January 2005 Deirdre Writes:
A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL FRIENDS AND VISITORS TO THE FLEETMEAD WEB AND A HAPPY AND ENJOYABLE YEAR WITH ALL YOUR PONY HAPPENINGS.
High time again that our news was updated but somehow with the short days and dark evenings ones’ enthusiasm for battling with the computer wanes!
I have now started riding Rhalea a little more seriously and have started taking her out to one or two competitions just to let her see different surroundings and hopefully let her realise that everything has just got to be unpressurised and enjoyable, she has got a very long way to go before she becomes a Grand Prix dressage pony although once or twice when she’s been showing off in the field she has produced a very good line in passage, arab style tail carriage thrown in, though I was not quite so sure about the size of bucks that accompanied it.
She has also produced another string to her bow which may be very useful as the dreaded foxes are back and one was sitting in her field admiring the view and contemplating whether to move in on my bantams, she stood and watched it for quite a long time and then without warning the ears went back, head down and she charged at the very surprised fox who decided it unwise to stay and be trampled on by a very angry pony, perhaps this would be a new lawful way of hunting, fox pursued by pack of ponies and ‘dogs’ following behind, anyway I gave her twelve out of ten for that as we have had a tragedy on this place as my beautiful tame arucanna bantam Essex man has been murdered by the fox, perhaps a little bit my fault as he had no fear of dogs , vehicles or humans and was wandering further and further away from the safety of the indoor school and company of his bantam friends, his
favourite wife has been murdered too and all that was left was a sad pile of feathers.
The second competition I took Rhalea too was at The Royal Leisure Centre which can be quite daunting for a young pony who has to leave the warm up area and any horsey friends and go into a fairly grand arena with lighted gallery glassed in down the C end and always people there moving about as it is very warm and pleasant for human spectators or those wanting refreshment and although it is an indoor arena there are flags all down one side which move a lot on a windy day, plus a lot of noise from the elements and guess what it was very windy and pouring with rain!! Rhalea has a very long way to go before she’ll do top class dressage but her attitude to the strange and difficult surroundings was brilliant and she put a number of very smart expensive dressage e horses to shame who were leaping all over the place and to my surprise she qualified for the British Breeds championship in the spring so looks like I’m caught up in the qualifying racket again.
Holly and Ceilidh too ended the season in a blaze of glory at the London and South East Championships. Holly was 2nd in the straight dressage to music championship, judged by a judge who normally marks her down and beaten by just .5 of a mark, then she won the Pas Seul (dressage to music in costume) with me wearing a kilt I had found in a charity shop and which had to be at least a hundred years old, it was so heavy I could hardly lift it but so warm I would have been protected from the severest weather. Finally joined by Ceilidh ridden by AnneMarie Breasley against all odds dressed as very unauthentic Scots and determined not to take it too seriously and enjoy ourselves to our Highland Fling routine we won Pas de Deux and in
the process beat the very smart pair of dressage horses who had won the Riding Club’s National Dressage to Music Pairs Championship at Addington a couple of weeks previously, I don’t think they were very amused to be beaten by two very hairy ponies. In the same vein it was great that the native ponies won the quadrille of the year at Olympia although their secret weapon was an enormous amount of dedicated hard work from everyone involved and the help of Dot Willis renowned for all her talent into training Ginny Leng for all her eventing successes.
Finally at the H.P.E.C A.G.M to my surprise and delight Holly won the Highland Pony of the Year Award, I was surprised as although I have done quite a lot of different things this year I had made no effort to chase points and had just been determined to enjoy ourselves and pleased as she really is an exceptional performance pony who can turn her hand to anything, enjoys doing it provided both her rider and other ponies realise she is the undisputed boss pony on the place!
Ceilidh too had his moment of glory as whilst he does not do enough to be placed high in the Highland Pony Society Performance Awards I hoped he would be in with a chance as a Veteran and I was really pleased that he was placed 10th overall and won the veteran award, like wine he has mellowed as he has got older. The ponies that have gone to new homes over the last twelve months are all doing well; Rum and Sherramore have gone to one or two local shows just for experience and each time the judges have commented on their active paces and fact they should be good ridden ponies which is what I am trying to breed.
Euan is very happy with Abigail in Essex and hopefully will be a top ridden pony and is of course closely related to Gillian McMurray’s ponies who have had such a tremendous season.
Shuna has stopped climbing walls in Cumbria and is now being broken and Liz has promised the next photo will be of her ridden.
