Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Play time is getting serious

I've been to visit my new friend, Lara, for another play day this week. I'm starting to get suspicious that Mum doesn't really understand the concept of 'play'. For a play day the humans were getting both of us to do what seemed like rather a lot of work?

Like our last play day we started with our own humans just doing a bit of walk, trot and canter. Well that was all fine and then they started discussing medium trot. A trot is a trot ok unless your a dales, then some of us do have a stonking trot mode too. My cousin Eric is very good at this, personally I prefer to canter and if I am going to keep up with Lara's medium trot, a flat out gallop might be called for. 

So the humans decided we should 'play' at medium trot across the diagonals, man that is hard work, my bum aches from trying to power from behind. Lara makes it look sooooo easy but she has had a lot more practice then me. The humans switched and continued to 'play' at medium trot. Errrr are you supposed to be sweating on a 'play day'?

Mum needs to practise Prelim 13 as evidently this is our next circle test.  This one is quite important as Mum is trying to qualify me for the Native Pony Society Championships and we will only have this one chance. So to help Mum remember the test and she says to get a feel of what it is like to ride a 'real' dressage horse (cheek what's wrong with riding me, if you hadn't noticed Mum Lara is NOT a native pony, so there is no point tying to qualifier her) she had a go on Lara. It's got to be getting serious when the humans had employed their own film crew to video a 'practice session'!  Here's the results

Ok Lara, anything you can do, in the hands of a professional I'm sure I can do better.  Well Lara is being handicapped by being ridden by my Mum (now aka bird lady - flaps like a chicken when jumping and rides Dressage like a penguin, can she stick her toes any further out!). Watch and learn ponies

Finally we were allowed some down time and with humans returned to their own ponies we got to go jumping, it large, with plenty of room to spare.

On a more serious note there seemed to be some enthusiastic discussions on entering circle competitions with the wrong human pony combination. I don't mind, it's great to have a good rider with gentle hands riding me, but poor Lara will get the short straw with Bird lady Mum. 

The question is can an Elementary dressage horse in the hands of my Mum beat, me, most amazing Dales pony in the hands of a professional? Well bring it on and let's find out........oh and to make it more interesting we will each do a Prelim and Novice Test. Ummmmm Mum we don't do Novice, I'm still a beginner and Lara's not impressed having to do a Prelim test she says its beneath her, and I think Mum might struggle to stop Lara showing off some of her fancier moves in the Prelim.  Could be interesting.......more practiced required all round I think.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Three play days

I'm very lucky to have had three separate play days with three different pony/horse friends within the last couple of weeks. My first was with Lara, a huge apolosa belonging to Mums friend Trish. I was invited to go down and play in their indoor school.  So Mum took me in the box on wheels to Lara's house. Once there I was tacked up and met Lara for the first time, when I say huge I mean so tall I could probably walk under her tummy. We both had a walk, trot and canter in her house and then Mum swapped with Trish. I was a bit worried about this as Mum gets vertigo and she was mighty high up, but it's ok she stayed on. I concentrated very hard and made sure I represented the fun pony side of us Dales ponies and gave Trish an enjoyable ride. 

Mum was squealing with enjoyment riding a 'real' dressage horse, and loved charging across the diagonals in medium trot. OMG I would need to do a flat out gallop to keep up with that trot! I hope Mum doesn't get any fancy ideas!  Riders swapped back while we played at canter transitions. This was a bit of an interesting experiment with Mum riding the transitions with her eyes closed 'guessing' whether I had got the correct leading leg or not. I think more practice is needed!

Trish loved riding me so much we swapped back again and then went for a cool down hack along the lane. Mum are you ok up there, from her smile I'm guessing yes. 

Trish took the compulsory pony hacking picture, it's a good thing I had washed behind my ears!

