Alezane's Diary Archive October 2003
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The day to day life of an ex-racehorse and her companions in Dartmoor UK and Mayenne France
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Wednesday 1st October 2003
begonias“Have ye heard of the sea, Alli? The ocean?”

“Of course I have, Wicky. You know my jockeys used to travel all over the place and I’d hear them talking. Of course I’ve heard of the sea.”

“And wha’ hae ye heard, lassie. What do you know about it?”

“They used to fly over it mainly. In those big silver things that we see go flying over our heads. They called them ‘planes’ or sometimes ‘jumbos’ although that last bit confused me because I somehow thought that they were like a great big horse with a long nose.”

“But was did they tell you the sea was like?”

“I heard it was a bit like our stream but it didn’t taste too good if you swallowed it and that they have things called botes that went on the sea, that they could sit on but that they were too slow to take them where there were racing, so they went on a plane instead.”

“Did they say how big it is, the sea. Or how deep?”

“Oh, very big, I think. As big as our fields and Harry’s field and all those fields up there put together. Anyway, Wicky, why are you so interested in what the jockeys used to talk about?”

“You were asking Tregony about fish, the other day. Don’t forget, I’m part Shetland islander. An island is surrounded by the sea.”

“And fish?”

“Where do you think fish live, Alli? What do ye think the sea is full of, lassie. Fish! Tha’s what. Fish!”

“Sort of like the sky is full of birds?”

“That’s it, lass. Just like that.”

“So, there … fish… just fly about in the sea? Well, it takes all sorts, I suppose. I wonder why HE told me to talk about them? Just trying to be superior again, I expect. Either that or he just said the first thing that came into his head. That wouldn’t surprise me. He can be a really irritating so and so some times. Well, thanks Wicky. That was very useful. Are you going to tell Tregony about fish, as well?”

“Alezane, my dear. Do you really think it worth the effort? Just think how much eating I could be doing, while I waited for Treg to start to comprehend things about flying in the stream. I think I’ll just keep it our little secret. Don’t you?”

Thursday 2nd October 2003
Highland ponies
We had distinguished visitors passing through the village, yesterday. THEY were just on their way out to bring in further supplies of carrots and things, when they say a group of three ponies, standing outside the village stores. SHE recognised, straight away that they were Highland Ponies, not a breed you see much of around here. HE had his camera in HIS pocket, so they stopped and went back to get a few pictures. There were three ponies but only two riders, one of the ponies was being used as a pack carrying animal. It appeared that they were collecting for some charity so SHE got talking to them while HE pottered around taking snaps.

It turned out that the lady was on a charity ride, collecting for ‘Riding for the Disabled’ from Scotland to Devon. The man with her had apparently joined her to ride back from Scotland. Apparently, she was a photo journalist who came from Shilstone Rocks near Widecombe in the Moor. Anyway, pictures were taken and web site business cards were traded before THEY carried on with their shopping expedition. THEY are now, trying to find out the names of the highland ponies. HE went on the web and got some nice pictures of the ponies but failed to identify their names. HE did discover that the lady, her name is Tracy Elliot-Reep, has written books about her travel in New Zealand and about Dartmoor and also publishes lots of postcards and greetings cards, using her photos. SHE was slightly embarrassed at pushing her web site card at someone so well known but HE, never daunted that the lady is a photographer, is sending her some of HIS photos that he took of her and her ponies in South Zeal. What a nerve. Tregony would be proud of HIM.

 

Friday 3rd October 2003
Tracy Elliot-Reep
“What do you think about Alli, lately, Treg?”

“Who? Oh Alli. Er…, well, she is a bit vigorous, yes, that’s the word – vigorous.!”

“Is that good or bad, Treg. You know, in a scale of one carrot to ten carrots. What do you think?”

“Well, she is about sev.. eight carrots vigorous, that’s for sure. I really don’t know about good or bad. Well, that is except if it is a matter of the Humanwatch law. Then I know. I remember, only last week, I was saying to Ha…”

“Treg! Come back to me, son. Now listen. I am asking you if you think that Alezane is getting a bit too big for her shoes? Do you understand?”

“Oh, it’s a farriery question, is it? Oh, well. That’s an altogether different matter. I will say she doesn’t seem to have the same problems with her feet that you and I do. So maybe her shoes fit her just right. Is that the right answer, Wicky?”

Tregony, Tregony, Tregony! This isn’t a quiz evening, laddie. And no, I’m not talking about how well her shoes fit.”

“But Wick…”

“Don’ interrupt, man. Listen. I’ll tell you straight. I think Allie is getting too bossy. And spiteful. Haven’t you noticed how she always goes to bite me when we are waiting for our buckets? And she turns to kick me, as well. Don’t you think she is getting a bit too much lately?”

“Lately?”

“What do you mean, just repeating ‘lately’? Do you think she has always been a bit too much?”

“Now, did I say that? I was just wondering what difference you had noticed in her behaviour. I can’t say I have. Alli is Alli. That’s all. Someone has to be boss and it isn’t me, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t want to be.”

“But wouldn’t you like to come into the field shelter when it’s raining hard or very windy instead of having to stand just outside?”

“What you’ve never had you don’t miss.”

“Do you mean that you’ve always had to stand outside? Even before Alli?”

“Remember who I was with, before Alli came, Wicky?”

“Yes. You were with me.”

“And who used to bite my knees while I was standing waiting for my bucket?”

“Er, well, maybe it was me… sometimes.”

“I know, Wicky. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. Only it was you, now it’s Alli. But don’t worry Wick. She’ll soon be going in overnight for the winter. Then you’ll be able to be the one. O.K.?”

Saturday 4th October 2003
Friends
I don’t know what those two were whispering about, the other evening, but since that time, Wicky has been a different little squirt. Yes, Alli; No, Alli. It makes you a bit colicky. I wonder what he’s really up to? Old Treg has got an independent step these days. He is obviously a lot happier now the colder weather has arrived. He finishes his food all up, is even fussy about what treats he likes and what he wont have. I say ‘wont’ because the old guy has got a very stubborn streak. A real cobby nature which is now showing through, more and more. Do you know what he did, the other day? He has been watching how I like to empty my bucket out on the floor and then, after eating up all the good, veggy bits, I like to leave a bit of short feed laying there for me to eat up later, when I get back from having my treats with HER. I’ve noticed that fairly often, when I get back, that Wicky is tucking into my left overs and I have to threaten him with a real good nip to get him to go away. Well, the other day, I went off, as usual, having left my usual short feed pile and, do you know what? As soon as I left, Tregony walked over and began to clear up. And not only began to. He completely scoffed the lot. Not even Wicky could find any to steal. I was so amazed that I couldn’t bring myself to tell him off. In fact, secretly, I was more than a bit proud of him. I didn’t say anything though. It doesn’t pay to appear soft. That way, you lose your authority very quickly. I even let him go up the field, all on his own, first. Mind you, it only takes me a few fast strides to catch up. The only pity is that he is really too old to play anymore. Oh well, I’ll just have to play at tormenting Wicky. He likes that sort of thing!

