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! 💙

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. 💙

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.. 💛🌾🌼

Have a lovely weekend all.X

Sunny Sunday ☀️

This weekend was one spent enjoying time with family and friends, with, as it happened, back to back celebrations – a graduation, friend’s birthday party and Mother’s Day all rolled into a busy, warm and memorable couple of days. In amongst the festivities, it was absolutely wonderful to find time to enjoy the wonderful sunshine, sitting outside in a street café in the city, being out in the garden from first thing and watching the sun glint off the water all weekend long. 

Yesterday, waking from a busy day of enjoying family and friends, found myself with a spare couple of hours on the first morning of British Summertime, so the pony and I took a wander down the track, the sun already high in the sky, enjoying the morning light. On our way we passed so many walkers and cyclists, dogs and children playing; everyone drawn out – even on one hour’s less sleep – to greet the spring day.

 

Later in the day, my mum and I headed out for lunch to the beach, taking the dogs with us, and it was a lovely time to spend. We are sadly preparing to say goodbye to Ginny, our 14-year-old collie, who I recently wrote about here, as her difficulties getting around now that her back legs don’t support her anymore are getting too much to ask her to deal with long-term. Yesterday however, being helped down onto the beach and enjoying an ice cream, the sea air and the waves lapping in, she had a lovely day; ending back with the family all together at our house.

 

All being gathered, pets and people alike – Marley, Reuben and Perry eyeing up my mum and dad’s lurcher Katy curiously and clamouring at the bars to meet her, Ty taking the opposite approach of curling in his ball until he could be sure the extra people and animals were gone, Ginny sitting out the back door in the sun watching the world go by and the rest of us laughing and chatting inside – was the perfect way to bring to a close a sunny weekend.

 

Hope everyone else had a good one, and have a great start to the week. Xx

 

Ambles and rambles with the pony.. 

Frosty mornings, windy afternoons and busy working weeks and weekends in our little corner of the world have meant that long leisurely explorations on horseback have been few and far between since the turn of the year – but nonetheless it’s been a good couple of months on the farm; and, as ever as we creep tentatively into spring, it’s been lovely to watch the days lengthening bit by bit, looking forward to a summer of adventures.

Whether we make it out a hack or not, I love to spend time with Charmer, and most of my evenings in the last couple of weeks have been spent in the stable, brushing out his winter coat by the bucketful while he idly chews on his hay and makes grumpy faces at his neighbours, just in case any of them had any vague notion, or the impossible ability, to leap into his own stable and steal any from him. It never ceases to amaze me how much winter coat there is to come out, we tend to spend February and March in a blur of black fluff and it’s long overcoat and full wellies before work for me to avoid transporting too much of him around!

In the mornings, we generally just amble from the stable to the field gate, the sun usually coming up as we do, and in the evenings I chase the daylight home and have almost – almost! – made it!

 

We did manage a lovely Sunday hack last week with friends, which was full of fun as we were able to explore a new briefly-available route through one of the sheep’s fields while they were rotated out for a few weeks ahead of lambing – the sun was shining, field newly-green and got to enjoy a few full-pelt canters up the hill, Charmer and his friend straining to race each other; though my boy did draw the line at the woods at the bottom of the track where some trees creaked omiously, and flat-out refused to continue, opting instead to stand at the top watching the others wind the track and canter back, happy as ever to be at the top of a hill admiring the view. ❤

Looking forward to getting out more as the nights shorten further, and to more suspicious-tree-dogding and hill-cantering fun. 

Holiday adventures with the fluffy pony and our mischief of rats.. 💙

A long and lovely holiday from work has drawn to a close in our little neck of the woods, and although it’s always great in a way getting back to routine again, it’s been absolutely wonderful having time off to spend with each other and with the pets.

Our new wee boys Reuben and Perry have been settling in very well and at over a week with us now are really starting to show their personalities. They are absolutely lovely with each other and with us and are just a joy to be getting to know. One of our main focuses this week has been on bringing them and Harvey and Ty together too.

There’s been a few ups and downs already in the intros, I always find them so nerve wracking, but all in all things seem to be going well. After several short stints and then a couple of longer ones all together in the smaller cage we have for hamsters, the Ferplast Mary, the boys have all now been in the main rat cage, our Mamble 100, for a few days; and, while still keeping themselves to themselves a bit more than rats we’ve introduced in the past, are all living at peace.


