Alezane's Diary Archive January 2006
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Wicky hears a bucketSunday 1 st January 2006
And how did 2006 start? Two ways really.

Firstly, some idiots thought it would be a good idea to frighten all the animals and wake up all the folk, other than themselves, with a lot of bangs. Allowing for the fact that humans are intrinsically selfish, one might excuse a bit of celebrating for maybe a minute after midnight . It takes a certain kind of moron though to carry on making bangs for the rest of the next hour. The probable excuse is that they are drunk. Either that or very, very simple. What kind of intelligence finds humour or excitement in something going bang? Us animals can only find consolation in the fact that every bang costs them a lot of money as does the booze that brings them to the state of finding this kind of torture amusing. If it is really only funny to them and they are not just cynically selfish about other creatures' needs, then they might wish to indulge in the experience next year through headphones on which they can increase the volume to their hearts content. I am only grateful that it was me and not Mims that was in the stable last night. She has already sustained two injuries when she was young by being frightened by thunderstorms. Being that much more experienced, I just turned my behind to the stable door and pondered on the inadequacies of the human race.

The other way that the new year started was black. It was so overcast in the morning that HE could hardly see to feed the other three down at Ninefields. This produced some problems of its own as HE did not see who caused the fracas in the field shelter. The only certainty was that it wasn't Treg. One minute everyone was standing eating from their buckets and the next, Mims and Wicky were at it again, kicking or threatening to kick and jostling around in the shelter. Both Treg and HIM just got out of the way quickly and then HE has to make a decision. Talk about give a pony a bad name, HE decided it was Wicky who had started the scrap and HE moved Wicks bucket outside and put him on a head collar. His decision may have been influenced by the fact that Wick took advantage of the fact that HE was moving Mims out of the way to go and steal some of Treg's bucket. After that all went very smoothly and quietly. Treg soon went back into the shelter, ate up his own bucket and then shared head to head with Mims in her bucket. Wicky, for once – and probably because he was tied up, finished his bucket cleanly before he tried to move on.

One result of the above was that, this evening, when THEY came to feed us, it was only Wick and I up at the gate to greet them. You see, HE had forgotten to lock the gate to the hay room and someone had been in there knocking things over. Both Wicky and I wanted to make sure that it wasn't us who got accused of that one!

moss on a wallMonday 2 nd January 2006
“Treg?”
“zzzzzzzz..”

“Hey, Tregony!”
“zzzzzzzz..”

“Oh dear, I should have known. It's a mild morning and Alli has been in charge all night. The old boy's gone and taken the opportunity to have a lay in. Well, it wasn't important. I was just going to have a bit of a chat, that's all. I suppose while I am here, I might as well write today's diary. Now, let me see, what's been going on that might interest you?
On the other hand, it could be a very short entry. Don't want to talk about the weather, that's boring. It's still a human holiday. They are starting to have nearly as many as we horses get. If they don't go to work we will have nothing to watch except lines and lines of walkers making their way up the bridle path and trying to jump over the stream and muddy puddles. Oh yes, that's something good I heard yesterday. You know our new red thing. Yes, that's right, Mims. Well, HE was walking her home the other night and HE met someone HE knows. He started to say was it Alli and then he said, ‘oh no, it's the other one, what's her name'. So he said ‘It's Mims' and then the wife of the person, who was trying to be kind said ‘is it short for something?' You see, not only is she silly but she has a silly name as well. I mean, ‘Mims'. It's a nothing word, isn't it. It doesn't mean anything, it's not short for anything. Really, it's just a noise, isn't it? HE answered that HE thinks she is named after a wicked witch in a film and, if she is, then she is aptly named. But it still is silly, isn't it?
And another thing. As SHE was going home last night, SHE got talking to a lady who knows us and she told her that Mims is nothing like as good as her mother. She even asked if her sire was a thoroughbred. So there. I'm storing all these things up for the next time she has an argument with me. Do you know what she did tonight. She bent down and stretched her big silly neck down past my rug and nipped my knee. You see, she doesn't even know that she should reserve that kind of behaviour for Tregony. That's what I do, don't' I Treg?”

“zzzzzzzz..”

“Oh dear, I don't think he's going to wake up this morning. Well, I can't stop here chatting all day, I'm starting to feel a bit peckish. I'm going up the top field now. If you should see Treg waking up at any time in the near future, would you tell him where I've gone. OK Bye!”

The Beacon fieldsTuesday 3 rd January 2006
“And I'm going to let Mims have all my left over bucket contents. And 7) I'm going to let Mims steal Tregony's breakfast before I do. And 8) I'm never going to nip Treg's knees ever again. And 9) I'm not going to ….”
“Ere, Wick?”
“ … not going to …. Er … What was that, Treg?”
“Ere, Wick. What are you doing? It looks ever so painful. You've got your teeth .. er tooth gritted and your legs crossed and …”
“Making my New Year resolutions, Treg. Vowing how I am going to be a much nicer Wicked in 2006 and all that.”
“Right! But, it's the 3 rd today. Isn't it a bit late? Shouldn't you have started them on the first?”
“I've only just thought of it Treg. You see, Alli suggested it after Mims and I had a bit of a falling out this morning.”
“Oh, when was that? I didn't notice anything different happening?”
“Ah, that's just the point. Alli said we are always arguing and it is about time it stopped. She said she was fed up with the pair of us and that we had to change our ways or else.”
“Or Else? Who's she?”
“No, or else we would be in big trouble.”
“Oh, so Mims is making a lot of New Year revolutions as well, is she?”
“Couldn't say Treg. I'm keeping out of her way.”
“Well, I think it is very good of you Wick. You are really a very nice pony and I'm proud of you. It's one of the nicest things you have done in a long while.”
“Do you really think it looks like that Treg? Do you think Alli will be impressed?”
“Oh, I'm sure she will be. My goodness, if you do all those things that you have just said you will be the best pony this side of Chagford.”
“Do them? Do them? Don't be silly Treg. I'm not going to do them. Do you think I'm going to let that red headed daftie get one over me just because her mummy says so? Oh no, I'm not going to do them. Just say them, so Alli thinks I am being very good. Then when there is trouble she will think that Mims has caused it, won't she?”
“Oh dear Wick. And I thought you had turned over a new leaf.”
“The only thing I have turned over Treg is that lump of grass down there. I've been trying to dig a bit of a hole so that madam trips up when she comes into the shelter, the snooty mare that she is.”
“So, what about all your revolutions Wick. Don't they mean anything?”
“Yeah, they mean that I intend to get that muddleheaded red mare before the end of the week, come hay or high water.”
“Oh, Wick. I am ashamed of you. She's not really a bad mare. She's quite sweet really. Couldn't you be a bit more forgiving. After all, she can't help being Alli's daughter. They are bound to get on well.”
“Look Treg. I've been demoted through no fault of my own. Am I supposed to take that lying down?”
“Well, I've moved from three to four and it doesn't worry me at all. Can't you tackle it in the same spirit?”
“Treg, you've not been demoted at all. You were last and you are still last. Where's the change in that?”
“Er … um …. Well … I never though of it like that before. Hey, that's good, isn't it? I've not lost my position at all. See, Mims' coming is not bad at all, is it?”
“From your point of view, no, Treg. You were an idiot and you still are. Now, bog off while I finish my resolutions. 9) I'm never going to …….

SHE has some treatsWednesday 4 th January 2006
Hi, Rory here again. No, my wife still hasn't come to join me yet. Well, to tell you the truth, I've not invited her. A bit early yet to start thinking of raising a family. And anyway, this bachelor life is not at all bad. I can stay up to any time I want. I can go wandering and don't have to be back at any special time. I even get to go out with my mates just when we want to. In fact, I've been so busy having fun that I've not got round to thinking about a permanent nest yet.
It's really not so bad here except one does have to take care of the horses hooves. They just wander about without looking down as if they owned the place. Well, I expect they do really but it is a bit dangerous. The other morning HE left the gate open between their eating bit and the hay store. Well, of course, that pushy little smelly one had to come in and start eating the hay. Good job I was only having a bit of a light snooze or I could have been eaten alive. I don't mind when I am awake because it's fun watching them, especially the little one and that new red one. I get the impression that there is no love lost there. On the other hand, neither of them is really nasty. The only thing that they seem to fall out about is food. The rest of the time they will stand side by side or go out and graze together. I even see them chatting to each other when they think no one is looking.

My favourite though, is the old boy. Bit of a gentle giant, he is. The only way he would ever hurt anyone is to trample over them when he is trying to get out of the way of trouble. Actually, I called the small one ‘smelly' but that was more a description of his manners than his actual presence. No, old granddad is the one if you want smells. He is what you might call ‘highly perfumed' and I'm a rat so I know about these things. Now, really, it depends on your point of view whether this is a bad thing or not. I've known a lot of humans who have paid an awful lot of money to smell something really terrible. Now granddad smells like a horse. If you like the smell of horses, that's glorious. If you don't like the smell of horses, what are you doing reading this diary? Funny creatures horses though. I mean, what do they do? If you decided to take a random sample over a period of a week, coming along say six time a day, it would be surprising if you didn't observe them eating forty out of the forty two times you observed them. Well, they have to sleep sometimes, don't they.