 

Sunday 5th October 2003
Treg steps out
THEY had the pram race today. At least, THEY didn’t but the humans did. I didn’t see it myself but HE told me all about it. Apparently, once a year, the locals build what are termed ‘prams’ Now a pram used to be a perambulator. That is, a carriage that humans use to push their foals about in. No wonder they grow up so puny, with such week little legs. They never let them learn to use them! Anyway, when these ‘prams’ are no longer serviceable or required, it is common practice to use the wheels and axles to make other vehicles, usually with old bits of wood and other debris, so that the humans can have fun by pushing each other around in them. Now that is one thing that humans find enjoyable, being pushed around in old junk. The other thing that humans find enjoyable is boozing, consuming vast amounts of alcohol. It is not too surprising then, that one day, one of them came up with the brilliant idea of putting these two enjoyments together – et voila (as they say where I come from) – the Pram Race was born.

The idea is, oh, I forgot, the third thing that humans find really enjoyable and extremely humourous – dressing up (or often down!) For some reason, that would escape any normal equine, humans get a great deal of pleasure from wearing silly clothes, false hair and paint on their faces and body. Also for the geldings and stallions to pretend to be mares. So there you have it. One day each year, the humans dress and paint up, make some strange, quaint or fantastic conveyance, ranging from a baby carriage to a helicopter on wheels and they gather together someplace (this year in the local haulage company yard). After a indeterminate period, when everyone stands about drinking alcohol and talking, someone yells – off (that brings back memories!). They then charge off down the hill and away to the nearest public house where the rules say they must have one drink – but hell, who cares about the rules? The interesting part is, that this is repeated for six more public houses after that and then someone’s supposed to care who reaches the finishing line first. All I can say is, that if that was the way we had carried on, when I was racing, I would be ashamed to be called an ex racehorse. But humans? There is no accounting for what they get up to!

 

Monday 6th October 2003
pram race
This morning, before breakfast, we were entertained by the sight of about twenty to thirty so called ‘hikers’ going past our gate and up the bridleway to the moor. I say ‘so called’ because these were not what you would call real hikers. We all know what they look like and how they behave. Usually dressed in a sort of hiker beige, with small backpacks, hats and plenty of maps, compasses and the like. Quite a few of them, especially the males have beards, they are mostly elderly and often they have some sort of tree branch to help them along. Oh. And they look serious. Very serious, as if they were doing community service or something. But this lot were nothing like that. They were all young, gaudily dressed and those that were awake, either looked apprehensive or were laughing and joking about. They all had enormous backpacks, as if they were carrying tents and other aid items for the earthquake victims of the Dartmoor plains and all the gear was new and brightly coloured. As were the hikers. I think every breed in the human race was represented. Of course that was the give away. That and the behaviour. Students! Who else?

And what were these nice students doing, miles away from their centrally heated lecture theatres and their squalid bed sits? Again, obvious. Just think of the date, the time of year. Yes, that’s right. It’s the start of the new Uni year, the beginning of the first semester. And what does that mean? It means that all their lecturers have just struggled back from their couple of months in the sunny climes of Italy, Greece or even further afield. And what do they feel like least. That’s right. Teaching a batch of bright young students. And so. What might be a good wheeze to allow the lecturers to come down to earth gently? Send the new students off on a week or two’s ‘breaking the ice’, ‘getting to know each other’, ‘trust, acclimatising, whatever good phrase you can dream up’ camping and trekking on Dartmoor.

I tell you, my heart went out to them, as they filed past Ninefields. Never mind. What is it? The happiest days of your life!

 

Tuesday 7th October 2003
Pram Race
The weather is getting wet and dark and windy. As Wicky says – ‘a really good spell o’ fresh air, away frae the flies and such’. Treg and I don’t really mind it, either. Oh, that reminds me. Something that I do mind. I mind very much. Lately, as the grass has been getting shorter and harder to find, we have had to put our muzzles in some very tight corners and very weedy places. And some of these weeds carry burrs. Or burrrrrs, as Wicky calls them! They are a bit irritating, at first, but after a while you tend not to notice them. But, not HER. SHE noticed them straight away. HE just commented, when he stroked my muzzle, at the gate, that I had a few nicks here and there and said I had probably caught myself on brambles, poor thing. That was alright. A bit of sympathy never goes amiss. But SHE. Being an ex nurse (and also being a female, I suspect), SHE was not content to just stroke and sympathise. SHE had to pick and dig! Pick and dig and scratch at those burrs. And, of course, worse. When SHE realises that they were not scabs but burrs, there was no stopping HER. Try as I might to get taller and taller, SHE managed to keep on picking and digging until my face was quite sore.

Mind you, I got some satisfaction later. I found out why SHE has been wearing rubber gloves lately. It was nothing to do with grooming Wicky after all. We all know he smells a little, well, horsey, but we thought it was just rude to show him up by wearing rubber gloves, so obviously. Anyway, it wasn’t Wicky at all. It was the sheep! Apparently the other day she woke up with this nasty rash like blister on the back of her finger. It not only looked nasty but it itched like mad. SHE tried applying some cream that HE has for some infectious spot on his leg but that didn’t seem to make much impression and after HE said he thought HE had something on HIS finger as well, SHE took herself off to the vets. He took one look at it and said “Do you work with sheep?” Well, of course, SHE said no, but that we have sheep come and stay with us, from time to time. “That’s it” cried the vet, “Orf”. Well, at first SHE thought he was telling her to get out, like the start of a race, or something. Then he showed her the word in a book with a picture beside it. Anyway, in true vets style, he has given her some cream for it. Treggy said he was a bit disappointed that the vet didn’t stick an injection in her bum. It’s amazing what a long memory he’s got, isn’t it?

 

Wednesday 8th October 2003
Alli itching
I was in big trouble, yesterday morning. I mean, BIG trouble. You see, it had been a really wet, windy and miserable night and, although HE had put new hay in our hay nets, so that we didn’t need to go outside the field shelter, the noise the wind makes in that green plastic sheeting HE has put up to stop us helping ourselves to the hay, was even worse than the rain and wind itself, so none of us had a good restful night. Anyway, for whatever reason, I was feeling a bit grumpy this morning, when breakfast came. Added to that, Tregony took it into his head to swivel right round while he was eating so that he made me feel uncomfortable and I had to wave my foot around, in his direction, as a warning. That was my first telling off!

