Saturday, 14 May 2011

Days 5 to 9

We are back again with a little more news.

Having been a little out of touch due to lack of connectivity and blogger being out of action, now everything is working again on our first day off.

It is Saturday and we are at a lovely place with some very nice people and the horses are on a big field with lots of grass, a salt stone and even some muesli, which Dazzy is especially pleased about.

After leaving Sue's wonderful place where we were on the day of the rain, we left late and did just a quite short distance to a village in a valley where we found a place to stay at a farm/campsite. It was lovely to use their utilities and get a good clean up again. The horses were happy on the field with the sheep - surprisingly unafraid sheep that came to greet and then follow them around immediately. Dino, on the other hand, wasn't especially happy about it and chased them away... but then chasing smaller animals is his idea of fun, especially if they are dogs.
Maggie had developed a slight limp the evening before, which worried me a bit. Her first steps in the morning were not very good but, with her boots on a little later, she was fine for the majority of the day. After the short day and another night's rest, she was totally restored and her usual self again. Possibly she had twisted something while playing with another dog as she had been fine all day and her pads cannot have suffered so badly or it would not have been just one leg.

Day six was again short for good measure. We continued through the valley to Crickhowel and climbed up the hill on the other side. Very shortly after, a lady stopped us and offered us a place to stay where she lived and had horses, but it was unfortunately a little off our route. She had a think, made a call, and in no time had another place organised which lay just along the road we were taking anyway.
We stayed with Harry, a friendly farmer of eighty, with a full head of hair and not so many grey ones, who does a lot of charity work himself, and I was pleased about the welcoming cup of tea and use of the bathroom while the ponies got the meadow, Harry's best field with loads of grass at their disposal. We slept wonderfully, Maggie made friends with the farm dogs and had a good play, at last off her lead, and we were up early in the morning to pack up and go on a slightly longer journey again.

We headed further eastwards to the Welsh/English border and then changed direction to go straight northwards along the borderline. After two days on it, I still have not seen Offa's Dyke - it is seeming like quite a myth at the moment, though I have crossed the official footpath numerous times and had it right or left of me at others. As yet, we have clearly not found the mere 37% of it that are apparently open for horses and I am not sure whether we will even use them. If the paths are like most British bridleways, the gates will be so numerous and small, that it will be a nightmare to get Dino and his panniers through them... watch this space.
During the day, which we spent mostly walking alongside a river on a very quiet lane and passing lots of farms with horses and trekking stables offering rides out in the Black Mountains, I finally decided that we would go to the next one in no more than a couple of miles to ask for a field to stay the night. It did not come, at least not soon. We found ourselves going uphill again and ended up in one of the wild rugged and beautiful places where the sheep and ponies live freely.

It was freezing cold despite the sun that did its best, but the wind rendered all its attempts in vain. I began to contemplate spending the night on the hill as I really did not want to make the ponies and Maggie go too far, but decided against it due to the lack of grass and the freezing wind that would definitely have killed the romance of wild camping. The advantages of a good field later on far outweighed any advantage of stopping sooner.
We were delighted to find that the first house on leaving the hill was actually a place with horses and immediately asked whether we could stay. That must have been one of the quickest "yes, of course"s yet and we were given the choice of two fields, one by the house and one a little further away, so we chose the one further away with more grass and a little stream running through it.

Maggie, supposedly tired from a long day's walk, fell in love with Tam's dog, Meg, and spent ages playing with her. Tam was lovely, she is very interested in all sorts of alternatives to the standard pony club methods, iron shoes, dressage and jumping and organised our next night, too.
That was a short walk of 21km again. We went through Haye-on-Wye around midday arousing the usual interest and smiling for the tourists who took piccies of us as we passed through the town and again went up into the hills where we had been sent.

The person whose place we stayed at had had to be contacted in a roundabout way, or rather, she had not yet as she was working. She had a message on her phone, which she heard the next morning, but Tam's niece, who keeps her horse there made the preparations, asked the neighbours to look out for us and to take us to our place. Liz, the owner, found out about our arrival about 30 seconds in advance as she had just passed us while we walked along the road with our goal already in sight.

Having received a lovely warm welcome, tea, food, a barn to put the tent where it was dry and wind protected and with the ponies on a good field, we decided to stay a day longer. I have been riding - no, it seems I don't get enough of it - a couple of times on Liz's trotter that is of course able to tolt, so that has been quite a pleasure. You don't see many gaited horses in this country and most poeple don't seem to know much more about "the fourth or firth gear" than that Iceland Ponies have an extra one. Look out for it, people! It's extremely comfortable and there are lots of breeds that can do it. Actually, Artax can also tolt!
Oh, and this is the best bit - have a look at this shower!
I was offered a bath inside (I don't really like baths) or a shower outside. Well, yes. One normally thinks of a shower outside as being in a little kind of hut, right? I was told where to find it, so grabbed my towel and stuff this morning in order to make use of it... walked round the house and this is what I found! I might mention it was cool with a very cool wind this morning and I had wrapped up in my scarf, fleece and three kinds of t-shirts underneath. To top it, my towel was blown off the nail where I had hung it and was suddenly lying next to me half in a puddle when I opened my eyes after washing off the shampoo! Damn!
But, guess what - it was great! :o) The water was really nice and warm and I am sure the sheep didn't care about what they saw :o)

So, end of stories for now, I should be outside with the boys and not sitting at the computer all day.

Thank you to everybody for reading and please don't mind any typos, I have limited battery life on the laptop and don't really have much time to always proofread.

9 comments:

  1. Great Day....... I keep following your journey.
    Great text about gaited horse. BUTT........
    Forget everything you know about gaited horses.
    And look in youtube for MANGALARGA MARCHADOR, also look for MARCHA BATIDA, and MARCHA PICADA tags in youtube....... The Brazilian Breed MANGALARGA MARCHADOR have a true natural gait, with several variances, and today its growing very fast in EUA and Germany, Besides being the largest breed in number of individuals registered in Brazil.

    Have good days coming, and we'll talk soon.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm so enjoying your adventures and it's heartening to hear of such kind people giving you field space. That shower is just incredible, what a great start to the day if a little chilly :D

    I did a little schooling with my pony and our young dog yesterday as I'd like to take them out together on the roads. They were very good and it's about time the dog learnt some discipline :D Thank you again for the inspiration :D

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey Breno, yes, I used to train some Mangalarga Marchadors, Caballos de Paso de Peru and Icelands - they are all great! But Artax has been trained to do it too and is also great :o)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi, I just came across your blog today and have really enjoyed reading it :)
    I live in the north east of Scotland and am happy to help out with grazing/sleeping for you and your horses if you are passing nearby :)
    Kim

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Kim,

    Thank you!
    where are you more precisely in Scotland?

    Would be great to meet you!
    lisa

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm in West Aberdeenshire and live in a village in upper Deeside. Ask if you need to know any more info and hope it's going well :)
    Kim

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hello Kim,
    Thanks for the offer! :o)
    I seem to be coming that way, but can't seem to find the village on the map. Could you maybe give me the postcode? My email is e.hill580@yahoo.de
    Lisa

    ReplyDelete
  8. I've just happened across your blog pretty much at random, and now I'm absolutely captivated. :D Can't wait to read more about your adventures... you're doing exactly what I wish I was doing right now. But I guess I need to get my horse going under saddle before I contemplate this kind of trip. :D Looking forward to your next update!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you, that's so kind. We'll try to keep things up-to-date with interesting stories. :o)

    ReplyDelete