I did hear them talking the other day about some cat that comes around here. Now, there's something I don't like. Ugh, don't like them at all! Nasty natured creatures they are. And sneaky too. Now, why should a cat want to come around here? Only to cause trouble. There's not a house for a quarter of mile in any direction so it must obviously go out of its way just to be nasty. It's the only reservation I have about raising a family here. I reckon I have about another month to make up my mind whether to stay or not. I think I'll have to ask around a bit more. I know there are a few rabbits living just up the hill. Maybe I'll get the boys to come with me and pay them a friendly visit tonight and find out a bit more.

Anyway, must be off now. I'll keep in touch. And don't ever let anyone say ‘dirty rat' to you, I'm off for a bit of a wash and brush up before I go out!

A distant torThursday 5 th January 2006
I was at home in the stable this morning, when HE came back from Ninefields and reported ‘everyone was very good, this morning'. Then HE went on to qualify it by saying ‘except for Tregony who was very pushy'. But I knew HE said this in a very kindly manner. What is a fact is that Treg seems to do very well in the cold weather. To look at him, you might not think so. He looks a filthy mess. And so he is but a happy, filthy mess. He apparently, this morning, was quite happy to push himself forward to share Mims' bucket with her. Now, if Wick had done that, World War 3 would have broken out but as it was Treg (or granddad, as she calls him), Mims was quite happy to share. In fact, she would have been quite happy to let him have the lot, if I know her, as, rather like me, once the vegetables and apple have gone from the bucket, the rest is rather a bit boring. We both go heads down in a new bucket and root about to get the veggies and then toss the bucket about, just in case these is a moist morsel or two hidden in all that dry old stuff. I have to admit that it is this habit that causes a lot of the fights in the field shelter. In the same way that Mims doesn't want her left overs, Wicky can't resist them. As soon as she has tossed them all over the floor, Wick wants to leave his own bucket and vacuum the floor instead. HE has now worked out a tactic so that, as soon as Wick leaves his bucket, HE gets it and gives it to Mims to finish off. At the same time, while Wick is cleaning up the floor, HE gives Mims' half full bucket to Treg. It's a sort of musical buckets really but this way, everyone thinks that they are getting someone else's rations and they all end up more or less equal, except that Treg does get a bit more, but then, THEY are trying to build him up a bit.
We didn't do much different today apart from watch some men with chain saws come along the Throwleigh Road and but down some of the over-hanging trees. They then built a bit of a bonfire to get rid of the smaller stuff that wouldn't be any good for logs. It was a bit noisy but it was something to watch as the day did turn a bit miserable, dark and drizzly. HE even wore his flashing light armband when HE came to get Mims tonight. It's only a small flashing light but it does warn drivers, particularly those coming up behind, that there is a horse being led along the road. I must say Mims is spectacularly good with traffic and I have learned to ignore, even big lorries and busses now. We have a busy few days ahead. Farrier tomorrow, Mims to be freeze marked on Monday and Wick to be trimmed on Tuesday.

Come on Mims.hurry up!Friday 6 th January 2006
Some of us had our feet trimmed this morning. I say ‘some of us' because Treg decided to have a little lay down this morning and not only missed his breakfast but also missed Mark, who came early for once. In fact, he came so early that he stopped at the house first and trimmed Mims' feet in the stable. Then, while HE walked her up to Ninefields, Mark drove up and did me and then Wicky. It was a very cold day today and Mims was funny when she arrived at Ninefields because she stopped and shied at the white frosty bit of grass up by the shelter, Whether she was really apprehensive about it or just wanted a game is not known because she suddenly turned, snorted and came bucking back to where I was standing with HIM watching her. HE just walked over to her and pretended to want to put her head collar on again and this soon made her decide that she would turn and go away.
Although it was very cold today, it was a very bright and sunny day as well and THEY were a bit late bringing our supper buckets along. Tregony thought this was a very bad thing as he was now feeling pretty hungry, having missed breakfast. Anyway, because they were late, we were all up at the Throwleigh Road gate when they arrived and, as I put my head out for my carrot, HE very sneakily put my head collar on so that SHE could hold me while he took the others' buckets down. There was, however, a fault in HIS logic because after he had settled the three down eating their supper, HE had to return to where SHE was holding me, leaving then unattended. Of course, when SHE got there, Mims had decided to eat Treg's supper instead of her own and Treg went quickly down the path to tell HER about it. I wasn't there, but HE told me that SHE just stared at Mims and tapped her on the neck rather pointedly and she moved back to her own bucket. Treg then swiftly moved back and started to eat again. He didn't lose out however because his morning's bucket was still in the hay store and she more than made up his loss and shared some with Mims and Wick as well. So, in the end, there were three satisfied tummies.

ps HE took our Xmas decorations down today – it didn't take long, we only had one wreath over the stable door!

 



Treg's a bit wearySaturday 7 th January 2006
SHE was faced with a big decision today. A lady who lives near to her came along to ask HER if SHE had too many horses! It seems that this lady knows someone who is looking for a companion to her pony and she wondered if either Wicky or Treg would like to move. Of course, SHE said no, without even asking either of them. Just as well SHE didn't ask Mims!

I have to tell you, this is one of those funny days because it's actually not Saturday 7 th but Sunday 8 th . It was Saturday but HE wasn't feeling very well and after starting to write this day, HE asked me if it would be alright to finish it tomorrow (today – I told you it was confusing). Of course, I agreed. It is in all our interests that HE stays well enough to bring our feed buckets, if nothing else. But now it is a bit difficult for me to remember what happened yesterday.

Oh yes, Mims got a new head collar, one in the same style as mine. THEY pretend it is for us, as it just clips to do up instead of having straps and buckles but, I think in actual fact, the idea is to be able to catch Mims when it is her turn to go home at night. You see, she is getting quite cunning now when she sees THEM coming down the field with the buckets and tries to position herself to get her nose in the food, so that she can stay in the field instead of going home. HE always has a tussle to first put Wicky's bucket down, then to hide mine (with Treg's underneath) until HE can get Mims' head collar on. As soon as she sees he is trying to do that, she tries to run away and HE can only catch her by hanging onto her rug. Then HE has to put the head collar over her nose and do it up with one hand while hanging on to her with the other. Hence the new collar. I will admit it is smart as well. I am rather proud of mine. It looks much more dignified to walk along the road in a posh leather head collar than just an ordinary cloth one.

Apart from that, not much happened today (yesterday) as far as I can remember. It was very cold but us horses don't mind that. However, Wick is due to be trimmed on Monday so he will probably need to go back to wearing two rugs again as his ones are not very thick and warming. They are meant for him to use with his thick natural coat, just to keep the wind and rain off. To be honest, I don't think he cares. He may be an irascible old so and so, particularly when Mims is around, but he takes things pretty much as they come, as long as he gets his food!

A wild Belstone ponySunday 8 th January 2006
I have to admit that this morning I gave Wicky a couple of bites or, at least to be more accurate, I gave his coat a couple of bites. This will probable come as a complete surprise to you, me being a lady a great breeding and all that, but I do like to throw my food around. It's not actually because I like to see my bucket flying through the air (although I do) but because I like to sift out all the carrot, swede and apple pieces that THEY put in it and eat them first. So, this morning, I did what I always do which is to sort out my food, eat the veggies and leave the oats and stuff lying on the floor for later. Then I rush over to where HE is standing and bully him…. er … persuade him to give me some carrot treats. On a good morning I can get an extra four or five carrots in this way. Well, I have to maintain my nice red coat somehow, don't I? HE always ends up by giving me whole fistfuls of Polo mints and then goes off to watch Tregony to protect him in case Wicky goes to push him off his food.
Wick did finish early but, finding his way blocked, stopped to start eating the food that I had left. Now, when I say Wicky finished early, I don't mean that he had eaten all his food. What he likes to do is to eat some of his and then go and steal Tregony's. So while he was grazing on my floor leavings, I went and finished his bucket for him. What is it they say about a change being as good as a rest? Now Wicky mustn't have too much high protein food or he will get laminitis so HE picked up a lot of my leavings and put them in Tregony's bucket. All this time Treg is munching away – he's daft but he's not silly! And then I had finished Wicky's bucket so I decided to mug hi … er .. ask HIM if here were any more carrots. HE gave me one and then said ‘no more' and held HIS hands up. This usually means definitely no more (without a lot of persuasion). It was then that I realised that I was still hungry and Wicky was eating my food! I put my ears back, snaked my neck and snatched at his coat. To give him credit, he did swivel on his nose to get out of my way without stopping eating. This irritated me even more so I nipped him again. As HE remarked, if I had been Mims, things would have degenerated into a kicking match. As Wicky just ignored my second nip, I thought ‘fair enough' and left it at that. Just as well because HE rewarded me with yet another carrot for my good behaviour!
I must just finish to tell you of Mims behaviour this morning. When she came along, Maxwell was in his field next to ours wearing what SHE calls his ‘Zorro mask'. Because he is a grey and the head cover is black, his grey eyes and muzzle do rather make him look quite frightening. Mims was walking in the road when she just stopped and stared. And then, I think, something came over her. She must have found the mask quite fetching once she worked out what (and who) it was. She came in the gate and just ignored us. As soon as her head collar was off, she went straight up to the hedge and started posing. Flaunting herself, even. I don't know where she gets it from. I wonder sometimes if she really is my daughter, the hussy!

