galahad thought it was very interesting and was tryng to eat it through the fence. I’m not sure he was particularly successful though!
The ponies quickly got bored by the whole thing and have been largely ignoring the tractor buzzing about. Of course, they still have moments when they run around but I’m sure that a lot of that is just for fun.
This year I have even been getting involved in the haymaking process myself. Or rather, my neighbours made the hay and I went up to help load the bales onto the trailer and then unload it again at the other end. It was hard work but it was good to be involved in the actual production of the ponies’ feed for a change. It feels almost like proper self sufficiency!
Now that I’m home again it is lovely to be spending more time with the ponies. It is good just having them to talk to but of course I am appreciating the riding as well.
The big field up behind us has just had its hay crop cut which means we can now use it for riding. It is very exciting and definitely livens up our hacks. The ponies love it too!
I always try to keep Galahad to just a steady canter the first time we have the field each summer. In the past he has been known to get far too overexcited and just take off across the field and I don’t want him to get the idea that that is okay. Speed is fun but I do like to know that I can stop if I want!
Once we’ve established who is in charge we can have fun and Galahad likes to go fast!
He only has little legs though so Equilab still thinks we’re trotting some of the time!
We have been having a great time – it is always good to get a new place to ride!
Whilst I was at the Europeans Galahad had a holiday as well. Of course, his consisted mostly of standing in his field eating grass but I am sure he enjoyed himself very much.
Being away reminds me just how far Galahad has come in the last year. Not so very long ago a week’s break would have had him shying away from me in the field and we would have taken several steps backward. This time however he walked up to me just as usual despite my torch – he isn’t a fan of torches! When it came to riding him the next day he was quite full of energy but behaved very well. He really has improved.
We had a lovely hack in the fading light and the sky was absolutely beautiful. It doesn’t really come out in the photograph – they never do.
Sadly in that week the light has changed so much that I no longer have enough of it to ride both ponies after work. I try to alternate them which means Galahad will only be ridden half as much for now. Less once it gets too dark to ride at all.
Thursday, however, was my day off. My sister was able to ride too so we hacked out together. We had a good gallop in the fields up the hill and the good news is that the hay bales are not really scary anymore. We canter around the original ones (looking a bit sorry for themselves now) quite happily and although we might roll our eyes a bit at the new ones which have appeared in the next two fields they didn’t stop us cantering there either. All of which is very good news despite the fact that my sister’s pony makes a beeline for the bales now he has worked out they are made of hay.
We had glorious sunshine for the whole of our ride even though we had a short drizzly shower too. The ponies got hot enough to need a wash down and I was back to riding in a t-shirt. We had a gorgeous time and I think the ponies enjoyed it too. Galahad certainly enjoyed his galloping, I’m not so sure about his partial bath afterwards!
My schooling field is looking very pretty at the moment. Just look at all the clover!
In all that sea of white there is a little patch of pink making me very happy.
Galahad is schooling very nicely at the moment. He usually takes a while to settle before he starts really listening properly but this week he has been good right from the start. Hopefully that is something which will continue.
Today though we went out for a hack. When we got to the top of the hill we made a very exciting discovery:
Our neighbour’s fields are being cut for hay! Hopefully it will mean that a) the flies will be less bothersome and b) we will soon be able to go in the fields for a gallop! Both ponies saw the open gate and thought it looked very inviting. They took some persuading that going into the field right now would not be an acceptable thing to do!