Sunday, 2 November 2014


I have been so busy doing things recently I haven't had time to tell you about the most fabulous day I had with Anna pony at Rabson Manor Cross Country Course.

When we started it was driving rain - yuck!  Fortunately the sun came out but it did mean the photos are a bit fuzzy. 

Jumping the ditch was so much fun I had to put in a good buck afterwards to show Mum how excited I was. That generated big squeals from Mum and lots of laughter from Trish and Alison. 

The photo below is my favourite. Mum and I had so much fun. Sadly for me Anna is now pregnant so she isn't allowed to come out and play for a while. However I know she is very excited to be a Mum, so my very best pony wishes to my cross country companion. We both love zooming down the steps, hope we can do that again once your baby is born Anna. Good luck xxx

Lots of Le Trec Fun

I seem to spend my life these days going out and about in the box on wheels. Today I got to go back to H&B Equestrian in Dalingworth - where I camped out with lots of Highland ponies, earlier this year. 

Today I teamed up with Iona pony to make the black and white native pony team to practice some fun Le Trec moves. We started with the S bend, the picture below was of us trying to do it at Highland pony camp, as we were too focused to take pictures today. 

We had fun cantering down the canter tube, before we moved to more challenging obstacles like the clover leaf. We started in trot and then both Iona and I upped the ante and managed the complex circling manoeuvres in canter. 

Then the tricky tarpaulin river, this needed some consideration and normally I make Mum walk over first but as she was on top I had to brave and face the monsters and get Mum over safely, yeah we did it, think the monsters must have gone on holiday, so I was soon happily walking over this. Then the biggest challenge of the day, walking the wooden bridge. It took two attempts but then I was happy to put all four feet on and walk over and over and over and over again. Mum was very impressed with me and I got lots of hugs. 

We then did Mums favourite obstacle the bending cones, first in walk, then trot and then canter. They were a bit trickier than at camp as they were a bit closer together, but we still managed to canter all the way through. Mounting and dismounting is fine and then I amazed Mum with the circle standing test. 

I'm a bit of a fidget pants so expectations were low. Mum put up my stirrups and knotted my reins and then left me to stand still in the circle, I had to stand still for a whole 10 seconds and not leave the circle while Mum had to stand outside the circle. I did it. Not once but twice, that impressed Mum. 

The last challenge was the trickest the snake test. Iona's Mum got hold of the circle rope and it started to move like a snake - scarey!  But after a while we were playing chase the snake, stamp on the snake and finally eat and wear the snake. Then Mum held one end of the snake while Carolne held the other and we went around in pointless circles - I do wonder about these humans sometimes!

Iona is very very good at all the exercises and if I'm not sure I just need to watch her, she's a pro. This was Iona trying to persuade me to follow at Highland camp, I only managed two feet that day. 

We took Benji dog as Mum wanted Benji to meet Benji. It turns out Caroline's Benji is identical to our Benji just a bit smaller. They are both crazy and spent the whole time running around like looneys playing chase with each other. I think they are now bestest friends.  Benji loved it, but he's a bit tired now. 

I hope I can go play some more soon. 

Last day in Dartmoor

I woke up on Tuesday to sunshine so we got to have one last ride over Dartmoor, and I even got to meet some of the ponies that must have escaped being rounded up yesterday. 

We headed up the fern covered tracks this time with Em in front (well until she decided to be scared at a big long line of horses with their riders going in the opposite direction, then I had to take the lead. Oh yes and I had to take the lead when we went past a luminous yellow coat man - but other than that she stayed in front). 

You can just see Benji hiding behind Em and Izzy in the photograph below. He was actually the person in the lead most of the time. 

We could see views of the River Dart, looks a long way down!

What wonderful views hey. I'm lucky Mum likes to take me out and about. Benji and I love exploring with new friends. 

Izzy, Em and Benji are exploring the quarry on our way home. 

Bye bye Dartmoor, I hope I can come back and visit again next year. Thank you to Strider and Em for loaning me a very yummy couple of acres to munch on. And to Izzy and her Nan, Janet for looking after me and to Cathy for looking after Benji and Mum. See you all again soon xxx

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

What an adventure.....

