Enjoying the World Equestrian Games

Yesterday I was fully intending to ride after work.  The trouble was that the World Equestrian Games cross country was running and I really wanted to watch that…

The ponies did not get ridden because, well, they would be around today and the cross country would not.

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The cross country was fantastic.  The course was really interesting and I especially loved the water jumps featuring fountains and actual waterfalls.  I think it’s safe to say that Galahad would not have liked them at all!

Of course, it was also great to see the British team doing so well – five clears, four within the time, is very impressive and it will make the show jumping phase extra exciting to watch tomorrow.  I will certainly be doing my utmost to be at home to watch it.

It has been wonderful being able to watch the dressage too and two bronze medals is a great achievement.  It is just a shame that Florence has forced the cancellation of the freestyle – always my favourite part.  I am looking forward to the rest of the games though, especially the driving marathon which I love.

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As there was no eventing or dressage today due to the hurricane I did get out for a hack with Galahad this evening.  We had a lovely time riding through a fine drizzle which was very refreshing.  A wonderful way to end the day.

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A Gentle Week

We have been having a pretty quiet week here.  After the excitement of a show it is good to have a bit of a rest.  Galahad and I have been out for some lovely hacks.

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We have been working too though and have had some successful schooling sessions.  It does however currently seem to be my fate to get absolutely soaked whenever we jump.  I don’t think it has rained any other time I’ve been riding this week but when we had a play over the jumps there was an absolute downpour.

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Galahad has been having fun too – he seems to permanently have a mane full of burrs and I have to spend ages working them out.  I then have fingers full of splinters for hours afterwards.  It is pretty painful!

Getting a Soaking

Last Sunday was our inter-club team show jumping event.  Cookster came with Galahad and I so for the very first time I had two ponies to compete.  That really is the dream!

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What wasn’t the dream was the weather – it poured down all day and I don’t think I have ever been so wet.  I have certainly never been able to pour water out of my riding boots before and they are still not quite dry now!  Luckily, the long dry spell meant that although the ground got a bit soggy it was nowhere near as slippery as it might have been. We had to be aware of the footing but there was very little slipping.

The teams consisted of four riders, each jumping a different height.  As my two ponies were the smallest on our teams I jumped the lowest height – 50-60cm – on both of them.  Cookster was first up and stopped at both of the first two jumps.  After that though he suddenly seemed to wake up to what we were doing and flew round.  He sadly knocked two poles down but he was jumping beautifully and I was so pleased with him.

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As soon as we were finished I got straight onto Galahad (who had been warmed up by one of the children – such luxury!), had a practice jump and within a few minutes we were called into the ring.  As we went through the gate my instructor – who knows all my weaknesses – said, ‘Keep those eyes up!’  It was good advice and it worked as Galahad jumped a lovely, flowing clear round.  It was so good to feel him going forward confidently.

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After a break whilst the higher rounds were jumped Cookster and I were back in the ring.  This time Cookster knew from the start what was going on and he jumped a beautiful round with only one fence down.  We also had a silly stop which was entirely my fault – there was a bit of a dog leg line which I messed up, tried to correct and ended up completely confusing him so he slid to a stop.  It was annoying but I was so pleased with the rest of the round and, again, it was definitely not his fault.

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Then it was another quick change onto Galahad – and another instruction to keep my eyes up!  Once again, Galahad jumped a super round but we did have a stop as the same fence as Cookster.  Again, it was my fault – I think I was worried about it after Cookster’s round and that made me mess it up again.  Definitely need to work on dog legs!  Galahad was great though and I was so pleased with him.

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In fact, I was very proud of both ponies.  Cookster has really come on with his jumping and did so well, especially as this was his first show.  Galahad is really jumping nicely too and feels wonderfully confident – which is not always the case!  They both also coped very well with the ground – Galahad can be a bit tentative on slippery surfaces but that was not a problem at all.

Cookster’s team came third and Galahad’s second so it was a pretty successful day results wise too.  Definitely worth braving the weather!

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Some good news – and a change

On Thursday Galahad had his six monthly back check.  For the first time ever he was fine and didn’t need any treatment.  I was so pleased!  It is wonderful to know that we are doing something right.

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Apart from the obvious benefits for him healthwise, it is great news as it means I have been able to ride him instead of giving him a week off.  We had a lovely hack out on Friday evening and even managed to arrange a jumping lesson yesterday morning.  Galahad flew around the jumps in a lovely, flowing round.  Things are looking up.