I went to Olympia native pony day with Kitty Lucas and it was great to see so many highland pony people who had travelled from all over the country to be there, sadly there is never the time to have a good gossip with everyone but we all secretly hope we’ll have a pony who qualifies so we can ride there again. Having said that I only live about thirty miles away but if I had to travel down from the far North I would wonder at the time and money and effort it took to get there and then when the moment comes the ponies hardly have a chance to settle properly, a very quick show and hasty conformation judging and then its all over, but still a tremendous to get there. It did seem this year that no pony was totally in a class of its own, although Comet is a very lovely pony and a worthy winner but perhaps this was because the overall standard of training and production was very high and no pony disgraced itself, so we have a lot to aim for. Lizzie of course sends her regards to everyone but says although she loves people watch out if you come uninvited after dark. hopefully now the evenings will start to get a little bit lighter and with the next update our minds will turn to spring and anticipation of foals to come. At the moment it is dark, cold and windy outside so seems a good moment to open the bottle of sloe gin I was given for Christmas.
FLEETMEAD STUD WEBSITE MAY UPDATE!
A quick update this month as I’ve been suffering from too many disturbed nights when I’ve got up to check mares etc and have wasted a lot of time looking for schedules and other horsy information on the internet! May has been a month of very mixed fortunes starting with judging at Woodbridge show in Suffolk when I don’t think I have ever been so wet or cold in my life, apart from the weather it was a good show and particularly nice to have a brief look at some of the judging of the Suffolk Punches a much rarer breed than the highland pony and for those of us who love the countryside very much a part of England’s past.
Some of the shows we were going to were rained off so most of the competing has been dressage indoors although last weekend we took Ceilidh to a Veteran Horse Show ( a new venture for us) and much to hid disgust he ended up last but one in his class, judge obviously not impressed with native pony still partially in its winter woollies and obviously unplaited so having dreamt of a new route to Olympia we’ll have to try again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There has been a recent tragedy with Succoth Sarah, my founder highland mare and Alick’s permanent wife being kicked and just when she was improving she got cast in her box and broke her injured leg not helped by the fact she was heavy in foal and due in three weeks time, she will be much missed but has left a wonderful legacy of Sanday her grandson Ronay, Shuna who is now settling in her new home in the Lake District and her other five children all settled in a variety of homes.
On the plus side two foals have now arrived safely, Seonaid producing a very attractive colt and Eilean a lovely filly so our Carrick and Trailtrow bloodlines are being reinforced and we’ll keep you posted how they progress.
Brenda Goldring has now made a good start with Feargus and is building up a very happy relationship with him although she is having to progress slowly as she has spasmodic back problems herself Sue Taylor had problems backing Tambourine as she was terrified of anyone actually getting on and as it was totally out of character with the mare one wonders whether when we had troubled with the local yobs riding motorbikes etc in everyone’s fields whether one of them had tried to get on her, sue had lunged and long reined her over quite a long period of time and finally we were put on to a young man near Uckfield who specialised in breaking and in less than 10days he had virtually got over the problem of getting on and Sue can now ride her easily herself and because of the time spent working her from the ground she is now working in a perfect outline for a young horse and no gadgets being used either.
Bonny too has been backed by another young man who lives near here Chris Baldwin and although she wants time to mature I shall ride her on at home through the summer. the bantam population has been very busy increasing and there is a serious housing problem trying to find homes for them all! despite this we are still looking for a couple of pure bred bantam wives for my ancona cockerel Essex Man so someone out there on the web might be able to help him. we’ll be back again next month with more news and pictures
Deirdre and the Ponies
At long last I am making the time for a long overdue update time seems to have flown this summer and since loosing my aunt last autumn I am now able to go further afield with my judging which I hadn’t been able to do over the last few years and amongst others judged at The Royal at Stoneleigh although sadly it is such a vast show I could only see a small part of the show after I had finished judging and a return visit to the Royal Lancs which is one of my favourites and still what I believe a real county agricultural show should be like, particularly in the South East of England it seems that permanent showgrounds are being forced to become more and more commercial to keep their financial heads above water, (but that is my opinion)! So far Kent County seems to have escaped this trend and I was particularly pleased that the champion of the Hack Breeding classes which I judged ended up supreme in hand champion of the show and qualified for Horse of the Year Show. It is just as nice to judge at some of the little local shows where some of the competitors may lack the expertise of the professionals but their enthusiasm and pride in their animals more than makes up for this and it is a pleasure to escape the agony of yet another class qualifying for something and competitors burrowing through pocketfuls of cards to get the right one signed, this sometimes seems to take longer than judging the actual class!
