Alezane's Diary Archive April 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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Muddy fieldSaturday 1st April 2006
Good morning lads and lassies. I’m afraid I am having to write the diary today because the two sweet girls have been struck down with an illness. First, it was Alezane who went back to the stable overnight. HE had heard her coughing for a couple of days but just thought it was some dust or seed in her haylage that had caused it. HE had noticed that she was a bit lethargic on her way to and from the stable but again, HE had thought no more about it after putting it down to her being very relaxed since her daughter came to stay with us. And then, this morning, HE noticed it. You can imagine how horrified HE was. Poor Alezane. She is, after all, the favourite out of all of us. Not her! But, I’m afraid it was.
HIS next blow came when HE got to Ninefields this morning, having left HER with Alezane to see if SHE could do anything. AS HE drew up, everything looked normal. I was waiting just behind the trees alongside the stream and Mims was standing in her usual place in the shelter. HE got out of the car and unlocked the gate padlock. Then, as usual, HE opened the gate and started down to the stream gate with our buckets. Still HE didn’t notice anything. It was only when HE had given me my biscuits and walked up towards the shelter that HE noticed it. Oh no! Not another one. Poor Mims had been struck down with it as well!
HE did his best to act normally – sweep out the shelter, feed the birds and pick out our feet. But when HE came to do our sponges, I could see that HE was having trouble facing up to Mims condition. HE didn’t want his emotions to be conveyed to her and get her frightened but, at the same time, HE just didn’t know how HE was going to tell HER. I’ll give HIM HIS due though, HE managed to keep a stiff upper lip so that HE didn’t frighten Mims and then HE made his way back to his car, looking like a broken man.
I heard later what happened next. He got back to the stable and found HER in the stable with Alli. HE couldn’t hold it in any more. “Mims has got it too” HE mumbled. The SHE smiled. “Don’t worry, it won’t last. It’s probably just an April fool’s trick. They can’t both become good overnight and start to behave themselves. They’ll be back to their old selves by tomorrow, I’ll bet.”
And you know what? SHE was right! I’m still surrounded by nagging women. If you want to feel sorry for anyone, keep poor old Wick in mind. Those lassies are having the time o’ their lives!

Wicky eatingSunday 2nd April 2006
What a load of rubbish. Fancy leaving Wicky in charge of the diary. I think it might have been meant to be an April Fool’s spoof and funny with it but all it was is pathetic. Now, ask him to write about eating or food or grass or … well… you get the message, and Wick would produce something at least interesting. In his better moment he would even be passionate. But, being funny about Mims and I? As I said before – rubbish!
You have to agree on one thing. We ladies know how to deal with a difficult situation. THEY turned up tonight with the suppers and Mims stormed off down the field just to let THEM know that she went home yesterday and that it was my turn. But, when she got to the field shelter, she didn’t go in. Instead, she stood, pointing with her head, as plain as anything, towards the bridle path. When HE caught up with her and saw her pointing, HE looked and saw that there was a blue four wheel drive stopped with people standing outside it looking over Max’s field. Now, Mims knew it was wrong but HE was just confused. Was it a friend of Mathew’s, HE had thought. They shouldn’t drive along the bridle path though but then, if they were friends, well, that made it awkward. The people got back in the car and it drove down to the road. As I said, we ladies know how to deal with these things. Untroubled about who’s friends they might be, SHE told them that what they were doing was illegal. And it worked. The occupant’s apologised and said they hadn’t realised. Really, in itself, no very big crime – but it could be. First they could have been intent on some real criminal activity like stealing or harming animals. Or even reconnoitring to steal from Mathews place or the farm. Or, if they were just joyriding or exploring, they could have run into the proper occupants of the bridle path, horses or walkers. What is probably most likely is that they were just plain lazy and instead of parking and walking up the path, they chose to explore by car. Whatever, it is best if they are made aware that it is at best silly and at worst criminal to do what they did.
Spring is definitely in the air now. But, like the weather has been of late, it can’t do things properly. OK, it’s April. So we are supposed to have showers. But we are not supposed to have cold March winds along with them. The sunshine is lovely, if you are out of the wind, but in it, one can feels quite miserable. Mims and I find that instead of being able to go up to the top field and enjoy the sunshine, we are better off standing in the field shelter out of the wind and just looking at the sunshine. Wick doesn’t care. In fact, SHE took one of his rugs off the other night because she was sorry for him being so hot. The trouble is that the one she has left on is a bit big for him (as it has to cover the other one) and he looks a bit silly. But, he doesn’t care. He says that at his time of life it doesn’t matter what you look like as long as you are comfortable. Mind you, by that I think he means a full belly!

