Alezane's Diary Archive June 2004
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a rural rideTuesday 1st June 2004

Coming up for NEFOD, I must look it up in the archives to see what day it is. Of course, those of you who have joined us more recently won’t know what I am taking about. What reminded me was that there are some foxgloves nearly out by our stone wall along the Throwleigh Road . You see, the F in NEFOD stands for foxgloves. I think it was Wicky (although it could have been Treg) who decided that we should have a National English Foxglove Day. It was sometime last year when we had a load of them blooming in our fields and the two old boys were chatting that, I think, the idea came about. Whatever, I can’t see a foxglove now, without thinking of it.

Much more interestingly, it is the first of June today. Do you know that in another twenty days, the daylight will start getting shorter again? It only feels like we have just started out of winter and we must face up to the fact that the sun is dying again. Funny really, I don’t know how things have got out of synch because really, from another angle, we should be about to look forward to three or four glorious summer months. How can this be if the light is slowly going out? One thing I do know, June is the month for roses. I don’t get to go round the gardens much any more, not in the summertime, but I used to see all the roses in bloom in June in nearly every garden I passed. Of course, I still see them, but now they are wild roses in our field. Maybe not so flamboyant but, if you look up closely, every bit as glorious as their cultivated cousins. You could say that of all wild flowers. Weeds included. In fact, I was thinking only today, ‘what is a weed?’. The ones that I think of as weeds are not necessarily the same as those that humans regard as such. To me, it’s a weed if I can’t eat it! I tell you, there are not many weeds in my fields and even less in Wicky’s!

 

 

 

Wednesday 2nd June 2004

I sometimes wonder, that if I could look at a human’s diary, would I find that every day was filled with some exciting or noteworthy event? I usually get this thought, when HE comes up to me in the evening and demands “Well, and what happened today, exciting?”. It seems to me Treg doesn't like treatsthat an awful large chunk of my life is filled with pages and pages of nothing happening at all – that is, if you discount eating grass. I could fill a dozen diaries with detailed accounts of how I put my nose to the ground and opened my lips, nibbled a blade or two and then moved a few inches to the next uneaten bit. If you work out how many inchful bites that there are in a few acres, you’d fill a couple of books in no time. But, exciting? Well, maybe not.

Today however was different! From the moment we went up the hill after breakfast, I could just sense that something was going to happen. Somehow the air was electric. We wandered up to the top of the top field, talking about the feeling of excitement. You see, it wasn’t just me that felt it, we all did. When we reached the top, we looked over the edge of Ramsley Common and out over to Winkleigh and beyond. One moment all was still and quiet and the next – wham, like a thunderbolt out of the blue, one of those big, noisy flying things came hurtling through the air, from over Cosdon and broke up, before our very eyes, slamming into the ground in several giant balls of flames. The sound both of the flight and the crash was terrifying but that was as nothing compared to the fire and explosion that followed. Giant plumes of dense black smoke billowed up into the sky, turning the sunny morning into night.

All we could do was to stand and stare. Although the crash happened a few fields away from us and a bit lower down, I’d swear we felt the ground shake under our hooves. Treg looked at me and then at Wicky in turn, with horror in his eyes. “What can we do, Alli?”, he asked. “Nothing, Treg, absolutely nothing”, I replied, turning away. “Let’s go back down to the Field Shelter”, Wick suggested. We all took one last look at the burning debris and descended.

Well, it might have been true, mightn’t it? At least not as boring as eating blades of grass. And, it would be nice to get our own back on those noisy great things that swoop past us some days, just when we’re trying to have a doze!

 

what grows in our hedgeThursday 3rd June 2004

“For goodness sake, Treg, what are you up to now?”

“I’m on a training exercise, Wick. It’s all part of a new Human Watch initiative aimed at improving your memory and your powers of hobservation.”

“And whose wonderful idea is that, Treg?”

“I forget, Wick. But I’m sure I saw it somewhere. At least, I think I did.”

“Well, it does sound as though you might be in need of such a course, doesn’t it?”

“You could well be right. I thought it sounded like a good idea.”

“So, what do you have to do to improve your memory, and don’t say ‘I forget’ again or I’ll bite your knees.”

“The idea appears to be that one concentrates on a particular patch of ground, say a square metre, and then notes everything that appears there – stones, grass, flowers – you know. And then, when you have memorised them, you have to think of something completely different for five minutes. Then …”

“Don’t tell me Treg. Then, you have to see how many things you can remember, right?”

“Did you see it too, Wick? Maybe you can tell me where it was that I saw it?”

“No, Treg, I didn’t see it anywhere. I used my powers of reasoning to work out the next step.”

“Wow, that’s impressive Wick. Have you never thought of joining the Watch? They’d make a Hinspector out of you in no time.”

“That’s exactly when they’d make a Hinspector or any other kind of spectre out of me Treg. No time. I’m afraid that’s not the kind of thing that interests me.”

“Pity. The Watch could certainly do with ponies of your calipers. Oh well.”

“So, now tell me, Treg. What do you remember about that square metre of earth that you were memorising. You’ve had at least five minutes thinking about something else. Come on, what do you remember?”

“Don’t rush me, Wick. I’m trying to remember which square metre it was.”

“Treg, come on laddie. It surely doesn’t matter which bit of earth it was. Just tell us what you remember being on it.”

“Well, there was some dirt. I remember that. Then .. er.. oh yes, I’ve got it, a leg.”

“A leg? Just lying about on the ground? A leg?”

“No, not lying about on the ground, Wick. It was doing what legs always do. It was standing up.”

“And what has that got to do with what you remember about this particular square metre of ground, Treg. That is, if I’m not rushing you?”

“No, not at all. It’s alright Wick. You see, I could see the dirt on the ground but I couldn’t see any more because my leg got in the way. See!”

“Tregony. Have you ever wondered why one of those great big noisy flying things doesn’t come crashing down on your head?”

“No, Wick. I haven’t”

“Well, I have!”

 

SHE will find us somethingFriday 4th June 2004

Another week end. There was a time when that had some meaning for me. In fact there were several times in my life when that was so and for different reasons. When I was racing, the week end generally meant that either we were got ready and taken somewhere to race or we were left behind, mostly out in a field if the weather was kind, for a bit of a holiday, while the humans were away with those racing. When I was at the riding school, the week ends were often our busiest times. I suppose in a way I as lucky in that, never having been trained for anything other than racing, that is, walking or galloping only, I wasn’t peoples first choice for a hack. They were all impressed with my looks and my size and were very ready to admire me and even give me treats. But very few have the courage or ability to give me a good ride. If everyone else was booked though, they had very little choice and that meant the week ends. So, then it was a busy time both physically and mentally. For I had to try and learn what they were trying to tell me with their foot and body ‘aids’. I put aids in quotes because more often than not they were confusers not aids. I was green but then so, often, were my riders. You have no idea how often I have returned from a hack with sides raw and aching from some enthusiastic human who thought that if I didn’t understand his first kick then I would understand a bigger one. You cant blame them, I suppose. I’d not been taught how to respond and they hadn’t been taught how to give aids. We made a great team, really. And now? No work or, at least, very infrequently. And when SHE does take me for a ride, SHE is very good at helping me to understand what to do and very rewarding when I’ve done well. She doesn’t scold my mistakes, just ignores them and praises my successes. Treggy and I exchange stories, sometimes, about our riding school experiences. Treg had a much happier time than I had. He was always intended to be a riding school horse, was trained for it, was good at it and was very popular. People would all want to ride with him and he would give them a really good time. He took a pride in his work and people loved him for it. We all have a good laugh at Treg’s expense now, as he does tend to be a bit forgetful and a bit naïve. But there’s no harm intended and he knows it. I often suspect he plays up to it, just for the fun of it, and he is not half as simple as he makes out. If you get Wicky at a serious moment, he will tell you what a great pal Treggy is. They get along really well, those two. Although Treg and I are much of a size and Wick is the odd one out, if you watch our movements over a day you will see that Treg spends as much time , if not more, with Wick as with me. I think I have been really lucky to get those two as companions. I couldn’t want a better set of mates. Except, of course, when it’s my treat time!

 

getting near NAFODSaturday 5th June 2004

“Wicky. Are you awake, Wick?”

zzzzzzzzz

“Wicky, I’m scared. Do wake up. Don’t mess about.”

zzzzzzzzz”.

“Come on, Wick. I know you’re awake really. Aren’t you? Are you?”

hmmmm, phhhht”.

