Alezane's Diary Archive January 2004
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Thursday 1st January 2004above Belstone
“Well, that was some night, eh, Wick?”

“We did a wee bit o’ celebrating, right enough, laddie. How about yourself, Alli. Did you have any fun last night, welcoming the New Year?”

“Fun? You could call it that. I had just about got down to a serious night’s hay bashing when all hell let loose. Bangs, flashes, whizzes, fizzes, you name it. SHE came out, in her slippers, to be with me. It was too wet to stand outside, so SHE came in the stable with me and that was a very brave move considering how loose my bowels get when I’m excited or scared. I did my best to avoid HER and SHE did her best with my stable broom and shovel. And then HE came out, as well. from the fireworks outside or of being crushed to death indoors. THEY did their best though and it did calm me down a great deal. Eventually, the bangs stopped but they were the worst this year, by a long way.”

“Last year”

“What Treg?”

“I said ‘Last year’, Alli. Yesterday was last year. Today is this year. I know. I looked it up in the log.”

“He’s right, lassie. You wouldn’t think old Treg would be so clever, would you?”

“Treg, cleve ….. Oh. No. I didn’t say that. Treg, clever, of course I would. Wouldn’t you, Wick?”

“Ouch, don’t kick me like that, Alli. Oh. Yes, I see. Treg? Yes of course he’s clever. I’ve always thought so. Did you make any other New Year’s Good Resolutions All?”

“I made one, Wick, I made a Good Year’s New Revolution. Do you want to hear it?”

“Of course, Tregony. We’d love to, wouldn’t we Alli?”

“Go ahead Treg. But take it slowly so we can all understand, eh?”

“I resolve not to … no….I resolve to ….er…..I’m not going to tell on Wicky. No, wait a minute, that’s it! I resolve to not let Wicky tell if I tell on him unless I deserve and he has told me that he won’t do it again – ever and I think that, if I put it in the log the dragons will not set fire to and I…. wait a minute now…..well, I wont, will I Wick? Or will I?”

“That’s…er…very good Treg. Very good indeed, isn’t it Alli?”

“I think, on second thoughts, I m might change mine to something easier, after all. Treg – you’re an Idiot!”

“Oh, thank you Alli. And a happy new year to you, too!”

Friday 2nd January 2004last resting place
I did my last children’s ride this morning – the grandchildren went home this afternoon. It’s really very charming how they share out my time as if I were some precious resource – ‘you rode up this morning so it’s my turn to ride Alli home tonight’ and ‘It’s my turn to help with grooming Alli and you can walk down the park with her’ and so on. I can’t help it, there is something about foals, real or human, that is so attractive. I’m a real push over for them. I can take it if they pull a little bit with the grooming brush, I don’t flinch if they make mounting up seem more like completing an assault course, I don’t even object too much when they try to force all those minty sweets down my throat, I just love youngsters. So, this morning, Rachel went off to help HIM feeding and sorting out the two old boys while Ben stayed with HER for the grooming and walking down the park bit. Then, when HE came back, it was Rachel’s turn to drive up with HER in the car while Ben rode me and we followed HIM (puffing and panting up the hill) to Ninefields. Then we all had an extended mint and carrot farewell in the field and they were off. HE came alone tonight to bring me home and I could be my silly old, stop and sniff, munch a bit of grass, listen – what’s that? old self again. It will take a bit of getting used to, the old routine, but we will get there, I expect. I probably won’t see them again until Easter, at the earliest, so that’ll be a double pleasure to look forward to, them coming back again and the Spring grass. My, my! Life’s just one long dizzy round of pleasure!

p.s. my green Xmas light has gone out. Is that an omen? I must remember to ask Treggy!

 

Saturday 3rd January 2004
It’s getting used to that 2004, that he finds difficult, HE tells me. Well, we all have our problems. Mine started this morning with a great big whack on my rear. I fear HER New Year’s Resolution has Leahsomething to do with me not misbehaving when I am being groomed. All I was doing was my usual flat ear – growing tall with a bit of rear leg waving when – wham! And she shouted! And then, to cap it all, she didn’t take me down to the park for a graze prior to going out to my field. I was standing sulking when HE came in to put my rug on and I thought, ‘I’ll show HER. Now’s my chance to misbehave again, when SHE’s not watching. And what happens? HE gives me a smart slap on the neck (although, I must admit, it was more a token one than a real one – no shouting involved) and then I had to be good for HIM as well. I’m sure SHE must have had a word with HIM before HE came out. I could tell HIS heart wasn’t in it however for HE spent the whole of the walk up to Ninefields being over nice to me. At least, HE thought HE was being nice, although I could have done without the singing bit.

When we got to Ninefields, nobody was there to greet me. When I wandered down to the field shelter, I found that Tregony was having one of his ‘lesser thinking days’. He says he has them, from time to time, to ease the pressure on his brain. I was a good girl and bit back my immediate response of ‘what brain?’ and I sympathised with him and asked him what particular pressures he was under at the moment. I noticed he gave me a very careful look before answering, as if he was a fraction unsure if I was taking him seriously. But it was all, obviously, a bit too much for him, so he just answered straightforwardly. It was the disappointment with the human race, predominantly over the question of wormers that had started it. Then he had started to wrestle with the question of resignation. Finally, when he had decided to work to rule, he couldn’t think of any rules that were applicable. After standing thinking long and hard, in the centre of the field, all night, it had come to him that maybe he should change his tactics and instead of working to rule he should ‘go slow’ instead. This was a wonderful break through, he thought, until he realised that to go slow meant that first he had to go fast, so that people would be able to tell the difference. And, of course, in the end it was all too difficult for him, so now, as he explained, he was having a period of lesser thinking. I asked Wicked if he was going to come out in Treg’s support, with a period of lesser eating. I won’t tell you his reply!

 

 

 

Sunday 4th January 2004Faith on Harry
Treg said a frightening thing to me today. I was asking him about his work for Human Watch and what his role was. He looked me straight in the eye and said ‘it’s all intelligence, really’. Well, I was stopped in my tracks. And then I remembered my New Year’s resolution and smiled sweetly and said – ‘Really!’. ‘Yes’ he replied, ‘it’s all the gathering of intelligence information so that we know who is doing what, in each location and are prepared to strike, if they do’. I asked him what exactly that meant. He looked up and smiled. If he had had a human hand, I swear he would have tapped his nose. ‘Aha’, he said, ‘that would be telling, wouldn’t it?’ ‘Well yes’, I said, ‘it would. That is why I asked’. But, I got no further. Treg put on one of his really irritating and very superior looks and just walked away. If I could have had my resolution on paper I would have bitten it into little pieces. So I went off to find Wicky to see how he was getting along with the arrogant old so and so. I finally found him standing very dejectedly in the middle of the field above the field shelter. He was just standing there, looking down at the floor, with his little lip trembling and I’m sure I detected a tear in the corner of his eye. ‘What’s the matter, old lad?’ I asked him, ‘what’s happened?’ Wick lifted his head and looked at me, so mournfully I almost cried myself. ‘I canna go through wi’ it, lassie,’ he sobbed. ‘I thought I could do it but it’s just too much for a laddie to bear!’ ‘What is, Wick?’ I asked him, putting as much sympathy in my voice as I could, and reminding myself to check up on the Oscar nominations when they came out. ‘Come on, old man. Things can’t be that bad. What’s the problem?’ ‘It’s my New year’s resolution, Lassie. I said that I was going to go on a diet. I promised ma’sel that I would spend five minutes a day, not eating. But I stand here and the grass just calls out to me. Wicky, it calls, I am so succulent and tasty and would feel so comforting in your belly. Why don’t you just hae a wee bit of a taste, laddie? An’ o’ course, I want to. I yearn to. An’ the more I look th…’ ‘Hold it there, Wick’, I cried. I can’t bear to see you so down. ‘I tell you what. I’ll agree to break my resolution about not being rude to Treg if you agree to break your diet’. Well, I think I have made a friend for life. If Wicky could have kissed me, he would have. I just don’t know where I get my talent for solving problems from. Just natural, I suppose!

