Letting Go

I love riding.  I really do – even just spending time with the ponies is very theraputic for me.

Even so, there are times when I just do not want to ride.  They don’t come around often and I feel terrible when they do.  There is always a good reason for my reluctance but I still feel incredibly guilty for shirking a responsibility.

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This weekend I rode Galahad early on Saturday morning, then had a full day of orchestra rehearsals followed by a concert in the evening.  On Sunday I was busy with choir rehearsals and had a concert in the late afternoon.  I didn’t ride that morning as I had time to ride both ponies when I got home.  However, by the time I did get home I was exhausted and had a headache.  I just did not feel like riding.  I did get changed but I was persuaded to give it a miss.  It was probably for the best as I  was practically falling asleep anyway!

Sometimes one just has to accept that it is okay to have a rest.  Nobody is going to think that I am going off riding if I miss one day. The ponies will be there tomorrow and they won’t mind not being ridden as long as they have food and water.

Of course, I still went out to see them which made me feel a lot better.  I also have this one helping me so things are not all bad!

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Having a Trim

The grass has definitely been growing recently!  It really became noticeable whilst the ponies were away just because there was nothing eating it.  Now they are back it has been getting back under control, although we have obviously had to keep an eye on their waistlines.

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However, we get quite a lot of docks in the field which the ponies do not eat and which can make it difficult to school as we have to weave between the plants.  The rain lately made it impossible to get a tractor in to cut them but we have had enough of a dry spell to get the field topped this week.  It has made a huge difference and the field is now looking beautiful.

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I didn’t get any pictures of the actual topping as we were busy introducing the puppy to the noise of the tractor.  She kept an eye on it but was really much more interested in playing with  a flowerpot!

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A New Arrival

We have a new member of the family.

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Molly is a collie spaniel cross and is nine weeks old.  We picked her up at the weekend and in the few days she has been here she has really blossomed and become a proper person.  Quite a cheeky person but utterly adorable.

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The cat is not so sure and is remaining aloof.

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She is quite restricted at the moment while she waits for her second set of vaccinations but she has been to meet the ponies.  She thought they were very large and a bit scary.  They thought she was very small and a bit scary!

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She is settling in well and I am looking forward to having a lot of fun with her.

Jogging Along

After our busy weekend we have had a nice, quiet week.  It has been a bit slippery to ride in the field so we have had some lovely hacks.  It has all been very relaxing!  We did manage a good gallop in my neighbour’s field before that got slippery and Galahad behaved very well, although we were surprised by a herd of sheep over the brow of the hill.  They are the sort of sheep that stand and stare instead of running away which made it a bit unnerving even for me!

However, the idea of Galahad taking off wasn’t too much of an issue.  The grass was very lush and it was taking all my energy to stop him eating.  He had been in the yard all day and was very determined!

20160614_192947We still had a bit of an argument about direction and speed – I wanted to walk down the hill away from the gate so we could canter round the field and back to the gate.  He didn’t see the point and wanted to cut the corner at speed.  I won though and I think the lesson has been learnt.

Galahad has also been acting as a table this week.  I dropped in to see my neighbour and as she wasn’t in decided to leave a note. There was nowhere else I could use!

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He made an admirable table and stood stock still so I was very pleased with him.  A good week all round.

Treccing

On Sunday Galahad and I went to our first trec POR competition.  I wasn’t really too worried about how he would behave – I was much more concerned about making sure that I had all the right equipment and that I didn’t make a fool of myself by getting lost.  Or just getting something wrong because I had never done it before and was not entirely sure how it all worked.  Thankfully the tack check was fine and I managed to copy the route onto my map with no trouble.  I was shown what the ticket points looked like, given my score card and we were ready to go.

Galahad was a bit too ready.  Something set him off and we went haring round the field with one stirrup.  I thought we were going to end up in the hedge but we got ourselves under control and finally set off properly.

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I hadn’t really given myself enough time in the map room to properly study the field system so I felt a little vulnerable through the first few fields – especially since the people at the start could still see me so it would be very obvious if I went wrong.   The joy of coming out of the final field and finding a lane looking like I expected was immense!

