Alezane's Diary Archive February 2005
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DrybridgeTuesday 1st February 2005
I beg your pardon, it was not a brand new rug at all but one of Harry's old ones that had just been cleaned. We learned a bit more about ‘Silver' today. His feet are smaller than Harry's and he eats less. Well, that's no surprise, Harry was a very big chap even though he still behaved like a baby. Faith is waiting for the vet to confirm that Silver can take the weight and is healthy in every other respect before she takes him out. He is, they think, about 16.2 hands. I just had a thought. Some of you won't know what a ‘hand' is (it's 4 inches) and yet you will all be happy with a ‘foot'! HE got it wrong today, HE told Faith that I was 16.2 and then SHE corrected HIM and told HIM I was only 16 hands. The extra ‘.2' came from the fact that Treg is 15.2. Wicky says he doesn't know what all the fuss is about. Who cares how tall you are, it's who you are that matters', he says. But then, he would, wouldn't he?
SHE took me round to have another chat with Silver tonight. I'm afraid I had to put him in his place twice. He's like all the youngsters, thinks he's God's gift. I soon put him straight and told him to learn some respect. It was pitiful to see the hurt look on his face but he soon got over. It' s funny, it's only two evenings now that Silver has been out when THEY bring the supper feed and already it's starting to become a habit. He shouts out and runs up and down the field and generally gets over excited. I think it's just a youngsters excuse for having a bit of fun. Wicky generally is scornful and Treg just looks puzzled. I think they are too old now to remember what it's like to be young. However, all in all it's nice to have some new company. He'd better make sure and not forget St Valentines Day. I may be ‘mature' but I'm not over the hill yet!

 

Wednesday 2nd February 2005
“Ere, Wick, froggin' funny name that, aint it?”
”Language, Treg, language. What's a funny name?”
”Frog .. er .. bloomin' Silver. What kind of a name is that? I've never heard of a town called Silver. Might as well call him Iron or Chromium or some other daft thing.”
”Never heard a horse called Copper then, Treg? Nothing wrong with that, is there?”
”I hope you're not halludin' to my work with the Human Watch, Wick? Everyone knows that's only a nick name. Ere, I just made a joke. Gettit? Nick name. Copper. See?”
what's that Alli?”My goodness Treg, you are getting witty. Very funny, laddie. Now tell me, what is it you've got against Silver? I've seen how you look at him. You're not a wee bit jealous, are you? Just because Alli has been doing a bit of flirting with the wee young laddie.”
”Jealous, me? Course not Wick. It's just I don't trust him yet. I mean, what do we know about him? And anyway, he's a foreigner, aint he?”
”He comes from North Devon , Treg. You came from Cornwall . He's less of a foreigner than you are.”
”I don't care if he comes from er Gidleigh. He aint British. You heard HIM say, he's an Irish Draught Board or something. We don't need any of them coming over here and fluttering their big white eyelashes at our women, do we?”
”Oh, you noticed his eyelashes? They are rather lovely, aren't they? In fact, he is rather handsome altogether. And young. No wonder Alli is interested in him.”
”Only in a maternal; way though. Needs washing behind his ears. Alli is only interested in him to teach him a few manners.”
”Treg, come on, admit it. You are a bit jealous.”
”Well, Alli is our female. She's got to look after our herd. He don't even belong in our field so he's not one of us, even if he would like to be.”
”But we can be good neighbours, eh Treg. Poor wee laddie. I bet this is his first time away from home.”
”First time? He's six years old Wick. What's he been doing all this time? Alli had finished with flat racing by the time she was four and her whole racing career by seven. Has he been tied to his mummy's lead rein up to now?”
”He's been out hunting a couple of times, Treg. Pedigree boys just mature more slowly, that's all.”
”Well, let him mature over in his own field and leave Alli alone, that's all.”
”Look Treg, I know you were brought here to be a companion for Alli but that doesn't mean a guardian, just a friend.”
”Well, I still think it's a fr ..blooming funny name, that's all.”
”He may not be keeping it. Faith and Roy will be giving him his Ramsley name as soon as the vet has given him the OK. “
”Oh good. Maybe they'll call him Whitey or Dobbin or Arfur or some good old English name.”
”They might call him Goldilocks or Snow White, who knows? It's nothing to do with us, Treg. We'll just have to wait and see. By the way, changing the subject, how's your Carrotlight vigil going?”
”Er, pretty well, thanks Wick.”
”Many sign up for it?”
”Is that THEIR car with our buckets?”
”You know it's hours too early yet. I asked you if many horses had signed your vigil yet?”
”Well, they have expressed interest and sai …”
”How many, Treg?”
”Well, not many so far bu ..”
”How many?”
”Er … me!”
”Well, at least it's better than I expected.”
”Oh, is it Wick? Oh good. I'm pleased. A success then?”
”For you, Treg, a resounding one!”

Thursday 3rd February 2005South Tawton
I was just investigating a very interesting smell this morning, on one of the paths that lead up the hill on Ramsley Common from the Throwleigh Road when a flash in the bracken caught my attention. I whipped my head up, nearly pulling my lead rein out of his hand, and there, sort of glide hopping down the hill, was a beautiful roe dear. It's movement was so graceful as it sailed in and out of the bracken that I failed to notice a second one, higher up the hill, also starting to begin it's descent. Now only the other day, I had been saying that we only ever see one deer at a time and here, for the first time, I saw two. Now I very nearly said three, because once I was watching intently to see if there might be others, I noticed another figure in silhouette on the very top of the hill come bounding along. It two was moving in a bouncy sort of way but somehow it just didn't seem to look right. Instead of the grace of movement there was a sort of floppiness about it. I just stood and stared until I could make it out clearly and when I could, I realised that it was just a big dog, a pointer I believe. Unfortunately, by the time I had sorted that little mystery out, the two deer had vanished in the undergrowth. But really, it was a very nice start to the day.

I should probably explain something that is not all that well known among those humans who have little to do with horses. Whereas they are all familiar with dogs stopping and sniffing at every lamppost and hedge for messages left them by other dogs, they are less aware that we horses are much the same and often ‘gather our mail' as we go about the streets and fields. Treg being the rather coarse fellow that he is has suggested that we call it our ‘wee-mail' but even if I were to let him get away with his rather pathetic joke it wouldn't be wholly accurate. We often can get an awful lot of information from just a single hoof print although I will admit to finding a pile of droppings every bit as interesting as a a dog does. I think the reason that non horsey people are not aware of the fact is that they usually only see horses when they are out being ridden, and therefore not being allowed to wander as they fancy. I am fortunate in that HE walks me up and down to Ninefields and HE is often quite grateful when I do stop, so that HE can catch HIS breath. One thing HE can never quite understand is why I also need to stop and eat the grass from along the roadside when, as HE says, I have ‘whole fields full of the stuff' up at Ninefields. That is not the point at all. The grass along the way not only tastes different but is again full of messages about the place and the weather, the ground and the passers –by which is all very interesting as well as tasty. On the whole, we get along very well, horses and humans, but we are very, very far apart in our natures and do need time and observation to get to understand each other better. We have learned much from man and, if he did but know it, he could learn much from us.

Friday 4th February 2005Alli and Mark
We were making our way along the Throwleigh Road this morning, when SHE drove along in her little green car. But, instead of just going by so that she can go along and check on Wick and Treg, as SHE normally does, she stopped and wound down her window. “We forgot”, SHE yelled to HIM, “farrier day, he must have just passed you!”. Now we did hear a big van coming along behind us a few minutes earlier but HE just waved them on as HE$ always does. We never mind about cars or vans, it's only extra large trucks that squeeze us off the road or what HE calls ‘rattlly bangs' which are trailers which bounce up and down and make a devil of a noise, particularly if they are driven at all fast. So, HE must have waved Mark, the farrier, on without realising who it was. So, instead of having a good old sniff and graze on the way up to Ninefields, I had to walk along fairly smartish to get my shoes seen to.

When we got there, Mark had parked his van in the bridle path rather than driving into our field, just in case it was too muddy. As it happens, no one came along the bridle path for all the time it took to do all three of us (nearly two hours). If they had I expect that they would have had to go back the way they came and go round the other way, which they can do because the path is shaped like a letter Y with the leg leading up to the open moor and the Beacon and the two arms coming out onto the Throwleigh Road . Of course, the other thing that they could have done is to go through our fields although HE would have had to undo the padlocks on the gates. It's interesting that the gates are not locked because THEY are worried that we might be stolen (for if that were the case, the thieves would just cut the chain with bolt cutters). No, the point of the locks is that we sometimes get ramblers going up to the moor who might not be very country wise and could possibly leave the gate open behind them which would allow us horses to wander onto the road. I think I have told you how Treg and Wick got out by climbing a bank and over the stream when they first came here and some locals called THEM out to come and catch them. All they were doing was having a graze along the road but it could have been dangerous with the traffic. I may also have told you of the time I was new in my previous stable at Wood Home Farm and I found my way through a broken fence (which I may have helped break a little) and went for a mile's wander along the road to South Tawton until I came across Brian's rather handsome Arab. We were having a bit of a flirt when I was arrested by the local constabulary who called THEM out to come and bail me out. So, horses are prone to wander if fences are left unmended or gates left open. Hence the padlocks!

