News  2011
 
 
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December 2011

 

Wishing all our family & friends a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Stay safe everyone.

Helen & Martin xxx

Fun with fire after the big tidy-up!
Lancelot learning to tie

October & November 2011

Two reasonably quiet months on the stud with beautiful, dry and warm autumnal weather which  enabled us to catch-up on fencing repairs, paddock maintenance and a general tidy-up ready for winter. We found several broken fenceposts in Pagan and King's paddock. King is very respectful of the electric fencing so Pagan is presumed to be the guilty party. She stood and watched the repairs for hours, no doubt plotting how to reach the tasty leaves in the hedgerow without getting zapped!

 

I took a cute picture of three of the foals having a rare quiet moment sharing water from one of the field-drinkers, shortly before we brought the two oldest foals Breanna and Lancelot onto the yard for weaning. Both foals learnt to tie, load and lead whilst still with their dams without any major issues. Infact, Breanna so loved the trailer that after a quick sniff she loaded herself straight in and didn't come out again until she had consumed every single strand of hay that we had placed inside as a reward. 

 

Our two donkey geldings Bill & Ben went on "holiday" to our friends' Pete & Carol's smallholding for some environmentally friendly weed clearance duties. However, after just a week, they were sent home in disgrace. They kept escaping from their patch of scrubland and took up squatters-rights in their hosts' field shelter, after evicting Pete & Carol's horses, and eating all of their hay. Clearly a warm, dry shelter with ad-lib hay is more appealing than scraggy weeds!

 

News of Jac (Kingmaker Union Jacques) keeps making us smile. He is doing brilliantly for a three year old newly broken pony and giving his owner Sarah, and her young daughter Jessica, lots of fun rides. He seems to particularly enjoy hacking through water and is proving to be totally unfazed by any of the new things he encounters. 

 

Towards the end of November, we welcomed three new ponies to the Kingmaker Stud, none of them Dales :

 

6 month old tri-coloured Welsh X Trakhener x Gypsy Cob filly Penpont Elsie-May who was bred on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. Her sire is by the famous Trakhener stallion Arentino, and we are hoping she will make approximately 15.2hh.

 

...and two yearling New Forest x Appaloosa fillies from Firestone Equine in Hampshire.

Moorbridge Solitaire (Solli) is dun & white with a dorsal stripe and should make 14.2hh+. 

Her half-sister Moorbridge Swallowtail (Talli) is bay roan and white, blanket-spot, to make 14hh.

 

Solli, Talli and Elsie-May all travelled calmly from the UK to France with LOC International Horse Transport. However, LOC's new lorry was too tall for our driveway (it would have trashed all of the telephone wires belonging to us and our neighbours) so we had to unload the new fillies on the road and lead them the entire length of our 1km long driveway. I was very proud of the new girls as they all behaved impeccably. They didn't spook, stop or break pace once, even when they had to pass our Dales stallion Wilf who clearly fancied all three of them, despite their tender age, and proceeded to run up and down the fenceline showing-off and making a general nuisance of himself as they walked past. The girls have all settled in well. Elsie-May is a little shy but she is watching and learning from Solli and Talli who are both very friendly and well-handled young ponies - a credit to their former owner Felicity Craddock who bought them as wild and frightened weanlings from the New Forest a year ago.

September 2011

A very sad month for us. Our much-loved Dales gelding Bran (Kingmaker Vanguard) was tragically killed by lightning in his field during an overnight storm. He was just 2 years and 5 months old and was maturing into a beautiful young pony, full of spirit but always kind and loving. Bran was a joy to own from the moment he was born and, although his life was way too short, he has left us with a wealth of fabulous memories.

 

Run free beautiful boy.

Thankyou for the journey.

We will never forget you xxx

 

Following Vanguard's death, his two field companions Tetley and Flint (our Percheron mare) seemed a bit subdued, so we decided to re-introduce them to the mare and foal herd. Tetley and Flint will serve as the Weaning Crew when we seperate the foals from their dams in early December, so it does none of the foals any harm to get to know their future baby-sitters in advance. We were quite surprised to see that Becky (Packsfield Ella Beck) has developed quite a feisty, protective streak since giving birth to Storm, her first foal. We used to nickname her "The Peacemaker" because she has always liked every single horse she has ever met! However, she was determined to keep Tetley away from her foal, so cue 5  minutes of posturing, squealing, rearing and threats whilst the two girls sorted out their differences. All of the other mares seemed happy to be reunited with Tetley and Flint, but the foals seemed unsure at first as to whether the Big Friendly Giant Flint, at 17HH, was really equine!  