The next bit of navigation was fairly straightforward and I found a couple of the tickets which was comforting.  Galahad was very good about my getting off to mark my score card and he was mostly well behaved for the gates, although I did have to get off to do a couple.  The next complicated bit was again over some fields but I was fairly sure we were going the right way and at the top of the field we found a manned ticket point which confirmed it.  Sadly it also meant that I had missed one ticket but at least we were in the right place!

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We then had a relatively long stretch on a road which led down into the woods.  This is when it started pouring down with rain and even though we were fairly well sheltered by the trees I had to give in and put on my waterproof trousers.  It was at this point that my navigation went a bit up the creek.  I thought we were a lot further on through the woods than we actually were and took us left over a river we were not supposed to ford. When the path started climbing I was a bit concerned – we were meant to be following the contour lines so the track should have been fairly level.  I pushed on a little way but decided I was definitely wrong and turned back.  On the bright side Galahad walked straight through the river both ways and it did mean that he got the opportunity to have a drink.

Once we were back on the right track we were very quickly out of the woods and at the second checkpoint where Galahad got a bit of a rest.  From then on it was all road work so pretty simple navigation and our only problem came when Galahad took exception to the man at the finish and refused to go past.  He even spun around and started going back the other way – I ended up having to get off and lead him over the line.  A little embarrassing but at least we finished!

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I was very pleased with him – he finished still full of energy and apart from the mishaps right at the beginning and end he behaved very well in completely unknown territory and open spaces.  He was still pretty hot and sweaty despite the rain and definitely deserved his wash down.

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We were the only entry in our class which was sad, even if it did mean we won by default.  Several people in another class got completely lost though so we didn’t do too badly.  In fact, I was very pleased with our score – we lost points for missing the ticket point and for our speed but we still got 189 out of a possible 240 which was the high score of the day.  I was expecting us to be well over the optimum time and on the first half we were eleven minutes over (if only I hadn’t taken the wrong route!).  Weirdly we were ten minutes too fast on the second half.  That still meant time faults but hopefully it means that if  I practise measuring our speed we might be able to get fairly close to the optimum.

Overall it was a very successful day for us.  I had a fantastic time and I definitely want to do it again!

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A well deserved snack!

Practising

This week has mostly been spent getting Galahad used to anything he might encounter at out trec event on Sunday.  That even included wearing my new hat cover.  I used to fall off a lot if I was wearing something new so I got into the habit of making sure that I never wear something for the first time at an event.  It is a superstition that has stuck.  It has meant that Cookster has been neglected a bit riding wise but I’ll make it up next week.   Not that I suppose he minds!

I decided against using the saddle bags. Galahad was okay with them but he was definitely very aware of them and I thought that since everything will be very new to him anyway one less thing to worry about would probably be a good idea. Instead I will be using a backpack which I have worn on him several times before.

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I did need to get him used to a map case though.  Luckily, since we often take up our neighbour’s newspaper, he is used to me carrying flappy bits of paper and even having a sneaky read.  He was not at all fazed by the map case and I was even able to open it and hold it when we were going along.  Hopefully we will be able to make good use of that at the event.  I think we are as prepared as we can be!

Birthday Jumping

It has only taken me three months but this week I was finally able to use my birthday presents!

It was a very exciting moment as apart from the odd hop over a small log  we haven’t been able to jump at home since last autumn. My sister and I had a lovely time playing in the field and both ponies behaved very well.  Galahad loves jumping anyway but even Cookster was putting in some very nice jumps and looking beautiful.  Galahad is starting to take off further from the fences and is making a much better shape in general – I am very pleased with his progress.

We are starting to build up a proper little course now.  Hopefully we will be able to move the logs in from the other field soon and then we can have some cross country jumps too.  It is all very exciting!

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Trying New Things

Galahad and I are planning to go to another trec event next weekend.  This time we will just be doing the POR section, which is basically orienteering on horseback.  It is a fun introductory event and apparently first timers – that’s me – will get a lot of help. My map reading is not bad but I have no very clear idea of how the event works so I am glad there will be help!

