Putting a Neck Strap on the Carrie

25 02 2013

There were a couple of amusing quotes from the lesson this evening that I thought about using as the title for this write-up, but I’ve settled on that one. Heh.

Yes, Monday has come around again and, true to form, I have been for my riding lesson again. Actually, just recently in my ‘real life’ I’ve been getting increasingly stressed out with the demands on my time of university – and thus not working hard enough to meet them, consequently making myself more stressed out to the point of becoming quite anxious. I know that this is a destructive and illogical cycle, because if I just knuckled down and got on with it I wouldn’t have any reason to feel stressed any more, but I’m finding that it’s one thing to say that and entirely another to enact it. I mention this only to express what a lovely breather it was to go down to the stables and put all of that out of my mind for a few hours this evening.

Once again I decided to walk all the way in my boots and chaps. The boots pinched less than they had last week, but then I had padded my toes and heels out with blister plasters and put in a fleece insole to help keep my feet warm. Heh. I got beeped by a lot of cars on the way there; this is not a usual occurrence, but I’m choosing to take it as a compliment.

My lesson this evening was fun, if hard work, and we had a good giggle. There were only two of us this time; myself and the young lady who’s always been in that class with me since I first started, unlike the others who seem to come and go. I think she was even there by herself the week I didn’t make it. I saw her getting out of her car as I was leading Dan out to the outdoor school and I smiled and said hello, but she didn’t say hello back. I’m sure she must just not have recognised me or something.

So, yes; today I rode Dan, who I think I’ve described before as a ‘gentle giant’, because that seems very much to be what he is. He’s a big black cob, no feathers on him, though, and stocky though he is he has a less rotund and more elegant frame than many of the other cobs I have known. One of the ladies who works there, who I sometimes chat to, unashamedly says that he is her favourite because he loves kisses and cuddles and he never bites. This is certainly the impression I’ve got from him; he’s very friendly and affectionate. As I approached him to remove his rug, disentangle his reins from his chin strap and lead him out, he turned around, acknowledged me and snuzzled my hand, as if to demand I stroke him. He put his head down at my side and seemed to like it when I petted his forehead. He was no bother when it came to leading him out, and while I did have the reins in my hand it felt more like he was walking alongside me than I was leading him. He walked at my side, matching my pace and holding his head down low so that his ears were level with my shoulder.

In the school, he was another story entirely. I mounted him and went to put my stirrups down a hole, and he lackadaisically put his head down to the ground, as though to graze on the school floor. First he stood like that on the spot stamping alternately with his back legs; eventually, when I stopped what I was doing, he started moseying towards the track of his own volition. With both feet out of the stirrups, I tried my best to push though my seat and pull back on the reins to make him stop; we got all the way down to the track and started walking along it before I was able to persuade him to double back on himself, walk behind Symphony and take back his previous position on the centre line. This was certainly amusing, if a little frustrating.

Once I’d put my stirrups down and had my girth tightened I asked him to walk on, which he did, slowly and reluctantly. My next problem was keeping him moving forwards. My instructor said that he’s usually lazy, but he sometimes has days when he can be awkward and goes a bit crazy. At the outset it looked like it was going to be the former; it actually turned out to be the latter. I had to kick him continuously at the beginning to keep him going, in both walk and trot, and the other problem I had was that he seemed to be very easily distracted and interested in what was going on in the world around him, so I had a fight on my hands just to get him to keep his head in front of him so we stayed on the track.

At first this seemed perfectly innocent; just a bit of a dozy horse allowing his attention to wander. About mid-way through the lesson, though, it started to become clear that whether this had initially been the case or not, he was trying to see what he could get away with. I wasn’t prepared for this at all, and suddenly we started coming off the track and making unintentional circles towards the centre line and then back onto the track as I fought with both legs and hands to keep him going forwards and where he was supposed to. My instructor called out to me to use the outside rein; for a while thereafter, every time I squeezed on that rein he would toss his head towards that hand over his shoulder, making me lose my balance, giving him the momentary freedom he needed to veer back into the middle of the school again. Frustrated, I turned him onto the centre line and explained what was happening to my instructor, who agreed to mount him and ride him around the school a few times so I could see what she did to keep him under control.

