Alezane's Diary Archive March 2006
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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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Wednesday 1st March 2006
MimsIt’s St. Davids day today. All the welsh cobs in the world must be celebrating like mad. Good for them. Have you ever tasted leeks? Well, maybe if you are human you might like them but us equines have a much more refined taste. You know, sometimes, THEY like to try out different tastes on me. Whatever made them think I would like grapes I don’t know. If I want water, I will go to the stream, thank you. Which reminds me. That stuff that they give me in the stable. Ugh! THEY call it water but all I find it is good for is as a mouth wash. If I get a bit of feed lodged in my tooth or the haylage has gone a bit dry, a quick slosh in that bowl is not bad (as long as you keep your moth open so that it all falls out over the floor). But, drink it? Not likely. Both Mims and I just wait until we get back to Ninefields and then, straight to the stream for a proper drink.
Talking of which, I have the weather to thank for an unexpected pleasure. Last night it snowed quite heavily and so, this morning, HE needed to drive to Ninefields very carefully, using HIS four wheel drive. Then HE heard on the weather forecast that it was going to be a hard frost tonight. Now one thing that makes the roads treacherous is when the snow only half melts away and then this freezes overnight. HE went out shopping midday and the sun had come out and the snow was thawing rapidly so HE thought it would be safe for me to walk on after all. Just to make sure, when HE had finished the shopping, HE drove up the Throwleigh Road to check conditions and found that all the snow had melted and that the road was drying up. So, HE decided that I would come in after all. And then, when HE drove back home, HE passed under Dry Bridge and into Ramsley Lane, only to find that the snow was a s thick as ever. You see, Ramsley is situated under a hill and only rarely sees the sun, except in the late afternoon. In fact, one neighbour is moving in order to go to a brighter, warmer place.
So, it was decided that I would stay out with Mims and Wick tonight. We had real fun, all eating together in the field shelter. I threw my food all over the floor as usual and then, when I thought no one was looking, I put my face into Mims bucket. She’s too dozy to complain but unfortunately SHE saw me and I got a telling off. But it didn’t matter much for Mims went outside and then caught sight of a nice young male over in Mathew’s field so we lost her altogether. First she stood and looked and then she went over to get a better look and then, when he ran off to greet Mathew, who had been out riding, she went up the hill to get a better look. So I had most of her supper after all!

Naughty AlliThursday 2nd March 2006
“Hi Wicky, what we going to do tonight man?”
“It’s Uncle Wicky to you lassie and what makes you think we are going to do anything?”
“Aw, come on Uncle Wick. It will be awful boring if we don’t do something. How about we go over into that other field and go and see that nice horse who was looking at me the other day?”
“Now Mims, come on, you know we can’t go out of our own fields. We’d get in trouble. Be sensible.”
“But it would be fun. Exciting. Wouldn’t you like to get out of here, just for once? It would do you the world of good.”
“You don’t know this lassie, but I did that a long time ago. When me and Treg first came here, we got to wandering on that bank over there. It didn’t have that wire fence in front of it then. And we just sort of wandered on top and then sort of wandered down the other side into the bridle path.”
“Wow, Uncle. And then what happened?”
“Well, lass, we just sort of wandered up the bridle path and onto the road and started walking down towards Dry Bridge. But then someone split on us and THEY came and caught us and put us back in the field.”
“But it was exciting for the minute, wasn’t it?”
“Not so much exciting, rather quite tasty. You see, we were mainly interested in grazing all along the sides of the path and road. I must admit we didn’t look up much until THEY came along.”
“OK, so you’ve done that. Then what else shall we do tonight? I know. How about you tell me a story?”
“I’ve a better idea than that lassie. You tell me one.”
“Oh, but I don’t know any stories. I couldn’t tell you one. I wouldn’t know where to begin.”
“Och, girl. It’s no hard. You don’t need to know a story at all. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. If you just make it up as you go along then it can be as interesting for you as for anyone who is listening.”
“But how do you make up stories, Uncle Wick? Why don’t you show me first.”
“You don’t get out of it like that Mims. Tell you what. I’ll start you off and give you a hand now and then if you need it. I think you will find that it is easy, once you start. In fact, it is only the start that needs to be done. The rest just flows like that stream down there.”
“Well, if you say so. So, what do I do?”
“OK, let’s think of a place. Tell me somewhere.”
“I used to live near the seaside, lets say it is there, right down near the beach.”
“Good. Now, let’s have a character. Who should it be about?”
“Er, must it be a horse or a human?”
“It can be anyone you like, Mims, it’s your story. It doesn’t have to be either. Tell you what. How about a seagull?”
“Yeah, that’s a great idea … er uncle Wick. I used to see them all the time where I lived. Used to talk to some of them too.”
“Right then, girlie. Off you go.”
“What? But .. how?”
“Listen Mims. Imagine you are standing down on the beach, with the sound of the waves splashing on the sand. You are having a bit of a doze in the sunshine when, all of a sudden, this seagull – what is his name?”
“Er…um…Pirate, yes, Pirate!”
“Right, this seagull, Pirate, comes and lands on your back. What happens then?”
“Well, I’d say, ‘ouch, you’ve got sharp feet, Pirate. Where’ve you been?”
……
‘Fishing my beauty, fishing out on the far side of the bay.’
‘Did you catch anything?’
‘Did I catch … atish-ooo … did I catch anything. Yes I did, child. I caught this cold’
‘Oh dear. It is just a cold, isn’t it? It’s not flu I hope?’
‘Flu? Whoever heard of a bird catching flu. Don’t be silly girl.’
‘It’s just that I heard …’
‘Never mind what you heard. Listen. Have you seen anyone with any sandwiches? Or chips? I likes them, me hearty.’
‘Sorry, I’ve just come down to the beach. I did see one little girl with an ice cream.’
‘Brrrrrr. Not with my cold, thank you.’
‘Then why don’t you ….’

“Mims? Mims, hold it there. You see how easy it is. You can make up a story just when you want, can’t you?”
“But don’t you want to hear any more? I was just beginning to enjoy that.”
“I think we’re running out of the diary page, lassie. Maybe tomorrow night or the next time when we are out overnight together. There’s nothing to stop you telling it to yourself now. I’m off for a bite to eat. OK?”

GardeningFriday 3rd March 2006
I had quite a pleasant night, last night, staying in the stable and I gather Mims and Wicky had a good night too. It is really good for the pair of them to spend the nights alone together, they are getting more and more friendly. In fact, it would seem that I give Wick a nip now more often than Mims get angry with him. Mind you, none of us mean it really. None of us three are what you might call aggressive. We’ve all got our little ways. If you were to ask the others they would probably say that I am a bit bossy. We all know that Wicky is an irritating little git (even he knows it). And Mims, well, she is just Mims. If ever there was a teenager in a grown up body, it’s her. When I got to Ninefields this morning, they were both waiting for me which was unusual. Most times they are either up off to the top field or hanging about in the field shelter. That is one of Mims delights, I just remembered – wrecking field shelters and stables. HE can’t escape it for if she is at home, HE has to clear out the stable (and generally hose it down as well). If she has spent the night at Ninefields, HE had to move a shelter full of mixed hay and muck. The only good thing, HE says, is that Mims prefers to eat outside so he can get a clear run with the broom and hay fork.
Something got Mims going tonight. First, when SHE was leading her up to the car, Mims decided to run off and it was only by holding real tight to the lead rein was SHE able to stop her. They had a few words. Then HE took over and walked Mims back along the Throwleigh Road. Everything was alright until they stopped at their usual place for a carrot break when Mims either heard or saw something up on the commom back down near Ninefields. Apparently she just froze, head in the air and went all tense. She wouldn’t even take a mint sweet, her mouth going all tight. And when they finally walked off, it was all HE could do to control her. As HE said about her, she may be a bit on the small side but she is very strong. HE walked most of Ramsley Lane with Mims pulling and snorting and when they got home, she did her prancing round and round while HE was taking her rug off.
You know what? I can remember when I was like that!

