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 http://www.friendsofthedartmoorhillpony.co.uk/how-you-can-help/help-save-our-dartmoor-ponies.html. 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' 😉