Tuesday, 19 August 2008
The Horses: Viboli and Tolivia
These are our two Asturcon ponies that are named after two remote villages in the Ponga Mountains. Viboli is the slightly lighter pony (on the left) and in the portrait photo beneath, she is quite friendly. Tolivia who is much warier of people is the one on the right in the photo above and slightly darker in colour. They are about 5 years old now.
The Asturcon ponies are the local breed of Asturias and were in serious risk of extinction 30 years ago. One of the last existing populations at that time lived on the Sueve Mountains (just behind the hotel.) Many of the ponies from that group formed part of the core population which was used for the recuperation of the race. The ponies are very hardy and robust, and well adapted to the harsh mountain life in Asturias.
We have the horses for pasture management. The sheep and ponies never graze side by side, always in rotation, keeping parasites to a minimum, in the same way as rotating crops keeps soil-pathogens to a minimum. The horses will eat longer grass which the sheep don’t normally like to graze and they will also eat certain species the sheep leave behind. We normally put the horses in a meadow first to get the long grass down, and then latter put the sheep to finish the grazing. This “mixed” grazing is an integral part of our diverse organic cropping system. From a sustainability or permaculture point of view, we should be using the ponies on the farm to haul loads or plough the land, but I definitely think these two ladies are beyond training.
Hotel Posada del Valle is a small hotel in Asturias Northern Spain surrounded by its own organic farm and where we are passionate about organic farming, food, and sustainable livelihoods. In this Blog those of us who live and work at Hotel Posada del Valle open a door to share with all of you who are interested in what we are doing.