 

We had positive show news from Michelle Low of the Millowbridge Stud in Essex who took her yearling colt Finn (Kingmaker Adventurer) to the Royal London Show. It was Finn's first show that required him to stay away from home overnight. He behaved nicely in the stallion block and did well in some strong classes, taking 6th in the Open Youngstock (1,2 & 3 yrs) 5th in the Mountain & Moorland Large Breeds (all ages) and 2nd in the M&M Youngstock (excluding Welsh), qualifying for the Evening Performance.  

 

Towards the end of the month, Martin and I enjoyed a day out to the Percheron World Congress held at the Haras de Pin in Normandy. We had a great time watching the inhand mare and foal classes, particularly as the foals tended to be shown loose, so you can imagine the chaos! There were also vaulting displays, driving classes, ploughing matches, side-saddle and dressage to music -  just about anything you can do with a Percheron and more! There was a real international feel with horses from 20 countries on display and the day ended brilliantly when the British contingent swept the board in the Traditional Vehicle Driving Class, taking first, second, third and fourth places out of twelve! My dream for the future is to see Dales Ponies being presented to the french public in such a magnificent setting.

Storm aged 4 months having his first bath.
Jacques in his new home with Jessica
Jacques - newly backed and being ridden by a child!
Velvet eating a stolen pear - an improvement on our poor gosling Sybil :(

August 2011

I had a hysterectomy at the start of this month, and am under surgeon's orders to take things easy. I am not allowed to work with the horses (although I have sneaked a few cuddles with the foals!) I am finding the enforced inactivity frustrating, particularly as Martin is rushed off his feet, running the farm and household single-handedly. However, after 20 years of marriage he has finally discovered how to work the washing machine, so there are some benefits of being incapacitated! 

 

Martin has been hosing the ponies during the day as we have had temperatures in the mid-thirties. Storm loved his introduction to the hose and happily stood in the spray for ages until he was thoroughly soaked and kept coming back for more! Breanna decided it was a good excuse for a game and kept dashing through the spray. Bryher skulked about just out of range behind her water-loving mother. Baron ran off!!!

 

Kingmaker Union Jacques (3 year old gelding) changed owners this month. He was sold-on from the Nipna Stud in County Durham to a new home with Sarah Dowson. Within two weeks of arriving, Sarah had successfully backed Jacques, and reports that he is so calm and trust-worthy he can be ridden by her 7 year old daughter Jessica.  Sarah also took Jacques to his first show at Sedgefield where he was second in the Dales Gelding class, and wasn't fazed by all the new sights and sounds, including a fun-fair right next to his ring.

 

We had sad news on the poultry front. A fox forced it's way into our henhouse during the night and killed 8 of our chickens. Gomez the Serial Rapist (who has been mentioned in previous instalments of this blog) and Genghis our favourite Silkie cockerel, were two of the victims. Both of these cockerels were great characters and we miss having them around the farm, stealing horse feed and generally getting under our feet!  

Velvet, our snowflake blue greyhound, is also severely in the dog-house, having killed and eaten our two week old gosling Sybil. 

Poor Sybil x

 

Lass and her mountaineering foal Baron
Tetley (Twywell Rosie Leigh) expecting her first foal in Spring 2012. Seen here with her best friend Flint, our Percheron mare
Baron showing-off at his first meeting with Breanna. He's such a ladies man!

July 2011

Lass is continuing to improve and is now out 24/7 with the other mares and foals. She is still footsore but is starting to trot round of her own accord  usually to round up her foal Baron who has become a little delinquent and quite precocious with the filly foals. He has also taken to mountaineering in his manger when stabled!

 

Storm's final bandage was removed early this month. The wound has fully healed and the hair is growing back black, but the new tissue is a bit proud so he will unfortunately be left with a visible reminder of his injury. He doesn't seem to have learnt his lesson - he delights in rough play with Baron and is frequently found with soaking wet legs so he must be secretly clambering in and out of the water drinkers!