 



Wicky workingSaturday 4th March 2006
‘That’s not your real name is it?’
‘Never heard anyone called that.’
‘No, I mean Pirate. You can’t just be called Pirate. What is it really?’
‘I can be called whatever I like, my girl. Or, at least, as it’s you making up this story, whatever you like!’
‘Well, I’d like something a bit more … well more…er…substantial.’
‘Substantial? Do you even know what it means? I’ll have you know, Pirate is very substantial. When folks hear that name around here, they know they have to watch out.’
‘I don’t see why?’
‘Never heard of walking the plank? Or cutlasses?’
‘No.’
‘Blind Pew? Black Spot?’
‘No’
‘Haven’t you read anything?’
‘I’m a horse. We don’t read..’
‘Pah! No wonder you are stupid. No read? How do you expect yo get on in this world if you don’t read?’
‘We equines are born clever. It’s all inside us. We don’t need to read like humans do. Anyway, I didn’t know that seagulls read either.’
‘Maybe some don’t. But pirates do. What do you think keeps them occupied on all those long, dark nights at sea? Sailors do knitting I know. Or carve whalebones. But us pirate seagulls read. That’s why we are so clever.’
‘What makes you think you are so clever?’
‘Can you fly?’
‘No, but …’
‘Can you fly down and grab a chip from a human’s hand?’
‘No, but …’
‘Can you fly over a human and bomb them?’
‘Bomb them?’
‘Ah well me hearty, better not go into that. Anyway, the point I am making is that pirate gulls is pretty smart. And fierce. Bloodthirsty too!’
‘So tell me Sam, wha …’
‘Sam?’
‘You said it was up to me what I called you, as it is my story.’
‘Well, yes but Sam?’
‘How about Captain Sam?’
‘Har. That’s it me beauty. Just shorten it a bit. Cap’n Sam or even Pirate Cap;n Sam. Now we’re getting somewhere.’
‘This story isn’t.’
‘Well, you’re new at it, aren’t you?’
‘It is the very first story I have ever told. My Uncle Wicked told me that I could do it, so I am having a go.’
‘Wicked? Now, there’s a real name. Why couldn’t I be Cap’n Wicked?’
‘Cos you can’t. That’s his name. And, I’ll tell you a secret. He is my favourite Uncle.’
‘Favourite eh? How many have you got, my girl?’
‘Er, well, a few, some. Anyway, you cant be Wicked. You’re Sam and that’s that.’
‘I could fly away, you know.’
‘Not unless I make it up that you do. You are my creation. You’ll do as you are told.’
‘Bossy eh? Who’s your mother, again?’
‘Specia …hum … It’s got nothing to do with my mother. I am me. Mims. A person in my own write.’
‘Look, child. That should be right. You can’t even read, so how could you write?’
‘Listen Sam. I’m going off this whole idea. Wicky didn’t tell me my own characters would argue with me.’
‘I’m not arguing with you girlie. It’s called an internal dialogue. It’s you wrestling with your inner self. Part of the creative process.’
‘Oh my! Creative process. Me?  And HE calls me Mimsy Muddlehead?’
‘Who’s this capital letter HE you are talking about? You’re not married are you?’
‘Oooh! Don’t say that word, Sam. You make me quiver all over. If only! Do you think that some day my prince will come?’

“Mims, Mims. Stop shaking lassie. I think you had forgotten your story there for a minute.”
“Wha ..? What? Oh, Uncle Wick, it’s you. I as quite carried away for a minute.”
“You see the power of story telling lassie?  It can take you anywhere your heart wants to go. Well, in your case, nearly anywhere. Tell you what, give it a rest now, eh? Let’s go and grab a bite to eat before HE comes with the buckets. Come on lass.”
“Oh, I’m all of a quiver. You go along, Wick, I’ll catch up with you in a moment whn my pulse settles down a bit.”

The Hay heavenSunday 5th March 2006
Well, that worked. Mum said it would. I heard HIM tell HER that I had been very good all day. I was good when he brought breakfast up at Ninefields and I was good walking home to the stable tonight. See, mum told me it was time that I growed up. What has to be, has to be. That’s what she said. I may not want to go back to the stable but if that’s what THEY want, that’s what will happen. And, she said, I can either do it unwillingly and get into trouble or I can do it nicely and get all kinds of nice things said and treats given. So, what the hell, I thought, let’s give it a go. And so far, so good. Mind, we will have to see in the morning. I find it very hard to wait while THEY mess around, cleaning the stable and trying to clean me up and all that. Once THEY are awake, THEY should take me back to my mum, no messing. It’s not my fault if I get a bit impatient. Anyway, mum said I should give it a go, being good that is, so I tried. I wasn’t bad, I will admit. A bit boring but most things are when you’re young.
I must say, Uncle Wick enjoyed me telling him a story last night. I didn’t even know how good I was until I tried. Funny, some of us have the talent I suppose and some, well. Least said. You know, Wick’s a funny old stick. All gruff on the outside and yet, he’s a real sweetie when you get to know him. I’ll never forget how he ran me right up the hill into the little field when I first came here. It’s funny when you enter a new situation. You don’t know the rules, how you should be, who is boss and all that. And it turns out it’s only mum that’s boss after all so that’s all right.
I have to say, mum is a real sweetie too. OK, she can be a bit bossy but she doesn’t mean it. We get on real well. We can even eat out of the same bucket with no probs. I’m afraid, I can’t say that of Uncle Wicks. If there is one thing that is sacred with Uncle, it’s his food. Still, I can understand that too. His poor old teeth are not doing too well. I’ve noticed that he is quidding a lot when he tries to eat the hay. Mum tells me that he has to have sedation when he has his teeth done, whatever that means. I epect when I get as old as him I will have to have my teeth ‘done’, so then I will find out. Still, plenty of time yet. Right, I’m for a bit of a kip now before THEY come and do late stables and force carrots down my throat. See ya!

 



AlliMonday 6th March 2006
We’ve got HIM puzzled now. HE spends a lot of time saying how silly Mims is and then, like tonight, we prove in fact how clever we are. When THEY turned up tonight, I was the only one in the gate field. Well, Wicky was there as well but then, he always is to be first to get the food – so he doesn’t count. I suppose what I should have said is that Mims was not with me in the road field because we both knew that it was my turn to go home and we were tired of HIM calling us silly and wanted to show him that we know very well what is going on.
The other nice thing tonight, on our walk back to the stable, was that I got paid a nice compliment. No, it wasn’t how good looking I am, even though I had rolled and got mud encrusted on both sides of my face. No, it was just before we got home and a big old rattly four by four truck came up behind us in the narrow part of the road. Well, we just carried on walking until we got to a bit of garage run in where we could pull in to let it pass. There was a lady, collecting booklets she had dropped at houses, a couple of days ago, who watched us move over. She said that if it had been her horse with that noisy old truck behind her, she would have spooked like mad. And, do you know what, so would I have just a few short months ago. I don’t know what it is but ever since Mims came to live with us, I have just got very calm. Maybe there is only room for one of us to be scatty, I don’t know. HE suggests that I have realised that nothing worse can happen to me now but HE is only joking (I think).
A lovely day today. The sun shone and the temperature rose to 9°C. Still a bit of a cool breeze but, in the lee of a hedge, you don’t notice that. Today saw the last of the snow which has left the grass flattened and sort of washed out whitish looking. The snowdrops have been out for a few weeks now and the primrose plants in the banks are very visible (but, of course, no flowers yet). When the clouds stay away, it is obviously getting lighter morning and evening. The humans will be putting their clocks forward an hour at the end of the month. Serves then right. They use them so much that they rely on them and lose their inborn instinct of time. You just ask Wicky. He always knows when it is bucket time and he has never worn a watch in his life!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 7th March 2006
I think Mims and I are in competition to see who can get the muddiest. I won yesterday, that’s for sure. And I did it very early in the day. SHE had The stablegroomed me, as SHE always does, before I go back from the stable to Ninefields. I will admit, I don’t like it very much and make things as difficult as I can. Still, SHE had succeeded in getting me looking all silky and shiny. So, the first thing I did, after I had walked in through the gate at Ninefields, was to find a nice muddy patch and roll over, first one way and then the next, so that my face, both sides, was covered in mud. Another good trick, I have found, is , if my face is caked in mud, to stick it out of ther stable into the rain. You see, if it dries up, it is easier to brush off but if it is wet, it goes all sticky and there is nothing SHE can do.
Mims is better at getting the stable in a state. I don’t know why but she doesn’t seem to get very muddy on her face. Her legs, yes, but not her face. I’ll tell you another thing that HE thought was very odd this morning. It was raining pretty heavily so HE expected Mims to be keeping dry in the shelter. Wicky has always been a wild Dartmoor pony and so he seems to like the weather the worse it is. But, this morning, Wick’s rug was almost dry whereas Mims’ was soaking. It just goes to show you can’t take things for granted.
Like the weather. We’ve just had a couple of weeks of very cold and nasty, so now when the temperature goes up and we think we can look forward to Spring, the rain and now the wind has started to torment us. The grass has gone from ice lolly to limp, old tasteless stuff. I think, unlike last year, we will get through our hay in the hay store. I will say, the haylage that we get back home in the stable is pretty good stuff. When it’s first opened, it has a sort of sweet stickiness to it and a lovely smell. It doesn’t last too long but then both Mims and I eat our way through it anyway.
And that’s it, I’m afraid. Nothing exciting has happened, in fact, nothing has happened. I expect it is a good thing in some ways. Well, let’s see what tomorrow will bring.