wicky striding outMonday 3rd April 2006
Bzzzzz?
“D’you hear that, lassie?”
“You mean me or mum, unc?”
Bzzzzzzz?
“I’m no unc o’ yours young lady. Uncle if you must but Wicked will suffice. And, anyway, I was talking to your mother.”
“Come on you two. Can’t you ever stop bickering? What was it Wick? What were you asking about?”
Bzzzzz?
“There! There it is again. Can you no hear it Alli? I think it’s the first o’ the summer flies.”
“Oh, it can’t be Wick. We’ve not had spring yet. It’s far too cold for the flies to be out and about.”
“Not if you are sheltered from the wind, lassie. It’s quite warm in the sunshine.”
“I think I heard it unc .. er. Uncle Wicky. Sort of a buzzing noise, eh?”
“Not just sort of a buzzing noise, it is a buzzing noise. Still, at least your ears are sharp enough, girl. How about your eyes?”
“What about my eyes Uncle Wick?”
“Can you see anything that looks like a fly?”
“Only that fly there. Is that he one?”
“What, where? Don’t tell me you could see it all the time?”
“All right.”
“What do ou mean, ‘alright’?”
“Alright. I won’t tell you.”
“You’re doing it again. Mims! Wick! Just be good for a minute, can’t you.”
Bzzzzzz?
“OK mum. I think he’s trying to tell us something.”
“Who? Wick?”
“No mummy. The fly. That’s why he’s been buzzing all this time. He’s trying to talk to us.”
“You know, Mims. You really are remarkable sometimes, isn’t she Wick?”
“Aye, lassie. Remarkable, to say the least. What’s all this girl? Talking to flies, whatever next?”
“No really Uncle. The little fellow is trying to tell us something. Just be quiet and I’ll listen to him and tell you what he says.”
Bzz. Bzzzzz. Bzzz. Bz. Zb.
“Well, what’s that all about?”
“Wait Wick. Maybe she’s not finished yet. Go on dear. Take your time. Tell us when he’s finished.”
Bzzzzzzzz. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Bzz. Bz. B
“Oh. Right. And then?”
Bzzzzz. Bzzzzz. Bzzzzzz.
“Oh. I see, ok I’ll tell them.”
“Well dear. Tell Uncle Wick and I what he says.”
“I, ha ha … I oh dear ha, ha…. Oh … I , ha, ha…”
“Come on girl. Stop laughing about. What does he want?”
“I can’t…. oh … no…. of, ha ha ha…”
“Come on Mims. Don’t be silly. Tell us. What is the little fly saying?”
“He’s saying … ha, ha  he’s say…ha, ha he’s saying ….
…….Bzzzzzzz Bzzzzzz Bzzzzz  Ha ha ha April fools! Caught you both!”
“Er Mimsy darling. I’m sorry but, oh you tell her Wick.”
“You silly mare. You can only do April Fools on April 1st. It’s the 3rd today!”
“What? Well, it’s not my fault. Tell him. Tell the fly!”

