Thursday, 24 December 2009

A childrens story for Christmas

The Silver Spanish stallion

Chapter One Jetetita

Silver and white,
shone the colours of the night
that a new light came from a star.

A huge moon hanging overhead cast a silken glow into the little gulley the old mare had chosen for her special moment; for she had known that it would come. And now the little foal lay damp and unmoving, cold in this strange new place "Come on my dear you must try" she said as she breathed her hot breath over the tiny baby. An ear moved and his little head bobbed up, eyes unseeingly open in the silver light that one day would be the colour of his coat. "That’s better, now come on" more urgently now "Come on dear, you must stand. I must be able to show them……." Her sad tired voice trailed off. "Come on dear" and again the hot breath moved passed the little fellows ear. Something stirred within him and a little magic from the night settled on his inert legs – a small struggle, then a bigger one. To his surprise these new legs lifted him towards the gentle voice in the silver light and he was up. Up near the magical creature that would love him and care for him for the few short precious, months they would have together.
Brown eyes as deep as pools filled with love bent over him and again the glorious warmth of her hot breath. "That’s it my son, now come, come" Nothing could take this wondrous creature away – nothing and somehow the foal found he could follow this creature of love and gentleness on the start of his path towards a new life and a new day.
The disk of the moon dropped low in the sky as the mare reached the safety of her sisterhood, her heard mates. And as they were enveloped in an inky darkness, on the plain below them the lights of Madrid glowed brighter as they always did just before the dawn. The waiting mares gathered around to admire the little fellow. "Beautiful Jetetita, just beautiful" The old mare stood shakily but she had one more duty to perform in her exhaustion. With the warmth of the accompanying mares surrounding them she nudged the little fellow towards her waiting milk as he staggered and tottered along her flank. At last he found this first gift that she had to offer him and grew stronger, as a new and golden light crept over the horizon, a fresh and golden day that flicked the dust and slowly lit the old mares sweating flanks. "There my dear we are safe now" and content, she fell asleep surrounded by her sisterhood that stood and watched the precious new baby. Danilon.

With the dawn, came new warmth, slowly reviving the old mare, as the herd stirred and became watchful. For with the dawn came the man in his truck, bouncing up the track form Madrid each morning, with his presents of Oats and Lucerne.
Oh wonderful Oats, Oats so crisp, they could almost see them now in their minds eye, rattling sharply in the half light into the open wooden trough, as he carelessly walked along emptying the rustling paper sack, the sweet smell drifting towards them in the dry morning air. The herd bustled purposely forward towards the troughs with little Danilon fearfully pressed against his old dams flanks as they were swept forward. Jetetita paused to nuzzle her new baby "Come my dear, stay close" but little Danni looked up with imploring eyes to his wondrous goddess that cared for him. The old mare sighed, she desperately needed the food but would not risk her precious baby, and she would have to wait. Her head hung a little lower as hunger bit at her belly but she did not move to follow the herd as the delicious oats rattled faster and faster into the manger. "Jetetita, Jetetita" called her pair companion Roseanna "you must eat" "I know but……….." Jetetita looked at the trembling foal. "Ah follow me - stay close" and the two old mares slowly reached the edge of the crush with little Danni wedged carefully between them "Now eat" said Roseanna and then the old bay mare with all the strength that she had learnt working with Carlos and the fighting bulls on the plains in her youth Roseanna lent her big scarred shoulders into the younger mares as Jetetita gratefully began to feed.
With each mouthful of the delicious golden oats, her blood stirred and her tired body gained in strength. She snatched one last mouthful before moving away to let her friend Roseanna eat the last. And only then, did her careful movements catch the watchful eyes of Carlos, who picked out the tiny new addition to the herd. "Why Jetetita, you have a foal after all – you old devil" and with that he stomped off, almost as stiff as the old horse to collect a headcollar from his pick up
Roseanna looked up from the last of her feed that she had so generously shared and whispered her farewell to her friend. "Grow strong for us little Danilon. - God speed". For She, Roseanna, had no foal to give this year and knew she would have to leave soon too - perhaps for the place of light beyond the stars……… and the time was coming very soon. But she was glad as she watched her old white friend and her little black son take her heart into the future.
And then the heavy gate clanged and Jetetita and Danilon (Danni) disappeared - to the place beyond the fence. The place of humans
The little enclosure Carlos prepared with fresh straw and water was heaven to Jetetita. For Carlos was a kind old man but rough, in the way that farmers are rough. Pushing and cajoling the horses from place to place with a stinging slap from his work worn hands or a gruff shout - but still, he would tenderly nurse the sick or injured horses and watch over the old ones, until their day came of course – for Carlos was a farmer and did what he was paid to do – rear young horses to be sold. But for now Jetetita had her heaven of easy food and shelter and time to spend with her new very special baby. Carlos dragged a stiff brush over her dusty white coat and she began to feel better. As she nuzzled and caressed Danni, she whispered the secrets that only horse know to him, day by day and into the night, telling him of many things between heaven and earth but keeping others for later…. Much later…..They slept side by side under the magic of the stars and Danni feasted on his mothers milk And Danni found his new inky black legs would carry him in tight little circle around his mother faster and faster until she begged him to stop and the dust hung heavily in a cloud in their pen. By the end of the week they were ready to go back to the herd – the mare with her head held proudly high and her smart black colt trotting strongly beside her. Only one mare wasn’t there to greet them - Roseanna. When had the lorry come to take her away? Was it as she chuckled over her new foal or slept blissfully beside him? A tiny tear formed in Jetetita’s heart that turned to light and went up to the stars - for such were the sorrows of the horse.

