Pony diaries: Ambling into autumn 🍂

The last few weeks have been good ones for my fluffball pony, who looks forward every year to the change of season between summer and autumn. Charmer has actually had a really good summer – he has kept his weight well, enjoyed his time both out and in and not suffered too much with the midges – and he does love the great array of grass that summertime brings!!; but between the heat, the flies and his sweet itch, it’s never his comfiest time; and it’s always a total joy when the temperature breaks, the nights draw in, that furry winter coat starts growing and he can relax into the most contented of days.

We’ve not been doing any riding the past few months – partly because he’s been a bit stiffer and partly because I’ve put on a bit of weight myself and would like to lose some before I get back on (I’m always quite near the top end of what’s probably ok for him at his age so definitely don’t want to add any pressure to those old legs!), but the last few weeks we have been enjoying a lot of little walks on his rope.

I had actually been walking him just in and out of the barn the shortest way for a few weeks back in August, having noticed that he was moving a bit less easily and wanting to keep everything as easy as possible for him, but after a few weeks of this he voted with his feet and started dragging me the long way round, where there is lots more to see and he loves just to feel like he’s on an adventure – and, as it turns out, he’s moving all the better for stretching his legs and having his wee brain busier again. One day we even found a little free library just at a cottage on the edge of the farm, and he always likes to stop for a munch of grass and a watch of the horses in the fields across the track especially his old hacking buddies.

I also took him a bit of a longer walk last week to see how he got on, and he absolutely loved it. In October, my lovely friend who works for the ambulance service is organising a fund raiser at the yard for the Scottish Air Ambulance Charity, with a lot of the girls and horses at the yard embarking on a month of long hacks racking up the miles. Every mile counts and can be added to their running total so we thought we would join in where we’re at just now, and went for a mile-long walk in-hand last week to test the ground. We found that it was the perfect distance for Charmer who absolutely loved every second, so we will do that wee loop every few days whenever he’s up for it and see how many we can count up in the month! – (and will maybe help me shed some pounds too, maybe by the end of the month I could be doing an amble on him!)

We’ve also been enjoying a bit of messing around and watching the leaves fall in the little sand school behind our barn, which seems to be a start to the day both of us love. ❤️

… and on the rainier days, it’s just breakfast on the barn and a shelter with a huge pile of hay.

It’s getting darker and darker every night at the moment, and at the weekend after work I had both my girls with me for a just-before-bedtime torchlight visit to the field which the horses and children loved – and I did too, always enjoying so much those first nights in the bright lights of the barn with the rain hammering and the dark fields outside.

I’m really pleased with how well Charmer seems to be doing and looking forward to our month of little walks for a good cause, and to the drawing in of winter. ❤️

Hope you all have a good week. Xx

Sunny farm days, growing kittens and back to some travel adventures… summertime begins ❤️

We’ve been lucky to have some wonderful warm weather here the last few weeks and have all been enjoying moving into summertime. It makes such a big difference to see the sun shining after what seems to have been a long winter and it’s wonderful that it’s gone hand in hand with the easing up of Covid restrictions to let us get out more places, and spend some time with family and friends. Last week I took the most wonderful trip with my mum and the kids up north, just all in a day, but it felt like a few days away by the time we were done – up to my uncle’s in Kirkmichael for a lovely visit, making a big loop and stopping off in Blairgowrie and Pitlochry as well as enjoying all the countryside and villages along the way. It was absolutely wonderful to be back in some favourite places again that I haven’t seen in so long and to spend some wonderful long time with family in such a relaxed way.

And this weekend in fact too we’re doing a trip not just for a day but our first overnight since our littlest was born 14 months ago, again enjoying time with family then too, and are so looking forward to the novelty of it!

As part of our trip we are also going to visit our soon to be new kittens, who are 6 weeks old today and growing well. Their breeder has been so lovely sending us photos and videos of them growing and changing and it’s going to be so lovely when we get them home to have had such a lovely insight into their early days.

