Ok so I’ve been a bit slow in editing the images from my little break in 2017, and they’re still not done! That’s what I get for having all you lovely lot keeping me busy – and I love you all for it!

This was my first year joining the girly holiday in Sway, and with a few days to go, I was getting super excited. A holiday that I could take my horse on? What an absolute novelty. I set about packing mine and Rio’s weekend bags, and somehow managed to fit in Rio’s 50g & no fill rugs into a little duffle bag along with a few of his medical supplies (just in case!) and my chaps & boots. Result. My bag was also quite a victory, as I managed to fit in all of my clothes, bathroom bits, food, and camera equipment (bit of a bigger bag than Rio’s though…) I was all packed, raring to go. The night before, we loaded the car up. Eek!

Friday morning arrived, and I saw Eliza off to the childminders – BIG kisses and cuddles! – and headed on to the yard. Rio loaded like a dream, and we were off on our first big adventure. We met at Wendy’s, and changed trailers where Rio met Cracker’s bottom, and once again loaded himself with no trouble at all – much to Cracker’s uncertainty – luckily the boys soon made themselves comfortable and settled into the 4 giant haynets hung up. You know boys – bonding over their love of food…

The journey was uneventful, even the M25 behaved with minimal delays, and before I knew it we were crossing over a cattle grid, and the heath was upon us. You’d think I had never seen a horse before – “PONIES!!” came the excited screech as I saw my first New Forest pony grazing on the roadside (sorry about that Anne!) I felt like a kid in a candy store. No matter how many horses and ponies I meet, there’s still something magical about them and I just love it.

We settled in and quickly unpacked so that we could get the boys out on the heath before evening started to fall, keeping fingers crossed that we would avoid the forthcoming rain, and lady luck was on our side as we couldn’t have timed it any better! Riding out, Rio was feeling fantastic, we took the lead and he was as brave as I’ve ever known him. With a small hesitation at the first wild horses we came across (and the cows…) he took just a little reassurance and he was off again, striding out with an absolute happy face that probably matched mine perfectly.

Here we are, New Forest. Let’s see what you’ve got! Our weekend revolved around riding a couple to three hours a day, negotiating lots of water, avoiding bogs, trotting beautifully in formation 6-abreast (favourite moment of the weekend!) and plenty of times 3 or 4 abreast, some lovely canters, including one uphill with a couple of the wild ponies, and a totally awesome gallop across the heath on Sunday. We even witnessed the marathon, on a day where the NF ponies were completely unsettled and were cantering up and down the hills in their herds – this didn’t go down so well with the boys, and we ended up splitting up into 3 pairs to avoid disaster!

Of course, I had to take my camera with me, and we took a couple of trips to the heath in the car. Of all the rain we avoided in the saddle, it sure made up for it on these road-trips! However, it did mean we got to play in some puddles!

If you ever want a break in the New Forest, go to Sway, and check out Rushcroft Cottages. The accommodation is perfect, the location is ideal, for those of you, like me, who have horses on livery not at home it’s lovely having your horses in the back garden, and with just a 15 minute hack onto the main heath, or out through the rivers to head to the pub, and I couldn’t think of anywhere I’d rather go! We’re already signed up to go back next year!

Thanks for reading if you made it this far! Seriously though, you need this on your bucket list. You know; if you want a photographer to join you – I could probably sort that!

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