Since Galahad had his back check in June I have been making more of an effort with his groundwork. This is something I know we need to do to keep him using his hindquarters properly but it is so easy just to ride him instead.
I am very pleased with the way he is moving at the moment – his hind legs are stepping through nicely. He is also making a fan of poles look relatively easy. I have been using some sidereins on him to encourage a fairly low head carriage but I have kept them pretty loose so I’m not sure they are actually having any effect.
It turns out they were probably too loose. The grass is fairly lush in the schooling field at the moment so Galahad wanted to stop for a snack. I moved to encourage him forward, he took a step, stood on the side rein and broke his cheekpiece.
For the rest of our session I fashioned a temporary fix using his noseband but that is obviously not a long term solution and I will have to go shopping – I don’t have any spares! On the bright side though, he still went very nicely just in the noseband. He is a good pony really.
Last month I decided it was about time I entered an online dressage competition. I have been meaning to do so for ages and I was given the arena markers way back in March.
I picked the event run by BHS Somerset but didn’t manage to film my test until the day before the deadline. In fact it was the evening before, the light was fading fast and the camera really struggled with the dark – it kept going in and out of focus. I wasn’t overly happy with the test – Galahad felt very sluggish – and I was debating whether to film again the next day. However, I wasn’t quite sure whether entering before the deadline meant entries on the day would count or not. I decided to just enter and hope for the best.
At 11.30pm I set the video to upload but I had forgotten how long that would take. I sat up as long as I could but in the end I had to give up and go to bed. It was just as well – it finally finished at about seven the next morning!
I had almost forgotten about it when last week this wonderful parcel arrived.
I thought the judge was very kind to us and I love what she said about Galahad at the end. Most of her comments were about needing to get him going forward more which I would definitely agree with!
It was a great experience and I will be entering again next month. I will try to be more organised next time though!
For Galahad and I this week has been bookended by interesting rides.
On Monday we went for a hack and had to navigate a pretty narrow gateway. I knew my right knee was going to get knocked so I steered to the left and we cannoned into that gatepost instead. That’s something Galahad has always found frightening so we charged off across the field until I could pull up. We must have looked hilarious!
Then on Friday we set out to do a little schooling. The field was full of my dog’s agility equipment and as I knew I would be using it again soon I was reluctant to pack it away. Instead we fitted our schooling around it.
It was actually surprisingly easy to do and it also gave us a lot of obstacles to use in practising neck reining. We had great fun!
The highlight of our week though was Thursday. I had made sure I got up early enough for a hack before work and I was definitely rewarded for doing so. The sky was the most amazing blue and everything was looking particularly beautiful. We had a wonderful, relaxed hack and it was the best start to the day.
The ponies have been a bit neglected today.
Instead of riding I have spent the day at the Exford Show. I love this show and even though it rained all morning I still had a great day. The Exmoor breed show is held here but this year for the first time Exmoors were also allowed in the main ring’s mountain and moorland classes. It was very exciting to see an Exmoor win!
It was also good to see the Exmoor classes themselves. I love seeing how many different colours there are within such a strict breed standard.
I also loved the fact that I had what must be the prettiest picnic I have ever seen!
I so much enjoy just wandering around the show and I may have bought myself some things. I love horsey shopping and I don’t get the opportunity all that often!
We are certainly not fair weather riders!
On Friday I had some books to deliver to my neighbour and Galahad and I got positively soaked. I had to dismount to hand over the parcel and by the time we had finished my saddle looked like this.
Thankfully my neighbour offered a cloth to dry it so the ride home was not too uncomfortable. Galahad got an apple so he was happy too. The rain wasn’t even all that heavy – it was very fine and misty. I actually quite enjoy riding in weather like it and it certainly can be beautiful.
I am off camping now so won’t be posting for a week or so. Hopefully the weather will improve!
My routine has changed a little this week. I have been too tired and/or lazy to get up in time to ride before work so I have had to do so afterwards. I have been getting home a bit later than normal but thanks to the lovely long evenings there has still been enough time to ride.
We have had some wonderful, relaxing hacks in the evening sunshine. The evenings have been very still and beautiful this week and it has been lovely to be outside.
