Dales filly Destiny de Kingmaker has been reserved to a fantastic new home in the UK. She will leave us shortly after weaning in late November 2013. Until then, she will continue to learn her "Foal ABC", and we will enjoy the time we have left with this quiet, gentle girl.
7 week old filly foal Destiny is proving to be a really sweet and very feminine foal. She is smitten with our new colt Defender, and mothers him at every opportunity, even tolerating the occasional case of mistaken identity when he attempts to suckle her teats rather than his dam's!!!
I had a minor panic this morning when I first checked the horses and spotted Destiny's dam Inca grazing alone in the field. Not a foal in sight. I was convinced something awful had happened to Destiny overnight (we'd had quite a violent thunderstorm which lasted for several hours, and 7 week-old foals do not normally stray far from their dams) so I sprinted to the stable-block where I found a totally non-plussed Destiny standing watch over Defender, whilst he slept flat-out and snoring.
Dakota is not so impressed with her new baby brother. She finds him a bit boring because his dam Fiona will not allow him to join in with her speedy games. Instead, she had to content herself with human interaction and was fitted with her first headcollar. This was probably not Dakota's idea of a fun game (she prefers to throw adult-sized headcollars around the yard!) but she stood as still as a statue to have her headcollar slipped on, adjusted, and then removed. Clever Dakota.
We're feeling very proud of Jac (Kingmaker Union Jacques) who has just turned 5 years old. He has been cross-country schooling with his owner Sarah Dowson, who says they had great fun and Jac tackled all of the jumps with enthusiasm.
Sarah frequently loses the ride on Jac to her young daughter Jessica who is a cracking little jockey. Not many Dales Ponies can be ridden by young children (due to their size and strength) but Jess makes it look easy!
Jac with his young jockey Jessica Dowson :
Jac & Jess try the water
Jac & Jess popping quite a big log!
Jac is the half-brother (same dam) of our 2013 bay colt Defender de Kingmaker. We'll be really happy if Defender grows up to be half as kind, gentle and honest as Jac is proving to be!
Lowhouses Fiona gave birth to a lovely bay colt in the early hours of 27th May 2013. We have named the new colt Defender de Kingmaker.
Fen is a true-to-type, compact foal with a very pretty head and a beautiful rich bay coat. He almost looks too pretty to be a boy, hence the strong name choice, to man him up a bit!
In common with all of Fiona's foals, he seems to have inherited a superb temperament. He is already very laid-back and people-orientated. Early indications suggest that he has a nice high-stepping trot and lots of natural presence. We believe he would do well in any ride & drive discipline and may have stallion potential.
Defender will be for sale after weaning in November 2013, and can be reserved now.
Defender at just 6 hours old, getting to know Martin :
Our oldest mare Lass (Akehurst Heather's Lass) foaled just before 7am on the 7th May 2013, bringing a beautiful, long-legged, jet black filly into the World. We have named the filly Dakota de Kingmaker as a reminder of the fantastic holiday Martin and I spent in the Black Hills of Dakota, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks in the USA last year.
This is Dakota at 1 day old, firstly in her stable, then outside for the first time :
Dakota is a very confident foal who loves to run. At just 1 day old, she was doing full circuits of her field at gallop, much to the consternation of her dam who had to abandon the important task of eating to keep up with her foal. Clearly no-one has told Dakota that newborn foals are supposed to do small 10 metre circles around their mother, not 2 acre sprints!
This is Dakota given her mum a good work-out. Lass will have her figure back in no time at this rate :
Destiny is now 3 days old and she has discovered GALLOP!!!
After watching Destiny enjoying life to the full, the day ended with a truly spectacular sunset. We're quite used to the more standard orange sunsets as we have nice views across our fields to the West, but we have never seen such a pink and violet sky before. Nature at it's best!
We are delighted to announce that Inca (Wolsey Quebec) gave birth to a beautiful, whole black filly just after midnight on 27th April 2013. The new filly has been named Destiny de Kingmaker (it's names beginning with "D" in France this year).
Inca had the speediest birth I have ever seen. She went from quietly munching hay in her stable with no signs of stress or discomfort, to a foal on the ground in less than 5 minutes!!! Fortunately, she had the decency to wax-up 8 hours prior to foaling, so we knew that the birth was imminent and were watching her continuously on the foal-cam. Otherwise, we'd have probably missed the whole thing.
Destiny is a very pretty foal (she takes after her beautiful mother) and even though she is just 2 days old as I am typing this, she is already developing a friendly, confident and inquisitive nature.
