Alezane's Diary Archive April 2005
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Wick - what else?Friday 1st April 2005
It was farrier day again today. My, that does seem to come round quickly although I suppose it was quicker for me, this time, because Mark had to come and replace one shoe that I lost after only a couple of weeks. Still, today THEY remembered and I was kept in my stable until Mark came. HE was away a long time anyway this morning when HE went to feed the two boys. Then I saw the reason why, when HE came home. HE had been down to the shop to get a net of swedes. THEY had obviously run out and they need them to make up our feed. Once every three days, THEY prepare three days worth of supplementary vegetables which get added into our feed buckets. We get a mix of carrots, swede (a sort of turnip for those who don't know) and apple. Every three days, THEY sit down and cut up these veg which are then put into 18 plastic bags – one morning and one night for three days for the three of us! Of course this means that they have to go shopping every three days, at least for the carrots and apples. The swede is sold in a large net which lasts longer than three days but it does mean that sometimes things can get out of sync, like today, and a special trip is needed. Oh, and they also top up our Polo mint supply every three days too. While they are out doing the important shopping, THEY often take the opportunity to but some food for themselves. I really don't mind at all. After all, if THEY don't keep well fed how will THEY be able to look after us properly?
I know it was April fool's day today but I don't think HE did it for that reason. While Mark was doing Treg's shoes (he parked his van just inside the bridle path), HE decided to take Wick for a little walk up and down the Throwleigh Road to get him ready for when he must walk down to the stable by our house to have his coat clipped. Anyway, it quite threw me. Both of my friends had been taken away, leaving me all on my own. I am quite happy if it is me that is taken away to be on my own in my stable but, when we are in Ninefields, we all have to be together. I shouted out and ran up and down and snorted, so much in fact that Matthew's horses over at Nine Stones started to shout back. In the end there were horse cries echoing all around and HE was forced to bring Wicky back. Well, my shouting and the fact that Wicky had taken a liking to eating the primroses on the outside bank that HE is so pleased with.
Then, after everyone had gone away and left us alone, in the middle of the afternoon THEY turned up again with two visitors and we were called down to come and say hello. To be honest, Treg didn't want to go but when Wick and I finally did go down, the old man was forced to follow. At last we got some Polo mints out of it so maybe it was worth it after all. I knew one of the visitors, a lady names Ann who had been to see me before. The other was her sister who I had not met. It seems a long way to come, all the way from Plymouth , just to see us for half an hour, but then, I guess we are worth it!

bluebellsSaturday 2nd April 2005
“I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. I hate that stuff Wick. I hate it!”
”Don't you like it Treg?”
”I hat …. What do you mean, don't I like it? Do YOU like it?”
”It's no bad. Not much flavour. A bit bland really but it fills a spot, as they say.”
”Wick, you can't mean it? Wormers? Fill a spot? Ugh! Horrible. I hate it.”
”Just as well that THEY don't give them to you very often then, laddie. But come on, admit it, you are a bit of a big softy. Really they're not that bad. And they are for your own good. Stop all those nasty little wriggly things squirming about inside you. Do you know what they do, Treg. They eat your dinner! How about that? You eat it and you think that you will get the benefit and those little wormy things are just waiting to gobble it all up again.”
”They don't, Wick. You're making that up. Anyway, I haven't got any little squiggly wormy things inside me. I couldn't have. I don't eat ‘em. I'm a vegetarian.”
”Ah, but there it is, you see laddie. You think you don't have ‘em but you do.”
”But how do they get into my tummy if I don't eat them? Tell me that, eh, clever curls.”
”But you do eat them, Treg. You eat them as little eggs.”
”I told you before, I'm a vegetarian. In fact, more than that, I'm a vegan. I don't eat eggs either.”
”But you did drink milk when you were little.”
”Ah, yes, but I was too young to know any better then.”
”And do you know what goes into Polo mints, then Treg?”
”Er, white grass?”
”What if I told you it was worms?”
”Then I wouldn't believe you. I never saw no white worm, did you?”
”Polo's are made out of worms. So are carrots. So are apple biscuits. So now will you take your medicine without such a fuss?”
”All I did was rush off to my tree and sulk for a little while. I didn't make a fuss, did I?”
”So what's all this ‘I hate it, I hate it' stuff?”
”Just letting off a bit of steam, Wick. I can have a bit of a grumble now and then, can't I?”
”I suppose so, laddie, I suppose so. We'll have to ask Alli if she had to have wormer this morning as well.”
”Er, I think best not, Wick. She don't like them any more than me and we don't want her being in a bad mood, do we?”
”Ay, you could be right there, Treg my man. Let's just act normal, as if nothing has happened.”
”Right, Wick. Here she comes now. Just be bright and cheerful, eh?”
”Good morning, Alli. Lovely day, isn't it?”
”Humph! Is it? I hate it. I hate it. I hate it!”
”Oh gawd, Wick. What do we do now?”
“Best take hormone cover, Treg. Come on. Quick. Race you up the hill!”

Wick gts a haircutSunday 3rd April 2005
“Ha, ha. ha, ha … oh Wick, that' really very good!”
”I don't see what you are laughing at.”
”You don't see … well of course ..hah, ha, … you wouldn't. You should come and stand over here. I bet you made a bob or two for it, eh Wick? Ha, ha, ha.”
”What are you talking about Treg? Made a bob or two? For it? What's it?”
”Oh, come on Wick. Red nose day. Charity. You know. Why you had your hair hacked off like that. You did it as a sponsor to get lots of money for your charity. What is it, eh? “Horses without clothes on”? “The naked truth”? Did you make a lot of money from your sponsors, Wick?”
”You are not very funny Tregony Bay . I have just spent all afternoon being manhandled by a woman, if you see what I mean, having all my lovely warm coat clipped off and then, to crown it all, THEY go and stick this rug n me so that I can't go and have a good old roll in the mud. And all you can do is laugh at me?”
“Ha, ha, ha. But you look a shadow of your former self, Wick. Slimmer of the year achieved in just one afternoon. Oh dear, ha, ha. You didn't tell us when they took you away this afternoon that you were going to have your weight adjusted. You have no idea how wild Alli has been going. She thought that THEY were taking you away for good. You know, knackers and all that. She has been going frantic all afternoon that she didn't get to say good bye properly.”
”And you, laddie? Weren't you just a wee bitty worrit when THEY came and took me away?”
”Oh no, Wick, I knew that you were just going down to Alli's stable for a while. For a bit of a treat, I thought.”
”Oh, if you thought that laddie, why were you calling out so loud that we could still hear you when we got to Dry Bridge ?”
”Well, Wick, Alli told me to. You know how she hasn't got a very loud voice. So she asked me to shout out for you to find out what was going on.”
”I was being ponyknapped. That was what was going on. And you supposed to be in the Human Watch and all, Isn't it things like that you are supposed to be on the look out for?”
”Oh, sorry Wick, hah, ha. It was my day off today. You see it's Sunday and us volunteers don't work on a Sunday.”
”So you would just go and let your best friend get stolen and do nothing about it?”
”Course not Wick. But Alli was alright. She was with me. Hah, ha, ha.”
”Tregony. Will you please stop laughing? Anyway, I'm back now so you better watch your step. I may have had my hair trimmed off but I can still bite your knees, you know.”
”Oh, come on Wick, admit it. It was a bit of a laugh though, wasn't it?”
”Treg, you should have been there. You should have seen the lady's face when her clippers wouldn't go through my curls. Ha. Ha. ha, ha. Oh yes, Treg, ha, ha. You should have seen her face.”
”Right Wick, ha, ha, ha. A pretty good day really. Eh?”
”Right Treg. Ha, ha, ha. A pretty good day!”

By the wallMonday 4th April 2005
Well, those two may have thought it a pretty good day but I was shattered. All that emotional stress! First THEY take Wick away and I'm going crazy all afternoon worrying about what was going to happen to him and then, when he finally comes back nearly five hours later, THEY go and take me back to my stable without giving us time to have a chat or anything. I had already shouted myself hoarse (alright, ha, ha, joke, I know) all afternoon and then I just couldn't settle all evening. I called out from my stable but, of course, it is too far away from Ninefields for them to hear. So, this morning, I just couldn't get myself going. When we walked up the Throwleigh Road , HE honestly was worried that something was wrong with me. I just trailed behind HIM with my head drooping down and didn't even bother much to try and eat any grass or herbs in the hedgerow. Then I amazed HIM by just standing there when HE took me into the field and even had a bite of Wicky's neck when we stood at the gate for treats. HE had thought that if I wasn't ill then it must just be worry over Wicky and I would cheer up when I saw him. The last thing HE expected is that I would bite the little blighter. I just hope HE never has to take an exam in horse psychology!
Once THEY had driven away, of course, things got back to normal and we had a good old chat as we wended our way up to the top field. I did notice that THEY drove up about midday to check up on me but I didn't let THEM know that I had seen THEM. One of the funniest things Wick told me was how he was so pleased to have it all over and to be going back to Ninefields that he trotted all the way and even broke into a canter at one point. HE just couldn't keep up. In fact, HE could hardly breathe and when SHE drove along and stopped to tell HIM something, all HE could do was to gulp and nod!
I will admit that Wick looked funny this morning. Not his lack of hair, I couldn't see that because he had a rug on (except for his face where he had his beard taken off and had been clipped round his ears). No, it was the rug itself. You see, SHE took the weigh tape up this morning and Wick has lost six inches round his circumference by having his coat clipped. Of course that meant that the rug that he had on, the biggest one he has, was far, far too big for him and he looked like, well, like something too small wearing something too big. I didn't say anything though because the poor little chap had been through enough already. I don't mean the clipping, I mean the ribbing Treg has been giving him. Luckily he has taken it all as good sport and both he and Treg have been giggling all day. One thing SHE did do when SHE got there this morning was to change his rug for a smaller one. It's still too big but at least not as bad as the first one. SHE did say that Wick could have gone without his rug altogether during the day except that rain was forecast for this afternoon. And for once the weathermen got it right.