While I was having my new shoes fitted, HE told me that Tregony decided to have yet another lie in this morning. HE attended to Wicky (just picked out his hooves and did his sponges – eyes and other places) and then went up above the field shelter to see how Treg was. He had been flat out when HE first turned up and due to Treg's age, HE always fears the worst. But, as he rounded the corner, there Treg was, sitting up and looking around him. HE went and gave Treg a few carrots and some mints and went down to Wick again, hoping Treg would get up and come for his breakfast. Nothing! So, HE went along to see what was happening and there was one of those long stand offs when they eyed each other, Treg with his very best cobby look. And then, Treg just flopped right down flat again. He finally decided to take Treg's breakfast home for HER to bring up later and had just got to the car when Treg got up and ambled down for breakfast. As Treggy himself would have said ‘Froggin' Cobs!'

Saturday 5th February 2005Jasmin
“Ere, Wick, I could have sworn that was HIM I saw this morning.”
”You mean with that dog thing, Treg?”
”Yeah, It did look like HIM, didn't it. But HE doesn't walk with any dog, does HE?. All he walks with is Alli, and she was here with us. Funny though, it really did look like HIM. Same scruffy old coat. Same old green boots. And walking in our field too! Bit of a cheek, really. Bringing a dog into our field.”
”Aye laddie. There's no accounting for what humans will get up too. I mean, I don't know why they think they have to go out walking with the dogs anyway. Dogs are quite capable of walking on their own. In fact humans only get in the way and stop them doing what they want to do.”
”Yeah. I've thought about that too, Wick. And do you know what I think. I think it's the dogs that are taking the humans out, you know, for exercise. I mean, what other exercise do they get. I think the dogs look at them, stuck there in front of those picture box things and they think to themselves ‘If I don't get them out of the house for a while, they'll lose the use of their legs altogether'. So the dog gets up and runs up to the door and over to the human until, after they have done it enough times, the human finally gets the message and lets the dog take them out.”
”You know, Treg, you might have hit upon it. Do you think that's why Alli brings HIM along every morning and takes HIM home again every evening?”
”Oh no, I don't think so, Wick. Alli is to superior to bother to do any human a favour. No, I think HE just tags along because HE likes coming to see us, so when HE knows she is going, HE stuffs his pockets with carrots and follows her.”
”Yes, I suppose we are a bit of a draw, aren't we Treg? Two handsome, intelligent creatures like us. I don't suppose HE often gets to enjoy such company elsewhere. I'm surprised HE doesn't come to stay with us in the field shelter. Have you been to where HE lives? What a tip! No hay nets, no grass. Nowhere to roll. And worst of all, no mud! No wonder HIS coat is a mess.”
”HE does seem to be able to get hold of a good supply of carrots though. So life at HIS place can't be all bad.”
”Anyway, all this talk doesn't solve the mystery of who that was with a dog coming into our field, does it Treg?”
”It's a good job they didn't come up where we were grazing, I would have …. “
”What, Treg? What would you have done?”
”Well, I would have made sure that they had permission, that's what.”
”And if they hadn't?”
”If they hadn't? Well, then I would have … I would have … told Alli, that's what!”
”You know what, Treg, you can be so masterful at times, you really can.”
”D'you think so Wick?”
”Shall I tell you something, Treg?”
”Wassat?”
”It was HIM with that dog, this morning. I recognised it. It was that Jasmine, you know, the dog we see walking past here some mornings with that lady.”
”Was .. er.. I knew that, Wick. I knew all along. I was just testing your eye sight.”
”You didn't see that though, did you Treg?”
”What? … Ouch. Wicky, that was my knee.”
”See, Treg, you do know some things, don't you?”

Sunday 6th February 2005Dartmoor wall
It was a frosty morning today. We had some really lovely stars during the night. Being here on Dartmoor , we don't suffer much light pollution and the skies are nice and black which makes the stars really stand out well. There are a few local street lights (I have one outside of my stable) but they are timed to switch off during the latest/earliest hours of the night and often the worst light polluter is the moon. So anyway, as I made my way up to Ninefields this morning, there wasn't a lot of point in stopping to graze as the grass was all frozen over. So, most of the way up as far as Dry Bridge I just ambled along almost as if I were sleep walking. Then, as I walked under the bridge, I sensed something that got my attention fast. I snorted and then, so did HE. I snorted again and HE did too so I really got wound up. I wasn't sure what it was that I had sensed but if HE could sense it too (and HE's usually not very good in that direction) then it must be something pretty scary. I gave one more snort and when HE did again that was it, I gave a very quick skitter and nearly trod all over HIM and then dragged HIM up the hill to safety. It was then that HE tells me that HE was only imitating me (in a very affectionate way, he says) and that there was no danger at all that HE could tell. I wish now that I had trodden on him!
HE came along to the field again today with that dog. In fact, I know the dog, it's Jasmine from next door to us in Ramsley Lane . I often see her jumping up and down and barking at me as I walk pat her gate or sometimes she is out with her human, Margaret, walking along the Throwleigh Road or going up onto Ramsley Common. When I asked HIM tonight why HE was out with Jasmine it appears that Margaret has not been too well so HE brought Jaz (as she is called) along to Ninefields to stretch her legs. I'll say this for her, she knows how to gallop in a doggy sort of way. We were all up in the top furthermost field when they came and I was able to watch Jaz running up and down our hills with ease. I'm sure she could give me a run for my money (as humans say) although I do have much longer legs so would win over a distance. I'm sure Jaz would have come right up to meet us but HIS legs could only reach the top of the middle fields before HE had to go down again. None of us showed any signs of having seen them, you know, just in case. You never can tell with humans, even the most well meaning of them. They might suddenly take it into their heads to try and disturb a good graze.

And so, back to my stable this evening. I felt sorry for Amber because she was not in her field tonight but down by her stable so she missed out on a carrot and mint sweet moment (as well as the chance to rub faces with me). She looked up as we passed and called out but she was too far down below us and so we had to walk on. No doubt HE will call out to her tomorrow morning as we go past. I've given up pretending I'm not with HIM. Everyone knows, I'm afraid.!

Monday 7th February 2005Ninefields
Walking home some evenings, HE asks me what to put in my diary that night and I go blank. I try walking on, pretending I haven't heard, but it's no good because HE just goes on asking until I have to come up with something. My problem is not that nothing has happened to me that day but that nothing that did happen is likely to be of the slightest interest to you humans. When Treg, Wicky and I get together to chat about things, life is full of interesting topics and we go on for hours, pausing only for the odd mouthful of grass or hay or whatever. But if you were to stand there and were capable of understanding what we were talking about, you would be bored as dry mud. In fact, in human terms, I can only think of two things that happened today that might be mildly of interest to you. The first, in fact, didn't involve me at all. I only heard about it from Wicky when I got up to Ninefields. It's nothing new. Treg had another lie in this morning. What was new was that the grass was all frosty and so he chose to lie down just outside the field shelter. Now he couldn't have picked a worse place because first of all it is an area where the ground is very soft indeed. Not muddy and sloshy but soft and crumbly. Second, it is on a slope and somehow Treg always manages to lie down so his head is uphill and his back legs down. Now both these facts don't help an old fellow with tired old legs to get up very quickly. I gather this morning he had several goes at getting up while HE was there but just ended up rolling over again, winded. HE finally decided to leave Treg's breakfast bucket in the field shelter and to take Wicky up to the Throwleigh Road field and shut the gate so Wick couldn't go back and help Treg eat his breakfast. By the time SHE drove up and HE walked me up, Treg had got up, finished his bucket and was waiting for the gate to be opened, down by the stream. Poor old man, he is a worry to all of us!
The other mildly interesting piece of news today was that I had my first ‘Victory V' sweet treat today. In fact, we all did. I would be very surprised if many of you knew what a Victory V is. They are a strangely warming sort of herbal powdery tasting flat lozenge, a sort of acquired taste that you can't get in very many places. Now, what happened was that HE brought Jasmine over to Ninefields for a walk again today and HE tells me that he felt this strange shape in the lining of his coat while he was walking round with her. On examination he discovered that it was an old packet of Victory Vs. Now, today when HE came, we were only just above the field shelter so obviously I came down to say hello. Jasmine always jumps up and down and barks at me when I see her in the street on a lead or behind her gate at home. Today she was not on a lead, so she jumped up at me and barked. I think she was a bit surprised when this made me move towards her and she swiftly decided that I should be left alone. HE was so pleased with me that HE wanted to treat me and, only having those discovered lozenges about HIS person, gave me one. Not bad! Interesting, but not bad. Of course, when Wicky saw this from the top of the hill, he came galloping down and he had one two. Well, you know Wick. Not the most discerning when it comes to eating. One chomp and it was gone. He worked his way over to Treg who hesitated for ages before deciding it was not a wormer and smiled. HE then walked away with Jasmine, up the hill to just below the top field and then down along the edge, nearly to the bridle path. At that point, Wick took it in his head to do another gallop up to him so I followed and did a flying buck right beside him just for fun. Then we all mobbed HIM (even Jasmine) and, by the time HE got back to his car those Victory Vs were just a memory!