“I’ve got something to eat, I found Wick. Do you want to share it?”

zzz WHAT, where. Give it here, Treg, I’m starving.”

“Huh, I knew you weren’t asleep really. Well, I haven’t got anything really, as well.”

“Oh yes you have, Treg. You’ve got a great big bite on your leg.”

“No I haven’t Wick. Here have a lo …OW. What did you do that for?”

“First you wake a fellow up from a lovely dream about a big field of green green grass and then you urge him on with an offer of food that doesn’t exist. And you ask me why I bite you?”

“I was lonely, Wick. When I stand there, thinking all sorts of bad thoughts and all you do is snore, I get sort of scared and I need some reassurance. Don’t you understand, Wick?”

“I understand that as a friend, you’re a pain in the fetlocks. What do you want me to do, make all the bad thoughts go away?”

“Oh, yes please, Wick. That would be lovely. I know everyone laughs at me for not being so quick thinking as the rest of you. But the trouble is that slow thoughts stay around longer and if they are bad ones, it gets really bad.”

“You mean it, don’t you Treg. You really were scared. I’m sorry old man. I shouldn’t have bitten you. it’s just that I didn’t understand. How are you feeling now? Have the bad thoughts gone away?”

“Oh yes, Wick. I’m feeling a lot better now, thank you. No more of those old worries, eh?”

“Well, that’s very good to hear, Treg. I like to know that you are feeling fine and not a victim any more. That makes it all much easier.”

“All what easie..OW, Wick. You bit me again!”

“Shut up and go to sleep, you old fool!”

 

 

those flies!Sunday 6th June 2004

D Day. That’s what HE said. It took me and Wick quite a long time to work out what HE was on about. Treg suggested Daisy Day, as HE’s always taking photo’s of the flowers in the field. We’ll think about it, Treg, we said, and moved away from him. It can’t just stand for Day, can it, I asked Wick. That may not be so silly as it sounds for I can remember something about a J Jour, when I lived in France . Anyway, Wick said no, it must be something of greater significance than that. Yes, he actually said ‘significance’ although how he managed it with teeth like that, I’ll never know. So we put our brains to work while we munched. Dog day? Possible, you know how silly humans are about the creatures. We even see farmer Michael taking his out for rides on his quad bike. Collies they are. Daft as brushes. And he should know better. I expect it’s working with sheep that’s got to him. So, it could be Dogs. What else? Wicky looked up suddenly and said, ‘how about Duck Day?’. I couldn’t raise much enthusiasm for that but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings so I tried to look thoughtful for  a moment. Mmmmm? I muttered, yeees, maybe, but – er – what’s so special about ducks that they would name a day after them? Of course, that stumped him so our heads went down again. We both tried thinking about what there is on a farm that begins with D. Tractor, plough, harrow, sheep, pigs, cows,….? Then Wicky shouted. I think I’ve got it, Alli. How about Dustbin Day? That always seems pretty important about here. Remember you told me once how HE used to tell you it was Duppin Day, because HE always uses baby talk when HE thinks you might be scared of something. You know, you told me about those cycling boxes that they put out and how it seems important to get the plastic bags out of them and throw them all over the road? See, it is important enough to have a whole day named after it. I wonder where it comes … Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Dustbinday, Thu…, you know? Do they have to lose one of the old days or will they go over to an eight day week?

Now, I was just a teeny bit annoyed at Wick for this because I had just come up with Dairy Day and there he was crowing about as if he had solved the puzzle. Inwardly though, I did think Dairy Day was a bit tame. I mean, it’s fine for those who have cows but it wouldn’t have a whole lot of appeal for anyone else. Whereas Dustbins are sort of universal. Still, I was very loathe to give Wicky the satisfaction yet, so I said that it was a ‘possibility’ and we should keep it in mind but ‘let’s go on thinking’. We both went a bit quiet after that and when Tregony came along, it was quite a relief. At least it was until he said ‘Alli, you know you was trying to think about that day thing, you know D Day and that. Well. I heard a couple of ramblers talking as they went by and I know what it is.’ Wick looked at me and I looked at him. There was only one thing for it. We both said in unison – ‘Oh that, yes we know. We heard it ages ago. Now, what were you going to tell us about your Human Watch, Treg?’

 

I like to eat this - sometimesMonday 7th June 2004

THEY let us into the Throwleigh Road field again today. As soon as they walked away, after breakfast, we could see that THEY had deliberately left the stream gate open, so that we could go into the field and get at all that luscious grass that THEY have been keeping us from. Mind you, only us, as Treggy reminded me. He is a very suspicious old cove, is Treg. He pointed out that the sheep have been able to get in and feed themselves fat on our grass, while we were barred. He also reminded me that I had been wondering where all the nice fat little sheep disappeared to each year and the conclusions we had reached. He said that if we put that little story together with the fact that SHE has been going round, putting that bit of string round our tummies, quite a lot lately, we might like to worry about why THEY had suddenly decided to let us get fatter. He worried about that for a good ten seconds or so and then very smartly followed me into the field. It was  hard to tell, as his mouth was full to overflowing with grass, but I think he said something like ‘Oh, what the hellumph!’.

It was good to be in that field, as it was a very hot day today and, at the bottom of the field, along the stream, there is the most wonderful tree. You can eat its leaves, you can scratch your back (and other itchy places) on it and you can shelter under it, away from the heat and the flies. And, what’s more, it has grass under it, as well, so you can have a little snack, at the same time. What more could a horse ask for?

I have to report that there appears to be a world crisis with regard to carrots. Fot the last few days they have been getting smaller and smaller and you eat so much air, trying to get a filling of these little ones, even assuming that you get offered. I can’t help feeling that HE is making his escape a lot sooner every morning. A couple of carrots (or what passes for them, now), a few apple biscuits and some mints and then HE is off. I don’t know what I am supposed to do, you cant nudge a moving target and HE sure does move. THEY came back today, about mid morning. I thought HE might have come to apologise and rectify HIS mistake but no, THEY just sat in that green tin box and watched us for a while and then drove away. I said to Treg, ‘don’t look up, let THEM think we’ve not seen THEM’ but it didn’t matter anyway. Treg did venture that THEY may have come to check if we were fat enough for market yet. I think it’s all part of the dementia setting in!

 

Wick is loyal to the lastTuesday 8th June 2004

I used to like cows, in fact, I used to live with them, when I was at Wood. But, today, they have really put me out. We’d had a pretty good day, as THEY’d let us into the Throwleigh Road field again. THEY turned up on time, as usual, and we went into the field shelter to empty our buckets. So far, so good. It didn’t take me long to finish mine (it never does, I am a race horse, after all) so, leaving the other two to finish up, I turned and made my way smartly out of the entrance. SHE was there as usual, so that we could walk together, down to the bridle path gate and have some treats and a bit of a cuddle. I was just about to follow her when something caught my eye down the bridle path. I couldn’t believe it. There was a small herd of cows and calves just wandering along the path, chewing as they went and heading towards the exit to the Throwleigh Road . SHE saw me stop and followed my gaze. When SHE saw them, SHE called out to HIM and asked if HE had his mobile phone on him. SHE pointed out the cows and HE got his phone out to call Michael, the farmer. We had continued down to the gate, while HE attempted to get a signal but when I saw that SHE was much more interested in the cows than in giving me my treats, I decided to go back to HIM, as I knew for a fact that HE had a pocketful of carrots.

Do you know what HE did? Just as I got back to him, HE decided to climb up the bank over the field shelter to try and get a phone signal higher up. So I had wasted my time running back to him. I thought that, after HE had phoned the farmer, then things would go back to our normal routine. By this time, the two old guys had finished their supper and came out to join me. We were all disappointed when, as he couldn’t get the phone call through to Michael, he decided to go after the cows and try and get them back in a field. Very noble, very neighbourly, I’m sure.  But it didn’t get us our treats, in fact, it got us completely ignored. HE did manage to get all of them but one calf into the field next to ours through a gate on the bridle path and then he came back to pick up our buckets and go back to the car, so that he could drive to the farm and let Michael know. I cornered him then and did manage to get a few tiny little carrots out of him before he vanished into his car. Wicky got half a carrot and Treggy got nothing. SHE had been busy helping with the cows and waving her coat to chase them into the field. SHE did manage a few measly bits but, all in all, none of us were very happy this evening. We all went up to the wall to shout a few rude words at the cows but then we learned that they had been parted from their calves that afternoon so we were denied even that small satisfaction. A less than satisfactory day, on the whole!

