Hello February 2010

The snow has gone, yahoo.!!

Llanthony life has been quite a slog the last couple of months, with the rain, mud, snow and ice. The foals (now almost yearlings) are none the wiser to the cold weather, snug and warm in their cozy straw barn…WITH ROOM SERVICE.!!

The older youngsters have had quite a rough time so far, being their first winter out fending for themselves…..but I couldn’t resist and hay was taken out regularly and the weaker ones brought into the barn on the worst nights…I think they know how to play me!

The broodmares are looking exceptionally well, Africa, Rio, Chilli and Willow are now into their final trimester..not long until new Llanthony babies arrive……..watch this space.

Cobalt has been in and ready to do ridden work after a summer out at grass (doing job no.2) but due to the ice-age returning to britain, so much for global warming, we have been unable to do anything. So instead he is getting fat and playing manly games with the colts that are in desperate need of a visit from the surgeon.

On a veterinary note, I have been saving up projects for our vet to undertake this winter after the flies have all died and are no longer a threat to infections. Bramble had his tooth removed that had abscessed in the summer and was not clearing up with antibiotics, not a straight forward operation but he is now recovering well in the absence of his 6” poison tooth – IT WAS HUGE.!!!

Murphy had a tumour removed from his sheath and has suprised everyone on the team with the fastest recovery in the history of equine operations, not bad for a cob that has spent the last 20 years working hard. Heres to the next 20 years, good one Murph.

Horses that are out on loan are all doing well. Monty in particular has been having a whale of a time with Cerys in Llangenni, dressage, jumping, riding club events, lessons, and a family that loves him. It sounds like no one has been doing too much riding this winter, no suprises there with white stuff everywhere, but I imagine the horses are just happy to get some TLC.

The horses that are at Hartpury college are participating in a feed trial to investigate the effects of red-clover forage on the microbial populations in the hind gut, good luck everyone.

Now we are into February I can start getting excited about the start of the trekking season again, woohoo. Harri is moving back here in a couple of weeks to help me prepare, we have all sorts of things to get ready.

2010 is going to be a FANTASTIC year for riding I can feel it in my bones. We have popular horses back in work after maternity leave last season, Rosie has many eager fans awaiting her return to work, as do Gossip, Duchess, Seren and Lady. We also have Saira who is going to do some work this year after several foals and years of being Annabels private riding horse, I think she will enjoy the change and take very well to trekking.

There are LOADS of young horses that are lining up ready for training in the hope of making the grade and joining our ranks. Bonnie has been waiting her turn for 2 years, although the time was well spent raising her colt – Captain. Firefly, Maestro and Erehwon are my own youngsters that were supposed to begin training last year but I ran out of time, this year they will have to be my priority. AND we also have the 3yr olds, Velvet, Sugar and Violet who are going to need to start their training too, although not until later in the year when they have fully grown up.

GOOD. Now I am most definitely excited. Can’t wait to see you all. – We open Thur 1st April 2010.

Best Wishes


Happy New Year for 2010

New Year in the valley was beautiful with the hills blanketed in snow.  Much fun was had with tobogganing and snowballing!  The Half Moon was packed out once again on New Year’s Eve with great fancy dress outfits on which everyone had worked hard.  Katie and Cressy were convincing Christmas Trees, even with fully working lights when they were next to suitable sockets to plug in to!  Much of Court Farm had a Circus theme (great clown make up Tom and Annabel), and the bunkbarners (Karen, Paula, Jessie, Harri and lots of other friends) all went dressed as different band names which others in the pub had to guess from the clues (eg Paula in a boiler suit covered in question marks – The Who, Karen in pink top and chef’s hat with a glass of wine – Pink Floyd).
Next day was the traditional river jump with a good crowd to watch the bravest ones take the icy plunge to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital.  Cordelia was on standby with hot mulled wine to warm them up afterwards.  The duck race took place after the jump (proceeds to Cwmyoy Hall and Great Ormond Street).  Well done everyone!  Tony was the first in as usual, Jessie made it eventually after wavering on the edge for a few minutes!
News from the trekking yard is that Bramble has had an operation to sort out an abcessed tooth, he is recovering well now, and Murphy is due to have a small operation too – lets hope he gets through it OK and that they are both fit and well by Easter for trekking.
There was a Court Farm day trip to Cardiff and their mission was accomplished as Annabel has now ordered a stunning dress for her summer wedding to Jamie.  Before that we have Cressy’s 30th birthday bash to look forward to at the end of January – watch out Cardiff here we come!
We hope all our friends had just as much fun as we did over the New Year, and that 2010 is a happy and prosperous year for all.
With much love from Karen and everyone at Court Farm

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!