I have been enjoying myself very much – our rides have been the perfect way to end the day.
Usually by this point in the year I have written at least one post about battling the flies, if not more. This year we have had much less trouble but part of the reason for that is that the ponies spent so long away from home!
As usual the ponies are in their fly masks, although they seem to spend more time escaping from them than actually wearing them. I have four at the moment – two are fairly decent, one only has one ear and the other is almost unusable but is useful in an emergency. If I don’t have time to traipse round the field looking for lost masks I do at least have backup!
I have also been trying NAF’s citronella gel which appears to have been very effective. It is obviously more labour intensive than a spray but given how much Galahad hates the spray I am more than happy with it. For one thing, I don’t have to persuade him it is safe which is a great time saver!
One of the reasons I have been enjoying riding early in the morning is that there are usually less flies then. That’s not always the case though – Cookster and I were bombarded the other day and I had to resort to sticking some elder leaves in his browband. They seemed to work pretty well – when he shook his head one side fell out and after that there were definitely more flies on that side.
Overall we do seem to be winning the battle and it has definitely seemed less of a hassle this year. The system must be working!
Last week Galahad had another back check – just to make sure everything was progressing as it should be. Thankfully he was showing some improvement but he still had the full treatment and a lot of work on his quarters to try and help them work properly. I was pleased with his progress though and I just need to keep working at the groundwork. Obviously I’ll be keeping an eye on him and if I think it necessary he can always have another check.
Galahad had a day off afterwards and we then spent a few days just going out on gentle hacks.
Most of our riding has been done in the early morning before I go to work. I am not really a morning person but once I have managed to force myself out of bed I love being outside early – spending time with the ponies and hacking out. Even the sheep have still been asleep!
An added bonus is that there are usually less flies around then! It has been a wonderful week.
Last Sunday Galahad and I went to a jump-cross challenge competition – a round of show jumping followed by a cross country course. Given our last cross country outing had involved a lot of stops I was feeling a little apprehensive. However, Galahad was jumping very well in training (barring some braking issues). That and the fact that his back was probably a bit sore last time gave me some reason to hope we would manage better this time.
We entered the 50cm class and the show jumping went pretty well. We had one stop – I still don’t know why – but the rest of the round felt really good and back up to our normal level. We made our way to the cross country course and actually managed to get over the first fence at the the first attempt. That was much better than last time – as you can hear if you watch to the end of the video and listen very carefully!
In fact, the whole course was miles better than last time. It was almost the same course and the only fences we stopped at were the quarry (which we had previously only jumped with a lead in the pairs class) and the chair (which was the fence we had to miss out last time). Everything else we just flew over. I was enjoying it, Galahad was enjoying it and it was so much fun.
We had too many stops to place in the cross country or the combined competition but as the show jumping was split into senior and junior riders we managed a fourth place for that which was very welcome.
We also entered the show jumping section of the 65cm class. Galahad felt even better and I was much more confident. I did however completely misjudge the turn into the double and presented Galahad with a horrible angle at one of the widest fences on the course. I was convinced he would either stop or just crash through it. He did hesitate slightly but popped over it and the second part of the double with no problem at all.
We did knock one fence down but in a completely unrelated incident. We claimed fifth place in that class which felt very good indeed.
It was good to feel that Galahad was enjoying his jumping – the rosettes were a bonus and we had a fantastic day.
We recently had to have the fields topped again, which meant that I had to put all of my jumps away. Then it started raining and we couldn’t cut the grass. It didn’t seem worth getting the jumps out when I would only have to pack them up again so it has been a couple of weeks since we have been able to jump.
Last week however, it was finally dry, the grass was cut and the jumps came out of storage. I found this lovely moth on one of them – it was huge!
Its wings were open when I first saw it but it closed them before I could get to my camera. It was beautiful though.
I’m sorry the pictures are rather blurry. Apparently the camera couldn’t cope with the light levels!
Galahad seemed as excited as me to see the fences – he was rushing rather to start with and he was putting in some enormous jumps. We then had a horrid jump over the filler and completely demolished the fence. After that he was much more sane!
He was actually jumping quite nicely and we had a lovely evening in the field. We didn’t overdo it though – it was still pretty hot even at nine o’clock in the evening!