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The accuracy of these articles is attributable to the person who reported for the Herald and does not necessarily reflect what was said during a talk or interview.
Horses in the Garden is published.
The publication date for the hardback A Century of Fells is the end of March, so stock will be available at the Fell Pony Society AGM and the Centenary Launch at the FPS Stallion & Colt Show at Dalemain on 14th May.
The sequel to Against the Odds is taking shape. If you've seen me lurking about on the fell with a camera, yes, I am up to no good at all! Still writing a poem a week, or more, plus planning to batter my heroine with a great deal of nasty stuff.
Too much music in my head to concentrate on writing at the moment. Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, Goodall's Requiem Eternal Light and two shorter pieces, with the Ullswater Choir singing as part of the Cumbria Rural Choirs.
Janni Howker's terrific review of Ash Tree is published here on Ink, Sweat and Tears.
I'm joining in a poetry writing group, "52" led by Jo Bell, that aims to produce a poem a week from a variety of prompts.
Hoofprints in Eden is now out in four parts for Kindle.
I'm looking forward to seeing an article in Cumbria Magazine's December edition, following an interview at home by Kev Hopkinson about the novels and the Ash Tree poetry pamphlet.
I'm working on an updated digital edition of Hoofprints in Eden for Kindle, and I now hold most of the remaining stock of the paperback (and a solid little box-full it is, too).
I gave a talk at the Wordsworth Bookshop in Penrith on 24th October, about Researching a Historical Novel. Lots of interesting questions afterwards and I signed quite a few books, mostly Coachman and Ash Tree. @WordsworthBook
Fab review of Ash Tree in London Grip, from Robert Nisbet.
31st - Taking part in Eden Arts' "Lost Tree" project at Brough Castle, Brough, Cumbria. "Missing", one of the poems from ASH TREE, is expected to feature. 31st August would have been Naomi's 8th birthday so I will go along that afternoon with copies of ASH TREE. I would be very happy to see you there. I'll read some of the poems, if there is anyone to listen.
13th-17th - COACHMAN is on offer, free to download for Kindle.
13th - We're expecting ASH TREE from the printers!
12th - C&W Herald notes the imminent appearance of ASH TREE.
2nd - ASH TREE goes to print and we start promoting it! Very exciting!
I talked to the Cumbrian Literary Group about "Researching a Historical Novel" on 13th July, 2-30pm at the Quaker Meeting House in Keswick.
19th - Equestrian resources for Historians - see the Blog.
16th - Cover ideas being discussed for Ash Tree poetry pamphlet, with Prole Books.
6th - Books placed for sale and reader copies donated to the lovely couple at Wordsworth Bookshop and Coffee House in St Andrew's Churchyard, Penrith. They make super coffee and food (including veggie options and gluten-free) as well as selling local books.
3rd-7th Jackdaw E Books joins the Summer Banquet Blog Hop.
5th - first discussion of suggested edits of "Ash Tree" with Prole Books
3rd-6th - Jackdaw E Books joins in the Heroes and Villains Blog Hop
12th-15th - Jackdaw E Books joins in the Historical Novelists' Book Fair
7th - donated some reading-copy books to Joff Gainey's Bookstop Cafe in Lincoln, due to open 4th May 2013. And sent some Sale or Return, of course!
4th - I performed at Words By The Water at Keswick - I can hardly call it a poem, more like a verse or ditty - but I thoroughly enjoyed helping to launch issue 2 of The Fire Crane from New Writing Cumbria with "The Farmer's Rainbow."
2nd - Prole Books emailed to say they look forward to bringing out "Ash Tree" as a pamphlet in August this year.
29th - New Writing Cumbria features "Missing", one of the Naomi poems from the pamphlet "Ash Tree" as a NWC Weekly Poem.
28th - Dragon Bait managed to get to #12 in Fairy Tales etc on Amazon USA during its free promotion 27/28 October.
