Hitting our stride with the winter routine ❄️♥️

In the last few days, Charmer and I have adapted to our new winter routine – or the first stage of it at least! Had him in every second night this week, our go-to bridging habit between the relaxed out-24/7 of autumn and the feet lined at the gate every night of the very thick of the winter.

Most years, this compromise can last us quite far through the winter and generally into the new year, with January into February tending to be the time the old boy gets thoroughly fed up with the mud, cold and lack of grass combined and suddenly gets on board with 12 hours a day in his stable… Until then I quite like the balance brought him still spending more time out than in, keeping his joints active and his Fell pony outlook on at least every second frosty morning intact.

His nights in have been welcomed so far though – extra hay much appreciated – and we’re ready for whatever the winter might bring. Rugs are all piled up now in the barn loft, in ascending order of coziness! And having already had our first snow unexpectedly at the weekend – and our first totter across an icy yard, Charmer’s careful stepping making the whole farm laugh ♥️ – glad to have them ready.

We’ve also got our new shoes on, ready to go for a new season, with an early farrier visit on Saturday morning, and I’m very excited to think of getting out and about on my boy’s back again early in the new year testing them out, on our favourite wrapped-up winter adventures.

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This week we’ve got flu & tetanus jags and a winter health check coming up, and then we’ll be fully ready to greet December and the life of a winter pony – the very cuddliest and fluffiest kind! – head on. 😊

Hope everyone is having a lovely week. X

September days on the farm 

September has come and gone in our little corner of the world in what seems like just a flash – of sunshine, showers and usually a rainbow lingering nearby to bridge the gap between the two. We’ve been very lucky to be able to enjoy some lovely weather this month, and I’ve been so grateful for some lovely time at the farm with the pony, making the most of the cool breeze and glowing light.

 


Charmer has done very well so far with his nine-month hiatus from work (in fact I think he might generally prefer this new slower pace of life to the alternative!!), but after six months of no riding – and especially now that we’re coming into the time of year when we typically spend our weekends careering through stubble fields together – he has been seeming a little restless with just the field and a jaunt into the stable and back to keep him occupied.

As a result, been doing my best to keep his brain busy and engaged, and a bit of fitness about him too, so in the last couple of weeks particularly we’ve enjoyed as many wanders as possible out together for an explore.

 

Heading somewhere interesting and engaging, especially somewhere new, even if it’s not too far a walk; is enough to put a spring in his step, and it’s lovely to see him on his toes, ears forward, thinking about everything he comes across. It’s those times of being out and about with the sights and sounds of the countryside around us that give us our adventures, and I’ve been keen to keep them up at this loveliest time of the year even though they can’t quite include the usual flat-out gallops for now!

 

 

Sometimes though, it’s not adventure but simply a bit of a fuss from his old mum he’s after, just a reminder that he’s still my number one boy – and that’s something I’m glad to be able to provide easily anytime, without working up the energy for a long walk!

A chill out together in the school, field or stable; a long brush to get rid of the mud on a darkening night; or just an amble the long way round to the field under the floodlights – all the little moments that make up our days keep him ticking over happily as the seasons change.

 

Hope you are all having  lovely weekend. X

“A barn is a sanctuary in an unsettled world…”: The joys of time spent at the farm

My little world had spun towards the weekend and straight into it at top speed, and I had been on the go non-stop when I drew into the yard, jumped out of the car, grabbing my coffee flask, and made my familiar way across the yard to the stable block where my beautiful boy – tuned long ago to the sound of my engine and jangling keys – stood expectantly, toes lined up at the stable door.

