Tag Archives: our farm

Reader Profile: Saskia

Hi! My name is Saskia Henry-Davies, I’m 10 years old and I am in Year 6.

Making friends with Owly the Exmoor stallion. (Gaia was jealous!)
Making friends with Owly the Exmoor stallion. (Gaia was jealous!)

Me Growing Up:

I was born in Haarlem (The Netherlands) and lived in a large town until I was 6 years old. I had nothing to do with horses when I lived in Holland apart from when I visited the town farm and they had a few Shetlands ponies, but that was all.

We had to move to Wales on my 6th birthday, I didn’t want to go. To try and make the move fun for me, my parents said that I could do some little rides at the local riding centre near our new home. That’s what happened, and that was it! I loved riding and I have been riding every week ever since!

From there I have had weekly lessons, taken part in competitions, gone out on hacks from the centre, ridden on the beach and over the Black Mountains. I have also ridden out with friends on their ponies. Some of the most exciting lessons I have had is with Louise Harwood, the three day eventer and Badminton competitor.

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Having fun on a beach in West Wales

My First Victoria Eveleigh Book:

I have been writing to Victoria for over 2 years, this is how it all started.

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A jumping competition this summer

My auntie bought me my first Victoria Eveleigh book: Katy’s Wild Foal, I enjoyed reading it so much that when my teacher told us that we were going to write to our favourite author I chose to write to Victoria. I was incredibly lucky because I was one of only three people who got replies from our authors. It was so kind of Victoria to reply to me, I was surprised and delighted and so was my teacher! We have been writing to each other ever since. Victoria is the best ‘Pen-Pal’ I have ever had. Since then I have collected and read all of Victoria’s wonderful books over and over again!

Victoria, Animals & Farm:

Victoria is a wonderful person and when we visited her farm I met most of her horses also she took me to see her Exmoor herd. I realised how much she adored all her horses and how they adored her. Victoria has two Exmoor herds, one with a stallion (Owly) and he is such a sweet pony. She also has a Clydesdale called Ruby.

Here are a couple of photos of me and Victoria with Sherman the Shire and BFC (Big Fat Cat) at West Ilkerton Farm.

 

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saskia-victoria-and-the-bfc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of the horses are very well mannered and I could never imagine them hurting or harming anyone (Well Done Victoria!)

I loved my visit to Victoria’s farm, she made us feel comfortable and was very hospitable. There were many other animals on the farm including three dogs, a cat called Big Fat Cat, a herd of very lovely Devon cows and calves and of course magnificent horses and ponies! The surroundings of her wonderful farm are like something from a picture book, it is such a pretty setting, quiet, beautiful. Also Sarah, Victoria’s daughter, and Chris, Victoria’s husband, are very friendly and kind!

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With the Eveleigh’s retired racehorse, Croix de Guerre.

Victoria’s Books:

Victoria has written superb and brilliant books and I would more than recommend all of her pony books, they are all so enthralling, they make me so happy! My favourite book is A Stallion Called Midnight because it’s full of adventure and throws a whole load of emotions at the reader and my least favourite, I don’t have one! It’s nice that the Joe and Katy stories are completely different with different lifestyles, dissimilar characters and different in so many ways, apart from the pony love! I love all of Victoria’s wonderful books and they are best books in the world!

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Making friends with Owly, the Exmoor stallion. His two foals, in the background, are called Folly and Saskia!

The Horses and Ponies in my Stories

Something I’m asked about a lot (and love answering) is whether the horses and ponies in my stories have been inspired by real ones I’ve known.

The short answer is, “Yes!”

Pony book expert and critic Jane Badger asked me to write a blog on the subject for her wonderful website, and if you’d like to find out what I wrote you can read ithere.

The cover of Joe and the Lightning Pony
The cover of Joe and the Lightning Pony
Rory Capel and Danny; the inspiration for Joe and Lightning
Rory Capel and Danny; the inspiration for Joe and Lightning

Snowy the Stowaway Cat

 

Snowy the stowaway cat

There’s a cat called called Snowy who lives on a farm on the Somerset Levels, in south-west England. He’s only four years old, but he’s managed to pack a lot of adventures into his life, including a trip to our farm as a stowaway. Here’s his story (so far!):

Snowy went to live at the Popham’s farm when he was a kitten. Mr Popham buys and sells straw, which he stores in big barns. Snowy made one of these barns his home. It was warm and dry, and there were plenty of mice to hunt, although he only hunted for fun because Mr Popham’s son Tom fed the farm cats every day. Snowy appeared to have landed on his feet (as cat’s often do).