Mims has a blond thoughtMonday 9 th January 2006
Quite a day, today. It started off unusually as Tregony had decided to have one of his lie ins. That in itself is not so unusual but the fact that he did it with Mims in charge is. However, it is the first time that Mims has experienced it during one of her periods of authority. And, to give her credit, she stuck to her task absolutely. When HE turned up with the breakfast buckets, Wicky ran to greet him and dashed into the shelter to eat. Not Mims, however. She stood by the somnolent Tregony and wouldn't leave him. So much so that HE feared Treg might finally have shuffled off this mortal coil and went up to find him sitting up and interested in the world. In the end, HE had to leave Wicky to his bucket and take Mims breakfast up to her, where she was standing above the field shelter. She was quite happy to eat it there, as long as she could still watch over Treg.
The next event was me turning up at the field and finding Treg still laying down and Mims still watching over him, only this time she had been joined by Wicky. Once I could see that everything was in order, I didn't rush up to meet them but stayed in the gate field for some grazing before going to take over. By lunch time, Treg had shown no inclination to get up so the three of us decided to go up to the top field and leave him. We could still keep an eye on him there but also have a bit of off duty relaxation. Then we were interested to see HIS car draw up and he came into the field calling Wicky. Now, if there is one thing Wick is good at (other than eating) it is cocking a deaf ‘un. I watched him disappear into the field shelter and then emerge with a head collar and a riding crop. He then started to ascend the fields to where we were standing. I went over to the field entrance to watch him and then Mims joined me. Wick just carried on eating. After quite a few stops to enable HIM to breathe, HE finally reached Mims and I and just avoided us and walked on up to Wicky, who this time did come to greet him. He must have been disappointed to have the head collar put on and find himself being taken down th hill and out of the field. When Mims and I decided to run along with them, HE had the cheek to wave the riding crop at us.
To cut a long story short, Wicky disappeared down the Throwleigh Road , to reappear and hour and a half later with his coat clipped. Now, by this time, Treg had finally managed to rouse himself and the four of us had a sort of picnic helping Treg eat his belated breakfast.

And then finally, this evening, we had all worked our way up to the top field again, when THEY turned up with our suppers. Wicky can smell a bucket at three thousand paces and went hurtling of down the hill. I got myself going and just tied with him by the time we got to the field shelter. But Treg appeared confused, having so recently had his breakfast and so he didn't move at first. Again Mims went into guardian mode and waited for him. THEY finally got the pair of them moving but in the end, Mims and Treg ate their supper in the same place that Mims had breakfast over the field shelter. And then do you know what happened? THEY forgot that it was time for on of us to come back to the stable and THEY went away and left us all together for the night. I bet they will be angry when they remember, but it will be too late then to split us up. What a good day it has been!

silver birch barkTuesday 10 th January 2006
And what a good night as well! Hi, it's Mims. After last night, it was my turn to come home to the stable tonight so I told mum I'd do the diary while she looks after the old ‘uns. In fact, although it was very windy with a bit of rain, it didn't spoil it at all for us. To spend the whole night out together, as a herd, was a real treat and even Wicky and I only made pretends at having fights. Mind, that may have had something to do with the fact that mum was around to act as policeman.
This morning was interesting when THEY brought the buckets. We had had such a good night that no one was up tight and it all went very suently (as we say here in Devon – sweetly, well). Uncle Wick went running up to HIM first as usual and escorted HIM to the shelter, to get his bucket first. Mum went next and then me. That was a bit of confusion because I went into the shelter where I usually eat but HE had decided to put my bucket outside so HE had to call me out again. Then it was Tregs turn but apparently I was blocking the doorway so I had to be moved up again. But then, once we had all got our appointed places sorted, we all fell to munching our way through our buckets. I expect it's telling tales but it was mum who spoilt it first by walking away from her bucket to try and get some treats out of HIM. However, SHE was having none of it and brought mums bucket over. Then HE mixed my bucket and hers together and shared it out, half each and HE stood there holding both buckets for us until we had finished.
In the meantime, SHE checked Treg's back over and both he and Wicky finished their own buckets, we all had some carrots and then our calm breakfast was over. It may sound funny making such a big deal over nothing happening but it is such a nice change from the squabbles that have been going on lately.

As I said before, I came back to the stable tonight. It was very windy and a bit scary on the way home and I had to stop quite a few times to check things out as being safe before I could be encouraged to walk on. I should have known something different was in hand when HE took my wet rug off and didn't put my stable one on. It didn't matter because the weather, although wet and windy has turned quite a bit warmer. HE left me alone and I finished my bucket although it did have a bit of a strange taste. HE told me later that it was had powder wormer in it which was alright really. Much better than those squirty syringe ones. I was just settling down for a bit of a doze when this great big four wheel drive crashed into our wall. Well, scraped along it really. It wasn't going fast so it just made a bit of a mess of its rear side paintwork. THEY went out, I thought to be helpful to the driver but the next thing I saw was that the car was pulling in to our driveway. Then THEY came into my stable with the driver, put my head collar on and started to give me carrots while the lady trimmed some of the hair off my back. Next she put something onto the bald bit and pushed. It was a bit cold but alright at first but then it got a bit irritating somehow. And she didn't just do it once, she did it four times. By the last two goes I started to try and get out of her way but HE did keep distracting me with carrots, apple biscuits and mint sweets.
Anyway, it was soon over and THEY took the lady away to do some paperwork. HE came back to me later and gave me an apple while HE explained that I have been freeze marked. What it means is that I will have a number on my back (under the saddle) just like mums. It didn't really hurt and it does make me feel sorta proud and grown up. I wont tell you what my number is but HE said it was my cup size, whatever that means?

Giving Mims HER full attentionWednesday 11 th January 2006
Do you know what HE told HER tonight? HE said that Mims was less trouble to bring home than I am. HE said that at least Mims only stops now and then if something really scary appears like a blade of grass or a bird or something. But me, apparently I treat it more like a bit of a sightseeing stroll with some light grazing thrown in. And, do you know what? I do! Well, I mean, if I have to leave my herd and family to spend a lonely night in a rotten clean old stable, then at least I should get a bit of pleasure on my way there and back.
When I said ‘clean' old stable, I do mean clean. First, instead of nice warm smelly straw on the floor there is just a cold rubber mat. And then, to make matters worse, the mat is on a sort of grid which is periodically washed clean automatically with running water. And, as if that is not enough, HE often hoses it all down and washes it with disinfectant. When I came home tonight, there was not a trace of hore in the whole place just the smell of the chemicals. Mind you, it doesn't take either Mims or I long to get it smelling a bit more like home. By the time HE comes in to do late stables, HE has to get very busy with the broom and shovel.
We had a bit of a change this morning. Tregony was up and came along for his breakfast with the rest of us. He did get a bit confused though because we had, last night, a lot of wind and rain so the lot of us stayed in to eat hay and we had a bit of a poo party. So, when HE came along, HE needed to sweep the shelter first before Treg could use it. What HE did was to put Treg's bucket down outside the shelter while HE got his broom. Treg took a few mouthful's and then decided that he was in the wrong place so he left his bucket and went and stood by his tyre where his bucket is usually placed. HE did HIS best and swept round Treg but then, of course, HE needed to turn him round and this concept took Treg quite a while to grasp.
It was all sorted out eventually and we all ate our breakfasts. However, when HE brought Mims back from home, HE couldn't see Treg anywhere. Finally HE saw him, right up the top of the middle field and flat on his back. The mental effort of the morning has just been too much for him and he needed to get half a day's sleep before supper.

