Mud Monsters

After several weeks of no rain at all – and, despite the downpour earlier in the year, really needing some to make the grass grow – we finally had a shower yesterday. It wasn’t really much but Galahad definitely made the most of it and covered himself in mud. Just as I’d got used to having a nice clean pony!

Both ponies are now moulting well so every grooming session involves me getting covered in hair. I have been getting targeted ads for the Groomi tool for months but had been resisting buying one because I thought I really didn’t need any more brushes. A couple of weeks ago though I weakened and treated myself. My reasoning was that I had been hoping to go to Badminton next week and as I would have allowed myself to buy something there this was perfectly acceptable. I must admit that it seems to do a good job – Galahad is very slow to moult and does not normally produce this pile of hair when I brush him.

Having cleaned off the mud we went for a lovely, relaxing ride. Yesterday was the ponies’ official birthday (as they were born on the moor we don’t know their actual dates of birth) and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate. The ponies may well have preferred the apples and carrots they had after we got home though!

Frozen Mud

I seem to be writing a lot about the state of the ground at the moment – but it is a big factor in my life right now. I was meant to be doing an online dressage competition with my riding club in January but the ground was so sodden that there was no chance we could do a decent test. Even at walk and trot Galahad was reluctant to go forward.

This week has been wonderful though. All those minus temperatures – and very strong winds – froze and dried the mud up so we could just walk over the top of it. It still wasn’t suitable for schooling of course but it did make life so much easier. The dog was happy too – she hates mud and always takes twice as long to get somewhere as she should because she goes the long way round to keep her feet dry.

Today the rain is back – and with a vengeance too! It has been absolutely tipping it down and the mud is pretty much back to where we started. Dry feet were nice while they lasted!

Galahad and I still enjoyed ourselves on our hack though and we admired these very cosy looking sheep. At least, I admired the sheep – Galahad was probably eying up all that lovely hay!

First Aid

It feels like it has been raining for weeks. The fields are absolutely sodden and there is even standing water in places. It’s not ideal but it’s something we have to expect in the winter – although I don’t remember them being quite so wet before! It can cause a whole host of problems though and I was not entirely surprised when Cookster came in slightly lame the other day – standing around in wet mud is ideal for causing hoof abscesses.

I was well prepared to deal with that, although I did have to order more duct tape as we were getting rather low. What I did not expect was that Cookster would stand so patiently in an Epsom salts solution. He is not a fan of standing still at the best of times. Apparently though all it takes is a haynet and he won’t budge. Again, that isn’t something that should have surprised me!

All of this did mean that I finally got some use out of Galahad’s treat ball which has been gathering dust because it is far too scary for Galahad to contemplate. Cookster though will do anything for food so it was a great tool to keep him from boredom.

Not that he spent all that much time cooped up – I wanted to keep him outside as much as possible and tried to pick out the least muddy spots for him. Of course, all the fields are wet but we managed pretty well considering.

Cookster is of course not mine but my sister’s pony and as she couldn’t come to visit him she sent him his own special delivery of some polos and a postcard.

The polos were very popular and the postcard is now decorating the stable and looking cheerful. The polos had to be shared with Galahad who was glad of that but still seemed to be jealous of all the attention Cookster was getting. Or possibly he just wanted extra food!

Cookster seems to be better now and is running around the field without a care. It is always such a relief when they get better.

Pony Watching

As with every winter, we are now finding that we have very little grass left in the fields and we are looking for ways to keep the ponies fed without feeding them too much of our hay – it would be nice if that lasted a bit longer! Our main problem at the moment is that the fields are so incredibly wet – nothing has a chance to grow.

The lane still has a decent amount of grass in it though so the ponies have been having an hour or two of turnout there most days. It is very difficult to fence off securely so we normally sit out there with them to make sure they don’t wander off – although so far their heads have pretty much stayed down in the grass and they have barely moved. This is something we usually do in the summer when it is lovely to sit out in a deckchair with a book. Things are obviously a bit different at the moment so we have a car parked at the end of the lane, I make sure I am wearing many layers and I always take a blanket and a cup of tea. Providing I manage to keep myself warm enough it is actually quite enjoyable.