 



Someday my prince will comeWednesday 8th March 2006
Since HE got some more rolled oats, to replace the stuff that Mims and Wicky scoffed the other week, the birds have been coming back again and it is time for some sort of census. I don’t know if it is the weather or what but we don’t seem to have as many varieties as we used to have.
Starting with the big birds first, we most times now have a male pheasant with his two females and that seems to be it. However, who knows if they are the same three or if another time we might be seeing a different lot? I know it is a cliché but they do all look the same to me. The next biggest, I suppose are the buzzards but they never land to eat the oats or peanuts, they just fly or circle overhead. Even these have not been so prominent of late. Thinking about it, the heron is probably bigger than the buzzards but that too never comes down to eat, it just makes it’s way either upstream or downstream of out leat. Whatever, we have not seen him at all so far this year. The only other largish bird we do have coming down to eat with us is the Jackdaw and he doesn’t stay very long. I think, unlike the smaller, more regular visitors, he is not used to humans and makes off as soon as HE moves (which HE tries not to do but sometimes cant help doing).
Our most regular and normal bird visitor is the blackbird, both Mr and Mrs. Why the males come, I do not know. They never have time to eat anything, they are always too busy chasing other blackbirds away. And anyway, it doesn’t work, particularly with the lady blackbirds because they just flutter up in the air and then down again, eating as they go. I’m sure that when they get back to blackbird land or wherever they come from, the ladies are full and he is starving. Serves him right!
The other most common birds are the chaffinches and the blue tits. The tits seem to be there all the time, probably because they eat the peanuts rather than the oats and these are out all the time in the squirrel proof (joke) feeder. They do seem to get a bit more plentiful when HE does the feed because HE also throws down a couple of handfuls of peanuts. They have found this way, they can fly away with a whole nut in their beaks instead of having to peck, peck away to get  a peanut fragment from the feeder. The chaffinches are very nice, kind friendly souls who are nearly always first ion the scene when HE throws the oats down. They rarely, if ever, fight, they don’t seem fussy, just pop down, take some oats and pop up into the hedge again. They seem now to have taken the place of the sparrow who we see only rarely in comparison. Mind you, it might be the drabness of the sparrow that makes them fairly un-noticeable. There could be more than I think.
Then there is the robin. I say the robin and not the robins because these pretty but aggressive birds guard their territory very fiercely. They take little notice of the other birds, although I have seen one chase off a blackbird more than three times its size, and mainly spend their time, not eating the oats but walking in between our feet and picking up any grains that have dropped from our mouths. It is their cheek, as well as their looks, that makes the robin a favourite with the humans. They worry the life out of me in case I tread on one.
And that seems to be the lot, for now. I expect the starlings and thrushes will return and I am sure that the swallows will. And the wag tails and probably more that I have forgotten. Oh yes, and the pigeons. They often come to eat. Just one pair and I am sure these are the same pair. And then there is the jay who has just returned after a long absence. Oh, and we are missing the magpies.. There are around but not feeding with us. They will, I know they will!

mims and HIS motorThursday 9th March 2006
As my dear old friend Tregony used to day – ‘Fetlocks!’.
Mims and I had a super plan worked out for tonight. You see, she is not very fond of going back to the stable, at last, she doesn’t mind the walk back along the Throwleigh Road but she doesn’t want to spend the evening and night there. On the other hand, I am quite fond of being in the stable. It is warm and dry and out of the wind, you can see all kinds of interesting happenings and passers by and you get to have extra treats night and morning. I suppose it is the difference between, shall we say, maturity and youth. Mims always wants to be rushing about everywhere, not realising that there is nowhere to go. HE says he is reminded of her in a book he is reading, where the man says of his young wife that she is ‘trying to find a hat that suits her and doesn’t realise that she has it on all the time’. SHE says that Mims reminds her of a border collie sheepdog. They do not have a bad bone in their bodies. The trouble is that they are manic and hyper active and always wanting to work and lease their human. They dash about and do what they are asked and then come back and stare, saying with their eyes ‘What’s next? What’s next?’.
To come back to our plan. We decided that, when THEY turned up with the food buckets tonight. Mims would stay back in the field shelter while I would wait up by the gate ready to go home. Oh, I forgot to say that it was really Mims’ turn tonight. So, that was what we did. I came up to the gate, ready to have the head collar on but SHE wasn’t having any. SHE tried to chase me back down the field after HIM as HE took the feed to the shelter. I acted dumb and just walked round HER, knowing that SHE gets out of breath easily and couldn’t chase me. In the end, however, SHE went back to the car and got the spare head collar that THEY keep their for emergencies, and put it on me and lead me back to the shelter. By this time, HE had cleaned up the shelter by putting Mims’ collar on and tying her to the gate to the hay store so THEY were able to change places and HE lead Mims up to the gate. I knew our plan had failed so I just gave in and started on my food. After all, I don’t mind staying out all that much, I was really just doing my daughter a favour.
Actually, I just realised that it does rather look as if neither of us wants to spend the night with Wicky. I have to stress that this is not so. Wick has been a real mate since my poor Tregony went and we often spend long nights talking together. And I know Mims feels the same about him now. Their early animosity has just evaporated and they get along really well, that is, as long as she doesn’t try to take any of his food. And she doesn’t. At least that is something that she has learned. Now we are all looking forward to the time in the not too distant future when we will all stay out in the fields, all the time and spend our time getting fat on the luscious new Spring grass!

More gardeningFriday 10th March 2006
I’m sorry o go on about this Mims problem but, after all, this is supposed to be a diary and that is what you do in diaries, isn’t it, write about that day’s events?
The fact is, she appears to be getting worse. HE has been thinking back and, although she has always been a bit funny in the stable, she is now almost uncontrollable. HE told me that today, for the first time, HE was actually afraid of her. Not that she is nasty or spiteful or anything but just because she was so hyper active and barging about the stable that she could have hurt either HIM or herself accidentally. When she first started to object to having her hooves picked out (in the stable – she is fine in the field), HE got the spare head collar and tied her up while HE did it. And that worked fine. Then HE would release her for the rest of the time and she would at least pick at her food. Now, even if HE ties her up, she swings round and round and hops about when he tries to lift her leg. And when, after much chasing about and grasping and not letting go, even if she looks like falling over, HE manages to pick out her feet and unties her, she just storms about and will eat nothing at all. She wont even open her mouth for a carrot or mint sweet treat.
And yet, when she is taken out and led up the road to Ninefields, she is no trouble at all. She doesn’t pull, she is not spooked by traffic and she will eat treats at the normal stops. In fact, she dawdles and eats grass from the hedgerow as if she is out for a little stroll. SHE says that she appeared to be listening out for some horse in a far field somewhere, even before HE went out to her this morning so maybe hormones has something to do with it. She was definitely sweated up by the time she went out.
And what do I have to say about it, after all, I am her mother? If it was me, I’d give her a good nip so she knew what was and was not acceptable behaviour. But humans are funny. They play little games in their heads. It is apparently all about ‘not letting her get away with it, for her own good’. So, what do they do? They worry. A typical human reaction – worry. Either stop it or ignore it – but don’t worry. That way there are two nutters instead of one and what good is that. Anyway, we had a lovely sunny day today. With luck the problem will solve itself when we are all allowed to stay out all day and night. And get these awful rugs off. How they expect a girl to apply a mud pack properly with a rug on, I just don’t know. But, there you are, humans again – I ask you?

Who are you?Saturday 11th March 2006
“Tell you what, lassie. Don’t let’s mention the M word today, eh. Folks must be sick of it by now, and if they aren’t, I surely am.”
“Quite right, Wick. I agree. How about we talk about you instead?”
“Me, girlie? And what would you write about me, for heavens sake?”
“Er, well, I could write .. er … I could say .. er.. No, tell you what, Wick, I won’t write about you either. How about that?”
“An improvement, lass, an improvement.”
“The trouble is though Wick, if I don’t talk about you know who and I don’t talk about you, that doesn’t leave a lot to fill five hundred words, does it?”
“There is always your good self, lass. You could write about yourself.”
“No,  I don’t think so Wick. Even her would be more interesting than that. No, why don’t you take over the diary tonight. Maybe talk about the old days?”
“Steady on, girl. I’m not that much older than you, you know. Not quite  piece of history yet.”
“But you’ve had such an interesting life, haven’t you? There must be something you could recall for us.”
“Oh, alright, lassie. Move over then. Now let me see…..

