On Superstition

When I was a teenager I noticed that I quite often fell off when I was wearing new clothes for the first time.  A new t-shirt or jumper was usually okay but specifically horsey things like riding hats made me fall off.  Once I wore a new hat cover and carried a new whip at the same time.  I was bucked off whilst out for a hack by myself.

I have no idea how many times things like that actually happened but it was enough for me to develop a superstition about it.  I had to make sure that if I got anything new I did not wear it for the first time at a competition.  That would just be asking for trouble.

Of course, the rational part of me knows that a new hat will not make me fall off.  However, I also know that the mind is incredibly powerful and if I think I will come off it makes it much more likely that I will.  Which is why this week I found myself hacking out in a new hat cover and new (to me) show jacket.

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It felt a bit odd but also as if I was in one of Ruby Ferguson’s Jill stories which I love so actually I was very happy.  Perhaps we should go back to hacking in hacking jackets!

Summer Shows

The summer show season is definitely upon us.  For us it started with Woolfardisworthy (Woolsery) Show at Clovelly Court.

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I spent a lovely day inspecting the livestock and watching the horses.  The heavy horses were great but I especially loved the driving classes.  How amazing is this mane!

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Today we were at the Exford Show.  It is always good to see the Exmoors and mentally compare them to Galahad.

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I also love to see the inter hunt relays.  There was one at each of these two shows and they are always fun to watch.

We have also had our local village garden show.  There were no ponies there but I did enter some of the competitions.  I maged to get thirds in the poetry and painting classes (it was a painting of Galahad!) and I won a photography class with a picture I took on one of our hacks.

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I also had my book stall at the show and had a lovely time selling pony books to the local populace.  It was a great day.

Dressage Divas

On Sunday Galahad and I went to a riding club dressage competition.  It was our first outing since February so I was very much looking forward to it.  We had a run through of our tests with my instructor the day before and she said he was looking a lot straighter than he had been and that whatever I was doing with him was working.  That is always a good thing to hear!

Sunday morning dawned very grey and misty but by the time we got to the show the sun was shining and it was obviously going to be another hot day.  There were also many flies about but Galahad took it all in his stride.

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Green is not really de rigueur for dressage but I was determined to #weargreenforjonty.  This is actually an old Guide badge but it seemed very appropriate.

He felt good in the warm up and I went into our first test (Intro C) feeling pretty positive.  It definitely helped that he was nice and forward going up the first centre line.  The test felt great right up until the final halt which was a bit of a struggle – Galahad was not ready to stop!

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I was generally very pleased with it though and it gave me a good mindset for our next test – Prelim 7.  I didn’t expect this to go quite so well because of our issues with the canter lead on the right rein.  It felt a little rushed and it did take us three attempts to get the canter lead but actually I was very pleased with it.  Galahad was nice and straight, he was forward going and this time he stopped when I asked him to.  You can’t really ask for more than that!

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After we finished and Galahad was cooled off I was on scoring duty so I made my way over to the scoreboard.  I was amazed to find that we had actually won the first class.  Not ony that, we had done so with a score of 70.65%.  We have never scored that much before and we definitely haven’t won!

I came third in the prelim test with a score of 72.05%.  When I looked through my score sheets I fond we had been given a good number of eights and even one 8.5.  We also had some lovely comments, including this one which was my favourite.

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I was so proud of Galahad.  He did try very hard and it really was fun to ride him.  We have some things we can work on but we have improved so much and I could not be happier.

Running Repairs (again!)

Before we went out to dressage last week I had to mend Galahad’s fleece rug.  He has been wearing it under his field rug for the past month and one of the shoulder seams had completely burst.  He had torn around one of the front buckles too and I couldn’t really take him to a show looking like that!

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My evenings running up to the weekend were spent in front of the sewing machine.

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I am not a natural at sewing  and the fleece had stretched a bit so the seam was not perfect but I don’t think it turned out too badly.  I especially like the natty striped patch inside the buckle!

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It certainly does the job and I think Galahad looked pretty smart on Sunday!

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Dressage Day

Yesterday Galahad and I were at another dressage competition.  As it was a small, friendly event we had a go at doing two Prelim level tests – we normally do one Intro and one Prelim.

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Always correctly attired!

Cantering is not our strong point – Galahad’s weaker hindquarters makes it hard for him, especially picking up the correct lead on the right rein.  However, it is good to push yourselves a bit and I thought we were up to it.

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Galahad felt pretty relaxed in the warm up which was a good sign after our last outing.  Something spooked him just as we were entering the indoor arena though so we shot in at ninety miles an hour and it took him a while to settle again.  I did for a minute think we would have a repeat of last time but once we got going he went really nicely.

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It only took two attempts to get the correct lead on the right rein but I was so focused on that I muddled myself a little and cantered our circle in the wrong place.  Other than that it was a nice test though.  We scored 62% – which for us is good at Prelim level – and came in fourth.

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Our second test was better navigationally and felt really good to ride too.  It took us three goes to get the right canter lead but otherwise I was very pleased with it.  Our score was 64.8% which gave us sixth place.  Both tests got us some nice comments from the judge but as ever we need to work on getting Galahad responding better to my leg and covering the ground more.  We seem to have managed to crack the straightness issues we had so I’m sure this will come in time as well.

