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

October Reading Diary 📚

October was a lovely, slow-paced and very autumnal reading month. I spent the first half lost once again in Anne & Gilbert Blythe’s little world, one of my favourite places to be ❤️ Both Anne’s House of Dreams and Anne of Ingleside are cosy and comforting reads full of family, friendships and warmth, and I love to return to them over and over. Mindy Kaling’s six brand new essays Nothing Like I Imagined were completely different and had me laughing throughout, full of her usual intelligence and humour; and then my last book of the month, Where the Crawdads Sing, was a wonderful discovery, so very beautiful and captivating.

📖 Anne’s House of Dreams ~ L. M. Montgomery 📖 I spent the first couple of weeks of October with this book – the fifth in the Anne of Green Gables series – by my side, reading it slowly and loving every word. This is only the second time I’ve read it, having fallen properly in love with Anne in adulthood and read all the way through the series just once before. As I re-read this, I could remember so clearly the first time I’d come to each turn of it, and adored it this time just as much.

Anne’s House of Dreams, beginning with Anne & Gilbert’s wedding and chronicling the first few years of their married life together, settled in their little house at Four Winds Harbour, is just a simply beautiful story. Miss Cornelia, Captain Jim and Susan Baker are characters that glitter with all Montgomery’s trademark magic – and Christmases and stays spent back with the “Avonlea folks” throughout too add the doses of Marilla and Mrs Lynde that perfect it.

I found myself just completely lost in the crashing waves and steady lighthouse of the harbour and in all Anne and Gilbert’s journeying together through the ups and downs of life and their friendships with those around them as they begin the next stage of their life together. I can’t think of a better way to spend autumn evenings than back in the wonderful Anne’s world with these characters.

📖 Anne of Ingleside ~ L. M. Montgomery 📖 I had meant just to dip into the world of Four Winds for one little story – but when I came to the end of House of Dreams found I couldn’t tear myself away from it just yet, and I so loved just picking up the next book straight away and re-reading Anne of Ingleside. Finding Anne, Gilbert, their children and Susan settled into life in their new home, this is a truly lovely book about the ups and downs of family life. Reading this again now that I spend so much time watching our own girls grow and change, I smiled all the more at some of the dizzying highs and weeping lows of the Ingleside children’s lives, as well as loving Anne’s navigating of it all. All of the Anne books are just the cosiest and loveliest of books to me and I really enjoyed carrying this with me and reading it whenever I could. ❤️🍁

📖 Nothing Like I Imagined (Except for Sometimes) ~ Mindy Kaling 📖 This was a surprise read for me this month and one I so loved! I discovered just as they came out that Mindy Kaling had written this collection of six essays, all short Kindle books, for Amazon Original Stories, which were free to download with Prime so a much-appreciated gift! I absolutely love her writing both on TV shows and in previous books and as soon as I heard about these I downloaded them right away, and ended up reading them very quickly. Mindy covers everything from motherhood to the fast-paced working world of script-writing to ponderings of faith and does so with all her usual warmth, humour, honesty and poignancy – as ever making reading seem like laughing with a friend over the ins and outs of life in the warmest of ways.

📖 Where the Crawdads Sing ~ Delia Owens 📖 I found this an absolutely beautiful book, and was completely swept up in the descriptions of the North Carolina marshlands, and lost entirely in Kya’s little world. I loved this book – Kya herself is a wonderful protagonist; and this book has everything I love – such a beautiful setting – the wildness of the marsh painted so beautifully; a story of anchoring friendships and learning and growing together (Tate, Jumpin’ and Mabel wonderful characters too); and a pacy and satisfying murder mystery weaving through it.

My friend had recommended this and leant it to me and I loved chatting about it with her – and my mum and my sister are reading it now too as we plan to make it the first of a little lockdown virtual book club keeping us going through winter, which I really look forward to – Yet another book that in this strange year of distance has pulled me closer to both family and friends. I finished this on the morning of Halloween and it felt so much like the perfect October read, and really was – with a lot of the action taking place between October 28th-30th exactly while I read. This is a lovely, cosy and captivating book, and I know that Kya and her marshlands will stay with me for a long time to come. ❤️

All of these were such perfect Octobery reads and made me think of a quote of Anne’s in Anne’s House of Dreams – “our library may not be very extensive but every book in it is a friend” – these books are all definite friends, old and new, and I enjoyed them all.

Hope you are all well – been so long since I’ve posted, don’t quite know how, life has just rushed on! But will write more soon. Have a good week! X

Saturday Rambles ❤️

Started our weekend off with a lovely wander in some local woods, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, gathering sticks and twigs and admiring the nature surrounding us.

A beautiful and sunny “leap day”, this morning felt more like March than February and gave a lovely taste of times to come. Just love these days on the tipping point between winter and spring when the first buds appear and the warmth of the sun breaks through even just in small doses ☀️💛

Our little one couldn’t have enjoyed the exploring more, wellies on, branches trailing along behind her and wrapped up in her woolly hat and gloves.

It’s lovely to be able to spend Saturdays like this – I’m so enjoying settling into maternity leave and really loving the opportunity for slower paced weekends and family time all together.

