Today has been a day of ponies! My grazing is moorland hill pasture - great for native ponies, but needs lots of supplementing with hay in winter. Finally the grass is beginning to come through again. It's noticeable this last week - everyone has been busy guzzling when I arrive in the morning, rather than waiting at the gate for their hay. The only one to have come through the winter a bit too light is Piper, who was two years old on the 29th of April. She has had a bit of a growth spurt in the last month, and has become noticeably leaner and rangier, so today I moved her down to my Aunt's land by the river, where there is more grass. My Aunt brought her yearling connemara gelding down too, and they were thrilled with the wildflower meadow where they will spend the summer! The (poor!)video clip at the end of this post shows Piper and Smudge. Piper is the bay, and Smudge is the bay roan.
After settling the youngsters in, my 5 year old son and I walked home. We came over the top of Meldon hill where the herd of wild ponies were grazing, and I saw a foal I'd dearly love! Now I see the wild ponies most days, and the foals are always gorgeous, but it's been a long time since I one that made me think,"WOW, I'd like to have that one!", but this little black one really caught my eye. It's young , less than two days old, and I couldn't get close enough to see if it was a colt or a filly, but it's definately caught my eye! One to watch over the summer!
The mares in our local herd are generally a good old fashioned Dartmoor type, although possibly averaging slightly over height. Many of them are probably 12.2 - 13 hh, and 12.2hh is the official height limit for a Dartmoor pony. For the last few years the commoners have been running spotted stallions with this particular herd ( which there is mixed feeling about locally - there is no requirement to breed true to type Dartmoor ponies, it's basically the case that it is barely economically viable to breed ponies at all, so therefore farmers will try to breed ponies that are desirable, and will make riding pony prices at market rather than meat prices. Spots are fashionable, and so that is what is being bred right now) The current stallion, who is just beginning his second season on the local commons, is actually a very nice sort, approximately 13hh, leopard spotted, and most importantly calm and kind with his herd. There have been stallions in the past who have been been fiercely aggressive, which can be a real pain to all horse riders around, as these ponies have free range of the commons and all roads in the parish. It meant that there was always the possibility of rounding the corner when out riding and being faced with a stallion ready to chase you away, and having to barricade all fields and hedgerows around your mares fields in case his hormones were on overdrive and he decided to smash his way in to your horses! Thankfully, stallions like that are rarely left out for more than a season, and, as I said, this current one is a very gentle boy.
We have been observing this little fellow for the last couple of weeks. His striking markings have led my family to nickname him Paddington, as he looks like a spectacled bear! This is the spotted gene showing through though, and by the end of the summer his coat will have whited right out, and there is a good chance he will be a leopard spot. It has the unfortunate effect of making him look like a donkey at the moment!