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07th Oct 2012
We've surpassed ourselves - this time it's been a year since our last update! We've been incredibly busy this year with new trails down the Great Glen, the Wild West Highland trail passing through Glen Affric and Torridon and the Across Ross Ride. We've had a great time! We were shortlisted again for the Highlands and Islands Tourism awards - this time in the best Visitor Attraction category. We were up against some very strong competition - Craggan Outdoors, an outdoor activity centre in the Cairngorms and Cruise Loch Ness. We didn't win - the nice people at Craggan Outdoors won the category and very worthy winners they are too........maybe next year!
17th Oct 2011
Well I've done it again - another 8 months have gone by since our last update!
We've been so busy and been away on the trail rides so much that I've just not had time. There are loads of things that have happened since February - we've got new horses, whose pics I still haven't uploaded, and done some fantastic new trails with some lovely people. Now we are home for the winter I will sit down and fill everyone in on what we've been up to, but the most recent and exciting news is that we are finalists in the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards! The category we have been shortlisted for is the Pride Awards, which we have to demonstrate how our pride in our area - the North Highlands benefits our business and our customers. Those of you who have ridden with us on our long trails will know how much we love this area, it's history and its flora and fauna - in fact everything about it!!! The North Highlands is a very special place and we want everyone to appreciate exactly how special it is.
The awards take place at the Drumossie Hotel, Inverness on the 18th November - wish us luck!
8th Feb 2011
I can't believe so much time has gone by since I updated this last! Where on earth has the last 6 months gone? There have been so many things happening, I don't quite know where to start.
In August, we organised the World Horse Welfare Challenge ride - a coast to coast ride, but with camping! This was a lot of fun, the riders were lovely and we had a great time. So many local people lent us equipment there are too many to list, so a huge THANK YOU! to all of you. Nicky was our cook and she created a wonderful spread every night and some exiting packed lunches, which was a bonus. Nicky has been on two coast to coast rides herself, so she knew what we needed food wise - lots of it! We had one incredibly windy night, but amazingly the tents all stood up to it (I was out checking them several times during the night!) Just look at the pic on the right! World Horse Welfare are running this ride again this year, so if you want to join us and raise money for a very worthy cause - give them a ring!
We spent October and November checking out new trails. Graham and I had great fun walking through the hills exploring and the result is that we now have two new rides! The Bonnie Prince Charlie ride, which visits some of the most iconic places in Scotland - Culloden Moor, Loch Ness, the Corryairick pass, Monarch of the Glen country, the Caledonian Canal and Glenfinnan. Then for real roughty toughty types there is the Wild One - a ride through one of the most remote areas of Scotland, normally only accessible by foot or sea - and now horseback. this ride goes through Knoydart, Kintail and Glen Affric - absulutely stunning scenery and so remote that some nights are spent under canvas as we will be miles from the nearest hotel. At least ther weather will be better in the summer - we only ever get a chance to find new trails in the winter and we spent a few very chilly nights in our little tent! Still it was worth it to have the chance to get into this wonderful part of the Highlands.
November and December were incredibly cold here - as it was most other places. We had a lot of cancellations as folk just simply couldn't get here and it was a lot of hard work - just feeding and poo picking seemed to take up most of the day, but we occasionally got out for a gallop in the snow.
In January we had our Horsey Hogmanay, which was fun. Unfortunately two of our guests couldn't make it as they were stuck in the USA because of the snow, but we had a good time anyway. And sad news in January, Smokey, our old girl who has helped so many nervous riders passed away, so not the best start to the new year really.
Well that brings us just about up to date! Looking at a couple of new horses, but don't tell Graham........
