Pony love – the little heroes restoring the Fells, and all our cheeky companions πŸ’™πŸ΄

I have always loved ponies of all shapes and sizes. It often seems that, for a lifetime now, I have been shaking my head fondly – hands on hips – at example after example of the irrepressible character of ponies that knows no bounds. A swiped mouthful of hay here, a ripped rug there, a pinched sandwich, a stable toy planned to keep boredom at bay for the winter worked out within seconds… Ponies’ intelligence, their resilience and their spirit are second to none and throughout my life with my own boy I’ve become very well acquainted with that unique streak of stubbornness, mischief and loyalty.

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I really enjoy learning more about Charmer’s breed in particular and following other Fell ponies – easily done as I’m by no means alone in my love for them. The Queen herself has a soft spot for them and chooses them for her riding horses. At 92 years old she is still spotted hacking out her pony Cartonlima Emma regularly – a high-profile testament to Fells’ reliability and temperament.

Cartonlima Emma – Bob Langrish

I like to keep up with my boy’s own breed lines too, tracing his ancestry through the Fell Pony Society and following his family – to my amazement learning that several of his half brothers and sisters do very well on the showing circuit, his half-brother in fact champion at the Horse of the Year Show the last 3 years running.

Horse & Hound

It’s absolutely amazing to see and I love to watch them excel while enjoying life at home with their scruffball brother, as defined by his big character as he is his donkey-like ears, shaggy mane and jaunty trot. ❀

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Most of all, though, I just love to see ponies being ponies, living as natural a life as is possible, their hardiness another of their admirable traits. I try to create this in miniature for Charmer as much as possible, letting him live out with his fieldmates when he can and enjoy ambles through the woods; but there is nothing like seeing it on its biggest, truest scale. A blog I absolutely love to follow is Mitch McFarlane Photography, documenting journeys to find and photograph British native ponies in the wild – from the Shetland isles to the Dales to Exmoor – and giving a beautiful insight into ponies at peace in their own little worlds.. β™₯️

I would love to visit some of these places myself and have the chance to observe these amazing animals in the wild – starting in Cumbria to get back to Charmer’s roots. Recently, Fell ponies have been making headlines as part of the “Fix the Fells” project, carrying equipment up the hills to restore popular footpaths and keep trails open.

It’s amazing to see these incredible animals doing what they were born to do, so ably finding their path and carrying loads.

Back home, I’m sure my boy would argue that he contributes to society in his own way, entertaining walkers along the coastal path, keeping the grass under control in his field and enjoying a little downtime too…

…Still, we stand in awe of those ponies contributing to such a huge project and harnessing their heritage in their task; and all the beautiful ponies around the country and world flying the flag for our lovely native breeds in so many different ways.

Happy Friday all and have a lovely weekend. X

To my boy… β™₯️

This week marked my little pony’s birthday – his 22nd! – which we celebrated together with the usual blend of carrots, treats, a bemused but happy toss of the head from him and lots of reflection from me on the decades we’ve now spent together.

It’s 18 years since I first met Charmer, and I continue to be amazed every day by the joy, love and balance he brings to my life just by being in it. I usually try to rein in the soppiness I pour out here at least a little (believe it or not!), but as time goes by I only grow more and more grateful for the blessing he is in my life and has been throughout all these years.

He was the perfect childhood pony and every dream I had come true when he became mine way back in 2000, thanks to my lovely parents, on a day I don’t know if I’ll ever quite believe happened. Every pony book, every scribbled story of my own, every devoured horse magazine and every daydream was eclipsed by the reality of my very own boy, a gift I am forever grateful for.

As I wrangled through my teenage years, he was my adventuring companion and a friend I don’t know where I would have been without, anchoring me in the all the turmoil of adolescence.