Our neighbour MaxwellTuesday 5th April 2005
Let's talk about ravens. I know I have mentioned them before but they really are becoming a feature around Dry Bridge these Days. And, HE finally managed to get some sort of a photo of them. Not wonderful but at least worth a look. Actually HE was out with his camera to take some pictures of the violets that have sprung up along the banks in the last few days. It was a sunny day today, even though a bit cold and the forecast is for more rain tomorrow so HE decided to go out after lunch, when the sun would have moved round in the sky to light up the tiny flowers. HE was just getting back into his car when HE heard the now familiar croak and looking up HE saw the pair flying over his head. Although the camera was set for close ups there was no time to reset, just point and click and hope for the best.
Because of the frequency this pair have been seen lately, flying all over the area from somewhere up above Owlsfoot, HE looked up some details and found that they can have a wingspan of up to five foot. It's no wonder that they cover so much ground so swiftly. Once they pair they pair for life and they have been known to live up to fifty years although it's much more like twenty years in the wild. They mate each year between January and March, both taking turns to hatch and then feed the offspring of between four to seven chicks. Right, enough facts but it does explain why the great amount of activity at present. They are probably having to range far and wide to feed a hungry family.
Apart from ravens what's happened? Well we really did ‘go naked' today as THEY decided that it was nice enough to let the air get at Wicky's trimmed body. And, not content with taking all his coat off, SHE attacked his mane and forelock today with some strange cutting device so that now you can see his face as well. SHE hopes that now all that hair is not getting into his eyes that they will not get so mucky as they have of late. I must say I was surprised that Wick didn't rush straight for the nearest piece of muddy ground to try and make what's left of his coat all nice and dirty and smelly again. He did have a little roll later but he was much more concerned with eating (surprise, surprise) to do any really concentrated muckying. But, all good things come to an end, as they say. THEY brought both Treg's and Wick's rugs along tonight and put them on ready for the forecast overnight rain. Wick took a bit of restraining because that was the time when he should have been following HIM down the field with the supper buckets.
We left them and walked home and also left Maxwell in his field, calling out for his humans to come and get him. He stands by his wall a lot looking over but whether it is because he would like to come into our field with us or whether it is on the lookout for his folks is hard to tell. Amber wasn't at her gate tonight and then we saw her being led near the front door of her humans' house so I guess she was just going in for supper. I didn't mind a terrific lot as I was able to eat the carrot HE usually saves for her, as well as my one!

puddleWednesday 6th April 2005
“Bet you feel it now, don't you Wick?”
”Are you referring to my age, the spring or the gale that has been blowing all night, Treg?”
”Yeah, the cold. Now you aint got no coat only that rug THEY put on last night.”
”Laddie, I am as warm as I ever was. I feel a new chap since all that excess hair came off. I just want to trot everywhere. I'm full of life. What's a little wind to a chap like me?”
”You're right there Wick. Your wind has never bothered you before although it was less than salubrious for those around you.”
”I was talking about the elements, Treg. There's no need to bring my personal habits into it. I will say it was a very rough night last night. Not only the gale but the rain as well. I bet HE will get soaked when HE brings Alli along this morning.”
”Yeah. Have you noticed though how it always seems to calm down as soon as it gets light? You never know, they might get lucky.”
”I hope it clears up soon because I feel like a run right up to the top field, this morning. There was some tasty grass I found growing up by that top gate.”
”I expect you'll go up whether it clears up or not, Wick. You often go off by yourself these days, don't you?”
”Well, you and Alli are always messing around down in the home paddock. All that mutual grooming and stuff. There's not much for me to do except watch you if I hand around and there's no point in wasting good eating time.”
”What other kind is there?”
”What other kind of what, Treg?”
”You said ‘good eating time'. All eating time is good, isn't it?”
”Aye, you're right there laddie. I can't think of any better way to pass the time. Mud rolling's good but it's not a satisfaction that lasts as long as easting.”
”Looks like the rain's easing up a bit now. Should we wander up to the Throwleigh Road gate and wait for HER to come along?”
”Might as well Treg. Tell me. How did you train her to do that carrot throwing trick?”
”Easy really. Wick. Just hold back a bit when you know SHE has a treat to give you and in the end SHE has to throw it or take it home. ‘s amazing how quick SHE picked it up.”
”They're clever little things, humans, I'll say that for them. And THEY have their uses.”
”Not so funny when they want to sit on your back and kick your ribs though.”
”Oh, that's mainly the foals. They're easy to stop. Just drop a knee and they go sailing over your shoulder. Soon get's ‘em out of the habit.”
”Oh, right. Listen, that sound's like HER car. Take your places. Treat time!”

gorseThursday 7th April 2005
Wicky had his tail cropped today. That's the lot now. I don't think that there is a bit of him that hasn't suffered from the cutters. I will admit that he looks a bit better for it because his tail was getting so long it was trailing in the mud. Now he has to get down like the rest of us to get it muddy. I don't think a day has gone by yet when Treg hasn't had a good laugh at Wicky's new appearance. But Wick takes it all in good heart. I think he really is feeling a lot more comfortable now. Mind you, if it were me I'd give Treg a good hard nip now and then as his jokes are not even funny. I don't mean they are nasty. No, just that they are not funny. Boring. Rubbish. Get the idea.. Of course, to Treg's simple mind they are hilarious, even if they have been repeated half a dozen times. I suppose one shouldn't grumble, they keep the old boy amused.
Treg appears to be a lot better physically now. He is still on two sachets of powder a day but that has come down from the double that he was on when THEY were most worried about him. SHE says he will go back down to one sachet as soon as the warmer weather sets in, in earnest.
HE said tonight that HE feels like Dr Doolittle sometimes because when HE went to take the old boys supper buckets up to the field shelter the entrance was crowded with animals. In addition to the usual crowd of birds and pheasants there were now two squirrels sitting picking up the oats and having a real good feast. Why they were leaving the peanuts alone is a bit of a puzzle unless it is because they are hung on very slender branches which would give way under a squirrels weight.
Another cold and wet day today. I walked behind HIM going up the Throwleigh Road so that HE would keep the rain and wind off my face. HE does worry though in case something frightens me and I run right over HIM. I can see HIS point as humans do not react in the same way as horses do. If I was standing with Treg for example and there was a noise or frightening sight, we would both turn together and, if necessary, move together too, rather like those human synchronised swimmers. When I turn my head suddenly next to HIM or HER I'm afraid that they do not move and often get knocked out of the way. It's not deliberate or careless just a difference in natures. Anyway, HE often gives a tug on my lead rein and gets me to walk alongside HIM just to be on the safe side.
We saw a rainbow this morning just as we got to the junction about a hundred yards from my stable. By the time we got to Dry Bridge the bow had gone and just left the rain. What I did notice was that the May ( Hawthorne ) blossom is starting to peek out now. That's always a good sign as it means the time that I can stay out overnight is getting nearer. I don't know why I have to come in now. It's just as cold (or warm) in my stable as it is in the field shelter. Mind you, walking up and down the road is not all bad news as I get to stop and eat all the nice grass at the side of the road and on the verges. And then, SHE often talkes me out for a walk down the park while HE is off feeding the old ‘uns. That has two things going for it because not only do I get to eat the grass in the park but also I get out of being groomed at the same time. That reminds me. I've not seen my feline friends over the park for a while. I expect that it is still to cold for them to venture out. Cats are the laziest animals I know!

Throwleigh RoadFriday 8th April 2005
I got shouted at tonight. You know how I hate being shouted at. And for what? Nothing! Well, almost nothing. Just for giving that little Wicked squirt a bit of a bite. Not even a proper one. Just a warning. Why HE should take Wicky's side I just don't know. He was obviously in the wrong. Even he knew it. Afterwards, as we were walking home along the Throwleigh Road , HE told me that THEY thought it strange that THEY could see me and THEY could see Treggy but THEY couldn't see Wicky. I don't know what was so strange about that as he is such a little short arch that you are lucky if you see him at all. Anyway, Wick knew that I have to be at the gate to welcome THEM when THEY arrive and I have to be the first one to get a treat as befits my royal status. I have told Wick this so many times that now even he remembered. So, when THEY drove up and stopped what did HE do? He goes and calls Wicky over to the gate and gives him his biscuit treats before me. Well! I just saw red. I know it was really HIS fault but still Wick should have know better and should have stayed away. So, as I strode up, I just snaked my lovely long neck and gave him a passing neck nip just to let him know where he had gone wrong. And, what did HE do. He shouted at me! And then, silly old duffer, what did HE do next? HE gave me a cuddle and more important, HE gave me my carrot treat, which HE never does as a rule. Usually HE gives the carrot to HER to give me. Lucky for HIM HE did though for I was about to go into a sulk and think up ways of annoying HIM all the way home. It was a really bitter cold evening and I could have walked very, very slowly and kept stopping to eat at the hedgerows. Well, HE just got away with it and, by the time HE came back from giving the old boys their supper, I was in quite a good mood again. But, it just goes to show what an unreliable lot humans are, doesn't it?

