Over the winter my parents have been working hard at tidying up the ponies’ summer paddock. Brambles have been cleared, fences mended and hedges wrestled into shape.
I have helped a bit too of course but it was barely anything compared to the amount they have done. The field is looking so much better for it too.
On Sunday the ponies were turned out in the field for the first time this year. Instead of running out – like they have been into their old field – they stopped not far in and their heads went straight down. I think they were very happy!
Obviously, there is a lot of grass in there at the moment so we have to be a bit careful they don’t put on weight. Hopefully we can keep them in check!
My parents have done an amazing job and the field is looking beautiful. The ponies – and I of course – are so incredibly lucky.
It is always good to have productive days of schooling, fun jumping sessions or exciting competitions. Sometimes though, the best times with the ponies are much more relaxed.
Today I had two lovely hacks with the ponies. They were feeling lazy, I was feeling lazy and we just pootled along the lanes having a great time.
Besides that though, time spent around the yard doing the chores and just spending time with the ponies is wonderful.
One of the best parts of my day is turning out the ponies in the evening and watching them as they wander out.
We are having such lovely evenings at the moment that I could stay and watch them for ages.
Monday was a glorious day so Galahad and I went out for a hack. The road was quiet, the birds were singing and everything was right with the world.
Until we came home.
We had to come down a narrow lane which is closed off by a hurdle at the top. The hurdle needs lifting and really needs to be opened dismounted. As it is a little awkward to manage I always seem to end up on the off side of the pony when I have closed the hurdle again. Without much room to manoeuvre it is far easier to hop on from the wrong side and on Cookster I do that without thinking.
Never with Galahad though. I tried it once at home and he panicked. Partly because he isn’t used to it and partly because my muscles aren’t tuned enough to mounting from the wrong side so it isn’t as smooth as my mounting usually is.
On Monday I was feeling lazy and hopping up from where I was seemed a good plan. After all, sometimes trec competitions ask for the rider to mount from the off side so practising is a good idea. At least, that’s what I told myself.
It did not end well. He shot off forwards when I was only half on. I ended up in a patch of nettles minus my hat cover and with only one boot. I had to paddle through the mud to find that – there is a spring at the top of the lane so it is wet all year round.
We were only about a hundred yards from the house so as I plodded home I was imagining the concern Galahad would cause when he careered into the yard witout me. In the event, nobody saw him and I found him unconcernedly munching grass. He was nicely decorated though!
Obviously mounting from the wrong side is something we can work on – especially if I want to be able to use it in a trec competition. I will improve my own ability by practising on Cookster before I try it on Galahad again though!
I very nearly didn’t ride Galahad this evening. I had a busy day yesterday, I was at work all day today and had already ridden Cookster out so I was pretty tired and wanted to curl up with a book. However, I told myself that was not the right attitude and tacked him up. It was too good an evening to waste anyway.
We had a pretty decent schooling session. The ground is a little rutted from the winter but is actually in surprisingly good condition considering how wet it has been. I was pleased with Galahad too – we don’t manage a lot of schooling over the winter but he worked well and is even improving at picking up the correct canter lead on the right rein – he got it right nearly every time today!
I was hoping to get in a little jumping as well but I was more cautious with that. We hadn’t jumped at all yet this year and in the past if Galahad has had a break from jumping he has had a tendency to get over excited when we pick it up again – he either rushes at the fences or gallops off after them. I made sure he was calm and listening to me before I attempted a jump, then I introduced some very small fences, keeping strictly to a trot.
I was very pleasantly surprised as he popped neatly over them and showed no sign of getting above himself. Before long we were happily cantering over the bigger, scarier jumps.
It was a very positive start to this year’s jumping. We will hopefully manage to harrow the field this week and then I’ll be able to put out the rest of the jumps. I was lucky enough to get some new fillers for my birthday this year and I am very excited about trying them out!
The ponies are constantly escaping from their fly masks. At the moment it is just a fact of life that when I go out to see them the chances of them both wearing hats are fairly slim.
When we first put them on this year they actually managed not to remove them for a couple of weeks and I was very hopeful I would have a summer without having to walk round the fields hat hunting.
