End of Season 2009

Space Trek and Dancing!

Here is there long awaited report of our end of season activities (and it is a long one)! The last weekend of trekking was better than we have had in the past weather wise – the Saturday was lovely but then we braced ourselves for the onslaught forecast for the Sunday. The very early morning and then up until about 9.30 was true to the weatherman’s prediction, howling gales and lashing rain, then when our customers arrived for the morning ride so did the sun! Again at lunchtime we got battered with wind and rain, but the afternoon was bright enough to cheer us up. Despite the muddy ground we had some lovely rides for the last weekend of the season.

Space Trek (Staff Trail Ride)

The trekking guides and friends all gathered in the Court Farmhouse at 8.15 on the Saturday morning for tea and coffee – a very civilised start to the day, until Darth Maul arrived (alias Katie in red and black face paint and horns) and frightened the living daylights out of us. There was a good Star Wars contingent:

Yoda (Cressy on Punch with a very convincing mask and robes)

Darth Maul (Katie on Magic, plus double ended light sabre)

Princess Leia (Jessie, even with plaits and white riding boots on Brandy!)

And a cuddly little Ewok (Keith on Whiskey – I wonder what was in his hip flask…..)

In addition there were:

Solar Flare Paula (all red and yellow sparks – get it – on Sparks?)

Space Hopper (Polly on Warrior)

Alien with lots of legs and silver face (Sarah on Cracker)

The Galaxy (Bryony in very artistic cape and make up riding Queenie)

The Milky Way (Karen in sparkly riding had and shiny cape on Kitty)

Major Tom was feeling under the weather so didn’t ride with us but met us later.

Andie had just moved house with hubby David who has finally arrived from the US and so they also joined us later.

Harri and Jonny decided to RUN with us in the morning, bringing the lurcher puppy Trip (who also had a great outfit) and Jessie’s Collie Tommy. Far too energetic if you ask me, they also almost kept up on the canter!

Special mention has to go to Chris in the Mission Support Vehicle (alias Big Red the Land Rover) which was dressed as the Space Shuttle and carried all our astronaut equipment for us (overnight bags, rugs for the horses etc).

Morning elevenses for the intrepid trekkers (Klingons on the Starboard bow) was mulled wine and sausage rolls at Ivor and Noreen’s place on the side of the hill, plus the veggie and non-alcoholic equivalents of course. A very welcome break! Then over to the Pandy for a huge lunch and up the road in the afternoon to the Crown at Longtown for our overnight stay, by which time hip flasks needed to be empty. We managed to get good weather right up until the last half an hour of the ride so we didn’t get too wet and got the horses’ rugs on as soon as their saddles were off.

A great evening in the pub followed with Colin, Tom, Tracey, Andie and David joining the happy band for dinner, after which there were games of pool and sparklers in the garden.

After a hearty breakfast the next morning and rescuing one of the horses after it got stuck in a fence we all rode back over the Hatterall Hill, during which we paused for a 2 minute silence for Remembrance Day, again the weather was kind to us. While the horses were cooling off in the barn we all had lunch in the Abbey before turning them out.

And so another epic trail ride was over for another year and we said goodbye to all the horses, some are staying on the farm, some have gone to winter homes locally, and others have gone back to college.

So we go from one extreme to the other: The following weekend was the Llanthony Valley and District Show Committee’s annual Dinner and Dance. A sumptuous affair that does exactly what it says on the tin – dinner then dancing. Court Farm had two tables and everyone was looking very glamorous and debonair in their evening dresses and dinner suits. A new band was booked this year, Soul’d Out was a 12 piece group including a brass section (sax and trumpet) with some very good musicians and vocalists playing a wide range of live music (no backing tracks) and the dance floor was full for the whole evening so good were they. The usual raffles and auction took place, with some very funny speeches too. There were some sore heads (and feet) the next day but what a great evening! It was hard to recognise the folks normally seen in riding clothes or farming overalls in their finery.

So things go quiet for a while at the farm. Except for our Tom who is still being kept busy with the youngsters and foals on the farm who are determined to get in to trouble at every opportunity. Cobalt now comes in at night and is getting plenty of TLC too. Our next big event is New Year in the valley and that River Jump after the night of parties.

Watch the website in the New Year for details of 2010’s trekking dates, and we wish all our friends and customers and very happy Christmas season and a peaceful new year.

Lots of love from Karen and everyone at Court Farm.

November 2009.

Autumn 2009

Autumn 2009

The riding season is rapidly drawing to a close, the horses now have their cosy rugs on at night, but what a lovely September we had, it almost makes up for the lack of a summer! Beautiful autumn mornings see the leaves turning from green to a myriad of warm orange, red and brown shades.

News from the farm is that Harri has started her Farrier course at college and has moved to Longtown – we still see her at weekends as she keeps her hand in with trekking. Andi (who is Danish and most recently lived in America) has joined us recently as a new full time guide and has moved in with her dog (Dorian Grey) her Tennessee Walking Horse (Cervantes) and is just waiting for husband David to join her from New York.

