It’s only when I was reviewing various parts of the website to update today, that I realised it was September 2020 when I’d last posted on the Doghill blog and so I thought I better write something!
So where to start? How do I even begin to comment on the tumultuous events of 2020? Do I acknowledge the weirdness of the year or not?
So, I’m starting on a positive note with a picture of 3 of my favourite mares, Polka, Elsa and Topsicana looking happy and fat in the middle of August 2020. I love this picture. Topsicana (the chestnut on the right) is a mare who has had a very eventful life (see my last blog post) and when she came to us aged 20, she was stressed and unhappy, having lost her home, her 6 month old foal and Kitkat, her lifelong companion (and daughter) on the same day. She was depressed and sad and didn’t know where she belonged. She eventually settled, made a new best friend (Polka, the chestnut on the left) and found a purpose in taking our filly Elsa under her wing and teaching her the ropes of an older horse. This photo shows me how far Topsicana has travelled on her journey and shows me the “light at the end of the tunnel”.
So back to the last 12 months. As I write, we’re currently trying to home school Charlotte because schools have closed, whilst in our 3rd lock down, with the UK having hit the grim statistic of over 104,000 people dead because of Covid-19. It’s pouring with rain, the horses are fed up of the mud (as are we!) it’s cold and dark outside and everything is generally miserable.
Except it isn’t. Although it’s been a peculiar year and certainly more than a little challenging at times (especially when the house flooded 2 days before Christmas because of bad weather, I’d run out of gin and we were in a Welsh lockdown), today is a good day.
Today, the very first foal by Hobbit, “HW Hobbits Fancy Jac,” (“Sir Jack” to his friends) made his journey to his new home, where he was greeted by his excited new owner and where he’ll be treated like a prince. (Watch out for him in the show ring). It only seems like yesterday and not 12 months ago, that we were awaiting his arrival, which was still a few months away.
This time 12 months ago, Elsa (“HW Genuine Flybynite”) was still growing up in a field as a gangly youth. She is now with Sam Magdeleno being lightly backed and worked before she returns in March to be put in foal to Hobbit. This is something I am incredibly excited about as the resultant foal will be the first foal that will be “pure” Doghill breeding, being by our own stallion and a home-bred mare. Elsa is stunning (even if I am bias) and once she’s had her foal, she will be sent back to Sam to compete, before eventually replacing her mother Acorn in our breeding programme.
As we head in to spring 2021, we start foal watch (my absolute favourite time of year!) in a couple of weeks and the whole new cycle starts again. This year we have a very exciting line up of foals. We were very lucky to acquire 3 new mares just before lock down in March 2020. It was a mad bums-rush to get them to Doghill, because I “found out” we’d acquired Tulip (“Gold N Shimmer DC”) and Mayday (“TK Ata Mayday”) on Wednesday 18th March and in the space of 2 days had to organise transport out of South East England, before British lock down was formally made official by the Government and we fully locked down on the following Monday! That was a quite hairy timing, because had the mares been unable to travel, they’d have lost the entire stud season. As it is, they’re both pregnant to Hobbit and due the first week in April. It was all made slightly worse in that I’d told Huw that there was one mare coming (yeah, right!) and 2 horses turned up! Fortunately he saw the “funny” side…
This time last year we also acquired “Crocodile” (“Leaguerly Zippin”). Croc is hilarious. She’s a typical stroppy ginger mare and is quite possibly the most opinionated horse I have ever come across. She has a view on everything and even when she doesn’t, she still thinks she has! Although she’s named “Crocodile” because she pulls faces and pretends to threaten to bite everyone and everything (she finds it funny), she is actually a complete sweetheart, with a great attitude and character. We all adore her, but Charlotte especially. Croc is also in foal to Hobbit, but her foal is already spoken for as it belongs to Charlotte.
We’ve also got 5 other foals due, one of which is to Queenie (“Chipadee Reignlady”). I can honestly say that it’s the only time I’ve burst into tears all over the vet when he’s given me a positive pregnancy scan result. I’m desperately excited to see what she has. We had thought Queenie was barren because she hadn’t managed to get pregnant for 2 years, despite us trying. We had to sell her only filly a few years ago because Dim-Jim-Jimmy had decided to go through barbed wire and we couldn’t sell him as an injured foal… and we all know the story of Jim… or do we?
Jimmy I think has been the most staggering thing to come out of 2020. As mentioned in a previous blog post, in June 2020, Huw, Sam Magdeleno and I had quite a “discussion” over whether just to shoot him as he was tricky, unhinged, generally horrible and a “real challenge”. He must have been, because it took Sam 3 weeks to get a saddle on him!
Well, in a complete upturn, one of Sam’s older and more nervous clients who had been looking for a horse for about 18 months and DEFINITELY DIDN’T want a youngster and MOST CERTAINLY NOT a “Jimmy type” youngster, saw him at Sam’s, fell in love with him and bought him. To be fair, when she saw and tried Jimmy he was 6 months in to his “give him a chance” and Sam had worked incredible miracles with Jim. Not only had he changed from being an “idiot horse” but he had turned into a super safe boy you could trust to look after complete beginners who had never ridden before. He was safe, sensible, calm, sane and quiet and he and his new mum will hopefully have many happy years out hacking together. It’s the perfect home for Jim and it turns out that the perfect horse for Sam’s client, was the one she wasn’t looking for!
So yes, it’s been a peculiar year. Today is the anniversary of the 1st officially registered Covid-19 case in the UK by Public Health England. (30th January). Since then, the UK (and the World) has been on a peculiar and very surreal roller coaster ride. We’re heading into 2021 with more positivity, a vaccine has been found, people are being vaccinated and finally we have a way out of this horrible mess.
Huw and I have a habit of snapping random photos around our farm. I think these ones are great. The first is a sunset after a vicious, horrible stormy few days. The other is early in the morning after we’d had snow a couple of weeks ago and the sun had come up. I’d like to think 2021 is going to be like the rainbow after the storm of 2020. Hopefully this time next year we’ll be able to look back on 2021 and have had a better year. (And I’ll hopefully have updated the blog more!)