 

A euro what?Wednesday 9th June 2004

“Wicky?”
”Yes Treg, my old lad. What can I do for you now?”

“I was thinking, Wick. No, don’t laugh, I really was. You know that van that went past the other day, the one that was talking. I was thinking about that.”

“A van was talking, Treg? You mean like the school bus sings and the tractors recite poetry? That sort of thing?”

“Do they Wick? I hadn’t noticed. I must watch out for the tractor next time it comes along, I like poetry. I remember that one about ‘There was a young pony called Wicky, who ….’”
”I think we’ll just forget all about that Treg. Now, what was it you were saying about a talking van? Do you mean that one that had all those posters over it with the loudspeaker on its roof?”
”If we are talking about the same one, Wick, it certainly was a loud speaker. Almost a shouter, I thought. Yeah, if it was that one, what I was wondering about is what is a Europe bean infection? That was what the van was talking about, I heard it. I was worried whether it was something that only vans caught or if we were in danger as well. I know we don’t get beans in our buckets but you never can tell with some of that Quiet Mix rubbish that SHE has been giving us. It might be made of that Gee Em bean stuff and we could all get infected.”

“Whoa, whoa, there Treg. You have been doing a lot of thinking, haven’t you. Quite got your brain overheated, I think. Now, let’s take it one step at a time. The van was talking about an ‘election’ not an infection.”

“Oh, right, Wick. An election. Oh dear, that brings back memo…. OH! No. Right, I’m with you now. Election! Voting an’ all that stuff. Right. But who’d want to vote for a bean? Is it a vegetable election? I’d vote for carrots, no doubt about it. Carrots is best. With swedes following up a close second. Of course if it’s perportionral respectation than they could both win. That’d be even better. I like them both. Although it’s a shame you can only vote for vegetables, innit. I mean, if we could, vote for sugar lumps and minty sweets and … Oh, I just remembered. I forgot about apples. We definitely must have reportional presentation ‘cos I want apples to win, as well.”

“There’s just no stopping you, when you get on to a subject that you like, is there Treg? Now take it easy, stop jumping up and down like that and listen very carefully. It has nothing to do with beans or apples or any vegetables. The word is European, that is, about Europe . They are having an election tomorrow for the European Parliament. And the van was going about to tell people who to vote for. See.”

“Huh! If they know who to vote for, it doesn’t seem worth having an election, does it? Can’t see any sense in going around, waking people up, if that’s all what it’s about. And anyway. Why has you rope got a parlyment. There’ll be a head collar parlyment or a lead rein parlyment next. And then soon, everyone will be so busy having parlyments that there wont be no one to make up the buckets. I tell you Wick. I don’t like it. I don’t like it all!”

 

Thinking about my diaryThursday 10th June 2004

I suppose it’s funny, me talking about the technical side of my diary, seeing that I always leave that to HIM. However, HE sometimes moans to me about the amount of time and trouble it causes HIM and I thought that I might share it with you, just this once, as nothing much seems to be happening around Ninefields.
You may have noticed that HE now seems to be publishing the diary on a weekly basis now, and not every day or every few days. HIS excuse for this is that HE is very busy, although I don’t see with what. After all, HE is retired, which means that HE has all day, all week to look after us equines and not bother with going to work. The only evidence that I have of this is a brief appearance with some half empty buckets in the morning, a couple of tiny carrots and a quick good bye and then a similar sad performance in the evening. I know he pleads that, in order to prepare the buckets and the treats, THEY have to visit the food store and the supermarket on a very regular basis, have to prepare the vegetables and make up the feeds, but so what. If I can gulp down the meagre amount I’m given in about three and a half minutes flat, I don’t see that the preparation can take them very long either.
So, there HE is, with the whole rest of HIS time lying idly on HIS hands and all he has to do is to type up my daily report and ‘publish’ it to my web site. How much time can that take him? I would think that he would have each day’s diary account up and running before he has his breakfast. But, oh no, HE is ‘too busy’. Idle, that’s what HE is. Just plain idle. When I accused HIM of it, the other day, here’s what HE told me. First, HE says, HE has to put my thoughts down in some sort of coherent manner and attempt to try and make them fairly readable. Now, I can understand that to a certain extent, on the days that HE reports what pass for Treggy’s thoughts. How he can manage to make a whole day’s entry from what, for Treggy, is a week’s thinking process, is, I will grant you, evidence of a certain amount of skill. Then HE says, he has to take the photographs, that illustrate the diary entries. HE says that is fine for those of the wild flowers, around the fields and hedges, but we three are constantly moving targets unless our heads are stuck in our buckets. HE says that HE just frames a nice shot and is just about to press the button when we decide to charge after HIM for treats. HE reckons that it is a good thing that HE has a digital camera, the amount of wasted photos, of our noses advancing on the lens, HE has shot. He was about to go on and moan about the time it takes to edit these shots and connect them to the diary pages, the time HE is involved in trying to keep up with the weekly and monthly archiving, the time HE has to spend on the production of his own web site and on and on and on. In the end, I stopped listening. HE is what HE is, a well meaning but incompetent muddler. But then, HE is all that I’ve got. Maybe one day, when my literary worth is finally recognised by the world, I will be able to afford some professional assistance. Until then……..

 

A well deserved snackFriday 11th June 2004

I was really proud of Tregony, this evening. It had been a beautiful day, today and we were caught out with the time, when THEY turned  up with our buckets. Treg was having a bit of a lay down at the time. Both Wick and I had had our turns earlier in the day and now, in the warmth of the early evening sun, Treg decided to snatch five minutes. He had been napping for a while and was just coming round when THEIR car turned up. Oh, dear, I thought to myself. This is going to be one of those evenings when I have to run down to greet THEM and then run back up to urge Treg to get up and in the end waste a lot of precious minutes when I could have been eating, while old Treg is persuaded to get to his feet. And, of course, Wicky has galloped (or what passes for it with his little legs) straight down the hill and is tucking in as soon as his bucket hits the ground. Anyway, when I saw THEIR car roll up, I turned to Treg and saw that he had seen it to. He caught my eye and said ‘It’s alright, Alli, you go on down, I’ll be alright. I’ll follow you in a minute’. I looked back to the car and saw Wick flash past me. Turning back to Treg, I was just about to say ‘Are you really sure’ when I saw that he had already got to his feet and was dusting himself down. That was all the confirmation that I needed and I started after Wick, down the hill. He had got such a good start that I came in a close second and just started to put my head down into my bucket when I thought that I had better go back outside to check on the old fellah. Then, to my surprise and delight, I heard his stumbly old hoofsteps coming along the path. In no time at all, Treg followed on into the field shelter, as if he had had no problems at all coming down the hill. He told me afterwards that he is feeling really good, considering. He still has lost the spring in his step but, thank goodness, his arthritis seems to be keeping at bay. No of us would admit it but keeping our weight in check (within reason) is a good thing. Particularly for Treggy, Wicky says. He tells me that he doesn’t need it himself. In fact he is feeling a bit on the thin side, but I rarely take much notice of what Wick say with regard to eating. Although, to be fair, I often find my secret self agreeing with him. If THEY wont let me have a stallion, what’s the point of keeping your figure?

 

Cosdon - the parish symbolSaturday 12th June 2004

“Tregony. Come over here, my man, I want to have a bit of a chat.”

“Oh, right-o Wick, wont be a moment. Just got to turn myself round. You know that always takes me a little while these days.”

“Don’t rush, old lad, it’s nothing important.”

“There, that’s done it. What was it you wanted to talk about, Wick?”

“I was just going to ask if you had heard about the South Tawton Parish Day?

“Well, is this a trick question? You did just tell me about it now, didn’t you?”

“Oh stop being such a wise rump, Treg. I’m serious. I heard HIM talking about it with Alli and I don’t like to look silly and ask her so I thought I’d ask you, see.”

“I can see that you think it makes you look silly if you ask Alli but you don’t look silly if you ask me. Why’s that Wick?”

“Well, er.. because, well, you know. Let’s face it, you’re not as clever as Alli, are you?”

“Granted I’m not as clever as Alli. But wouldn’t that make you sillier asking the dumber one than asking the clever one? That’s what I think anyway. And now, if you’ve finished telling me how silly I am, I’ll get on with my grazing. At least that’s one thing I know how to do.”