On the pony front we have had a busy year showing, dressage etc and Ceilidh at twenty has still shown he can do smart dressage, we have joined the Veteran Horse Society as well and done a few qualifying shows ( he said he would like to go to Olympia again) with mixed results, turnout counts and I am sure I lost marks on occasions because he was not plaited as the standard and way the classes were judged varied enormously, and on one occasion the judge told me he was a thoroughbred person which made my heart sink but despite that he has always come home with a rosette and we plan to try again next year. They are very good classes for the older pony who still likes to go out and keep busy as the result has no bearing on an animals past success in the show ring and so even if you ended up bottom of the class it is not shaming for the pony.
Holly and Ceilidh had a busy time recently at our Riding Club Area Dressage qualifier at Gravesend where on one of the hottest days of the year they did Pairs Dressage both with and without music and ended up a very creditable 2nd and 3rd beaten ironically by my own riding club and one of the anglo arabs I had bred. To win now the animals have more or less got to go stride for stride and although Ceilidh and Holly go very well as a pair their length of stride is very different and so it is impossible to get music which suits both of them. Holly too was 3rd in the
Dressage to music class and could well have won if there had not been a major
problem with the music which was started at the wrong time and as the whole class was affected in some way or another with the music equipment being inadequate one had to just do the best one could and not complain, but she still got the highest marks for the artistic bit although obviously was beaten in the technical section by big moving quality horses
On the home front there have been changes in the pony population which if I had had the benefit of hindsight I might not have done. I had had the extreme good fortune to have all filly foals last year and sold Sherramore when she was weaned. I earlier this year offered Shuna to a friend Liz Garner who now has a hill farm in Cumbria as although she has bred really good stock for me being closely related to my two stallions there was no great future keeping her here to breed from, the idea being that she could become a proper croft pony and learn to turn her hand to all tasks, I had hoped to have some photos of her in her new home but so far these have not been forthcoming. I gather she spent the first two weeks climbing over stonewalls, having been used to an electric fence but is now settled and happy and firm friends with Liz’s part bred arab who I bred twenty three years ago.
On the strength of this Alan Ellwood a farmer neighbour of Liz was interestested in having a highland filly to start a highland stud and to cut a very long story short he ended up having Skye and Harebell as we all thought the two would be happier than one pony on its own and the reports that have come back is that these two are very happy in their new home and hopefully enjoying something very close to their native environment. If I had known I was going to lose Sarah I would not have let both go but having promised I had no option.
On the strength of this I decided to get another mare and ended up buying Rhalea of Dunrui who came all the way from Inverness, her arrival here was another saga as she finally travelled south the day before I judged at The Royal and Sue Taylor made the mistake of saying she would come here after work and see the pony in so I could go to my nephew at Oxford for the night as I had an early start judging next day and the option would have been to go to Stoneleigh very early next morning. Lucky for me as the pony did not arrive here till 1.30 am Tues. morning and Sue had to be in her London office by 8am, luckily we are still friends. Rolo as she is known is now settled and good friend with Holly B (Succoth Holly) but I have not ridden her yet as she was very fat only four in June and had a large split hoof which would not be improved by the hard ground but which is already improving, Fiona Maclean who bred her rang me after I had her which was nice and hopefully we can stay in touch and I can let her know how we progress as for a youngster she has been a well travelled pony and changed home several times, from a breeding point of view she fits in with my other ponies as being by Viscount of Whitefield she is closely related to Holly and Sorcha who are both by Sargeant Major of Whitefield.
Sadly Sue Taylor had to come to the decision of parting with Tambourine as she needed a more active lifestyle than Sue’s work would allow and has now been replaced by an Irish gentleman who ironically was known as Whisper so had to change to Whisper Too’ Brenda is establishing a happy relationship with Feargus and is showing him in hand at a few shows this year.
Finally the poultry population has grown as at long last I have managed to get some purebred Arucanna bantams and so Essex man will have some pure bred wives, I have lots of part bred arucannas if anyone out there wants them as at the moment the fox situation has improved but doubtless this is only a temporary reprieve, to the uninitiated they lay green eggs, very tasty. The bantams managed to hatch out some Khaki Campbell ducks as well and as the result was four drakes and one duck looks like I shall have to by some more as I cannot see the drakes ending in the freezer as they are getting too tame. Lizzie sends her regards to everyone and is turning into super dog, very friendly but when in the bungalow is now self appointed guard dog.