Then, when I had finished my breakfast, I turned round so HE could give me a few apple biscuits, and then started off, following HER down the field to the gate, for my next lot of treats. Well, then, suddenly, an idea came to me. Why not go straight back to HIM and get my carrots first, so that I might be in a position to get some of Treg’s as well, if he hasn’t finished eating by the time I’ve had mine. So, instead of following HER down to the gate, I started back towards the field shelter. Well, he must have seen me coming, because he went and hid behind the field shelter. He’s done that a couple of times before and I’ve then, not finding him, gone back down the field to the gate. This time though, I had a better idea. If Tregony still had some breakfast left and no humans were around, I’d just push him out of the way and finish it off for him. Why not? Wicky does it all the time, even when there are humans around. So, in I went and Tregony obligingly moved out of my way and I was just having my first mouthful when HE came, storming round the corner and shouting at me. Well, you know how I don’t like to be shouted at! I just froze. He continued to make threatening noises and picked up the bucket and took it to Treg, for him to finish his breakfast. I tried to say sorry and nuzzle him gently but, sad to say, nothing worked. SHE had already gone back to the car and, when Treg was finished, HE walked off too, with not a word, and worse still, not a treat. I can tell you, the others were not terrifically pleased with me, for none of us got any treats from anyone that morning. Let’s hope THEIR mood improves by next bucket time.

 

Thursday 9th October 2003
threatening sky
It’s been a good time for Treggy and a not so good time for the rest of us. First the good news. Mark came along yesterday and fitted Treg’s rear shoes. He now has four good shoes and, so, nearly four good feet. They may be a bit tatty, where various vetinaries have carved chunks out of them, but, with all new shoes on, old Treg is as proud as anything. And, better than that, he is more and more confident, more and more forward.

The bad news is (for Wicky and me, that is. Well, thinking about it, maybe just for me) we now have our coats put on overnight. If there is one thing I hate, almost as bad as being shouted at, it’s having things put on (and taken off) my back. It doesn’t matter what, a saddle, a rug, even a weigh tape – I hate it. It all goes back to my days racing, I expect. Either that or when I was being trained for racing. I have to tell you a little secret. I didn’t really like racing all that much. Oh, yes, I liked the excitement. And the interesting things that went on. But, the actual racing, trying to get to the post before the others, well, it just isn’t in my nature. I’m not really the competitive sort. I’d love a run, maybe over the downs, even finishing with a good hard gallop when we were training. But when it got serious, when the humans got worried about how much money they would win, or worse, lose. Well, that’s when I started to positively dislike it. Everyone got all tensed up. Bad manners and even worse tempers were all around you. It was not just once or twice I got a really bad smack. And, if we are being really honest, some of those jumps used to scare me. To scare me badly. I was really happy when the humans decided that I would be better at stud than racing any longer. I think they could see my heart wasn’t in it. Whereas, a foal. That was another matter.

Anyway, I have to have my coat put on at night and have it taken off in the morning which has had me waving my foot about something fiercesome. Wicky doesn’t seem to notice his going on or coming off, as long as he can carry on eating. And Tregony? He is as proud as anything since THEY told him that his red rug was an Hossifer’s Uniform. What they didn’t tell him was it is more like a Chelsea Pensioners one!

 

Friday 10th October 2003
Wicky and HER
Alli is watching over the fields, as usual, making sure that we don’t do anything that she thinks we shouldn’t. Treggy is grazing a little way away, down by the gate, trying to keep out of her way. Since she has had to have her rug on, overnight, she is even more bad tempered than usual. She is always picking on me, I don’t know why, just because I have the guts to stand up to her. Well, someone’s got to. Otherwise she’ll be even more unbearable that she is now. Look at her, strutting about in that floaty sort of way she has, as if she was queen of all Ninefields. She even tries it on with the sheep although they are too stupid to know she is being bossy to them. What’s that, Alli? Oh, no, Alli. Yes Alli, No Alli. I don’t know what satisfaction she gets from that. She might as well try bossing the granite stones about, they are just as intelligent. The trouble is, although the sheep have no idea what is going on, and only answer the first thing that comes into their balls of wool, she thinks they are doing what she tells them. I don’t care about the sheep. But I do care about old Treg. When he is too afraid to come into the field shelter, even in the torrential rain. Or when he doesn’t dare to take his greeting carrot from HIM when they meet by the gate unless Alli doesn’t like it. I can see him now just …. hello, what’s this? My goodness, it’s some sort of giant stallion coming down they bridle path. I wonder where he is from? He’s enormous. Must be nearly nineteen hands and big, not fat, but muscled. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was breathing fire. of course, it’s just hot breath in the cold air…I think. Now, that’s got Alli interested, the big flirt. Look at her, sidling up to the gate, to catch his attention. Oh no, look, he’s seen her, he’s leaping over. Wow, nearly right on top of her. And now look, he’s chasing her. look! He’s got his ears back. he’s flashing his teeth. He’s up to her now, he’s going to bite. Ugh! Got her! Ow!!!

“And what are you smiling at, Wicky? You look very happy.”

“What? Wha’ ? Oh, it’s you Alli. Oh, nothing, lassie. Nothing really. I was just having a wee dream. Just a really nice dream!”.

Saturday 11th October 2003
Treg thinkingHossifer’s Log, D.I.S. Tregony Bay, oh seventeeny hours about or a bit more.

Just had to report the respect I’m getting now I’ve got a real Hossifer’s Uniform and in such a real spectakeller colour. I get nothing but ‘Yes yer Honner’ and ‘Straight away Sarge’ from the rabbits and even the squidgel thinks twice before crossing my path (and it’s probably not got anything to do with my nice big metal shoes). You know, I nearly said ‘heavy metal shoes’ but then I thought that you might think I’d gone all rock ‘n roll on you, instead of being an upright upholder of the law.

Well, well, well. Wot’s all this ‘ere? (I read that somewhere, pretty impressive, eh?) That’s a distinct footprint, round the back of the field shelter. This needs hinvestigating, if I’m not mistaken. Let me see. Size? Er, pretty small, really. Toes? Well, not cloven and yet not proper horseshoe shaped, either. All sorts of wavy, zig-zaggy lines under the sole. I’ll just have to make an impression of that. If you’ll just wait a moment, I’ll just press something onto it… there … oh bggr! It’s gone all flat on me. Oh well. It wasn’t really very interesting anyway.

“Tregony”

Can you hear? Someone’s calling. Ignore them. Maybe they’ll go away. They never understand the amount of work I got to get through before my watch is over. It’s not all plain sailing keeping this log, I’ll tell you. Only the other da …..

“ Tregony. I’m counting to three. And then if you’re not out, I’m coming in to get you!”

Oh, senior hossifer! Must run. Let me know if you see any more of them wavy footprints.

“Coming, Alli. Was just checking the grass round here. Coming right out!”

