The Loaning Log

selside

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I rode at a small place which offered riding lessons, beach and woodland hacks, pony parties, Shetland shuffles and an established loan programme. I was due to start loaning when Covid hit and the yard closed. Since then the owner has remodelled her future plans and re-opened purely a pony loaning yard. Each rider has a 4 hour morning or afternoon slot. oscar1.jpg Oscar2.jpg Oscar3.jpeg Oscar4.jpeg

Meet Olly. He's small, wide, and very Thelwell. Post lockdown he is even wider than he should be. I'm 61 in a few week's time, and he's basically the school's beginner follow my leader pony! He's safe and non spooky, but cheeky. In the school you have to ride him forward and with positivity. Out hacking he will plod until canter when he gets giddy and you have to dial it down and keep him calm. It's a challenge for a rusty old bird like me, but he is very lovable!

First session I groomed. tacked up and went straight out on a little hack with my loaning bubble. (Me, a pre-teen, older teen and their 2 Mums on foot. Very relaxing start to loaning, with the bonus of actual pics courtesy of parents with phones!)
 

selside

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Session 2. Really enjoyed this. Decided it would be a non-ridden day. Lovely weather but not too hot, so I tied up outside and gave him a top to toe pamper session. He likes a fuss so all but fell asleep. He shone by the time we were done. All 4 feet up for picking out, no problem. Then into the school for a bit of in hand work. Just relaxed leading, start/stop.moving away, hind and fore quarters, backing up. He was quick and easy to work with. Then for an in hand walk up the long lane to the yard and back. He didn't hesitate, and only tried to pull for grass once. Very satisfied. Then turned him out and spent a relaxing half hour steadily mucking out, filling the hay bar, topping up water and leaving all in good order. I don't pay just to ride, it's just a pleasure to spend time doing yard duties and breathing in the smell of horse... Oscar3a.jpg
 

selside

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Week 3 (catching up here as I was late to start the thread!) Another expedition with the bubble today. He will hack very steadily in a group at walk and trot. But e's a demon hunter, always at the front, virtually unstoppable and pulled the arms out of the owner's daughter last winter. He pulls up when everyone else does but this news was alarming as I don't enjoy riding strong horses, hate tailgating with a vengeance and really like to be in control at all times and in all paces. So this was the first test of my nerves. (I tend to tense up, grab hold and pull when something goes faster than I want. It's the worse thing you can do with Olly, as he will just grab back and go.) We went into the woodland, which is a lovely circular track with several canter opportunities. It was my first time in there, not helped by the youngest going on about her pony wanted to "bolt" with her. We had to overtake, with permission, as the "bolter" didn't want to canter. Oh the joys of riding with kids! It went OK. He pulled up fine, just a bit too close to the mare in front. Something to work on. I felt quite brave, and actually think it helped riding with the youngsters. Fearless. Them, not me....
 

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selside

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This session I had swapped from Friday afternoon to morning. The previous session there seemed to be SO many people coming and going. I had a lesson, and there were new people being trialled for loan horses and Shetland carers. Despite the very well planned separate car parks, entrances, sanitiser and all being safe as it could be I was over faced with so many people everywhere. After 3 months + of just me and OH I left the yard feeling it was all too much.
Hence asking to move sessions. Several other adults did too, so I have a new small bubble and it all feels more measured.
Lovely long hack today, through the woods, and back along the little Pembrokeshire lanes.

i have discovered:
Olly is not troubled by traffic
Olly is a bit footy on sharp stones
Olly has sharp ears and makes a good rear of the ride traffic scout
Olly is not that fit yet
I am not that fit yet

NO pics this time, I have lost the foot soldiers with phones by changing sessions.
 
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Skib

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Sounds a good arrangement and much like what I do (outside Covid). My only worry about the pony might be your saying he is wide. Not so good for the elderly. But you look fine on him. I used to ride the RS ponies, a month each when Maisie was off work -
 

selside

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OK. I mentioned the slight footiness to YO. Farrier has been to check them all. They mainly managed well through lockdown with a bit of schooling and a weekly hack, all provided by owner and her 2 daughters. Olly, who was shod in front only now has a full set of shoes. Now they are more or less back in full time work another has been fully shod and several more measured up for Scoot boots. Routines have been changed to restrict grass access now the sweet new stuff is flushing through.