Such a summer above Madrid – such sounds in the air - the muffled roar of the traffic from the city below and the jet planes overhead – the snorts of the huge mysterious stallions that lived in the place beyond and the humans that became one with them to become centaurs.
The scents of the rosemary and sage carried sometimes on the wind, mixing with the dust and the human smell from the city, all carried on quiet currents that eddied through the horses’ lives and informed their days. Each gust, each echo, would bring them news of different things from beyond the horizon, things that the old mares remembered from past lives and whispered to the young ones.
Danilon cared not a bit for this as he discovered other little shapes that peeped out form behind their mother’s tails. A brotherhood of colts to race and wrestle with, to compete for the precious oats with and he travelled further from the old mare under the clear blue sky in a summer that would surely go on for ever.
Sometimes the humans came of course and Danni learnt to avoid Carlos’s stinging slaps and cross shouts. Quick and agile he avoided the blows and laughed at his assailant as he skipped nimbly away. Off to race and tussle with his brotherhood of colts or back for Jetetita warm milk. For Jetetita’s part she proudly watched as her young son grew strong and bold but as the days grew shorter she slowly grew more distant and aloof for she knew the time would fast come when Danni must leave her.
And Jetetita had a new secret, a new life to carry forward, if she could. For one day as Danni played with his brothers she had visited the magnificent stallion Official that Carlos brought to the fence each day. Arrogant and proud with a flying black mane flipping his magnificent form, he waited today and called to her. "You are beautiful my dear" in the gentle song of the horse "So Beautiful" "Pha" Said Jetetita "You are flattering me" pinning her ears flat back "I need a new son for next year" and they joined in time and it was so.
That night in the velvety darkness, Official listen intently from his stable, with his strong stallion sons stretching in rows through the barn beside him. His sons that would learn to carry the men in Dressage as the centaur – the horse’s art so subtle, that the slightest wrong flick of the tail could spoil it, thus he understood the purpose of horse and man.
This Dressage he had practised for many years and now his sons would learn and then they would go over the mountains beyond the horizon to the far places they could not know and they would have sons of their own. This was his wish he made to his star.
Slowly, the old stallion gently lowered himself to sleep in his soft bed of shavings. Sometimes he heard the sounds of his mares and new sons gently carry to him: The softest nicker or scuff of hoof in the dust, the whispers of the sweet mare’s song to their foals, his sons. And He was content and beyond in the inky darkness Jetetita nuzzled the sleepy Danilon and smiled at her secret as her new foal moved inside of her.

"Danilon" to the fleeting deaf ears as he raced away again to play "Danilon……." But Danilon’s heart was filled with adventures and so Jetetita waited until the darkness of the night. "Danilon my dear my sweet one - you are ready now" The strong little colt shook his handsome head "Ready for what" "Now you must leave me to run in the far plains" "You will chase the wind and have such adventures and one day you will be a fine stallion with mares of your own" "Oh no mama" "Yes my dear, it is time" and the old mare led him firmly towards the dawn and the waiting oats. But today it was different there were no oats in the waiting trough, no Carlos with his rustling bag. Instead the gate was open to the world beyond and new men pushed them artfully through. This was a new Carlos today, quicker and firmer, no longer easy to evade. In an instant the press of his mother against his shoulder and she was gone departing with her sisterhood through the choking dust and Danilon was alone.