Sunday 12th October 2003
Ramsley common
The start of those misty autumn mornings. You know, when you can’t tell if it’s raining or not. Like living in a cloud, all moist, soft and greyish. Light and yet not light. We settle into a routine of rugs on at night and off again in the morning, somehow, regardless of the weather. It can be dry at night and raining in the day. No matter. Rugs on at night and off in the morning. Kind of comforting, in a way. You know where you are with routine. Even Treggy can tell you if it’s night or day (except when he gets a bit muddled, but then, don’t we all, sometimes). Another really good thing. Hay. We are getting hay nets at night. Stacks of grass, still, in the fields but we get hay nets! At first, we ignored them. Then we just pulled the hay out and dropped it on the ground. And then, one night, when we did that, HE didn’t refill the nets and we found that we somehow ate up all the piles left on the floor. Then we got into this nice rhythm. HE fills them and we eat them empty. A very satisfactory arrangement all round, I think. Oh, before you think how greedy and spoilt we are, HE only part fills them, just enough so we can take a break from eating grass, in the night, and can all get together in the field shelter, for a social moment munching hay. I’ve even got over my grumpiness at having my coat on and now only wave a hind around to give THEM something to talk about. SHE even gets real nice and praises me, even when I’ve not done anything. I tell you, I can twist THEM round my little cannon bone. It’s altogether a nice time, autumn.

 

 

Monday 13th October 2003
Still no sign of these sheep, we were told would be coming to join us in our fields. Treggy’s got all excited and keeps asking if he can make some of them deputies. Wicky told him he can make them all deputies, if it makes him happy but not to0 expect too much from then. He said, the one thing you won’t get is dissent. What one thinks (if that’s not too strong a word) they all will think. The only problem, Treg has a resthe told Treggy, was that they may all wait to see if anyone else is going to speak first, so that they can all agree with her and that way, you can get some pretty long silences. Treg wasn’t put off, however and keeps talking of turning them into a posset. Wicky told him that wont be a problem either. It’ll be like turning them into a field, once one goes, all the rest will follow. I must admit, myself, wondering why Treg would want to turn them into a drink, however delicious and in the end I had to ask him. “Drink?” he said, “Who said anything about a drink? I want them all to form a group of deputies to help me round up all my suspeks. “Try Posse”, I told him but he said that it was no good. If they wouldn’t do it for the good of the community spirit then offering them bunches of flowers would be like bribery and was definitely contrary to regilations.

What do you think of the weather, I asked him, to try and change the subject, but he just wandered off, muttering something about civilians not understanding and maybe some horses should just stick to matters like racing and hunting and leave matters of the law to those “wot is kwalified!”

I turned to Wicky, who appeared to be dozing. Well, what do you think of that, Wick? He just looked up at me and leered (although, to give him credit, I think it was his version of smiling) and said that Tregony was happy. He was taking an interest in his surroundings, he had a hobby and that, most importantly, he was not interfering with his (Wicky’s) eating arrangements. “You can’t ask for more than that, can you?” he said. When I looked down to answer, he had wandered off for a bit of a graze. I looked around. Treg was halfway up the middle field, just passing the big tree. Harry was having a long, lazy roll in his own field. Wicked had gone down to the stream, I think for a drink, probably not a wash. And here was I, all alone and feeling pretty good in my self. I have to admit, I gave a little squeal of pleasure and ran then cantered up the hill to give Treg a little love bite.

 

Tuesday 14th October 2003
Mike at work
I watched THEM today. They came to spy on us, again, this afternoon. I knew it was too early for our evening buckets and that usually means one of two things. Trouble or spying. When I say I watched THEM, I don’t mean that I turned my head or moved my ears or anything. I just used my eyes. I had heard the car as soon as it came under Dry Bridge. I can tell the sound of both of THEIR cars, either at the gate or in the distance. I watched now, with my eyes alone, so that they didn’t know I had heard or seen them. After a while, if became obvious that they were alone. No vet or farrier to require our presence to be worked on. I watched a bit longer. No head collars or saddles. That was a good sign. Not required for work. I warned Treg not to appear to notice them either but I wasted my time, for he hadn’t. “Who, Alli?” was as far as I got with him. I watched Wicked, who had declined to join us, in the top field. He appeared to be dozing but I could tell that he had clocked them, as well. Possibly for a different reason. Wicked was brought up with an eye, always, to the main chance. Being a moorland pony, you must always try to know where your next mouthful is coming from. Wicky was no more a lover of the vet than the rest of us but if he had thought that THEIR appearance signalled food, he would have been down that field like a steeplechaser, to get to the food first.

As it happens, THEY walked up the bridleway, going past Ninefields and on the way towards the high moor. I carried on keeping THEM under surveillance and I saw that they branched off at Matthew’s sand school and took the route back down (or should I say back along) to the road via the other bridle path. What I did notice (but don’t tell Wicky) was that they stopped to talk to the mare in the field at the junction of the bridle path and the road. And worse, they gave her carrot and mints. I don’t mind, I’ll get my share later on.

When THEY came along this evening, with our buckets, he told me that they had popped in to the farm, before walking around the path and had seen Michael up a sort of raising platform thing, working on the doors of his new barn. I mention this because I thought you might like to see a photograph of our nice, friendly farmer. He also promised to put those sheep in the field. Treg will be pleased!

 

Wednesday 15th October 2003
Treg and Wick
“’ere, Wicky, I think we’re going on holiday”.

“What, Treg. What’s given you that idea?”

“Our old mum, Michelle, phoned up today, asking if we got passports”.

“And why would we need passports? We’re not like that French madam over there, are we. The longest distance we’re likely to go, is up that hill there”.

“Well, it’s true. HE told me. Michelle says it’s official. We’ve got to have a passport. And that can only mean we’re going to travel, doesn’t it?”

“Oh, I suppose we’ll have to ask Alli. She has got experience in these matters. Hey, Alli. Did you know we’ve got to get passports. HE says”.

“You mean you’ve got to get a passport. I’ve always had one. All us high born horses have them. Didn’t you know?”

“Does that mean we will be high born too, Alli, when we get ours?”

“Even if there were the slightest possibility of you becoming high born (which there isn’t a hope in hell of) that’s not a word that ever could be applied to anything to do with that little squirt there, is it?”

“Lassie, lassie. There’s nae need to get personal. You know Treg does nae mean high as in ‘too many hands’. And anyway, why did you need a passport?. Just to travel here from France, once, when you were just a wee lassie. A bit of an extravagance, don’t you think?”

“Well, I think it’s exiting. We might be going to forren parts. Go and see the eyeful tower or, or , well other things an’ that. I’m going to have a word with those swallows, when I see them next. They’ll tell me where I could go”.

“Have you not been reading the papers, laddie. The only place a lot of us Dartmoor ponies go, is to the meat man. Did you know that they eat horses in France?”

“Get out, Wick. You’re kidding. Eat horses, that’s silly. How come they sent Alli over here then. Don’t she taste good?”

“I’m no joking Treg. You ask any pony on the moor. They’ll all tell ye the same. It’s a well known fact that they round up all the ponies on the moor and those that they can’t sell to be riding ponies are bought up by the meat man and shipped over the water to France, to be eaten”.

“He’s right, Treg. I heard it myself. They don’t eat every horse. If you are useful to them, for riding or racing and that, you’re O.K.”.

