New Year’s Resolutions

I might be a bit late to the party getting my resolutions for 2018 down on paper, but you’ll have to bear with me as it’s been a manic turn of the year this time around. For personal and shiny new job reasons I haven’t had much chance to sit down since before the New Year!

So here we go, my equestrian New Year goals:

  1. Schedule more time with Ginge, and stick to it! Starting a new job, moving to a yard with no indoor school and having Ginge on part livery has had an adverse effect on how much time I spend with my boy. I’m disappointed with myself for letting this happen. To fix this, I’ve joined the Top Barn 12 Week Challenge on Facebook to help get us focused over the next 12 weeks. We’re doing the silver level, which means 5 hours of horsemanship activity (riding or ground work) per week plus two mini challenges over the 12 week period. If you stick at it, there’s a chance to win a mini riding holiday at Top Barn. I think it’s a great way of encouraging people to get pony time in the diary and stick to it over the last of the winter.
  2. Work towards a Dressage Anywhere Novice entry! Ginge and I have had a pretty good year on Dressage Anywhere, qualifying for the online champs at Intro and Prelim, with steadily increasing scores and lovely comments at both levels. We even got a lovely ribbon for Intro one of the months. Now Ginge is getting stronger in the canter, I’ve decided to focus on our Prelim tests at the beginning of the year and work towards successfully completing a Novice test by the end of 2018.
  3. Compete at a BD competition locally. Dressage Anywhere has been a brilliant confidence giver for me, we’ve already had List 1 and 2 judges watch videos of our tests and not hate us. It feels like time to get out there and ride a Prelim test at affiliated competition “live”. There are a few BD venues nearby at varying levels of friendly and massive, so the plan is to get the diary out and head for one of the friendlier options to start with. I still don’t have my own transport, so forward planning is key to figuring out the availability of in-laws or friends with transport or getting a hired trailer booked in.

None of these sound like a hugely outlandish aims, after all the key to goal setting is that it’s achievable or you’re setting yourself up for failure before you even begin! Organisation and a strict schedule are going to be key to success this year, so I’ve treated myself to a beautiful Dressage folder and 2018 diary set from Leroy and Bongo (highly recommended if you’re a fan of stationary). Now to crack on and get some riding done! Ginge was like a train to ride yesterday, full of energy after two weeks off so we just need to harness this energy into beautiful dressage activity and not just charging around. Easier said than done, right? Happy New Year everyone!

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This blog is part of the January Equestrian Blog Hop hosted by Bridle & Bone. Follow the link to discover other wonderful horsey bloggers and their goals for 2018!

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All change! New season and a new start

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It may have escaped your attention, but all has been quiet in Ginger Pony Land for a little while. Last month, I got married! The run up to the wedding was the busiest time of my life, followed by the greatest day and two blissful weeks on a beach in the sunshine with my new husband. Ginge celebrated the wedding with a three week holiday – a bit of time to relax, mull over everything he’s learned over the last year and turn into a muddy, hairy mammoth ready for the oncoming winter. A whirlwind (and wonderful) few weeks for me, but I missed my boy intensely. There’s no denying that horses get under our skin and into our blood. I’m happy to be home with him, but it’s a shock coming home from Thailand’s beautiful beaches to the arrival of autumn/winter in my beloved Gloucestershire.

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Now I’m home, it’s not just the seasons and my name that has changed! Ginge has had his annual haircut AND we’ve moved yard. I’m lucky that he’s so chilled out about life in general, but even so we have had a few grumpy days recently as a result of all the changes. A few weeks apart, the horror of being clipped and then being dropped off in a new home has been a bit too much for him. I’ll talk about the yard move in a post of its own, but for now a word on clipping.

There’s a lot of debate about clipping every year, owners worrying about when to clip, how much to take off, rugging issues afterwards and the stress involved if their horse hates the clippers. Every horse is different, but Ginge and I have a system of compromise that seems to work for us. Ginge is a hot horse, so he really has to be clipped if we are to do any work over winter otherwise he’s a sweaty mess from a ten minute hack in walk. Since we have to clip, we take off the minimum necessary. Partly so the clipping process doesn’t take longer than it needs to, partly as I quite like letting him be as natural as possible and partly so there’s less rugging stress. The last few years we have gone for an Irish clip, just a little more than his neck and belly so he doesn’t overheat, but his topline stays warm when he’s out and about and we don’t need hundreds of heavy rugs.

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It’s also easy to underestimate the effect of our bond with our horses. Last year, I clipped Ginge myself. He was quiet as a mouse for the whole process and it was fairly stress free for both of us (except for the dodgy haircut he was left with since I’m terrible at straight lines). This year, as in the past, I paid someone else to get the job down. He was OK, but much less chilled out than when I do it myself and I had to bribe him with his Likit to keep him still. For food-orientated horses, Likits are heaven sent for when you need to get stuff done! After clipping, I can thoroughly recommend a NAF Love The Skin hot wash for your horse to take away the post-clip itch. I was lucky enough to win a bottle from BD Quest Club’s newsletter and will definitely be buying more when we run out. We have quite a few NAF lotions and potions in our show prep box – I think they’re fab and very effective, even for total amateurs at turnout like me!

Luckily, if we can hang on until early November, Ginge only needs one clip per year so we don’t have to go through this chaos on a regular basis. Maybe next year I’ll be brave again for his benefit and manage the clipping without hiring in a dreaded stranger. Ginge is definitely happier when I do it and practice makes perfect – right?