I realise that I've wittered on about how well everyone says I look, but actually what everyone's really more interested in is how the ponies are doing. So a quick update.
Everyone, but everyone, who meets us, says with some incredulity that they are surprised just how well the ponies are looking. And it's true - they are.
I'm not sure whether people think I'm some kind of tyrant and will push my ponies so hard they will turn into skin and bones or whether people forget that not so long ago nearly all horses worked hard most of their lives, and thrived on it. Mine certainly seem to be like me: daily exercise and being outside in the fresh air all the time suits us well.
There's no doubt that the first week of my trip was tough going, and no surprise therefore that Magic lost 4" off her girth - she wasn't as fit as Micky and to be honest she could stand to loose some weight. Micky's girth has changed not a millimetre in the past 6 weeks (or months), he's just a very good doer, and the more he does, the happier he is.
At the end of our first week, Elsa and I spent an unscheduled night in a tin sheep hut with the ponies in a sheep pen without a lot to eat (they weren't the only ones who went hungry that night). The next day was really tough, riding through Kinlochleven to Glencoe through monsoon rain,only to find when we reached Kings House that the promised grazing didn't actually exist and we had a choice of either ride on another 15 miles, still in driving rain, over Rannoch moor in the hope of finding some grass ad Bridge of Orchy, or taking up the hotel owner's offer of putting the ponies in his mother's pocket handkerchief garden which had not a lot of grass but at least offered some shelter from the wind and rain. Hardly surprising therefore that Magic looked a bit tucked up, but a few nights of good grazing and a day off at Thornhill Wigwams sorted her out, and since then she hasn't looked back. Most nights the ponies are out at grass, without any corn or hard food, but sometimes they get lucky, and if they're stuck in a stable, they have unlimited hay or haylage.
It's not just the ponies' healthy weight that people comment on, but how super-fit the ponies look and how gleaming their coats are. Micky has brown dapples on his posterior and belly, but Magic, who is true jet black, has these funny black zebra stripes around her ribs.
In fact the most frequent thing people say when they meet us is "what a lovely pair". And yes, they are talking about my ponies!