Monday, 17 March 2014

Speedy gonzalez!

I couldn't believe the wind was trying to make a comeback when I woke up on Saturday morning. All the same I dutifully trooped to the field and retrieved Rio so that we could go for an adventure to the arena around the corner from our yard. I've been intending to take him there for a few weeks now to see how he dealt with a new environment. Luckily I had little expectation, and we spent a little over half an hour walking around in circles, zig zags, around jumps, trying to get the hang of using an inside bend with inside leg to keep his mind on me and not on the scary signs... It was certainly interesting. 

One of my friends had come over with me, so we walked around with her for a while after he had a rather sudden spook across the school! It was almost the same scenario as when I took my tumble, but luckily I managed to just about hang on - relieved I opted for a neck strap! Another friend who is our yard aficionado, and a wonderful rider came over to see how it went too. I was glad of the focus she gave me. Instead of worrying about what he was looking at, we worked with the scary jumps, and he did begin to calm by the end of the session. 

I worked a little on my leg position and trying to get inside bend walking around the jumps in circles, and experienced the very uncomfortable position that I should be assuming when training him to leg yield and move over from my leg. Ouch. We will have to see how that goes as my knee has definitely been feeling rather painful since the increase in riding workload... There will be more trips to come to the arena to see if we can get him settled enough to have a productive schooling session, but overall I was pleased. It was the first time I've really experienced him being properly scared of something!

On Sunday, I arrived at the yard just as everyone was tacking up for a hack out around the village so we joined the big boys again for a troop out. We had a lovely ride, and came back via the field where it sounded a fun idea to have a canter and see if Rio could keep pace. We took up lead, and Rio decided that he was going to drop back into trot! After that, one of the big boys took over and he soon picked up canter again, before realising that he was getting left in the dust - the immense power that I could feel from behind was an amazing feeling, and we had what must have been close to a flat out gallop for my little dude. My tracker notched a cool 18.3mph maximum speed. Yes, he's no racer, but he's only got little legs! 

It was the first time I've experienced him get so excitable, and though I managed to bring him back down to walk after a few more strides of sitting in than usual, he certainly wasn't so keen on walking the rest of the way back. It was very wiggly, but makes me hopeful that we will be able to stick to the french link snaffle he has at the moment. I really don't want to have to play around with stronger bits if I can help it. Then we got to try and be a stopper as the two other big boys got very excitable too - one of my friend's came haring past and all I heard was "I've got no stirruuuups!!" and the other came past and had to turn three circles to stop. Needless to say, we didn't have much sway in stopping either of them. To give him his due, Rio stood like a rock and I was very proud that he was one of the two young ones and they BOTH behaved so well. 
Grazing after bath time (only a couple of hours...)
After all of that excitement, it was bath time. Rio's first bath since I got him. No matter how much I scrubbed the stains, there are some that just won't come out. We had fairy liquid, shampoo, and a mixture of both, and still couldn't get rid of them. Blue shampoo, and touch of silver shampoo have been recommended, so they will be tried next time. Although it has to be said, I saw another friend at the yard this evening who didn't know he was bathed yesterday, and she did comment that he looked lovely and bright. I think by the end of the bath I was feeling a little disheartened, so it was nice to know he did actually look a bit cleaner!

OH! I almost forgot, Rio had his first chip yesterday... A McDonalds chip. Or 4. It really worked in my favour in the end, as when I went to worm him he thought the syringe was a chip and clamped his teeth around it. Much easier than the last one. Bless him!

Ride safe x

Friday, 14 March 2014

Finally Friday!

 Well it would be nice if the night times would catch up with these warmer days we've been having! I actually had a ride out around the field after work last night. My friends got Rio up and saddled him up so all I had to do was put his bridle on and hop on. We did some trot and canter work and Rio ended up a little sweatier than I intended. I sure hope he starts moulting soon. If not, the clippers will have to come out. He had to stand and munch hay for an hour before I could rug him up and take him down to his field for the night. 
 I could hardly see anything this morning for the fog. It had already started to settle when i got around to walking Rio down from the yard, but at 6am it was a matter of only being able to see a few feet ahead. It didn't lift until late morning, which resulted in a cooler day than we've been having recently. 
He was down there somewhere!

