Alezane's Diary Archive August 2005
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The day to day life of an ex-racehorse and her companions in Dartmoor UK and Mayenne France
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Alezane walksout on WickedMonday August 1 st 2005
Have you heard HER latest theory? It's all to do with lines on our .. er .. rear quarters. SHE was walking round us this morning, as we were having breakfast and SHE was stopping behind each of us and lifting our tails out of the way. ‘Look', SHE said to HIM and pointed. For some reason SHE chose me as an example. Apparently I have ‘thin' lines and ‘fat' lines. Sadly it is pretty clear what she means by ‘fat' lines. They are lines in my behind that show that I have put on a bit of condition during the spring and summer months. But, interestingly, I also, at the same time, have these ‘thin' lines which indicate that at some time in my life I have been on the starvation borderline. I have to admit it is true although, being where they are, I have never seen them and so never knew about them until now.

SHE then went round the back of Wicky, who claims to be on the starvation borderline every day (and many days over it, he says). Strangely, although she also found the ‘fat' lines on Wicky's bum she couldn't see a ‘thin' line anywhere. Wick tells me that it's his profuse hair growth that hides them but I think not. Finally SHE went behind Treg. Now remember, Treg is on a special high protein diet to make him put on weight because SHE was worried about the old man. Now, when SHE goes behind him she finds – nothing! No ‘fat' lines and no ‘thin' lines. He's not put on too much weight with his special food but also he has never dropped so low that he has ‘thin' lines like me. SHE thinks it is because Treg was a riding school horse and so was kept well fed so that he could work well.

To change the subject, it's always like this. The first few days the grandchildren are down here they appear bright and early each morning when we have breakfast. Then the novelty wears off and the late nights catch up and sure enough, this morning they were missing, still sleeping in their beds! In a way it did at least enable us to concentrate our mugging instead of having it scattered all over the place. They did turn up tonight when the buckets came. Their mum came a good half hour before them and got Wicky all excited but when she turned out to have nothing, no treats no buckets, he just turned his back on her and ignored her while he watched the gate for the real fool convoy to arrive. She in turn ignored him and walked up the top of the top field and then sat down to watch the wildlife. She told THEM later that, in addition to watching the bunnies playing, she saw a fox come wandering through the field but he appeared to have spotted her because he first froze and then slunk away. THEY saw three Jays this morning and think tht it must be the parents and one offspring. She said that she saw them up by the old stone circle while she was watching the fox. And they say the countryside is quiet!

buzzardTuesday 2 nd August 2005
Flopsy was back today. I'm afraid that she hasn't become any more clever. She was sitting at what used to be the entry to the hole she dug in the poo pile but which was mysteriously filled in if you remember a few days after she dug it. First she was sitting with her back to the pile and was making feeble attempts to excavate some dirt. Next, she just turned round and started digging that way. This of course meant that she was digging the earth that she had just thrown there when she was round the other way. So, she continued this digging and turning, turning and digging, moving the same earth backwards and forwards for about ten minutes. Of course, she achieved nothing and eventually she hopped out and went and sat in front of the field shelter. Now THEY were both watching her and joking about her and when she sat down HE offered her a carrot by holding it out. Now HE should have known from last time she was here that she didn't eat carrots. Not his carrots anyway. But no. HE had to break off a bit and lob it in front of her. With that she was gone. I'll be very surprised if we see her again. I expect she has gone off to do some other impossible thing, poor dear. I really do think she is a few whiskers short of a …, well, you know what I mean.

Wick was is joyful mood tonight. Not content with just giving Treg a nip on the leg, he made a run at him and jumped up and flashed his tooth right in Treg's face. Now the fact that he does not have a lot of teeth does make his threats a bit empty but, well, have you seen his face? Ugly isn't in it when he makes his mind up. It was a good job for Treg it didn't happen later when he had just eaten some apple as he was drooling for England after that.
No grandchildren tonight. They have gone off to the seaside at Bude in north Devon for a couple of days. And very lucky they have been with the weather. Not so us in Ninefields however. Last night we had a plague of flying ants and today it was the cursed flies again. Humans look at the sun and think how nice it is. We just have to suffer the continual irritations from the flies.

DonkeyWednesday 3 rd August 2005
“Ere Wick?”
“Wassat my Tregs?”
“D'you know what's a special needs bunny?”
“A special needs bunny eh? I'm not really sure I do Treg. Is it one who has to eat more carrots than others. I mean, if that's the case, I'm a special needs pony.”
“Oh, right, I hadn't thought of that. But I'm not sure that is the answer. You see, I heard HER saying that maybe Flopsy was a special needs bunny ‘cos she was digging that hole in the poo pile and I know that Flopsy don't eat carrots. At least, when HE throws a bit of carrot for her to eat, she runs away.”
“Well, maybe carrots aren't her special needs. Maybe she needs, er, I don't know, maybe its er whatever else bunnies need.”
“Ears? I know they need ears as they seem to have great big ones. And fluffy buts. They are always on show as well, when they run away.”
“Anyway Treg. Why are you asking? What do you care about Flopsy?”
“Oh I care very much. I have to or I'll tread on her. She will always sit right in front of where I need to walk and she is so tiny that it is difficult to see her from above.”
“Maybe that's it then laddie. She needs to be watched out for. That's her special need.”
“Oh, yes, that's good. I hadn't thought of that. But why is it only Flopsy that has that need?”
“That's what makes it special Treg. If all the bunnies had that same need, they wouldn't be very special, would they?”
“If all those rabbits came and sat where Flopsy sits, I wouldn't be able to walk down to the stream to get my special needs, would I Wick?”
“Quite right, laddie. And that would be sugar lumps, would it now?”
“Sugar lumps and flying carrots and minty sweets and, well whatever I can get. I've got what you call a catholic taste in treats.”
“Greedy, you mean?”
“If you say so Wick but that is a bit of the pony calling the cattle black.”
“What?”
“Oh, it's a saying I heard. I don't think it applies to the red Devons though.”
“What are you going on about old son?”
“It means that you are a one to talk. About being greedy, I mean.”
“Then why don't you say so instead of talking nonsense about black cattle. Anyway most of them are black and white, aren't they?”
“Not the black ones. Or the red ones.”
“Don't get all smart bottom on me my lad. I'll bite your knees.”
“Thy don't taste very nice Wick. I wouldn't if I were you.”
“I don't care Treg, I just discovered that biting your knees is my special need. Never mind Flopsy, here I come.” Nip, nip, nip!

what's down here?Thursday 4 th August 2005
For all those two were talking about Flopsy last night, SHE has changed her mind about her now. SHE was doing some research on the internet th other night and she learned a couple of things that might help explain Flopsy's behavious. Apparently although rabbits all live together in warrens, those of lower status are sent away to make their own holes separate from the main network of burrows. I didn't hear exactly what SHE said but I gather she was talking particularly about low status females. She did say that a neighbour of THEIRS suggested that Flopsy might be a single parent and this ties up with the rest of Flopsy's behaviour. She keeps appearing, opening up her burrow, vanishing down it and then reappearing after a period, blocking it up again and then stopping for a bite to eat from the oats HE throws down for the birds. Now the second fact SHE unearthed was that, as rabbits milk is so rich, they only need to feed their young twice a day. What if Flopsy has some kittens down there in the hole. She comes along and feeds them and then seals them in so no predator came get at them and they cant go and get themselves lost. Then later she comes back and feeds them again. It then means that the puzzle is not what is she doing opening and closing the nest but rather, where does she go and what does she do when she is away from the nest? Possibly go and visit their father?

HE said this morning that sometimes being up at the field shelter made HIM feel like St Francis. There was us three horses munching away in the shelter while outside there was Flopsy bunny sitting on the path eating oats, two squirrels playing and eating peanuts by the hedge and sparrows, robins, chaffinches, blackbirds, blue tits, great tits and jays on the feeders and fatball. At other times there have been the swallows, fox, deer, buzzards, (badgers although HE has not seen them, only their tracks) and the family of rats in the shelter. Oh, and I forgot, of course, the sheep wandering all over the place and the cows looking over the hedge and shouting at us. As you know, I used to live with a group of cows but when I asked HIM why THEY don't have cows in our field, HE said that it was something to do with having to look where you were walking, whatever that meant!

squirrelFriday 5 th August 2005
HE was very pleased today because HE saw (and photographed) a lesser spotted woodpecker on HIS bird feeders in HIS garden. HE told me that it now made two woodpeckers that HE had seen, the other being the green woodpecker. I don't know what all the fuss is about myself. A bird is a bird as far as I am concerned.

Much more interesting was Tregony's antics this morning. Even after I asked him about it, he just grinned and said nothing. We had had our buckets and our treats (double because the grandchildren are still here) and I had gone down to the stream for a drink. I think Wicky was still up in the field shelter cleaning up, a task he often volunteers to do. Anyway, Treg starts walking away towards the gate into the bridle path second field (we really must get some recognised names for these places). He passed through the gate and carried on when, suddenly, he took a glance down to his left, turned his head uphill to the right and broke into a run. As SHE described it later, it was not a trot as it lacked suspension. No, it was definitely a run. After about a dozen steps he slowed and I guessed that he was done running away from whatever had spooked him in the reeds. But no, after the briefest of pauses, he started off again, running up the hill. I thought it was about time that I caught up with him to find out what was the matter. Having much longer legs and being younger I was no problem to nearly catch up with him but as soon as he heard me behind him he started running again. I kept up with him and he didn't stop, me following on behind, until he reached the entry to the top field. As I said, all I got was a mysterious smile when I asked what it was all about. I guess we can consider Treg better if he can make joke like that. I heard HER saying they will cut his medication back to one sachet morning and night now.

