Thursday, 26 February 2015

Been to Playschool

I'm Wednesay Mum turned Zippy and I out into the big field as usual, it turned out to be a lovely day, so we were somewhat surprised when she turned up at the field very early to collect us and bring us home. Very odd. 

It turned out I was being packed up into the box on wheels to go to Playschool. Yes honestly, Wickstead Equestrian Centre now have a Horseplay arena, it's amazing, it's also huge, as you can see from the picture below. 

I was very lucky, as one of Mums friends, impressed with my jumping at her yard (where Mum goes for lessons with Polly) invited me to come along for a showjumping and cross country schooling lesson. Whose going to say no to that. Below is me getting ready for Playschool. 

As Mum wasn't phased by my last attempts to be extra bouncy during the lesson I thought I needed to practice new tactics and having read up on my options plumped for THE REFUSUAL. I have to say this worked very well and really flustered Mum, as she's not used to me stopping. I had a wide selection of very brightly coloured jumps to stop at and managed a refuse pretty much all of them at least once, and several of them I managed multiple stops at, up to the point where the instructor decided I had better follow another horse, well I wasn't being left behind. Dam I've just worked out what she did, clever instructor, after that I forgot about refusing as I was too keen to keep up the the other horse - Clever!

What you can't really see from these photos is around the edge is an all weather cross country course with water, steps, ditches and some smaller cross country jumps. Well by this time I was flying, cantering through the water, jumping on and off the steps. I loved it so much I completely forgot about adopting my refusal strategy and jumped everything first time, giving Mum lots of confidence, we both loved it. 

So I have to say a big thank you to Penny for inviting us to come play, I loved Playschool and I hope I can go again soon.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Whose been in my trailer?

Hmmmm Tuesday was not a good day. Mum finally turned up at 9am (about 2 hours late for breakfast by my reckoning) with a vet in tow? Errrr what's going on?  The vet stabbed me again, hang on I only got stabbed a few weeks ago, I thought these were supposed to be annual stabbings?  

I still don't understand that (if I wanted to, which I don't) I could be a show pony and get to HOYS or Olympia without being stabbed once, yet to become a Riding Club pony I have to be stabbed all the time. I'm starting to see some advantages to being a showing pony, Mum can we discuss this please?

Well after being stabbed I expected breakfast, but no, Mum hitched up the box on wheels, chucked hay over my bedroom door and left.  I threw a major tantrum, rearing and double barrelling the bedroom walls like a proper teenager, it made no difference she didn't come back!  Finally the lovely Aunty Katy gave us breakfast and took us out to the field, think I left a lot of tidying up for her!

More worryingly where was Mum going with the box on wheels without me?  It turns out Mum had gone to meet Sarah and they travelled up to Nottingham to buy Sarah a new pony. I was a bit confused because I'm sure they dropped Katy off in Wales.  Sarah had looked after Katy (very beautiful dapple grey dales pony) for a while but had to take her home when she got a job in Spain. I had presumed now Sarah is back flying airplanes in the UK she would have gone back for Katy. 

Evidently not, she has turned traitor and gone and brought a poncy Arab. It's not even a pure bred Arab, but Zippy says that's her redeeming feature. This is Piper below. 

She kinda looks like a very skinny Zippy with match sticks for legs. It turns out she is 98.92% Arab and 1.08% cob, which is the bit that redeems her in Zippy's eyes. She's only three but she's already had four different owners. That can't be nice, she's traveled the country starting in Hampshire, then living somewhere near me in Swindon, then Nottingham now Maidenhead. It makes me realise how lucky I am. I have only ever had two owners, Delia who bred me and my now Mum.  Mind you Piper has landed on her feet with Sarah as Katy only ever had nice things to say about her. 

I guess I don't mind her borrowing my box on wheels as I know she is now with someone who will love her lots. Though I think Mum should have asked before taking my box on wheels, because I'm kinda of getting fond of my travelling, wonder where I will be going next?