I remember one day, not long after I had gone to work at the riding stables. It was quite early one morning and I was having a bit of a nibble at the hay net, like you do, when I heard some quite loud voices coming into the yard. It sounded like an argument to me. There was a man’s voice and what sounded like a young child, I couldn’t make out if it was a girl or a boy. I looked over the stable door and saw a tall, rather fat man who was dragging this little girl along by her arm. The girlie was screaming, almost in tears but very defiant. All I could hear, over and over was ‘I want to go for a ride, I want to go for a ride’ and the man just kept telling her to be sensible. ‘You don’t know how to ride’, he told her, ’You will fall off and hurt yourself and then your mother will be very cross. Anyway, just look how big those horses are. It is such a long way to fall. You could kill yourself.’
I could see them stop at old Charlie’s stable and look over the door. Now Charlie was a big lad, even for a horse. I saw the little girl stop pulling and look up at his seventeen hands and sort of deflate. ‘See’, the man said, ‘now just be sensible and come along home’. I saw the tears well up in the little girls eyes as she realised that she would not be able to ride after all. So I did what any good little pony would do. I opened the catch on my door with my teeth and let myself out into the yard. Then, making myself look as small and quiet as I could, I walked slowly over to the pair. You should have seen the look on that little girl’s face. It lit up with joy. ‘There, you see, daddy’, she said, ‘I can have a ride on him, can’t I?’ Her father looked down at me and smiled. ‘Oh, that’s different’, he said and he picked the little girl up and lowered her gently on my back.”

“Oh Wick, that was kind of you. You see, I tell everyone what a kind old shap you are, under that gruff exterior. I bet you made that little girl really very, very happy that day, didn’t you?”
“Oh, I’m not sure lassie. You see, just then I saw one of the stable girls come round the corner with the food buckets and I just sort of gave a little jump for joy and ran up to her. I think the little girl must have fallen off somewhere along the way for I had quite a disturbed breakfast what with the flashing blue lights and siren of the ambulance!”

More workSunday 12th March 2006
You may think I am boasting but I got kissed twice tonight as I was going back to the stable. It has been a really miserable day – drizzle and cold winds – so we had spent most of the time in the field shelter eating hay. I knew it was my turn to go home so I was waiting up by the gate. It was a pleasant surprise to see my little girl friends from over the road come walking along with mum, dad and grandma. I say walking but actually only Beth and Elsa were walking, Ruth was sitting on dad’s shoulders having a ride. And, guess who else I saw? Yes, the new addition to the family. I learned his name is Adam. Yes, that’s right, it’s a boy! He is going to feel a bit out numbered in that family with three older sisters but I guess he will just get spoiled a lot.
Anyway, after this, THEY drove up and I had my usual carrot treats from the back of the car while I waited for HIM to come back from giving the others their buckets. Then we set off down the Throwleigh Road. He wasn’t in a mood to stop for very long, I think because of the cold wind. But, just as we were going to go under Dry Bridge, guess who we saw? It was Cal, standing in the little field with the gate onto the road. As soon as he saw us, he came running up to the gate, with a whinny. I kept myself a little apart at first but then HE gave, first me and then Cal, an couple of apple biscuits and, after that a half carrot each. So, once we had shared food, it seemed only right to put our faces together and exchange information. I think at that stage, HE got a little nervous, probably remembering when I did the same with Amber in this very same field and she exploded and made him jump. Anyway, HE said that maybe that was enough for a first meeting and gently but firmly pulled me away.
So, I had plenty to think about as we carried on down the road to the stable. HE mentioned to me that HE was greatly relieved that it was my turn to come home tonight. I think that HE thought Mims might have got just a little excited by such an experience. I know Cal did because I head him shouting out as I walked along. Then, when I got into my stable, Cat Flap was sitting on the floor by the hole in the wall that the rat has gnawed,  presumably waiting to make it’s acquaintance. When I walked in and saw him, I put my head down to get a better look and he came up to me and gave me a lovely kiss on the nose. So, one ex race horse and one cat. Not a bad kissing record for five minutes.
Oh, I forgot to record from two days ago. As HE led me up to Ninefields and into the gate, HE noticed that we have two primroses out in our hedge. HE is really pleased as none of the other ones along the road have flowered yet. Maybe it makes up for the abysmal showing the new snowdrops in HIS garden have made!

Mims has a thoughtMonday 13th March 2006
I know I promised not to say the M word, but really! This evening, I had to stand right down by the bridle path gate so that THEY would know who was NOT responsible for the state of the filed shelter.
This morning, HE told me, HE had to spend over ten minutes clearing up all the hay that had been pulled out of the haynets and scattered all over the floor. Now, remember, I was in the stable at home all night. HE had filled the nets full to the brim the morning before and yet, last night, SHE had needed to fill them again in the evening before SHE came home. HE said HE wouldn’t have minded if the content of the nets had been eaten but HE had to clear up almost a bale of hay trample and soiled on the floor and just wasted. Then HE had to refill the nets again in case of bad weather. When THEY came this evening, one of the nets was almost empty and a huge pile of hay was laying on the floor, obviously just pulled out but not eaten.
Now, SHE says that she doesn’t know who is doing it! HE has two theories. As it happens when someone other than me is out all night with Wicky, HIS other theory, to please HER, is that Wicky does it because he doesn’t like being left alone with M (there, I’ve nearly said it!). Otherwise it is a mystery.
Tonight it was again bitterly cold in the wind. I don’t think HE was looking forward very much to walking home in it because, when my daughter did not want to walk away from the field shelter, HE just grabbed the whip from inside the hay store and gave her a sharp tap on the rug. It may not have hurt but it did have the desired effect – desired by HIM, that is. HE told me afterwards that Mi … er … my daughter sulked when they got to the first carrot stop and wouldn’t open her mouth for a treat. Well, she wouldn’t, at first. A few kind words and a pat and waving the carrot in front of her nose soon softened her, apparently. Us horses are fools to ourselves. No will power. I suppose that is why humans ride on our backs and not we on theirs. Well that and the fact that they are too week and puny!

 



AlliTuesday 14th March 2006
HE told me today that one of the prettiest things HE had seen lately was a tiny and spindle legged black calf running up a hill with two black cows in pursuit. One must have been its mother but who was the other one? Probably an aunt but it is hard to tell because, to the human eye, unless you are their farmer, they all look much the same. In fact, if HE didn’t know a little bit about the way the cows are farmed, HE would have been forgiven in thinking that the pair were the calves parents. HE later told me that in the same field now, as well as the black calf, there is a little red calf, still with the two black cows so they are obviously two mothers although which calf goes with which cow only a period of observing their behaviour would reveal.
The other thing HE saw, on HIS way into town, was a group of five sheep wandering along the grassy verge to the main road, quite oblivious to the passing traffic. One must assume that one had found its way through or over the hedge and the other four had followed. When HE was new to the area, this was something that HE would have gone to a lot of trouble to inform the owner about. That was when HE was new. HE soon found out that the farmers are not usually very concerned as the animals also find their way back again having once satisfied their curiosity and also their appetite. They all have distinctive coloured markings sprayed on their coats so if they do stray to far, usually another farmer will either return them or just give the owner a call to collect them. It reminds me that on my walk back to my stable from Ninefields, I pass a house known as Pound Cottage. In the old days, straying animals were put into an enclosed space called a Pound and often the owners had to pay a fine to retrieve them. Rather like human cars that have been towed away today!

 

 

 



A bit windyWednesday 15th March 2006
Yesterday’s diary was quit short and today’s will probably be also. You see, HE says is is quite busy at the moment, editing the Church House video in time to produce a DVD by the beginning of next month when the place opens to the public. I’m only telling you what HE told me. I don’t really understand it but it is best to just say ‘Oh, I see’ and things like that otherwise HE will go to a lot of trouble to try and explain and make things even more confusing. Mind you, when I did say what does DVD stand for, a funny far away look came into HIS eyes and he finally had to admit that HE hadn’t a clue. Probably digital video disk he mumbled and then changed the subject. That’s the trouble with humans, they just don’t like to admit that they are wrong or not as clever as they pretend and that kind of thing. Humans like to think that they are the apex of the living world and therefore have a right to do what they like to the rest of us. And ythey do it because they are convinced that they are the only ones with a really clever brain. How do they know? What makes them think that they know for sure that, for example, a dandelion isn’t far cleverer than them? It’s obvious, they say. It just stands there. It doesn’t do anything. Yeah, OK, so what. Maybe they are so smart that they know it is the best thing to do!  The trouble with human arguments is that they always judge by their own criteria. If they must do that, they could try looking at things like – who is the strongest animal in the world? What is the tallest living thing? What organism is the most numerous? OK, they would win the prize for some things such as who is the most warlike or the most greedy or the most vain but then any sensible creature wouldn’t want those attributes.
One thing humans seem to pride themselves on is the fact that they have free choice. What a pity in that case that they usually choose the most nasty and wrong way to act!

