Thursday, 28 August 2014

No panic, hoof man is here

Phew that was a close shave fortunately my very lovely hoof man, Shane Hobbs, likes me enough to have rushed out in his lunch hour today to put a new shoe on.  Mum searched the field three times but could not find the old one.  I must remember to remove it from Charlie's boot jack he left me, otherwise it's going to be a bit of a giveaway. 

Well I think I'm all set. I got an extra pamper on Friday and had a back massage too, which meant visiting my relatives up the road as the back man came to Eric's house. We got a chance to have a chat over the fencing before he arrived.  We are not allowed to say hello out on hacks because it generally ends up in squealing, but without our humans involved we were very polite to each other. 

My massage man is called Neil Gibson, he's great, it's called Bowen, I call it yummy. He makes you feel tip top. Though I did get told off for jumping around and even got banned to the stable in the hope I'd stand still and relax - yeah right!

This is Neil working on me...

Ooooh that tickles....go careful pleas Neil.

Well now I'm a super pampered pony with a full set of shoes, bring on hairy pony camp and let's see what trouble I can get up too.  I wonder what we will be doing, I have never been to a pony camp before. 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

No it's supposed to be all about me!

Im not happy at all.  It's taken me a whole day to calm down long enough to put hoof to iPad. Now I know Mum loves Zippy and she used to do lots of things on her but she's mine now. If Zippy does come out I always accompany her, she used to show me things aren't scary but now I act as escort and protector. 

I could not believe my little dales pony eyes yesterday when Mum came down and took Zippy away down the road WITHOUT me! I mean what was she thinking. Obviously I thought she was just having a 'moment' and would realise she had left me behind. But no she was starting to go out the gate to the road, this was turning rapidly into a major crisis, I mean Zippy can't got out on her own.

There was only one thing for it, throw a maximum king size paddy to get Mum's attention so she would remember to take me too.  I was impressive, head down between knees back legs high in air, spinning canter pirouettes with head down (all this fittening exercise has it's uses) I put everything into it.  But can you believe Mum looked up smiled at me and then disappeared down the road with Zippy and Zippy's new rider, Sally. Humph!

Obviously this now required some very serious action to teach Mum she should never leave me on my own.  There was nothing else to do but to resort to the famous old tactic of pull a shoe off.  So I did.  That will teach her.  What Mum didn't realise is Charlie (her old event horse, who is expert in the field of pulling shoes off, had left me some secret notes on how to do it behind one of the trees). Thank you Charlie owe you one!

So when Zippy finally returned (evidently having had a fun old time, reliving old memories of being on the lunge, and having successfully taught Sally to do rising trot, and had even snuck in a little canter, much to Mum's surprise - oh there is life in the old horse yet) I pitched up at the gate to say hello feeling very smug.

Mum was not impressed, something about we are going to a Highland and Dales pony camp this weekend and how do all her horses know when something special has been lined up so that they go pull a shoe off!  Well just punishment has been served and hopefully Mum has learnt her lesson.  Though I kinda hope the farrier will come before Friday because that hairy pony camp thing at the weekend does sound kinda fun - opps hope I haven't ruined our chances of going.

Zippy has pulled my fetlock and asked could I also post the pictures of her with her rider Sally, ok Zippy but don't make a habit of this, we could fall out if you start stealing all of Mum's attention - even you should know by now it's supposed to be all about me!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Lots of apples and a few rosettes too

I've had a very busy day today, up early for the full hairdressing works before heading off to Cricklade show. Wasn't sure Mum had got the right day there weren't many horses for a horse show? It turns out Mum had got the right day, it's just we were second to go in the first dressage class Intro A. 

Now because I'm quite accomplished at walk trot tests I had to go into the open section of the class. However my regular readers will know my last walk trot test involved five breaks to canter, so today's mission was to just walk and trot. Well you can see how I did on Mum's YouTube channel and if your paying attention you might notice one tiny little break to canter - unfortunately the judge noticed too!  However she liked everything else and I got my best score to date 68.7% and second place. Mum got her blue rosette and I got a very yummy apple. 

We had been competing in drizzle and horrible weather was forecast for later in the day so Mum decided now was the time to see whether our show jumping practice was going to pay off and she entered us into the clear round showjumping. Now I have never seen these jumps before so I thought it was best on my first round to carry out a full health and safety inspection and stop at each jump for a close examination before going ahead and jumping them. The last jump next to the scary tent needed a couple of extra inspections because it had what Mum called a filler in and I had never seen one of these before - but after several close inspections I deemed it safe to jump. 

After that it was easy and rounds two and three were a breeze, I was loving it (you can see all the action at better I got lots of apples afterwards. Mum got her rosettes, so she was happy. I got an extra 'Well Done' rosette because my new fan club (the ladies looking after the clear round showjumping) were so impressed at my first ever effort they felt I really deserved it, personally I think some carrots would have been better, but hey thank you lovely ladies. 

