Hail!

On Easter Monday morning there was glorious sunshine when I let the ponies out.  My sister and I missed the best of the weather for our hack but it was still nice enough to ride without a coat.  At least, I didn’t wear one.  She has no pockets in her jodhpurs and so needed the coat to carry her phone.  It was starting to get a bit warm to be comfortable though.

We collected our neighbour’s paper and set off up the hill.  I have to admit to hurrying Galahad a bit as there was a nasty black cloud off to the right.  Sadly we didn’t hurry enough and before we reached the top of the hill the heavens opened.  Not just with rain – with biting hail which numbed the side of my face and sent both ponies straight into the hedge so they could turn their heads away.  Apparently that wasn’t much relief though as they were soon keen to be moving again  – faster than before! – and we soon reached the postbox which is handily inside a barn.  It gave us a very good excuse for sheltering inside!

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Galahad was quite happy to stay indoors but Cookster prefers moving about so was pretty soon outside again.

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Luckily the worst of the shower was over by then but my sister was suddenly very happy to be wearing her coat!

Making Friends

As we rode out yesterday we said hello to the alpacas as we usually do.  Also as usual they were supremely indifferent to our presence.  Coming home however they were much closer to the road and Galahad – having decided they are safe – was desperate to make friends with them.  He was practically leaning through the fence!

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This time the alpacas showed a bit of interest too and actually started walking towards us.  Sadly Galahad in his eagerness shifted his weight forward and made them run off but they had been much closer than ever before.  They started following us home and every time there was a gap in the hedge Galahad would have another go at talking to them.  It was very exciting for him.  My sister’s pony on the other hand was not at all convinced they were safe and stayed firmly in the background.  He did not like them following us!

In other news I found this water bottle in our local farm shop and couldn’t resist it.

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Isn’t it great?!

Scary Traffic Signs

Recently there were some roadworks not far from our house.  In fact, the end of our lane was opposite the 200 yard warning sign for the traffic lights.  Of course,  to the ponies it was a Very Scary Object.

They were reluctant to go past it but once Galahad had decided it was safe he typically wanted to go over for a better look.  Normally that would be fine but the road is all bends and cars tend to drive rather fast.  We had to satisfy ourselves with a good stare from a distance.

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The rest of our ride was very uneventful  – although the ponies were surprised to see the sign still there when we came back.  We are still enjoying some lovely spring weather and our hacks are consequently very peaceful and rather wonderful.

Playing in the Sunshine

We have had some simply glorious weather this week.  I don’t think there was any rain at all and although the last couple of days have been distinctly chilly we have had some wonderful sunshine.  The fields are beginning  (touch wood) to dry out nicely and things just seem a lot more cheerful when the sun shines.

The ground is really a bit too cut up for serious schooling but I have taken advantage of the drier ground to vary our rides by hacking round the fields.  It makes things more interesting for the ponies and it means we can have a bit more of a canter than the six strides we can fit on the verge.

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It has also allowed us to have a paddle in the stream which is something we don’t do very often.  Strangely,  although Galahad has an aversion to puddles, he is quite happy walking into the stream.  Granted his head normally goes straight down to play with the water but at least he isn’t worried by it!

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We had a lovely relaxing ride with no pressure to school and no worry about cars.  A perfect afternoon.

Sunday Adventures

Galahad and I finally made it to our second trec event. It has only taken us three months!  We couldn’t make it to the training this time so we had to go straight in for the competitions without a look at the obstacles first.  There were some we had not seen before and hadn’t even tried at home so I was a little apprehensive.

Our first class was the pairs – I had asked for a sympathetic partner!  Galahad was very good with the new obstacles,  even the maypole which was the one concerning me most.  It is made up of two posts with a length of rope between them.   We had to pick up one end of the rope and ride in a circle round the other post, replacing the rope at the end.  Galahad was very good about letting me play about with the rope and the only trouble we had was that the rope wasn’t rotating properly and got tangled round the pole.  That wasn’t our fault so we got another go which went much better.

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Tackling the maypole

The only real problem we had was with the side pass – walking sideways along a pole.  Galahad didn’t have a clue what I was asking him to do!  We didn’t score anything for that but we did get a few tens – for the immobility, tarpaulin, rein back,  leading under low branches and double U bend – and with our pair we came second so I was thrilled.