 

Covering has finished for this year and both stallions have been reacquainted with their  "wives" Roo and Pagan, who are both barren but keep the boys happy outside  the breeding season. Tetley, Becky and Gem have all been scanned in-foal to King and all are holding to date.

 

All of this year's foals that we wish to sell have now been reserved. Storm (Blizzard de Kingmaker) will be travelling to Switzerland to  become a family ride & drive pony. Bryher is relocating to the UK where she will live with a herd of Exmoor Ponies. With her colouring she should blend in very well, albeit in a slightly taller version! Baron is moving to an experienced driving home in eastern France, where we hope he will eventually compete in pairs classes with an older Dales mare. Breanna is being retained by our stud (because Martin is totally smitten by her!) We hope she will eventually become part of our broodmare program and be broken to ride & drive. 

Lass with her new baby Baron, aged 1 day
Storm modelling his bandage!
Bryher standing quietly to have her bot eggs removed

 

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Michelle & Emma Low with Finn & Apollo at the DPS Southern Show

June 2011

A bit of a roller-coaster month!

Lass (Akehurst Heather's Lass) gave birth to her fourth foal, a beautiful jet black colt with a central star, in the early hours of 15th June. The foal has been named Baron de Kingmaker and is the only foal we have bred this year by Thornville Pride. Lass had an easy birth and was up on her feet suckling her foal within 15 minutes. However, when she delivered the placenta a few hours later, she haemorhaged and her uterus started to prolapse. Fortunately we were still watching on the foal-cam, so called the vet who arrived within 10 minutes. He stopped the bleeding and manipulated the uterus back into place, effectively saving Lass' life. Sadly, despite being washed-out twice and a course of intra-uterine and intra-muscular antibiotics, Lass developed metritis, swiftly  followed by laminitis. She was very poorly for 2 weeks, improving one day then deteriorating the next, and there were several occasions when we thought we would lose her. Throughout the whole ordeal she continued to show interest in her foal and was clearly trying her hardest for him. Typical Dales Pony stoicism!

Lass is now much improved but still slightly lame. Baron is thriving and very full of himself! 

 

Storm (Blizzard de Kingmaker) was also in the wars this month. He managed to get a hind leg caught-up in the lower strand of our electro-rope fence, causing a nasty-looking cut to his inside canon. More vet fees! The wound was cleaned, stitched and dressed and the vet confirmed that none of the tendons, ligaments or periosteum had been damaged but Storm is likely to be left with a slight blemish. His prospective new owner in Switzerland has been kept fully informed and is still happy to purchase him with or without a scar! We have reduced his sale price to reflect his injury and are just hoping the silly boy keeps out of further trouble. Neither us nor the vet can work out how Storm managed to trap his leg in the fence as the rope is taut? We just hope he doesn't try it again! 

 

Filly foal Bryher has been targeted by bot flies (they are early this year) but fortunately she loves the daily attentions of Martin with his bot knife and stands perfectly still to have the eggs scraped off her legs. Not bad for a 6 week old foal.   

 

Show News : Michelle Low and her sister Emma took their Kingmaker yearlings Finn and Apollo to a soggy DPS Southern Breed Show this month. Finn stood third against older competion in the youngstock (2 years and under) class, but took the top yearling award. Apollo behaved nicely at his first ever show, loaded and travelled well, and took the top youngstock gelding place. 

 

  

Bryher de Kingmaker out at grass for the first time, aged 1 day, with her dam Lowhouses Fiona
Hay-making 2011
Mum, Dad & Hamish at the fortified Moulin de Merve
Finn (Kingmaker Adventurer) with his owner Michelle Low at his second show

May 2011

More exciting foal news : On the 26th May, Fi (Lowhouses Fiona) gave birth to her fourth foal, a brown filly, who we have named Bryher de Kingmaker after an island in the Isles Of Scilly which is a beautiful, wild and unspoilt place. Bryher was born 2 weeks early, but has been full of life and mischievous energy from the start. You certainly would not know that she was slightly premature. We have put Lass, who is due to foal in late June, into Bryher's foal paddock so that she can assist Fiona with baby-sitting duties. The two mares have been together for 10 years. They are the best of friends and happily help raise each other's kids!