As I watched them go around together, I noticed something else he was doing; a couple of times going around the school it’d felt like he’d lost his footing and tripped a little, but I could now see that he was bucking in protest at being pushed on. That was quite useful, because it reassured me not to worry if a horse does this, because relaxing and just going with it will probably keep you where you need to be. Heh. After she went around on a few times – all the while with Dan making grumbling noises underneath her with his ears back, obviously annoyed at being made to work, I mounted him again and found him a little easier to control. As on a previous occasion with Bramble, I’d like to think that this was because I implemented what I’d seen her do, but I suspect it was partly because her having taken a turn on him communicated to him that he wasn’t just going to get away with doing whatever he wanted in this lesson.

Following on from that, we had another go in sitting trot, which felt more controlled. Then my instructor explained that she’d wanted to do some work without stirrups, but that we weren’t going to because Dan was being a bit ‘… individual,’ as she put it after a thoughtful pause. The next thing she came out with almost made me wet myself laughing; she instructed me to ride to the letter H and halt… so she could put a neck strap on me. Or Dan, rather, she corrected herself. Heh.

Then we moved onto practising canter. This was fun! I had no trouble getting Dan to transition into the canter on any of my three attempts, just keeping him going with it for more than a few strides, but once again I felt okay with it and didn’t panic on the transition. Dan’s own transition to canter struck me as funny, though; other riders will know that there’s a feeling as though the horse has jumped a little bit at first, but it’s only really one end of the animal. On my ask, Dan felt like he was suddenly flinging all four of his legs out in opposing directions so that they were all off the ground at once, and then collecting himself into a canter on landing. I still thanked him graciously for transitioning at all – by that point I had been expecting to have a fight on my hands to even get him to do it! On the first go around, my outside foot came out of the stirrup as I swept it back to ask for the canter; absent-mindedly, I called out, ‘Oo-ooh! Lost my stirrup!’, to which my instructor called back, ‘Just keep going! It’s a luxury, not a necessity!’ That made me laugh, too.

Amusing anecdotes and horse behaviour aside, I think the most useful tip from this lesson was to use my core to push the horse forwards. I found that when Dan was tripping/broncking and moving his head about to try and throw me off balance was when I was losing control, and with it my confidence as well. However, when I was instructed to ‘push him forwards with [my] core’ I applied these muscles and it made a huge difference. I started to sort of imagine that the power from those muscles was being channelled into Dan and was what was actually propelling him forwards, and it helped to keep my back straight as well. Only, now I know that this works I’ll have to make sure I’m not doing it too much so I have no flexibility in my lower spine! Oh, riding is complicated. She also explained trot diagonals to us tonight – which I already knew about – but I kept incorrectly correcting myself onto the wrong diagonal, thinking I knew what I was doing! I don’t know, riding is haaard. I’ll get there one day!

We’re going to move on to cantering without stirrups, she said. This idea does not fill me with fear and dread any more.

At the end of the lesson, I dismounted and put Dan’s stirrups up before leading him out. He was obliging and affectionate again from the moment I stepped onto the ground, snuzzling my hands as I walked around him to put the stirrups up on his other side and once again walking beside me rather than being led by me. He even walked straight past his own stall because I didn’t realise which one it was and he seemed perfectly content to go wherever I was going!

I took him back and helped the lady whose favourite he is to get his bridle off and his rug on. I chatted to her a bit; I agreed with her that he was lovely and friendly, but he had been a bit of a nuisance in the school; she made me laugh further by saying that that was her plan, and that she told him every day to misbehave so they’d stop using him and he could come home with her. Awww.

Of course, I went and said hello to Soapy before I left. She seems to like having someone to say hello to, but to not want to be petted or stroked in any way. When I approached her stall she was stood with her nose in the hay net and her tail to the door; I said, ‘Hello, Soapy!’ and she turned around, but didn’t move. Then she took another bite of hay and looked over her other shoulder at me, and then turned around and poked her head out over the door. As before, she put her nose up to mine and we breathed on each other. I put both of my hands up and rested them on top of the door, and she gently nibbled them with her lips; she moved away from me when I put one hand up to give her neck a rub, so I put it down again as soon as I saw this and then she nibbled at it again. Then she looked me in the eye and softly nickered, and it was one of the most adorable things I’ve ever heard.

Word count: 2093. Roll on next Monday!


I came, I saw, I cantered!