I have mentioned before that I have a vintage book stall which I take to local shows.  I have now started a blog to go with it and have started to struggle a bit with the schedule of maintaining two separate blogs.  Therefore, I am going to cut this blog back from twice a week to once a week.

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If you are interested in following my bookish adventures you can find them here.  Otherwise, I will be back here with Galahad next Sunday.

Galahad’s Gymkhana

Today I got to be an honorary child and join in with the children’s gymkhana games.

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We had a big group of children and kept swapping ponies.  That meant that not only did I get to ride a lot of different ponies – which doesn’t happen often for me these days – but my own ponies got ridden by many different riders.  The children were arguing over who got to ride them – I hadn’t realised they were quite so popular!

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It was a fantastic education for them – it isn’t often that they get ridden by anybody else, let alone so many within the space of a couple of hours.  Plus, naturally a gymkana involves a great many scary things like flags but they both just took them all in their stride.  I was so proud of them!

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Equitation goes a bit by the board in gymkana!

Cookster in particular did very well in the bucket elimination round – especially as he has not done it before.  We got down to three buckets before we were knocked out and came second in the older group.

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I also helped out with the younger children which for a gymkhana means lots of running up and down leading ponies.  I haven’t run so far in ages!

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This was also the first time in years that I have taken part in gymkana games with other people away from home.  I had so much fun!

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Time Away

I am just back from a week away in Dartmouth.  There were no ponies but I did find these ones for hire!

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They were at Greenway – Agatha Christie’s house.  The stalls in the stables there are beautiful.

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I had such a wonderful week and it was lovely to have some time to relax.  It is always good to be back behind these ears though.

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Apparently the children on the yard have had a whale of a time riding the ponies whilst I was away – my instructor said they had been well exercised but she couldn’t guarantee they hadn’t turned wild.  I almost feel bad for reclaiming them!

Summer Grazing

As the heat wave has killed off so much of the grass, we are having to get inventive in the ponies’ turnout.  Not that they need too much to eat – they are practically bred to live on air!  They do need something though and we have been making the most of the land.

There is a lane leading up over the stream which is very overgrown and muddy – you wouldn’t get a car along it.  I have written before about riding up it but now the ponies are eating it.

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It is actually very useful as they trample the undergrowth as well as eating it so hopefully it will be a bit clearer next time we ride!

A New Pony Sport

On Monday my sister and I took the ponies for a canter in the field up the lane.  We had a lovely time but – as is now usual – it was very warm and we had to wash them off when we got back.

We them turned them out and naturally they wanted to roll.

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I think they have invented a new sport – synchronised rolling.

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It was great fun watching them but of course the covered themselves in dust and as the vet was coming in the afternoon to give them their annual vaccinations we had to clean them off all over again.  It was worth it though!

Summer Shows

The summer show season is definitely upon us.  For us it started with Woolfardisworthy (Woolsery) Show at Clovelly Court.

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I spent a lovely day inspecting the livestock and watching the horses.  The heavy horses were great but I especially loved the driving classes.  How amazing is this mane!

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Today we were at the Exford Show.  It is always good to see the Exmoors and mentally compare them to Galahad.

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I also love to see the inter hunt relays.  There was one at each of these two shows and they are always fun to watch.

We have also had our local village garden show.  There were no ponies there but I did enter some of the competitions.  I maged to get thirds in the poetry and painting classes (it was a painting of Galahad!) and I won a photography class with a picture I took on one of our hacks.

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I also had my book stall at the show and had a lovely time selling pony books to the local populace.  It was a great day.

Reliving My Childhood

As a child I loved to ride my instructor’s ponies in from the field (and indeed back out again) bareback.  It was something everybody did in my pony books and it was the best feeling.

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On a visit to Scilly I saw a girl riding her pony bareback along a road in flip flops and that seemed like the ultimate goal for me.  I should mention that this was one of the islands with no cars and obviously I am not advocating the wearing of flip flops around horses – it is dangerous.  To a child it seems idyllic though!

I have always wanted to be able to do the same with my own pony but Galahad has been too tense and spooky for me to feel safe. The trouble is that if I’m nervous he can tell and it makes him nervous and tense which makes me worse.  It’s a vicious cycle.

The last time I tried it I ended up being thrown into the fence which is never good.  It was a shame as it was going so well before then but he did not react well when I got unbalanced.  That was two years ago now though so I would really like to try again now.

In the meantime, I have Cookster to ride and he is not fazed by much.

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Riding a pony in from the field at home is every bit as good as I imagined.

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