Friday, August 29, 2014

29th August, 2014 Sprung!!

Having failed miserably to find my New Forest girls yesterday, Tracey, Julie and I went up to the Fritham Drift to see if they would turn up there. The Agisters hadn't been expecting many ponies to come in at all but there was a satisfyingly large group that all came in at once meaning that the riders didn't have to go out again.

It started as a trickle but soon there was a surge.

The ponies briefly cross the road before going into the woods where they are funnelled along a fence, through a gap and into a temporary pound.

Agister Andrew Napthine, whose area it is, is in charge of the ponies and the people rounding them up. Not an easy task. More of his duties later.

He is assisted by Agister Mike Lovell and a group of mounted Commoners with Agister Peter Rix and Head Agister Johnathon Gerelli on foot. All of the drifting ponies seem to enjoy their job - it's certainly exciting - but it does make them a very lively ride. They all come back sweating.

Although the ponies in the pound seem pretty calm there is plenty of squabbling between them and some signs of anxiety.

I was pleased to see my ponies had come in and were both fine.

All of the ponies were in fantastic condition.

Once there were less ponies in the pen I asked for special permission to catch mine and, determined to be no trouble, did it from outside the pen. Then when I was told it was okay I climbed over the fence to put their lead reins on.

Here we are waiting for Andrew the Hairdresser.

After they've had everything done, most of the mares go back out.

My two came home for a few days so that they can help out on Tuesday's course. I've got two new collars around my arm ready for when they go back out again.

A day in the life of an Agister is pretty hard and at times dangerous. At the Drift they have to organise all the riders and keep a close eye on health and safety considerations for all the people who might attend - this might include random members of the public, the old and the young - there were a lot of children around today all of whom may be Commoners of the future if they are not already.

Once the ponies are in the pound the Agister has to tail mark (cut a shape into the tail of) each pony whether they are placid or keen kickers, put collars on and worm ponies as requested by the owners, and brand any ponies that are intended to stay out on the Forest.

The collar
Branding - there were no foals at this dirft but a couple of the older ponies needed to be branded.

Of course, a night in the life of an Agister often includes having to destroy a pony that has been hit by a car. 

Once the morning's excitement was over it was time to go and see Kestrel. Today's plan was to take him out for a walk on the Forest. There were plenty of things to see and do!

"Yet again Kestrel was really happy and relaxed when I left him tonight.  Quite proud of himself in fact.  He is really enjoying the sessions." YS

And finally, we went over to Somerley to long rein Sampson. I haven't seen him for a good while now and he's grown and grown.