Being Bugged

I mentioned last week that the flies were being very bothersome.  The next day Galahad came in from the field looking like this.

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I thought at first that he was just incredibly scruffy but when I looked closer I realised that he was in fact covered with fly bites.

He does have a tendency to react badly to bites – every year he gets lumps where he has been bitten.  Never so many at once though.  I can only assume that he rolled on something which fought back!

Thankfully he didn’t seem bothered by the bites and didn’t react at all when they were touched.  Within a couple of days they had started to go down and they are now almost completely gone.  They can’t have been nice though.  Poor little pony.

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Green and Pleasant Land

We have been having some lovely hacks recently.  Just Galahad and I meandering through the countryside in the evening sunshine.

We get to see some wonderful things.  The hawthorn is particularly beautiful this year.

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There are also some interesting things.  This patch of road for instance.

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It is always wet, even in the middle of a heat wave.  It is not under any trees and the water does not appear to be coming from the hedge.  I can only assume that it has managed to make its way up through the tarmac.  It is pretty powerful stuff!

Then, of course, there is the wildlife.  Isn’t this eggshell beautiful?

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Mainly though, it is just good to enjoy the view.

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Summertime

The past few days have been rather warm to say the least!

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Our hacks have been very gentle and meandering and we have been seeking out whatever shade we can find.

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I do love to sit in the shade – I enjoy the dry weather but I can’t stay in the full sun for too long.

Unfortunately the horse flies have suddenly materialised too and, as this rather blurry photograph shows, some headshaking has been going on.

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We added some citronella to the water when we washed the ponies off after today’s hack – hopefully that will discourage some of the flies.

Welcome Visitors

We have some new lodgers!

This is the third year we have had a nest in the stables – we have had wrens and swallows before but this year we have a much messier nest.

Visually this is the most boring video but the sound is what told me that we actually have some chicks.

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It took me a while to discover what kind of chicks as the parents always flew off too quickly for me to get a good look at them.  One of them very obligingly perched on the gate the other day though so I can definitely say they are sparrows.  I feel very honoured!

On a slightly related note, we also have a colony of snails in the gate post.  It is very interesting but I’m not sure they are quite so welcome!

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Galahad’s New Hat

I have mentioned before the trouble we have with fly masks.   Firstly, the ponies are constantly losing them.  Secondly, they tear many holes in the ears.  Since the main reason they wear them is because they get terrible bites inside their ears, the holes make the masks practically useless.

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This week I decided to do something about it so I marched into our local tack shop and demanded a mask with heavy duty ears.  I came away with a LeMieux one which has two layers of nice thick fabric on the ears and which will hopefully do the trick.

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Galahad has been wearing it now for three days and has managed to lose it three times.

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However, so far the ears have no holes at all so I am very hopeful.

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I have never owned anything from LeMieux before – I feel like a proper equestrian!

 

Green Pastures

Over the winter my parents have been working hard at tidying up the ponies’ summer paddock.  Brambles have been cleared, fences mended and hedges wrestled into shape.

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I have helped a bit too of course but it was barely anything compared to the amount they have done.  The field is looking so much better for it too.

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On Sunday the ponies were turned out in the field for the first time this year.  Instead of running out – like they have been into their old field – they stopped not far in and their heads went straight down.  I think they were very happy!

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Obviously, there is a lot of grass in there at the moment so we have to be a bit careful they don’t put on weight.  Hopefully we can keep them in check!

My parents have done an amazing job and the field is looking beautiful.  The ponies – and I of course – are so incredibly lucky.

 

Quality Time

It is always good to have productive days of schooling, fun jumping sessions or exciting competitions.  Sometimes though, the best times with the ponies are much more relaxed.

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Today I had two lovely hacks with the ponies.  They were feeling lazy, I was feeling lazy and we just pootled along the lanes having a great time.

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Besides that though, time spent around the yard doing the chores and just spending time with the ponies is wonderful.

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One of the best parts of my day is turning out the ponies in the evening and watching them as they wander out.

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We are having such lovely evenings at the moment that I could stay and watch them for ages.

Comeuppance

Monday was a glorious day so Galahad and I went out for a hack.  The road was quiet, the birds were singing and everything was right with the world.

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Until we came home.

We had to come down a narrow lane which is closed off by a hurdle at the top.  The hurdle needs lifting and really needs to be opened dismounted.  As it is a little awkward to manage I always seem to end up on the off side of the pony when I have closed the hurdle again.  Without much room to manoeuvre it is far easier to hop on from the wrong side and on Cookster I do that without thinking.

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Never with Galahad though.  I tried it once at home and he panicked.  Partly because he isn’t used to it and partly because my muscles aren’t tuned enough to mounting from the wrong side so it isn’t as smooth as my mounting usually is.

On Monday I was feeling lazy and hopping up from where I was seemed a good plan.  After all, sometimes trec competitions ask for the rider to mount from the off side so practising is a good idea.  At least, that’s what I told myself.

It did not end well.  He shot off forwards when I was only half on.  I ended up in a patch of nettles minus my hat cover and with only one boot.  I had to paddle through the mud to find that – there is a spring at the top of the lane so it is wet all year round.

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We were only about a hundred yards from the house so as I plodded home I was imagining the concern Galahad would cause when he careered into the yard witout me.  In the event, nobody saw him and I found him unconcernedly munching grass.  He was nicely decorated though!

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Obviously mounting from the wrong side is something we can work on – especially if I want to be able to use it in a trec competition.  I will improve my own ability by practising on Cookster before I try it on Galahad again though!

Sunday Schooling

I very nearly didn’t ride Galahad this evening.  I had a busy day yesterday, I was at work all day today and had already ridden Cookster out so I was pretty tired and wanted to curl up with a book. However, I told myself that was not the right attitude and tacked him up.  It was too good an evening to waste anyway.

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We had a pretty decent schooling session.  The ground is a little rutted from the winter but is actually in surprisingly good condition considering how wet it has been.  I was pleased with Galahad too – we don’t manage a lot of schooling over the winter but he worked well and is even improving at picking up the correct canter lead on the right rein – he got it right nearly every time today!

I was hoping to get in a little jumping as well but I was more cautious with that.  We hadn’t jumped at all yet this year and in the past if Galahad has had a break from jumping he has had a tendency to get over excited when we pick it up again – he either rushes at the fences or gallops off after them.  I made sure he was calm and listening to me before I attempted a jump, then I introduced some very small fences, keeping strictly to a trot.

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I was very pleasantly surprised as he popped neatly over them and showed no sign of getting above himself.  Before long we were happily cantering over the bigger, scarier jumps.

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It was a very positive start to this year’s jumping.  We will hopefully manage to harrow the field this week and then I’ll be able to put out the rest of the jumps.  I was lucky enough to get some new fillers for my birthday this year and I am very excited about trying them out!

 

A Really Useful Pony

The ponies are constantly escaping from their fly masks.  At the moment it is just a fact of life that when I go out to see them the chances of them both wearing hats are fairly slim.

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When we first put them on this year they actually managed not to remove them for a couple of weeks and I was very hopeful I would have a summer without having to walk round the fields hat hunting.

Obviously that is not going to happen but I have found I can make use of the ponies – or at least Cookster – to find them.

As you can see, Cookster is great at this game.  Me – less so!

I haven’t tried it with Galahad yet – mainly because I haven’t had the chance.  I’m sure it is something which will scare him at first but it’s probably quite a good exercise to try and it might even help us with our trec obstacles.  Plus, it’s fun!