PONIES OF PENCARREG



CHAPTER 1

Sally brings exciting news

Sally ran down the paddock with a head collar and lead rein flying out behind her. She caught her pony, Moonlight, jumped on her back and cantered across the field. They raced out through the gate and up the lane to Higher Brook Farm.
Sally's family had received an important phone call that morning. She was taking the message to her friends high up on Pencarreg Mountain, who didn't have a telephone. When she reached the open hill she urged Moonlight into a fast canter. Sally loved riding bareback with the wind blowing through her long brown hair, and her pony loved it too.
Before long Moonlight's hooves were clattering on the cobbles in the yard. Clair came rushing out when she heard the sound. She knew it was her friend.

"Some exciting news for you!" called out Sally. "We just had a phone call. your animals are here, but the trailer is stuck at Dale Bridge and you have to herd them all up here on foot."
They ran into the house to tell Clair's parents, and soon there were children, ponies, adults and dogs making their way down the rough track to the valley. The girls rode on Moonlight and Dan, and the old sheepdog, Tom, came with them. They stopped at the stream, which crossed the track, to let their ponies drink and chatted about the new animals coming to the farm. The most exciting was Clair's new pony.
When they arrived at the bridge, the animals were just being unloaded. The dogs herded twenty sheep and three Welsh black cows across the ford. last of all Clair's pony stepped out. She was beautiful ... a golden palomino about 14 hands high with a lovely shiny coat and a long creamy mane and tail.
"She's stunning," whispered Sally.
"i'll lead her home slowly so she can relax," said Clair. "She had such a long journey in the horsebox." She let her drink at the ford and munch on some sweet clover growing beside the river and then jumped back on Dan. The palomino followed, pleased to see the other ponies. The girls set off back to the farm, and the dogs kept the sheep and cows close behind.
"Can i stay the night with Clair?" Sally called out to her mum.
"Sure!" said Janine, Sall's mum. "remember your cousins are coming tomorrow, so be back in good time." "i will!" answered Sally, and the two girls beamed at each other. They loved staying at each other's houses for the night.
Usually the children met in the barn at Dove Farm where Sally lived with her brother, Julian, and their parents. They slept in the loft, their special den where they could have midnight feasts and chatter loudly, but no one could hear. The dogs were allowed there too and always slept on the beds with them. The girls were both 11 years old and often invited their best friend, Meg, a little Welsh girl from the valley who was a year younger. Tomorrow there would be a loft party with all the brothers, sisters, cousins and friends.


CHAPTER 2

A dream pony

"What a dream pony," said Sally as they made their way up the hill. "What's she called?" "Shanti," replied Clair after thinking for a moment. "i love her, almost as much as Moonlight," Sally exclaimed, patting her pretty white pony. She'd had Moonlight since she was eight years old. She knew one day she would grow too big for her, but she wanted to keep her forever. Moonlight had taught her to ride and had often carried her far across the Welsh hills. They were best friends.
The girls rested by their favourite old oak tree and Clair called the dogs to keep the sheep from straying. They watched Shanti grazing. She really was beautiful and Clair felt very lucky.
"Her mane is the same colour as your hair!" laughed Sally.
"yes! We're meant for each other," Clair answered in delight. When they arrived home, they let the ponies into the field with the other animals and went in for lunch. They played on the farm for the rest of the day. Sally and Clair were both home schooled, so they had plenty of free time. Usually they rode with Meg for hours every day, sometimes going right to the top of Pencarreg.
next morning the girls jumped out of bed at six o'clock. They were far too excited to laze around on the big feather mattress reading pony stories as they usually did. They had a pony to tame! after pulling on their jodhpurs and tiptoeing downstairs, they stood by the gate gazing at the ponies in the field. Then they went to find Shanti.

Clair stroked Shanti's silky hair and scratched behind her ears, then slipped on a special halter made from cotton webbing, great for training a young horse. She didn't use a bit in her mouth; she felt it made ponies less sensitive.
First she whispered her plan in Shanti's ear. "let's walk around so we can get to know each other and you can see the farm. Then if it's oK, i'll sit on your back like we sit on Dan and Moonlight." Sally led Moonlight, and Clair followed with Shanti. They went out of the field and around the farm. The pony was calm as she explored her new surroundings, even when she met the noisy ducks and chickens. Then Clair long-reined her around the field. She responded beautifully to turns and stops. Just before Clair let Shanti go back to her friends, she asked Sally to give her a leg up so she could lean on her. Shanti stood perfectly still as Clair lay across her back. She took all the weight without moving even an inch.
"Thank you!" whispered Clair and slid off easily. The girls let the horses loose. after breakfast they said goodbye and Sally rode home to meet her cousins. at first Moonlight went slowly because she didn't want to leave her friends. But when they neared Dove Farm she began to pull and go as fast as she could, just as ponies do! Sally's cousins, Katy and Simon, greeted Sally happily when she came into the yard. They each had a ride on Moonlight then explored the farm to meet all the animals. There were lots of new ones since last summer – goat kids, kittens, the ponies and some new lambs. Coming to Dove Farm was exciting for the cousins, who lived in a town without any animals of their own.
Sally, Julian and their cousins went to play at the nant. This was their secret little valley where no one ever came. The river gwynant flowed past the clearing and they went swimming in their favourite pool by the waterfall.
The friends loved the summer holidays when they had so much time together. They laughed a lot, and as they ate their snacks on the bank they made plans for the days to come.
"let's go up the mountain whilst we're here," said Sally.
"yes, with the ponies and dogs. We'll take turns at riding and they can help us carry a picnic," said Katy. it was a great idea, and they decided to pack the saddlebags and call their friends right away. They would leave in the morning.


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