 

May was hay-making season in this region of France, but due to the prolonged drought (no rain for over 18 weeks) we got a very poor yield for the third year running; just 46 bales, each weighing 300kg, off 4 hectares, plus a further 9 bales from an outlying field. Local farmers with hay to spare are already quoting ridiculous prices of 250 Euros per tonne, and this figure will rise by mid-winter as the shortage really kicks in.

Thankfully, our ancient tractor survived another year of hay-making, but needed copious top-ups of hydraulic fluid to see her through the process! Our Percheron mare Flint was most relieved that the tractor stayed the course because she had been warned to be on stand-by duties for bale hauling (wink!)

 

My parents stayed with us this month and witnessed the birth of Bryher, who since she was born on my mum Jean's birthday, is now known (unofficially) as Jeanie Jem, shortened to "JJ". Despite being busy with the foals and hay-making duties, we managed to find time for some nice walks along the Loir River, garden and chateau visits with my parents.

 

Show News : Michelle Low of the Millowbridge Stud in Essex took Finn (Kingmaker Adventurer) her yearling colt, to his second show. He behaved well in knee-high grass which must have been almost impossible to trot through, and took home a second place rosette. Well done Shell and Finn x 

 

April 2011

We are delighted to announce that Gem (Manorian Moonstone) effortlessly gave birth to her fourth foal in the early hours of Wednesday 6th April. The foal, a very welcome filly who we have named Breanna de Kingmaker (Bree for short) has a bay foal coat but we believe that she is actually bay roan as there are lots of white hairs in her tail and stifle.

Bree is the first purebred Dales foal for our new stallion Coverdales Carnival King and we are thrilled with what he has produced.

Bree is a very confident, energetic and friendly foal. She looks like she will be a big mover and is already demonstrating excellent knee and hock action, inherited from her sire.

  

 

 

Becky (Packsfield Ella Beck) produced her first foal at 7.15am on 20th April, after Helen had done half-hourly checks on her throughout the night via the foal camera, and had just decided to go and fetch her headcollar to turn her out for the day! 

The new foal is a black colt who has been named Blizzard de Kingmaker, or Storm for short. Storm was presented correctly but Becky did not push hard enough whilst giving birth, so we had to assist to deliver Storm's shoulders.

Becky was quite shocked and surprised by her new arrival and was initially unsure what she was supposed to do with him. She would not allow Storm to suckle, even though we had spent several sessions in the run up to the birth gently handling her udder so that she could get used to the sensation of a suckling foal. We decided to bottle-feed Storm his first batch of colostrum just to be on the safe side, but within a couple of hours Becky's mothering instincts kicked-in and she is now an efficient and caring mum.

 

 

Harrowing the winter paddock on a gloomy February day
Martin tending one of his fires. The youngsters Tetley and Bran found it fascinating.
Finn (Kingmaker Adventurer) at his first show with owner Michelle Low

February & March 2011

Two very quiet months on the farm with some gloomy foggy weather throughout February followed by some beautiful sunny days in March. The swallows returned at the end of March and are busy building their nests in the derelict second house adjacent to our home. Martin and I have spent a few weeks "spring-cleaning" around the farm with lots of harrowing, topping and logging, followed by numerous bonfires. I think my husband has pyromaniac tendencies!

 

The foaling camera has been installed in our "Mission Control" caravan and the foaling boxes scrubbed and made ready for the first two occupants - Gem and Becky who are due to foal in April.

 

Yearling colt Kingmaker Adventurer (Finn) went to his first show this month with his new owner Michelle Low of the Millowbridge Stud. Whilst he wasn't placed, being the youngest and hairiest by far in a large mixed-breed youngstock class, Michelle reports that he behaved impeccably and she was very pleased with his first efforts.

Finn with his new owner Michelle, starting to learn how to trot inhand
Lucy and her newly backed filly Celt on their first hack around the village
Happy ponies enjoying the freedom of a 5 hectare field
Hedge-diving ponies. L_R Gem, Bran & Tetley

January 2011

In order to preserve our rapidly dwindling hay supply, we have allowed the mares and Bran (our rising 2 year old gelding) to graze the re-growth off our hay paddock. The ponies are loving the freedom of galloping about in a 5 hectare field, frequently stampeding from one end to the other. It's quite a sight and very atmospheric on a frosty or foggy morning. We are saving 12 large round bales of hay per month and should hopefully now have sufficient hay to last until Spring which is good news given that 250kg bales are trading at close to 100 euros! 

