The ponies have gone away for a short working holiday. Galahad and I are going to a dressage competition on Saturday and I have been making the most of a couple of days off to use my instructor’s school for a bit of practice.
The ponies were collected yesterday morning, although owing to some crossed wires we were ready twelve hours too soon. We had some nice in hand grazing time though!
Galahad and I had a pretty good schooling session yesterday and a proper lesson today. I was pleased with how we did – especially compared to the lack of brakes in our last lesson! I was having some trouble getting the correct canter lead on the right rein and we really need to work on getting Galahad’s near hind leg working correctly. It has always been his weak point but it has improved immensely and I am generally pleased with him.
Driving home was fun – the snow in the middle of the road was frozen hard and high enough to scrape the bottom of my car – I thought for a moment I was going to get stuck!
Just when we thought that spring was on its way, this happened.
This winter storm has been dubbed the ‘mini beast from the East’ which, as my sister says, rather suggests a woodlouse with a snow machine.
We drove home last night through a proper snow storm but about two miles from home the snow suddenly just stopped and we thought we would get none at all. It did eventually start snowing though and by this morning everything was white.
I always find the snow fascinating for watching wildlife – the tracks are great – and this morning I spent quite some time watching the pair of thrushes that arrived here recently. I am very much hoping that they will nest and we will have a little brood of them.
We also had a proper snowball fight for the first time in ages – the snow last time was not great for snowballs. We even built a little snowman!
We did managed to go for a very short ride. Galahad was a little chilly to start with and it didn’t really feel safe to go too far but it was wonderful to get to use my riding skirt in earnest!
By that time a lot of the snow had melted but as we came back in it was snowing again and pretty soon all the green was hidden once more. It is still snowing now, although not as much as it was, and I will soon be curled up by the fire with a book and a cup of tea. It is a pretty good day.
Our hacking at the weekend was pretty exciting – relatively speaking. First Cookster and I met our neighbour and then immediately afterwards a Waitrose van. At first I was hugely impressed with the amount it slowed down for us – especially as we weren’t actually on the road at the time. Then I realised it was trying to turn into the same lane as us and so it had to slow down because we were just in the way. Oops.
Next we encountered a lady in her back garden chasing away the pheasants. As she lives on the edge of a pheasant shoot I think she is fighting a losing battle! Cookster was remarkably calm about that though and barely batted an eyelid. We then of course met the Waitrose van coming back but this time I made sure we were well out of the way.
Galahad and I had a very calm ride really and only met one car. They were extremely good at slowing down to pass us – so much so that Galahad started to grow restless waiting on the verge. I had pulled him up from what he thought was going to be a canter and he was not overly happy about it. It was lovely to see that the driver was so aware of slowing down to pass us though.
As you can see, it was rather a wet day but we had a great time!
By Sunday it was safe enough to ride again so Galahad and I set off up the hill. I love the snow but it did feel good to be riding.
Not that all the snow was gone – it wasn’t quite clear in the valley and we didn’t have to go far up the hill to find more.
It is all gone now and what with the heavy frosts and a few sunny, dry days, the ground was beginning to dry out and show signs of recovering from our very wet winter.
For the last couple of days though it has poured with rain and the mud is just as bad as it ever was. It does make life interesting – we usually use the stream to soak the ponies’ overnight haynets and with it flowing as strongly as it is at the moment that takes quite a bit of strength!
Even before the snow came last week we were living in a beautiful, frozen landscape. The mud had frozen hard, which make walking much easier, and even the stream froze – in some places all the way across.
It wasn’t quite strong enough to bear my weight but the dog had no problems at all. I’m not even sure she realised it wasn’t normal ground.
The water tank in the yard was very well frozen and that was enough to bear my weight. In fact, it was a bit of a problem because although we could break the ice it just kept freezing throughout the day. Once the snow came the ponies were eating a lot more hay which meant they needed more water too. We had to increase the number of water buckets inside the stables – they still froze but with only a very thin layer of ice – and we periodically topped them up with warm water as well. The ponies loved that!
We also stopped soaking the overnight haynets for a while too. They just froze solid and made eating very difficult indeed for the ponies!
Despite the problems though, everything was simply beautiful and I miss the frost now the rain has come back and we are once again sloshing through the mud.
