Looking For Merrylegs   Leave a comment

Nestled between one of the UK’s largest ports and a coastal resort town is the New Forest National Park and I’m excited to show Shay where I spent some of my growing up years.  I had previously researched and decided on Stable #1 where we could ride the ponies into the depths of the forest but, that went out the window when we missed our stop getting here because it turned out to be too far off the beaten path (only a problem when you are relying on public transportation). At Brockenhurst Station, waiting to board the Open Top Tour Bus, we run into a very nice gentleman clad in riding gear. Who better to ask? He directs us to Stable #2 a couple of miles out of town. Walk there? I think not! So, we grab a taxi and off we go, but something in the back of my mind tells me this is all going just a little too swimmingly-well. Turns out I’m psychic (who knew?!) because we walk towards the barn only to be informed that this one is closed on Mondays (and yes, you guessed it, today is Monday!). Of course, by now our taxi has departed and our only way back to town is via Shanks’s Pony except we couldn’t find Shanks or his pony because the stable was closed…lol. With there being no shortage of other stables (but not next door, of course) we schlepp our way along the deserted country road for about a mile being sure to side-step the odd pile of #$%*@! (man, that’s some pile and being the well-trained pooper-scooper that I am, picking up after my dog, I almost reach for a bag but stop myself just in time, phew!). So, here we are, the only two fools roaming the English countryside looking for a pony to ride while everyone else is whizzing past in Land Rovers on their way to a stable to ride their horse. Oh, the irony is just too much to handle!

Excitement builds as Stable #3 comes into view and tells us, “Sure, we can fit you in. Can you come back…on Wednesday?” Well, that’s a no because we’re only here for the day. I guess it’s time to realise that our dream of traipsing through the forest with numb bums has well and truly ended. Although how a stable can be full when there are over 3,000 ponies in the forest just plain boggles my brain​. Surely they could just grab a couple extra from the field and stick their heads in a feed-bag full of juicy carrots as a reward. No? Oh well!

Booking all of this online from Canada would have made complete and total sense but, with the very ‘iffy’ English weather, I wasn’t prepared to park my ‘you-know-what’ on a stinking wet horse (no offence) if it rained or lose money if we had to cancel. But, all kidding aside, to get to Stable #3, I have to admit that our walk was an enjoyable one and not at all lonely. Almost immediately, we were joined by several beautiful wild ponies and their foals. They amble past like another human would pass us on the street. If they are on the pavement, you simply step aside because, after all, they are a little wider around the girth than me (no really, they are!). Ruling the forest they roam at will, venturing wherever they like, with the exception of the towns and villages which have grids to keep them out. If you’re driving, well, you’d better not be rushing to your local for last call because it’s illegal to honk your horn at them or do anything to encourage them to move. So, just sit back, relax and enjoy the view.

With our dream as dead as a door nail, we hike back into town and catch the Tour Bus. From the open top level, we are rewarded with amazing views of the coastline, quaint villages and displays of purple heather as we travel across the heath. The landscape is dotted with an abundance of extremely pretty thatched cottages and, in order to own one, I think villagers must have to sign an ‘I will maintain a gorgeous garden’ contract because everybody seems to have one. With the wind in our face so strong you can barely take a breath at times, we duck and dive as the bus whooshes through overhanging branches that literally smack us in the face and I love every minute of it. I look over at Shay and she is killing herself laughing as she tries to keep hold of my sweater around her shoulders. I envision it flying off and landing on some poor soul’s windshield as he crashes into a nearby pond, swan feathers flying all around. On a more serious note, as I think back now, I realise that I don’t mind that we didn’t ride the ponies because we walked with them and that was a more real experience for me. I also feel especially good that I didn’t cause back problems for a little white pony by the name of Merrylegs. 
CLICK HERE to see more of my New Forest photos…

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Posted October 7, 2011 by Jaclyn in England, Memories, Parks, Travel

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