Thursday, August 31, 2017

31st August, 2017 Winding Down

A quiet week made up mainly of riding and writing. Today Liz came out with me but Petra has also been ridden by Lorraine and Pat this week.

Théoden is gradually getting over some of his little phobias, helped by Lisa the Laundry, who I primed with barley rings, at the care home.

We always like to go and find Juma who was with his nannies today...

However, by the time we got home, he was in the field.

At the ice-cream van there was a glorious donkey foal.

Meanwhile, David is concentrating on getting Honour ready for the End of an Era party which takes place a week on Sunday.

Monday, August 28, 2017

27th August, 2017 To the Moon and Back

A thoughtful post by Karen...

"Every session with Moon is a learning curve in one way or another, not only for what we are teaching Moon, but those areas she shows me need... a little more workNatasha, my photographer isn't on hand now, as she has fledged from the nest into her own deluxe pad, so the recording of sessions is less than previous, but she came to visit today, so we took advantage of that fact, with the hope in mind I could show Tasha how Moon had been with the headcollar around her neck. Horses always remind us to drop the ego, even though I didn't feel I was 'showing off' to Tasha, my energy was focused around working with the headcollar, Moon soon reminded me to allow her to set the pace and take it back a step to the basics, being a little more nervy around her ears again. We went back to rubbing the nice bits and revisiting the scarf before moving forward with the headcollar. This is only the 3rd time she has experienced the jangling buckles, she has no issue with it at all and I still feel the headcollar is actually my issue, I have this innate fear that I will buckle it around her neck and she will panic, not wanting to come near me and being left with this webbing thing dangling around her neck!! Yet again, she shows me that she really isn't that bothered and actually she can walk away from me with the webbing thing hanging around her neck and tread on the long lace (learning from today to shorten the laces) and not panic and still come back to me, we even had a play with putting the nose band up over her nose.. Our focus now will be on two hands near her head and neck and around her ears..."

Friday, August 25, 2017

25th August 2017 The Drifters

With my ponies tucked away in a field, only turned out at the end of the day, there was no need for me to be stressed about the drift. The Agisters and Commoners on the other hand were hard-pressed to work around all the traffic, human and vehicular, that passed through the area of the drift.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

23rd August, 2017 Slightly Adrift

Yesterday I brought Nelly, Blue and Juma in so that they wouldn't be drifted on Friday. The Fritham Drift tends to be particularly fast, lots of rider taking part, including young Commoners who haven't yet gone back to school and need the experience of drifting ponies. The final section, before the pen that has been used for the last few years, goes straight across the road where ponies can slip easily and end up on the deck. The last time I attended one of the Agisters seems to have acquired a bull whip which he delighted in cracking - that did seem a bit mad and unnecessary to me. With Juma not yet three months old, I prefer him not to go through this. I'm also concerned for the two younger foals that are not yet a month old and I'm hoping that their owner is going to divert them too having seen them hanging about with their mothers outside his farm this morning.

I wish the drifts, especially in our area, were slightly later in the year - the latest ones go into October - so that there was no risk of foals being taken off their mothers when they are too young. It is believed that many behavioural problems with horses stem from early and abrupt weaning.

The drift is an extremely important and necessary part of commoning and the conservation of the Forest, giving the Commoners the chance to look over their wildest mares very carefully and check that they are in good condition. For the foals it is an opportunity to complete their passports, get them microchipped, branded, and separate them from the mare if they are old enough. I'm not keen on abrupt weaning but there are few people with the opportunity to do it the way I do and I only have one foal to contend with. I'd hope that few people would wean their foals when they are only three months old but once the foals are a little older and we start going into winter, it is important to keep condition on the mares. They drop back very quickly and even Nelly, with her fat tummy, is showing signs of loss of condition on her neck and haunches, and her ribs are definitely showing. A few days on some good grass will help her to pick up again.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

22nd August, 2017 Welcome to the Pleasure Dome...

After a busy weekend looking after the house and garden and the wildlife in both (!) it was time to get busy riding again and Juma watching. No wait...apparently we are all addicted to being 'busy' and it's the new way of proving our worthiness. According to Radio 4 (and they are always right) we are no busier these days than we were 100 years ago, it's our classification system that is wrong. If you are doing something that you could pay someone else to do that might be classed as work, but it it's something you wouldn't pay someone else to do, it's leisure - and hopefully pleasure.

Another lovely ride on Théoden despite the drizzle. We went looking for Juma...and found him.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

19th August, 2017 Heather Weather

The heather is particularly beautiful this year, enhanced by the weather. The New Forest ponies love eating it and it makes a very satisfying crunch when they do.

Meanwhile, I think this daddy could do with a horse...

Friday, August 18, 2017

18th August, 2017 Family Outing

Another beautiful and quiet ride this morning. Théoden is looking slightly shocked at being ridden on consecutive days.

Once out with bumped into Amanda and her little family, and friends.

Alas we were too late for cake...served up by trowel(!)...

...but not too late for cuddles...

And off we go...

Someone else was out for a much faster ride than ours.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

17th August, 2017 Household Chores

I'm loving riding my own horse again, and going further afield. Going in search of Nelly and Juma gives everyone a sense of purpose. Yesterday Lorraine and I caught up on some household chores at the field, everyone loves having a bonfire. Henrietta trimmed the hedges back a bit so that the fencing man could have access, and then followed him around the field admiring his measuring wheel. She loves a bit of science.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

15th August, 2017 It's Madness I Tell You

If I had any influence on the Forest I would be calling for a General Strike and for all Commoners to remove their stock temporarily from the Forest as a protest. I have never seen such wicked stupid-ness as I have this year when it comes to the Forest stock, people allowing their dogs to chase and bite the ponies, people disposing of their grass cuttings or windfall apples at the roadside, people feeding the ponies out of car windows or petting donkeys in the middle of the road. Then there's parking all over the grass. We're told people need to be educated, clearly there's no common sense, and there's a degree of selfishness and entitlement that makes me think that it should never have become a National Park.