Everybody taking a corner in the Mary cage in an earlier stage of intros, no one quite sure who would make the first move

Perry and Harvey quickly making friends – to date Harvey has been nothing more than my usual unflappable dumpling, not a hint of aggression and simply happy to eat and sleep regardless of who his roommates are!


Our “Shy Ty” however, now re-nicknamed “The Tyrant” after this week, completely shocked us by making a strong play for top dog. He has always been so submissive with Harvey, and previously with Chae and Winnie too but when introduced to Reuben and Perry he was our main problem, definitely displaying a strong dominance. 


Really he wasn’t too aggressive at first, just unsure, but the new boys are quite nervous and as their squeaks seemed to frighten him more it led to a good few stand offs and tussles.


Eventually though, agreements seemed to be reached between Ty, Reuben and Perry (Harvey still snoozing oblivious and enjoying all the food everyone else ignored!), and we all made it into the Mamble cage. For the most part so far, Reuben and Perry spend time in the hammock and on top shelf, while Ty and Harvey are on the bottom, but Ty, now being more submissive but still being treated very warily by Reuben and Perry after his earlier assertions, does make frequent attempts to get into the hammock to sleep with them both, which has led to the odd scuffle over the last couple of days.


In general, however, everyone seems to have achieved a level of peace, and hoping that they just continue to become more comfortable with each other as time goes on.


Perry and Reuben in the hammock, with Ty and Harvey on the shelf just beside them last night, all looking relaxed.

It’s been really nice spending so much time at home, pottering around, enjoying the break and keeping an eye on proceedings with the boys, but I have also enjoyed lots of time out with my biggest fluffliest boy.

Charmer has been all caught up this week on appointments – we now have teeth rasped, new shoes on, annual vet check and flu jag done, and have had some lovely walks too. One of the interesting things to come out of the vet visit was the assurance that despite my boy’s assertions to the contrary, his eyesight is not at all deteriorated since this time last year, so these “can’t possibly go on” displays in the woods might just be a dose of the cheeky Charmer of old – and with shiny new shoes, any sharp teeth resolved and this new knowledge we strode out on a lovely ramble this weekend, exploring the woods, fields and tracks happily once I had the courage of my convictions not to misconstrue any laziness as compromised vision and to shift him on!


Had a lovely walk, enjoying the November views and the new wrapped-up feel riding has in these cold days, always now followed by a hot chocolate in the barn while my boy polishes off his dinner – now with a splash of warm water added to it.

It has been a wonderful, home, cosy and animal-filled week off, and as it draws to a close have loved every minute.
Have a lovely week all. ❤️

Happy Halloween from all of us…

A very happy All Hallows Eve from our little corner of the world… The pets have been enjoying it in their favourite ways, with Harvey and Ty having had their own minature equivalent of dooking for apples – fishing for peas and veg! Always a well recieved game, the wee ones had good fun with it this weekend…

With the biggest boy, it was lovely to have a perfect October-into-November hack out with our friends, watching the leaves fall and enjoying the pumpkins and decorations along the way; before back home for apples and dinner in the stable. ❤️

 

 

Looking forward to seeing in November wrapped up and cosy. A happy Halloween to all. X

Sunday with my boy… 🐴❤️

This weekend was a beautiful one, on the cusp between summer and autumn with a warmth still in the air but enough of a breeze that the flies and midges have eased up a little at least for my little pony, and his coat has begun to fluff up slightly – a little over all, but excessively, as always, on his furrball ears, slowly morphing back into my winter bear.. ❤

We had a lovely day at the farm on Sunday, meeting friends for coffee at the yard before heading out a wandering hack around the fields and hills nearby. Charm was well keen for the adventure today – these days his enthusiasm for work comes and goes, and some days he is decidedly less certain than others about the winding roads ahead, but on Sunday his feet were clattering ahead of his friend’s from the word go, ears forward and valiantly serving in the role of Lead Horse, chest puffed out and special attention given to the greeting of toddlers, dogs and admiring walkers as he passed them along the bridleway down from our farm – always popular at weekends with people enjoying the fresh air in so many different ways.

We were able to combine C’s two favourite routes in one – the ducking-and-diving meander down through the woodland track he likes best (plenty of opportunity to snatch at low-hanging branches on the way for a quick leaf or twelve to keep him going), the ponies deftly avoiding the thicker of the branches and leaving us riders to crouch flat along their necks to do the same; and the open stubble field on the way home – at this time of year lined on one side with the straw bales that will make the boys’ beds all winter all and on the other a strip left for the battering canters the horses jog towards, itching for us just to let them go and race each other to the top. I’ll never tire of that feeling, the rush of the rhymthic canter up, and the toss of Charm’s head as he slows back down snorting with the exhiliaration as I lean forward to pat his neck.

