Alezane's Diary Archive September 2004
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The day to day life of an ex-racehorse and her companions in Dartmoor UK and Mayenne France
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Just unboxedWednesday 1st September 2004
They did it again today. Locked us up in the Throwleigh Road field after breakfast. This time we knew what it was for though so we didn't mind too much. You see, after his sprinting adventure yesterday, on of his shoes needed attention. It wasn't off, which is rather a change. usually if we have shoe trouble we manage to lose them somewhere right up in the top fields, never to be found ever again. I'm not sure what they do, I think they must be so heavy that they just sink into the earth. No, this time old Treg had just lost a couple of nails and the shoe tended to dangle if he lifted his foot up. Mark the farrier responded quickly to their phone call and so he popped in quite early after breakfast and before long Treg was back in business and we were allowed back into the rest of our fields.
As it was still morning, we didn't want to go far from the field shelter as we like to have a bit of a snooze during the heat of the day. We were just getting comfortable when along came a chap we hadn't see for a good few months now. We heard him first and recognised the sound of his tractor. I think to humans one tractor or car sounds much like another but to us, whose very existence depends on being able to recognise approaching objects, each has its own particular sound. It may have been months since Robin had come to our field but, when I woke up enough to concentrate, I remembered that Robin and his tractor were the deliverers of our hay. In fact, it was just one day over a year ago that he delivered our main supply last year. He did have to make one more trip with a top up in the spring. he claims it was because we all ate too much but the real reason is that our hay store is not quite big enough. It would be if it were only used as that but they keep other things like grooming kits and field tools in it so we are expected to hold our tummies in and eat less hay. Rubbish!
So, our gate opened and Robin drove the tractor in but Wicky was in one of his awkward moods and wouldn't move out of his way. he came up and tried to push him but Wicky was being ‘My Naughty Pony' today. Robin even tried to gently move him along with the tractor and in the end he had to resort to waving his arms about and shouting. Wick just gave me a grin and moved slowly away just far enough to let Robin park the load outside the shelter. An hour or so later, he was red in the face, wheezing and puffing and all but 5 bales of hay were stacked. Apparently these bales were a bit bigger than last year to they didn't pile so neatly. Either that or he is just getting too old to cope. Whatever, he stacked the five spare bales against the back of the field shelter and dragged himself off up the field. At least we wont starve for a bit longer.

Preparing for the paradeThursday 2nd September 2004
“'Ere Wick, where you been?”
“What do you mean, ‘Where have I been'?”
“Well, its just that we don't seem to have had a chat like this for ages.”
“A chat like this? Is there any other kind then?”
“Oh, come on Wick, you know what I mean. I do like our little chats when you are usually so reassuring. It makes the world a whole lot more understandable for me.”
“How very nice of you to say so Treg. And very right no doubt. You always have needed someone to look up to. I know that because Michele said so the other day.”
“Its true, Wick, although I'm not sure I would have put it quite like that. More ‘ someone to be a father figure, that's how I see it. I know your legs are far too short for you to be someone to look up to. Probably even to be a father figure really, although you might just be able to get away with that.”
“Did you want to have a chat or not, laddie. Was there anything on your mind? You see I don't mind stretching a point to avoid nasty personal criticisms. I'm sure you do have a mind, at least, fairly sure.”
“Would you rather talk about food, Wick. That usually puts you in a good mood.”
“Maybe you could talk while I just eat, Treg. That would put me in an even better mood, you know.”
“OK Wick, I'll tell you my theory about those fives bales of hay that he left out in our field shelter yesterday. I think it's all a test to see if we try to eat them. And, if we do, they will start reducing the size of our bucket food …. Oh Wick, don't choke, what have I said?”
“Reduce splutter … redu..cough, cough, … don't go saying things, cough, cough, like that laddie, you could do an old gentleman a deal o' harm that way.”
“I only said it was my theory, Wick. I don't really know. I could be wrong. It's amazing how often I am wrong.”
“Not so amazing, really Treg. I mean, when you, cough, cough, oh fetlocks, that bit went down the wrong way, I was saying, when you think about it.”
“Oh, I do, Wick. I think about it all the time.”
“About what, exactly, Treg?”
“Oh, you know Wick. What you was saying just then before you started coughing.”
“I think that sometimes you just talk to hear the sound of your own voice, my man.”
“That's it, Wick. oh how clever you are. You really could be my dad if only my mum hadn't have been so tall.”
“Get out, Treg. I'll give you till I count to four …er two, let's be fair.”
“I did enjoy our little chat, Wick. See you later.”

Dartmoor torsFriday 3rd September 2004
Well, he recovered enough to put those last remaining hay bales away yesterday. At least, he put four of them away by rearranging the narrow passage in the field shelter. The fifth he took away in his jeep, so I expect he is going to store it in my tack and store room down Ramsley Lane . he has to keep hay in both places for when I spend the nights in the stable next to the house. I know I keep saying it, but it wont be long now. I wonder how he will cope with the walking up and down between my stable and Nine Fields? By the end of the winter he is usually quite fit but then, over the summer, I think he over eats. I know he doesn't get enough exercise and so He is always knocked out by the walking for the first few weeks. Of course, it's worse if the wind and rain are in his face as he makes his way up the hill. Coming home is generally no problem, unless we run into a very large lorry or bus or something. Still, that's still a few weeks away. I must enjoy my freedom while I can.
What else has been happening? Not a lot. he came along on his own again this evening so I had quite a lot of fun bullying him . What's funny is that now Treggy is joining in and he gets nudged from both sides. he has taken to bringing an extra apple, if he comes alone now. I think the idea is that it will slow us down while we all wait for Wicky to finish. The thing is that he has to cut it in two so Treggy and I can share and you know how long it takes me to eat half an apple. One bite and two chews and it's gone. Treg is just as quick because he has a hamster technique of stuffing his cheeks to bursting point to consume later at his leisure. It's funny, Wick seems to know when we are all waiting for him and he goes even slower. I know he doesn't have a great many teeth but I also know what a wind up little pony he can be. Still it passes the time before we all make our way up to the top fields for the night and he makes his way back to tell her how good we have been.

Over the fenceSaturday 4th September 2004
HE has finally got his database to work. Now, that may not be much for you and I to celebrate but it certainly has cheered him up no end. You see, ever since he has got mixed up with this SWEP thing, he has been spending more and more time trying to get his thoughts organised. he spends his time trying to help her in her efforts at raising funds for the charity. But, in order to try and get people to give money he has been finding that he needs to know more and more about the organisation so that he can answer or anticipate peoples questions. It seemed sensible to know a bit about all the horses and ponies that have been rescued so far and, after starting with a simple list, the complexities seemed to indicate that a computerised database would help a lot. Now, he used to have quite a bit to do with databases when he was at work. But that was quite a long time ago now, particularly in computing terms. The hardware and software are all different now and while, in theory, things have got a lot easier to do, it appears that it is a lot harder to unlearn old habits and methods than it might be to come to them fresh. And worse, it means ‘reading the manual'. Now, that is a dread phrase. Particularly for males, I understand. Not just to do with computing, it applies to all the gadgets and toys that come with a book of words. Men seem to think that they can just somehow figure it out. It ought to work just like the other thing that he now knows how to operate after many false starts and foul words and finally looking at the book. It is not as if he was building anything complex or difficult. Just a straightforward simple file of all the rescues with details of their history and the humans that now look after them. It appears that there were two main problems, one concerned with the amount of words needed to give a reasonable history and the other about including photographs. At one time it was so impossible that he was all for going away from ‘that stupid, mickey mouse' software and going back to something much more high powered that he used to use just before the Ark set afloat. Then, that ‘stupid, out of date' software was no good (probably because it had a bigger manual) and he was all for buying ‘a more flexible , up to date' system. Funny though, now he has looked at the book and got it working it's a ‘perfectly adequate ‘ piece of software for the job, just like he always knew it would be. And he calls Tregony stupid!

rainbowSunday 5th September 2004
I knew it wouldn't be long. The sun is shining and he has brought his camera along to Nine Fields again. We've not seen him with that thing in his eye for a while now. Strange though. he didn't take many pictures of us. While we were eating our supper he was down by the stream, not quite kneeling because that would have been a bit wet but squatting to take photos of the water from a pond skater's point of view. (In case you don't know, that's even lower than Wicky.) Then, it's off down the field to take a shot of the weeds, for goodness sake. he must be getting really desperate now, there cant be many blades of grass and other specimens that he has not pointed that thing at. I wonder if he is building his own little virtual reality Nine Fields somewhere where he can be king and make all the equines feed him and clean up after him . It's the kind of stupid thing that he might do. I've got a lot of affection for him but I do worry sometimes about his mental condition.
It's really much too hot again now. First we have a pleasant early summer and then we suffer the wettest August for ages and now, here we are with the heat and the flies back again. About the only thing we can do is snooze all day long. No wonder I've not got a lot for my diary today. I suppose I could tell you my dreams. But then, that would be telling, wouldn't it. I think I might just save that for a time when I have worked out a rational excuse for having such dreams at my age. You would think that a girl was way past all that by now. And yet….. Well, I suppose once a racehorse always a racehorse. I just can't help dreaming of winning the Grand national now, can I?