Saturday 9th April 2005
”Grand National day today, Treg.”
”Grand national what, Wick?”
”No, you fool. The Grand National. The race. You know, the one Alli told us she'd won when she was a youngster.”
”Oh, that. Well, you know Wick, I didn't believe her. One day she tells you one thing and another it's something else. I think that girl's a bit of a dreamer, if you ask me.”
”Dreamer eh? How d'you spell that. Treg. L-I-A-R?”
”Well, I like to give her the benefit of the doubt. After all, she is our herd leader.”
”Yes, and I can hear her telling that to other horses she meets when she goes away from here. Sounds quite impressive, don't it? Herd leader. A midget and an old crock that can hardly keep upright for five minutes on end!”
wild roses”That's not fair, Wick. I stood up most of today. Well, this morning, anyway.”
”So, you're not impressed with it being Grand National Day?”
”I can't be bothered with what they get up to in foreign parts, Wick. Where is it they run it. Belstone? Priestacott? I heard that it is quite a way away, hat's for sure.”
”It's somewhere called Aintree, Treg.”
”That's daft. Nearly everywhere is ainttree, except those what is trees. That's the trouble with foreign places. No sense. Wot HE calls ‘daft as lights'.”
”No, I'm afraid that's you, Treg. HE calls you that.”
”Well, its better than being called a little poo or words to that effect. Everyone calls you that!”
”Term of endearment, Treg, nothing more. Term of endearment. They just don't want to embarrass me by going all lovey and gooey so they make up a little phrase like that instead.”
“Still, whatever. I don't care about all them foreign races or nuffin. I was more interested in that weddin' today.”
”Wedding, whose? I always assumed that THEY were married. THEY carry on as if THEY were.”
”No, not HIM and HER. No, the Prince and his mare.”
”Prince? I thought he'd retired a long while ago. I've not seen him ride past for a couple of years now. So that's what the old boy's been up to. Crafty old cob!”
”No, Wicky, not Prince, the horse. No, that Welsh guy, Charles. Least, I think he's Welsh. Either that or Cornish. Never could make up my mind. Anyway, the fellow who owns most of Dartmoor , that one.”
”Oh, him. Prince Charles. I thought he was married? I was sure I remember something about it quite a long time ago.”
”Well, he must have liked it ‘cos he's doing it again.”
”I didn't get an invite, did you?”
”No, they only have them posh horses at things like that. Proper pure bred Dartmoor Ponies only, I expect.”
”I'm pure bred. It's just that a lot of breeds had a hand in it so I turned out more of you Hill Pony type, if you see what I mean?”
“I don't know how you keep up with all this news, Wick. That and find time to go to the hairdressers all day. Did your sponsors pay up yet? Ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha.”
”Oh, give it a rest, Treg. You've been on that old joke all week now.”
”Maybe you got your hair done to go to the wedding and then they didn't invite you?”
”And maybe you lay down this afternoon because your mouth was so big it was too heavy to carry?”
”Touchy, eh, Wick?”
”No, touché, Treg!”

buzzard and blue skySunday 10th April 2005
Yesterday morning, as we were going up the Throwliegh Road , we stopped as usual by the entrance to Amber's place for him to have a rest and me a carrot or two when we heard that horrible deep croa-ak noise of the ravens. We looked up just in time to see, framed against the tall trees, high up on top of the hill above Owlsfoot, a buzzard being hotly pursued by a raven. First the buzzard and then the raven dipped and turned sideways in a steep banking turn before they vanished out of sight. HE reckons that it is up there somewhere out of sight, on the edge of the moor, that the ravens have their nest and this one was protecting either their eggs or even their young by now from the predations of the buzzard. Whatever they were doing it was a wonderful exhibition of aerobatics.
That was yesterday. As we walked home this evening, HE told me that when THEY drove home this morning after taking me up to Ninefields, they had just got out of HER car when they heard that raven croak again. We can see the tall trees on the hill from my stable and THEY looked up to see, this time, the buzzard chasing a raven. Then the second raven came on the scene and started chasing the buzzard. The ravens then took it in turns to chase the buzzard but they lacked the acrobatic ability of the buzzard and it easily evaded them. There was a whole crowd of rooks nearby who looked as if they would like to join in but they did not have the height or the speed of the bigger birds. At first THEY thought that it was a fight again but, after watching for quite a long time, it did appear as if the birds were just having a wonderful aerobatic game. Probably not, we'll never know but SHE said to HIM they they were privileged to have seen such a sight. Funnily enough, HE said, that as THEY were preparing their breakfast, there was a squabble between a magpie and a pigeon in the trees outside their back window. It is the spring, I think, with everyone getting very territorial.
Talking of squabbles, that Wicked is getting really pushy since he had his coat trimmed. He is what THEY call ‘full of himself'. Apparently this morning, at breakfast, he left quite a load of his cut up vegetables in his bucket and pushed his way past HIM to try and steal what Treg still had uneaten. HE moved very quickly and just got the bucket out of Wick's reach but HE had to use all his strength to push Wicky out of the way. Then Wick turned his back on HIM in the time honoured kicking position. HE got his own back on Wick though because he blocked Wick out of it while he hand held Treg's bucket for him and then HE held Wick's left over veggies up for him to eat too. Like a softie, HE gave in though and gave Wick his usual treats (as Wick knew HE would) so everything ended up as normal.
Just to note that we met Amber by her house field gate tonight. I hate to admit it but she is looking really pretty at the moment. I wish I was young again!

Alli at the field shelterMonday 11th April 2005

”Ere, Wick?”
”Oh Treg, you're awake. So early too! Well what is you waking wish my man?”
”When THEY came and brought breakfast, why did THEY have just one bucket?”
”Which time was that, Treg. The first time THEY brought breakfast or the time THEY had to come back to see if you were awake?”
”THEY didn't come before Wick. Only yesterday, I'm sure. But, no. Just now THEY came to give me my breakfast and then THEY took some out of my bucket and gave it to you and Alli. That wasn't fair, was it?”
”Look at it this way Treg. Was it fair that Alli and I had to hang about down in the home paddock instead of going up the hill just because you were lying down having an extended siesta.”
”I never had nuffin to do with cars, Wick. I know what you mean though. That's one of them stretch limosins, aint it?”
”I think you'd find that if you stretched a Limosin, Treg, the milk would leak out all over the place. Why are we talking about cows anyway? Or cars? I was remarking about your lazy ways, making Alli and I late for proper grazing. That's why we were entitled to some of your breakfast. If you were too idle to get up and eat your breakfast when HE brought it first thing this morning then you don't deserve to have any at all.”
”Did HE? Did HE really bring our buckets as usual? I don't remember that.”
”I'm surprised that you remember your name, sometimes Treg. You took a bit of carrot out of HIS hand and ate it. Don't you remember that?”
”I remember having this lovely dream where you and Alli were both nice to me for a whole quarter of an hour. Then I slowly woke up and you were gone, up the hill, I think and Alli was grazing over by the gates. Then I got up and joined her and the next thing was THEM driving up and coming into our field. I will admit HE didn't have a bucket in his hands then. It was when I followed HIM into the field shelter that my breakfast sort of appeared from somewhere and I started tucking in.”
”And did you say ‘Wicky old mate would you like some?', no, you certainly didn't. What kind of a friend are you supposed to be?”
”I'm afraid I as a bit muddled up just then Wick. It did seem a rather funny time for breakfast, after all. I do tend to get a bit confused now and then. Dunno why. It's not the heat, is it?”
”Ever since I have known you, Tregony, you have been a bit confused. I think you were born confused. Loveable – but confused, that's what I reckon.”
”But, apart from that, Wick. It was a good day today, wasn't it?”
”Well, I'll grant you it was a shortish wait for supper time after that extra bit of elevenes. Maybe we should do that a bit more often.”
”Tell you what, Wick. Wasn't Alli funny tonight when she stood in the stream?”
”Oh, when she splashed herself all over. Cooling down, I reckon. Girls get like that, Treg. Over heated. Speshially girls what aint girls no more, like Alli. Drop of the hot flushes if you ask me. Best thing she could do cover herself in water. Well, best after mud and we haven't got any of that at the moment. I tried to have a roll myself and all I got was a coat full of dust, least I would have if I had a coat any more. Still, like you say Treg, a good day. And a good night too. Did you notice HE left our rugs off tonight?”
“Yeah. I'm glad of that ‘cos my coat is moulting like crazy. At least without a rug it won't itch so much. Tell you what though. I'm not looking forwards to the flies, are you?”
”Don't worry so, Treg. One day at a time, man. Take one day at a time. Coming up the hill?
”Right'o Wick. Lead on, old mate!”