Mims in the sunTuesday 4th April 2006
Good news tonight. I came home to my stable after a really good (although a bit chilly) day, had my supper and then settled down for a long night in. Then SHE came along and told me we were going for a walk over the recreation ground. Now that is something we used to do, oh, it seems ages ago now. Quite often in the mornings while HE was out feeding the others their breakfast, we would take a stroll down Ramsley Lane to the Rec. It’s laid out in virtually two parts. One part is used for football and cricket and other playing field sports. The other half has a sort of raised picnic area with grass and small trees and then behind that there are some tennis courts and then a small wood where people often walk their dogs. The two parts are separated by the same stream that runs though Ninefields, almost a mile away.
What we used to do is to walk down the road and into the entrance and then on to the grassy picnic area where I set about my gardening duties, keeping the grass short. Often, in the mornings, we would be joined by one of a pair of black and white cats who got quite friendly after they got over the shock of seeing me eating grass. The best thing about this arrangement for HER is that she can use one of those extending dog leads in place of a lead rein and then SHE can sit down at one of the picnic benches while I am free to roam and graze over the area. It suits us both really. They were occasions when we would go further afield and venture along the stream into the little wooded area. That was OK for something interesting to do but the grazing was better outside.
I know (because she told me) that SHE has taken Mims down there recreation ground once or twice but SHE says that SHE cant sit down and relax in the same way as with me because Mims is such a jumpy worrying soul. I think it is just time with her now. She is getting much, much better by the day. It was amusing to watch her and Wicky this evening when THEY came along with the suppers. Because the weather was so nice and sunny, wehad all lost track of the time. Particularly Wick, who usually can be relied on to wait at the gate for them when it comes to feed times. Anyway, Wick and Mims were still down in the home paddock when the car drew up. Of course, when he realised it. Wick started, first to run and then to canter to come and greet them (the buckets, not the humans, hence no capitals). Seeing this, Mims was not going to be outdone and a very pleasant little joyous race ensued. It’s amazing what a difference the nice spring weather can make to everyone’s mood.

The streamWednesday 5th April 2006
Hi, guys. What’s new? I met Cal today on the way back to the stable. I can’t make out if he is really handsome or if it is just because he has a blaze just like mine. He is a good lad though. SHE said so ‘cos SHE met him today and had a chat. Well, SHE did the chatting and gave him some apple biscuits to munch while SHE did so.
It’s been another really gorgeous spring day. It started out all frosty. The fields were covered in ice, even while the sun was blazing, It didn’t take long to thaw off though and then everything was there for the eating. Mum and I went right up to the top field. I’m not sure where Wick went. He was with us for a little while and then seemed to melt away, you know, as he does. I think we both get so absorbed in our grazing that we do tend to drift apart without noticing it. He was back for supper alright though. What a surprise!
That’s about all to tell you about today. It was very pleasant but nothing happened. So,. What do you want? I could tell you a story, I suppose. Would you like that? What? Louder, I can’t hear you! Oh, alright. I will anyway. Just a short one.

Lumly sat down with a bang. Everything had been going on alright until he decided to go for a little stroll around his field. He had said goodbye to Mrs Lumly and poked his nose out of the burrow to see what the wind told him. Nothing. Well, nothing much. The horses were still about, of course but they were no problem. Not an aggressive bone in their bodies. Not even that foul smelling little grey, ugly one. They could be a problem if they were not looking where they were going but otherwise no trouble. His ears picked up the cries of the new born lambs and the answering sounds of their mothers. Again, no danger. The big silly woolly things were just wrapped up in their progeny and the little ones were just… well … just little silly versions of the big sillies. But, no smells of danger. No fox, no .. well, you couldn’t really smell a buzzard, could you. Lumly looked up into the cloudless sky. No a shadow to be seen. No big wide wings, gliding about, twisting and twirling, ready to go into dive mode and come zooming down on him. No, it was all safe. He pulled the rest of his body after his nose and gave a tentative hop or two.
Ah, it was good to be out in the sun. OK, the grass was frozen over, but who cared. HE gave another hop and then broke into a run. It was only a matter of a second or two and he was beside the hedge on the other side of the field. Stopping to catch his breath, Lumly looked back where he had come from. “SQARCH!, SQARCHKKCH”
Lumly jumped for his life. His eye just caught this blood red blur and thought his moment had come. He froze as if he had been caught in the lights of an oncoming lorry. “SQUARCHHY”. It came again and this time his eyes just managed to focus. And, in his terror, he perceived the object of his fright.
“Carrot Tops!”, he swore. For all he saw was a large, brightly coloured pheasant, which had jumped down out of the hedge beside him.
When he got home, Lumly wouldn’t talk to anyone. He felt so silly but at the same time he was feeling put on. He had taken all the precautions that any sensible chap could be expected to take and … ah, well… maybe tomorrow it would rain, or snow, or  - Carrot Tops!

