Dealing with Ditches

After our ‘ditch’ troubles last Sunday I decided I really ought to practise those trec obstacles I can recreate at home so I went out and bought a couple of small trays we could school over.  The first day I just put the trays across the doorway of Galahad’s stable.  If he wanted his dinner he needed to walk over them.  I just left him to it and although he thought about it he actually went in without too much trouble.  Taking the pressure off sometimes works well for him.

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I moved on to leading Galahad through a gap between the two trays.  He did hesitate slightly but then walked through easily.  I gradually moved the trays closer together and he didn’t object at all.  I didn’t want to push it so left it at that.

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In our next session I started lunging him through the gap – mainly because he is often braver when being led than he is when ridden.  I wanted to make sure that he would go through without having me to follow.  Obviously I was still asking him to go forward but then I would be when riding him as well.

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Again he went through with no problems but when I closed the gap he was having none of it.  I put in a couple of guide poles and suddenly it all clicked.

I realise he isn’t actually stepping in the trays but the point of the ditch in trec is for the horse to get over calmly – stepping all the way over is absolutely fine!

I am so pleased with the progress Galahad has made in just a couple of days.  Now I just need to get on and ride him over!

Out and About

Sunday dawned bright and clear – a perfect day for competing.  I got so cold riding on Saturday that I put on a lot of layers on Sunday. Naturally it was warmer on Sunday and I didn’t really feel like I needed them but I was glad of them later in the day.

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I was completely rubbish at getting up so I had to rush through the chores and then enlisted my sister’s help – she washed off Galahad’s feet and fed me breakfast.  Literally!  Luckily I had packed the night before and we were ready when my lift arrived.

We had about two hours to wait before our first class so I got to watch some training classes which were pretty useful.  Galahad stood tied to the lorry the whole time and was very good indeed.

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Anyone who saw my trec training post might know that I was hoping we wouldn’t get a gate to open in our course.  I also didn’t want the wooden ‘bridge’ as Galahad is not too happy walking over it.  I was thrilled to find that neither of them was on my individual course.  The gate was in my pairs course but I decided not to think about that!

I got on Galahad and he felt amazingly calm and relaxed – much more than he usually is at events.  We didn’t really have any spooking all day – just the odd stop to have a good look at people.

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Our individual class went pretty well.  The first part is the control of paces – walking fast and cantering slowly.  I never expect to get points for walking (we only have little legs) but normally we do well on the canter (again, little legs – our fast canter counts as slow!).  However, this time I was trying to be too clever and slow the canter too much so we broke into trot.  Twice.

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Apart from that – which was completely my fault – I was really pleased with our round.  Galahad refused point-blank to walk over the water tray but he had never seen one before except under a jump.  If we could school over one I am sure he would be fine. He also refused the tarpaulin which is not usually a problem for us.  Everything else was brilliant.  We had never done the low branches obstacle mounted before so we stuck to a walk.  I needn’t have worried though – Galahad just walked straight through with no hesitation.  I didn’t ride the S-bend of poles very well but Galahad figured out his feet by himself like the clever pony he is.

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We next had a pairs class over the same obstacles plus the gate.  This time I just focused on keeping the controlled canter going and we scored 15 points out of a possible 30 which was pretty good!

Again the obstacles went pretty well.  He still wouldn’t walk over the water tray but we did at least manage to open the gate which was better than I thought.  Of course, to get any points we needed to walk through the gate and close it again!  Still, it was a start.  The low branches were set a little higher this time and we trotted through easily.  Now I just need the confidence to canter and get even more points.  The same goes for the bending poles – I know Galahad can do it at home but it is very different at a competition!

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We came away with a third in the individual and a second in the pairs.  Our scores were a bit lower than they have been in the past but given our lack of practise that is hardly surprising.  For me the day was still a complete success because Galahad’s behaviour was impeccable.  He was so calm and relaxed all day, he let people pet him and he was even happy for a lady to have a good look at his saddle – she has an Exmoor cross and is struggling to find a saddle to fit him.  It was an amazing day and a great start to 2017.

Trec Training

This weekend I will be taking Galahad to another trec event.  It will be his first outing since August and the first trec PTV (basically an obstacle course) for almost a year.

I haven’t really practised a huge amount over obstacle since then.  The idea of the obstacle course is to recreate the sort of things we might find out hacking and obviously we get to do a lot of that.  We are well versed in opening gates and I try to make sure we walk over all sorts of different surfaces.  We are also very much used to riding under low branches!

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The trouble is that doesn’t necessarily transfer well to the man-made obstacle course.  Take the gate opening.  Galahad has got very good at this and unless the gate is particularly tricky I rarely have to dismount nowadays.  In a competition though, marks are lost every time the rider lets go of the gate.  Galahad is not too keen on the gate closing behind him so at the moment I normally have to let go.  It is fine for hacking but not so great for competition.

Apart from that, sometimes the gate is not a real gate at all but made of rope.  Galahad doesn’t like them much either, although he was getting better.  I think he has regressed over the winter but that is entirely my fault for not working on it.  I did build a little course in the last couple of days so at least we aren’t going in entirely unprepared.

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This is my sister and Cookster on their first attempt at my rope gate.  They made it look easy – perhaps I should take Cookster to compete instead of Galahad!

