BD Team 'Fell O Holics' at a training session February 2017

March 2017 Rackwood Hugo at Team Quest at Richmond

March 2017 Rackwood Windsor

May 2017 Rackwood Riddler and Rackwood Thomas

June 2017 Rackwood mares and foals at Hamsterley

July 2017 Rackwood Rambling Rose at Great Yorkshire Show

July 2017 Riding Peahill Basil

August 2017 Rackwood Hugo X Country Training

August 2017 Rackwood Xena, M&M Reserve Champion at Weardale Show

Sept 2017 Rackwood Maggie May, Champion Fell Pony at Eggleston Show

Sept 2017 Rackwood Hugo at BD Northern Regional Finals

Nov 2017 Rackwood Yogi, M&M Champion at Scottish & Northern Foal of the Year Show



2017 News from Rackwood Fell ponies

At the end of 2016 I had made a commitment to take part in the British Dressage Team Quest competition so early in January I had to start working with Hugo and get him ready for our first competition planned for February 2017. He was happy to be back in work and sharing the main stable block with Rackwood Riddler and Rackwood Windsor.

Our first Team Quest dressage competition was at Northallerton Equestrian Centre on a very cold and wet day. Hugo was rather cautious about going into the warm up arena and shocked by all the different coloured horses and ponies. He was used to seeing black ponies of a certain size - now he was surrounded by a real mix of sizes and colours and going in different directions and at varying speeds. The competition was held in an outdoor arena which was very boggy following torrential rain the previous day. My aim was to stay on board and to stay inside the white boards marking the arena perimeter, both of which I achieved but with several scary moments. Our second competition was at Richmond Equestrian Centre. Hugo had competed in-hand at this venue on several occasions so he was familiar with the surroundings. He handled the challenge of the warm up arena and went into the test far more confident than on the previous occasion. Scary flower pots had to be overcome but we got into the arena and completed the test. I began to question why I had agreed to do this but the team encouragement kept me going.

About this time I picked up a vomiting bug and somehow managed to burst a blood vessel in my nose. Every now and again I would have a nose bleed for no apparent reason. Our third Team Quest competition was at Holmside Hall Equestrian Centre and whilst in the warm up arena, I started to have a nose bleed. A team member spotted the problem very quickly so with plugged nostrils I went in to complete my dressage test. Totally dedicated by this point so couldn’t let the team down!

During March I had an enquiry from someone in Germany wanting to buy a colt for breeding purposes. After an exchange of photos and videos I agreed to sell Rackwood Windsor and he was collected by the transporter on 31st March. This left me with one colt from the four that were born during 2016 and all three that I had sold were going to be kept as breeding stallions. I felt this was an excellent achievement for a small stud like Rackwood.

April began very cold and damp. My stallion Linnel Riddler was to have four visiting mares so I agreed that they could come and run with him before he would be needed for my mares. I brought Magic and Black Magic home around the middle of April so they could be at hand for foaling early in May.

The first weekend in May I took Hugo to Hairy Pony Camp at Linnel Wood. This was his second visit to camp so he took everything in his stride. I had deliberately avoided choosing any groups that involved jumping so we concentrated on ridden showing, grid work and dressage. He was a real superstar but while I was away enjoying myself the first of my foals arrived. Black Magic had a filly foal on the Sunday morning. This was Baby X so appropriately named Xena – meaning warrior princess. A few days later Magic produced a colt which I called Merlin. This was outside my alphabet theme but with a reason, which I will explain later. Maydew had a filly foal the following week which I called Ruth, again not following my alphabet pattern, but named after Linnel Riddler’s dam. Soon afterwards Melody had a colt foal, Baby Y, so was called Yogi. A very busy month but all foals were fit and well so I was pleased.

June is the month that we try and get some time to ourselves and away from work but as I had started to compete in BD My Quest as well as the BD Team Quest, Hugo needed to be kept in regular work. I took him to an outdoor show early in June to do some ridden classes. The first class was a walk and trot class and all went well. The second class was rather exciting for him when everyone started to canter around the ring. I decided that I much preferred the security of an arena to a field with show rings divided with a single strand of rope. The weather during June was cold and wet before turning very hot. It was on one of these very hot days that we went down to Derbyshire to visit the Derbyshire Fell & Dales Show as well as my last visit to see Mary Longsdon. She was rather frail but wanted to know all about which ponies had been at the show and who had qualified for the Bewcastle Boy Blue Inter Area competition. Mary was a remarkable lady right through to the end. The following week we went up to the Royal Highland Show with the caravan for a few days. Not quite as enjoyable as usual but it was good to have a break.