Well, what do you want? It’s not my fault nothing happened today!

Sheep on bankThursday 6th April 2006
Compared to today, yesterday was simply teeming with events. Still, I’ll do my best. Oh yes, there is one subject I wanted to talk about. I want to know what THEY do to my daughter when she is home in the stable. When I leave it, there is a wonderful warm, horsey aroma that, I know, THEIR cats love to roll in. It is best for them if it is a sunny day. Then the cats will just roll about in the sun on the floor near the door where the rubber matting gets really lovely and warm. Ideal for a cat. Anyway, as I said, when I leave it to go up to Ninefields, it really is very much like home. The next night, Mims uses it. Now, I don’t know if THEY do things to her or what but when I come back next time there is this terrible clean and medicinal smell to the place. When I have complained to HIM and asked HIM what has been going on, all HE can do is blame it on the birds. ‘Jays’, HE says, as if that explained everything. Now we have a couple of perfectly delightful Jays that come and eat next to the field shelter. A bit shy but very nice when you get to know them. They fly in, sit a ay away for a while to watch what is going on and then come and land on the ground and start to scoop up peanuts as if they were going out of fashion. I usually count them. An average is eleven but if they are disturbed they my fly away with only eight. I think the record is fourteen. Still, whatever. However many peanuts they take at a go, they do not definitely smell like HE makes my stable smell. And you know something else strange? When I ask Mims about the strange smell, she says ‘what smell?’ It is perfectly nice and horsey warm smelling when she goes into the stable and, no, they do not do anything to her to make her smell. SHE will brush her all over and do HER best to teach her manners but nothing that involves any kind of funny smell. It’s a mystery but, I tell you, it takes me half the night to make the place half way habitable again. The sooner I can stay out all the night the better.
Oh, one last thing. When I was listing all our bird visitors the other day, I’m sure I forgot the Nuthatch. I only remembered because he was back yesterday morning. I expect that it is only natural when HE throws out handfuls of peanuts in the morning that a Nuthatch should appear but why are they not here all the time. When I asked HIM, HE said that HE thinks that they must migrate for the winter and this little chap has just come back because the weather has turned warmer and more spring-like. I agreed with the second part, it is more spring-like but warmer? Not in this wind, it is as cold as anything. We don’t care because we still have our rugs on but, even though we are warmer blooded than you humans, we still hate the wind. I will always remember how my lovely old Tregony used to bow his head down nearly to the ground when he had to walk into the wind. Still, he doesn’t have to worry about that anymore, does he?

AlezaneFriday 7th April 2006
Well, we’ve been a hive of activity today. It was very nearly three years ago that I started this diary and, at that time, we had some men in the field digging holes and putting in drainage. Today, one of the men who was to do with it, came along to give our fields a working over. He did check the places where the drainage went in and was a bit worried that they were not as dry as they should have been. His theory is that either the holes in the drain pipes have got blocked up with fine sand or that we have a natural spring in the ground. He is going to get his colleague, who do the work, to come along and have a look.
Meanwhile, he has been driving about, all over the place, with his mountain quad bike, harrowing and rolling our fields. I will admit that they look a lot better for the attention although the ground is still very damp and soft and it wouldn’t surprise me if we didn’t churn them up again in next to no time unless it dries up pretty quick.
Talking of which, I am reminded of what happened this morning. I think both of us (HER and me) were quite bored with grooming so SHE decided to take me down to the recreation ground for a bit of a graze while we were waiting for Him to come back from Ninefields. As it was warmer today, SHE decided to take my overnight rug off and let the air get to my coat for a while. We hadn’t got very far when it started to drizzle but, as it was nothing much, we carried on down to the rec. We had only been there a few moments when it started to pour down with hard and very cold rain. Unfortunately at this time of the year there are no trees to shelter under as the leaves have yet to break out. By the time we got back to the house, the rain had stopped. Just in time for me to get my rug on!
Coming back to the field workings, Mims was funny this evening. She wasn’t at all bothered by all the machines driving about but, when HE turned up this evening, she was determined to show HIM what they had done. With HIM calling out to her and holding out a carrot in one hand and a head collar in the other (it was her night to go home), she proceeded to stride up the hill to the ground above the field shelter so that HE could get a good look at what they had done. As soon as she was satisfied that HE had seen it, she came over to him as good as gold and had her head collar on and was led down the hill and off down the Throwleigh Road.