As if that wasn't enough fun my second play day on Sunday meant I got to take Cousin Eric out for a hack around one of my favourite rides at Barbury and around Rockley. This is a bit more complicated as we have to use Eric's box on wheels but we were soon loaded up and driving up to Barbury. Benji got to come too, he loves this ride as its over 8 miles long and it's all off road so he just gets to run and run and run. Eric and Jo enjoyed the ride and we were so lucky, because it just started to rain as we got back to the box on wheels. It was a lot of hill work but Jo has been working hard with Eric and he's now fit enough to do these fun rides. We did lots of racing and had fabulous views. The best thing was Eric and I were supposed to be doing a circle competition that day but it had been cancelled. The humans weren't happy about this but we much preffered running around the hills. Thank you cousin Eric for a great day and Jo for keeping Mum company. 

I'm so lucky after a play day on Sunday Mum took me out for another play day on Monday, with my Highland pony friend Iona. I really like going to her house, it's very relaxing, I wish I could live over there.  When we arrived I had a room all made out for me, so I settled in and put my hooves up while Mum helped Caroline and Hugh put up some jumps. Finally I was tacked up and we went jumping. I did do a couple of stops but once I got the hang of it I was flying around.  Iona was flying too. 

At the end of the session we did the barrel challenge. We had been jumping three barrels in a row, for the challenge two of the barrels are removed and we have to be super accurate and just jump one dead in the middle. This is quite tricky.  I could feel Mum concentrating very hard and on the first attempt she lined me up dead centre, agrhhhh, I'm going to have to jump this, hmmmmm what evasion tactics can I use, oh yes the mid air swivel, as you can see I might still need to do some more work on this manoeuvre as I still ended up having to kinda jump the jump. It's a very hard manoeuvre that uses a lot of energy. 

So I thought better of trying that on my second attempt and went for a proper jump instead. Hair flying everywhere, I think I'm looking good, kept those front feet tucked up nice and tight. 

Thank you to all my pony friends, Lara, Eric and Iona for inviting me to come play with you, I had lots of fun and hope we can play again soon. I'm tired now, maybe Mum can go to work so I can have a rest. 

Friday, 6 March 2015

Zippy thinks she's going hunting.....

In a very unusual move, never done in the twenty years Zippy has belonged to Mum, Zippy has been given a full clip. This came out of the blue. We had been out in the field all day, Zippy spent most of it persuading spikey trees to scratch her.  They did such a good job the trees rubbed all her fur off!

Mum decided she needed to have all fur chopped off, so out came the hair eaters. Zippy is very excited as the last time she was fully clipped like this (before Mum owned her) she went hunting.  Though I think she looks a little surprised at how much fur Mum chopped off!  Mum decided it all needed to come off as she thought Zippy might be getting too hot, I'm not surprised all that fluff filled a whole sack. 

We were put to bed with our tea and Zippy was very excited about going hunting the next day, she swore she had been given extra rations. Up early the next morning with the sun shining final preparations were under way, Zippy had a full bath in hibi scrub and just when she thought she would be loaded up onto the box on wheels, she set off down the road with Mum and left me behind. 

I shouted to Zippy to enjoy her hunting. She wasn't tacked up which was a bit of a worry but maybe Mum was going bare back because of Zippy's sore back. They had taken Benji with them which is always a good idea, he's great at flushing out foxes. They came home an hour later, well Zippy is old so maybe she couldn't hack the pace, though she had a big smile on her face. 

I don't believe it - she hadn't been hunting, she'd been walked around the farm and had been allowed to fill her face with lots of grass while the sun and light wind dried her out, how come I didn't get to go, I would have loved to munch on all that grass. Zippy didn't mind she didn't go hunting, she enjoyed the snack outing. She doesn't look too bad considering she's in her late 20's with no fur!