spring lambsTuesday 12th April 2005
I just got out of my stable door this morning and it ws obvious to all and sundry that I was lame. SHE got HIM to walk me up the road a bit and then turn and hobble back. Then SHE got hold of my leg and started feeling all around until she thought she could feel a bit of a bobble just above my foot. After thinking about it for a while, SHE said that HE should walk me up to Ninefields and maybe the exercise would help to ease it off. Well, we got nearly to our second carrot stop along the Throwleigh Road when SHE drove up in her car and said that, if anything, it had got worse and that HE should walk me back to my stable. We hobbled back and even Dave the blacksmith came out and remarked that we were walking both up and down this morning. I wont say that I turned round with very good grace nor did I race to get back into my stable but in the end I had no choice. Then it was wait and wait and wait. Eventually, the vet lady (Anna, who came out when Treg was lying down) came along and we had more touching and holding. It was decided that my shoe should come off and she found a very big crack in my hoof which had let an infection in and started up an abscess. Once the shoe was off the next thing was a hot poultice for a few days until my foot softens up enough for Anna to dig into it and release the swelling. Anna went off and SHE did the poultice and then she came to a momentous decision – I could go back up the field and I COULD STAY OUT!
Although I still hobbled, I was very pleased to be going out to the field. I didn't realise at that time that I would be staying out. I was pleased to see that Treg and Wick had waited in the Throwleigh Road field waiting for me even though I was three hours late. And then, this evening, THEY came along as usual but instead of putting my head collar on THEY put my rug on instead. I thought it was strange but, when THEY had finished, I went and stood at the gate ready to go home. Imagine my surprise when SHE said to follow HIM to the field shelter to get my supper. I couldn't grasp it at first. Then, when I saw SHE was following after HIM and the two lads I finally fell in. It was really lovely to have the three of us eating our suppers together, just like old times. Then, when I finished first as I always do, I went for a walk (hobble) with HER down to the bridle path gate for a girlie moment (and a treat or two). I still wasn't completely sure until I saw THEM walk away and close the stream gate behind them. It was true. I was staying out tonight! Wicky just walked away up the hill, not bothering to wait for us. Treg started to follow him, not realising that a new regime has taken over. I gently steered him away and I'm sure that they were words of joy that he muttered under his breath. I hope they were for I am far too lame at the moment to chase after him. No more tonight, I'm off to have fun under the stars!

WickedWednesday 13th April 2005
Not really as much fun as I thought. My foot is hurting very badly. I'm afraid I wasn't able to go right up the hill last night or today but just managed to hobble about in the middle field above the field shelter. Well, now I know what it is like. I've watched Treg hobble about when he had his abscess and I've seen Wicky in pain with abscesses regularly but all I've really seen is the outward signs, the limps and the stumbles. But now I can appreciate (if that is the right word) what it really feels like inside as well. And it is not at all pleasant. Standing is not too bad because I can lift the painful foot (my nearside fore) and put the weight on the other three. This does make all your limbs ache after a while because of the unnatural stance but really that is not too much of a problem. Then moving. That hurts. The trick is to get into a rhythm so your bad limb is not in a weight bearing mode for more than a moment. But, yes, it still hurts and sends flashes of pain right up your leg and into your head. But the worst, the very worst is turning. We horses naturally turn by putting all our weight on one front foot while swinging the other round and then repeat this again and again. I'm not talking about changing direction while moving but turning like in a confined space like a stable or narrow lane. As you can imagine one way is marginally better than another but even the better way is murder because once you have swung yourself round then you have to change legs while you move the other one again. Now it used to be that bucket time was one of the best times in the day but I am afraid, at the moment, having to turn in the field shelter after I have emptied my bucket is a really dreadfully painful experience. I actually should rephrase that last sentence because my method of eating has a lot to do with tipping my food all out of the bucket so I tend to empty my bucket well before I finish eating. It starts as a rather clever way of making all the cut up vegetable pieces come to the top by giving the bucket a good hard rattle with my nose. But as I eat these up there are less and less and I have to rattle the bucket harder until in the end it just goes flying and the contents spill out. At home in my stable this happens quite swiftly but out here in the field shelter THEY put my bucket in a rubber type to steady it. In practice this often means that I fling the type across the shelter with my nose as well as the bucket.
Anyway, tonight when I went to turn round to go out of the shelter, the pain was very bad and I stumbled making me back into Wicky who was eating behind me. He then jumped afraid of being kicked and we had a little incident for a moment. Nothing happened but it made HER realise what pain I was in and SHE phoned the vets to get someone out to see me first thing in the morning. Either they will now be able to cut down to the abscess, if my foot has softened enough, or at least give me something for the pain. I tell you, I really wouldn't mind if they did both!

Alezane's bad footThursday 14th April 2005
”Did you her her, Wick, did you see her? I hate that girl!”
“Whoa, Treg. What's wrong now? Who? What girl?”
”She comes in here with those two plastic carry things full of torture instruments. Did you see what she did to our Alli?”
”Oh, you mean Anna? The vet? Yes, I saw her. She came and opened Alli's abscess up so it would stop hurting and get better.”
”Stop hurting? Did you see what Alli did? I've never seen her so angry. That girl hurt her so much that Alli had to snatch her foot away and wouldn't give it back either.”
”But she had to find the root of the infection, Treg. That way she can relieve the pressure. I should know. How many of those abscesses have I had? Loads. And they all have to be treated the same way.”
”Well, I don't care. I hate her. I hate all vets. And I didn't have to stand around and watch while she hurt Alli either.”
”If I remember, Treg, that walking smartly away is the action you take when any vet comes near. You're just an old coward, aren't you?”
”I like to think of it as survival tactics, Wick. You never know what they are going to do. Did you see that big needle she stuck in Alli's neck. Twice, as well. Once on each side!”
”Antibiotics, Treg. Antibiotics.”
”She's no relation of mine, I tell you and I wouldn't ant her sticking her needles in me.”
”But look, Treg, how much better Alli is walking now. It won't be long before you'll be wishing that she was still limping so that she can't give you such a hard time. You just wait until she is properly better. She'll want to take it out on someone and who do you think that someone will be?”
”Na, Alli's not like that. Anyway, I like a bit of discipline. That way you know where you stand, don't you. It wouldn't do for everyone to just do what they wanted, would it?”
”Not vets, anyway?”
”No, especially not vets. I'd like a law passed that vets couldn't do anything hat they wanted. That would serve them right.”
”Serve them right for what, Treg. For making us better?”
”No, for making us stand still and … and … and – eat wormers. Ugh! I hate wormers. I hate wormers more than I hate that girl. And that's lots!”
”Hush, Treg. Don't get worked up again. Listen, I think that's our supper buckets coming.”
”What? Oh yes, you're right Wick. Oh good. I love supper buckets. I love supper buckets even more that I hate that girl. Did I tell you, Wick, how much I h…..”
”Shut up you old fool. Come on, smile. Let's go down to meet THEM!”

cloudsFriday 15th April 2005
It could get pretty boring, always reporting every time Tregony has a lie in. But you would have thought that, with me being so poorly and all that, he would have been a bit more considerate. Instead, when THEY turned up this morning, worried about how I was, THEY found that it was me standing above the field shelter looking after that lazy old so and so. I was torn for a good 30 seconds as to what to do. Eventually I decided hat nothing much was going to happen as far as Treg was concerned so I decided to go down for my breakfast. Of course, I had forgotten about the changing of the poultice which accompanied it. I almost made the mistake of snatching my foot back until I was reminded who I was dealing with. Still, it wasn't bad having breakfast with just the two of us, Wick and I, sharing the field shelter.
It was a funny mixture of a day today. The sun kept promising to come out and then, just as the wetness of our rugs started to steam off in the heat of the sun, it vanished behind a cloud again. Treg did eventually get up and we wandered up to the top field, grazing as we went. It was only when we got to the top that I realised what I had done. My foot must certainly be getting better. As much as I hate those poultices, I will admit that they seem to work.
By the middle of the afternoon, the weather turned really nasty with heavy rain and even thunder for a time. We quite swiftly made our way down again and spent the rest of the afternoon dodging in and out of the shelter as the rain came and went. Treg did say to me that it was a good job that I got this bad foot because SHE never would have let me stay out all night while the weather was like this. I know that I have ‘gone out' almost a whole month earlier than normal this year. I sometimes find myself missing being back in my nice dry stable with THEM coming out at bedtime to give me a good night treat and a cuddle. Then I say to myself that a true wild Dartmoor horse wouldn't have those sort of feelings and I am thankful to stay out with my friends. The trouble is, they are all my friends, the old boys and the humans. One kind gives me comfort and reassurance in my equine being, the other spoil me and love me in their own way. I suppose that I am a pretty privileged person to have both!
When THEY came this evening, I was feeling nearly back to my old self. My foot still hurt a bit but nothing like it has. My appetite has come back and my ‘mare - ishness' has returned with it. I am a princess after all and I can pick and choose and bully if I like – particularly HIM. HE says no and we both know HE doesn't mean it. I finished my supper first, as usual, and then set about acting the madam. Treg took ages to finish his and it was his breakfast that he had missed this morning. And while all this was going on, the heavens opened up with rain, hail and sleet. If I weren't feeling so good in myself I might even have minded!

