Managing the Heat

We have been having such a heatwave this past week! The ponies have been spending as much time as possible in the shade and the riding has taken a bit of a hit as well. When we did manage to get out it was always for something very gentle to keep down the temperature. Having said that, on Friday morning I took Galahad out for an early hack only to find that the dog had tagged along too. She isn’t really safe on the roads without a lead so our hack turned into a schooling session – albeit one that was still not too strenuous.

The evenings have been so much nicer and cooler this weekend that I have been able to get out again after work. Both ponies have enjoyed some lovely hacks – at least, I enjoyed them and I hope they did too!

I have also been very much enjoying the snippets of the Olympics I have been able to watch in between working. I will watch pretty much any Olympic sport but of course I am enjoying the dressage and am so looking forward to the team final on Tuesday which just happens to be my day off!

Evening Saunters

Galahad and I have had some lovely evening hacks this week. By the time I get home from work the heat has somewhat lessened and it is good to get out in the fresh air. We had one particularly good ride where we went a little further than usual. The sun was shining, there was a bit of a breeze and with no reason to rush we had a very relaxing saunter through the countryside.

There is something very special about the light and the air in the evenings – and the early mornings too. There is just a wonderful feeling which isn’t there in the middle of the day. Riding out in it is always a treat.

In fact, the only problem is that as the sun is getting low it can be difficult to see. We cope but it does make me wonder if a car driver will be blinded by the sun and hit us. Of course, we are very careful and it really is beautiful – still the best way to end the day.

Ragwort Season

Yesterday I took advantage of my sister being around and roped her into helping pull up ragwort. We don’t have a huge problem with it here but every year we find some plants so vigilance is vital. I had noticed a patch so I knew it was time to go out looking (to be clear – the ponies were not in that field or I would have pulled it up right away!).

We got quite a haul which is always satisfying – but also infuriating. They never get as far as seeding, how do they keep growing? Of course, we almost certainly don’t manage to get up every bit of the roots and they are tenacious things. On the bright side, being out in the field gave me the opportunity to enjoy all the clover and other flowers. The smell is just wonderful!

In other news, we are finally getting the rain the fields so badly need. When I went out to ride today I thought the ponies might be able to have a rare afternoon mask free because there was no way there would be flies about in that downpour. Sadly, by the time we finished the rain was easing and the flies were back. It was a nice thought though!

Summer Tasks

I write a lot about the fun things the ponies and I get up to in the summer but of course there is hard work as well. One of the worst jobs is hunting for ticks on the ponies. We don’t really have a huge number here but there are enough to making finding one on a pony a relatively regular occurance. Not that finding them is difficult – it is the removing and then dealing with them which is unpleasant. The other day Cookster had three on him at once, although one of them was not actually attached which was a very nice surprise. Of course, the other two were firmly attached to his face which is more difficult.

This time of year is of course peak fly season too and as Galahad can have a nasty reaction to fly bites I have to keep a close eye on him. Thankfully though, he has finally accepted that it is more or less safe for me to spray him with the fly spray so that job is now much easier.

I am also having to keep a close eye on any ragwort which might pop up in the field. Again, we don’t have a huge problem but every year a few plants appear – apparently from nowhere.

On the bright side, we still have gorgeous weather and I have been having a lot of fun with the ponies. Galahad is still hanging on to the last dregs of his winter coat so he can get pretty sweating riding in the heat. I do enjoy washing him off afterwards!

Haymaking Time

We have been having a run of very hot and muggy (up to 99% humidity!) days so we are surrounded by people making hay at the moment.  The field up behind us is being baled as I write and the ponies have been taking a great interest in that.  On the day it was cut Galahad thought it was very interesting and was tryng to eat it through the fence.  I’m not sure he was particularly successful though!

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The ponies quickly got bored by the whole thing and have been largely ignoring the tractor buzzing about.  Of course, they still have moments when they run around but I’m sure that a lot of that is just for fun.

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This year I have even been getting involved in the haymaking process myself.  Or rather, my neighbours made the hay and I went up to help load the bales onto the trailer and then unload it again at the other end.  It was hard work but it was good to be involved in the actual production of the ponies’ feed for a change.  It feels almost like proper self sufficiency!

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Fighting the Flies

As ever, we are busy fighting the flies this summer.  The ponies often get quite nasty bites but thankfully that hasn’t happened yet this year.  Fingers crossed that it will stay that way.  I did try a deet fly spray for the first time but it made Cookster’s skin peel a bit so I have gone back to the plain citronella version which does seem to be pretty effective too.

More of an issue than the bites is Cookster’s eyes.  A combination of flies and his long forelock mean that they can get quite weepy.  The fly mask obviously helps with that but often I go out to find the ponies looking like this.

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Then of course, I have to go off and find the missing mask.  Cookster spent a whole day without his mask this week which led to slightly swollen eyelids and a fair bit of discharge.  That prompted me to plait his forelock up – it keeps it out of his eyes and definitely makes a huge difference as they are fully back to normal again.  I like to think that it makes him look a bit like a unicorn too.

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Sometimes I quite welcome the wet and windy days – there are far fewer flies about then!

Pony De-stress

I am not riding as much as normal at the moment – work is still a bit strange and stressful  and when I get home all I really want to do is collapse in a heap.  I am therefore mostly riding on my days off.  I am hopeful that will change soon but for the moment that is how I am coping.

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However, when I do ride I am so grateful that I can.  There is nothing quite like taking Galahad out for a hack to make me relax and calm down a bit.  We are not going as far as we might otherwise have done but it is so peaceful poddling along the lanes.  Ponies really are the best kind of therapy.

Lockdown Haircut

As I’ve mentioned before, the lockdown meant that Galahad did not get his second clip this winter.  That didn’t really matter all that much – especially as I didn’t ride him for so long.  It is just a  bit annoying that he is still moulting!

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More irritating for me though was the fact that his bridle path was growing out.  He has so much mane that the bridle path is very useful to have – plus it looks pretty silly when it is growing out and sticking straight up in the air!

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I decided though that this at least was something I could deal with and attacked it with the scissors.  It may not be quite as neat as it would have been with clippers but it did the job and he looks much smarter again.  Perhaps this year I’ll remember to trim it throughout the summer too!

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Grazing Woes

I wouldn’t have believed it a couple of months ago but we are in desperate need of rain.  The grass is just not growing and any already there is burning brown in the sun!

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I also have the problem that the ground – particularly in the yard and stables – is getting very dry and dusty.  Cookster is quite sensitive to dust and so is liable to cough if he’s kept in at the moment.  The ponies are therefore currently turned out all the time.  With the grass not growing they shouldn’t get too fat.

I’m also giving the ponies some time turned out on the lane each day.  That way they have access to some nice, fresh grass which has got to be more appetising and is more nutritious too.

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I have to supervise these forays though – otherwise the ponies are liable to wander off.  Yesterday the ponies grazed happily for an hour.  Then Galahad determinedly walked back to the field with Cookster trailing in his wake.  Cookseter was happy to stay and eat but Galahad had clearly had enough!

Pony ASMR

I know lots of peopgle are still able to ride during the lockdown but there are many who like me have chosen not to and more who just cannot.

For those of you who are missing your riding, I invite you to join Galahad and I on a hack from last summer.  Think of it as pony ASMR!