One minute I can see miles across the moors then the next minute the infamous mists rolled in and I couldn't see beyond my nose. I was out on the moors with about 20 of my equestrian friends, we all had our riders with us as we set out in search of those elusive Dartmoor ponies. They were made even more elusive when the fog descended but unperturbed the search went on. Our mission today was to collect all the hill ponies off the moor and drive them down into the drift, locally known as drifting. 

Being a native Dales pony the undulating ground didn't perturb me as we trotted off to round up the ponies. We headed off from the car park towards the first torr as we spread out in a line. It was hard work keeping up with some of the horses, who turned out to be 17hh local hunters, they knew the terrain so well. It wasn't long before we found our first few ponies and the humans got all excited and started shouting at them. The pace started to quicken as we chased them around the torr. We found some more ponies sheltering behind a stone wall and the herd started to grow in number. As the size of the herd grew so the pace quickened we were now cantering over dried ferns being careful to dodge those dangerous bogs, I wasn't going to miss the fun by being stuck in one of those!

By now I had no idea where I was the rolling mists made it so confusing but I just kept in line with my hunt horse friends, we had made it to the top of the torr, but today there was no chance to stop and rest and admire the views we had to get these ponies down off the torr and into the drift. By now the herd was at least 50 strong all strung out playing follow my leader, so they were tricky to herd and keep moving them in the same direction. As we came down the steep grassy banks of the torr we were in a gallop, this was so much fun, I love speeding down hills. We were leaping gorse bushes, jumping rocks we even had to jump a stream at one point while zigzagging down the hill and Mum clinging on for grim death. With one final effort we all managed to get the ponies to turn the corner, with the help of a line of humans, who were standing and shouting and waving sticks, they were scarey so I'm not surprised the ponies turned.  We chased up them up the wall edge and finally they were safely in the drift.  

I've put together a video of my day....

All us horses stood foaming and sweating from all the hardwork, but inside we were all sad as we knew not all the pony foals that would now be weaned from their Mums would find a good and loving home like we had. The humans have put a limit on the number of ponies allowed on the moors, and the foals make that number too big, so those foals that don't find new homes will get shot. If my pony friends who read this know of any loving kind homes please find out more at The ponies need your help now. 

I think sleeping on the Dartmmor hillside must of made my dreams so vivid. What actually happened is Mum came down and gave me my breakfast before disappearing off with Izzy and Benji who had all the fun and joined the human drift line, while Em, Stride and I were left in our fields to munch the grass - not quiet as exciting!  

Maybe next year.............

Dartmoor here I come

I'm one lucky pony, Sunday morning Mum packed me up into my box of wheels and we headed off on a mystery trip. We headed along the motorway for quiet a while, that was ok and then we pulled up on a brigde to meet our friend Izzy who rode Amy at the Highland pony camp. I want to say thank you to the lovely stranger who stopped in her horse lorry to check I was ok, because we were parked up on the side of the road - not many people would have done that, thank you nice lady in a very nice silver lorry, you have a wonderful heart.

It then got a bit scarey, we followed Izzy's Nan (Janet) up the road that got narrower and narrower with stone walls each side. Narrow bridges that we only just squeezed over, I was watching out of the back of the box on wheels, even I had to breathe in!  Then the road got really steep and the car wheels were spinning on the wet leaves down a track that we could only just squeeze the box down. I landed on my bottom a couple of times as Mum tried to persuade the car it did want to grip on the road and take me to my new home for the next three days.  She managed it finally - phew.

I got a quick chance to check out my new home, a yummy two acres of scrummy grass. I trotted over to my new neighbour, Strider, he's 31 years old and looks amazing, he'd give Zippy a run for her money and behind his paddock was my riding companion Em, another Highland. I'm starting to get worried, we seem to be hanging out with a lot of Highlands, hope Mum isn't changing her mind about her love of Dales ponies 😞. 

