blue and white HGV horse box
The New Horsebox

Rackwood Ruth, 19 April 2019

Rackwood Victoria, 1st June 2019.

black mare grazing with her foal
Rackwood Black Velvet, 1st June 2019.

black mare and her foal
Rackwood Bonnie Lass, 26 June 2019.

black fell mare champion at Durham county show
Rackwood Maggie May, Fell Pony Champion at Durham County Show, June 2019.

black Fell pony stallion in a field with wall behind
L innel Riddler

Rackwood Maggie May at Great Yorkshire Show, 2019

Rackwood Maydew & Rackwood Autumn Dew, 11 September 2019

Rackwood Autumn Dew and her small companion Gem, 19 September 2019.

black fell mare at Wolsingham show
Wolsingham Show Fell Reserve Champion

two prize winning black yearling Fell fillies at Wolsingham Show
Aurora & Lucky Lady, September 2019



2019 News from Rackwood Fell ponies

My year began with the continued search for a newer horsebox. Anything that met my criteria carried a hefty price tag so Donald and I spent several nights looking at lots of adverts until eventually I found the one. I knew as soon as I saw the photographs and read the description that this was the one for me and it was only in Yorkshire so not at the other end of the country. We arranged to view and take it for a test drive and the deal was done. Very excited didn’t come close to how I felt. I arranged collection of my old wagon and then drove my new one home on 21st January. It came with 12 months MOT so I packed it full of goodies and was ready to start the 2019 show season. The weather during January had been good enough for my yearling fillies, Aurora and Lucky Lady, to be turned out during the day and brought in at night so they had some handling and freedom to keep them sensible.

Early in February Maggie and I began our dressage competitions as part of the BD Quest Club. We continued to be part of a Fell pony team called the ‘Fell’O’Holics’. Being part of a team gives you the motivation to get up early on cold frosty mornings when you would otherwise stay in bed another hour or so. Also I began working with Sophie to bring her back into work ready to go to her new home in Derbyshire during March. Yogi was also destined for a new home so he needed a crash course to remind him of his manners. Yogi loved the attention and soon remembered what he had been taught as a foal and yearling. During February there was an outbreak of Equine Influenza so all horseracing was stopped for a week and then all venues requested all equines had to be vaccinated. Fortunately for me Maggie was routinely vaccinated but other members of our dressage team were not so we had to put things on hold until they could have their first two vaccinations. Towards the end of March I delivered Sophie and Yogi to two friends who live close together in Derbyshire and already own a Rackwood pony each. We also went to Laura who has two Rackwood ponies. I am very proud to know that there is a group of Rackwood ponies living in Derbyshire and all three ladies have returned to me to buy their second Fell pony.

April brought with it a real mix of weather from very hot to wet with hail storms and wind. I began handling Ruth and taking her for walks around the yard. She had taken a back seat while I handled and showed Xena during 2018 but now as a 2yr old she was ready to get out and about. I continued to ride Maggie and hacked out regularly with my friend Barbara and Fell pony Ben as well as competing in BD Team Quest. My broodmares were getting bigger but continued to request hay until the 30th April. Sarge Noble, breeder of the Heltondale Fell ponies, once told me that you cannot expect a good foal if you do not hay your mares over winter so as long as they want to eat hay, I will provide it.

Early in May I took Maggie to Hairy Pony Camp at Linnel Wood. I was truly spoilt in my wagon with central heating especially as the temperature dropped below freezing on the Friday evening. I enjoyed lots of lessons over the weekend but made the mistake of doing a hack out on the Saturday afternoon. Maggie pulled all the way around the route. I should have had the sense to let her go to the front then she would have settled but by keeping her at the back, my shoulders ached all Saturday night and Sunday. Not my best experience but I would do it differently next time so learnt something from the experience. In the middle of May my broodmares began to foal. Melody produced a healthy filly which I called Victoria. A few days later Black Magic also had a filly so I called it Black Velvet. Magic foaled early in June and also produced a filly so I called it Bonnie Lass. Maydew looked in foal but was obviously going to hang on to it for a while longer.

Early in June I took Maggie and Aurora to the FPS South Cumbria Show. This was Aurora’s first show so she was definitely on her toes most of the day but managed to be placed 2nd in the yearling class. Maggie looked well and was in perfect show condition but did not please the judge and was placed 5th. I entered the same pair for Durham County Show but with a huge amount of rain falling in the days before the show, I decided that I did not want my wagon pulled on and off the field so I took one pony in my trailer. Maggie won her class and then went on to be Fell Pony Champion. I definitely made the right decision regarding transport as the ground was very uneven and boggy. The following week I took Maggie up to the Royal Highland show at Edinburgh. Donald and I have attended this show for many years and latterly have taken our caravan and stayed on the show field. This year, for the first time, we took a pony and slept in the wagon. Maggie was a good girl and was quite amazed by the size of the main ring and everything going on around her. She was entered in a mixed M&M class of 16 ponies and I was very pleased with how she went and behaved and was placed 6th out of the 14 ponies forward. We stayed for most of the four days and came home on the Sunday afternoon. Another box ticked on my bucket list.