 



mims and mateThursday 16th March 2006
Well lads and lassies, it’s me that got lumbered today. The two girls are arguing among themselves who will write the diary today. ‘No, go on, you do it, I did it yesterday’ and other such girlie nonsense so in the end I said I’d do it. I tell you, at least when auld Treg was here we could have a bit of a man to man (well alright, pony to horse) chat. Now all I get is ‘do you think this mud does anything for my complexion?’ or ‘what if he comes along and sees me looking like this?’ and other such rubbish. I tell you, I’m often pleased to just go up to the top fields on my own and think my own thoughts. I mean, they’re not bad lassies but there are times when a lad needs to think or even to talk about boy things. If I start to tell them about my latest theories on solving the food shortage problem or placing bets on the likelihood of one of Michaels sheep having twins, they just look blank and suddenly remember they promised to go and chat with Maxwell.
Oh, that reminds me, Max and I have become great friends. He may not be the brain of Britain but he is male and counts for a lot. I asked him the other day why he wears his Zorro mask. For you youngsters who don’t know what a Zorro mask is, it is a piece of material that completely covers the head with two round eye holes to see through and two holes for his ears, as well (it is named after a human literary hero who went about with a mask on so no-one in the books knew who he was although it is very obvious to all the readers and also viewers of the subsequent movie). My god, that was a long sentence, where was I? Oh yes, Max. Well he said it was to stop all the fillies chasing after him but I have it on very good authority that it is actually to keep his face clean. Roy, Max’s human says that he could roll for England. He is always getting his face muddy and it is so much work getting him clean for riding that the mask had to be been put.
Now, there’s an activity that I soon put paid to – riding. All you have to do is to give a few little girls flying lessons so that they get up and go running back to their mummies, crying and you soon get a reputation for being nasty and people just leave you alone. Jolly good, I think. All the more time for eating. Which reminds me …. Bye!

What drought?Friday 17th March 2006
“Ere, Wick”
“What? Oh, my goodness, it’s you!”
“Yeah, Wick. That’s right. It’s me. I’, sure of that.”
“What’re you doing back here Treg, laddie?”
“Had to get away for a bit of peace and quiet.”
“I thought that you had all the peace and quiet you could want where you are old man.”
“Not today, Wick, I’m afraid.”
“Why? What’s special about today?”
“’s that Patrick’s Day innit?”
“Patrick’s Day? Oh, right. St Patrick’s Day, I’d quite forgotten.”
“I wish they had. The noise, it’s terrible.”
“What noise Treg. I’ve not heard anything.”
“Well, you wouldn’t on Dartmoor, would you? But up here, the place is full of Irish Draughts and Connemaras and even caravanners, the whole lot. All singing and dancing and crying.”
“Crying?”
“Yeah. All the Irish cry a lot. To do with not being back in Ireland or something.”
“So what’s going on then, Treg?”
“It’s supposed to be a celebration. You know, in honour of old Saint Pat.”
“Why. What’s so special about St Patrick then?”
“Not really sure Wick. I think he was the patron saint of snakes or something.”
“Ugh, snakes, I hate snakes.”
“Yeah, I would too.”
“What d’you mean ‘would’?”
“Well, I ain’t never seen one so I can’t say for certain, can I?”
“No, I suppose not. Anyway, how are things going old fellow?”
“Mustn’t grumble. Well, apart from the noise today. On the whole, it’s not so bad. At least I can get a good lay down here without humans coming along and trying to make you stand up. How about you Wick? How are you doing these days?”
“Well, it’s a funny thing Treg, but I miss you. I miss you a lot.”
“Sorry to hear that Wick. I mean, I know it’s a complement and all that but it’s a pity that you are not so happy. What’s the matter old man?”
“Nothing really. It just gets lonely sometimes and, whatever I used to say to you, you really were my best mate, so it’s natural that I would miss you.”
“I bet you’d like it ‘ere, Wick. It’s awfully jolly. And d’you know what? As much to eat as you’d want. You could eat and eat yourself to dea … Oh. That’s silly, aint it, but you know what I mean. How’s old Mimsy knickers? Still giving you the run around?”
“Oh, she’s not bad Treg. In fact, we get along alright now.”
“Well, that’s good to hear, anyway. I suppose I’d better get back now or they’ll be missing me. You ever tasted booze Wick? Funny stuff. It’s alright after the first three. Anyway, see you again old mate. Take care.”
“Yeah, I will. And you. Bye.” I do miss you Treg. Really!

Mims and WickSaturday 18th March 2006
So, what’s special about today? Well first it’s bl**dy cold. But then, that’s not so special, is it? The humans are talking about it being the year when Spring didn’t happen. Apparently, next Monday is the official first day of Spring and the end of the month sees the clocks going forward one hour to what is laughingly called ‘British Summer Time’. This morning, HE came along with our breakfast wearing gloves, something HE rarely does. I also noticed that, after cleaning out the field shelter and doing our feet and sponges, HE left HIS gloves of, and, instead, put HIS hands under my rug., saying that it was the warmest place HE could find. I gather the humans are talking a lot about something called ‘Global Warming’ while at the same time they are shivering with cold. Maybe what they should all do is use as much fossil fuel as they can to get the global warming turned up a bit.
The other unusual thing today was a sheep. Now, it is rare that one talks about a solitary sheep. Sheep being sheep always tend to go about in groups. But, not tonight. I didn’t see it myself but HE told me, as we were walking home. As THEY were coming along to Ninefields this evening, THEY had just gone under Dry Bridge and were turning into the Throwleigh Road when along the road, coming directly at them, was this sheep. At first THEY thought it was the advance party for the flock which THEY expected to appear round the bend any minute. THEY stopped the car and waited but this single sheep continued to hurtle along the road all on it’s own. As it went to pass the car, HE opened the car door to stop it but its impetus was such that it just had to carry on and just swerved in time to go racing by. THEY don’t know what happened to it after that because THEY drove on but in another twenty metres it would have come to the T junction on the main road. From the markings, it appeared to be one of the local farmer’s animals and when THEY got to Ninefields THEY saw that there were three sheep wandering about on the top field so THEY think it must have been one from there that had lost it’s way. As HE said, rather like that human song. Let’s hope hat no harm came to it and that it eventually finds its way back, if not to its own flock, to a flock that is willing to accept it.

 

 

 

Going to see about itSunday 19th March 2006
Do you know what? A sunny, almost spring-like afternoon. Still not too warm but us horses don’t mind that. What we do mind is THEM not understanding that I want to go back to the stable (I should emphasise – my stable) at night and my daughter wants to stay out with all the exciting night sounds and animals. We can’t make it much clearer than we do. I always greet them up at the Throwleigh Road gate while Mims stands inside the field shelter waiting for her food bucket. But, even then, THEY just walk right past me, calling to me to come and have my supper and walk straight up to Mims and put her head collar on. We both try one last attempt at communication. I stay up in the road field and Mims digs her heels in and wont walk on when asked, but in the end, THEY always get their own way because we are too nice. Yes, too nice for our own good. If you look at THEM – poor puny creatures, and you look at us – four times as big, at least, it’s obvious who could win if we weren’t nice. But, we are. You see, I think THEY mean well, THEY are just misguided. Well, that and THEY are a little bit simple so we have to make allowances for THEM. Take for example the use of capitals – HE, SHE, THEY, THEM – it makes THEM feel important, you see, so we have to do it. To be honest, as HE does the typing, we don’t have a lot of choice. Ah well, let’s change the subject.
Did you hear the sad news the other day, about five horses dying in a race at Cheltenham. People don’t realise how dangerous it can be. We do, but we still do it. You see, we actually like racing. I don’t mean just racehorses like me. All horses. It’s not the racing as in being competitive. We are not like humans, doing it for the money. Wanting to win, to come in first for the glory and all that. No, we like to run and we like to run together. It’s fun, it’s exhilarating, it’s , well, it’s nice! It is part of being a herd animal, part of being a prey animal and mostly, part of being an animal. There is a joy for us in being together and moving like the wind. For myself, I never liked coming in first. Actually, I only did it a couple of times. I much prefer being in the middle with everyone else. I used to love training for that. We would all just go out for a really good gallop and it didn’t matter what position you were in, just run and have fun.
Ah well, I’m getting too old for all that now. But I still get a thrill when the hunt goes past on the moor. That’s something I tell Mims about. I’m not too old to still get a thrill. She’s not the only one, the little madam!

