Learning to be a Pack Pony

Our neighbours have just been away for a few days and while they were gone I volunteered to fill up their bird feeders.  The best way to do it seemed to be to use Galahad to transport the food.  It promised to be fun!

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We set off on our hack loaded with bird food and had a lovely ride up the hill, despite the fact that it was pouring with freezing cold rain.  Obviously I couldn’t take Galahad into the garden so I had to tie him to a nearby gate – I took some binder twine with me specially.

He waited very patiently while I went off to fill the feeders.  The poor thing got absolutely drenched and I was not thrilled about sitting on the saddle again afterwards!

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We had a great time and it was nice to have a purpose on our ride – I’d be quite happy to do it again!

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Earning Our Keep

Today has been somewhat blustery!  My ride with Cookster was rather interesting as  he regressed back to trying to nap for home and we had to have a discussion about which way to go!

I thought Galahad would be spooking all over the place but in actual fact he was very relaxed and well behaved.  There is a for sale sign on a field gate halfway up the hill and now Galahad knows it is there he is always prepared – he slows right down and stares very hard towards the gate so that as soon as it comes into view he is ready to spook.  Today, however, it wasn’t there – it had blown off and was lying on the other side of the lane.  Galahad kept looking for it on the gate though and it was only when the sign was right under his nose that he noticed it  and had a mini spook the other way.  It was hilarious.

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Galahad has also been earning his keep this week – we needed to move the ponies into a new field and he took me round to check the fences  and for poisonous plants and litter.  The field runs along a road and passing motorists seem to think it’s okay to throw their rubbish over the hedge so we have to keep a close eye on it.  At least it’s quite fun on a pony!

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Gadding Without Galahad

My riding of the ponies has been a bit curtailed recently as I had the opportunity to ride on my riding club’s showjumping team last weekend and I had no hesitation in taking it.  Obviously the jumps are too high for Galahad – hence the riding of other horses.  Before we had the ponies I used to ride so many different horses in my lessons and it really did make me a better rider – I was reasonably confident sitting on anything.  These days I am much more nervous and it feels like it takes me longer to get to know new horses – just because I have got so used to the ponies’ way of going.  These couple of weeks have really brought home to me how much I have lost and I am determined to keep riding other horses.

It has been several years since I jumped proper grown-up sized jumps and even longer since I competed for the riding club so I was somewhat nervous but very, very excited.  We had a much earlier start than Galahad and I are used to – we do stick to the local shows after all – and I am certainly not used to getting the horses ready in the dark.  We also had an interesting journey as the lorry broke down and we arrived as the class was starting.

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I didn’t have my usual support crew with me so thank you to Wayne for taking some brilliant photographs!

Of course, that meant we could not walk the course but we are nothing if not determined and it certainly wasn’t the first time I have jumped without a course walk.  I overshot one turn slightly but overall we got round pretty well with just one pole down.

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We did manage to walk the course for the second round but annoyingly we still had a pole down and time faults as well – which meant we were the discard score for that round.  I was still so proud of us though – I had only ridden Murphy a few times and we were working well together.  I learnt so much too which I can hopefully use another time.

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In the end our team came third overall and second of the qualifiers.  We actually had the same score as the qualifying team but were slightly slower – which makes that pole and time faults extra frustrating!

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I had the most amazing day though and am very much hoping that I get to do it again soon.

Adventuring

This morning dawned beautifully foggy but once it cleared it was a simply glorious day so Galahad and I went exploring.

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We couldn’t get along a lane which was blocked with a van but had permission to ride in some new fields which was very exciting – we don’t often have new places to ride.  These fields are incredibly steep but are shelved, making handy tracks to ride along.  They can be a bit unnerving though – I was very aware that one spook could send us down the hillside.

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Nevertheless, we were having a lovely time.  It was wonderful to be out hacking again after a long week at work and we were very much enjoying ourselves in the sunshine.  Then this happened.

I somehow failed to duck properly under the tree and a branch caught me round the face.  I genuinely thought I was going to be pulled off backwards – I stayed on but I have some very impressive scratches which look rather like cat whiskers.  They are just a bit sore too!

Things got even more exciting on our way home.  I stupidly let go of Galahad when I was closing the gate back onto our land – it’s an awkward gate which needs two hands.  Galahad thought it would be a great idea to canter home and caused great consternation when he arrived with reins and stirrups flying but no rider.

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All in all, it was a lovely ride but I was quite glad to be home!

A Busy Week

Galahad has again had a busy few days.  First of all, he had his final clip of the winter – which means pretty much all of his hair has gone.  I love seeing all of the multicoloured hair on the floor when my instructor has finished!

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Obviously, not all of this belongs to Galahad!

He does look rather smart now.

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Then Galahad had his six-monthly back check and for only the second time ever he had no problems and needed no treatment.  We have had so many issues with his back that this is still a surprise and such a wonderful feeling.  I could not be happier!

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!

More Ingratitude

After Galahad tore his rug last week, Cookster has been causing problems of his own.  I had left Galahad’s old rug and a stable rug hung on the wall between the two stables and Cookster pulled them off and trampled them into his dirty bed.

I picked them back up – several times – but he kept pulling them down again.  I should have known better – he is constantly taking stuff down.  I have to keep a very close eye on him if I want to put my saddle on the wall or door as he can be quick to knock that down too.

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The rugs were too disgusting to put in the machine so I had to wash them by hand.  It was actually a lot of fun, although I got very wet and it was freezing cold.  It should be more of a summer job really!

An Ungrateful Pony

Just before Christmas I decided it really was time for Galahad to have a new rug.  His old one was reasonably sound but, even though it didn’t actually let the rain through, the water wasn’t really repelled either.  The outer layer of the rug stayed wet so effectively Galahad was constantly wearing a cold blanket.  That’s not really ideal so a new one was procured.

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I was rather pleased with it and for a few days Galahad really looked very smart.  Then, of course, he had to roll in the muddiest part of the field.

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Still, it could have been worse – this week he has decided to tear it.

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He probably caught it on the fence, although Cookster does like to play with fabrics so I’m not yet convinced of his innocence!  Either way – it looks like it’s time for me to get out the sewing kit.

Exciting Hacking

This morning my sister and Cookster joined Galahad and I for a very exciting hack indeed.  Partway up the hill I got off to replace the lid on a pheasant feeder.

 

 

 

I found there was a mouse trapped inside it and although I’m sure it was very happy with all the food, I couldn’t just leave it there.  That meant I had to rescue it which was much easier said than done – it was not at all keen on being caught!

I had to stick my whip in the hole at the bottom to stop it hiding in the actual feeder part!

Further up the lane we stopped to look at the sheep when a pheasant ambushed us from the hollow tree right by Galahad’s head.  I was very impressed by how little he spooked but apparently Cookster’s heart rate noticeably increased.

We did have fun!