Trimming the Grass

After weeks of  no rain it is suddenly raining a LOT.  At least, we have been having some very heavy showers.  Which means that the grass is finally starting to grow a bit.  Of course, it isn’t growing as much as the weeds so the fields needed topping to control them.  Which was rather sad as the buttercups are beautiful.

20170510_191630.jpg

Still, it had to be done and it is looking a lot better for it.  The next job will be harrow the fields and they will be perfect!

20170510_193554-1.jpg

 

Not According to Plan

The ponies are having an impromptu holiday.

20170510_193902.jpg

I mentioned last week that I had been unwell – I am not really any better and now I have pulled the muscles down one side as well.  All in all I’m feeling a bit fragile and sitting on a pony just seems a bit dangerous at the moment.

That doesn’t often stop me but you can tell I’m not feeling great – the ponies haven’t been ridden for a week.   That is a very rare occurrence and it is rather odd.  On the bright side, I’m sure they are loving their time off!

20170510_194056

On a side note, yes Galahad should be wearing a fly mask too.  As he so often does he had pulled it off right at the far end of the field.  Such is life.

Saddle Fitting

I have recently noticed that the back of Galahad’s saddle had started sliding a little side to side.  Not all the time but enough to make me think I ought to check the fit.  Especially as I also noticed that he was moulting unevenly where his saddle sits.  You can see lighter marks on his back in the pictures from our last trec competition.

FB_IMG_1493229283829

The saddler came on Friday, took one look at Galahad and said he thought he could see the problem.  Even before he saw the saddle!

He said that Galahad is a much better shape than he was when the saddle was fitted and has more of a wither.  That means he is narrower so the saddle was tipping forward and therefore lifting at the back.  Obviously,  that allowed the saddle to slip from side to side.

20170507_135458.jpg

I am so glad I decided on an adjustable saddle.  All we needed was to swap the extra wide gullet for a wide one and the saddle is fine again.  It was well worth the investment!

Dressage Divas

Sorry for the late posting this week – I have a horrible cough and was feeling pretty miserable yesterday.  However, I am pretty excited as I had another horsey birthday present which I am able to use now the field has dried out nicely – dressage markers!

DSCN6815.JPG

These are doubly exciting as not only can I practise my tests in a properly marked out arena, I will hopefully be able to enter some online dressage competitions.    I have never done that before but as someone with no horsey transport it seems an excellent idea and I am so excited to give it a go.

DSCN6813.JPG

My arena is not hugely accurate at the moment – I paced it out rather than using a tape measure and it made it quite clear that walking in a straight line is not my strong point!  It is great to finally be able to use them though.

DSCN6808

 

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.

20170422_192831.jpg

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.

20170426_194312

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!

20170430_144923.jpg

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!

20170423_134153

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!

FB_IMG_1493229280414

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.

FB_IMG_1493229301390

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.

FB_IMG_1493229297945

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.

DSCN5117[1].JPG

Still Working Hard

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

20170419_193133

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.

20170419_193139.jpg

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!

20170419_193200.jpg

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.

20170417_111512.jpg

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.

20170417_112023.jpg

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!

20170406_102412

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!

20170406_103348

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.

20170406_103355

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