 


The cycle starts againThursday 12 th January 2006
The darkest day was 21 st December, I believe. That is only three weeks ago. What a long uphill struggle this time of the year is. Looking at it another way, if you divide the year into two halves, then we are sixteen out of twenty six weeks away from the nicer half. In other words only ten weeks to go. There, that's more encouraging, isn't it? I just said ‘the nicer half'. Really there is not much bad with the winter half apart from the lack of light. I've said many times, we horses hate the hot weather when it brings the flies to drive us crazy. If you were to look at Tregony at the moment, you might think what a poor old, uncared for soul he is. But, in fact, he really likes this weather. And take Wicky. He has just had his natural coat clipped off. And yet when HE runs HIS hands under the quite lightweight rug he has on, HE always comments on how hot Wicky is. No, there are just two problems about this time of the year. No, I'll correct that, three problems. I was going to say it is the lack of decent grass to eat and also the lack of light making the days too short. But, the third thing that I just remembered is the coming back to our stable at night. It was bad enough when there were just the three of us. I hated leaving Treg and Wick to look after themselves and, to be honest, I was not too sure of how Wick might treat Treg on his own. But now my daughter is here, it is even worse. Either she comes home or I do so we are always separated at night. It's not that we have a lot to talk about. We don't even play as much as THEY hoped we would. No, it's just having her around gives me a nice comfortable feeling.
Still, HE was commenting tonight, I do seem to have got over my panic when HE leads her away. No so long ago, I would run after her and call and call for her to come back. I don't know whether it is the knowledge that she always comes back or just whether I have grown to accept the inevitable but now I just watch her go and then get on with my supper. Still, it will be lovely when neither of us has to go back to the stable and we can roam the fields again all night. Roll on spring!



Friday 13 th January 2006
“D'you you know what, Wick? I was just thinking what it will be like here, say fifty years from now.”
“I expect you'll still be around to see it Treg, the way you are going.”
“No, but seriously, Wick. How do you think it will be?”
“All built over, I expect. Not a blade of grass for miles.”
“Ooh, do you think so? I can't see them building up the Beacon. Bit too bleak for humans to live up there, I would have thought.”
My daughter and I“Yeah, well, maybe not up the Beacon. But down here they're bound to want houses. I expect they will be selling field shelter conversions to the townies for a great deal of money.”
“Oh dear! To think, someone living with my haynet. And they'd have to share it with the rats. Don't think they'd like that very much.”
“Nah, they'd put in all kinds of improvements. Wouldn't even have to walk down to the stream for a drink, they'd have a tap right here in the shelter.”
“Poor things. Have you tasted that water that comes out of those taps. Ugh! I don't know why they don't try to clean it or something, it's horrible. Both Mims and Alli say they try not to drink anything overnight. Wait till they get back here to the stream before they have a drink.”
“Oh, I expect it's alright for those humans. They always disinfect it with some stuff called tea or, sometimes if it's really bad they have to use something stronger, whiskey I think it's called.”
“Tell you what, they'll get a shock when they are driving along the road to Throwleigh New Town and they come upon the ghosts of HIM and Alli, walking along the road….”
“… yeah, and HE'll wave at them like HE always does and they'll be lucky if they don't crash with the shock of it.”
“And the kids will all be told about the funny old man who used to walk along talking to the horse and waving and grinning insanely to everyone that passed….”
“… and how the horse always looked embarrassed and apologetic and tried to make out that it wasn't with HIM ….”
“…. And sometimes it would be in disguise, and instead of having one white foot and a star it would have three white feet and a blaze ….”
“….. and then they'd warn their kids that if they weren't good, they'd end up like that old mad man.”
“Ere, Wick? Do you really think it will be like that?”
“To be honest Treg, I'm not even sure that the kids will know what a horse is by then. Or a sheep or a cow. You see, humans don't want these thing any more. Too much work. What they want is something that they can just sit down in front and not have to do anything.”
“You mean like HIM and HIS computer?”
“Er, better not say that, Treg. Remember who brings our buckets.”
“Oh, right. Well, I was only wondering. Do you think HE will still be bringing our buckets then, Wick?”
“Probably Treg. But not here, not at Ramsley. I think we will all be in a much better place by then.”
“Oh, hooray, we moving to Cornwall then?”
“Er, maybe Treg. Maybe. Who knows what the future will bring, eh?”

South tawton from afarSaturday 14 th January 2006
There was once a farm, somewhere in the wastes of Dartmoor and somewhere in the mists of time, called Hayrick Barton. The farm was run by an old farmer and his wife, Jos and Tamsin Coombe. They were help on the farm by a variety of animals. There was Thomas the cat, whose main job was to keep the house and barns free of rodents. He also considered that another duty was to help get rid of any spare cream that happened to be left over after Tamsin had made their meals. Another two workers were Tor and Bracken, two border collies. In addition to their main tasks which were to do with the policing of the farm's sheep, they also took upon themselves to act as guardians of the property and to shout their loudest when anyone approached. To be honest, although they were good workers with the sheep, by any other criteria they were a little crazy and they would also shout their loudest when no one approached making it rather difficult to know when to take them seriously. There were other lesser ancillary workers mainly concerned with providing food – Sarah the red Devon cow, a handful of chickens, too numerous and busy to name here and a goat called Grump.

However, the most important workers on the farm, the ones that old Jos just could not do without were a bay cob called Tregony and a smart, grey Shetland called Wicked. There two contributed so much to the welfare of the farm that Jos and Tamsin decided that it was time that they had a holiday. Normally, Tregony's jobs covered pulling the plough, carting the farm produce both around the farm and to the neighbouring market. He also took Jos where he needed to go, over the moors, to the town, herding sheep and anywhere. Wicked's main job was to take Tamsin in a little trap whenever she needed to go to town or to visit her neighbours. He also considered it his duty to make sure Tamsin's lawns were well tended although she didn't always agree with him on this point.
When Wicked first heard about the proposed holiday he rushed to tell Tregony and they both greeted the news with mixed emotions. Of course they were very thrilled with the idea but at the same time worried how their jobs would get done without them. ‘The whole farm will grind to a halt, if we go away', said Wicked. ‘How will missus get to town if I'm not there to take her? She'd have to walk and it really is too far for her, at her age.' Tregony agreed with this and added that Jos would not be able to go and worry his sheep as he liked to do and who on earth would take the produce to market? Then their thoughts started to dwell on the idea, a bit further. ‘I wonder where we shall go, Wicked?' said Tregony. ‘Shall we go all the way to the seaside? Maybe even to Cornwall ?' Wicked was a bit more pessimistic. ‘Chagford, probably, or Throwleigh, I expect', he muttered. ‘Well, there's only one way to find out', said Tregony, ‘we'll have to go and ask them'.

 

“And that's the lot for tonight, boys, I have to go back to the stable tonight.”
“Oh, Mims, don't stop there. HE hasn't turned up to get you yet, just a little bit more.”
“Sorry Treg, look that's THEIR car now. Don't worry, I'll finish it tomorrow. OK?”

Did i really put my nose on Wicky?Sunday 15 th January 2006
“Well, what about that then Wick? Mims telling us a nice story. She's not as bad as you thought, is she?”
“Well, … er…, maybe laddie. I'll admit I've seen a side of her that I've not seen before. Let's see what she does today. Did she say she'd finish the story when she came back from the stable?”
“Yes, and I believe her. If she promised, she promised! We'll just have to wait until she comes. Won't be long now.”

“Maybe we should all go up to the top field. Alli can come too. Then she can tell us all the end of the story, yes? You alright to go right up to the top, Treg. Your legs playing you up today or no?”
“No, I think it must have been a stone in my hoof the other day. I know I was limping but, coming down that rocky, steep slope and having a stone in your hoof, makes you limp.”
“OK Good. I think I can hear them coming now. You know how HE always sings to her? My ear has gone numb so I think that must be him.”
“Yeah, there they come. Let's wait by the field shelter. She'll be along any time now.”

……….

 

“Hello boys. Are you ready? Let's finish the story.”

Tregony and Wicked decided that the best time to tackle Jos was after he had brought them their supper. They were eating out of their mangers and Jos was standing just outside, looking up at the evening sky and the moon.

‘Jos', said Tregony, ‘where are we going to go, on holiday?”

Jos looked up and saw Tregony's earnest face.
“I wonder what you are thinking, Tregony”, he thought. “If only you could speak to me. I wish I could talk to all my animals. I'd really like to know what they thought and if I was doing right by them. Never mind, At least I can do you a favour Tregony. Give you a rest from what you always have to do for me. Let's have a holiday, shall we old son. Give all this a miss for a bit. It won't miss us and we could both do with a break.”
Tregony looked at Jos. He wondered at first if he were in some kind of pain. Jos kept making all these noises and looking at him as if … as if …
It dawned on Tregony that he hadn't considered if Jos could speak horse. All this time he had been speaking to Jos as if he were an Eqiine. Maybe he had never understood a word I have been saying, thought Tregony. I like to talk to him and he always looks as if …. Oh dear! Then how am I going to be able to talk to him now?

Wicked had been watching the pair as he finished his evening feed. People often underestimated Wicked. Because he was rather fond of his food, they tended to think that he was not present when things were going on when all the time he was watching and listening with his mouth in the manger.

“Excuse me, Jos”, he began.

Jos's head shot up. “Who said that?”, he demanded. Then his eyes moved about the room while his head stayed still, in case there was a supernatural presence.

