Galahad Needs a Hairdresser

I have to admit that I do not brush Galahad’s mane very often.  Partly this is because it always looks more or less smooth and tangle free.

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Partly also it is because I only ever brush his tail when we go to a show.  It is so thin anyway that I don’t want to make it worse!  However, this week I realised that the bottom layer of his mane had got rather matted and it was really time that I did something about it.

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Luckily I have recently stocked up on mane and tail conditioner so the job wasn’t as difficult as it might have been.  Even so, it took me a while as his mane is so very thick – I had half of it pushed over the other side of his neck and the bit I had left was still thicker than the average mane.

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As you can see, it was high time that the job was done.  I couldn’t believe how much loose hair he had!

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It was a very satisfying job and it always nice to spend time just grooming a pony.  It is a wonderful bonding exercise!

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Brilliant Burghley

I am just back from Burghley Horse Trials and I had such a wonderful time!  We didn’t book early enough to stay in Stamford itself but the railway makes it easy to get in every day.

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We arrived on Wednesday for the trot up and thanks to a miscommunication with our taxi driver we had all our luggage with us and were very nearly too late.

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I still enjoyed it though and it was good to get our bearings a little bit before the event proper started.  We  found a lovely little gate which saved us a lot of time!

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The two days of dressage were excellent.  I find it very encouraging to see that the professionals don’t always score eights and nines – there were even a few ones!  The leader board was changing right up until the end of Friday which always makes things more interesting!   I was surprised though at the number of people who thought it was okay to move about during the tests.  I have always been taught to stay still and be quiet until the test is over.

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There was also some great lunchtime entertainment.  On Thursday we got to watch a gundog display which taught me that my dog will get madder as she grows up.  Very encouraging.

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Friday had two masterclasses with Chris Bartle and Richard Waygood.  Ros Canter and Alex Postolowsky were the riders and I found it so interesting to watch.  Hopefully I learnt something too.

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Saturday had blazing sunshine all day long but since there were only sixty cross country starters we had to hurry a bit to make sure we got round the course.  It was so hot!  Several times I had to stop from a rest in the shade.

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It was a fantastic course and I had a brilliant day.  I’m sure we could get closer to the fences than at Badminton which was a great treat.

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The only downside was that we could only hear the loudspeakers when we were somewhere near the main arena so we didn’t really have much idea of what was going on.  I only knew something (I didn’t know what) had happened to Michael Jung when I heard that Izzy Taylor had gone into second behind Gemma Tattersall.  I never realised Andrew Nicholson had fallen until I got back to the hotel!

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It was a great day and apart from the jumping I was very pleased to find a vintage tea shop for breakfast!

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Sunday was another good day, with exciting moments right up until the end.  It was fantastic to have a British 1-2-3-4.

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Again,  the lunchtime entertainment was great.  I always enjoy watching the military band but the racehorse to riding horse class was really interesting and I loved all of the donkeys from the Donkey Breed Society.  They were so cute!

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Part of the fun of a big event like Burghley is just wandering around the grounds absorbing the atmosphere and looking at the tradestands.   I was very restrained when it came to shopping but I saw this gilet and given the tag line of this blog I just had to have it!

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I had a wonderful week and I will definitely be going to Burghley again.

Seasonal Changes

Even though it has been very hot over the past few days there are definitely signs that autumn is on its way.  There is a very specific feeling in the air which always says autumn to me and that has been around for a while.

 

On Monday morning I rode early before work.  It was very misty in the valley but once I got up the hill a little way it was bright sunshine and there was a beautiful view over the mist.

There are also a lot of toadstools around at the moment.  There have been a huge number over the whole summer but now there are even more.  They are just so beautiful!

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This weekend I will be at Burghley Horse Trials so I won’t be blogging on Sunday.   I have never been before so I am very much looking forward to it!

Controlling the Speed

I recently took Galahad for a spin in my neighbour’s fields and for the first time I tried riding him there in a kimblewick.   He can be inclined to take off a bit in the field  – he certainly enjoys going fast – and I wanted to try the kimblewick to see if it would help me maintain a little bit more control.

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It definitely seemed to work.  I kept to a walk far longer than I normally would and although he was obviously keen to go found it very easy to keep him walking.  We then trotted for a bit before breaking into a canter.

Again,  it was much easier than usual to keep to a steady canter.  When I finally let Galahad gallop he was more than ready to go and we sped across the field.  Crucially though, he was no trouble at all to pull up again.

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The main thing was that at no point did I feel he was going to take off and I would be unable to stop.  I felt perfectly safe and it was definitely a successful experiment.

Make Do and Mend

With Galahad’s cheekpiece broken I had to come up with a solution to be able to ride him until I could replace it.  Cookster’s bridle is too long but I discovered that I could use Cookster’s cheekpieces on Galahad’s bridle and with a little adjustment it would fit both ponies.