All was well until the winter of 2013-14, when it rained a lot. In fact, it rained so much that before long Snowy found himself on an island of soggy bales surrounded by water. The Somerset Levels had flooded, and he was stranded!

Every day, until the floods subsided, Tom paddled a canoe to the barn, hauled himself up with ropes and fed Snowy. He did that for several weeks, whatever the weather.

As life returned to something like normal, Mr Popham cleaned out his sheds, restocked with fresh bales and began trading again.

One morning in September 2014, he set off for Exmoor at daybreak with a lorry-load of straw he’d prepared the previous evening, aiming to beat the rush hour traffic in Taunton and arrive at West Ilkerton Farm (our farm) at around eight-thirty.

The journey went well, and he arrived to find Chris (my husband) waiting in the field next to the moor, where the bales had to be unloaded and carted back to our barn because the lane to our farmyard is too narrow for large lorries.

Hang on a minute!” Chris shouted as Mr Popham started to push the bales off the lorry. I think you’ve got an illegal immigrant on board – look!

The face of a white cat peered out between the bales.

DSCF7325Oh no, it’s Snowy! He must have gone to sleep on top of the load last night. I bet he had a shock when it started moving this morning! Mr Popham exclaimed. Tom’ll kill me if I lose him, after all he went through last winter. Can we catch him, d’you think?

Chris and Mr Popham tried their best to catch the cat, but he was obviously traumatised by his unexpected road trip, and as soon as his feet touched the ground he scampered away onto the moorland. The two men searched for him in vain amongst the gorse bushes, but eventually they admitted defeat and Mr Popham drove back to Somerset to break the news to Tom.

“What’s the matter?” Tom’s twin sister asked him when she saw how upset he was that evening.

“It’s Snowy”, he replied.

“Oh no, has he died?” she asked.

“No, it’s even worse, he’s gone to Devon!”

Perhaps Tom was right. Lost and alone in a hostile world, Snowy probably experienced several fates worse than death in the weeks that followed: extreme hunger, terrible weather, being chased by dogs. . .

All our neighbours were watching out for a white cat, and there were occasional sightings, but after a while the telephone calls stopped and we had to face the possibility that Snowy had died.

But one morning, as we were turning our horses out in their field, our daughter Sarah spotted something white moving slowly between the gorse bushes on the opposite side of the farm. Chris fetched his binoculars, and confirmed it was a cat, a very thin, bedraggled white cat. It had to be Snowy!

Chris rode the quad bike to the gorse bushes, and left some cat food there. A few hours later it had gone – eaten, we hoped, by a cat rather than a fox or badger.

Every day, morning and evening, Chris put cat food in the same place, and before long Snowy was waiting for the quad bike.

By this time the weather had turned wet and cold, so Chris used food to lure Snowy back to our farmyard. Soon he’d made himself at home in the same straw bales that had been his downfall in the first place.DSCF7384

Snowy was a skillful, patient hunter
Snowy was a skilful, patient hunter. Perhaps that’s why he managed to stay alive for so long when he was lost

With regular feeds, Snowy became fatter and tamer by the day. Before long he was allowing us to stroke him while he ate, and he became very loud and demanding when he thought it was time for the next meal!

Chris and Snowy became firm friends
Chris and Snowy became firm friends

 

The Pophams were delighted that Snowy was safe and well, and said they’d collect him next time they were in the area. We knew he wouldn’t be with us forever, but even so it was a bit of a shock when Mr Popham phoned to say he was visiting friends nearby, and could he drop in to pick up the cat?

Chris caught Snowy easily, with the help of some food, and bundled him into a travelling crate much to his fury! He growled, hissed, bit and clawed at the sides of the crate as he was carried back to the Popham’s car.

Good luck, Snowy! See you again next autumn?

Snowy in his travel crate


Snowy ready for the journey home