“Oh, don’t get huffy, Treg. I was only wanting to ask you about it. Not because you are silly but because you are not so .. er.. so snooty as Alli is. You know how she always knows everything, just because she talks to HIM a lot. You’re not like that, you will always help a pal out without being critical. That’s what I meant, Treg.”

“Oh, right, I see now. I’m your best mate, am I. I must remember that when THEY turn up while we are still in the top field and you go charging off down the hill without so much as a backward glance to see if I am getting down those steep bits all right. I’ll remember it, as well, next time I lose a shoe and need someone to help me look for it before THEY come and ask me where I left it. Right, Wicky, my best friend, yes, I DO know about the South Tawton Parish Day, thank you. It’s today Anything else you need me to keep you informed about?”

“I did know when it was, Treg but I was wondering what it was?”

“I should imagine about twenty four hours, at a guess, Wick, wouldn’t you?”

“Please, Tregony. I’m beginning to think I should have gone to Alli, after all. I know it’s a day and I know how long a day is. But why is it special, what is happening? I’ll tell you what, Treg. Let’s start all over again. Please Tregony, could you tell me what is going on today in South Tawton Parish?”

“No. Better ask Alli. she knows everything!”

 

skylineSunday 13th June 2004

“Oh, hi, Alli. I hear things went off well yesterday for the South Tawton Parish Day?”

“Did you, Wick? Where did you hear that?”

Well .. er .. I must have heard some passing ramblers talking about it.”

“That’s interesting, Wicky. I wonder how they knew?

“Couldn’t say, lassie. Anyway, it went well, did it? Lots of things happening, I expect? Must have been really good fun to be there, I expect?”

“To be where, Wick? You seem to know an awful lot about it. Who’s been talking to you then?”

“Well, I just thought that, for such an important event, there would have been a lot happening.”

“Let’s face it, Wick. You don’t know anything about it do you? Why don’t you go and ask your friend Tregony, he’ll tell you all you want to know. At least, all you need to know, eh, Treg? There’s no need for Mr Wicked here to know as much as us, is there?”

“No need whatsoever, Alli. In fact, I don’t think we should tell him anything. He’s not really important enough, is he?”

“Well, maybe we could tell him a little, Treg. You know, just the bare outlines, so to speak.”

“But, you know what he’s like, Alli. Can’t be trusted to keep his mouth shut. If we tell him, goodness knows who he’ll tell. An important thing like this shouldn’t be broadcast all over the place. First it’ll be the sheep, then ..

“..then, the squirrels, then, goodness knows who. You’re right, Treg. Perhaps we ought to keep it to ourselves, after all.”

“Oh come on, you lot. Be sports. I tell you everything I know, don’t I?”

“Yeah, but that doesn’t take long, Wick, does it?”

look, Treg. If I promise never (well almost never) to bite your knees again, will you tell me then?”

“Really, Wick. I don’t know what you are making so much fuss over. After all, it’s only a p…..”

“Quiet, Treg, you almost told him then. I think we should just change the subject and walk away. Some things are for our ears only, don’t you think?”

“Like in the Watch, you mean, Alli? I see. We might be endangering national security or something?”

“Well, Ninefields security, anyway. Tell you what, Wicky, Treg and I will go away and have a private conference about some important matters and then we’ll come back and inform you of our decision. How’s that?”

Fetlocking load of pompous old gi…. Oh, what’s that, Alli? Oh, right. Thanks very much. So I’ll await your verdict then!”

 

………

 

“How lung’s it been now, Treg? Can’t help laughing. Look at his poor old face. Right put him in his place, this has. Shall we go back and put him out of his misery?”

“How about we wait a week or two and see how much he meant about not biting my knees, first? Oh, all right. Joke over, lets go and tell him.”

“Wick. It’s a load of rubbish!”

“It’s what, laddie. What’s a load of rubbish?”

“That Parish Day. It’s about tidying up the place. Picking up a load of rubbish. Cutting down the weeds and so on.”

“And that’s it? That’s what you both were making such a fuss about? And you were teasing me, just when I had something for you, as well, Treg.”

“Some thing for me? Really, Wick? And what is i.. OW! Wick, you promised!”

“You’ll get worse than that, laddie, if you tease me like that again!”

 

The evening skyMonday 14th June 2004

I know there was a time when I looked all weak and puny. People would look at me and think, ‘poor thing, all skin and bone, just look at her ribs sticking out!’. But those days are far behind me now. I have ‘put on condition’, as they say and am now a fine figure of a girl. Now when people look at me, they think what a fine, robust specimen I am but, unfortunately, this can lead to problems as well. They never look and think ‘oh, what a sensitive creature, I had better be careful not to frighten her’. Oh no! I’ll give you an example of what happened to me, only yesterday. THEY were here in the evening to give us our buckets, as usual. I had gone over to the bridle path gates with HER and then returned to HIM, for the rest of my treats. Treg had gone over to HER, sitting by the stream, as she does and Wicky still had his grubby little head stuck in his bucket. All a normal evening, really. Then, after only a couple of carrots, HE decided to put something away on the tack room shelf and, in doing so, knocked the lid of the tin that HE keeps the robin’s oats in. Well, you can imagine what happened when there was suddenly a very load ‘clang’, right under my feet. I jumped at least a metre into the air and backwards, all in one go. Don’t be at all fooled by my looks, I am a very sensitive person. Mind you, it was loud. So loud, in fact, that it made Wicky lift his head out of his bucket, if you can believe that! It was so loud that even SHE heard it from down by the stream. But, do you know what? SHE had the cheek just to laugh at me and call me silly. I tell you, it quite unnerved me and I had to snatch at the remainder of my carrots and mints.

HE picked up the buckets, after cramming a handful of apple biscuits into Wicky’s drooling mouth, wiped his fingers on some hay and proceeded to march down to the stream to wash them (both the buckets and his fingers). I had regained my composure a little by this time, so I started out to follow HIM. Usually, SHE is still sitting with Treg and I can get a further sugar lump or bit of apple, after I have pushed Treg out of the way (well, it is my right, someone’s got to be in charge). However, as I headed in that direction I noticed that SHE wasn’t there. It may have been that I was distracted by this unusual occurrence or it may have been the residue of my previous shock but, just as I got near to Treg and the stream, I saw a huge tree branch start to come crashing down to kill me! Naturally, with such finely tuned instincts as mine, I whirled an run for safety, regardless of who or what may have been in the way. I gained the customary 20 metres safety margin and turned to face the threat, nostrils flaring, eyes wide open and hooves poised for further flight. And, do you know what? It was HER! SHE had picked up a branch that the hedge cutters had left laying by the stream and was waving it to throw it over the hedge. And when SHE saw me run, did she come and calm me and apologise for being so insensitive?

You’re right. SHE laughed! I can’t see the point of being a princess, if people won’t take you seriously. One day THEY ’ll be sorry!

 

NEFOD is today!Tuesday 15th June 2004

Today is NEFOD. It’s come round again. And yet, there doesn’t seem to be much celebrating. Come to that, there doesn’t seem to be as many foxgloves as there were last year. I asked Treg what we should do. ‘About what?’, he said looking even more blank than usual. ‘About NEFOD’, I told him. ‘Oh, that’, he mumbled and he wandered away. Later on, I found Wicked in the field and I called him over for a bit of a chat. When I brought up the subject of NEFOD, he just snorted and said that he didn’t see why he should have to do anything about it, it was Treggy’s idea in the first place. He said no one else in the other fields were doing anything, in fact, no one else in the other fields had even heard of it. And if they hadn’t, why should he bother. Reluctantly, I had to agree with him, although it does seem a pity somehow to just let it die out like this. I know it was not earth shattering but it was just our little idea. If we don’t take any notice then that’s it. I wonder even if we will all be here next year to celebrate it? Some days it does seem as if life is just an awful lot of trouble.

On a brighter note, the swallows are definitely back. After the disaster that occurred last year when the whole nest and occupants were destroyed, we all wondered if they would ever nest in our field shelter again. Then, earlier in the year, they turned up and our hopes were raised and then they disappeared again. But not, they have definitely started building the nest again. The pair are flying in and out all day with beakfuls of mud and, really quite quickly, considering what tiny beaks they have, the nest is taking shape again. This is not the last year’s nest that was destroyed, but another one that was half started and never completed, last year. They are quite happy all day flying in and out but, as yet, they are not used to coming in when we are all there eating either in the morning or evening. They keep making passes at the entrance and then veer off at the last minute. They are happier if it is just us horses but as soon as they see humans there they become very wary. It’s funny because THEY would never hurt them, quite the opposite, THEY are delighted when the swallows turn up. And THEY were the ones most upset at the killing of the nest, last year. There have been several theories about that, the main suspects being the local wandering cat or the buzzard. But now THEY have come up with a new theory. Apparently they read in a book, about a shepherd on the north coast of Devon , how he was angry at magpies for destroying the swallows and their nest on his farm. Now, we have several visiting magpies so they have now become prime suspects. Whoever it was, we all hope that this nest, which is being built deeper in the field shelter, will survive and the fledglings prosper. They are beautiful and graceful birds and, what’s more, they eat flies on the wing!

