The following is a piece I wrote after a most memorable pony move back in 2010 from Ashdown to Lullington:
‘With help from Bob, the Army’s Lands Warden and four people from the Estate Co and a bucket of feed, we led Herd 1 the ¾ mile to the [then] newly constructed permanent corral, all in about ¾ of an hour. We then separated 12 ponies out and released the remainder. Then the weather closed in!
Bob, our haulier phoned to say he was coming an hour earlier at 1pm due to the worsening conditions. By now there was a heavy snow falling; he duly arrived and proceeded to reverse with trepidation the last 1/4 mile downhill to the corral. We then split the ponies into groups for loading; Trouble was her usual un-sociable self and refused to load but we eventually cajoled her on board. Bob managed to drive his truck up and out of Pippingford – in the nick of time. The weather had now seriously closed in with visibility down to 20/30 metres, half darkness and with the snow packing down and resembling an ice rink by the time we reached the A22. Bob remarked that ‘it was the worse weather he’d driven in.’ It took us 2½ hours to reach Lullington arriving at 4pm. The seven volunteers were by now cold, bored and wondering how we were going to finish the task off.
Duncan Ellis (the farmer), had kindly gone on standby with his stockman Mick and a tractor to assist if necessary in towing Bob. It was decided however to shut several gateways and to drive the ponies along the farm roadway. By now, we were working in the surreal conditions of snow [6 inches?], darkness and moonlight – quite, quite beautiful. We eventually persuaded the ponies through some cattle and into the area adjacent to where they were intended to be, (until conditions allow us to drive them further up into Deep Dean). As for myself, I left Lullington at 5-30 and arrived home at 10pm!
A real team effort! I would particularly like thank Bob, Alan and Richard and staff for assisting with the gathering. To Bob for persevering in atrocious road conditions. To Maria, Michael, Mick, Mike, Nick and Sue for waiting around all afternoon and to Duncan and Mick for being on hand to advise and assist.’
“I cannot resist adding a note to Monty’s report. Eventually, Bob the lorry driver (what amazing skill!) got the lorry backed up the lane. I assumed that the ponies, once released, would high tail it as far as possible from the lorry and three of us had positioned ourselves further down the lane to ensure they did not go off the lane. We heard the rumble of hooves getting off the lorry – but no ponies came galloping past. Instead, through the dark we heard Monty, the Exmoor pony whisperer, approaching followed by an orderly file of ponies! A priceless memory for me!”
Susan [volunteer Looker]