 

Michelle Low, the new owner of weanling colts Finn & Apollo, is keeping us up to date with the boys' progress. They are sporting very snazzy new rugs and are learning to trot inhand in preparation for the start of the showing season.

 

We have also received lovely pictures from Lucy Dentith in Derbyshire showing our Dales filly Celt (Kingmaker Celtic Myth) newly broken to ride and hacking quietly round Lucy's village. Celt was quite a handful as a three year old, being a little feisty at times with strong opinions on most matters! We are thrilled to see that Lucy has calmly and quietly worked through these "teenage tantrums" and now has a beautiful, calm and gentle pony who is a credit to Lucy's handling and should go far.

 

Here at home, our ponies have created a huge hole in the hedge which, although they cannot escape, enables them to totally disappear from view. There have been several occasions where I have done a head-count and found one or more to be "missing" only to find them beautifully camouflaged inside the hedge, sporting oak branches and brambles in their manes and tails.

 

All of our Dales passports have now been returned safe and sound from the French National Stud. We joke that the ponies now have "dual nationality" retaining their UK Dales Pony Society red passports but with a French Registration Page and French Identification Document enclosed. Unfortunately our black stallion Wilf (Thornville Pride) has suffered the indignity of being wrongly registered as a gelding. The vet clearly didn't take a very close look underneath! 

   

 

 

 

 News 2010

 

 

 

Finn & Apollo with their new owner Michelle Low
Our 1988 Eldis Wisp caravan,  for foal-watch duties
Yearling gelding Kingmaker Vanguard meets his first snow

December 2010

Weanling colts Finn and Apollo left for their new home in the UK this month. They are very lucky ponies as they have gone to the same home, which will certainly make the transition to a new routine and new environment so much easier. Michelle Low of the Millowbridge Dales Pony Stud in Essex is the proud new owner. It is hoped that Finn (Kingmaker Adventurer) will mature to be the foundation stallion for her stud and we wish her well with both boys and her breeding venture.

Finn & Apollo only just arrived in time before the UK winter weather hit with a vengeance. Had they left France even one day later, they would not have made it to their new home due to the heavy snow. It must have been quite a shock for the foals to find the ground at their new home covered in strange, cold, white stuff! Michelle has kindly sent lots of photos of the boys playing in their new home, and getting up to mischief, which shows they have taken the move totally in their stride!

 

Broodmares Gem and Becky, whose foals are due in April, are starting to show nicely now. They seem well and contented and Gem has happily relinquished the position of herd-leader to Roo. Pregnancy has clearly mellowed her!

 

We have purchased an old caravan which we intend to park outside the stable-block for foal-watch duties. Our house is situated over 200 yards from the stable-block which is too great a distance for a wireless foaling camera system to cope with. In previous years we have had no option but to sit in the car outside the foaling boxes and carry out visual checks on the mares every half an hour, which is an exhausting process. Now we will have the luxury of a comfy caravan, cups of tea to hand and foaling by CCTV.

 

Wishing all of our friends and followers a Merry Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year. Helen & Martin x

 

November 2010

The foals Finn and Apollo were taught to load this month, initially following their dams into the trailer for a tempting bowl of feed. It's amazing how a Dales' stomach can act as a gentle blackmail tool. Both foals were then weaned, which they took totally in their stride, being stabled together at night in a double-size foaling box with the "Weaning Crew" of Tetley (2 year old Dales filly) and Flint (Percheron mare) loose in the yard outside for company. Flint took her new responsibilities very seriously. Normally she is a very laid-back and kind mare but the power clearly went to her head and she turned into an overly strict and very impatient matriarch. Unless there is a significant improvement in her attitude, I doubt she'll be used for weaning next year! Thankfully, Tetley proved to be much kinder, even sharing her feed buckets and hay with the boys.