After a short break to munch on some more apples it was time to get serious and try my hooves at another Prelim class. As I haven't yet mastered correct canter leads I was allowed to enter the restricted section of the Prelim 1 class. Mission today correct canter leads. So down the centre line and canter - opps evidently not quiet yet (no one can say I'm not keen!) more trotting across the diagonal and deep breath left hand canter (judges comments smooth transition) yes got that move nailed!  Then another trot across the diagonal before the BIG question, right hand canter lead, errrr quick panicky muddle of legs, concentrate, now Mum wants right front leg first, yes got it - yippee. Mum was well chuffed I've uploaded the full test onto her YouTube channel as well

Yes that is me doing right hand canter lead!

The results of all our training and hardwork meant with my correct canter leads we came first, hurrah that meant not only apples but some yummy herbal treats too, oh yes and a red rosette for Mum too. 

We didn't get too wet and I have to say a big thank you to Lynne for reading the tests to Mum so she remembered where to steer me and to Liz for being my mobile hairdresser and being patient with me when just as she finished combing my mane I had a good itch on the haynet (opps). 

I'm such a lucky pony to have a Mum who takes me out and let's me do all these fun things, can we do some more jumping soon please Mum.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Let's get serious

Big day yesterday. Mum took me for my now fortnightly lesson with Helen Cole where we have flatwork and pole work lessons with Kennet Vale Riding Club.  Last night was pole work, it needed serious concentration. It was a busy lesson and I'm so pleased Mum and I have being doing a lot of canter work because the whole lesson was pretty much in canter, though I had a plan to sort that out.....

We work in a lovely large school and I was sharing the lesson with 4 other horses, 3 of whom looked like Zippy and the 4th was a huge dapple grey. We all did our warm up ok. Helen had set out three poles in a curve at each end of the arena. Helen is very nice and adjusted the lesson for my little legs I mean how can I be expected to canter 2 strides between the poles when the huge big horses were struggling - so I was allowed to do 3 strides instead - phew. 

It all got a bit exciting with five horses cantering around, I started doing canter pirouettes, the big dapple grey started bucking, so Helen called a halt to the proceedings and decided it was safest if some stood and watch while just two of us cantered around and did the exercise. Phew our tactics worked as it meant I didn't have to canter for the whole hour, thank you dapple grey friend!

It was quite a tricky exercise we had to canter on the inside of the curve cantering over the poles, not falling off the end and doing two strides between the poles which was quite a stretch for my little legs and then we had to canter on the outside edge of the poles which meant they were further apart and I had to do that in three strides. After a bit of practise we managed that quite well. 

Then it got even trickier!  One end of the poles was raised up so they sloped to the ground and we started by just cantering over the last pole - easy it's turning into a jumping lesson, I went up a gear - evidently not good, so back under a controlled canter we then joined two of the slopey poles together.  Then round for a third time this time cantering over all three poles.  Now this exercise had been set up for the big horses to do one canter stride between the poles.  Mum aimed me at the middle and I had to do a super dales mega stretch to make the distance - I did it just, phew. Mum was very pleased I tried so hard, but her smile soon got wiped off her face when Helen said that while I was very good, Mum was bad and should have made it easier for me by taking the lower end of the poles so I could make the one canter stride more easily.  

So I took Mum round one more time at the right place to show her how much easier it was.  Job done, Mum was very chuffed with my efforts.  Hopefully she has also learnt that my little legs need slightly shorter distances.

When I got home I got a big tea for being so good, yummy.  Zippy was pleased to see me as she had been shut on the concrete again and my return meant a little tea for her with her medicine and then freedom out into the field.

What a fab day, enjoying my lessons and meeting new horsey friends, even if this schooling stuff is starting to get serious!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Another great day jumping

I'm really liking this jumping stuff Mums got me doing. It's great fun I can go charging around the back garden jumping all the different jumps. We started steady with just trotting poles and then built up a little grid.  First with one cross pole and then with two. 

It's a good thing I'm a little pony because it was a bit of a squeeze our grass arena (known more favourably as my yummy winter paddock) is only 30m long. But Mum just about squeezed all the trot poles in.  I got Mum to measure the jumps as I think they need to go up next time. They are all about 1'8" high and the spread was also 1'8" wide. The highest was about 2ft, Mum I want them higher, bring it on!

Mum got her Dad to help put up the jumps and take photos and video, so big thank you Grandad x

Like all my schooling exercises it's important to teach Mum to ride properly, so today I have been teaching her to keep her head up.  I had to remind her several times that if she looks down at the jump, I will stop.  

