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

Friday night with the pony 💙

Brought a very sleepy and subdued Charmer in tonight to spend a few hours the cool of the stable, mixing up his current grass-heavy diet with a little hay, and most importantly catching up on his rest. 


In these long and lovely days of summer, there’s so much sunshine to be soaked up and grazing to do, and the days become a blur with more going on for me away from the farm too and nightly field checks brief and relaxed. 

Now and then though, we opt for a night in; and tonight as we wound our way round from the field side by side it was lovely to ring the changes, to pull down the thrown-up straw bankings into a full and comfy bed for the flat-out snoozing I’ve no doubt Charmer will do later, peel hay from the bale and freshen up the abandoned water drinker. 


Most of all though, it’s lovely just to spend some quality time together. It comes easy in winter, with such rigid routines and so much time inside; but summer is a different character. I love the independence it offers Charmer every year – how much he bonds with his field mates and works out his own days’ patterns, and how very chilled out he looks when I arrive with a treat and a fly spray – but I miss, all the same, the closeness of all our time spent more together. 

Tonight though, a sleepy head on my shoulder, lip drooping, swallows flicking back and forth overhead, making him jump awake now and then as he doses off, it’s lovely just to be still and take a little break from the summer field. 💙


Hope everyone has a lovely weekend. X 

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. 

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