Kittens at 4 weeks

One of the most absolutely fascinating things about their early days that’s developed more over the past couple of weeks, is that there are actually two cats with kittens in the home at the moment, born 7 days apart, and although the mother cats were originally each given their own space, they have chosen to raise the kittens together, and form a shared group between them. It’s incredible in the videos we’ve seen watching the two litters of kittens interacting with each other – the others so much bigger than those of ‘our’ litter, the mum of ours being a very petite black cat and the mum of the others a much larger ginger. The kittens will go to either mother even for milk and one will watch and look after all the kittens together while the other goes out. It’s really incredible to see the way they’ve organised themselves in such a similar way to big cats in the wild, and just lovely to observe.

Kittens at 6 weeks, and other litter at 7, with our lovely mum cuddling up with them all

I’m so looking forward to getting to meet them all this weekend and to bringing our two home in just a few weeks. Still reading around the clock on best care in the meantime and the catio project is underway too!

As part of our getting ready for the little ones coming I was doing some organising of our old small pet cages out in the shed – we are planning to use one of our larger rat cages as an “outer” cage for little Sandy hamster, so he can stay in his own environment in the kitchen where he likes to watch the world go by but be extra secure from any feline attention! Having a clear out of the rest of the cages and going to send them to the lady who runs the Hamster Rescue where Sandy originally came from so gave me a lovely chance to speak to her for the first time in a while. Had sent her a photo of Sandy and only when we were chatting about how he looked for his age, – and when I looked back at the photo I’d sent her of a young Sandy first settling in with us – did I realise how much he had changed! Such a little elderly gentleman these days!! She also mentioned his date of birth was down as 3rd March 2019, something I’d not realised before – we were giving him an approximate birthday mid-month! – so now he can definitely enjoy a monthly fuss right on time! 🥰

Sandy in July 2019 & May 2021

For Charmer the new season is definitely here, bringing with it the world of fly sprays, rugs and summer field maintenance. He’s in a lovely routine of taking a long lie in the morning before I bring him in for his breakfast and his fieldmate’s owners pop him back out after a couple of hours respite in the stable, and every morning just now I am finding him very relaxed in his field. ❤️

Been spending a couple of evenings at the old ragworting, and it’s actually been so lovely. Because I’m often at the farm in the mornings just now and because Charmer is all taken care of early doors, it is lovely to have the chance to just be in the field with him watching him graze and just co-existing. That’s always one of my favourite things to do especially at this time of year.

De-ragworting begins

Charmer is doing really well at the moment all-round. Got his new shoes again this week and he’s sound and happy… possibly edging towards being put on a diet shortly! But that’s quite a good problem to have, just really pleased he’s kept condition coming out of winter, and enjoying him enjoying this new season.

New shoes day
Summer nights ❤️

We are all really enjoying the good weather here and the beginnings of summer time.. hope you are all well and getting to do a little of the same! Have a lovely weekend x

Pony diaries: New shoes, a happy hack and snow days

Despite ever-changing weather and a few challenges in getting to the farm this last week or so when the worst snow in a few years descended on us here; 2021 has got off to a very positive start for my fluffy boy Charmer, who has really enjoyed the past few weeks.

We started the new year in a cold snap of frosty weather, although on New Year’s Day itself there was a thaw and a bright warm sun that got our morning at the farm – and family ramble down by the horses’ fields, watching them graze – off to a beautiful and uplifting start.

Charmer continues to be doing really really well at the moment with his arthritis and in January enjoyed some in hand walks down the hill he used to struggle on, loving exploring. On the 22nd, it was New Shoes Day once again for him, and this time around – after being shod the last twice since his equilibrium shoes were put on with a bit of sedation to help him cope with it – he managed without any sedation whatsoever and without a hint of discomfort the next day which just made me so, so happy. It’s wonderful to see him thriving again – and unbelievable to see my brave boy have hot shoes put on unsedated for the first time in his life since a disastrous attempt when he was 4… who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!!!

He had his annual injections the same week, and both the vet who came out for them and the farrier were so happy with how well he was doing on his walks and in his day to day life, that we agreed if he seemed to be up for it there would be no problem with trying him with a little walk back on board to see how he managed. That’s a thing I never thought I’d do again, back in August when he was as lame as he was I was absolutely happy to retire him and didn’t expect to ever reverse that; but at the moment he is so enthusiastic about life and about his walks in hand and taking the lead from him he really did seem that getting out an explore together would be something he’d love.. so on one quiet morning when the conditions were briefly not too wintery, I just popped his bridle on and got on, just bareback and just for a quick wander around the yard, to see how he managed.