Tuesday 8th February 2005
A very bad day today. Not quite as catastrophic as it could have been but we will have to wait and see. HE came back from feeding the two old guys saying that Treg was having another lie in and that HE had left his bucket in the field shelter and shut Wicky in the Throwleigh Road field, as has become quite normal of late. When I got up to Ninefields, I could see that something was wrong because, instead of HER standing near the gate giving Treg & Wick some treats until I turn up, SHE was down in the home paddock, standing next to Treg, who was still lying down. HE went over the stream to HER leaving Wick and I shut out and we watched as THEY both tried a variety of things to get Treg to stand up. But it was no usTregonye. Each time he tried, his legs just wouldn't take the weight and he rolled back over. Next they tried letting Wick & I into the field in an attempt to jolly him into getting up. I ran over and nudged him and Wicky went and stood by him but nothing worked. In the end, SHE asked HIM to phone the vets and they said they would send someone out.

While they were waiting, SHE tried taking Treg's coat off because this has seemed to work sometimes in the past. However, no amount of shouting and pulling, treating and begging or anything seemed to help the old man even though he made a few gallant attempts. In the ind , SHE said to let him have his breakfast bucket where he lay. The problem with this was that both Wicky and I wanted to help him eat it so in the end SHE got our head collars and we were put back into the Throwleigh Road field again.

Eventually the vet came, a girl called Anna who we have not seen before. Wicky and I watched as they all went through the same act again, pulling and shouting, etc. Then, as Treg got part way up before falling back, Anna suggested getting hay bales to put round him and help support him. After a few more tries, she decided to give him an injection of pain killer, in case his legs just hurt too much. All Wicky and I could do was watch while she cut away the hair on his neck so that she could inject straight into a vein. Then they covered Treg over with his coat and things looked really grim. Finally, I don't know if it was the pain killer, Treg's cobby determination or what, but he gave one more mighty jump and he was up. SHE burst into tears, Anna jumped out of the way and HE first walked Treg around followed by the vet to keep him moving and make sure he didn't fall back down again. They HE let Treg off his lead rein and came and let Wicky and I into the paddock. We just couldn't contain ourselves. Wicky galloped over to Treg and I just ran and bucked, bucked and ran and then bucked some more with joy. I checked that the old boy was OK and then swiftly led my herd up the hill away from vets with syringes. The problem (theirs not ours) was that HE wanted to take Wicky's and Treg's head collars off and Anna wanted to check Treg's leg before she was satisfied. To cut a long story short, they caught up with us in the top field.
After that, we had a pleasant day in the sun but, to be honest with you, I am dreading tomorrow morning.

Wednesday 9th February 2005 Tregony and HER
”'s coming to something when a chap can't have a lie down in peace without THEM nailing the lid on his coffin, so to speak”.
“Look, Treg, THEY've been so worried about you, THEY have been in tears, on and off, since yesterday.”
”Yeah. It was a bit of a to do, yesterday, wasn't it. But after that pain killer, I felt fine.”
”The bit I liked best was HIM coming all the way up the hill last night, in the pitch dark, to bring you some more medicine in a bucket.”
”It was nice to watch HIM from the highest and furtherest point in all of Ninefields, wasn't it. He kept climbing up a bit and shining HIS torch all around and calling out our names. Then HE had to climb up some more. It's a wonder HIS breathing lasted out as well as it did.”
”I felt I just had to go down a bit and get HIM in the end. It's a good job my coat is white so that it shone out in his torchlight else HE might never have found us.”
”You only did it because you saw that HE had buckets in HIS hands, Wick.”
”That was a bit of an inducement, I will admit. You weren't going to help, were you, hiding away under that tree?”
”Well, you never know with humans. As it happens it was my usual medicine in a bucket of food but it could just as well have been a wormer or something. I've lived long enough now to know never to volunteer for anything.”
”Did you see HIS face this morning, when HE saw you were standing up and waiting for your breakfast?”
”Yeah. SHE drove along as well, to check up on me.”
”And then you had to go and spoil everything by having a lay down mid morning.”
”How was I to know that THEY'd come along and spy on me? You and Alli knew I was alright. You just went up to the top field and left me to have a rest.”
”Yeah, but SHE saw the scuff marks you had made, trying to get up. That was what upset HER. She even got crying in the phone to your old mum, Michelle. She'd only phoned to say that she had our passports now and then, when SHE told her that you were laying down again and THEY didn't know if you could get up, Michelle ended up crying too.”
”I just needed a bit of a rest. That's all. Anyway, changing the subject, are we going on holiday?”
”What do you mean, Treg? Holiday ? Why should wee do that?”
”Michelle said she had our passports. I thought maybe we were going over to France to see Alli's old stable or something.”
”No, I don't think so, Treg. Maybe we should talk about passports when you are feeling a bit stronger. I'm afraid they are nothing to do with holidays. Just another piece of human nastiness, I'm afraid!”

Thursday 10th February 2005Wick's new hairstyle
“Ere Wick?”
”Hallo there, Tregony, how are you today?”
”Alright, Wick. How should I be?”
”Well, everybody is walking around with such gloomy faces because they are worried about you, old lad.”
”Oh, is that what it is? I thought it was National Misery day or something. Anyway, that's not what I was going to ask you.”
”Then what was that, Treg. How can I help you?”
”I was just wondering, who was that man who came over our fields today.? You know, that one with the sort of stick with a wheel on it.”
”Oh, him. That's Peter the fence man. THEY're going to get the fence mended so that the sheep can't get out or in.”
”I shouldn't think that they would want to do both, Wick. Either they would want to get out or in. But if they were in and they wanted to get out then I shouldn't think that they would want to get back in again. And if they were o ….”
”Alright, Treg, there's no need to go on. I know what you are saying. But it's for more than one lot of sheep. You see, if they are farmer Michael's sheep, they will be in our fields and we don't want them to be able to get out. But if they are that lot who roam all over the moor, we want to keep them out so that they cant just come in and eat our grass when they fancy.”
”Ah! I understand now – I think, Wick. Is that all he is going to do?”
”No, I overheard them say that they wanted to change that wire fence up over the field shelter to post and rail. You know, the one you are always kicking and getting your foot stuck in. In fact, if I remember, you broke part of it down the last time you got tangled in it, didn't you?”
”Well, silly fence. I was just giving it a bit of a kick and all of a sudden it leapt at me and grasped me round the ankle. I mean, what would you do? I wasn't going to have that. I just yanked my leg away. It wasn't my fault if the post snapped and half the fence came down with it, was it?”
”Well anyway, Treg. It shouldn't happen any more once Peter has changed it. And he's going to take that row of barbed wire away from the top of the fence up by the road. That way we will be able to lean right over the fence to get treats from passers by without getting pricked by the wire. I must say that THEY are coming up with some good ideas lately.”
“Why'd you say ‘ides' just then, Wick?”
”I didn't say ‘ides' Treg. He just mistyped it.”
”I wish I had a mouthful of short feed for every mistyping he makes. I'd be really full up.”
”I think you are really full up already, aren't you Treg? Ever since SHE put that tape on you and thought that you were losing weight, you have been getting enormous buckets, haven't you?”
”Well, you know what I say, Wick? Never look a gift human in the mouth, that's what I say.”
”Do you? What does it mean?”
”Er, I wish you hadn't asked me that, Wick. But, it is what I say.”
”Had you better get up now, Treg, before THEY come and find you laying down again?”
”Yeah, I suppose you're right, Wick. Doesn't do to give THEM too many shocks in a week, does it?

Friday 11th February 2005Onslow at DHAPS
”Tell me something funny, Wicky”
“What's that Alli? Something funny?”
”Aye, little laddie, I need cheering up.”
”Er, well, have you looked at HIS haircut? It's so short, HIS hat falls down over HIS ears now.”
”Oh, I've not noticed. HE always has HIS hat on when HE walks me up and down the road.”
”I just saw HIM stop for a moment and take it off a wee while when HE was walking (or should I say puffing) up the hill with that dog today.”
”Anyway, even if it were short, it's not really funny, is it?”
”As you say, lass, you haven't seen it. So, how about Tregony?”
”You mean, how is he?”
”No, Alli, I just wanted to say something funny for you.”
”Treg's not funny. Well, he is but you know what I mean. Don't you know any good jokes?”
”Aye, girl. But I'm no so sure that I should be telling them to a wee slip of a thing like you.”
”Come on Wick. You know I'll be twenty one this year. I'm old enough to hear them, whatever they are.”
”Well, alright, if you say so.”

There was this old shire horse who was getting on a bit and was feeling a wee bitty lonely, so he asked his pal Angus to be on the look out for a pretty little filly who might make his autumn years seem like summer again. So Angus set out over the moors, scouting round for some likely lassie, when he came upon a group of ponies wandering down from the tor. In front were three or four mares who had obviously seen a few summers of their own and then, trailing behind them was this little bay filly as pretty as a field full of grass. Angus moved over to position himself so that the group would pass where he was standing, so that the meeting might appear accidental. He carried on grazing and looking up out of the corner of his eye as they approached.