 



Monday 6th September 2004
they were very pleased today. When they opened the paper this morning, there was a great big photograph of one of the SWEP ponies with a little girl whose parents had given it a home. And their was a nice long article about the story of how the girl got the pony. he told me the story and it really is a very nice one so I will tell you as well. The pony, really not much more that a foal really, had come to SWEP because it had been involved in a road traffic accident. You see, the roads on some parts of Dartmoor are really quite busy and they do not have fences to protect the animals from the traffic. The ponies and also cattle and sheep can just roam about all over the moor, as they will. And, of course, they will. Now, the older animals have somehow learned to take some care and anyway, drivers see at the streamthem if they are just walking along in the road and most, not all I'm afraid, but most slow down and pass the animal safely. No, the trouble is that many people like to see the animals, particularly the ponies (naturally – equines are rather wonderful, aren't we?) and so they will stop and feed them. This encourages the ponies to stay near the road so that they get easy pickings (you ask Wicky). And when they have young ones this causes danger because the foals are apt to wander from their mothers and them run to catch them up. Now if they have wandered on the other side of the road, this means that they run across the road, often into the path of oncoming vehicles. Sadly, although there is a speed limit, some drivers go faster than this and are just not prepared and that's when accidents occur. Silly foals and often, but not always, silly drivers.
Where was I? Oh yes. So this little chap did just that and was lucky to not be killed. He did however receive some nasty injuries which required some very expensive surgery. Now SWEP always pays the vet bills for the animals it rescues but this being especially expensive, required some publicity to try and raise some money to pay for the operation. Now, the little girl heard about this (she is only six years old by the way) and she got together with some friends and put on some sort of event to raise money which she sent to SWEP. They were so pleased with her that they invited her to lead the pony (his name is Drummer) in the Grand Parade of Rescues that I told you about the other day. And, because she had been so good, the little girl's mum and dad decided to offer Drummer a home and only told the little girl after she had walked Drummer round in the Parade. What a nice story. And it's true. I love happy endings, don't you?



Tuesday 7th September 2004
“Buzzards! Wicky, buzzards!”
“Oh come on, Treg, what's upset you now?”
“No, wick, I'm not swearing, look! Up there, three of them today.”
Bright sky“Oh, you mean the birds. They've been doing that for a couple of weeks now Treg. Have you only just seen them?”
“Course I've seen ‘em, Wick. But this is new. They've been out following after that young one of theirs, I know. You can't not know the amount of noise they make. But I've been watching them today. There's the both parents taking junior out for some real training now. If you look, you'll see them flying round him and even bumping into him now and again, as if they are trying to get him to do things.”
“Aye, you're right laddie, I see them now. All three climbing higher and higher. They even get lost in the clouds now and then. One minute they are there, all three, and the next minute one vanishes into the cloud.”
“Yeah, they are going real high, today. I think they have taken advantage of the high winds today to give the youngster some final flying lessons before he has to make off and set up on his own.”
“Not only flying lessons, Treg. The most important thing for him to learn is how to catch his own food. See how they are swooping down, dropping like a stone, and then he is having to copy them. Then they are all climbing up together again.”
“You know, Wick. I think they really are serious about making him leave home. I was watching just now and suddenly the two parents just vanished and left him all alone. He made the devil of a noise calling out but they didn't reappear for ages. Must have given the poor lad a bit of a fright, eh Wick?”
“Mind you, Treg. We keep saying ‘he'. For all we know it might be a female.”
“Somehow a female buzzard don't seem right, Wick. You know. A bird of prey and all that. You sot of expect it to be a male.”
“Are you telling me, laddie, you don't know any savage females. You must have led a very sheltered life.”
“Well, there's Alli, Wick. She can be really savage when she tries.”
”Alli, Treg. She's a pussy cat. All that eye rolling and ears back is just for show. Even when she bites my bum, it doesn't hurt. She's very careful not to really hurt anyone. Have you seen when she waves her leg about when she threatens to kick. She is so careful that there is no one in the way. It's all just part of her way of taking on the role of lead mare. She would much rather not have to but as she is the only mare here, she doesn't have a chance, does she?”
“Yeah. Your right Wick. We really are very lucky to be here with such a sweet natured mare, aren't we?”
“Hold on there, Treg. You don't have to go overboard. I only said that she was not savage. She's like all females. She can be a real moody old so and so when she likes. At least, not when she likes, when her hormones get hold of her.”
“Oh, that's what it is, is it, Wick? I have often wondered. How about if we stopped them. You know, told them to go away and leave her alone. I bet she'd be real glad and pleased with us if we did that.”
“Er, Treg. Remind me another day to tell you about females. not today though, I've got an awful hunger just come on.”

honeysuckleWednesday 8th September 2004
he told me that he went to take photographs of the straw that they are going to use to re-thatch the old Church House. Excuse me a minute, I've just got to check up to see if I told you about that or not? Oh bother, it was over a month ago that he went along to video the farmer cutting the corn and putting it up in stooks so I cant easily check it. I think I'll just assume you don't know and I'll tell you briefly. In South Tawton , next to St. Andrew's church, there is a building which dates back to the 14 th century called the church house. It has a long history but in the middle ages (before Wicky was born) it was a village building used for brewing ale and generally having a very good community time. Later it got used as a sort of poor house, a school and stuff like that and nowadays it is a sort of village or parish hall used for small exhibitions and the like. Anyway, it needs renovating to bring it into line with modern standards (access, toilets, kitchen and so on) and it also needs re-thatching. There has been a committee working on raising money to pay for all this and they have recently been successful in getting a grant to go towards the cost. The present thatch is one of the features of the building as it has been smoke blackened from the time in the middle ages when it was only a single storey building. That is to say it was the same height as now but had no first floor or ceiling just space up to the thatch. This means that the inner thatch is very old and will contain all sorts of valuable historical data so the work will need to be carried out under the guidance of archaeologists and specialists. With the repair, it has been decided to use locally grown, long reed straw and he is involved in making a video of the process from growing the corn to the final re-thatching. See, I said I'd be brief. Well, the weather this week has been wonderful but before that, since the corn was stacked, we have had a lot of rain and everyone was worried that the straw would be spoiled. When the sun came back, the farmer took down the stooks and spread the straw out to dry in the sun. He has now gathered it up and the plan is to thresh it and store it tomorrow, as the forecast is for the rain to come back by the week end. So, back where I started. he went along today to take some still photos of the straw and machinery before the work starts tomorrow. I expect he will also take some still photos tomorrow as well as shooting it on video. Look at it this way – it keeps him out of mischief!

