Saturday, 2 May 2015

Wet Wet Wet

Monday April 20th
Having left Canada with the geese in the autumn, it is quite poignant to see them returning at the same time - in couples and trios or large wavering V formations making their way to the northern wilderness to raise the next generation.  They land at intervals to rest and feed in the stubble of the cornfields, the bands of snow geese distant splashes of white while the darker Canada geese are sometimes almost indistinguishable from the grey background.......

Father Christmas must have got stuck in the snow here since Christmas, perhaps not surprisingly as he appears to have harnessed up a cow as a concession to local Quebecois dairy farmers...

After a week of brilliant sunshine I suppose it was only to be expected that the clouds would gather once I got on the back of a horse, and so it proved. Steady rain set in by midday and by late afternoon my feet were soaked and hands freezing, but my spirits lifted when I saw a couple of horses by a house at the side of the road.  Natalie Gilbert who answered the door luckily appeared unfazed by the soggy apparition that faced her. Yes the horse could stay in the corral but no she did not have room in the house for me.  The reason became apparent when she divulged that she had nine children. But I could use the mobile home and supper was thrown in.
A depressing outlook...

The woman who did not actually live in a shoe, with five of her nine children...
Another wet day's riding the following day Tuesday April 21st....
...but I had equipped myself with a couple of plastic bags to wear inside my soaked boots, and had the promise of a warm welcome ahead.   Welsh pony and cob owner Deva Dickson had arranged for Lady and me to stay with her delightful friend Sonya near St Elizabethe, and it was bliss to relax in a hot shower and dry out my wet clothes, followed by a convivial bilingual evening with Deva, friend France and Sonya (L to R) .... 
 My camera and cell phone had given up the ghost in the rain, but happily my camera recovered in time to take the above photo.  My cell phone was not so lucky, but Sonia kindly drove me in to Joliette the next morning Wednesday April 22nd to replace it.  
Deva and her smart black Welsh pony cob type (Section C) stallion Boogie Petit Prince by the imported stallion Synod Lord Percival.  He is used for driving, and she intends to geld him after he has covered a couple of mares....
Deva originally started driving Welsh Mountain ponies (Section A) but is now going into Welsh cobs (Section D) as they have more strength for pulling.  I was interested to see the lovely little cob mare (shown below and rather incongruously called Betlar Tootsie Pop) which she had recently purchased, as it is descended  from Talley Wendy, a mare born and raised on a neighbouring farm to me in Wales.....
 Then it was a showery afternoon's ride to my next stop at St Melanie, with a coffee and hay break en route chez Myriam Bougie, yet another Welsh pony and cob fan - her father Michel imported Synod Lord Percival and bred Deva's stallion.

 I saw these for the first time in the maple woods

..small metal containers for collecting maple juice when only a small number of trees are being tapped.  The containers are emptied every night during the maple syrup season, which is in spring when the temperatures are below freezing at night and above during the day.

There is no grass up here in Quebec as yet, so every night I have to find accommodation with hay for Lady.  Here is my night's host Karine Gougeon (on the right) at Ecurie Kalin with the biggest Haflinger in the world (seriously horsey folks, it was about 15.2hh and apparently had papers!) 

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