The weather has been lovely over the past week (actually too warm for me, but I better not complain about it). Today when I went up to the stables it was raining and showing no sign of clearing up. By the time I had finished mucking out, the rain still hadn't gone off, but I had planned to hack Wolfie and didn't want the weather to stop us. I put on my waterproofs and we headed off. We headed up to the Castle and into the forestry. Wolfie was very keen and happy to be out. We explored some of the trails that I had walked on foot. We found a nice long canter track and found a few more paths that I want to explore. I knew there was a way back down onto a different road at the castle, but I've never walked it. We followed one track in the direction of the road, we ended up in a small forest, I got off as I couldn't really see where the path was going. It ended up leading onto a very steep, muddy hill. I didn't go down it as I didn't know where it would finish at the bottom and I figured me and Wolfie would end up sliding down on out bottoms! I ended up pretty much having to go home the way I came so I will have to back up on foot and have a look. I like to ride loops and vary the way out and the way home. Wolfie was very good. He seems to get a bit spooky and upset when I get off and lead him from the ground, I'm not quite sure why as he settles as soon as I get back on. Maybe it's because he's not used to me being on the ground in unfamiliar surroundings and feels more secure with his rider on top. I'll try and get off a bit more and lead him intermittently whilst we are out to try and build his confidence. There is a way up to the castle which would cut about 1 mile, maybe more off the trip. There is a public right of way, which goes past a house which sits next to the railway line. I have never used it as you have to pass through the garden of the house. It is however a right of way and would allow for more time up in the forestry so I think I'm just going to use it. I'm keeping my eye out all the time for any little logs which we could have a little jump over. Again today, he negotiated all sorts of different terrain. Stepping over any logs or obstacles on the path. Sometimes in marshy or muddy areas, he doesn't know before stepping over if it's 6 inches or 6 foot deep, but he is very brave about it. We covered almost 14km today. Wolfie really was born to do this type of work. He is a cheeky, mischevious character, but he is very, very honest. On days like today, my heart bursts with pride at him. I'm lunging him once a week in side reins or long reining and doing a little in hand work. I'm schooling once or twice a week. I find the school we have difficult to ride Wolfie in. The surface is very deep and Wolfie has never liked it. It's a small school and the fence leans inwards (I know!) meaning you almost have to use the three quarter line as the outside track to prevent getting knee capped on the fence, and in turn this lessens the limited space there is already. Walk and trot is doable but canter is impossible at the moment. I have rarely cantered him in there as it is so small. He is unbalanced, which encourages him to speed up. One of the girls at the yard hit the nail on the head the other day by saying his canter was just too big for the school. At the moment it is. He has a huge stride and he only just gets a few strides, doesn't even get a chance to establish any rythmn and the corner appears and neither he or I are prepared for it. A balanced horse would manage but I am leaving canter at the moment until lambing is over and I can ride in the fields again. I would much rather school in a flatter part of one of the fields.
Some photographs of the forestry today