I’m so lucky…..

It’s been in the diary for months and I really wasn’t sure how we’d get on.

Abbey hasn’t traveled very well in my van. She was fine in my aunts but in mine she trembles from head to foot.  I’ve been trying to work out why.  I’d moved the partition so she could go diagonally/spread her back legs (my aunts is a 7.5t and they travel herringbone, mines a 3.5t and she travels backwards) but it didn’t make much difference.

I hadn’t realised but mines quite dark inside without any windows so the van went off for a window fitting before our long trip.  I’m delighted to say that it’s made all the difference.  Abbey was calmed and relaxed on the beach journeys.  Rising Sun Campers did a great job and the windows look great.

The other reason for the nerves so I wasn’t sure how Abbey would cope with the sea and sand.  I’d heard horror stories of horses losing the plot and getting really frightened with the experience but I shouldn’t have feared Abbey was brilliant!

In total seven of us went. Only me and another took our own horses, four hired horses from the place we were staying and the other one went on foot with the dogs. We drove the horses up on the Friday while the others drove up after work that evening.

Can’t recommend the venue enough – the cottages we stayed in were fab, really cozy and clean.  More importantly they’d really though about the horses.  Each got it’s own paddock ( which we could see from the cottage window!) and a stable plus as much hay and straw as we wanted.  There were plenty of places to tie the horses up and hosepipes to wash them off with.

Friday afternoon – after the ponies had had a couple of hours to chill in the paddock – we decided to take the two girls to the xc course and pop a few fences.  It didn’t start well – Abbey was so excited she could contain herself and argued me every step of the way.  Tacking up was a nightmare, she was all over the place and wouldn’t stand still. I did have to tell her off a couple of times; she swung round to see what horse was moving around the yard, going through me.

Then she wouldn’t stand still at the mounting – grrrrrr.  Once we were moving she calmed a little but still wouldn’t accept a contact – just tossing head and swishing her tail. So we headed into the outdoor school to try doing some flatwork,eventually she did calm down and accept the contact albeit reluctantly.

She did all of the xc fences I asked her jump but argued all the way. Tbh I was getting frustrated and a little nervous (which I know isn’t helpful!) so we ended the session with a couple of trots though the water and a canter circle.

It really wasn’t the start of the holiday I had hoped for – Abbey has been schooling so well over the xc fences at home and I felt like we had gone passed this stage – our trip to Onley had been fab and she’d settled quickly in the warm up.

She’s always got excited in new places and does occasionally forget her manners but nothing like she did that day.  She got quite argumentative ridden and I headed back wondering whether we’d make it to the beach on Saturday.

It was only a mile to the beach, mainly down a grassy track.  Again Abbey was keen to get going, but more relaxed than the day before.  Nevertheless she lead the group (including the hire horses!) down the grassy track.  She was still arguing about having a contact but was at least listening to my seat and legs so I pretty much gave up and decided that while I could control her I couldn’t be bothered to fight – it was my holiday too and I didn’t want to spend it arguing.

Just before the beach we swapped and some of the lead horses went in front – more to give Abbey and Penny (the other horse from home) confidence.  Within 20 feet of her hooves touching the beach we took the lead again heading towards the sea (at a 45 degree angle, apparently if you point them towards it direct they can freak). While Abbey was wary of the waves she was more than happy to walk with the others on the wet sand and it was the perfect opportunity to practice some lateral moves!

Eventually she did let a 2cm wave wash over her feet and we had some incredible gallops.  We did the same on Sunday and it really was living the dream we the sun bouncing off the waves.  There is nothing like the adrenaline that comes from galloping a horse along 8 miles of beach – it really was living the dream and I am so pleased I could do it with Abbey!!

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Now…..we’ve just got to work on being calm in new places!!!