HarvesterThursday 9th September 2004
I was just about to tell you what he told me about his day filming in the wheat field when it suddenly occurred to me. ‘Whose diary is it, anyway?' I seem to be spending an awful lot of time recently telling you about what he and she have been getting up to. I mentioned this to Wicky who said ‘Let them write their own diaries if they want to. You just tell people about us.' Then I had a word with Tregony. He looked very serious for a moment and then looked at me and said. ‘Er, Alli. Could you just run that by me again? I aint really sure what the problem is here. I could go and ask down at headquarters if you'll just tell me again slowly and let it sink in a bit.' Now, this was rather a long speech for Treg and I am sure that, by the time he got to the end of it, he had forgotten what the start was all about. So, I just said ‘Don't worry, Treg', and went off on my own to think about it.'
You see, it is a bit of a problem in as much as the ones who read this are humans not horses and humans and horses have quite different interests. The things that Treg and Wicky and I get up to all day probably wouldn't be of much interest to the average human. Often the things that we observe or overhear are of some interest but the actual 99% of our daily lives which consists of eating with a bit of dozing thrown in wouldn't be really riveting reading for a human. Now, if you were talking to Wicky, you could devote several pages probably just to the description of a certain feed bucket, spending many adjectives on the qualities, tastes, smells and textures for the of a single carrot. Or, if you were writing for the entertainment or education (the same thing really) of Tregony, you could spend many a happy hour telling him about why the rabbits run away from him or counting five , no four, blades of grass and things like that. But humans want something rather more involved I guess. In the end, it comes down to why I write a diary in the first place. I think it has a lot to do with wanting to bridge the gap between humans and equines and to get humans to understand that we have a life of our own. Far too many humans, even the most horse and pony loving ones, do tend to think that they ‘own' an equine. It is the most natural expression of speech to them to say ‘my old Thunder' or ‘I've got three horses and a pony' etc. It's those words ‘my' and ‘got' that give the game away. You may pay money for us, you may groom us and feed us but – you haven't ‘got' us. You live beside us, with parallel lives that touch together for a time. If my telling stories of what both we and they have been up to can illustrate this fact, I will be very happy. So, just to tell you that he went along and shot some video and still photos of the threshing today. There, that was short too, wasn't it?

Feeding the wheatFriday 10th September 2004
Would you believe it. That fox was back again today. It ran across the road as they were coming along to bring our breakfast this morning. I say ran. he told me that it just casually ambled across and then stood standing on the verge on the other side. he put the jeep into reverse and they went back to where the fox was standing. she lowered her window and called out to the fox who didn't run away but just looked interested. He appeared to listen to what she was saying for a while and then, appearing bored, just turned and calmly walked away. he thinks that it must have heard today's news that the human government is going to bring back the bill to ban hunting next week
he had a word with me and we have decided to change the way we refer to him and her . Up until now, he has used capitals so that you know when I mean my humans (you see, now I'm doing it!) and other humans or non humans. First he was going to use italics but this makes the words look emphasised and that is not the intention. Bold is not so bad but still adds an unintended stress as does using a larger size. In the end, we have decided to just use a different font. The problem has been to find one which is definitely different while, at the same time not being silly or unintelligible. In a way this is going to make extra work for him because he will still type their references in the same way (as it is easier to just capitalise than to change fonts) and then, when he has typed it all up, he will just have to go back and use the find and replace facility to globally change them all. We will just have to wait and see how it works.
We were all a bit naughty this evening. It was raining when he came along with supper. I was (of course) in the field shelter staying dry, Tregony was just standing outside getting wet and only Wicky was up in the Throwleigh Road field to greet him. Rain makes very little difference to Wick, except to cheer him up a bit. Anyway, she had had one of the apples that she cuts up in our feed left over today so he brought it along as a treat for me and Treg while we are waiting for Wicky to finish eating. Well, when he offered half to Treg, the old boy just clamped his lips together, as only cobs can do, and went out of the field shelter and started eating up the corn that he had scattered for the birds. In an attempt to stop Treg eating the birds supper, he went out to offer Treg a carrot. Seizing my opportunity while his back was turned, I went and pushed Wicky off his bucket. Unfortunately he saw me and shouted loudly so I had to go away and eat the food I had dropped when I was eating my own supper. All a bit of a lark really!

MistySaturday 11th September 2004
It was coats back on again this morning. They've been listening to that weather forecaster person again, I thought to myself. And it must have been true because the morning mist rolled away and the sun came bursting through gloriously. It was a beautiful morning, so much so that I thought maybe they are using our coats like I've heard humans have a kind of umbrella called a parasol – just to keep off the sun. But, no. After a morning of feeling really hot and itchy the weather turned and we had some torrential downpours. In fact, by the time he came along with our suppers this evening, I was feeling nice and cool and in a really good mood. I met him at the gate to get my carrot treat and then let him walk on with Wicky, down the hill to the stream. Just before he got there, I put in a canter and, as I passed him, a few bucks into the bargain. Then, as I crossed the stream ahead of him, I saw old Treg just hanging about and couldn't resist running him up the hill to the field shelter. By the time he came up and put down my bucket I was in such a good mood that I didn't even mind him adjusting my coat to sit properly round my neck, where it had moved as I bucked about.
While we were having our little chat and waiting for the old boys to finish, he told me about the problems he had been having with our proposed new way of indicating when I mean he , she, him and her are referring to my humans and when they refer to others. Apparently the idea of tying them in capitals as usual and then using the edit/find/replace to change all occurrences into another type font only works fine in Word. As soon as he copies it over to Dreamweaver, he loses all formatting and everything is turned into whatever font he chooses. So, back to square one, he thinks. He just use find/replace to find all instances of the new font and change them back to all capitals. He tries it and it works. Great! Wonderful. He is back to the way he was before. He 'll just give up all ideas of changing it. BUT. Yes, there is a but. Dreamweaver takes one look at his new copy with he , she, etc. in all capitals and just changes them back to lower case again. Apparently the find/replace only works in Word but does not transfer. In the end, he (lower case) has decided it was a silly thing to do, to try and indicate them differently. We have decided (I don't have a lot of choice, as he types it just to type normally and let you, the reader, figure it out.
By the time we had finished our discussion, Tregony had wandered up the hill on his own. I didn't mind though, for it gave me a chance to have a real good fast canter up top join him. Oh, I am feeling good today!

Big wheelSunday 12th September 2004
Another day, another mood. Mrs Grumpbum he 's calling me today. Just because I snakenecked Wicky a couple of times. I don't know why he 's compalining, he got in my way both times and that little wicked squirt went and hid behind him. Anyway, we both knew it meant nothing. It was just him and Treg who took it seriously. In fact, when I lunged at Wicked and he bumped me away in the field shelter, dear old Treg went and swiftly stood out in the rain, to keep out of trouble. The other thing he took me to task about was my face. You see, we had such a lot of rain today that when I had my daily roll and lie down, I plastered my face with a mud pack. I hear that humans do it deliberately but he was not at all amused. Told me that I was a mucky old Dartmoor hill pony. I expect that is the worst thing that he could think of to call me thinking that I would be ashamed to be grouped along with the likes of Wicky. I thought it looked rather cool. It certainly felt it. But, like they say, there's no pleasing humans.
When he finished telling me of, he started to tell me about his day. ‘I went along to South …', Tawton, I said. I thought you would. ‘How did you know that?', her asked me. Well, you don't have to be much brighter than Treggy to know that. I mean, he told me that he was going, only last night. When I reminded him, he said. ‘Did I tell you I was going to take my …' Camera, I finished. And then I explained that no, he hadn't told me that he was going to take his camera and no, he hadn't told me that he was going to take still more photographs of South Tawton. But this time, even Treg could have guessed that is what he would do as they were having a Heritage weekend at Church House. He looked a little hurt that I could read him so easily and so I felt much better at him having stopped me getting a nip at Wick. If I were a sports commentator, I would have called it a one one draw. Good enough for me!

