Logo: Selkie Bheag of Achnacarry
Highland Ponies have always been in my blood as long as I can remember. My father was a schoolteacher and as a consequence we always had long holidays up in Easter Ross. In those days we travelled along what is now the Scenic Route and of course we passed through Kingussie and Newtonmore where there were always Highland Ponies grazing in fields at the roadside. My parents were never allowed to pass without stopping to speak to the ponies! That is where my love affair began with Highland Ponies.
I followed this up by contacting the National Pony Society who put me in touch with Ella Kirk of Kaimeknowe who bred the Hunthall ponies and I spent many happy years visiting "Tella" as she was fondly known.
My first Highland Pony was Drumloist Jock bred by the Late Mrs Margaret Barr at Drumloist Farm Callander. He was by Pharic of Hunthall ( Ben Tirran x Flora of Hunthall) and out of Culvouie (Knocknagael Prince x Saucy of Derculich). I had him in the 60's and we had great fun together. He was put to sleep in 1975.
In 1977 I bought Ella of Whitefield from the late George Baird. She was born in 1970 and was by Strathnaver out of Mallow of Derculich and had been running with Crusader of Whitefield and although Mr Baird couldnt guarantee she was in foal I was lucky enough to get a filly foal in 1978..... Mollaig of Achnacarry.
In 1980 I bought Julie of Lundie aged 8 months at the Late Alston Arbuckle's dispersal sale in Perth. She was by Kestrel of Whitefield out of Fiona of Lundie who was overall Champion at the Royal Highland Show in 1979 and also made the top price at the sale. It was from these two ponies (Mollaig and Julie) that my breeding programme began. I was too fond of riding to breed from Ella again and just enjoyed having her and in her later years she served as a good Nannie.
I have always believed Highland ponies should look as if they can do work out on the hills carrying a stag or two as well as in the show rings or out in the country carrying us about. To my mind there are plenty of other Native ponies out there doing what they do best and my preference has always been towards the traditional type of Highland Pony around 13.3hh to 14.1hh with an abundance of hair and feather a good head and shoulder good flat bone and nice round large hoofs and above all a good round bottom! My personal hate is to see a low set tail although some people think this is important to keep the pony warm in the winter months. However I have bred ponies fully up to height as well as smaller ponies and so long as they have the above characteristics and still look like a pony I am well pleased.
Image: Ella of Whitefield
I have to write about Tim also because he was part of the stud here for a long time and was my soul mate..........This is his story in his own words.
I have had access to or owned ponies or horses for as long as I can remember.
Thanks solely to my Mother who was a very good horsewoman having been brought up in Calgary Alberta Canada during the first 30 years of the 20th Century from 1904 to 1932. She was well known in the show ring during the teens and 20's winningmany prizes show jumping and showing cattle in Canada and the States as Bun Dewdney. We still have much of the silverware she won. She also played polo for Canada. After returning to England to get married she continued to ride, hunt and show. She also rode in Point to Points before the War.
I cannot begin to emulate my mother but have participated in almost all equestrian activities. Hunting, Hunter Trials, Polo, One Day Eventing, Showing, 2 flat races in Malaya, Trekking in Nepal and have ridden on Parade. The first photograph of myself on a horse is on a Garron on the Isle of Mull in 1940 where my parents were farming. I know nothing about the pony except my mother hated him! History does not relate why! My next recollection is my mother taking us shopping in a Governess cart at the end of the War. Since then I have
owned or ridden a variety of horses.
I got into Highland Ponies almost by mistake. We were driving Shetlands in the late 70's and looking for a pony to ride. We were at a show in Surrey when we saw one of the Baldwin's being driven. He somehow managed to get tied up in barbed wire and did not move a muscle. That persuaded us to get a Highland. We were put onto Miss Wilby of the Nashend stud and as a result bought Nashend Griffon. He did us very well in hand, under saddle and we were persuaded to drive him. He was broken by Claudia Bunn and did extremely well in harness. Amongst other things winning the National Novice Driven Championship. I hasten to add I was only the groom. Shortly after getting Griffon we decided we should have another Highland. The Army sent me on a job in Scotland for three weeks . As I had a spare weekend I decided to visit a few studs to see if I could find a pony. I started by visiting Hugh McGregor at Ballinton where I was shown Ailsadene. I never got any further! She was duly purchased and came down to Hampshire.
Ailsa was a brilliant pony and, with Griff, a very good ambassador for Highlands in the South of England. At that time they were a "rare breed" down there and I was continually asked "Whats that?" Ailsa did almost everything, hunted, hunter trialled, WHP, show jumped, after a fashion, but that was my fault, not hers. She won many prizes for me both in hand and under saddle in Mountain and Moorland classes. She won a number of Championships including Reserve Champion and Champion Highland at the Royal Show and Champion Highland at Ponies of Britain Summer Show at Peterborough.
During this time I joined the Highland Pony Enthusiasts Club (HPEC) which was great fun and became Chairman for a spell. Eventually I became Treasurer.
In 1989 the Army sent me to Nepal for nine months. The best posting I ever had and I was very sad to leave. The camp and Military Hospital in Dharan SE Nepal were being closed and one of our tasks was to move the Saddle Club ponies to the Tiger Tops Holiday resort in SE Nepal. This is a story of it's own but we rode them part way and trucked them the remainder in Army 4 tonners!! It was a great adventure. I was in a quandry as to what to do with Ailsa for this period. However I had met Heather Turnbull at the Highland Show in 1988 and she kindly agreed to keep Ailsa at Easter Aldie and put her in foal. In the end she produced Turcon, Skye and Iona. On my return from Nepal I asked for my last posting before retirement to be to HQ in Scotland in Edinburgh. After 35 years in the Army I had no roots anywhere and decided I had more contacts in Scotland than anywhere else. I was close enough to Easter Aldie to visit Ailsa frequently and to show her and her foal and help Heather. During this time I was bullied into becoming a Committee Member of the Central Scotland Highland Pony Club and it was through this that Jean and I met......and that was simply the best thing that happened to both of us.
Image: Tim and Ailsa in the pub!
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