Amazing views from Y Foel today.


Checking the ponies each week is a personal victory for me, a small victory in the whole scheme of things, but a victory nonetheless. When I was four years old I was bitten on the face by a horse, (I was also, in another incident, licked by a giraffe, but that is another story) and I have been scared of horses ever since (but I have always loved giraffes). Checking the 7 Welsh mountain ponies on Y Foel over the past 5 years – checking on their welfare, looking for signs of illness, stress or injury – has been scary for me and I have tended to rush the job and get away from them as quickly as possible (literally running away).

Foel Welsh cobs with Ynys-hir and estuary


Recently I have noticed that I am much more comfortable with them, that I actually enjoy being in their company, part of the group. This week I learned that they can hear my heartbeat (not just mine, but yours as well). For a herd animal, this makes perfect sense:  they are able to detect the presence of a predator from its racing pulse. Have you ever noticed how a herd of animals reacts to your sudden appearance? One sheep, or cow or horse, lifts its head and then others, who can’t possibly have seen you, lift theirs in response. It’s because they can hear hearts beating. It is a survival technique.

These days they sense my becalmed heart and are, in turn, more at ease with me.

Up close and comfortable


The ponies are opening up areas of bracken through trampling, through foraging. In some areas, wood sorrel is showing through.