 

The main herd is now eating ad-lib hay from a tombstone ring feeder, as our grass has virtually disappeared. Thankfully (so far) our aged and decrepid tractor is coping with the demands we are putting on her. Last winter she  refused to start when it was cold, and then the hydraulics on the front-loader blew up, so we were forced to roll big bales around by hand. So far, so good this year! 

Our decrepid old tractor is (so far) surviving the winter chores. Long may she last!
2000 year old Roman frescoes at Herculaneum
Fabulous views of the Amalfi Coast from Ravello

October 2010

At the start of the month, Martin and I enjoyed a fabulous two week holiday in Italy with our friends Steve and Jane from Northamptonshire. We spent 4 nights in Rome, 4 nights on the Amalfi Coast and 4 nights at a gorgeous hillside villa in Tuscany.

Highlights were climbing the 320 steps up the Vatican Dome non-stop without suffering a heart-attack, hiking up Mount Vesuvius and seeing smelly sulphorous smoke emitting from the crater, spotting ancient Roman horse frescoes in Herculaneum and wandering through the narrow streets of fortfied Tuscan hill towns, sampling fabulous gelato (ice-cream) at every opportunity! 

 

Towards the end of October we enjoyed a visit to the home of Dominique Guillet, President of the French Association de Dales, where we saw the Dales stallion Gretaside Prince and several of his offspring. Dominique informed us that the Dales breed has just been accepted by the French National Stud after many years of hard work and petitioning by Jo Ashby and the DPS. This means that all of our ponies must now have french registration papers (which proved to be an expensive business) plus all of our future foals will have to be registered with the French National Stud, although they will still be entered in the International Section of the UK Studbook and must still conform to all of the strict UK standards for registration.  

In addition, the Kingmaker prefix will now be inserted after the foal's name, as an affix. For example, Kingmaker Apollo would be named "Apollo de Kingmaker" under the new system. At present, all of our Dales' passports are still at the French National Stud. I just hope they don't lose them! 

September 2010

Long, lazy Summer days!

The foals Finn & Apollo have been haltered and are starting to learn how to tie & lead. Unfortunately Finn has developed a lovely crop of juvenile warts on his muzzle, spoiling his handsome looks. These should all fall off as he matures, without leaving any blemishes, so we are not overly concerned. Martin has renamed him "Wart Boy".

 

I spent 3 days on the North Yorkshire Moors, staying at a lovely B&B in Egton Bridge near Whitby with my parents and brother who had flown-in from the USA. We had a nice time wandering around the town, the Abbey and the Moors and inevitably succumbed to the temptation of fish & chips from the Magpie Restaurant. Fish & chips don't exist in France, so they were a much enjoyed treat for me! 

 

The hunting season started in France this month and a red deer stag managed to crash through our fencing, demolishing several posts and ripping out 100 metres of electro-rope fencing. Apollo found the repairs fascinating and insisted on helping by repeatedly stealing the hammer and tipping over the bucket of insulators. 

 

Both foals were micro-chipped this month. Apollo was non-plussed by the experience, but Finn did not appreciate being stabbed and proceeded to enact the wall-of-death around the stable with the vet galantly trying to scan his neck to check that the chip had implanted. Fortunately the chip was in place and Finn did not have to suffer the indignity of a second attempt. Note to self - next year microchip the foals when they are little! 

August 2010

Finally we've had some rain! Not much, but hopefully it will stimulate the grass back into growth and I won't have to watch my winter hay supply dwindling.

We have moved the mares and foals onto the last paddock that has any natural food. To be honest, it's more weeds than grass, but they are loving it. Some of the weeds are almost as tall as the foals and they are having great fun chasing each other through it. I'm convinced they are playing their version of hide-and-seek! It's nice to see them playing and being active again after a month of lying flat-out in the shade.

 

Our blue roan mare Pagan (Lowkbers Foxglove) has failed to get in-foal despite Wilf's best efforts all season. Our vet suspects that she is conceiving but that her body doesn't recognise the embryo as being part of her, so triggers an immune response causing the embryo to be absorbed. Daily scanning and all manner of different drug regimes have failed to make her hold to service, so it looks as if she is officially barren. It's very disappointing but we will hopefully get her driving again instead. That being said, she is presently lame. I'm hoping she's just a bit footy after her recent trim by the farrier coupled with the very hard ground. We will have to keep a close eye on her.