Flopsy was back again this morning. She did the usual – uncovered her tunnel and disappearing for a while. She reappeared and seemed to spend much longer this time, just surveying the scenery. In fact she still had not recovered her hole before THEY left for the morning. However, when THEY came back this evening it was again as if no one had been there. Whatever else she is, she is a master (should that be mistress) of camouflage. The other sight to meet them tonight was that of Michael and his tractor working in the top east field. SHE has been worried that the two top fields were getting very messy and untidy and asked him if he could do anything to help. He had said that he would top the east field (it being too late for spraying) but the west field needed a quad bike with the proper equipment as it was too steep for his tractor. His old tractor had wider wheels and he used to be able to do it in that but now he only has his new tractor and can't do it. SHE has been making some phone calls but we will have to wait and see as it is very hard to get people to do this kind of work these days. SHE did have someone who she wanted to do all that was necessary throughout the year but he seems only to want to do the easy simple stuff and ducks out of the rest. I think he will find that he has no work for HER at all.

the BeaconSaturday 6 th August 2005
You say one thing one day and you are made a liar the next. THEY arrived this morning to find the top east field looking really smart. It even had stripes in it like a posh cricket ground. SHE stood and admired it for ages while we were eating and HE took a couple of photos with both the east and west top fields in view so you could see the difference. The east was smart and tidy, the west was overgrown with thistles. And then, this evening when THEY came along with our supper, SHE got out of the car and burst into tears. Michael had cut the west field as well and both top fields were smart and stripey. SHE was so overcome with emotion hat SHE walked off still clutching my carrot treat and HE had to call HER back to give it to me. After THEY left us tonight THEY drove up and went and thanked Michael for what he had done but he refused to take any payment muttering that he puts his sheep on the field so that makes THEM even. THEY had a long discussion about finding someone reliable to come and look after the fields but the trouble appears to be that everyone in that line of work has plenty of work and the only way is to keep nagging them as apparently they respond to the person who shouts the loudest. It would appear that the problem is not restricted to agricultural work but applies to all manual work for, as the balance of population changes from locals to incomers and the local youngsters are getting more education and ambitions away from traditional service work, then the number of available workers are becoming more and more sought after.

HE brought his little camera this morning and took some photos of Flopsy and of her burrow. She is actually quite a poser and was very content to let him get right close up. HE told me tonight that the only trouble was that as the light was a bit low the camera used its flash and several of the photos needed adjusting for bunny red eye. HE said it is a good way to learn about the different types of eyes that animals have. Until HE got to having to correct this problem, HE had no idea of the differences between human, cat, dog, horse and bunny eyes. HE needed to look at animal photos taken without flash to find out what they really ought to look like. HE said that sometimes HE can cheat and just copy an eye from one photo and paste it into another but only if the eyes are the same size.

Apart from Flopsy, the two squirrels came along to have their photos taken. Now there's a challenge – grey squirrel red eye!

dozingSunday 7 th July 2005
“Ere Wick, it's a bit of a mystery, ain't it?”
“What's that Treg, counting your legs again?”
“No, course not. No, I was thinking about that bunny, Flopsy. Where's she gone now, I wonder?”
“We'll probably never know Treg. She's just up and vanished leaving her burrow wide open. SHE looked down it and said you can see the lining stuff that she put down it. That means it's empty, doesn't it.”
“Never even said goodbye, did she. I mean, last night when we wnt up to the top field the hole was all closed up and when we came back to the field shelter this morning – gone and the hole left very open.”
“Here, you don't suppose something got her (or them) do you? I mean, the front entrance was wider open than we've ever seen it before. Maybe a fox or something came along and dug them out.”
“No Treg. No one would know they was in there, would they. I mean, the entrance was completely closed and they would never smell them in there, would they?”
“Oh, I see what you mean, Wick. No, they couldn't be smelled right in the middle of a poo pile, of course not. Maybe that's why she chose it? Do you think, Wick?”
“Like I said before Treg, we'll never know. I'm afraid bunny's ways are not our ways. They're a mystery.”
“Still, I'd like to know if she had her babies in that burrow or not. And if she did, did she take them away with her in the darkness of the night?”
“HE said that maybe she was on a training exercise. You know, like the Duke of Edinburgh's award or something. She was told to go away and practice building a burrow and report back every night on her progress. And then, last night, they came along and inspected it and told her she had done OK and could come back to the group now.”
“Wouldn't they think she was cheating, building it in the soft earth of the poo pile?”
“Nah! Probably gave her extra points for initiative. Anyway, enough about rabbits. How are things with you, these days, old timer?”
“Me? I'm feeling fine. Well, apart from the flies that is. My wound is nearly fully healed and doesn't hurt any more. Just one thing about that though that I'm not really sure about.”
“Oh yes, Treg. And what's that?”
“Well, when people want to know how my wound is getting on, they bend down to get a close look and I know there eyes are awfully close to … er … well, you know. And it makes me feel very self conscious. I mean, how would you like someone gazing at your … er … well, your person like that?”
“Oh my goodness. He's shy! My old mate Treg is shy at having people look at his willy! Treg, there's nothing to it man.”
“You speak for yourself, Wick. I'm quite a lot bigger than you and there is defineitely more than nothing to it!”
“I didn't mean that and you know it Treg. You are just being rude now. I meant that there was nothing in people seeing us as nature intended. Thank goodness we animals are not like silly humans. Can you imagine if we had to get dressed in the morning?”
“Yeah, or put on pyjamas at night. And wick, ha, can you, ha ha, imagine if you wanted to, ha, you know and had to go behind a bush ion case anyone saw you?”
“Ha, ha, yes Treg. And it would be too crowded because there were loads of sheep behind there as well ….”
“… ha, and there was a , ha, great big queue of bunnies waiting to go as well!”
“Oh dear, oh my goodness Treg. Stop it. I'll get a stitch laughing so much soon. Come on, lets go for a wee bite before the sun sets.”
“Right – o, Wick. Won't be a minute. Just got to get my hat, ha, ha, ha, he.”

lazy cowsMonday 8 th August 2005
Still no sign of the rabbit. Her burrow is wide open, I guess that really is the last of her. Which reminds me, the buzzards were out in force tonight. We have been listening to the cries of the young buzzard for a few weeks now. More a whistle than a cry actually. Tonight there were several over Ramsley common, a bit too far to make out who they were but one was flying very, very high and covering an awful lot of ground. I don't think it could have been hunting, more just enjoying the flight. When you have such mastery of the skies, it must be natural just to exercise and enjoy your skills.

THEY have had a bit of a busy day today. When Abbie was here last week, SHE took her out for some driving practice in the little green car. The day before they went out, HE had taken them down to Okehampton to catch the bus to Bude and, just as HE got to a particularly busy narrow corner, the car cut out on HIM and it took quite a bit of leaping in and out to get it going again. Anyway, THEY had the Learner plates on the car for when SHE took Ab out so they thought that people in the cars behind must have thought HE was a learner and had stalled the car. So, when Ab was out for her driving practice, the car stopped again, several; times so SHE booked it into the garage in Exeter to get it sorted out. This meant driving in convoy, HIM in his old jeep and SHE following in the green car to the garage and then driving back home in the jeep until the garage phoned to pick it up at four thirty this afternoon. Then off THEY went in the jeep and back THEY drove in convoy again. It's not actually so far, about a half an hour drive but it is made more arduous by the noise of the jeep and its limitation in acceleration for passing other vehicles. It is happy at a maximum of 60mph which is fine until you come up behind a caravan, slow lorry or tractor. The problem then is pulling out with lots of much faster cars behind you. There was one moment on the way home this morning when HE was trying to overtake a slow moving lorry but as they were going up a long steep hill, the jeep got slower or the lorry got faster and there was a queue of fast cars waiting behind HIM to pass. Eventually the road levelled out and he was able to get up enough speed to pass the lorry and let the waiting cars go but it was a very tense few minutes.

Now I know this is supposed to be my diary buit sometimes I have to talk about what HE tells me that THEY have done because the opportunities for anything exciting happening in our fields are pretty limited. And also most days, Treg and Wick have been to idle to think of anything funny to say. Like today. It has been a hot sunny day and all we wanted to do was doze. And I tell you, the sound of Treg snoring wouldn't have been funny or interesting. Let's see what tomorrow brings!