We returned from the RHS to start haymaking at home. It is a long time since we made June hay but the weather was right and the crops were ready so we cracked on. About this time I noticed there was something wrong with my stallion, Linnel Riddler. He had obviously twisted his back and was finding it difficult to walk, especially down a hill. I was monitoring his progress very closely especially as he was living out with my mares on a steep hillside. The following week we made a day trip to the Great Yorkshire Show. Maggie went very well and was placed 2nd in a strong class of Fell mares. We returned home to get ready to go to the North West Pony Camp at Newton Rigg. I enjoy this camp because I am not one of the organisers and can go as one of the girls. I regained my confidence with jumping and we had a fun morning doing horse agility. Always something new to try and Maggie enjoys variety. Haymaking at Hamsterley took place at the end of July when the weather was far too hot to work but good for making hay. Riddler’s health was deteriorating so after discussion with my Vet I made the decision to have him put to sleep. He was 23 years old and been my stud stallion since the spring of 2015. Donald and I were both upset by this but knew it was the right thing to do.

The FPS Breed Show was early in August but because of the Equine Influenza problems, all ponies attending the show had to be vaccinated. My broodmares are not vaccinated so I could not take a mare and foal. Katie and I put our heads together and looked at which ponies we had that were vaccinated and decided to take Maggie May, Rambling Rose, Aurora and Dalewin Victor. The day before the show I was asked if I would take a dressage arena which is made up of sections of white guttering. I reluctantly agreed to this which meant Aurora had to stay at home as her stall in the wagon was needed to carry the dressage arena. Maggie was placed 1st in the class for mares 8yrs and over winning ‘The Dene Renown Salver’. Rose was placed 3rd in the class for mares 4yrs -7yrs and Victor was placed 2nd in the class for yearling colts or geldings so all ponies came home with a rosette.

We built my arena here at Abbots Close in 2012 and it was completed early July ready for the FPS 90th celebrations. From that day I have raked the surface by hand but during August 2019 Donald discovered that he could tow a section of our chain harrows with his ride on lawn mower. It makes a far better job than I do in about one tenth of the time. Brilliant!

Early in September Maydew foaled a filly, my fourth filly of 2019. I do not think I have ever bred four fillies in one season. I wanted a name for her that would connect her to the family line. Grand dam was Rackwood Dewdrop, dam was Rackwood Maydew so this filly foal was called Rackwood Autumn Dew. Unfortunately 12 days after she was born her dam was found dead. My Vet thought she may have had a heart attack but it left me with an orphan foal. My Vet was very helpful and told me to get her a small companion as soon as possible so Katie offered me Gem, her miniature Shetland. Bottle feeding every two hours was quite traumatic for me as well as the foal but then a friend told me to put her onto a bucket. Three days later she was feeding unaided from a bucket. Dewy had the advantage of having had 12 days of her mothers’ milk before being orphaned so had the important antibodies. Donald fixed me a bucket holder out of a calf pen onto the stable wall and we were away. I kept feeding every 4 hours for a couple of weeks then dropped it down to every 6 hours. I was rather shocked to find that by 12 weeks old a foal should be consuming 12 litres of milk per day. I don’t think we really appreciate our broodmares. Anyway the good part of this story is that Dewy and Gem are good friends and have managed to graze outside most days from September to December.

Our local show at Wolsingham took place early in September, the day after Autumn Dew was born. Maggie won her class and then was awarded Reserve Champion. Aurora and Lucky Lady took 1st & 2nd prizes in the yearling class. This was before I had an orphan foal to look after and still had a life! I continued to ride Maggie and hack out with Barbara and Ben and in a moment of madness agreed to do the Druridge Bay ride with Liz Haynes and her Fell pony Kate. It was a very wet and windy morning and I really didn’t think we would do it but Liz was determined we would attend and take part so off we went. I took a change of clothes to put on after our ride but it was extremely difficult to get the sodden clothes off before we got in the car to come home. A box ticked on Liz’s bucket list!

The weather had changed in the middle of September and the rain was relentless. Our corn crops were proving very difficult to harvest and the straw very difficult to dry and bale. The land became so wet that ploughing and drilling the next crop had to be adjourned. Everywhere was a bog. The autumn foal shows had been cancelled because of the Equine Flu vaccination issues so my showing season ended mid September. My foals had not been handled but eventually came home to be weaned early in November.

It was around this time that Donald came up with the idea of felling the old, diseased trees down our farm drive and replanting with young, healthy trees that would not shed branches with every gust of wind. When the officer came out from the Forestry Commission to discuss our ideas we were shocked to discover that we needed to plant three trees for every one that we planned to fell. We planned to fell twenty trees so that was going to mean that we had to plant sixty trees to replace them. I spent several hours completing the on-line felling licence application form and after the third rewrite it was submitted and approved. I think 2020 is going to be a very interesting year!

To sum it up 2019 was a very varied year with lots of ups and downs.

1. Great excitement at buying a newer horsebox so staying away at shows and pony camps would be warmer and more luxurious.

2. The pleasure of having lots of In-hand show ring success with Rackwood Maggie May.

3. Sadness at saying good bye to Linnel Riddler (23yrs) and Rackwood Maydew (19yrs).

4. The new experience of having four filly foals to winter and handle including my first ever orphan foal after being involved with breeding a total of 74 foals with the Rackwood prefix.


2018 News from Rackwood Fell Ponies

2017 News from Rackwood Fell Ponies

2016 News from Rackwood Fell Ponies

2015 News from Rackwood Fell Ponies

2014 News from Rackwood Fell Ponies

2013 News from Rackwood Fell Ponies

2012 News from Rackwood Fell Ponies

2011 News from Rackwood Fell Ponies

2010 news from Rackwood Fell Ponies