Katy, my very beautiful Dales friend, I can only apologise for Sarah's complete moment of insanity I will do my best to remind her everyday of why she should have brought a dales pony rather than an Arab, disguised as a skinny cob. It is a sad fact that we are not actually a rare breed, the rarity is in finding humans who are clever enough to appreciate all of our talents and want to be a Mum or Dad to us fabulous ponies. I'm off to eat some hay and dream of new pony adventures as Anuty Katy has done an excellent job of restoring order to my bedroom and filling up my haynet with huge amounts of yummy hay. Nite, nite all pony friends, but especially my dales friends. 

Monday, 23 February 2015

Mum's got all artistic

I have to say even I'm impressed at how handsome Mum has made me and she swears I've not had any air brushing at all - I should think not, I don't need any touching up!

She has also turned her hand and created a portrait for Zippy too.....I think I like mine the best. 

It's been a horrible cold wet and snowy day so it was nice to see Mum arrive and collect us from the field and tuck us up all warm and snug in our bedrooms. Zippy and I were both starving so tucked into our yummy hay. Hope it's a nicer day tomorrow, maybe Mum will take me out for another fun ride. We had a great ride on Sunday going up on the hill and spent a lot of the ride cantering and galloping, Mum says it was to get rid of my excess energy, I think she forgets is it just makes me even more fitter!  Even Zippy got a ride out with Mum afterwards and she did a good job to remind Mum that some old habits will never die - like see grass will go, she was jumping the water ditches and jogging along all the farm fields. I hope I have her energy when I'm that old!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Whizz, buck, fun

Finally two hours late Mum turned up to give Zippy and I our breakfast - not impressed I was literally kicking the bedroom door and walls in anger. I thought humans knew the importance of routine especially when it comes to feeding us rare breeds, it is no wonder we are rare I could have starved to death if I had been left much longer. 

I also want to point out while I am talking about neglect that by now it has been over a week since Mum has ridden me, well ok five days at least. So I was pleased to see Mum drag the box on wheels out of the mud and load me up for a trip - this always means I'm going to do something. 

Today it was a showjumping lesson with my favourite teacher Polly. As I was feeling full of beans and very very cross with Mum for not exercising me and leaving me in bed without breakfast for far too long this morning, I decided it was time to test out how well Mum has taken on board the advice Polly has been giving her. 

So today I gave Mum and Polly a look at what Polly called my 'sharp' side.  I call it my whizzy bucking side.  The lesson was being shared with a lovely cob who had no brakes, so I thought it was an ideal lesson to join in with this strategy and see how much control Mum really had, as it turns out she did quite well. 

First was a line of trotting poles - BORING. I decided to make it more exciting by cantering/jumping them, which was much more fun. It took Mum several attempts to gain sufficent control and rythmn to make me trot them properly. To make it more interesting I decided to intersperse the lesson with random acts of bolting and bucking, which was great fun. I think it took Polly somewhat by surprise as I have to date been a very well behaved pupil.  But I believe you need to keep challenging your rider otherwise they start to take our good behaviour for granted. 

You do need to time these episodes in such a manner that hopefully your rider won't fall off. Had I tried this behaviour in Mum's first lesson I definitely would have lost her as a passenger several times. But with Polly's teaching Mums position has become a lot more secure and I felt she was at a stage that I could add some of these tests in. While her riding might be coming on in leaps and bounds I'm not sure the same could be said for the language she used during these incidents!

So having survived the bolting and bucking incidents I needed to think up a new plan.  I tried dipping out to the second part of the doubles, as well as putting in small extra strides, or taking longer leaps, none of that phased Mum, she might have sworn at me but she made sure I jumped the jumps (all of them) everytime, with no refusals, including a brick wall (this was new to me) damn she's getting good. 