Down to the local beach today with 2 of the new bubble. Just walk and trot which suits me as I am riding the nerves roller coaster somewhat. Luckily the back was quiet even though tourists are now coming to Wales. These ponies are used to their local spots, and didn't turn a hair when 3 divers loomed up out of the sea a few yards offshore! :eek:

Today I learnt. Olly is not overly keen on actually going in for a paddle, but will with some persuasion.
His feet were fine over the stones down to the sandline
He sees nothing odd about 3 rubber clad bodies rising up from the seaweed.
 
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selside

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Up to date. Last session.

Schooling flatwork: Oscar 1, selside 0
Solo hacking: Oscar 2, selside 1

He was a spooky pain in the school. Off the track. listening and looking for every possible thing to stick his head in the air at, along with random 90 degree changes of direction. I felt embarrassed at feeling unnerved by the riding school beginner pony. We managed walk, trot and canter on both reins, but it was a struggle. I can only guess, but it could be the change of routine. He's been a busy RS pony, with lots of people around, regular herd leader voices in YO and instructor who know him inside out. The yard was busy, and lessons almost always in groups. We were alone yesterday. The others had gone on a hack and I had a specific plan. Maybe it was just too quiet and he was put off? The other option is that he was trying it on. (He will exploit any sign of hesitation and could be grumpy with tolerating lots of different riders/handlers with different strengths and weaknesses. It's quite a big ask of them, especially when things are still settling down.)

Part 2 was to test him hacking alone. I expect I will be hacking with others mainly, but I do need to know he will hack solo. So despite the school carry on I hoisted up my brave pant and sent him forward and out of the yard. To be fair he was pretty good. He was more forward than his normal follow my leader plod. He did stop several times, but went on when asked. Part way up the long drive we heard a car behind and I turned him on a wider stretch so he could see it approach. For a couple of horrible seconds I thought he was going to take off back to the yard, but managed to stop him, turn him back round and send him on to the next gate to wait for them to pass. We got past the entrance to the woodland track where he tried it on again, and almost at the top met the other 2 horses on the way back from the beach. So we joined then to toddle back.

I can't say I enjoyed the day. but I didn't give up either. I'm happy we managed to do a 20 minute hack solo. I'm told the "Field of the Fortnight" is open for loaners to use to practice riding on grass and have a little canter. NOT ready for that yet. A lovely series of clinics are on offer: Jumping, XC, off site dressage tests, etc. NOT ready for those yet either! I've been a fun pole work clinic with a visiting instructor return1 (3).jpeg next week. Go me. Baby steps....
 

Bodshi

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Sounds brilliant. Don't feel at all bad about the 'beginner' pony playing you up a bit - RS ponies can be much more of a challenge when you ask them to work alone. As you pointed out it's very different for them, especially when they probably spend most of their time listening to the voice of the instructor or following the other horses than listening to their rider lol. Solo hacking is a big achievement too. When I first loaned - also a RS horse - I thought he'd enjoy going for a hack, in the same way a dog likes going for a walk. How wrong I was! It took me 6 months to get the hang of it (and then we went all over).

Hope you enjoy, I'm very envious of your location :)

Interesting about how the yard has adapted. The RS my OH's niece rides at (in Inverness) has done something similar. She's really enjoying it.
 

selside

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I love this supported loaning. It's already an award winning business venture with a lovely ethos. New riders can do it, with backup, family members pr friends can do it, parents and children can too. Riders are carefully matched with horses, and the owner posts great little video tips regularly. Adults mainly loan unsupervised, but with clear guidelines, a signed contract and certain duties you have to do. The cost is very reasonable, and there are opportunities for trailer excursions to dressage, SJ or XC comps, and to hunt in the winter.Not that A lovely mix of horses, too - many not your typical RS types.
It's a great arrangement for those who can't afford their own, or don't have time. It's also a good start to gain experience.
 
