Jonathan: Eòghann and I walked two ponies – Midnight and Alasdair – about 3 miles over the hills from by the church at Trossaraidh to Cnoc a Deas (the headland right by our house). It was a lovely morning – soft wintry sunshine with scarcely a breath of wind. We lead them just with simple halters, through the gate in the hill fence and up on to the shoulder of Beinn na Coire, with a few streams to ford and wading through knee-high heather. The ponies seemed eager to get on, but waited patiently when we stopped to talk, enjoy the view, and take photos – like the one here of Eòghann, Midnight and behind him Alasdair. As soon as we got to Cnoc a Deas, both set to work on the grass. Midnight was tethered using a special metal stake pushed right down into the ground, fitted with an anti-snarl swivel. According to Eòghann, Alasadair wouldn’t need tethering because he wouldn’t wander far from Midnight. This evening I went out across the road up on to the hill to check they were okay: Denise said – “Once you and Eòghann start, you’ll be talking to Midnight”!
Jonathan: At the meeting of Comann Each nan Eilean (breed society for the pure Eriskay Pony) we were discussing what mares were in foal from this year and what might be expected next year. Shealagh turned to Eòghann, who has more Eriskay ponies than anyone else anywhere, and asked ‘So Eòghann, are you going to tell us what your breeding intentions are?’ As quick as a shot, Eòghann replied “Well, at 74 years old now, I suppose it’s time I made room for some of the younger lads”. I really think that needs to be recorded in the minutes, but as the Secretary I shall probably in get into trouble if I do!
Jonathan: Gale to Severe Gale force winds during the night and this morning – looks like it will continue for a few days. Thankfully not raining when I went to the croft to check the livestock, and so I went on to Princes Beach for an exilerating walk with Tilly. A storm of sharp shell sand swirled and scoured along the beach, making it painful to walk back into the wind to the car. After a coffee back at the house, I went round to Eòghann’s to help move two Eriskay ponies with their foals from about a mile along the road to behind his house. For the first time I myself caught a pony (actually she just stood still!) and put a halter on her and then led her back along the road with her foal tagging along behind. They are very hardy creatures and happily stay outdoors all year round, even in the harshest weather. But they do not like walking into the wind – perhaps simply because it is hard going, and they would really rather just munch their way along the grass verge, taking all day to get there! Quite soon I will be getting a long-term loan of an Eriskay pony with a view to putting it to work with me collecting and hauling seaweed from the shore: more on that in good time.