There are several things we have to carry with us (compass, waterproofs, first aid kits…) which means that we really need some kind of saddlebags. It is another new experience for Galahad as he has never worn them before.  I started off leading him around the field with them on and making sure we went pretty fast to ensure they flapped as much as they were likely to.  Galahad didn’t seem bothered by them at all.  Hopefully that is a good sign of things to come.

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We are also practising riding in a headcollar as we will need to do that on the day as well.

A Wonderful Weekend

The ponies were due to come home after their back checks on Tuesday but I extended their stay to make it easier for me to compete at the weekend.  I had a short lesson with just a few jumps on the Friday night which went well on the flat but we had rather too many runouts when it came to jumping which did not fill me with confidence!

We went show jumping on Saturday and when I got on Galahad was the most relaxed I have ever felt him when out at an event.  I think he is getting used to it!  Our first class was 60cm and Galahad flew round without even hesitating anywhere.  He felt amazing.

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The jump off also went really well and we cut two corners we wouldn’t have been able to cut a few months ago.  We could have gone a bit faster but I was still very happy with the progress we had made.  I wasn’t expecting to get placed – Galahad only has little legs after all – but we ended up fifth.  Our first solo jumping rosette!  Our only other jumping rosette was in a pairs class and was mainly due to my very speedy partner.

We next rode in the 65cm class.  This time we had a little wobble in front of a (perfectly plain) fence when Galahad wanted to run out.  I managed to get him over the fence but it meant we knocked it down.  That was our only problem though and I was not really worried by the knockdown.  The fact that he jumped the fence when he hadn’t wanted to was far more important.

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It was the first time we had a photographer in the ring with us!  Galahad didn’t react to him at all.

Altogether it was a very successful day.  I went home and rode Cookster out still wearing my show gear and just in shirt sleeves as it had been absolutely gorgeous all day.  About half way round there was the most enormous clap of thunder and the heavens opened. We got completely drenched.  Cookster was a little worried by the thunder but behaved very well indeed so I was pleased with him too.

Both ponies went out on Sunday as they were getting dropped off home on the way back.  It was the first time Cookster has been anywhere other than home and my instructor’s yard but although he was noisy when they were separated he was very good.  It was Galahad who tried to barge out of the lorry after Cookster!

This time we were doing an eventer’s challenge – a show jumping round followed immediately by cross country.  Galahad had never been cross country before so I wasn’t at all sure how he would get on with all the scary jumps and we entered the 50cm class so we had a less testing start.  We jumped clear round the showjumping with six time faults.  The time was pretty tight though and I had less faults than the person before me so I was actually pleased with that.

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The cross country went less well as we had four runouts.  Two were at a wall which was quite intimidating and after the second I took the easier alternative.  If we had been at home I would have persevered with the wall but a competition didn’t seem the place to do that!  The other two runouts – one at a log and one at a double of roll tops – were a bit unnecessary really.  I definitely needed to channel Galahad better to hold him to the line.  However, he did seem to enjoy himself and he finished without running out of steam which had been another concern of mine.  I was thrilled with him.

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He even went straight through the water!

As I was doing such a small class everyone else was riding later in the day which meant that I had my own little team of grooms.  My pony was tacked up (almost the wrong pony!) whilst I dressed and when I dismounted he was taken off me, untacked and washed down.  It was like riding at Badminton!

There was also a small clear round jumping course in a corner of the lorry field which I decided to take Cookster round.  I was a bit worried about my steering as he very much wanted to go back to Galahad in the lorry and he is so good at loading his right shoulder that I was having a hard time turning him left as we warmed up.  However, once we got into the ring he went very nicely and the steering wasn’t an issue at all.  We had two fences down but he didn’t even think about stopping.  He isn’t nearly as coordinated as Galahad but he has had a lot less practise and I was very pleased with him.  I have never had two ponies competing before – it made me feel quite professional!

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I had an absolutely fantastic weekend filled with riding.  I was pretty tired (and a bit sunburnt) by the end but it was definitely worth it!