I know we will have fun and it will be interesting to see how we do compared to last year.  There will almost certainly be some brand new obstacles we have never seen before anyway!

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I couldn’t find the tarpaulin so used feed sacks instead.  The puppy though she would be helpful!

Job Satisfaction

I am terrible at procrastination.  I seem to have a constant list of small jobs which need doing but something more important comes up and after all they can always be done tomorrow.  Last weekend though I had a free day and made the most of it to get some yard chores done.

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My jumps have been lying in the field for the last few weeks – unusable because the ground is so slippery.  I have been wanting to get them put away – obviously I don’t want them to rot!

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Sorry the picture is so blurry – it doesn’t look it but it was getting dark!

As is almost always the case it turned out to be a much smaller job than I had anticipated and didn’t take long at all.  They are still outside but they are not sitting in the wet any more which is the main thing.  Hopefully I will get around to painting them this winter.

 

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I also managed to get the yard properly cleaned and swept.  I keep it pretty clean anyway but the ponies are always tracking in mud which needs scraping off every so often.  Again,something I have been putting off for a while!

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Lastly I filled the water trough.  Obviously, it always has water in it but if I am in a hurry – and I usually am – I just make sure that there is enough in it to last the day.  It takes quite a long time to fill the whole thing but it does mean it won’t need doing again for a few days.

It is incredible satisfying to get the yard chores done.  Having the afternoon to do them all made me feel like a proper equestrian!

Bearing the Burden

This week Galahad has been learning to wear his saddlebags.  I bought them in the summer before we went on our trec expedition but decided not to use them as we didn’t really have much time for him to get used to them.  He was facing a lot of new things at once and I didn’t want to push him too far and make him panic.  I have now finally got around to using them when I am riding and Galahad behaved very well – he didn’t really react at all.

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I picked a great day for it though.  We started out for our hack and were almost immediately faced with our neighbour’s recycling bin.  We ride past it every week but we had to stop and stare at it before we could walk past.  Next I noticed that the paper had been delivered for another neighbour so I picked it up to take up the hill.  I decided not to put it in the saddlebags because I wanted Galahad to get used to the idea of them before I started putting things in them.  We set off up the hill with only one and a half hands on the reins.

Just as we got up the first slope a squirrel ran across the road and up a tree.  It was very scary and we had to shy at it (of course).  Luckily Galahad didn’t actually spin all the way round and charge off.  I’m not sure I was in a state to stop him!

Next we met my neighbour driving down to collect the recycling box.  He stopped the engine but for some reason Galahad wasn’t at all keen to go past.  He didn’t spook but he did have to walk very slowly towards the car!  Almost as soon as we were past I heard the beep of a lorry reversing.  I waited in a spot where it would have room to turn and discovered that it was a man delivering coal.  Not something we meet every day!  I was convinced Galahad would be terrified but he didn’t turn a hair – just stood there calmly watching.  I was so proud!

By this point I had decided that Galahad was fine with the saddlebags so I stuck the newspaper in and we trotted off up the rest of the hill.

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We delivered the paper with no trouble and set off for home.  Most of the excitement was over by then but we did have to stop for a good look where the squirrel had been.  It could easily have been lurking ready to pounce!  As we got closer to the main road it seemed as if almost every lorry in existence was driving past.  They don’t come up the lane but it looked pretty hectic in the valley.

Despite all the excitement we had a lovely ride.  Now I can look forward to longer hacks and picnics in the summer!

Pony Pedicures

Last week the ponies had another visit from the farrier so they now have beautifully trimmed feet.

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He was very pleased with their feet and told us to keep on with whatever we are doing to them and feeding them.  Which isn’t much really!

Galahad is normally pretty good for the farrier.  He stands still but tends to be very tense.  This time my sister offered him a lick whilst he was having his feet trimmed.  Cookster often has one as he is terrible at standing still but I haven’t tried it with Galahad before.  It turned out to work very well and he was much more relaxed than usual.  Something to remember.

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Beautiful Bank Holiday

As we had a bank holiday on Monday I was working slightly shorter hours and just about had time to ride before work.  I almost didn’t make it – I am not really a morning person – but I am so glad I did.  Galahad and I had a lovely hack and we got to watch the sunrise which was beautiful.

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Galahad’s antlers and tinsel are all packed away for the year now but there is still rather a lot of glitter around.  Not so much on him any more  (although there are a few traces in his mane and tail) but it seems to be all over the floor.  The yard looks quite magical!

A Very Merry Christmas

We have had a lovely Christmas.  We had some great rides over the past week and even got in a spot of carol singing which was fun.

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We had chocolate coins and the ponies got apples and pony treats which were much appreciated.  We also finished most rides with some hot chocolate – it has been pretty chilly!

We also finally managed to paint the ponies’ toes gold. It wasn’t entirely successful as we had to wash their hooves and the glitter didn’t want to stick to wet feet.  We still had fun though!

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My parents came for a walk on our New Year’s Day ride and Galahad was not at all keen on my Mother’s wrap.  He was desperate to dash past her  and even wound Cookster up a bit. Once I had let him stop to have a proper look though he was fine.  He just doesn’t like not knowing what things are!

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I hope you all had very happy Christmases (or are having – Epiphany is not until Friday and we are keeping out the antlers as long as possible!).

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