Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sonny's visit to Greenholme (15)

The ponies had their usual breakfast, some mix (half a scoop for Ruby and a handful for Sonny), a bucket of fresh water and some hay, while I tidied the stables. I was puzzled by a sploshy-sploshy noise coming from Sonny's side of the partition so I looked over to see what he was doing. He was picking up a mouthful of hay then shaking his nose in the water bucket, dabble-dabble, to wet the hay before he ate it. Obviously the idea of Mother's soaked hay appeals to him.

This morning was cooler with a fresh breeze and the ponies were much more comfortable than they were yesterday in the heat with the flies bothering them. We worked in the hayfield (though it's just being grazed by sheep, that's still what we call it), with both Ruby and Sonny. Jen said Sonny was very ready to go, but she just sat him quietly, with a very light contact on the reins, and walked him round the perimeter of the new territory for a good twenty minutes to let him calm down. Ruby, in the carriage, also walked quietly. Eventually we were walking round each other, passing and repassing, closing in and moving away, standing and moving off again quietly. Jen got on and off a couple of times. Sonny was very well behaved.

We moved into trot work on big circles after half an hour or so and both ponies were obedient and sensible. The only time there was any argument from Sonny was when Jen took him back into the other field and worked him up and down the banks, cantering him up towards the paddock and turning away in trot. Ruby and I were just coming up through the gateway and couldn't see Sonny for the hedge, when there was a loud CRACK! and Ruby shot through the gateway in three strides of a gallop. I picked up the rein and asked her what was the matter, and she calmed down again, "Oh, wasn't that for me?" Jen said Sonny had planted himself once again, so she gave him a proper smack on the bottom with her long whip to convince him she meant it when she said, "Walk on." The crack had echoed all the way down the field! After that she cantered him in a circle, and he was obedient, so then we all walked quietly back to the yard to take some photos. Jen uses a handy technique for remounting, eg after opening a difficult gate - which would be useful in case Sonny takes it into his head to be silly about being mounted in a different situation from our yard.

Keep the lead rope attached to his headcollar - it's easy to carry the rope. Loop it round something (like the gatepost) while you get up. Hold the rope, not the reins.

Throw the rope loose (Sonny allows you to flip it round his head like a skipping rope and doesn't worry).

Lean forward and catch the rope ready to carry it again. Sonny often lifts his head to make it easier for you.
Jen's working on ground tying, but although he is very good about it, he is still likely to wander, so he hasn't got the rules perfectly right yet :)

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