15th July 2010
Yesterday was manic, but a lot of fun - we had a big party down from Ackergill Tower, just outside Wick. Most of them either played polo or were associated with polo - and in the party was Willie Carson (yes THE Willie Carson - the jockey!) We put him on Fern, who is a 14hh Highland pony (who thinks she's a race horse on the sand) and off he went on a 2 hour ride! Apparantly Willie has not ridden for 12 years, so we are honoured that he chose to ride with us. Abbie and Heather took the ride out with Abbie riding Zoe, who is Highland x Arab (as I had an inkling there may be some racing going on!) and Heather on Shamoo to back up the ride. Abbie lined them all up on the beach and off they went - Willie was really going for it on Fern, but Zoe wasn't going to be beaten easily. After their ride in the forest and on the hill, they came back to the beach for another go and it was hilarious to see - the two Highlands on the ride left the others for dust (although Connie the little fell x was trying hard to keep up) and Willie and Abbie were really racing - unfortunately for Willie, Abbie was not polite enough to let him win, 'cos she's too darn competetive, so she overtook him halfway down the beach and to add insult to injury, she was beating him, whilst turning round to take photos as she went! We've got some great pictures, but I'm not sure where I stand legally with putting them on the site, so I'll have to check before I upload them! Willie really enjoyed himself and we all had a great time too - and don't let anyone ever tell you Highland ponies are plods......Mmmmm just had a new idea - Highland Pony racing......now there's a thought!
09th July 2010
Ever felt like a complete idiot? I completely embarrased myself on the last coast to coast ride - I was tacking Zoe up after lunch and was just about to put her bridle on, when I noticed a very large, very stingy mountain horsefly about to land on Eli, so I spent a few minutes chasing it away from the horses, whilst everyone mounted up. It doesn't take a lot to make me loose my train of thought, so with everyone safely on board, I grabbed what I thought were Zoes rope reins, and whilst chatting away to everyone and not really paying attention to what I was doing, mounted up. Graham unclipped my lead rope - and I suddenly noticed someting was missing...... see rather embarrasing photo! Really 'Highlands Unbridled'!!!!
11th June 2010
More newbies have arrived! Will post pics as soon as I get a chance to take some! We now have Eli, a 15hh piebald Irish Cob gelding - nice ride and drives too. Phoebe, another little Irish Cob - skewbald 14.1hh little fatty at the moment, but we'll soon slim her down! Lovely little girl who enjoys her job and Bonnie, 14.2hh palomino Quarter Horse x Arab, who isn't really a newbie as she was here before and has now returned. They seem to be fitting in just fine and will be out on the trail with guests soon I'm sure.
6th June 2010
Well we're back from our first round of Coast to Coast rides of the season and had a great time. Despite the weather being unseasonally cold for the Northern route ride - there was even snow on the tops of the hills! The wind was a bit chilly and we had a few light showers, but no real rain and the views from the high passes were fantastic. However for the Southern route we had the opposite weather, warm, sunny and just gorgeous! We were really lucky on both rides and saw rare Black throated divers! I got excited when we saw one quite close by on one of the lochans we have lunch by on the North route - Black throated divers are very striking birds and it was fantastic to get such a close look - however a few days later on the Southern route we were lucky enough to see a pair of them on the loch beside our accommodation and they thoughtfully posed just outside the restaurant window, fishing whilst we ate our dinner! These are really rare birds and we were sooooo lucky to get such a great view! Hopefully they'll have chicks on the water for our next ride past.....
07th May 2010
We've done it! We finally left Bonar Bridge to do our 'Coast to Coast across Scotland in just one day' ride at 9am this morning. The weather was perfect, sunny with a cool breeze so we should have made good time, but Zoe spent the first 18 miles trying to turn around, because we do this part of the trail on our southern coast to coast trail ride and she's used to doing it in the other direction! She was totally convinced we were going the wrong way! Once we got onto the trails that she didn't know, she started to speed up, but it still took us 12 hours (although we did have 3 stops to rest the horses - and us!) We arrived in Ullapool on the West coast at 9pm, tired but really glad we've done it. The ponies looked like they could have done it all again the next day....we however probably couldn't although we do have rides to take out anyway! A huge thank you to everyone who sponsored us!