It was such a wonderful experience, I couldn’t believe how happy he was. As we wandered more of the hail stones we’ve got used to these days started, but this deterred him not one bit, and he was so keen to go. We ended up walking down the track a little, where he was pulling to just go on and on, so keen to explore, and when I turned him back, just wanting to keep it to a little wander, I had to hold him back to a walk, he was so enthusiastic and his wee head bouncing as he strained to break into a trot; it was beyond lovely to see.

So far that’s the only wee hack we’ve had, and I’ll keep them to occasional, as they always tend to be for us anyway, with some in hand walks and some little rides but everything still very steady for him. But it’s just lovely to see how much he enjoyed it and just lovely whatever he can manage to see how well he’s doing just now.

Yesterday was dentist day, with his teeth done by our same wonderful vet who has helped him so much over the last year first with his dental operation last February and then with his arthritis in the summer, and although he’s got a few things going on with his teeth that are to be expected for a boy turning 25 in a few weeks, and we’ll be keeping an eye on them with another appointment in 6 weeks time, he seems to be doing ok and at the moment is managing just fine to get his hay, grass and feed fully enjoyed. It was brilliant to have a chance to see his usual vet and get her take on how he was moving and thoughts for him, and to my relief his weight etc all seems ok and she’s happy with how he’s doing for the moment.

The last few days have been very snowy, which has been a beautiful winter wonderland (the difficulties of winter driving and practicalities of getting up to the farm aside, thankfully managed!) and Charmer has enjoyed a play in the snow as much as the kids have back at home, – rolling, running around with his field mate and some big happy bucks in the air I couldn’t quite believe his old legs could manage! It’s been lovely to see him out enjoying it.

We’re still under a blanket of snow just now, although thankfully getting around a bit easier these past couple of days, no need to park and hike up the hill anymore and just the perfect amount now for kids and ponies playing in. We’re starting to see the nights lengthening which is really lovely, and I’m really looking forward to getting my boy into spring; but am really so glad he’s managing (hopefully the last of!) the winter so well.

A happy Friday all from our snowy corner of the world. Hope you are all well xxxx

Lockdown times at the farm

Just a little good morning from our corner of the world… hope you are all well despite the times we’re living in, and are finding ways to navigate through these next few weeks.

Here, we’ve been back to a life at home, trying to keep the little ones busy and happy, stay as connected to family and friends as we possibly can, and find a routine within what looks to be our new normal again for some time to come. One of the constants in life in lockdown and always is looking after my boy, and I’m very grateful that, just as last time, we have still been allowed access to the farm to look after the horses, just with separated slots to keep us distanced – and so Charmer’s schedule brings a steadying routine to this new time. At 10am and 5pm I find myself there with him, an anchor in this strange January as he has been at so many other times in the decades we’ve had together.

Our morning slot being 10am this time means I’ve had to take the girls with me which has actually ended up being wonderful – a safe, fresh-air way to get them out and bring the routine to their days that playgroup and baby classes normally do, and they’ve loved helping as much as Charmer has enjoyed having his little fans on hand.

And for me too, my dark evenings settling him in to the stable for the night, giving him a brush and sometimes reading a little in the quietness beside him, or weekend mornings like today, catching up on the barn chores and enjoying a wander just me and him; are valued even more than ever amidst all the uncertainty.

Charmer continues to be doing really well just now and amazing everyone with his enthusiasm for life and how well he is moving. I would actually be amazed at how well he was doing if this was summertime but for this to be the coldest winter we’ve had in a couple of years, coming in from nights out at -7 and weathering damp days and changing temperatures; I really can’t believe how much he is thriving. Something in amongst his medication, supplements and shoes is working more than I ever dreamed possible and I am over the moon to see him restored to such health.

I took him a walk on his rope this morning down the hill he used to really struggle with, his feet hitting the ground steadily and certainly, and let him have some grass at the bottom while I drank my coffee, read a few pages of the horsey book I’m reading, and watched some of the younger horses in the field opposite Charmer’s showing off some spectacular boisterous play.

