Sunny Schooling

Recently we have been having some absolutely glorious weather and it has been lovely to spend time outside.  It has often been too hot to ride except in the evenings or early mornings which is perfect for me when I am working!  The light is beautiful in the evenings and we have had some very enjoyable schooling sessions.

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I have very much enjoyed having the jumps back out again after we got the fields topped.  Galahad seems to have been enjoying them too.  His jumping has definitely improved in the last couple of months and he is taking off much further away from the jumps.  It feels rather odd still at the moment as I have got so used to him getting in close to the fences but it is a great step forward.

The Well Shod (Trimmed) Hoof

Last week the ponies had a visit from the farrier.  Neither of them are shod so they only get a trim and are now very good and standing still for him.  Galahad was never a problem – I think he was too worried to move to start with!  Cookster is fine now but did used to get bored and start to make a fuss.  He probably still gets bored but he can deal with it better now.  It may also help that we keep his feet a little longer as he can get a bit footsore.

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The farrier also noticed our fly zapper and when we mentioned how much the ponies hate the noise it makes – they still haven’t got used to it and will stand out in the blazing sunshine rather than the shade of the stable – he suggested an alternative.

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This apparently acts a bit like a Venus fly trap.  It is already hung up in the stable and is certainly starting to catch some flies.  Hopefully it will turn out to be effective.  The ponies are already happy to be in the stables again which is excellent news given the mini heatwave over the last couple of days!

Living the Dream

Sometimes living the dream is hard.

After our show last Sunday it took me nearly a week to get back in the saddle.  I finished the day utterly exhausted – which is fairly standard – but also coughing which is definitely not.  It turned out that I was coming down with a shocking cold which has left me feeling drained all week.  All I felt like doing was crawling out of bed to feed the ponies, heading off to work, coming home to sort the ponies again and falling back into bed.   It didn’t help that I was working away on Wednesday and Thursday so wasn’t even home on Wednesday night.  The poor ponies have had most of the week to themselves.   Not that I suppose they mind in the least.

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Yesterday I was still tired after work but I was fed up with not feeling up to riding and I forced myself out to the stables.  Cookster and I had a lovely relaxing hack up the hill which reminded me just how much I love to ride.  It was a beautiful evening and there was nobody about but us and the sheep.  If I am feeling a bit low or ill it can seem such a huge effort just to go outside but it is so worth it when I do.

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On Sunday we returned to the scene of Galahad’s showing debut.  This time the weather was much kinder to us, although it could hardly have been worse!  We did have the odd spot of rain but it was mostly dry all day and even sunny a lot of the time.

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Galahad and I again did the into dressage test which went reasonably well.  Our right bend was a bit iffy to start with and Galahad tripped over something invisible but I was overall very pleased with him.  I didn’t have my tame photographer with me this year so I have no pictures but I did have an audience – I met a couple of people in the warm up who are hoping to start some dressage with their own Exmoor and they walked over to watch me.

We didn’t do any actual showing this year but two jumping classes instead.  The first was the 2’3″ novice pony which we flew round (we had a few wobbles in the lines between fences but jumped all the jumps well) and got into the jump off.  Unfortunately our steering went a bit for that so we came at rather too acute an angle into a fence and knocked it down.  There were seven of us in the jump off and two with four faults but sadly I was just a bit slower and missed out on a place.

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The next class was the 2’3″ open.  Although it was listed as the same height the first class had been quite a bit below height and so the fences went up and fillers were added.  I knew I had to ride positively and I was very focused on getting Galahad over the wall at fence two.  He sailed over and I was so pleased with him that I relaxed a bit too much and we had a runout at the next fence.  It was such a shame as he popped over with no trouble at our second attempt.  The rest of the course went very well apart from one rail down so I was thrilled with him.

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That was the end of the day for Galahad and he spent the rest of the afternoon snoozing and munching on his haynet.  I on the other hand was kept very busy – my instructor had brought several children for their first show and I was needed first as support in the mini jumping and second as a leader for the gymkhana races.  It was exhausting!  I did get some very good cake out of it though so I was well rewarded.

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As I lovely finish to the day I went to collect my dressage score sheet and found I had come fourth with a score of 59.34%.  We had some nice comments, expecially about our walk.  Now we just need to work on the trot!

Back to Nature

One of the lovely things about riding is the wildlife we get to see.  I have written before about the wrens and swallows but we also often get very close to rabbits and even the occasional deer.

This week I found these beautiful moths in Galahad’s stable.  I imagine they were attracted by the light of the fly zapper but luckily they are too big to fit between the bars.  They stuck around for a couple of days and they were a wonderful addition to the menagerie.

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Being Eaten Alive

The time of year has come when the flies are getting to be a bother.

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It turns out that it is very difficult to photograph the flies bothering your pony.  If you look carefully you can just about see them!

The deosect worked very well for us last year and is being useful again this year.  The ponies have also been wearing their fly masks for a good couple of months, although Galahad’s could definitely do with a few repairs!  He has been very good at keeping it on recently but normally he is a proper Houdini and I am constantly having to hunt the field for it.

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We have a new fly zapper in the stables.  The old one was really only designed for indoor use and the stables are not indoor enough.  The ponies are not at all keen on the noise it makes when a fly is killed and run out of the stable every time.  We are working on desensitising them and they are definitely improving.  I am loathe to turn it off as it has had a visible effect on the number of flies around the yard.  The ponies don’t seem to be suffering so I am hoping that it will work out well in the end.

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New Lodgers

After the wrens in Galahad’s stable we got a swallows’ nest in Cookster’s.

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There are five chicks and to start with they seemed a lot less active than the wrens.  They sat very still and it was pretty hard to see them. After a while I began to hear them cheeping when the adults flew in to feed them but they were still very quiet between times.

The babies are all flying now, although they are still sticking close to the nest.  I have had to rescue one a couple of times when it has got caught between the ponies and a window – they haven’t quite figured out glass yet!

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Luckily none of them have been hurt.  One of them did once end up on its back on the floor but thankfully the ponies were out in the field so there were no big feet to get in the way.  The chick was a bit stunned and took a minute to right itself but did fly off quite happily.

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It is lovely having them all flying around the stables and I shall miss them when they are gone.