Later on that night ..... 3rd May 2010
At 11.05pm Rain had a lovely filly foal - Mother and baby doing fine! We have decided to call her Beltane Brooke - Beltane because we had nicknamed the charity ride the 'Beltane Ride' and Brooke, in honour of the charity who's ride she made us postpone! She's very dark at the moment, but looks like she'll roan out - no spots visible yet, so we'll see. We're so proud of both of them!
03rd May 2010
Well we should have been leaving today, off to start our Coast to Coast in a day ride, but very pregnant Rain has started to drip milk, so we've had to postpone our trip. Hopefully she'll foal soon and everything will be OK. This is her first foal, and will probably be her last as it's about time she earned her keep and started working properly and we'll need her on the trails next year. Really excited!
02nd May 2010
Today we collected a new horse - Major! He is a heavyweight coloured cob and is a very handsome gent.
22nd April 2010
Connie our new fell x pony arrived today! She's a lovely 13.2hh black pony with a big white blaze - very sweet. We are really looking forward to getting her out on the trails.
06th April 2010
We have officially launched our charity ride in aid of the Brooke this year - we are riding Coast to Coast across the narrowest point of the Highlands, from Ullapool on the West, to Bonar Bridge in the East, in just one day! We have set the date for 04th May. The distance is about 55k we think, but opinions seem to differ, so we'll take our GPS to find out for sure! We have chosen Zoe and Annie to do the job as they are the most experienced of the coast to coasters - wish us luck!
Please support this very worthy cause and sponsor us via http://www.justgiving.com/highlandsunbridled Thank you!
23rd February 2010
Kelpie is home! He's fine and the vets have made a very good job of his eye - he just looks like he's winking! We are having problems getting him to take his anti-biotics. We've tried all sorts - apple juice, apple sauce, apple and bear baby food, treacle, syrup, strawberry jam, but he just will not eat it, so we've resorted to syringing it down him mixed up with a little warm water and loads of treacle. He's getting to like it now I think! He's bombing about the place like normal, sorting out the big horses. We've decided to make him an eye patch (pirate Kelpie!) so that children visiting the yard can see instantly that Kelpie cannot see on his right side, which should help to prevent anyone running up to him on his blind side and giving him a fright - I'm sure it will just make him look even cuter!
20th February 2010
What a busy weekend! Kelpie has gone to the vets for a major operation. He managed to puncture his eyeball whilst he was in the field. We're not sure what on, but there are lots of bushes that the ponies use for shelter, so we presume he has injured his eye on one of the branches. Unfortunately his eye cannot be saved, so he has gone to Kessock Equine vets to have his eye removed. Poor little chap! His operation is on Monday and we are all really worried about him. We dropped him off on our way down to Edinburgh to pick up two new highland geldings!
Goose and Maverick are gorgeous rising 3yr old geldings and best of all, they are TWINS! We feel very honoured to have them here and look forward to them joining us on the trail next season. They are soooo friendly and comical and they do everything together! They settled in really well, but they are into everything! The first night we left them in the yard and they trashed the joint - every evening we move the water buckets to the outside of the yard fence, the mounting blocks are put neatly in the corner and the pooper scoopers are lined up outside the gate, next to the wheelbarrows. In the morning we went out to find the waterbuckets dragged into the yard and a couple thrown across the car park, the mounting blocks turned upside down, the pooper scoopers and their rakes thrown across the other car park and the wheelbarrow over-turned! We are learning not to leave anything moveable within a horses stretch of the fence as anything they can reach just has to be investigated and played with! Little Mhaia who is only a month younger than them is a real little lady and would never dream of throwing stuff around like that - I suppose that's boys for you! See their pics on the our horses page.
17th January 2010
Phew! what a busy few weeks! Like the rest of the UK, we have had a lot of snow, which has made taking care of the horses really hard work! We've kept them in the closest fields to home during the worst of the snow, as we were worried that the small roads by our bigger fields, where the ponies normally spend the winter might be cut off with snow and we might not be able to get the big round bales of hay out to them. Unfortunately our closest field (well the one with the most shelter anyway) is impossible to get round bales into as the bridge is too narrow for a tractor and the path up to the field is too steep to roll a round bale by hand so ..... enter the dog sled! A few years ago Jan used to race huskies and still has the sled, which proved invaluable in getting hay to the horses. It made getting eight hay nets at a time to the field relatively easy in the snow - in fact one person could do it! It's still been seriously hard work though lugging hay nets to and fro and filling the water troughs by carrying water from the stream accross the field - still, it's worked off the excesses of Christmas!