I love every moment of spending time with him and every aspect of life at the stables, but an autumn ride under falling leaves and billowing up a hill on a September afternoon is a feeling that can’t be topped.

Back at the yard, it was dinner time, and after a quick cool down, back to the field once more, grateful once more for the change in the air and slightly more comfortable turnout. The fly rug is forgotten at last, and it’ll be a month or two at least before we’re back into the cosy winter ones – for now just a swish of the tail and the start of the winter coat will do on both fronts, and it is lovely to just stand out in the field with my boy, enjoying the still of this season. ❤

Hope everyone is having a really lovely week. x

 

 

Greeting September with an early morning ride… 

September is upon us once more, and there is already an almost imperceptible change in the air, darker clouds hanging in the sky and yellow tinges on the beech trees – the sun still shining by day but the nights growing steadily longer. This morning dawned cool but dry, with a new-season feel to it, and I was glad to be up early enough to take the pony out for a wandering hack before work, starting the weekend early.

The Autumn months have always been my favourite time of the year and are not just good for me but for Charm too, who gets relief at long last from his sweet itch battle of the summer and was standing at peace halfway down the field when I found him this morning, only idly swishing his tail and looking very content. Despite looking momentarily horrified when I put the saddle over the stable door at the idea of going out riding at such an unearthly hour (when he had been of the sure belief he was being brought in for the sole purpose of having a nice big breakfast) the boy was as game as I was and enjoying the lovely sunrise.


We didn’t go too far, just took it easy and enjoyed the surroundings. Will be interested to see at his next health check how his eyesight is doing, as unless he’s playing me for his own gain and an easier life – a fairly strong possibility knowing him! – he does seem to be having a bit more trouble than usual making out some things, and is a good bit warier of the road ahead especially if there’s a bit of glare from the sun or people coming towards us. Back in December, the vet said he had cateracts forming, but in May another one had a look and said it didn’t look like they would be significant enough to be affecting him, so we will see. For now though either way it’s no problem – we stop to take a look around us if we need to, he takes a little extra coaching now and then and still seems more than happy to be out adventuring.


Clopping back into the yard again, he was delighted to finally enjoy the much-anticipated breakfast and get back out to join his fieldmates once more ❤


A lovely way to start the day, the month and the Autumn/Winter season… Happy Friday and a good weekend all. Xx

“We have had our summer evenings…” 

One of my favourite quotes about Autumn, my most loved time of the year, is this by Humbert Wolfe, which never fails to make me smile –  “Listen! The wind is rising and the air is wild with leaves; we have had our summer evenings, now for October eves.”


It seems so sum up so perfectly the very moment that the balance tips between the seasons, when the long days of summer have finally given way to the swirling fall into autumn.

In the last few days it seems around these parts that this shift can really be felt hanging in the air, just around the corner. Tonight was a beautiful night at the farm with the pony – sun sliding down the sky at 7.30 ish and hay bales already stacked in the barn heralding the end of the harvest season as we trotted and worked in our circles in the school, enjoying the warm of a summer’s night but struck even as we did by the fading light and the stretch of stubble fields reaching down the hill.


Home again now, darkness having fallen fairly quickly after I got back in, and settled in with a distinctly ember-y Country Living magazine I can’t help but look forward to the season ahead of us as the winds of it begin to spiral our way.


For now, however, we have to take the chance to enjoy as much as we can in these last summer evenings the drawing to a close of a season which has been for me and the pony (the usual sweet itch and fly spray battles apart!) a very good one… 💙🌅

Coming across deer on our weekend adventures 

Charmer and I took a long rambling hack on Saturday night, just about 6-7ish as the warmth was cooling and there were a few less flies to bother us along the way – though we are very well practised at quick bursts of trot combined with swishing reins to shake them off! It must have just been the perfect time for the deer from the surrounding woods to be out foraging and looking relaxed in the early evening, because we saw so many at different spots along our usual route. Most were past in an instant and it was just amazing to catch a glimpse of them – on a horse’s back getting so much closer than you ever would on foot – but one or two we were able to stop and watch (both of us, my little pony very fascinated!) for longer times, and they were just wonderful to observe, so delicate in their movements and so peaceful. ❤️