We have had a lot of rain over the past few days. Also hail and sleet. Things are starting to look a little soggy!
In fact, the gateway into the yard got to the point where we just had to do something about it. We had some branches taken out in our woodland and the work has left us with a large pile of wood chippings. These are excellent for putting down on the mud!
My parents were very kind and put down a load of chippings on Friday. They are wonderful! I can now get into the yard without having a struggle and getting covered in mud. The dog likes it too – she might be a country dog but she hates mud and will do her best to get round it!
The rain hasn’t stopped us getting out and about though – although other people’s fields are looking even wetter than ours!
You can definitely tell that winter is well on its way. For one thing, Galahad now frequently comes in from the field covered with mud and I have swapped from using a body brush to a dandy brush.
The fields are holding up pretty well so far but there is still enough mud to cover a pony!
Another sign is that Cookster is now wearing these stirrups.
My sister likes to ride in her wellies when the ground is muddy and these make it that bit safer to do so.
I on the other hand am still sticking faithfully to my jodhpur boots.
They might be falling apart and they definitely need replacing but until it gets cold or very wet I will be wearing them!
We have had some wonderful weather over the past few days. The sun has been shining and it has been really warm.
Galahad has spent most of the days without his rug and he has definitely been making the most of the time – he is constantly covered in mud!
Yesterday I was out for the evening so it was my Dad who had to put the rug back on. Galahad did not want to cooperate. He was apparently quite happy for my Mum to feed him apples but he kept one eye firmly on my Dad and whenever he moved the headcollar Galahad would jump away.
In the end, he had to catch Cookster and take him up to the stables. Galahad then followed, walked straight into the stable and was quite happy to have his rug put on. He is usually fine to catch but he certainly likes to keep us on our toes!
The forecast suggests that we should continue to have some good weather for the next few days so I am looking forward to some lovely hacking.
I am terrible at procrastination. I seem to have a constant list of small jobs which need doing but something more important comes up and after all they can always be done tomorrow. Last weekend though I had a free day and made the most of it to get some yard chores done.
My jumps have been lying in the field for the last few weeks – unusable because the ground is so slippery. I have been wanting to get them put away – obviously I don’t want them to rot!
Sorry the picture is so blurry – it doesn’t look it but it was getting dark!
As is almost always the case it turned out to be a much smaller job than I had anticipated and didn’t take long at all. They are still outside but they are not sitting in the wet any more which is the main thing. Hopefully I will get around to painting them this winter.
I also managed to get the yard properly cleaned and swept. I keep it pretty clean anyway but the ponies are always tracking in mud which needs scraping off every so often. Again,something I have been putting off for a while!
Lastly I filled the water trough. Obviously, it always has water in it but if I am in a hurry – and I usually am – I just make sure that there is enough in it to last the day. It takes quite a long time to fill the whole thing but it does mean it won’t need doing again for a few days.
It is incredible satisfying to get the yard chores done. Having the afternoon to do them all made me feel like a proper equestrian!
We recently had some work done on our lane – the ditch was re-excavated and the mud and grass was scraped off the middle. It is looking a lot nicer and the puddles have pretty much gone which is excellent.
It is a bit muddy at the moment but that is just because the digger was driving up and down all morning. It will dry!
Galahad – who can be a bit spooky walking on an unusual surface – didn’t bat an eyelid at it. However, he did have a massive spook both going out and coming in through the gate. I couldn’t decide whether he was objecting to the concrete slab which got left in the hedge when the digger had gone:
Or whether he didn’t like the Christmas wreath on the gate.
Either way, he wasn’t happy!
I thought that the downpour a couple of weeks ago had put paid to any schooling for the rest of the winter. The fields were certainly very soggy afterwards. Since then though we have had two dry, frosty weeks which have done wonders for the ground.
The going is almost perfect now. Perhaps a little on the soft side but it is lovely to ride on and we had a good schooling session. Galahad behaved very well and was actually working quite nicely.
