Sonny spent breakfast time at the tying tree, with his tiny mouthful of hard feed and a small haynet. It's so sweet how he lovingly licks the bowl, over and over, to get the last trace of flavour. Jen and I shut the roadside gates, and mucked out the stables. Ruby makes an awful mess now Sonny's here, because her soaked hay is at one side (she pushes the half-barrel to where she wants it) and Sonny is then behind her, so she tramples the muck and wet shavings into a right old soup as she turns from food to grooming and bossing, and back again. On her own, she is fantastically tidy. She wandered between stables while we brushed and shovelled, pushing the door to and fro with her nose as required.
Jen found Sonny was fine today - a touch wary of the watching visitors' children, but she took him round the corner to the field gate to mount, and he settled. They went up Bretherdale in order to do "getting on and off and opening and shutting gates". All well. He wants to be off as soon as remounted, but this should settle with practice, and the "rope round the gate stoop" method (see earlier blog entries) works to prevent difficulties. The ground tying is working well - Jen dropped the lead rope yesterday by accident while crossing the yard, and he stopped at once!
Today Jen put him across the fellside grass on Nichol Hill, and he listened and didn't pull or buck. Asking for changes of pace mainly on the voice and not the rein, "up, up up" will lengthen his trot or get him into canter, while "steady" will bring him down. She worked him up and down hill, in circles, rounded up a few sheep, jumped him up a bank onto the road, paddled through the beck, and had a thoroughly good time. Limited grazing time has clearly helped once again - that and a calm yard, of course.
He had another bath when he came back and now we've swopped stables - Ruby is in "Sonny's side" and vice versa - to see if it helps with the Feng Shui...
I took Ruby for a drive over Pikey just after lunch, to check how far the road resurfacing extends, since Sonny will have to go that way to return home. Luckily the chippings end just after Dyke Farm's gateway so he won't have them tearing up his feet after that. Ruby didn't attract too many clegs on our journey, and didn't sweat too badly either, but still quite appreciated a wash off when we got home, which makes a change as she usually fusses a bit. The clegs were bad, so I left both ponies indoors with haynets.
I had to beat part of the tyre back into place on the carriage wheel again though, as we'd needed to turn in a narrow lane at Roundthwaite on account of Jackie Parsley's tractor and hay trailer.
Ruby's side of the stable is blissfully tidy once again. Sonny's is a bit messy. The main thing is that he's almost permanently in the dark as he WILL keep shutting the top stable door. Ruby doesn't bother with it but he does.