From Earl to Earl
Part of the utter joy of living at Highclere is the contrast between practical jobs (often outside) and the glamorous evening dinners. From evening kit one moment to animals and mud the next.
One night we were at a New York Gala, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving to support St Andrews University. Long dresses, amazing fund raising (I think our auction prized hit the top note) and then back today to chasing naughty ponies round fields. I often feed the horses in the winter mornings, usually slightly late and this time perhaps jet lagged. The little chestnut pony, Earl, nosed out of the field gate and escaped within one unfortunate second. Revelling in freedom, lots of grass and the huge area in front of the Castle I had no hope of catching him. The large open landscape and park rather lost its attractions for me at that moment. Earl just kicked up his heels.
I returned to the Castle courtyard. There were perhaps 5 men there but they looked rather comfortable where they were. Wonderful Robert Coleman offered to help me. He tried to pretend he was a sheepdog in a car and herd the pony towards a corner in the field. After half an hour Robert commented “I did not know he could move so fast”
We retired for coffee. No other man offered to help (they were all remarkably busy around cars..) but they had wished they had videoed me running round the field. I changed into the next set of clothes to trudge out and get wet again. It was two hours into my morning, the fields are truly huge. I walked to retrieve the trail of empty food buckets with which I had been trying to bribe the happy Earl. To my delight he started to follow me so I realised that rather than catch him, I and the buckets and he would all try to go through a gate together. And oh joy it happened.
At lunchtime my husband – the other Earl -said it was a bit silly not to shut the gate carefully first of all, so he was quite lucky to get any supper.
So happy to have discovered this site. I love reading all your stories. I hope some day to get there from my home in Plymouth Massachusetts. Merry Christmas.
Oh I wish you had it on Film so funny to see this unfolding the Earl was running rings round you both he was just one Horse Power hee hee 🙂 Nice to see Robert in his LandRover he knows how to drive that car well, as he took us up to the woods behind the castle where I thought no Car could ever go.. great bog as always Lady Carnarvon this for me has to the funny one of the year just wish there was some film of you two chasing the Earl hee hee 🙂
Oh this brings back so many memories of what now seems like a lifetime spent chasing loose ponies (and horses)! Sadly I have none now, but this reminds me of how gleeful they can be once they taste freedom, as you said. All the bucking and kicking, head up, ears alert, tail held high! They are so amazing to watch – as they run the other way. Just gotta love ’em. 🙂
What a day you had. We musnt confuse one Earl from the other Earl.. too funny!
I do like the purple coat the pony is wearing!
Love this story of the contrasts of life at Highclere! I think this is my favorite post so far! I have been in your spot with the trailing leads and buckets, and the horse or pony who does NOT want to be caught. Glad you finally caught him, and I agree, your husband was lucky to get his supper. 🙂
We followed the Duke and Duchess when they were here. Such an elegant and beautiful couple. As keeper of horses, too, I quite enjoyed your adventure with Earl. We have our own pony, a bit larger than Earl, an old guy, Pop. He is a retired hunter jumper show pony who needed home as his family outgrew him and could no longer afford to feed him. At 26, he is still spry enough for the grand daughters to take riding lessons. I do enjoy reading about your life at the castle. Can’t wait for for Downtown Abbey to begin here in the states.
Great story! Had me grinning the whole way through! 🙂 – Dori –
Hilarious! I, too, love Earl’s purple coat.
Dear Lady Carnarvon
Today I am sick in bed, and your post has made me very happy, thank you. It is so funny that now a days, that an earl’s wife get’s to go to a gala with the royals and the next you are at home chasing a horse, at least you can say that your life is never dull. thanks for the pictures it really painted a story in my head. I can’t wait to see downton abby in the states. 🙂
There is definitely a movie short in this: The Countess and “Earl”. Your forebears would never believe this. THANKS for sharing.
Thank you for the morning smile.
Oh Lady Carnarvon, I just love your verbiage. We so enjoyed our visit in October to Highclere. You were the most gracious hostess. Thank you so much.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I always love reading about your interesting life, from corralling recalcitrant ponies to participating in colossal fund-raising events for worthy causes. Your life is varied, your talents diverse. Congratulations on such a successful endeavor for St. Andrews University. When I had read about the synchronicity of your New York trip with that of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, I wondered if, perhaps, you were meeting them here in the States. We Americans were fascinated by this visit.
But to read about your lassoing-the-pony event (trying hard to visualize it), after your experiencing such a lavish extravangza abroad, was an unexpected juxtaposition. And somehow I think there is a life metaphor in your story. It’s easier to lure a pony with a delectable treat than to chase one who relishes his freedom. And as for the real Earl of Highclere, hopefully, he eventually got his dinner.
If ever I were fortunate enough to visit Highclere Castle again (we visited in July 13), I would not be attempting an escape through the gate, but trying to linger as long as I could in such a beautiful abode. I think the lesser Earl should consider how fortunate he has it, and not try to escape to what he presumes to be greener pastors!
I hope that you and your beloved husband and family have a most merry Christmas!
St. Louis, Missouri
Oops! I meant to say greener pastures! It’s getting late here in St. Louis, and I need to hit the hay (whilst the lesser Earl eats his)! 🙂
Such a lovely story. I love ponies. I wish I could see a video of your pony farm. I am a Downton Abbey fan and look forward to another successful season. Lady Carnavon, I wish you a very Merry Christmas, peace, a bountiful feast with friends and family and most of all, if you attend, a peaceful Midnight Mass service.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
What a lovely story ! It reminded me of visits to my cousins in Devon, where an animal always seems to break loose at some point during my stay, needing to be chased and caught.
For this and other reasons, I have thus far resisted the urge to settle in the country, preferring the joys of the south coast for the time being.
You recently reminded me about West Wittering beach, while signing a copy of your Lady Almina book for me at your Christmas Fair, which prompted me to visit it last week and rediscover the pleasure of walking a stormy beach in Winter.
As for the book; I’m about a third of my way through it, and hope to reach the back cover by New Year. I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far, and may have to pay you a further visit next Christmas to buy a copy of the sequel.
I imagine you might cast a wistful eye over the world of Downton on Christmas Day, where the age of chivalry was alive and well, and a lady (let alone a Countess) wouldn’t have had to ask twice for assistance in catching a pony !
This story brought a smile to my face thank you. Earl is a very lovely pony.
Earl looks like a cheeky little bloke, no doubt all that running about kept you nice and warm. We are trying to keep our cool here in Melbourne Australia, 29 degrees today. It’s strange to see you all wrapped up in coats and hats in December. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year… regards Louise.
What a cute pony!
my daughter Katie Minney had a pony called Uffington Earl and she is trying to find where she is .we sold him to a Sue Acworth she ran a riding school.
Katie emailed sue and replied that lady Carnarvon has him .if you still have him is it possible to pop up and see Earl .
Katie’s granddad may get in touch with you his name is Bob Hills bob and myself run hills burghclere taxis I do a lot of work for lady Carolyn and the family.