I also took it to a new level as I need to make sure Mum keeps her heels down and her toes pointing in.  I find the best way to test her position and stability is to put in the odd sharp twist and turn. It looks like she learnt from this test yesterday as she did stay on today, but I still think there's room for improvement. If you watch this video you'll see she needed to hang onto my neck at one point. 

Mum head up, heels down and we will soon be completing a clear round.

In the meantime tea, rest and dreaming of eating my winter paddock - there is a lot of grass in some of the areas, seems a shame to trample all over it!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Mum what are you doing down there?

Honestly Mum keeps trying new things with me but today was a first!  We set out with Benji to the back garden and with music blaring out of Mum's leg we were practising circles to Abba, Queen and various other music. Some I enjoyed others were a bit quiet. Benji was doing his best to spook me by dashing through the long grass chasing the cars on the otherside of the hedge but I tried hard to concentrate on what Mum was asking.  We are doing well at our walk to canter transitions, I like doing them they are fun. 

Fed up with circles Mum put some jumps up for me, so we went whizzing around the back garden flying cross poles and uprights. Mum even put a couple of the jumps up a little higher, I was loving it.  Then Mum decided to try her new manoeuvre.....

We happily jumped the red and white cross pole, I thought that was the end so started to turn left to go home, Mum said no we were going right, so I started to turn right and then Mum went left so I went back to the left as Mum went to the right and then kept going right off my shoulder landing on her bottom in the muck heap!!!  Really I hope this is something Mum is not going to keep practising.

She got back on and we did some more jumping, by which time Benji, Mum and I were all tired so we went for a gentle stroll back down the lane listening to more music - I don't understand this sudden desire of Mums to keep listening to music especially when we are doing circles, I'm sure it will all become clear in the end. 

I came back to a grumpy Zippy she is not happy - Mum keeps shutting her on the yard while we go out and have fun, and she has nothing to eat and just a big bucket of water. Still we both tucked into a very yummy lunch.  Now time for a lie down I think. 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Competing in thunder & lightening

Well Mum & I have been busy the past couple of weeks working on Mum learning how to ask me to canter on the correct leg. It's very exciting and Mums teacher has been impressed with our progress as in two weeks we are now getting more correct lead transitions than wrong. Mums best if she asks me from walk but that's not allowed in dressage. 

So we have had a big day today going to Brinkworth Show.  It's the first time I've been to a show this year and the first time I've been on my own - up till now my faithful friend Zippy has come along for the ride.  I had a busy schedule starting with a large breed in hand mountain and moorland class. Mum had given me two days off so I was full of spring - evidently a bit too much, rearing and spooking (at nothing) is reportedly not good show pony etiquette.  Well no one told me that so the judge had no choice but to pull me in 4th, nice green rosette (don't tell anyone I was last!)

I didn't get a chance to rest dragged back to the trailer at speed my saddle was chucked on, bridle changed and with no warm up I was presented to the Intro B dressage ring. I was not entirely sure what was expected of me (but I was sure it must include canter - I mean we have been practising it none stop for two weeks) errrr evidently not it was supposed to be just walk and trot but I kept trying to offer it anyway. When we halted Mum was grinning at the judge and laughing - the judge said there was much to like, which she backed up with her scores, I got two 8's and my first ever 9. Which overlooking my five attempts to canter in the test was quite impressive and Mum was surprised we won a 5th rosette for our efforts. 

Still no rest straight from one arena to another for Prelim 7. Mum did well to remember to tests and ride them back to back. Our scores weren't so impressive with a 4 and a 3 for my first canter (wrong leg) no one seems to appreciate how accomplished and balanced I am in counter canter!  We got the right lead for the second canter but not enough marks to get into the rosettes.

Then we headed off for our last class of the day ridden large breed mountain & moorland. I only got to rest for a few minutes before we were called into the ring. There was a beautiful dapple grey dales, yes 2 dales in a class if 6, not bad for down south!  I behaved much better and even managed to stand still while the horses galloped behind us in the line, which last year I just couldn't do - too scary. So Mum was pleased with this. However I'm still quite green at this showing stuff and the judge said I needed a little more schooling (wrong canter lead again I suspect). One horse had left the ring before the final line up so technically I came 5th out of 6. 

Then the heavens opened, thunder and lightening meant Mum had to shut Benji in the car while we hunkered for shelter behind the trailer. I only skipped about a little and sadly the show was forced to be cancelled so we were lucky we competed when we did!  

I have to say a big thank you to my Mums new friend Jo, she came and helped shampoo me yesterday and came along to the show and got soaking wet with us. Both Mum and I are very grateful for her help, so thank you Jo, so sorry it was such a miserable wet day for your introduction into the world of horse shows!!!

I suspect I will have some more canter work practice over the next few weeks, can't imagine why!  Wonder if we will be doing more showing?  Think I prefer dressage, maybe if I practice some more we might go show jumping, think that could be fun.