“Look at him over there”, he heard one of the mares say to her friends, “not a bad looking lad, is he girls. Hey, Jock, come over here and get acquainted! Don't be shy, lad, we won't bite you – well not much!”
Mean while, the shire, Thomas was his name, was patiently waiting at home and wondering in his idle moments what Angus was doing and when he might return. He used to stand most of the night in his field shelter and then, when the first rays of the sun started to appear, he would go for a gentle walk round the perimeter of his field. Having checked that everything was alright, he would settle down to some serious grazing before having a little nap around lunch time. One day as he was walking along by the fence, he noticed this pretty bay filly in the next field. She had not been there the night before when he had gone off to his field shelter. He gave a gentle mouth flutter and was pleased to notice that she looked up and saw him. And that was all that happened that day. But gradually, over the course of a week or two, they met, became friends and then more than friends. Even her name was pretty and Thomas knew that Sparkles was the one for him. They still had the fence between them but for a big man like Thomas that was no problem. Anyway all he wanted was some companionship and this he had to his hearts content.

He used to wonder about Angus sometimes and one day he told Sparkles the story of how Angus had set out on his quest. When he had finished she laughed and asked for a more detailed description of Angus.

“I don't think you will be seeing any more of your friend”, she told him, “I think he has got his next few years planned out for him by my friends. They're not a bad bunch of mares but they can be a bit playful at times, if you know what I mean?”

”Is that a true story, Wick?”
”All stories are true, Alli. I should have thought you were old enough now to know that!”

Saturday 12th February 2005frosty
HE told me this morning that when HE takes along the breakfast buckets and finds Tregony standing, waiting by the stream HE just can't say how glad HE feels but when HE is sitting on the hay bale waiting for them to finish their breakfast, HE finds himself crying with relief. Treg said that when HE does then HE tries to sing to them to cheer HIMSELF up and they start crying instead. But really, it's just Treg's little joke. I think he really does know how much THEY care for him and it does help a bit to keep him going.
I've tried not to talk about the weather lately as I know it can get really boring but I have to tell you about today. All last night we had rain and howling winds and it quite put me off my food. I pulled the haylage out of the rack but just let it lay on the floor. Most of the time when the wind is like that, I just turn my back on the door and try to doze the time away. By this morning, it had cleared up a bit. The rain had stopped but it was still all grey and miserable and the wind was still pretty strong. And then, this afternoon there was quite a change. The sky lightened, the clouds blew away and the sun came out. Then the wind dropped and by the time HE turned up with that dog Jasmine, it was a really lovely afternoon. We all watched as HE walked round the fields. HE always stops by the wall next to Michaels field and picks up some granite lumps that have fallen off the wall (or been kicked off by the sheep) and HE returns them to a bit of wall that looks in need of repair. I don't think HE would get much credit as a dry stone waller but it doesn't really matter as the sheep will kick them off again next year. Anyway, today HE walked round in an anti clockwise route just to make a change I expect.

By the time THEY turned up to bring me home, the weather had turned again. The wind grew strong again and this time instead of rain we had chunks of ice being driven into our faces as we walked home. I think we were both relieved that Amber was well down in her field so we didn't have to stop for her tonight. Not being nasty but the only thing I wanted tonight was to get back to my nice dry stable and my supper. I don't think HE minded getting home to the dry either!

Sunday 13th February 2005Moreton horse statues
I wont bore you with the gales and ice blizzards that we had today. Instead I'll just report that Treg stayed on his feet today and appears to be doing OK and then I'll tell you a story. But, before I do, I must warn you that when I start these stories I have no more idea what they might be about or where they are going than you have. It is a voyage of discovery for us both and often I am as disappointed as you are. Just sometimes they lead me somewhere nice and maybe that is worth all the trouble.
I was standing under a very deep deep blue sky with just a breath of a breeze to keep the temperature pleasant. What was much more pleasant was the smell of the lush grass all around me and the sound of my fellow herd mates gently moving from one foot to another as they grazed their way along in the sunshine. I stopped grazing myself for a moment to look up and admire Zenthur, our pack leader. He was a finely boned but well muscled stallion of twelve years, at the height of his powers. He was the only one who wasn't grazing, instead he was quietly moving around on the perimeter of the herd with one fond eye on his charges and the other sharply scanning the horizon for the slightest sign of danger. We had been in this area now for a couple of days, having travelled maybe forty or fifty miles from our previous pasture in search of better grazing. What with the warmth of the sun and the reassuring sight of Zenthur, I was starting to feel a little sleepy and my bottom lip was beginning to drop. I could hear the constant buzzing of flies round about but they were not so much of an irritant to bother with too much. I started to dream – first of my two colts who were now grown and leading herds of their own. Then I started to imagine what their foals, my grandchildren might be like. I could see them, in my mind's eye, frisking about in the long grass and calling out to me. At first it was such a pleasant sound but then it seemed to change to a cry of fear, a warning of impending danger. My head jerked up to see what might be threatening them but of course they weren't there, I was only dreaming. Then I heard their cry again, at least I thought, in my dreamy state, that it was their cry. I heard a rumble of hooves and sensed movement around me and shaking my head to clear it of dreams, I opened my eyes to the sight of the whole herd on the move. Swiftly I jerked into action automatically and became part of the moving mass. In a few seconds I had transformed from dozing stillness to galloping flight. We must have raced for three or four hundred yards before we slowed to a walk, looking back to the source of our flight. There, in the distance, was a cloud of dust – so far that no sound could yet be heard and so far as well that we had time to watch and evaluate the danger. Although heading our way, the dust cloud did not appear to be coming directly towards us. From the size of the cloud and the speed with which it developed we could guess that it was originating from a group of animals not a human machine. We stood poised, ready to flee on an instant if need be. The cloud appeared to widen now so we could tell that there must be many animals spread over a wide area. We still could not make out the shapes but you get to know from experience what different phenomena present as and I felt in my bones that this must be another herd of large animals, possibly even horses like ourselves but not smaller like wild dogs or wolves. You could feel the air of tension relax throughout the whole herd. Of course, it still could be danger, it could be horses mounted by humans seeking to raid and capture our herd. But if this were so, we felt confident that Zenthur could lead us to safety.
But, I'm boring you. Enough to say that when the other herd caught up with us, I met up with my first born, Alezan, again, driving them on. Those memories are enough to keep a grandmother warm on these cold winter nights.

Monday 14th February 2005winter rose
”Postman been yet, Wick?”
”Why's that, Treg. You expecting something?”
”Don't you know what day it is today?”
”Course I do laddie, it's Monday. What's that got to do with it?”
”But, Monday the what?”
”Monday, the day after Sunday? Is that what you mean?”
”You know what, Wick? I think you're getting old, that's the problem.”
”Oh no, Treg. Don't tell me I've forgotten your birthday again, have I?”
”It's not my birthday, you silly old Shetland, look at the birds.”
”Oh, it's .. er .. Rolled Oats Day, is that it?”
”Valentine's Day, Wick. Valentine's Day. Where's your sense of romance? Haven't you even thought about it this year?”
”Treg, to be honest, if you can's eat it, I haven't thought about it for several years now. So, it's Valentine's Day, eh? And who do you know who is so daft and visually impaired that might consider sending you a card, old lad?”
”Ah, you'd be surprised who I've got my eye on, Wick. It's only my legs what is giving out, you know. The rest of me is fully intact and ready for action.”
”The only action you are likely to see, laddie, will come in the shape of a worming syringe. Don't be such a daft old frogger. Leave all that to the youngsters now lad.”
”They say you're as young as you feel, Wick. And when I see that sweet little grey ride by here in the mornings, I feel very young indeed.”
”That grey filly, eh? Do you even know her name, Treg?”
”Not yet, Wick but I'm working on it.”
”Ethel!”
”Pardon?”
”That's her name, Ethel. Honest Treg.”
”Never! That's not even a horse's name. No one calls a horse Ethel, not even the silliest, most old fashioned human could do that. Anyway, it doesn't suit her. Silver Star or Belle D'amour, now they suit her. But Ethel! You made that up, didn't you Wick?”
”On my next carrot's life, Treg, I never made it up. I heard her rider call her that as they went past only the other morning.”
”Maybe he was talking to the other rider, Wick?”
”I shouldn't think so. The other rider had a beard. You don't get many bearded Ethels, do you?”
”You don't get many horse Ethels either. Still, if you think about it, it's not a bad name. It's just like a lot of things that get out of fashion. Do you remember those old fashioned jodhpurs the major used to wear? You don't see them around any more but one time they were the height of elegance.”
”Well, I expect you would remember that, Treg. Me? I'm too young.”
”Oh look, there's Alli already. I didn't know it was that time already. Morning Al!”
”Good morning both. Oh Treg, I've got a message for you. Someone I met this morning asked me to send you her love. She said she'd watch out for you when she rode past and said if you go up to the gate she'll try and get her rider let her rub faces with you.”
”See, Wick. See. I told you. She does like me. She does. Did Ethel say what time she'd be passing the field, Alli?”
”Ethel? Who?”
”The grey filly who gave you the message.”
”Sorry Treg, there must be some mistake. This was that big old black mare we see waddling by some days. Gladys I think her name is!”
”Oh Fetlocks! Frogging fetlocks!”