dandelionsSaturday 8th April 2006
Now THEY have our road field all nice and smooth and rolled, THEY don’t want us on it, in case we mess it up. I mean, whose field is it anyway? THEY sneakily waited until we had gone up to the top field this morning and then THEY came along and put up the stream gate so we couldn’t get into the field. Mind you, it was to THEIR disadvantage too because when THEY came along with our supper tonight, instead of being up next to the gate waiting for them, we were standing up in the field over the shelter and THEY needed to walk all the way down to get me ready to go home.
It was quite a nice day today, apart from the wind that is. The wind was more like an artic one than a British spring breeze. But we all went up right up to the top of the top field, next to the gate into Michaels field and there, both Mims and I had a lie down behind the wall, out of the wind and in the sunshine. Wicky stood guard like the real soldier that he is and we had a really good rest for quite a while. When we got up, Wick decided to do his own thing rather than follow us girls about. It suited us all really, he was able to have a really good graze and we had a good long mother and daughter chat. I gather Mims is getting really relaxed about going home now. She still prefers to be out but has stopped worrying about things. HE told me that she was quite happy for him to pick her feet out this morning while she had her breakfast. Previously it had been some kind of battle with her running round and around in the stable with HIM trying to keep hold of the foot HE had managed to pick up. Now HE says she was as relaxed as me walking up to Ninefields. She didn’t even stop for a bite of grass until very near to the gate.
I can’t help feeling that the weather is just waiting to turn into the nice spring that we all expect and then we will be able to stay out. There is always a sort of tug of war at this time of the year. SHE says it is because of the rain and the mud and so on but really SHE just likes to have us home and to enjoy our company while SHE grooms us in the morning. Oh, that reminds me. HE very nearly got on my back tonight when we were coming home. As we come out of the gate, HER car is always parked across the entrance making the gap a bit narrow for us to get through. I always like to stop just there for a nice bite of the grass that grows just outside the gate. This means HE is squashed between me and the gate so tonight HE climbed up on the mounting block steps that THEY had made in the wall and then laid across my back. It brought back memories for both of us because HE used to ride me up to Pepsi’s field before we had Ninefields. I wonder if that will ever happen again?