The puppy normally comes out with me when I do the ponies and she is now old enough for me to leave her to potter about whilst I school. I tie her up with a long line outside the field and keep half an eye on her. It is wonderful to be able to do so.
Galahad and I have made our debut as part of a team! It was incredibly exciting as I haven’t been on a riding team since I left university and Galahad never has. I was nervous I would completely mess up – not on my own account but I did not want to let my team down.
The day didn’t have the best of starts as the warm up fence was on grass and it had been raining. Galahad was jumping well but slipped over just after landing and we both ended up on the floor and pretty muddy. Luckily neither of us was hurt and after getting the worst of the mud off Galahad we were ready to go again. I was a little concerned he would have lost his confidence but he popped back over the fence with no problem and we were all set.
I needn’t have worried at all – Galahad was a star and flew round the course clear. Each team member jumped a different height and had two rounds – the second against the clock. Our practise over angled fences gave me the confidence to push Galahad a bit harder in the timed round and again Galahad was super and flew round. I could not be more pleased with him.
We ended up coming second in the class and were only beaten by a boy on another team from my yard which wasn’t so bad. Apparently there wasn’t much between us time wise and I was absolutely thrilled (the fact that I had done well for the team definitely helped with that!).
I spent the rest of the day manning the arena gate (and getting sand constantly blown into my eyes). It was good to feel part of the team and I got to catch up with a few friends I hadn’t seen for a while so I had a great time.
The next member of my team won her class, then the other two came tenth and eighth. It was a very close run thing but overall as a team we came fourth which I was very pleased with as a first attempt. We were second out of the three teams from my instructor’s yard and as we were the least experienced I thought that wasn’t bad either!
Overall I had a fantastic day and was very pleased with the way Galahad went. He has improved so much over the last few months and I have a lot more confidence in our ability now. It feels great to take him round a course and I can’t wait for the next time!
Over the winter our fields can get quite cut up which means that once the ground starts to dry out we are left with all sorts of lumps and bumps the ponies (and I!) can trip over. It can make schooling rather difficult as we aren’t confident enough to go forward properly. We haven’t jumped at all this year yet because the idea of tripping as we do is not pleasant.
However, we finally managed to get the fields harrowed. The fields are looking a lot better already and once the grass gets growing properly they should start looking lovely again.
I schooled this morning and it definitely felt a nicer surface to ride on. We didn’t trip once and I wasn’t at all worried about working Galahad properly. Now I should finally be able to use the lovely jumps I got for my birthday. I can’t wait!
We finally got around to buying some rubber mats for the ponies’ stables. I have been meaning to get them for so long but I found all the choice a bit confusing really. There are so many different options available and I was very keen to have multi directional drainage underneath but struggled to find many that offered it. It’s not exactly something one can search for either!
I eventually found what I wanted at our local farm supply shop. I would have found it sooner but it wasn’t on their website and I only discovered it by trawling round their yard one very cold, rainy morning.
The mats are now installed and as you can see are already blending nicely into the floor. The ponies track a lot of mud around with them! We should save a decent amount on our shavings bill now. More importantly, the ponies seem quite happy with the new arrangement which is excellent news.
Two days ago, when I was calling the ponies in for their dinner, a gate got left open. It only led into another enclosed paddock so it wasn’t an issue and besides, they wanted their dinner. They wouldn’t be going away from the stables.
It turns out that fresh grass – greener than the stuff in their current field – is much more interesting than hay or even hard feed. Both ponies went straight out of the gate and were soon munching away happily. Sadly the excitement was a bit much for them so they also had to run around a bit. The thing is, there’s a reason they haven’t been allowed in before to eat all that lovely juicy grass.
It is on a pretty steep slope which is lovely in the summer but all the rain we have been having lately has made it just a tad slippery. The ponies are both fine – they are not exactly delicate creatures – but the ground got surprisingly cut up in five minutes. All gates will be kept firmly shut in future!