dropletsMonday 13th September 2004
”What was the matter with your eye, the other day, Wick?”
”How nice of you to ask, Alli. I think I must have got a seed in it, or something. I know it irritated me like mad.”
”They were saying maybe you got your forelock hair in it. It is very long and over your face, isn't it?”
”That's for protection, lassie. That wouldn't suddenly have gone in my eye, after all these years. I've worn my hair all over my face for over thir .. twenty years now and it's never gone in my eye yet. What a silly thing for them to say.”
”Well, I expect it was him. You know what a medical moron he is. He comes up with the silliest ideas sometimes.”
”But he means well, lassie. That counts for a lot in my book. At least he cares.”
”What did they do, then, to make it better. It looks fine now?”
”Must have been some remote control healing then. They didn't do anything except tut tut about it and walk away threatening to bring all kinds of creams and potions if it didn't get better by the morning.”
”I know all about that. I get bad eyes quite a lot. First they wipe it and it doesn't go away so then they come with bottles of special salty water and try and wash it out. If that doesn't work it's usually a visit from Phil or someone from the vets to give you an injection and a tube of cream. Of course, sometimes they use the same cure as they used with you. I think they go home and dance around a tree chanting or something.”
”Oh dear. I hope it doesn't entail taking their clothes off. The weather's taken quite a cool turn of late.”
”I shouldn't think so. They probably reserve that for something more serious like colic, I would imagine.”
”Hello you two, what you talking about, so serious?”
”Hi, Treg. Alli was just asking about my eye.”
”Is she alright? Which one was she asking about? I would have thought you knew about eyes, she's got two herself, hasn't she?”
”Silly. Not just about my eye in general. She wondered if it was better.”
”Better than what? Your tail?”
”You are hilarious tonight, Mr Treggy. I bet you didn't even know that I had a bad eye, did you.”
”I don't make a habit of making personal comments like that, Wick. You may have bad parts but I'm sure you have your good parts, as well. It's not for me to judge a fellow equine.”
”And what were you and her talking about down by the stream, Treg?”
”Hello, Alli. We weren't talking as such. She was pulling ticks off my head.”
”What have you been up to now, laddie? Where've you been to get ticks?”
”Oh, there everywhere, aren't they Treg. It's the sheep. Where there's sheep you'll be bound to find ticks. I thought you would know that Wicky, coming from the moors.”
”It's like I was saying to Treg, Alli. Us moorland ponies have got such thick coats that nothing gets through them. Not flies, not ticks, nothing.”
”So how d'you get your bad eye then Wick?”
”Oh, does it matter. It's better now. Let's go up the hill and have something to eat, I'm starving!”

ponies and hayTuesday 14th September 2004
”You rotter, Wick!”
”What have I done now, Tregony?”
”I went and got your bad eye, didn't I. I've had it bathed twice now. She did it this morning and now he 's just come along with a jar of warm salt water and did it again, right in the middle of my supper.”
”Huh! Just like him, that, isn't it. You'd think he 'd put it in your eye not your supper. What an idiot.”
”No, wick. He didn't put it in my supper, he put it in my eye but he did it in the middle of my supper time. Gettit?”
”You surprise me, laddie. Is that what you meant? Well, well, well. And was yours caused by getting your forelock in your eye or was it something else?”
”Oh alright, it was a silly idea. No, I think there must be a bug going round.”
”Going round where, laddie?”
”I don't know. It's just what they say when they don't know what causes something, isn't it?”
”What, you mean like ‘Oh dear, our buckets are late today. There must be a bug around.' Like that?”
”No, not buckets, Wick. Least, I don't think so. More like ‘Alli's lost a shoe again, there must be a bug around.' More like that, I think.”
”Has she? I've not seen her limping at all. When did she do that?”
”Well, you wouldn't would you, with a bad eye like yours.”
”Mine's better now, Treg. It's you that's got a bad eye. So maybe you didn't see Alli's missing shoe after all. You just thought it.”
”I wouldn't she it anyway, would I, if it were missing? Anyway, it's not. I just made that up.”
”You mean you lied, Tregony. You told lies to your bestest friend?”
”No, nor to you either you silly old shetland. Hit was an hexample, see!”
”I am beginning to lose the thread of this conversation, Treg. An hexample of what, might I ask?”
”Yes, of course you can, Wick. I was only pulling your leg. You really are my bestest friend.”
“And who is your worstest friend then Treg?”
”Er, that's a hard one. You see, I don't have that many friends. Not that I'm not a likeable chap or anything. It's just that I don't get out much nowadays.”
”How many friends would you say you have then Treg?”
”Well, there's you, and then there's Alli, that's ..er..wait a bit ..er two, that's it. Two.”
”You must have more than that, Treg. What about the ones down Human Watch HQ? There must be quite a few there?”
”They're not friends, Wick. They're my superior hossifers.”
”Well what about the rabbits and the mice and that lot you are always talking to, Treg. Surely some of them are you friends?”
”Sub-hordinates, Wick. Sub-hordinates. I've got to have someone to be superior to, don't I?”
”They're all your subordinates, Treg? All of them?”
”That and snouts. Snouts and grasses. An hossifer's got to have his sources, you know.”
”I see, laddie. Seems to me your life is pretty full these days, even if you don't have too many friends.”
”Cant never have too many friends, Wick. No, never too many friends!”

Tractor wheelWednesday 15th September 2004
Is there no end to his madness? In the middle of the afternoon, we were having a nice gentle graze in the lower field, when I heard their green car pull up at the gate. Tea time already, I thought, my how time flies by. I was sure it must be tea time because they had already driven up, mid morning, and he had come up to where we were having a bite, just above the field shelter, and, without so much as a single polo mint, had taken our rugs off and walked away. They are not going to make two additional visits in a day, I thought. It must be tea time. Then, when I looked up, he had driven in and she was holding the gate open for a smallish horse box, which proceeded to drive into the Throwleigh Road field. By this time, Treg and Wick had come up alongside me and the three of us watched with interest as the horse box reversed and backed up to just above the stream. The next thing, the driver jumped out and opened up the back of the box to form a ramp and started to open the side panels which act as a fence either side of the ramp. ‘We're going to have another companion' said Wicky excitedly. ‘Maybe it's another friend for me', Treg said, a trifle glumly. But it didn't smell right. Yes, there was a faint smell of horses coming from the box but not strongly enough to suggest any living newcomer. Then the driver had the whole of the interior open and he moved to the rear of the box. HE (I've got to use capitals here to distinguish between the two humans) walked up the ramp, grasped hold of something and then reversed back down again followed by … you'll never guess … by a pony cart! Between them, him and the van driver wheeled this thing down the ramp, across the stream and up to the side of the field shelter. While the two were busy trying to position it where they wanted to park it, I could hear Wicky muttering to Tregony about ‘ … and if they've got any ideas that I'm going to pull that , they've got another think coming. Of all the silly ….' and so on and worse with language that I couldn't dream of putting down for gentle readers to see. Then the driver got back into the horse box and they all drove away again – still with not a mint or carrot in sight. When he turned up with our supper this evening, he put our buckets down and disappeared behind the field shelter. We heard all manner of bashes and crashes and then he came back for some binder twine and disappeared again. When he finally came back, we learned that he had moved the cart further behind the shelter and had covered it with a sort of green sheet, tied down with twine. He then had the cheek to say to Tregony that ‘wouldn't it be fun to drive down to Okehampton and park in the supermarket car park, buy some carrots and then come back to Ninefields?' I think all Treg could manage was aq non committal grunt. It was a good job he didn't ask Wicky!

 



TWicky's manehursday 16th September 2004
Well, our sheep are back again. She thinks that Michael, the farmer, has put them into our field to help graze the autumn flush of grass down. When I mentioned this to Wicky, you can imagine the response I got. ‘We don't need any help from them, my lass', he said. ‘You can tell them that we are quite capable of eating our own grass, thank you. And if there should be any left over then it will come in handy when I get a bit peckish in the middle of the night. I'm sure the sheep will understand. At least, as much as sheep understand anything. I caught one this morning trying to have a conversation with Tregony. Talk about the lame leading the feeble. I don't know who was most confused.' Anyway, apart from Wick, we are quite happy to have the sheep back. They don't trouble us and vice versa. And they are something to look at although maybe they don't do a lot more than we do. It's just that there are a lot more of them.
He told me that he got a letter from the Forest of Dartmoor today with a few pages of contract in it to sign. If you remember I told you about them becoming commoners with the right to graze on bullock and one sheep or pony. It appears that part of the land that they can use for grazing is in the Forest of Dartmoor area which has been designated as an environmentally sensitive area (whatever that means). The upshot is, however, that if they sign this contract, they become eligible to payment from the government. This sounded good. More money for carrots. Then it turns out that, as they only have the rights for two animals (2 units), the amount comes to under £30 a year. It's a long while since I was at school but, with carrots at 55p a pound, that comes to about 2 carrots a week for Tregony, Wick and I. And, of course, as he says, you never know when the next bit of paper is going to come through the post about this commoners rights business. The next thing might well be a bill or a tax claim. In the end, it would have been more profitable for them if they had the money spent on the legal work and documentation.
Just to finish off today. Wicky's eye was bad again this morning and he bathed it in salt water again. He brought it along this evening but it was not needed as Wick's eye had cleared. Just as well. He says they don't need any more vet's bills at the moment as Harriet the cat's breathing is bad again and they had just come back from taking her down to the vet's for another couple of injections and a handful of pills. If it's not one thing it's another, as they say.

