Last weekend Galahad and I went to our first competition in several months. It was a riding club dressage event and I was very happy to be out competing again.
The warm up was slightly interesting – there were cross country jumps stacked around the arena which Galahad thought were pretty scary – I spent half my time trying to persuade him to go near them. Then the rain started coming down in earnest. I had forgotten my contact lenses and before long my glasses were covered with rain and I could barely see.
We got them cleaned up and ourselves into the indoor arena for our actual test. Galahad settled down nicely and did what felt like a pretty good test. I didn’t think it was amazing but he did everything I asked and – best of all – he picked up the correct canter lead on both reins. As I said last week, that’s something on which we have really been working hard so I was especially pleased to get it right.
Before long we were called for our second test and again it felt like a nice, safe clear round. The canter leads were correct and this time our shapes felt a little more accurate. I was so pleased with Galahad!
Really, the canter leads made my day but it got better. When the scores were posted I found I had scored 60.53% and 62.93%. We got our usual comments about Galahad being, ‘Economical with the energy’ but the judge also made some nice comments about the trot which were good to see. We placed second and fourth which was obviously great but even better the scores were good enough to qualify us for a local dressage championship next week. So exciting!
This week I have been focussing very much on our canter transitions. Galahad particularly struggles picking up the correct lead on the right rein as the brand on his near hind makes it weaker.
We have, however, been making progress. This week we did some work on simple changes in a figure of eight. We got the first one wrong but after that they went so well that I decided to try something a bit harder.
I trotted up the centre line, asked Galahad for a particular lead and he got every single one right. That was unexpected! The video isn’t perfect but it is proof.
I’m not expecting us to just get them all perfectly now – in fact it took us a couple of asks to get it right the very next day – but it is definite progress and it does show we are capable!
The ponies being away for a few days doesn’t just give me a chance to use the school. We also get to explore some different hacking routes which is always a nice change.
The other day I arrived a bit late but I had been looking forward to my hack and the sun was still a little way off setting so I decided I could get out as long as I was super quick getting ready. I was soon on and we set off up the drive – me giving firm instructions that we would be walking nice and fast and trotting as much as possible.
At first Galahad was not impressed but before too long he decided it was quite fun after all. In fact, I’d wound him up so much that he didn’t really want to walk at all and thought that canter would be much more fun than trotting. He had a whale of a time!
I was not quite so convinced but it did the job – we got home before it was too dark!
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.
I just worked him quietly round the school and before long we could ride on a loose rein with no problem.
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.
I have written a lot recently about our hacks but I have been schooling Galahad as well.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
Autumn might bring some problems for equestrians (mud, no light to ride…) but I do so love it.
The mornings are misty, the leaves are changing colour and everything is just beautiful. Even the ponies are joining in.
Autumn really is one of my favourite times of the year.
There are many benefits to riding ponies but this is not one I was expecting.
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.
I had a great evening and came away enthused about working hard next year – which is really the whole point.
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.
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.
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.