| Published in The Independent on 26.04.2020 | A Touch of Frost |

Illustration for Touch of Frost, 26.04.2020For some time now we have been considering re-wilding some of our pastureland into meadows. Re-wilding means setting aside land to attract the nature that has been driven out by cultivation and returning it to the wild. Our son Hadden has taken this on as a project. Probably helped by the current quiet skies, we have already seen swallows swoop and feed over the overgrown grass and wildflowers that are spreading far more quickly that we imagined. As we walked together the other evening, passing the meadow and the river (pictured), we heard more than one cuckoo, proving that spring has most certainly arrived. We mentioned what we were doing to the land in passing to friends and they have asked if they could hold their wedding on the meadow later this year. It has made us wonder if others may enjoy the setting for the same purpose. It is truly stunning.

With little sign of racing returning in the next month or two, everyone has been pulling together to help where they can at home. Bryony, Hadden and Philippa have been working to bring on the young horses. The hours they have dedicated to this is admirable and the outcome incredible. In a short period of time, the horses, which looked like scruffy teenagers, defiant and unruly have through time, affection and reward become stunning horses, proudly jumping and cantering, desperate to run and do it all over again.

Rosie the robin has had her chicks. Whilst we have given up the entrance to our indoor riding school where she chose to nest, giving her the peace she needs as a new mum, she doesn’t seem to mind us being around. We can’t count how many chicks she has yet but we can see her busily feeding them.

I was chatting to Jason Loosemore who is the Clerk of the Course at Newton Abbot Racecourse earlier this week. He says the rumours are that racing might start up again in July. Of course, this would be fantastic for us however without knowing for certain we don’t know when to start preparing the horses. It is important that we do not overwork them by training them too much in advance so that they are tired when it comes to racing them, but without much notice the horses won’t be at their best. Their welfare and happiness are of utmost importance to us so until we get the green light they will just be on lockdown with us.

I finish off this week on a terribly sad note. Something that has affected the whole family. On Easter Monday we were told about an accident that had happened that day to the daughter of a lovely family we know well. Her name, which was as beautiful as her, was Artemis Morgan. She and her brother reminded us of Hadden and Bryony when they were young – both loving horses and both with larger than life characters despite their years. She had been involved in a tragic accident and has lost her life on the family farm whilst attending to her horses. Artemis was such a joy to spend time with. She had a smile that would brighten any day. She and her brother – Otis, would often come riding with us. Some years ago, Byony had a horse called Tarka but she outgrew it and she ended up being owned by Arte who loved her. When we rode out, she would love to listen to stories about Bryony and Tarka and how they would win races together. She was just a lovely young lady and a joy to be with. We cannot believe she is no longer with us. It reminds us how precious life is and how we must appreciate every minute we spend with our loved ones as it can be snatched away in a blink of an eye. Nothing I can say will express how desperately sad we all are.

To the readers of this column, until we catch up next week, keep safe and importantly be kind to each other.

Jimmy