The top field has been left to nature for two years. The other paddocks are grazed but this patch of land is reverting to wild meadow and is a place where birds come to feed and shelter. Voles, other small mammals and insects are plentiful and wild flowers are beginning to grow again in the summer months.
This afternoon seemed a good time to allow two of the ponies in for a few hours, to begin grazing down some of the grass before the area is left undisturbed again before spring.
I walked up to the gate unnoticed, but as soon as they heard the click of the latch, Ginger Pony and the Chocolate Pony turned on their heels and trotted over their soaked field, unable to believe their luck!
They stopped , sniffed warily and pawed the ground......
.....and in seconds the Chocolate Pony was in, his head down, exploring the grass before starting to eat as though he had not been fed for weeks (he has!).
Ginger, who never wastes a blade of grass or a stem of hay, decided to eat the gateway down before he ventured in.
With a bit of encouragement, he stepped over the threshold at last and began to really enjoy himself. The grass is green, but not too rich nutritionally in the winter temperatures. Even so, the ponies only stayed in for just over an hour. Hopefully this should not upset them.
These hardy New Forest ponies had been out in the morning rain.
Ginger`s coat was still damp, but it is amazing to watch rainwater run off the outer layer of a native pony`s coat, helped along by the whorls that redirect the water downwards. Under the top layer is a fluffy coat that keeps the animal dry.
Chocolate Pony has a thick, fluffy coat. He and Ginger will only wear rugs if the weather turns particularly cold and wet.
Water continues to drain through the fields, making small rivulets that trickle under fences and downhill.
I left the two contented ponies grazing for a while. When I called them later for their evening hay, they happily left the wild field and cantered down towards their food. They won`t be so pleased when they realize that I have shut the gate behind them!
Here is Woody, watching his friends enjoying their time in the grass and looking a bit left out.