On a recent chilly morning, I looked outside over the fence to see a little group of New Forest mares. Grass is beginning to grow again, but their winter diet of gorse and holly had brought them down to the old field hedge, to find holly leaves for breakfast.
The grey mare was right down in the ditch and rooting around in the undergrowth.
A return to colder winds and rain has delayed the coming of spring. Most of the trees on the hill are still bare and light catches the greens of lichen on branches of old wilding crab apples.
This group of young mares have been together since they were naturally weaned. I think they are rising four this spring. Non of them seem to be in foal, which is a relief as there are too many unwanted foals each autumn during these recessionary times.
The mare below is a niece of our New Forest pony Woody and her colouring and facial markings are similar. She also shares his friendly, inquisitive nature and came over to see me for a while.
She is growing a moustache to help her to cope with eating gorse, holly and brambles.
Life can be tough for the New Forest ponies, but this group of "Girls" are doing well after the return of a cold Blackthorn Winter.