All my plans are out of the window once again as Pongo says Missis won't be back until Thursday morning instead of Tuesday night. That means I have an extra day of mucking out, but more importantly it means I've rearranged my exercise schedule for the horses, otherwise they are having too many days off. I don't mind if they have some time off in January or February, when the weather could be really bad, but the ride on Sunday proves that Max has loads of energy and needs a good run soon.
It was the usual foggy start, so I decided to ride in the field. I tacked Max up and put his witney blanket on and his hi-viz exercise sheet on top of that, but then really struggled to do his girth up. Then when I went to mount, his saddle slipped right over. I tried it again, and slipped again! In the end I took the whole lot off and started again.
It was beautiful in the field. As I went through the gap in the hedge, thinking it might not be so foggy in the bottom field, a cloud of fog came rolling up the grass to meet me. It was like watching a wave wash up the beach. Max didn't seem bothered, so I carried on. I prefer the bottom field as there are less dips and bumps than in the top field, plus it's a perfect rectangle, but big, so it's like a giant dressage arena. I went right down to the bottom and started to work Max in. He's very forward going in the field, not like in a normal manege, so I need hardly any leg, which is bliss. I always spend the first ten minutes working on me, keeping my legs still, concentrating on keeping my hands in a good position etc.
I had to do lots of transitions to make Max concentrate, which took quite a while. I almost think I could have lunged him first. Eventually I asked for canter, and it felt like he was going to tank me up the field, but he did listen, and slow down. I'd left the top gate open, and was worried he'd try to cart me all the way home, but those of you who know about my little accident in January will understand my reasoning. The only thing is, I don't want him to cart me across the road, but I won't be in here many more times over the winter, as the field is for haylage really, so I mustn't cut the ground up. Max also did a wonderful leg yield. What frustrates me about this, is that he will do it perfectly on a road, but when I ask him in a manege he puts on far too much neck bend and tries to get over to the fence in the shortest possible time. Out here in the field, I decided it didn't matter how far he went lengthways as long as he gave me one or two good lateral strides, but actually he did it beautifully. One rein was much better than the other, but I can't remember which one it was now!
He's got so much energy at the moment, I need to keep exercising him, otherwise he will do something stupid. He is like a different horse in the summer, so sleepy, but now he is very sharp and full of energy. Mr O has decided he wants to hunt again on Sunday, so I have said the deal is I get to go to Osberton on Saturday, so Max can do some galloping and generally ride off -road for a couple of hours. Mr O has considered this and decided to take Zak, and go off a different way to me so he can just walk him. We made a mistake on Sunday really, taking Max and Lindy out with Zak, as it got Zak worked up when he is only allowed to walk, and it wasn't enough for Lindy and Max who are so much fitter.
On Friday Missis and I decided to have a crack at the ride to Holymoorside and back. We wore our hi-viz coats and it's a good job, as it was pouring with rain for most of the ride. It was a lot of road work at first, and on some very busy roads, but both horses were very good. Then there was an excellent stretch of bridleway, before coming out onto the moors. The scenery is stunning, and the bad weather just added to the atmosphere really. A friend said my description made her think of Heathcliff, and that's exactly what it was like, just a tiny path, loads of scrub and several sheep- beautiful.
We went down a fairly steep track and up an almost vertical one, which was amazing. The rain just kept coming, and by now it was starting to get dark. When we came back out onto the main road the cars had their headlights on. Don't forget, I wear glasses, so I could hardly see a thing. My top half was quite dry, but my legs were soaked, and if I hadn't have worn gloves my hands would have been raw, as my reins are new and very rough.
We got back and once we'd seen to the horses, I came in and had a hot chocolate and sat by the fire in an attempt to get warm. I'd taken my jods off, but realised the neck of my polo neck was soaked, so had to take that off as well, and get changed completely. It was quite an adventure though, I haven't done anything quite like that since I was young. It reminded me very much of Pewsey Vale in Wiltshire. Can't wait to take Mr O, but I think we might leave it until the spring before we go again.
3 days ago