“Oh, sorry Jos”, said Wicked. “I didn't realise that you didn't know that I could speak human. I've studies it for many years now and finally I've cracked it. I just wanted to know …. Well WE wanted to know, where we were going on holiday?”
Jos just stood and stared. He looked from Wicked to Tregony then back to Wicked. He stuck his finger in his ear and gave it a good old wiggle. Then he took the flat of his palm and gave his ear a good hard crack.

“No, it really is me, Jos”, said Wicked. “All these years you have wanted to speak to us. Well, now you can. I'll even teach Tregony, how about that?”

 

“Sorry about that lads, I did say I'd finish, I know. But now HE is saying enough is enough. I think HE is tired of typing. Finish it tomorrow night, promise!”

 

Tregony on his ownMonday 16 th January 2006
When Jos got over his shock, he got into conversation with Wicked about how long he had been able to speak human and would Wicked teach him a bit of horse and things like that. Tregony kept listening because, every so often, Wicked would translate bits for him. In the end, though, he got a bit impatient. ‘Ask him about the holiday, Wicked', he urged. ‘Where are we going? What's it like there?
Wicked passed on Tregony's questions and a twinkle came into Jos's eyes.
‘It's a place call Equity Farm. I think you both will like it. It's high up on a cliff over the sea but with nice gentle slopes down to the beach. There is about ten acres of really nice pasture there, really well drained with luscious tasting grass and the farmhouse in the middle. To get to it, you have to leave the main road and follow a lane that leads to the sea for about half a mile, then you come to the entrance to the farm and you have to travel down a private road with the pastures on either side and through an orchard. The farm buildings themselves are set in a three sided square with a courtyard in the middle. The centre side is the farmhouse itself. On the right there is a workshop, vehicle spaces and some storage barns. On the left there are stables and, at the end, a large barn, covered on three sides but open in the front, where the hay is stored at the back and where you horses can gather to get away from the wind or the flies.

As Jos went on with his description, Wicked translated for Tregony whose eyes got larger and larger. ‘It sounds really wonderful', he told Wicked. ‘Ask him how long we are going for and when we will be leaving'. Wicked asked Jos to excuse him for a minute and turned to Tregony. ‘What about all those misgivings we had about leaving all the work of the farm here. We can't just up and go, just like that Tregony.' Tregony looked disappointed but had to agree with Wicked. They really did have responsibilities at home. ‘I suppose you had better mention that to him', he said to Wicked.
When Wicked pointed out all that they had been discussing, old Jos called out to Tamsin to come and join them. ‘I've told them about the holiday, Tamsin', he said, ‘but they are worried that the work here won't get done if they go to Equity Farm'.
‘Are they?', Tamsin said with a grin, ‘that's probably because you didn't tell them that we are all moving there, not just going for a week or two.' And Jos and Tamsin had a really good laugh to see the shock on Wicked and Tregony's faces. The two horses just stared at each other as their minds raced. Then as the full implications dawned on then, they both started to dance around and buck in the air. Round and round they danced singing and laughing until they were giddy.
And move they did, Jos and Tamsin, Tregony and Wicked, Thomas the cat, Tor and Bracken, Sarah the cow, the sheep, the chickens and a goat named Grump. And they all lived ….

 

“ … happily ever after! Hooray. Thank you Mims, what a lovely story, wasn't it Wick?”

“It was laddie, it was. And now the thought of all that pasture has made me a bit peckish. Coming up the hill for a bite to eat? And you Mims, of course, and you.”

PrunedTuesday 17 th January 2006
I was wondering today. What are stories to do with a diary? You can hardly say they are what happened today, only in the very loose sense that the telling of the story happened on a particular day. But then, if we were to confine the diary to what happened to me and my friends during the day, it would hardly be very riveting reading. That is what I was thinking.
Then I thought, hold on, my life is no duller than anyone else's. If you were to write what you have done today and did this day after day, week after week, it would also get a bit samey, wouldn't it. OK, some days do have things of interest in them, but generally the content would be rather on the lines of ‘got up, had breakfast, went to work, came home, watched TV or read a book, went to bed', wouldn't it?
The only difference with us is that there are four of us. Rather as if there were four of you, say your family, then the chances of something interesting happening to one of you should be improved by four to one, shouldn't it? Even then, how often in our lives does something memorable happen, something that might possibly be of interest to others? I might have been on to something if I hadn't added that last bit, eh? So really, it comes down to what things interest us. Does the fact that Tregony has yet another foot abscess really rivet people? How about Wicky eating his supper – riveting stuff eh? Now when Mims bites and kicks Wicky it does start to get more interesting. Why? Not the fact of the actual bite or kick, I think but rather the thinking and purpose behind it. In other words the story!
And so, we are back to where we started. This is called Alezane's Diary but, apart from HIM and HER, who might want to check up on certain past facts – when Treg was last lame, when did Mims come to stay with us etc., the only reason anyone else could have for reading the diary is to read it as a story ! Therefore if the diary some days contains a story, this is just really cutting out the middle man, so to speak. It is a story within a story and even Shakespeare did that (so HE tells me).
So next time that one of us starts to use our imagination a bit, don't worry that this is not what the diary is for, think instead about how it is quite possible for us horses (alright Wick, and ponies) to want to travel in our minds to other places than just dear old damp Dartmoor. We have to pass the long nights somehow as, unlike you, we don't sleep for hours on end. Well OK, Treggy does but he's an exception. Normally we just have a twenty minute nap and then finish off with a roll in the mud for our complexions. Then – we tell stories!

A stroke for AlezaneWednesday 18 th January 2006
“Wicky, do you know what day it is today?”
“No, Alli, Tuesday or Wednesday I think but I ouldn't be sure lassie. Why's that? You got something special happening?”
“I didn't mean what day of the week, Wick. Yes, you're right, there is something special today, it's HIS birthday.”
“HIS birthday, Alli? How do you know that?”
“HE told me as we were walking along the Throwleigh Road , this morning, Treg.”
“What's that mum? HE told you what?”
“HE said to me that it was HIS birthday and that I hadn't even wished HIM many happy returns.”
“I shouldn't think HE will get many more happy returns at HIS age lassie.”
“Oh Wick, that's not kind. HE's not as old as me.”
“No one's as old as you Treg.”
“Very funny Wick. What do you think Mims? Should Alli have wished HIM many happy returns?”
“Not only mum. I think we should all do something for HIM to celebrate HIS birthday.”
“What a lovely idea, my sweet. I think that's really nice of you. Well boys, what do you think? Should we all do something for HIS birthday?”
" Yeah, Alli, we should, shouldn't we Wick?”
“I'm not giving HIM any of my dinner although I might wish HIM happy birthday, if I remember.”
“Oh come on uncle. You can be nicer than that. After all, it is HIM that brings your dinner in the first place. It wouldn't hurt you to be nice for once.”
“Nice for once, lassie? You can say that, to me? You're the one who are always chasing me out of the shelter and putting your ears back and threatening me.”
“Only when you try to steal my food.”
“Yeah. And he steals my food too. Not just tries to, he does it.”
“Oh shut up you old fool. We weren't even speaking to you.”
“Take no notice granddad. His is a nasty little sh…”
“Children, children, PLEASE! Stop arguing. Just for once. No more squabbling. Let's have a sensible discussion.”
“That's it Alli. You've got it.”
“Got what, Tregony dear?”
“That's what we can give HIM for HIS birthday.”
“What's that granddad?”
“We could all be good and well behaved for today. No kicking or biting. No squabbling, no ears back. And you wouldn't have to give up any of your food Wicky. Just not steal mine.”
“For just the day, laddie?”
“Just for HIS birthday, Wick.”
“Aye, right then. Good idea Treg. What do you think Mims?”
“I think it's a wonderful idea, isn't it mum?”
“It certainly is. I just hope you are not promising more than you can keep to. Well, we'll see. OK. We'll see!”

