Everyone loves a native for their versatility, beauty and general ease of care, but there are certain aspects of management which are particularly prevalent during the colder, darker, muddier times of the year.
Here are six things many native pony owners can relate to during the winter months…
1. Your pony takes being ‘roughed off’ to the next level
Roughing off is when a fit, in-work pony is readied to be turned out for a rest or holiday and this usually takes place during winter when the season quietens down and we don’t have as much time to ride. Horses can adapt to long periods outside but the native, especially those belonging to the hairier breeds, grow long, thick coats and will resemble woolly mammoths for the majority of their winter vacation. Brushes at the ready…
2. His hair care regime needs to be upped
An oil solution for his feather and a top grade detangler for his mane and tail will need to be within easy reach as hair care will still be part of his daily routine. Native owners keep on top of those wild locks (it can become an obsession) to ensure the hair doesn’t matt or get burnt off in the mud. It’s a time consuming process but it’s worth the effort when he resembles a L’Oreal model come summer.
3. Your constantly worrying about his weight
Most moutain and moorlands (M&Ms) can live off fresh air — or at least minimal feed — so in the winter it’s important to make sure his diet is altered to match his work schedule. Despite the colder temperatures and reduced feed sizes, your pony still looks ‘well-rounded’ for the time of year and you’re left wondering if he’s perhaps sneaking off for his own meals when you’re not looking.
4. You sometimes even question what breed he is
That porky, increasingly hairy grey Connemara may be an althele during the summer, but you sometimes swear he looks more like a Highland during the off-season. And if you had a pound for every time someone has mistaken your fluffy bay Welsh section A for a Dartmoor, you’d be able to pay your feed bill for a week.
5. You’ve still not nailed the rugging schedule
These days, unless he’s clipped, you keep it simple; it’s au naturel all the way. Even if the weather does turn really bad, you know if you do put a rug on, it’s very likely he’ll have trashed it within a day.
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6. You’ll be seriously missing Olympia this year
Every year, 40 of the best ridden native ponies in the country congregate at the Olympia International Horse Show to compete for the prestigious M&M supreme ridden title. It will be strange without the show for us to follow and enjoy this year, but we’ll be back in 2021 ready to celebrate our beautiful natives in all their glory.
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