 

Belstone poniesWednesday 16th June 2004

I was very jumpy today. I don’t know what it is, maybe the heat which is now only bearable at night or maybe the constant irritation of the flies. We all have to walk about swishing our tails and nodding our heads all the time with the addition of foot stamping when it all gets too much. I say ‘all’ but, to be fair, Wicky is not bothered by flies in his eyes as much as Treg and I. The reason is his very abundant mane which completely covers his face. The fly who could find its way past all that lot would be a very clever fly indeed. There are disadvantages as well. His mane may be a really good cover but it is also very warm to have to wear all the time. Maybe its not so hot down there where he is because he rarely complains. Thinking about it, Wicky is not a moaner about anything. Really, he is a very even tempered little chap. It’s not so much that he doesn’t react to being annoyed, more like it all floats past him without touching him in any way. He seems to be only motivated by one thing, food, but after that life just sails happily by. I know he sometimes can be found apparently arguing or getting irritated with Treggy but really that is just part of his mischievous nature. He just enjoys winding poor old Treg up. Actually, he has a grand sense of humour, rather dry, but always there, under the surface. And, he is no respecter of persons. He often winds me up too and when I lunge at him to give him a nip, he just moves slightly out of range and laughs at me u nder his breath. I cant stay angry at him for very long. Really, I think we all get along very well, considering our very different backgrounds. Coming back to what I started saying, first of all, I’ve never noticed Treg getting jumpy like I do. He will move hastily out of my way and always stays in the background to find what he is required to do. I have seen him storm off if the thought ever gets to him that something unpleasant (like wormers) is going to happens. Then, he is just like a military tank – nothing will stop him. But, he just doesn’t get jumpy. Maybe it’s because he lets others do the worrying for him. I am always on my guard and alert for the slightest danger. I expect Treg knows that and doesn’t see the point of him being jumpy too. He will run if I run. Now Wicky is somewhere in between us two. When I was startled this evening, while HE was giving me my carrot treats, Wicky did jump too. However, not enough  to make his nose come above the top of his bucket. But, I did see his little feet move. Now HE is really not very good at being jumpy. I know HE says it is because HE has noted the danger a long way off and is therefore not startled by it. HE used to tell me that when we were walking along the Throwleigh Road . To give HIM credit, there were lots of times when HE would lead me up a side path well before a big lorry or tractor would come hurtling past. But, in a situation where you are caught unawares, HIS reflexes are just not quick enough. In fact, if it’s running, jumping or eating, you just can’t beat a racehorse and that’s a fact!

 

The day Treg heard about GingerThursday 17th June 2004

We had some sad news for Treg, today. It’s strange after what I was saying the other day about whether we all would be here next year. THEY had an e-mail from Michele, the human where Treggy and Wick used to live before they came to Ninefields. I don’t believe I have put this in my diary but it has featured in Tregony’s biography spot, elsewhere on my web site. Tregony has always chosen someone to look after him, all through his life. It is now me, of course, but before me there was William and then, at Winkleigh, there was Ginger. Well, Michele said that unfortunately, Ginger has passed away. He had lost control of his rear legs and it was, Michele says, ‘as if his rear was drunk and he was finding it difficult to get up’. Apparently this was about a month ago now. SHE told Tregony this evening and said that he appeared to take it quite well. If fact, she said that all he replied was ‘was that another carrot in your hand?’. But it is hard to know what went on in his mind. He is a pretty quiet sort. Come to think of it, it is always hard to tell what, if anything, goes on in Treg’s mind. I am sure that if SHE were to go up to Treg and say, ‘Alli has passed on, Treg’, you would be lucky to get any other reply. Still, it is always sad when an old friend dies, not for them but for our own loss. I expect Treg had already lost Ginger, for all intents and purposes, and had got me as a replacement so, in that way, he wouldn’t feel the loss so much.

I said it happened about a month ago, so why was Michele only telling THEM now. Well, it happens that Michele knows another old timer, Charlie, who is twenty nine years old and is looking for a new home. The trouble with Charlie is that he has no one to play with him any more. Since he retired from active duty when the riding school closed, he has missed the work and just being around humans that he had got so used to. Apparently he was a very popular ride and he has taught hundreds of children how to ride. He loves being fussed over, being groomed and just cuddled and now he is finding life a bit boring. Michele initially contacted HER about Charlie and, on my instructions, SHE has put an advert up on my web site, in an effort to find a new home. It was when Michele, mailed to say thanks for the advert that she also mentioned about Ginger. I’ll tell you what else she said. When THEY looked at the photos of Charlie, they thought that they must have been taken in winter, as he appeared to still have his thick winter coat. When Michele saw the photos up on the web, she said that ‘he looks as if he has terrible Cushing’s (disease)’ which is something that comes with old age and makes the coat tight and curly. The reason I mention this is that, compared with Wicky, Charlie’s coat looks as if it has been clipped. Now, if you want to see a coat that is hard and curly and turns into a sort of armour plated shell when it dries after getting wet, you need go no further that dear old Wick. He has a coat that takes at least six weeks to shed in the spring and which puts half of the sheep we share our field with to shame. Anyway, if, after looking at Charlie’s photos you are at all concerned, Michele assures us that ‘he has the most beautiful flat shiny summer coat’.

 

I waved my leg at WickyFriday 18th June 2004

THEY had a visit from Ann today. Ann is another volunteer for the SWEP equine charity and she came to see them to sort out some computing and Internet issues. Of course, when they had finished their work, Ann was brought over to see us. Not, I might add, because SHE wanted to show off what wonderful creatures we are but, to quote her ‘to see MY three rescues’. Cheek! We might have let it go at that but, to make things worse, THEY brought her along within an hour of bucket time – too far off for us to be down the hill ready and waiting but too close to time to make it worth going back up when THEY had gone. There was also one other problem. This morning, as THEY were going, THEY decided that as the weather had turned cooler, with less flies around, they would not let us follow them up to the Throwleigh Road field, as THEY have for the last couple of days .Fair enough. But it does mean that I have to stand on those sharp old stones on the stream bed to get my final treats over the gate. This always makes me a teeny bit grumpy and to add to my ill feeling, Wicked decided to push down to the gate, as well, after he had had his drink. I wasn’t happy but did let him have some of my treats before HE went away. Then Wicky has the cheek to call me ‘greedy old Alli’ and pull faces at me (at least, I think he pulled faces at me, it’s hard to tell with Wicky, because he always looks like that). Well, whether he did or whether he didn’t, I was grumpy and that was the last straw. I turned my back on him and waved my leg in the air as if to kick him. Now, I remember mentioning this just recently. Wicky is not one to wait to be kicked. However, he was caught in a corner with me in front of him and the gate behind him. So, what did he do? He jumps into the deep part of the stream and clambers up the bank on the other side of the stream, into the Throwleigh Road field. THEY were watching this going on and, as I said, we were barred from that field and Wicked was in it. I could see it coming. Guess who got in trouble? Was it Wicky who was in the wrong field or innocent me, who had just waved a leg a little bit? HE stormed down and told me to get BACK and tried to make Wicky go back through the gate. But Wick was not going to come back where I was standing so, to cat a long story short, THEY left the gate open and we had the run of the field after all.

So, when THEY brought Ann so visit us and we came down the hill, we all lined up on the other side of the stream and just stood and watched them. I wasn’t going to get in the wrong twice in one day and the others followed my lead. Eventually, HE had to coax us up into that field, a virtual admission that HE was wrong this morning. Being a benevolent soul, I let it go at that.

 

Where's that sugar?Saturday 19th June 2004

“Did you hear that there’s a summer ball at Sticklepath tonight, Treg?”

“Er, what. What’s that, Wick?”

“There’s a summer ball at Sticklepath tonight. Did I wake you up or something?”