Tuesday 15th February 2005Pheasant
“Once upon a time, there were two young ladies call Phreda the phearless and Phaith the pharely-scaredey. They used to … “
”Wait a minute, Wick. What are these two young ladies? They can't be fillys, can they, or they'd be called phillies, eh Wick?”
”As you so rightly say, Treg, they are not fillys. From what you already know of the visitors to Ninefields, you might guess that these young ladies are of the pheathered variety, in fact they are young lady pheasants. Now, may I continue?”
”Oh yes, please Wick. I love a good story.”
”Each day, this foolish human used to come along to the phield near where they lived and he used to throw out a handful or two of rolled oats for all the birds to eat. Now sometime ago, Phreda and Phaith were phlying over the phields when they saw him throwing out this seed.

‘Let's land' said Phreda, I can pheel a snack coming on.'

‘Oh no, I'm scared', said Phaith. ‘Don't let's. Come on Phreed, let's keep phlying until we get to the phorest.'
”There isn't a phorest near here, Wick. Where do you think they were talking about?”
”It's a story, Treg! A story. Don't be so picky.”
”Oh, sorry, Wick. Go on, please.”
”So, as I was saying, Phaith was scared to land but Phreda had no phear whatsoever and what's more, she was greedy.”

‘I.m going to land and get some seed, Phay, you please yourself.'

So they both swung round in their phlight and landed down by the little stream … ‘

“That's our stream, Wick, oh, sorry.”
So they landed down near to the stream, as I was saying, and Phreda started up the hill towards the seed. Phaith, however, hung back and walked about going ‘kluck, kook, cuuk' and so on while Phreda carried on. She reached the seed and started to peck.

‘Oooh, gulp, this is reall good, gulp, gulp. Come on Phay.. Come and have a bite, gulp, gulp.'

But Phaith hung back and lurked about on the edge of the stream. Now this carried on for several days, and then it went on longer for several weeks. Day by day, week by week, Phreda became phattter and phatter while Phaith grew thinner and thinner.

“It don't seem fair, do it Wick. Poor old Phaith. Why don't she get some phood too?”
”Because she's a cautious creature, Treg. But listen. See what happens next.”
One day, as they were phollowing the same pattern of behaviour with Phreda going up and gulping down the oats together with the chaffinches, blackbirds, blue tits, robins and magpies there appeared a shadow over the ground, cast by the morning sun. Phaith noticed it at once and started clucking a warning but Phreda was far too busy gulping down the seed to see or hear anything.

Suddenly, out of the blue sky and sunshine, there was a zooming shape phlashing into the crowd of birds. With a zip and a splatt, the buzzard struck and carried its prey far up into the sky. Phaith was beside herself and strained and strained to see what was left of the pheeding party.

“Don't go on, Wick. I don't want to hear any more. This is not a nice story, at all. Why can't they all live happily ever after? That's the kind of story I like. I'm upset now.”
”But you've not heard the end, Treg. Don't go away. Listen.”
When Phaith opened her eyes, she was so happy to see that Phreda was still there. But then she thought about the poor blackbird, or chaffinch or whatever that had been taken. She was rather surprised to see that all the birds were cheering or smiling. Phinally, Phaith plucked up courage and went forward up the hill towards the crowd and her sister.

‘What do you mean all looking so pleased?', she said to them. ‘What about your fellow creature that has been devoured?'

Phreda turned to her sister and smiled.

‘No one was devoured, Phay', she said. ‘The buzzard just flew down to grab a clawfull of oats.'

And with that, Phreda persuaded her sister to join her at her feast and Phaith grew as plump as her sister. And ..

“ ..and they all lived happily ever after! Eh, Wick?”
”Yes, Treg. And they all lived happily ever after. Hooray!”

Wednesday 16th February 2005Big O
HE told me that THEY went to see another Horse Sanctuary today. I would have thought that they would have enough with us three but it seems that THEY just can't get enough of a good thing. HE said I would have liked some of the fine big males that they had there. Ex police horses they were and all handsome, HE said. And, even better, there was an 18.3 hands, ten year old shire whose feet were about four times bigger than mine and covered in the most beautiful feathers. (I had better explain for those of you who are not horse people that this is not feathers as in pheasants but rather thick long hairs covering the whole of the hoof.)
It seems that SHE may be going to be building a web site for this sanctuary, which means she will have three horse sites on the go. HE spent his time talking to the horses there while SHE spoke to the owner. In addition to the police horses there are also ex racehorses, moorland ponies and even a couple of donkeys. And, THEY didn't see them all as the overflow are kept on another site. Apparently there are some 48 horses and ponies in the sanctuary all together. After walking around and seeing the horses, THEY went into the office and talked about the web site and then came away, leaving the lady to decide upon the name for the site and some ideas about what she would like as the content. She says she has a lot of photos and is going to type up some history of the charity and send along a copy of their newsletter for HER to put together a sort of outline site which they can then refine.
There is a difference between the SWEP charity and this one (it's called the Devon Horse and Pony Sanctuary) in that whereas SWEP rescues and re-homes their equines with other people, the DHPS (for short) provides a home for life for their rescues. This does, of course, result in them getting full up at times until either space becomes available or they can find space on another , overflow, property.
When you think about it, for all the humans that are not kind to horses there are an awful lot that do care and make their lives around caring for us. It was a sunny day today and that is a sunny thought to end the day on!

Thursday 17th February 2005moss
This is the second day running that I have seen a very suspicious human making their way up the path from the Throwleigh Road to Ramsley Common. What makes them look even more suspicious is that, as they try to make their way up in the mud, the very tall bracken masks their lower limbs and they appear to be sort of floating/slipping along as they go. It may just be me being careful but I have decided to report it to hossifer Tregony of the Human Watch. Well, I mean, it is a human, isn't it? And it does need watching, doesn't it? Well, there you are then. And it means that Treg will be kept profitably amused for a little while which is a good thing in its own right. It's funny. Now Treg's legs appear to be getting better in response to his additional medication, I've noticed that something is worrying him about going up to the gate. I don't know if he has had a bad experience with a passing tourist or whether he has finally got the message through to his brain connecting his illness with the visit if the vet. Whatever it is, he is now very shy of going up to the gate. Even in the mornings, HE tells me, when HE stands at the gate to give Treg a parting carrot, the old boy stands well away and waits for it to be thrown to him. When I ask him about it, Treg denies that there is any problem and goes all vague. But there is something there and I will have to keep my eyes open to try and find out what it is.

Today was the last official day to go hunting lawfully. That is hunting with dogs as we have known it until now. HE told me this morning that HE was pleased to see that the people who like to hunt appear to have agreed to stay within the law but also to carry on the traditions and activities of the hunt, retaining the hounds for scent hunting. HE got the news from the Dartmoor National Park , relating to the five hunts that operate on Dartmoor . If this is a genuine effort at an arrangement which should suit all parties, it does show how humans can act with sense and dignity. All the horses I know love to go out riding over the countryside and it will make no difference to us at all if we are following a “false scent” laid by a human on a quad bike. All our friends the hounds and all our humans will have just as good a day out and, for those unfortunate enough not to be able to participate, there will be the enjoyment of the spectacle and tradition, just the same as before. As for the fox and its bad habit of killing other animals (like the buzzard and one or two others I could mention), the humans will just have to use their incredible ingenuity to stop this happening. I'm sure that they can if they try.

Friday 18th February 2005Tregony
“Look, I was just feeling a bit sleepy, that's all.”
”Treg. You got HIM crying again, do you know that?”
”Wick, honest, I was just a bit sleepy from all that walking up and down the hill, that's all. It's not my fault if HE misunderstands and thinks that it's my lot, is it? I just thought that I would have a bit of a rest before getting up for breakfast, that's all. How was I to know that HE would come along so early and find me laying down again?”
”Methinks my Tregony doth protest too much! You know very well that you had been trying to get up for a long while before HE came along. In fact, HE could see the big chunks you had gouged out of the ground in your attempts to get vertical.”
”OK, OK. So I had a bit of difficulty getting up. But thaqt was the ground being so soft. Nothing to do with me.”
”So why did the vet lady come along this afternoon?”
”Oh! You noticed that, did you? Well, it was to give me those polo mints that sher said she didn't give me. Did you notice that little sneak? I expect you did be cause I saw your eyes turn green when she did.”
”In my days, Treg, vets were there to give you wormers and medicine not to spoil you with minty sweets. I don't know what she was doing. It's bad enough that you go and lay down when you know you can't get up. But then to get rewarded for it? Well, I think that is going a bit far!”
”But she is nice, isn't she Wick. I think she is my favouritest vet that there is.”
”You have no conscience, Treg. None at all. You are anyone's for a mint, aren't you?”
”Look who's talking! I saw you turn to kick HER until you realised that she had some polo mints you decided to go to her instead and be all cuddly, didn't you?”
”Look, Treg, you are getting away from the point. Were you down and unable to get up or what this morning?”
”Seriously Wick, I can't answer you. Yes, I was laying down when HE turned up. Yes I had tried to get up before HE came and didn't manage it. Was this serious? I honestly don't know. I did get up when I was ready and when I had tried enough times that I was on level ground. Had I been on level ground before that, would I have been able to get up, I don't know. I have no idea whether the hay bales behind me were of any help or whether they hindered me or even, if they were immaterial. The humans have a saying “One day at a time” and that is what I am adopting. I may look ungainly when I am down but that doesn't mean that I am dying. When my time comes, it will come. Until then – one day at a time. Sorry for being so serious but, as they say, that's life!”

