Earlier this month I headed back to South Devon, a bit of a nostalgic trip into an area I grew to love when I lived in Devon a few years ago.    This time though, instead of a trip for cake I got something better when I went to meet Charlotte… ponies, plaits, giggles and a whole lot of buttercups!

Charlotte runs a really successful riding school near Newton Abbot, she has a super set of school ponies and, as you expect, a whole heap of willing teenager helpers at the weekend who love nothing more than to groom and practice their plaiting skills.  However earlier this year her idyllic set up was hit hard during the heavy snow storms in March. The indoor school took the brunt of Mother Natures full force.  The snow damaged the indoor school so badly that it wasn’t viable to repair.  Charlotte, who rented the facilities, was forced to find somewhere else to relocate the school, no mean feat with 11 ponies to cater for.

However that’s just what she’s been able to do,  Miraculously Charlotte has found a perfect little pony haven and whilst the riding school isn’t operational yet and the ponies are waiting the official approval to work once again, they are happily being groomed and plaited once more by their loving half term volunteers.

Charlotte was gifted this photo shoot by a good friend of hers and with all that’s happened in recent months it’s been a date in the diary that Charlotte and her two daughters, 8 year old Grace and 7 year old Beatrice, have looked forward too.   When I arrived Beatrice was having the finishing touches done to her gorgeous French plaits and the ponies were ready and waiting to be filmed!

Oh my gosh, these two ponies totally stole my heart (and that of Alice who was once again on hand to help, just as well as this was going to be a serious case of double giggling trouble ahead!).

Hanky is Beatrice’s 14 year old bay Dartmoor mare and Button Moon is Grace’s 23 year old roan Dartmoor cross gelding.  You couldn’t have asked for two more suitable ponies to learn to ride on and care for.  They certainly aren’t push button rides, the girls know they have to work hard on them and they have those fabulously typical pony attitudes where both heads and necks that shot forward and down like lightning towards grass… Always a good way to teach core strength on any child!!  Reminded me of one of my ponies who frequently did this and I slide gently (or sometimes not so gently) off over his neck!

That said the ponies are fully aware of their responsibilities and take great care of their respective girls.  There’s no rude toe treading going on, just those moments where knee deep grass is just far to tempting to ignore!

Dear little Button has had his own troubles in recent years, was struggling a bit with energy and his coat.  Unsurprisingly he was diagnosed with Cushings.  However you’d struggle to see it today as his medication has everything completely under control and he’s really back to loving life.  I was honestly shocked when Charlotte mentioned the Cushings.

The girls, although a little shy at first soon flew into fun mode and readily played to the camera at times.  The jumped on and off their ponies, played the perfect sibling roles too and it really didn’t seem like anything other than normal behaviour.  Utterly adorable.

Who knew dandelion clocks could bring about so much fun and laughter?!

There’s so much pleasure on shoots like this.  Little girls learning about life, respect, trust and responsibilities whilst still having endless fun.  Times where a buttercup meadow delivers more enjoyment than any time spent on a computer or sofa.

This is what half term should always be about!

Have a fabulous day…

Rachel x