We’ve grown together, and looking back we’ve weathered so much. He’s seen me through uni years, working life, the ups and downs of every chapter and some of the biggest highlights and lowlights I’ve known. I always remember an early morning jumping session on the morning of my graduation; evening sunlight at the farm the night I got engaged, my new ring glinting as I stroked his neck; and a November sunrise hack, gathering my thoughts, on my wedding day. In turn, I’ve laughed at his antics with fieldmates old and new, nursed him through bouts of illness, celebrated his triumphs big and small, ducked and dived through woods in one home after another and watched him enjoy so many different views and grow so many different patches of grey in his once-black coat.

In spite of how constantly thankful I am for all these years together of sunny days, tears cried into his mane and everything in between; it still took me by surprise to find myself lucky enough to be wishing him a happy 22nd birthday, and especially with my daughter in tow. I once read a quote I’ve always remembered that said “Every horse deserves, at least once in his life, to be loved by a little girl.” I’ve felt the same little girl’s huge love for Charmer throughout all these years as I did the first day he became mine – and now he’s lived to see a next-generation little girl in his life too. β™₯️

Pinterest / Moments by Lori-Ann

A very happy birthday to my old boy… and a very lovely Sunday to you all. X

Back in the saddle again…

This is a post I have looked forward to writing for a long time! This week, a few days short of a whole year since the last time I sat on my little black pony; I was back in my all-time favourite seat, viewing the world through my all-time favourite pair of fluffy ears! πŸ’™

Back in the saddle again!

I had last ridden on the day we put the clocks forward in March 2017, just before I had found out I was pregnant with our little girl and hung up my riding hat until her arrival. It was a lovely little hack; up bright and early on a sunny Sunday morning and clopping down the daffodil-lined track, just me and my boy. I didn’t know then the significance of it, but – since I generally tend to be snap happy whenever I’m around Charmer! – I have photos to remember it by all the same, and have looked at them often in the past year.

Riding, March 2017

It was always at the back of my mind that in taking such a long time off riding a 21-year-old horse – and one who’d come close to retirement once or twice before – I was definitely running the risk of not getting back to it; and I tried to be realistic about the fact that those lovely memories might well come to be of our last sunny day exploring. I’ve never been a competitive rider, and the working side of horse-owning has never been the main drive for me – as long as I can spend time with my boy I’m happy. But it will always be a bittersweet day when we have our last amble together, whenever that is, and as I edged closer to being able to get back on, with Charmer still up for it too, I’ve been so looking forward to it, and so very glad we’ve made it.

We’re still living in the aftermath of the snow and flooding of a few weeks ago at the farm just now, on a 24 hours in / 24 hours out routine to try to help the fields survive; and I’ve been meaning to try to fit in a little ride one of the mornings Charmer’s been in, just safely in the sand school at a quiet time of the day on the yard. But when I got there the night before last – planning just to put him out and get his stable ready for the next day – there was still some light in the sky, there was no-one around and it seemed the perfect moment; so I put off the mucking out and decided to go for it.

I couldn’t believe how happy I felt slinging the saddle over the stable door once again – and couldn’t believe either that this wasn’t met by pinned-back ears from Charmer, who I was very sure considered himself fully retired! He just looked mildly interested, as if to say, “Oh, this again? Fair enough, it’s been a while,” and stood waiting patiently to be tacked up.

It was an absolutely amazing feeling to settle back into the saddle, after the longest break from it since I started riding as a child. More than that, though, being on my own Charmer’s back – reunited as our adventuring team, patting his fluffy neck and watching him toss his head – was beyond wonderful.

We didn’t do much, just a ramble round the yard and grass school, but it was really lovely. Charmer makes me laugh so much – I had no idea how he’d react after such a long time, and was half-prepared for fireworks, but I did have a feeling he might take it all in his stride; and he certainly did, just setting off at his usual unflappable pace. πŸ’™

Tomorrow brings the arrival of British Summertime once again – and this year, thanks to the winter we’ve weathered, the daffodils are not all in full bloom in just the same way; the change in the season seeming to be a long time coming. Yesterday though, the very first of them were beginning to open at last, a sure sign that spring will find its way here, any day now.. πŸ’›πŸŒΎπŸŒΌ

Have a lovely weekend all.X