18 02 2013

Monday has come around again so quickly! I was prepared for it this time; as you know, I received my new jodhpur boots last week, and today – just in time – I received my new leather half-chaps as well. Half chaps and jodhpur boots are so comfortable! I’ve always been biased in favour of tall boots for reasons of pure vanity, but honestly, aside from the fact that my boots – being so new still – currently still pinch a little when I walk, but they’ll loosen up with regular wear. Images!

So, since my boots were new and therefore still rather sharp around the edges, and I hate the thought of causing unnecessary discomfort or pain to equines, I decided to walk to the stables in my new boots to try and wear them down a bit in advance. Aside from some mild pinching, they were fine to walk in. The sun was up for the whole walk, which was nice for me.

I arrived at the stables in good time again, and went into the office to pay for my lesson. I asked the lady in there about Own a Pony Days, and she happily told me all the information about how and when they run, including that there was one going ahead this week if I wanted to book someone on. Then I asked if adults were allowed to play, too, and this thoroughly confused her! She bashfully told me that really it’s for seven- and eight-year-olds, and added that this was a shame really and that they ought to run them for adults as well. I told her about the one I had attended in Nottingham, and said not to worry if they wouldn’t allow adults to join in on one, and that I’d just thought there wouldn’t be any harm in asking. She said she would check with someone else and let me know next week if they’d consider letting me! I really hope so, I’d love to spend a whole day playing with Soapy!

Speaking of Soapy, because I was early and she and Maddy (who I rode this week)’s stalls are close together, before I collected Maddy for my lesson I went to say hello. When I called her, Soapy came away from her hay net, walked over to the door, put her muzzle up to my nose, blew on it and then turned away again. This felt like it was done in the same manner as a passing bro-fist. Heh.

Anyway, as you probably remember, this was to be my first lesson cantering with the group, and canter I did! Maddy is yet another piebald horse, only she is what I class in my head as a ‘proper-sized horse’, standing at 15.3hh. She seems to have a very sweet and forward-going nature in general, although as the lesson began it was clear she couldn’t really be bothered and didn’t really want to do any work. Our instructor started me off without a whip as she didn’t think I’d really need one given how she usually knows Maddy to behave, so I lent my own to the lady who rode Bramble, but a whip was soon fetched for me as Maddy consistently refused to listen to me. For having said that, though, her behaviour improved right from the first tap across her girth, so I didn’t have to use it much, which was good.

We did no work without stirrups this week; we practised transitioning from walk to trot (rising), then walk to trot (sitting and in a 20m circle, with transitions mid-circle), and then in the final twenty minutes we moved straight onto canter.

Because I have cantered before and I know what the aids are, I was made to go first. We were talked through everything that you need to do so well that I didn’t feel at all nervous, and when I transitioned – for the first time I can remember since a comfortable canter in the school at Woodside on Tara last summer – I didn’t panic! In the trot leading up to it, I had some issues keeping Maddy to the track. This is a recent problem, and it’s making me wonder what I’m now doing wrong that I didn’t used to get wrong, but that’s something to think about another time. My instructor told me not to worry, though, and just to go into sitting trot from where I was and ask for canter in the next corner. Ask I did, and Maddy immediately obliged! Together, we went into a very calm canter at exactly the same pace we’d been trotting at before. At first I found myself bouncing in the saddle a little, which was probably why we only managed to get halfway to the back of the ride before she transitioned back to trot without any input from me, but I felt great for transitioning successfully and for holding it together. In fact, I was grinning like an idiot – so happy that it had just worked.

The other two riders each had their turn. Everyone was successful, so we all went around again on the same rein, then changed reins and repeated twice. My success in the first go around had really boosted my self-confidence and my determination to get on with it, and I got a little better each time, on my final go managing to do a better job of keeping Maddy to the track in canter – probably because I was so much more relaxed – and even managed to take the two corners in the C-end of the school at a canter before Maddy transitioned back to trot of her own accord. It was so much fun, and I want to go again and again and again! I want to canter every day!

After the lesson, I lead Maddy back and thanked her for cantering so nicely for me. A member of staff came and loosened her girth, took her bridle off and put a rug over her shoulders so she could relax a bit but would still be ready for her next rider. I hung about trying to take pictures of her, but I didn’t get any brilliant ones, I’m afraid.

After I was done with Maddy, I looked over to Soapy’s stall to see her looking over her stall door at me. I walked over and put my fist up to her muzzle. She gently ‘kissed’ it like she usually does. I gave her neck a bit of a pat, and her lips trembled. Then she moved over to her water bucket and I said goodbye.

