JULY UPDATE 2006 Deirdre Writes:
At last I am sitting down to write a much overdue update, but do not blame me for this but the H.P.E.C Message Board as I have discovered very addictive and time wasting but great for communicating help etc, if you have yet to sign up for it suggest you do!!
Last year ended with a very near miss for our Riding Club quadrille qualifying for Olympia, Ensay had come in ridden by Sian as a late replacement having had the misfortune to lose her foal with severe colic when it was two months old, has since made me wonder could it have been grass sickness and have young foals ever had it? Then a week later Ensay and Holly as a scratch pair competed at the London and South East Dressage championships and had a great day, Holly 2nd in the open Pas Seul and both ponies as a pair 2nd in the Pas de Deux, not bad as we only had the time for one practice.
The 2005 Quadrille Above Ensay and Holly at the London and South East Dressage championships
Following on we had the great surprise of Holly being highland Pony of the Year again in the H.P.E.C Performance Awards I certainly did not expect it as although she had had a busy year compared to some of the younger generation I did not think she had done enough but she is a very versatile pony who can turn her hand to anything and whilst we do not do many show classes as most judges round here do not think she is a highland as she is bay she was 2nd in a huge class at Edenbridge and Oxted Agricultural Show and went on to be Reserve champion, the pony who beat her was a connemara who had qualified for Olympia and who was I think champion ridden M and M at the recent Hickstead Derby Meeting so we were well pleased with that. Most of the winter was spent going out to dressage with Holly, Ensay and Ceilidh who at 22 showed he still is a power to be reckoned with and ended up in April this year winning the British Breeds Championship
although by the smallest possible margin, .1 of a mark, Holly and Ensay were 6th and 7th only 2% less than Ceilidh so all the marks were very close!
Rhalea of Dunrui was beginning to show marked talent for being a dressage pony but despite the fact she was 5 I decided to let her have a foal as she still needed time to mature so she was covered by Ronay and I stopped competing on her in the autumn. Towards the end of the winter I was approached by people who wanted to buy her as a dressage pony and ended up offering me enough money to replace my ancient horse box, catch was show would move to very smart dressage yard, never be turned out so do not know how the foal would have fared and when she became rideable spend most of her time either on the horse walker, being lunged or ridden in one of their arenas, if she had gone there I think she would have lost her enthusiasm very quickly and would then have just been kicked out and another expensive animal bought, no life for a highland pony. Out of the blue Feona Laing contacted me and Rhalea ended going back to her original home at Grantown on Spey, a home for life, hacking on the farm and may be just one or two shows next year and at some stage more babies. I gather the foal a colt is not too popular as following in dad’s footsteps its quite athletic.
Thanks to the HPEC Message Board I discovered that Tina Dando had sold Hope of Kewstoke and some sharp eyed member had seen she was advertised again on Horsemart for more money and in less than a fortnight, to cut a cloak and dagger story short I bought her and with the influence I think of all the chat and upset there had been on the board about this and the influence my own website had on her new owners got the price dropped to more or less what they had paid Tina. the owners offered to deliver her to me (5 hours in a trailer from Burnley) but what I had not anticipated was that I would get a phone call at 8pm in the evening and Hope would arrive at 3am in the night dripping in sweat not good news as I dare not go to bed and poor Hope was greeted by ponies that slept in the school leering at her over the electric fence and as I has switched the lights on all the bantams descended from the rafters as they thought it was morning! Hope not surprisingly was not very enthusiastic about the new abode. Tina had said she always got on well with other ponies and liked people which to the long term saved the day. to start with she was lethal with other ponies kicking at everything but had obviously had some sort of trauma as she ran away at the same time, luckily she still trusted people, now she’s fine and one of the family but it just shows how quickly things can go wrong. Shortly I will have
to start teaching her to go in the lorry as after her experiences I doubt if she will be over enthusiastic about travelling.
Just sneaking in a Pic of Summer at a show!
We have been busy going to shows and good to see some of the ponies I have bred doing well but the last major excitement has been McInnes of Fourmerk, another long story with one’s emotions ranging from hopeful anticipation, disappointment, excitement when he was finally coming and problems when he did!
