Sometimes there’s more reality than dream

For a couple of months every winter I can usually only ride twice a week on my days off.  It is almost dark when I leave for work and definitely dark when I get home so – as I don’t have floodlights – it is just not possible to ride.  Having said that, I did ride Galahad in the very, very dim the other day.  It was only around our fields and not on the road but was still rather nervewracking!

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This year I seem to be more than usually burdened (though they are not really burdens) with odd hours at work and extra rehearsals for Christmas concerts so that even when I have a day off I am still not free to ride in the daytime.  I am currently in the middle of what will be almost two weeks off for the ponies – something which can make me feel incredibly guilty, even though there is not really anything I can do about it.  It is what comes of having too many hobbies!

I have to remember that the ponies really don’t care if they don’t get ridden.  They have a whole field to gallop round and each other to play with so it’s not as if they are cooped up and getting bored.  In fact, it is quite possible that they prefer being left alone!

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It does sometimes seem as if I have all the hard work and none of the fun at the moment – the ponies still need mucking out and feeding even when they are not being ridden.  However, I do really enjoy all of that too – just spending time with them is wonderful and I wouldn’t want to ride instead.  Besides, I will get to ride soon!

A Wintry Jolly

As I mentioned last week, the ponies have been spending a few days away.  On Sunday I was meant to be taking my dog to an agility competition but it was cancelled due to the snow.  Of course I was disappointed but I took the chance to go out on a longer hack with some people from the yard.

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Although the roads were mostly clear of snow there were still some nasty icy patches so we spent a lot of time playing follow my leader to ensure we all stayed on the safe path.  It was rather an exciting adventure really!

We had two lovely long canter tracks to enjoy – which Galahad did very much!  One of them was a little stony so he kept wanting to duck onto the verge to save his feet but otherwise he was bounding along.

In fact, I was very much impressed with him.  Normally on longer rides he can start to fall behind the bigger horses and we do a lot of jogging to keep up.  This time though he was full of beans the whole way round and kept up beautifully.

He did get very warm though and needed a wash down afterwards.  We borrowed a lilac headcollar which although slightly big I thought was rather fetching.

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We had a fabulous ride and finished it off with tea and cake.  What could be better?

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Riding in a Winter Wonderland

We have been having a proper wintry week.  The snow started for us on Tuesday, we had some heavy snow showers on Wednesday and a proper snowstorm on Thursday night.  Everything is very icy as well but I was pretty disappointed that the snow at home was mostly very wet and didn’t always settle properly.

However, I have been out and about this week as the ponies went away to my instructor’s yard for a few days.  The yard is high enough above us for the snow to have settled much more than it did at home.  In fact, I was worried they would be snowed in and the ponies wouldn’t be able to go at all.

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Luckily, the roads weren’t that bad and the ponies were duly collected on Wednesday.  I have had a fantastic few days playing in  the snow.  Thursday was the best day though – a heavy snowfall was forecast for the afternoon so I decided to ride nice and early.  Driving over to the yard the roads were pretty clear so I fully intended to take Galahad out for a hack.  First though, I had to school Cookster.

The school was excitingly snowy when we started and before long a few flakes of snow were falling, just to add interest.  Those few flakes increased and suddenly we were in a proper snowstorm.  It was really rather lovely.

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I’m not sure how much Cookster appreciated it but I certainly did – everything was so beautiful!  Even better, my riding skirt was getting a proper use too.

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Of course, I couldn’t very well take Galahad out on the roads in weather like that so we stuck to the school too, although – annoyingly – the snow had stopped by the time I got on him.  Not that the roads would have been safe anyway!

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I know the snow causes all sorts of problems but I can’t help enjoying it!

Winter Chills and Signs of Spring

Galahad and I made full use of the whole twelve days of Christmas – we have been wearing our Christmassy outfits all week.

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On New Year’s Day we went for a hack with my sister and Cookster, then came back to wassail the apple trees.  This is something we do every year, although the ponies don’t often get to join in.  They definitely appreciated the apples!

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Yesterday was our last Christmassy ride and we had a lovely time, pootling along the lanes which were, for the most part, nice and quiet.

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We had a couple of stops along the way – we met some new friends.

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We admired the view and we even spotted a few signs of spring.

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It was a perfect day – sunny but with a chill in the air.  Wonderful.

Snow Day Mark Two

Just when we thought that spring was on its way, this happened.

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This winter storm has been dubbed the ‘mini beast from the East’ which, as my sister says, rather suggests a woodlouse with a snow machine.

We drove home last night through a proper snow storm but about two miles from home the snow suddenly just stopped and we thought we would get none at all.  It did eventually start snowing though and by this morning everything was white.

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I always find the snow fascinating for watching wildlife – the tracks are great – and this morning I spent quite some time watching the pair of thrushes that arrived  here recently.  I am very much hoping that they will nest and we will have a little brood of them.

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We also had a proper snowball fight for the first time in ages – the snow last time was not great for snowballs.  We even built a little snowman!