I've continued to track my rides on Endomondo and am finding the information really helpful, and fun to look back over. Here's a graph of our ride around the field yesterday:
We had a good 4 minutes of consistent trot/canter work, which is pretty good for me and Rio! I can feel my thighs today haha. We are looking to school tomorrow morning at the yard around the corner from us, so that will tot up some time and miles! This is what we've ridden so far:
I particularly like the "burgers burned" stat :) There are all kinds of challenges you can take on, and see where you rank on distance/miles ridden and time spent in the saddle. It's not only riding you can track - you can track any sport! It's really got me motivated again - do any of you use it?
Here's Rio's new neighbour, isn't he a cutie?
Ride safe x

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Feeling lucky

I am a very blessed lady. I have a wonderful pony, a great yard with friendly people, an amazing husband, healthy family, and as much as I would rather be with the horses, I have a job that I can deal with. Most of the time. I love that I get to leave the office at the end of the day in daylight now, and that I can wind down for an hour or more with friends there after work. I love the banter, and the relaxed air, and I love seeing my boy prance down the field for his dinner, and picking at the multiple piles I make with his hay. All I can say is bring on the longer days, the sunshine, and the warmth. Get out the trailers, the water bottles, and lets saddle up and go on some adventures! I can't wait. 

It's so difficult sometimes to see the wood for the trees, but I just had to share this moment of clarity with you, because it can be hard to see the good things in life! So what do you love? What is making you smile whilst you think about answering the question?

Ride safe & smile x

Sunday, 9 March 2014

What a week!

We've had such a busy week! I think Rio will be pleased to have a couple of days off now that I'm back to work in the morning. We went on another adventure on Thursday and explored the village in the opposite direction to our usual hack route. I dropped in on a friend so that she could meet Rio, and we went for a sneaky exploration of a dog walker's field. Aside from getting a bit antsy when he was boxed in (one in front, one outside him) Rio was pretty good with the new sights. We came back along the main road, and had a bit of a drama with a large lorry that was stopped on the side of the road - my friend's horse wasn't too happy about it, and some numpty woman kept on driving closer and closer to him until my friend asked her to stop moving! I just don't understand some people at all... We had a great trot the rest of the way back to the yard though. 

Friday was a trip out with the big boys - 16hh & about 16.2/3hh lads, the newcomers on the yard. Rio couldn't have noticed though, as he was up at the front and happily keeping a pace that they all kept to. I was expecting my poor little dude to be left trailing behind! We finished off with schooling after that, and he was a bit sleepy by the end, but we managed a bit of canter in the school. I was so pleased. We didn't get a full circuit, but we got into it, and right down the long side on the left rein and on the right, did the long side and dropped out before we made it right round to the second long side. Small victory, but pleasing nonetheless. 

Saturday was a relaxing ride out up the lane opposite the yard, which we have done before but never been right up to the end. The ground was much better than when we rode it a couple of weeks ago, and we had a wonderful canter across the top field. I forgot to track it on Endomondo, so had to log it manually today when I remembered. It's been great tracking the rides - this month so far we've done 24 miles. You can keep track of how much we've done on the right :)

This brings us to today, our first trip out in the trailer. It was a glorious warm day, blue skies and lovely warm sunshine. Rio was a little gem, he loaded at both ends without question, was calm as we tacked up, and didn't step a hoof wrong on the ride. The only small excitement we had was when a two dozen strong herd of deer were coming alongside us a few metres away. We saw them a few times, and thankfully by the third time, the boys were less than bothered by their presence. All he did was prance about a bit with his nose in the air though. I will have to get a video next time, there is a short but steep hill we went up, and to see it for the first time, I was convinced there was no way we were making it over the crest! Once we had tried it out and I realised it was possible, we just had to go again. What a rush. The second time around, Rio knew what was coming and launched himself at it, and I could really feel him using his behind instead of pulling from the front. I had to half halt a couple of times before we hit the steepest part as he was near enough galloping his way up. Amazing. 