In the end we were let off pretty lightly with the snow this week. We had a blizzard forecast to start at three on Thursday afternoon and it arrived bang on time. There were some absolutely beautiful snowflakes – something I haven’t seen very often.
By five o’clock we had a pretty decent covering of snow – enough for some tobogganing – and by Friday morning everything was white. The high winds meant that it was hard to tell just how much snow had fallen – some places had a couple of inches and in others there were drifts over a foot deep. It might not sound like much but we hardly get any snow down here (we live in a valley and are pretty sheltered) so even that is very exciting for us.
In some patches the snow had blown away altogether – as you can see, the lane is very patchy. However, all the bits with no snow were covered with a sheet of ice so it was still extremely slippery.
I love the snow though so I have been having a whale of a time. The ponies haven’t minded it either, although they have been a bit skittish – possibly because they aren’t getting much exercise. I was impressed at their snow-scraping skills – they first saw a decent amount of snow eight years ago and have barely seen any since, yet they still know how to find the grass!
The long expected Arctic blast is beginning to make itself felt here. The temperature has plummeted but we have been having beautiful weather.
The ground has frozen nicely and we can walk over the top of the mud now instead of wading through it. These footprints were made just the day before I took the photograph.
Our big rainwater tank is also now frozen enough to bear my weight.
It holds a lot of water and it needs to be pretty cold to do that. It’s always one of the highlights of the winter if I can ‘skate’!
Yesterday we finally had some snow. It may not be much compared to the rest of the country but we get so little of it down here that even a small amount is exciting. I love snow!
Yesterday was an off day for me riding wise. I mentioned in my last post that I have been watching a lot of the Olympics recently and as it is in Korea most of the coverage is overnight here. Which means that I have missed quite a bit of sleep over the past few weeks.
I am one of those people who need about eight hours sleep a night – although I’m not very good at making sure that I get that! I have therefore been suffering a bit from lack of sleep and yesterday I ended up not riding at all.
Sometimes that’s okay though. The ponies don’t care – as long as they are warm and fed they are perfectly happy. There are some days when it is important to take time to recover.
Not that I didn’t spend time with the ponies. I still had stables (and a sheep pen!) to muck out and a dog to exercise. She tried to be helpful too by carrying a whole section of hay across the yard. I was not impressed and neither were the ponies who exploded!
It was a beautiful day and I very much enjoyed my time outside. The time to rest definitely helped too and this morning I was back to business as usual.
Sam over at Haynet recently set a challenge for horse bloggers to post five photos showing a day in our lives with the horses. I chose to use a work day – it might be less interesting but it does give a much better idea of what a typical day is like for me.
At the moment my days all start with me turning out the ponies. They are kept in at night over the winter – more to save the ground a bit than to protect them from the elements. It is still too dark to ride before work at the moment, although it won’t be long until it is possible. There are very promising signs already!
I have to drive ten miles to work every day. On the day I chose for the challenge – last Friday – it happened to be a frosty morning and my windscreen was simply beautiful.
Lunchtime at work is usually the time I take to update myblog’s social media accounts. I might also do a bit of writing for the blog itself and I will almost certainly be reading as well. I do like to get outside when I can and I love to sit and read outdoors but it was far too cold on Friday!
It is definitely also too dark to ride after work at the moment, especially as most days I have other commitments as well – things like dance classes and a book club. The ponies are often waiting at the gate for me when I get home – they can be very affectionate when they think they might get some food!
Once the ponies are tucked up in bed I can sit down with a cup of tea by the fire. At the moment I am watching a lot of Olympics and this is often the time when I will type up my blog posts.
Sam will be collating the statistics for the hash tag at the end of the month and it will be interesting to see what kind of reach it has had. I am already enjoying seeing everyone’s pictures and I look forward to reading blog posts about it. Go and search for #5photos1day or maybe try the challenge for yourself!
This week we went out to tack up the ponies in beautiful sunshine. It was a glorious day and I was looking forward to a lovely, relaxing ride.
By the time we started up the hill, the sky behind us had gone ominously dark and we could see the weather closing in. It was still beautiful though.
Before long the hail started and Galahad’s mane was filled with pretty beads.
For the first time I felt that my riding skirt was serving a genuine purpose – protecting my poor little clipped pony from all those hailstones.
We did have a lovely ride nonetheless and despite the hail it was nice and relaxing. A wonderful way to spend a morning.