What a difference a few days make. From hot and sunny to wet, windy and ten degrees cooler! No wonder us Brits are known for talking about the weather.

I brought Diva, Mabel and Florence in overnight one evening as the field was slippery due to the rain. Fortunately, since then the rain has been intermittent and so the ground has dried up enough for me to keep them out again.

Mabel and Diva are well roughed off – having not been bathed, which would remove the grease from their coats – and so they are practically waterproof! Florence is bathed and groomed more often and so I put a light rain sheet on her when the rain is persistent.

One good thing about the rain is that the grass is growing fast at the moment. This presents a potential problem, especially for a young Shetland pony. Such conditions can increase the number of cases of laminitis. This debilitating and sometimes life-threatening condition is one where prevention is certainly better than cure.

When I first got Diva, I asked her breeders, Melland Stud, for their advice on feeding as I had never owned a Shetland before. The basic advice was if there is grass, they don’t need additional feed apart from a mineral lick. Melland Stud believes in growing their youngstock on naturally and are aware of the dangers of overfeeding young Shetland ponies. This is advice I continue to follow, with Diva being fed TopSpec Stud Balancer Lite in the winter and, now out at grass, having no feed – just a bit of hay twice daily.

All horses and ponies are individuals and as such their feeding requirements are too. The age old saying of feeding according to age, type and exercise still holds true, but with Shetland ponies, generally less is more!

I also try to do a little work with Diva, as exercise will burn off a few calories and again reduce the risk of laminitis. I check Diva’s digital pulses daily, and if there was any increase in them, I would bring her in until it settled down again. I trot her up on a hard surface to assess her soundness daily.

Dividing the field up to rest some parts and to prevent overeating evidently led to the yard’s small flock of sheep deciding that the grass growing there is better than in their fields. One morning I arrived to find all but two enjoying the longer grass. I must have looked quite a sight, doing a sheepdog impression to get them out of the field!

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