Stillness

The evening is one of my favourite times of the day.  When I go out to the stables everything is usually very still and the world seems very peaceful.  Unless there is a storm of course but that is different.

Last night I went out just as it was getting dark.  It was a lovely evening with a gentle breeze and only a faint hint of rain.  The church bells were ringing and made a wonderful musical backdrop to the yard chores.

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I tried to record the sound of the bells but all I could hear on the video was the absurdly loud stream.   I’m sure it was louder in the video than in real life.  Instead, here are the ponies cosily tucked up in bed (Cookster is invisible because he has his head in a bucket!).

Back to Square One

Cookster always used to be incredibly nappy when I rode him out alone.  I have been working hard on sorting that and he has come a long way – it has been while since he has tried to turn for home and if I have needed to mount whilst out on a hack he has recently been very good about standing still.  All our arguments about that seemed a thing of the past.

After the incident with the alpacas last week though, he has regressed.  If he thinks we are going anywhere near their field he will try to go home instead.   Mounting whilst out has become problematical again as well.  I feel like I have undone months of hard work just by stopping to take a picture.  We will get back to where we were but it is disheartening.

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On the bright side, Galahad is now once again the easier ride of the two and we have had some lovely hacks this week.  In between the showers of pouring rain the weather has been rather nice and refreshing.

The ponies were wormed this week and so are now in a new field with more grass than they had.  It is very exciting!

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Intimidating Alpacas

I mentioned on Sunday that I took all my photographs when riding Cookster because he was being far more sensible. Unfortunately,  that was only true up to a point.

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I was quite happily taking pictures of the alpacas when one came up very close to the fence.  That was rather nice and we stood there looking at it.  I could feel Cookster trembling a bit but didn’t think anything of it – after all, we have seen them many times before.

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Cookster suddenly whipped round and charged off back towards home.  At that point I was only wearing one glove and I was holding my phone so I didn’t have a great grip on the reins and our braking was not doing too well.  To make it worse, Cookster’s braking can be iffy at the best of times and hauling on the reins is not the way to stop him.

Luckily though we did manage to stop before we ran down the hill to the main road.  It is steeper than it looks in the photograph!

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I led him back past the alpacas and we carried on our way.  He was absolutely fine after that but I knew we would have to go back past them.  Cookster knew it too and was stopping dead a hundred yards before the alpacas’ field.  I could get him moving again but I ended up leading him past.  I didn’t really fancy charging down the hill to the main road.

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We have definitely got something to work on now!

A Blustery Ride

Today’s hack was definitely interesting.   It has been very blustery here for the past few days and Galahad was suitably spooky.

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Disclaimer: All of the ears in this post actually belong to Cookster. I wasn’t getting my camera out on a spooking pony!

First he was determined to walk over to the far corner of the field instead of straight to the gate.  Cookster frequently does this but it is new for Galahad.  I have no idea what is so exciting over there!  We had a bit of an argument but I did manage to persuade him to go the right way.

Next we were just approaching the gate in the lane when a bird rustled in the hedge. Normally that barely registers with him any more but today it was terrifying and we had to canter back up the lane again.   I got him back to the gate but he would not go past it.  He was quite happy to stand still next to it but walking past was apparently very dangerous.   In the end I had to lead him through the gate.

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After that our ride went pretty well.  He was having a good look at everything but didn’t properly spook again.  He was very determined to eat the grass but then the verges are a lot lusher than the fields at the moment – nobody is eating them!

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We also renewed our acquaintance with the alpacas who have appeared in the field again.  They haven’t been around for a while so it was nice to see them.

Enjoying the Sunshine

Today has been absolutely gorgeous.

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Galahad and I had a wonderful ride in the sunshine.  We met the postman (and had to backtrack out of his way) twice and stopped for a chat with my neighbour.  Galahad was very relaxed and stood beautifully still for a good twenty minutes.   He is so good at talking to people now.  Not so long ago he would have hated anyone patting him, especially with me in the saddle.

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It wasn’t only sunny  – it was lovely and warm too.  So much so that I rode out in a t-shirt and Galahad got to spend a few hours in the field without a rug which I’m sure he appreciated.

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Sunny Spring Evenings

The last few days have been absolutely beautiful here.  We have had the odd light shower but most of the time it has been sunny and fairly warm.

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 My sister and I had a lovely hack this evening.  The sun was just beginning to set but it was still shining and the sky was blue.  It certainly makes everything seem cheerful!

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There are lambs in the fields and daffodils everywhere.  The primroses are putting on a pretty good show too.  Spring is definitely here!

Intrepid Treccing

On Sunday Galahad and I had another trec event.  Most events in our area were cancelled – it was blowing a gale and pouring with rain (and sleet and hail).  We are pretty tough though so our event went ahead.   Luckily it was so windy that although the showers were very heavy they blew over pretty quickly.

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First of all we had a great lesson.  Galahad went over all the obstacles with no trouble at all.  The only issue we had was a group of scary people watching us.  We had a bit of an argument about whether to go past them.  Eventually I won – apparently he had a hilarious expression on his face when he realised he wasn’t going to get away with it.

We then had our individual class and Galahad was again really good.  Our main problem was that I did the neck reining obstacle in trot but got my reins in a bit of a mess and didn’t quite pull up in enough time before the next obstacle.  That happened to be the s-bend of poles which needs a bit more control than that!

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We also did not do well at the jump in hand.  Galahad was so good at it in training but I think I hadn’t given him enough space to think about it so he stopped dead before hopping over.  The judge still thought it was the best course she had seen us do though so I was very pleased.

Next we went straight into our pairs class which actually went even better.  The in hand jump was still not good – we didn’t get over it at all – but everything else was brilliant.  Galahad was a star and I was so proud of him.

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It turned out that we had managed to win both our classes.  That has never happened to us before so it was pretty exciting.  We had a fantastic day despite the weather and I am so looking forward to going again.

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Lovely Lesson

The day Galahad was clipped I managed to squeeze in a lesson before the ponies came home.  He had literally just been finished so he started off feeling rather fresh and bouncy.

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All at once though he started working really nicely  – in a proper outline and everything!  It was the most amazing feeling as he has not really done it consistently before.

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Sadly I failed to get any photographs at all from my lesson. These are old pictures from a trec training day!

It turned out to be a great lesson – I really managed to crack using my hand and leg to stop Galahad loading his shoulder and falling in. I’m not saying that it will never happen now but I least I know I can stop him!

Time for a shave

Whilst the ponies were away I managed to get them clipped.  It was definitely time – they were getting pretty hot and sweaty when I was riding them.

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Obviously, not all of this was their hair but they had quite a bit!  This time Galahad was a lot easier and quicker to clip – last year he had about ten years worth of not properly moulted hair to get rid of.  It took three sets of clipper blades and two days to clip him.  This year it only took about an hour!

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Cookster had never been clipped before but he stood like a rock and was incredibly  well behaved.  He only had a bib clip but I was so proud of him.