Coachman and The Forthright Saga join Dragon Bait in the world of real, handle-able books - with matt covers that make people fondle them and go "Ooh!" Preview brochures go out to indie bookshops in October. If anyone feels like irritating their local chain bookstore, feel free to order copies via them too!
12th - C&W Herald reports the appearance of Jackdaw E Books and three novels: Coachman, The Forthright Saga and Dragon Bait.
The Forthright Saga was downloaded over 300 times in the 3 days of its freebie Kindle promotion 14th-16th September 2012. Now to see whether it will continue to be downloaded at full price...
The Galloway Gate poetry film was shown at Shap on 14th June as part of the Landmark arts exhibition "A Sense of Place" and later at Show Case, Devonshire Arcade, Penrith, on 13th and 14th July 2012.
My current writing project is a historical novel. (See my Blog.) It was sparked off about fifteen years ago, when I couldn't have written it successfully because I didn't have access to the necessary historical sources. Today, with so many out of print books digitised by Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive, and much material available from organizations such as the British Postal Museum & Archive and British History Online, it's relatively simple to do the research from the office.
BBC's Inside Out found the Foot and Mouth Diary in 2011 and bravely spent two hours in a perishing east wind recording what turned out to be roughly a minute of chat and one reading. I must stress that although they introduced me as "a retired horse trainer," I'm not retired yet and have never been a horse trainer.
...and much older stuff
I appeared on the BBC TV quiz "Mastermind" in 1984 when it was fronted by the late, great Magnus Magnusson. In 2005 I was partly responsible for the poet Ian Macmillan having to walk up High Street (the mountain) instead of the High Street (Barnsley), while discussing the history of trotting races alongside Bob Orrell and two Fell ponies who were sure he could go faster than THAT. However, neither I nor his producer take any responsibility for the accompanying "liquid sunshine", AKA a howling gale and rain. Dylan Winter was made of sterner stuff when recording Rare Steeds, and thoroughly enjoyed driving out with Ruby and me on a frosty December morning in 2005.
I was a panel judge for the Fell Pony Society for 20 years and I serve on the FPS Council, editing the FPS Magazine and chairing its Overseas Sub-Committee.
At various times I've been Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer of the North West Driving Club and am now one of its Vice-Presidents. I own a clever bay Fell mare called Ruby. Before that I had one of her great-aunts, Rosie, and a laid-back gelding known to his friends as Mr T, who spent some time on loan to fellow writer Jackie Moffatt, and cheerfully helped us teach people to drive a pony and carriage. The thing about Fell ponies is - they are funny and they attract very funny people!
In 2002 I achieved "with distinction" the degree of MSc in Multimedia Computing. For 12 years until the end of January 2009 I worked as a technician/instructor and then a Computing lecturer at the University of Cumbria. I then covered a few IT subjects for Adult Education at Shap CDC. All that training to teach must have stuck in spite of me.
Local Press Reports
The accuracy of these articles is attributable to the person who reported for the Herald and does not necessarily reflect what was said during a talk or interview.
Lifelong poet Sue prepares to release new collection
Cumberland & Westmorland Herald, Date: Monday 12th August 2013
EDEN woman Sue Millard, who started writing poetry at the age of seven, is about to release a new poetry collection through publisher Prolebooks.
Sue, who lives at Greenholme, near Tebay, with husband Graham, has produced Ash Tree, which is described as "a poetic testament of love and grief". It follows the journey of a grandchild's battle through cancer with grandmother as witness and chronicler. The poems touch on hope, anger, frustration, despair and love.
The 60-year-old, who runs the writing group Orton Scribblers, spoke about her long-standing hobby. "I have been writing poetry since I was seven. It is one of those things that took off naturally. I had a teacher who was keen on teaching people to write and he encouraged me," said Sue.
Brought up at Bebington, Cheshire, Sue said she wrote about subjects which "interest, excite, move and worry" her. "I wrote a little bit when my children, Jennifer and David, were growing up but I have written a lot more since they have flown the nest. I have written about relationships, family and things I have observed. Living at Greenholme there is a lot to write about the countryside," she said.