There was no rest, after a short break I was tacked up, Benji was put in the lead and we headed off down the hill with Em and Izzy. They have some funny looking horses in Dartmoor.

Both Benji and I stopped and starred for a long time, but we couldn't make head or tail of them and decided it was best just to walk past. We turned off the road and headed up onto the moors, the yard is literally right on the edge of the moors, so there is no real roadwork at all.  But Benji was kept on the lead until we were really on the moors and then he was allowed to run free too. Below is the three of us heading along one of the lovely tracks.

The views were amazing, which was quiet handy as some of the hills were very steep and very long, so both Em and I appreciated the humans stopping to look as we did the hard work of climbing up the hills. 

We followed along a ridge that gave us great views of the river Dart below and some of the Dartmoor Torrs. 

After a long drive in the box on wheels and a fun ride onto the moors I was ready for my tea when we got back, and was impatient to start tucking into my two acres of grazing. Yummy, night night friends. 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Zippy is doing more than me this week (well nearly)

Zippy has had a busy week this week.  Monday she was giving Sally a riding lesson. I got to come along too as Mum decided while the evenings were just about light enough for us to hack out round the farm we should make the most of the opportunity. 

Sally hasn't got Zippy's brakes working quiet as well as Mum would like but she has definitely got to grips with the rising trot. And we had a lovely ride around the farm, I wonder whether we will be allowed to canter soon?

Then Friday Zippy gave Isla a riding lesson. This was Isla's second ever ride and Zippy was on top behaviour and helped Isla master rising trot.  Isla's learning to ride because she is going on a trek in Argentina later this year, so Zippy is helping her to feel safe and confident on a horse. I was not allowed to help and got left in the field on my own. So I amused myself cantering around and doing handstands and seeing how loud I could call for Ziipy, it didn't work she was concentrating too hard on looking after Isla. 

Now this would normally have been a hectic week for Zippy but she had one more duty to perform - giving Mum's niece, Ellie, a ride on Saturday afternoon. Mum let Ellie ride Zippy bareback from the field, this turned out to be a mistake as half away along the road a car came and we had to go on the grass verge, as Zippy stepped down she leant to grab some grass and tipped Ellie off!

Fortunately it was a soft landing so we all walked back to the house and Ellie was only allowed back on when Zippy had her saddle on.  I was allowed to come too, which meant I got very excited and was dancing on the spot, Mum told me off because I was supposed to be being sensible and calmly leading Zippy with her precious cargo. Eventually I calmed down and we had a nice walk to the farm and back. It was a bit boring as I was only allowed to walk. 

Ellie had never trotted before so Zippy was put on the lunge and asked to do circles and she was very good. Ellie enjoyed trotting and Zippy even managed to do a slow trot when instructed too. So that's two people in one week Zippy has taught to do trotting, I think that pretty impressive. I hope one day I will be able to do the same. Mum says I'm not quiet reliable enough at the moment, she thinks my enthusiasm may unsettle beginners. 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

I'm looking good

Mum collected Zippy and I from the field this morning and took us up to the house. Whopheeeee the clippers were out. I've been getting so hot and bothered I really did need a short back and sides. 

This is me before the clippers and Mum did her work.

And this is me after......

Very handsome I think.

Now I know it's a little controversial but Mum clipped half me head too.  She was impressed because she was working on her own and I even bent my neck away from her so she could get all the difficult bits. I stood VERY still while she did my whiskers etc.  I have to say I like me new look, plus when Mum did my bridle up she didn't catch my beard because it had gone - very happy.

Now time to test the clip out. Loaded up into the box on wheels we headed off to Circencester Park for a fun ride and jumping with my friend Phoneix and her owner Caroline. It was a 10 mile ride, Mum asked me to jump some of the jumps, and she was very impressed with me as I had started to get the hang of this and I jumped every jump first time, no run outs - ok some were nearly from a standstill, but I got over all of the jumps first time. It was a lovely day and I'm certainly glad I had my haircut, Phoneix was very hot and sweaty when we finished. My saddle area was sweaty but I had cooled down by the time we got to the trailer. 