“Slow down, please, Wick. One question at a time. I was having a little snooze, just then so I didn’t quite catch what you were asking. Hold on a minute, let me think.”

“You did say a minute, didn’t you Treg. It usually takes you a little longer than that.”
”There you go again. That’s the.. er.. fourt. .no. .the, er, third question already. Now you’ve gone and put me off. No, I didn’t know that they were doing sums in Sticklepath. What do they want to do that for?”

“They are not doing sums, you old duffer. Listen, will you. I said that they were having a summe    oh! I see what you thought. No, Treg. It’s not about summing things it’s the season, you know spring, summer, winter, you know.”

“Then why didn’t you say it with capitals. You should have used a big S if it’s that kind of Summer!”

“Hold on Treg. If I say it, how do you know if it’s a big S or a little s?”

“I’m not as silly as you think I am. Wick. There are some things that us Cornish cobs just know. And that’s that.”
”Hmm! I think I’ll have to have a word with Alli, about that.”

“Just take my word for it, Wick. I’m a pretty smart chap, when you get to know me. Now, tell me what they are going to do with this ball. Is it a tennis ball or a football or what sort of ball do they play with in the Summer (with a big S)?”

“They don’t play with it, they dance it Treg. See, you’re not as smart as you thought.”

“Well, I think that they will look pretty silly, dancing around with a ball. But then, they are in Sticklepath, after all.”

“The word ‘ball’ has a variety of meanings, laddie and one of them means a dance. A ball is a dance and they are doing it in Summer, so it is called a Summer Ball. Do you understand now, my old mate?”

“Course I do, Wick. I knew about it all along. I was just teasing you. I remember when we used to have Summer Balls back along in Cornwall . They used to clear the whole stable out and everyone would go and get dressed up and then they would go out and start looking for it. I expect someone must have hidden it although I never did know why. There they were prancing about with a lot of music. Don’t think they ever found it but they didn’t seem to mind.”

“Tregony. I’m going to ask you a question. When I do, think very carefully and then just answer yes or no. They didn’t call it a Hunt Ball, by any chance?”

 

Look carefully, you'll just see the bunnySunday 20th June 2004

Tregony and Wicked have been arguing all night and they have given me a real headache. In the end I walked as far away from them as possible. They get like that sometimes. I think it’s Wicky’s fault. He won’t let things alone. Poor old Treg tries to understand him and when he gets mixed up, he goes all stubborn and cobby. That makes Wick go for him all the more and they go on and on and on. Never really gets bad tempered just digging and digging in. They’re well suited those two. It’s probably a good thing in a way for very little is happening around here and at least it relieves the boredom. The young are starting to appear now. Young robins demanding feeding by their tired parents, young rabbits hopping about the fields being shouted at by their mothers to come in before the buzzard gets them. I’ve not seen anything of those swallows that were nest building in the field shelter. One day they are there and working furiously and the next there is no sign of them. It happened coincidentally with the threat of the bad weather that we’ve been promised. I don’t know if that has put them off or maybe it’s the sight of Wicky with his head in his bucket. The sight or the noise!

No sign of the deer lately, come to think of it, nor the fox. Maybe they are just lying low somewhere else? Not much else to report today. HE told me that there was a Real Ale Festival in Sticklepath, whatever that is. I know something. I wont tell Wicky and Treg about it or I’ll have another night’ peace ruined.

 

 

 

Now what's over there?Monday 21st June 2004

The temperature has gone right down, the winds have got up and it has rained buckets today. For weeks, THEY have been going around moaning that we needed rain, that the fields and the streams were too dry and the grass was not growing. Well, now THEY should be satisfied. I’m not one for wind and rain myself but Wicky went running out in it like a kid. He could hardly wait for the ground to get a bit soggy before he just had to roll and cover his coat in a layer of mud. Treg is neither one way nor the other about it. He doesn’t mind standing in the rain although I have seen him put his head right down at an angle and walk crabwise against the rain in a wind. For an old rheumatic he really looks quite graceful. The trouble is, however, that the ground is so dry that the rain is not making a bit of difference yet to the stream level. The ground is just soaking it up and it is not getting to permeate through to the underground streams which are needed to swell our streams and rivers. Never mind. If it carries on like it has today for a week or more then we will start to see an improvement. You can almost hear the grass give a gasp of pleasure as it starts to drink up the rain. That will only take a couple of days before we see results there. The roots are warm and with rain they will start pushing up all those lovely green leaves for us to eat.

One casualty today has been the local Open Gardens Day. The gardens themselves will be only too grateful for the rain but the humans who go around all the gardens to admire the flowers and plants, often walking several miles in the process, won’t have had a very pleasant time of it. It’s done to raise funds for the village hall so I expect that they are hoping that the rain didn’t make too big a dent in their visitor figures. I’ve had a word with Wick and Treg about how they’d feel if we opened up Ninefields to visitors and maybe have a field shelter fund or something. Treg couldn’t quite grasp the concept and kept saying something about ‘getting out and getting lost’ if we opened Ninefields up. Wicky was dead against the idea. He was sure that if we opened Ninefields up then there would be hordes of animals swooping on his grass and eating it all up. It was bad enough with all those sheep we had to share with, he said, but this is just silly. So, like most good ideas, this one will never get off the ground. Still, it will be nice if the rain stays around for a while as long as the wind drops.

 

The bridle path in SummerTuesday 22nd June 2004

What with all the running about between showers, I’ve had a bit of an accident today. You see, when the rain is really heavy I need to get under cover pretty quickly for I only have a very thin coat. Not like Wicky who was bred for the Shetland Islands where the rain and wind is a common thing and you develop a very good covering to repel it. Anyway, being a racehorse it doesn’t take me long to get back to the field shelter or under a tree, whichever is nearest. The only thing is that Ninefields on Dartmoor is rather different from a racetrack. You don’t often get great big lumps of granite sticking out of a racetrack, do you? So, in one of my dashes for cover, my shoe (which was lose anyway) hit a lump of rock and went flying off. As I said, it was lose, so it didn’t hurt or anything. It’s just that it makes walking about rather uneven now. You know, one, two, three, pad…one two three, pad… and so on. I expect, after a while, my foot will get sore, as well. With the dry weather that we’ve had until yesterday, the ground is very hard and that, together with the aforementioned rocks, will take their toll on my unprotected foot. I know that shoes of iron are not natural but then, thoroughbreds are not ‘natural’ in that sense either. We have been bred for running very fast on soft grass and (although I wouldn’t admit a fault to the others) our feet are notoriously bad. It is a fact that the farrier and the vets are surprised that my feet are as good as they are. They always qualify any praise with the phrase ‘for a thoroughbred’.

I can’t say for sure, but I have an idea that it is a goodly while yet before the farrier is due. But, THEY haven’t bothered to call him in for Tregony, who lost his shoe a while back, so maybe it’s not as long as I fear. I suppose I’ll just have to get used to it. What will be worse will be the moaning and going on about it, when THEY find out that I’ve lost it. It’s as if it’s my fault. Sometimes humans can be so insensitive.

 

 

 

Wednesday 23rd June 2004

HE told me that we were lucky to get any supper, this evening. Apparently there were two things behind this very silly statement. Firstly THEY had run out of sugar cubes. Now to those of you who live in a town or city, this may appear to be a very trivial excuse but, here in the country, there are not very many places where sugar cubes can be obtained. If you go into the local village store or even travel half way to the nearest town and visit the open all hours convenience shop, you will find that sugar only comes in those little tiny crystal fragments rather like the sand on the bed of our stream. I have tried it like that before when SHE has Now, listen to me!tried to give me the stuff that has dropped to the bottom of her sugar bag. Ugh! It made me start to spit it all out because it was all gritty and nasty. Anyway, HE knows that I hate it so there was nothing for it but to travel into town and visit the supermarket to renew our stocks.