 

Monday 5th January 2004
I lost a shoe today. I have to let THEM think that it is the terrible state of the ground – the mud sucks them off. In fact, we have been having a few larks lately and I do believe that it came off in the middle behind the wireof some high spirited leaping about. It’s not too much of a problem because I don’t go out riding, but it does feel a bit funny and lop sided. It sounds strange too. Instead of walking – one and two and three and four

I go – one and two and three and four. It’s as if only three quarters of me is going along the road. I have to keep stopping for the rest of me to catch up. Strange, HE didn’t notice this evening when he walked me home. He even made me trot the last fifty metres downhill and then felt really guilty when SHE pointed out my problem to HIM. It doesn’t hurt to have HIM feeling that way as I usually get more treats as a result. Apart from our larking around, nothing much has happened since the New Year. There were the usual little rash of late fireworks one of the nights but they are just boring now. The house halfway up the hill to Drybridge, where Tia lives, has had scaffolding round it for several months now while the owner has been renovating bits of it. Most of the time it looked as if one expected to find the Rapid UK sniffer dogs roaming over it, as it was such a tip. And then, suddenly, the scaffolding is down, the rubbish is into a skip and its all looking really good and tidy. I think THEY expected me to make a fuss when I walked past, as it was so different. Maybe I would have done, if they hadn’t expected me to, but as it was, I didn’t turn a hair. Keep ‘em guessing! That’s the thing to do. I notice Amber has been in the field next to her own field. It’s the one that used to have one or two horses in, a year or so ago, but which, since then, has been standing idle, wasting all that grass. Amber is still recovering from her broken leg but she is doing really well now. She has even been out trotting for short periods. I expect she is in that field to encourage her to move about a bit, as the exercise is good for her leg muscles. Mind you, I don’t know why I am going on about her, we’re not the best of friends, as I might have mentioned before. It’s probably something to do with female rivalry. I’m much more comfortable around the lads, although I’m not sure my two old ‘uns qualify for that term any more!

 

Tuesday 6th January 2004Wicky meditating
“Well, Treg, it’s Twelfth Night. What do you think happens today?”

“Make up your mind, Wick, it’s either night or day, it can’t be both. I rather think, looking up at the sky and seeing that it is blue …well… grey, but definitely not black, that it’s day, don’t you?”

“That’s what today’s called, smarthocks. It’s called Twelfth Night.”

“Why don’t they call it Twelfth Day?”

“They just don’t. So leave it. I asked you what happens, today.”

“Why don’t you just get on with it and tell me, I know you are going to.”

“Aye, laddie. You’re right. I was just being rhetorical.”

“I’ve noticed that about you, Wick. You can be right downright horrible sometimes not just a whet horrible.”

“Don’t tell me we’ve got another word that you don’t understand, Treg.”

“Alright, Wick, I won’t. Well, go on then. Now you’ve got two things to tell me – what goes on, on Twelfth thingy and what the words wret horrible mean.”

“Well, first of all, Treg, things don’t ‘go on’ on Twelfth Night, in fact, they come off.”

“Like Alli’s shoes, you mean? They are always coming off. Is that why she lost one yesterday, she was a bit early?”

“It’s all the Xmas decorations that come off, Treg. Don’t you remember when we were in the riding school to Winkleigh. They put up all sorts of decorations before Xmas. There were strings of cards in the office, Santas and reindeer in the tack room, a big fir tree in the yard with lights twinkling all over it. You remember, don’t you. They even tried to put a silly hat on you and give me a pair of antlers until I chased them and tried to spear them with them.”

“I liked my hat. I were a lovely red with a nice bell at the tip. And you nipped it off my head when I bent down to admire it in the puddle and you trampled it in the water until it was muddy and sodden.”

“They were taking the mickey out o’ you, laddie. I was protecting your dignity.”

“I wish someone had protected my hat. And it kept my head warm. It was nice, that hat.”

“Well, Twelfth Night is when all those frivolous things have to go and the world get back to a saner place.”

“But we haven’t got any decorations, Wick. Thinking about it, you’d have thought HE could have given us some, wouldn’t you. HE could have got me a nice new warm red hat. Then we could have had something to take down today.”

“Mebbe. Mebbe not. Liken, he may have more common sense than that, laddie.”

“Or just doesn’t care how cold my head gets. When’s the next Xmas or something?”

“Well, there’s the Chinese New Year coming up on the 22nd and then, o’ course, there’s Burns night on the 25th.”

“Not more bloody fireworks, Wick. We had enough of them on November 5th. And what kind of hats do the Chinese wear? Are they warm ones? With a little bell on?”

“I’ll tell ye what, Treg. Get your mate Alezane to ask him. She’s really good at getting treats out of him. Maybe she can get you a hat.”

“And maybe she’ll just laugh, eh?”

Wednesday 7th January 2004Tregony is ill mannered
“Alli?”

“Yes, my Treg. Light of my life. Friend of my puddles. Angel of a thousand hay nets. What can I do for you?”

“Well, you could stop taking the micky, for a start.”

“Yes. I’m sorry, Treg. You are quite right for reminding me. What’s on your mind, if that’s not a sil……ooops, sorry again.”

“Alli?”

“Tregony?”

“Do you think you could get me a hat?”

“A hat?”

“Yes, a hat. A nice big red one. A big, warm red hat6 with ……”

“Don’t tell me, Treg. With a little tiny brass bell on the pointy end?”

“How did you know? Has Wicky been saying anything? He’s not laughing about me behind my back, is he?”

“Wick has not said anything, Treg, honest. It’s what with all the festivities, Xmas, the New Year and everything, I just pictured you in one of those great big silly red Xmas hats that humans try to make horses and ponies wear. You know the things. They go with those rubbish fake reindeer antlers they put on us when they want a real good laugh. I know it was silly of me, Treg. It’s just the image came into my head. Now. What is it you were going to ask me?”

“I was …..well……it’s just that……. well, you know, it’s alright for you. You go home each night to a nice warm stable. But I have to stay out all night and my old head gets a bit cold and I just thought …..well, Wicky said……Oh! It doesn’t matter, forget it!”

“Come on Treg, don’t be bashful. I know what you were going to ask. Of course I do. You were going to ask if you could come home with me at night, weren’t you Treg. Oh that is so nice. I only wish you could, Treg. It would be lovely to have someone to chat to over the hay net. It’s just that the stable is too small, really it is. But thanks for thinking of me, Treg. You really are very sweet, you know.”

“Am I, Alli. Oh good. That’s nice to know. Sweet and cold headed, eh? That’s him. Dear old Treg. Well, I just thought I’d ask. Sorry to have troubled you Alli. I’m coming Wick. Can I share your open field shelter with you. Bye Alli. Bye!”

Thursday 8th January 2004I apologise for him
It was a really horrible night, last night, at least, the weather was. As well as blowing gale force winds, the rain fell in torrents. Now you might wonder why I should mind, as I spend all night in my stable but if your roof was made of the same stuff as mine, you’d know what I mean. Even a little shower sounds like a monsoon and, in fact, I am often pleasantly surprised when I go out having expected a downpour and finding only a refreshing sprinkle. But, last night was really bad. When I got to Ninefields, the stream had turned into a raging torrent. What happens is that all the rain that falls on the Dartmoor high hills, finds its way down through all the fields and into the various streams that flow into the major rivers – in our case, the Taw. The fact that we had Ninefields drained last year makes no difference because the water that soaks into the drains is emptied into the stream and the surface water that is too heavy to be absorbed flows over the fields and into the streams. HE thought he might have to lead me through it to get to the field shelter, as it was too disturbed to see the bottom. As it happened, Wicky’s greed overcame his lack of height problem and he had waded up to his kneecaps to get to the treats when SHE turned up. Of course, if Wicky could go through it, I had no excuse but to brave it too, when THEY had gone. It really wasn’t as bad as it seemed, but then, things rarely are, are they?

