Head Agister, Jonathon Gerelli, appears very relaxed as he enjoys a chat with his horse. The horse looks like he is doing all the talking.
The first herd of ponies coming across the road at Fritham.
One of the agisters looks like he is flying...
... and all of the drifting horses are completely revved up.
A beautiful mare in the drift pen. Most of the mares will simply have their tail marked (cut into the shape for this area of the Forest) and be turned away again. Very few had foals at foot.
We had an appointment in the middle of the day so may have missed Nelly and Blue coming in. The appointment was with Kym and her new horse Elmo, a three year old gypsy type cob. Sadly she lost Harley after he had a sudden form of cancer. Elmo was taken in by a rescue organisation after he was found loose on the A36 and threatened with a bullet when the police just shoved him into someone's garden.
Nowadays he is very pampered and has a cunning disguise to keep the flies off.
Kym's multi-coloured lead rein came in handy for suggesting the best place to hold it to achieve that smile in the line.
All we needed to do was put a few gentle rules in place so that he wasn't all over everyone as he is want to do. He's an amenable soul, an innocent of this world, and happy to do whatever you ask once he understands what he needs to do.
Practising counted stops up and down the track.
Explaining how easy it is to move a horse's feet if he gets stuck.
We finished with some foot handling. Kym hasn't picked his back feet up since he arrived and he needed to be taught to keep his feet down and then to pick them up when given a signal.
Email received 1.9.15: "Elmo has been brilliant since you came out and its much nicer to spend time with him now that he no longer has to be right on top of you all the time. Picking is feet up is amazing, he now happily holds each foot up for 30 seconds at a time." KBBack at the drift there was an extremely feisty lot of mares in the drift pen that probably hadn't been brought in for a couple of years since they were hidden deep within Slodden inclosure. I didn't envy the agisters coming in close contact with them to mark their tails (by cutting with scissors) when they seemed quite prepared to run people over and give them a good kick.
I was disappointed to see that this foal was branded twice, once on his back, and once on his bottom. I have always argued that one hot brand is necessary for the identification at a distance of mixed ownership herds of semi-feral ponies, and until the day there is a microchip or other device that can be read at a greater distance than 3 foot. However, there can be no justification for two. It is true that the New Forest agisters and experienced commoners are very adept at branding ponies as humanely as possible. The brand is small and always heated to the right temperature and only in contact with the pony for an extremely short time. That doesn't make it right or better when it is done twice. With a foot in the branding camp and a foot in the anti-multiple branding camp I'm always falling out with someone!
Back at the fields it was time to work with Banksy again and I was astonished at the progress he has made in accepting his bridle. I worked without a bit for a few minutes and found that he no longer walked away at all when the bridle was produced.
After a little while I started to work with the bit on the bridle. Although it is not fool-proof or fail-proof yet, it's certainly getting there.
In bright sunshine we then went out to long rein around the inclosure.
Last session of the day and Henrietta has now learned to stand on the big bridge. What a clever mule.