Mum and I stood watching various humans trying to get their horses back into their box on wheels. I'm glad Mum is not like some of them. Some of my poor equines were terrified being beaten with whips and hose pipes, it's no wonder they didn't want to go in. We did watch a lovely lady quietly and patiently using her Parelli tool kit and her natural horsemanship skills to persuade her horse in and he got a good rub on the haunches as a reward, scrummy. It's a shame not all humans stand in our hooves for a day, I'm sure they wouldn't want to do things if they were 'persuaded' by being hit!

Mums been to Wales to see the boys so I will need to give you all an update. 

Now I have go faster stripes Zippy and I have been tucked up in our lightweight winter rugs in the back garden as rain is forecast, but only after a yummy tea 😃 feeling very 'cool' 😉

Sunday, 28 September 2014

And today's lesson is....

Practise! Now I know I am brilliant but Mum sometimes forgets I'm only 5 years old and we haven't actually done that many circle competitions, ok so I always bring a rosette home, well that was until today. 

What was different today? Well we have have done no circle practice for weeks!  Well depends if you count the half hearted 30 minutes we squeezed in before Mum went to work on Friday. We have been too busy having fun going on long hacks with Eric and Dusty and then Fun rides with various pony friends. Plus to be fair to Mum she has been very busy working most weekends. 

My first circle test Prelim 4 started very promisingly with an 8 for my trot entry and then lots of 7's for my trot work. Then I had to canter, it all went down hill after that with 4's I was too tired to keep cantering and then 3's. Mum still hasn't mastered right hand canter! She really does need to practise more before asking me to do these circles tests, at least we had sort of practised this one on Friday. I got 55.45%.

My next circle test we hadn't practised at all and I have to say a big thank to Mum's friend Claire for reading both tests so well, we knew where we were going, because I can promise you Mum had no idea!  We did better getting 57%. But still 3's for right hand canter mostly because it was actually left hand canter instead!  Oh yes and I put a mighty big buck in when Mum used her stick, I took exception at that even if I did then pick up right hand canter!!!!!!  But I did get a 7 and then a 6 for my left hand canter, just show we have the potential, I thought Mum needed the encouragement by then so I helped her out a bit.

No rosettes today, but hopefully this valuable lesson of we need to practice if we want rosettes will have been drilled home to Mum and she won't have such unrealistic expectations next time.  

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Up at dawn

Wow Mum got me up early this morning, the sun was only just rising.  So I stood admiring the view while Mum acted as my personal hairdresser and got my mane and tail organised.

I wasn't going out on my own this morning, we had the wonderful company of grumpy Eric - not too sure he's a morning Dales pony.  We have been hacking out together quiet a bit recently and he's getting used to me, but today he wasn't so impressed so I kept my distance,

Personally I think it was worth the early morning wake up call we got to go up the hill for some fun canters and in the last field heading home our canter, turned to a gallop, turned to a faster gallop I was determined to win the race to the gate, I think I just about managed it - well if you don't count Benji, because he always wins!

Is that not an amazing view?

The other good thing about these early morning hacks is I get to have a big breakfast afterwards, so its head down and eat up time.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Trotting tarpaulin

Zippy and I were put through our paces yesterday. Mum decided to cover the back paddock in lots of different things, blue tarpaulin, black tarpaulin and even a red carpet - now that's more like it.

Zippy was not impressed.
 She stood looking at the tarpaulin going I'm too old to learn new tricks. Sally had come to play with Zippy and she got her walking around and through the poles but Zippy didn't really want to go anywhere near the tarpaulin. So while Zippy stood her ground I thought I had better play ball and demonstrate how it's all done.

Well I'm a highly experienced tarpaulin walker by now.  We started by just walking over the edges and it wasn't long before I was walking over everything, and prancing along the red carpet. Mum had me on a long lead rope so we started doing circles in trot and then Mum asked me so nicely that I though I'd show off and trot over the tarpaulins and carpet all on my own.

Hey, how shiny am I? You can see Mum's shadow of her taking the photo of me on my bottom, how clever is that!

