Friday, 4 March 2011

Sleepy Forest Morning


We had a sharp frost last night. I looked outside just before midnight and the sky was clear. Stars flickered brightly against a black night sky and through the haze of the Milky Way.
This morning, bird baths and water troughs needed ice to be broken, but the sun soon warmed and thawed light frost on unmown grass.

Out on the Forest heath, the commoners` ponies relished the growing warmth. After breakfasting on gorse and the new sprinklings of grass growing amongst bracken, several of them were lying down to rest. Sunbathing.

Our Ginger and the Lion Pony feasted on their breakfast hay. They are beginning to lose their winter coats and life is becoming itchy, so their rugs were taken off and the sun warmed their backs.


Through the hedge, I saw Fudge, the young mare, fast asleep in her bracken bed, her nose resting on the ground.



She and her companions flicked an ear and stirred as the two grey ponies came up to the gate and peered in.


Old Snowy.......


...and her daughter. Both are waiting for new foals in another month.


The rusty chestnut pony dozed in the lee of flowering gorse.......


....while her closest friend, the black mare with one blue eye, slept not far away.....


....her hooves tucked up as she opened her one brown eye to watch me walking by.


Over a neighbour`s back gate, a tiny, deep blue scilla flowered by an upturned wheelbarrow......


....and back in the garden, pear buds are swelling, waiting to burst open, as the warming sun brings spring closer by the hour.


The New Forest Pony and Cattle Breeding website has more information about the ponies and the Gallery page shows examples of the breed who have become prize winners and who have excelled in a variety of equestrian activities. Many of them were born out on the Forest, like the new generation of foals who should arrive in April and in May.

www.newforestpony.com

6 comments:

chinecats said...

Great pictures! I love the first one, the grey against the bracken. The ponies seem very familiar to you. Do they keep within an area? I just assumed they roamed all over the place.

WOL said...

Love the pony pictures and the pictures of them sunning. Things are starting to green out here a little.

Bovey Belle said...

We've got the frosts too - I've just checked my new greenhouse and everything in there is frozen solid - I thought it was cold last night!

Lovely to see Snowys 1 and 2 again,and other familiar faces!

Crafty Green Poet said...

what lovely horses! The first photo particularly is beautiful - so nicely composed.

Kath said...

Lovely pics, I wonder what happened to the grey pony who had srangles? I always look to see if she is in your photos.

Dartford Warbler said...

Kath - the strangles pony recovered and is fine. She was outside the back gate this morning, although she mostly grazes up towards the woods. We call her Freckle Snow because she is a fleabitten grey , rather than a dapple. These ponies all have "real" names by which their commoner owners have registered them, which will include a breeder prefix, but if we don`t know their names, we give them one anyway!

If you go outside here and call "Snowy!" , then several white faces appear out of the gorse bushes.....

Fudge was the other pony who had strangles during the snow of last winter, but thankfully she is fine now.

Hi Chinecats - depastured New Forest ponies are all hefted, rather like moorland sheep, and stay in more or less the same area that they were born in. Their mothers initially show them the best places to feed, drink and find shelter and then the wider herd takes over. We have about twelve visiting ponies who are very local to our end of the village, plus another ten or so who will turn up if times are hard.

If there is a drought, or when the stallions are out on the Forest during early summer, the ponies might travel longer distances to find water ( or a handsome husband!).