Adam And Eve

Flo & Berry with ponies 1.13

Florence set off first this morning.  She joined Berry, who drove her up to the field alongside the road to Fleetwater where her ponies are kept.  Flo helped prepare the two animals for their trip, and I joined them in time for the off.  I had to step it out to get there on time.  Poppy, the only one of the ponies accustomed to being ridden, was Flo’s steed, whilst Berry walked Libby.  Libby has yet to be ‘backed’, or ridden for the first time.  I walked and chatted with Berry.

Berry clearly knows the personalities of her ponies.  Libby is described as ‘naughty’.  She certainly didn’t like having a bit in her mouth, and did her best to dislodge her trappings. Before we set off Berry concentrated hard on ensuring that Flo was comfortable as she was responsible for her safety.  In order to free her to adjust Flo’s stirrups and girth Berry asked me to hold Libby’s lead, a rope attached to the head collar.  She also handed me a whip.  I was a little perturbed when she said ‘try not to let her bite you’.  I wondered quite how one did that, as this large hairy heavy hunk of horseflesh stomped round and round in circles tugging at the lead rope and bouncing her buttocks against me.  Later on, Berry told me this pony didn’t kick, but I didn’t know that then.  Nevertheless I did use my shoulder to push her back, and decided I’d better stand firm, otherwise she and I would probably get quite dizzy, and I didn’t want her falling on me.  When she diverted her attention from biting her bit, to focus on clamping her choppers on me and the lead rope, I poked her neck and nose with the soft end of the whip.  This seemed to do the trick, until she suddenly became very agitated, and tore great strips out of the turf with her forehooves, tossing her head up and down as I clung to the rope.  Two terriers emerging from a car which had just driven up provided an explanation for this.  One, until called off by its owner, was daft enough to come snapping at the pony’s fetlocks.

It seemed to take quite a long time to make the necessary adjustments to Poppy’s paraphernalia.  I doubt that it was really.  Soon we were off, passing the Acres Down shop and taking a long loop through the forest, arriving back at the field after a couple of hours.  Throughout the journey Flo led on Poppy, occasionally pausing to let us catch up.  Libby became agitated when Poppy was out of sight.Berry & Flo with ponies 1.13

Having worked for forty years as a cartographer for the Forestry Commission, and still engaged in mapping veteran trees, Berry is a mine of information about her environment.  We met a forest Keeper well known to Berry.  We had a long, very friendly, talk.  He is responsible for something like 7,000 acres, including inclosures.  Berry pointed out Puck Pits inclosure as we passed it, and explained that these were areas of the forest historically legally fenced off so as to be exempt from grazing.  In recent years the fences are gradually being removed.  Sometimes, when replanting has occured, fences are retained until the saplings are strong enough to be safe from the attention of deer.  On the road soon after this we were treated to what is the very rare sighting of a young cream coloured buck.  As we approached him he trotted off into the forest and for some time continued to be visible through the trees.Flo on Poppy 1.13

The veteran trees which Berry is mapping are often three to five hundred years old.  Two of these which she pointed out near the ford have borne local names for many many years.  They are Adam and Eve.

This evening I finished the Carta Roja with our meal of steak, chips and beans.

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