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Mainly though, I was pleased with how relaxed and calm he was.  It made for a lovely day overall and the dressage classes were almost incidental.

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It was an odd thing for us though to be competing later in the day.  Most of the time I am hanging about after my classes but this time Galahad was loaded back onto the lorry almost as soon as we finished.

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Partly that was to keep the ponies warm – the wind was a little chilly – but it was also the end of the day.  Once the ponies were loaded there was only one test left to watch.  It made me feel very grown up!

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It was a great day which has given me a lot of confidence that if we work hard we can improve and do even better in the future.  Definitely something to work towards!

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Waiting for our turn (with my Dad as groom!)

 

Rainy Show Day

The ponies have been a bit neglected today.

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Instead of riding I have spent the day at the Exford Show.  I love this show and even though it rained all morning I still had a great day.  The Exmoor breed show is held here but this year for the first time Exmoors were also allowed in the main ring’s mountain and moorland classes.  It was very exciting to see an Exmoor win!

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It was also good to see the Exmoor classes themselves.  I love seeing how many different colours there are within such a strict breed standard.

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I also loved the fact that I had what must be the prettiest picnic I have ever seen!

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I so much enjoy just wandering around the show and I may have bought myself some things.  I love horsey shopping and I don’t get the opportunity all that often!

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Playing in the School

Whilst I was away at camp the ponies spent a few days at my instructor’s yard which meant that I got to use the school when I came home.  We were going to a showjumping competition the next day so I wanted to make sure that we were still working together after my week off  (Galahad didn’t get a week off as I had asked for him to be ridden a couple of times).

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He was nice and responsive and we had a lovely evening schooling session.  I didn’t want to jump too much but we did pop over a couple of fences which felt really good and gave me confidence for the next day.

I was delighted to find that somebody had cleaned Galahad’s tack so I just had to wipe it over and load my stuff into the lorry.  I very much appreciated that after a week’s camping!

Show Time

Sunday was Show Day for Galahad.  He travelled to my instructor’s yard on Saturday so she could take us to the show and we could run through our dressage test.  The test went fairly well and we had a go round the jumps as well which he loved, even with all the scary fillers which we don’t have at home.

Sunday dawned grey and drizzly and stayed that way all day, with the odd heavy shower thrown in by way of a change.  A little water won’t put us off though and we arrived at the show – which was basically in the middle of a cloud – with an hour to spare before my test.

This was the view we had pretty much all day.

This was the view we had pretty much all day.

However, as Galahad had jumped so well the day before I managed to get persuaded to jump a higher class than I had intended.  Which not only meant that I had to hurry to be ready to jump early in the class but also that instead of starting his showing career in a nice quiet dressage field he was thrown right into the middle of all the hustle and bustle.

He was very vocal as his best friend had not come but was surprisingly calm about all the things I thought would scare him.  The tents were not an issue at all and although he was aware of all the people and horses he didn’t really mind them.  We hopped over a couple of practise fences and hurried into the ring for the 2’3” class.

I thought I was in trouble when the tannoy crackled and he skittered sideways but it wasn’t a major spook and he had no trouble with the actual voices.  He jumped really well.  He was backing off some of the jumps with fillers but was happy enough to jump with a little encouragement.  The only real issue we had was with a very scary filler hiding in the hedge which made us knock a pole but he didn’t stop or run out at anything.  Strangely enough the flappy sponsor’s sign at the side of the ring was not scary at all.  He jumped a lovely round and I was so proud of him.DSCF5431

We then dashed along to the next field for our dressage test.  Galahad had a good look at the flowers at A but thankfully decided that neither they nor the boards were actually scary.  He felt really nice during the test and although he got a little distracted and nearly drifted out of the ring he stayed nice and relaxed which was the main thing – I wanted his first showing experience to be a good one!DSCF5442

We had a pause after that, during which I had a complete costume change for the mountain and moorland class.  I sent my sister off in the rain to enter for me and report on the class currently in progress in the ring.  In the end I was still mounted far too early as they split the class into in hand and ridden so we spent a long time walking up and down between the rings.  He was a bit on edge to start with as it was very busy but he did settle down nicely and it was a very good experience for him.

He behaved very well in the ring itself and did his individual show much better than at home.  He wasn’t particularly keen on standing next to the clear round jumping ring as the man in charge was wonderfully encouraging of the riders but he actually let the judge hand me a rosette (a special – we weren’t placed) which was unexpected.  He did win the prize for the best Exmoor (he wasn’t quite the only one!) which qualified us for the Moorland Exmoor Pony Breeders Group show at Brendon.  We may not be able to go but it wasn’t bad for his first effort!DSCF5448

I decided that was plenty for him to do so tied him back up with his haynet and went in search of our dressage score.  That was a very pleasant surprise as we got some nice comments and placed third! We obviously have a lot to work on but I was thrilled.DSCF5450

The rest of the day was a lot of waiting around for him but although he was starting at a lot of things he was generally very well behaved.  I had the most fantastic day and I could not be more proud of him.