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Kite_Rider

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It all sounds amazing selside, something I would definitely do if I didn't have Belle, Ollie looks a lovely lad and I am super envious of your hacking! I have a huge soft spot for Pembrokeshire and have many, many happy childhood memories riding around the Pembrokshire countryside, preseli hills and beaches.
 
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diplomaticandtactful

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I rode at a small place which offered riding lessons, beach and woodland hacks, pony parties, Shetland shuffles and an established loan programme. I was due to start loaning when Covid hit and the yard closed. Since then the owner has remodelled her future plans and re-opened purely a pony loaning yard. Each rider has a 4 hour morning or afternoon slot. View attachment 103108 View attachment 103109 View attachment 103110 View attachment 103111

Meet Olly. He's small, wide, and very Thelwell. Post lockdown he is even wider than he should be. I'm 61 in a few week's time, and he's basically the school's beginner follow my leader pony! He's safe and non spooky, but cheeky. In the school you have to ride him forward and with positivity. Out hacking he will plod until canter when he gets giddy and you have to dial it down and keep him calm. It's a challenge for a rusty old bird like me, but he is very lovable!

First session I groomed. tacked up and went straight out on a little hack with my loaning bubble. (Me, a pre-teen, older teen and their 2 Mums on foot. Very relaxing start to loaning, with the bonus of actual pics courtesy of parents with phones!)
he looks very cheeky and fun.
 

selside

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Oops. I've been bad a updating this diary. Loaning with Olly continued well, and we managed to do the pole clinic as well. He was a star. He loves being the centre of attention and strutted his stuff gamely among the bigger horses. Nice extended trot!

Last couple of weeks I've been offered, and accepted, an upgrade. I was asked if I'd like to try Gwen, a slightly larger mare. The first week we were due to have a lesson but timing coincided with the appalling thunderstorms. The RI managed the first session in teeming rain - we are still in small bubble groups due to Covid. She is scared of thunder, and as I'd never ridden Gwen before I really didn't fancy getting on board with a storm overhead. That was confirmed when I managed to get her bridle on but no further. Pony in the next door box was getting very nervy and shifting around so by the time I got close to G with the saddle she'd started to do the same. I came out of the stable, by which time the decision was made to make it a non ridden lesson. At that moment there was an almighty bang directly overhead and all the lights went out.....

So we had a really useful talk through part of tack, different bits and useful practical stuff and Gwen had to wait for another, safer day for our proper introduction. Next session was a lesson. What can I say. She is NOT Olly. Far from it. Quick moving, slightly head shy, a little jumpier and sharp eyed, but quieter to ride than I expected. We may get on, but the jury's out as yet. Her canter is like riding a sideboard - no suspension at all!
I will let you know how we get on. Meet Gwen gwen head.jpg full.jpg en
 

Huggy

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Oops. I've been bad a updating this diary. Loaning with Olly continued well, and we managed to do the pole clinic as well. He was a star. He loves being the centre of attention and strutted his stuff gamely among the bigger horses. Nice extended trot!

Last couple of weeks I've been offered, and accepted, an upgrade. I was asked if I'd like to try Gwen, a slightly larger mare. The first week we were due to have a lesson but timing coincided with the appalling thunderstorms. The RI managed the first session in teeming rain - we are still in small bubble groups due to Covid. She is scared of thunder, and as I'd never ridden Gwen before I really didn't fancy getting on board with a storm overhead. That was confirmed when I managed to get her bridle on but no further. Pony in the next door box was getting very nervy and shifting around so by the time I got close to G with the saddle she'd started to do the same. I came out of the stable, by which time the decision was made to make it a non ridden lesson. At that moment there was an almighty bang directly overhead and all the lights went out.....