He had been sold originally to Germany when he was 3, having got his HPS stallion licence and covering just one non highland mare to learn his job, after he went to Germany he had just two mares and then no more contact with the females species., and although he was a much loved pony lacked the natural company of ponies of his own kind. He was finally given to Janet Roberts and provided I paid his transport to the UK Would be on loan
to me for the rest of his life and hopefully have some wives as his bloodlines are very precious due to his father dying of colic soon after he left this country. All being well Joan Alexander will end a mare to him next year. It was a good job Joan told me he had a good temperament as 24 hours after arriving here he totally blew his mind as he suddenly realised there were girls about and he wanted them at any price so we had a fairly fraught time, to the point a man who’s kept his horse with me for a very long time enquired whether I had made provisions for all my other livestock when that THING killed me. Each day Mac settled a bit more and is now more or less settled in to a routine and proving to be a very sweet pony apart from when we contemplate girl work which still has its problems He has now covered two mares as we need to know he can get mares in foal before we contemplate taking one or two outsiders and I would like to cover something else this year so may well end up with foals in September. He has also had health problems and his feet have needed a lot of attention especially as in the past he has had laminitis in all four feet but with my farrier trimming him now each month he is a lot more comfortable and beginning to move much better. his teeth were so bad that he really had problems eating anything but dentist helped a lot there and is coming back again next week. third health problem he has major breathing problems if he does not have dust free forage so is having to live on haylage so has turned out to be a much more expensive pony than the budget had accounted for so he will not be very popular if he doesn’t father some nice babies, but with all this I have done nothing about riding him and will not until his feet are totally sorted out.
I have only had two foals this year, both fillies who again I may sell at weaning
In the middle of June Julie Robertson organised a show at Vicarage Farm, a real fun show with classes for everyone. Brenda and Carol took Feargus and Carole took the plunge and did her first ridden show class, Walk and Trot. Unfortunately it was a last minute decision and no one had told her what to do for her show and being called in first she had no one to copy, but she kept her cool and ended up 2nd beating some much more experienced riders Brenda came home with a couple of in hand rosettes and a very cross Holly who was not amused having to stand in the lorry for nearly four hours before she did anything was “and in the ridden 3rd in the RC pony where of all things a pigeon was sitting on the jump she had to jump and flew up literally as she took off, we’ve got pigeons here but have never had that happen so not many marks for style.
I had a quick trip to the Royal highland show for 2 days and then just one day before our RC Area Dressage Qualifier, huge entries on rock hard ground and a very long day’
Despite me still suffering from the RHS Holly excelled herself, won the Dressage to Music qualifier against all odds and qualified for Addington down side its the day after the quadrille qualifier so she will not be in dressage mode. She also won the Pas Seul for the London and SE championships and surprise surprise was 2nd in the Riding Test having been press ganged into being in a team for that, team were 4th and she qualified for Lincoln as an individual but may not go as its a long way to go for a five minute test judged on rider’s position suppleness etc, as I crawl to the osteopath and tell him he’ll have a good laugh that we beat all the young supple ladies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We had a good day at Chipstead riding club summer show, actually raining for the first few hours, ponies thought bliss. Holly won the large ridden M and M and qualified for the Balanced Feeds championship, Brenda and Feargus won the in hand coloured and Sue and Whisper were 3rd in the large M and M in hand so a good day was had by all. Holly in particular is a different pony when the temperature drops and really hates the heat.
Firstly here are some Pictures of my foals!
An update is long overdue but it has been such an unpredictable year that every time I have a good bit of news it seemed to be followed by problems!! However it was very pleasing to see Sherramore and Rum flying the flag at the Ponies UK Spring Festival at Ardingly, a really good idea as you could enter, qualify and take part in the final without having to be a member of Ponies UK although obviously non members paid a bigger entry fee. The natives in hand were all breeds up to three and Rum ended up 3rd and Sherry 4th very pleasing as the judge breeds top class Welsh ponies and they had their first taste of indoor atmosphere as the final was in the evening with lights, music etc. Rhalea and Sue Taylor’s Absol Ruathair had also qualified but I had not realised that non members could compete, we will know better next time unless they change the rules.