Obviously that is not going to happen but I have found I can make use of the ponies – or at least Cookster – to find them.
As you can see, Cookster is great at this game. Me – less so!
I haven’t tried it with Galahad yet – mainly because I haven’t had the chance. I’m sure it is something which will scare him at first but it’s probably quite a good exercise to try and it might even help us with our trec obstacles. Plus, it’s fun!
The weather this bank holiday weekend has been glorious. Blue skies all day with just a bit of mist in the mornings. We went out for a lovely ride early yesterday morning and then spent most of the rest of the day in front of the television. It is Badminton weekend after all!
I always try to keep this weekend free because even if I can’t actually get there I love to watch. I even watch snatches of dressage in my breaks at work. On Friday I had an almost perfectly timed break and managed to watch Jonty Evans’ test.
I was one of the many people who chipped in to pay for a tail hair of Cooley Rorkes Drift last year so I was very pleased with that.
As always, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Badminton. So far I am a fan of the new scoring system without the dressage coefficient – recently eventing has felt a bit like a dressage competition!
It has been a great weekend and we are now just out for what will hopefully be another lovely hack – an evening one this time.
For the past few days Galahad has been feeling nice and forward. Not in a spooky or dangerous way – just in a not having to push him on way. We have had some lovely hacks! Perhaps it is the springtime.
Cookster has also been feeling the spring in a different way – he is moulting with a vengeance. I’m sure I spend more time grooming him than I do riding!
I happened to pick up a magic brush at my instructor’s yard one day and I loved it so much I bought one for myself. It is great for cleaning hairy ponies!
Yesterday was the ponies’ official birthday – they were born on the moor so we don’t know their actual birthday. Of course, we couldn’t let it pass without a carrot at dinner time!
Yesterday I was planning to ride after work but the USEF Network was for the first time streaming the Land Rover Kentucky Horse Trials worldwide and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch the cross country!
Unfortunately we had internet issues and we ended up having to watch most of it on my phone. It was still great though.
By the time it finished is was getting dark and riding was out.
Today being Sunday I finished work earlier and, as the showjumping started later than the cross country, I had time for a quick hack with Galahad.
We had a lovely time and I did get back in time for most of the showjumping. I didn’t just sit and watch it though – Galahad had almost torn one ear off of his fly mask so I was busy mending that.
The showjumping was so exciting – the scores of the top riders were incredibly close – and it was fantastic to watch. Obviously it helped a lot that Britain had Oliver Townend in very strong contention and eventually winning. He now has two legs of the Rolex Grand Slam and Badminton will be very exciting next weekend.
Galahad has had some time off this week as I am just back from a couple of days in Surrey. I had a lovely time pottering about and found a simply wonderful bridlepath.
I would love to have that a little nearer to home!
I came back home to some very good news. Firstly, the grass is starting to grow.
It’s a bit hard to see in the picture but I promise it is sprouting!
Secondly, the field is finally dry enough to school in. It is still a little soggy down one end so we have to be careful but today I managed to school both ponies and Cookster and I even had a little jump.
I didn’t jump Galahad – instead we did some semi cross country training. We went up and down pretty steep hills in a different field and splashed in and out of the stream.
I had a thouroughly good time and I think Galahad enjoyed himself too.
I had been very much looking forward to the publication of Charlotte Dujardin’s autobiography The Girl on the Dancing Horse so I was thrilled to receive a copy from the publishers.
Most people with an interest in horses will think they know Dujardin’s story but this book shares many moments I had not read before and every time I had to put it down I was kept wanting to read more. It is very well written with lots of anecdotes and plenty of humour – things that I need from a biography.
Dujardin gets her emotions across well too. I was lucky enough to get tickets to the second day of grand prix at London 2012 so I saw her ride there. The atmosphere was incredible and I have never been anywhere that felt remotely like it. Reading about it again genuinely brought a tear to my eye and when I got to the chapter about Valegro’s retirement I was properly crying.
The book also looks forward though. I loved reading about Dujardin’s younger horses and her plans for the future and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
This is a book which should be on any equestrian’s bookshelf. If nothing else, you come away with a very positive message – anything is possible if you want it enough and work hard enough. That is something we all need to know.