She has previously self-published a collection of poetry entitled Pearl Wedding, to mark 30 years of marriage to Graham, and has had work published by different journals. These include Interpreters House and Pennine Platform, and other publications Snakeskin and Pirene's Fountain. Sue has also written a number of novels, which are Dragon Bait, Against the Odds, Coachman and The Forthright Saga.
Once Ash Tree is officially published, Sue will promote it with a number of readings. One of these will take place at Penrith's Wordsworth Bookshop and Coffee House.
Another of Sue's hobbies is carriage driving, which she teaches alongside Jennifer. Sue is also involved with the North West Carriage Driving Club and is a member of Fell Pony Society Council.
Copies of Ash Tree can be obtained from Sue, at Daw Bank, Greenholme, Tebay, CA10 3TA; or through her website www.jackdawebooks.co.uk.
Researching and writing a historical novel
Cumberland & Westmorland Herald, Date: Friday 2nd August 2013
THE speaker at the Cumbrian Literary Group meeting was Sue Millard, a farmer, computing lecturer and author.
After publishing three books, she formed her own company, Jackdaw E Books.
Speaking on the topic “Researching and writing a historical novel”, Sue said her project began in 1993 when a neighbour asked her to transcribe and decipher a letter which had been written in 1835 by her grandfather, William Chaplin, a London coaching magnate.
As Sue’s own grandfather had been a coachman and she herself drove a single-horse carriage, she was inspired to write a novel about coaching, which she set in the year 1835 a time of great change in transport with the coming of the railways.
In the course of her talk, Sue spoke about the tremendous amount of research needed to give authenticity to such a work of fiction.
She told her audience of the invaluable benefit of the Internet, which led her to discover sites and archives she had not known before. Among these was the Royal Mail archive which gave a complete picture of the history of the mail service.
An additional source of help was the Leicester University Archive. Here she found directories for Carlisle which had information about people living at that time details of shops, occupations, stagecoach services and old maps of the city, as well as street maps of London.
In addition, the speaker said she had benefited from reading Dickens and studying the accounts by Henry Mayhew of London life.
Old dictionaries had supplied authentic vocabulary that would have been used in Victorian England.
What revealed the lengths to which this dedicated writer would go was her account of how she managed to set up for herself a ride, suitably attired, in a modern replica of a four-horse stagecoach.
This really showed her what it felt like to travel in the days of the early Victorian age.
Exploring the history of the Fell pony in Eden…
Cumberland & Westmorland Herald, Date: Thursday 25th March 2010
SUSAN Millard, who owns, paints and writes about Fell ponies and is a member of the Fell Pony Society and its webmaster, revealed a devotion to and an extensive knowledge of the animals which evoked interest as well as admiration for them.
Speaking to the Upper Eden History Society, she began with an impressive breadth of references, frequently acknowledging authorial sources, when tracing the history of the Fell pony, which is so firmly associated within the Eden Valley.
She did, however, stress that before the 11th-12th centuries no records of these horses are to be found. Instead, animals were graded by the use to which they were put, but different types were noted African breeds were fast, so used in racing, while German horses were used for draughtwork, for example. We can only surmise that early ponies were put to humble use, she said. There is no evidence of crossbreeding and this continued to be so throughout the Anglo-Saxon period. They were ridden, used to pull carts or loaded with packs, but probably not used for ploughing as oxen were more suitable.
Earliest documentation of these horses is associated with the transportation of woollen and other goods to be sold. Ponies were also used for shepherding, carrying “wolvers”, the wolf hunters on the fells, and kept handy next to the settlements, on the outskirts. With the development of such trade, ponies carried wool packs from Kendal to London, destined for Belgium. Internal journeys of this kind were recorded during the 15th and 16th centuries.