AlezaneTuesday 9 th August 2005
“Oh, that's very good, Tregony. Go on, shake your head again. I love it!”
“Oh, leave off, Wick. It's not my fault. Anyway, Alli's got one as well.”
“Aye laddie, but hers suits her. Yours looks like, well, it looks like a hawaian hula hula skirt that got stuck when you were putting it on.”
“You know I didn't put it on, SHE did. And after saying ‘stay where you are, I won't interfere with you', didn't SHE?”
“I expect SHE just couldn't resist making you look funny Treg. That must be it.”
“Wick, don't be silly. You know they are to keep the flies out of our eyes.”
“Aye, and put bits of cord in them intead. Very clever.”
“Well, SHE meant well. SHE thought it would help.”
“So, how does it help Treg? What do you have to do?”
“Every so often you have to shake your head vigorously and that makes the tassles shake about and makes the flies get out of the way.”
“Yeah, until they stop shaking and then they can land again. Then what do you do?”
“Well then you have to shake your head again.”
“I see. So it only works while you are shaking your head. If you stop the flies get at you again?”
“Well, yes!”
“And what happens if you don't wear it? How do you get rid of the flies then?”
“Oh I usually shake my head and they fly away.”
“And what happens when you stop shaking your head?”
“Oh, then the flies come back.”
“So then … “
“ … I start shaking my head again.”
“So, what's the difference if you wear the collar thing or not?”
“ ……. You know, Wick. Sometimes you can be very irritating.”
“Just like a fly, eh Treg? Pity you cant get a Wick collar, isn't it. You could put it on and go around permanently shaking your head and that would stop me irritating you. Tell you what. If I had to wear that, it would irritate the compost out of me.”
“How come you never pick on Alli like this Wick?”
“You think I don't? Why do you think she's always flattening her ears and waving her hind leg about?”
“You've always told me it's hormones, Wick.”
“Well, so it is, Treg, in a manner of speaking, so it is!”

blue titsWednesday 10 th August 2005
I could go on and on about all the flies today and how wearing the heat has been but that would be nearly as bad as the things themselves. I could tell you how irritable I have been today because of it but that would probably irritate you as well. I could … oh, why bother?

Once upon a time, about two hundred years ago in the middle of Dartmoor , a man was looking out of the door of his house at the mist that was swirling round it making it seem as if it had floated up into the sky and was now sitting in the middle of a cloud. The reason he was looking out was that he had to make a journey that day and he was trying to assess how long it was going to take him and what he should wear. It ws the middle of summer so in theory only light clothes were called for but when the mist came down like this the chill seemed to eat into the very marrow of your bones. Pulling on his heavy coat, the man went out and round the rear of his cottage where his horse was stabled. Tregony was standing with his head over the stable door. He had heard his man coming out of the front door and was curious to know if he was going out or not. He had been kept in his stable for a few days now as he had gone lame when they were last crossing th moor and he had stumbled on a piece of granite. Treg was a sturdy horse and a brave one but he did have a habit of leading with the toe of his foot and digging it in the ground and stumbling.

The man put his head collar on and brought him out of the stable. He walked him up and down a few times, noticing how he moved. Giving a little nod to himself andf a grunt, the mad ties Treggy up to the fence and disappeared into the room next to the stable and reappeared with a saddle and bridle. This is better, Treg thought, I'm going out at last. With any luck I'll be able to grab a few mouthfuls of grass on the way. In no more than five minutes he was ready, tacked up and prepared for his journey. The man swung himself up onto Treg's back and nudged him forward. There were no decisions to be made for a quarter of a mile as they followed the track that led down to the house from the open moor. When they reached the end, it was a choice of north or south west. The man touched the reins and Treg turned right. He knew this route well. Right was to the high moor, across some of the loneliest and most desolate countryside in the land. The path became stonier and the way went ever higher. If anything the mist was thicker now and it was all Treg could do to see a few feet ahead of him. The man on his back was silent, almost as if he had fallen asleep with the gentle motion of Treg's walking. He had said many times that Tregony was very comfortable to ride, his wide back making one feel that they were sitting in an armchair
.
They had been walking for just over three quarters of an hour when it happened. One minute Treg was carefully making his way along a narrow stony path and the next a giant bird exploded out of the ground in front of him making him rear, stumble and fall. The man was as surprised as Treg and found himself falling backwards and over to the side. He didn't hit the ground however. Not then. In the mist they had been unable to see that they were walking along the rim of a deep , granite lined ravine and the man fell several hundred feet before bouncing to his death on the rocks below. Of course, Tregony didn't know what had happened, only that he had lost his rider. He had got himself back up and was looking around wondering what to do. The noise of the man's fall was too far away for him to hear above the noise of his own getting up. The bird was nowhere to be seen. Treg stood there surrounded by the mist in total silence.

 

“Go on, Alli. What happened next?”
“You'll have to wait until tomorrow, I'm afraid. It's tea time now.”

handsome greyThursday 11 th August 2005
Everyone has been waiting today. Well, not everyone. One of us has been the cause. Let me start again. Everyone has been waiting on Tregony today! It started just before breakfast when we were up above the field shelter and he told me that he thought he might have a little rest as the sun was so warm and pleasant and we had been up all night, taking advantage of the lower temperatures and the lack of flies. ‘What do you mean by a little rest' I turned and asked him but funnily, he was nowhere to be seen. Then I looked down and there he was, lying flat on the ground. ‘But what about breakfast?' I asked him but all I got was the sound of slow even breathing. With an ‘oh, all right, please yourself then', I left him lying and went down to join Wicky who was starting to position himself, ready for THEM to bring the buckets along.
When they did come, SHE noticed right away that Treg was lying down up in the middle field. While Wick and I set about our buckets SHE grabbed the stick (twig) that she uses to chase Treg up sometimes and went up to have a heart to heart discussion with him. If you had stood there, you would instantly know why they call it the ‘carrot and stick' approach. I suppose strictly it should be the ‘carrot, sugar lump and stick approach'. Still, whatever. This time it didn't work. The old boy did make a feeble attempt at rising but, by then. His brain/leg co-ordination had gone to sleep as well so there was no hope for it. SHE came down and said that THEY would have to come back later and give him his bucket.

When THEY had gone, Wick and I pottered about for a bit in front of the shelter to give Treg a few more minutes rest and then we went up to him and said it was time to get up now. ‘Snore, snore' was the reply so there was nothing we could do but hang about waiting for him. A couple of hours later THEY turned up again but all Treg did was to sit up on his haunches and watch them for a minute or two and hen collapse down again. HE must have noticed that Wicked and I were virtually stuck there waiting at his master's pleasure. By lunchtime, Treg had finally got up, complaining of the heat and we all wandered down to the field shelter to escape the flies. HE later told me that it was then THEY had a bit of an adventure. THEY were coming up for a final check on Treg when, just under Dry Bridge, THEY saw a spaniel dog, covered in grass burrs, come running across the Throwleigh Road. They opened the car door to check that he was alright and the dog just jumped in the car. THEY waited for the owner to appear but no-one came and SHE said to go back home and check the dog's collar so SHE could phone the owners. HE had come out to check on Treg so HE didn't want to go home again and checked the dog's collar only to find that it had lost it's name tag. So, THEY kept the dog in the car, drove up to find Treg had got up and then drove back to Dry Bridge with the idea of putting the dog out and letting it find its own way home. The trouble was, when THEY put it out, it just followed the car all the way home. After phoning the vets to see if anyone had reported the dog missing THEY had to put it back in the car and drive around looking for its owner. To cut a long story short, a neighbour told THEM it might come from up near Amber's place and Annette recognised it as living next door and took it off their hands.

To cap the day, Treg took forever to finish his bucket tonight and there we all were, waiting for Tregony yet again!

rabbitFriday 12 th August 2005
“Come on Alli, then what happened?”
“What happened when, Treg?”
“You know, Tregony, that other Tregony – in the story!”
“Story? Oh yes, there was a story, wasn't there? Where diod we get to?”
“The man, the man was dead. And Treg was left in the mist, all alone.”
“Oh yes. And frightned? Do you think Treg was scared?”
“Yeah … er … I mean ‘course not. Treg was brave, wasn't he?”
“Well, let's see ……. “

Treg stood quite still and listened. A few pebbles tumbled over the edge and clattered down the ravine but then, the rest was silence. Treg looked down and saw, for the first time, as the mist swirled clear for a moment, the gaping ravine below his feet. He couldn't help and involuntary shuffle away from the edge before standing very still indeed as his head went dizzy. And, as if that wasn't bad enough, where was the man? Treg wasn't used to walking out on his own, making his own decisions. He had always had a rider to guide him and decide his gait and pace for him. He listened again but it became obvious that no man was coming to tell him what to do. After a few more moment's thought, Treg decided to carry on in the direction that he had been guided along until a few moments before. Maybe the man was waiting for him on the other side of the tor. Slowly, one foot at a time, he made his way forward, watching to his side all the time in case the edge came near again. After a while he grew more confident and began to walk properly – not fast but in a careful steady rhythm. He continued like this for about ten minutes and became conscious of the path going downhill and the mist lightening. From being a stony, narrow path his way broadened out and he found grass beneath his feet again. Then, suddenly the mist cleared and he found himself in a wide grassy plain with only a few hills to be seen in the distance. He slowed down and then stopped to listen again. Now he could hear birds singing and the leaves rustling in a light breeze. But no sound nor sight of the man. He looked to the right, to the left and even behind him the way he had come. Nothing, nothing but grass, a few bushes and some trees. Oh, and a little stream he could just make out in a bit of a dip in front of him. He carried on up to it and stopped for a drink to clear his head for some serious thinking.