Friday 17th September 2004
”Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain! It drives you mad, doesn't it Wick?”
”What? A little bit o' water never heard anyone, laddie. It'll keep your old limbs supple and your eyes fresh.”
”Is that how you got your gungy eye then, Wick? Just because you've got that big think coat. Nothing gets through that. I shouldn't think you know if it's raining or not.”
”What d'youi think makes your grass grow, Treg? If it didn't rain, we wouldn't eat.”
”Well, THEY would just have to bring us some more buckets. We might even get some more of that lovely sugar beet. D'you remember that, Wick. When SHE used to put that in our feed. Wasn't it smashing?”
who's grass is it?”Don't, laddie. You make my mouth water. Yeah, I wonder why SHE stopped doing that?”
”I think it was about the time SHE said you started looking like a space hopper.”
”Aye, laddie. I think you're right. I wonder what a space hopper is?”
”Probably some pony from another planet, Wick. Do you ever wonder about the kind of horses they have up there? I look up in the sky sometimes and look at all those twinkling stars and I just wonder, don't you?”
”No Treg, I don't. I've got quite enough to think about down here without wondering about alien ponies. They'd only come and join all those sheep, eating up all our best grass. The less we hear about them the better, my lad.”
”But, don't you have any soul, Wick. Think about all those other worlds up there. Why, they might even have grass that tastes like sugar beet there. Now wouldn't that be wonderful?”
”If there grass tasted like sugar beet, why would they want to come here where what the sheep leave us tastes more like ….”
”Wicky! Don't be like that. You do very well and you know it. If the three of us can manage to eat half of what grows in Nine Fields we'd be doing very well. And you know it.”
”Aye, laddie. I do know it. It's just that I'd rather it was the better half, that's all.”
”Hello, you two. Not talking about food again, by any chance?”
”Hi, Alli. Oh no, we were having a philosophical discussion about life on other planets, weren't we Wicky?”
”We were philosophising about whether little green ponies with aerials in their heads were likely to come floating down out of the sky, that's right, isn't it Treg?”
”I see, I was right, you were talking about food. Well, how about this. Do you remember when SHE used to put sugar beet into our buckets? That was a time, eh, lads?”
”Oh, I wouldn't know Alli. One bucket is much the same as another to me. Maybe Tregony remembers.”
”You fibber, Wicky. You were just saying … ouch … what did you bite my knee for?”
”Oh, sorry, Treg. I thought it was a fly. Now you run along and look pretty, lassie. Tregony and I wish to carry on our intellectual discussion without you interupting with such mundane things as sugar beet. That's right, Treg, isn't it?”
”Just leave my other knee alone, Wick. I'll agree too anything.”

Saturday 18th September 2004 smoke or cloud?
Ah, the week end. There was a time when that was important for all of us. Most of my races were on a Saturday and the work in the riding school where Treg and Wicky were, always got busier at the week end when people were not at work and the kids were free from school. It's nice to be retired now, but somehow, when the week ends were different it gave a sort of rhythm to the week. Now, to be honest, we hardly know one day from another. Even THEY have a method of telling because Tuesday is dustbin day and on Sunday, THEY have a formal cooked breakfast. The only other rhythm for them is when they have to go shopping to get us more carrots (so they say) and, while THEY are there, pick up some more wine for themselves. Treg and Wicky and I have discussions sometimes if we should also demand a special breakfast once a week. It wouldn't matter which day, as long as it was regular. I would like extra veggies in mine, Wicky said he wants all short feed, as his poor old teeth cant manage the vegetables very well, and Tregony said he wants sugar beet in his. But, it's all wishful thinking. HE says we are lucky to get what we do. Other horses and ponies have to make do with the grass, HE says. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Show them too me. All the horses and ponies that I know round here are treated (HE says spoiled) the same as us. If there is one sub species of the human race that are real suckers (says Wicky) it's horsey people.
Which reminds me. There was a very suspicious, white thing laying in the Throwleigh Road field, as I went down to the bridle path with HER this morning. I noticed it as soon as I stepped out of the field shelter and I had to keep my eye on it all during treat time. I did point it out to HER but I am afraid HER eyes must be getting bad for she didn't take any notice at all. I mean, I girl can only do so much. I stood and stared at it, then I pointed with my nose, then I took a few paces and then turned back and stared again. Nothing. I waited until I was coming back to HIM again and repeated the same performance. Then I heard that THEY were laughing at me. HE told me it was only an old feed bag stuffed full with some old hay that had been hanging around in my stable down Ramsley Lane since last year. HE had brought it up to put on the pooh pile to rot down. Well, THEY could have told me earlier. Never mind. Better safe than sorry is my motto. At least, one of them.

Sunday 19th September 2004
”Well, Treg, what if there were ponies and horses up there in the sky. What do you think they would look like?”
”Er, that depends, Wick. Would they be good horses or bad horses?”
”I should think, just like us, Treg. Some would be good and some would be bad.”
”Well, then, …er… , I think all the good ones would be bay, about 15.2, male and very handsome. But the bad, well, they would be grey, abou … ouch, what was that for?”
”You know what that was for, laddie. Come on, be serious. Do you think they would look just like us or would they be different in any way?”
big joke”That hurt, Wicked. I wish you wouldn't nip my knees like that. At least the ponies up there on the moon wouldn't nip my knees, whatever they looked like.”
” It was only a wee nip, laddie. Don't make such a fuss. I should think the moon horses and ponies would be a much tougher lot than you, if you think that that wee nip hurt.”
”OK then. They would be about 20 hands high with green coats and yellow manes and tails and they would have three eyes and no teeth. There, happy now?”
”Well, you could be right, Treg. One never knows about such things.”
”So why do you want to talk about it then. That's silly. There is no point if we will never know. You might as well talk about .. er..well, anything. It's just silly.”
”But don't you dream, Treg? Don't you ever just look up into the sky and gaze at the stars and just wonder?”
”I did just gaze up into the sky but I didn't just wonder.”
”What did you do then?”
”I just bumped into a tree. I swore I wouldn't do it ever again.”
”But you do lay down at night, sometimes. You could look up then.”
”I'm much too busy watching out for stupid little grey ponies who are walking about not looking where they are going and who might be about to walk all over me.”
”You've got no romance, Tregony Bay . No poetry in your soul.”
”And where would it get me if I had? Bitten all about the knees, bumped on the nose by trees, trampled on by poetic ponies. No thanks. I just stay as I am, thank you Wick. But you carry on. And let me know if you do meet any sky equines. I'd love to have a chat with them to find out if there are any poetic midgets up there as well.”
”Do you know, Tregony. I don't know what it is THEY are putting into your buckets lately but you are getting much more forward than you used to be. I can remember when you just mumbled ‘excuse me, I'm sorry' and just got out of the way. Now you are all push and shove and answering back. What has got into you?”
”That's my secret, Wick.”
”Oh, come on, tell me. I am your bestest friend, aren't I?”
”Well. Promise not to laugh, then.”
”As if, Treg. You know me. Come on, old man, what's your secret?”
”SHE sent me to assertiveness classes.”
”SHE what? Your joking, laddie. Assertiveness classes! You don't need them.”
”Don't I Wick? Oh, alright, if you say so.”

Monday 20th September 2004 PC the Burmese
Well, its about a week before the official start of autumn but our coats went back on today and HE told me that they will be staying on now, for the winter. I say ‘our' coats, really it's just Treg and me, for the moment. SHE has ordered us all new coats with two for Wicky but he wont be putting his on until the weather really changes for the worse. THEY think that THEY made a mistake last year, putting his coat on too soon and leaving it on too long. With his own natural coat being so heavy, poor old Wick got too hot and he went all sticky. We are all, in turns, suffering from this nasty eye thing. I think it must have been an infection spread from a fly. It's not too worrying for us as our bodies seem to have their own natural defences but it is a bit unsightly for everyone else. A good job we don't depend on public begging for our treats or we would be in for a lean time this week.
I notice Harry didn't come out in his field today. I'm not sure if it's the bad weather or if he is off working somewhere. Usually when he goes out it is the week end but he was here (next door) yesterday so maybe either he or his humans are just not feeling like the walk along from Dry Bridge .
THEY have still been working on a draft business plan for the SWEP charity that they do some work for. The thing is that the organisation has been running for a few years now relying on the hard work of its founder and a few dedicated volunteers. They have done a lot of good work to prevent and relieve the suffering of a lot of horses and ponies and have received recognition for it. But the time has come when, if they are to put the charity on a secure financial footing so that it can continue and grow, they need to adopt a more formal structure so that they can raise the funding to acquire their own premises. I know that is boring and I wont go on but it is just to explain how THEY have been banging their heads against such exciting things as ‘market analysis', ‘cash flow forecasts' and the like. No wonder THEY are tired and out of sorts when THEY come along and see us. But we do THEM some good, apparently. HE says it is ‘equine therapy'. Mind you, HE is one for making up all kinds of phrases. HE has been driving HER mad with things like ‘equine industry tourism opportunity' and stuff like that. Apparently HE has done it for years, stringing words together to make important sounding rubbish phrases. But then, no one is perfect. He is pretty good at handing out carrots and shovelling pooh!