There’s still lots to look forward to, but lots of work to do too. Tom is busy finding winter homes for the horses, the guides are racking their brains over fancy dress costumes for the staff trail ride in November (the theme this year is Space Trek!) and then of course the dinner dance is coming up when we all get to dress up in our finery and dance the night away.

Here’s a poem that we think sums it all up right now:


Crisp Autumn morning with a pale sun peering,

Picking out the highlights on chestnut, black and bay

Ten keen trekkers and their ten wise ponies,

Stringing out along the road to start a trekking day.

Start of soberly, steady on the tarmac,

(Walk, mare walk!) till we’re fairly out of town.

Now the leader’s trotting on (bring ‘em up behind, there!)

Rising to the rhythm with your hands well down.

Splash though a shallow stream – stop and take a drink, nag,

Brush through the heather where the late bees hum;

Clamber up the sheep track snaking round the hillside,

Easy now pony! There’s a steeper bit to come.

Wind along the gorsy moor, sitting nice and easy,

Slither down the stony path, slipping on the scree;

Steal a little canter where the turf lies smoothly,

Stop and let her graze where the grass springs free.

Gently down the home hill (oats begin to call, lass?)

Clatter through the stable yard – feeding will be fun.

Ten tired trekkers and their ten tired ponies,

Hungry, hot and happy with a good day done.

E Ladson.

Love from Karen and all at Court Farm.

Summer 2009

Well it’s been an extremely busy summer here so far this year, and guides and horses alike are looking forward to a well-earned break next week, when we’re all going to the beach for Tom’s birthday!

Two of our biggest horses have left us recently, with Sullivan going to be a police horse, and Sienna sold to a local family.

The Llanthony Show went really well, despite the weather, with most of the guides helping out with traffic control or in the secretary’s tent. Thanks everyone. (Trying to drink the beer tent dry does NOT count as helping Bryony!) Bryony and Ace won the champion trekking class, the first time Llanthony Pony Trekking has held the title since Ace’s Aunt Fortune and Cousin Morwyn held the titles about 10 years ago! The cup is back where it belongs! Harri and Cherry had a very respectable first outing with 3rd in class.

Katie and I took Ace and Magic to a TREC compeition last Sunday. To those unfamiliar it’s a new equestrian sport designed to test a horse’s suitability to go hacking over reasonable distances and to deal effectively with any obstacles that you might meet. It’s basically orienteering on horseback followed by an obstacle course. Despite getting hideously lost for what seemed like hours in a horrible wood, we actually came 6th (yes, there were more than 6 entries!) and are very proud of Ace and Magic who managed to do 30km in 3 and a half hours. They are absolutely fine, but I can hardly walk I’m so stiff and sore!

If you’re thinking of riding with us in the next few weeks, do book as early as possible as we’re getting full up really quickly at the moment. Best wishes to everyone, and here’s hoping for a bit more sun before the end of the summer!


2009 Season begins

The new season has opened really well with some fabulous weather and lots of bookings.  The horses are all home now, and moulting really well, although some area still wearing rugs at night-time as its quite chilly on the dry clear nights we have been having.

Easter weekend was wonderful with a full book and some great rides in the sunshine.  Staff, family and friends of Court Farm all got together on Easter Saturday evening for the first barbecue of the season, it was great to have everyone back together again.

Just before the season opened we had a new foal born to Chilli; Tom’s Appaloosa mare bought (in foal) last year.  She has had a stunning spotty colt by King Soloman, whom Tom as named Arctic Prince.  Its great to see him galloping round the field.  Soon he will have lots of new playmates as our mares currently in foal are all due before the end of June. Tom will certainly have his work cut out looking after all of them together with last year’s batch who are proving to be proper tearaways!

The building work at the farm is coming on really well with a new reception area and porch complete with fridge and freezer for meat sales, restyled kitchen and a dedicated office.  Its not quite finished yet but looks great already!

We have some new weekday staff, Sarah and Ani have joined to help on the days when the “weekenders” can’t be there and Paula is also helping out in the week too.  Lex and her eager helpers have just about finished the main lambing, a few calves are being born too, so Spring has definitely sprung at the farm.

It was lovely to see so many people enjoying the valley over Easter after the forecast had been so awful and then proved to be completely wrong, and we look forward to seeing you all, old friends and new, over the coming months.

Lots of love from Karen and all at Court Farm.

Happy New Year

3rd Jan 2009


2009 started in great style, a fancy dress – Batman – and a jump in the river (for anyone crazy enough to try – Bryony, Annabel, Jamie, Jessie, Sarah.!!).

Llanthony Riding and Trekking were pleased to welcome David Harrison and the Monmouthshire Hunt to Court Farm today, along with renowned journalist Rory Knight Bruce and official photographer Trevor Meeks from Horse and Hound magazine. A glorious sunny day with the heavily frozen ground led to a beautiful meet. Hounds only as, due to the very hard ground, everyone was recommended not to bring horses. A lovely day.

The horses are all well, they prefer freezing to wet and are more than happy having a rest out in the fields. Those out on loan seem to be doing well, a couple have returned for a rest before we start again in April.

The foals are growing up fast and pushing me about everyday at breakfast time, little monkeys.!!!

Happy New Year to everyone, lets hope its a prosperous one.!!

Tom -x-