Winnie and her foal going out with the trap.
Winnie's colt foal is turning into a lovely little fellow. Still a bit shy with strangers, he is happy out in his small family herd and with me handling him on a daily basis. He is extremely patient when tied up in the paddock, and he loves being brushed. He bravely masters lifting his hooves for me, he had his worm doses with no complaints. Overall, a smart little horse, happily learning the first steps of living alongside and being handled by humans.
We also go on brief outings with Winnie in the trap once a week. Unfortunately, there is not much off-road riding around here, and it would'n be great for his growing bones and hooves to walk on hard ground more often.
And of course, he loves his bigger sister who should be called Ms Patience, as she endures his boisterous approaches with a happy face!
Winnie pulling the sled with fence posts, with the foal at her side.
Recently, on a wonderfully sunny and hot afternoon, Henry proved again his brilliance and absolute reliability as a working partner.
We used the dry spell to work on the grazed down field with the grass harrow, spreading the horse manure - which horses characteristically leave in certain defined areas only. The spreading of the manure distributes nutrients evenly across the grassland, also it counter-acts the tendency to have a field slowly separating in land that horses graze and land where they defecate.
Anyhow, not only we were busy on that day, but also the honey bees! After making it through a long wet winter they faced a long wet spring, followed by a short wet summer. And they are seriously struggling to even provide enough honey to feed their brood, never mind any excess honey which could be jared.
So the bees were busy flying about, and a bit grumpy that the summer's day was already coming to an end, and then Henry comes on the scene, crossing their flight path over and over. Which they didn't like, and sent a bee to warn him off. She got carried away with her job and went straight on to sting him in his belly, which of course he very much disliked. But good old Henry, instead of galloping off with the harrow bouncing behind him, and me being dragged along, trying to cling to the reins, he danced about a bit but somehow knew that it was wiser to stand still long enough for me to unhitch and lead him away. On the way out of the field, another bee - who was probably sent to see what had become of the first bee! - stung him again, in the same place! He clearly had enough by now, but did he loose his head? Far from it, he looked complainingly at me and proceeded at a faster than usual but still reasonable pace back to the paddock, out of smell and sight of the other bees.
Knowing his reaction in this kind of situation is gold worth, it can't be paid in money to have a horse who is so trusting and understanding of a potentially panicky situation, and I feel honoured that Henry feels he can rely on me to sort things for him like getting him away from stinging bees and such.
As a reward, we went swimming in the sea the next day, still two big swollen lumps on Henry's belly, but how wonderful to float about in the cool sea with a warm-blooded horse to cling onto!
But who would think of the above happenings, looking out of the window now, with the trees bending in the wind, and rain coming down in bucket loads....oh dear, was that our summer already?
Recently, a friend came to visit us, bringing her cob Podge who Henry already knows from going on Trec competitions as a team. We had tried teaming up Henry and Podge in harness before, but at that stage, they had not had a good opportunity to sort out who is who - and most importantly who is the boss! And therefore they spent most of the time trying to irritate each other instead of concentrating on the job. This time around, Henry and Podge being best buddies for a while now, things went very smoothly, and they both worked perfectly as a team, endig up pulling the sled across the field in style. Podge had been ploughing in a team in his previous home, but he seems to have been thrown a bit by moving to a different small holding, being asked to do things slightly differently...but this little exercise at our place showed what potential he has, and no doubt he will remember fast from now on what he already has been taught.
One thing Henry needs to change for practising as a team with Podge is to walk faster, as Podge certainly has a good steady walk - even during the most boring of exercises - and Henry tends to take it too easy sometimes. He is just too clever for his own good and cannot see the point in walking round the paddock at working speed when there's nothing purposeful to do - can't blame him really! When it comes to ploughing, he can walk a good speed though - so there is a bright future ahead of Team Henry&Podge!
On the last day in July, another Open Day at the INFF on Manch Estate near Enniskeane/West Cork took place, and for the fourth time, Henry and I came over to do a logging demonstration, and - for the first time - a talk and slide show on logging with horses.
Again, what Henry seemed to enjoy most (just after pulling heavy logs that is!) was to pose for the camera, and his mane and nose to be stroked by little children.
Henry got a real chance to demonstrate his skills in the woods by pulling some beech out of the undergrowth, negotiating tree stumps, low branches, a deep layer of leaves and a large group of close by-standers.
A good day out all around! We'll be back in August to run the Taster Course in Horse Logging - see our Courses page for detaisl!