Rackwood bonnie
Bonnie at the Native Pony Dressage competition 16-03-2014

Rackwood Francesca
Francesca (Champion) and Bonnie (Reserve Champion) at Lanchester Show 2014


2014 News from Rackwood Fell ponies

During January I concentrated on halter training Nimrod as he'd missed out on this basic training whilst still with his mother. Everything went well when walking in the shed but he had a different idea once I tried to lead him outside and in an open space. I slid through the mud on several occasions. I continued to ride and school Bonnie a couple of times a week in the arena as the fields were too boggy and unsafe.

We spent a great deal of time during February looking at horseboxes. I had worked on Donald all winter and eventually he agreed that I could have one (anything for a quiet life). We looked at lots of box vans with the idea of converting but they were never as advertised so we had lots of wasted journeys. Eventually we found a horsebox with eleven feet of horse area and nine feet of living. I needed something big enough to get four ponies in as this was to replace the need to take two trailers to certain shows. Four ponies of differing ages and sizes so that they could all be in different classes. The living needed a bit of tlc but it does have a bathroom with toilet and wash basin so I was quite happy. I even drove it home from Chesterfield in the dark on 5th March, never having driven a horsebox before!

Early in March I took Bonnie to a dressage training session. She was not impressed as she's a bit of a speed merchant and wants to get from A to X as quickly as possible never mind going slowly and accurately. I took her to the Native Pony Dressage completion a couple of weeks later but she didn't settle very well so I don't think this is going to be her forte. Later we went on the "Easter Bunny" ride, a 10 mile hack in Hamsterley Forest, and had a great day. This was her first experience of riding in a group and she behaved very well convincing me that this is going to be my lifetime hacking out / riding pony. During April I took Francesca and Isabel to several local spring shows. Isabel had not been shown before so it was quite an experience for her. They were always in the ribbons but not red ones! Early in May I took Bonnie to "Hairy Pony Camp" at Linnel Wood. She took most of it in her stride but she's not keen on jumping and as I'm not the most confident at leaving the ground we had a few problems. We had fun and stayed together so that was all that mattered.

We were now approaching foaling time so it was no surprise that on 11th May Annie produced a black colt (Oliver), followed by Maydew who also produced a black colt (Panasonic) and lastly Melody also produced another black colt (Quinten). I once had three fillies but I've never had three colts before so this was a bit of a disappointment. I decided that I needed to have a chat with Amos before he covered the mares during 2014. May was also quite a stressful time at home as Donald went into James Cook Hospital for a heart operation. I think I was more worried about it than he was but everything went well and he was soon back on his feet and trying to do everything, as usual.

Early in June I entered Bonnie in an M&M Ridden Class at a local show. This was my first ridden class since 1987 (the year I fractured my spine) and now 27yrs older I was very apprehensive. Bonnie had never been ridden at speed with others going past her so this was to be a new experience for her also. I was placed 4th so came home smiling but realised that we still had a lot of work to do. Later in June we took the caravan up to Edinburgh for the Royal Highland Show. The weather was wonderful and we had a fantastic few days unwinding, watching lots of classes and chatting to friends. I now had to make my mind up which ponies I was going to show during the summer.

I took Princess and Francesca to the Native Pony Festival and Princess was awarded Fell Reserve Champion. The following day I took Bonnie to the NCPA Summer Show and she was awarded Fell Champion. The next weekend I took Francesca and Bonnie to Lanchester Show and they were awarded Fell Champion and Reserve Champion respectfully. An excellent start to the season! Then things went wrong and Donald caught an infection and was taken into hospital where he stayed for ten days. I was extremely worried about him so hadn't time to do anything with ponies other than check they were all on their feet i.e. heads down eating. It was this terrible realisation that he may not always be there to help me that made me think about reducing my herd of Fell ponies from 18 to a more manageable number.