“Anyway, laddie, I should think you are safe. You’re so old, you’d be as tough as old saddles. No one would want to eat you”.

“Ugh. Still. You’ve quite put me off the idea now. Tell HIM not to bother, for me. I’m quite happy in Ninefields, thank you very much. Ugh. Brrrr. The very thought. Aren’t humans horrid. You’ve gone and put me off my grass now”.

“Never mind, Treg. Your bucket will be here any minute now”.

Thursday 16th October 2003
sky trail
We are getting some spectacular twilight skies these days. All the shepherds around here must truly be delighted with all the red skies at night, although why they say that, I’m not too sure. By the time it’s night, the skies are black, or at least, very dark blue. But definitely not red. I suppose ‘red sky at twilight, shepherds’ deli-light’ would be a bit silly. But no worse than some of the words HE makes up for us. I can’t remember if I have already mentioned it, but my face is getting very beat up with all the thistles and branches scratching it. I think it gives me character, sort of mares’ designer stubble, you know. But HE just laughs at me and calls me old scratchy face. I think, if I can make myself look like a real moorland horse, THEY’LL let me stay out a bit longer. I know I am pushing it. I was in, this time last year. And all the other years. I know because it’s coming up to Carnival time and I am always in my stable to watch them go by. Mind you, it won’t matter this year as they are taking another route, so I wouldn’t see it anyway. HE says HE doesn’t mind as HE will be able to take some pictures, for a change. Usually, HE stands outside and hands out sweets to all the people on the floats. He buys loads and loads before the Carnival and then, if HE has any left over, they can go to the other pile HE has to buy for Halloween. It would appear that it’s not only us horses that know a sucker when we see one. Loads and loads of the local foals come knocking on THEIR door for Halloween. HE often asks them what they will do if HE chooses a trick but they usually answer that their mum said that they are’not to do anything bad’. The worst HE has had to date is that squirty coloured foam sprayed on him. Just imagine if a foal of mine were to do something like that!

 

 

 

Friday 17th October 2003
leaves
We must be getting near that time when the humans like to make lots of banging noises and throw fire up into the sky. We can tell, because for a few weeks before, and for several after, they seem to have the need for sporadic practicing sessions. Not so much with the fire. That all seems to be done on one or maybe two days. But the bangs seem to start several weeks beforehand and to be located all over the place. I suppose it’s those humans who don’t have much of a sense of timing. Maybe they don’t have a calendar or a watch or whatever it is, that keeps most humans doing what they should, when they should. Funny that. We horses don’t seem to need such things and yet we nearly always get things done when they should be done. I heard HIM, the other day, talking about the ponies who live out on high Dartmoor, starting to come down into the towns, on their own, when it is time for them to be rounded up for the auctions. I know Treg, Wicky and I are always ready, when it is bucket time. Well, maybe we are a bit early, but it pays, as you never know with humans, they are not very reliable. THEY think we do it by the movement of the sun or something, but, of course, THEY change THEIR times sometimes by the sun and sometimes not by the sun. And yet we still get it right. Maybe one day I will tell HIM how we do it. Then again, probably not. It pays to keep THEM guessing. Never let THEM know all ones’ secrets. Treggy says he wants to become a ‘human whisperer’ and learn THEIR secret language. I told him, ‘as long as they can understand bucket and, maybe, hay, why bother?

 

 

 

 

Saturday 18th October 2003
My dam used to tell me of some hosses, long ago, in Cornwall, who could ‘talk’ to humans in their own language. They was called ‘wisperus, Treg’, she say, ‘Yooman wisperus’. Well, I was thinking about that, only the other day, while I was on my beat. Why couldn’t we do that now? What an addition to the power grazingof the force! We could hask them where they’d been habducted to an’ that. That is, if they came back. And kloos! Think of all the kloos we’d get. We could spend days and days filling in the kloos in the log and then spend more days and days going out defecting, to find the villains. We’s have to get a pound. Not money, silly, a Yooman pound, for to keep the villains in. Or even, I suspose, the strayed humans in too. Oh, I’ve had a thought. I wonder if the Yoomans and the humans are related? It’s funny that, their names being so familiar. Well, that’s enough o’ all that chatter. I got to be off, about my beat now. You’ve no idea how many neer do wells I’ve nearly caught since we last had a chat. Life in the force is not all lunchytimes and carrots, you know. Oh, by the way, HE told me that HE likes typing up the diary on the days that I do it. I don’t quite know what HE is on about but HE says he doesn’t have to bother with the spell checker. I suspose it’s 'cos Alli is not so hot with her spelling. Comes from being foreign. She can’t help it but you can’t hexpect an Frenchie like her to able to parley like us Cornishmen does. I tried to tell her about my idea about becoming a wisperer. I’m not quite sure how she took it as she had a mouthful of grass at the time and I’m afraid she developed a coughing fit. Splutterin’ all over the place she was. I didn’t like to repeat it, as she looked so poorly. It might have seemed like I thought my own hexellent ideas was more himportant than her health. Shame though. If she hadn’t started choking, she would have been able to tell me what another great idea I’d had!

 

 

Sunday 19th October 2003
cows next to Ninefields
It’s nearly six months since I started this diary. I can remember that, at that time, we were having some of the fields in Nine Fields drained. Well, three, to be exact. And it’s worked. So far, at least. We’ve had such an exceptionally dry summer and autumn that the drains haven’t really been put to the test. But, I as said, so far, so good. The one very bad bit of field, that was always ankle deep in water, all the year round, is now dry as an old swede. We can just walk over it and graze, just like any other part of the fields. Mind you, life was a bit more interesting then. We had all sorts of diggers and land rovers and strange men moving about in the fields to watch. Lately, the most exciting thing has been Clarence’s cows looking over the fence. I know Michael is doing something up on his farm, because we can hear the machinery and the banging and hammering going on, all day long. But the trouble is, we can’t see anything and after a while, the noise just becomes part of the background. Harry is often in his field these days, more often than we used to see him. But the trouble is, he doesn’t have any news either. Whether it is just the time of the year – neither summer and warm and light, nor winter with its’ dark and cold. A sort of grey, in between time, when nature is holding its’ breath, waiting for something. I know it’s not really like that, if you can be bothered to get interested in something. The leaves are all changing, the bird populations are changing and the skies are different all the time, even minute by minute. But somehow, one can’t help wondering when the winds are going to come and blow all the leavers away. When the robin and magpie will rule again. When the skies will turn clear again, the stars will shine out bright and clear and cold and let the grass gather the white frost of winter. I wonder if we will have snow this year?