Saturday 19th February 2005Wicky and Norma
It's a funny time to tell you but HER sister came down on a visit this week. We saw her a few times, mainly coming along with HER in the mornings. She came along this morning for the last time, as she went back home to Norfolk today. I don't know why I didn't mention it before. Probably had something to do with Tregony.
HE worked out that HE had probably walked between 500 and 600 miles with me so far, just going up and down to Ninefields. Just think how fit that must keep him and it doesn't cost HIM a thing, not like having to go to a gym or fitness club. I don't charge HIM but maybe I should for having to listen to his stories or worse his singing. Imagine yourselves having to walk 600 miles beside someone who just cant keep his mouth shut. Sometimes I deliberately walk faster so that HIS asthma will catch up with him and he can't find the breath to talk. I wouldn't mind if he said anything vaguely interesting. ‘Look, a car is coming, Alli'. What does he think I am, blind? Or, like tonight, ‘Look, it's starting to snow.' Well, and I didn't notice it, oh dear! When there is absolutely nothing to be inane about, no snails have crossed our path, no leaves have fallen off a tree, HE will then resort to singing. Now, those songs that are simple enough for him to remember the words are bad enough but when he gets this idea into his head that he knows a song and will sing it to me when, in fact, he just about knows the first few words, those songs are the worst. He then fancies that he can just make up any old words, usually with the one word ‘Alli' in there somewhere and he goes on to hope that this rubbish will all somehow fit into the song and come out alright in the end! I have to tell you, just in case you haven't guessed – it doesn't! So then HE gets grumpy, like it's my fault and mutters something after which, thankfully it goes quiet for about two minutes. Unfortunately then, some other random thought flashes into his consciousness and HE's off again. And then, when we get home, SHE tells me to mind my manners and not gnash my teeth at my rugs being changed. One day, I'll ride home in the car and SHE can walk along beside HIM. We'll see then who gnashes their teeth!

Sunday 20th February 2005Alezane and Norma
One thing HE knows, HE told me is when Treg is most likely to be laying down, that is, as far as they weather is concerned. And this morning was one of them. HE said the human weather forecasters had been going on about Siberian (somewhere north of Hatherleigh) winds and ivy snow showers but when HE got up, it was a very light and calm day with the promise of sunshine to come. Seeing that, HE said to HIMSELF, I just bet that old so and so will be laying down. Now, when humans do this generally, they are actually hoping that they will be wrong. It's a human sort of thing that, based on their past experiences, if they expect something to happen, generally they will be wrong. So, perverse creatures that they are, if they don't want something to happen they say that they think it will happen and then cross their fingers that, as usual, they will be wrong. Are you still with me?

So, like every morning now, HE is hoping Treg will behave normally and not give THEM all cause for concern. But, as HE drove up, HE looked over to the stream and saw only Wicky standing there. By the time HE had the gate open and had walked down the slope a bit, HE could see Treg lying flat out on the ground. HE told me that the first thing that flashed through HIS mind was that Treg had finally died, he was laying so flat and still. HE carried on and put Wicky's bucket down, only to find, on standing up that Treg was sitting up looking at HIM with almost a glimmer of intelligence. I suggested that this proved that the old boy must of passed on but HE didn't even find me a bit amusing. HE said that HE felt that all the pushing and pulling, persuading and shouting to try and get Treg to stand up only confused the old man and so, instead, HE just ignored him and carried on picking out Wicky's feet and doping his cleaning sponges and then feeding the birds, as usual. All the time HE did this HE kept one eye on Tregony and found that Treg alternated between looking interested and rolling down flat again for another few minutes shut eye. When Wick and the birds were seen to, HE did walk over to Treg and gave him his first carrot treat that he normally gets when HE first goes into the field. But then, HE just left Treg alone. HE noticed that Treg was lying on even ground and, in fact, on the hay that was put round him that time THEY had called the vet in, so HE knew that if Treg was going to get up, he would do it in his own time.
When Wicky finished his breakfast, HE put him on his head collar, placed Tregs food down in the field shelter where he normally eats and lead Wick up to the Throwleigh Road field and shut the gate behind him. This time Treg didn't get up right away but HE could see that Treg was watching what was happening. HE put the empty buckets in HIS jeep and came back to the gate to call Wick over for some mint sweet treats and HE saw Treg make his first effort to get up. It didn't succeed but it looked more like clumsy old Treg rather than Treg being in pain so HE felt quite at ease getting in his car and coming back to get me.
And, of course, when we all turned up back at Ninefields (SHE just beat us in HER car) there was Treg just coming out of the field shelter after a late breakfast. By that time, as well, the sun was up and we all decided it was a glorious day!

Monday 21st February 2005sheep statue at Moreton
“Long, long ago, when Seth Wonnacott was a little boy, his mother used to tell him a story …”
”Then, how do you know about it, Treg?”
”Hm, as I was saying, Seth's mother used to tell him about the time when his dad came into contact with the pixies of the deepest moor for the very first time.”
”Pixies aint real, Treg. Surely you know that?”
”If you are going to keep h'interupting, Wick, I shall just have to go and tell my story to the moos in the next field.”
”If you hadn't noticed, Treg, Clarence took them away a few days ago.”
”I'm not listening, Wick. My ears are covered and everything. Now, where was I? Ah, yes. So Seth sat down and his ma started to tell him about the time when his dad had to go out over the wide , wide moor, pulling a cart loaded with … ,well, I shan't tell you what was in it but it was enough to make the pixies very interested indeed. At the time, Seth's dad was warmly tucked up in bed when his wife got the message that the squire required another delivery of , well, of what he wanted and that it was required now, at once, at the double. Seth's ma went and pulled him right out of his warm bed and made him load up the cart at once. He had hoped that he might get the old family mare to pull the cart but when he looked over the stable door he had to abandon that idea straight away. So, fifteen minutes later, he found himself setting out into the thickening Dartmoor mists, pulling the loaded cart behind him.”
”Good for her, Treg. Doesn't do to let the humans think that they can just call on you at their convenience. What a clever mare she was.”
”Yeah, well, as I was saying, the weather was closing down and it nwasn't long before he felt that he was lost. He had been aiming for the main Tavistock road but somehow it didn't feel like it, as he trudged along, pulling the laden cart behind him. Everywhere looked the same, just misty white and silent. Silent until …”
”What did he hear, Treg? Was it the wind or was it the cry of the raven bouncing off the tors all round him?”
”If you'll wait a moment, Wick, you'll find out. As he trudged along the only sound was of his own footsteps muffled in the mist. Then he became aware of a very faint, high pitched whistle that seemed to echo in time with his footsteps. One and two and, whee and whee and, three and four and, whee and whee and … Jed stopped and listened …”
”Who, Treg?”
”Jed. That was Seth's dad's name. Didn't I say before? Well, never mind. Jed stopped and the whistling stopped as well. He put one foot forward. Whee! He took it back again. Eehw! Jed cocked his head on one side but his eyes swivelled around. He could see nothing and, while he kept still, he could hear nothing either. He bent down to pick up the shafts of the cart again and then he heard a voice say ‘I bet you're tired, Jed, pulling that cart all by yourself. Would you like us to help you?'. Jed peered into the mist but saw no one.”
”Did he look down too, Treg. Pixies are very little folk, you know. They make me look big, you know.”
”Thank you for that, Wick. I'll bear it in mind if we get to the part where an old, scruffy Sheltland midget comes into the story. Now, can I go on?”
”Please yourself, laddie. I was only trying to put a bit of character into it.”
”As I was saying … Jed could not see anyone, no matter how hard he peered into the mist. He hadn't replied as he wanted to know who he was talking to. The idea of help was, however, very appealing and after a short silence he said. ‘Hello, where are you. I can't see you for all this mist.'
'Do you want us to help you move your cart', came the reply. ‘We can be very helpful and it wont cost you much.'

‘Who are you?' repeated Jed. I don't see how you can be of help if I cant even see you.'

Saying that, Jed turned back to the cart and found himself face to face with a little, green clad person with a funny pointy hat.

‘Oh, you startled me,' said Jed. ‘We generally do', said the green apparition. We are the pixies of the deepest moor. We saw you were in trouble and decided to come along and see if we could help.'

“Treg?”

