Saturday, 15 January 2011

Blowing away the Cobwebs


This morning when I went to feed the ponies, they came skittering down the field like leaves in a gust of wind. They are nervous and edgy in this weather, imagining monsters behind gate posts and gorse bushes, alert and fidgety as they eat their hay, poised on the brink of flight.
Red prances around the big field, plucking up the courage to dash through the narrow gateway at top speed, just in case something darts out to grab him.
I watch and wonder. Is it purely their primal instincts kicking in - or are their heightened senses aware of things we cannot see?

Even the lugubrious Matthew is momentarily spooked, though hunger overcomes his nerves.


Bethan is a princess, whatever else is happening. Pretty as a picture, she steps delicately and always presents her best side to the camera, even when dodging trolls. It's difficult to believe this is the same pony that arrived here a year ago. From being such a quiet introverted little pony, she has really found her feet, and finally found her natural place in the herd. She is cheeky and full of herself, and bursting with confidence, which is a joy to see. Even better, since beginning her on Spirulina in the autumn, her wheezing has cleared up completely. She is living out full time, and eating dry hay with the others, with not a trace of a cough or a snotty nose, even after galloping round and round the field in wild exuberance!


Marlene too is twitchy. Always the bottom of the pecking order, she has to wait until the others have decided which piles of hay they want. She dodges from mound to mound, avoiding Red's ferocious scowls, and Bethan's bossiness, always submissive and wary. Poor Marlene, I think this is what makes her such a fabulous 'people' pony. She much prefers the company of people to ponies - I think she would rather live indoors with us given the chance! Calm and patient, she loves to learn and play. She is uncannily like Magpie, my dog, in her character. Bright and lively, affectionate and desperately eager to please, and yet her position at the bottom of the pecking order means that she is always polite and aware of personal space. This little pony will follow me anywhere I ask her to go, up steps, through dark and narrow spaces, anywhere. I adore her!


Four miles away, Piper is on 'big sister' duty with the babies. Here she reigns supreme, and doesn't she know it! She is wintering well ( actually, she is as fat as butter!). She will be four this April, and really needs to start work as soon as I have time. I have actually sat on her a few times, but what with the chaos of this winter there hasn't been time to put in any consistent work.

Kestrel is doing ok, considering it has been a very hard winter so far. The poor little fellow is teething at the moment. When I went to check them a couple of days ago, I noticed a swelling the size of a golf ball on the side of his face, and he was looking rather glum and sorry for himself. At first I thought it was an injury, but on closer inspection I found he had a wadge of forage jammed in his cheek, and a tooth erupting. I removed all the hay, and so far the problem hasn't recurred. He is unfazed by the bitter winds and torrential rain, as he has the Highland coat, a legacy from his father. A thick fleecy under layer, with a top coat of long silky guard hairs. These are nearly six inches long, and ripple in the wind like long grass in a meadow. I am hoping he does some serious growing in the spring, as he is terribly small at the moment. On looking at him you would think he is part Shetland - I think he is going to be lucky to make 11.2hh. I don't hold out a great deal of hope on the growth front though, as his legs are very short!


Perry, on the other hand, is tall and leggy. He is coming through the winter well, and is a very calm and polite young pony. He currently stands at around 12.1hh - 12.2hh. He reminds me of Matthew ( not surprisingly really, as his dam was the spitting image of Matthew, and Matt too came from the local herd) He even has the same slightly choppy action that Matt has. It's quite feasible that they could be related. Matt is 17 now, and was found on Meldon as an orphan/abandoned foal. Perry was the last foal from his dam, who was well into her twenties, and was put to sleep this autumn due to a leg injury. Stallions change fairly regularly on these hills, to avoid inbreeding, but many of the mares stay in the same herd all their lives.
Soon the foals will start to arrive again, the wheel turns, and cycle begins once more.

15 comments:

Shirley said...

Each is a beauty! You can read the love you have for each one of them. It is gratifying to read of their "growth" both literally and otherwise. How wonderful it must be to have these wonderful creatures a part of your daily life.

Sweetpea said...

What a BEEYOUTEEFUL post about your ponies, with all their various quirks & personalities...what a joy it must be to watch them all progress & thrive! I enjoyed my visit here today very much :>}

Terra said...

I get goosebumps of joy reading about your ponies, seeing the photos of them, and hearing about their personalities. It is neat that Marlene, lowest on the pecking order in the herd, loves people and is a great people pony.

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

I loved seeing the photos of each one and hearing how they are doing!

David L Macaulay said...

I love the pic of Red - fantastic...

Betty said...

How beautiful your horses are and their personalities too. Thanksk for sharing. Hope we will get to see the foals later in the year. Betty

Danielle Barlow said...

Shirley and Sweetpea - thankyou for stopping by. I am so lucky that I am able to keep these ponies. Whatever else I have to go without, I couldn't bear to be without them!

Terra - it is fascinating how different their personalities are, and it is great watching the foals grow up and their own characters develop. Again, though the same age, they are quite different from each other.

Ah Gail - I can't get enough of your gorgeous Friesians! More pics please ;-)

Thankyou David and Betty - there will be foal pics later in the spring!

chinecats said...

Thank you for sharing your lovely ponies with us! I so miss having one of my own. I was offered a 15.2 bay mare but with threat of redundancies at work I had to refuse the offer :(

Dan said...

Hi Danielle, lovely to read about your ponies and their different personalities!
It's been very windy here in North Wales this weekend too, and it has had a similar effect on our dogs, though maybe more excitement or expectation than fear.
Dan
-x-

The fearless threader said...

So lovely to hear you taling about your ponies like this, giving their characters space and loving each one for their individuality. Thanks for sharing. I hope your husband is healing well and things are making a move in a better direction luckwise!

Freyalyn said...

As others have said, I just love that you know your ponies well enough to see their different characters and foibles. This post is a joy.

Blackfeatherfarm said...

Love the ponies... all so darling....

Valerianna said...

Such beautiful animals.... wonder what they are sensing. Greetings from the very snowy forest...

Aisling Kiernan said...

Thats quite a big four legged family you have there. How do you manage everything? Absolutely love the action shot of Red. Amazing photo. I agree about Kestral I would have sworn he had shetland in him. Our first pony as kids was a shetland called Humphrey who was a very cheeky monkey. You have brought back happy memories with your lovely pics. Thank you.

Dartford Warbler said...

Lovely to see your ponies looking well and feeling the first whisper of spring. Mine have also been running and playing on cold, windy days. I`m sure the grass is growing here, just a bit...

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