Alli's foor againSaturday 16th April 2005
The start of the second half of the month. It doesn't seem very long ago that thoughts of April fool and the new month bringing spring were with us. The farrier came and gave me four shoes (I've now only got three) and Wicky had his coat trimmed (now he seems to be forever wearing a rug) and Treggy, well, Treggy was Treggy and still is. Tonight he chose to lie down in the Throwleigh Road field, just as THEY drove up with our supper. SHE spent nearly all the time THEY were here, trying to encourage him to get up. The trouble is that until he does, THEY cant shut the field up with the gate over the stream and padlock the gate (in case we decide to go for a trip to enjoy the delights of Okehampton at night!). What it means in practice is that THEY have to come back in an hour or two to get these things done and make sure Treg is alright. I know we all laugh at it and call him a lazy old so and so but there is a serious side to it. Treg may be lazy, he probably is, but it is not natural for a horse to miss out on his feed buckets. In Treg's case it is a sign of his poor old limbs being increasingly tired. I'm not being morbid, he probably has a few more years to go yet but there is no getting away from the fact that he is aging in a rather obvious way.
My foot seems to be getting better. I lost my poultice and bandage last night and that meant that HE had to clean my foot up before SHE could reapply a new poultice this morning. HE first had to remove all the mud with the hoof pick and it was then that I jumped as he touched my sore spot. Then HE got a bucket of cold water from the stream and used a scrubbing brush to remove all the traces of dirt. That was alright but then HE wanted me to put my foot in the bucket of cold water to wash right up in the crack where the abscess is. Well, at first I thought that HE had just forgotten to move the bucket and I was ever so careful not to put my foot anywhere near it. I finally got the message when HE guided my foot down. Actually the cold was a bit numbing and it felt better for a while.
Then SHE took over and started to poultice my foot. Well, I took it for a while but then, after I thought SHE had finished when the bandage was on, I got annoyed when SHE wanted to carry on and tape it over to make sure it stayed on. I just flexed my tendons and my leg became a solid immoveable pole which would not bend for anything or anyone. I did eventually give in and lift it but it gave me a lot of satisfaction to know that I could get my own way if I wanted to.
I'm pleased to say that for the rest of the day my leg has felt easier and easier. Mind you, HE whispered to me that SHE got some antibiotic and syringes from the vets today so I am not really looking forward to tomorrow morning!

leaves and skySunday 17th April 2005
It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining but it was not too hot, just a nice cooling breeze blowing from the west. And no flies. Nowhere. No midges either. One could walk about with eyes open and not be pestered or bitten. If you looked to the south, the ground rose gently, with a few large shady trees here and there, sloping gradually to the top of the gentle hill from where you could see for miles and miles and watch the other nearby animals, sheep, cattle and, of course, horses quietly grazing in their fields. To the north was the farm with a little copse to the side, with chickens scattered about, pecking and scratching and even a few roosting up in the trees. On the other side, there were the barns, bursting with soft tasty newly made hay, ready for the cooler winter months. There was a courtyard in the middle, leading to the back door of the farmhouse. We used to walk down there in the evenings and the mornings to be given our buckets and treats and to be checked over and lightly groomed to make sure we were staying in peak condition. Often, if we were gazing that way, we would just wander up to the rear window and have a look in just to let them know that we were available for mint sweets or sugar if they had nothing better to do.
When we had finished our feed we would wander away into the centre of the home paddock to decide what we would do for the day. At least, we knew what we would do, it was really where we would do it. To the east there were a series of interconnecting fields through which we could wander at will, the gates normally being left open unless they were regenerating or conserving the grass there, for us to enjoy some other time. Adjoining these fields were others which contained other animals who we could stop to converse with as we passed by. A few belonged to other humans who looked after other horses and we would often enjoy meeting them and having a really good old chat about all kinds of things that we may not have heard about otherwise. Alli liked this part of the farm because she could go and flirt with all the other males and even choose between a stallion or two. There was one particular field that was favourite of Wicky's because they had grown a crop of carrots there and had just dug them up and left them out on the earth. He always thought he was doing them a favour helping to tidy the field up for next year's crop.
And the west! That was where we loved to wander best. No fields, no fences, just one great big open common, full of lush green grass. I'm sure if we walked for a whole day, we would still not reach the end of it. Of course, we never did. We grazed by time , rather than distance. We wander where we wanted until we could sense it was the middle of the day, of course, having a little lie down and shut eye for a while on the way. Then we would turn and do the same in reverse, ending up at the courtyard in time for supper. During that day we would have told each other stories, spoken to the birds and other wandering animals we came across and sometimes we just stood and looked on the wonderful scenery.
Sometimes we wou……

“Wake up, Treg. It's breakfast time. Come on, come and get your bucket.”
”Er…. Wassat….I was just …”
”Silly old sausage, come on. Time to get up.”
”Oh, what's the time? I was having such a lovely dream. Can't I just lie here a bit longer?”
”Oh, leave him alone. He'll get up when he's ready. Where's my bucket, laddie?”
”I quite agree, Wick. Let him rest. I'll chase him about the field later!”

DrybridgeMonday 18th April 2005

So far I've had two injections, one either side of my hind quarters. The actual injection itself is not so bad; I can at least carry on with my feed while SHE slowly pushes the plunger. No, it's that first jab that makes me jump. Today, SHE tried slapping the place where it was going first but it still was an unpleasant surprise. I still stop eating while my foot is being poulticed but that is more in anticipation of being hurt than any actual pain. I keep remembering when Anna the vet was looking for the site of the infection, before the abscess burst. Now that did hurt. And try as I might I still can't stop myself from expecting that pain again.
THEY were talking today about what THEY are going to do with all the hay that is left over this year – really, nearly all of it. I had eighteen bales at my stable and had only eaten one or two before THEY decided to put me on haylage instead. For those of you who may not know, haylage is dust free and so better for my respiration. SHE has plans for the space that is normally allocated to the hay each year for, instead of storing a year's supply (or as much as THEY can – they often used to bring some back from the field shelter store, when mine ran out) they only buy a couple of bags of haylage at a time, so all that space will be freed up. The trouble is, for HIM, the moving of all the left over hay. Eighteen bales may not be much but when they have needed to be stacked seven bales high and you are old and have asthma, it was a lot of work to store them in the first place. Now HE will have to un-store them and carry them out to his old jeep and make two or three journeys to take them over to Ninefields. Then there is the rest of the hay stored in the field shelter. It has been a funny year this year, the grass never really running right out. The has resulted in the forty odd bales in the field shelter only being depleted by ten at the most, about four eaten and half a dozen used either to help Tregony to get up in the mud or as seating around the shelter. So, in all, HE has to dispose of something over forty bales of hay somehow. SHE thought of giving it away but everyone THEY know has their own supply and do not need it. HE was going to burn it but SHE heard that their may be rules and regulations against that now. I think, in the end, HE suggested lining the bales up along the fences and letting nature take it's course. Whatever, it's going to be a lot a work and a lot of wasted hay!
And that's it tonight except to mention that Tregony was having yet another lie down tonight when THEY came along so that's another supper that he has missed. It does mean that THEY will have to buy a few less apples and carrots tomorrow when THEY go shopping!

AlezaneTuesday 19th April 2005
I'm fed up. I'm grumpy and what's more I'm flustered. Probably the other way round, actually. When I get flustered it upsets me and puts me in a bad mood and that makes me fed up. Yesterday I thought I was getting better. THEY thought I was getting better. This morning HE remarked on how much better I was walking. And it was true. But, what with all the pain and then the weather turning nasty, the anxiety over Treggy last night (remind me to tell you about that) and everything else, I was flustered and grumpy this morning. And that reflected on the others. Wicky kept biting Treg and Treg kept saying sorry with every other breath although I am sure he had no idea what he was sorry for. The field shelter seemed to be getting smaller, much too small for us all to eat in comfort anyway. And that's another laugh. Eat in comfort. How can you eat in comfort when THEY are pulling your coat up, washing your eyes and backside, having the mud picked out of your hooves and, in my case, having a great big needle stuck in your neck and then having a hot poultice put on your foot. Next time you have dinner try doing it with one leg up in the air! After what seemed like eternity, it was all over and SHE wanted me to go down the field with HER. Me on my wounded leg! To be honest, I was glad when THEY finally went away and I was left to get on with it. But, by tonight, I was exhausted. Having to walk carefully everywhere, having to make sure Treggy was alright, having … oh, that reminds me, I was going to tell you about Treggy yesterday. THEY didn't know about it at first. Well, THEY knew that Treg was having a sleep when THEY brought the suppers. What THEY didn't know, until a neighbour told THEM, was that Treg was having a lie down with me at lunch time when the neighbour, Margaret, brought her dog Jasmine for a walk in our field. Now, when they came along, I naturally got up. But Treg didn't. And then, that evening, the neighbour came along to enquire how Treg was and told THEM the story of him lying down and not getting up. THEY had just got home from bringing our suppers and, of course, were then very worried that Treg had been lying down all afternoon. I knew that the lazy old so and so finally got up when Margaret and Jaz had gone but THEY didn't. What happened was that THEY came back an hour later, fearing the worst, only to find the three of us happily grazing up in the highest field.
But that was last night. As I said, by the time THEY came along tonight, I was shattered. I was just taking the weight off my bad foot when they came along and THEY both noticed, right away, how badly I was walking again. But, by this time, I had moved on from being irritable and grumpy to just downright miserable and fed up. I am out in the field all day, the spring grass is coming through and I should be having the time of my life. Instead, as I said at the start, I'm fed up. Best I don't say any more, who knows what can happen next!