Landing up back at the gate, time was up once again – as it is quickly now – for the farm window in the day, but I was very grateful both for it and for the strides forward C has taken in enjoying life and living it to the full.

Really hope you are all staying safe, taking care and feeling ok, as we all count down to spring and better days. X

Walking into winter with my boy

I’ve been meaning to post an update on Charmer for a while and this is one I’m absolutely delighted to be able to write, as we have so massively turned a corner with his mobility and I’ve been able to see him return to himself again after a good couple of months of struggling.

At the begining of October he had his new equilibrium shoes fitted in a joint appointment with the vet and farrier (both of whom I’m so grateful to!) and for the first couple of weeks I could see just some small improvement – which was wonderful of course, but I was still very worried about the winter approaching and what quality of life he was going to have still struggling a little to get between his stable his field. After around three weeks though there was suddenly a huge change and he really settled into the new way of moving. We’re almost at a month on from then and he’s consistently been doing great which has just been so beyond wonderful to see.

Before the turning point he was doing steadily better but on what I thought had become his new normal. He was managing to get around and be happy but was needing to spend nights in the stable, take things very slowly, have limited turnout and walk only certain paths to his field. Now though, with this most recent improvement, he is willingly spending all day and night out in the field again with his field mate, which has always been his default preference. He’s coming in quickly and comfortably across the concrete and enjoying short times in his stable for feeds and sometimes longer times in harsher weather, but then always enthusiastically heading back out again, something that had just been missing for those couple of months.

I can’t express how lovely it is to see him doing so well. I know we still need to just take things a day at a time but for now I’m so happy to have got back to where I had stopped expecting we would and to see him being his old self again.

A couple of weeks ago we went out for a family walk for the first time in months with Charmer on his rope, just down the road from the farm but he so loved being out with the kids, seeing different views and pottering along, it was perfect.

This weekend our yard joined together to hold a distanced fundraising ride / walk and treasure hunt in aid of the Riding for the Disabled Association and he was able to take part with us in hand, suitably tolerant of being dressed up in tinsel and reindeer antlers as ever! We had a similar event on the farm a few years back in aid of cancer research and back then he and I were doing the long route, galloping with friends across stubble fields and ducking and diving through the woods. Times have definitely changed for us since then and this time we were waving the rest off and doing the shorter ramble but I feel so so lucky that we were able to do that and with the whole family too, littlest one marvelling at Christmas lights round her buggy and Charmer’s glinting tinsel, toddler leading us in search of all the clues and Charmer happily going along with it all. It’s just so wonderful to see a happy and healthy boy. 🥰

Hope you are all having a lovely week and staying safe and well! X

Saturday morning in the stable ❤️

Good morning and happy weekend from our very rainy corner of the world. Have spent a lovely Saturday morning in the barn with my boy and my book.

Charmer had a big day yesterday seeing both the vet and the farrier together and getting his new equilibrium shoes on which we are all hopeful will let him be a bit comfier over the winter.

The early signs are looking good as even on a miserable day and with all the extra manipulation yesterday he was walking pretty well this morning which was great! But we spent most of our time enjoying the cosiness of the barn, and I loved some quiet time with him just reading and enjoying his company. ❤️

Have a lovely weekend all. X

Pottering about with the pony

This weekend brought with it September’s beautiful mix of the last days of summer and the first of autumn, newly yellowing leaves on the trees and the odd one floating down already.

Bringing Charmer in on Saturday morning, after catching up on some mucking out and barn tidying, I decided to take him for a little bit of time in the sand school.

At the moment he’s not meant to do any forced exercise of any kind, and I feel a little hesitant even leading him as he’s often reticent and worried about where he’s placing his feet, but I thought in there with his headcollar off he could decide himself exactly what he felt comfortable with. We’ve used the space for games and join-up and ambles before, and when I took his ropes off and started just having a wander around myself, I found I had a very happy follower. ❤️

It was really, really lovely. I’ve missed even just walking in hand with him and know he has too, and it was so lovely just to move around together and to know he was only doing what he felt up to. He found plenty to explore and investigate, and when I got him in to his stable afterwards he was exhilarated and happy-looking just for having seen something ever so slightly different!

