Lots of Ponies!

Wednesday was the day of the Exford Show.  We go every year as it is such a lovely little event.  My favourite part may be the used tack stall which always has so much I want to buy.  I almost bought a gorgeous numnah this year but by the time I had made up my mind it was gone.

It is always fun to compare all the ponies to Galahad – especially now that he is going to shows himself.  Hopefully next year we will be able to compete here too.

This obviously wouldn't be our class but look at the tiny foal!

This obviously wouldn’t be our class but look at the tiny foal!

Yesterday we went for a dressage lesson which we shared with five other people so was very exciting.  Even more exciting was the foal in the paddock next to the school.  It was all a bit overwhelming – Galahad was very wound up and it took all my energy just to get him listening to me and sticking to the speed I wanted.   It has been a while since he felt so keyed up but then he hasn’t had a group lesson for a while either so it was understandable.  I was proud of myself too – not that long ago I would have really worried which would have made him so much worse.

Once he was settled he actually did some fairly nice tests.  As long as I can keep him moving he is starting to relax into a nice outline.  It is not consistent yet but it has never been my strong point either so we are learning together.

Afterwards (once we had cleaned tack and packed for the show!) we had a yard trip to a driving competition in the village.  The competition itself was actually the next day but we went to have a nose around and see what a different sport is like.  One of the competitors had a whole stable attachment on the side of their lorry which was amazing!DSCN3480

I watched the driving at the World Equestrian Games last year and it looks like so much fun.  I would love to drive our ponies but I’m not sure how well Galahad would cope with it – he hates things coming up behind him so a cart would probably be a bit too much!  Even if he could cope it might take me a while to get my head round the obstacles on the marathon course.  Those things can be complicated!

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Galahad’s First Boots!

This has been a very exciting week for me.  As Galahad is an Exmoor he needs very little stuff – no rugs or anything.  This is a shame because I love buying horsey things.  However, since we have started going to a couple of shows it seems like an excellent excuse to do some shopping!  Hence – Galahad’s first boots.

Sorry the video is rather short, my camera ran out of battery.  He was surprisingly unfazed by them.  I also bought him a tail bandage.  Unfortunately I needed it at rather short notice for our show last week and the only colour left was bright pink:DSCN3445

In the end it didn’t come in time and I did consider returning it in favour of a blue or green one but as I would have to pay the return postage which would be more than the cost of the thing itself it didn’t seem worth it.  Galahad is going to be one snazzy pony!

In other news, we are able to gallop on our neighbour’s fields again, hurrah!  We have a lovely wide path to play with, although Galahad still thinks that sometimes it is fun to swerve into the long stuff.  My boots get filled up with grass seeds!20150803_135954

Show Time – Take Two

Galahad’s second show was on Friday and a lot drier than his first attempt!  For the first time he just walked straight into the trailer without even a pause on the ramp.  He has never been bad at loading but he does normally stop on the ramp for a bit of a look so it seemed like a good omen.  He was a lot more settled at the show itself than he was last time as well – he wasn’t calling for his friend all the time which was more restful for me!  He did reply to the other ponies though.  He was a bit more distracted while we were warming up this time but he did eventually settle and start listening properly.

Our first class was the 2’3″ jumping but I decided that we might as well have a go at the clear round too as a warm up.  He felt quite strong over the practice fence but once we were jumping the actual course it was better.  For one thing I didn’t want to stop him!  He jumped the clear round very well and only looked at a few things.  We knocked the last fence down which was a shame but I was so pleased with the way he jumped that it didn’t matter.Chulmleigh 31.7

It was then a race to see which of my classes would be next as the showing rings were progressing much faster than the jumping ring.  I put myself down to jump early in the hope that I could squeeze it in before my showing class.  In the end I almost managed it – the showing class started as I was jumping.  He jumped just as nicely in the actual class, although we did have two down this time.  Just like the last show he was more worried about things in the hedge than the jumps themselves.  That is definitely something to work on.Chulmleigh 31.7 2

We then had a mad dash across the showground for the rare breeds class – the first in hand showing Galahad has done.  We were obviously a bit late but he behaved very well, the only trouble being that he was scared of the chairs being moved about in the next ring.  We got pulled in sixth out of seven but were moved up to fifth which seemed a pretty good result!DSCF5534

Next was the mountain and moorland class.  Whilst we were waiting for it to start an old friend came up to speak to us and Galahad was very good about letting her stroke him.  Much better than he usually is with strangers,  especially with me riding as well.  The class itself went well.  There were several lead rein combinations so we didn’t do individual shows, just a walk up and trot back.  He wasn’t too happy about the judge looking at him – he has a thing about hats – but she was very nice, letting him sniff her hands and get used to her.  Again we were called in sixth and moved up to fifth but this time it was out of nine so was even better!DSCF5540

That was Galahad’s day finished.  He had a couple of spooks but nothing major and overall behaved incredibly well.  I had the best of days.

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.

Small Steps and Giant Leaps

Today has been very hot for us so my planned morning ride didn’t happen – it was too hot for me and it would have been unfair on the ponies too.  Especially as Galahad is still moulting.  Even when I did eventually ride at half past seven it was still pretty warm!DSCN3336

On the bright side though his summer coat is finally starting to show through in patches.  It’s about time!  My best friend at the moment is this rubber curry comb which is amazing at getting the hair off.  My sister got it years ago but until this year Galahad hasn’t been able to tolerate it.  This year I am loving it although it does mean I am covered in hair all the time.

We also have exciting news on the schooling front – he is really beginning to get the hang of clockwise turns on the forehand.  His off side has always been stiffer which we think may be because he used to favour his near side when he was branded and overcompensated so he damaged his off side as well.  This week for the first time he managed turns on the forehand both ways under saddle and it felt like a major achievement.

I have just sent off Galahad’s first real competition entry.  He has done mini training competitions at my instructor’s yard but never an outside show before.  I have only entered the walk and trot dressage test which seems like a good introduction for him.  I’ll see how he feels on the day and decide whether he can cope with a baby jumping class or some showing.  My main worry with that would be when the judge comes to look at him – he doesn’t like strange people approaching him.  Sometimes he isn’t even keen on people he knows!

Two days ago we had an interloper in the field.20150628_191742

This is one of our neighbour’s lambs come for a visit and not able to find his way home.  He started following us and asking for help when we rode through the field.  He wouldn’t let us near him when dismounted though!