Bright Lights

The ponies are spending a couple of weeks with my riding instructor – partly so Galahad can have a bit of a trim and partly so we can get to our dressage competition in a fortnight.

Of course, I am taking full advantage of the facilities while they are there.  They were collected on Friday afternoon and I went over straight after work to school Galahad.  He hasn’t been ridden under lights for months – probably not since last winter – so he was a little tense at first and had to have a very good look at the darkness beyond the lights to make sure there were no hidden monsters.

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I just worked him quietly round the school and before long we could ride on a loose rein with no problem.

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We actually had a very good session.  Galahad was working nicely, although he did tire a bit.  He got pretty hot as well – definitely time for that clip.

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Autumn Schooling

I have written a lot recently about our hacks but I have been schooling Galahad as well.

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We had a great session on Thursday – Galahad really felt like he was listening to me, was nicely forward going and seemed very willing.  We did some work on turns on the forehand and they felt amazing.  I had no eyes on the ground so I don’t know how they looked!

When we moved onto canter work I was even more pleased as Galahad struck off with the correct lead every time – I’m not sure that’s ever happened on the right rein before.

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I finished up feeling very positive indeed and looking forward to more.  Hopefully the ground will hold up for a while yet before we have to stop for the winter.

Making Use of the Ponies

This week the ponies have actually been earning their keep.

Our lawn mower broke and the grass needed cutting.  There is a shortage of hay in the UK this year so we have been trying to make the best use of the grass we can.  Therefore, the ponies became living lawn mowers.

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Of course, I couldn’t just leave them to get on with it as there is a drop at the edge of the grass and I had to make sure they didn’t try to jump down.  Besides, I didn’t want them tearing up the lawn!

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I had a lovely time sat out with a book and enjoying the ponies’ company.  It is something I would thoroughly recommend, although I did get rather chilly!

Shiny New Road

We had a very exciting time this week – the lane up the hill was closed for roadworks and we had our own private set of traffic lights.

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We went out for our hack once the men had all gone home for the night and got to meet lots of scary things.  There were plenty of traffic cones – some with lovely raised ironworks.

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We had to have a close look and a snort at all of them and Galahad felt very tense the whole way up the hill.  He didn’t actually spook once though so I was very proud of him.

There were some very good surface changes for us to practise on too – although they were apparently not nearly as scary as the signs and the cones!

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When we went out for our ride this morning the road had been finished and we had a lovely, brand new surface to explore.  We did have to be a little careful coming back down though – new roads can be slippery!

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Beautiful Autumn

Autumn might bring some problems for equestrians (mud, no light to ride…) but I do so love it.

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The mornings are misty, the leaves are changing colour and everything is just beautiful.  Even the ponies are joining in.

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Autumn really is one of my favourite times of the year.

Unexpected Rewards

There are many benefits to riding ponies but this is not one I was expecting.

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I’ve never had my name printed on a rosette before!

My riding club held its AGM and annual awards show last week.  I went along expecting a fun evening but not any awards – an Exmoor pony doesn’t normally win enough points to compete with the blood horses!

I had no idea there was an prize for adults riding ponies so I was very surprised and absolutely thrilled when I won it.  I’ve never received an annual award before and it was a wonderful feeling.  I am so proud of Galahad.

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I had a great evening and came away enthused about working hard next year – which is really the whole point.

Hurrying Along

On Wednesday I was racing the light to get a ride in before it got dark.  I was so short of time that I didn’t even bother to change my boots or put on my gloves.

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I was cutting it very fine light-wise but we just about made it home before it got too dark to be safe, for which I was very grateful.  I’m not sure Galahad knew what had hit him though – he’s never been hurried along quite so much.

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I had such a great time – as I was not worried about changing into all the right clothes, I was very relaxed.  I felt like a child again just having fun with my pony.  It was wonderful and I would recommend it to anyone.

Recuperation

After my very exciting hack with Cookster last week, this week has been a lot more relaxed.

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In fact, I haven’t been able to ride all that much as I have been having to work extra hours.  I have managed to get out a few times but the ponies have also been spending a lot of time in the field.  Not that they mind that at all!

We had a lot of rain last weekend but for the past few days we have been back to glorious sunshine.  It has been perfect for riding and when I have managed a hack I have very much appreciated that!

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There is nothing quite like a gentle hack to make one feel happier and relaxed.  I would recommend it to anyone.

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Great Excitement

Cookster and I had a most exciting ride on Monday.  We got to the top of the hill and were walking along happily when he suddenly noticed that the alpacas were back in the field on our left.  Then he remembered how terrifying they are and spun around to go home.

I stopped that idea and we faced the alpaca again.  We took a few tentative steps and then stood stock still, head in the air and eyes bulging.  He has a very ewe neck so his head can go extremely high when he chooses!  In the end I got off to lead him past.  I could probably have eventually forced him to be ridden but neither of us would have enjoyed it and it wouldn’t really have done any good.

On our way we stopped to look over the gate at the awful animal.  By then Cookster seemed pretty calm but kept staring off along the lane – it wasn’t long before a van turned up and we had to scurry out of the way.

We continued our hack – at a very fast trot – and had a lovely time until we had to pass the same field going home.  By then the alpaca was nowhere in sight but Cookster was wary in his approach and as soon as we got past the spot where it had been earlier he was ready to fly again.

I had to keep very awake to stop him bolting for home.  We had to navigate a steep downwards slope and despite my best efforts we descended at a very fast walk!

Of course the whole thing was my fault – I hadn’t been feeling too well but wanted to ride anyway.  Stupidly I had said, ‘I’ll just sit on a pony and ride up the lane.  What could happen?’  That’ll teach me!

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For obvious reasons I took no photographs on this particular adventure.  Instead, here is Cookster looking beautiful in the evening sunshine.

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.