Relaxing Week

20170422_192751After our busy weekend  we have had a very relaxing week.  The ponies each had a couple of days off and we have had some lovely, calming hacks.

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Galahad did have one mini schooling session  – we were trying out a new bit for cross country and I wanted to ride with it in the small field first before we used it in earnest.  Apart from that it has been a nice quiet week.

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The weather has been mixed.  One day we had hail, sleet and snow (sometimes all at once), others had pouring rain and still others had glorious sunshine.  It has been a great week though and I have enjoyed the hacking very much indeed.  I think the ponies did too!

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TREC Winter Awards Show

For once we had a glorious day for our trec competition on Sunday.  It certainly helped bring a cheerful atmosphere to the final event of the winter season.  Although I wasn’t so sure when I saw these little people in the arena!

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They had a tarpaulin right behind them and I was sure Galahad was not going to like them one bit.  I was watching all the in hand competitors walking their course and bemoaning the fact that I hadn’t entered – at least then he would have got a chance to see them before I rode him at them.  I was told I was welcome to enter as someone had pulled out.  I jumped at the chance!

I hadn’t done a full in hand class before so my brain wasn’t really engaged.  I forgot I was meant to be walking as quickly as possible until we were halfway through the control of paces section and I completely forgot I could trot under the low branches.  I was really treating it as extra training for the ridden class.  I did notice that without me riding Galahad negotiated the s-bend with no trouble at all.  Clearly all our problems lie with my dodgy aids when riding!

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Photo credit: Rosie Squires

It was good fun though and I was pleased with how relaxed Galahad was  – he even walked straight past the gnomes with no trouble.   That did get us my favourite ever comment on the score sheet – ‘Slight gnome tension.’

I wasn’t expecting to place well at all as the other competitors had been doing this class many times over the winter.  However, my name kept not being called and we ended up winning.  It was a bit embarrassing really but obviously I was thrilled.  It was completely down to Galahad being sensible.

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Photo credit: Rosie Squires

We then went straight into our individual ridden class.  There were only two entries in this but I knew the others were more than capable of beating us.  The control of paces went well – hopefully we have cracked that now – but the first ridden obstacle was bending.  Galahad went round the first two posts and then just charged past the rest. Not a good start. The rest of the course felt a bit messy and worst of all was the immobility.  We have never scored less than a ten for that but on Sunday he only stood still for six seconds.  It was just one of those days.  On the bright side the gnomes were not an issue at all.

The gate was still a problem though – we didn’t even manage to open it.  We did show an improvement as Galahad would actually stand next to it this time. Baby steps.

 We went a little better in the pairs class.  The gate was still an issue but the immobility was back on track and we managed to do the bending properly.  It wasn’t pretty  – we had some very wide turns – but we did complete it with no mishap.

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Photo credit: Rosie Squires

The prize giving was again a bit of a surprise.  We were the only entry in the pairs class so we were expecting to win that (our first sash!) but we had also just managed to scrape the prize in the individual class.  We got a trophy for that one. Galahad stood like a rock and let our rosette and trophy be handed up to me.  I was incredibly proud of him but I got off before we received the sash.  That would have been pushing it too far!

Not only that, as this was the final event of the season the league prizes were presented and we were reserve champion in the novice rider class.  At the beginning of the season that was such an unlikely event that I didn’t even consider it.  We have worked hard though and the improvement in Galahad has been amazing.  I am so proud of how far he has come.

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Still Working Hard

We are still working hard at our gate opening for the next trec competition.

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We are at the point now where it is not so hard for us to get the gate open.  Even walking through the gate is going well.

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The only real difficulty now is trying to close the gate again.  Our rein back when neck reining is not great at the moment – we can go backwards but not in a straight line!

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This makes it just a little hard to get the rope back on the post.  My arms just aren’t long enough!  It is such huge progress though and I am sure the rest will come in time.  At least he does not seem to be afraid of the rope any more.

Shepherd Pony

We had a very exciting ride yesterday  – we were halfway up the hill when a lamb appeared in front of us.  Then there was another one and soon the ewe materialised as well.

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We obviously wanted to get them off the road and back into the field.  Unfortunately,  they took one look and ran away from us – and the gate.  I left  my sister and the ponies guarding the gate and set off in pursuit,  wondering how I was going to pass the sheep to turn them back.