I think my grin says it all. I wasn't going to go as wasn't feeling too good this morning, but boy am I glad I did. It really rounded off my week, and I'm so pleased. We went over our first train bridge, and he wasn't fussed, and I rode him most of the route back to the trailers on the buckle (after the big hill!) what an absolute sweetheart.

Ride safe x

Wednesday, 5 March 2014


We've had another day of glorious weather today! So glad I took this week off as holiday and not last week. I'm loving the chance to spend my days with my boy, and I hope he's enjoying it too. I think he's getting sleepy now though - this working every day thing is hard work you know! He was over-reaching on the way back in from our hack this afternoon bless him. May have to get him some overreach boots as I don't want him to be catching his new shoes with his back feet, just whilst I'm bringing him into more regular work. 

We had the fight of the wormer this morning, I've never had to worm before so it was a bit daunting - can't they make a worming syringe for girly hands? It was a nightmare trying to hold on to it so you're ready to squirt it at the opportune moment but I didn't want to keep hold of it with him throwing his head around in case I did it too early! Anyway, I managed it in a moment of ninja-ness, and he swallowed most of it then spat a glob out again, so I scooped it up on a pear and he reluctantly ate that... Woohoo! Worming phase 1 completed. Just to do pin worm in a couple of weeks or something to make sure he is not carrying them, and we are all good until we worm count over summer. 

The yard has been all hustle and bustle this week, it's been quite nice and has sure kept me busy. Tomorrow calls for a bit of schooling and fingers crossed a bath for Rio. If I can ride in the morning, and the weather is as nice as today, I'm hoping to bath him around lunch time so he can dry off over the afternoon. He is a bit scurfy at the moment, and I could do with getting his white bits whiter before it starts to stick in too much. He had a lovely roll today after our ride, it was to be expected though, he did get rather warm and sweaty on the shoulders!

Well he was fairly clean. This was the aftermath of the roll! He looked like he really enjoyed it though. He turned around to look at me all proud afterwards too. Such a sweetie. 

I wasn't ready to leave the yard just yet, so I took him back down to his field and just sat in there for a bit. It was nice to see him wander off to graze, and gradually work his way back to me, where he stood with me until I moved! We got lots of silly pictures, here are a couple of my favourites: 

Ride safe x

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Rio's first pair of shoes

Hey guys, I am super sleepy today! Mum was up all day again spending time with me. She was worried about I wasn't pooing enough when she left yesterday, but I'm pleased to report I managed to fill half a barrow when she came to collect it this morning.  As you can see, the sun was out, and I had a great sunbathe today whilst hanging out with mum and the other ponies. 

It all started with a nice groom, then mum cut bits of my tail out to "thin it out". Apparently I have two horses' worth of tail. Mum's friend plaited me up after that, I looked pretty darn cool!

Yes, that is actually how long my dock is before you say anything - they couldn't believe it either! Does my butt look big in this?

Once I'd had a bit of a pamper, I had my tack on and went for a wander around the field with mum, we had a nice walk around the outside and a couple of canters down the middle which I went into very nicely. I heard mum talking about cantering on corners again... I haven't decided yet whether I'll be going along with that though! I like straight lines in open spaces. We even did a little bit of in hand work in the outdoor school. I had my head collar on but mum just threw the lead rope over behind my ears and didn't attach it to anything. Then she took it off completely! I was good though, and stuck by her all the way around, AND we did some trot without her having to pull me into it. I think I'm starting to enjoy it now, it seems to make mum pretty happy, which results in more cuddles for me - all good!