Rum and Sherry Ponies UK Festival Ardingly Spring Show
Rum and Sherry Preliminary judging
I have always wanted a pony of Rhum breeding and when a friend told me that one of the Torlundy ponies was for sale the temptation was too great and to cut a long story short I ended up buying Summer of Torlundy. The good thing was that she had been backed and produced one foal, perhaps the downside was that she was only Appendix registered but as she had no aspirations to be an Olympia pony and hopefully is destined for the performance world it is of little consequence and even if it is more expensive to register any foals she may have by a purebred highland stallion we lose very little by her not being in the main stud book It was arranged that she would travel south with Gillies as they were picking up several ponies from the Fort William area but typical of my luck when she was finally due to travel a large part of the British Isles disappeared under a blanket of snow so her departure had to be delayed. She finally left on a Friday had an easy trip South with a couple of bed and breakfast stops en route and arrived in very good order the following Tuesday. Luckily for me as my neighbours house is on the market for one and three quarter million the low branches had been cut down in my lane and so Gillies could deliver her to the door. When they fetched Shuna to take her to Cumbria their biggest lorry could not make it and she had to be loaded on the main road, she was fine but I was a nervous wreck by the time she was in the lorry.
In view of recent chat on the HPEC message board on the website people may be interested to know that I had a slight hiccup over her papers and this was with a breeder of long-standing who should know what was required! Summer was supposed to travel with her papers but due to delays when she finally came Siobhan Carver was away on holiday and so not surprisingly she came without, after she returned I was sent her passport and thought as she was an appendix pony perhaps this was all she had, I did check though with Susie Robertson and was told that she would have had a registration document, I went back to Siobhan and told her this and in fairness to her the registration was found and sent promptly to me, she said that she thought the passport was now sufficient and with all the hassle we have all had over passports one can understand how easy it is to be confused and how important if we buy that we check that all documents are available. Summer settled into a routine very quickly and is now good chums with my twenty nine year old part bred arab Fiesta, perhaps way back Summer goes back to the arab the Syrian who was an HPS approved stallion nearly a hundred years ago or perhaps it is because Fiesta is chestnut and Summer registered as chestnut but Christine Stevenson saw her very recently and said she was in fact a fox dun.
Summer newly arrived from Fort William, early days
As April approaches one eagerly looks forward to the arrival of foals although having had disappointments over the years I know that even with natives things can go wrong and for no known reason an abnormal number of people seem to have had the misfortune to lose foals etc and I have now joined the club This year Swona was the first to produce and I was delighted to get a very strong filly who looked as though it would be black but my joy was short lived as it was a very large foal and although it wanted to drink was incapable of sussing out where the milk bar was, Swona was no help as having had the foal she reckons she need forty-eight hours in bed to recover so I was forced to milk the mare and bottle feed the foal, the problem always being the foal will start to look on me as mum, luckily the second night she decided it would be easier to drink from mother and in that department never looked back..
At ten days disaster struck the foal had been a great galloper and seemed exceptionally strong and luckily the mares had not moved to Kitty’s lovely grass for the summer as I was waiting for all the foals to be born. When I went out to feed in the morning the foal could barely move, had too large legs and its temperature was rising fast so it had to be a vet job. When the vet came she thought it was joint ill, put it on antibiotics and said ideally the foal ought to go to the surgery to have its joints flushed, fluid taken to confirm the diagnosis etc etc and the cost would be in the region of £1500!! Even if I was a millionaire I would not have agreed to surgery treatment as Swona has lived out most of her life and only tolerates being stabled for a very short space of time having wintered happily out. The foal finished its course of antibiotics and seemed to make a brilliant recovery. As she was now turning double somersaults the vet agreed she could be turned out in a small area. I have a small patch of grass that I was proudly turning into a garden wild and natural not like Pitmenzie and although they were flowering late ,because inevitably I had planted them late I had a splendid show of daffodils that I was very proud of. Guess what, within twenty four hours the foal had flattened the lot with its galloping and I only managed to save a few mutilated blooms for the bungalow.