It was a beautiful day and this left me only one other tactic to employ, with the sun on my back while I stood and watched the cob employ some impressive anti braking strategies with her rider, I started to feel sleepy and decided on the cunning reverse strategy of I can't be bothered any more. Ouch that didn't work either, Polly had Mum whipping me up into a frenzy (I promise you I was left with no choice but to get my act into gear) to jump the course one more time, which obviously I obliged. 

Well all in all I think that was a good lesson, I got to let off some much needed steam and Mum has shown she can still control me and get me over jumps even when I try using my whizzy gear. Hmmmm I could be running out of ideas, so pony friends if you have any other suggestions of strategies I should try please let me know. 

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Aunts Katy is in charge

Mum's gone off and left us again!  She says she is away with work but I don't understand if she is away with work why I can hear her let the chickens out in the morning. She didn't even come to say hello to us this morning. I know it's REALLY muddy to walk down the track from the house to our bedrooms but surely she would want to say hello and give us breakfast before she leaves. 

Zippy says it's because she is all poshed up in smart work clothes and she doesn't want to get them dirty and that maybe the very important business people Mum meets might not understand why she has sloppy pony kisses and food all over her. 

I'm confused I thought Mum liked us kissing her? And if she can't see us then why does she go see the chickens?  Surely they must give her big sloppy kisses too?

Well at least Aunth Katy loves us, and she not only gives us food but walks us down to the big field, so we can have a good run around. I wonder when Mum will be back, I want to go for a ride and Benji says he's bored too. Hurry up and come home soon Mum, please 😘

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Dressage diva

This morning I was loaded up into the box on wheels again for a long journey to an unknown destination. An hour later we arrived at a very over crowded car park, with no one around to help direct where we were going to park, which didn't put Mum in a good mood to start with. Eventually we squeezed between a super big posh lorry and another trailer. Mum disappeared to get the low down on where everything was while I looked about and ate my hay. 

Mum returned to make herself look smart before tacking me up and leading me to see where we needed to be to warm up. We had less than 20 minutes to warm up in an indoor school, I was running at full speed ahead and I didn't give Mum a chance to take control, I was on a charge (well what does she expect if she gives me a big dinner and a big breakfast - I have energy to burn!). Before we had a chance to settle down we were re-directed to the other end of the facilities to start my exam. 

We started with Prelim 7, Mum was struggling with the brakes but I was working to ensure we had good impulsion. We made a good straight entry and kicked off our scoring with an 8. I'm good at trot so secured lots of 7.5's for the first part of our test including my RIGHT hand canter (so got that mastered!). 

I kept a good smart walk to get an 8 for my medium walk before dropping to 6.5 for my left canter transition before regaining a 7.5 for the rest of my canter. 

The stretchy walk was only across the short diagonal and I was too tense to stretch down so only got 6.5 before halting for a 7. Mum was thrilled as she didn't think we had done very well and couldn't believe we came 2nd with a massive score of 71.5% (think that is my first over 70% score). 

Video footage of my Prelim 7 exam can be found at

Next back to the outdoor arena to keep warming up for my next exam Prelim 18. Mum was riding me around in circles while desperately trying to learn the directions. She's not very good at learning two exams in a row. Then we did LOADS of walk trot transitions as well as practising some canter transitions before a few diagonal stretch walks, within 15 minutes of warming up we were in for our next exam. Another positive very straight entry to get another 8!  There is a lot of trot to start this test and I was so excited and full of beans that at every bend I kept offering Mum canter, I'm not sure how the judge didn't see it, but I managed to score a whole stream of 7's even so!

My working canter right wasn't so hot, Mum was convinced I was on the wrong leg, but I wasn't, so we scored 6's, she should have just left me to it, I know what I'm doing. Mums steering then went downhill and we ended up right of the centre line to finish our halt. 

We ended up with a score of 67.9% which is still pretty good, Mum thought the scores were very generous considering all my naughty canter offerings. Though we were thrilled to score our first ever 7 for my stretchy walk, which Mum thought was probably our best effort to date, so she agreed with the score. All in all a good day, though I'm not sure Mum rated the venue. 

