The Highs and Lows of Horses

Horses are a great leveller.  Three weeks ago I had a great day competing and qualified as part of a team for the British Riding Clubs’ Novice Winter Championships.  Last week we went to a combined training qualifier and I fell off in the warm-up for dressage.  Horses will never let us get too big headed!

He had felt quite tense and bouncy when we first started but I thought he had settled and he was actually working very nicely in walk and trot.  Then I asked for canter and he took off across the arena and exploded.  I found myself on the floor.

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I was only winded so we carried on but did not get our nice frame back before we had to go in to the test.  It was not very pretty.  The canter was far too fast (the judge said there was ‘much confusion’ in the transition) and he was resisting my aids the whole way round.  We did get round though and the judge was very kind in her final comments, saying that perservering will be worth it.

He nearly threw me off twice more in the show jumping warm-up which was not encouraging but as before I was hoping that the extra space and the ability to keep him moving forward in the competition arena would help me out.

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Thankfully, that did prove to be the case.  We were rather too fast and overshot many of the turns but all that practice keeping my eyes on the next fence no matter what really paid off and we managed to clear all the fences in the right order.  That was despite our stopping dead for no apparent reason as we went past a fence we had already jumped.  I can only assume that he thought I was asking him to jump one of the huge cross country fences around the arena and didn’t fancy it!

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About to stop dead!

Of course, our poor dressage performance meant that we stood no chance of a placing but it was good to finish on a positive note.  If nothing else, it reinforced what I already knew – I am much better at jumping than dressage!

Birthday Breakfast

What with all the excitement of Badminton last weekend, I never posted about the ponies’ birthday.

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Birthday treats

Since they are moor bred we don’t know when they were actually born so we gave them a shared official birthday on the first of May.  A May Day birthday seems lovely!

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‘We’re starving!’

They both had apples and carrots added to their breakfast and they seemed very keen to eat them – they both stood there whickering until they had the food.  In fact, they tried to storm the feed room and we had to move the dog out of the way before she got trampled.  Normally they just stand and beg from a distance.

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After work I watched the trot up at Badminton, then I was off out with the ponies again.  Galahad and I went for a hack in the evening sunshine which was just beautiful.  It’s what I would enjoy on my birthday – hopefully he did too!

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Riding in a Winter Wonderland

We have been having a proper wintry week.  The snow started for us on Tuesday, we had some heavy snow showers on Wednesday and a proper snowstorm on Thursday night.  Everything is very icy as well but I was pretty disappointed that the snow at home was mostly very wet and didn’t always settle properly.

However, I have been out and about this week as the ponies went away to my instructor’s yard for a few days.  The yard is high enough above us for the snow to have settled much more than it did at home.  In fact, I was worried they would be snowed in and the ponies wouldn’t be able to go at all.

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Luckily, the roads weren’t that bad and the ponies were duly collected on Wednesday.  I have had a fantastic few days playing in  the snow.  Thursday was the best day though – a heavy snowfall was forecast for the afternoon so I decided to ride nice and early.  Driving over to the yard the roads were pretty clear so I fully intended to take Galahad out for a hack.  First though, I had to school Cookster.

The school was excitingly snowy when we started and before long a few flakes of snow were falling, just to add interest.  Those few flakes increased and suddenly we were in a proper snowstorm.  It was really rather lovely.

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I’m not sure how much Cookster appreciated it but I certainly did – everything was so beautiful!  Even better, my riding skirt was getting a proper use too.

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Of course, I couldn’t very well take Galahad out on the roads in weather like that so we stuck to the school too, although – annoyingly – the snow had stopped by the time I got on him.  Not that the roads would have been safe anyway!

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I know the snow causes all sorts of problems but I can’t help enjoying it!

A Very Horsey Day

This morning we went to our local fatstock show.  I love to go every year but this time there seemed to be even more horses there than normal.

First of all we saw a pair of shire horses giving rides on a rather nice farm cart.

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A little way on we found a stand belonging to the Exmoor Pony Society who had a pen with a couple of ponies – a yearling and two year old.  It was great to say hello to them.

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Inside the pannier market there were some festive donkeys who were very friendly.

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Then we found we had another opportunity for a horse and cart ride!

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The highlight though was the farriery demonstration.  They were making the shoes from scratch which is something I have never seen before.  I found it fascinating and I stood watching them for ages!

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It is a lovely local show with a fantastic atmosphere and I had a great day, even though it meant I didn’t get to ride my own pony.