He knew he couldn't go back. He couldn't face that ravine in the mist again, it seemed to him that it was an evil place, a place to be avoided. He suddenly realised that his life had taken a great leap into the unknown. Things would never be the same again. The man hadn't been cruel but he hadn't given Treg much thought either, only as a means of transport and to carry things home by pulling the man's cart. He had been given just enough food to enable him to do these jobs. No treats, no spoiling. It hadn't been a bad life although he had often longed for a bit of equine company. But, as they say – better the devil you know. What was his life going to be now? Who would tell him what to do? Where would he get his hay when the grass ran out? And, when he walked away from this spot, which way should he go?
While these thoughts were going round and round in his brain, Treg became aware of a change, somehow, in the world that he could sense. Not exactly a sound, nor a sight, more a feeling of something about to happen. His inner sense of self protection was working even while he was debating his future. He cocked an ear, sensed the wind and used his near circular vision to sense what the change was. But when it came, he was still unprepared.

“HELLO LADDIE, WHAT'S BROUGHT YOU HERE?”

Treg jumped with all four feet leaving the ground. He looked every way and saw nothing. Every way, that is, except down.

 

“It's Wicky. It's Wicky, isn't it Alli? Wicky's come to save me .. er … him, hasn't he?”
“Has he Treg? We'll have to wait and see, I'm afraid. Supper time now, look!”

“Oh, fetlocks! Just at the wrong time. Fetlocking flies! Bum!”

tracksSaturday 13 th August 2005

Treggy finally looked down as the voice repeated its question but this time not shouting. What he saw was a big tuft of hair, some brown but mostly white with two hairy ears sticking out. Then the creature looked up and Treg saw that underneath all that hair was – more hair. More hair and a rather grubby nozzle and a mouth with a tooth sticking out the side. As he was staring partly in fascination and partly in disbelief the mouth opened to reveal not more teeth but less. Less a top set to be exact.
“What are ye staring at laddie? Have ye no seen a Highland Dartmoor before?”

“If this is what they look like, no I haven't”, said Treg.
“Well, you have now so you can pick up your lip of the floor and answer my question.”
As this was now about three questions that he had been asked, Treg was naturally a bit bewildered so instead of answering he suggested that if his new companion were to stand up, he would be able to get a better look at him.

“What kind of idiot are you laddie that you canna see that I am standing up? We are not all meant to be great big oafs you know. Have you never heard of ‘little and good'?”
“I'm sorry”, said Treg. I didn't realise that you were standing in a hole. “
“Are you being deliberately offensive? The Highland Dartmoor Stud pedigree states that we should be mumble hands and no more. And that's what I am – perfect!”
“Oh, I'm sure you are Mr …er … er I'm afraid I don't know your name.”
“I'm known as Wicked McSquirt officially bit you can call me Sir!”
“My goodness. A real noble, eh? Sir Mc Squirt of Dartmoor . I am privileged to meet you.”
“As long as you realise it, laddie. Now, let's get back to where we were in the beginning. I was asking what you were doing here?”
“I was jumping because you shouted at me and I couldn't see you.”
“I can see we are going to have to take this slowly. Now, er … thingy …”
“Treg”
“Bless you!”
“No, that's my name, Treg!”
“You poor fellow, whoever gave you a name like that?”
“I've always had it. No one gave it to me. It's mine.”
“Er, listen Treg. If we are going to get anywhere, you are going to have to think before you speak.”
“Oh dear. I'm afraid I'm not awfully good at that. You see, I've got a human who does that for me so I don't have to and I've sort of got out of the way of doing it.”
“And where is he then, this human of yours?”
“Ah, well, that is really the problem. I don't know. One minute we was walki …”
“Were”
“Pardon?”
“Oh, never mind, get on with iot.”
“One minute we was walking along and the next I sort of jumped when a big bird sprung at me and then he wasn't there any more.”
“That'll be Buzzy.”
“Well maybe. A bit more like kerflap, bang, flutter really.”
“No, idiot, that'll be Buzzy who jumped out at you. He does it a lot. He likes scaring folk. Thinks it's a huge joke. He's all right as long as you humour him. And as long as you're not a rabbit, of course.”
“I'm not a rabbit but I am getting confused.”

And that's where we have to leave it Treg. Time to go back down to the field shelter, THEY'll be coming with the buckets any minute.

dark clouds gatherSunday 14 th August 2005
Treg has been pestering me all day to continue his story but frankly, I've had enough. I don't mean I won't finish it but sometimes I feel there must be other things in life than making up stories for geriatric cobs. At least, I hope there is.

SHE came along at a strange time this afternoon. Treg and Wick got all excited thinking that supper had come early but all SHE was going to do was to give Wick a really good groom. By good, I mean thorough. In my book, ‘good groom' is what Treg would call an allimoron, but then, he has never heard of oxen. Wick doesn''t really mind. He's funny like that. Once he got over his disappointment he settled down to the brush as if he was really enjoying it. I think he just likes the attention. Because of he slobbery ways, he tends to be avoided if at all possible (althought he is pushy enough to counteract this) when it comes to treat time. The preferable way to treat Wick is to throw a carrot down on the floor and hope it keeps him amused until THEY can make a quick getaway. So, when someone comes all the way to Ninefields particularly to groom him, Wick just basks in the attention. What he doesn't know is that HE told me Wick is going for another coat clip tomorrow and THEY want him to make a good impression as this is a new person who has not seen him before.

Again, knowing Wick, he won't mind the trimming. He does get a little anxious at first when he is led out of the field on his own for the half mile walk down to the stable. It has to be done there because of the need for electricity to power the clippers. I'm afraid Wicks coat is far too heavy and durable to make the use of portable rechargeable clippers an option. It's HIM I'm more worried for. If past experience counts for anything, Wick will be a bit reluctant and need a bit of encouragement to walk down the hill to the stable but when he is done and is headed back for home, he will do it at a run – and it is all uphill. Let us hope HIS new asthma medication is up to the job.

Anyway, Treg and I removed ourselves up above the field shelter while Wick was being given the beauty treatment for the sun had come out this afternoon and there was a breeze up there with less flies to contend with. It's funny, last week SHE bought us all a new fly collar. It's impregnated with some chemical and is supposed to produce a fly free zone around your head (if it works). And I suppose you could say they work because ever since SHE bought them (until this afternoon) the weather had turned cooler and even rainy and SHE has not yet had a chance to put them on to test them. And that's where we still were, above the field shelter when SHE came back with our supper just an hour later. Wicky ran down the field and down the quickest way, over the stony and steep path to meet them. I turned to avoid the stones and take the long but gentle sloped grassy path and I was astonished to find Tregony in front of me, having followed Wick down the hard way. There is life (but little sense) in the old boy yet!

AlezaneMonday 15 th August 2005
I suppose the most memorable item for today has to be Wicky's haircut. We were all standing about this afternoon, Wicky in the Throwleigh Road field and Treg and I down by the stream in the home paddock. It was just before four o'clock so far too early for supper and yet THEIR car rolled up and HE came striding down the field. HE did stop to give Treg and I a peppermint (one of those extra hot ones that HE buys occasionally) . Then HE went past us into the field shelter and emerged with Wick's head collar. I think we were so relieved that it wasn't OUR head collars that we just stood where we were and watched HIM go across the stream and lead Wicky out while SHE held the gate open.

When they had gone, Treg turned to me and asked me if I knew what was happening to Wicky. I didn't like to say ‘as if I cared' as I know that Treg holds Wick in a great deal of affection even though he will nip his legs so. So instead I reassured him that this was just the regular 8 weekly event when Wick is taken away to have his coat trimmed. I was able to say this with some certainty as HE had told me that this would happen just yesterday. I think Treg was reassured although he wouldn't move from the stream where he had a good view of the Throwleigh Road gate all afternoon.

While we were waiting (because if Treg was waiting I had to wasit too, didn't I?), we had quite a long discussion about the new fly collars SE had bought and put on us this morning. It was a sort of funny conversation because both of us were busily nodding and shaking our heads to try and get out of the way of the flies. I think the verdict was that the collars smelt very strongly of that lemony stuff that they used to spray us with (which didn't work either) but that if this was intended to deter the flies then someone had made a very big mistake. If this was not so however but just that someone wanted to make an exorbitant amount of money out of gullible horse owners, then they were bang on target.

