Saturday 2 May 2009

A flurry of Foals!

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!

Particularly when he yawns!


Terra said...

These are lovely stories you share with us, the stuff to dream upon, since I love ponies and your spot of land sounds like it is close to heaven.
I am in California so hello from across the pond. I learned that phrase from fellow C.S. Lewis devotees and it has a friendly sound to t.

Unknown said...

Oh my gosh! They are so cute. I simply adore horses. We have a few wild herds here in the American West that I plan to photograph this year. Thanks for sharing!

Kathleen Coy said...

Awwww, LOVE the babies!!!

Pease Porridge said...

Oh, you are so lucky to be surrounded by these beauties. I thought that WAS a donkey at first. funny markings.


allhorsestuff said...

Oh Hullo!
I love all your views of the ponies..what beauty and I am so wanting to come across and see them in person!
I too am loving that black cutie!
The leopard Stallion seems very nice..glad he is not too mean.
I am going to come back here over. and over to look at those dancing ponies!!
Your daughters "A-oh" when the pony came close while taking video, was too cute!
Thanks for comin' by today!

Carol Anne Strange said...

I have such an unexplainable affinity with horses and ponies so thank you, Danielle, for a wonderful post. It's lovely to see the ponies and their foals looking so beautiful and well.

Coralie Cederna Johnson said...

Your posts and pictures are just amazing. Beautiful gentle ponies! Thank you so much for sharing them with us!

Deb Schmit said...

Thanks for stopping by.
Your paintings are fantastic! And also your photography! These ponies are so beautiful I just want to get on the next plane to come have a look.
Here in Montana we have a wild mustang herd. Many have a classic Spanish Mustang look with dorsal stripe and grulla patterns on their legs. To see them, you must travel by horseback high up in the Pryor Mountains south of here. They are quite difficult to get close to. Each summer the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) rounds them up for an annual auction to manage herd numbers.
There is a blog on them that is quite interesting and you might enjoy.
Again, thanks for visiting, I'll stop back and see what you've been up to.

Deb Schmit said...

Oh and heres their website.

Danielle Barlow said...

Thankyou everyone!
Terra - I love the phrase "Across the pond"!

Deb, Thanks for those links, I've spent half today reading their blog! The primitive markings are fascinating. We only really get them on the Scottish breeds of pony ( Highlands and Shetlands). My baby filly Piper is Dartmoor x highland - her father is mouse dun ( I think you would call it grullo?). Piper is bay, but she does have a dorsal stripe, and also a black belly stripe. As she moults out at this time of year she gets a stripey neck and legs, but by midsummer it has gone!

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

What lovely photos Danielle! So interesting to learn about the ponies. Surely an enchanted area you live in!

Sarah said...

Gosh your lucky!!!! The farmers where I live hate horses...

Totally Timmy said...

I would love to have all those ponies around me. The foals are gorgeous!

cabin + cub said...

They are all so cute! I still have yet to ride a horse... hopefully one day!

Blackfeatherfarm said...

My goodness those are the most enjoyable photos ! I do hope little donkey boy out grows those markings !


Related Posts with Thumbnails