Then, when HE came home, HE had received a delivery of some special floor paint that HE had ordered so HE had to get down on HIS hands and knees to scrub the floor in the utility room to prepare it for painting. Then THEY couldn’t walk on it until it was dry so as not to make it dirty again before it was covered and then, of course, he painted, so it couldn’t be walked on again until the paint was dry. So what, you might ask. Well, the utility room is where the carrots are stored and where our buckets get their final helping of vegetables added before THEY come to feed us. HE told me (and I hope HE was joking) that it was touch and go whether the floor was dry enough for HIM to be able to get to our buckets and therefore we nearly had to go without our supper. I think HE was just getting HIS own back for this morning. When they arrived, old Treg was having one of his late lay ins and although he was awake enough to take his carrot treat from HIS hand, Treg still didn’t bother to get up for his breakfast bucket. This is where SHE usually takes over and this morning was no exception. SHE tried her usual trick of coaxing Treg to stand up but he just looked at her with a sort of curious look and just stayed where he was. Next SHE tries shouting and waving HER arms about but old Treg just asked politely where it hurt and then turned back to his innermost thoughts. Finally SHE was forced to use brute force. SHE looked around for a whip or stick or some other goad and came up with this ten inch length of straw. And do you know what? Old Treg took one look at this fearsome weapon and he leapt to his feet. Do you remember that old horse who was so crippled that he could hardly walk? Well, next time remember that the trick is to wave straw at him. He rushed up to his food and Wick and I had to endure his grumbles all day about how a fellow can’t have a little lie down in peace, these days!

 

 

 

Outshining my sisterThursday 24th June 2004

“Wicky?”

“Aye Treg, my auld deary. What can I do for you know?”

“It’s more what I can do for you, Wick. I was about to entertain you with one of my rememberings about the old days.”

“I think I can remember yesterday quite well for myself, thank you Treg.”

“No, the really, really old days Wick. About when I was a youngster, back in Cornwall .”

“Wow, Treg. A tale of the Neolithic age. This should be really interesting. Where shall we go so we won’t be interrupted?”

“Oh, over under that back scratching tree would be good, don’t you think?”

“Right, let’s go. Tell me. What made you rem ember this, er, story? Is it a real story or a made up one or what?”

“I think it is a real made up one Wick. It is about the ancient horses that used to roam the moors and fields in Cornwall a long time before the humans came.”

“What were they called, Treg?”

“Oh, all kinds of things – Daisy, Jimmy, Flame, Honey, you know, all those horsy names.”

“I meant, oh well, never mind. So, get on with the story then. Where does it start?”

“Oh, at the beginning, of course. You see, it was sort of handed down from mare to foal over loads and loads of generations and they always told their foals to start at the beginning so they didn’t get mixed up.”

“Treg. Let’s try –‘Once upon a time’.”

“Oh, you’ve heard it. Why didn’t you tell me, making me waste all my time like this? And who told you? You’re not from Cornwall , at all, are you?”

“I’ll tell you what, Treg. Let’s go back to the beginning again, shall we. You know. When you shuffle over to me and say ‘Wicky?’ and I answer ‘Yes?’.”

“But that was a long time ago, Wick. I’m afraid my memory is not what it was any more. I probably wouldn’t remember what it was that you wanted to tell me.”

“But it was you that wanted to tell me something. You were going to tell me a story.”

“Was I? How nice of me. What was it about?”

“Treg. I tell you what. How about you run under this old tree and scratch your back a few times. That would be nice, wouldn’t it?”

“Was that what it was about? That sounds really interesting. Mind you. Now you come to mention it, you’ve reminded me of a very old story that I wanted to tell you. It’s one that I remember from when I was a little foal in Cornwall .”

“Tell you what, Treg. Let’s save that for another time, OK?”

 

Follow my leaderFriday 25th June 2004

“You’re limping about, a lot, Alli”.
“You noticed, did you, Treg. It’s called lameness, you know, like your brain.”
”There’s no need to be nasty, Al, I was just going to sympathise with you. What is it, stone in your hoof?”

“No, no in my hoof. Just walking about on this stony ground with my shoe missing. It’s made my whole foot and leg sore.”

“Funny, I lost my shoe about two weeks ago and yet I’m not lame.”

“Well, I don’t want to push the obvious, Treg, but I am a thoroughbred, you know.”

“Oh, aren’t they as good as regular horses then, Alli? I didn’t want to make you feel inferior.”

“Me, inferior? Treg, you don’t know what you are saying. We thoroughbreds are the cream, the peak of perfection, the acme of equine design, superior to all other pale imitations.”

“Yeah, I’m not so keen on them pale ones, either, Alli, but don’t say anything to Wick. Don’t want to hurt his feeling, do we?”

“Tregony, when I say ….. Oh well, what’s the use? Let’s talk about something else. What do you think about this rainy weather, then, Treg?”

“No, I don’t, Alli.”

“What do you mean ‘No I don’t Alli’? That’s not an answer.”

“You asked a question and then I said, well, you know, what I said. So it must be an answer, mustn’t it? Or do you think it was a reply?”

“You know, Tregony Bay . It’s getting harder and harder to talk to you, lately.”

“I thought you wanted to change the subject, Alli.”

“What’s that got to do with it? We have changed the subject.”

“No, I mean about how you are finding it too hard to talk to me. You really shouldn’t feel so inferior, Alli. You’re just as good as me. You might even be as clever as well, with a little Human Watch training. If you was to join the force with me, we’d soon lick you into shape. Although, looking at your feet, I’m not sure that they’d have you. Won’t do to have lame hossifers, will it?”

 

Wild honeysuckleSaturday 26th June 2004

Well, I was still lame when THEY came with breakfast, this morning. SHE felt my leg all over and seemed to think that it was either footsoreness, where I had lost the shoe on that foot, or that I had slipped in the wet grass, when I was playing about. Humans are really funny. Always ready to think the worst of you. I’d like to see them walk about with one shoe missing for nearly a week and see if they would like to be accused of playing about? ‘Horsing about’ they call it. I believe. Anyway, SHE didn’t seem too worried about it and then, about an hour later, I found out why. Our farrier came to fit me and Treg up with new sets of shoes and to give Wicky a trim.

For a change, Mark took Wicky first. While he was being trimmed, Treg tried to hide under his favourite tree. Or, at least, it looked that way. Actually, Treg loves to run under it, as it is very low lying and he loves to scratch his back with the branches. Another thing. Treg is very fond of tree leaves. If you walk around our fields, especially the Throwleigh Road field next to the bridle path, you will notice that all the trees grow more leaves on the side away from our field than the side facing it. This is because Treg regularly does a bit of pruning on our side. His ‘gardening task’ he calls it but Wick and I just think he has some morbid eating habits.

After Wick was finished, it was my turn. For a while SHE held me and I had to be good. But then my luck changed and HE took over. Now, HE always says, at first, that HE has no treats. He waves his hands pathetically in the air and says ‘all gone, Alli’. IT usually takes me about three minutes of gentle nudging to get HIS hands to fall into HIS pockets and produce a polo/biscuit/carrot or whatever. So while Mark did his work, I got started with mine and so my shoeing passed quite pleasantly. I did feel a lot better afterwards, as well. Still sore but on the mend. When I was finished, SHE took the opportunity to take me for a walk down the bridle path, while Treg had his feet seen to. I’ve not been along there for a goodly while and the idea was that I could have a little graze and a look round, at the same time. Well, I’d only got a few metres down the path when Wicky, who was left in the field with HIM and Treg, started to make the most fearful noise. He had seen me being led away and for some reason, he had got worried. This carried on for quite some time and I felt obliged to Call back to reassure him. I will admit I got a bit worried when we passed the end of our fields and I wasn’t too sad to get back. Treg was still being shod and she took off my head collar and let me free. I came over to HIM to see if I could bully him into a few more treats and when I looked up, Wicky had vanished! I’ll be honest, I panicked. I caught a glimpse of HER leading Wick away and I thought ‘Oh no, the time has come. That’s the end of Wick’. For some strange reason, I felt really caring about him and rushed up to the wall to see him pass down the bridle path. I ran back to HIM to tell him but HE didn’t seem at all concerned. I yelled at the top of my voice and Wicky answered and I ran to the wall again. I just didn’t know what to do. I ran back and this time told Mark but he only commented that my lameness seemed to have gone and HE agreed. I ran about and shouted and finally SHE brought him back. As Wicky entered the gate, I rushed up to him to let him know that I was there. Treg, who had just finished being shod, looked up at Wicky and said “Any nice leaves on that side, Wick?” I think sometimes it’s best to be completely devoid of brains!

 

Being kept awake all nightSunday 27th June 2004

Doesn’t the time fly? It seems as if it was only a little while ago when we were all looking forward to Springtime. Now it’s nearly the end of June. It won’t be long before I have to come in again at nights and me and HIM start our walks up and down the Throwleigh Road again. I miss those walks and I think HE does too. I know HE gets short of breath and all that but we do have enough breaks to allow HIM to recover. And I know that we both enjoy our little chats, as we walk along. I expect it’s standing in the field shelter when the rain comes down heavy that reminded me of standing in my stable down Ramsley Lane . Actually it’s quite a nice stable and I have a good view of all the people passing by. If only it were a bit bigger, Treg and Wicky could come and join me but I don’t suppose that they would want to. Particularly Wicky. If ever there was an outdoor equine it’s him. The thing is there’s not a lot to do at night, in the winter. The grass is hardly worth nibbling, even if it’s not frozen and the nights are so dark that it’s not worth going far anyway.