 

Monday 20th October 2003
Wick on duty
I may have short, hairy legs, not like Alezane’s lovely long slender ones but that doesn’t mean that she can get away with anything she likes with me. And she knows it! She loves to make all that fuss when THEY are around, you know, putting her ears right flat to her head and running up, nipping and prancing away. But that’s all it is, show! I know it, she knows it. Even Treg, as far as he knows anything, even Treg knows it. It’s only THEM, or to be more specific, HIM, who is fooled by it. He always yells at her, comes up to me to protect me and will insist on walking down the hill with me as ‘protection’. Huh! Protection. Who needs it? Most of the time, I just run away, laughing at her. If only HE could see the games we get up to in the fields at night. On second thoughts, better not. HE’d have her in like a shot. Often, I feel sorry for Alli.. I’m a bit on the short side for her to have a really good game with, and Treg, although he’s nearly the right height, has, shall we say, lost a bit of mobility, these days. She does try to have fun with us. But, after all, she’s only equine. It’s natural to want to lark around with your own kind. Considering everything, I think she does pretty well. What with the physical mismatches and her hormones, well. She is what she is, as we say. Talk about sensitive! You should see her react when THEY shout at her. Goes all aquiver and hurt, the poor wee lassie. Now, what do you think happens if THEY shout at me? What? That’s right, I don’t hear them. Actually, not much does get through to me. I’m what they call a very ‘well balanced’ type. Well, no. Not really. That’s not what they call me. A little bleeder! Now, that’s much more like it, although why, I don’t know because I may get a bit of foot trouble, now and again, but I don’t bleed. No, I’m rather more of the dedicated type. I’m dedicated to eating! If you want me to hear you, don’t shout, don’t even speak – just wave a bucket!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 21st October 2003
Treg on patrol
Hossifer’s Log. Tuesday, in between buckets time, while it’s still light. Well, not heavy. Where was I? Oh, yes. My report.

I am writing this in my log because it may well be a very important piece of evidence, at some time in the future.

I was proceedin’ along my patrol, in the course of my duty, at 2 a.b. (after bucket), when I perceived out of the corner of my vision, a group of very dis – repute – able sheep appearing on the horizon. Upon making a further hinspeckshun of these said characters, I said to myself – S’trordinary! What are there here hanimals a doing off? Now I know that farmer Michael was going to put some of these species onto our fields in a day or two (Devon time) but these here are not they. Or them! By this time, my perambulations had taken me within speaking distance of these said sheep (I don’t know how else to say it) so I thought I might make some hinquiries of the same. Hey, I said. Hay? They said. No, hey! I said. Bog off, they said. And , with that, they just turned their backs on me and started eating our field again. At this point, I decided to make some police hobservations. A red splodge on the back quarters and muddy splashes orl over, I noted. There, appearing not to be any further point in hinterviewing them, I nodded good day, so they would not know that they had been hobserved, and turned back to my beat.

There! That looks like a real good entry. I must tell Alli. She will be so proud of me! Isn’t it funny how some horses come into their true vocation, late in life? I never dreamed, when I was a colt, that I would be anything more than a show jumper. Just proves how wrong you can be, don’t it?

 

Wednesday 22nd October 2003
late flowers
The first frost of the year, last night. Not hard, but a question of nature serving notice that winter is just around the corner. And now they’ve forecast rain. Buckets of it apparently. Well good, we need it. I’ve never known the ground so dry. For me, I hate it. But it does make Devon what it is, lovely and green and lush. The greener it is, the more food for us. And anyway, if it rains, I can always go in my field shelter and munch hay and watch and think. Not Wicky though. He loves the rain. He says it makes the ground all silky and sqidgy and really rollable in. If it doesn’t rain for more than a few days, Wicky says he starts to feel really dirty. It’s not the same, apparently, to roll in the dust. ‘Doesn’t have the same cleaning power’, he says. Now Treggy. he’s a different kettle of hoss. You can never tell, with Treg. To look at him, you’d think that he absolutely hated it. The times I’ve heard HIM say that I won’t let poor old Treg into the field shelter, when it’s pouring with rain. The truth is, he likes to stand outside and get soaked. It’s not that I won’t let him. Actually, I exaggerate! He doesn’t like standing outside, he just doesn’t like to have to make up his mind, what to do. He much prefers to let me make it up for him. And as to getting soaking wet and being miserable – rubbish. It’s just that he always looks miserable when he is having to think. You should see the look of relief on his face when I bite his bum and do the thinking for him. ‘Oh, right, Alli’, he says, ‘that’s what we’ll do’. And he’s off like a shot. Happy as a Wick in a mud bath.

 

Thursday 23rd October 2003
red sky
“Alli”.

“Yes, Treg?”

“Why do they say ‘It’s raining cats and dogs’, when the weather is like this?”

“Well, Treg, it’s just that, when they sa …, Hey, watch out, Treg, nearly got you!”

“Ow, what was tha?. Splashed right down by my foot. I wa ..”

“Silly old man. I was only kidding. There wasn’t anything. It’s only one of the many quaint little expressions that humans use.”

“Well. You’re not funny, Alli. I really thought for a minute, that something really did nearly hit me. You could worry a fellow like that, Al!”

“Sorry. But you do ask for it. Hey, have you noticed that you don’t speak half as badly when you are talking to me, as you do when you are playing policeman. Then you are a cross between a Cornish cockney and a teenage tearaway.”

“Oh thanks, Alli. It comes over, does it? You know I’m playing a part, don’t you. It’s to distract the villains, you see. If they think I am a big old, ignorant copper, it puts them off their guard.”

“But you’re not, Treg. You’re not a copper. At best you are a special, but not a regular police horse.”

“You think I am old and ignorant, then?”

“Did I say that, my dear Tregony? I was merely pointing out the improvement in your diction.”

“But you did say I was ‘special’, didn’t you, Alli?”

“To me, Treg. To me”.

 

Friday 24th October 2003
light frost
Well, the hardest frost of the year, so far. It was a lovely night. HE was quite puzzled when HE came this morning and found that we had hardly eaten any of the hay that HE had put out, the night before. Just because it is cold and dark, humans always think that we won’t like it, because they don’t. As I said, it was a lovely night, spoilt only by the few firework bangs, let off by idiots that have nothing more exciting in their poor little lives.

Treg, Wicky and I had a lovely stroll, up in the high fields, where the frost does not go, so we were quite alright for grazing. Mind you, we spend as much time chatting as we do eating. Humans really have no idea of what goes on in a horse’s life. They like to think that they do, otherwise they wouldn’t have the confidence to be as familiar as they try to be. I know HE means well, but really, what HE communicates with, is only HIS concept of what an equine is – a sort of big, cuddly, four footed human with a long neck, good eyesight and a limited intelligence. If only he knew what intelligence really is! There would be no point in trying to go into it here, though, for HE wouldn’t understand in a thousand years. However, it may just give him a glimmer of an idea if he ponders why I (or Treg or Wick) don’t go shopping for him, buy all his clothes, pay his medical bills and feed him and clean his house, etc. etc. Maybe if HE ponders this for a while, HE may start to get a small idea of what intelligence is really all about. But I doubt it, thank God!

