We've had a great weekend for exploring and pushing the boundaries. Rio is becoming much more trusting in me, which is helping no end and giving me a confidence boost at the same time. After a beautiful sunny day yesterday, even with the wind up a bit again this morning, I was still keen to ride and didn't have any second thoughts about going out!
Yesterday we went on a hill ride across the road from our yard, it was a pleasant ride, straight up and straight back down again, across a few fields and down a track before turning around and heading homeward. It was good for both of us, as I'd never been as far as the track before, and it's a different environment for Rio to experience. We had a wonderful canter up the hill, and I've set my first goal of the summer. By the end of the season, I would like Rio to be fit enough to canter from the start of the fields to the end, it's 3 fields long, and I would say about half a mile, but it is uphill for half of that! I think he will do it. He's turning out to be an absolute gem.
Today, we went out for an explore to the yard around the corner from us - I want to take Rio there to do some schooling once the days are longer and the weather nicer. To get to it, we have to go over a big bridge over the river, then under a train bridge, so I wanted him to have done the route so he's not too excitable when I intend on a schooling session! I wanted to do it on a Sunday so there weren't many trains, and we still saw 3 in the hour or so we were out! Luckily for us, none came over the bridges when we were underneath.
When we got to the other yard, there were only a couple of people, so we bade our farewells and continued our exploration. We took the boys up the lane round the corner and under another train bridge on to a local piece of parish land. There are a LOT of cobs that are kept on this bit of land, not all of which are tethered. As we learned today. We went for a wander around hoping to have a canter down the long side on the way out. In reality, the boys became leaders of a mini herd as we tried to shoo several horses (including a few foals) away from us. There were two foals leading behind us, who were absolutely adorable, but we had to lose them before we could head back out of the field as it's not actually gated to stop them wandering. I guess they just know! I will have to go up and get some pics on foot some time so you can see, but the last thing I was thinking at the time was to try and get my phone out haha. We nearly had a few pets coming home with us.
On the way out of the field, I even managed to get Rio to wade through XC style water - I knew he didn't mind water really when I got this photo yesterday morning after he had walked right through it. No excuses now little man! He didn't even bat an eyelid.
I borrowed a friend's flexi stirrups today to try out, as my knee and ankle yesterday were completely locked up when we got back to the yard. I've been eyeing up John Whitaker Air stirrups but no way can I justify the money any time soon! These certainly made a difference, my knee was much better, now I just need to work on my foot position in the stirrup to try and make my ankle more comfortable. What stirrups do you use, and why?
And, finally, just because he can - here's Rio playing with a stick:
It's been a strange couple of weeks! I've spent lots of time in my field mooching about and wading in our muddy pond, and mum keeps coming up and fussing over me. I'm getting very good at picking my feet up in the field, and am really not fussed all that much about those silly electric gates any more. It was too stressful arguing with mum every time she wanted me to go with her, and somehow she always won. I've had a couple of lovely walks out with mum and our friends on the yard, it's so nice that I don't always have to carry her!
I met a new friend yesterday, mum came down and we did some exercise in the outdoor school in the sunshine, I got all sweaty, and then we went for a walk later in the day too! I was definitely ready for a chill in my field by the time the sun went down. I worked hard trying to do what mum was asking me, but it was difficult because we've only cantered in straight lines recently what with all of this slippery mud. I've sort of decided I'm not sure about cantering in circles... I did fight mum a lot for it, but eventually I let her think she had won a little and did a couple of strides of canter in one corner. I knew it would work, and she let out a big sigh and let me have a big long stretch and cool off after that. I can't let her think she can do it all in one go. See how soggy I got, I did say I tried! Don't I look dapper? I can't wait for that Spring grass to come through.
This is my new friend Max and me:
I got to explore the other side of the yard with him as well, and called dibs on some hay that some sucker had left in their haynet! Waste not want not, I say. We went for a walk all the way up the hill, further than we've been before and we were very good even when the bird scaring gun went off, we only panicked for a second, but I didn't stand on mum or run off. I was starving on the way back though - that hay got my tummy rumbling. I don't think mum was too pleased, I did get told off and mum doesn't do that very often. I'll have to try and make sure I'm more sneaky about it next time...
Only 2 days til we get to do something again, it was nice of mum to spend time with me during the week for a change, she keeps promising that it will happen more often soon when the days are longer. I can't wait.
Ok so I really am getting sick of this weather now! Rio is getting better each time I bring him up in this wind, but I'd really rather it just went. I'm not even getting chance to get any photos or do anything exciting to share with you at the moment because it's the bare minimum! Today we even struggled with getting hay down for the boys in the fear it was just going to blow away before they had chance to eat it.
I broke my phone last week and sent it off to be repaired on my insurance, and was hoping to collect it tonight but thanks to the wind and the bridge being shut, the whole darn town was gridlocked, and an 8 minute drive home took 50 minutes so there was no way I was getting out of town to get to the depot (a 45 minute drive away) before they shut. So frustrated, and it's just getting ridiculous now!
PLEASE bring on the Spring - I want to teach my boy! Here are some pictures of our yard (the summer grazing so you're not worrying!):
Oh my gosh, every time it seems like we are getting to the end of this wind, it just picks up again! The forecast keeps changing every hour, but here's what we're looking at for tomorrow at the moment... and Sunday is worse!
We have now joined the masses in the muddy field clan, the boys' field is now like a big mud pit, and it's only a matter of time before the river comes right over into their field and restricts it even more. It's a battle of my own conscience at the moment as I would dearly love to bring him in overnight, but he's got to be better off with the freedom outside at the moment - the barn is WAY breezy and I don't want him to freak out!
We're off to pony camp tomorrow, I'm helping my friend take her little girl for the first time with her pony, so should be fun! I've never done pony club before.
On the plus side - at least the days are getting longer now! I was down at the yard at 6am this morning and there was a sliver of light over the horizon, and I could see fairly well by the time I left at 6.45 - bring on Spring. PLEASE!
Today we didn't even look at the gate as we came up to the yard, the wind was blowing a gale across the paddocks and although there was a little discussion across the school it was a vast improvement. I was planning on riding. Then all of a sudden I wasn't. Rio had spotted some movement on the muck heap and it really upset him. I untied him to try and avoid him breaking off and realising he could do it again if he wanted. We walked round the yard in hand for a bit, then walked him back to where we were, and stood quietly with him for a little while. He soon settled back down, so the girls persuaded me to still take him out with them on the field.
Proud moment alert.
Not only was I proud of Rio - he didn't bat an eyelid (except at a tarpaulin on the way out that was blowing around...) and I put him at the front, in the middle and momentarily at the back. We walked. We trotted. We cantered. Twice. Beautifully. I was also proud of myself. I pushed aside my worries and in turn, Rio rewarded my trust with a lovely ride. By the end we were even riding on the buckle, and after the first time around the field, I was working him on a longer rein and giving him his head more.
I've opted to try out some baby oil on Rio's feathers today - his legs last night when I went up with hay looked brown, and they are meant to be a beautiful bright white!! This weather is dragging on so much, their field is now starting to get sloppy with this crazy rain.