Firstly, I hope everyone is staying safe and adhering to the lockdown rules and recommendations.

Things can seem very strange, not least when you have to brave a supermarket for your shopping. Social distancing means that when you turn a corner and someone is there, people are scooting away from each other as quick as a flash and the places are in near total silence. I am finding one positive thing is that I have changed my habits from nipping to the shops every couple of days to pick up food, to going once every week or ten days. My fridge and freezer have never been so well stocked! I have to confess it is nice to be organised and have the makings of good meals ready and waiting.

I am fortunate that our yard has only a few liveries and we are all being super careful about hygiene, not sharing tools, etc., so the yard owner has not had to impose any restrictions on us. I am enjoying the normality of the yard in an otherwise very abnormal world.

About this time every year, I wonder why I didn’t clip my horses as their coats are now shedding like mad. I have clipped Florence during previous winters, but with the relentless wet weather through the winter making me reluctant to do much with her, I opted against it. So now I have to work on all three to get their coats out.

Diva has been my main focus recently as she gets quite sweaty just out in the field on the warm sunny days we have been enjoying. Her coat is really starting to come out like mad, and even a few minutes each day can yield a large amount of hair on the floor. She really enjoys the grooming too.

Having decided to train Diva towards doing Shetland pony agility, I realised that one of the requirements in the novice course would be simple for me to recreate without having to buy anything special. The ponies are expected to walk over a tarpaulin. This is usually held in place by two poles on the longest sides, and the aim is for the pony to walk confidently over it.

I didn’t expect Diva to find this difficult or scary, as ever since I’ve owned her, I have encouraged her to investigate things she was a little afraid of. This will hopefully prove to be a good grounding for her as we progress.

I had a small tarpaulin currently not being used and so planned to set it up in the lunge ring. As I passed Diva’s stable, I decided to let her have a look at it. The attached photograph shows that she wasn’t exactly worried by it!

There are no poles in the lunge ring and so I weighted down the corners with some of the sand surface. I brought Diva into the ring and could feel her tense up a little as she saw the blue tarp on the ground. I walked her past it, keeping me between it and her so that she would draw her confidence from me. I practiced several halt and walk transitions and then turned her towards the tarpaulin. She strode over it without a care in the world and importantly, did not rush, which proved she was not worried at all. I turned her around and asked her to halt and stand on it with all four feet. Again, she did it confidently.

Being careful to maintain social distancing, I called to Ginny to ask her to take a photo of Diva for me whilst she stood on the tarp. We both had to laugh after the photo was taken, when Diva put her head down and tugged at it with her teeth. No, Diva is certainly not worried by the tarpaulin!

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