Xato and the First Gotcha Day

Xato’s 1st Gotcha Day* was on the 9th November, meaning he’s been with me a whole year! I’d planned to put together a little video compilation, but unfortunately my video maker kept crashing and, to preserve my sanity, I gave up on it and dug out some photos instead. These are a rather random selection of whatever phone pictures I chose to upload to Facebook, but it does mean there might be one or two that you haven’t seen before.

I would like to have written something important and / or inspiring to mark this occasion, but honestly I’m too tired. It’s nearly 1am now as I’ve spent most of my evening working on the magazine, and I have to get up early again tomorrow to get my stable chores done and my magazine chores done and so on and so on … engage zombie mode! This is also the reason I haven’t ridden in a few weeks as I feel like mules really need you to be on the ball. I am not on the ball and I don’t even know where the ball is.

But, looking back on these pictures has made me smile. We have had a great first year together!

* I’m not sure whether to celebrate his Gotcha Day on the day that he passed his vetting and I knew he was going to be mine, or on the day that he actually arrived in the UK. I guess he can have two?

Left: Our first selfie, about twenty minutes after arrival! Poor fella had a sore on his nose. Right: Xato quickly proved to be almost as good at selfies as Marty is.
First ride on my own mule! 😀

Top Left: I had an excuse to buy him some pretty new rugs, in order to help acclimatise him to the British weather. Top right: After sedation, following the flushing of his nasalacrimal ducts to help the conjunctivitis he’d arrived with. Bottom left: Xato says riding is pretty easy. Bottom right: He and Marty eventually stopped trying to smash each other to pieces, and Xato joined the herd full-time.
Top left: A brilliant misty start to the day. Bottom left: Ben rides Xato. Right: I really enjoyed our early morning, frosty riding lessons!
Top left: Kisses for Cash Pony. Top right: His first pack mule duties – bringing rugs and haynets in from the field. Bottom left: Our first walk out into the Punchbowl! Bottom right: Another walk in the Punchbowl, this time a really long one. 😀
Whoooop! Ben and I ride together, on our own equines, for the first time EVER.
First ride out – albeit only down to the village and back.
Top left: I really love this photo, haha. Top right: More unsolicited kisses for Cash Pony. Bottom left: Ah yes; our looped rope method that meant if (when) Xato ran away, the leadrope would slide free so he didn’t drag it round in the mud. Bottom right: Xato bit me (accidentally), which is notable because it bled for over half an hour. He didn’t feel sorry about it, either.
Top left: A lead-rein ride to try and get us back on track after he bolted with me. I can’t say either of us look particularly thrilled. Top right: His first flymask … he went through two this year. Bottom left: Family photo! Bottom ride: Bitted and back on board at the end of the Joe Wolter clinic.
The Joe Wolter clinic was very well-timed and gave me more confidence. Left: Ben and I spent a lot of time working our equines together in the arena. Right: And we hacked out again, too.
Xato gets his teeth done – with power tools and without sedation, for the first time in his life (I mean he’d had his teeth done before obviously, but it’s standard to sedate them for it in Mallorca). Such a good boy!
After five years of waiting … I finally got to ride out on the common on my own steed. :3
What followed was an awesome summer of rides. Top left: This was such a great ride – it was the day Xato surprised us all by marching straight through the pond like it was no big deal. Top right: First hack in the Punchbowl! Bottom left: Another Punchbowl ride, this time all the way to the cafe which was a tick off my Riding Bucket List. Bottom right: Another tick off my List, as we rode the route that takes us alongside the motorway, underneath the motorway, round a loop and then back under the motorway again. Centre: Lots of really early starts to beat the heat. I think the earliest I got up was 4:30am?!
Top left: RIP, fly rug. You were loved. I want to remember you as you were. Top right: I should’ve made this a separate image, actually – my absolute favourite ride of the year, and also the longest! Bottom left: Xato gets smart in his britching and his sheepskin seat saver. Bottom right: Riding into autumn on my golden boy. Right: Still selfie’ing. 😛

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