Video footage of our Prelim 18 can be found at

Me sporty my blue rosette after I had completed all my exams. Back home for another big tea????

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Two sweaty days and a day of rest - phew!

Well I have been glad for my rest today. Tuesday Mum took Benji and I out on her favourite ride. Considering how long Mum has had me, it really can't be her favourite as I had never been on it before!  Then I found out why, it's a lovely ride, if you want to get fit but you have to jump a small hunt jump to get round, as its a circular ride. Well that's what Mum thought. 

We headed up over the hills and came to the jump, I didn't fancy it myself and told Mum in no uncertain terms, she tried to persuade me severals times but when I went to stand on it she thought better of it and then spied out the corner of her eye a gate.  So after a little argument I agreed to go through the gate instead. By this time we had lost Benji he was off exploring. Mum might like the ride but after the jump, and there are mor stumps I might have to try in the future I had to climb up this very steep hill, winding my way through lots of trees. Just as I got to the top, puffing a little, we came across a fallen tree that we just weren't going to fit under. Mum was not impressed. In the end she got off to see if I could go under without her, but I don't do crawling on my knees, I'm a Dales pony not a Shetland Mum!  

In the end Mum led me through the bushes and we found a way around. Mum mounted back up and we were soon heading home - at a gallop!  It's a fabulous ride as I get to gallop along a lovely wide field verge that goes on forever.  By the time we got back to the top of th he'll to head home, I was steaming with sweat. The nice thing about where we live is I get to have a long slow ride home down the lane, so I was a lot cooler by the time I returned to Zippy. 

Having spent Tuesday getting sweaty, I couldn't believe it when Mum decided to get me sweaty on Wednesday too!  This time she had hired Katy's beautiful indoor arena and I had to do A LOT of circle work and most of it seemed to be in trot or canter. We practised a lot of downward transisitions and on getting a good powerful trot. I did get a small break of sorts when I had to practice walking with my head on the floor, but I was allowed to dawdle and I wasn't allowed to snatch at the bit either, Mum is sooo boring ruining all my games. 

By the time I had finished I was steaming again!  Errr can someone let me out of here.  I can only just sneak my head over the door. Mind you the upside of all this exercise is I do get a very big tea, yummy. Is also got a day off today, so Zippy and I had a chance to relax in our small field!

Below is Zippy just chilling, while I got down to the business of eating what little grass and hay we had. 

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Sunday is a day of rest

For once I have been allowed to have a day off, mostly because Mum was asked to go play in a tennis match. The downside of this was Zippy and I had to get up early and we walked down the road in the rising mist, but we were given a big pile of yummy hay to eat. 

It turned out to be a lovely day to have a rest and wander around the field munching what little grass is left, hurry up spring. 

Mum turned up in the early afternoon at the field with Benji, I thought for one moment she was going to take me out for a ride on my day off, but no it was worse than that - she got out some electric fencing and cut our field in half.  Mum there wasn't much grass anyway, to reduce it in half is not very fair.  Not a happy pony. Our hay feeders were moved into the new small field (phew for a moment I thought we were going to have to starve). And Mum did move the fence so we could still get into our field shelter, though we really haven't used it much this winter so far, hope it stays that way. 

Once she had finished reducing our field to a ridiculously small size we all walked back together down the lane home. I like these walks, Benji and I try to play with each other. Benji is on the lead and he likes to play dare and see if we can touch noses, when he gets too excited and starts barking Mum tells him off, by then she's normally told me off to. For reasons I don't understand she sometimes struggles with the three of us pulling in different directions.  Zippy is normally behind and Benji and I are pulling ahead, she stretches quiet well and we do wait for Zippy (sometimes). 

Still once home we have been tucked up in our beds with a nice bowl of feed and lovely big haynets. Night night Mum and Benji, see you in the morning. I'm going to go to sleep dreaming of Spring grass, it really can't be that far away? Can it?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Wildlife everywhere

Benji, Eric (Dales pony down the road) and I headed off on a long hack today. Fortunately the road wasn't too icy so we went all the way to the end and up the steep hill which still had a little snow on it. 