“Yes, Wick?”
”I'm afraid you've run out of time, laddie. Isn't that HIM I can see getting out of that car with our supper buckets?”
”Oh fetlocks! So it is. Tell you what, Wick, I'll finish it after supper, alright?”
”Let's see how things go, laddie. I'm not desperate, you know. Let's eat and than we'll see.”

Tuesday 22nd February 2005Throwleigh Road closure notice
I wonder where the saying ‘taters' comes from? OK, I know it is short for potatoes but why humans equate potatoes with icy weather I just couldn't tell you. Anyway, you can guess what my first subject is today. HE told me, as we walked along, that we were much luckier than some places in the country which are covered in deep snow. Here, it is in fact a beautiful day – except for the fact that it is freezing cold. Funny though, unlike yesterday, there was no frost on THEIR cars this morning. I expect it must be something to do with the humidity. It can be very cold but if there is no water vapour in the air then it cant get turned to frost. So much for the weather.

On the way home tonight, HE made me wait while HE read a notice pinned up on the electricity pole just outside our field. HE couldn't make out all the detail but it looks as if our road might be ‘closed to traffic' for as much as ten days in the near future. Now, this brings up several questions to which HE will need to find the answers before the time comes. I suppose the first question is does it mean the particular piece of road that we walk along twice a day between Dry Bridge and Ninefields. If it does, then the next important question is ‘am I traffic?' I'd never thought of myself as such but I suppose it is a possibility in the minds of the authorities. Anyone who can pin a little notice up on a pole that cannot possibly be read by passing car and truck drivers cannot have the mental abilities of Tregony, let alone a human. I expect they would reply that they are fulfilling the legal requirement to which the response must be that, in that case, the law is utterly ridiculous. What on earth is the point of putting up a notice that no one can see let alone read. In fact it is a notice that no one can notice and if that is not utter rubbish then Wicky doesn't like carrots. There are other questions as well. I understand that I could walk along the deep bracken of the common alongside the road (although the danger of breaking a leg in a unseen hole cannot be overlooked). But then what happens when I get to Ninefields? Can I get in through my gate? There is also the same question relating to the feeding of Treggy and Wicky. Because HE would certainly count as ‘traffic' in his jeep, HE will have to take any alternative rout indicated but HE will still need to have access to our gate and that will require him coming to it from one direction or the other. Its all very confusing and, no doubt HE will find out more from the highways people in the next few days. In the meanwhile I will just continue dragging HIM up and down the road the same as always!

Wednesday 23rd February 2005birds
“Did you see that, Wick, while we was having our breakfast, I mean?”
”I would think you know me well enough by now, Treg, to know that I wouldn't see anything while I was eating. Prince Charles could walk along and look in and I wouldn't have any idea.”
”No, Wick, it wasn't him. At least I don't think so. Come to think of it, I wouldn't know anyway, cos I've not met him.”
”That is good to know, Treg. Who else haven't you met?”
”Ooh, lot's of people, Wick. I've not met the queen, I've not met …”
”OK Treg, I think we can guess who you've not met, there's no need to try and list them all you know.”
”But it was just starting to get interesting, Wick. You know, a lot of them I've never even heard of.”
”Then how can you list them, you old fool?”
”Ah, that was the tricky bit. I was hoping you could help me with that.”
”If I'm not mistaken you were having an idea a while back there, Treg. Do you think we should go back there and start again?”
”What a good idea, Wick. What was it you were saying?”
”No Treg. Take it slowly now. It wasn't me that was saying anything. I was standing here, enjoying thoughts of food when you came along and said ‘Did you see that, Wick?'”
”Did I? Oh yes, I remember. I can't remember what your answer was though and if I could it might help me remember what I was talking about.”
”You don't remember what you were talking about? Well, I'm sure I certainly don't!”
”It doesn't seem as if we should talk about it any more then, does it Wick?”
”Good idea, Treg. Change the subject. What do you want to talk about now?”
”Er … ah …”
”That doesn't sound very promising, does it. You sound almost as daft as those birds this morning.”
”That's it, Wick. That's it. Ooh you are a clever old friend, aren't you? You knew all along what I was going to say, didn't you?”
”Not only NO, I didn't know what you were going to say but NO I still don't know what you are talking about, laddie.”
”The birds, Wick. All them birds this morning what came to eat breakfast with us. I've never seen so many as there was this morning. There was four pheasants for a start.”
”Are you sure you don't mean phour pheasants phor a start, Treg?”
”Do I Wick? I don't know. I never learned any phoreign languages. Anyway and there was two pigeons. We never get the pigeons, they only fly about in the trees but they never come and eat breakfast with us. And there were hundreds of blackbirds and …”
”How many, Treg?”
”Well, lots and lots of blackbirds and, of course, the chaffies, the spadgers and the robins. It was a real bumper breakfast this morning. Did you notice how HE had to throw out some extra handfuls of corn to cope with the crowds?”
”Yeah, I did notice that. I was wondering if HE was going to get us an extra bucket as well but no, no such luck.”
”Why do you think they all came, Wick?”
”Dunno, Treg. Did you send them party invitations?”
”Don't be silly. No one has breakfast parties, do they?”
”I don't see why not. Anyway, I do know really. It was the weather. The ground was so hard and had a thin layer of snow on it so they couldn't get their usual food so they decided to all come here.”
”I liked it Wick. I hope they all come again tomorrow.”
”We'll see. HE thinks it's going to get warmer in a couple of days.”
”That'll be nice. Then I'll be able to have a bit of a lay down again, wont I?”
”Treggy … Tregony Bay … Just you dare, that's all!”

Thursday 24th February 2005new kid on the block
We were just walking past Copper Mine (or, at least, past the old wooden sign that they have just found and put outside the stairs which lead down the hill to their house) and I was just leaning on HIM in an effort to get another treat from his bottomless pockets when, all of a sudden, out of the blue (or grey actually, as it was snowing) there was a loud whinny cry from the direction of what used to be Harry's stable. Now, as I have been quiet on the subject of Harry's replacement for some time now and the last that I think I told you was about Silver, the ten year old Irish draught, you may not fond it as strange as we did. You see, we have seen and heard nothing of Silver for getting on up to three weeks now. The last we heard was that they would make a decision to keep him after the vet had been along and advised them. So, who it was shouting out tonight is a bit of a mystery. It could be Silver. Maybe he has been away to school or something learning how to behave before he is judged safe for Faith to ride around the streets. Maybe it is someone new who has come to our area for a trial. Who knows. I will keep you posted.
My relationship with Amber is coming along in leaps and bounds. She was in a different field tonight so she couldn't come up and see us but she did cry out in a very friendly manner as we passed. In a way, it's a bit embarrassing as because I have a partial paralysis of the larynx, I can't answer back and I live in dread that HE might do it for me and embarrass us all. The previous couple of nights Amber and I have met. If she is in the big field next to her own, she runs up the hill to lean over the fence. Last night she was in her little field which joins on to the Dry Bridge bridge and so I just walked into her gateway a bit and we rubbed faces there. It's better there because HE is less anxious. I think HE is afraid that something might happen when we greet when she is up the hill and I am in the main road and that I might jump into the path of a car or van.

HE thinks HE has sorted out the affair of the coming road closure. This morning there was a big sign up on the Throwleigh Road , just as you come out from under Dry Bridge . It stated that the road will be closed from March 3 rd for ten days. It ios apparently for the water board to reline the pipes along the road. Anyway, HE phone the water board and explained that HE had to walk me up and down the road each day and that HE also needed to drive to Ninefields to feed the old boys. They took the message and said they would get someone to phone back which they did at lunch time. It seems that the work is coming from the Throwleigh end and stops just before it reaches Ninefields so there shouldn't be a problem as long as HE can turn the car round and drive back. As far as walking me up the road, the original lady on the phone said that it shouldn't matter as it was only a horse at which HE got very indignant and said it's not ‘only a horse' it's Alezane and she's lovely!

