As with every winter, we are now finding that we have very little grass left in the fields and we are looking for ways to keep the ponies fed without feeding them too much of our hay – it would be nice if that lasted a bit longer! Our main problem at the moment is that the fields are so incredibly wet – nothing has a chance to grow.
The lane still has a decent amount of grass in it though so the ponies have been having an hour or two of turnout there most days. It is very difficult to fence off securely so we normally sit out there with them to make sure they don’t wander off – although so far their heads have pretty much stayed down in the grass and they have barely moved. This is something we usually do in the summer when it is lovely to sit out in a deckchair with a book. Things are obviously a bit different at the moment so we have a car parked at the end of the lane, I make sure I am wearing many layers and I always take a blanket and a cup of tea. Providing I manage to keep myself warm enough it is actually quite enjoyable.
The ponies never take long to learn a new routine – especially where food is involved. By the second day they were quick to come when called to the gate. Now every time we walk up the lane they come running – just in case we feel like feeding them!
They have also got a little more adventurous now – one of their favourite places to graze is on the top of this bank. It doesn’t look like the most appetising grass to me but apparently it is worth the climb – and the effort involved in getting down again!
Galahad has always been good at escaping into places he should not be. If there is a way out of a field he will find it so I really need to be extra careful about checking all the gateways when I turn him out. Sometimes though, I have moments of careless oversight.
I recently turned the ponies out into a small paddock without realising that a hurdle was slightly out of place and had left enough room for a pony to squeeze out. Luckily it only led along our stream, not onto the road and even more fortunate was the fact that I came out and found him very soon afterwards.
I wasn’t too worried – I just had to catch him and take him back. Nobody was in any danger. Then he decided he wasn’t ready for that and jumped into our neighbour’s field (there isn’t much of a hedge there – it is mainly a ditch and a drop from our side). The grass next door was pretty long and it’s quite possible that Galahad did not realise how far down he would actually go.
I had to walk round to the farmhouse and apologise profusely for my pony, whilst still observing social distancing. Then I had to try and catch him. Galahad found himself in a large field filled with far more grass than he has at home. Why would he want to be taken away from that? I spent a very embarrassing time completely failing to get hold of him. He did try a couple of times to climb back over the hedge but it was much harder going the other way!
In the end I resorted to trying to herd him which was also pretty difficult – again, it was a large field and there was only one of me. Eventually though, he allowed himself to be moved up to the farmyard where we could corner him and my Dad could grab hold of his fly mask. I got out of there as quickly as I could!
Galahad had looked very beautiful in all that long grass but it is definitely not an experience I want to repeat!
I wouldn’t have believed it a couple of months ago but we are in desperate need of rain. The grass is just not growing and any already there is burning brown in the sun!
I also have the problem that the ground – particularly in the yard and stables – is getting very dry and dusty. Cookster is quite sensitive to dust and so is liable to cough if he’s kept in at the moment. The ponies are therefore currently turned out all the time. With the grass not growing they shouldn’t get too fat.
I’m also giving the ponies some time turned out on the lane each day. That way they have access to some nice, fresh grass which has got to be more appetising and is more nutritious too.
I have to supervise these forays though – otherwise the ponies are liable to wander off. Yesterday the ponies grazed happily for an hour. Then Galahad determinedly walked back to the field with Cookster trailing in his wake. Cookseter was happy to stay and eat but Galahad had clearly had enough!
This week has been an exciting one for the ponies – they have been spending a few hours each day in their summer pasture. This field has a stream in it and tends to be quite wet in winter so it can only be used when the weather is dry enough. We have been having such lovely weather for the past couple of weeks though that they have finally been turned out.
Only for a few hours each day though – they haven’t been in there for about six months so it it full of lovely, lush grass. The ponies love it but it would not do their waistlines any good at all if they were turned out there full time!
I thought this first turning out might be very exciting to see but it turned out to be rather dull. They weren’t at all interesting in running about – all they wanted was to eat that delicious grass. Very disappointing!
I have been working very long hours this week – almost double what I normally do. I am utterly exhausted now but I have actually had a great time working at the Appledore Book Festival and I wouldn’t want to change it.
However, it has meant that I have had to neglect the ponies a bit. Obviously I have made sure that they are fed and watered but that has been about it. My Dad has done a sterling job of turning them out and bringing them in when necessary.
I think they have been a bit lonely though – they have started turning up at coffee time looking for company (and possibly treats!).
This coming week should be more normal and I am looking forward to getting back in the saddle. First though I need to sleep!
The ponies can be very good at letting us know when they are hungry. I got home the other day to find them waiting patiently for lunch.
Today being beautifully sunny and the ground drying up nicely I took the opportunity to give the ponies some extra grazing. It is always good to make as much use of the grass as possible so I padlocked our gate (just so nobody could accidentally let the ponies out onto the road) and turned them out into the lane.
They certainly appreciated the grass and cantered off happily but they would keep coming back. I had parked my car across the lane to keep them in but they climbed round it – it seemed that all they wanted was the grass just outside their own gate!
This week the ponies have actually been earning their keep.
Our lawn mower broke and the grass needed cutting. There is a shortage of hay in the UK this year so we have been trying to make the best use of the grass we can. Therefore, the ponies became living lawn mowers.
Of course, I couldn’t just leave them to get on with it as there is a drop at the edge of the grass and I had to make sure they didn’t try to jump down. Besides, I didn’t want them tearing up the lawn!
I had a lovely time sat out with a book and enjoying the ponies’ company. It is something I would thoroughly recommend, although I did get rather chilly!
As the heat wave has killed off so much of the grass, we are having to get inventive in the ponies’ turnout. Not that they need too much to eat – they are practically bred to live on air! They do need something though and we have been making the most of the land.
There is a lane leading up over the stream which is very overgrown and muddy – you wouldn’t get a car along it. I have written before about riding up it but now the ponies are eating it.
It is actually very useful as they trample the undergrowth as well as eating it so hopefully it will be a bit clearer next time we ride!
On Thursday Galahad and I were very lucky and were given permission to ride in a field on our neighbouring farm.
We were very happy to set out exploring and it was wonderful to have such a big field to play in.
There is a wood along one side of the field with lots of little entrances I would have loved to explore if I hadn’t had Galahad with me.
In fact, I did dismount and take him along this path. It led to the most delightful glade.
It had been a pretty stressful day at work and by the time I got home I was not feeling great and wasn’t even sure I wanted to ride. The lure of the field took me out though and before we got round it once I felt so much better.
In fact, the only (unimportant) downside was that my boots filled with grass seeds. They look so beautiful though.
Over the winter my parents have been working hard at tidying up the ponies’ summer paddock. Brambles have been cleared, fences mended and hedges wrestled into shape.
I have helped a bit too of course but it was barely anything compared to the amount they have done. The field is looking so much better for it too.
On Sunday the ponies were turned out in the field for the first time this year. Instead of running out – like they have been into their old field – they stopped not far in and their heads went straight down. I think they were very happy!
Obviously, there is a lot of grass in there at the moment so we have to be a bit careful they don’t put on weight. Hopefully we can keep them in check!
My parents have done an amazing job and the field is looking beautiful. The ponies – and I of course – are so incredibly lucky.
Horsey adventures - We are all told, “live your life to the fullest”; I am here to do just that. Horsey adventures serves as a vessel to project my passions, and clue in my loyal readers as to what inspires me in this crazy world. So, sit back, relax, and read on.