Ninefields' top fieldThursday 19 th January 2006
“Zippidy do dah, zippidy day, my oh my what a wonderful day,,,,,”
“Hey Wicky, you're in a good mood today. What's happened?”
“It's a lovely day today and whatever you've got ….. what? Oh hello Treg, what a wonderful day it is, isn't it?”
“Well, it's alright I expect. Not snowing, anyway. I can't see it's that good though.”
“Oh, la, la, la, you can't see it's that good? Really? Well I certainly can.”
“Oh come on Wick. Stop messing about. What has put you into such a good mood?”
“Ha! Good mood? Wonderful mood more like it. Tell me Treg, have you ever heard any really good news?”
“I expect I must have Wick, I've lived so long. Trouble is when you get as old as me, your memory goes.”
“Well, I have. I heard something today that has really made me a happy fellow. In fact, an ecstatic chap.”
“And are you going to tell me or are you just going to go about like an idiot for the rest of the day?”
“It was this morning, after buckets when he brought that ginger thing up to Ninefields ..”
“Ginger thing? Oh, you mean Mims. Yesterday's truce didn't last very long then?”
“Yeah. Right. Well, SHE came into the field and do you know what SHE told me?”
“I bet you are going to tell me.”
“SHE got the measuring stick out this morning, when madam was in the stable. And, do you know what?”
“Do please tell me Wick or you'll explode. There's steam coming out of your ears.”
“She's only fifteen hands. Fifteen hands! And she had the cheek to call me a midget. Even you are taller than her. She's barely a horse. More a tall pony, really. Ha! What do you think of that?”
“I don't really know what you are getting so excited about. That's only one hand shorter than her mum. You're supposed to be smaller than your mum, aren't you?”
“Only when you are a filly. She's grown up now, supposedly. She's never going to be any taller now, however old she gets. I mean, look at you, you're getting smaller again now. I bet you are not as tall as you used to be when you were younger.”
“I don't really know Wick. When I look, my nose seems to be in the same place that it always was and my feet are down there. I can't really see any difference.”
“Well, we're not talking about you. We are talking about that bossy, pushy female who has come along and interfered with all our lives. She's just a minny Mims, that's all she is. Just let her try to push me around ever again, that's all.”
“Oh Wick. And it went so well yesterday. HE was really pleased how good we all were. Said it made HIS work so much easier. Why can't you just carry on being good like that?”
“Maybe I will laddie. At least I've got this bit of news up my sleeve in case she gets pushy again. Maybe we'll just wait and see.”
“That's better, Wick. Nice and kind, good man. So, I'm bigger than her, am I? She's better not try pinching my dinner again, the little squirt, I'll just tell …….”

Wicky wins the race to the bucketsFriday 20 th January 2006
We were caught today. When I we say I mean Mims and I. We had all gone right up to the top field for a bit of a graze and a chat. Well, to be honest, the others were already halfway up there when I came back from Ramsley. That's the second time they have not waited for me. I'm not sure if it is Mims or if it is Tregony goes up first. I know sometimes old Treg will get an idea in his head and then there's no stopping him. He just charges off and the others have no option but to follow him.
Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked. The weather was a bit pleasantly cooler today. It has been unseasonably warm these last few days and we have started getting swarms of midges buzzing about our heads. So, to take advantage of the nice weather and to get away from the midges, we went right up to the gate at the field top. And then, the sun came out and we found ourselves warm again but without the irritation of the flies. It wasn't long before I started feeling a little bit dozy and when I looked round, I could see that Mims was feeling the same. In a few seconds we were both on our knees and then lying right down. Oh, and I forgot to tell you. Yesterday I managed to get really well covered from head to foot in nice sticky mud. And what did SHE do? SHE spent ages brushing and scraping me until she got most of it off again. To make matters worse, SHE sprayed me with some sickly stinking kind of stuff so not only had I lost my nice mud coating but I ponged as well. So, as I lay right down, I can just remember thinking how I must have a real good roll when I get up to restore my face and mane to its former glory.
And then, as I said before, we were caught. Because the sun had come out for the first time in days, HE had decided to go out on a photo expedition. And where does HE choose to go first? Along the Throwleigh road. Apparently there were a few things HE had noticed as we have walked up and down the road that HE wanted photos of, so HE had come for walk as far as Ninefields. I had just sat up and was having a look around when I saw HIM. You get a wonderful view from there and there HE was taking our picture. Mims had sat up by this time but when I told her, she just slumped back down again. I expect HE will use the photo to put in the diary so that all the world will see the two of us lying down.
Talking of Mims, if I say so myself, she is a really smart girl. Whenever it is her turn to go back to the stable overnight, she positions herself up above the shelter so she cant be caught. Mind, it's only a small token of defiance because she soon comes down when the rest of us are eating. Whether she thinks she wont have to go after all or whether she just gives in gracefully, I'm not sure. But she is a good girl and I'm proud of her. I'm sure we get on better now than when she was growing up with me. I suppose I don't have the same responsibility for teaching her things now and, on her part, there are things that I can teach her now that she wants to learn. Whatever, these are good days for the pair of us. Good days!

Now, i told you ....!Saturday 21 st January 2006
What a lovely surprise. When I walked home to my stable tonight, I found a very pretty flower arrangement taped to a rock and placed on the wall just outside my stable door. When I asked HIM about it, HE told me that Elsa and Ruth, two of the little girls who live over the road, had brought it over for Mims and I. I was really very pleased with it. It did, however, make me feel a bit guilty for the other day when they brought me some hay to eat and, I am afraid, I just didn't want it. I wouldn't even put it in my mouth and made it very clear that I already had a stable full of the stuff. In the end they had to go and get some Polo mints for me, which was much more acceptable. Still, I wouldn't have blamed them if they didn't bring me anything anymore so this gift was a very nice one. HE did warn them that I might eat it but Elsa said I was not to because it was for Mims as well as me. So I shall just stand and look at it from time to time and think what nice children they are.

I gather that they also came into the house and had a look on my website. Ruth has grown very fast now and can recognise horses and cats. She points to the screen and says ‘orse in a very loud voice. Just as they came in, Cat Flap had brought in a mouse and HE was busy getting it away from him and giving it a flying lesson over the hedge. If that sounds cruel, it wasn't really because the mouse had long since lost interest in living. When Cat Flap discovered that his toy had disappeared, he jumped up on the table in front of the girls and Ruth again pointed and shouted ‘cat'.

It has been a really beautiful day today, just like the first day of spring. It is amazing how just a nice bit of weather can make everyone feel so good. All the humans were nice to each other and all went around feeling very alive. We all went up to the top field. Well, all except Treg who said his feet ached a bit and so he just went to the top of the middle field. But we were all within talking distance and we all had a good time as well. Even when HE came to bring me home, I didn't ty to eat anyone elses food but just stood until SHE came along and put my head collar on and Mims went outside to eat like a good girl so the other two just tucked into their buckets and supper time went without a bad moment.

HE has even noticed that the snowdrop plants along the Throwleigh Road are up about three inches high now after there being no sign of them last week. Let's hope we are in for a short winter and an early spring when all the tasty new grass comes along for us to get fat on!

The cows next doorSunday 22 nd January 2006
Maybe, at last, we will be able to have a lick of salt without the block falling on the ground now. HE finally got round to repairing our salt lick. Now, think about this very carefully. What does it involve. Well, the salt comes in a solid brick shape form that fits into a metal container. This container is hung on a vertical surface (in our case the wooden post in the inside front of our field shelter) by having a small circular hole which hangs over a screw so that the screw head retains it. OK, got that? So the job HE has to do is to take out the old screw and fit a new one. That's it. HE has to put in one screw. So what does HE bring with him? A big box with an electric power drill and a spare battery, a hammer, an electric screwdriver and a pair if grips as well as an assortment of different screws. To put in one screw? To give HIM credit, HE managed it. The salt lick is now hanging up on the post where it should be. I suppose HE just likes to be prepared for any eventuality.
While HE was there, HE also delivered a new bag of rolled oats to feed the birds with. HE drove up to the field shelter, parked right outside the entrance, got out, opened the gate to the hay store and took the lid off the oat container. Then HE had to go back to the car and fetch the bag of oats. It was then that the black and white cat shot out of its hiding place in the hay. It hadn't moved before while HE was opening up. Maybe it just hoped that HE would go away and leave it in peace. HE thought no more about it and went about mending the salt lick but then, as HE was getting back into HIS car when HE was finished, HE noticed the cat, sitting only a few metres away, glaring at HIM. Whether HE had disturbed its sleep or whether it was keeping still, waiting for the rats to appear, I don't suppose we will ever know. What does seem certain is that the cat has adopted the shelter as its own. Maybe one ay we will get an interview for the diary?
Just before supper time tonight, we had a nice moment when a couple with a child in a push chair stopped to say hello. We were all standing up near the gate, as we had been there to say goodbye to Maxwell who had been out in his field today. He had not been out for a couple of weeks so we had quite a lot to talk about during the day. Because it was his first time out for weeks, he was in one of his silly moods, running about and bucking every time he saw someone pass. Anyway, we said goodnight to him and then this family came along. As we were getting petted – no treats, I'm afraid, some people will go out unprepared – THEY drove up with our buckets. It was Mims turn to go home so she stayed up at the gate with HER and the family while HE took us down to the shelter for our supper. While she was waiting, Mims let the little boy sit on her back. HE had given the boy a carrot to give her but the boy tried to eat it himself. I am afraid he has a lot of growing up to do before he will be a horses best friend.