I settled down to a good feed of grass, as I had been indoors on hay all night, while the other two stayed indoors and ate hay, as they had had the grass all night (although I doubt whether they went out in the worst of the rain). After an hour or so, I noticed HIS car turn up. THEY often come along to spy on us. I don’t know what THEY think we get up to but when we hear THEM we all put our heads down and pretend we didn’t notice just in case THEY get it in THEIR heads to make us work or gives us wormers or a bath or grooming or other horrors. I stood and watched HIM, this time, without moving my head but then I saw HIM get a camera out, so I relaxed. In fact, after a while I thought I’d go over and see what the treat situation was like. I was just devouring my first handful when old Tregony waltzed over. I know I promised to be nice about him this year but sometimes he can be a real pain. With two of us on the con HE soon lost interest and went back to HIS car. Oh well, you win some ……

 

 

Friday 9th January 2004the bridle path floods
Well, it’s come round again, today, farrier day! And not before time. I was getting quite sore, walking about with three feet shod and one not. It’s only a small thing, a horse shoe, but it’s amazing the difference it makes to your confidence. Remember old Tregony, when THEY decided to leave him unshod. He was right down in the dumps for weeks. Even got foot trouble. But the moment THEY had him shod again, he was up and away, like a new man. Anyway, mark came today and we all got ‘done’. Then there was a bit of a laugh. It has been a bit rainy of late and when SHE thought about it SHE wondered if Mark would be able to drive his van right up to the field shelter. When it came to it, it was no problem at all. He just opened the gate and drove straight down the hill, over the stream and up to the shelter. I should explain, that it was not for me as he first stops at the house and shoes me in my stable. No, it was for the two old boys. You see, if it is raining, there is nowhere comfortable for Mark to work up by the gate. He has tried out on the Throwleigh Road but there are cars and lorries wanting to get by, and if it is raining we all get wet. I know I could wait in the shelter but then there would be no one to supervise, would there? So, today Mark just drives up, as I said. Tregony was first and he was no trouble. SHE even just held him with a rope loosely round his neck until HE turned up with me and was able to transfer my head collar to Treg. For some reason, Wicky stood over by the bridle path gate and only very slowly and cautiously did he come over for his turn. Even when HE took Treg’s rope and looped it round his neck, Wick still lagged behind. However, HE is not that silly and a couple of mints bought Wick’s cooperation. When he was finished, Mark put Wick down as a ‘half trim’ which doesn’t mean he didn’t do a full job, rather it is a comment on Wicky’s lack of stature. Anyway, the fun started when Mark tried to drive away. The trouble is that with all his tools and his anvil in the back of his van, even with his four wheel drive, it didn’t have the grip to get up the hill, out of the road field. In the end, after several tries and making our field look like a motor cycle speedway track, Mark had to give up and HE had to go along to mike, the farmer, to get a tow with Mike’s tractor. I’ll tell you what is very funny. The tractor is much bigger and probably heavier that marks van and yet it hardly made a mark on the grass with it’s great big tyres. The only problem was finding a good place on the van to attach Mike’s chain or rope. After that, the van was pulled free in an instant. It all gave us horses a laugh about he failings of this mechanical form of ‘horse power’ though!

Saturday 10th January 2004Watching
I don’t know what got into Tregony this morning, but after his treats there was no waiting. Off he stormed, up the field. It was all Wicky and I could do to keep up with him. It wasn’t his blind, determined storming off that he does if there is a wormer in sight. No, this time it was more like ‘I can’t be waiting for you chaps, I’ve got things to do’ sort of striding away. Eventually, we caught up and asked him what it was that made he stride out so. ‘Oh, I don’t know,’ he answered, ‘ I just feel good today. I feel wide awake and alive and just wanted to stride out and enjoy the feel of it’. Well, you can’t argue with that, I suppose. It’s nice the old man feels that way. Let’s keep our hopes up that he stays that way.

After a while, this morning, I got a feeling of something in the air. A sort of undercurrent of excitement is the best I can describe it. I didn’t hear anything, at first, although, in fact, I probably did but didn’t realise it. I went right up in the top field, as high as I could go and lifted my neck right up high and listened and sensed. Then it came to me, from the South, very quietly at first and then with increasing strength. It was a sound that I remembered from my early days, a sound you can never forget. It was the hounds. The hounds leading the hunt. As part of my training I had to go out hunting and the excitement and thrill of galloping along the fields with lots of other horses is something that stays with you forever. As they came nearer, I started running up and down, the excitement making me all aquiver so that I didn’t know what to do with myself. ‘Let them come through my fields’, I wished. ‘Let them come along here, so that I can run with them one more time, just for the thrill and the fun of it’. But, of course, they didn’t. I ran about following them with all my senses as they passed way over the top of our fields and then receded into the distance again. After I could no longer hear them, I suddenly felt very tired, as if I had been with them, galloping hard, and now had come to a halt. I felt the need to lay down for a while and soon my eyes were heavily closing and I flopped right out flat on the ground. And then, in my dreams, I was hunting again for a brief while. When I came to, Tregony and Wicked were standing guard over me. I may miss some of the old days but it’s good to have such loyal companions as these two.

When I walked back to my stable in the evening, HE noticed I was lame. HE thought it might be from running about in the field but SHE said it was just a strain from walking about for a few days last week with only three shoes.

Sunday 11th January 2004another nice day
THEY went out last night, something THEY rarely do. I know because they woke me up from a nice doze as THEY got into THEIR car and drove away. Of course, then I had to keep watch for THEM to come back, didn’t I? Out for over three hours, THEY were. Then THEY drive up with blinding headlights and didn’t even apologise for being late. I know THEY call it ‘late stables’ but that’s no reason to keep a girl waiting for her last treats of the night. And, what a night! I didn’t get a wink, what with the rain thundering on my stable roof and the wind gusting so fiercely, I thought something was going to be ripped off. There’s another problem as well. THEIR house has a load of moss growing on the roof. THEY had it cleared off once, when THEY first moved here but it was only scraped not killed off and it has now grown back, with a vengeance. If you look at HIS old Suzuki jeep, the bonnet is greener than my field where the moss falls off from the roof onto it. Well, what with the very bad weather, the moss has also got caught in the rain gutter and filled it. So, last night, as well as the sound of the wind and rain there was also the sound of the gutter overflowing down onto the window ledges and onto the bonnet of the jeep. I tell you, I was glad to get up to Ninefields and my field shelter for a rest.

I will admit that I was up on my toes on the way up there. The wind always does that to me. Spooks in every doorway, plastic bags whipped up in the air ready to pounce down on me. It never hurts, every so often, to do a little skitter forward to avoid being attacked by …. well …., you never know. After a blustery day, however, things quietened down by the time to come home. Really, quite a boring day with nothing to report. Still ‘no news is good news’ so they say!

Monday 12th January 2004
“Wicky?”

“Yes, Treg?”

“Where is the very dangerous storm and flooding that HE told us about?”

Wicky and hay“I don’t know, laddie, not here, that’s for sure.”

“I don’t know why humans think they know what the weather’s going to be like, anyway. HE’s often telling us or Alli ‘it’s going to be wet’ or ‘it’s going to be a lovely day’. How does HE know, or is HE just guessing?”

“I think they call it Optimism, Treg. You know, like when you say to yourself ‘I’m not going to have a wormer today’ or …”

“I know, Wick, I know. Or ‘Wicky’s not going to push me off my bucket today’. Like that, eh?”

“You don’t need to bring that up again, Treg. I told you about my New Year’s resolution, didn’t I? I’m going to try, very hard, not to push you off your bucket again.”

“Yeah, that’s it, Wick. Optimism!”

“Oh, look out, here she comes, Princess Alezane!”

“Don’t call her that, Wick. She can’t help being better bred than us.”

“She might think she’s better bred but she’s not better horseflesh. She can’t even bear to get a spot of rain on her head, the big booby. As soon as it starts raining she runs into the shelter or under the nearest tree.”

“She told me that it was to save HER having to do so much grooming, in the morning.”

“Oh yeah? So what about the rolling and rubbing her face in the mud, then? Is that to save HER from grooming work, as well?”

“It’s her beauty treatment, she says. It helps to keep her coat in condition, she told me. And, be fair, Wicky, you’re not averse to a spot of mud yourself, are you?”

“A wee speck o’ durrt, neer hurt a laddie, Treg. You see ma mane once it dries out. It’s better, thicker and more luxuriant than any old thoroughbred’s wee few strands o’ hair.”

“I have to agree with you there, Wick. Considering they are supposed to be better bred than us, they’ve got very poor thin coats, manes and tails.”

“It’s more of an under vest than a coat, laddie. No need to clip that, it could do with a few hairs sticking on to it.”

“And, do you know ……Oh, hello Alli. We were just saying, …er…what terrible weather we’ve been having, weren’t we Wick?”

“Ay, lassie. Auld Treg here’s been saying how you must be feeling the cold.”

“And why would you think that, Tregony?”

“Oh, er, well, it’s just that, er, … with your very fine, beautiful chestnut coat you er, well, it’s cold, isn’t it?”

“Must you always talk about the weather? What are we going to do today?”

“How about a little run to keep ourselves warm and then all back to the field shelter for a morning’s serious hay munching?”

“Sound’s good to me. How about you, Treg?”

“Well, Alli. It would make a change, wouldn’t it?”