 

 

 

Saturday 25th October 2003
HE told me that it’s Carnival day, today. It’s the day when all the children get dressed up at lunch time, and compete to decide who has the best fancy dress. And then, in the evening, the grown ups get to drive great big tractors about the streets, pulling trailers full of other so called ‘grown ups’, all dressed up as silly people doing silly things. And, these trailers all have their own music, so each one’s sounds carnival floatmix with the other one’s sounds and they all compete with the marching brass band that always accompanies them. Until this year, I used to watch them, as they went past my stable, but for some reason, I haven’t had to go back to the house, overnight, as I usually do. Probably to do with global warming or something. I expect I’ll still hear the Carnival even if I don’t see it. Thinking about it, I don’t know of any other animal species that has carnivals. You don’t see the cows all dressing up and going about the fields making noises and pretending to be other cows. Or the sheep, although I wouldn’t put it past them! Daft enough for anything. How about a carnival of collie dogs? That would be great. They would enjoy it. All that clambering up onto tractors and trailers. All that noise and movement. The trouble would be that it would all be over in a flash and then they would want to do another one. And then another. And so on.

We’ve had some really lovely mornings, lately. First we have clear, starry nights and then, as morning comes, just a few strands of cloud which catch the red sun’s rays, as dawn breaks. The birds have started up again, singing and shouting, as the sky lights up, all blue with red streaks. And then the frost burns away and the days are bright and sunny, but cold enough to keep any flies away, if any have survived this late. The leaves are starting to turn nice red, orange and yellow shades and the gutters are starting to fill with dropped leaves, although most of the trees still have their coats on and you can’t see through them yet. Once you get over the shock of it not being summer any longer, autumn can be a really pleasant time, a bit soulful, for the loss of the sun and yet, a bit expectant, for the excitements of winter. I don’t like the snow, if it makes the roads too icy for me to walk on but I do love it to run on, over the fields, all crisp and crackly under foot, and really great for a lovely satisfying roll producing a nice flattened bit.

 

Sunday 26th October 2003
Alezane
I should have known, HE’s been telling me for the last couple of weeks, but you know how it is, when you hear something unpleasant, you just turn off and hope it will go away. The other thing that they did, rather sneaky, was not make any changes this morning, even though THEIR clocks ‘went back’ overnight. I thought that this was deliberate, just to lull me into a sense of well being this morning, but apparently, THEY just forgot to alter their clocks and so got up at the same time as usual, robbing themselves of an hour’s sleep. Anyway, this evening, it looked as if things were going on as normal. THEIR car turned up at the usual time and HE went to the back and got out the buckets. I should have seen it then, but I didn’t, at first. There were only two not three buckets. Next SHE got my head collar out of the back of the car and, while HE proceeded to walk down the field, followed by Wicky & Treg, I was tacked up and taken out onto the road. It came to me then. It was time to stay in at night! HE came back and took the lead rein from HER and off we walked, down the hill and under Dry Bridge, along Ramsley lane, to my stable. I must admit, there were many interesting smells and sights along the road and the full implication of this change of circumstance had not fully hit me. By the time I got to the stable, my thoughts had turned to supper. But then, I realised that I was going to have spend the night in the stable, not roaming around the fields, as I am used to. I started to protest and when they said ‘walk in’ I tried to walk out instead. Of course, in the end, THEY got their own way and I went into the stable, but not before HE had had to go in and put the light on and SHE needed to refasten my rein and lead me in under protest. I tell you, that night, I made more mess than I usually do in a week and HE had to drag my pooh bag, not carry it, to the car, the next morning, as it was too heavy for him. And, when we walked up the hill, back to the fields the next morning, I wore HIM out by going as fast as he could bear, without cracking up. Oh well, winter routine is here. Once I got over the shock, it’s not so bad. At least I get a bit of peace and quiet at night. It makes those other two so much easier to bear for the rest of the day.

 

Monday 27th October 2003
bird feeder
What a quiet night we had last night. When THEY brought our buckets, instead of bringing three, THEY just brought Wicky’s and mine. They put Alli on a head collar and took her off. I have to admit that I didn’t really think about it, at first. After all, HE did bring our buckets, so I was kept occupied for a while. But after supper, it was then that it felt funny. Usually I spend the time after supper waiting for Alli and Wick to finish mopping up any little bits of spillage that may have occurred. They call it doing their housekeeping. Then Alli comes out and tells me what to do. ‘Gives me my orders’ so to speak, in law mans’ jargon. I. knew she wasn’t there and I sort of remembered that this happens every year, on account of her not having a proper winter coat, but still, I did feel sort of lost. It’s pretty difficult having to discipline oneself to still go about ones duty when the senior hossifer isn’t around to supervise When I told this to Wicky, he said ‘just stuff it! Take the night off’ and I must admit that I was sorely tempted. But then I remembered my Hossifer’s vows and just couldn’t bring myself to dodge my duty. The problem was, what to do? It’s one thing to be told – Treggy do this, Treggy do that and respond ‘Yes, Alli’ and then go about ones jobs. But, it’s quite different to have to decide what these jobs might be. You know, I found myself growing in respect for Alli. The enormous intellect required to think up jobs for me, continually. Well, she must be super equine, that’s all I can say! In the end, I decided to potter around the log and wait for hinspiration. I think I spent about five or six hours there before it came to me. I had better check out the hay nets to ensure that nothing untoward had happened to them. Funnily enough, Wicky must have had the same idea for there he was, munching away, with bits of hay sticking out of his mouth and that far off happy look on his face that he gets, when he is occupied in his favourite pastime. “Just checking in”, I said to him, as I decided to join him for the rest of the night. I tell you, when HE turned up this morning, with our buckets, I was very relieved that the night was over. As soon as I had emptied my bucket, I rushed up the field to the gate, to wait for Alli to come back. I even shouted out for her. And, you know what, it worked. She came back and has bossed me about all day long. Bliss!

 

Tuesday 28th October 2003
sky patterns
I told Treggy that Alli would be back, during the day, now. He was a bit lost, poor wee soul, that first night, when she went home to her stable overnight. But then, I told him, think of the good things. You can come into the field shelter as often as you like now instead of standing out in the rain, getting soaked. ‘But she told me I liked standing in the rain’, he said. ‘And do you?’, I asked him. But he couldn’t reply, because Alli wasn’t there to tell him what to say. To be really truthful, we both miss her, a bit. I’d hate it if I knew she was going for good but, like this, we all have some time to ourselves. Treg will be alright when he settles into a new routine. The first morning, he went running up to the gate, as soon as he had finished his bucket. And he just stood there and shouted out for her. This morning, he hung around for his treats with me after our buckets were empty and then, we both ambled up, with HIM, to wait for Alli, in the field by the road. But Treg didn’t bother to call out at all. Tonight, he just followed HIM back to the field shelter, without even a ‘good night Alli’ and left her to get on with going home, while he had his tea.

