Monday, 20 October 2014

Goodbye Summer

Morning over the barn

I'm pleased I asserted authority with Rio yesterday, coming out of the field. Today he walked straight up to the gate and walked out with no hesitation and didn't bat an eyelid when I closed it behind us. What a clever young man.

I made my way down to the field quick sharp after work to make the most of what could be my last evening hack of the year. The clocks go back on Sunday, and with the storm rolling in who knows where the weather is going to be over the next few days. My friend's sharer was also there and it's her last day before she finishes sharing B tomorrow. Sarah and I yelled our orders for her to get changed and tack up as we stomped off to retrieve the handsome manicured beasts from their paddocks.

Rio spooked and had a silly minute when the generator was on in the office inside the barn. I untied him and walked him over so he could look through the barn and see that the big scary monster wasn't about to pounce. I tacked him up, and was so against the pressure of the sunset that I forgot to put his overreach booties on his hind feet so he was brushing them a bit. What followed was a fantastic fast paced hack, a race against the sun! Win for me, previously him spooking about like that would have really put me off tacking up and getting on. 

The outward trip was made up predominantly of trotting and cantering, and it was fantastic. Rio was keen and responsive. B didn't know what had hit him, bless his heart, but he kept up well. Franks was up front, and we even managed to keep up a more collected canter behind him whilst he was trotting (less impressive than it sounds - he trots fast!) but he didn't drop out of it until I asked him back into trot. Super exciting.

We had a lovely relaxing stroll back down the hill, including the boys walking three abreast, and doing a little bit of drill formation! They stayed in line beautifully once Rio had shimmied his way into the middle, the cheeky little git. 

I was relieved to get back and find minimal sweat after a ride with a more exertion than usual. Rio barely seemed phased by the run, which was great too. His fitness has sure come a long way in the last 11 months. I've just got to keep an eye on the saddle position as it looks like it may have slipped back a little this evening with his posh new clip. Here's hoping we can get him in the trailer over these winter months to do some schooling work. I'm really psyched and would love to be able to get him out doing some dressage tests at the local shows next year. He's such a charmer. 

Here he is, being a cheeky charmer and telling my friend that her hay net had been loitering around the yard for too many days:

So funny. I wanted to get a picture of him holding the net, but before the camera opened on my phone, he'd figured out that if he picked it up at the bottom of the net he could tip it out. No flies on my boy! 

Ride / play safe x

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Transformations all round

Rio and I have finally joined the lone hacker's club! This was our third trip out on our own in the last month, and I'm so happy. I was even more chuffed that I felt comfortable enough to get my phone out to snap this shot on the buckle! Please excuse my scruffy gloves. I've not yet replaced them since Rio dumped me twice in the river field! 

We've been very lucky with the weather this week and managed to get a few rides in before the clocks go back next Sunday. Then Winter is here. Dark nights and dark mornings, hunting out the piles of poo in the field with the super attractive head torch, guessing at which rug is best to leave on during the day/overnight... Yep, the fun starts here! I may have accidentally just ordered a 100g no neck turnout rug, in addition to his 100g combi he has... for those slightly warmer but not quite toasty days... I could do with getting an under rug, but for now we do have some options.

We took the boys out in the trailer yesterday morning for a hack at our favourite haunt. The wind was insane out in the open but the boys were very good after a rocky start. They decided they wanted to get their feet moving, so we asked them into trot and fought them out of canter! After that, I managed to get Rio to come back to me a little more and to be more responsive. We had a couple of great canters, and Rio was very full of himself, it admittedly took a few metres of asking for him to come back to trot when we cantered up the hill in the forest! By the last canter, I thought he was pooped, but he pulled the stopper out and absolutely went for it again. He was ready to go for it and pull up past Franks, but this time he was more attentive and collected his canter when I asked him to steady. What an amazing feeling. 