Tuesday 13th January 2004Over the gate
The day started out like all other days, except my friend the black and white cat didn’t come out for a chat, like he usually does, while I’m over the recreation ground. It did sound a bit windy this morning and….Oh…there I go again, talking about the weather, well, that’s probably why he didn’t come out. I’ve noticed that about cats. Horses prefer to eat all day and cats would rather sleep. It’s a good thing we are not all the same, isn’t it? Anyway, after THEY went away and left us, we all stood around chatting and munching hay until, about mid morning, HE drove up and parked his car in the field. We all watched as HE proceeded to leave the road gate wide open and walk down to the stream and close the stream gate. I could see straight away what was going on in Treg’s mind. You might think that one would need a pretty powerful microscope to do that, but you forget, I’ve had plenty of experience with him. Treg was thinking – ‘if you leave the road gate open, it must mean that someone is going to drive in. If you close the stream gate, you don’t want us horses to get away. And that means ….? Nothing good, certainly’. Well, old Treg hadn’t got any further with his thoughts, when HE walked right up to us, chatting cheerfully as HE usually does, and then, do you know what? HE walked right past us into the field shelter. Not a carrot, not a mint, not even a bit of that hard old swede that SHE often palms off on us. Just a pat and he was off. Treggy knew now that it was bad news. Gates messed about with and no treats. It must be wormers or the vet or worse. He stopped for a moment. You could see him thinking ‘Is there anything worse?’ Anyway, he was not stopping to find out and he steadily but firmly manoeuvred himself into a position where he could make a dash for it, if necessary.

Wicky and I were not so sure that it was anything bad. Well, I know it’s bad, especially for Wicky, if you don’t get something to eat when you see a human, but you know what I mean. So we followed HIM into the shelter and reminded him that he had, MAYBE, FORGOTTON WHAT MUST BE IN HIS POCKETS! But, no matter how loudly we pushed HIM and nudged HIS pockets, he just ignored us and set about tidying up the hay bales. After HE had raked out all the old stuff that had fallen on the floor and thrown it on the pooh pile, he laid down the wooden pallets, closed the gate and walked away. Wicky and I followed HIM until he finally walked along the edge of the stream and jumped over into the gate field. After a few minutes, a tractor turned up, along the Throwleigh Road , pulling a trailer and turned into our field. Well, that was enough for Treg. I don’t know what he imagined or even if he did, off, straight up the hill he strode and headed for the far distance. I made to follow him and Wicky, after a moment’s optimism that it might be a trailer full of mints and carrots, turned and followed us. When we caught up with Treg, he was way past the tree and nearly up to the entrance to the top field. Seeing us running as well put the fear of Pegasus into him and it was not until we reached the very topmost corner of the top field that we were able to reassure him that it was only a trailer of hay. ‘Yes, I know’, he lied, ‘I was just taking a little bit of exercise. I’m finished now. Shall we stroll down and have a taste?’

Wednesday 14th January 2004Bridge over the Taw
“Wicky?”

“Aye, Treg?”

“What’s your favourite food, Wicky?”

“What’s that, Treg, have you got something for me?”

“No, I haven’t got anything. I just wondered what your favourite food was.”

“Well now, let’s see, my friend. I think …, I think I like carrots best, er… No, sorry, I forgot. Sugar lumps that what I really like best … or ….sometimes I prefer haffle biscuits, you know, what HE calls ‘Wicky’s bickies’. Or then, of course ..”

“I think you’ll find they are apple biscuits, not haffle biscuits.”

“Well, that’s what Alli calls them, Treg.”

“Yes, well, she gets it from HIM, doesn’t she. She has to listen to him babbling on, all the way up the Throwleigh Road . And all the way back, in the evening. No wonder she talks funny.”

“That and being foreign, of course. They Frenchies never could learn the language.”

“I notice your English goes in fits and starts, Wicky. Sometimes you speak correctly and at others you have a very broad pseudo Scots accent.”

“Look who’s talking. Here you are speaking fairly correct English now, while, when you are talking about the Human Watch, you sound like a comic book cockney. And you’ve never been further East than the Exeter sales, if that.”

“Haven’t you heard of ‘acting’ Wick? It’s all part of my ‘method’ way of “hassuming” a character.”

“And so is ma Scot’s, laddie. It’s to make me readily recognisable without having to get him to type ‘Wicky said’ and so on.”

“We really are a pair of real good character actors then, aren’t we Wick?”

“Least said, soonest mended, Treg. Let’s get back to that food subject. Now that’s something that really interests me. Where had I got up to? Had I mentioned sugar beet? Now that is something really scrummy! Especially in between hay. And then, of course, there’s ……Oh my, I feel faint just thinking about it”

Thursday 15th January 2004The River Taw
I got to the field yesterday morning with those two old rascals trying to outdo each other talking about food. I think Tregony was trying to wind Wicky up, because he knows that food is a subject very close to the little squirt’s heart. By the way, I can’t remember if I have told you this before but there is an amusing little anecdote about Wicky’s name. When Michelle, Tregony and Wicked’s official mum, put them out on loan to HER, Wicky was really called Flickett. I have no idea what it means, but there you are. Well, like most names, it got abbreviated and changed into a ‘pet’ name and he got called something like ‘Flicky Wicky’. Next, two factors came into play. Michelle has a gentle Devonian accent and HE and SHE originate from Essex so, in translation, his name appeared to be ‘Wicked’. Added to this is his very typical, small pony nature, which made the name ‘Wicked’ so much more appropriate. In fact, it is not uncommon for him to be called ‘a wicked little ****’ on occasions, when he has been particularly Shetland. And when Phil the vet came to give him some injection or other, when Wick was new to that vetinary practice, some quirk of fate got him put down in the medical records as ‘Wicked Squirt’. That is a real good joke, as far as Tregony is concerned and I have often come across old Treg, in a corner, have a little chuckle to himself and muttering ‘wicked squirt’ over and over to himself and grinning. Mind you, I have to add, that I have also some across Treg, when he is very angry, scowling and swearing ‘****** little squirt’ and grinding his teeth very loudly. It would appear that, for whatever reason, Phil’s mistaken name comes in very useful, sometimes.

Anyway, I said hello, in my usual friendly way (my ears back for Treg and my teeth bared for Wicky) and asked them what was going on. Before Wicky could open his mouth, Treg replied that Wick had been saying some very uncomplimentary things about the French, particularly about their linguistic skills. He does that some times, does Treg. All innocence on the outside but with a little mischievous streak. ‘And why would I care, Treg. Wicky is entitled to his opinion’ I said. ‘Anyway, just because I was born in France doesn’t make me take on all the characteristics, does it. Both my sire and dam were English.’ ‘Oh’, said Treg, ‘so that makes you sort of bi-lateral, doesn’t it?’ ‘Oui, ma cher’, I smiled at him, ‘just a little peu!’

 

Friday 16th January 2004Tree moss
“Did I ever tell you about St Endellion?” said Tregony, as we all stood around in the field shelter and watched the rain.

“I don’t believe you have, Treg”, I said. “What makes you think about that?”

“What makes him think about anything?”, grumbled Wicky. “Or, more to the point, what, if anything, makes him think at all?”

“Don’t you start picking on me, Wick, or I shan’t tell you the story”.

“Oh, is that all it takes. Good, laddie, dinna tell us then.”
”You want to hear, don’t you All?”

“Of course I do”, I said, finding myself trapped in the sympathy corner, not for the first time. “You go ahead and tell us. If Wicky doesn’t want to listen, he doesn’t have to, right Wick?”

“Oh, go on, ya great big loon, I was only teasin’”.

“Well, alright then. Here goes. I don’t know if you remember but I come from a place in Cornwall called Tregony?”

“Really! I didn’t know tha’”

“Shut up Wick!”

“Well, there was a chapel in Tregony dedicated to St. Endellion. Apparently she was one of the daughters of a famous Celtic king, Brychan of Brecknock, in the 10th century. He was the one who gave the name to the place in Wales and the mountains, The Brecon Beacons. Legend has it he had between 36 and 63 children, many of whom went on to be saints”.

“Was he very holy then?”

“I don’t know Alli. But I do know that Endellion has two wells named in her memory and that she had this chapel dedicated to her at Tregony where she is reputed to have lived only on the milk of one cow.”

“Not much to do to get made3 a saint, eh Alli?”

“Quiet, Wick. Go on Treg”.

“Well, the lord of Tregony, at that time, had the cow killed because it trespassed on his land. But Endellion’s godfather (whoever he was) was, apparently a great man and he had the lord killed as punishment.”

“Bit rough, wasn’t it. Just for an old cow?”

“Well, Endellion must of thought so, ‘cause she miraculously brought him back to life again.”

“Always did think the Welsh was a funny lot, didn’t you Alli?”

“Well, I think it was a nice story, Treg. And look, the rain’s stopped. What a nice way to pass the time. Thank you for that, Treg.”

“Ay, laddie. Remind me next time it rains to tell ye the story o’ the St. Wickkies o’ McMuckshire. I dinna think you must know o’ that?”