Without fail, each time I step in there, reaching for the outstretched black nose straining to greet me – and wondering what treats I have brought him – I feel an almost imperceptible shift in pace, and find myself once more on “horse time”. We have joked about the strange phenomenon of how time stands still when at the yard many a time over the years as we’ve realised time and time again, gathered around watching the horses graze, leaning on brushes and sipping chipped mugs of hot chocolate, that whole afternoons have been lost – or that a 6pm visit has stretched til 8 with other halfs promised a 7ish return. It’s as though the concept of time means nothing here, the whole of everyday life can be pulsing at a high rate one minute but as the line is crossed into the yard the next it simply can’t be – as the bolt is slid back on the stable door and a fluffy chest moved deftly back to step inside, nuts fill a bucket and then give way to the steady crunching of a nose thrust into it, rhythmic and unrushed. There is no option of high speed here, no chance of multi-tasking. Things take as long as they take, one activity is done at a time and everything takes place at the easy pace of the animals around you.

There is no better therapy, no better escape from the busyness of life, than a few hours lost at the farm, and this weekend was no exception. Tacking up to head out riding for the first time in a while, we took things at an easy pace, but enjoyed every moment as we ambled along the country lanes in the warming late winter sunshine.


Back at the yard, breakfasting and mucking out, moving round each other with a familiar ease, Charmer and I took our time together, gathering ourselves up and heading out to the field. I spent a long time standing there, watching my fluffy pony grazing further down the field (winter coat beginning to come out now!!) and the sparkling sea behind him, sipping at my coffee and enjoying the complete tranquility.

  
  

Parting at last, finishing the sweeping out in the shady stable block and changing out of my farm boots once more, it had been three hours of outside-world time and the next part of the day was beginning. For that time though, in the moment – there had been nothing but the clop of hooves, the smell of haylage in the barn, the clang of the field gate and my boy’s snuffling nose looking for treats in my pockets.

A barn truly is a sanctuary in an unsettled world, utterly still, all about the horses – and yet somehow with the unique ability once it’s been left behind to bring the rest of the day into sharper focus too, make it easier to handle, and to approach with a strength and a philosophy gleaned from those hours of nothing and everything, where the present is all that matters.

Sheltering from the storm, in our little stable 

When I awoke this morning, it was to the howl of the wind against the window-pane, lashing rain, and a tinny voice from the little radio beside the bed telling incessant tales of travel disruption, storm damage and the anticipated driving snow. Down in the kitchen, making a much-needed warming coffee, chattering to the boys and Rosie in their cages and layering up my jumper and scarf, getting ready to brave the outdoors; the little security light above our back door flickeringly revealed near-horizontal rain and the gardens beaten by the billowing wind.

Along at the farm, my little pony – generally a firmly outdoor type by nature – took no persuading to come out from his vantage point under the overhang of the trees at the top of his field and make our little walk, heads down against the elements, into the stable, happily watching me while I made his breakfast, laid down some hay, set out his toys and settled him in for what seemed to be a much-appreciated duvet day.



Tonight, working day (and week!) complete, I made my way back to the stable and found a much cosier and fluffier looking boy waiting for me, happily munching hay and rolling his treat ball around the stable. It was the loveliest of evenings, fingers woven tightly round my travel mug of hot chocolate, gathering with the others to gaze out at the increasing winter wonderland around us and burrow down deeper into our jackets. Later, just me and Charmer, took some time for grooming, standing beside him for extra warmth, quietly centred, with the bangs and clatters outside seeming so far away.


  
Today, the howling of the wind and the rattling of the sliding door are unmistakable, and this is certainly the place we both want to be. There have been so many other days too though, over the years, that I have come here to shelter from storms of all types – here, where the lights glow a reassuring orange and the warm brown eyes of my little pony seem to understand perfectly and wisely whatever it is I’m glad to find some solace from.


Standing shoulder to shoulder with him, safe and warm in the barn, watching the snow fall or the rain whip, is my favourite place to be in all the weathers and storms of life. Tonight, in these last days of January, as we batten down the hatches against the gusts and look with hope to the brightening days of February just around the corner – with light creeping into our mornings and nights, and the promise of spring in the milder air – I was glad to savour what may be some of the last of these winter nights, for this year at least, and enjoy the unique and cosy calm they bring.

Have a safe and wrapped-up weekend all. X