Had some great rides out in the snow in the last couple of weeks - it's been just the right sort of stuff to ride in - powdery and not wet, so we've had some brilliant gallops in it - the horses loved it! Annie loved it so much that she though she would make 'snow-angels'! What better when you are hot and sweaty from a good gallop, than to have a nice cooling roll in the snow ..... horses, don't you just love 'em!
10th January 2010
Had a fantastic New Year! We really enjoyed our 'Horsey Hogmanay' rides - lots of snow to gallop about in and really lovely guests that were brilliant company! The Dornoch Street Party visit was great - brilliant band and dancing in the streets with a fantastic display of fireworks to bring in the new year - oh, and plenty of whisky - a proper Hogmanay celebration.
26th October 2009
Congratulations Rain!!! Just had the good news - Rain has had her pregnancy test, and the blood test results confirm that she is in foal and approximately 90-100 days intoo her pregnancy. Fingers crossed everything will go OK for her and we will finally get a nice healthy foal in June next year!
29th August 2009
We have another new pony - Lizzie is now the proud owner of Shayner, a 15hh coloured cob mare, who is here on working livery. She's only four, so she won't be going out with guests just yet, but I'm sure she'll be just fine when she does.
20th August 2009
Rain is back from the stallion! Rain has been away for the last three months running with Rhona Gordons gorgeous cleveland bay cross stallion, Mr Ted. We're keeping our fingers crossed that she is in foal this time as she didn't take last year.
11th July 2009
We have a new pony! We picked up Burger today, an 11.3hh dapple grey welsh section A. He's very sweet and very pretty and we know his little riders will love him
02nd July 2009
Really please with ourselves today - we are listed in Horse and Hound magazine as number six in their '20 rides to do before you die' feature! Must be doing something right! We've just got back from the June Coast to Coast rides and again the weather was extremely kind - almost too hot! We did get caught out in a thunder storm about four miles from home on the last day and had to shelter in the forest until it passed by - we didn't much fancy galloping along the beach in torrential rain with thunder crashing all around and luckily it didn't take too long to pass, so we got our final gallops along the sand in the sunshine again! Another highlight was the pair of Ospreys we saw flying over Loch Buidhe on the way home.
19th June 2009
Had a photo-shoot today for a feature that is going in Executive Magazine. Lots of fun hurtling up and down the beach and splashing about in the sea - the ponies had fun and we really enjoyed it too.
5th June 2009
We're back from the May Coast to Coast rides! Had a great time and were lucky with the weather most days - infact we got sunburned - yes, sunburned in Scotland! The good weather meant that on the West to East section we were able to take the ponies on the trail that takes us high up on Canisp and the views were stunning - just wish that photos did them justice! Had our closest encounter with an eagle yet as one flew low over the ponies.
23rd April 2009
The local otters are back! Sightings of two otters were reported by one of our guests yesterday and today we spotted one feeding on a rock just beyond the waterfall. We could hear the other whistling but it stayed hidden in the whin bushes and as we had a ride going out, we didn't have time to stay and watch them longer. We will try to get some photo's in the next couple of days. The seals, as usual, are always about basking on the rocks and hauled out on the sand sunbathing. They really are so totally unphased by the horses riding by and our guests are always amazed that we can ride so close without the seals even batting a flipper!
12th April 2009
Out riding in the hills today we were lucky enough to find two cast red deer antlers. Carrying them back on horseback is a problem though - just where do you strap a couple of very spiky and very dangerous weapons safely? Any suggestions gratefully appreciated! It would have been easier to just walk and carry them home, but I didn't fancy walking and leading the pony for 6 miles over the hill just to keep the antlers, so they are still out there somewhere...