“Er, … er, thanks Wick.”

Saturday 17th January 2004Long grass
We saw another dear deer this morning. Just as we passed under Drybridge, this creature flashed by up to the gate in Annette’s small paddock. HE thought it was one of her dogs because it looked just like a German Shepherd but then HE saw its scut at the rear and realised what it was. Of course, I stopped dead and just stared, as you do. HE wanted to move along and look at it but, by the time we got there, it had gone. It must have just popped right over the gate. No mean feat, so close from standstill. But then, they are very athletic creatures. What he remarked on as we walked on up the Throwleigh Road was the fact that they always seem to move alone. Quite the opposite to what one would expect. It’s normal to think of them in herds. HE suggested that maybe the ones we have seen lately are solitary males on the look out for either a herd that will let them join or some females with who he can start his own tribe. He could be right, who knows?

We’ve not heard much from Treg about his Human Watch activities. He still goes off on his own, now and then, and I often see him going behind the field shelter, where he keeps his log. I asked Wick about it, as he spends more time with Treggy than I do. ‘Oh, aye’, he answered, ‘ the auld laddie is still about it. He’s just on night shift at the moment. He likes it that way, he tells me as there is less chance of actually catching anyone doing something bad, due to the poor lighting conditions.’ This seemed a strange way of looking at things, to me, so I asked Treg about it. ‘Wicky’s got it all wrong’, he said, ‘either that or he is just being his mischievous old self. Yes, I do prefer the night watch. But it’s because I can go off on my own and use my powers of detection without interruption. You’d be surprised how much more effective I am now’. I told him that I probably would be but was tactful enough not to enquire into his arrest and retrieval rates. I just generally said I had wondered how he was getting on. ‘Last week’, he started, proudly, ‘I was hinstrumental in leading to the harrest of a very nasty piece of work’. I put on my really astonished face and just grunted encouragement. ‘Yerst’, he went on, ‘it was just after 21.00 hours on the night of the 12th of January when I was proceeding down the edge of the Western top field, just past the holly bush, when, all hof a sudden, I spied somethink very suspickus. I stood right still and made myself hincognito (that’s so as you can’t see me) and then I proceeded to make my hobservation’.

As he was getting slightly out of breath, whether from talking so much or excitement, I could tell, I broke in to enquire what he had seen. ‘An hindividual, that’s wot’, he replied, ‘an hindividual wot didn’t ought to be where he was of’. ‘What did you do?’, I enquired in hushed tones. ‘I shouted out, as loud as could. He was so startled that he ran and ran until he reached the road, where he had parked his van. Then he got into it and drove off’. ‘But I thought you said he was arrested?’ ‘And so he was. He drove off so fast that he was caught by a police car and was arrested for speeding and drunken driving. Apparently he had stopped for a call of nature hin Clarence’s field’.

Well, what could I do? I praised old Treg until he got all fidgety and bashful and had to walk away to hide his emotion. One giant step for ……

Sunday 18th January 2004Birthday Card
It was HIS birthday today. Don’t worry, I didn’t let it go to HIS head – either way. you know what I mean. Sometimes HE gets all above HIMSELF, making out that HE is important just because of an anniversary. At other times, HE is apt to get all depressed, when HE thinks of all those years that have gone by and all HIS aches and pains that come with great senility. It doesn’t really matter which mood HE’s in for the aim is just the same – seeking attention for HIMSELF. HE started to tell me, on the way up to Ninefields this morning so I soon put paid to that by acting scared at each little bit of paper or plastic that I could find in the gutters. It’s remarkable what a frightened skitter and head rearing can do to distract a human’s attention. There again, I started seeing more imaginary creatures up on the common to my left and later, in the fields to my right. Each one warranted and sudden stop, ears back, head up high and then a look behind. It may have taken five minutes longer to get up to the field but he didn’t mention ‘birthday’ once to me, all the way.

When I went into the field I quickly went up to Wicky and Treg and warned them but it was too late. Treg told me HE had been singing a mixture of ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘We wish you a Merry Xmas’ to them, all the time that they were having breakfast. Wicky said he was sure he was going to have indigestion and that it nearly, but not quite, was enough to put him off his food. Apparently even the birds that come along for breakfast decided to give it a miss, today, after having heard his singing. I only hope SHE is better able to put up with it else I’m in for a rough ride during grooming tomorrow!

Monday 19th January 2004waiting for THEM
Well, I needn’t have worried about grooming. SHE didn’t do it at all today. Apparently it was not so much his singing that got her but the two bottles of wine that they consumed by way of celebration. Instead of grooming me and making up our next lot of feed, SHE went up with HIM to visit Treggy and Wicked, while they had breakfast. Of course, this did mean that I had to go up to Ninefields with a dirty face. It’s not bad enough that I might be seen by some of my fans but there is, even worse, not much point in rolling in the mud, if you haven’t got rid of yesterday’s results of rolling. Altogether an unsatisfactory start to the day. And there wasn’t a dear deer or a jogger in sight on the walk up. Nothing to make a fuss about – boring!

Things brightened up considerably when I got there. Treg was in one of his more playful moods and suggested a romp up to the top fields. We started off at a reasonable canter and then that little squirt, Wicked, decided to show off and came storming past us. Well, that did it. It may be a few years since I ran a race for real but that doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten how. It was just a question of opening up my stride and, leaving dear old Treg behind, I easily caught up with Wick. As I passed him, he tried to block me into a corner of the low granite wall. But he forgot that I finished my career over the hurdles and I cleared it with ease and left him standing. Looking back I saw old Treggy come up to the corner of the wall and sail over it, even better than I had. Of course, I forgot he used to be a great jumper. Over real fences too, not like me. The hurdles are not high and they are designed to go over at speed, not to test jumping power.

We all drew to a stop at the corner of the field and stood there panting and feeling good. If you’ve never seen Ninefields, I should explain that the top two fields are on quite a slope as they start to ascend the foothills of Cosdon. Even grazing you have to stand sort of sideways so that you don’t start to run downhill again. It’s really good in the wet weather for you can always rely on the top fields to stay dry. Also, they are the first to catch the sun’s rays in the morning and on a frosty day, they are the first to thaw and provide grazing for a hungry horse. (That’s what HE would call an oxymoron – what horse isn’t hungry?)

And so, another day. We had some fun but this winter drags on. We had a look for the wild snowdrops this morning but still no sign of them. When we see them we know that the spring grass will not be too far behind.

Tuesday 20th January 2004Alezane the beautiful
Every time we walk up the road on a Tuesday morning, HE says to me ‘It’s duppin day today!’ So what’s the problem? Well, firstly, I don’t need reminding. And if I did, the fact that every house has one or more black plastic bags outside it’s gate, would very quickly tell me. Secondly, why does he have to use baby talk to me all the time? I’m nineteen years old. I don’t know what a horse year is equivalent to in human years, but it is greater than unity, which makes me at least middle aged (although I don’t boast about it!) If he wants to tell me it is refuse collection day (as if I cared) he could do just that. At worst he could say ‘dust bin’ like any other human grown up. But ‘duppin’? Well, it makes me boil. And anyway, do any of those plastic bags contain dust? I doubt it. Not in any major quantities, anyway. And are they bins? None of them! Now that they have a separate collection for recyclables, the bags don’t (or shouldn’t) contain bottles, cans, paper or cardboard. All food waste is supposed to go into composters. What does that leave? Plastic! They shouldn’t be called dust bins, if anything, they should be called plastic, plastic bags. Mind you, if they were, I expect HE would say to me on Tuesdays, as we walked up the road to Ninefields, ‘It’s plabbag day today, Alli!’

The trouble is, HE is scared of me, I’m sure of it. He talks baby talk to convince himself that I am as malleable as a human baby and that I will respond to just a firm but kind voice in the way HE would like me to respond. HE doesn’t want me to jump or shy at plastic bags, even though it is the most natural thing in the world. HE really is scared that HE wont be able to control me if I decide to rear up or run away. And HE’s right there, HE wouldn’t. But HE puts too little faith in my good nature. Yes, I am a bit what he would call ‘flighty’ or what I would see as cautious but I do know how soft and venerable humans are and so I make allowances. When every fibre in my body tells me to flee from possible danger, I use my self control to protect HIM by just stopping, staring and snorting. If only HE knew. Maybe every Tuesday, as we walk up the road, I should tell HIM ‘it’s welax day, today, lickle man, everfing s’all rite, didums!”