The actual term “Fell pony” came later. “Galloways” was a term used in earlier recordings, alluding to a hardy, short and strong breed “small naggs”, as described by Gervaise Markham in 1660. Before this, there was reference to “Galloway nags” in Shakespeare’s Henry IV ( Part 2).
Samuel Johnson in the 18th Century called them “common hackneys”. There is record of a man named Sprewell who, in 1706, bought more than 50 Galloway horses which could feed on “orts” and out-run race horses. Defoe in the 1720s speaks of them as the “best breed of strong, low horses”, being common in number and tireless.
Interbreeding must naturally have occurred. In 1715, a Galloway gelding was advertised in Cumbria. Organised races for horses and Galloways in Penrith and other areas to the west of the county were recorded in 1736.
Susan Millard’s conjecture was that "horses" galloped, whereas "Galloways" trotted. Trotting races were common at farmers’ meets and other gatherings as part of country diversions. In 1777, The Whitehaven Intelligencer stated that “Galloway and Scotch bay geldings” were reported as having been stolen. By the end of the 18th Century, the Kircubrie Scots old breed was almost extinct. Remaining horses were crossed with Clydesdales.
The word “pony” was not to appear until the 19th Century, so it is a comparatively modern term and it was not until the 1890s that the term “Fell pony” was first mentioned. This was when presenting classes in shows, but general uses of these ponies for agricultural transportation, pulling carts and other vehicles, continued.
In 1886, however, Fell ponies were ridden, with guides accompanying on foot. In Northumberland, they were used as pit ponies, working underground and above, transporting materials. They also conveyed milk to train stations ready to take to cities.
In 1912, the Fell pony committee was formed to keep this breed “pure”, following emerging fashions for little fast ponies interbred for speed. By 1922, the huge committee divided into area branches; anyone interested could join, not just owners of Fell ponies. It cost five shillings to register a pony of any age, not before six months as now. Of course, this cost did prevent many from registering their ponies.
Records from local towns like Appleby and Keswick reveal that, from mid-May to mid-August, owners would walk on roadsides for long journeys beside their mares to visit “stallion districts”; one such record stated 88 miles in a week.
Because of growing automation in the 1930s, prices for these ponies fell and consequently many were slaughtered. Fortunately, many farmers within the county liked to keep their Fell ponies, thereby ensuring that they did not disappear. During the Second World War they came back into use for a while; then, many ponies were bred but not registered, with different lines being reintroduced.
Now, Fell ponies are microchip registered and stud books are completed. Used again in sports, they can be ridden and driven. In 2008, a 13.1hh Fell pony completed 100 miles in 17 1/2 hours: as Susan said, “Some performance!”.
History of the Fell pony
Cumberland & Westmorland Herald, Date: Friday 12th March 2010
HAVING missed the January meeting because of the bad weather, Asby WI members were glad to meet without hitch for their next meeting. Guest speakers were Sue Millard and Elizabeth Parkin and their topic was “The Fell pony”.
Sue began by giving a history of the Fell pony, emphasising that there are very few early historical records about the breed. Most of the information about them dates from the 17-18th centuries. Shakespeare refers to “galloways” in one of his plays, the name referring to the horses used in medieval times as pack horses and general farm animals.
In 1660 Gervase Markham (a name familiar in Eden) also wrote about “galloways”. In the same way as we have long distance lorries and local hauliers, so there were long distance pony trains (carrying wool in particular) and local delivery animals (carrying cheese, meat, fish, and minerals). A long distance pony train would take a month to cover the return journey from Kendal to London.
18th Century newspaper advertisements give information about races for “horses and galloways” at shepherds’ meets and other farmers’ gatherings the races for “galloways” being trotting races held on straight (Roman road) courses on High Street and at Fair Mile, Tebay.
It was in 1894-5 that the Fell pony was called such and classes for the breed were included in the Hesket-new-Market and Shap shows. The pony continued to be used for light farm work and pulling farmers’ carts, but was also used both above and below ground in the mines, and in some places for tourists’ use.