A shout goes out to my mother, who, after reading last week’s entry, was kind enough to order me a copy of the Haynes Horse manual! Thankfully, they do not take a horse to pieces to demonstrate how it works, but it is nicely written with lots of pretty photographs and contains useful tidbits of information I didn’t already know. The best thing I have read in it so far is an old saying: ‘Tell a gelding, ask a mare, discuss it with a stallion.’ I rather enjoyed that!

New Boots!

15 02 2013


As promised, here presented by Arthur! I did expect to receive my new chaps today as well, but they didn’t come. Never mind, though; I have new boots, so even if they will look rubbish with my jodhpurs I still have suitable riding footwear and that means I can ride come Monday without restriction, in the literal/physical sense!

Black and White Horses Everywhere

11 02 2013

I realise that I have not yet updated about last week’s lesson in Leeds, but it was not especially worthy of note, so I shall include the particulars of it in this week’s update instead. Heh. I barely arrived on time due to having fallen asleep before setting off; the rain was lashing it down and it was blowing a gale outside, so dressed up though I was in all my waterproof gear, I called a taxi to make sure I got there on time, which I did… only to discover on arriving at the stables and taking out my phone that that taxi hadn’t been for me. Oh well!

I rode grumpy Bramble this week. It’s a shame she’s so grumpy, she’s beautiful; imagine a stockier cob with the same markings as Tara and a fluffier mane, and you’ve got Bramble. She was industriously chomping at her hay net when I arrived at her stall to lead her out to the school, and didn’t give me any trouble when I went in to disentangle her reins from the chin strap on her bridle and remove her rug. She was characteristically lazy in the school, but when I was firm with her she eventually (and begrudgingly) became more forward going. We practised transitioning from walk to trot and trotting in a 20m circle; I was disappointed that we didn’t do any work without stirrups, as our instructor said we would be doing plenty of that and I really enjoy it, but I felt I’d had a good, productive lesson at the end of it… and a good workout. I lead Bramble back, untacked her and began to put her rug on her, but she got noticeably agitated and had her back hooves to the door, so I left her be after fastening it at the front and went and told one of the staff what I’d done and why. She thanked me, and told me not to worry.

Interestingly, for the first time since I’d joined the group lesson Soapy was included in our lesson. It was strange to see someone else riding around on her at the same time as me after having had all of my private lessons on her previously. Our instructor told her rider at the very beginning that Soapy is grumpy and doesn’t like other horses, so to keep her at two horses’ distance at all times. This surprised me; as the only horse I can remember ever having taken a shine to who seemed to reciprocate to at least some extent, I’d never had her down as grumpy. When I thought about it, though, it made sense; she’s a horse who doesn’t really like horses, and I’m a person who doesn’t really like people. That’s why we’re friends!

Then on to this week. The weather was better – drier, if rather cold, and I made it to the stables a whole quarter of an hour early on foot! This meant that I had time to change into my riding boots get molested by a fluffy black cat I’ve not met before. Heh. I had significantly more trouble zipping up my riding boots this evening… more on that later. When I had eventually got them on, I went into the office to pay and book my next lesson, and then went around to the other side of the indoor school to collect my ride for the evening, who was Paddy.

Paddy is another piebald gelding cob (or is it piebald cob gelding?…) who looked like a male double of Soapy, like Elvis, if a little taller and skinnier. I later learned that he is both very young and new to schooling. He regarded me with wide-eyed suspicion when I approached the door to his stall, and I was quite early so rather than go straight in and start getting him ready I just stood by, not looking at him or talking to him, but just being close. He soon went back to ignoring me and hay-munching. I was set upon by another moggy I’d not met before; this one was tabby, and had dark lips and gums in spite of its white chin, which made it look like it had been eating Blackjacks.

When I heard the lessons in the main arena being called to a finish, I went in and started getting Paddy ready. He refused to walk on for me at first, and attempted to engage me in a barging match. I stood firm and didn’t back down and he stopped, but then attempted to remove my gloves. While I was holding onto the reins under his chin. It was clear this was playful mischief, and I felt bad for having to be a bit tough and forcefully push him to get him to move for me rather than just stay and let him play.

