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Playing with Ponies

Well. Playing with a pony and a horse because a certain pony is still moping around with a 25% shoe reduction. And is in season. I mean really mare, you are 18 and live with two geldings...there is no need!!

Anyway, took the boys off for lessons yesterday instead. First up was Mr Shortest Strides In The Universe (aka Ranger).

He hasn't had a chance to jump since....whenever the last time I jumped him was...which was also the last time I jumped. Perfect combination that since he was overenthusiastic and I was desperately trying to not fall off or have him fall on his own face. He was a good boy overall though. Generally made his striding fairly well (which is always a big issue for him), particularly when I actually remembered to ride properly. Made it up to ~2'6" no problem. The only issues we had were with a small double - one of the two jumps was a square oxer (we had the double set up so we could go upright to oxer or oxer to upright) which is always one of the trickiest things with him because his jump isn't naturally geared towards square oxers. First time going upright to oxer he ducked out sideways at it, because I completely forgot to sit up and ride! Also had a stop going oxer to upright at the upright because he came down in the oxer and scared himself (and also I went OHSHIT and stopped riding because apparently that's what I do).

Take home points from it were:
Trust him! We know Ranger will jump if you ask him to and I need to believe that.
Soft hands in the last few strides and over the fence. I find this one very hard on him, he's naturally quite heavy on your hand and will pull. However, softening does mean that you get a nicer jump and he doesn't scrabble the canter when he lands. Comes back to trusting him really.
Sit up, sit up, sit up! Obvious. But. Super important on Mr Mini Front Legs.

Some terrible photos were taken (my dad can't work my camera...)
Jumping RangerCollapse )

Moving onto my Big Handsome Man. Brought up that we're thinking about getting him to some dressage over the summer so we looked at starting to get him working properly a bit more.

He was also a very good boy. Definitely knows what you want him to do, but isn't necessarily fit and strong enough to manage it. Spent a lot of time working on getting him to Slow Down. Lots of slow, low rising, half halts and asking him to lengthen/shorten to get his back end engaged. Nothing groundbreaking, but by the end he was definitely starting to work through his back and soften through the bridle a bit. He can also be heavy, and will set himself and lean on you.

Take home points from this:
Sit up, sit up, sit up! Sensing a theme here? Trying to get him to respond more to my seat and weight (lol, I am far too tiny on him). Also to help him work properly by keeping centred on him.
Lots of steady, slow rising. Again to get a response to my seat rather than hands. Sitting trot just makes him think we're going to canter so is counterproductive at the moment. Adjust rising to try to get some stride changes.
Transitions! Again, obvious, but massively important for him.
Plan ahead! This is just me needing to get more used to him. So used to the ponies where you think "turn" and you're facing the other direction. Smokey needs about five minutes to figure out how to turn his legs.

Also: Grow an extra couple of inches on my legs. Just because it would help.

Smokey photosCollapse )

Can we also please take a moment to note that at 23 years old I look better proportioned on the bloody 13.2 than the 15.3ish??
I still haven't got anywhere to live while I'm down in Newmarket because nobody ever replies to their fucking emails. Seriously. I'm not quite panicking yet since if push comes to shove I move down the day before I start work and just deal with it, but it might set in soon. I am meant to start on the 10th...

We finished watching Buffy as a flat last night. I'd forgotten how many of them die at the end, and I may have got a tad teary (why Anya????). In fact I'd forgotten most of the last series completely. I also really want to watch Firefly again now, courtesy of Nathan Fillion.

Took Willow to a jumping training morning yesterday which went pretty well. We did have a few refusals throughout but overall she was good and most were simply down to me not riding (especially the last couple where I was so hot I could barely breathe). There was one where she was genuinely looky at the filler. Luckily working hunter probably won't have scary zigzag fillers! And will also be several inches smaller...

The other two horses at the session were also a fair bit bigger than her. The first exercise was simply cantering between two poles and seeing how many strides you got to see how our canters were. Willow (the ickle 13.2hh pony) got three strides. Seb, the biggest, got five, and Drew (between them) got four. Apparently it was meant to be four pony strides.....oops.

I'm now riding Ranger as well in a couple of classes tomorrow :/ My sister is now not joining us (as far as I can gather she's being pissy about my parents not being thrilled with her plan of moving out without a job or going back to school...) but Ranger's already been entered. My mum's going to take him into a couple of classes but she doesn't want to jump him so I've got him for working hunter (luckily not the one Willow's in) and a 60cm jumping class (assuming it doesn't clash with any of Willow's classes). My mum will take him into unregistered M&M and family pony. Tbh he'll probably do better in family pony with her instead of me since she's not a hugely confident rider and it'll show that he can be ridden by all members of the family (yay!). This will, however, lead to some rapid clothing changes - my mum doesn't have a show jacket so she'll use mine (which is big enough for me to get a body protector under so should fit) and I'll use my sister's, except for working hunter where I'll probably use mine since it's tweed and my sister's is blue.