I even stood very still on the carpet so Mum could get the photo evidence.

I need to understand this brownie point concept because I seem to have a lot of them, but they don't seem much use to me, I wonder if I can sell them on eBay for carrots?

I was released from duty and allowed to wander around on my own while Mum took Zippy to task.  Zippy had being trying the old pony trick which had fooled Sally but Mums not quiet so easy to fool especially when Zippy takes exception to the tarpaulin and manges to canter off and give Mum rope burns - classic mistake Zippy, now Mums got no old pony sympathy for you any more.

So it wasn't long before Mum was using the stamping on the tarpaulin and the swinging rope to put some 'pressure' on Zippy and she soon was quick stepping over the tarpaulin, I was helping Zippy with avoidance tactics by standing loose in the middle, so Mum had to chase me off before she could get Zippy to go over.  

It was then Sally's turn and Zippy and given in by now so obediently walked over when Sally asked, knowing if she did this it would mean we could both have tea sooner - thank goodness.  One bonus though we have been moved back to the big field so at long last we have more grass to eat - hurrah!

Don't know about you ponies but I think it's getting a bit chilly at night, are you wearing rugs yet?  Mum can't decide whether Zippy should be rugged yet, we usually use the 10c rule but the iPad keeps saying it's going to be mild overnight and each morning we wake up it seems to be much colder than that.

Still running around keeps us nice and warm.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

I've jumped around Badminton, how cool is that!

Mum says I have so many brownie points now she is going to have to find a new tin to keep them in. Why? Well today I achieved something I'm not too sure many Dales ponies have done, I have jumped around Badminton!

Mum loaded me up into the box on wheels, I walked straight in, well I hadn't done anything for a few days and it's getting a bit boring in the back garden now we have eaten all the grass!  Wow when I walked out the whole world of box on wheels must have been there.  There were literally fields full of boxes on wheels!  I don't know how Mum managed it but she managed to follow my friends Cinders box of wheels into the field even though we had set off at different times and from different places, sometimes my Mum can be very clever.  It meant we got to park next to each other, I don't think we would ever have found them otherwise!

This is me after Mum had put my girlie plait in!!!! It does keep me cool even if I don't look cool. Cinders rider is an old friend of Mum's called Lynda, we kept an eye on Cinders while Lynda entered us. She came back reporting 650 horses had already started on the course - wow now that's a lot of horses, this was going to be exciting.

The first mile was very exciting and I had to jig jog, I wasn't sure where to look horses in front, horses behind and horses overtaking us but I decided this was going to be hard work if I kept this up, so in the end Cinders and I settled to a walk and started to enjoy the views.

I have been teaching Mum showjumping and we are getting on great but I have never jumped any cross country jumps before, the last ride we did we kept away from the jumps. I had presumed we would do this again as Cinders has just recovered from poorly ligaments and so is not allowed to jump.   But no Mum had different ideas, so we had a go at all sorts of different jumps from small logs, trains, brushes, log rolls.  Mum needs to work on her steering as I tested this out several times and found I could go round the jumps sometimes, but Lynda made Cinders stand still at the edges so she became a huge horsey wing and then I had no choice really but to jump the jump - thanks Cinders!  

When Cinders wasn't standing as a wing she kept me company trotting or cantering along next to the jumps.  We eventually arrived at Badminton house, which you can see over my head. There was a photographer on site so hopefully I can persuade Mum to track down and buy some of the photos of me leaping over the jumps.  Mum says I make a great parabolic shape over them, goodness knows what that means I just make sure I tuck my feet up and give them plenty of air.

I have to say a big thank you to my friend Cinders she was great company and we were both very sensible and grown up, below is us at the end of the ride sporting our rosettes. Mum and Lynda were thrilled with us, the going was perfect so hopefully Cinders legs will still be fine tomorrow, we both had such fun.  Hope you can come out and play agin soon Cinders xxx

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The hairy pony camp gang and GRASS

Well here it is I have tracked down the photo of the hairy pony camp gang....

