I don’t think I know anyone who has a horse or pony that doesn’t also have a dog, so I thought I would introduce my little pal, The Norm. He was bred on the stud I used to work on and was born just three days before I suddenly lost one of my dogs. I didn’t go to see the puppies for quite some time as I was still upset over losing Hamish. Then one day as I was leaving work, the puppies had just been let out for a run and I couldn’t resist stopping to say hello. One little pup spotted me and raced over. This was The Norm, and though I couldn’t think of getting another dog to start with, he soon got into my heart and I brought him home.

He has been my constant companion ever since. When he was younger, he loved to come to shows with me, especially overnight ones, but they’ve become a little too much for him as he has aged. On the 6th of April he celebrated his seventeenth birthday, and although he sleeps more, he is still very bright and bouncy on his walks.

Both Florence and I have our birthdays on the 2nd of May, and it’s hard to believe my tiny foal is now a strapping seven-year-old. I’m not saying what my age is!

I had a bit of fun with Diva the other day when one of the yard dogs left a toy gorilla near Diva’s stable. I decided to ‘back’ Diva with it. I’m not sure she was that impressed, though in typical fashion she wasn’t worried by it.

It’s that time of year when the dreaded ragwort is beginning to show itself in the fields. The best thing to do is to pull it when at the rosette stage, as pictured, or to spray it. But remember to leave horses off the land until the weed has completely disappeared as it is more likely to be eaten when dead than when green.

Ragwort is very dangerous to horses when it is found in hay, as they will eat it readily and the weed has a cumulative effect as a poison. A little, taken over a long period of time, can have the same devastating effect as a lot taken in a single session.

Since it is a biennial plant, preventing it from seeding will mean that after two years it should hopefully be less abundant in the field. Though it is notifiable under The Weeds Act 1959, the sad truth is that Defra will rarely, if ever, act unless the field is grazed by cattle or sheep—which is very frustrating if your land borders some that is unmanaged for ragwort. So, happy ragworting and see you next time.

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