 



Cleaning junkMonday 20th March 2006
I heard about it first from Mims, this morning. She said that she smelt it first and then, all of a sudden, they were nearly on top of it. Then, as I walked home tonight, I saw it for myself. Someone had set fire to the bracken on the road edge of Ramsley Common. Fortunately, it had only burned about fifteen square metres as I expect it was damper than it looked. Good job, I hope the idiots were very disappointed although they probably did not hang around long enough in case they got caught. Now I know that sometimes the bracken is burned on purpose and that this can have some good results for the habitation and vegetation at large. But, when this is done, it is done at the correct time and in a controlled manner. This is definitely not the correct time with the birds and other creatures nesting and producing families. No, this was probably done by some bored kids or some drunks on the way home from the pub. Certainly not by anyone with an ounce of sense in their heads.
We horses are prey creatures and as such are conditioned to run from anything dangerous or frightening. Fire is certainly something that comes under that category. You humans who might be reading this have probably seen the fire scene in the movie Bambi with its depiction of the terror this causes to animals. Horses again are strange creatures, I will be the first to admit. When I say we run from something frightening, you have to understand what is frightening to us. And the answer? Anything – sometimes but not always, if you see what I mean. To give you an instance. Mims told me that there was a pink plastic bag that had been left behind by the dustmen (garbage collectors to some in other countries). Quite often I think their idea of re-cycling is to take things out of the special re-cycling containers and drop them on the road to give others the pleasure of re-using them. Anyway, quite often a flapping or wind blown plastic bag is perceived as the greatest danger by us horses and will cause much snorting and jumping about, if we are being ridden or walked on a lead rein. On the other hand, they can have the effect of making us yawn and look at it with distain saying ‘on no, look at that litter, how boring.’ And that is just what Mims did this morning with the bag. It did give her the excuse though to make all the more fuss over the burnt bracken and shie to the other side of the road,
Just one last thing. HE said that I am getting really naughty these days. He not only told me, he told HER. Just because I try and make our walk back from Ninefields to the stable a bit more interesting by not hurrying along and instead, having a good look around and sniffing at all the grass verges. I mean, its getting lighter now in the evening and I don’t see a lot of point in rushing to be locked up in that dark old stable. Let’s hope THEY soon get the message and leave us out all the time, then THEY won’t have to worry, will they?

I spilt a bitTuesday 21st March 2006
Well, I have to admit I was wrong. On my way to Ninefields this morning, I saw that another very large area of Ramsley Common has been burned so it looks like it is being done on purpose and not by some vandals. Apparently, this kind of burning is allowed up to the end of March or even later so maybe the birds are just courting at this time and not making nests. OK so I am a horse and not an expert on birds, it just seems to me that in a normal spring (not this one) they are more forward than they are.
Talking of birds, we (me and HIM) have seen the raven a couple of times in the last few days, the last time it flew right over our heads. But all alone so maybe the Mrs raven is nesting somewhere where they are not swaling (burning) the vegetation., high up on the moor. Again, last year, I am sure we were seeing the pair abut at this time. Mind you, if we think the weather is bad here, I dread to think what it must be like right up on the high, lonely moor. No wonder those birds always have a sore throat.
We were all very impressed with Maxwell this morning. He really is great at rolling, he goes right over and back and then does it all over again. I think he must be built differently from me because I am only able to roll over part way before I roll back again. I don’t mind though because it is a really good way of getting your face muddy. What I don’t like is when HE tries to brush it off again in the morning. I have just finished my breakfast and come over to him for a nice treat or two and he grabs that horrid brush and starts to punish my face. I have to grow as tall as I can then to get out of his way and I put my ears back to show my displeasure.
Oh, my goodness, I almost forgot the most important bit of news. We now have another grandchild, a boy this time. This will be Ben and Rachel’s little brother. OK I know he wont be able to ride on me for a year or two but I think you all know how I love kids. They make me go all mumsy. There is a new little boy in the house over the road from my stable and when I hear him crying I have to rush over to my door and look up at their house and listen. So, when they next come down here for a visit, I will have another one to care for. I will look forward to that.

 

 

just checking lassieWednesday 22nd March 2006
Hi. It’s me. Mum’s having a bit of a rest tonight so, well, here I am. So, what’s new? Tell you what. I had a bit of an adventure this morning. Things started off pretty good at first. I was feeling a bit hungry and SHE had decided to try me with some of that stuff that uncle Wicky has. That was alright with me because, although it is not so wonderful, it did at least make a change. So, instead of my walking round and round the stable. I decided to eat up and finished the lot. Unfortunately, that made HER think that I must be starving or something ‘cos SHE went and got another bucketful. Then I did decide to walk round and round, more out of impatience than anything else. You see, I watch HIM drive off in the morning and I know HE is going up to Ninefields and I don’t see why I cant go too. I know I wouldn’t fit in the car, silly, I just meant why couldn’t HE walk me up instead of using the car. I’m sure I could carry their breakfast up on my back, it shouldn’t be too heavy if HE can carry it.
Anyhow. SHE saw me walking round and round and decided that I might calm down a bit if SHE took me for a walk. Well – good idea, I say. We didn’t go up the hill towards the fields however, we went down, along the road and ended up in this rather funny farm. Least, I think it was a farm. SHE calls it a recreation ground but I reckon that might just be its name. They can’t all be called Barton, can they? So, what you do is go down the road and then turn into a smaller road and you come to a big yard with some cars parked in it. Then there is some grass and some funny tall pens but they didn’t have any animals in them, just a hard tarmac surface with a netting fence across the middle. Waste of time, if you ask me, cos you could walk round it at either side. Either someone has nicked the gates or they never got round to putting them in. No wonder they haven’t got any animals in them. There was only one barn as far as I could see and that was on the other side of the stream. That was the best bit really, the stream, well that and the grass. That was another give away that there were no animals because the grass wasn’t all poached up. So, having had a good look and sniff around , I lost interest in the farm as such and tried to concentrate on the grass. One thing worried me though. I was wearing the spare head collar that SHE keeps in the car but, instead of my normal lead rein, SHE was using this thing with string in a handle that kept getting longer the more I pulled. It took all the fun out of trying to pull HER along because SHE just sat on the bench and let the string get longer. And, d’you know what? When I told mum about it later on, she told me that it was a dog’s lead. Well, I ask you?
One good bit on the way home. We passed this house with about a thousand barking dogs, jumping up and down behind their garden wall. I don’t know if they thought they would frighten me or what but I just ignored them all together. Maybe they were upset because I had been using their lead? I do hope so!

It's rudeThursday 23rd March 2006
Hi. Me again. And do you know why? Cos I’m happy, very, very happy. You see, THEY came along to bring the suppers today but THEY were not in HER little green car but instead in his old banger. That was funny for a start. Now, as mum was in the stable last night, it was my turn. So, gritting my teeth, I stood up in the gate field with mum and uncle Wick and I was determined to be a good girl and go quietly. However, when THEY started to give mum and uncle some treats up at the gate, I sort of lost my determination a bit and sort of started to wander off. HE saw me and called out to me. Then SHE came up to me but, instead of a head collar, SHE just had a bag od carrots and I was invited to put my head in and take some. When I had nearly finished I saw that THEY had just started down to the field shelter without trying to catch me. I first started to trot and then it suddenly dawned on me. I was not going to have to go back to the stable tonight. I was so thrilled that I just couldn’t control myself and I had a little canter out to the middle of the field and back.
Next THEY put down three feed buckets. Yes – three! And then I realised that mum wasn’t going back either. We were going to all be together tonight, all three of us. Wow! Yipee! At last THEY are having some good ideas. While we were eating our supper, I found out the reason why. It as not just THEM being nice. No, what happened was that HER car had gone away for a service and the mechanics had found so many things wrong with it that SHE wont get it back until tomorrow. If they would have brought me in to the stable. SHE would have had to drive his old car as there was no way that THEY could get the buckets up to Ninefields and then have HIM walk me home without leaving HER with no choice. So, what has SHE got against HIS car? Well, it is old and dirty and shaky with a temperament that needs getting used to and, for the sake of leaving me out for one night, it wasn’t worth the trouble.
So, I am still booked to be the next one to come home, tomorrow night, but until then we can just enjoy ourselves.
Oh, I don’t think I told you yesterday. THEY went and got some more hay as we had eaten all the other stuff. SHE went in and chose which type and went for the softest as that is what we are used to. However, when HE topped up our haynets this morning, HE found that this new stuff is nothing like as soft as the hay we had before. I think we were lucky last time. Still, with any luck we shouldn’t need it much longer. This overhang from winter just cant last forever, I hope. Can it?