That was really helpful but I also needed something that would allow them both to be ridden at the same time.  I was a bit stumped for a while until I remembered that when we first introduced the ponies to the bit we used some connectors to attach it to their headcollar.

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I fished them out and tried it – luckily I could still make it fit.

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I tried a little schooling before risking going out on the roads and I was surprised by how well Galahad went.  I thought we might have a few braking issues but I needn’t have worried – Galahad was under perfect control and we even managed a little jumping.

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In the end I never needed to use the headcollar on a hack but it is good to know that I have it as a backup if necessary.

Lunging Mishap

Since Galahad had his back check in June I have been making more of an effort with his groundwork.  This is something I know we need to do to keep him using his hindquarters properly but it is so easy just to ride him instead.

I am very pleased with the way he is moving at the moment – his hind legs are stepping through nicely.  He is also making a fan of poles look relatively easy.  I have been using some sidereins on him to encourage a fairly low head carriage but I have kept them pretty loose so I’m not sure they are actually having any effect.

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It turns out they were probably too loose.  The grass is fairly lush in the schooling field at the moment so Galahad wanted to stop for a snack.   I moved to encourage him forward, he took a step, stood on the side rein and broke his cheekpiece.

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For the rest of our session I fashioned a temporary fix using his noseband but that is obviously not a long term solution and I will have to go shopping – I don’t have any spares! On the bright side though, he still went very nicely just in the noseband.  He is a good pony really.

Trying New Things

Last month I decided it was about time I entered an online dressage competition.  I have been meaning to do so for ages and I was given the arena markers way back in March.

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I picked the event run by BHS Somerset but didn’t manage to film my test until the day before the deadline.  In fact it was the evening before, the light was fading fast and the camera really struggled with the dark – it kept going in and out of focus.  I wasn’t overly happy with the test – Galahad felt very sluggish – and I was debating whether to film again the next day.  However,  I wasn’t quite sure whether entering before the deadline meant entries on the day would count or not.  I decided to just enter and hope for the best.

At 11.30pm I set the video to upload but I had forgotten how long that would take.  I  sat up as long as I could but in the end I had to give up and go to bed.  It was just as well – it finally finished at about seven the next morning!

I had almost forgotten about it when last week this wonderful parcel arrived.

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I thought the judge was very kind to us and I love what she said about Galahad at the end.  Most of her comments were about needing to get him going forward more which I would definitely agree with!

It was a great experience and I will be entering again next month.   I will try to be more organised next time though!

An Interesting Week

For Galahad and I this week has been bookended by interesting rides.

On Monday we went for a hack and had to navigate a pretty narrow gateway.  I knew my right knee was going to get knocked so I steered to the left and we cannoned into that gatepost instead.  That’s something Galahad has always found frightening so we charged off across the field until I could pull up.  We must have looked hilarious!

Then on Friday we set out to do a little schooling.  The field was full of my dog’s agility equipment and as I knew I would be using it again soon I was reluctant to pack it away.  Instead we fitted our schooling around it.

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It was actually surprisingly easy to do and it also gave us a lot of obstacles to use in practising neck reining.  We had great fun!

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The highlight of our week though was Thursday.  I had made sure I got up early enough for a hack before work and I was definitely rewarded for doing so.  The sky was the most amazing blue and everything was looking particularly beautiful.   We had a wonderful, relaxed hack and it was the best start to the day.

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Rainy Show Day

The ponies have been a bit neglected today.

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Instead of riding I have spent the day at the Exford Show.  I love this show and even though it rained all morning I still had a great day.  The Exmoor breed show is held here but this year for the first time Exmoors were also allowed in the main ring’s mountain and moorland classes.  It was very exciting to see an Exmoor win!

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It was also good to see the Exmoor classes themselves.  I love seeing how many different colours there are within such a strict breed standard.

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I also loved the fact that I had what must be the prettiest picnic I have ever seen!

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I so much enjoy just wandering around the show and I may have bought myself some things.  I love horsey shopping and I don’t get the opportunity all that often!

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Damp deliveries

We are certainly not fair weather riders!

 

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On Friday I had some books to deliver to my neighbour and Galahad and I got positively soaked.  I had to dismount to hand over the parcel and by the time we had finished my saddle looked like this.

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Thankfully my neighbour offered a cloth to dry it so the ride home was not too uncomfortable.  Galahad got an apple so he was happy too.  The rain wasn’t even all that heavy – it was very fine and misty.  I actually quite enjoy riding in weather like it and it certainly can be beautiful.

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I am off camping now so won’t be posting for a week or so.  Hopefully the weather will improve!