Alone now with her sisterhood, Jetetita remembered her seven sons, slowly smiling as she counted them one by one - that is if a horse could smile….. and last she thought of Danilon, her little Danni "Yes, this one was very fine, the best" as she dropped her old head and caught her breath and her legs stopped running from something unimaginable. "Yes very fine – he would do well" but still a tear formed in her heart, became light and went to the stars. This one to light Danilon’s journey
Please read to your children and enjoy but all copywrights are reserved - tell me if you like it and one day i'll write the rest of the book!
Happy Christmas

Monday, 21 December 2009


27/5/1988 - 20/12/2009

We lost Sootty yesterday to a sudden onset of colic - he deteriorated rapidly despite two vets attending throughout the morning and by lunch time to9 struggle was lost and it was decided to let him go peacefully as he lay in his own bed. Desperately missed.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

A new day

Lizzie enjoying a roll this morning

After a surprisingly quiet night we let April and Lizzie out into the front field that has not been used for a while and then we took Belle Diva and Dolly along to join them. Lizzie again got hot so we had to remove her rug but she soon settle to roll in her nice new grass field.

Dolly couldn't believe that the world was so big peering this way and that - taking everything in - the far moors

St Micheal's Mount

Good greif !! she almost seemed to say but what a sensible filly
and modelling her early Christmas present on account of the recent downpours

Belle (Joyce's Hope) Hopefully due to foal in February in front of Perranuthnoe village

Belle April and Diva with Dolly just disappearing out of shot

Saturday, 12 December 2009

It's time

The time has come or in truth is long past for the foals to leave their mums and start an independent life and so tonight the deed was done with a certain sadness for a part of their lives that would never come again. i normally ween by putting the foal in the next box to mum with a chatterbox but this we didn't have enough free stables and so after a certain shuffling of accommodation it was decided that Annie and Amie would share and the increasingly amorous Archie would have a box to himself. Armed with a friend from the village and two bridles we set off at the usual time to catch Lizzie and April and casually took them down to the bottom yard. Lizzie looked at the arrangements and started to blow but stood quietly as Annie was put in her new stable and then Archie - who smelt a rat and dug his toes in in a prelude to a flap. He did agree to follow April in to the next door box though. and then we quietly led the two mares away to the other end of the farm where no 1 and 2 had been prepared for them and their supper was waiting - they tucked into their supper without a murmur.........only I felt guilty!
Back to find Diva and Amie still waiting patiently to come in a quick shunt and Amie joined Annie but the two sisters apparently hate each other oh dear. Diva always the lady walked quietly back across the lane to her new stable and also tucked into her tea. Which left Sootty and Danni effectively baby sitting..............hmm I don't think they are enjoying the job but we have explained to Dani that fatherhood holds some responsibilities!
The three foals soon settled to a light supper of Dengie Hi Fi and a few nuts as they must stay in for a few days and are now pulling at their haynets in an expert fashion.....Dani and Sootty are doing their best to ignore them

Sunday, 29 November 2009

We have weather

Sooty one summer a few years ago when we didn't live under water

Well we have weather in Cornwall at the moment - each day brings torrential rain and gales turning the fields into lakes and the gateways into quagmires. The mares and foals foray bravely into the fields each day, although we had to give up and break out the New Zealand rugs for the mares, which caused great consternation to Archie when "mummy turned blue" He flapped about the gateway looking at all the legs until he found the "right" pair to follow poor chap but he has come to terms with locating his morning pinta under the diaphanous folds now. Yesterday evening the poor souls had made an orderly group under the hedge with their tails turned to the wind but the rain was so intense that it was rising as a secondary spray over their heads...........yet another evening with rugs hanging on every available surface, dripping sadly on to the floor, as the horses munch blissfully in their stables away from the torrents.

Sooty and Danny have abandoned all dressage in flooded arenas and we have taken them out for long steady road work instead, plodding for miles through the lanes at a steady walk and trot. Of course Sooty's dressage days are long over but he enjoys his daily constitutional still swinging along at twenty four with his big warm blood walk. poll swivelling this way and that to check the hedges for different coloured leaves or worst of all white polythene bags. He hit the jackpot the other day with a complete field of cows sending him cavorting sideways in a crazy passage emitting loud snorts as poor Dani and Charles plodded solidly on bemused by the entertainment.

And still it rains so no photo but this is Sooty pre Cushings probably taken in the summer, when he was in his late teens and before he grew the Koala coat - how time flies -we have them in our lives for so short a time...........................but for now he enjoys his daily walk with me.