Coming downMonday 23 rd January 2006
Two items today, both concerning my daughter. I think I had better start with the bad one first and then you may have forgotten it when you get to the end. Now, although in years, Mims is no longer a child, I am afraid that she still has a few childish habits and one of those is petulance. Tonight, she was staying in the field while I was taken back to the stable and so it was her, Treg and Wicky to have supper in the field shelter. Well, not actually ‘in' the shelter for Mims because HE found that there was less trouble between Wick and Mims if she ate her bucket just outside. That way neither of them is tempted to see what the other is eating and so set off a biting kicking match. Now this works OK with one small drawback. Mims is the daughter of a racehorse and so does not mess about when it comes to eating. While the other two are steadily ploughing on through their buckets, Mims is racing towards the finishing line. This means that whoever is ‘dinner person' that time has to keep her continually topped up with treats while the other two finish. HE is a sucker in that way but SHE is a bit more disciplined. And so, tonight, when Mims had gulped down more than her fair share of treats, SHE just held up her hands and said “no more”. I understand that Mims first nuzzled, then pushed and then, when this had no effect, she nipped HER. Now whilst this is perfectly normal behaviour among horses, I am afraid it just will not do for humans. Tonight, Mims is in disgrace and I will have to have a very strong word with her when I get to the field tomorrow.
The second little story is just of pure interest and no blame lies with Mims whatsoever. Every night, just before THEY go to bed, THEY do what SHE calls ‘late stables'. This means that HE goes in, armed with a broom, shovel and back and makes the stable clean (fairly easy as we stand on rubber matting and not straw) while SHE gives the inhabitant, Mims or I, a few treats over the stable door. When HE is done, SHE says “go and get HIM now” and it is HIS turn to give a few treats before giving us a kiss goodnight. Anyway, last night, SHE turned up at the door and HE walked in with his broom and put the light on. There was a sudden rush, and a rat wearing hob nailed boots ran across the floor and away through a hole in the wall at floor level. Now, as there was only hay in the stable and the rat had obviously come in from the hay store where there is an awful lot more of the stuff, THEY were both left wondering what it was doing in there. Maybe, like Templeton and his successors up in the field shelter, he was there telling Mims stories. Who knows? She denies everything!

Th 'new' estateTuesday 24 th January 2006
“Ere Wick?”
“Tregony. What can I do for you?”
“I think I need to know why you keep chasing me. I can't remember ever having done anything against you and yet you are always running me off and steeling my food. I just don't understand it.”
“What's to understand, Treg. I just do it. It's how I get your food. Do you think if I just stood in my place and said ‘excuse me, Tregony, may I have your food instead of you' that you would give it to me? I don't think so. So, what alternative do I have?”
“Oh? Right. I hadn't thought of it like that. I see. You mean you are forced to do it ….”
“…. by your inconsiderate manner. Right. That's it Treg. If you were a nicer person and just gave me your food, I wouldn't have to, would I?”
“Er … no… I see, it really is my fault then?”
“Of course. I think you really ought to thank me. At least I stop you from being so selfish. Given your own way you would be quite nasty but with me o help you, you've become something of a philanthropist.”
“Er, have I? Is that good then, Wick? I'm not sure I like the sound of that.”
“Well, tell you what, Treg. Don't listen.”
“Oh, right. I can do that, can't I? Well, I'm glad we cleared that up then Wick. I was beginning to think it was something I'd said or done to offend you.”
“Na, laddie. Of course not. You're my best friend, aren't you? Otherwise I wouldn't bother. But I happen to think you are worth the effort, that's all.”
“Oh, thank you Wick. That's really kind of you. Please do steal my food any time you want to. You really are a very good mate. Thanks”
“That's all right Treg. Now bugger off, I want a bit of peace and quiet before bucket time and don't want any idiots like you hanging around annoying me.”
“Right. Of course. And, Wick. Thanks again!”

Mims and the 'new' white SuzukiWednesday 25 th January 2006
Hi, Mims here. Oh, you knew. Well, anyway. Mum asked me to have a go at today's diary because she says it is good for me. Give me something to occupy my mind, she says. I suppose I brought it on myself, really. I can't help it. Most days I am alright but then, some days, something gets inside me and I feel all a-twitch. I just don't know what to do with myself. I just can't stand still.
It happened this morning. I had a good night, as far as I know. I ate a bit and dozed a bit and looked out at the moon and stars and listened to the night sounds a bit. Then, in the morning, I was standing with my back to the world, having a bit of a rest, when HE came along to give me my early morning treats. HE does this every morning to whichever one of us is in the stable. While the kettle is boiling for THEIR first cup of tea and coffee (HER and HIM) of the day, HE comes outside and stands silently with HIS back to the stable door until we realise that HE is there and go to the door and nudge HIM. Then HE pretends to be surprised and gives us a couple of carrots before going and getting HIS milk and going back indoors.
So, once HE had woken me up, I just could not stand still. There is about an half an hour gap between those carrots and our proper breakfast so I tried to look outside to keep myself amused while I was waiting. But, it was no good. There was nothing to look at outside and the inside of my stable is about as interesting as… well as … th inside of a stable. The more I tried to amuse myself the more wound up I got. This starts me off walking round and round and churning up all the mess on the stable floor so that, by the time my bucket arrives, HE has to spend another five minutes sweeping everything out before I can eat. Of course, this just winds me up more. Even with my bucket on the floor beside me, I have to keep going to the door and looking out. SHE said that it was ages before I had finished my breakfast and SHE could start grooming me and then, as I still kept trying to dig up the floor, SHE gave up trying to make me look nice and I had to wait alone for HIM to come back from the field and get me ready to go out.
And yet, once we start walking up the road, all my anxiety seems to drop away and we walk along quite calmly and easily. In fact, HE told me this morning that the only thing I seem to hurry for is eating. HE did ask about my father, you know, what his racing record was and so on. I had to tell HIM I didn't know, I was too young at the time when he was around. HE's promised to get the details from HER and let me know. I hope HE does, I think I would be quite interested in that!

Treg looking tiredThursday 26 th January 2006
We have new title now. It began when SHE was working out who was ging home tonight and who SHE would have to supervise over the supper buckets. SHE said, “ its ******** tonight” (I can't repeat the actual words she used. Anyway HE said “oh, no, it's Mims coming home tonight” to which SHE replied “I know, ******** meant Alli that I was supervising”. THEY really do talk about us like that, I'll have you know. So HE said, “you can't call her that, it's not nice. She's really the Queen Mother”. And SHE replied, “if she's the Queen Mother then Mims is the Queen!”. At that, HE withdrew a little. “Oh, well, we can't have that, she's more like the Princess Royal. Alli will have to be the Queen”. And that's how THEY left it. I am the Queen and Mims is the Princess Royal. It's rubbish really but if THEY must give us nick names, I suppose it is better than **********, isn't it?
And so, back to Tregony again. The number of times he worries THEM is beyond belief. Last night, when THEY brought our buckets along, Treg was lying down in the Throwleigh Road field. This meant that not only did he miss his supper (with its double medication in it) but THEY were unable to shut the gate to that field, as they usually do at nights, to keep us away from the main road. The other problem was that HER attention was divided between supervising Mims and Wicked as they worked their way through their supper and seeing that Tregs was alright. Because of that, after HE had walked me home, HE drove back up to Ninefields, in case SHE needed any help. When HE got there, SHE was sitting on the ground next to Tregony, giving him both treats and a lot of cuddles. SHE was obviously worried about him and said that when he tried to get up his under jaw was trembling.
SHE didn't have a good night with worry about him. In the morning, when HE brought the breakfasts, Treg was up and pushy because he was obviously hungry. Then, after breakfast, he was seen to be storming up the fields like an athlete. When HE got back and told HER it was just another case of ‘worrying over Tregony' for no reason. Yes, he's old, yes, he's doddery but no, he's not ready yet for that big pasture in the sky. I guess when he is, he will just go there like the nice old gentleman that he is, trying not to be a nuisance or trouble to anyone.
It would be a lot easier if THEY didn't love him so much!

 



The road homeFriday 27 th January 2006
We are all waiting with baited breath (I wonder what baited means?) for news of the happenings at Dry Bridge . Not Maxwell's side of Dry Bridge but the other side, where Amber used to live. It has felt very funny walking past the field, stable and house and not seeing amber there. In fact, I can remember a time when there were two horses there before Amber, Star and Orange . Lately, the stables have been empty and the horse trailer just stands there looking very forlorn.
When Mims first came to stay with us, Annette, the lady who lives there, did offer the use of her stables if the weather got bad and we couldn't get home. She said that she missed the company of a horse around the place. Later she told THEM that she was looking for a new horse to live there but she had not had any luck so far. And then, this week, she told HER that she had found an ex racehorse who she would like to come and live with her. She said that it was not finalised yet as the horse had to be inspected by a vet to ensure he was alright. Apparently he is very thin and undernourished as his previous owners didn't want to give him too much food as he was an excitable thoroughbred. That sound very familiar to me and those who have seen my old photos will remember my ribs sticking out when I first came to live here. He is a flat racer as far as I can tell and his name is Cal. And he is a chestnut, as all proper horses are.
So, today was going to be the day that he ca me to stay if the vet gave him the all clear and, when we looked down at their yard on our way home tonight, their horse trailer was not standing in its usual place. That looks like good news to me. We will be keeping a close eye out tomorrow when we walk back ap the Throwleigh Road .