From right to left, we have Izzy on the lovely Amy, then Caroline on the beautiful Iona, then Penny (owner of Nashend Highland Pony Stud, from which a lot of these ponies have come) on the wonderful Willow.  Then we change colour slightly and have Rachel on Izzy, then Meeeeeeee with Mum, situated next to Rannoch's backside, ridden by the lovely Jeanette and finally Wheatsheaf with his owner Claire on foot.

Zippy and I have been lucky enough to be moved into Mum's back garden (also known as our winter paddock).  She wants us to top the field ready for some last minute autumn growth ahead of the winter.  Now when does a Dales say no to an opportunity like that!  Just have a look at the grass we have to munch!

Zippy likes the lush looking dressage paddock so she has started trimming that up nicely.  She was complaining it was getting too long when she was giving Sally her lesson yesterday, no doubt she will soon have it shortened to a more suitable length!

Did you want me Mum?  I'm rather busy trying to eat all the grass for you!

Happy days, whilst I'm busy munching my thoughts go out to all those ponies grazing with muzzles on, especially my dear friend Zoe, you are welcome to visit anytime, no muzzles here (yet!).  It all seems too good to be true, but Zippy and I are determined to make the most of it!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Deploying my new hairy pony camp skills

Well who would guess that I would be putting all my new found hairy pony camp skills to the test within the first week of getting home.  It's been a busy week with a circle lesson which included a lot of sideways work on Tuesday evening at Helen Coles yard in Stockley, only to be followed by another lesson with Janice at Hulberts Green on Wednesday morning!

Wednesday was extra interesting as I was not travelling alone and I was not travelling in my box on wheels.  Instead Mum had attached her car to a very different box down the road and it turned out to belong to my relative Eric.  Eric was not keen about going into his box on wheels and after messing the humans about Mum had a turn and made it very clear very quickly to him he had little choice and he soon decided the safest option was to jump in.  Eric's box on wheels does not have a ramp.  I've never seen a box like this, so I had to take a step up to get in.  Well who would guess all that different surface practice at hairy pony camp and climbing on boxes would come in useful so quickly.  Totally un-phased I hopped straight in.

We had a great lesson with Janice, Eric was a bit rusty but half way through the lesson remembered his lateral work and gave his rider, Jo, a massive shock when he side stepped like a pro to the edge of the arena, making Mum and Janice laugh with her squeal!  I was my usual calm and professional self and made sure I left a good impression on Mum's instructor, Janice.  I like her as we were allowed to do some jumping at the end, which was great fun.  Eric hasn't jumped since Mum used to ride him several years ago but he was up for it and dashed in enthusiastically, while I maintained a very sensible and steady canter and popped the jumps like the pro I'm becoming. 

Sadly Mum is not very experienced at parking the new box on wheels which meant as she had parked it down hill, Eric and I now had a HUGE step to climb to get back in.  Ok we managed but Mum next time just remember we have been carrying you for an hour and maybe park it the other way round so we only have a small step next time!  Eric didn't take as long to load going home and I clambered straight in like a good pony should.

I think Mum must like Eric's new rider, Jo as we seem to be doing a lot together and I needed more of my hairy pony camp skills on Saturday when we went for a ride together up on the hill.

The first skill I needed to deploy was the walking on words, as we reached a 'slow' on the road.  I obeyed and slowed just a little to take a look and then walked right over like it wasn't there.  I got lots of big pats for that, ok so maybe they are not too scarey now.

As if that wasn't enough I then had to show Eric my galloping and Le Trec skills.  I had mastered trotting under the fake branches at camp but decided to up the ante out on the hack and opted for the full speed gallop (as practised in Cirecenster Park with Amy) under very low hanging branches (as per Le Trec training though I'm not sure we even had the legally required 10cm clearance) Mum's crouching was excellent and I came through a long line of trees with my rider still on top!

Jo also managed to stay on Eric, though I'm not sure we didn't give them whip lash from the pinging branches as we fell underneath.  It was a good ride and Benji had come along too, so by the time we got to the bottom of the hill we were all ready for a slow walk down the lane to cool off, before tucking into a big tea.