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We did managed to go for a very short ride.  Galahad was a little chilly to start with and it didn’t really feel safe to go too far but it was wonderful to get to use my riding skirt in earnest!

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By that time a lot of the snow had melted but as we came back in it was snowing again and pretty soon all the green was hidden once more.  It is still snowing now, although not as much as it was,  and I will soon be curled up by the fire with a book and a cup of tea.  It is a pretty good day.

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By Sunday it was safe enough to ride again so Galahad and I set off up the hill.   I love the snow but it did feel good to be riding.

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Not that all the snow was gone – it wasn’t quite clear in the valley and we didn’t have to go far up the hill to find more.

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It is all gone now and what with the heavy frosts and a few sunny, dry days, the ground was beginning to dry out and show signs of recovering from our very wet winter.

For the last couple of days though it has poured with rain and the mud is just as bad as it ever was.  It does make life interesting – we usually use the stream to soak the ponies’ overnight haynets and with it flowing as strongly as it is at the moment that takes quite a bit of strength!

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Frozen Landscapes

Even before the snow came last week we were living in a beautiful, frozen landscape.  The mud had frozen hard, which make walking much easier, and even the stream froze – in some places all the way across.

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It wasn’t quite strong enough to bear my weight but the dog had no problems at all.  I’m not even sure she realised it wasn’t normal ground.

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The water tank in the yard was very well frozen  and that was enough to bear my weight.  In fact, it was a bit of a problem because although we could break the ice it just kept freezing throughout the day.   Once the snow came the ponies were eating a lot more hay which meant they needed more water too.  We had to increase the number of water buckets inside the stables – they still froze but with only a very thin layer of ice – and we periodically topped them up with warm water as well.  The ponies loved that!

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We also stopped soaking the overnight haynets for a while too.  They just froze solid and made eating very difficult indeed for the ponies!

Despite the problems though, everything was simply beautiful and I miss the frost now the rain has come back and we are once again sloshing through the mud.

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Snow Day

In the end we were let off pretty lightly with the snow this week.  We had a blizzard forecast to start at three on Thursday afternoon and it arrived bang on time.  There were some absolutely beautiful snowflakes – something I haven’t seen very often.

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By five o’clock we had a pretty decent covering of snow – enough for some tobogganing – and by Friday morning everything was white.  The high winds meant that it was hard to tell just how much snow had fallen – some places had a couple of inches and in others there were drifts over a foot deep.  It might not sound like much but we hardly get any snow down here (we live in a valley and are pretty sheltered) so even that is very exciting for us.

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In some patches the snow had blown away altogether – as you can see, the lane is very patchy.  However, all the bits with no snow were covered with a sheet of ice so it was still extremely slippery.

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I love the snow though so I have been having a whale of a time.  The ponies haven’t minded it either, although they have been a bit skittish  – possibly because they aren’t getting much exercise.  I was impressed at their snow-scraping skills – they first saw a decent amount of snow eight years ago and have barely seen any since, yet they still know how to find the grass!

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Winter Wonderland

The long expected Arctic blast is beginning to make itself felt here.  The temperature has plummeted but we have been having beautiful weather.

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The ground has frozen nicely and we can walk over the top of the mud now instead of wading through it.  These footprints were made just the day before I took the photograph.

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Our big rainwater tank is also now frozen enough to bear my weight.

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It holds a lot of water and it needs to be pretty cold to do that.  It’s always one of the highlights of the winter if I can ‘skate’!

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Yesterday we finally had some snow.  It may not be much compared to the rest of the country but we get so little of it down here that even a small amount is exciting.  I love snow!

 

#5Photos1Day

Sam over at Haynet recently set a challenge for horse bloggers to post five photos showing a day in our lives with the horses.  I chose to use a work day – it might be less interesting but it does give a much better idea of what a typical day is like for me.

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At the moment my days all start with me turning out the ponies.  They are kept in at night over the winter – more to save the ground a bit than to protect them from the elements.  It is still too dark to ride before work at the moment, although it won’t be long until it is possible.  There are very promising signs already!

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I have to drive ten miles to work every day.  On the day I chose for the challenge – last Friday – it happened to be a frosty morning and my windscreen was simply beautiful.

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Lunchtime at work is usually the time I take to update myblog’s social media accounts.  I might also do a bit of writing for the blog itself and I will almost certainly be reading as well.  I do like to get outside when I can and I love to sit and read outdoors but it was far too cold on Friday!

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It is definitely also too dark to ride after work at the moment, especially as most days I have other commitments as well – things like dance classes and a book club.  The ponies are often waiting at the gate for me when I get home – they can be very affectionate when they think they might get some food!

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Once the ponies are tucked up in bed I can sit down with a cup of tea by the fire. At the moment I am watching a lot of Olympics and this is often the time when I will type up my blog posts.

Sam will be collating the statistics for the hash tag at the end of the month and it will be interesting to see what kind of reach it has had.  I am already enjoying seeing everyone’s pictures and I look forward to reading blog posts about it.  Go and search for #5photos1day or maybe try the challenge for yourself!