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The water crossing – complete with rubber ducks!

Our individual event was outside near an apparently very scary (it was rather noisy) tractor so there was some spooking but in general he behaved very well.  We didn’t score nearly so well this time but it was our first attempt at trec in an outdoor arena and there were a lot of distractions.  We still got a ten for the immobility though – dismounted this time – and were third out of four.

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I had another fantastic day and enjoyed it just as much as our first attempt.  This is definitely something I want to keep doing!

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Spring, spring, spring!

It is starting to feel very spring like here.  The birds are singing, the sun  is shining  (not all the time but quite a lot) and the flowers are starting to bloom.  I am very much enjoying the primroses in the hedgerows.

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I went into Galahad’s stable today and wondered why there was moss all over the floor.  Last year some birds started to build a nest on one of the beams.  They never finished it but someone is giving it a go now.  Hopefully they will have more luck than last year.

This week I have been practising mounting from a mounting block – or at any rate the wall which serves as a substitute.  We are going to another trec event soon and since we had so much trouble with this last time I thought we had better work on it.  Typically we had no difficulty all in the yard – if only we could do as well when we go out!  I even managed to get on from the wrong side a couple of times.  That didn’t go quite so well – Galahad moved a little each time – but that was entirely my fault.  I am just very bad at mounting from the off side.  Something for us both to work on.

Exciting New Additions

I recently had a birthday and one of the most exciting things I received was this.

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I have to admit I had no idea what it was when I unwrapped it and it took me a while to work it out but when I finally did I was thrilled!  I then had to go outside to find these in the field.

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Aren’t they wonderful?  The tallest is five foot and whilst we obviously won’t be jumping that high it turns out it is pretty good for practising low branches for trec.

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Just not when I am on board.

It will be lovely to have some proper jumps to use now.  I can’t wait for the ground to dry out so we can give them a go.  Galahad should like them too as he does love to jump.  Although, the first time he caught sight of them I was riding him and he was taken by surprise.  Cue a massive spook and a mad dash toward home.  He still likes to keep me on my toes!

Mountaineering Ponies!

Since the ponies’ field is still lacking a bit grass-wise I decided to let them loose in the lane.  There is plenty of grass there  – nothing gets to eat it!  I tied the gate onto the road shut for extra security and parked the car across the house end.  It seemed fairly certain that would work  – the lane was completely blocked and besides, why would they want to leave all that grass?

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When I opened the field gate they came running but their heads went down as soon as they were through and they didn’t move any further!  They were definitely happy.

However, when I went to get them in it was dark and they were nowhere to be seen.  We scoured the entire length of the lane and even started checking for hoof prints at any potentially weak point in the hedge.  They definitely hadn’t got through the gate but I was getting seriously concerned until I spotted them right down by the house.  They had climbed the bank to get round the car.  They were fine but they are certainly determined little ponies!

In which Galahad is a Very Brave Pony

As Galahad and I went out the other morning I noticed my neighbour’s newspaper waiting at the bottom of the lane. I normally take it up if we have time to get as far as her house so we collected it and went on our way.  We were having a lovely ride and enjoying ourselves very much.  I could hear a saw somewhere but it wasn’t bothering us and I didn’t really think very much about it.

Until we got to the top of the hill.  The postbox is inside a barn.  In the doorway was a tractor with a belt running from it into the barn and powering the saw.  It was all suddenly rather noisy!

I clearly couldn’t get into the barn and I was a bit reluctant to take Galahad through the garden to the front door.  In future I will try to remember to take a headcollar and leadrope with me – then at least I could tie him up.  Luckily, as I stood dithering my neighbour saw me and came out to fetch the paper.  She was very impressed with Galahad  and kept saying how brave he was (he was behaving very well and we were only a few feet from the tractor and saw).

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A Very Brave Pony 

It wasn’t until afterwards that it occurred to me that I had just led him past the tractor without really thinking about it.  A year or two ago I would have been worrying about his reaction to all the noise but now I just assume that he will be okay.  Obviously I am still alert to the possibility of spooking but it shows that he really has improved.  Brave Pony indeed!