This afternoon too I had a lovely chance for a bit of time with my biggest boy, who is doing very well at the moment and at his most recent vet check on Thursday they were really pleased with the progress of his mouth healing up. Still unsure of whether his second operation will be needed but everything going in the right direction and really pleased with how he seems.

By the time I got along to the farm, the weather was back to more January-esque, as it has mostly tended to be recently; and it was in between sleety showers and with a thick coat zipped up to my chin and the lead rope in my hand pushed deep into my pocket that I wandered Charmer round to the field. Took the long way round, enjoying a bit of time with him and stopping off at the snowdrop- lined grass to let him have a munch on the way.

It’s definitely been a mixed day, and the heating is on now as we settle in back home for the night, but it has been a lovely day for bursts of the outdoors in the tug-of-war between the early spring sunshine and the winter chill.

Have a lovely night all. X

Early February days at the farm 💙

The last few days at the farm with my fluffy boy have held all of February’s long-awaited first glimpses of the season ahead.

As we disentangle from the darkness of January and move into the new month, it is lovely to see so many small changes in the days. The lightening of the afternoons, so gradual until now, seems so much clearer all of a sudden – field walks as late as 5pm in the last of the daylight at last. The wet and wintry days are interspersed with at least the odd slightly drier one, bright sunshine making a welcome change and a feel of energy in the barn as I start to organise and tidy up a few bits and pieces around the stable.

Charmer himself is clearly feeling it too, with the beginnings of his winter coat coming out right on cue as I took his rug off on the second morning of February.

I’m sure he’ll end up hanging on to most of it for a couple of months to come, and just as sure we’ll have some weather curveballs before the winter is through; but lovely nonetheless to see the start of the turn of the tide!

Charmer is doing well, enjoying his field at the moment and keen to come in just for his dinners and a bit of fuss most days, lining his wee feet up right back at the door as soon as his bucket’s empty, ready to go back out and re-join his friends!

On others of course though, in the driving wind and rain, he’s definitely keen for a much-appreciated longer stable stint.

We’re just a few days away now from his stay at the vets’ to have his tooth extracted. Still very nervous about the the whole thing and trying not to think about it too much ahead of time, although this weekend we are letting him have a little practice load in the trailer with my friend at the yard who is kindly going to drive him up next week, so will be lovely to have a chance to settle him a little to the travelling side of things at least!

We are still very much in winter yet, and any evening visits are wrapped-up ones, standing in the darkness of the field shoulder-to-shoulder with my boy, enjoying the chance to see his view on the world.

It’s really lovely though to have had the chance in the ever-lengthening days to get out for some bright, dry leg-stretches and look forward to spring not too far ahead. 💚

Have a lovely week all. X

The first buds of spring 💚

The last couple of weeks have seen some very extreme weather round these parts, with the “Beast from the East” snowing us in for several days as March began and warranting the first Red weather alert in UK history as our landscape disappeared under a thick blanket of white.

After a couple of days spent entirely indoors, watching the flakes fall and venturing out only to feed the birds and take in a steadying breath of fresh air; a neighbourhood driveway-digging session was required to get the village moving again – and even then only the main roads were passable. I was determined to get along to the farm as soon as it was safe enough, where thankfully those more local had kept hay topped up while the horses too holed up inside – but a gloved and wellie-clad hike was needed to get up to the top of the hill and finally be reunited with my fluffy boy. 💙

It’s always such a hard balance to strike in very bad snow between keeping the horses warm and fed and keeping them moving enough to minimise their colic risk from standing in one place too long – something I always fret about with my normally decidedly outdoor pony. We have not had to contend with weather so extreme since the winter of 2010, and for a couple of days I was only managing to get Charmer out for a brief walk around the yard once or twice a day – tottering carefully to avoid slipping and ice compacting in his shoes – before the thick drifts shifted enough to let him get out to his white field – where he was still in places up to his middle.

The volume of snow has taken its toll on the farms and land in our area, giving way as it melted to extensive flooding, and our turnout is being restricted and managed at the moment to try to let the fields dry up a little.

We are all hoping for a turn in the tide sooner rather than later; but, in some small ways at least, it’s beginning already, and I’m so very glad to see it. Getting out for walks the last few days I have been so happy to see the very first daffodils beginning to open, crocuses appearing in the garden, and the snowdrops gradually becoming the only white again at the roadside.

It’s only the odd flash of colour here and there, hardly enough to count, but it’s a promise that the vibrant seas of yellow daffodils and cascade of cherry blossom will come again before too long. It’s amazing that those little shoots could have survived under a foot of snow, and it makes the spring flowers on their way all the more special that they’ve managed to weather that.

For our lovely birds, it’s exactly the same. Having watched them struggle to find food and shelter in those days, flocking to the seeds scattered in a desperate attempt to keep them ticking over, it’s wonderful now to wake to their carefree singing, and watch our resident robin hop busily around the garden, fending for himself again.

I’m so very glad to see the first shoots and buds of spring, and looking forward to the new season arriving properly very much. 🌷

Hope you are all having a lovely week. x

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