By the time Treg and I had got our fly dodging nods to synchronise and we decided to have the useless thing removed, there was the sound of tiny but heavy pony hooves along the Throwleigh Road . It was then that Treg showed his true feelings and let out a relieved whinny. We both looked up and there he was, all white and shiny, so much so that even I had to admit that, from a distance, Wick was looking pretty good. But, what was looking even better was the fact that SHE drove up a few moments later with our supper buckets. And, I am pleased to report, SHE took those smelly neck collars off and they are lying in a bucket in the field shelter. We will have to see if they keep the shelter free of flies? But then, it usually is!

blackberriesTuesday 16th August 2005
“Right Alli, THEY've gone. I'm ready!”
“No, you're getting confused again, you're Treggy.”
“Yes. No. Er, I know that Alli. And I'm ready. Ready for my story.”
“Oh, alright then Treg. I'll listen. But don't take too long will you, we've got to go up the field.”
“No, no. It's not me telling a story, it's you. You tell me the story and I'll listen.”
“O.K. Treg, if you insist. What would you like a story about?”
“Oh come on, Al, you know. That story that you were telling me. You know, thast one about, …, er, … well, about Treg.”
“You know, I don't think I can remember that one. What was it about?”
“You're teasing me, aren't you Alli. Please, do tell me some more. I've been waiting for days now and I want to hear the end.”
“The end? What before the stuff that goes before? Oh, alright Treg. Don't look like that. I'll stop teasing. O.K.? Now, let me see ….. “

Treg and Wicky kept on talking like that for the next few hours. Only if felt much longer. Then, when they reached a final silence, Wicked asked Treg if he would like to come home with him as he appeared to have lost his rider (and therefore his guide and leader). It didn't take Treg more than a few moments to agree for it wasn't that it was a hard decision, only that it always takes Treg a while to think about anything. As they were walking along, side by side, slowly making their way down the along the moor, following the course of the stream, Treg thought to ask Wick where they were going. “You'll see”, was the only reply he got and he had to be content to follow the little chap in silence. They passed through a wooded area and Treg was made to jump a few times by the unfamiliar cries of birds and unseen animals, hidden in the undergrowth. At last he learned to take no notice as he saw that his companion appeared not to be worried by them.
They came out of the wood and were confronted by a winding track in the moorland leading down to a grassy valley. Their descent was swift now and several times Treg had to check his pace so as not to appear to be leading the little pony. There was no question now of which way to go as there was only one track. After a little while, they came to a sort of ridge and Wicked stopped and indicated to Treg to look down into the valley. There, at the bottom, the stream ran in parallel with the track and Treg could see a little group of fields, one on the right of the stream and several more to the left, all bounded by hedges or granite walls and all mouthwateringly green with luscious grass.
“It's paradise!”, Treg breathed in amazment. “Wicky, you've brought us to heaven!”

“You could say that”, said Wick, with a grin, “but actually, it's Ninefields.”
“Ninefields” murmured Treg in a hushed whisper. “Ninefields, my new home!”

“Go on, Alli, go on.”
“That's it, Treg. The story of how you came to live here. So that you will always remember.”
“Oh Alli, it's lovely. It's not quite like I remember it but so what? That was a really nice story Alli. Thank you”>
“My pleasure, my friend. A little present from me.”

stage coachWednesday 17 th August 2005
You have no idea how pleased with himself Treg is today. We were all standing up in the Throwleigh Road field waiting for THEM to bring our supper when a couple with a little boy came riding up. Of course, seeing me, they stopped and dismounted an then started trying to get my attention but, apart from standing and showing them how beautiful I am, as they had no carrots or mint sweet, they didn't stand a chance.

Just then, THEY drove up and, in the conversation, we overheard the lady say that “that one over there (Treggy) must be a youngster”. Well, you could have bowled Wick and I over with a blade of hay! Treg a youngster? We both checked and she didn't have glasses on but maybe that was the trouble. She probably normally wears them but had left them behind because they were out on their bikes. Anyway, SHE invited them in to come and be with us while we ate and then the next funny thing happened. HE had walked on in front while the lady and little boy were giving Treg his carrot and so, after HE had put down the buckets, HE got out the cleaning fork and started tidying up the mess we had made near the shelter. Just then the little boy came along and was filled with wonderment. “Mum”, he cried, “look at all the poos!” He was even more happy when Wicky got his usual attack of wind when he was in the middle of his supper. It's amazing what cheers up little boys. Unfortunately, because of all the unusual noise and strangers, the squirrels did not put in an appearance. Yesterday evening, we had three although I couldn't tell you who was who. When there are the two, I can always differentiate between the bigger bossy one and the smaller cheeky one who is usually chased away. Oh, I forgot to tell you, last night and then again this morning we had a rabbit come back to eat the oats by the shelter. HE called it ‘Flopsy' but again, I couldn't swear it was her. In fact my suspicions are that it isn't but He really doesn't care too much for complete accuracy. As long as there is only one it will be Flopsy and that is that.

I hear that THEY are going over to the Devon Horse and pony Sanctuary tomorrow, probably for him to take a few photos for the web site. The weather forecasters are saying it is going to rain tomorrow but that will suit HER as she doesn't like the heat any more than we do and today has been in the mid 80s. Just like Treg really (in human terms). Youngster indeed! It is going to take me all night to get his head out of the clouds now!

Treg's labelThursday 18 th August 2005
HE told me this evening that THEY had seen ponies that make Wicky look very big, a couple of horses that made me look small and several that made Treg look young (and quite fat). Yes, that's right, THEY went to the Devon Horse and Pony Sanctuary. HE came back with 125 photos of which maybe three quarters are usable. THEY also came back very tired because the day was much hotter than THEY had expected and also THEY were there longer than expected and there was a fair bit of walking to do. There were about seven or eight horses and a couple of donkeys in the field next to the house, three horses and three ponies in stables on the other side of the house and then a whole lot of horses and ponies spread over 17 acres about a ten minute drive away from the house.

Because the day was so hot, finding the horses in the 17 acres was quite a challenge as they were all seeking shelter from the flies. When HE did find them his aim was to get two or three shots of each animal but when you have a large group, all milling around to escape the flies, HR said it is hard to remember who you have snapped and who you haven't, particularly the little ponies who tend to look all the same. All the same to HIM of course, I'm sure I could have told the difference.

Another problem was that because HE was a stranger with a funny piece of metal and glass that HE kept waving about, HE was met with either suspicion, so that they moved away from him or with curiosity so that they came right up to him and put their nozzles into the lens. To placate the suspicious, HE made the mistake of offering them a mint sweet which, of course, made the curious even more interested. In the last group, HE made a firm friend of one Freddy who followed him wherever HE went.

And then, when THEY came home, late and tired, THEY had only to stop of for a moment to get HIS wallet and then THEY were off again to the supermarket for carrots and apples to make our supper with. By the time THEY reached us, THEY were falling asleep on THEIR feet, making even Treggy look lively. Still, it will be worth it if SHE has now some more material to put up on the Sanctuary's web site, which is, in case you would like to have a look – http://www.dhaps.org.uk

robinFriday 19 th August 2005
“Ere Wick?”
“Hold on, laddie, won't be a minute. Ooh! That's better. Now, what can I do for you old son?”
“What's a mobile, Wick?”
“A mobile? Why, it's one of those whirly things that humans hang over the cots of their foals to frighten them into going to sleep. Why d'you ask, Treg?”
“Well, HE was just telling Alli about the trouble HE's been having with HIS. I didn't know THEY had any foals Wick.”
“Aye, you're right there Treg. Their foals are even older than Alli so I shouldn't think they would need frightening to sleep any more. Or if they did they would do it in their own homes now. Tell me, what was HE saying about it? Maybe you misheard.”
“Well, HE said that, in the middle of the night, HIS mobile went ‘beep' and when HE looked at it, it said ‘limited service'.”
“Blimey Treg. I must be getting old. In my day, the mobiles didn't talk, they just went round and round. Oh, and sometimes up and down. But silently. Or, at least, if they weren't silent they just played nursery rhyme music. But never talking! That is an invention.”
“Were they run on helectric when you was a boy, Wick. ‘Cos, this one HE had to get up and go downstairs to plug it into the helectric to try and shut it up. You see, if it kept going ‘beep' SHE said THEY couldn't get back to sleep so that's whay HE had to do it.”
“Ah, I knew I was on the right track. It is to make you go to sleep. That going ‘bbep' must be because it was going wrong and HE had to give it an electric shock to teach it a lesson.”
“No haitch?”
“What?”
“No haitch? Helectric? You said electric. No haitch?”
“No Treg. It is just spelt with an ‘e'.”
“Yeah, it might be spelt with an ‘e' but it's said with an haitch, aint it?”
“Sorry Treg. No. Not even said with one.”
“Oh, fetlocks. Ah well, never mind. Anyway, it didn't work. The hele …. The shock. It still said ‘limited service' when HE got up in the morning.”
“So what did HE do then?”
“What do you expect? You know HIM. All computers and hinternet and stuff. HE gets on the web site to talk to an orange.”
“Are you feeling alright Treg? Not been overdoing the old thinking stuff, have you?”
“No Wick. Why's that?”
“Well you just said HE was talking to an orange on the internet.”
“Yeah, that's right. That's what HE told Alli.”
“But why didn't you say horange?”
“Oh come on Wick. Don't be silly. Everyone knows how to say that, don't they?”
“If you say so Treg. Tell you what. Let's forget it. It's obviously something more high tech than a couple of old fogeys like us would know about. Let's go up the hill and do a spot of what we are good at?”
“Yeah. Good idea Wick. Leave Alli to all that. Let's eat!”