Tuesday 21st September 2003 catch me
I don't know why, I've been feeling a bit skittish recently. I really could do with someone a bit younger than my two old friends here to have a really good gallop with. Whether there is something in the air or if it is something in me, I just don't know but I find myself breaking into a bit of a canter and buck, every so often. It would only take Treg or Wick to respond and we could be off for a real good run. But, of course, they don't. Treg just shrugs his shoulders and prepares to trudge after me and Wicky doesn't even look up from where he is stuffing his face with grass. I suppose there is nothing stopping me from going off for a gallop on my own. But, you don't, do you. The humans have a saying about a one horse race and, thinking about it, it is silly, isn't it. I would feel rather daft to just go off on my own. I wonder why. If two of you do it, it is just high spirits, if you are on your own, folk think that there must be something wrong. HE came across a saying which made HIM laugh, the other day. It was in an Australian book and it described someone as having “a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock”. Well, that's how I would feel, if I ran about on my own. I'm not really hankering back for my racing days again for, although they could be fun at times, they were also very hard work. No, it's more like wanting to feel a bit of freedom and excitement, the wind rushing through your hair, maybe a touch of one's carefree youth again. It doesn't last long. I soon forget it and lapse back into my easy grazing and slow moving around. But it would be nice – for a change! The sheep haven't had much to do with us. We go our way and they go theirs. Other times, earlier in the year when they have their very young ones, they come down into our home paddock, crowd around the field shelter and generally become very sociable. Since they've been here, this time, I think only a couple have come into the field shelter and they just tried a mouthful of hay and decided (as we have) that there is still more pleasure in the grass before they have to look to eating the dried variety. And this lot are not much for conversation. I did catch one talking to Tregony the other day but then, I suppose they would be on the same wavelength. After the sheep had gone, I called Treg over and asked him what they were talking about. ‘Oh, er, um, about five minutes, I should reckon', he said. I bit him. ‘Tell me again, this time properly', I commanded. His face screwed up, as if he was really thinking hard. Then a look of relief came over him and he smiled shyly at me. ‘Well, Alli', he said, ‘I was just walking along when I noticed this sheep over by the hedge, so I went up to him and said hello'. I waited for a bit but Treg didn't seem as if he was going to continue so I prompted him to tell me what happened next. ‘Oh, she said hello to me', he said. ‘But what did you talk about Treg?', I asked him. He looked puzzled for a minute and then replied. ‘I just told you!'

Wednesday 22nd September 2004
I said on Monday that it was about a week to the official start of Autumn. Well, I was wrong, it is today. Today is the day when the amount of daylight and darkness are equal. After this, the darkness gets longer and they say ‘the nightshill are drawing in'. It may be the start of autumn but the leaves, with a few exceptions, are not yet discolouring or starting to fall. One of the exceptions is the tall thin sycamore sapling that now stands above and to one side of our field shelter. I say now because HE found it, self seeded and growing inside our stone half circle in the middle field. I'll tell you more about that in a minute. Anyway, when THEY bought Ninefields, like all new owners THEY were fired with enthusiasm to change and ‘improve' their property. When HE saw this sycamore starting to develop in an inappropriate place, HE took a chance and dug it out and transplanted it to where it is today. The idea was that there would be a hedge along the top of the 3 metre fall from the middle field to our field shelter field (or home paddock). HE built a sheep wire mesh fence along the top of this drop because HE was afraid we might be silly enough to fall or run over it and then HE planted about sixty trees behind the fence so that a hedge would grow there and form a wind break from the gusts coming off the moor. Great idea. A lot of planning w3hich were the most suitable trees, digging out the rock hard earth and putting in good compost before planting the saplings in a planned sequence to make a really ecologically sound hedgerow. However, as rabbit protectors cost more than the trees themselves HE decided to take a chance with the bunnies and not put the protectors up. And HE was quite right. The rabbits didn't touch the trees. They didn't get a chance, the sheep ate them all before the poor bunnies could get a look in. The sycamore, however, was already about two metres tall and therefore survived. However, there is, every year, a sheep who takes a fancy to this tree. He or she loves to just rub up against it and scratch itself an d then to gnaw the bark off. I expect it is lucky that the tree survives at all but this year it lost its leaves very early. They seemed to change colour and fall off all within a week. If it survives at all, it is going to be a very slim and tall specimen. We'll see! I said I'd tell you about the stone half circle. It's not like the bronze age hut circles that are common around here. HIS theory is that it is the remains of a shepherds hut from the 18 th or 19 th century. It is rather more than a semi circle, more of a full circle, two metres radius with a one metre gap for an entrance. The walls are human waist high and HIS theory is that it had a roof of tree boughs covered with reed or grass. Somewhere for the shepherd to shelter and guard his flock and maybe even to see to the feet or to sheer his sheep. Who knows? No one alive now has any solid evidence, only theories. There is evidence that the ‘hut' was on one of the drover routes from the moor to the valley so HIS idea is as good as any.

Thursday 23rd September 2004
One of my jobs, that I don't always get credit for, is keeping a watch out for strange happenings in the area surrounding Ninefields. If it were left to the humans, we would be caught out so many times. Whether it is because they are so short, wiAlli's eyeth those puny little apology for necks that they have, or if it is just plain carelessness, I don't know. Take this evening, for example. HE comes driving along (five minutes late, I might add), gets out of HIS jeep and gives us our ‘hello' treats and then proceeds to calmly walk down the field, as if HE hadn't heard the sound coming from the bridle path. I had clocked it faintly a bit earlier on but then it was too far away to be any threat. But now, the sound and scent were so strong that you would have to be feeble (or human – I suppose it's much the same thing) not to notice it. As HE went to stride past me, I stood with my head high in the air and pointed for HIM, so that HE could at least use his eyes to see what was coming. HE looked at me strangely and said ‘what is it, Alli?' At least HE had the intelligence (on a par with Tregony – just) to know that I was warning HIM of something. But then, instead of standing with me and making ready, HE just carried on walking down the field to the stream. I ran after him and stood in front again, pointing even more determinedly. But all to no avail. He just muttered much the same about ‘what was it, old girl' and kept on going. Suddenly, just before HE entered the field shelter, HE looks up and says ‘Oh, there's someone walking along the bridle path'. Even Tregony said ‘Oh, really?' before he pushed his way in to get at his bucket. It really is a good job humans don't have many predators or there wouldn't be many of them left, by now.
Wicky had a good time with his bucket this evening. THEY appear to have got the message that if they don't cut Wick's veg up into very tiny pieces, then he wont be able to manage to eat them, due to his deficiency in the teeth department. That used to be good news for me (or occasionally for Treg) as we were always willing to help Wicky out. In fact, meal times have become a regular ‘Jack Spratt' affair. I throw my bucket around to get at the carrots, apple and swede but I cant be bothered to go around afterwards clearing up all those oat things that get in the cracks in the hay. Now Tregony is not so fussy. In fact, he doesn't even bother to spit out the bits of hay. He usually walks over to where I have been eating and sort of vacuums up everything that's left on the ground. In the meantime, Wicky will (at least until now) have eaten everything that his teeth will allow him so he goes over to HIM to get some apple biscuits and polo mints. This leaves me free to move into Wicky's place and finish off all the vegetables. And now, by cutting Wicks stuff up very small, THEY have gone and upset this finely balanced ecosystem. Trust humans to fetlock things up!