 

 

Wednesday 21st January 2004
We met Amber on our way home today. She’s a funny creature. You never know which way to take her. Yesterday, as we walked down the hill from Ninefields, I saw out of the corner of my eye, that she was standing in the vacant field, the one that used to be Phil’s, before he moved, and she was watching us walk down the road. I couldn’t say anything then as there were too many bushes in the hedge but the field shelterwhen we came to the first gap HE stopped so that we could talk to each other. And, do you know what, she had turned away and just stood there eating with her back to us. No matter how much HE called out to her, she would not look up, the madam! Now, tonight, as we turned the corner to go under Drybridge, there she was in her own little paddock. As soon as she saw us she came running up to the gate so HE led me over to her. And, as good as gold, she stood there just nuzzling me from side to side and greeting in the most friendly manner. I’ve not worked out yet if she was being sincere or just making out. Anyway, I was polite but a wee bit distant. It doesn’t pay to let these mere slips of things get one over you. I think I’ll just wait and see how the relationship develops.

I nearly forgot. We had a bit of excitement this morning. I should have told you before, they brought my sheep back yesterday. I should explain. From my stable I can look over the road into a long, thin strip of field where Meadowsweet used to live before she moved. Now, before I got Ninefields, I used to go and share a field on the other side of the village, with a pony called Pepsi. We occasionally shared that field with three Jacob’s sheep called Suki, Selena and Brenda who belonged to Meadowsweet’s caterer, Annabelle. When the lady who cared for Pepsi moved, Annabelle moved there. (Are you still with me?) Now it turns out that the new owners of the strip field opposite me are unfortunate enough not to have a horse living with them so they asked Annabelle to put her sheep in their field strip to keep the grass down. So, a couple of days ago, Suki and Brenda turned up in the field with six others (Selena had a lamb and has moved on elsewhere). It was so nice to be able to look out at them and hear them talking, especially at night. And then, this morning, there was a terrible noise. I rushed to the door and saw a small terrier attacking them. The dog’s person came along and caught him, he had apparently got loose, but not before one of the new sheep had lost a few dog mouthful’s of wool. When I left for Ninefields the girls were all in such a state of shock that they couldn’t eat their sheep nuts but when I came home tonight they were back to their old selves again. Let’s hope that silly terrier does not get loose again!

the Chinese for HorseThursday 22nd January 2004
“Chinese New Year today, Wick!”

“So?”

“It’s the year of the Monkey.”

“I thought you said it was the year of the Chinese?”

“No, silly. It’s the Chinese year of the Monkey. They dedicate each year to a different animal.”

“I suppose they don’t have a year of the Horse?”

“”They do, Wick. Oh yes they do.”

“It’s a pity the non Chinese don’t have a year of the Horse, I’m not too keen on noodles, present company excepted.”

“Do you know the Chinese word for horse, Wick?”

“I expect you’re going to tell me, Treg.”

“I’m afraid I can’t. You see, they don’t say ‘horse’ or anything like that, they use a picture.”

“What use is that? Is that why they all go around with those digital cameras? So that they can talk to each other?”

“No, Wick. You’re mixing them up with the Japanese. No, it’s not a photo, it’s a picture word. So when you look at it, you can see what it is meant to be without needing to translate the word into sound.”

“What’s the Chinese word for food bucket look like? No, don’t tell me, I can visualise it myself. And carrots? Chinese carrots? Ooooh! I’m beginning to like this. And look. See that round white word, with the hole in the middle?. I can guess what that is Chinese for.”

“I think you’d make a good Chinese pony, Wick. They don’t appear to be very tall, on the whole. I think you would be about the perfect height for them. Mind you, it’s a long way to go, just too eat words.”

“I suppose I am some sort of international favourite, now you come to mention it, aren’t I Treg?”

“Was that what SHE called you, this morning. I didn’t quite catch it?”

“Wicky stomach was what SHE said. I don’t know if that is a Chinese word?”

“What did it look like, Wick?”

“SHE didn’t draw it, SHE said it, but I expect it would look pretty handsome and dashing if SHE did draw it. Oh, hello Alli.”

“Pretty large and round, if you ask me Wick. Anyway, HE said I was like a film star.”

“Hello Alli. Which film star was that?”

“Hi Treg. Well, I don’t know her myself but I think the name HE said was Alli Belly.”

“Oh yeah! She was something to do with James Bond. My goodness, HE does think you’re wonderful, doesn’t HE? I wonder what that is in Chinese?”

“Come on you two, let’s go up to the gate and see if we can get some take away!”

Friday 23rd January 2004Wick cant get the hay
We were standing at asthma break one (Drybridge) when HE said to me ‘Look, there’s the heron’. Well, I looked up and saw a bird that was definitely NOT the Heron. ‘Are you sure?’, I said, tactfully. He looked again and said ‘No! You’re right, Alli. No trailing legs. It’s not a heron. Then, what can it be with a wingspan that large?’ Well, I didn’t say anything and that forced HIM to look again, more carefully this time. It’s a … a …it’s a raven!’ he exclaimed, really proud of himself. He was right, of course. But then, I could have told HIM, if HE had only asked. The big black creature had passed over us yesterday evening and asked if we had noticed his mate anywhere around. Apparently, they were in the middle of nest building and she had gone missing. We told him we had seen a lady raven yesterday, hunting around the common. She appeared to be looking for nesting material. But we hadn’t noticed if she had gone back again or. He had thanked us and flew on. I expect he was now resuming his search, so maybe he hadn’t found her yesterday. We both looked up again and we saw a whole ‘building’ of rooks (group term – look it up!) mobbing him. Rather than being frightened by it, he appeared to be enjoying it. It looked like a really good game for him, as he sailed up and down pursued by this great host of angry birds. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to watch any longer as the Throwleigh Road postie turned up and wanted to go down the lane to Amber’s person’s house and we had to walk on, towards Ninefields. If I get a chance to speak to him, when he flies back later on I’ll let you know what is going on.

When I got to Ninefields, I straightaway noticed something that HE had not seen. HE had said to me that Wicky was acting a bit strangely, this morning, but HE hadn’t taken much notice. Apparently Wick always stands and waits for him in the stream when he brings the breakfast buckets. But this morning, Wicky was standing up on the stream bank, in the field and didn’t make any move to come nearer. Well, of course, it was obvious to anyone with an ounce of horse sense. I could see at once why Wick hadn’t wanted to move more than necessary – he was lame! But HE hadn’t noticed it, even when he picked Wicks feet out in the morning. Of course, when SHE came up to bring HIM in the evening, SHE noticed straight away and told HIM so. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we see one of those nice vet persons tomorrow. At least poor old Wick will get a bit of relief then!

waiting for the vetSaturday 24th January 2004
I thought, ‘Maybe I was wrong’. The day started off normally and no sign of the vet. It was pointless us doing anything because poor old Wick was taking forever to imp about. We decided that the best thing to do was to stay at the field shelter and munch hay until the vet turned up. So, we stood around gossiping and eating, eating and dozing and finally just dozing but still no sign of anyone. Finally, at about 2.15, THEY turned up, so we guessed that the vet would not be far behind. And so did THEY apparently. But we had soon cleared THEM out of treats and we all stood around but no one came. HE got his camera out of his pocket and took snaps of Treg then me and finally Wicky, who had gone back to hay eating again. But still no one came. HE obviously was tiring of waiting for he started taking photos of the clouds. A sure sign that HE is bored. Then HE started looking for signs of flowers or buds or, in fact, anything that might look the least bit interesting, if it were photographed close up. He had left the road gate open and put the bar across the stream but that gate had swung shut in the wind. So, HE went up to the road and propped the gate open. When HE came back, HE found that SHE had put head collars on us all and tethered us all in the field shelter so HE left the stream crossing unbarred. SHE said that SHE had to tether us all because I was stopping Treg from getting to his hay net and was forcing him to stand out in the rain, which had started to become quite heavy. If SHE did but know, old Treg often does that. Whether he really doesn’t want to get in my way or if he just likes standing in the rain, no one knows. It’s just what Treg does.

Well, we all hung around like that, until, after ninety minutes, SHE got fed up and untied us all. HE dashed up to the road gate to shut it because HE saw me heading that way, although, in truth, I was only heading HIS way, to bully more treats out of him. Anyway, HE had just reached the gate and closed it when who should drive up but Phil, the vet. He had, apparently, been called away, when he was on his way to us, to a farmer who was having trouble lambing. Apparently, he had been called out to late for the lamb was born dead and Phil was not in a very happy mood. Of course, the poor lame Wicky saw all the gathering at the gate and thought that there might have been an emergency food supply sent up so, giving the lie to the fact that he was a poor old lame chap, he came running up the field to join us. That, at least, saved Phil a walk with his vets bag and equipment and he soon found the trouble, a very nasty crack in Wicky’s hoof and an bad abscess, right in the toe, the most painful place. By now, it was so late that HE decided to walk me home while Wick was being attended to and then bring the other two’s supper buckets back up. It did mean a rather early supper for me but I was very noble about it and didn’t complain. I’ll just make Wicky pay for it later, if I ever need an excuse to nip him a little bit!

what're we doin; Alli?Sunday 25th January 2004
“Do ye ken what day it is, today, laddies and lassies? It’s Rabbie Burns Day and tonight is Burns Night, that’s wha’.”