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Luckily they darted off to the side and it looked like they had found the spot where they escaped.  They popped back over the bank and into the field.  It may have been the wrong field but at least they were safe and off the road.  It was a very satisfying job done.

Back to Jumping

Another result of the field drying out is that I can finally use my birthday present pole sleeve and filler.

Galahad was being a bit awkward steering wise as he wanted to go and talk to Cookster so he did run out once or twice.  We perservered though and eventually got some very nice jumps from him.

It is the first time he has jumped for several months and also the first time he has jumped a filler like this so I was actually quite pleased with him.  We also popped over a water tray and a log a few times – we had a rather productive session really.  It was great to be able to school again and we had a lot of fun.

Getting to Grips with Gates

All this wonderful weather we have been having for the past couple of weeks has meant that the fields are drying out nicely.  That is good in itself but it also means that I am able to school again – hurrah!

The very first thing I wanted to work on was our gate opening. We have another trec competition coming up next week and I really want to have improved before that.  Plus, if I work on it then the chances are it won’t come up in the course!

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I wanted to take things slowly so we started by just walking past the gate.  Working on a circle so Galahad’s head was slightly turned away from it definitely helped.  That wasn’t a problem so we moved onto stopping and standing still but still not trying to actually touch the gate.  That took a bit more work as Galahad wanted to swing away from the gate so he was facing it and could see if it tried to attack him!

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From there we progressed to lifting the rope and putting it back again and before long we could open the gate and walk through it – from both directions of course.

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We still can’t close it again but we made huge strides in just one session and I am thrilled with that.

Galloping Galahad

Last week I mentioned that that I was hoping to have some good hacks this week.  I was not disappointed!  We have had a glorious  week of sunshine and some wonderful rides.  We also managed to get into my neighbour’s fields for a canter for the first time this year which was excellent!

The first time we just stuck to a fairly steady circuit of the smaller field.  Both ponies were very well behaved and quite sedate really.

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A couple of days later we rode up again and also went into the larger field.  We had a lovely canter up one side and then walked past the pheasant farm which seems to have grown.  We stopped to have a better look – until Galahad decided it was far too scary and took off across the field.  He even threw in a few bucks for good measure which is something he hasn’t done for a long time.  I did manage to pull him up and we did walk down the hill but we did have to have to have a bit of an argument first.

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 Once we did get down the hill we had a lovely canter back up again and we did then have another nice canter back in the first field.  We even walked sensibly away from Cookster so my sister could take the photograph.

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Galahad does seem to have got into a bit of a habit of taking off sometimes when we go out for a canter.  I think it is more joie de vivre than anything else but it is still not a good thing.  It is definitely something we need to work on.

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We still had a lovely few days though and are so much enjoying ourselves.

Not Working Too Hard

I have written several times about the relaxing rides I have had on Cookster but I don’t think I have ever done the same for Galahad.  In fact, sometimes I find that I am unconsciously nagging him when we are hacking.

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I don’t know if it is because I can’t school at the moment (although I think the field is very nearly dry enough) and I am trying to make up for that.  Obviously it is good to school out hacking but I don’t want to be nagging all the time.  Besides, it is such a wonderful feeling to be more relaxed when hacking.

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This week though, I was riding Galahad and suddenly realised that we were walking where normally we would be trotting.  Not only that, I was completely calm and relaxed.  We have now had a couple of hacks like it and they have been wonderfully peaceful.  It has been so great to finally get to ride Galahad in this way.

Enjoying The Sunshine

We have had some wonderful weather over the past few days.  The sun has been shining and it has been really warm.

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Galahad has spent most of the days without his rug and he has definitely been making the most of the time – he is constantly covered in mud!

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Yesterday I was out for the evening so it was my Dad who had to put the rug back on.  Galahad did not want to cooperate.   He was apparently quite happy for my Mum to feed him apples but he kept one eye firmly on my Dad and whenever he moved the headcollar Galahad would jump away.

In the end, he had to catch Cookster and take him up to the stables.  Galahad then followed, walked straight into the stable and was quite happy to have his rug put on.  He  is usually fine to catch but he certainly likes to keep us on our toes!

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The forecast suggests that we should continue to have some good weather for the next few days so I am looking forward to some lovely hacking.