Occupation: Moorland Trail Rider, Part time Shepherdess. Home:South Zeal, Devon.
Have you always lived in the village? Oh no. I lived in Callington with my dam until I was 3 yrs old. By then it was time for me to get a job, so the people there did something called ‘an ad. in the paper' – I'm not sure what that is – but a short while after that Annabel, my Head Lass, came along for me to have a look at. Well, I just fell in love with her! I knew straight away that she was the one for me, so it was into the horse box and off to my new home! What has working here been like?You can imagine, starting work so young, I had absolutely no experience, but Annabel was just great, she took me quietly through all the things I needed to learn. I must admit that I was pretty nervous to begin with. Each new thing seemed very frightening but her knowledge and previous experience gave me confidence, so it did. Is that a trace of an Irish accent I can hear? It is! My dam is a Connemara pony, a sweet natured gray. I suppose I picked up the accent from her.
But you are a piebald – isn't that an unusual colour for a Connemara? Well it is and it isn't. The usual colour is gray, then blacks, browns and bays. My dam told me that I inherited my colouring frommy sire. Evidently he was ‘an Irish traveling gentleman'. In Ireland they say that theConnemara ponies “have been running wild for longer than the men” and as a result there's been many out crosses over the years. In fact, in the wreck of the Armada in the16th century a lot of Spanish horses swam to shore and mixed with the native ponies.We have that history in common with the ponies of Chincoteague, in America, andcoloured ponies are quite numerous there. You seem to know a lot about your heritage. My dam said she thought my sire was half scary and half exciting at the same time! He told her that he had traveled all over the world and he had loads of strange stories to tell. I was always plaguing her with questions about him, but my one of my favourites was “Was me Daddy handsome? I will always remember what she used to say (and here Meadowsweet's voice took on a stronger brogue as she recalled her dam's words) “sure and wouldn't ye get up twice in the night to have a look at him?”
I'm interested to hear more about your work, I hear that you're a bit of a specialist in moorland trail riding. I certainly do as much as I can. It's great to be out on the moor while other people are just getting up. Sometimes the air seems full of sky larks, some days are crisp and cold and others are soft and misty – it's always different. I've been told that the area around Galway and it's very similar to Dartmoor. That's probably why we have such a good reputation for being hardy and agile. I'm good with sheep too, I've even helped out on the farm, carrying a lamb back home.
What are your ambitions?Well, I haven't told Annabel yet, but I'm thinking of training her up to do endurance riding. I think in some ways I am very much my sire's filly! I've a yearning to travel and have stories to tell my foals. …. and that's my other ambition!
Well, Meadowsweet, thank you for talking to us, perhaps you will come back another time and tell us some of your sire's strange stories.