Part of a Team

Galahad and I have made our debut as part of a team!  It was incredibly exciting as I haven’t been on a riding team since I left university and Galahad never has.  I was nervous I would completely mess up – not on my own account but I did not want to let my team down.

The day didn’t have the best of starts as the warm up fence was on grass and it had been raining.  Galahad was jumping well but slipped over just after landing and we both ended up on the floor and pretty muddy.  Luckily neither of us was hurt and after getting the worst of the mud off Galahad we were ready to go again.  I was a little concerned he would have lost his confidence but he popped back over the fence with no problem and we were all set.

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I needn’t have worried at all – Galahad was a star and flew round the course clear.  Each team member jumped a different height and had two rounds – the second against the clock.  Our practise over angled fences gave me the confidence to push Galahad a bit harder in the timed round and again Galahad was super and flew round. I could not be more pleased with him.

We ended up coming second in the class and were only beaten by a boy on another team from my yard which wasn’t so bad.  Apparently there wasn’t much between us time wise and I was absolutely thrilled (the fact that I had done well for the team definitely helped with that!).

I spent the rest of the day manning the arena gate (and getting sand constantly blown into my eyes).  It was good to feel part of the team and I got to catch up  with a few friends I hadn’t seen for a while so I had a great time.

The next member of my team won her class, then the other two came tenth and eighth.  It was a very close run thing but overall as a team we came fourth which I was very pleased with as a first attempt.  We were second out of the three teams from my instructor’s yard and as we were the least experienced I thought that wasn’t bad either!

Overall I had a fantastic day and was very pleased with the way Galahad went.  He has improved so much over the last few months and I have a lot more confidence in our ability now.  It feels great to take him round a course and I can’t wait for the next time!

Playing in the School

Whilst I was away at camp the ponies spent a few days at my instructor’s yard which meant that I got to use the school when I came home.  We were going to a showjumping competition the next day so I wanted to make sure that we were still working together after my week off  (Galahad didn’t get a week off as I had asked for him to be ridden a couple of times).

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He was nice and responsive and we had a lovely evening schooling session.  I didn’t want to jump too much but we did pop over a couple of fences which felt really good and gave me confidence for the next day.

I was delighted to find that somebody had cleaned Galahad’s tack so I just had to wipe it over and load my stuff into the lorry.  I very much appreciated that after a week’s camping!

Beating the Flies

We are getting towards the end of the fly season  (hopefully!) but we are still working hard to fight them off.  Battling the flies is probably the hardest thing about horse ownership.   I had a few bad years where Galahad got nasty bites which didn’t seem to cause him any pain but looked horrid.  Thankfully we have had a couple of good years now where that hasn’t happened.  I put that down to my being much better organised at treating the ponies with deosect once a month instead of just spritzing them with fly spray every day.

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The trouble is that Galahad hates the spray bottle.  He has improved immensely  – I used to have to sponge the fly spray or deosect all over him.  Now I can actually spray him although he still has good days and bad.  Some days he stands like a rock, others he completely panics.  At the beginning of the summer he climbed up this giant step to avoid being sprayed. Needless to say, I no longer attempt to spray him there!

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We did try using garlic in the ponies’ feed as well but Galahad did not like it and would just leave it.  Strangely, he does like the garlic Horslyx – although as he only gets that as an occasional treat I don’t suppose it does much to put off the flies!

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Jumping Angles

The other day Galahad and I went for a hack with my sister and Cookster.  On our way back we decided to have a pop over a couple of fences.  Galahad is really starting to jump nicely and we had a lot of fun.

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I mentioned recently that he has started taking off further from the fences which is lovely but was feeling rather odd as I wasn’t used to it.  It is feeling almost normal now and we are much more together again over the jumps.

We even had a go practising jumping some angled fences which Galahad completely took in his stride.  The angle isn’t obvious in the video but the fences were not lined up at all.  Good news for future jump offs (if we get into them)!

Hidden Danger

It turns out that it is not just the horses on a yard which can be dangerous.  Danger can hide in the most unexpected of places.

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Yesterday morning I was opening Galahad’s stable door and probably thinking more about Cookster behind me than about what I was doing.  After all,  how hard is it to open a door?  Quite hard apparently – I opened it straight into my face and now I have a lovely lump on my forehead.  It was painful!