I've just found a blog that might interest you try and if it's there a youtube video from Golega! Wow!!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Archie this morning

I stalked Archie about the field this morning waiting for him to do something interesting but no he plodded about considering this and that sampling this and that and only pausing n the most un photogenic places in the field. He even clambered on the spoil heap from a badgers set/foxes earth to improve the view over the hedge before eventually noticing that the horses were moving on to the next field in their morning agenda and he had better keep up!

Archie waiting in the gateway for Annie

Climbing on a spoil heap to improve his view over the bank - watching him pop over a pole yesterday i don't think he'll stop at the planning stage for long!

And those big broad ears are just like his father Dani's

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

A blacksmiths visit

Annie and Lizzie (Holstein)

Annie has grown on well this summer

I finally caught up with my husband Charles and our blacksmith Nigel Stevens as they pottered about the fields this morning looking at the youngsters feet

and I finally had to ask them to come out from behind the horses to have their picture taken
The two half sisters Annie and Amie

and finally Nigel and Charles!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Filly for sale

Looking at our expanding collection of horses (and finite number of stables) it is time to make a hard decision and let Dolly go out into the world - in short to offer her for sale. We feel the time we would put into her production really should go into Dani's stock.
Dolly is by the Thoroughbred Resplendent Cee

Resplendant Cee has now moved from Devon and is standing at New Hill Farm Stud, Worsley

A quiet dignified stallion that is ridden out every day and when I saw him was standing in a mixed barn of horses looking very happy indeed. After just taking a second look at his web page though I can see his attributes do not stop at his super temperament he is.............

  • Winnings of over £95,000

  • including the Ripon Championship Trophy, The Queens Stakes etc

  • Graded Elite by the Sports Horse Breeding of Great Britain via his Timeform rating

  • A European Breeder's Fund nominated Stallion

  • "Racehorses of 2002" describd him as a Fluent mover, smart performer and acts on firm or soft going

  • His Dam - Western Friend was sold through Tattersall's 2 year old sale for £250,000 - Western Friend (USA) is Dam of 7 winners from 7 Foals. She was by Gone West

  • His sire Polar Falcon (USA)won 5 races to the value of £225,000 including the group 1 Haydock Park Sprint and is a leading sire of Group winners

...............In fact *** we shouldn't sell her at all!!

Out of Diver's Perk (IRE) foaled Apr 02, 1996

Divers perk with Guy Brewer up in her racing days

We bought the Irish TB Diva, aka Diver's perk, already in foal with Dolly for Danilon our Spanish stallion with the aim of producing Sports Horses.
Diva is a big great galloping mare with the chasers stamp, by Executive Perk (IRE) sire of 1210 foals of which 466 raced to produce 122 winners.
Divas was imported from Ireland and initially sold through Doncaster sales. She trained well beating winning horses on the gallops but failed to act on the race course and was retired to stud after a particularly bad fall. She is a quiet charming individual, a delight to handle with burning brown eyes that follow you around the yard. she will finish her days with us.

Dolly was born at 1.30 much to Divas surprise and they spent an idyllic summer together and Dolly was naturally weaned just before Christmas by being put in the next box to Mum each night but still with a chatter box, when the time came to give Diva her own time to prepare for her next foal.

Dolly at Weaning last year
Dolly has always been corn fed and stabled over night with sympathetic daily handling. she has started to mature this year into a big scopy intelligent filly with lots of bone and should make a smart eventer to cross any country. She is at present running with the brood mares by day, including her half sister Amie.

Divers Perk with her 09 filly Amie by our Pre Stallion Danilon
Dolly's half sister the spanish sports horse Amie
To read more about Dolly scan back through the farm Diary

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Dressage time again

Dani had his next module of training from Peter Madison Greenwell this week revisiting the transitional mode................ and was rewarded with a session with Celia Cohen a meastro equine physio....rider succumbs to a cold.

On the first day

Peter liked Dani's relaxation at the beginning of the session but decided to work to improve Dani's "sit" into his downward transitions with the back raised in a revision of the work for the year. To this end I was asked to ride forward to halt using the legs a little further back than normal to raise Dani's back and allow the hind legs to snap further under his body. Things started gently with simple transition to halt from walk progressing to trot and then canter - by the end of the session the canter, halt, canter transition repeated around the circle with growing frequency..........well "rider malfunction" was the best way to describe my performance!

now by the second day!