We have glorious weather here now. The days are long and sunny with temperatures in the low twenties. The swallows have returned and are busy renovating their nests in the barns. The May Blossom is flowering and the whole farm has turned green overnight, much to the delight of the horses who are enjoying the new grass. I love this time of year!
King, our bay roan stallion, is a very contented lad this week as he has started the covering season. He has been reunited with Belle (Aquilasstud Maebelle) who failed to conceive last year. Our vet has carried out some preliminary fertility tests and established that she has small ovaries, so we may struggle to get her in-foal. We have decided to let her run with the stallion for two cycles naturally, before we resort to any extra measures.
Here's King and Belle enjoying their time together :
Wilf, our black Dales stallion, is not so happy. He was due to welcome a visiting french mare at the end of April, but due to her owner's health issues, she is no longer coming. Wilf is grazing in a field on the farm situated at the farthest possible distance from King, and the 2 stallions cannot see each other thanks to several thick hedges and a range of buildings, but Wilf can hear what is going on and is fully aware that King has a "girlfriend" whereas he doesn't. Until his prospective mares are ready for covering, he has no option but to content himself with "warm memories" of last year's romances :
Inca (Wolsey Quebec) is still keeping us all waiting for the patter of tiny hooves. She is now (allegedly) 20 days overdue, but I am convinced that the vet made a mistake when he aged the embryo at her post-covering scan last year. I suspect she conceived a full cycle later than the vet estimated, thus making her due date tomorrow! You can guarantee she will foal when I have 8 horses tied-up on the yard for the farrier to visit!
Number 2 mare is now safely installed in her foaling-box at night. Her baby is due on the 6-7th of May, but at the rate Inca is going, it's anyone's guess who will foal first....
Here's my nightly entertainment. The 2 expectant girls on CCTV :
So much for my claim that Spring has arrived. We now have cold, grey days. Serves me right for being smug!
We have moved our 3 pregnant broodmares and two year old fillies Breanna (bay roan Dales) and Elsie-May (skewbald Trakhener x Welsh) into the only paddock that has any grass. The mares need the grass for milk production and Elsie-May has come out of the winter a bit on the scrawny side so she's getting a bit of extra TLC. Since she is joined-at-the-hip with Breanna, she got some tasty grass too.
The new paddock borders our garden and it didn't take the youngsters long to find a new hobby to brighten up a damp, foggy morning. Cue a spot of "Wolf-Racing" otherwise known as baiting the dogs until one joins in and chases them along the fenceline.
Velvet, one of our rescue greyhounds was happy to oblige. Watch for the blue streak flying past :)
Then our Pharaoh Hound Inca joined in the fun. At this point, Elsie-May decided that baiting "two wolves" was bad odds, so she went back to peaceful grazing. Fearless Breanna was still loving the game :
Inca (Wolsey Quebec) has been safely installed in her "baby bedroom" at night for just under 2 weeks now. Because our stable-block is over 200 yards from our house with lots of trees and thick stone walls in between, we were not able to find an affordable wireless CCTV system that could cope with the distance and obstructions, so we purchased a wired system and set-up "Mission Control" in a caravan which is parked in an empty stable next to the foaling boxes. It's not luxury accomodation (I could not lead a permanent Gypsy life!) but it means I can watch the mares on the foal-cam without them being aware of my presence, and be immediately on hand if there's any complications.
Here's Inca on foal-cam :
Her due-date was yesterday but she is not showing any signs of imminent foaling, so I think I may be in for quite a few long, cold nights in the caravan! However, it's not all sleep-deprivation and gloom. Because I am awake earlier than usual, I have witnessed some beautiful sunrises.
This is the view from the caravan window as dawn breaks :
I also have the dubious pleasure of Breanna (2 year old bay roan Dales filly) sticking her head through the caravan window to demand breakfast at first light :
... and I have company!
This owl appeared 2 nights ago and sat on a fence post outside the caravan. It's a very poor quality photo, snapped in the pitch dark with the poor owl illuminated by torchlight, but I am ridiculously excited about it because a friend who is a professional falconer has identified it as a European Eagle Owl, which I have never seen in the wild before. It had extraordinary bright orange eyes and a huge wingspan when it flew off. I hope it becomes a permanent resident on the farm as it will hopefully keep the rat and rabbit population in check, but I am a bit concerned that it may be choosing a more upmarket dinner menu as 3 of our Khaki Campbell ducks have gone missing. Ooops.....