We check the herd in Sandness every day. They are a seven miles down the road. It is a nice drive and one I have done often – my daughters went to primary school in Sandness and I used to drive them to and from school. I bought us an old Land Rover Defender for the job. Any weathers and we were all safe.
Anywho, en route we spied three hill ponies.
I haven’t seen them recently and I think they have just been put out for the winter.
The wind was blowing through their manes and tails and the Autumn light made them look very special.
These are not unloved wild ponies.
They all belong to someone who has rights to put Shetland ponies on the scattald (common grazing or open hill).
It is a long-standing law – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crofting
This is their scattald – they can roam for miles but they don’t actually.
They tend to stay around an area of a couple of square miles.
They share the hill with sheep. The sheep have to be the Shetland breed and they have similar behaviour – they have their own routes and areas that they stick to.
I did try and talk to the scattald ponies, but they didn’t know me and ran away.
And as I drove home, the last of the sun (I use the term loosely) was going behind Foula.
Shetland is a beautiful place and today I feel particularly blessed that I live here.