By this time two more foals had arrived, a yellow dun filly out of Sanday and a cream dun out of Succoth Holly so the foals moved into a section of field saved for them by the houses. Next thing Swona’s foal went off suck, no temperature but no interest in food of any kind, so back to the vets and more antibiotics after about twenty four hours it began to suck again and all seemed normal. The next day the same thing happened to Sanday’s foal only this time her mouth was very swollen and although there was nothing to see she could not bear to touch anything with it, she recovered totally within about twenty-four hours. We have no proof but we now believe that one of the animal loving residents in the houses put weed killer in the field!
Hoping all was well at last the foals moved into the special field reserved for them until they move to Kitty’s. However the owner’s of the field( scotch) had an urge to tidy up and for the first time in twenty years completely destroyed a huge patch of brambles which had proved to be an impenetrable barrier even for highlands and a very good source of blackberries for my wine making sessions. Needless to say sharp eyed Sanday who works on the theory that the grass is always greener on the other side of a fence and has been known to leave really good keep just to explore a farmer’s newly sown corn, spied a thin bit and led all the mares and foals into the neighbour’s field next door, plus navigating a huge ditch still filled with water at that time. I used to use the field but cannot anymore as it has recently been sold for a quarter of a million, twelve acres, this was another case of blackmail as some of you may have seen in the press that gipsies are buying up land threatening to move in and forcing the locals to buy the land at a prohibitive price just to stop this happening. I have lost the use of the field but how much worse if the gypsies had moved in as my property would have become unsaleable and life would have been a constant misery. Luckily the new owner did not see eight ponies stuffing themselves with grass as I managed to retrieve them before we were caught.
Rhalea had been going much better and we were looking forward to competing in the British Breeds Dressage Championship although with the standard being so high her chance of actually being placed this year was almost nil, horses of all standards up to Advanced compete in it and the whole thing is judged on a percentage although in fact it was an elementary horse who won . Ceilidh and Holly acquitted themselves well and were both in the ribbons, particularly good for Ceilidh who is now twenty one. Rhalea however never made it as she’d walked on something nasty when going through the mud down a nearby lane and was off some while with puss in her foot, she finally was sound enough to show in hand at the South of England Show, we were actually parked off the showground in company with a lot of others and again managed to walk on something and ended up bottom of the class as the judge quite rightly said a really nice pony but not sound, so back to more poulticing and time off work. One of the problems with all this she is only shod in front as she can be a bit unpleasant to other ponies and so the sore bit of foot is always in contact with the ground. seems like she is back in business now fingers crossed and has been to a couple of dressage competitions and is gradually as she
matures getting stronger and much better balanced, because she’s a big strong pony one tends to forget that being a late foal she is even now only just five.
We had a very enjoyable day at the Southern Training Day at Liphook although true to the way this year’s treating us it had its down side. SueTaylor took Whisper, Brenda Goldring Feargus and I took Holly, Sue took us in her lorry and luckily as it was quite a difficult entrance I got out to see Sue in and noticed two very soft looking tyres which on closer inspection were actually touching! Sue got the rescue people and they said they’d have to take the lorry away so we had three homeless ponies plus tack etc to be removed from the lorry, I was at that moment taking the in hand clinic so couldn’t help, ponies were parked in paddocks, Whisper and Feargus in one with grass, Holly not amused in the starvation one and as Sue had more or less had to cope with this single handed not surprising that when I went to ride Holly later I discovered I had no boots as they were still in the lorry, luckless organiser Julie came to my rescue and lent me the most comfortable pair of boot I have ever worn (mountain boots) Holly did the showing class and to my surprise won as she was going mad with the flies, fly stuff in lorry, then she was made champion, she was not letting on to her friends that it was only a little fun event supported mostly by local ponies. Sue missed her class with all the horsebox hassle so wondered why on earth she had driven fifty miles to be there.
Because of the tyre problems we left earlier than intended so did not do any jumping but Sue and Brenda had a go at in hand le trec with a difficult water obstacle that defeated most people but still a very big thank you to Julie and all her helpers who made it all fun and thanks to Michael Sharpley who came a very long way to judge and also did the ridden clinic for me as we were struggling with homeless ponies etc .We made it home without a drama although Sue drove back very slowly and I sat there waiting for a bang and burst tyre but was it a relief to get off the dreaded M25.