“Not another bonfire, Wick, surely?”

“That’s his name, ya great big lummox, Treg. Burns, Rabbie Burns. He was a great poet o’ the Scots nation and we celebrate his memory with haggis and whiskey.”

“What’s haggis then, Wick. It sounds like some kind of witches food to me.”

“Nae, Alli, it’s a pudden o’ meat and grains and things. Humans eat it. When I said ‘we’ celebrate wi’ haggis and whiskey, I didn’t mean horses, I meant the Scots humans. Mind you, when they’ve had a tummy full o’ that mixture they get very kind and pleasant so we horses do sort of celebrate. Unless, o’ course, they’ve had rather too much, in which case they just fall asleep. Either way, we horses get to do what we like so it is rather a good time.”

“Is that when they dress up in their skirts with no undies on, Wick. That whiskey must be real good stuff if it keeps them warm then.”

“That would be a kilt to you, laddie, not a skirt. It’s nae a wummans clothing, son but what a real man wears. And as for ‘no undies’ as you put it, do you wear undies? No, o’ course not. Terrible unsanitary garments they are! The Scots at least are the most like equines in that respect. And think of the time they save.”

“You mean …?”

“Ye ken verra well what I mean, Treg. Now, let’s move on. What shall we do to celebrate my national hero?”

“Well, as he was a poet, we could have a poetry afternoon. What do you think, Alli?”

“And what poetry do you know Treg? Is there a national poet for the Cornish?”

“Well, I don’t actually know any poems, Alli. Only the songs HE sings us in the mornings, while HE’s clearing out the shelter and doing our hay.”

“If they’re anything like the ones HE sings to me as we walk up the Throwleigh Road , forget it. It’s bad enough I have to bear them then. I don’t have to hear them again. Half of them HE doesn’t know the words to anyway. Makes them up as HE walks along. And, one thing you couldn’t call them is poetry, not by a long shot.”

“Well, if HE can make them up, we could as well. Why don’t we make up poems and tell them to each other?”

“OK Wick, if you think that’s a good idea, you start.”

“You think I couldn’t, don’t you Alli? You really think I couldn’t.”

“Well, I’m waiting.”

“Right. Ready … um… let’s see … er, yes…ready, here goes.

O beautiful carrot, so orange and long,

Listen, I’ll give you ma auld Scottish song,

Ma Rabbie would sing to your

colour an’ length,

to your taste and your texture,

your shape and your strength,

So lets all be …”

 

“Yes, jolly good, Wick. I think I can hear HIM coming for me now. Have a good haggis night or whatever it is. Must go. Bye Treg, bye Wick, bye…..”

Treg the softyMonday 26th January 2004
I was well away from those two last night. One of the few times that I have been very happy to come back to my stable. Once Wicky gets on to his very long, lost heritage he can get unbearable. I think the problem is that he has no idea of what a real Shetlander thinks like, talks like or even likes to like. He was born on Dartmoor of probably very mixed parentage and somewhere has inherited a gene that makes him look a bit like a Shetland Pony from a distance. Those who don’t know a filly from a billy tend to think he is just that and treat him as such. And Wicky being Wicky has started to believe it himself. He’d really be much more at home celebrating Widecombe Fair than Burns Night, if he were honest with himself.

And Tregony. Well, he just goes along with anything anyone tells him. He’s a sweet big lump but just a wee bit too gullible for his own good. Still, they enjoy each others company and I’m sure that they had a great night last night.

On a more serious note, I am very pleased to report that Wick’s foot is responding well to Phil’s treatment and he is moving about very comfortably now. He was even up at the gate with Treg this morning when I arrived and he had no problem keeping up with us, when we moved off. I expect SHE will have to re poultice it again tomorrow as Phil said it was a very deep infection but at least he caught it early. It’s really funny but thoroughbreds are supposed to have notoriously bad hooves but since I’ve been here I’ve had no foot trouble at all whilst the two old boys are a constant drain on the vetinary budget. I suppose that is the answer, really – old boys. Maybe it happens to us all, as time goes on?

Well, today’s diary entry is a bit short and serious but nothing much happened today. No dear deers, no ravens, no sheep – well, yes, there are three vagrant sheep wandering about in our fields and Clarence’s but they do nothing worth mentioning so I didn’t (‘til now). That just leaves the weather. The weather men keep telling him that we are in for icy blasts and snow, starting tomorrow. Sometimes they are accurate and at other times we just manage to escape, due to being so far South West but, at the same time, being sheltered by having Cosdon and Dartmoor to our West. It doesn’t always save us, we’ll just have to wait and see. I don’t mind snow but I hat it when the roads are so frozen that I can’t walk up to Ninefields and have to stay in my stable all day. Fingers crossed, humans would say. I cant do that so I’ll try crossing my eyes!

Salty - the valentineTuesday 27th January 2004
We are supposed to be the helpless ones, the ones who are only motivated by our instincts and have no reasoning ability.
Humans are supposed to be the clever ones, at least, that is what they would like us to think. Unfortunately for them, observation of their actions in practice soon tends to give one the opposite view. Take this morning, for instance. As HE was walking (with) me up to Ninefields, SHE passed us, as usual, in that hideous green car that THEY drive. By the time we arrived at the gate, SHE was just finishing putting a new poultice on Wicky’s hoof. And SHE was puffing and blowing about it, as the bending down is not very easy for her heart condition. I’ll give her this, it looked a professional job. But then it should be, SHE did used to be a nurse. THEY went off and we went about our daily task of eating and dozing with the occasional roll in the mud thrown in but later in the morning I noticed that Wick had started limping again. I asked him if his abscess was getting painful again and he said ‘yes, it is a wee bit worse, this morning’. Over the course of the day, it didn’t appear to be getting any worse or any better so poor old Wick had to hobble about to try and keep up with us. And what do you think was the problem? Yes, that’s right, you’ve got it! It was the poultice or to be more precise the bandage that was tied round his leg to keep the poultice in place. Well, SHE saw it the moment THEY turned up in the evening with the buckets. As HE carried the buckets up into the field shelter, SHE called out after him to take the poultice and the bandage off and to leave Wick’s hoof undressed. ‘The wet grass will clean it out now’, SHE told him. See what I mean? Human intelligence, don’t make me whinny!

And then there’s Salty! Now, if December is Xmas and October is Halloween, what is February, I ask you? Right, Valentines Day! And what more could a young looking but mature mare be looking for, to help her enjoy Valentines Day (and many another, given half a chance)? Right again – a toy boy! And just as the day, when all the little birdies fly about choosing their sweethearts, approaches, what should happen but that SHE should get an e-mail, from a perfectly gorgeous 14 year old thoroughbred, who is looking for someone to take him in. Well, I ask you, what would you do? And I’ve seen his picture, HE showed it to me. And, do you know what SHE said? ‘Oh dear, we wouldn’t be able to house him in our stable, it’s only big enough for one horse.’ Did she ask me? Did she say ‘would you mind cuddling up to this handsome hunk of horseflesh, Alli, to make room in your stable?’ Of course not! Just don’t ask me my opinion of humans this morning, or you’re likely to get a rude answer!

Having a bit of a chatWednesday January 28th 2004
“How’s your hoof now, Wicky?”

“No so bad, Treg. Thank you for asking. How’s your brain?”

“There’s no need to be nasty, Wick, I was only making conversation. It would be a sad state of affairs if a fellow couldn’t just politely ask about his friend’s health, now and again, wouldn’t it?”

“Ay, you’re right there Treg. It would be a sad state of affairs. But now that you’ve asked it now, let’s make the again bit not arrive for quite a long time, eh laddie?”

“You do have a way with words, Wicky. You should have been a …. a…well, a something.”

“Oh, I am, Treg. I am a something. There’s no doubt about it. I’ve been called quite a lot of somethings, in my time. Now you come to mention it, I’m not sure I’ve heard you call me that before. It must be that powder they put in you food. It’s making you awful cheeky, my son.”