climbing on maaWednesday 20th April 2005
I am sorry to go on but, when everything hurts it's very hard to think of anything else. I could, I suppose, tell you all about the mother sheep and their baby lambs that are all in the fields around us. I could tell you about all the spring flowers which are everywhere in the hedgerows. I could talk about young Maxwell who is now out in the field next to ours virtually every day. I could but instead I'll tell you that I had a visit from Mark the farrier this morning. We had our breakfasts, that is those of us that were still standing did. I won't bother to tell you about the exception. Wick and I were shut in the Throwleigh Road field so that the lazy old so and so could get up at leisure and go and have his breakfast without Wicky eating it all first. I had thought that that was the only reason we were shut in that field until THEY drove up, followed by this big van, and HE came along to me with my lead rein in his hand. I should have known because SHE had put my head collar on before leaving me in the field. So HE put my lead rein on and started to lead me up the field. Or, at least, HE tried. I just stood and planted my feet and stared until I could make out whose van it was. So, I was just ready to carry on when Mark walked down the field so we met half way.
I gather the idea was that Mark was going to cut deep into my foot to lance my abscess. However when he poked and prodded and squeezed and pushed he couldn't find any problem. When THEY told him that I was still walking very painfully and gingerly, he said that I had probably trodden on a stone and badly bruised the foot. To be honest, I can't remember doing such a thing and it is funny that it should be the same foot. However, that was that. Mark went away and THEY went away and that was my morning. Eventually Treg got up and we just drifted about grazing. I did see that SHE drove up around midday , presumably to check on Treg but we were behind a wall so I don't reckon SHE saw us. And that, I'm afraid, is about it. When THEY came along this evening I didn't even go up to get my supper and SHE had to carry my bucket down to me. THEY both made a fuss of me but I can see that THEY are very worried as I should be getting better by now. If my abscess has gone and I am still having anti biotic injections (last one tomorrow, thank goodness), it is very puzzling, not to say upsetting, why I am not walking better. With luck things will soon improve and I will have something more cheerful to tell you.

sheep walking pastThursday 21st April 2005
”Alli”
“Yes Wicky”
”Don't talk about your foot again, will you?”
”I wasn't going to, Wick. Nothing was further from my mind.”
”So you're a wee bit happier today then, lassie?”
”No, I'm ruddy well not, if you must know. I'm furious, that's what.”
”What's up the noo, lass? Who's been upsetting you now?”
”I don't know who, Wick. Well, I do. It's THEM. But I don't know if it's HIM or HER.”
”Why. Whatever is it girl? THEY usually spoil you like crazy. Don't tell me HE's stopped giving you that great big mouthful of mints that HE thinks we others don't see, has he?”
”It's that muck that THEY think is food, that's what it is. There's no grain in it, all mashed up straw storks. And stink! It's full of garlic and mixed up herbs, probably to disguise the fact that it is only straw. And I have to put my nose in it to try and find a few bits of carrot! It's enough to make you throw up.”
”I have to tell you Alli. Horses don't.”
”Horses don't? Complain? This one does and loudly.”
”No, horses don't throw up. Cough, yes. Spit, yes. Throw up, sorry lassie, no.”
”I said it makes me want to. I wish I could. I take a great big belly full and then land it on the pair of THEM. Sitting there saying ‘come on good girl, eat up'. THEY should try it. I bet THEY don't go rushing home for a straw and garlic sarnie. Oh no! Give that rubbish to Alli, she'll eat it.”
”I did wonder at our change of diet, I will admit. I thought it was a sort of pleasant change. Sort of continental, you know. I would have thought that you coming from France would love that sort of stuff.”
”Well I don't. And I wont eat it either. It's no good THEM thinking I'll have to or I'll get nothing else. Not now. Not now the new spring grass is coming. I can eat out all day and night if I like and never miss it.”
”Why do you think they have changed it then, Al?”
”Dunno. Might be to do with Treg, I suppose. By the way, where is Treg. I've not seen him for a while?”
”Where do you think? Not standing up, that's for sure. He's another one who doesn't bother with his bucket these days. If he's up, he'll eat it. If not, well, there'll be another one along some time. Of course, he's having a little lie in for a change.”
”Well, I don't blame him. What's to get up for? Garlic straw, ugh!”
”I seem to be the only one eating these days. I don't know why THEY just don't let me finish off what you leave. I've got plenty of room, especially for gourmet fare.”
”Wicky, you have an expandable tummy, that's what you've got. You better be careful that it doesn't drag along the ground one of these days and get split open by a lump of granite.”
”Alli, we hill ponies are tough folk. We like to fill up when food's plentiful to guard against the lean times.”
”I didn't even think you knew the word ‘lean', Wick let alone what it means.”
”You know, Miss Smarty Pants, you can be a sharp tongued so and so sometimes. Maybe it would do you good not to be spoilt so much. Get a feel of what life is like for the rest of us.”
”By rest of us you mean old brain dead and gobble all?”
”Nice. Nice Alli. How's your foot?”

mossFriday 22nd April 2005
'Allo, everyone, it's me, Tregony. Last night the diary was taken over by Alli and Wicky talking together. Now, this is very unusual. In fact, it's shameful becos it's usually me and Wicky wot is talking and just because I was a bit indisposed, they thought they would do it without me, so to speak. Now, I know my place and far be it from me to make a fuss or complain or anything, so while I was lying there, I tried to think of what I could do to get my own back. Then it came to me. While Alli is down the field with HER getting great gobfuls of treats and that I would have a word with HIM and let HIM know that Alli had asked me to write today's diary. No doubt she will find out about it sooner or later but, by then, it will be a fat accomplice.
So, ackcherally, what I have to tell you is good news. This morning went like clockwork. All three of us standing up, present and correct as we say in the force, and lining up for our breakfasts. We all got our starting treat although the other two was a little put out at me getting mine first and Alli being last. Really, HE told me, no snub was intended, it was just the order in which we wos standing. Then we all walked up to the field shelter, moved into the correct positions and started eating just like in the good old times. Alli didn't have to be hinjecterised or have her foot polltaxed, which made her much more betterer tempered than she has been of late. This also meant that she didn't jump about and nearly tread on Wicky so that he didn't have to jump out of the way and mutter ‘I'll get you for this, Treg' and orl in orl breakfast went down very well. After that I went down by the stream and had my favourite treat, sugar lumps. I love sugar lumps! They make my mouf go orl drooly and drippy and nice tasting and my eyes roll round and round in my head. The only trouble is that those other two can't stand seeing me henjoying myself and they always come along and push in. It ended up this morning as it always does with me standing a little way away and Wick and Alli pushing to see who can get the most sugar.
After they went away, we drifted up the hill to the top field, as usual and, about mid morning, we saw THEM drive along the road and spy on us. I told Alli THEY were watching to see that she was walking alright but Wicky said THEY came to see if I was still standing up at which Alli said THEY were probably looking to see if Wick had exploded from over eating yet and we all had a good chuckle and put our heads down again.
Then a funny thing happened. THEIR friend Margaret came walking that Jasmine dog in the fields. She came in at the Throwleigh Road gate and made her way slowly up to the middle field (Margaret, that is. Jasmine made her way very quick and runny). Then we heard Margaret whistling and calling out for Jaz but she had disappeared. After a long while, Margaret had to drive away on her own as Jasmine still didn't turn up. Next thing, HIS car came along and HE got out and started walking up the fields. Wick ran over to HIM but HE just said hello Wick and carried on walking. Well, HE walked all around, even going into the bottom of the top fields but obviously HE couldn't find Jasmine either so HE went back down again and drove off. Then SHE drove up and stood in the lower fields and SHOUTED. And, do you know what? Jasmine came along the road from the direction of Michael's farm and jumped into the car and they all drove off.
So, that's my entry into the diary for today. Pretty hinteresting stuff, eh? I bet you'll want me to do it again soon. At least I don't just go on about my foot do I?

