The ponies had breakfast and some hay today before we got them out to go down into the village and meet our Treasure Hunters. Sonny wore Ruby's size 2 Easyboots on his back feet, and was happy with them although he was puzzled by the crunching noise they made on the fresh chippings on the road!
We only had two people driving after all. Pauline's horse hadn't been shod because the blacksmith had brought shoes that were too small, and Alicia who had been going to drive just gave apologies. So we had Ann with her grandson David as groom for her black Shetland, and Ann Marie and Roger Harrison with their grey one, and Sonny and Ruby who weren't taking part because I'd set the clues. We walked the ponies to the village and gave out the clues (there were 30 questions) and let the drivers go off at their own speed and their own time, while we just nattered with Pauline, then we set off as well. Sonny was very well behaved. I had meant to take a photo, but the camera was lurking somewhere dark and I didn't have time to go hunting for it, so tough.
We walked and trotted up the hill and over the motorway, and encountered lots of Sunday traffic, some of it much less considerate than weekday traffic. Bikes and motorbikes, people walking, chuffographers sitting with their scary tripods waiting for trains on the main line, parked cars, a wagon, several big vans, impatient car-drivers, and people walking dogs. We diverted from the route to go down the Martinagap track, and Jen used the far end of the track to try walking Sonny in circles in open grassland. He did this very well, responding solely to her body and legs, without needing the rein. He didn't try to rush into trot, or to buck. She left it at that for the time being (too big a field to want to try anything argumentative, and not ours!). We went on down into Orton village, which was busy, with what looked like an entire Mazda car rally parked outside the chocolate factory. We used the Treasure Hunt route round the village, and through the narrows I occupied the middle of the road to discourage a car driver behind us who badly wanted to overtake where it was unsafe. Jen and I both indicated we were turning right, and got out of the way ASAP - Sonny showing good acceleration when asked. Then we took some detours through the far side of the village, and Jen asked Sonny to walk down the beck side, which he did, but he wouldn't put his feet in the water even though it was clear and with a sound bottom. She didn't make a big issue of it as it would have made a mess of somebody's nicely mown grass.
We trotted out of the T junction by the school, out onto the main road again, and walked back through the village, turning towards home. After trotting up Stephenson's Brow we caught up the two Shetlands whose drivers were picking up clues at Mazon Gill Cottage. Ann suggested we overtake her, but I said we'd wait until we got out of the dip, so oncoming traffic could see us; in any case, we were going to trot home by the wider route and let the two Shets go on collecting clues. This worked well, and Ruby and Sonny went on "leap-frogging", overtaking each other at walk or trot, all the way home. Jen trotted Sonny home up Daw Bank (and had a few strides of canter) while I checked the date on Yew Tree farm which I had used as a clue but kept forgetting to write down (1675).
Back home, I unharnessed Ruby and brushed her off; she was hardly sweaty at all, but Sonny was - we had, after all, done a good six miles.
Ruby the Racing Snake
Jen got a bucket of water and a dandy brush and gave him a wash. He was very good about this and didn't make any fuss.
Then we smothered both ponies in fly spray and put them in the little paddock while we buzzed back to the village green with the answer sheet and the rosettes. Lots of chatting and "what a pity there weren't more people to enjoy that lovely drive" etc.
We came away when the midgies started to bite, and we brought the ponies back indoors for the same reason and gave them a slab of hay each.
So Sonny has been to his first social drive out. He was a little star for the whole 2 and a half hours. He deserved his yellow rosette.
Two for tea....
And tea for two...
The only blot on his copybook for today was that he didn't want to go back indoors after he'd been out for these photos! But he only pulled back once and then gave in and followed me. I daresay he was thinking he only had to obey Jen. Tough luck Sonny.