“That’s for my arthritis, Wick. It’s to help my old legs so that I don’t ache so much. It’s nothing to do with my cheeks, except when I eat it, of course.”

“See, there you go again. You knew verra well what I meant but you deliberately pretend you don’t, just to play games with me.”

“That’s a good idea, Wick. What shall we play? I know, how about the one I learned at Human Watch training. It’s to help build up your memory and your powers of deduction. We have to get a flat surface and put a lot of objects on it. Then, we have to stare at them for a count of fift .. er.. two and then cover them up and try and remember what they all were. Get it Wick?”

“I fear, Treg, that you’d have trouble remembering where you’d left them, if you covered them up, let alone what they were.”

“Well, you think of something, then. Your such a clever shoes. Oh, I forgot, you haven’t got any shoes, have you? But then, if you did, you would want ones with high heels to make you look taller, wouldn’t you? What is it Phil calls you? Wicked squirt, isn’t it?”

“How would you like your knees bitten so that you came down to my level, eh, clever hocks?”

“Oh look. White stuff. Little bits of white stuff coming down from the sky. Do you think Roy ’s got another of his big bonfires again?”

“It’s snow, you great big clown. Cold white water that’s going to cover up all the grass. Come on. Let’s make a run for the shelter, I’ve got a hay net to catch.”

Thursday 29th January 2004Snowfall
As soon as I looked outside my stable, this morning, I knew it was going to be a bad day. I was happily having a little snooze, with my back (if you know what I mean) to the door, when I heard the milk float turn up outside. But instead of making that sort of smooth purring sound, I could hear the wheels crunching and grating over the ice. I don’t remember if I have ever told you this before but ice is the one kind of weather that stops me from walking up the hill and along the Throwleigh Road to my field. It must have been the second year that I was here, when we had a snowfall that partially melted during the day, followed by a really severe frost overnight. HE was alright driving over it, when he went to feed the old men, because HE has the four wheel drive jeep. I think this gave HIM a false sense of security, because he decided that, if we were careful, it would be alright to walk me up top Ninefields. Well, we started out and we were very careful, I can tell you. We followed the car tracks and got past Margaret’s, next door, and on up the hill past Pound Cottage when I slipped. I didn’t fall but my legs all went to jelly and I froze (if that isn’t a mixed metaphor, I don’t know what is, but you know what I mean!) So there we were, neither here nor there. We obviously couldn’t go any further but then, the state that I was in, I couldn’t go back either. In the end, HE had to get HER to come and hold me, while HE went back to the tack room for some hay which he proceeded to lay over the ice, as we painfully made our way back to my stable again. HE then had the task of clearing all the hay up from the road, which cheered HIM up a lot! So, since that day, if it’s icy roads, I stay in. I don’t like it. I hate it. But I hate walking on ice more, so there it is. My friend Meadowsweet is told that if she slips with one foot, she has got three more, so not to be a baby. Me, I’m a baby and I don’t mind admitting it.

So, when I heard that milk van, I resigned myself to staying in. At least it means that THEY are all apologetic and I tend to get extra treats (you didn’t think that was possible, did you?). I accepted the apologies, gobbled down the treats and settled in for an extra doze with my back(side) to the door again. About mid morning, HE went out to Ninefields to take some snow photos and found himself behind a gritting lorry going along the Throwleigh Road . By the time he came back, that road was clear of ice and, with the weather forecast predicting a thaw, HE tested our road (an overgrown lane, in fact, where the gritting lorries never come) and found that, if we stuck to the car tracks, the road was passable. Where have I heard that one before, I thought, but, in fact, it was just alright and I found myself walking along the Throwleigh Road , just six hours later than normal. When I got to the gate, Treg, who, with Wicky, was up in the top field, gave the biggest welcome you ever heard. Well, I flew up that snow covered hill as if I were back in my racing days again. I ran right up to the wall below where they were and I was so excited that I forgot how to get up there with them. It gave HIM a laugh. He recons now that Treg has got to pass over the dumbest horse award to me now. I did feel silly but just getting out with my friends again was well worth being laughed at!

what have you got?Friday 30th January 2004
Looking out of the stable door this morning confirmed that the snow had mainly gone and had been replaced by rain. There were still traces of snow in the hedgerow and patches here and there on the lawns, but by and large it had been washed away and I knew that I would be going up to Ninefields today. There used to be a time when THEY used to ride me out. Well, mainly HER but, on occasion , HE would sit on me and make riding noises like ‘walk on’ and ‘steady’, as if HE knew what he was doing. But since HER couple of scares with HER heart problem, when SHE ended up in hospital, the only riding that happens is when the grandchildren come and sit on me, as I walk up to and back from Ninefields. Where was I? Oh yes. I was about to say that I do forget myself sometimes, particularly after a day’s larking about in the fields with my friends. It quite takes me half the journey to remember how to behave properly when walking along a road. When we start out, on our journey home, I have to keep stopping and looking around all the fields and hedges, just as I do in the fields during the day. HE makes a few feeble attempts to stop me but then gives in and waits for me. Then, of course, I have to stop and look round to see if SHE is coming in her little green car and then look up at The Common, in case anyone is riding or walking with their dogs among the bracken. By now, HE is beaten and just waits and calls me endearing names. He even takes liberties and tries to kiss me on my nose. What is it with humans that they like to do that? However, by the time that we get to Amber’s field, I am just getting back to being good and we go through Dry Bridge and down the hill like respectable people. HE often likes to break into a trot when we reach Pound Cottage and boasts to HER that I can’t beat HIM. At least, HE tries to, but he is so broken winded that only a garbled wheeze comes out.

“Do you know what I think, Wick?”

“What do you think, Treg, I’m sure it’s startling?”

“I think Alli really doesn’t know how to walk properly along a road. I think it’s because she’s French and they build their roads on the wrong side over there.”

“Do you know, Treg, that’s an interesting supposition. They really put the left hand tarmac down on the right hand side and vice versa?”

“Must do, Wick. It’s to catch the frogs out, as they cross the road, so they get runned over. Splat and then into the pot with ‘em. Funny eating habits, the French.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that, laddie. I’m sure I’ve seen her eating carrots and mints, just like us!”

“Oh, yer! Your right, Wick. Hadn’t thought of that. My mistake.”

Saturday 31st January 2004Alezane tacked up
It started about mid evening, when I was just settling in for a quiet five minutes, the wind, which had been getting stronger and stronger, suddenly grew into a full blown gale. And with it, the rain. When I’m in my stable, of course, I don’t mind the rain too much, although it can get a bit loud sometimes on my galvanised roof. But the wind does something to my blood. I can’t help it, it’s in my genes, I do believe. And at night, it’s worse. I started to get excited about it and moved around in my stable, foot to foot, round and round. Just at the time THEY came out to do their nightly ‘late stables’ duty I had happened to hear a noise outside, over the road on the strip of field where the sheep are. I moved to the door and looked over the door, and there – I saw it! Don’t ask me what because I couldn’t tell you exactly. But it was there. And it was dangerous, terribly dangerous. I grew as tall as I could and stared with my eyes popping out of my head, and do you know what? There SHE was, holding out a bit of swede for me to eat, as if it were just an ordinary night. Of course, I ignored HER and kept on staring and listening. Next, HE comes in, as HE always does to clear up for the night. I couldn’t believe it. HE just carried on, sweeping and shovelling on, the only difference was, to add insult to injury, HE kept telling me what an old silly I was and to calm down. Well, that did it! I just had to show HIM what I had seen and I rushed over, nudged him and run back to the door. In fact, I did this several times but HE either didn’t understand what I was saying or HE chose to ignore me. In the end I gave up and went back to try and warn the sheep. THEY were too simple to even see a bit of the danger and so, after saying some more disparaging words, THEY went back into their house. Of course, by that time, it was gone, whatever it was. But I can tell you, I didn’t get a lot of sleep that night.

In the morning, the gale was still blowing ferociously and HE and I had a really tough walk up the hill. On the way past Pound Cottage and Dave the Blacksmith’s forge, I was forced to do a bit of a skitter as I thought I sensed that thing from the night before about to pounce out at me. All HE did was to make me go round in a circle and turn back to face the wind saying ‘walking, walking’ in what I am sure he hoped was a reassuring voice. If it was, I am afraid I lost most of the meaning in the wind. However, things improved after passing under Dry Bridge , although we did meet with a gentleman driving his car through the Bridge who wound his window down and said ‘appalling, isn’t it?’, to which HE, like a fool, said ‘No, it’s a lovely day’. I do sometimes wonder which planet He inhabits. But I make allowances due the seemingly inexhaustible supply of carrots and mints, that he carries in his coat pockets.


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