As well as Rhalea we showed Sanday and foal at the South of England show and although there was no foal class it was good education for the foal, she loaded into the lorry without a fuss and after she had been on the showground a very short length of time was taking everything in her stride and totally unbothered by the vast show jumper’s lorries that were coming almost past her nose, Sanday was 4th which was pleasing and although foal could not compete the steward was sent to follow her out of the ring and present her with a highly commended rosette, foal thought obviously she was champion, she has now been christened Stroma. Rum and Sherry had been shown in the youngstock class and did well by being 2nd and 3rd, although it does seem Sherry being a year younger always tends to be beaten by those older than herself. Afterwards we had a family gathering, Sanday and her niece Rum and Sanday’s two daughters Sherramore and Stroma.
Sanday and Stroma Sof E
Rum Sof E
The Family group - Sherry, Rum, Sanday and Stroma
I had always wanted to go to The Royal Highland Show and this year I finally made it. Janet Roberts organised everything and Christine Stevenson and I joined up with her and Linda Impey and flew by Easy Jet to Edinburgh from Stanstead, with hindsight it would have been much easier for me to go from Gatwick which is only about twenty minutes away from here. We had the luxury of a room in the hotel on the showground which made life very easy. It was an unforgettable three days and wonderful to see so many ponies together and gave one a tremendous insight into the breed as a whole, in stark contrast to the county shows down here the stock being shown had pride of place and apart from the display by the Pipes and Drums of the Black Watch and parade of all winning livestock there were no other displays to entertain the public. It would seem the Scotch people have great pride in their livestock as the grandstand was always well filled throughout the day. I could write for ever about what I saw but the heavy horse turnouts with teams of four Clydesdales filling the ring was an impressive sight.
I saw many ponies I liked but when I came home I was still well satisfied with mine and what I am trying to breed and even if they do not always find favour in the show ring they are all active free moving ponies averaging 13.3hh to 14 hands in height and capable of turning a hand to any job , predominantly duns with some black which have always been my favourites. It does seem though that the less knowledgeable seem to think all highlands are grey and for that reason I now have one or two grey ponies as well.
I was looking for a pony for a friend and Janet Roberts let me have Lyncrest’s Mia-Nita here on trial as she had been ridden but not for some while and I was basically looking for a rideable pony. Nita was very fat when she arrived and although I have a good selection of saddles even Rhalea’s was not wide enough to fit her and in the end I managed to borrow one from a friend who had a very fat cob, catch was it was a very old show saddle and apart from stirrups really little different from riding bareback, I had also planned to take Nita to Malvern to shown in hand but having got a saddle Nita decided the best thing she could do was have a cough, so no Malvern either! It cannot have been a virus as none of the ponies she was with got it but now seems likely that the hay she was having was a bit dusty and putting her on a straw bed was a disaster. She is now on a haylage diet which seems to have solved the problem. My friend was a bit put off with the delay in sitting on her but finally decided she was too small and ended up buying a huge Section D welsh cob who did not look typical of his breed and she has now admitted he had no papers which reputably had been lost and no passport either, luckily I had not got the room for him to live here. I have also recently sold AnnieLaurie a
part bred highland by Ronay who is beginning to do really well in working pony classes and jumping and so felt I had the excuse to buy Nita and see how she progresses and hopefully show her next year but the winter will be spent getting her out and about so she begins to see the world and then I can decide what her future will be. Being a mare with good old bloodlines one has always got a second option if the riding side does not go according to plan.
We have been practising our quadrille like mad and having endless problems with lame horses rider’s all working at different times of the day so getting the team together was a logistic nightmare, Holly was getting more and more fed up and was totally unimpressed by the rider’s inability to remember where they were going and so before we went to Malvern I had to do some serious schooling, she reckons now she knows everything and it is totally unnecessary and if you take the rider away she is probably right. We did though go to dressage at Crabbet Park( famous for being the home of the late Lady Wentworth of arab fame and now sadly gradually being gobbled up by a large hotel catering for people using Gatwick airport), unfashionably for the South East the dressage was on grass, but old turf and despite a little bit of rain the previous night despite the fact I did not use studs the going was as near perfect as it was possible to be, Holly knows the tests better than I do and sees no point in walking as she knows faster bits normally follow but she was so pleased to be on lovely grass that she went better than she has gone for a long time and was second in both classes beating some very smart horses in the process.