So we had a really useful talk through part of tack, different bits and useful practical stuff and Gwen had to wait for another, safer day for our proper introduction. Next session was a lesson. What can I say. She is NOT Olly. Far from it. Quick moving, slightly head shy, a little jumpier and sharp eyed, but quieter to ride than I expected. We may get on, but the jury's out as yet. Her canter is like riding a sideboard - no suspension at all!
I will let you know how we get on. Meet Gwen View attachment 103871 View attachment 103872 en
She's lovely! EXTREMELY wise decision not to do lesson in thunderstorm! It would put me off for life :eek:
 

Jane&Ziggy

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Lovely to hear an update. And whether you stick with Gwen or not, it's great to get the chance to get to know and ride lots of different horses!
 

selside

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Another lesson yesterday, on Gwen. I haven't had time to chat with the YO about her background (how old, how big, what breeding, whats experience...) YO is up to her ears just now - 3 children back to school this week, silage, hay & straw coming in on her farm and a shed load of new loaners messaging every 5 seconds. Farrier for feet and vet for autumn jabs yesterday. NO idea how she keeps on top of it all. So it's intriguing just getting aboard a complete unknown quantity!. I'm going on instinct. She feels quite green, so my guess would be 6-8 yo, Dales/Friesian/Welsh mix, around 14.2.

It will take a while to get used to her. Getting and maintaining a rhythm isn't straightforward, nor is getting canter. My hands are wayward as she's a bit wobbly. I'm getting to enjoy her and now realise that even if she feels she could "go" at any time, she doesn't. Had a little hop over a cross pole too. Hop is an understatement. She carried me into it with enthusiasm and launched over. She rather likes the jumpies. Note to self: put on your newly acquired body protector next time.

I was riding with 3 young loaners, the eldest 16 and the other 2 quite a bit littler. They were so sweet, with lovely encouraging comments as we went along. By the end of the session I was hot and sweaty, having nearly been tipped on the deck several times. "Well done" says the 8 year old as we pass each other on the yard. I could have hugged her for being so polite and noticing it doesn't get any much easier even when you are supposed to know what you're doing!

Reassuringly the owner is quite happy for me to swap back if and when I want. But I am intrigued by Gwen and determined to get better on her.
 
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carthorse

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I thought she looked like she was Welsh or had a good bit of that in her, but she could equally be a Heinz 57 with no known parentage - as long as you aren't doing breed classes who cares? Likewise does it matter that you know her age, height and background? I think it can actually be helpful to go in with no preconceptions and ride what you feel, all too often if someone says a gets strong/is lazy/naps etc then the rider expects it to happen and actually causes that problem. Of course it's different if a horse has a significant quirk or problem, but at a riding school I wouldn't expect that to be the case because it would be too risky to put clients on. And if she's big enough she's big enough, what's an inch or two between friends?

The owner of the yard sounds lovely and very accommodating :)
 

selside

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Had the entire yard to myself with Gwen today! Now many are back at school and/or work the other Friday am loaners aren't there. Super sunny morning with a light breeze for a good grooming session to start. She's shedding prior to getting her winter woolies so very glad it wasn't blustery or my contacts would have copped it...

Owner had left a lovely little challenge course to play with. Weave in and out of the poles, beanbag swap from barrel to barrel, figure of 8 around the barrels, halt in the box, trotting poles on the corner, walk the centre line, around the bending pole at A, trot down the centre line, halt between the parallel poles...

Did it in hand first, then walk and trot going large to warm up. Had a play in walk then trot on both reins. Great fun and Gwen was super. Such a lovely idea. The exercises are suitable for the little riders on a lead rein, first pony riders to practise steering and control and the rest of us to work on flexing, inside bend, transitions, diagonals, half halts, extending and shortening and square halt.

Gwen is 8. Came to by the yard owner as a youngster. She did quite a lot of schooling, and a bit of baby dressage. Then sold to a relative who stuck her on the hill for a few years. So although she is physically mature she really hasn't done a lot, particularly in the school, hence her feeling a bit green and unbalanced. Really enjoyed today. I am getting more used to her. It was just me, Gwen and the sunshine! arena.jpg
 
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