July 2010

This month has seen the conclusion of our breeding activities for the year. Fiona and Lass, who both have foals at foot, were covered by King and Wilf respectively. Scans proved both girls had held to service, so that's four foals expected for us next year. We're going to be busy! We're particulary excited that Becky (Packsfield Ella Beck) is finally in-foal after 3 years of trying. Well done Becky, eventually! Please keep everything crossed for successful foalings, healthy mums and babies.

 

We are now having to feed hay to the main herd and the stallions as we still haven't had any rain and our paddocks resemble the Sahara Desert! Only the mares and foals have any grass remaining and that's disappearing fast.

 

We have bought a new gazebo? pergola? - I never know what the correct terminology is - for the front of the farmhouse so that we can have BBQs with our friends, without cooking the guests! So far it's been a great success, although I think it would take-off in high winds so it will have to come down before the winter.

 

King chats up Fiona
Much needed shade!

June 2010

We are still suffering a major drought. No rain for over 2 months and temperatures consistently over 30 degrees... PHEW!

At mid-day on the hottest days we like to hose down the horses, well those who are sensible enough to appreciate a cold shower without having to be captured and tied! Gem is a real hose-hog and would happily stand in the shower all day if given the chance. Yet none of her babies like water!

In the picture you can see Martin hosing down his Percheron mare Flint. Bran and Tetley, the youngsters, hate water and are trying to hide out of reach!

 

After the shameful performance of the England football team in the recent World Cup, I bought our foals a Jolly-Ball to see if they could do any better. The ball was a great success and kept them amused for hours, at least for the first few days. However, Dales Pony genetics have now kicked-in. The ball is not edible and is no longer deemed of interest! 

 

Our hay is all in, but it's a disasterous crop. We only made 33 round bales off 5 hectares as it was all top growth without any density. Normally we get about 80 bales off this area. We are now frantically trying to source extra hay supplies as prices are forecast to hit 300 euros per tonne by mid-winter and we have 15 equines to feed. YIKES!

May 2010

Akehurst Heather's Lass gave birth to her third foal Kingmaker Apollo shortly after midnight on May Day. Unfortunately, Lass retained her placenta and had to be cleansed by the vet but she recovered very quickly and is enjoying being a mum again. Apollo is a tall and leggy whole black colt with a very friendly temperament. He is always getting into harmless mischief and likes to lead his quieter brother Finn astray!

 

Bran (Kingmaker Vanguard) was castrated this month. It's a shame because he is a beautifully put-together colt with true stallion potential. However, with two stallions on the farm and no desire to part with anymore of this bloodline (Bran's full-brother Talisman is already standing as a stallion in the USA), the decision was made to part Bran from his manhood! We had a few moments of drama during the operation as the newly qualified vet  failed to give Bran enough anaesthetic causing him to wake-up part way through the surgery. , Bran recovered very quickly from his operation no longer displays any coltish tendencies!

Just born! Welcome to Kingmaker Apollo x
Fiona and Finn, just a few minutes old
Martin is tired after the birth!
Finn is full of newborn curiosity.

April 2010

Lowhouses Fiona gave birth to her third foal

Kingmaker Adventurer (Finn) in the early hours of 22nd April, bang on her due date! Fi had a very easy foaling and Finn was on his feet and exploring his surroundings within 10 minutes of his birth, thus naming himself Adventurer! 

Finn is a beautiful black colt with a few white hairs to the centre of his forehead. He looks like he will mature to have stallion potential.

 

Somebody found the nights activities very tiring and it wasn't the mare or foal!

 

Finn is thriving and later in the month had his first introduction to our aged, decrepid and very rattly tractor! In true Dales fashion he didn't bat an eye-lid. Mum Fiona wanted to know if it was bringing food because she associates all tractors with hay delivery!

March 2010

 

March 19th dawned a very sad day for us. We found our beloved Percheron mare Cadeby (Kitts Silver Gemini) dead in her paddock. She had been suffering from spleen cancer caused by a spread of grey-horse melanomas that started under her tail. She had lost a lot of weight but was still eating well and carrying out her duties as Herd Leader and Chief Baby-Sitter right up to her death. Our vet had assured us that she wasn't in any pain and to wait for the Spring grass to see if she improved. However, Cadeby made her own decision when to leave and thankfully appears to have gone quietly in her sleep.