This was my sweaty boy after all that excitement! He's so funny with loading, he's not afraid of the box, but if there's nobody behind him to encourage him up, he will be super stubborn and just stand with his two feet on the ramp. I really should ask Sarah to leave her trailer out one day so I can practice loading him with the carrot stick and driving him on instead of leading. 

Post bath, and I think this is the whitest I've ever had him. This was without doubt the easiest bath I've given him since getting him, so we are getting there. He had a hot wash with a splash of Dettol to lift out the last of the dirt he hadn't managed to sweat out on the ride, and then I scrubbed him down with lemon fairy liquid to get this perfect white! Perhaps he could be a show pony after all, hehe. 

The purpose of this last bath of the season? Lift out the grease ready for my handsome little man to be clipped today! I woke up to pouring rain and fearing the worst case scenario - clipping indoors in the stable. He was a cheeky git coming out of the gate, so he got in trouble and had to walk out and back in again half a dozen times for playing me up. When we got up to the yard, the rain had stopped, so I tied him up and set to him with a towel to dry his neck off a bit. He managed to loop his head under his lead rope and freak himself out a bit, then wouldn't step back to loosen it, silly boy. I managed to unclip him, and all was fine, but he just seemed a little on his toes. 

I decided to go for the safer option and to sedate him a little as I didn't want to see him stressing out. We had a play with the clippers yesterday to try and get him used to them, with mixed results, and this morning he wasn't keen on going near them. However, he settled very well and was a brave boy. The sedative eventually kicked in properly about half way through clipping! 

Just look at those dapples though. He was so much darker underneath. He looks even more awesome than I expected, and fingers crossed no more sweaty betty incidents after a longer/more active ride!

Ride/play safe x

Friday, 10 October 2014

Grabbing opportunities!

It's that time of year when the rugs come out, and we get to cosy our little furries up! Rio is rocking out in a no-fill rug to protect him from the showers for now, but he should be having a hunter clip soon. He will get use of his rugs this year for sure! Last year we only made it up to 180g, and the 240g and 350g have sat untouched and unneeded. He was also a sweaty betty last year, so hopefully I won't be standing around for an hour waiting for his waffle rug to dry him out before I can turn him back out again. 

I managed to ride once so far this week since coming home, on Tuesday evening. We went for a little hack around the village with Sarah and Franks and I was just so pleased to be back in the saddle again. Since then, the weather has been poo, so he had another couple of nights off. 

I am pleased to say I rode tonight. Out round the village, through the field. Just me and Rio.

We only went and did it! Our second hack out on our own, and a longer route than the last time. I hadn't planned on it, but I think that's what made it easier to bring him up and get on - I hadn't been overthinking it all day as I'd expected the weather to suck again! When I got to the yard at 5.40pm (against the sunset clock!) the sky was bright, there was no wind to speak of, and I knew that this was too good an opportunity to miss. 

I muttered away to myself/Rio if I started thinking too much, and did my best to stay relaxed, which I think went pretty well. Rio had a bit of the jitters and held up a good pace for much of the ride, but all in all was quite responsive. He stopped dead at one junction, but after having a moment of me being gentle in asking him on and getting nowhere, he got a bit of a growl and a kick on, and off he went. We had a good trot along the bottom road, before he got fidgety when I asked him to wait for a car to pass. I'm always glad to have my "young horse in training" hi viz so that people hopefully have that little more understanding when he's a bit cheeky. I ended up having to turn him full circle in the road and asking him to stand again to let them pass, but he was much more co-operative the second time. 

Most excitingly, we got back on to the field, and I was walking along with a long rein (almost on the buckle) so I decided to have a trot as he had settled a bit. Half way across the field, he was behaving so well, I felt comfortable and confident enough to sit in and ask him for a canter. It was glorious! A beautiful smooth transition up, no silly jumping around. We cantered almost the whole second half of the field and he came back down to trot just a few strides after I started to ask him. Little steps. Except this feels like a huge one, it's absolutely made my day!

If I can keep chipping away at my demons over the Winter, I can't wait for next Summer!

Ride / play safe x