Bored with doing the same route we headed off right into a lovely field, it was huge, and meant we could have a good old canter, I let Eric go in front (otherwise he sulks) and we had a good stretch of our legs. We basically follow the top of a cliff, when the trees disappear the view is amazing. 

Mum likes looking at the view as much as I do, I like the rest but I think Mum likes to look and see where else we can ride. 

Benji had a field day, he practically tripped over a deer, so got to have some fun chasing that. Then I tripped over a hare, so he disappeared over the horizon chasing the hare. He came back when Mum called him and while we were going around the big field two more hares shot out, so he chased both of those too. Mum was thrilled he was getting so much exercise. 

We also watched the buzzards and then to top our wildlife viewing (or chasing in Benji's case) we saw a huge fox. Fortunately for Mr Fox it was as we were heading home down the road, so Benji was back on the lead, but he tried to pull me over while he went for the fox. Hope he stays away from our lovely chickens. 

It was a fabulous ride, hope we can go again soon. 

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Morning Mr Vet

Brrrrrr it's the first time it's snowed this winter, ok it's only the thinnest layer of snow, but it makes the road like an ice rink so Mum had the perfect excuse to keep us in the back (again). We were unceremoniously chucked out with some hay in the back garden, I think Mum must have still been asleep as she nearly forgot our breakfast. Zippy and I had given up on the idea we were going to get breakfast and decided to head out to the hay instead, when Mum suddenly pitched up with our buckets of feed. Yummy, they didn't last too long. 

By the time I persuaded Mum to take this photo most of the snow had already melted. 

I decided to keep a low profile while Mum mucked our stables out, so I wandered off round the corner to see if I could dig up any grass. Then Mum appeared back in the garden again with my halter and a stranger. The stranger turned out to be Mr Vet, someone I haven't met before, and Mum says I'm to keep it that way. It's ok pony fans I'm not ill, but I did have to have an injection. Being big and brave I let the vet stab me while I was still standing in the field, didn't feel a thing (well ok maybe a scratch) and once I had said hello (he wasn't very interesting, he didn't even have any treats!) I wandered back off to find more grass. 

The reason for the injection is I'm getting sooooo good at all this competition stuff, Mum thinks it's about time we started representing our riding club at events, so I have to be up to date and fully vaccinated. It's funny how as a show pony I could get all the way to Olympia probably without any vaccinations but enter a local riding club competition and I have to be injected up to the hilt. Still I'm brave and Mum should make sure I'm fully protected from nasty bugs anyway. 

Evidently he has to come back in 3 weeks and stab me again! I could go off this riding club competition malarkey very quickly. Time for a snooze I think, before more grass eating. 

Sunday, 1 February 2015

I've added showjumping to my CV

As you can tell I have had a busy time recently and some of the best fun I have had is learning to show jump. I'm a very lucky pony because I have the wonderful Polly Williamson teaching Mum, and she's very good at getting Mum to ride me properly. Polly is very clever and understands that if us ponies are going to perform at our very best then we need our riders to be in the correct position so they don't interfere with our amazing jumping abilities. 

Polly used to ride at an International level competing at Badminton (been there done that, honest I've ridden around Badminton just go read my blog) and Burghley (ok so I haven't done Burghley yet!). Unfortunately Polly had a very very very serious riding accident that left her in hospital and a coma for ages. Times a great healer and Polly is a very determined lady (well you have to be if your competing at that level) and she has made an amazing recovery through a lot of hard work and I am now very very lucky to have her teaching us. Polly doesn't ride any more but I think that is what makes her an amazing teacher because she has to think about how she would have ridden me and then has to get Mum to do it instead. 

