Lundy is a very special island for all sorts of reasons: marine life, birds, geology, history, mythology, scenery, plants and a quality which can’t be put into words. My husband Chris and I spent our honeymoon there, and we have returned many times since.
When our children were younger they had a pony called Streamways Kittiwake (Kizzy) who was a Lundy x Welsh cob.
Mary Oldham, who bred Kizzy, told me that Midnight (Kizzy’s great-great-grandsire) had been famous for his refusal to be tamed and his brilliant jumping skills. Kizzy certainly inherited his jumping ability and his independent spirit! A quest to learn more about Midnight led to many new friendships and, eventually, A Stallion Called Midnight, which is a fictional story based on the life of the real Midnight and the memories of some of the people who knew him.
I have dedicated this book to Diana Keast, because without her help and generosity it wouldn’t have been written. Diana’s family used to own Lundy, and she has many memories of Midnight and island life. I’m grateful to her for many things, including having Chris and me to stay with her on Lundy and introducing us to several other people connected with the island.
For instance, Kate Ogilvie was especially helpful. She was brought up on Lundy (her father, John Ogilvie, used to be the farm manager) and she had to go away to boarding school on the mainland because there was no school on the island. Her memories of island and school life were invaluable. Kate’s mother, Penny Ogilvie, was also a great help. Similarly, Annie Alford, who has lived and worked on the island and owns an elderly Lundy mare called Stonechat, has given me a lot of inspiration and has become a good friend.
The Real Midnight
There have been free-living ponies on Lundy island since the 1920s
when the owner, Martin Coles Harman (Diana Keast’s father) introduced forty-one New Forest mares and a Welsh stallion to the island. In the 1930s a colt called Midnight was born, with a liver chestnut coat and midnight-blue eyes. He became the herd stallion and (because he refused to be caught) he stayed on Lundy until 1961, when he was finally shipped to the mainland. After several weeks and some harsh treatment he ended up at Bampton Fair, where Peggy Garvey bought him for a knock-down price because he looked so poor. He was given a good home for the remaining five years of his life, running with Peggy’s Lundy mares near Okehampton in Devon. He repaid her kindness by siring several foals which were all good jumpers. Peggy, together with a lady called Mary Martindale, ensured the survival of Lundy ponies by establishing a herd on the mainland founded on Midnight’s bloodlines.
Most of the Lundy ponies alive today are related to Midnight. In fact, he’s known as ‘the grandfather of all Lundy ponies’.