July brought the beginning of my normal round of agricultural show and Rambling Rose didn’t disappoint by being Fell Champion on her first outing at Lanchester Show. The following week Maggie May foaled a colt which I called Zodiac. I had deliberately used the names Merlin and Ruth so that my last foal of the year would be Baby Z. The original plan was to stop breeding when I reached Z but I’d already covered four mares by this point so more foals to come in 2018. I took Rambling Rose to the Great Yorkshire Show where she was placed 3rd in a strong line up of 2&3yr old ponies. She was the highest placed 2yr old so I was pleased with the outcome. The following weekend we had a trip across to the far side of the Lake District where I had a beach ride on Peahill Basil. I bred Basil but hadn’t seen him since he was a 3yr old so it was an honour to meet this celebrity and gallop across the sands. I wish I lived closer to this wonderful beach.

Towards the end of July I noticed that Bonnie was not eating properly. She had a very vacant expression and wasn’t her playful self. Muscle tremors and frothing at the mouth sent alarm bells ringing and after a couple of visits from my Vet it was confirmed that she had grass sickness. She was put to sleep on 5th August, the day before the FPS Breed Show. I was very upset and did not want to go to the show but I had a new junior helper, Jane Horn, who was looking forward to showing Black Magic so I had to make the effort and get them ready. Black Magic was 1st prize broodmare with filly foal and was awarded ‘The Hasell Challenge Cup’ so that went some way to cheering me up. The following week I had another fatality to deal with when Zodiac was found dead in the field. There were no signs of illness so totally unexpected and unexplained. Maggie May was devastated. This was her first foal and she was such a good mother, it was heartbreaking to watch her.

I had to keep myself motivated so continued to compete with Hugo and did a ridden show with him at Holmside Equestrian Centre. I then bit the bullet and took him X Country Training at Linnel Wood in the middle of August. He absolutely loved it and jumped way above what was needed to clear the jumps. Around this time I had a couple of enquiries for geldings so agreed to sell Baby Riddler, who was a yearling, to a couple from Cumbria and Thomas, who was a 2yr old, to a lady in Derbyshire. The summer weather had been dreadful so we eventually cut my grass crop on 23rd August and baled it as hay on 27th August. I have never made hay so late in the year but we did get it dry without being rained on so that was good but there was not going to be a fresh grass crop to fatten some lambs before winter.

Back into showing mode and Jane and I took Black Magic and Xena to Weardale Show where Xena was 1st prize M&M Foal and M&M Reserve Champion. The following week I took four ponies to Wolsingham Show and Maggie May was awarded 1st Prize geld mare and Fell Reserve Champion. Black Magic was 1st prize broodmare with Xena being 2nd prize foal and Rambling Rose was 1st prize 2&3yr old. An exhausting day but well worth the effort. Donald had chosen to go ploughing so I was very grateful to have several friends come and help at the wagon. The last show of the season is Eggleston Show where Maggie May was awarded 1st prize geld mare and Fell Champion. I was highly delighted with the outcomes of the last few weeks at my local shows.

At the end of September I travelled down to Epworth Grange Equestrian Centre with Hugo to take part in the BD Quest Club Northern Regional Finals. Hugo had qualified for the My Quest Regional Finals and although I realised that he was very inexperienced, I had to take him and give him a chance. He was well behaved in the warm up arena but took the horrors at brightly coloured advertising banners placed around the ring when we did our first test. His second test was in an open space so nothing to spook at and he rode very well. Not good enough to get a rosette but a brilliant experience for us both and a good ending to a busy year of competition. It was now time to advertise him for sale and try and find him a new home with a more adventurous rider who would keep him busy and mentally occupied.

Early in October Donald and I went down to Birmingham for the HOYS. I did all of the driving so an exhausting trip but well worth it to watch the Fell and Dales class. On returning home I began weaning my four foals and did lots of leading practice ready for the foal shows. Winter begins at this point, especially when the clocks alter and daylight hours are very limited.

Early in November I took Yogi and Merlin to the Scottish & Northern Foal of the Year Show. Yogi was awarded M&M Champion after winning the M&M Large Breeds class. The following week I took Xena and Merlin to the FPS Foal & Youngstock Show. Both foals were placed 4th is their respective classes. Merlin is Jane’s favourite so had to attend on both occasions. Hugo had been sold during October and following a 5 stage vetting, he went off to his new home in Shropshire. I will miss him but I still have several ponies requiring breaking and schooling during 2018 so my time will be used up elsewhere.

To sum it up 2017 was a year of ups and downs.

1. New adventures and challenges doing British Dressage Team Quest and My Quest with Hugo giving me the confidence to go further after learning several new riding skills.

2. Taking the decision to continue breeding Fell ponies for a few more years, as long as Linnel Riddler remains fertile.

3. Having enquiries from buyers wanting colts and geldings just like last year, rather than fillies. Times are changing!

4. Saddened by the unexpected loss of both Bonnie and Zodiac but seizing the chance to bring Maggie May back into work and getting her show ready in a very short time, to keep her occupied and interested in life.

2016 News from Rackwood Fell Ponies

2015 News from Rackwood Fell Ponies

2014 News from Rackwood Fell Ponies

2013 News from Rackwood Fell Ponies

2012 News from Rackwood Fell Ponies

2011 News from Rackwood Fell Ponies

2010 news from Rackwood Fell Ponies