The ponies never take long to learn a new routine – especially where food is involved. By the second day they were quick to come when called to the gate. Now every time we walk up the lane they come running – just in case we feel like feeding them!

They have also got a little more adventurous now – one of their favourite places to graze is on the top of this bank. It doesn’t look like the most appetising grass to me but apparently it is worth the climb – and the effort involved in getting down again!

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!

Fashion Pony

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Cookster has had to start wearing a rug to stop him freezing himself in the rain.  Obviously, we have had rather a lot of rain over the last week so the rug is very much needed at the moment.

However, although he measures for the same rug size as Galahad, the old rug he was using had rubbed his chest a bit.  Nothing too bad – his skin wasn’t raw, he just had a bit less hair than before – but he clearly needed something a bit better.

My sister therefore went shopping and decided on a much more exciting rug than Galahad has ever had.

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Sadly, it didn’t stay looking like this for long – most days he is just a muddy shade of brown.  Occasionally though, the rain manages to wash off some of the mud and the stags shine through once more.

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More Ingratitude

After Galahad tore his rug last week, Cookster has been causing problems of his own.  I had left Galahad’s old rug and a stable rug hung on the wall between the two stables and Cookster pulled them off and trampled them into his dirty bed.

I picked them back up – several times – but he kept pulling them down again.  I should have known better – he is constantly taking stuff down.  I have to keep a very close eye on him if I want to put my saddle on the wall or door as he can be quick to knock that down too.

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The rugs were too disgusting to put in the machine so I had to wash them by hand.  It was actually a lot of fun, although I got very wet and it was freezing cold.  It should be more of a summer job really!

An Ungrateful Pony

Just before Christmas I decided it really was time for Galahad to have a new rug.  His old one was reasonably sound but, even though it didn’t actually let the rain through, the water wasn’t really repelled either.  The outer layer of the rug stayed wet so effectively Galahad was constantly wearing a cold blanket.  That’s not really ideal so a new one was procured.

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I was rather pleased with it and for a few days Galahad really looked very smart.  Then, of course, he had to roll in the muddiest part of the field.

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Still, it could have been worse – this week he has decided to tear it.

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He probably caught it on the fence, although Cookster does like to play with fabrics so I’m not yet convinced of his innocence!  Either way – it looks like it’s time for me to get out the sewing kit.

A New Pony Sport

On Monday my sister and I took the ponies for a canter in the field up the lane.  We had a lovely time but – as is now usual – it was very warm and we had to wash them off when we got back.

We them turned them out and naturally they wanted to roll.

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I think they have invented a new sport – synchronised rolling.

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It was great fun watching them but of course the covered themselves in dust and as the vet was coming in the afternoon to give them their annual vaccinations we had to clean them off all over again.  It was worth it though!

Comeuppance

Monday was a glorious day so Galahad and I went out for a hack.  The road was quiet, the birds were singing and everything was right with the world.

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Until we came home.

We had to come down a narrow lane which is closed off by a hurdle at the top.  The hurdle needs lifting and really needs to be opened dismounted.  As it is a little awkward to manage I always seem to end up on the off side of the pony when I have closed the hurdle again.  Without much room to manoeuvre it is far easier to hop on from the wrong side and on Cookster I do that without thinking.

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Never with Galahad though.  I tried it once at home and he panicked.  Partly because he isn’t used to it and partly because my muscles aren’t tuned enough to mounting from the wrong side so it isn’t as smooth as my mounting usually is.

On Monday I was feeling lazy and hopping up from where I was seemed a good plan.  After all, sometimes trec competitions ask for the rider to mount from the off side so practising is a good idea.  At least, that’s what I told myself.

It did not end well.  He shot off forwards when I was only half on.  I ended up in a patch of nettles minus my hat cover and with only one boot.  I had to paddle through the mud to find that – there is a spring at the top of the lane so it is wet all year round.

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We were only about a hundred yards from the house so as I plodded home I was imagining the concern Galahad would cause when he careered into the yard witout me.  In the event, nobody saw him and I found him unconcernedly munching grass.  He was nicely decorated though!

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Obviously mounting from the wrong side is something we can work on – especially if I want to be able to use it in a trec competition.  I will improve my own ability by practising on Cookster before I try it on Galahad again though!