It’s been a long time coming…
But I finally have horsey things to throw at you! Hurrah, I hear you shout as you jump up and down and clap your hands with glee. Okay, calm down please. I know it’s exciting but seriously, get a hold of yourself.
After singing and grinning the entire journey to college, again (because the sky was doing pretty things), I immersed myself in the world of ponies. After sorting out stables and breakfasts and haynets etc, I found myself writing on envelopes for Sonya while she discussed what the plan of action for the day was with everyone. Eventually it was decided that three of the seven of us would have a flat lesson, and the other four would do a spot of jumping.
So, while Emily, Georgia and Amy saddled up their noble steeds, the rest of us were told to split into pairs, take a pony and clip it. Tillie and I ended up with the lovely Dotty. I’d forgotten, when I took her down to the washbay area to tie her up, what a fidget she is. She would not stand still to let us plait her mane, and insisted on pooping about five times before Tillie had even arrived with the clippers!
Once we started the actual clipping process, however, she was a very good girl. For me anyway. I opted to go first, sneaky because it meant I didn’t have to worry about matching the line on the other side, and once I got into the swing of it, managed to almost enjoy it. It’s been about a year since I clipped a horse (which figures, given that it’s this time of year horses get clipped) so I was slightly concerned that I’d forget what I was doing. But it soon came back to me. And Dotty stood beautifully still, only shifting slightly to munch hay or when I nudged a more sensitive area. It didn’t take long for me to feel quite comfortable with the clippers in my hand though.
Once Tillie had finished her side and Eileen had interjected a couple of pointers, Dotty was complete. It’s not a perfect clip, there are a couple of areas that I would’ve liked to tidy up and even out, but we didn’t really have time to do the fine tuning stuff. And for my second time clipping properly, I was quite pleased with what I achieved. Dotty also has a bald patch on one of her fetlocks. “If she’s being good, you could whip her feathers off as well” said Sonya. So Tillie crouched down and BZZT “oops”. She says she slipped…yeah right.
Ten minutes was all we had to throw down some lunch before heading off to saddle up our own horses. That was the easy part though. Because we were jumping we had to wear body protectors, which mean strapping ourselves in good and tight. Which is always the trickier part. Being a woman is a significant disadvantage when it comes to squeezing shut a body protector…
I managed it all on my own today though. Usually I have to get a team of people to help do me up, but I took control of the situation and I think purely through sheer determination, sorted myself out. By the time I led Fox out of the stable, the other two were already mounted though…
Oh, yeah, and I rode Fox. Hooray. It’s been ages since I rode him; I’ve missed him. Sonya said that seeing as I get on so well with him on the flat she wanted to see if that translated going over a jump. Apparently I get him working along his topline quite nicely during flatwork and she was hoping that I’d be able to encourage him to drop his head and jump forward rather than coming up and back as he went over the fence.
My main issue today, however, was waking him up. For some reason he was super chilled. Like, to the extreme. I didn’t dare pick up a whip, because even though he was being a bit lazy, he was working quite nicely. We did have one moment where the wind carried the shouts of some passing lads straight into his face and he freaked. Canter, canter, canter, off we went around the school. And around. And around again. My only option was to sit there, push my heels down and wait for him to come back to me. After about three circuits I felt him re-engage with me and I was then able to tweak ever so oh so gently on my outside rein to ask him to slow it up. At which he came down to trot immediately, as if nothing had happened. Funny boy.
We did a little bit of pole work beforehand, but Sonya started the jumps without much preamble. After we’d all popped over the first single fence without much of a problem, she started getting excited and chucked up another fence. Again, none of the horses seemed particularly bothered by it, so then she got really giddy and threw up another one. She kept them relatively small, seeing as we had Lucky and Tilly going over them, both of whom are young and inexperienced jumpers. That’s when things really got interesting though. Watching both cobs approach the line of three and back off immediately. You could almost see them thinking “what the…” Fortunately, both Izzy and Tillie just kicked on and made it over. Fox is a good boy. He’s certainly genuine and I felt no sign that he was even slightly inclined to stop or run out at anything. Of course, they weren’t very imposing.
I’ve seen him freak out completely at jumps before, but they were big, with fillers and all sorts of scary colourful things. What makes Fox tricky to jump is his inclination to throw his head back so far that he almost smashes into his rider’s face. Once I’d got the hang of pushing my hands forward as I went over the jump, however, his head stopped snapping up so high and by the end he was actually dropping it over the jumps properly, like a normal horse.
I enjoyed jumping him as much as I enjoy flatwork with him. I can’t say much more than simply that I love that horse. I really do. I know he has his funny turns and his moments where he’s all but unmanageable. But I love him. I think he’s a star.
And, what I found interesting, was that while I’d been expecting to feel slightly uncertain heading into these jumps with him and worried about the potential for head-butting, I was actually completely relaxed. More so than I have been jumping easier horses. Once we got into it, I stopped noticing where his head was at all. I think my calmness helped him, because it allowed him to just do his thing without having to worry about his rider being a prat. And Sonya did say that even though I have a fair bit to work on with my own jumping position and technique (to be expected really), I can’t have been going too far wrong when it came to jumping that particular horse as he wasn’t reacting in an adverse way at any point. In fact, he seemed to be enjoying it. So that’s good.
Also, the fact that I felt more comfortable and relaxed jumping him than say, Maisey, is probably down to the fact that I enjoy him so much and always feel at ease when I’m on his back. It’s the old affinity thing again. Something about that horse makes sense to me. So I fed him some of my lovely big red apple after the lesson. Which he was exceedingly happy about, of course. Good pony.
We also did a bit more work towards our next test card for the BHS Progressive tests. We didn’t complete it though as there was a fair bit of new stuff to talk about, but we’re making progress there. Fantastic stuff. Once we’d completed all the yard work in an epic pulling together of teamwork and effort, Tillie and I dashed into the toilets to perform a quick change miracle. We went in, smelly dirty horsey girls with messy hair and wellies, and emerged five minutes later, almost like real human beings! Nothing short of incredible.
The reason for this is that we were headed straight into Hereford to go to the cinema. So we needed to look vaguely presentable and humanised before we went out into the general public. Tillie has been bugging me for ages now about the new Hunger Games film. I tend to ignore her when she goes all fan-girly on me. I don’t have time for that stuff. But this time she wouldn’t shut up. I eventually confessed, last weekend, to not having a clue what The Hunger Games was about, as I hadn’t seen the film nor read the books. Which, inevitably, resulted in me being sat down in front of the first film. Apparently that meant I no longer had an excuse, I therefore had to go with her to see the second one.
My protests of “but I have no money” were also waved away as her mum very kindly offered to pay for us to go. So, having determined that my own family had no use for me this weekend, I went with Tillie to the cinema this evening and came back to her house (again). The film was better than the first one, I’ll give it that. I still find the general concept a bit weird, but it is certainly clever and quite entertaining. Although for a lot of it I did sit there wondering how no-one else had worked out what was going to happen next. I mean…come on…it wasn’t that hard to figure.
This weekend I am going to be predominantly in my pyjamas. That’s the plan. Although I might have to go home at some point because I forgot to pack my next pair of contact lenses and these ones run out tomorrow. Stupid eyes.
Anyway, all in all today has been a suitably horsey day. And I just know you’ve missed my pony related ramblings.
Ponies ponies ponies