 The ponies had a day off today which meant I was a little late going out to see them this morning.  They were pleased to see me and I felt very loved.  It doesn’t matter that it was probably all cupboard love!

Sunny Schooling

Recently we have been having some absolutely glorious weather and it has been lovely to spend time outside.  It has often been too hot to ride except in the evenings or early mornings which is perfect for me when I am working!  The light is beautiful in the evenings and we have had some very enjoyable schooling sessions.

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I have very much enjoyed having the jumps back out again after we got the fields topped.  Galahad seems to have been enjoying them too.  His jumping has definitely improved in the last couple of months and he is taking off much further away from the jumps.  It feels rather odd still at the moment as I have got so used to him getting in close to the fences but it is a great step forward.

The Well Shod (Trimmed) Hoof

Last week the ponies had a visit from the farrier.  Neither of them are shod so they only get a trim and are now very good and standing still for him.  Galahad was never a problem – I think he was too worried to move to start with!  Cookster is fine now but did used to get bored and start to make a fuss.  He probably still gets bored but he can deal with it better now.  It may also help that we keep his feet a little longer as he can get a bit footsore.

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The farrier also noticed our fly zapper and when we mentioned how much the ponies hate the noise it makes – they still haven’t got used to it and will stand out in the blazing sunshine rather than the shade of the stable – he suggested an alternative.

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This apparently acts a bit like a Venus fly trap.  It is already hung up in the stable and is certainly starting to catch some flies.  Hopefully it will turn out to be effective.  The ponies are already happy to be in the stables again which is excellent news given the mini heatwave over the last couple of days!

Living the Dream

Sometimes living the dream is hard.

After our show last Sunday it took me nearly a week to get back in the saddle.  I finished the day utterly exhausted – which is fairly standard – but also coughing which is definitely not.  It turned out that I was coming down with a shocking cold which has left me feeling drained all week.  All I felt like doing was crawling out of bed to feed the ponies, heading off to work, coming home to sort the ponies again and falling back into bed.   It didn’t help that I was working away on Wednesday and Thursday so wasn’t even home on Wednesday night.  The poor ponies have had most of the week to themselves.   Not that I suppose they mind in the least.

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Yesterday I was still tired after work but I was fed up with not feeling up to riding and I forced myself out to the stables.  Cookster and I had a lovely relaxing hack up the hill which reminded me just how much I love to ride.  It was a beautiful evening and there was nobody about but us and the sheep.  If I am feeling a bit low or ill it can seem such a huge effort just to go outside but it is so worth it when I do.

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On Sunday we returned to the scene of Galahad’s showing debut.  This time the weather was much kinder to us, although it could hardly have been worse!  We did have the odd spot of rain but it was mostly dry all day and even sunny a lot of the time.

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Galahad and I again did the into dressage test which went reasonably well.  Our right bend was a bit iffy to start with and Galahad tripped over something invisible but I was overall very pleased with him.  I didn’t have my tame photographer with me this year so I have no pictures but I did have an audience – I met a couple of people in the warm up who are hoping to start some dressage with their own Exmoor and they walked over to watch me.

We didn’t do any actual showing this year but two jumping classes instead.  The first was the 2’3″ novice pony which we flew round (we had a few wobbles in the lines between fences but jumped all the jumps well) and got into the jump off.  Unfortunately our steering went a bit for that so we came at rather too acute an angle into a fence and knocked it down.  There were seven of us in the jump off and two with four faults but sadly I was just a bit slower and missed out on a place.

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The next class was the 2’3″ open.  Although it was listed as the same height the first class had been quite a bit below height and so the fences went up and fillers were added.  I knew I had to ride positively and I was very focused on getting Galahad over the wall at fence two.  He sailed over and I was so pleased with him that I relaxed a bit too much and we had a runout at the next fence.  It was such a shame as he popped over with no trouble at our second attempt.  The rest of the course went very well apart from one rail down so I was thrilled with him.

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That was the end of the day for Galahad and he spent the rest of the afternoon snoozing and munching on his haynet.  I on the other hand was kept very busy – my instructor had brought several children for their first show and I was needed first as support in the mini jumping and second as a leader for the gymkhana races.  It was exhausting!  I did get some very good cake out of it though so I was well rewarded.

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As I lovely finish to the day I went to collect my dressage score sheet and found I had come fourth with a score of 59.34%.  We had some nice comments, expecially about our walk.  Now we just need to work on the trot!