By 1912 there was concern about the purity of the breed and the Fell Pony Committee (later the Fell Pony Society) was formed to avert this problem. Initially, ponies were registered at any age for five shillings each and provided with a pedigree certificate, a far cry from the need nowadays for a Fell pony to be microchipped at birth and provided with a passport which includes registration and pedigree details. About 400 ponies are registered each year.
Elizabeth Parkin then explained the work of the Fell Pony Society (FPS), of which there are some 1,200 members, not only from the UK, but also from the US, Europe, and even Australia.
Besides the registration work, the FPS organises three shows each year, the stallion show at Dalemain, a show specifically for young people which is held in South Cumbria, and a show in Penrith.
The society has reintroduced trotting races, and developed events for dressage, cross-country, jumping, and ride-and-drive, showing how versatile the animal can be.
Some Fell ponies are still used as working animals. Most recently pony trains have taken packs of bags on to the fells ready to be filled with large stones. The bags are then collected by helicopter and delivered to the footpath repair teams.
Other ponies are used for endurance riding, riding for the disabled and even for hunting.
Following questions, Mrs. Valerie Cooper gave the vote of thanks and then, together with Mrs. Susan Renshaw, provided refreshments before the members reconvened for their business and planning meeting.
Mrs. Pat Leuze won the raffle and Mrs Helen Horn’s entry was first in the competition for “something horsey”, with Mrs. Anne Hulse’s entry second.
25 YEARS: ORTON
Cumberland & Westmorland Herald, Date: Friday 29th January 2010
An ambition to sit in the famous “black chair” and face questions from Magnus Magnusson on the BBC television program Mastermind has been fulfilled by an Orton housewife. Mrs. Susan Millard, of Dawbank, Greenholme, Orton, was one of only one per cent. to be interviewed for the program out of over 4,000 applicants. Mrs. Millard chose the “Hebridean novels of Lillian Beckwith” as her specialist subject. The program was recorded last November in York Railway Museum and Mrs. Millard is sworn to secrecy as to her performance until it is screened next month.
Sure-footed ponies of the fells
Cumberland & Westmorland Herald, Date: Friday 11th December 2009
AT a meeting of Bampton and District Local History Society, members heard a talk from Sue Millard on the history of the Fell pony and development of the Fell Pony Society.
It was a fascinating account of the many ways in which the small, hardy sure-footed horses of the fells have linked together local communities and also served the wider needs of cloth and mining industries.
Ponies from the fells were used to transport goods between Kendal and London and Kendal and Southampton. A type of horse rather than a breed until the late 19th Century, the Fell pony first appeared as a class in a local show in 1894. In 1916, the Fell Pony Society was founded, partly as a result of the desire to cross Arab horses with the compact, fleet and strong Fell pony and produce ideal polo ponies!
Members also enjoyed a talk by Roger Robson on the history of Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling at this month’s meeting.
HOOFPRINTS IN EDEN
Cumberland & Westmorland Herald, Date: Saturday 2nd December 2006
TEBAY and Orton History Society held its meeting at Tebay. The guest speaker was Mrs. Sue Millard, from Greenholme, the author of Hoofprints in Eden. She talked about horses and ponies from Roman times until the present day and about the Fell Ponies which roam Cumbria’s fells.
The Fell Pony was first registered in 1898 by the Riding and Polo Society. The Fell Pony Society was formed in 1918. She explained how she received information from local owners and breeders, to add to her own knowledge, before writing her book.
Fiction : Dragon Bait * Against the Odds * Scratch * Coachman * The Forthright Saga * String of Horses * Non-Fiction : Hoofprints in Eden * A Century of Fells * One Fell Swoop * Ponies with Wheels * Horses in the Garden coming soon * Fell Facts & Fell Fun * Short Stories : The Twisted Stair * Keeping On * Poetry : Ash Tree * Ruby Wedding * Galloway Gate * Samples! * Jackdaw : About the Author * Blog * News & Events * Services * For Overseas Purchasers * Links * Home