She's very good at telling Mum what to do in very uncomplicated language. I've found Mum doesn't do so well with technical teachers that use posh horsey terms (Mum never had lessons as a child (can't I tell) so she's not up on all the technical speak) and it just intimidates Mum.  Polly puts it in plain English and makes Mum focus on doing what's right. A good example is teachers will often tell humans to not lean forward, yeah so what do the humans do they still lean forward because that is what they are thinking about. Polly is clever though she gets them to think about heels down and having a string pulling them up from their tummy button, hey presto human is sitting upright. 

I mustn't give away all Polly's tops tips, any ponies (or horses) interested in having their humans trained better please let me know I have Polly's number on speed dial and we can get your human fixed in no time at all. 

It's thank to all Polly's hardwork that we we came 2nd and 4th in our first ever showjumping competition at Chelworth Fields Ponies if you want somewhere friendly, warm and welcoming then definitely take your owners there it's great. 

You can see us in action at

Thank you for a great Gridwork lesson today Polly, think Mums really getting the hang of making me trot with power but not too much speed as it meant I could jump a 75cm (2'6" in old money) grid, no problems, bring on my next jumping competition 😀

A hunting good time

I was back in Wales again in November I love going back to my old home and seeing all my old field mates.  But I was in for a surprise, as having arrived in the afternoon, I was groomed late into the night - all highly suspicious, especially when Mum turned up in the morning looking like we were going showing. I thought we had quit doing that showing malarkey?

Well it turned out we weren't showing, we were going down the pub at 10.30am in the morning! We met my friend Oliver at the pub.  I have hacked out with him before and his human Val.  We set off down the road together meeting other horses and ponies on the way. It wasn't long before we turned into a farm yard where there were a lot of fluffy Benji's running around, Oliver says they are hounds.  We had to stand around for quiet a while while the humans ate mince pies and sausages and drank mulled wine, not happy that I wasn't being given any, I threw my head around until Mum gave in and let me eat the grass. Well if they are eating I can't see why I couldn't. Little did I know that fuelling up at this point was a very sensible idea. 

Then a horse went past carrying a red man blowing a horn and the Benji dogs followed, then the rest of the horses, Oliver and I stayed towards the back.  We went across the road and everyone ahead was cantering off, oooohhh wait for me, Oliver was very calm and chilled and I was all excited so Mum struggled a bit to keep me calm, I could tell she was excited too. At the top of the track we all stopped and the red man and the Benji dogs disappeared. So we had to stand still while we waited for instructions on which way to go.  Then we were off in canter again, come on Oliver keep up we might loose them. 

It wasn't long before I started to get the hang of this hunting game, you have to stand still while the humans chat and if your lucky try to refuel with some grass and then charge off down the road, up lanes, around fields at full speed, before stopping again to catch breath, before speeding off again. Everyone was very friendly and at one point we were standing on top of the world with the most amazing views, watching the dogs running through the fern.

I had such an amazing day and I have got used to dogs running around me and horses cantering up behind me.  We were out a very long time and by the end of the afternoon it was starting to get hardwork cantering up the hills and Oliver is much bigger than me so I started to struggle to keep up, so I was pleased when we headed for home.  I think I turned into our lane at about 4pm ish, as I left Oliver I neighed goodbye to my new best friend.  He was amazing and such a good hunting companion, I hope I can go out again with him. 

I the trotted down the lane in a hurry to tell Dave and Vince about my amazing day and Mum was soooo pleased with I got a HUGE tea, I like this hunting game, my dreams are going to be full of galloping over the Welsh countryside tonight.

In fact it turned out Mum loved it too, so much so that in our 10 day stay in Wales we got to go hunting three times, yes three times, so I am definitely qualified as a hunting pony. I was hoping we would still go hunting when we got home but it turns out it is a lot more expensive here.  When we hunted in Wales it was only cost 2 bags of carrots but to hunt at home for a day would cost 25 bags of carrots, I'm not sure it was 25 bags of carrots of fun, I think I'd prefer to keep the carrots please, Mum.