Friday 24th September 2004the two of them
”You alright, Wick?”
”What? Course I'm alright. Why do you ask?”
”You look a little bit stiff or something and you didn't come up to the gate to meet THEM tonight.”
”Well, as you ask, laddie, I am a bit lame tonight. I'm wondering if it's going to turn in to one of those very bad turns that I used to get. You know, where one of my feet really starts to hurt and THEY have to get the vet down. I hate that. You know, he gets his knife out and cuts away and pokes here and there and then, what's worse, I have to have one of them poultices on it.”
”Yeah. Poltice, that's the word. They do look silly, don't they?”
”I'm not worried about the look of the thing, man, it's the discomfort both having it done twice a day and then walking around with it.”
”Yeah, poltice! I like that word. Sorry, what were you saying, Wick?”
”Oh, never mind, you old duffer, it probably won't come to anything. Let's hope not, anyway.”
”You know why Alli says you get bad feet, Wick. She says it's because you eat too much. She says that it's well known that fat little ponies always get bad feet when they stuff themselves with grass. It's call lamb in Itus. I suppose it's where the sheep go, Itus that is, and then you get the sheep's disease. They've always got bad feet, sheep have, aint they. ‘Spose it might be because you look a bit like one, as well. Not exactly like one, you are a little bit taller. But your coat is all curly and much the same colour, or it would be, if it was clean.”
”You know, Tregony, in a minute you are going to be saying ‘Ouch, why did you bite me, Wicky?' and looking all hurt.”
”No I won't, Wick. Because you haven't bit me, have you. It would be silly to say that when you haven't …. Ouch, Wicky, that hurts. Why did you bite me?”
”Well, firstly because you were wrong, weren't you? And secondly because of what you said about me and sheep. And, thirdly, because I enjoy it!
”Oh, poltice to you then, you old sheep in Itus eater. Serves you right if you get sore feet and have to have the vet. There's only so much a chap will stand, you know.”
”Oh, come on Treg. I didn't nip hard. And anyway, you were being quite personal, you know. Don't think I don't have feelings. You and Alli are always going on about how much I eat. If the true is know, I eat much less than you two. I cant eat as fast or as much because of my poor old teeth. It comes from years of having to eat gorse and stuff on the moor because there was nothing else, if you didn't want to starve. YUou don't realise what a hard upbringing I had. So, when a chap gets a chance to have a bite to eat, he takes it. D'ye see?”
”Don't go on, Wick, you're making me feel rotten. I didn't mean to be nasty to you. It was just the pain of the moment, you know.”
”Right, laddie. Let's forget it, shall we. You run along up the top fields with Alli, I don't feel much like moving at the moment. Maybe I'll see you up there later on.”
”You sure you'll be alright, Wick?”
”'Cause I will. See you later, old man.”
”Right then. ‘Bye, Wick.”

Saturday 25th September 2004 old mine building
”Was I right or was I right?”
”Aye, Treg, you were right. THEY did get the vet. Mind you, she was a sweet, wee lassie, wasn't she. Not like those big brutes of men THEY usually get.”
”I'm not so sure, Wick. Did you hear her. Foreign I reckon. Probably from North Tawton or somewhere like that.”
”You big daftie, Treg. She was an Ozzie, I heard HIM say so.”
”No, you must have heard wrong, Wick. I'm sure she was a girl. I've had a lot of experience with girls you know. I can usually tell. Anyway, ozzies have very long legs and long necks with a beak and feathers. She didn't look anything like that.”
”Tha's an ostrich, you ninnie. No, I think an ozzie is a king of girl. Maybe that's the name for a girl vet or something.”
”She might be something to do with the drinks trade. Did you hear her say that her dad used to describe someone as a six pack without the plastic thingy to hold it together. He sounded very expert in packaging to me.”
”Anyway, she certainly did a good job on my feet. She was very thorough and persisted until she found the abcess and then gave me a wonderful pain killing injection. It was like a miracle cure, the relief. I was able to walk easier almost at once.”
”She wasn't all good though, was she Wick?”
”Oh, you mean that ointment for our bad eyes? You're only saying that because you had to have it too.”
”Well, it may make my eyes better but it isn't pleasant having all that white stuff in your eye at first. Makes everything all smeary. And it stinks.”
”You're too sensitive, my lad. You should stand downwind of you on a hot day.”
”Look, here's Alli. She does look gloomy. D'you think it's because she got in trouble for trying to bite you while the vet was treating you?”
”I hope so, the mare. Serves her right. Just because I couldn't run away. She can be very naughty when she feels like it.”
”Hello, Alli. You look a bit gloomy.”
”Hello Treg. Hello Wick. Yes, I am. I'm very upset.”
”Oh, come on lassie. You did deserve it, didn't you?”
”What? Oh, it's not that. You've not heard the news, have you?”
”What news? They going to cut down our feed?”
”It's Harry. I just heard Roy talking to HER. Harry's got something called ‘ringbone'. He is going to be put down.”
”Oh, no! Not Harry. He's just a lad, what is he, eleven, twelve?”
”I'm afraid it's true. He's had x rays and everything The vets said that they could pin his leg but because he is such a big lad, what with the weight and everything, the outcome would be the same. He would be in terrible pain.”
”So what … , when …?”
”Monday week, Roy said.”
”Oh, fetlocks!”
”I agree, Treg. Life can be so unfair. And terribly sad!”

Sunday 26th September 2004
I've been feeling very depressed since I heard the news about Harry. I'm afrawiresid it's made me very grumpy all round and I have got into trouble twice today. First was this morning, when SHE wanted to put that cream in my eye. I took one look at the tube in HER hand and I just walked off down the field, ignoring both HER calls and HIS proffered carrot. I knew it wouldn't do me any good, for SHE just went and got the head collar and came after me so that, in the end, I still ended up with a white creamy eye. I have been a bit miserable all day and when THEY turned up, with our buckets, this evening, I couldn't help lunging out at Wicky, as he stood by the gate. Of course, again, I got shouted at, but I felt that THEIR hearts weren't in it and THEY were as down as I am.
After that, I think Wicky was upset too for as we went into the field shelter to eat, he decided that his bucket was a bit too close to mine so he just barged over to where Treg had just started to eat and pushed him out of the way and started to eat Treg's instead. HE rushed up and sorted it out but it put everyone out of routine so much that THEY forgot to lift our rugs. Actually, THEY may not have forgotten but what with the extra work involved with Wicky's feet, THEY may just have thought enough is enough. HE only has to wash Wick's heels and feet with iodine water, as the vet said he had greasy heels or something. So what's new? He's a grubby little tike at the best of times. However, SHE has to give Wick an injection of ‘Pen & Strep' anti biotics, which is even worse. HE just couldn't do an injection for the life of HIM but SHE started out as a nurse so it is familiar, if unpleasant, work. Last night we had a bit of excitement because Wick didn't see it (the injection) coming and when it pricked him he kicked out and bucked, as quick as anything. Of course, I didn't know what was happening so I lashed out as well and there was chaos generally for a moment or two. I say generally but that may not be strictly true for I think the whole episode drifted over Treg's head, as he was enjoying his supper so much.
And that's it for today. Oh, I nearly forgot. HE told me HE was off to Whiddon Down this morning to take some photos of the Vintage Farming event. My goodness, doesn't time fly? It seems only a few short months that HE did that last year. I think it isn't only the farming that is vintage – but I didn't say that to HIM!