It was a lovely morning, and so enjoyed finding new ways to have adventures with my boy. ❤️

Hope you are all having a lovely week. X

Step by step

The last few weeks have been very focused on trying to get Charmer more comfortable and get a handle on his arthritis again, and have been a bit of a rollercoaster of steps forwards and back – but we’ve just been taking it one day at a time, making breakfast and dinner a cocktail of supplements, using his new magnetic bands and trying everything we can – and I’m now very, very hopeful that we’re getting some real progress!

All his many feed additions with a sprinkle of the sweetest treats to put him off the scent of them all!

After starting on a new supplement Nutraquin+ at the vet’s advice a few weeks back, in addition to his usual Danilon at a slightly increased dose, and going back on turmeric back then too which he had been on in the winter last year; in the last week or so we’ve also started No Bute at a recommendation from a friend and also switched the turmeric to Turmeraid, with added black pepper, at another’s recommendation – all of which seem to be contributing to a comfier boy.

I’ve always been glad to have the support of others with more experience than me throughout my life with Charmer, but have never been so grateful as now for friends at the livery yard. In the last few months, especially with juggling the littlest baby at home and lockdown schedules, I’ve had a lot of practical help from Charmer’s fieldmates’ owners, managing the bringing in and turning out, who have been wonderful; and there are also a few of us on our lovely yard with horses at just exactly the same age all of whom are navigating arthritis, and some of the things that have worked best have been recommendations from them or other friends either at the yard or who I’ve known from the past. It’s wonderful being able to share ideas and try out new things and when Charmer was struggling most and I was so upset, the kindness of the people we share the farm with was overwhelmingly lovely and such a big help as we moved slowly forwards.

As well as the feed additions we’ve built his magnetic bands, which I started him wearing a couple of weeks ago, up to full use, so he now has these on while he’s out, about 16 hours a day, and just has them off while in his stable for his 7-8 hours in. Got him on a new routine at the moment of coming in for breakfast at 11ish with his fieldmate, having some hours in, and then when I arrive at either 5ish or 8ish in the evening (depending on whether pre- or post- bedtime here at home!) he has his second feed, and we walk back out. It’s always hard to know how to play it in terms of time in and out as I know he does better out for keeping moving and not stiffening up but with needing two feeds at the moment for the staggered Danilon didn’t want to have him walking in and out twice, and he seems to enjoy some downtime in the stable at the moment and not seem too stiff when it’s kept to under 8 hours or so – so going with it for the moment, although I hope maybe when I see the vet next week we might be able to combine everything in one feed and then he could be in for a shorter time.

Watching the ships on the water with him on our wanders out

Walking back out to his field has been the most difficult thing to manage over the past weeks – we can either make it a very short walk straight from his barn to his field gate, but on a slight slope which he seems to find really difficult, or a longer walk around the yard but more on the flat. He definitely seems to prefer the long way, but although some nights he’s managed fine, others he’s been really struggling whenever on the concrete, although managing fine on grass – and managing absolutely fine on the grass in his field too. One of the other owners at the farm had suggested Scoot Boots hoof boots for him, and my lovely friend let me borrow hers to see how they worked out. After two nights of using them to walk back out I’m very very hopeful we might have found a bit of a breakthrough for him, as they seemed to make the most incredible difference to how he felt – basically just letting him walk with shoes on without the trauma to his legs of being shod.

Still want to stay just cautiously optimistic as I know we’re battling a difficult thing here and it’s taken a long time to see the improvements we have but I’m absolutely over the moon to see some (sometimes quite bouncy!) strides forwards in the last couple of days. As we walked round to the field last night he almost broke into a trot to follow my friend walking a little ahead with an apple, and was ears forward and happy all the way – such a welcome sight!

He seems to be doing well and be comfy at the moment both in the stable and in the field and he’s otherwise in such good health for his age, so it’s just the movement between we’ve got to master, and I really hope we’re getting there.

Enjoying the field life….
…and our quiet nights in the barn together 🥰

Hope you’re all having a lovely week. X