Who would of thought I'd be able to use so many of my newly learned skills so quickly, I wonder which skills I will need next?

Spook busting hairy ponies at camp - Part a Five

Oh if I thought the arena was scarey on Friday, I was not prepared for what I saw on Sunday afternoon.  You would think after all the fun and games doing Le Trec on Saturday afternoon the humans would have got bored of challenging us - evidently not!

We all trooped into the arena to find what I can only say was a picture of complete chaos like a bomb had exploded in a rubbish tip.  There was tarpaulin, a big pile of plastic bottles, flags, flying fish, jumps, poles everywhere, even a curtain of ribbons. Ok humans what's going on?

We were introduced to a very clever human called Shelia Reed  Now this lady knows her stuff.  She knows how us ponies think and work and she was soon telling the humans how to get the best out of us - hmmmmm can't decide whether I like this or not.  I think as hairy ponies one and all we like to have the upper hand, well it wasn't to be today!

Shelia explained about body language and how to move our feet (very important for Highland pony owners, Highlands like to plant their feet and never move again - so this was an essential skill for their humans).  Me I like to move and play so Mum doesn't need to worry about moving my feet, normally she has the opposite problem and it's about keeping them still!!!

Tired from the galloping ride around Cirecester park that morning I decided to take the path of least resistance and humour my human as much as possible.  This meant trouble as there were a lot of different things on the ground that she wanted me to put my feet on!

We started with the big rubber mat that had a STOP written on it in big white letters just like you see on the road.  Up until now I generally dance around such writing when I find it on the road. I'm a pony and can't read for all I know it says 'trolls'!  However it didn't take long for Mum to persuade me to stand with all four feet on it and STOP - I liked the concept of stop, it means a rest.  

But not for long, then we headed up to the other end for the terror of tarpaulin. Now remembering I wouldn't put my feet on the carpet during the Le Trec training yesterday, Mum was going to have her work cut out trying to persuade me to step on crunchy tarpaulin. We walked around and around it, Mum jumped up and down on it to kill it for me - thank you Mum, owe you one.  By now I was fairly sure it looked quite safe so ventured some front feet onto the edge.  Chuffed Mum gave me a massive pat and we headed off to do easy stuff like reversing around L shaped poles and bending between cones.  Below is us doing the cone walking. 

Just when I thought I had got away with it, she headed us back for some more stomping on the tarpaulin, by now I was getting bored so decided to walk across.  Standing in the middle I thought I'd check to see if it was edible, errrrrr definitely no, as I shot off at super rapid speed when it started to growl and crackle at me - Mum are you sure there are no trolls hiding underneath?  Mum just laughed at me, which made me feel silly, so I had to step back on just to keep my pride intact.  Actually it's quite boring after a while and by the end of the afternoon I plonked myself right in the middle with Mum fanning me quite nicely by opening and closing a golf umbrella in my face - very cooling.

I haven't found any pictures of me on the tarpaulin under the umbrella but below is Whaetsheaf and Iona looking a little bemused at the umbrella's - humans it's not raining, I think you only need them when it rains.  I think they were tired too and had somewhat lost the plot by this point.

Much to the humans disappointment all us ponies enjoyed clattering through the pile of flattened plastic bottles, though we did test the humans at their pony control when they asked us to go under the ribbon curtain.  Again I'll try and find some pictures.  The lovely Shelia helped the humans with this task by first parting the curtain completely, so the humans were confident to lead us through and then slowly she put one, then two and then lots of ribbons hanging down from the pole.

Mum thought it was very funny when she walked through and I stopped and just poked my head through the ribbons, anything to please and bring a smile to my human. After opening the curtain up a little I came through and by the end of the session I was happy to walk through, though goodness knows why I would need to do any of this in real pony life, but hey it kept the humans amused for the afternoon.

I think all of us ponies mastered all the challenges very well as you can see from above, we were all enjoying strutting our stuff.  

