We are well and truly back on the summertime schedules and routines at the farm, and, as every year, it’s amazing to settle into. I absolutely love coming up to the farm and seeing, instead of four fluffy feet queued up eagerly at the field gate; the boy, looking bright bay in his light summer coat, grazing half-way down the field – lifting his head interestedly when he hears me unlock the gate and either watching me pick my way down the grassy hill or ambling over to meet me half-way, perfectly relaxed and perfectly happy in his field.
For my Charmer, this season is the best. He has always been an outdoor boy at heart, spending the first thirteen years of his life living out continually, and only beginning to have nights in worked into his routine in the colder months as he got into his teens and became a little arthritic. I’ve always tried to let him have as much time out as possible even as he’s got older and needed more feeding and shelter and for a native pony like him, I’ve always believed his time out is where his health and happiness comes from.
By now, I pretty much take the lead from him on the in-or-out-at-nights question, and he’s evolved over the years from his younger days of 24/7 turnout, annually growing a winter coat as fluffy as a bear’s; to an older gent who looks forward to clopping across the yard to his stable at the end of a dull winters’ day out (all laid out with dinner, hay and a straw bed, otherwise his very expressive face leaves me in doubt he feels the standards are slipping).
The routine suits us both in the long dark months, and he is happy with the new lifestyle, but it makes me so happy to see him return to his roots again at this time every year; adapting back to his outdoor self. As if a switch has been flicked, one day he’s just not by the gate as usual, and we go through a period of in-every-second-night on the wind-down, as for a while he does invariably opt for a night out with his friends one day, caught up in the excitement of the first few shoots of new grass, and then line up all the earlier the next night, hungry for his bucket feed and home comforts.
And then comes the time we’ve got to now, these past couple of weeks, when the sun’s been shining non stop and all thoughts of the indoors are gone from the healthy-looking horse ambling around his field. It’s all the more wonderful to reach this time these days, after a few years of late-winter illness, and it means the world to me to see Charmer back in good condition and enjoying life.
This week, evening visits to the farm have been just a case of sauntering towards my boy, armed with treats and fly sprays, and spending a bit of time with him relaxed in his own habitat. I’ve led him in for a couple of nights, after a few days each time of ruffling his sleepy head and laughing at his habit of never taking the same rest when out – obviously the outdoors being too full of opportunity for grazing or adventuring – to make sure he’s had a break from the grass and a proper sleep; but overall the days start to merge into one, and we both love the change of pace.
Another lovely development in the past few days has been that when I do dip briefly into the cool of the barn, to collect headcollars and handfuls of pony nuts; my favourite visitors have returned, the swallows – beginning to scout out their old nests and prepare for another year of beginning new lives in here, nesting and then a few weeks on, teaching their little ones to fly from beam to beam, as we all watch below. ❤
Hope everyone else is enjoying some lovely weather too, and have a great week all. X