Wishing all our family & friends a Merry
Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Stay safe everyone.
Helen & Martin xxx
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
...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.
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
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
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
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 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.
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
Lass is now much improved but still slightly
lame. Baron is thriving and very full of
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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
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
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!
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
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
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!
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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!
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
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
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 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
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!
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
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!
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