 



Separate tablesFriday 24th March 2006
Thank goodness she’s gone home for the night. OK, I did ask her to write the diary on Wednesday but then she went and took liberties. It was a long night, last night. Mum this and mum that. Thank heavens for a bit of peace and quiet tonight.
So, where to begin? Well, for a start, I had to promise to make it a short entry tonight as HE has raging toothache. In fact, HE has had it for several days now but it is almost unbearable tonight, HE says. Just as well really as I don’t have a lot to tell you. Clarence has been having some work done in his fields next to ours but, apart from hearing the noise of the digger, we have not been able to gather very much as it is in the field, right up at the top, furthest away from us. Our new hay is really not so bad, especially when it is raining and then is nothing else to do. A bit chewy but the taste is alright. Wicky tells me there is no such thing as bad food only good food or less good food. We had a comparison in eating habits this morning as there were three of us in the field shelter. I always throw my food out of it’s bucket so that I can get to the vegetables first. The trouble this morning was that someone’s daughter had left the place in such a mess that there was not really a clean dry place to empty my bucket onto. HE did his best to quickly sweep up round my bucket before I got stuck in but I’m afraid I was too quick for him. Mims has started to imitate me. She does wait longer than me before she tries to overturn the bucket and because she hasn’t uite got the knack of giving it a flick with her nose, she often resorts to using her foot to kick it over. And then there is Wick. He puts his head down into his bucket and it doesn’t come out again, regardless of what goes on around him, until he has finished. There is never any spillage of dropped morsel around Wick’s bucket.
And that’s about it really. I’m off up to the top field for the night and I expect HE will copy Wicky and put his head into a nice soothing glass of something!

 



Hay in sunSaturday 25th March 2006
Here we go again. It’s the M word once more. Apparently she is now undergoing an intense training course. SHE has decided that SHE has to go right back to basics. From what HE has told me this means going into the stable, taking Mims’ rug off and spending nearly an hour in mutual grooming. When I say ‘mutual’, this means SHE is scratching Mims’ neck and Mims is gouging her with her very hard and sharp teeth. At least, I expect that is what happens based on my own experience. SHE did say that SHE got some results. Mims did quieten down a little and didn’t crush HER against the sides of the stable. Well, not too much!
Wicky and I spent a very pleasant night pulling the new hay out of the hay nets and trampling it all over the floor. It does smell very nice, I must admit but compared with what I am used to, it is very tough so this seems to be the best thing to do with it. It does make a very pleasant floor covering, much nicer than the old rubber matting that THEY have put in the field shelter. Mims hates that I know. Often, if she is here all night, she tries to dig it up. She’s had some success too. At least a few sheets have been lifted and turned round.
Wick and I have also have some quite long conversations recently. I think that, at last, we are coming to terms with losing Treg. Not happy about it, of course, but we can both see how it was best for him and anyway, we all have to go in time, don’t we. It was ust his time. I often still talk to him in my head. So does Wicky. And not sadly now. It is just a sort of comfort to have a word with the old boy. Mind, that’s not all we talk about. One of the main topics of conversation is this rubbish weather. At least the cold has gone now but instead of lovely spring we now have clouds and rain. And, to cap it all now, wind as well. OK I know that March is supposed to be the windy month but as everything else is upside down this year why does the nasty wind have to follow tradition. It could have said that because it is expected it wouldn’t show. But no! Well, I expect we will have a plague of flies next!
HIS toothache has gone from being completely agonising to just very painful now so this diary entry has been a little bit longer but now I can see he is looking a bit .. well, a bit tired, so I will go back to my haylage. That’s one advantage of being home. Much better than that old hay stuff up at Ninefields.

 

 

Can you see what i see?Sunday 26th March 2006
Hey, I’m back. Not that I have been very far today. It has rained with a nasty high wind most of the day so we just hung around in the field shelter, making a mess. Well, you gotta have some fun, don’t you? D’you now what HE did to me today? HE splashed me as I was going over the stream. OK, I had been messing about, you know, stop/starting and jerking my head back. But, there was no need to get nasty. My mum saw what HE did and she came running down to the stream but, by then, HE had shut the gate and we were well on our way out of the field. I’ll make allowances for HIM though, HIS tooth is still paining HIM a lot and anyway, I think it was more in fun than anything. HE did stop and put HIS nose on mine at one point and then give me a friendly pat before we walked on.
We did find something interesting on our way home. There was a group of boys with their bikes coming down the Ramsley Mine slagheaps. At first I didn’t know what it was, I just caught a glimpse of movement  high up on the common. I had to stop and try and assess the situation. I mean, it could have been wolves or tigers or really absolutely anything. I often wonder about humans. I am surprised that they have survived so long. They don’t seem to have any survival senses at all. Obvious things that could be of enormous danger, they just either ignore or maybe don’t see. I don’t know if HE knows how lucky HE is to have me or mum to walk him along the road every day. Oh, I know HE thinks HE is so safe. When I stop to check things out, HE often laughs at me and says that I am silly. Maybe one day HE will realise how sensible we are?
Oh, that’s another thing. THEY think that we don’t know anything. Mum told me that the clocks had to be turned forward an hour last night ‘cos it’s summer time according to humans. And they call me daft. We’ve not even had spring yet. Anyway, if that was the case then THEY must have not know because THEY still came along at their same old time with breakfast this morning and with supper this evening. When I asked HIM about it on the way home, HE had to admit that THEY didn’t know anything about it until they woke up this morning. You see, THEY don’t take a newspaper and only watch TV for half an hour a day, over their wake up cup of tea. THEY decided this evening to change the time they bring supper to an hour later (for them) so it would be no different for us as the evenings are getting lighter. They will, however, bring breakfast an hour earlier starting from tomorrow so really, it’s good news all round. Now all we need is to stop coming home overnight and things will be just fine!

Still more gardening...Monday 27th March 2006
Well, I thought it was longer. Ten days since this diary was written sensibly by a male instead of all these chattering females. It’s about time you had a look at the world from a slightly lower but far more sophisticated angle.
I’ve had plenty of time recently to think about life in general and my life in particular. They are not a bad pair of lassies in themselves. It’s just that a chap misses male company to talk about things. I mean, what would they know about the subtle differences in taste between one form of food and another. To them it’s just gulp it down and it’s gone. Or what if I wanted to have a chat about the state of world politics. They would just look at me blankly as if I were silly or something. Now, when old Treg was here, I could have a good old chat about stuff like that. Not that Treg knew anything about what we were talking about, but that didn’t matter to him. He rarely knew anything about anything but he was always ready to say yes or no in the right places.
Take last night. Mims and I were kept in the field shelter by the wind and rain and so, the only thing was to eat from the hay nets and talk. I thought I would make the effort so I asked her what she though the chances were of finding carrots on Mars. Now, you would think that here was a good subject to keep us talking for hours, wouldn’t you? She just turned and looked at me and said ‘dunno’ and that was that. Well, I wasn’t going to let it go at that so I pushed it a bit. ‘You do know what I am talking about, don’t you dear?’, I asked. ‘Course’, she said and just went on eating. I had to think about that for a while. I assumed she meant ‘of course’ but I couldn’t be sure so I had to wade in again. ‘I know you know about carrots, Mims’, I said ‘but do you know where Mars is?’ And, at that, she just turned her entire body round and stared me in the face. ‘I don’t know and I don’t care’, she said. ‘If he wants to go wandering off without telling anyone, then it’s his look out!’ And, with that, she swung round and carried on pulling hay out of the net and dropping it on the ground to trample on.
You see? Women. You just can’t have a proper conversation with them. By then the wind had dropped a bit so I decided to wander up to the top field to be on my own for a while. Because of the rain, there were lots of clouds but he wind was blowing holes in them and now and again I caught sight of the stars. I love looking at the patterns of lights in the sky and making up names for the features that I can see there. The Stallion is there and the Moorland Pony. And, recently I have seen old Tregony up there for the first time. I know they are only shapes that I have made up for myself and different eyes will make up their own shapes but it does give me some comfort, some companionship during the dark lonely nights.
And, of course, if I tire of that I can always go back down to the field shelter again and talk about the chances of Mathew riding by on that stallion again!