This would all be a lot easier if my sister stopped being an arse and just rode Ranger tomorrow of course...

I've also managed to come down with a cold, because of course this is the best possible time for it. Hopefully fresh air and exercise will help, and luckily tomorrow is due to be reasonably nice. I hate being ill in this weather - it's too hot to curl up in bed :(

Paintballing

Oh. My. God.

I am in so much pain. I can barely move. Or sit. Or lie. Or breathe.

Bear in mind here that it's rare for me to bruise, it requires a hell of a lot of effort. I have bruises the size of my palm, with welts in the centre and some incredible swelling.

The most painful bits are my left ring finger (I got hit right on the knuckle) and everything on my legs. Less sore now but enough to bring me to tears at the time was the shot to my spine right at the end.

I did enjoy it but once we hit the 5th/6th games out of 8 I was getting a bit fed up. This was mostly because people started ignoring the rule of "If the person's hand is up they're hit so don't shoot at them", which led to a fairly nasty shot to my thigh that I wasn't expecting because my hand was up. Grumblegrumblegrumble.

I'll get Steven to take some pictures later because there are some corkers.

Will not be going to the gym tomorrow, and I may not be able to get on Willow for several days. Deary me.

Ponies

Ranger seemed fine today. Apparently he was happy enough last night when he came in and went out fine this morning. When I went to get Willow in he was three quarters of the way up the field so can't have been hurting as badly as all that. He came in at the same time and we trotted him up a bit - seemed pretty much sound and was even picking his feet up! He'll get another couple of days off but it looks like he just got a bit of a fright and a bump so was a wee bitty sore.

Willow was in a bit of a tizz while I was getting her ready etc so I was expecting sparks to fly when I got on. She was full of the joys of spring during our little pre-lesson meandre then as soon as we got into the school she seemed half asleep! They've redone the school surface since last weekend so the sand's deeper than she's used to and I think she was struggling a little bit with it. Despite requiring a fair bit of work to keep her awake/moving she was really good - only one stop the whole time! We just played about with changing the jump line and finished off with a one stride to a two stride, increasing in heights with the last one around 2'6"ish I think. She seemed like she was coming in pretty close to the last one and was really working herself, although I think the uber-basculing may have been in part because of the footing rather than because she needs to use herself properly over 2'6".

The nicest thing was that our usual instructor wasn't there so we had one that taught me a few times a few years ago, and she remembered us/Willow! She completely didn't believe she was 16 next month so (the pony hides her age well), or that I'm 21. I'm always glad Willow makes such a lovely impression on people though.

I think my (gradually) improving fitness is making a huge difference as well. Leg usage is much more effective when you can go more than 5 minutes before they feel like they're going to fall off.

Unfortunately my dad hadn't charged the video camera so there is no visual evidence of her being awesome. I had my hands neatly forward and everything!

As promised

Many many photos

 

Willow and the Weasel

Time:  7.45ish this evening
Place:  my house
Activity:  catching ponies for their tea

Out I go to get Willow.  Think to myself  "I'll go the long way and she'll come up to the gate and meet me" so wander up.  Nearer the gate I spy something moving.  Thinking it's a rabbit I carry on.  Then I discover that it is a rabbit: a dead one being dragged by a weasel/stoat (never having seen either I couldn't really tell which).  Now this thing is right outside the stables, both of which have open doors.

Me Shitshitshitshitshitshitshit don't go in the stables please!!!!!!  *quick look to check where Willow is*
Small Predatorial Animal (SPA) Oooooooh...look at that...do I run away or do I take the rabbit?
Me *moves slowly towards SPA* Take the rabbit, I don't want a dead rabbit outside the stables please *second glance at Willow
SPA SHIIIIIIIIIT run!!!!!!
SPA WAIT!!! No!! Take the rabbit!!!!!!
Willow *cantering up the field* What's going on mum??? What are you all excited about when I need my tea?
Me I'll come and get you in a minute dear, just let me make sure this thing goes away
Willow Ooooooooh...what's this in my field? *Goes to poke nose in something*
Me NO!! Keep your nose out the rabbit guts!!
SPA Ruuuuuuuuuuuun!! But take the rabbit!!!!
Me *Goes and catches pony* Quick Willow! We need to trot along away from the gate and make sure the SPA stays out of Ranger's stable!
Willow Sounds like fun! Off we go!

So, with the SPA safely hidden away with rabbit, Willow and I dash to the house to get my dad to come and remove the rabbit guts from the field since I'd rather she didn't have her nose in them.

Willow Grandadgrandadgrandadgrandad guess what!!!!  There was a weasely thing in my field and it got a rabbit and then I was big and brave and went to sniff the insides but mum was being mean and wouldn't let  me :( but it was there and it was exciting