folk dancingSaturday 23rd April 2005 ( St George's Day)
Thank goodness. Pretty much back to normal today. I managed to bite Wicky on the neck as we went down to supper so I'm feeling good tonight. Actually, I didn't really bite him, just sort of jollied him along a bit. For the lat week since I've been under the weather he has managed to get up to the field shelter first to get his bucket. I just thought it would do him good to remember his place in the herd. I suppose herd is a bit grand for two and a half horses but you know what I mean.
So, St. Georges Day today. I'm not really sure why we are celebrating. I mean, Treg has got St Pirin, Wicky is half Scots and I am a mix of French, English and American. Still, it's good to have something to celebrate. I mean, THEY celebrate the Chinese New Year and I haven't noticed any ancestral links there, but who cares? It's interesting because all the pictures you see of St George slaying the dragon always show him on a fine great horse, usually grey and yet, in practice, a lot of the early horses were smaller than Treg. Poetic licence, I suppose but then, there weren't really such things as dragons either, were there? I even wonder sometimes about damsels in distress but I don't say anything out loud because Treg still loves the old stories. I'm dreading the day that Wicky blurts out about Santa. The old boy's grip on reality is frail as it is, we cant afford to go traumatising him at this stage of his life.
I could always get my own back though. Wick is really sold on all the all tales of Highland gallantry. I know he has never been any further north than Winkleigh but he clings onto the tales as his heritage.
Anyway, HE told me HE has a busy day today. There are two events HE is going to take photos of and it will be the first real test of his new camera. At least, it will be a test of how well HE is learning to use his new camera. One of the problems appears to be that, unlike HIS previous one, this new one has separate bits to it. There are two interchangeable lenses and a big external flash gun as well as the built in one. This means that he has to find a way of carrying the spare bits around without having to take his big heavy camera box as well. That is fine if HE has to take HIS camera and video with all the spare batteries and tripod and things but, to travel relatively light HE has had to get a lens case on a carrying strap and fix the flash case to that as well. In that way, HE just has two things strapped round his neck and doesn't have to worry about looking after a box on the ground as well.
The events are a rally and display of vintage Morgan sports cars at the local Finch Foundry museum and then a display of medieval dancing and a traditional mummers play about St George, not slaying a dragon but defending England and the crusades. I think the danger for HIM is that HE will take too many photos (his new camera takes up to 350) and then have to spend hours editing them. I tell you one thing, a horse's life is much simpler!

birthday invitationSunday 24th April 2005
Something happened today that has never happened to me before. I got an invitation to a birthday party! It's not for a little while yet, in fact it's not until December 18 th but still, I can't help getting a bit excited about it. It's at time like these that I wish I was human and then I could start thinking about getting a party frock. As it is, by December, I will have my thick (for me) winter coat on which is not the prettiest of covers and which will be hidden by my winter rug. I wonder if she will mind if it's covered in mud? Oh, I forgot to tell you who has invited me. When I live back in the village, in my stable, there is a house over the road opposite to me and in it there live three little girls, in order of age – Beth, Elsa and Ruth. Ruth is still to small to know me properly but the other two, Beth and Elsa are very good friends of mine. When I have to stay in my stable, I often watch them playing in their garden. They love to climb trees and clamber all over their slide and swing on their swing. Often they do this in some very pretty dresses that you wouldn't expect to be suitable for tree climbing but it doesn't seem to worry them a bit. I also listen out for them and if I hear one of them crying, I get very worried. It nearly drove me mad when Ruth first turned up until I realised that it was a new baby and that they cry all the time (or, at least, appear to do so). Anyway, the two older girls like to watch me as much as I like to watch them and I have given them a little ride once this year and have promised to give them some more later, as soon as my foot has properly healed up.
I was standing eating my supper this evening when HE told me that Elsa had come over to the house with her mother today and very gravely handed HIM a piece of paper. When HE looked at it, there was a picture of me (which he easily recognised) and a picture of a little girl who HE thought must be Elsa because she had an E drawn in the middle of her chest. Having affirmed that it was Elsa, HE asked her why she had got three ears on her head and was told very indignantly that they were not ears ‘silly, that was a crown and Alli had one too'. HE said that was good because I was Princess Alli and asked was she Princess Elsa. ‘No, it's just a crown', she said and I do believe that she doesn't think that HE is all that bright. ‘Well, it's very nice, thank you. Alli will be very pleased', HE said. Elsa didn't look as if that was enough and she told HIM to look inside and , inside, there was this invitation to ‘my party'. So there you have it, the nicest thing that has happened to me for ages.
Just a little bit more news of today although it's hardly what you might call ‘news' anymore. Treg was having a lie down when THEY brought morning buckets. Even THEY didn't get worked up about it and just fed Wick and I in the normal way. Then, just as THEY were walking up the path to go home, the old so and so got up and wandered over saying “Oh, is it that time already? Where's my breakfast?” So what did THEY do? THEY made Wick and I go over the stream and into the Throwleigh Road field and locked the gate while his majesty had his breakfast in peace. I tell you, it made me very upset and I ran up and down and shouted. I wont tell you the unladylike things that I said to Treg when THEY let us back in, after he had finished but he didn't hear the last of it all morning!



the other sideMonday 25th April 2005
HE had to go off to do some filming this morning so there was no hanging round after breakfast. It was like living in a cloud today, everywhere was grey mist. It tried to rain but, after last night when it poured down, I don't think there can be much more left up there. We we're told there might be thunderstorms this afternoon but instead it dried up and stayed pleasantly warm. But still grey. On days like this we are a bit listless. We do wander up the hill but without a lot of enthusiasm. We don't even talk much except for a bit of a grumble. I'm afraid I am still a bit of a misery anyway as my leg still hurts. It seems to have moved from my foot and I now have a swollen fetlock. I heard THEM talking over supper and I can expect another visit from the vet tomorrow only it won't be Anna as she is off on a holiday to Egypt (wherever that is. Up past Chagford I reckon). The only other two I know now are Phil or Johnathan as Andrew and Roger left a while ago. I'll just have to wait and see. THEY don't know either as it depends on who is available at the time. I really don't know what they can do except more injections and maybe a support bandage or something. Sorry, I'm going on about my leg again. It's just that when you are in pain there tends to be only one thing on your mind. Maybe I should talk about Wicky for a change. He doesn't seem to get much attention these days. He is doing very well now, since his coat was clipped. In fact, it is growing again. It seems strange that Treg and I are busy losing our hair while Wick's is growing. Mind you, it needs to. He was all stubble for a time. He even spends more time in the field shelter now. I don't think he is cold as he has his rug on like the rest of us. No, I think it is the midges. Whereas before they could get nowhere near him with his very heavy coat, now his neck in particular is a favourite target although how they can get past that stubble, I don't know. We all have our rugs lifted while we eat breakfast in the morning and HE likes to run the brush over us. Treg's hair is falling out in handfuls now. He looks quite strange as he is gradually changing colour. As the hair comes out it seems to work it's way up from the bottom. The new coat coming through is very much redder than his winter coat, almost the same colour as me. So we have a two tone Treg, the top half brown and the bottom red. It is even the same on his face. Another few weeks until his moult is over and we will look like a pair of twins – well , almost!

 



Giving a rideTuesday 26th April 2005
It was Johnathan. That's right, the Johnathan that likes to make me bleed. Last time it was putting a tube down my nose, today it was the injection or, to be more precise, one of the injections. THEY came along at about five o'clock which was strange as it was half an hour early for our supper. I was in the bridle path field with Treg (who was standing up fo a change) and Wicky was up in the middle field, playing with a black and white cat. Of course, he came charging down, ever the optimist where food is concerned. I was more wary, even more so when I saw my head collar in HIS hand. I don't think Treg even noticed, he was so busy eating. Wick rushed up to HIM and I must admit my curiosity got the better of me and I went along too. HE put my head collar on and then lead me into the field shelter. SHE didn't come down but kept hanging about the gate so Wick and I had a free rein in bullying HIM to give up the carrots and mints that HE always has in his pockets. Eventually a car drew up to the gate and Johnathan and HER came along up to the field shelter. Wicky took one look and suddenly found that he needed to go down to the other end of the field.
I was prodded and pushed and then Johnathan started to cut away at my hoof. It didn't hurt any more than it did already but it became very uncomfortable standing on three legs for that amount of time. After he had dug out a crater and found nothing but the hole he had dug, he turned his attention to my swollen leg. To cut a long story short, Johnathan and Her talked over what the cause might probably be and they decided that I should have yet another course of anti biotics, a pain killing injection now, some pain killing powders to be put in my food and a couple of x rays as soon as they can be arranged. He went back up to his car and came back with the two initial injections, the first anti biotic and the pain killer. Then he was off. Fine. Right, where's supper? Even Wick looked hopeful. But, unfortunately it didn't stop there. SHE took my lead rein and took me up to the road while HE took the old boys buckets down to them and then HE took the rein and started to lead me down the Throwleigh Road . I was limping but, due to the pain killer, it wasn't too bad. No, it was when I realised that I was going back to my stable, that was when the panic hit me. I just stopped dead still and called out to Treg and Wick. I had no choice but to carry on and was even pleased to see Amber, who was in front of her stable, and we both shouted out very load to each other. And so, here I am, back in my stable. No night under the stars (or rain) for me tonight. But, at least I get to eat my tea in peace. We will have to see what tomorrow brings.