Sadly that was the last event of the camp. All that was left was to tidy up my stable, pack away our bits and load up.  While all the other ponies headed off somehow I was asked to model a driving harness.  Honestly whatever next.  For the second time that weekend I patiently stood still while the humans tried on various bits of driving paraphernalia to see if they fitted me - I'm a riding pony humans, I don't need driving stuff, errr do I? Well I guess only time will tell.

I have to say a lovely thank you to all the Highland ponies, I enjoyed your company, especially Rannoch my next door neighbour (whose company meant I got three square meals a day) and Amy my galloping partner in crime, without whom I'd probably have had to walk the whole ride!  

Also a big thank you to Claire Schimmer (owner of Wheatsheaf) for organising the whole weekend and a very very big neigh to Iona's human, Caroline, for inviting me in the first place (even though I am a Dales and not a Highland pony) and for letting us all stay at her amazingly calm and relaxing yard (H&B Equestrian - which is now on my wish list of places I want to move to).

Here's hoping we can get the whole gang back together soon for another hairy pony camp adventure.

Galloping good time at hairy pony Camp - Part Four

Sunday morning at camp meant we had a line up of seven hairy ponies for a photo shoot - yeah not as easy as it sounds, a few of us were fidget pants and Rannoch wanted to make sure they got his best side - which he thinks is his backside! So we ended up with some interesting photographs.  I haven't got my hooves on any of these yet but as soon as I do I'll make sure to post them for you. You won't be able to miss me in the line up six cream/grey Highlands and a black dales - Mum keeps calling me a the black sheep of the family, Mum I'm a horse not a sheep, sometimes I do worry about her!

Still all seven of us paraded out of the yard, across the road and into the lovely grounds of Cirencester park.  This was looking good copious amounts of grass in all directions it was hard to decide what to do first, eating was up there but Mum was on her 'it's not a picnic' mode so snacking seemed out of the question. 

Rannoch tried to liven the ride up with some jigging and jogging, he got sent to the front for his misbehaviour, which was all in his plan and he settled into the lead with Willow.  I decided to take the rear guard along with my new pony friend Amy.  I think I like Amy because she is 24years old and reminds me of my field companion Zippy whose 28.  These wise old birds have a lot going for them and having a toy boy is great for their street cred! However our ride was only going along at a boring walk pace.  Ummmm humans wide expanse of grassland being wasted just doing a walk.

Mum obviously read my thoughts and hatched a plan with Amy's rider Izzy.  While the rest of the gang walked (boring) off down a track, Amy and I suddenly headed off in the opposite direction across some very lush grass, the going was good.  Our walk became trot, became canter to the end of the grass field.  At last some fun, after discussion with Amy and Izzy, it was agreed to have a race back down the field, the first to the road would win.

Mum even gave us both a count of three, then zoooooom, off we dashed in a gallop.  I guess it was a bit unfair because I'm only five and quite fit I soon showered Amy in a cloud of dust and easily won that race.  Yipheeee, that was fun, Amy was now jig jogging and we slowly trotted to catch up with the others. 

We carried on through the park with the rest at walk again (boring). You can't believe we were walking along such lovely grass rides like the picture below.

It was too much for Mum and me and so we agreed with Amy and Izzy (our partners in crime) to head back along the wide grass path we had just come along.  To start with Amy and I were a bit confused but as the others disappeared into the distance and around the corner I suddenly had a sneaky feeling Mum and Izzy had something fun planned. 

Yes another race.  This time Mum thought Amy and Izzy should have a bit of a head start, which left me dancing on the spot for a while, then eventually Mum let me go and I went charging off to try and catch Amy - I tell you what for a 24 year old she can't half shift, it took all my zooming to catch up with her and when I did she put in another spurt by the time we got to the top of the ride we called it a draw and we were allowed to walk and catch our breath back.

All four if us were grinning all the way home. I had the last laugh though, being black the mud doesn't show too much, but Amy being a beautiful white colour (well she was when we left) had to have a proper scrub down when we got back, which she did not appreciate.  Below is my partner in crime Amy with Izzy, before the ride when she looked Persil White (or any other brand of good washing powder white).