So after that, a man turned up in a white van with lots of smelly smokey stuff and changed B's shoes. I've never had shoes before, I always have a trim, but today I got my first pair of shoes on my front feet. Sounds like there are plans afoot (excuse the pun!) for more work now that the days are longer. Having watched B have his done, and with mum stood next to me, I knew there couldn't be much to worry about. Mum even got a picture of me with the farrier being a good boy:

Look at the glorious sunshine. It was so nice. I had lots of cuddles and plenty of time to snooze as well. There are a handful of new horses up here this week, so today I got to see a couple of them up close too. They are BIG! I'm sure mum will tell you more about them though. She's been busy making friends with them too; I have put in a good word for her when I've seen them around. Sshh don't tell her!

Here are my shiny new shoes up close, what do you reckon?

Oh. And this was the result of my plaited tail. It's a bit girly don't you think mum?? Although I must admit, it doesn't look so frizzy, so I guess that "thinning" thing did work a bit.

Speak soon!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Rio's week!

My little man is out on his own now. Unfortunately his field buddy has pin worm so is in his own paddock whilst he's having his treatment and getting cleaned up daily. Now that I've had him out solo for a few days I'm considering keeping him on his own. Being able to sit in his field with him with no worry of being trampled by either when they are disagreeing over hay piles or that patch of grass is lovely. 

This weekend was great, I've tried out the flexi stirrups a couple of times, and am starting to feel the benefits. I have also been re-assessing my position with the help of a friend, and with the stirrups, am feeling much better all round. I can feel it in different places in my legs so it's obviously doing something. We had a wonderful weekend of achievements, we rode out on two different hacks with three other ponies. Saturday was lovely, we had a nice ride around the village. We mixed it up on Sunday, and rode out in the wind and took a new hacking route that I'd not done before. It took us over a wooden bridge, the first time Rio had done anything of the sort:

Fear not, we were sensible and went one pony at a time, and Rio didn't bat an eyelid. It was a nice change to go a different way!

I've also started using Endomondo to track my rides so I can keep an eye on what we are achieving and where we've been, it's interesting to see the distances and speeds we go at. Here's my profile if you want to follow our rides. Fingers crossed more equestrians start using it and log more hacking routes.

On to today, we had sunshine and no wind, and it's day one of my WEEK OFF!!!  Absolute result. It was forecasting showers when I was looking over the weekend. Fingers crossed the rest of the week stays nice. We attempted lunging today in the outdoor school, first time outside and we've not lunged on a line for a long time - we usually free lunge in the indoor school. His right rein was highly unsuccessful, every few steps he stopped and turned to look at me like "am I doing this right orr... what on earth are you asking of me?"  Not only that but it was difficult to keep him out on the circle, it was very wiggly, and I foolishly didn't move the pile of tyres and jump poles out of the way. He popped over the pile of tyres and then tried to hop the second bit on the diagonal and landed on the jump poles. Legs to be checked tomorrow? For sure. Here's how he stopped when I asked him to stand on the left rein

SQUARE! He went much better on this rein and was much more responsive, my friend says that lots of horses are "left handed" like humans. I knew that horses have better reins, but never thought of it that way! You can see the poles in the background that he tried to hop from the left hand side of that picture... We did some in hand after this, and went for a walk out around the field and I even ran so he could have a trot; I didn't even get out of breath - such a good feeling. He's getting awesome at stopping when I stop. 

When we finished up, I changed his bridle for his head collar but left him untethered and he stood beautifully. After a few minutes he did have a fidget but still didn't go far. So happy with how he's doing, it's unreal. I still can't believe he's mine. I did measure him the other day though, and though I thought he was 15.1hh to make 15.2hh it turns out that as suspected he is only a wee 15hh. Fingers crossed for a Spring growth spurt but he's big enough if that doesn't happen so we will just have to wait and see. 

I just need to keep an eye on him tomorrow and see how much poo he passes as I poo pick every morning quite early (around 7.30 today), and only got half a barrow this morning. When I took his hay up this evening at 5pm he'd only done two poos, and I don't seem to remember him going whilst we were up top. I'm hoping that he will go plenty tonight... He's been eating as normal and has hay going in over the day so I know he's got plenty going in. He was happy enough today, so just got to hope he's all good when I get there in the morning.

Here are the goats digging into their dinner :)

Ride safe x