This weekend just gone I ventured on my very first pony camp with Storm. It was his first one too, having only been on two outings previously I was slightly apprehensive about how he may behave, though it turned out I had no reason to worry (as usual with him!).
On the Friday we arrived at Somerford in the afternoon, a friend of ours took me & my little pony in her box (shout-out to Laura for being a fab box-driver, photographer and for also being someone who gets naffed off at ladies who fall of beds when paracletic and wake you up after a very long day.) The horses were stabled in a barn next door to the vets, with a couple of bales of shavings waiting for us. Storm was very vocal, having a lot to say for himself and wouldn’t stop neighing for what felt like ages. I can’t blame him being in a strange place, but it did get embarrassing after a while. I met Laura’s friends who’d also gone on the camp, Ruth and her lovely gelding Harry, Claire and the gorgeous Whizzy and Rachel with the smallest (yet fastest walking) pony in our group, Eeyore. They are all lovely and obviously horse mad (It’s so nice being around like-minded people). We went round the farm ride that afternoon. To start with Storm was a bit jig-joggy, but settled fairly quickly and was a superstar. He was happily at the back the whole way round, even during a couple of good long canters (and one accidental gallop that I didn’t know was accidental until we stopped). He barely pulled, didn’t get hot or silly and just proved how sensible he is.
Evening arrived and after bedding the ponies down for the night we waited for tea. I never got the specific name but it was some kind of chicken and mushrooms in sauce with pastry on top which turned out to be very nice. Though I was so hungry I probably could’ve eaten Storm. It was ace to be able to go back out to him at night, the pavilion where we were staying was literally 4 feet from the stables. The night was not so good as the day. Between being cold (I stupidly only brought one thin sleeping bag) and the snoring, I must have had about 4 hours. Early to rise as ever, I got up to sort his stable out before our first lesson, cross country. The nerves were starting to set in, despite my use of rescue remedy (though it WORKS!) and I couldn’t really stop my legs from shaking as I tacked him up. The two other ladies in my group were lovely, Lesley on Super-Cob Diesel and Jo with her gorgeous Palomino (who’s a stunt/actors horse of the future!).
Our instructor for the weekend, David, met us there and we started in one of the water complexes. Storm started to settle eventually, with us popping a little log and some steps to warm up. In the lesson, I ended up putting my lovely pony at scarier fences than I ever thought we would do, certainly not any time soon. We ended up going pretty much all over the field, jumping logs, skinnies, roll tops, pheasant feeders, steps, rails, going through the water, brush fences and ditches. Some were combinations, others we had together in little courses. That lesson was probably my favourite of the whole weekend, he was an absolute super star and astounded me with how brave and willing he is. Here’s some of my favourite XC pics.
That afternoon my group had polework, which actually ended up as gridwork. Storms never done a double before, let alone a grid, so again I had no expectations. We ended up jumping a decent sized grid (well, not for a showjumper but for me it felt like it!) and doing a mini course of 5 fences. Once again, he was fab! Total surprise as to how brave he is again, but god the pony can’t half jump! He’s going to be fab.
On the Sunday, we had show jumping first thing. For some reason, I was more nervous for that than cross country. Stormy warmed up lovely and forward, not feeling too stiff or tired from the previous two days. We popped a warm up fence before David threw us in the deep end round a course. I have to say, round the first course we did he jumped brilliantly. He felt so bold and ridable and given he’d never done a full course before, in a big scary arena with lots going on around, other horses being in the ring and fillers involved, I couldn’t believe the pony I was sat on was so young and green. When the fences went up, I had a bit of a confidence wobble, I rode him very badly towards the first fence and we sort of fell through it, we were both fine and it didn’t knock his confidence thank god. We started again and he refused the next, a green one with fillers underneath facing the other arena. I didn’t give him enough direction, but he jumped it fine the second time. I managed to get myself together and stop being a total sack of potatoes and he flew the rest, until we came to the final fence. I could feel him tiring, but I really did ride him at it. He took offence at the simple yellow oxer however, and decided he didn’t want to cooperate. It was our only real blip of the whole weekend to be fair to him, but its also the only time he’s been a bit naughty. He really wasn’t keen on it, which was immensely frustrating for me as he’d flown some of the ones that were actually scary and I’d really pushed through my own nerves, and of course being a frustrated crier means I did have a few well up. How embarrassing.
Anyway, he went over it as an upright in the end, so I ended on a good note and popped back over two smaller jumps just to finish.
That afternoon after lunch we had our last lesson of the weekend (boo!) which was XC. We didn’t go mad, given they’d worked very hard and jumped a lot over the previous days. He got a bee in his bonnet about a new ditch and a pheasant feeder going away from his pals but again went over them both eventually, popped some logs into and out of the water and did a couple of other littler things but he really was tiring by this point, so we ended on a good note again! I could tell he was tiring as he started getting a bit more nappy and being a bit like a tired toddler. We had a nice stroll back to the stables, I untacked and pretty much straight away loaded and went home! Laura had to do two trips to take us all home, so took me & Storm first. A not too long trip later and we were home. He went out for a quick leg stretch and of course had a roll, got all muddy in his nice new rug then was quite happy to come in for his tea.
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend. I can’t wait for the next one!