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Sunday, 18 April 2010

The Really Big Adventure!!!

I have had a lovely and eventful weekend.

On Friday night I went to a pre-show dinner with the Fell Pony Society and met some kindred spirits - native pony enthusiasts and people determined to enjoy themselves and their ponies.

Today I went to watch the show for a while and was treated like a long lost friend. They had heard about my rescue Fells and gave me a present for taking them on - a £20 book about the breed. I was very touched. They also told me that Bertie had been a well thought of stallion and thought it was sad that he has been gelded.

Talking to so many friends, old and new, over the weekend has clarified my plans for a really BIG adventure, and I already have people keen to get involved. We have 2 years to organise it.

I have finally worked out why I am so determined to do something for the greater good with the farm and with all my assets here. I have this huge feeling of not having earned the right to inherit this place. David's parents sank all their money from a lifetime of hard work into buying it along with David, and he dreamed of selling up and retiring in 2012, and enjoying some peace and leisure. None of them was really happy here whereas I am really happy here - I was for the last ten years when we had the farm to ourselves and I am again now. It doesn't seem fair.

A good friend of mine has been telling me for some time that he thinks I feel I have to prove myself and he's right. I have to earn the right to be as lucky as I am with my friends and my lovely animals. I have felt that need for most of the last year. Now I have a real plan and I believe it's do-able and it would be the adventure of a lifetime for me!!!!

The friend I took with me to the dinner last night has a dream of long-standing. She wants to ride from Lands End to John O'Groats with one of each of our native breeds of horse and pony - 18 horses in all.

That seemed a bit too ambitious even for me so I thought about cutting it down to the rare breed horses and ponies. When I got home last night I looked on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust website and couldn't quite believe my eyes - nearly all our native breeds are on the rare breeds list! I thought that was quite shocking.

The list is as follows:

Critical (in greatest danger of extinction) - Cleveland Bay, Eriskay and Suffolk.

Endangered - Dales, Exmoor and Hackney (horses and ponies).

Vulnerable - Clydesdale, Dartmoor and Welsh Section A.

At Risk - Fell, Highland and Shire.

So now the plan is, in the Spring of 2012, to set off from Lands End and do the off road route to John O'Groats (1300 miles) with at least one horse or pony from each category and encouraging others to join in for local legs of the journey but have at least one from each category for the whole journey.

It will take about 3 months at a slow, sustainable speed and I don't suppose any one person or horse will do the whole journey but I see it as a sort of Olympic Flag event, just before the actual Olympics, to carry the native pony flag across the entire country and draw attention to the wealth of heritage, talent, courage, economy, hardiness and potential that the horse owning public is often overlooking.

One of the riders I was talking too at the show today comes from the racing industry and has a four star event horse of her own, and she said what a scandal it is that these breeds are rare. She pointed to three ponies tied to the side of a lorry, side by side, dozing happily in the sun and said who could want for more - placid, easy to look after, cheap to keep, sound, hardy and adaptable, and love being around people. The perfect family pony in every way. To know one is to love them and yet they are rare breeds and getting more rare on the whole.

A friend of mine's other half went up to one of these ponies, a complete stranger, having never been near a horse until he started coming here, and gave it's bum a big hug. The pony loved it.

Another friend organises cycle rides from Lands End to John O'Groats so he will be a huge help in organising it although he is cycling across America in 2012 himself, East to West coasts.

Our ride will primarily be in aid of a cancer charity, because I would have none of these ponies and opportunities if it wasn't for David, and because I believe that people should come first, and to raise the profile of our wonderful, kind, intellegent, generous, people loving native breeds.

I intend that Bertie and at least one of his sons will be a big part of it, and, of course, Bella will be in charge, as always!!!!

I also intend to have Bella and Bertie doing liberty displays in public before then, and I need to aquire a small horsebox before then too and become expert at driving it.

Two years to plan, train the horse and enthuse all the support and publicity that we are going to need!!

It's big and ambitous - just the sort of challenge I thrive on!!!!!


  1. Sounds like a plan to me...not one FOR me, however as the thought of a long ride like that is not something I could do. *G*

    Wishing you well, whatever you decide to do to accomplish this goal.

  2. What a wonderful adventure!
    It's so nice to have something to plan and work for that will bring both joy and excitement (also in the planning stage), and for a good cause too.
    Good luck, Helen!

  3. The logistics of accomplishing such a thing in the modern world is staggering. Just planning a safe route will be a major work!! Every step has to be planned and mapped. What a job.

  4. This is incredible!! What a great idea! I wish I lived there so I could join in for one of the local legs. I really hope this all pulls together for you.

    I was shocked to learn how rare your native breeds have become (I love Cleveland Bays!!!). It's probably because horses are not necessary for surviving anymore so in general they are becoming less popular which I think is a shame.

    Good luck!!



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