He wasn’t very easy to keep going forwards in the school, either. Well, that’s slightly inaccurate; when he was following Maddy (yet another piebald horse, but I’m not sure what breed; not a cob, I don’t think) he was too active, but when I overtook and led he was impossible, both ignoring my outside-leg-inside-rein asks and lolloping around at an uneven pace. By the end of the lesson he was responding to kicks without me having to back up my asks with a whip, but I would really prefer that whichever horse I ride would just respond to gentle, nudging asks.

Nevertheless, the lesson was good. We walked, we trotted, both sitting and rising. I’m pretty confident with my rising trot now, probably because we’ve done so much work on it now, but seemingly less so with my sitting trot; I used to be able to ride it smoothly, but it seems that I’ve lost the knack I had before of keeping my weight down in my heels while keeping my thighs and knees completely soft. It’ll come back to me, I’m sure; perhaps it was just because I didn’t adept quickly enough to Paddy’s gait, or because I was having to concentrate on keeping him moving forwards. Then we moved onto work without stirrups, and riding in 20m circles again.

I was excited at the beginning of the class, because our instructor said that if there was time we’d move on to cantering! I’m really looking forward to doing it under her instruction because she explains things so well and is so sharp when it comes to picking up on problems. Sadly she didn’t think we had time at the end of the lesson, but she did go through the aids for canter with us as we cooled down out horses and said that as long as our sitting trot was okay next week, we’d have a go then! One thing she said as she was explaining all of this that reassured me a lot was (whilst explaining about the ‘leading leg’), ‘Don’t worry whether it’s all right when you first start; to begin with, you’ll only be able to worry about whether you’re all right.’ Heh.

Then we dismounted along the centre line and put our horses stirrups up. Paddy had another lesson in the indoor school afterwards so I lead him through there, where I was annoyed that the woman who took him off me barely acknowledged me or even said thank you before leading him away!

Once again, I’d already checked the schedule to see whether Soapy would be free after the lesson or not, and as she wasn’t I decided not to hang around this time. I sat down on one of the benches to remove my boots, which had felt tight around the calves during the lesson; my left calf muscle seized up in pain as I unzipped the boot from it, and I cried out in pain before correcting myself for the sake of the horses that were within earshot. I expected the same from my right (the larger of the two), but found when I came to unzip it that it had already come unzipped of its own accord to about a third of the way down. I think this might be a sign that I need wider-fitting boots. I shall have to clean up the ones I have and sell them to (at least partially) finance this!

Finally… I really want one of these, although I’m disappointed that the the cover illustration isn’t the outline of a horse with a diagrammatic drawing of its skeleton inside it!


6 02 2013

As previously mentioned, I went to a donkey sanctuary on Sunday afternoon. It’s actually a petting farm where they keep rescue donkeys and ponies, and they have an owl rescue centre as well. But since this is an equestrian blog, I’m going to focus on the donkeys; they were my principal motivation for going there, anyway!

I feel this tale would be best told through the medium of photographs:

What’s Eating Domino Ponyy?

5 02 2013

Suddenly I find myself with absolutely loads to write about! In the space of three days, I’ve been horse riding in Nottingham, to a donkey sanctuary, and resumed my riding lessons in Leeds, this time having (just) made it on time! However, this run of equine good feeling sadly came to an end today as the news finally reached me that my adoption horse, Will Scarlett, sadly passed away on 29th January following an onset of severe colic. In the short time since I’d adopted him I’d grown rather attached to him and was beginning to form plans in my head to visit him and Felicity at their home sometime this summer, so needless to say I am greatly saddened by this news.

Nevertheless, life does go on, and I mustn’t allow this tragedy to overshadow what a lovely time I had over this weekend with a selection of delightful equines who are still very much with us. Because both Ellie and I were back in town, a trip to see the horses at Woodside was organised between the three of us; other friends were invited but unable to attend. This time, I didn’t actually know which horse I was going to get ahead of the event, because my prior observation that Domino always looked fed up in the stables but cheerful while she was being ridden had made me curious to ride her myself. When he made the booking, Damian asked for Tara or Domino for me; it was confirmed that we could have the horses we’d requested, but not which one I would have!

In the end, it turned out that I had Domino. Naturally, Ellie had Urby and Damian had Saxon. Amy joined us on her rental horse, Nirvana. We took a fairly sedate hack through the woods. Domino, in spite of being a similar height and build to Tara, had noticeably different conformation, but seemed perfectly active and forward going, at least to begin with. She was a bit bouncier in her walk, but had a lovely smooth trot that I eased comfortably into rising with very quickly. She is quite clearly not as clever as Tara, however; whilst Tara would negotiate the steep decline at the start of the trail by looking to see which route was the shortest, Domino seemed to purposefully pick the longest, walking right along the very outside of the track, and her more judder-y gait made it, well, quite terrifying, frankly. On no other horse/pony before have I been so glad to get to the bottom of that slope!