When she came back yesterday morning, she muttered something about ‘having to go away on a matter of some importance. Something THEY needed my talents for’, she said. But she knew that I didn’t believe a word of it, although the old boy might. It was just something she had to make up, to cover for the fact that she is not a real moorland equine like us. I mean, Treg is not from Dartmoor, he’s from Cornwall, but he still has a decent winter coat about him, nearly as good and thick as mine. HE often cuddles up to Treg and calls him a ‘great big teddy bear’, at this time of the year. And, of course, my coat is impervious to anything. I can stand out in a gale, with the rain pelting down onto me, and I don’t feel a thing. My coat just turns into a very tightly curled hard shell and the rain and wind just bounce off. I don’t like the wind in my face, but one can always turn round or put ones head in a hedge. Poor old princess, though, she’s got a coat as thin as a blade of grass. Her winter coat is nowhere near my summer one and when it comes to shedding hair, in the late spring, while I have a pile on the floor, big as a hay bale, she loses three hairs and looks naked. Oh well, we can’t all be the same. Alli would dearly love to be a moorland but, at the same time, she likes to push her thoroughbred pedigree into our faces, to make out like she’s boss. When that fails, as it always does, she bites our bottoms (or pretends to). It takes all sorts, as they say.

 

Wednesday 29th October 2003
trees
Wet and windy, the kind of weather I hate! It just started off with a few showers. No problems there. Just wander about, not too far from the field shelter or a tree if we have gone up the hill a bit. No one minds getting a bit wet and anyway, we’ve got our coats on, so we don’t even notice it. But then, this afternoon, it came over all black. The wind got up and then the real heavy rain started. Now, if there is one thing almost as bad as being shouted at, it’s rain and wind in your face. We all headed back down to the field shelter this time. No messing. I suppose we should have known this morning, if we had looked around. HE had filled up the hay nets and not just two (for Treg and Wick overnight) but three. HE must have expected this weather, in the morning. Clever like that, HE is. I expect it’s all those hours he puts in on the keyboard. Makes him psychic or something. Although I hated it as well, the last laugh was on HIM, as the heavens opened ,as HE walked me back to my stable tonight. I should say, ‘my nice, dry, warm stable’. There’s something to be said for being in overnight, after all. All the hay you can eat. A bucket as soon as you get there, in the evening and one before you go out in the morning. And no competition for the treats! On top of that, THEY do a thing that SHE likes to call ‘late stables’. As far as I can see, it consists of HIM sweeping out all round my feet while SHE spoils me at the door and then, when HE has finished tidying up, it’s HIS turn to spoil me. It’s a hard life but, as I tell Treggy, someone’s got to do it, so it might as well be me! Of course, there is also that time, first thing in the morning, when HE has just got up. HE doesn’t seem to be able to wait for HIS kettle to boil without coming out to see me and offering a carrot. Well, it seems rude to refuse, doesn’t it? It’s lucky that I am such a fit person, for a girl could lose her figure this way, couldn’t she?

 

Thursday 30th October 2003
PC the lilac Bumese
THEY were a bit worried today about one of the cats, PC. Yes, that’s his name, PC. Don’t ask me what it means. THEY always tell people different answers – Puss Cat, Politically Correct, Personal Computer – but really it just means PC, a sort of nice, important sounding name. Anyway, PC is the boss cat, the kind old uncle of them all. He has seen and raised more kittens into pusshood (especially Browns) that is fair to him. Most of them have gone now, mostly run over, a few of illness. Only the two Browns – Tom and Harriet – remain. PC is over fifteen years old and is still a very active cat. He was grooming Dick to take over his position as defender of the territory, until the silly cat got himself run over. And, with Tom worse than useless, a lazy good for nothing, PC has had to carry on as pride leader. And then, yesterday, he started making growling noises, rather like when one of them brings a mouse home. But, having checked, it was obvious that it was no mouse but PC was in pain. THEY made an appointment with the vet for the afternoon but when he threw up all over the place, SHE decided to take him in, straight away, in case it was poison. Well, the vet, Kirstin, felt him all over and said that there was a lump in his intestine. It could either be something that he had eaten and couldn’t pass or maybe something worse. She gave him an injection to relax his bowels and said to give him liquid paraffin and made another appointment for today. HE told me this last night when he did late stables. this evening, he told me that when they took PC back to the vet this morning, Kirstin said that the lump had moved further down his gut, which is very good news. It would now appear that it most likely is something he ate, and nature will take its course. She took a couple of blood samples to test, to make sure and said she would phone if anything sinister was found. She hasn’t phoned so all is looking hopeful. He has to go back for a third time in the morning. It may seem funny that I, a horse, should spend my time talking about a cat but actually, they are my friends. They were very pleased when I came back in at night and most nights come out and keep me company in the stable. I like their company and they like my warmth and my hay, it’s a mutual satisfaction thing. let’s hope old PC is back, up and about very quickly.

 

Friday 31st October 2003
halloween
I knew it was a funny day today, from the moment HE came out to see me, first thing this morning. There was something in the air, making it all electric. Even biting a carrot went with a loud CRACK in my head and made me jump back, away from it. As we walked up the hill, all the hedges were steaming, in the hot morning sun, like as if they were alight. I made HIM stop and look at them as well. Everything was spooky, all crackly and alive with unseen spirits. Many times, on that walk, we had to stop, grow very tall and listen and sense the air. In the end, it was all clear and we got to the field without incident. After THEY had gone, I got Wick and Treg to come with me on a tour around the perimeter, looking over hedges and round bushes to make sure no spooks were lurking there. I especially had to stop and look over the gate down the bridle path where they have been known to hide in the past. Treggy was a bit apprehensive and insisted that I took the lead. Wicky just ambled along behind, eating and grumbling at the ‘waste of time’. When we had finally finished the circuit, I was able to relax and have a bite to eat. Of course, by then the sun had decided to go away and the rain started. Dartmoor rain is a funny thing. It can be a heavy downpour, at times. But more often than not it’s like living in a cloud. The day goes all dark and the air gets a blurry sort of feel to it and everything goes moist and clammy. When it’s really bad the blur turns to mist and the mist swirls into a foggy whiteness. That didn’t happen today but it looked for a time as if it would. THEY came to bring me home a little early this afternoon because of the darkness falling quickly. And then it started again. All the walk home I could sense them all around me. When I walked, they walked. When I stopped, they stopped. No matter how tall I got, no matter how much I looked round, they just melted out of sight before I could properly see them. But I knew they were there. And this evening, when all the local children came round in their ghosty costumes and masks, I had to smile to myself. Humans really have no idea, have they. They like to think that spooks look like skeletons or devils or white floating sheets but that is only so they don’t get frightened for real. If only they could sense what we sense! Maybe then they wouldn’t laugh at us when we ‘spook’ at a plastic bag. If only they knew. It’s not the bag, it’s what’s hiding behind it!

 


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