BreakfastTuesday 28th March 2006
I don’t know why but I was feeling particularly naughty tonight. I knew, before THEY came, that it was Mims’ turn to go back to the stable but something in me told me that I should try and change things by pure will power. So, when THEY turned up with the supper, I was waiting up at the gate while Mims was standing back in the field shelter. HE gave me a bit of carrot and called me to follow HIM while HE carried the buckets down the field and across the stream. Then SHE came up to me and called me to follow HER. I just ignored them both and went over to the bridle path wall and pretended to be looking out for Mathew. THEY just carried on walking while all the time calling out to me and I just continued to ignore THEM. Any minute now, I thought (or really I hoped), THEY will come back for me with the head collar and take me home. It wasn’t as if there was any reason why I didn’t want to stay ut. The weather had turned fine, it was dry and the wind had dropped. No, it was just something in me, stirring me up to be bad.
Anyway, we all stood like that for quite a wile and I thought, ‘any minute now, HE will come and drag me back to the field shelter’. Watching THEM, it looked as if THEY had lost interest in me. SHE was holding Mims and giving her treats and HE was ust sweeping out the field shelter. So, it became obvious to me that I had lost this one. The only one I was harming was myself because Wicky was eating hs supper and I wasn’t. So, with a sigh and a shrug, I decided to give it all up and I turned and ambled down the field to he stream and then up to where everyone was waiting. No one spoke to me, HE just took Mims lead rein from her and walked her off and that was the end of my little failed rebellion. For now!
Oh, one final thing. I was so put out by this that I left most fo my supper and went over to her for some comfort and treats. Wicky, who had been eating all the time, finished his bucket and made a dive for my unguarded one. When SHE decided it was time for HER to go home, I just went back to my bucket and grabbed Wick by his coat and would have thrown him away if he hadn’t decided to run for it instead. As SHE remarked, I can be quite strong when I put my mind to it!

 

 

Streams to the streamWednesday 29th March 2006
I have been having one of those senior moments for a couple of days now. I don’t know if a moment can last that long but that is how it seems to me. You may recall that I mentioned the bracken along the Throwleigh Road being burned and on the first day, I attributed it to vandals. Then, when it had happened again, I thought it must be official swaling because it was still within the specified time limit of before 15th April. I also thought it could well be this because the Parish Council have been conducting some clearing up sessions along that part of the road and on Ramsley common, as the vegetation was getting out of hand.
Then, HE was looking in the local paper, a couple of days ago, and saw that these fires and a couple more over at Skaigh had involved the call out of the local fire brigade. The paper didn’t specify that the fires were arson but the timing ( one of the Throwleigh Road fires was at eleven in the evening) did suggest it. Then HE was at our local farmer’s shop buying us some feed and HE met the Chairman of the Council, who works there, and HE asked him if the Council had been burning the bracken off deliberately. However, that was the first he had heard of it so I was obviously correct the first time I reported it. Pity I kept forgetting to tell you but my memory has to coincide with HIS typing finger, I’m afraid.
I put that last bit in as a bit of a joke. HE, of course, doesn’t just use one finger to type. Oh no, HE uses two! But, HE tells me, they are two pretty smart fingers because they know where all the keys are. He has been typing like that for forty years now and doesn’t find it hinders him in any way. If only HIS brain could think as fast as HIS fingers can type!
I am getting very worried about my Mims. Apparently she is being really good these days in the stable. She tells me that she has found that this good behaviour has earned her extra feed buckets at night. THEY are convinced that the extra feed at night brings about the good behaviour. It’s a good job those humans don’t realise how much we manipulate them. But it is so easy. They are such softies. And really so easy to please. All you have to do is be bad for quite a long time and then they get grateful for any little sign of cooperation. And they think they are training us!

 

 

Ok, I'm a messy eaterThursday 30th March 2006
Hi there again. Sorry to have to tell you that mum has been playing up again. Yeah, afraid it’s the usual. She wants to go back to the stable when it’s my turn. In fact, she wants to go back to the stable all the time. When I asked her about it, she told me that it’s not the stable, in particular, that she is mad keen about, it’s the walk there and back that she enjoys. She gets to inspect all the hedges and roads along the way and check out what is new and interesting. She says it makes such a nice break from being stuck within the miserable seven acres at Ninefields. I’m not at all sure that is the whole story though. I am sure when Mathew goes out on that stallion, he passes that way and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she wasn’t on the look out for him, even at her age. But I can’t say anything. Well, you cant, can you? Not to your own mother. Things that you could say outright to a mate, even have a bit of a giggle about, they’re, well, a bit embarrassing to talk about with your mum.
Wicky and I are getting along really well lately. I don’t even have to call him uncle Wicky any more. Just Wicky or even Wick, whatever, he don’t mind. In fact, he’s getting a bit cheeky about my feed bucket now. There was a time when we got together over food and war would break out. But now, I eat mine and he eats his and he has now started coming over to me to see how I am getting on and asking if I need any help. I really never realised what a helpful little chap he can be. Oops! Sorry, delete that ‘little’. That is one area where he is still a little touchy. We can spend all night under the stars (or more likely under the rain clouds) talking about all kinds of things, but we never touch on the area of verticality. That is one area where he is just a wee bitty  sensitive. Sweet little thin .. oh dear, sorry.
We are getting the feeling Spring may, at last, be on its way. It is definitely warmer although the wind can still have a bit of a bite. And, HE noticed today that the wild daffodils have bloomed where the snowdrops are in the second asthma/carrot stop place. HE tells me that, in some parts of the country, they are talking about a drought. Here, in Ninefields, we have streams of water running down over our fields into the proper stream. There is also a definite sprouting of the grass in the hedgerows now and both mum and I tend to stop and have a few mouthfuls on our walks up and down. Oh, that reminds me, I saw Cal being ridden home tonight, just as I was passing his stable. He’s not a bad looking boy but he could do with a bit more muscle for my taste, you know, a bit more like big Maxie. Maybe if they could combine the two? Ah well, you can’t blame a girl for wishing, can you?

Where's the spring grass?Friday 31st March 2006
 I have to admit that I was a bit grumpy this morning. First, THEY had made me stay out all night when I wanted to go home and second, I had a bad cough. When HE came along, I was up on the wrong side of the post and rail fence trying to see hat was going on, on the bridle path. The last thing I wanted then, was to have to come down for breakfast. To be perfectly honest, I am not at all sure that anything was going on but I had just felt or heard something that had made me wonder. What was worse though, was when HE came along, after calling out to me to come and get breakfast, HE just ignored me and carried on cleaning out the field shelter as if I were not there. In the end, I had to come down to get my food because I know what a greedy little tyke Wicky is. If I had carried on doing what I wanted there would have been nothing left when I did come down. I made HIM feel sorry, however. HE held out a carrot to me when I came in the shelter and I just ignored HIM like HE had ignored me. After a few mouthfuls, my cough came back and even when I let HIM offer me some carrot, I wasn’t able to eat very much and HE went off feeling (rightly) worried about me.
I couldn’t keep it up though. When Mims came along and asked me very directly what was the matter, I had to let her into my little secret. ‘Oh, trying to wind THEM up’, she said.’ I do that all the time. Quite fun aint it?’ She can be quite a delight, my daughter. Well, sometimes. A bit mouthy but, well, she’s young I suppose. It’s funny with us horses, we leave our parents at an awfully early age but it does give us an excuse when our children turn out well, maybe not quite as polite as we would like. We always have the excuse that it is not our fault, we didn’t bring them up like that.
Did I tell you about the couple of daffodils that have blossomed where the snowdrops grow? One day they are not there and the next they are in full bloom. We are all beginning to get hopeful that Spring may be on its way, at last. It is not cold any more but raining instead. And windy. If that’s not proper Spring weather then I don’t know what is. But, I’m afraid, there is not a lot of sign of the Spring grass coming through yet. HE is getting worried that HE will have to go and get another load of hay. It’s not the cost, HE says. It’s the fact that the home paddock is so wet that his car might get bogged down in the mud, even though it is a four wheel drive.

Well, that’s it for March. I off to try and think up a really good April Fool trick to play on old Wicky, when I get back out tomorrow

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