Peter went back to those ***** transitions and further complicated the issue by asking me to collect the canter by slowing the rhythm of my seat at A and on the centre line whilst sliding my inside knee down the saddle and letting my inside hip progress further forward. Well I think I need to practise that one too ah hum

and finally

Misty rain put paid to the outdoor school and so we worked inside - raising the back at walk whilst working long and low, a little shoulder in to half pass. Trot halt trot not even twitching the rein a nano touch which eventually showed me something of a raised, lifting balance through the shoulder. A simple change of legs at canter in which if I failed to keep his back raised he would creep behind the leg again to loose impulsion in a perfect demonstration of achieved impulsion and finally finishing with a long and low trot going large around the school. Hmmmmmmmmm - I sympathise with Peter and Dani!


Working on Monday I remembered the lifting balance of the shoulders that I had felt in Danilon in the final transitions and applied it to the half pass - bingo much much better. Thank you Peter sometimes you can only learn by doing!

Saturday dawned for Dani and Celia Cohen (equine physio) paid one of her regular visits to Dani - I have a little trouble changing the flexing to the left and Celia found some soreness in his poll. She used an extreme stretch to help free the area, fittingly helped by an apple on a stick. Dani can be seen in the first photo supervising the loading of the stick with the help of Celias mum Pip.

and he was only too happy to follow the tasty morsel

to whichever unlikely position it was likely to assume

What's a chap got to do to get an apple around here!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Supper Time

There is a certain gathering of the clan at supper time each evening now, miraculously they have subtly changed their clocks and have trained us to bring them in for their tea earlier and earlier. By tonight everyone was gathered by 3.30 in a fairly orderly que - the two groups of brood mares having integrated earlier in the week ( see the ednovean diaries!). The system is simple "Lizzie rules OK" and so Lizzie the sturdy Holstein mare sweeps in with her foal beside her first each night, as is her right, with her best friend April an impatient second accompanied the laid back Archie. After this we gather Belle, former chief of staff of TB mares, Diva "anything for a quiet life and hates crowds darling" and Amie (who loves her two new foal playmates) and finally Dolly, who as a yearling is considered below anybodies notice but does a nifty line in que jumping given half the chance. Phew - it's a busy few minutes.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Beginning with A

Annie, Charles and Lizzie making their way in from the fields

As Danilon's first crop of foals began with and A the beginning, alpha, the first - so our three young foals have started their ABC.
To reach the nearest pasture behind the stables we must cross a public lane with a footpath over it, so control is paramount for us from an early age. From birth, the young foals are escorted with comforting arms around their chest and quarters behind their Mum and as soon as they are big enough they are presented with their first baby headcollars and then led with one hand around their quarters still, to guide them forwards and a soft slip rope through the nose band of the headcollar. Each day, in the morning when they are turned out and in the evening when they come in to supper and bed, they learn to lead almost without realising it, as part of their daily routine. Within a few weeks Charles is able to take the foal in one hand and the mare in the other and the daily routine of life goes on.
This week all the mares had their regular visit from the farrier and this time, as always, the foals had their feet examined carefully on a hard standing whilst the farrier carefully checked the angle of each foot, taking them back into the stable to trim and then back out to examine the results..

Spot the foal

Annie and Lizzie

I think some one has a soft spot for Lizzie!

Charles horse sitting whilst I ferry Dolly into her stable before we head back to the house with Belle on the left of picture, Diva central and Amie right.

Belle leading the next group down the lane to the stables - that's Diva and Amie behind.

Belles bulge is due in February - fingers crossed

Diva and Amie

Which just leaves Archie the baby of the party with his mum April

To catch up at the back!


Monday, 5 October 2009

The Danilon selection

April, Archie with Lizzie behind and Annie at the front

Well Charles took a stroll around with the camera this morning - too late for the frolics and antics of first thing but just as the contented little group were moving up the hill to the next field to graze for the day.

This year Danilon has sired one bay, one chestnut and one grey foal but all of them are bold and upstanding ready for life's journey.

Archie the baby at ten weeks still enjoys mum's milk

The fields rise high above Mounts bay that's St Micheal's Mount set in the bay not that Archie and Annie care - they are too busy supervising Charles or maybe they have a "good side" like an actor/ress


Archie practising formation grazing with his mum April

April the sweetest mare is very proud of her bouncing son

Archie (looking slightly carthusian) and Annie

That's better

growing every day

Amie is growing more independent of her mother Diva now

and is the only grey far!