Ellie’s fiance, Lee, emailed me when he was looking for a special gift for Ellie’s twenty-first birthday. After Ellie and her mum sadly and unexpectedly lost four of their seven ponies at the beginning of this year, he knew that Ellie was mindful of her time with her three remaining horses and thought capturing them on camera might be the perfect present.
So last week, on a day that was supposed to be mainly cloudy, but decided to throw a few spontaneous rain showers at us, too, I made my way over to their home in Latchingdon, near Maldon, to meet the gang.
Ellie currently lives in Newcastle, with Lee, where she has been studying. So she only gets to see the horses when she visits home. But she tells me that she hopes to move back down south before too long, because she misses them all too much.
First up was the biggest of the bunch, Derby. Derby is Ellie’s Irish Draught x Thoroughbred and is an Essex Horse and Pony Protection Society rescue. Ellie has had Derby, who’s posh name is ‘Derby O’Gill’, since she was just fourteen. She describes her first meeting with him as ‘love at first sight’, when she went to look around EHPPS and spotted him. She pursuaded her mum to fill in the form, applying to foster Derby and when they were accepted and went back to try him a few days later, Derby took no time at all to dump Ellie, unceremoniously, onto the floor. Lol! First impressions and all, Derby! 😉
But clearly that didn’t put her off. She still pleaded her mum to let him come home with them and here they are, seven years later. Ellie says that even though he’s a little crazy and quirky, she adores him. She tells me that he loves dressage and jumping and is great at everything “except being calm and sensible”.
Next up was Billy. ‘Bilbo Baggins’ is suspected to be an Arab cross Connemara. This is a great story about a pony choosing his owners, rather than the other way around. Billy and his field buddy, Prince, arrived on Ellie’s doorstep one day, having escaped from the neighbouring field. Ellie and her mum returned them and thought nothing more of it. When it happened again, not long after, Ellie’s mum asked the owner if she could buy them and they became part of the family.
Prince was one of the ponies that Ellie sadly lost this year, but he was with them until his final days.
Billy is such a cracking little pony. He is one of those ponies that every little girl needs, that you can jump on bareback and have fun with. He and Ellie have competed in showjumping competitions together and apparently he is a real speed demon who can turn on a sixpence. Billy now suffers from an under-active thyroid and is taking life a lot slower, but he still has a huge character!
And lastly, I was introduced to the princess of the yard, little Angel. Angel is twenty-one years-old, the same age as Ellie and has been with the family since she was just five. She was actually bought for Ellie’s sister, but as she can be a little bit quirky, they never really got along. Ellie and Angel, however, clicked straight away and Angel taught Ellie how to ride. Or, more specifically, “How to sit a buck and how to ‘Sit up!!’, as my Mum would shout constantly, as Angel bolted across the field.”
Golden oldie, Angel, now suffers from laminitis and cushings, but she has remedial shoeing and both conditions are managed well, allowing her to retain her cheeky personality and enjoy her retirement.
I just want to quickly mention the ponies that Ellie and her family lost this year. What an awful thing, to have lost so many, so close together. Molly was the first to go, quite unexpectedly and then her ‘boyfriend’ Prince followed, suffering from suspected heartbreak. Neither of these losses were expected and must have been a huge blow. Not long after that, thirty-eight year-old Kami and fourty year-old Lucy passed away too. I know that Ellie and her family miss them terribly and are grateful for every day they have with their other three horses.
Thank you so much to Lee and Ellie, for having me and to Ellie’s lovely Mum for helping get ears forward, too. It was a pleasure to meet you all and all of your hundreds of animals!! 😀
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