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!

Summer Pastures

One evening this week the ponies got turned out into their summer grazing for the first time this year. Although, they had in fact sneaked in a little early – I was busy at work and got sent pictures of them having a high old time eating the forbidden grass. Not that I can really blame them – they have eaten almost all the grass everywhere else!

Apparently they were surprisingly easy to get back out again – I fully expected them to run a mile from anyone.

Having failed to keep his access to the field, Cookster then barged his way through the gate onto our lawn. Luckily neither he nor the gate were hurt – but the gate post does need replacing.

Since they were clearly desperate to get into the field I thought their actual turnout would be very exciting indeed. Instead, it was highly disappointing.

Evidently eating grass is far more important than running right now!

Easter Sunshine

A combination of lockdown and work commitments has meant that I haven’t been able to ride with my sister since before Christmas, so it was for the first time in months that we hacked out together on Friday. In a socially distanced manner of course!

It was so lovely to have the company. I do enjoy the peace and time to think when I ride out by myself but there is nothing quite like having a friend with whom you can chat as you go along. We are having the most gorgeous weather for the Easter weekend as well so it has been delightful to be out and about.

Cookster is moulting well now, whereas Galahad – predictably – is not. My sister therefore took longer to get ready than I did – you could keep grooming Cookster for hours and still be getting hair out. That meant I had some time to kill and I decided to experiment with plaiting Galahad’s feathers. I’ve seen pictures of this being done beautifully and although Galahad has nothing like the hair you get on a cob I thought it would be fun to try. I could have done with slightly longer hair but still it wasn’t bad for a first attempt!

Spring is Springing

This year I have been riding around our own fields more than ever before. It’s always been something I might do occassionally but it wasn’t until we went into lockdown – and riding away from our own property got restricted – that I fully appreciated how lovely it could be.

For lazy days like today it is the prerfect activity. There is nothing strenuous required as there would be in a schooling session and no need to keep an eye and ear open for oncoming traffic on the roads. Of course, we can’t go any great distance in a straight line but we can certainly do a decent amount of pottering – and now the ground is drying out we can even get in some reasonable canters.

The terrain is beautifully varied too. Our hills and stream might take more maintenance work than a flat paddock but they do make riding a good deal more interesting. Particularly if the pony is feeling fresh and we have to navigate a steep descent!

Some of the main joys at the moment though are the signs of spring which are popping up all over the place. The flowers are always a delight but again I have become particularly aware of them since lockdown. Very excitingly, the bare, churned up patches of mud are now showing tiny green shoots. The grass is growing!

Exciting New Ventures

As I mentioned last week, I have been getting significantly less riding recently. I have been working very hard to launch an online stationery business and unfortunately riding has had to take a back seat to that. I have loved creating the designs for the stationery but it has been sad not to be able to ride as much as I would like.

Yesterday though, I opened my (virtual) shop doors – do come for a browse – and the pace of life is returning to normal. I have no ponies in my shop yet but I am working on new designs all the time and I know it won’t be long before they make an appearance.

This is a beautiful, sunny day, just perfect for spending time with the ponies. I have been for a lovely hack with each of them and even found the time to trim Cookster’s bridle path which was getting unruly. Time now to find a book and some tea and to settle down in the sunshine for a rest. I may even end up having a nap!

Sunshine and Sheep

This weekend has been another filled with glorious sunshine. It makes such a difference not to be battling the elements when I am out with the ponies and of course the sunshine does a lot to make everyone smile too.

Cookster is now fully recovered and is pottering along on ours hacks just as usual. He may even be feeling the joys of spring himself – he had quite a turn of speed when we cantered this morning. The ground is not quite up to schooling yet – it is so much drier but very thick and sticky. Not at all conducive to nice riding!

Galahad is also carrying on as usual. We had a fun experience yesterday when a whole flock of sheep looked like they wanted to see us off the premises.

Galahad knew what was happening long before I did, standing stock still and staring up the hill. I assumed he was just aware of the pheasants in the hedgerow but no – all the sheep in the field came running over to see what we were up to. That was one thing but when they started following us along the fence line it became somewhat unnerving.

I assume they were just looking for food but it was still quite a surreal experience. They did the same thing when we came back the other way so it really seemed a bit personal. Luckily Galahad was not fazed at all – we used to keep sheep at home so he is used to them. Not that that would stop him spooking at them if he felt like it!

Tranquility and Chaos

As I was riding home on Galahad today I realised that the air was feeling slightly less wintry. Yes the fields are still absolutely sodden – no chance of recording a dressage test just yet – but there was that undefinable feeling in the air that perhaps spring is not so far away after all.

I know I have shared this view many, many times before but it gave me such a wonderful feeling of peace and tranquility today. Just that small effort of getting on the pony and riding out is so good for me and it really does make all the difference. It was a lovely feeling to have as I got home.

Then I opened the tackroom door to find this scene inside. The dog can’t be trusted out on hacks so I shut her in as I left. She has a perfectly good bed in there but she had to pull out the clean numnahs and curl up on them instead. Naturally she was wet and muddy too so I have plenty of pony laundry to do now. There is a bright side though – I had been putting off the laundry and these were the only two clean numnahs left. It was definitely time to get them washed!

Moulting Monsters

In a normal world I get Galahad a full clip around February time.  Exmoors don’t tend to get clipped but he is so slow to lose his winter coat that if I don’t he still has the dregs of it in June and he gets far too hot when I ride him.

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This year, however, his full clip got delayed until mid March and we all know what happened then!  He is therefore left with just his original clip (done in November I think) and I have not one but two moulting ponies to contend with.  Every time I brush them I get absolutely covered in hair.

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On the bright side, I am at home all the time so it’s not like I’m short of time to groom them.  Constantly grooming can get a little wearing though so I’m trying to spend just some time every day working at getting rid of the loose hair.  Luckily the exercise they’re getting has dropped too so they’re not overheating!

Tackling the Trees

Our work on the hedges is continuing apace.  Our focus has shifted though – the hedge behind the stables had started to grow a bit close to the buildings and needed looking at.  Then a very old tree stump collapsed against the wall of Cookster’s stable and we really did have to do something about it.

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It is huge and very heavy so had to be cut up into smaller sections before we could move it.  That was pretty time consuming and in fact we still haven’t finished – my Dad cut off enough so we could shift it away from the wall but it blunted the chainsaw blade and we have had to leave the rest for another day.

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I had the far less impressive but very satisfying job of pulling all the brambles out of an elder tree.  It is so good when you can actually see the difference you are making but it really is a never ending job.  You turn around and more have sprouted out of nowhere!

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It does mean that we spot the most beautiful things though – just look at these tiny little toadstools I found.  They are so pretty!

Summer Pastures

This week has been an exciting one for the ponies – they have been spending a few hours each day in their summer pasture.  This field has a stream in it and tends to be quite wet in winter so it can only be used when the weather is dry enough.  We have been having such lovely weather for the past couple of weeks though that they have finally been turned out.

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Only for a few hours each day though – they haven’t been in there for about six months so it it full of lovely, lush grass.  The ponies love it but it would not do their waistlines any good at all if they were turned out there full time!

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I thought this first turning out might be very exciting to see but it turned out to be rather dull.  They weren’t at all interesting in running about – all they wanted was to eat that delicious grass.  Very disappointing!