I must get these thoughts of winter out of my head. I suppose it’s also because that after the 21st, the nights start getting shorter again. Funny that. We are only just starting on Summer (I nearly put a small S) and yet the world is turning again. I’m looking forward to seeing the human grandchildren again. It’s a long while since we’ve seen them this time. I wonder if they have changed much? I can remember when they used to ride on us in Ninefields and they even gave us a bath, one year. They get to ride me up and down from Ramsley to Ninefields, each taking turns in the Winter but they just come along and visit at bucket time in the Summer.

I’m doing it again. Reminiscing. Must be my age or something. Right, what’s happening now? What can I tell you interesting about today? Well, for a start, there is the mystery of the magpies. All during the Winter and Spring, there were two magpies came, as regular as clockwork, to swoop down and eat up the oats that HE throws down. They were always a bit wary, flying down and perching in the tree and having a good look around before they came down. But they always came. And now we haven’t seen them for ages. I can’t say when they stopped coming because something else always takes your attention so you don’t notice that they are not there.

 

I wonder what it tastes like?Monday 28th June 2004

“Don’t see you doing much for the Human Watch force recently, Treg. You’re not still undercover or something, are you?”

Shh, Wick. Never know who’s listening. Wait a minute, let me just hobserve the area. Hmm. Looks alright. You see, I’m in real deep, this time.”

“Real deep? Real deep what? Not real deep doo doo, by any chance?”

“I don’t think so Wick. Or, then again, could be. I’ve not looked lately. No. What I mean is that I am so under cover that even I don’t know where I am.”

“That’s nothing new, though, is it Treg?”

“No. I agree there, Wick. But this time, it’s hofficial.”

“So. How did this come about then, Treg?”

“Well, you see. I was at a force hindquarters meeting a week or so ago. An d we were discu….”

“Wait a minute, Treg. Don’t you mean a ‘headqu arters’ meeting?”

“Well, it was like that, Wick, only we went in the back door.”

“I should have guessed. Well, go on. So what was discussed at this meeting?”

“They was saying as how the amount of human snaffling was on the hincrease and that the force needed to adopt some strong counter measures to combat it.”

“But you can’t count Treg. No good asking you to assist there, was there?”

“I know, Wick. That’s exactly what I thought. So I spoke up and said that what we needed to do was get one of those calcucumbers to do the counting for us.”

“And what did they think of that idea, Treg. Impressed, I expect.”

“Well, I think so, Wick. There was a deep silence which I took to mean that they were giving it some serious thought. It was then that they suggested that I should maybe go deep undercover. I forget the exact words but I took their meaning right away.”

“And what have you uncovered so far, Treg. Are you on the tracks of any human snafflers or nappers or anything?”

“Wait on, Wick. Let me look around again. Can’t be too careful. Right, that looks OK. Coast’s clear. NO.”

“No?. You mean you’ve been ‘in deep’ as you call it for over a week and you’ve discovered nothing?”

“Good, init? Must be doing something right, mustn’t I?”

“Oh, I see. You going deep underground has stopped all the human snaffling activity? A sort of underground deterrent?”

“Well, nothing to do with washing, Wick, but otherwise… You know what, Wick. You’re so bright, you could be heligible to join the force. D’you want me to put in a word?”

“Er, maybe not, Treg. But, thank you anyway!”

 

Here we go againTuesday 29th June 2004

I really  must have a word with HIM about my diary. I’ve been having complaints feeding back to me that HE’s getting worse, not better, in typing my stuff up. Some of my latest equi-mails have told me that it’s over a week now between publishing the next lot of day’s events. I don’t know what HE gets up to when HE leaves here. THEY come at 7.30 a.m. and then have the whole of the day free until 5.45 p.m. I make that over ten hours that HE’s got to type up what I tell HIM each day. Even the dumbest two finger typist can cope with 500 words in twenty five minutes or so. That leaves HIM nine hours and thirty five minutes to do what HE likes with. And HE can’t even manage that! I know what HE thinks. Just because HE keeps me locked up here at Ninefields with very little chance to speak to any other humans, HE thinks that I have no other choice. Well, HE’s got another think coming. No one is indispensable. There is such a thing as the equiweb. I can soon put the word out on that. Mind you, that’s possibly why THEY try to keep us out of the Throwleigh Road field, to stop us chatting with the passing horses and ponies. But that’s just where THEY go wrong because THEY forget that our other fields run next to the bridle path and most of the passing horses go up there anyway. If I wanted I have the choice of at least a dozen equines a day passing by that I could ask to find me another clerical assistant. They’ve all got human servants and probably quite a lot of them can type. At least, as good as HE can. I’ll give HIM one last chance. Next time HE comes up, I think a severe reprimand is in order. He won’t have a leg to stand on (he only starts out with two to start with) and no doubt HE will promise to do better in future. It’s not for me, you understand. I intensely dislike having to be harsh (you ask Wicky) but I do have my fans to consider. It’s really not fair on them. They go to my web site, day after day, just dying for news of the exciting happenings at Ninefields and to hear my latest brilliant thoughts. And, what do they get? Last month’s news! And all because HE’s off enjoying HIMSELF somewhere instead of doing what HE is employed to do. If only we were back in France . Then HE’d soon find out which side his pain was beurred!

 

What lurks down here in the undergroth?Wednesday 30th June 2004

“Alli, come over here a minute, lassie. I’ve got a cunning plan.”

“What’s that, Wicky? It must be something to do with food, I expect. O.K. What is it?”

“Well, have you noticed how, when THEY bring our buckets in the morning, THEY usually keep us out of the Throwleigh Road field, when THEY go away?”

“Yes, I certainly have, Wick. For some reason THEY don’t want us going in there, lately. It looks as if THEY don’t want us getting at that nice green grass that has appeared since the rain came back.”

“Ay. That’s right, lassie. Well, I’ve been watching HER, when SHE comes down the field to the stream.”

“I’m surprised that you’ve been able to see HER. You’re always running up the hill, after HIM, to the field shelter to get your bucket first.”

“I’m pretty good at doing both, lassie. You’re always so busy pretending to look the other way, as if you could take your bucket or leave it, to see what I do.”

“I just like to give all you slow eaters a start, that’s all. So! What have you observed, out of the back of your hairy old head?”

“Well you see, lass. Sometimes SHE hooks the gate back up behind her but not always. Often she just walks around where HE has left it and SHE leaves a gap past the post, up into the field.”

“So, what’s your plan Wick? Do we all just make one great big dash for it, after we’ve emptied our buckets? I can’t see much sense in that. We’d miss out on all our after breakfast treats.”

“No, no girl. We don’t have to be as obvious as that. With my plan, we can have all our usual treats and get up into that nice grassy field as well.”

“So come on, clever shoes .. oh, sorry, .. hooves. What’s this plan?”

“We use a secret weapon.”

“A secret weapon.? What secret weapon?”

“It’s right behind you, Alli. Look! There.”

“I can’t see anything. Only the field shelter and Tregony.”

“That’s it, lassie. That’s it. Or rather, that’s him.”

“Him? Treg? A secret weapon?”

“Right, Alli. Whoever would suspect, eh? Let’s call him over. Hey, Treg. Over here.”

“What’s that, Wick. You want  me?”

“In a manner of speaking, Treg. Yes. Now listen very carefully. You are going to do a very noble act.”

“Am I? Is that good?”

“Very good, Treg. Now. When SHE comes in the morning, if SHE leaves the gate over the stream open, this is what you are going to do………”

---------------

“I was a hero, wasn’t I Wicky? A real hero.”

“Aye, laddie. Although you didn’t need to tread on my toes when you charged through that opening, did you now?”

“I thought he did rather well, Wick. SHE never suspected for a minute that old Treg would make a bolt for the gate like that.”

“And, of course, once Treg was through, SHE thought that SHE might as well let us all through. So, you have to agree, Alli. It was a very cunning plan, wasn’t it?”

“I have to agree, Wick, it was. I wonder if it will work again tomorrow?


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