Luckily Cookster was none the worse for his fall on Friday  and the back lady said he was fine.  Galahad received a full treatment but that is usual for him as he can still be a bit stiff on the side he was branded.  She was pleased with his progress, although she has suggested that I massage across his whole hindquarters rather than just using aloe vera on his brand as I have been doing.  Thankfully she didn’t say he had outgrown his saddle like last year!  He had to have two days off after his treatment but at least he had some interesting stable mates!

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I had another lesson with Galahad on Monday which went well.  He was backing off a couple of the scarier jumps a bit more but although he demolished one of them the main thing was that he went over them and didn’t stop or run out.  We were jumping a barrel under a pole but as the pole was longer than the barrel Galahad found a way to twist himself so he wasn’t technically jumping the barrel at all.  My instructor had to add another barrel so he couldn’t cheat!

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Taking a Tumble

Galahad and I had another great lesson on Friday.  Our flatwork is steadily improving and my instructor thinks Galahad is looking less stiff and much better in general.

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Our jumping also went really well.  We again jumped the barrel with no trouble and this time we jumped the big, scary, white filler which was a first for him.  It is a real sign of growing up!

 

I followed that up with a lesson on my sister’s pony which didn’t go quite so well.  His legs are not so coordinated when it comes to jumping and we completely messed up the striding in the double.  He got his front legs tangled in the pole and we both fell down.  Luckily we were both relatively unscathed, if rather sandy.

The ponies are having a visit from the back lady this week so she’ll be able to check he hasn’t damaged himself.  If we had to fall we couldn’t have timed it better!

Stable Mates

The ponies might be spending a couple of weeks away but their stables are not unoccupied.

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A couple of months ago a pair of wrens started trying to build on a failed swallows’ nest from last year – it kept falling down and had been abandoned.  The wrens were more persistent and kept doing their best to build.  Their efforts tended to fall down as well but that didn’t put them off and one evening we found them perched on an impossibly thin looking sliver of nest.  Sadly that fell down too after a few nights and they were obviously never going to be able to lay any eggs on it so my Dad put up some little shelves for them.  Almost overnight a proper nest had appeared and pretty soon the wrens were sitting on eggs.

Now we have chicks!

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I have seen four and the parents are constantly flying in and out with food.  It is lovely to see.

The swallows have also returned and are starting to build a nest on another shelf.  They haven’t finished yet but they are definitely still around so we are hopeful that they will stay.  They make wonderful house guests!

Hacking Excitement

On Sunday evening my sister and I went for a lovely long, sunny hack.  It was a bit more exciting than we had bargained for though!  We had just got through the village when another horse overtook us.  When it started trotting just ahead Galahad thought he was being left behind and cantered to catch up.  It was rather embarrassing but in his defence he has never really had the opportunity to learn that sometimes out hacking people do overtake and it isn’t necessary to keep up with them!

At my sister’s suggestion we took the next turning away from the other horse.  It meant that we went quite a distance out of our way but we got to ride on roads I used to hack along when I was about ten.  It was a lovely trip down memory lane.

We had great excitement part way round as there were some temporary traffic lights – I have never had to stop at them on a horse before!

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Unfortunately, by the time I had taken the picture and we had let a car go through ahead of us the lights changed back to red.  We waited patiently, they went green, another car arrived and we again stood aside to let them through.  This car stopped to ask my sister if it was hot wearing her hat and as it drove off the lights changed again.  We would probably have been perfectly safe going through anyway but one can’t be sure so we waited some more. The lights didn’t change. My sister rode right up to them and waved at the sensor but that didn’t work either so we decided to ride back a bit to see if a run up helped.  It did – we only went a few paces but as we turned the lights were already green so we charged at them to make sure we got through this time.  Of course, by the time we got to the other end they had changed again but at least we tried!

The final excitement came just before we reached home.  I could hear something rattly behind us and my sister shouted that it was a tractor.  I turned around to see a land rover.  Once it had got past us I questioned her description and she replied that she had been trying to think of a word to describe something bigger than a car!

We had a lovely ride.  It is not often that we get to hack out together so it was nice that we ended up having such a long ride.  Even if it was by accident.

A Horsey Weekend

The ponies are away for a couple of weeks again as we join in with my riding instructor’s horses for visits from the dentist and the back lady.  They saw the dentist on Thursday and were apparently very well behaved – I was at work so couldn’t be there.