our ratSaturday 20 th August 2005
“Alli, can I have a word?”
“Which one Wick?”
“Come on lass, you know what I mean. It's about Treggy. I think he's getting worse.”
“Oh dear, is that possible? What's he done now?”
“Well, it's not something that he's done exactly, it's what's happening to him.”
“You mean being given better food than us? That's stopped now. I heard HER say that he must just put on weight gradually, like the rest of us.”
“Yeah, but he's shrinking! I heard HER say so. You know, when SHE put that stick thing up against us to see have tall we are an….. “
“… or short, in your case.”
“I'll ignore that. And, well, SHE said he's only fifteen one now and he used to be fifteen two.”
“He used to be fifteen as well? As well as who?”
“No, Alli. You are being deliberately difficult, aren't you? Fifteen hands, two inches. He's lost an inch.”
“He wasn't standing in that hole again, was he?”
“No. It's true. Our Treg's getting smaller.”
“I would have thought that would please you Wick. You might soon be able to see eye to eye.”
But does it mean he will disappear altogether one day? Just keep getting smaller and smaller until one day we tread on him?”
“I wouldn't worry Wick. It's natural, at his age. Everyone gets a bit smaller as they get older. Mind you, I should be worried about yourself. You can't afford to get any smaller.”
“I'm not that small. SHE put that stick thing on me and I'm eleven hands, there!”
“SHE was being kind, I expect. Anyway, you're worried about Treg. He's more than half as high again as you. I think he has a way yet to go.”
“What was SHE doing with that stick anyway. SHE's not used that for years. I think the last time was when we came here.”
“Oh, HE told me. It was to lend to some friends of THEIR's who have a younf colt who is growing by leaps and bounds and they want to measure him.”
“So that's why HE took it away tonight. Good thing too. Let's hope THEY just forget to bring it back, giving me a scare like that.”
“Hello, you lot. What you whispering about?”
“Oh, hi Treg. We just didn't want to wake you. We saw you were having a bit of a doze after supper so we were just passing the time until you woke up, weren't we Alli?”
“Alright now Treg? Yes, Wicky and I were just wondering what we should do this evening. Any ideas?”
“Er, … well …., ideas? Er … No.”
“Right, well, how about we go up the hill? What do you think, Wick?”
“Yeah, all right Alli. But we better go the short way, eh? Ha ha.”
“What's funny about that, Wick? Why's he laughing Alli?”
“Best not ask, Treg. Come on. Lets go.”

bridle waySunday 21 st August 2005
I must try and give you a word picture of Ninefields, particularly the area around the field shelter. Right, let's start. You have proceeded down the Throwleigh Road from Dry Bridge (in an easterly direction) and just over a quarter of a mile on your right you will see an aluminium gate, the first one of its type that you meet. Now, if you stand at this gate, you will be looking roughly in a southerly direction. To your left (east) about twenty yards away, there is the entry from the road to a bridle path which, if you follow it, will take you up to the open moor on the slopes of Cosdon Beacon. It forms the boundary to this first field on one side and it is crossed by a stream which also forms the southern boundary of the field. Going through the gate and down to the stream, you come to a shallow ford over the stream and, when you cross it, you are in the home paddock field. A tall hedge above a granite wall runs about three yards on your right hand side. To your left, the bridle path boundary turns at an angle of forty five degrees away from you after it crosses the stream and takes you to another gate entrance to the field turning …. Oh, I give up. Tell you what, I'll get HIM to put some photos up instead.

However, the reason I was trying to get you to see where we live is because of something that happened this evening. Let's go back to you standing in the home paddock having just crossed the stream. There is a gravel path through the grass leading about fifty yards up to the field shelter. Maybe ten yards before you get there is the poo pile on your right that Flopsy made her first hole in. The field shelter itself is divided into two parts. The part directly in front of you is where we stand out of the sun or the rain and where we have our feed buckets and get groomed. Along the rear are four bales of hay which THEY sit on while we eat our feed. This part of the shelter is fenced off from a slightly smaller part by a gate standing about a metre and a half. Funny, you can tell I am half French. I talked about the field in yards but the gate in metres. Oh well, they are nearly the same, bien? Anyway, this other part is where THEY store our hay and keep our grooming stuff, medication and some minor tack like head collars etc. Now this year, for some reason the grass has been so good we hardly ate any hay and THEY have given some away, used some, as I said, for seating and some is still left in the back of the shelter. Is this long winded or what?

As THEY came along with our buckets tonight, out popped Flopsy from a new hole. Guess where? That's it, under the hay bales. She waited around for him to give her a handful of oats, ate that and then wandered off. THEY are now wondering if she has moved her family into there.

Finally, the swallows definitely are feeding their second family now in their new nest just over the entrance to the shelter. They are still to small to be able to count them but the parents are once again busy as anything flying in and out to feed them. Oh, and one last thing. Maxwell's human, Roy, was mending fences in the field next to ours today and thought we had a new friend, a grey, because he saw Wicky's bum in the field shelter and he looks so different since his trim. When THEY heard THEY thought that I had maybe enticed a new boy friend into the field. No such luck I'm afraid!

big skyMonday 22 nd August 2005
“What on earth were you doing this morning, in the rain, Treg?”
“Er, when was that Wick?”
“This morning, you great sugar beet. When THEY brought the buckets.”
“Oh, then. I was … er … eating my breakfast, eh Wick?”
“And before that? Where were you while Alli and I were starting on our buckets?”
“I was outside …er … oh, I remember, I was having a rest.”
“You were laying down having a sleep, if I recall.”
“Oh, well, you tell it then Wick. Why ask me if you knew all along?”
“I knew what you were doing what I don't know is why.”
“'Cos I was tired, that's why. Obvious, innit?”
“In the pouring rain? Nobody lays down in the pouring rain.”
“Cows do! Sheep do! Why can't I?”
“Because you knew very well that it was breakfast time. You know how SHE worries about you. SHE wants to make sure you get your proper diet. And there's your medicine in your food. What if you miss that? Eh?”
“THEY give me two next time, that's what.”
“But you made HER have to go out in the rain to get you up. That's not very nice.”
“It's not very nice being whipped and beaten to get up when you are having a little doze now, is it?”
“Come on Treg. SHE didn't beat you or whip you. She waved a thin bit of weed twig at you, that's all.”
“But SHE might have done, mightn't SHE?”
“You're just a great big trouble making old cob, that's what you are.”
“Sicks and stones might br … oh dear, maybe not that one. Ere Wick, you know what you just done. You turned me into a Russian counterfeiter. “
“I what?”
“You just said I'm a great big rouble maker.”
“No I didn't. It's HIM. HE never did learn to type properly. Never mind, the spell checker will sort it out.”
“Maybe. But often it lets it through, if it's a proper word. It aint spelt wrong so it don't know you didn't mean ‘rouble' does it?”
“Oh, alright. I'll get HIM to correct it before HE has his tea. Anyway old man, you are just trying to change the subject.”
“Tell you what, Wick.”
“What?”
“Let's change the subject. You've moaned at me enough for one night.”
“Can I do it again tomorrow?”
“I dunno if I'll be tired tomorrow. You never know, I may stand up all day. Ere, what's the matter with Alli these days? She always seems to be having a go at you.”
“Hormones laddie. Take no notice. I think she's in her changeover.”
“Her what?”
“Forget I said it, lad. A bit too adult for the likes of you. Not a subject for cobs.”
“OK Wick, I'll just stick to dozing. I'm good at that.”

poniesTuesday 23 rd August 2005
We were moving into the Throwleigh Road field tonight, getting ready for the arrival of our supper buckets, when Wicky called out ‘Stop, look, what's that?' Treg and I came to a swift halt for, in spite of some of his other less attractive habits, Wick is pretty good as an advance guard, spotting a danger well ahead of the rest of us. We all stared at where his head was pointing. I must admit I didn't see it at first. Then Treg said ‘Alli, why's the gate open?' I looked more carefully and it was true, our main gate onto the Throwleigh Road was wide open. Well, I don't have to tell you, I didn't like it. Didn't like it one little bit. Who had done it? And more importantly, why? Now that Wick had given the warning, it was my duty as lead mare to take charge of the situation and protect the herd. ‘You stay with me, Treg', I said. ‘Wicky, you go up to the gate and investigate.'

Now, lots of other horses would have asked ‘Why me?' but Wick just nodded as if it was what he was going to do anyway and carefully made his way up the slope. Meanwhile I herded Treg over to the far right corner, between the bridleway and the stream, so that we could keep an eye on the situation and run away if need be. Just as Wick was nearing the top of the slope, only a few metres away from the gate, the wind or something caught the gate and swung it with quite a force as wide open as it would go. It made Treg and I jump and even Wicky flinched a bit but, brave laddie that he is, he didn't let it deter him from continuing up to the open entrance. He carefully put his head out and looked first right towards Wheatley Farm and then left in the direction of Dry Bridge
.
He turned back to us and shook his head to indicate that he could see no danger and then he set about doing what he had gone there to do. He started eating the grass and flowers just outside the gate. And that was what he was doing when THEY drove up. I'll tell you, it worried THEM no end what the gate was doing open. Had THEY left it unfastened when THEY drove away this morning? Had someone either been working or crossing the field and forgotten to close it after them? Had someone maliciously opened it and left it open hoping that we would come to some harm? The answer is, of course, THEY'll never know. There was just one funny incident that happened to them on their way home, having made sure the padlock and chain were safely in place on the gate. Just a few hundred metres down the road they passed a lady with a lot of bags and a sort of trolley thing, who appeared to be in some sort of trouble. SHE pulled up the car and HE got out to see if THEY could do anything to help. As HE approached, the lady shouted in a very loud voice ‘GO AWAY! LEAVE ME ALONE!' rather like children or vulnerable people are taught to do to protect themselves. Of course HE did just that and they drove away but it did leave them wondering if there might be some connection?

grey squirrelWednesday 24 th August 2005
All present and correct today. No open gates, Tregony not lying down, no lame feet – just a boring old day. Well, except for the weather. After all the warmth and sun we've been having lately, today was a bit of a shock with very strong winds and pouring rain. However, even that didn't last long and by the time HE drove up to spy on us (really to make sure our gate was shut and we were all right), all three of us were high up in the middle field grazing. Yes, it was still raining but it was not cold and the rain was really quite gentle.
I can see if I don't find something more interesting to tell him today, this is going o end up as one of those boring old weather days. Now, let me see?

