Extraordinary ponies.

Bright and beautiful, great and small…

As a growing girl – I can’t ever remember not wishing for a horse of my own. ‘Unfortunately’ I was born into a non-horsey family – and that we had a field – (ideal for keeping a pony in) – only compounded my longing!  Now and again, my father would indulge me a little – with a trip to Dartmoor to see the wild ponies.  We would go to the North Moor on a Saturday afternoon – to where the army camp is – and he would drive me all the way round the now dis-used circular road in search of ponies – giving me enough opportunity to stop and get out – should I see my heart’s desire.  Dartmoor’s wild ponies being relatively small and my spacial awareness as a girl not being exact – I always hoped that I might be able to fit one in the boot of his car – and take it home to our empty field. Needless to say – having my own pony remained desperately unfulfilled.

Imagine my delight several decades later – when ‘only’ last Saturday (26th July 2014) – I found the most portable Dartmoor Pony I’d ever seen in my life – it was tiny; forget the boot of my car – my rucksack would have been ample to transport it home!  A real cutie – probably just a day or two old. It was not fearful – and its mother was equally at ease in my presence…

It’s ‘funny’ – because on the outward journey that afternoon –  after I’d driven a mile or so from my home – I noticed a large black ‘messenger’ bird sitting atop a telegraph pole – in an instant – I realised that I had forgotten my camera – and exclaimed – “We’ll have to go back for it!”  Tom tried to dissuade me – worried that with any delay – there wouldn’t be enough time to buy one – or two – of his favourite pasties from the baker’s shop in Okehampton – it was already late in the afternoon!  I reasoned with him – while doing a three-point turn – that if I saw something special up on the Moor – without my camera to record it – I’d not forgive myself for not going back – or him for just thinking of his stomach…

With my precious camera retrieved from the house – we sped-off with a degree of urgency.  After catching the baker in Okehampton – we arrived on Dartmoor in the heat of the late afternoon. We had already decided that as it was such a melting hot day – the top of Rowtor was ambitious enough; there we would enjoy our bought picnic – and then just sit on top of the tor – drink in the views and listen to the skylark…

After an hour or so of bliss – we started to amble back to the car…

West Mill Tor - from Rowtor on a blissful afternoon.

West Mill Tor – from Rowtor.

from another perspective.

Another perspective.

Firstly – we met a playful lamb – who was happy to pose for my camera…

Peek-a-boo

Peek-a-boo

Next – we came to a group of contented ponies  – oblivious to us and seemingly to each other…

As timeless as a stone circle; ponies on the moor.

Timeless as a stone circle; ponies grazing on the Moor.

Nearing the car – the foresight of fetching my camera became clear – it was one of those ‘ah’ moments; the pictures speak for themselves…

Dartmoor pony

Dartmoor Pony

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Size comparison; another newborn foal.

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Don’t worry – I didn’t rustle the little chap – I got that out of my system a long time ago.  I eventually realised my dream of owning my horse – as an adult; her name was Wath Jewel – or Jessie – for short.

Tacked up and ready to go...

Jessie.

She was in fact a Dales – a real ‘Black Beauty’ – complete with a white star under her forelock – and a wavy, floor-length tail that rivalled Queen Victoria’s bustle.  When I went to view her before buying – from a moorland farm near Bridestowe – I recall my first impression.  Leaning on a metal gate – her then owner called her in; almost immediately, two flighty Arab horses sped towards us, from over the brow of a hill – very fine horses but not my type. After an expectant pause – Jessie suddenly appeared; the horse that I’d longed for – wished for since childhood – was in sight – and by default of place – she was the largest ‘Dartmoor’ pony I’d ever seen in my life – and so had to travel home by horse-box.

Knowing eye.

In memory of a much-loved horse.

 

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