By August I was back in full swing and took four ponies to the FPS Breed Show and was delighted when Annie was placed 3rd in the broodmare class, Hugo was 2nd in the 2yr old gelding class and Maggie May was 5th in the geld mare class. Each of the above have the same dam, Maydew, so they all took part in the progeny class and were placed 2nd. A very long day but well worth it. By this time I had started to advertise ponies and at the end of August I agreed to sell Isabel to Debbie Hamilton from Cambridge and Lloyd to her friend Mary Brownlow, who only came along for the ride. Isabel and Lloyd are brother and sister so it was nice to see them going to the same area. I also made the decision to have Dawn put to sleep before the winter. She had become very arthritic and not really enjoying life.

I continued to ride Bonnie and took her to several pleasure rides including the "Ride for Life" at Lartington with some friends riding Fell and Dales ponies. She went brilliantly and we all had a wonderful time. The following week I decided to have a go at another ridden class. We were now in the middle of the season and the class sizes were much bigger but we were both ready this time and she went very well being placed 6th in the first class and 4th in the second. I came home exhausted but delighted. My confidence had been raised so I will continue schooling and make plans for the future.

During September I took Princess and Maggie May down to Oxfordshire for the FPS Southern Show. This was the first time away from home for my girls and for me sleeping in the wagon. We had a fantastic weekend with Maggie May being placed 1st in the geld mare class and Princess 4th. They then went on to win the pairs in-hand class and Maggie May was Reserve Champion Mare. A really interesting experience for us all!
I continued to do pleasure rides with Bonnie throughout October and then had her shoes removed and turned her out for the winter. I needed to do this to make me ride Maggie May and school her ready for the show ring in 2015. Maggie is a completely different type of pony to Bonnie and although I enjoy riding her she hasn't got the same spark. I wanted to take her to a dressage competition, which I did early in December. This was Maggie May's first time away in the wagon on her own and her first experience of an indoor school. She behaved vey well and I plan to do more dressage competitions with her during 2015, before we do some ridden show classes.

I weaned my foals during October and took Oliver to the FPS Sale at Kendal where he was sold to Carolyn Pewter from Essex. Quinten was sold from home and went to Deborah Paterson on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Donald helped me decide to keep Panasonic as a friend for Nimrod. I took them both to the FPS Foal & Youngstock Show at Penrith during November where they were both placed 5th in their respective classes. It was the first time out for both of them so I was quite pleased that they lead and went into the indoor school without a fuss even if they were mesmerised by the building, other exhibiters and other ponies. Two weeks later I took them to the NECWPCA Show at Richmond Equestrian Centre where Nimrod won his class and was then awarded M&M Reserve Champion. Panasonic was placed 2nd in his class. Now all of my ponies have been shown, which is an important learning experience that they never forget.

At the end of October I sold Francesca to Shelly Whitfield who used to help me with my ponies when she was at school and college but found she hadn't time when she started work. She broke and fell in love with William (out of Dawn) during 2006 and was very upset when I sold him so I promised her another one out of the same mare. Francesca is a lively character and I wasn't looking forward to backing her so as Shelly was keen to take on that challenge, I agree she could have her. That meant I was going into winter with 12 ponies; the smallest number for quite a number of years and as the grass continued to grow until the end of December there was no need to start haying ponies.

To sum it up, 2014 was a mixed year:
1) The excitement of owning my first 7.5 ton horsebox after driving a 4x4 and trailer for 40 years.
2) Donald's failing health making me rethink the number of ponies I needed to keep.
3) Realising the satisfaction and pleasure of hacking out and competing with Bonnie and that she would replace Velvet, the pony I loved during the 1980s & 1990.

Isabel (2yrs) at home 25-08-2014

Nimrod (1YR) M&M Reserve Champion at NECWPCA Foal & Youngstock Show 2014

Oliver (5 months) at home 06-10-2014


Quinten (4 months) at home 12-09-2014

2013 News from Rackwood Fell Ponies

2012 News from Rackwood Fell Ponies

2011 News from Rackwood Fell Ponies

2010 news from Rackwood Fell Ponies