“Treg, did anything interesting happen today, lad?”
“Oh yes, I expect so, Alli”
“Well, what was it?”
“Oh, I don't know that. Nothing interesting ever happens to me. It happens to other horses who are much cleverer than me.”
“That's not right laddie. Something interesting can't be happening to everyone now, can it?”
“Oh, hi Wick. I was just asking Treg if anything worth putting in the diary had happened today. Do you know of anything?”
“I found a quite tasty bit of grass up ion the top little field. How about that?”
“Um, I'm not sure that is really riveting enough Wick.”
“Oh, you want something industrial, Alli. I saw a great big lorry go past this morning. I'm sure that had something to do with engineering.”
“No, sorry Treg. Not that kind of riveting, I'm afraid.”
“Well, what do you want then lassie? We can't go making things up just to keep HIM quiet now, can we?”
“I was thinking something more like … er …, like a big handsome stallion going by or better still moving into the field next door. That reminds me, anyone know when Maxwell is coming back?”
“Think I heard HER saying sometime in October. But I could be wrong. All them months ending in ‘ber' sound much the same to me.”

And so it went on. So you see, nothing really did happen today. I'll just have to make it a short entry today. It will make up for some of the longer ones I had at the start of the month.

NinefieldsThursday 25 th August 2005
Can't remember where we were up to with Flopsy? I think I told you that she seemed to have made a hole in the hay in the field shelter. Well now, it's definite. When HE brought the feed buckets up to the field shelter tonight, HE put them down and then undid the gate to go into the hay store area to get the birds food and there, sitting up and looking round at him, in a sort of nest on top of the hay was Flopsy. She didn't run or look scared when HE stood next to her. In fact, she just plopped down from her nest and went outside to start eating the oats that HE put down for the birds. After that we had a whole load of birds and squirrels around as well and everyone (except THEM) settled in for a really good supper. Then Flops went for a little explore of her garden. She hopped down along the hedge to the stream and then made her way back to have a look behind the shelter. She really does seem to have adopted us. I was only pleased that, when she did make her way out, it was under the cover of the hedge as the buzzards have been patrolling very often of late and I would hate for her to end up as a buzzards supper.

The swallows were hard at it again tonight. SHE says there is at least one chicks head appearing over the edge of the nest but it must still be very small (and maybe all alone) because there is only the tiniest sound when the parents come feeding. Changing the subject, Treg was a bit lively tonight. He positively ran up the slope to get his supper. But then he went and spoiled it by insisting, as only a cob can, on tidying up every little scarp of food that Wicky and I had dropped after he had finished his bucket. Now, I have no objections to his doing this in principle but it does mean out ‘treats routine' gets all messed up and we all lose out in the end. You see, usually when I come back from my trip with her to the bridle path gates, Treg has very nearly finished and Wicky is still battling on. The idea is that treg should finish his bucket and then go down to the bank of the stream where SHE is waiting to give him some sugar lumps and a carrot or two. Then Wicky finishes and comes over to HIM and me, he gives us both some treats and then goes off to ash the buckets while Wick and I go down to HER, push Treg out of the way and then have our sugar. It all ends up with THEM crossing the stream and finally throwing Treg and I a couple more carrots over the stream. Very satisfactory. BUT, when Treg messes about as he did tonight, Wicky charges straight down to HER, slobbers all over HER so SHE quickly gets up and crosses the stream, maybe giving me some sugar on the way, and then THEY're off. Treg loses out, Wicky loses out and worst of all, well, you can guess.

I maybe didn't tell you. SHE let me know yesterday that Aidrian (the guy who is supposed to look after our fields) phoned her and told her he has got himself an Alpine tractor so that he can now work on sloping fields with ease and in safety so he will be spraying and topping and generally keeping the weeds at bay and the grass in good heart in future. SHE is relieved and we three are delighted. You really can't beat a good tummyful of grass. It makes the treats so much more acceptable!

a big boyFriday 26 th August 2005
We should have known that when HE went and shut the gates to the other fields from the home paddock that something was going on. If this wasn't clue enough, after we had finished our breakfast buckets, THEY didn't go away. HE started walking round the lower fields squirting stuff onto the thistles and stinging nettles and SHE decide that we needed special grooming. Finally, all was revealed. Phil, the vet, drove up and started across the Throwleigh Road field with a little carrier of preparations and like vet stuff in his hand.

Strangely, SHE didn't rush to get head collars at first so we all relaxed while SHE talked to Phil while they looked at the three of us. Then they came over to me and before I knew it, I had had an injection. SHE did distract me by fondling my muzzle but I didn't feel a thing anyway so that was no problem. Or, at least, no problem for me. We didn't realise that Tregony (he who hates vets) was keeping a very close eye on the proceedings and when he saw HER go back to the field shelter and then come out towards him with his head collar in HER hands, he amazed us all by just bolting.

SHE mentioned afterwards that Phil and HER had been discussing how Treg's arthritis often slowed him down, and there was Treg, off like a shot to the far side of the field. It was then that he realised the reasoning that lay behind shutting the field gates. Nothing daunted, as SHE approached him again, Treg ran back to the middle of the field. It was then that Treg proved that although there is still life in his old legs yet, I'm afraid we can't say the same for his brain. All SHE had to do was to put the head collar down and approach Treg with a carrot and he let HER get right up to him and hold him while HE picked up the head collar and brought it over. I'll say this for him though, he knows how to give in gracefully. He had the collar put on and stood still, as good as gold, while Phil took a blood sample for analysis. They next turned their attention to Wicky, which wasn't hard as he kept hanging around in case there were any more treats going. As it happened, all they did as talk about him. It would seem his emerging yellow coat is not a symptom of his Cushings disease but just his natural colour undercoat which is growing faster because of the disease just like the rest of his hair.

And the last is good news, no, more than that, wonderful news. THEY had a phone call from the vets this afternoon to tell them that the results of Tregony's blood test were all positive. All his internal parts are in good shape with no problems from the medication he is on. When we told Treg that he had passed his fitness test and that everything was fine, he said he knew and was on top form. To prove it, I asked him to do answer some simple questions.
“What is two plus one, Treg?”
“Three, of course.”
“And what is the square root of nine?”
“Er … three.”
“Well done. And the cube root of twenty seven?”
“Oh, let me see? Er … that's three as well!”
“Right Treg, last one. How many legs have you got?”
“Oh Alli, can't we go back to the easy ones?”

jaySaturday 27 th August 2005
“Ere Wick, what was that last night?”
“The moon, Treg?”
“No, not in the sky. All that noise. And them sleeping in the field shelter.”
“Rabbits I s'pose Treg. They spend a lot of time in there.”
“But rabbits don't light fires, do they Wick?”
“Maybe the cold ones do Treg, I really couldn't say.”
“Are you saying you didn't hear or see anything strange last night?”
“I saw them three lads, if that's what you mean. But only two of them tried to sleep in the field shelter. The other one stayed in the car.”
“But weren't you frightened, Wick?”
“No laddie. Why should I be? It was only James and his mates. And anyway, even if it had been some strangers, they couldn't have done anything, they were too drunk.”
“Were they? Drunk? I thought they kept falling over because they couldn't see in the dark.”
“They kept falling over because they were as blind as newts, that's why.”
“I didn't know newts was blind? In fact, I don't think I've ever met a newt.”
“Well, you missed your chance last night. You should have gone down to the field shelter. Frozen newts, if you ask me. Alli went and spoke to them you know.”
“She's brave, aint she Wick. I'm glad I'm not dominant mare, aren't you?”
“I'm glad you are not dominant anything Treg if you can't tell a mare from a ..er.. whatever you are.”
“I'm a cob, Wick. Alli told me. SHE did too. An' HE told me I was a golden cob, how about that?”
“Your bay not golden what does HE think HE's talking about?”
“I didn't think HE was talking about colour, Wick. More intrinsic worth, I think.”
“And where did you learn a word like ‘intrinsic'? Do you know what it means?”
“Wick, if I only said words that I knew the meaning of, we wouldn't be having this conversation.”
“Tell me again what HE actually said.”
“HE said I was HIS favourite bay gelding so I knew HE thought of me as HIS golden bay .. er .. boy.”
“Tell me Tregony, do you know why Alli goes and stands over by that far wall near the field where that horse is that calls out to her?”
“I thought it must be a relative of hers. She seems very keen on meeting him.”
“And have you heard what SHE calls him?”
“SHE never says his real name, just talks about that stallion in the other field.”
“And do you know what the difference is between you and that stallion, Treg?”
“Oh yeah. “
“Well, there you are then.”
“What's the fact that he lives over at Mathew's and I live here got to do with it?”
“Tregony?”
“Yes Wicky?”
“Let's go up the hill and do some grazing, son.”
“Oh, alright. Go idea Wick. Good idea!”

mudSunday 28 th August 2005
A beautiful day today. OK so there were quite a few midges first thing this morning. That was just because the heat of the sun, as it rose, increased the humidity by burning of the dew. When that was gone, so were the midges. The visitors, James and his friends Francis and Stephen came along to breakfast with us this morning. They didn't actually eat breakfast here but they watched us eat ours, which must have been very satisfying for them, although I'm not sure that they were in any fit state to appreciate it. You see, they had rather an interesting evening and night, last night. I'm not really sure of all the details, as these were being mumbled between them and THEM but I gather they started off in the local pub, the King's Arms where the South Zeal football team were celebrating their victory/loss that afternoon. You will have heard me tell of Clarence, the farmer who has the field next to ours and uses it for his cows. Well, his son plays for the team and they were both in the pub when our lads were there. James said that they were not allowed to buy their own drinks for at least an hour and a half and that Clarence bought them one as well. It then gets a bit hazy but Francis remembers being kidnapped by the football team to be taken to another pub, I think the Taw River in Sticklepath, but then they turned the cab round and went back for James and Steve. After that it goes from hazy to unexplained but Francis ended up sleeping in their car in the car park and James and Steve, for some strange reason known only to them, slept on the floor in THEIR front room. The only explanation for this strange behaviour when there were three spare beds available and waiting upstairs is that they were too ‘newt' (to use Wicky's word) to get up the stairs.