Changing the subject, SHE detected a look of … what… admiration, friendship or whatever in Treg's eye when he regarded Mims tonight. It does seem if suddenly she has understood what being a herd member means and is really settling down. She was even standing grazing with Wicky tonight when THEY brought our supper. She's also a very human friendly horse. As soon as she saw THEM she came cantering over to THEM. Although, maybe Wick was right – it was the buckets that she was greeting. But then, that is the way he thinks. Food is very important to him because once it meant survival. Now, with our acres of grass to eat, the breakfasts and suppers are a bit of a bonus. I am waiting to see if Mims, like the rest of us, gets a big tummy when the spring grass comes through. Definitely the best time of the year for all of us!

Don't look now Mims but ...Saturday 28 th January 2006
We were right in expecting our new neighbour. He was first seen being walked down Ramsley Lane (although it did rather look as if he was doing the walking and Annette was just hanging on). As he went past quite quickly HE didn't have time to take a good look but he did appear to be a very tall lad. HE had to go out then but SHE was there to stop him when he came back along the road. It seems that it took him a while to get to like sugar lumps but that he had no trouble at all with carrots. Her first estimation was that he might be even as big as 17 hands but later Annette said he was 16.1 hands. Maybe both of them were making a bit of a guess and we will know the real figure in time, He is thin so he cant be ridden for a while until he has been built up a bit and he is the right chestnut colour with a large white stripe rather like Mims.
On the way home tonight, it was Mims turn so HE decided to look out for Cal to show to her. When they got to that part of the Throwleigh Road that overlooks Annette's house and paddocks, they saw Cal in the rear field being watched by his humans. HE saw him first and Mims didn't realise why they had stopped until she looked round. Then she was riveted and just stood and stared. Eventually Cal looked up and as soon as he saw Mims he called out and ran to the edge of the field. HE then decided to walk Mims down along the path outside the field and when they got there Cal was so excited that Annette was afraid he might jump the hedge and they left him alone and continued home. So, that was the first meeting. I've not seen him myself but no doubt he will be there when I come home tomorrow night. It wont hurt him to see Mims mother so he knows he must behave himself.
Treg's in trouble again. He was laying down this morning when the breakfast buckets arrived, so he missed out on his food. Then, as he was still lying down when SHE drove up, after HE had walked me up to Ninefields, SHE got HIM to go and give Treg his wormer syringe, which he hates. They drove by at lunch time and while Mims, Wicky and I were in the middle field, Treg was right up the top where he goes when he is sulking. Tonight, he appeared to be limping and SHE felt his feet. One appears to be very warm and sore and, if THEY can catch Treg eating so they can shut the gates to the top fields, THEY are going to get the vet to come and see what he an do.

 

 

St andrew's at South TawtonSunday 29 th January 2006
HE came along this morning to find Treg and I standing above the field shelter while Wick was in his usual place by the stream gate. HE carried the buckets up to the shelter and, by the time HE had put them down, I came round the corner and started to tuck in. HE was expecting Tregony to be slow and limping so HE decided to sweep out the shelter first and then go to find Treg. To HIS surprise, just as HE picked up the broom, Treg came round the corner as well and made a beeline for his bucket.
HE then did HIS usual things of feeding the birds and generally tidying up and then went off to close off the two gates to the upper fields so that Treg would be down when the vet came. After HE had closed the gates, HE started to pick out our feet and when HE went to Treg, HE found that there was no heat at all in any of his feet and no tenderness when HE cleaned them out. So, once again, Tregony has got THEM fooled. Yet another time when he is much better than THEY feared. The only thing Treg did do was to make HIM very sorry about the wormer that HE had made him eat. Treg just refused to take any treat whatsoever – no mints, no biscuits and no carrots! THEY have a suspicion that Treg made his foot hot on purpose yesterday just to get back at THEM for that wormer!
After HE had walked Mims up to Ninefields this morning, HE told me that they had seen the raven this morning, flying and croaking over the lower slopes of the Beacon. It should be very soon now that the ravens make their nest and start their family, if they have not done so already. Last year the pair were very prominent and HE hopes that this single sighting is a sign of a lot more to come.
At about the same time that HE was watching the raven, Mims was standing transfixed outside Cal 's stable. She couldn't see him but she definitely could smell him. It was all HE could do to get her to walk on up to Ninefields. That's my daughter alright!
What a lovely day it has been today. OK it was freezing cold but, if you are a horse, you don't mind that at all. The sun shone all day and, best of all, the days getting longer again, THEY allowed us to have an extra quarter of an hour before THEY came with our buckets. We had the satisfaction of seeing Maxwell being led home although, being my turn to go to the stable, I had hoped to catch a glimpse of Cal myself but he must have been in having his supper. Oh well, time enough, I suppose.

Treg coming homeMonday 30 th January 2006
A very sad start to the day today. You may or may not remember that there have been times when HE has looked after another horse called Leah, while her human was away on holiday. She was a grand old lady of 30 years and lived all on her own, in her own field just past Prospect. It has to be said that she lived on her own out of choice for she wouldn't get on with other horses. I suppose, at that age, you are entitled to say how you want to live. Recently she had been having breathing troubles and the vet diagnosed an allergy and put her on a high dosage of steroids. Whenever THEY passed her human, THEY would ask how she was doing. Sadly, today, when THEY asked, THEY heard that Linda, her human, had found her dead in the field. I only knew of her from the smell of her on HIS clothes when HE had been looking after her and also from what HE told me about her. I can't help having mixed feelings now. Of course I am sad, as you would be when you hear of anyone dying. On the other hand, I can't help thinking that she was of a great age and that maybe just dying in her own field naturally is a better way to go than from a gun or a needle. Let us just all remember her with great fondness and be thankful for having lived.
On another happier but possibly worrying note, Mims met Cal this evening on her way home. They had very nearly reached the stable when along came Annette riding on Cal. HE stopped and Mims just froze and stared. Not being sure how he might react, HE didn't approach any nearer than the other side of the road so HE just spoke to Annette for a while and then she rode away. It was only about fifty metres more to get Mims into her stable. Then she started. Apart from the mess she made of the floor in her excitement she started going round and round, not eating her supper but going to the door and looking up the road after him. I fear my daughter is a bit of a trollop but then, she's young. We will have to watch and see what develops. I could tell her that she will only be disappointed but maybe that is something she must learn for herself.
By the way, I am afraid I had to give her a reprimand bite on the neck today. She was not really naughty but sometimes she just gets a bit too much and needs putting in her place. No worries really. Mims has quite forgotten now and SHE has covered the bite in wound powder. It's all part of herd life and no one's the worse for it.


Leadin along the Throwleigh Road Tuesday 31 st January 2006
And that's the end of the first month of the year! It's frightening how fast it all goes. But then, they say that's what happens when you get old. I'll have to ask my daughter if it went as fast for her.
We had a funny occurrence this morning. I was at Ninefields as it was Mims turn to spend the night in the stable. HE brought our breakfast at the usual time and Tregony was awake for once so our meal went as it normally should. HE first puts our three buckets down, Wicky's first, else he would eat from the first one down regardless, then mine and finally Treg's. It always takes a bit of time to get Treg in as he always waits until everyone else is busy eating, he knows he must be last. Then HE sweeps up round us, if necessary, and then starts to feed the birds. This last is not quite such a hard job now since he changes the peanut feeder for a squirrel proof one. It's amazing how slow it is to empty now. After giving them their oats and peanuts, HE next starts to pick out our hooves. This is something of a ritual because, after HE has done Treggy's, HE always has to straighten Treg's rug. If Treg is up to eat, then he has been laying down in the night and therefore his rug is always at a silly sort of angle. After HE has straightened the rug, HE always puts his hand underneath to check that we are warm enough. With me, after my feet have been picked out, HE just gives me a pat on the neck and a swift warmth test, as HE knows I am always warm, being a thoroughbred. Lastly HE does Wicky and, since he has been clipped, HE always gives his neck a bit of a friendly rub and sticks his hand right under the rug to test for warmth before giving the rug an adjusting tug. Then HE does our sponges, eyes, nose and nether regions (oh, what a lady I am!).
This morning all was fine and he went away to get Mims. I gather she was a bit of a dawdler this morning and kept stopping for mouthfuls of grass on the way up the Throwleigh Road . She was so slow that SHE passed them quite quickly in her car as they made their way along. When they got to Ninefields gate, they were just in time to see HER vanishing down the field and into the field shelter with Wicky. Mims and I were up at the gate so HE waited for HER to come back while HE fed us treats. When she didn't reappear, HE went along to the shelter and found Wicky shivering while SHE was putting on his second coat. It has been very cold of late but what had changed from when HE tested Wick for warmth and then, we will never know. She also noticed while sorting his coats that he has lost weight. Anyway, the outcome was that Wick got a helping of oats then and THEY came along at lunch time with an extra bucket for him. I think we will all watch with great interest to see if this shivering is genuine of if Wick has just come up with another great wheeze for getting extra food!

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