Sunday, 10 January 2016

The Grass is Greener

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.


angryparsnip said...

What a wonderful post today.
I am so happy to see the coats that keep them warm, as it looks very cold there today.
Poor Woody, does he not get along with the others ?

cheers, parsnip

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Those paddocks are yellow wagtail and wheatear territory when spring arries, I'll wager

Bovey Belle said...

I bet they were delighted to have some of the Big Grass today! I think Someone Else's Nose was a bit out of joint though! I know your fields are very soggy but they drain reasonably well don't they? Here, we have a thin layer of clay on top of shale and it doesn't drain at all! I am quite relieved not to have the horses in this winter.

Ragged Robin said...

Lovely photos of beautiful ponies :) Very interesting to read of the paddock reverting to wildflower meadow.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Woody has such a sad look in his eye - I feel sorry for him.

Crafty Green Poet said...

What lovely ponies! I'm sure they enjoyed their grazing - I hope the field becomes rich in wildflowers!

SeagullSuzie said...

It's been truly awful for horse owners recently hasn't it. We have lots of horses around here and stables at Elberry Farm.
Lovely to see the ponies enjoying the fresh grass.