All small creatures are lovely - even baby mice have a certain appeal (not, I hasten to add, to the farmer!) and this is definitely the time of the year for small creatures. On Sunday morning, as we drove over the moor above the Mallerstang in Upper Wensleydale, we saw the semi-wild horses up there. Piebald and heavy-hooved, they have lived up on the tops for a long time. They are quite tame and almost come up to the car - but they fend for themselves in all but the
harshest weather. There is one stallion - a big chap with a fiery look to his nostrils - best to keep your distance from him. And of course, from now on there will no doubt be a crop of foals.
So far there appears to be one - the photograph above is as near as I could get to him/her. As we approached he dashed in for a quick drink at the milk bar and then settled down behind his mum. Already, even at this distance, you can see that the foal is a little toughie
There is one field in between our fields that does not form part of our farm. It belongs to one of the racing stables in Middleham. Middleham, three miles away, is a great centre for horse-racing trainers - there are seventeen training establishments there including people like Mark Johnston, Ferdy Murphy, Patrick Haslam. Racing is big business and the horses get five star treatment. In the Winter they are stabled indoors. But this week, now that the temperature is warming up a bit, some of the racehorses have left their pampered life in the stables and have come to the field of buttercups. And how they love it.
The field is split into two. In the bottom half are three young fillies - their legs do not look strong enough to carry their bodies. They gallop up and down the field, full of the joy of being out in the fresh air I suspect. They don't know they are top-of-the-range race horses, any more than the birds know it is Wednesday today. In the top half of the field are two brood mares and their foals. The mothers are very protective, but they are used to being handled, so if you stand still long enough they come fairly near - but they are far too "snooty" to come for a stroke.
I am sorry the photos are a bit distant - but this is as near as I could get, and I did want to share with you these beautiful creatures.
So we have the wild, shaggy, free-as-air piebalds and the pampered, cossetted race horses trained to win the big races. But when it comes to the foals - there is only one perfect foal and every mare has it.