Monday 27th September 2004
”Listen , can you hear it ? Don't look up.”
”What's that Wick.? Where?”
”I said, don't look. I know that sound. It's THEIR car and THEY are opening the gate.”
”You're right, Wick. It's then alright. Yes, don't look up Treg. Let's all just keep on grazing with our heads down.”
”Why do you think they've come, Alli? This is nowhere near bucket time, is it?”
”Maybe THEY've come for you, Wick. That right Alli? It could be, couldn't it?”
”Yes, it could be. It could be a thousand things, Treg. Best we keep a very low profile and then maybe they will forget about us.”
”We could sort of drift away into the other field and up the hill, lassie. Maybe they won't notice if we do it slowly. I have to anyway because my poor old legs still hurt.”
red headcollar”That's probably a good idea, Wick. No, come back Treg. Wick said ‘sort of drift' not rush off up there, THEY will be sure to notice if we do …. Oh, bother. See Treg, THEY saw you and now SHE is calling out to you. No! Don't look up.”
”Sorry, Alli, sorry Wick. I just thought tha ….”
”Best you don't try to think, Treg. Do something you're good at, laddie. Carry on eating.”
”Why've THEY got that gate open? We're not expecting another load of hay yet, are we Alli? We've not really touched that other lot yet.”
”Oh no, mates. It's me THEY are after. Look, it's that ostritch girl again. See. that's her car driving in. And look, HE's off to the field shelter for the head collar. Oh buzzards! Well, I won't move. They can do what they like. I'll just refuse to budge. You know what she's like. Wants to see me run up and down. Run! I can hardly walk.”
”Oh, oh. Here HE comes, Alli. Let's me and you just wander over there, away from Wicky. I don't trust vets. Never have done. All needles and thermometers and trying to get entirely too intimate for my liking.”
”You men are all the same, Treg. Scared of a little medication. I'm going over to see if HE has any mints in HIS pockets. At least, I know HE has got them in HIS pockets. I'm going to see if I can get them out of HIS pockets.”
”Well, I'll just stay here, Alli. You do what you like. I'm going to be ready to run off if I have too.”
”Hello, Alli. I've got nothing for you, I'm afraid. We're just here to have Wicky's feet looked at again. You run off with Treg. Don't you dare try and nip him again, like you did last time the vet was here.”
”Yeah, yeah, yeah. OK I'm really and truly very sorry for that, where's the mints. That pocket. You can't fool me. Come on, just one, you know you want to give me one. Or two!”
……………………………………………..
”Well, Wick, how was it? Did she find the root of the abcess?”
”Lassie, if she had cut any deeper she would have been able to trim my teeth at the same time. And she didn't find anything. Waste of space them ostriches. No wonder they leave North Tawton or wherever she's from. They probably paid her bus fare to go.”
”Oh, come on Wick. I think she's really rather sweet.”
”You always did have a soft spot for the lassies, Treg. Give me a male vet any day. Bring back Andrew, that's what I say.”
”Oh, Wicky. How can you say that? You know you got into a fight with Andrew when he tried to do your teeth.”
”Ay, I did, lassie. And tell me, who won? Bring back the male vets. At least I can get my own way with them!”

Tuesday 28th September 2004 Tregony at rest
Well, I'll give that Ozzie her due. Whatever she did or prescribed for Wicky, it's working. We had moved up to the top of the very top field this afternoon. Didn't even realise that we had gone so far, we just sort of drifted and grazed, grazed and drifted, like you do. Anyway, when HE brought our buckets, this evening, instead of standing waiting at the Throwleigh Road gate, as we usually do, we were right up near the top gate instead. Of course, I heard the car and looked down to see HIM undoing the gate with the buckets in his arms. Wicky was too busy eating to notice and Treg never hears anything that far away anyway, so I went over to them both and told them that it was supper time. I then thought that the journey down was going to be slow and painful so I started out at a gentle trot to give them some encouragement. When I looked round, I was amazed to see Wicky, still lame, but trotting along behind me. As we turned round the bend by the tree, I saw that Wick had also broken into a canter so I did the same. I am rather proud of my slow canter. Many riders have complimented me on it and I enjoyed showing off as we came down the hill, me in front with Wick pretty close on my heels. As we neared the bottom, I pulled over to the left to allow Wick to catch up and then pass me. He led the way through the gateway and down the last hill to where HE was standing waiting. Treg was way, way behind but I knew he was coming, just being careful with placing his feet as he comes downhill.
Treg said to me afterwards that you could tell that Wicky was feeing better because while I was outside the shelter with HIM getting my treats, Wick finished his bucket and went to push his way into Treg's. It was only at the last moment that HE saw what Wick was doing and rushed round the other side to push him away. So, apart from a still very pronounced limp, Wick is back into his position in the pecking order again and Treg will be feeling more comfortable to know that he is back to the bottom of the pile again. It sounds awful, but he really does prefer it. It gives him an awful lot of security to know that he doesn't have to push for his place, just wait his turn. I've spoken to him about it and he regards it rather like his duty7 in the Human Watch. ‘Some ‘as got to be hinspecters and some sarjants and the rest of us is just ordinary hossifers, that's what makes the world go round', he says. Dear old Treg!

Wednesday 29th September 2004 rescued pony
I keep meaning to look at last year's diary to see what the date was when I came in overnight. If the weather stays how it is at present, there is still a good while yet. I know THEY have to make a decision as to when our coats go on and stay on, you cant keep chopping and changing all the time. But these last few days have been really warm. Not sunny however. To look at the weather you would think it was cold and wet. The skies are miserable, full of grey cloud, with only a glimmer of blue now and then, very high up. HE had to refill my hay net this morning because although I am not really eating it yet, when you are staying in, having a doze, there is nothing more comforting than to pull a mouthful of hay out of the net. In fact, that is all I really do. I don't eat it, don't even chew at it at all. Just pull it out and then let it drop on the floor. If you look under my hay net there is a tall pile of hay, just standing there. It will never get eaten unless some very hungry sheep come along. Often it gets trampled on or pulled out of place and spread over the floor of the field shelter. I suppose it's a waste really but there is plenty more behind the plastic sheet that HE drapes on it. I can remember once, when I was in training, we had a very strict person in charge of my diet. He didn't just fill my hay net up, when it got empty. All my food was measured and calculated so that I got (in theory) the right amount of energy food and the right amount of stamina fuel without putting on any weight that might slow me down. That was the theory, anyway, I understand. All us horses used to make use of the fact that it wasn't always the same person doing the measuring. There were lots of ways we used to use to confuse the lads and get them to make mistakes in our favour with the rations. There were also ways of making yourself appear very thin, as if you were losing weight on that particular diet. Yes, I know they had ways of weighing and measuring us but we had ways of blowing out, sucking in and standing part on and part off a weighing machine. And there was always emotional blackmail. It might not work with the trainers but often the lads were suckers for a big rolled eye and a forlorn look. That was where I learned to toss my bucket about, as well. It's amazing how you can ‘lose' some food under your bedding so that you finish quicker and appear not to have had a full share. After you've been topped up and eaten that, you can always rediscover your hidden hoard when they have gone away. In a way, those were happy days but I think I prefer now. The only problem now is eating as fast as THEY can hand out the treats. I don't think they make indigestion tablets for horses!

 

 

Thursday 30th September 2004 youngster
”Just when I was getting off nicely to sleep, as well. That's two mornings that THEY've gone and woken me. It's just not fair!”
”Poor old Treg. Not getting enough sleep, eh? Have you thought that it might be something to do with your age?”
”What do you mean, my age? I'm not as old as you, you know.”
”Are you sure about that? I thought no one knew exactly how old we were, either of us.”
”That's THEM. We know how hold we are, don't we?”
”Do you, Treg? Really. Well tell me.”
”No, you go first. Tell me how old you are and then I'll tell you how old I am.”
”Now your being childish.”
”See, that proves I'm not as old as you. You're not childish, more like oldish.”
”Ha, ha, ha, Treg. Very funny. I bet you lost count of your age once you got past three.”
”No I didn't, see! It was fo … Oh. You nearly got me then, didn't you?”
”Not exactly hard, laddie. The only question is – ‘is it worth it?'”
”You're just trying to get out of the fact that you called me old and you can't prove it.”
”Well, maybe you're right, Treg. It's like that song the Rolling Stones used to sing – ‘When you're sixty four'.”
”That wasn't the Stones, it was the Beetles, Wick.”
”Hah! Got you. How old do you have to be to remember that, eh?”
”That's not fair. Anyway, I may have heard it on the radio in the riding stables only a few years ago.”
”Yes, you may. And you may be Black Beauty. But you're not.”
”Who's Black Beauty?”
”Can't catch you twice old lad, eh? Of course, you might be so old that your memory is going.”
”Rubbish. I can remember lots of things. I can remember when I was a little colt, trotting behind my dam and roaming about in the fields in , er…, well, where I was born.”
”See. You don't even remember where you were born. First you can't stay awake and now your memory's going. It won't be long now laddie.”
”What won't be long, Wick?”
”See, you've even forgotten what time supper comes!” NEXT MORNING

”Wick?”
”Yes Treg, what is I …. Ouch! What's that for?”
”I didn't forget that it's the first of the month today, did I?”


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