The next excitement was Malvern, Kyra gallantly took us in her lorry, her mother Sharon did a lot of the driving and Meg came to help as groom, rider and general dog’s body as we lived from moment to moment, we went the night before and had a delayed journey with a big traffic jam as we were getting near Birdlip on the A417 I think and again when we had nearly got to Malvern another hideous hold up as we came off the M5, I heard from Sue who arrived later to give us all moral support that the police had closed the Malvern turn off and traffic was diverted to the next exit. The weather was perfect on Friday, Holly did her ridden class and seemed judges liked greys best as the two bays entered kept each other company the wrong end of the line, holly did not go well for the ride judge either who gave her a big kick to get her moving and as she’s very responsive and quick off your leg she set off faster than the judge anticipated, by the look on the conformation judge’s face he thought she was horrid too so no rosette there, not that Holly or I were bothered as if the judge likes her she can do very well and if not tough, she takes the view being boss pony on this place that people can take her as she is, she is very special to me and a super versatile pony who has a vaste repetoire of skills, she ought to have a foal before she gets much older but as she is irrepaceable as a riding pony it may never happen. I have been criticised in the past from breeding from ponies too young but the big advantage if you’ve done this is that normally there then should be no problem if you decide to put them in foal in their teens and when I have done it I have always had the approval of my vet who is an expert on breeding.
After her ridden class Holly and I did our dressage test, the slight hazard being the agility dogs who were practising their skills behind the hedge adjacent to the dressage arenas and who obviously timed roaring through their tunnel just as you were as close as possible, despite this Holly won the class and I was very pleased to take home the trophy that Ceilidh had won several times and which I thought I was unlikely to get again as he decided to retire from that particular competition two years ago when he was nineteen, he did however show he is still a force to be reckoned with by winning the ridden veteran class and so took another trophy home for Kitty to keep till the next show.
Brenda Goldring took Feargus, who is another part bred by Ronay and as he matures turning into a really nice all round pony, sadly there was a hiccup and she missed her in hand class but it was a steep learning curve for both of them as it was the first long journey he had done, first night away form home and he will have learnt a lot from it, throughout his behaviour beyond reproach.
I made a last minute decision as we had a spare place in the box to take wicked black Sorcha, who had been quite a problem to break and then had nearly eighteen months doing nothing as she was intermittently unsound due to two minute splints, how I wish now she had had a foal during her enforced rest. She loaded without any hesitation into the strange lorry, travelled well, but was very upset in the stables when the door was too high for her to see out, she disgraced herself by calling nonstop when she was out of the stable and in the ring and it was very fortunate that Kyra showed her for me and could cope with her uncouthness, she tried the judge’s patience to the full by fidgeting but although she was bottom of the class for fairly obvious reasons he spent a long time looking at her and could not have been fairer or kinder, such is the benefit of exhibiting under a knowledgeable judge as opposed to the experience I read about on the HPEC web site message board of Grey Molly at her first show. I wondered if Sorcha would want to go back in the lorry to come home but good pony loaded straight away so a steep learning curve for her.
I took Sorcha to the riding Club show at Ardingly the following week and this time Sian who owns Sherry showed her for me, she was quite excited when she got there but settled on a lunge quite quickly, was much less vocal and apart from dragging Sian out of the ring when they had to trot one at a time, stupidly my lorry was parked right by the entrance, was much better behaved, stood quite well for the judge and did a good trot up and won her first rosette. The pleasing thing was that although it was only a riding club show we had Mrs de Quincy judging a very knowledgeable lady who liked Sorcha and thought manners permitting she could be a very nice ridden pony, time will tell and the catch showing down south is that she is black and has a very strong opinion of what she thinks she should do, she has got three very good paces and if she learns to concentrate and get used to the outside world could be a very good dressage pony.
Finally Abigail and Euan are having a great start to his ridden career and although this year is just to get some mileage on the clock and to give him more time to mature he has been placed high up the line on every outing including winning a strong class that was a Ponies UK qualifier and although Abi had no intention of taking him this year it bodes well for the future. As soon as she sends me a pic of him being ridden I’ll put it on the web as it is great to see ones one has bred doing well and even more important having a home for life.