Our first couple of dramas involved Nirvana. Following the recent snow, she was wound up like a spring and just wanted to go. Because of this, Amy was given the lead and allowed to canter off along a nice flat stretch. We caught her up at a trot, but it was obvious she was struggling to slow Nirvana down, and the two of them would shoot off ahead of us and pirouette in the middle of the trail while we caught them up. The fun really started when we approached a mound that I understand to be where the more advanced riders practise cantering and galloping, though; Amy went shooting over this at a very fast canter, and we lost sight of her completely. We walked on to catch her up, but as we reached the other side of the mound another hack group appeared and advised us to stay where we were while they galloped up the hill as a ride. As Domino was unfamiliar to me and I was unsure how she’d react, I preempted any trouble from her by turning her around to face into the bracken so that even if the sound of hoofbeats excited her, she’d have nowhere to go. Saxon, on the other hand, saw his friends running up that hill and wanted to go with them. Thankfully Damian maintained good control of him, but it excited the other horses, who all also took this as a cue to run, and was not helped by the emergence of Amy fighting to transition back to a walk on Nirvana. Heh.

The final drama was between myself and Domino, I hate to say. As we came off the road and back into the woods, I started to feel her mouth moving through the reins; obviously I couldn’t see what was happening, but it felt like she was trying to work the bit out of her mouth. Unable to bear the thought that her discomfort might be my doing, I loosened the reins; all this did was lead to her tossing her head. So, I tried shortening the reins. The chewing and the head-tossing continued. I squeezed on both reins and gave her a light tap across the shoulder with my whip, which stopped her temporarily. However it really started up again when we came to take that steep incline again from the bottom up this time. At this point she started violently tossing her head up and down and it started to affect my balance in the saddle, so I found myself holding onto both the reins and the saddle for fear of coming off on that steep slope. Having steadied myself I sat up straight, leaning forwards into the incline and pushing down into my heels more than before and placed my hands either side of her neck, still holding the reins. This did nothing to control the motions of her head, but it made me feel better balanced. A couple of times following this she just stopped and refused to walk on. Once we were on flat ground again I asked her politely not to bolt or do anything silly and gave her a long rein, but this just lead to larger swings of her head, ultimately resulting in a drop of pony saliva going flying into my mouth. Had she been any other sort of animal I probably would have been grossed out.

We rode the horses back into the school and dismounted. Domino had a lesson with another rider, who came to collect her from me, straight away afterwards. She asked me how she’d been, and I reported the general active-and-forward-goingness to her along with the excessive head-tossing. The lady said that the active-and-forward-goingness (that’s an adjective now) was uncharacteristic of Domino, but that the head-tossing was something she is known to do a lot.

So, I think I’ve cracked what’s been making Domino sad: She doesn’t like her bit. My lottery-jackpot horse acquisition fantasy has now extended to her, as I think I would buy her, retire her as a riding-pony and keep her as a companion pony. Or, just get her one of those plastic bits for foals and see if that helped; apparently Nirvana still has to have one, and she’s 16!

As is obligatory for these visits, we hung around the stables afterwards being horse-groupies and fussing Saxon and Urby. Urby is still very spoiled, but seems more amenable to Ellie than he is to others. I could tell from the look of recognition he gave me that he remembered I had had Polo mints for him before, and he lost interest in me after frisking me and finding I had nothing similar about my person on this occasion. Saxon, as always, was like a gigantic puppy who was just glad of any and all attention from anyone. Heh.

I dropped in on Tara on the way out, of course. She was doing her usual damsel-in-distress act waiting for the feed bucket to arrive, and completely ignored me until after it had come and she’d eaten, at which point I returned to say a last goodbye, having changed out of my riding boots and poured myself a hot chocolate from the insulated flask I’d taken with me. She snorted on my face a couple of times, and then, when I turned away, slurped up all of the hot chocolate out of the flask lid cup I had in my hand before I saw what was happening. Then she went back to pointedly ignoring me. Hah.

Photos as usual are courtesy of Damian; my camera is broken and his phone takes better pictures than mine!