Mums not sure when she can be ridden now as she has to wait for her back to heel. Thanks to her scratching we have been quarantined in the very small back paddock as it's the only place with no trees for Zippy to scratch on. This means I now have to stand and scratch her back when she asks, but I get bored quite quickly so I don't scratch for long and Mum would kill me if I hurt Zippys back any more. Wish we could go play in the big field, hurry up and get better Zippy. 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Dales do the double

I've been buddying up with Eric (aka Akehurst Strongbow, my Dales relative who lives down the road) to do a lot of circle practice. On Thursday last week we went to Breach Lane Equestrian Centre to give Eric a sneak preview of where we were going to be competing. I like the fact I'm only 5 1/2 years old but I've been showing Eric, whose 13 years old, the ropes on how to travel and do circle work. We had a fun practice on Thursday, made even better by being allowed to loose all my tack afterwards and have a roll in the arena.  After a good old scratch I surprised everybody watching (except Mum) with my exuberance and energy showing off how high I could do handstands and generally run around and have some fun. Alison, Trish and Jo who were watching knew I had done a gruelling showjumping and cross country lesson late the Wednesday afternoon and were surprised after an hours circle practice that I still had the energy to charge around. Ladies I'm one fit Dales pony, which I think sometimes Mum regrets (but really she wouldn't have me any other way). 

Eric however showed his age and when he was allowed a roll and playtime, he just stood there asking when was it time to go home!

With practice time over Mum got up early on Sunday to make me look like a girl, honestly I have never been so embarrassed in my life, just have a look at what she did to my tail!

Though I have to say I did get a lot of admiring glances when my tail was unveiled at the competition, so maybe it wasn't so bad. I think Mum and I cut quite the picture, looking very professional. 

Mind you Eric and Jo looked very smart too, pictures to follow - Mums off travelling with work at the moment so I don't have access to the video camera that has all the pictures of Eric on. 

Mind you I'm not too sure I'm happy about Mum sharing her attention with Eric and Jo. After we had been unloaded she just walked off and left me tied to the trailer.  Seriously she just disappeared with Eric and Jo, ok she did give me some hay, but she's not supposed to leave ME!  I was very cross.  In fact I got so cross she had left me I started jumping up and down, that didn't bring her back. So in the end as last resort I brought out the old faithful double barrel shotguns and kicked the next door trailer several times, I managed a waist high dent. OMG that was a mistake, how to loose all your brownie points in one go. Mum was mortally embarrassed when she did finally turn up, the man who was standing next to the trailer was NOT happy either!  I was untied, dragged around to the other side of the trailer, where I was no longer within kicking distance of anything and then promptly left again, with Mum muttering that I needed to learn to stand still and it's not all about me. Really, what a way to treat your pony, I thought I was your world Mum?  More rearing and digging did nothing to bring her back, I could see her watching from the far side of the car park.  She was stood strategically so she could watch me from a distance and still watch Eric and Jo. In the end I gave up. 

Eric did a great job in his first walk trot dressage test with Jo and brought home a fabulous green 4th rosette. With two hours to kill Mum decided she couldn't stand the stress of having me tied to the trailer for that long, so tacked me up and we all (including Benji dog, Eric and Jo) went for a gentle hack for an hour along the quiet lanes, boring. 

Finally it was my time to strut my stuff.  I have no idea why but Mum was feeling a bit stressed, I mean what's a few dents in someone elses trailer, which made me a little anxious, so I can't say we did our best test ever. This is us just before we went in.....

Prelim 12 was OK I put in a flying change to make sure we ended up on the correct canter lead and we scraped together a score of 66.4% which was good enough for 2nd. My classes had been combined so I was competing against myself with the Prelim 14, having helped Mum out with the flying change before I thought I had better leave her in control for this test.  Big mistake, I did a fabulous counter canter, evidently worthy of any Elementary Dressage Test  (yes you guessed it on what should have been a right canter lead) all around the school and Mum didn't correct me at all, has she not learnt anything, must I do everything for her. Needless to say with two 2's on our score sheet we didn't get placed. 

I have to say I was pleased to get home and see Zippy, who was also pleased to see me because it meant we could both go out and have some grass. I now have got two days chilling out with Aunty Katy while Mum goes to see Sarah's skinny cob (aka coloured Arab) and then onto some boring meetings. Need to work out how to win back some brownie points, I hope Mum comes back in a better mood!