Friday 25th February 2005branches
“Not long to go now, Wick. Are you getting excited?”
”We've just had our buckets, Treg, not half an hour ago. What's the matter, you losing your memory?”
”No, not bucket time, Wick. No, you know … “
”Treg, I know many things, things that have never even hurtled through that great divide between your ears, but one thing I don't know, cant know and I'm sure I don't even need to know is what's getting you excited this evening.”
”The Treggies! It's nearly time for the Treggies. Stars of field, hill and stream will be flocking here from all over the world, all dressing up in their finest head collars and newest farrier designed footwear just dying to find out who has won this year.”
”All over the world, Treg? I've never heard of it and I live with you. All over the world?”
”Well, almost up to Throwleigh. That covers most of it, doesn't it?”
”And tell me, laddie. What are these ‘Treggies' all about?”
”It's the annual awards, Wick. It happens every year – you know, annually.”
”I have heard the word, Treg. Let's move on a bit, shall we? How long have they be running?”
”Oh, they've not started yet, not until Saturday.”
”I mean, how many years have they been going now? When did they start?”
”Er, … let me see, nineteen .. er. Two thou … Just a minute, er Gottit. This year. This is the first one or, at least, it will be.”
”Ah, I see. Famous, eh? So if I haven't heard of them and they haven't happened before, how will all these famous horses and ponies know about them?”
”Look, Wick. Everything has to have started sometime, don't they? Rome burned down from the start of one little flame.”
”What's Rome ?”
”Er, I'm not really sure but it's something what burned down, aint it?”
”Tell me a little more about these awards, Treg. Why are they called ‘The Treggies'?”
”Oh now don't embarrass me, Wick. It's , well you know, it's in honour of someone. Someone pretty famous and good and that. Cant you guess?”
”Not really. Nothing comes to mind. Funny sort of name really, isn't it laddie? So what are these Treggie awards given for?”
”Can't you really tell who they are named after?”
”Oh, I know who they are named after. All the As and Bs and right up to S. Sam, Simon, Stephen, Thomas, Timothy, and all that. No, what I asked was what are these awards given for?”
”Rotter! Well, they are given for excellence in lots and lots of categories in the field of equine endeavour. There's the best Human Trainer, the best Flying Instructor, the best …”
”The best carrot eater? The best knee nipper? You're starting to get me interested now old lad. Where are the awards being held?”
”I thought here, eh, Wick? Or up in the middle field, above the field shelter. What d'you think?”
”That's it, isn't it Treg. You've just made the whole thing up, haven't you. There's no such thing, is there?”
”Might be!”
”Is there, Treg?”
”Well, … er … no, not yet. But we could make it happen, we could, couldn't we?”
”But would we really want to, Treg, that's the question. The whole world's press (well, up to Throwleigh) descending upon us, eating all our grass, pinching our buckets, churning up our fields. Do you really want that?”
”But it was a nice idea, eh, Wick?”
”Tell you what, Treg. I'll give you the award for the best equine idea haver of 2005. How about that?”
”Oh, what a surprise! I really wasn't expecting this. Give me a moment to get my breath back. First of all I'd like to thank my dam, for all the help and encour …ouch! Wicky, That hurt!”

Saturday 26th February 2005Alli looks over
I am starting to get a bit annoyed at the time that I have to come back to my stable. It has been around 4 pm now all through the winter and, whilst that was alright for December 21 st shortest day, it is now two months later and much lighter in the evenings. It is only just growing dusk at 5.30 and I could be still eating grass and running about free for another hour and a half every day. Now I know that there is a bit of a problem in that we do get a bit peckish around four o'clock and we do sort of queue up waiting at the gate for our supper at that time. But, as soon as HE starts to lead me home I just want to have a good old look around and a sniff here and a bite there rather than just walk straight back to my stable. Humans are supposed to be so clever that I am sure they could work out a system of feeding us at four and then leaving the stable bit for a while longer. I think the problem is that THEY do not have the will to do it.

I have to record that it was another lay in morning for old Treg. HE just left him with his bucket and with Wicky safely in the Throwleigh Road field while HE came back for me and by the time that SHE drove up to Ninefields Treg was up, had finished his breakfast and was waiting by the stream just like normal.
Only one other thing to report today (or, at least two but I think that they were probably connected). Hald way down the Throwleigh Road on the pathy that leads up to Ramsley Common there is a bench seat. It has a little brass plaque as if it has been put there in memory of someone but HE has never been able to make out if it is engraved or not. It's HIS eyes, poor old thing. Anyway, we pass it twice a day as we go up and down the Throwleigh Road and sometimes even go up to it to get out of the way of any really big lorries or tractors and then turn round there before coming back down to the road again. But there is never anyone sitting on the bench – until today. Well, I just had to stop and stare. Tow humans, a man and a woman were sitting there, large as life, as they say. They just laughed at me very rudely when I looked at them with not a hint of an apology for being there. Then, as we walked along a bit further there was this bright shiny green car parked in the lay by that we use for our carrot stop in the morning. I bet that it was their car, left there just to annoy me further. Anyway I just stood and gave it some of the loudest snorts I could manage before HE managed to get me to walk on, But none of it was any good. We still got back to my stable far too early and I was forced to give in like a lady and go and have my tea.

Sunday 27th February 2005Treg being undignified
Well, I've seen it all now. You know I was complaining yesterday about having to come in too early? Today, we three decided to stay up the hill longer so when THEY turned up at the usual too early time, THEY had to wait for us. Only, it didn't work out like that because we had been having a bit of a lark and also because Wicky wasn't going to do anything that delayed his supper. So, as soon as we saw them Wicky and I started to run. I had just reached them when SHE said to HIM ‘look at that'. HE looked up but saw nothing and SHE said ‘It was Treggy, he was running down the hill but he has stopped now.' HE then saw Treggy walking sedately over the stream and continued to watch when, suddenly, Treggy broke into a canter up the hill towards THEM and even gave a little playful; half buck. Well, we all just stood amazed, even Wicky. This is the Tregony everyone had virtually written off as ready to lay down his old bones for the last time any moment. As HE walked down the hill towards the stream with their buckets, Tregony followed along behind him and he turned to me and gave a great big wink. I've never been so happy for ages and ages and ages!

We had an eventful walk home, this evening. Part of it was due to me trying it on a bit and stalling so we didn't get home too soon. But, there was also the fact that some strange happenings were taking place. First, I could smell fire and smoke and that always puts an equine on their guard. As we walked along, this pleasant sort of woody smell came up from the direction of Dry Bridge . Burning wood, particularly when it contains green leaves does smell good but it also could spell danger and it put me on my toes just in case. As we got nearer to Dry Bridge , I could also see the blue smoke hovering along the tree line. HE seemed to enjoy it, if anything and just kept on walking despite my attempts to make HIM stop and take stock. By the time we reached Amber's place, I was really wound up and then I saw someone moving about down in Amber's field and the next minute I saw flames leaping up into the air. I just froze and despite HIS urgings to move on, I would not budge but just kept staring down into the field. My vision is very good at detecting movement but it takes a little more time to focus in on the detail. After watching for quite a few moments, I realised that I was watching Annettte, Amber's human who was busy feeding twigs and stuff onto a bonfire. I relaxed and finally allowed HIM to move me along.

I have to admit that I was not that relaxed because as we passed Faith & Roy's place their dogs came running out to the gate barking their heads off.. I must have jumped a foot into the air and spun him round in the process. The rest of the walk home was much more sedate but when we finally got to my stable, my guilty secret was out. When HE picked out my feet, as HE always does when I come home, HE found out that I had kicked one of my shoes off somewhere and we are going to need a visit from the farrier in the near future.

Monday 28th February 2005a gate?
OK, I know February is a short month, but it does seem strange that we are up to March already tomorrow. It's probably because of the rather sharp winter snap we have been having lately. I know we horses have a higher temperature than humans and so we are better able to withstand the cold (you should see HIM some mornings, looking as miserable as sin and wrapped up so tightly that HE can hardly move) but that doesn't stop us being fed up when all our grass has turned to icicles. I suppose we three at Ninefields are lucky because, being on a rather steep slope, our top fields catch the sun earlier and so our grass unfreezes up there even when the lower slopes are still covered in frost. It's the same with the rain. When the lower fields are all wet and muddy, we can always rely on a nice bit of pasture higher up because the rain just runs off it. On the other hand, when it is very windy up on the high ground, we can always find shelter down below. And, of course, the constant movement from bottom to top and back again is great exercise, even for Treg's tired old muscles.

Anyway, maybe now we can start to look forward to my favourite time of the year – the spring. In the same way as we horses don't mind the cold (in fact, Wicky positively thrives on it) we equally don't enjoy the hot weather of summer with all the flies that come along to annoy us. No, spring is the best time, nice temperate climate together with all that new grass and not having your eyes crawling with horrible flying creatures. I just had a thought. This year for the first time, Wicky is going to be clipped out when the spring weather is truly with us. Usually springtime is the time of the long, slow and very prolific moult for Wick. In the same way that he doesn't need a rug for the winter, he definitely doesn't need all that hair for the spring and summer. Usually HE combs and combs and combs and Wicks hair still keeps coming out. HE can grab handfuls of the stuff and it just comes out in HIS grasp. HE then throws it all on the pooh pile and hopes that it will provide nice nesting material for the birds but it doesn't take very long before they all have full double duvets and just cant use another bit. So, this year it's the clippers. THEY've not decided yet who or when, THEY've just made up THEIR minds in principle.
THEY finally got the hint today and changed THEIR time that they come and get me from 4 o'clock to a quarter to five . The trouble was that THEY didn't let us know so there we were, waiting at the gate like idiots for an extra three quarters of an hour. Still, THEY will only catch us once. Tomorrow we will have longer for grazing and that will be good. It does mean that I meet a quite different set of traffic going home but it won't take me too long to train them. One nice thing tonight, we were just coming down the slope towards Dry Bridge when Amber caught sight of us and gave a great neigh of joy and cantered over to her gate to greet us. HE was just giving us both our carrot treat when a passing pedestrian said ‘someone's teaching them bad habits, I see'. Just like a human. Amber and I exchanged glances with a look that said ‘wee think it is a GOOD habit, so there!'


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