Thursday, 18 April 2013
Carneddau ponies; so beautiful, tough and hardy, but not immune to Siberian winds, freezing temperatures and deep drifts of snow. Late winter blizzards coincided with foaling, on the back of a bad year for feeding, with devastating effect. Somewhere between 50 to 100 of the 220+ ponies perished. To escape the worst of the wind the ponies seem to have retreated downwards to the mountain walls and sheep pens for refuge only to fall victim to the worst of the drifting.
I met the graziers, working with National Park wardens under the scrutiny of an archaeologist, as a mass grave was dug deep to bury a pile of about twenty of the ponies. Flesh retreating from jaws of teeth set in a fixed grin and a stench of rotten flesh. Most pitiful the sight of a small leg protruding from a mare which had struggled to give birth or abort before death overcame her.
On the hillside a group of ponies was grazing away, they must have been stronger and fitter. The only possible consolation of this disaster, a stronger gene pool for the future herd of ponies.