It is very strange not having them at home.  Yesterday I had lessons on both of them in the morning and when I came home I didn’t know what to do with myself.  Normally if I have been out in the morning I come home and ride the ponies.  Yesterday I didn’t even have any mucking out to do!  It was most odd but I managed to occupy myself by watching the livestreams of Royal Windsor Horse Show and the Event Rider Masters at Chatsworth.  I just about had enough wifi signal to watch under the apple tree in the garden.  It was lovely!

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Galahad’s lesson went very well.  He felt a little stiff to start with but did loosen up and felt much better by the end.  I had a bit of trouble getting the correct canter lead on the right rein though.  A lot of that was due to him having a good look at things going on outside the school and bending the wrong way.

We had a great jumping session as well.  We began at about two foot which is probably the highest he has jumped to start – normally we work up from much smaller jumps.  We jumped all the scary jumps without a single run out and even went straight over the barrel, although Galahad had a good look at it first!  The first time we had a guide pole up at the side to help us but in our second round it was gone and we still sailed over.  We finished with a fairly substantial spread which Galahad flew over.  He is getting stretched a little more every time we go out but is taking it all in his stride.  Clever pony!

A Harrowing Time

Over the winter our fields can get quite cut up which means that once the ground starts to dry out we are left with all sorts of lumps and bumps the ponies (and I!) can trip over.  It can make schooling rather difficult as we aren’t confident enough to go forward properly.  We haven’t jumped at all this year yet because the idea of tripping as we do is not pleasant.

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However, we finally managed to get the fields harrowed.  The fields are looking a lot better already and once the grass gets growing properly they should start looking lovely again.

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I schooled this morning and it definitely felt a nicer surface to ride on.  We didn’t trip once and I wasn’t at all worried about working Galahad properly.  Now I should finally be able to use the lovely jumps I got for my birthday.  I can’t wait!

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Beautiful Badminton

I couldn’t get to Badminton this year but I still had a brilliant weekend. At first I thought there was going to be as little coverage as usual  – the BBC was only showing the cross country and a highlights show on Sunday which usually includes about five show jumping rounds.  It is especially annoying because if I didn’t live in the UK I could get a subscription to FEITV and watch the entire thing.

Right at the last minute though – Wednesday evening – I discovered that Badminton were live streaming everything not being shown on the BBC – amazing news!  I was working on Thursday and Friday but my breaks were basically spent in the staffroom watching the dressage.  I even managed to time one break perfectly to watch Emily King’s test – it was beautiful.

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Saturday afternoon was spent entirely on the sofa watching the cross country. It seemed to be a really good course and was certainly exciting to watch!

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This morning we actually got a livestream of the trot up which is something I love to watch.  We made ourselves the picnic we would usually take to watch it at Badminton and just ate it inside this time.

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I was very pleased to see all of the show jumping – the last five is just not enough.  It was nail biting right to the end.  Literally – I got very worked up!  I am always disappointed when a Brit doesn’t triumph but Michael Jung definitely deserved to win and Gemma Tatteersall had an amazing round to be best of the Brits.

A huge bonus – because I wasn’t expecting it (although I hoped for it) – was being able to watch the prize giving.  We even got to see the parade of hounds.  It has always seemed such a shame that the broadcast cuts off as soon as the jumping stops.  The livestream has been amazing all weekend and I am so glad it was there.

Hacking Happiness

We have had some glorious weather recently.  There is a bit of a cool breeze but most days the sun has been shining and it has been simply lovely.  Our morning hacks have been pretty good but riding after work has been wonderful – the evenings have felt particularly beautiful.

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The ground is drying out nicely now too and we have managed to go out for a canter in our neighbour’s field a couple of times this week.  The first time this year!  It was very exciting for me but Galahad was very good and not over excited at all which was comforting.  The first time we rode out with my sister but the second time we were by ourselves.  Galahad was maybe a little stronger by himself but was still completely under control.  We had a great time.

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Getting Back in our Stride

It was quite hard for me to start schooling again after I lost my brakes last week.  I can be quite a nervous rider and if I am worried Galahad gets worried which makes me worse and it is all a bit of a vicious circle.  My first step was to ride round the field a few times when we came back from a hack.  That went very well so I picked a day to actually try a schooling session.

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I was still a bit worried though and I found myself looking for reasons not to school but to hack instead.  It was a bit windy and drizzling but in the end I made myself ride into the field as I knew that if I didn’t it would be even harder the next time.

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In the end it all went very well.  Galahad was incredibly relaxed and I actually had a really lovely ride.  I even managed to canter without any trouble at all – even when we were heading towards home.  I finished up feeling very good about the ride (and quite proud of myself for riding in the first place).  Now we should be able to move on and start working together nicely.