HE told me, this evening, that they had gone back to the house, after seeing us, had a proper human cooked breakfast and then driven off to make their way home the long way by driving across the moor to Princetown first. They were very lucky with the glorious weather so I think they had a good experience here. Out of interest, Francis is some sort of relation of HIS. HE couldn't quite work it out but Francis' father is his cousin, I think. Does this make them second cousins? Who knows? We horses don't bother with such things.

One sad thing today. When THEY drove up this morning there was a blackbird, all puffed up, just sitting in the field making only a feeble attempt to get out of their way. A passing lady horse rider said she had seen it there when she passed by the other way so it must be harmed in some way. SHE picked it up and carried into the field shelter and made it a bed of hay so no predator should get it. He gave it a handful of oats so it wouldn't go hungry. But all to no vail. This evening, when THEY came, SHE found it dead in the little hay nest. Well, at least it wasn't eaten. Life can be hard sometimes.

fly whisk tailMonday 29 th August 2005 (Bank Holiday)
“My ‘ead, Wick, it's splittin'.”
“Your head, laddie? It's ma ears that's cruelling me. Don't they ever stop?”
“Do you notice, as well. One cries out ‘baaa' and then another tries to beat it with a ‘BAA –A –A'.”
“Aye. And then a third starts off even louder until they all are at it. One great big unholy choir and we have to suffer it.”
“And have you smelled them? Like a chemical factory on a bad day.”
“Oh. That's not their fault Treg. One of them was telling me. Apparently before Michael brought them over here he tried to drown them.”
“He what? Drown them?”
“Aye, laddie. He took them into that shed of his and threw them into a great deep pool of stinking water. And worse. When they tried to swim, he got a long pole and pushed them under. They say they were lucky that they found a slope that they could clamber out of and run away into the yard.”
“Funny. I always though Michael was a nice chap. I never heard Lily say that he tried to drown her.”
“Oh, I think he likes horses. Horses and cows. It's just sheep that he's against.”
“Yeah, well, I don't like vets but I don't try to drown them. Mind you, it's not a bad idea. Maybe we could tell Michael that the vet is a sheep next time they come?”
“Wouldn't work Treg. They might smell the same but they're too tall and haven't got enough wool.”
“Sigh. Yes, that's true. It's a thought though.”
“So, what shall we do today? You know it's a bank holiday?”
“That's silly. I was down by the stream a little while ago. Both banks looked just the same to me. And if they are not going to do anything special, why should we?”
“I don't think it's that kind of bank, Treg. And anyway, from what I can gather, it's not really anything to do with banks at all. It's just a name humans give to certain days when they don't want to do any work.”
“Oh, like Monday, Tuesday, tomorrow and that?”
“Er, not quite Treg. Other days as well.”
“I'll never get the hang of humans. Take tonight. I was just having a tidy up of the food Alli dropped in the field shelter and SHE picks herself up and walks away without even giving me any sugar or anything.”
“SHE did call out to you. You just ignored HER.”
“I didn't ignore HER Wick. I just put her in a cue, that's all.”
“I think that's queue, Treg. You mean you made HER wait HER turn.”
“Yeah, that's what I said. I think SHE's just himpatient and that's all there is to it.”
“Ah well. Can't be helped Treg. What say we go up to the top field. You know that saying ‘If you can't bat them then join them'.”
“Oh, the sheep, you mean? Given my own way, I'd rather beat them. Maybe that'd make ‘em shut up!”

grazingTuesday 30 th August 2005
You know when someone shouts at you that you are in trouble. But when someone doesn't shout at you, in fact, hardly even talks to you, then you are in big, big trouble! Of course, it was Wicky's fault. It always is. He has a great knack of finding out things and this time he found out that the gate between our bit and the hay store had been left unlocked in the field shelter. How he explained it afterwards was that he has an inborn sense of curiosity. Having scratched his head on the gate and found that it moved, he wondered what would happen if one put ones nozzle down against the edge and gave it a bit of a shove. My goodness, it opened! He tells me that, at that time, he felt it his duty to go inside and make sure that everything was in its proper place. In particular, he had noticed that there was a large bin full of rolled oats for the birds that HE used to give them a handful each day. Wicky insists that he needed to ensure that this was safe after that night when James and his friend slept there
.
Up to this point fine. A public spirited pony only doing his duty. However Wick becomes a little less clear on how the lid of the bin became dislodged. His story is that, at some point, Treg came in the shelter to ask him what he was doing and, because it is a pretty tight squeeze in their for the two of them, the bin, which after all is only lightweight plastic, somehow got knocked over and some of the contents got scattered all over the floor. He then goes on to explain that horses, unlike humans, have no hands to pick the oats up and put them back into the bin so they did what they normally do in the field shelter, which is to tidy up in the best way that they can.
Fair enough, up to this point. Even quite plausible under the circumstances. But somehow it doesn't explain how the bin got back into the upright position again or how it came to be out in the front of our part of the shelter. It doesn't really explain how the paper sack that was inside the bin was virtually empty and it definitely does not explain how the paper sack was damp (did I ever tell you how Wicky slobbers when he eats?).

Anyway, the outcome was that this evening, when THEY came along with our feed buckets, THEY found all three of us, not up at the gate as we usually are, but standing around the field shelter looking both guilty and full up. To make matters worse, my fly collar had done its usual trick of sliding round my face and hanging under my chin, making me look like a rather large billy goat. So, HE walked in without a word to us (although plenty to HER who hadn't seen the situation against the sunlight) and took our feed buckets straight into the hay store. HE then proceeded to pick up what was left of the oats of the floor, retrieved the bin and took it into the hay store and then, worst of all, he put our buckets in the bin, came out and locked the gate. THEY had a conversation while just giving us a few carrots, deciding that it would be safest not to give us any more feed tonight in case of colic or laminitis and then THEY left. How THEY know who ate the oats and who didn't or if THEY even care, deciding to punish us all, I don't know. Mind you, I wasn't sure if I could eat another drop anyway and Treg and Wick agreed that they felt the same way too!

friends dozingWednesday 31 st August 2005
“Ere, Wick. Did you see that?”
“If you are referring to HIM pushing that pony cart from behind the field shelter, up the hill to that lorry, yes I did Treg.”
“I bet you're relieved?”
“Relieved? Oh, I see what you mean. No, THEY would never have expected me to pull that thing around.”
“Then, why did THEY buy it and bring it here, Wick? It was far too small for me or Alli to pull. You were the obvious one it was intended for. Unless it was a sheep?”
“Ha, ha very funny. I happen to know THEY bought it to give to one of those horse charities they get involved with. It was just being stored behind the field shelter until THEY could arrange for it to be picked up.”
“Oh, right. Well that's that then. All gone. I expect you will be having a look round the back now? Just to check up, so to speak.”
“I though it was you that was the hossifer of the law, laddie. That'll be your job, won't it?”
“Ah, …, well, … you see, I'm sort of retired from the Human Watch these days.”
“Oh, I didn't now you had given your notice in, Treg?”
“Well, I didn't exactly. They sort of had a word with me, so to speak. You see, there wasn't really enough crime around Ninefields to warrant a full time hossifer so they suggested that I might like to go part time, if you know what I mean.”
“Oh right. So how many hours are you doing now then?”
“Well, it's not really hours, Wick. Sort of more like on an informal basis. You know, if I see a crime I should lt someone know, sort of thing.”
“Ah! Well, maybe it's for the best. At your age you need to be thinking of winding down a bit, don't you Treg?”
“I am rather looking forward to my retirement, yes Wick.”
“Got any plans?”
“Mmmm. I might join up with the University of the Third Horse. Do a bit of study and all that. I've been thinking of a course in advanced mathematics.”
“Be a bit expensive that, won't it Treg.”
“Not bad, only fo … er…. Well more than three carrots a day. If I save up, I could probably manage it.”
“Have you considered something a little less challenging laddie? Something with maybe a bit of culture involved?”
“Could take up horsiculture I suppose. Be nice to learn all about growing grasses and clovers and the like.”
“Tell you what, Treg. Let's go up to the top field and start with a bit of practical. You know, something to get you teeth into.”
“Yeah, right. Good idea Wick. All that thinking's given me a bit of an happytite!”

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