It's time for some large signs at every major entrance to the Forest, as is in National Parks around the world, setting out the basic rules and the penalties for not following them. Then the rules need to be enforced properly. People are making money out of the Forest and some of that needs to be channelled into the animals that keep it the way that it is.

 Here are some examples of the stupidity we see and hear about every day...

"Me and the daughter were at Boltons bench today and everywhere we looked we could see people stroking and cuddling the ponies and foals. Young child running up to them. We heard a grandmother say to her grandchildren "let me touch it first to make sure it's safe" made me laugh when the the pony got a bit lively and made them clear off sharpish. My daughter is 6 she's been taught not to touch the ponies and donkeys and I love the way she shouts to me "dad those people are touching the ponies, they shouldn't be doing that!" Unfortunately it has no effect. Perhaps a few of the ponies could have a warning poster attached to their sides!"

"This is a plea for dog owners to keep please keep their dogs under control whilst walking on the forest.. we have sadly lost one of our forest filly foals that ran ogdens/gorley common after she had a nasty bite wound from a dog."

"Name and shame these Two men!!! At 6:20pm on the 4/8/17 they arrived at hilltop car park (moonhills) and started scattering two big bags worth of mouldy bread for the forest stock to eat"
This incidentally is the Masai Mara in high season, another essential National Park under increasing pressure which will lead to its demise in the long term. These cars are lined up to watch the annual migration of wildebeest and their presence affects the chances of the wildebeest as they cross the lethal waters which are full of hungry crocodiles. As Dennis, the guide, declared, "One day we will be watching cars migration not wild beast migration." What are we going to do when all the animals are gone, and all of the grass is killed...

Monday, August 14, 2017

14th August, 2017 Old Friends

Recently I went to visit Anna and hold her for the farrier again. These days she comes up to me to ask me to put her head-collar on and I always give her a good groom and a lovely scratch. I will always keep her in my diary since her owners are elderly and can't manage her by themselves. I have a special affinity with this girl, even though she pulls some terrible faces at me and the farrier, her emotions are always close to the surface and she knows what she likes and what she doesn't like. She's all horse.

My ears can go forwards
I took the opportunity to go and see Chancer too. He's still living with all of his Welsh mates on a big hill and looking very well. I took his hat off to say hello and then put it back on again.

Juma was fed up with the flies and looking rather tired this afternoon.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

13th August, 2017 Egg and Chips

It's a long time since I have ridden on a Sunday and reminds me that following a long ride my Mum and I would have egg and chips as our standard Sunday lunch.

Lorraine and I met this bold foal in the inclosure where he and his Mum were doing some secret snacking.

13th August, 2017 Show Off!

A relaxing afternoon at Ellingham Show thanks in part to the warm weather but also the alcohol intake at Spencers the Estate Agents and The Barn Equine Surgery stalls. Cheesy grins from Guy my farrier and Amy, his wife, and my vet. Always happy to be a groupie around the heavy horses too.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

12th August, 2017 Car Wash!

Juma has delegated car washing duties to his tiny little sister while he concentrates on learning his Green Cross Code. Hard to watch as cars dash by between him and his mother on the other side of the road, or slow to take pictures of him as he sets off.

I doubt that foals have evolved to have more road sense, but because there are less foals and therefore less playing, there doesn't seem to be as much dashing about as there used to be. I really don't want to tempt fate.

Although Jack and Jack are in the same field as the other horses with access to all areas, they choose to be alone together and seem to have picked the best gaff.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

10th August, 2017 A Spot of Lunch

Juma is now nine and a half weeks old and had his first visit home  He was intrigued by the buckets and had a mouthful of his mother's food. Straight back out again afterwards and hopefully will come in again just before the drift.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

9th August, 2017 No Such Thing as a Joke

Someone once told me that there was no such things as a joke between a husband and a wife, and declarations that "I was only joking" after the event are really just a cover for the most cutting remarks and criticism.


With horses the words that someone uses to describe their horse, things like the word 'it', when the horse is obviously a male or a female,  'a madam', or swear words, often reveal the way they feel about or see their horse. Saying that those words were 'just a joke' doesn't wash with me. They represent the energy and attitude that someone takes into the field with them when they go to catch their horse. They suggest the mistaken view that horses have a moral code, that they do things to amuse us, frustrate us or annoy us. Why would any horse want to be caught by someone who feels like this? Is it any wonder that  they choose to leave instead?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

8th August, 2017 I Do Like Mondays

Yesterday, one of those glorious days spent with a great friend. The weather was co-operative if not kind, the rain holding off til lunchtime when we were in the pub and then letting up again when we took Jack and Henry for a walk.

First on our list of things to do was a ride and it was great to see Juma and his family from just a short distance away.

Then we had a proper Juma visit with Rachael being honoured with just a little cuddle - I'm limiting him to one stranger contact a week.

Next we took Jack and Henry for a walk. Once again Henrietta did a disappearing act out on the Forest but soon rushed back when she could see we weren't going to wait for her. It's all slightly potty.