bird on an aerialWednesday 27th April 2005
”Ere, Wick, listen!”
”I can't hear anything Treg.”
”No. Quiet, aint it?”
”What's the matter with you, you old fool?”
”Just feeling lonely, that's all. Missing Alli. Don't you miss her?”
”I'm worried about her, Treg. I don't like the way THEY took her off yesterday. Maybe she won't be coming back anymore.”
”Oh, don't say that, Wick! She will come back, won't she. She must come back, I'm really missing her already and it's only been a day.”
”Sometimes, laddie, these things happen. Especially to racehorses. You see, they're not very well built. Not like us. Oh, I know they can be fast but they're not robust. Not built to last, you know. And, she is nearly 21 you know. When is it, her birthday? The 3 rd of May? That's only a week away now. I do hope she makes it.”
”Twenty one? That's just a baby. She's got lots and lots more years yet. Why I'm .. er… well, a lot more than that. And you, well, you're over a hundred aren't you Wick?”
”Er, not quite, Treg, not a hundred. Anyway, you are older than me. Look at all the grey hairs you've got.”
”But you are grey all over, Wick. Except for that brown spot on your side. I expect that bits younger than the rest, aint it?”
”That's not grey, Treg, you old duffer. Well, it is grey but not old grey. It's that sort of white grey. I was like that when I was a foal. Nothing to do with age.”
”Yeah, same with me. I had all those white hairs on my face and round my tail when I was just a lad. I think it's to do with the change of coat. You know, springtime and all that.”
”I think it's more to do with you having a lot of trouble with reality, Treg. Dementia they call it. Those are old age grey hairs if ever I saw ‘em!”
“Mature. That's me. Mature. They do say that one gets wiser with ag … er .. maturity. That's me. Each white hair is an indication of how profound I am getting, don't you think?
”I think that each one is a sign of how much barmier you are getting, Treg, old lad. But you're loveable. Now, don't get away from the subject. What are we going to do to get Alli back?”
”Do? You mean we can do something? What if you refused to eat your supper? Now that really would grab THEIR attention, Wick.”
”Steady on there, Treg. I want to live to welcome her back. I couldn't go without my food now, could I?”
”No, I suppose not. Well then, what? You are the clever one. You tell me what we shall do.”
”How about ….how about… if we, what if we went on a sit down strike?”
”Hey, that's a wonderful idea, Wick. That's something that I can do. Shall I go and lie down now?”
”In case you haven't noticed Treg, there's no one here but us two. Wouldn't make much of an impact, would it?”
”Oh bother. I was just beginning to enjoy myself as well.”
”Let's give it another day, just in case she has only gone to the farrier or the coat clipper lady. Would do to be all laid out asleep when she came back, would it?”
”Alright, Wick. One more day and, if Alli's not back by then, we take some drastic action. OK?”
”Right, Treg. OK!”

Alli and TregThursday 28th April 2005
End of the second Year of Alezane's Diary!

When I started this diary, I was eighteen years old. Oh, alright, nearly nineteen. A girl can stretch the point a little, can't she? I know at the end of the first year, HE asked me (rather wistfully, I think) if that was enough. Didn't I think that 365 days of diary was enough? I remember then that I thought it over for a while before deciding to go on. Why was I doing it anyway? When would I stop? What was the point. And the answer that I came to was … I didn't know. It sought of seemed to me that until I found a good reason for stopping that I (and therefore HE) should carry on. What would we gain if we stopped? I would have less reason to tell him things that I and the other two were doing and thinking and HE, well, HE would gain an extra 30 minutes a day to do what? Admittedly it also takes him time to take the photographs, edit the photographs, put the whole thing up on the internet and collate and organise the archives but whose fault is that? I never asked HIM to. Humans are funny anyway. They like to have hobbies. You don't find the likes of Wicky for example wasting good grazing time on a hobby. But humans are busy little creatures. They are born and spend between ten and fifteen years going to school to learn things and moaning that they wish they didn't have to, They then spend the next forty five years working and moaning that they wish they didn't have to. And then what do they do when they retire or even in the evenings and week ends when they are at work or at school? They work very hard at some hobby or other. They just don't know how to let their lower lips drop and just stand and be! Busy little creatures, I repeat.
This time last year we had men coming into Ninefields, digging holes for drainage pipes because some of the fields were becoming waterlogged. Well, the drains have worked. Now where we couldn't walk without sinking up to our knees in soft watery mud is dry and supportive with a nice crop of spring grass just where it should be. We still do have some muddy patches, thank goodness. Where would we find to roll to get clean and beautiful without them? At least, living in Devon we don't have to worry about any lack of rain.
What was that you said? How's my foot? I see you've noticed that I haven't mentioned it once until now. You humans have a saying ‘least said, soonest mended'. I am dictating this from my stable where I have been incarcerated for two and a half days now. I have stood at the stable door and shouted out to anyone who was passing that I am being held prisoner but all to no avail. SHE keeps putting my head collar on and then, when things are looking hopeful, SHE leads me DOWN the road, away from Ninefields for a little nibble at the grass in the recreation ground. The first day and a half I refused to eat and I blush to tell you what my other end did. Suffice to say HE got HER to take me out today so that he could hose the stable down! But I will say this for HER. SHE has been putting a real warm poultice on my leg three or four times a day and it has paid off. My ulcer erupted out of the side of the swelling and has drained nicely. By this evening I even got my appetite back and I have heard HER talking of me being able to go back out to Ninefileds tomorrow. And, wonders will never cease. I have heard HIM say that Treg has been on his feet every time HE has gone over there to feed them. Cross your human fingers for me, tomorrow I may be free!

mutual groomingFriday 29th April 2005

After breakfast this morning, SHE got my head collar and put it on me but then, instead of getting my proper lead rein, SHE got that silly retractable dog lead that she uses to take me down the recreation ground with. And, sure enough, that's where we went. My heart sank. I was sure that I would be going back to Ninefields today. I made the most of it though because when you are cooped up in a stable 24 hours a day even a little break like walking down the park is a break from the monotony (not to mention the haylage). Then, when we walked back, I still had a glimmer of hope that maybe HE would greet me with my proper lead rein and then take me up the field. But no, instead SHE took me back into the stable and the next thing it's injection and poultice again. I was just settling in for a prolonged sulk when HE appeared at my door. ‘Don't you want to go and see Treg and Wicky then' HE inanely asked. Then lead rein on, out of the door and into the old routine of going to the kitchen table for sugar lumps and we were off.
My foot was hurting a bit but, worse than that, I had that reaction that I seem to have to injections which makes my head jerk as if I had got a jolt of electricity. Also my foor had a very funny smell as SHE had covered my wound with Stockholm tar to keep the mud out. My heart was singing inside but I am afraid my outside appearance was pretty pathetic as we made our way under Dry Bridge and up along the Throwleigh Road . We did stop at Annettes for a carrot but whether it was the funny smell in my nose or the twitch in my mouth, I couldn't eat it and spat it out. At our usual second stop HE offered me another carrot and that one I ate so maybe the first one had not been good or something. They are getting to the end of their season and a lot that they are buying now are rubbish. Whatever, I ate up and we walked up to Ninefields at a pretty sedate rate.
When we got there, Treg and Wick were being fed sugar lumps by HER and we all adopted proper horse etiquette and just simply appeared to ignore one another. I walked through the gate and, as HE undid my head collar, it suddenly hit me. I was back in the fields with my friends! I didn't even wait for HIS usual bit of carrot, when HE lets me off. I didn't know where to run first. The next thing I knew, Treg and I were wrapped around each other's necks performing the mutual grooming routine as if our lives depended on it. I won't bore you with any more except to say that when THEY came tonight with our supper I was very nicely covered in mud. Oh, and one last thing. What a good way to start the first page of the third year of my diary!

Alli, Treg and WickSaturday 30th April 2005
A glorious day. And, I think that the weather was nice for a time as well. This morning I had my last injection and even that was allowed to wait until I had finished my breakfast. No poultice, no bandages and no poking around (although HE did brush the bad hoof well when HE was picking out my feet). And that was it. THEY went and we were left to do exactly what we wanted. THEY came to spy on us just after lunchtime but I think that THEY had been out to the pub for lunch and just popped in to see what we were doing on THEIR way home. Having said we could do what we want, you may be wondering what sort of fun we got up to. Well, I have to disappoint you. Our idea of having a good time is just wandering about grazing, stopping for a while for a standing up snooze and then a bit more wandering with a lot more grazing. It may not sound very exciting and, to be honest, from an onlookers point of view it definitely isn't. But it's what we like, especially when you get to our ages.
Which reminds me. It's only a few more days to my birthday. Did you know that I share my birthday with Dean, James' dad. We don't share cards and birthday cake, I don't mean that. No, our birthdays fall on the same day. It's good like that because the chances then of HIM remembering are doubled. It's not that HE is so terribly forgetful. More that he never bothered to learn it in the first place. She swears that HE doesn't listen but when SHE accuses HIM of it HE only says “What did you say, dear?”. In the end, it's the ladies that remember almost always.
This evening, having had such a good day, I was really ready for my supper. Treggy too and Wicky always is. So we all had a real good tuck in and I went off down the field with HER like we always used to do and we all met up down by the field with HER dishing out sugar lumps. And then, after seeing THEM off, Wicky went back to the field shelter to do his housework and Treg and I waited for him in the home paddock. Then, all together, three best friends, up the hill we went to spend the last night of the month amongst the stars. At least, we will if this mist clears!


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