Cadeby was the first horse we owned and what a horse to start on! 18.2HH, a striking dapple-grey in her prime and 1000kgs of solid muscle. In her younger days she worked for Vaux Brewery delivering beer on the streets of Sunderland and serving in their acclaimed Show Team. She is notorious at Vaux for having taken the dray back to the stables minus the driver and groom, whilst they were blissfully unaware in the pub!

We worked her commercially as part of the Williams Horse Drawn Carriage Team in Leicestershire, giving omnibus rides, dray rides, weddings, promotional work and even a Green Waste recycling round for Charnwood Council. She loved to work and would run up the ramp into the lorry in her desire to visit new people and places.

Cadeby was a fabulous and willing harness horse but a challenging and very strong Madame under saddle! She taught me how to ask rather than force and the true meaning of patience. She also gave us a lasting legacy; her beautiful black purebred Percheron daughter Kingmaker Landmark (Flint) who will remain with us always.

 

Run Free Cadders. You were simply the best.

Thankyou for the journey xxx 

 

 

On a lighter note, Martin has bought the ugliest cockerel known to man. Meet Gomez, a Necked Neck, who looks more like a turkey than a chicken! They are very popular dual-purpose birds here in France. 

Unfortunately Gomez turned out to be a serial rapist with no manners, so he has been banished to the goat pen with our batchelor gang of surplus Silkie cockerels which we are too soft to despatch! His wife Morticia is very relieved to be divorced and is enjoying relations with our Marans cockerel Spike, a polite and considerate gentleman, instead!

Cadeby during her final winter
Cadeby fast asleep with our yearling Dales filly Celt. She treated every weanling as her own, raising them with firm but kind authority.
Gomez
Winter sunsets
Driveway repairs

February 2010

A quiet month  pony wise. The newbies Tetley and King have settled in well. Tetley has bonded very strongly with Cadeby & Flint our Percheron mares, and our 9 month old colt Bran is simply in love with his new bay girlfriend!

 

We have had a month of bizarre weather. Some lovely, sunny Spring days and spectacular sunsets, then a devastating storm with hurricane force winds which caused a lot of minor damage around the farm. We lost dozens of Elm trees in our hedgerows, although they will provide lots of useful firewood when we find the time to gather them in and chainsaw them up.

A couple of beautiful sumach trees also came down in the garden, the garden swing blew over and an antique winnower that used to make a quaint floral display is sadly no more! 

All the animals came through the storm fine, although it was quite amusing to see the poor chickens and ducks attempting to stay anchored to the ground in the high winds. We ended up having to shut them in for a couple of days for their safety!

 

Martin is busy carrying out driveway repairs. The winter weather always opens up numerous potholes in our kilometre long drive. It's a thankless task, made much more difficult by the fact that the bucket on our heap of a tractor doesn't tip!

January 2010
We have had several inches of snow and some very heavy frosts which is unusual for this region of France, but is nothing compared to the harsh winter weather battering the UK. Weanling colt Bran has enjoyed playing snowballs with Martin, although he prefers to trample the balls rather than throw them! 

 

LOC Horse Transport eventually managed to find a window in the weather to  transport our two new acquisitions from the UK to France. They should have travelled in December but 4 foot snowdrifts on the minor roads in Teeside put paid to that! We are delighted to welcome Coverdales Carnival King, the world's only licensed bay roan Dales stallion to our stud, together with Twywell Rosie Leigh, a rising 2 year old, pretty bay filly whose grandsire is Village Chieftain, one of the first Dales Stallions I ever saw, and whose bloodline we have wanted for our breeding program for quite sometime. 

 

Tetley promptly ran through 2 strands of electric fencing to join the mare herd on arrival. Clearly she does not understand the concept of isolation, but as it was now pitch-black we just left her to it. Despite lots of squealing and the sound of thundering hooves she was quite unscathed at daybreak the next morning.

Wilf is the only member of the Kingmaker team who is not enamoured with the new arrivals. Although he cannot see King, he is clearly aware that a rival stallion has mysteriously appeared overnight and is providing a beautiful demonstration of all his best dressage moves!

Frosty morning, wooly ponies!
Bran playing snowballs with Martin