Last week, two local lads, born and bred in Fearnan, set off on the next stage of adventure in their lives.
Archie and Crannog (a.k.a. Noggie) were held in much affection by many in the village, and even had their own devoted fan base, ensuring a regular supply of crunchy carrot and apple treats were brought and served over the fence.
Who better to tell their story than Hazel, who bred and raised them?
“Crannog was born 10 days earlier than expected, in Graham Leighton’s field on 28th March 2010, whilst I was in India. His mother was Beauty, and he was her first foal. She was in the field with Debbie who had not held in foal that year. Debbie had been a brood mare before I bought her and was very maternal, so unfortunately she kidnapped Crannog and tried to mother him.
Julie McKendry was looking after the mares at the time and did a totally amazing job of splitting them up and getting Crannog reunited with his real mum. Julie and Ian McGregor had to milk Beauty and feed Crannog for a day or so before Beauty got the hang of feeding her own foal.
He was a friendly foal and grew into a very canny pony who was extremely easy to back and start riding. As you’ll see from the photos, he went from silver as a foal, to dark, to grey, and will probably turn pure white in the end.
After I had backed him, I met Pernille and she started riding out with us, giving Crannog an amazing training in dressage movements, which turned him into the most incredible horse to ride. On him, you felt like you were really floating and at one with him. He had a strong preference for her over me!!
Crannog has gone to livery at Tullochville, owned by a lady who has come back to horse ownership after a break of 4 years. She is also a dressage rider and so will be able to get the absolute best out of him.
Archie, on the other hand, was born to Debbie in the Log House field in May 2011, two weeks later than expected. He was the polar opposite of Crannog – suspicious and wary, just like his mother. He would scoot under her tummy and out on the opposite side whenever I tried to get close to him. But, gradually, he came to realise that no harm was going to come to him and he started to gain confidence.
When the time came to back him, he was also easy and ready for his new job as a ridden pony. It was like riding his mother all over again – he was so like her in many ways.
One of the funniest moments with Archie came when we rode up to the picnic tables on Drummond Hill, where we usually gave the ponies a little breather. Dismounting, we sat at one of the tables allowing the ponies to graze. A couple from the village, Ian and Ashley Shannon, were walking out that day and had also stopped at the picnic tables. They said that there was an apple in their rucksack, and they would like to give it to the horses, if that was OK? It was certainly OK with me, but I didn’t realise that Archie had his eye on a bigger prize. Just as they opened the rucksack, Archie shot over, stuck his head in, pulled out two bananas and scoffed them both, skin and all! He had certainly grown into a cheeky young horse!
Archie has headed off to Achnamara, Lochgilphead where he will live on his new owner’s farm with another horse for company. He will have his own sandy beach! His new owner is a gentle lady, who sadly lost her own elderly highland pony this spring.
I think both ponies will miss the village where they had such a great start. They will miss Susan Wagland with whom they had a lovely relationship, and also Julie who did so much for them, and without whom Crannog would have had an extremely short life. And they will miss Pernille’s careful training which was shaping them into wonderful riding horses.”
……………. and without question, they will both miss Hazel, whose devotion and dedication (in all weathers) turned them both into the most wonderful Highland ponies – ‘best in breed’ in every sense.
But we shall all miss the clip-clop of hooves announcing the start or end of another ride out on the hills, and the occasional whinny echoing across the village.
Good luck, boys!