Mims visitingSunday 9th April 2006
Hey, what d’you know about global warming? I asked Wic … er Uncle Wicked about it today. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have a clue. He bluffed on and on about green houses and how the colour made all the difference. I would have thought that, if that were true, a green house would be pretty cool, like cold I mean, not cool as in wicked. Oh dear, this is getting a bit confused, aint it? What I mean is, if it were logical, global warming should go along with red houses and global cooling with blue house and so on. When I explained this to Uncle Wick, he just looked right though me and said something like ‘if you’re no’ going to listen lassie …’. I decided to be tactful so I just said ‘oh, I didn’t realise’ and walked away.
I thought it best to go and ask mum. I mean, mothers are supposed to know everything, aren’t they? ‘What’s all this about global warming then, mum?’ I said when I caught up with her. She looked at me as if that was not a subject I should be talking about at my age but I persisted so she just stood for a moment as if she was getting her thoughts together. ‘Global warming, my girl, is what we have got now’. And that was it. I mean, what kind of answer was that. Yeah, right. The kind of answer that is meant to shut you up and doesn’t invite further conversation.
You see, the problem is, everyone is talking about global warming and saying we have to something about it and yet, it is frogging freezing (as granddad Treg would have said). If this is warming, I’d hate it to get colder! The sun is shining and, if you are standing in the sunshine at the back of the field shelter, you get a very false sense of security. Just step out and the wind freezes the nuts of your knickers. (That’s another one ol’ Treg taught me before he went). It does make me wonder if I did the right thing coming to Dartmoor. It was never as cold as this where I used to live, over to Teignmouth. Maybe we got the warm gulf stream or something there, I don’t know. But I do know that when spring came there, we had spring, not winter 2.
So, finally I thought I’d ask HIM on the way home tonight. Well, maybe HE knew and maybe HE didn’t, I don’t know. What I do know is that HE was so cold it was all HE could do to keep from shivering and I think that HE imagined I was making some sort of sick joke or something because HE just gave a weak smile and carried on walking. At least my stable is not green. I don’t know what  a brown house is responsible for but it was a relief to get back to eat and start eating my supper.

Mims and kidsMonday 10th April 2006
Funny things happening at our gates today. It was a bit early for supper tonight, and anyway, it was quite a lovely evening, not warm but not cold either, just sunny. THEY drove up, but instead of unloading our supper, HE got some things out of the boot and went strolling off down the bridle path. SHE got out of the car and came down to the field shelter and we came down from the field above to join HER.. While SHE handed out carrots and treats and set about telling Wicky off for being pushy, I could see that HE was crouching down by the locks on the gates. Then I remembered the other day when HE led me down to the bridle path gate and tried to unlock first one and then the other to no avail. In the end, HE had to lead me all the way back up to the front gate on the road and lead me in there. So, when I saw him bending down at the gates this time, I assumed that he had come to try and open them again. After a while, he walked away from the first, far gate and came round to the gate onto the home paddock. Again he crouched down and I could see HIM fiddling around with the padlock again. After quite a long while, he stood up and got a big sort of cutter thing and put that on the lock. After a lot of puffing and squeezing HE managed to cut the lock and take it off. Then HE set about cutting back all the brmbles that had overgrown the path since we last used it.
On the way home, HE explained that, as THEY had shut off the road field since it had been harrowed and rolled, to give it a bit of a rest, THEY wanted to lead us in and out by the bridle path gates and that the old padlocks had worn out with the weather and HE had got some new all weather ones. So that’s what HE had been doing and I expect to be led down the bridle pth again tomorrow morning.
Not such good news about Mims, this morning. She had one of her fidgety mornings and wouldn’t stand still to have her feet picked out or to be groomed until SHE shouted “BAD GIRL” to her. For some reason those two words seem to work and she was good enough to be taken down the rec for a mouthful of grass. By the time she came back, she was quite quiet again and behaved herself all the way to Ninefields. Funny girl but then, I suppose we all have our moments!

 



primrosesTuesday 11th April 2006
Before we start, I have to record two new members of our dining club. We were just settling down to breakfast yesterday when along came a pair of greenfinches. Now, we had had these before but not for a while now. Mind, when I say they joined our dining club I am not being strictly accurate. Because HE was walking about with that camera thing stuck in HIS eye, they just sat and observed for a while and then flew off without actually eating a thing. HE wasn’t fast enough to photograph them for HE had assumed that they would land a bit nearer. However, I’m sure that they did come back after HE had gone away and we had gone to the upper fields.
We did that at first this morning and a good job we did as well because by just before lunchtime it started to pour with rain and it kept on for most of the afternoon. By the way, you may have noticed that I said lunchtime. That’s what comes from living too close to humans. I mean, all day is our lunch time not just a small period in the middle of the day. But, you pick up a lot of their speech and tend to use it except when we are on our own.
The other nice thing that happened this morning as I was walking up the Throwleigh Road was that the raven came flying quite low over our heads. It came from the moor and it made its way over to the Ramsley Common. It must have found something tasty to eat there because it just dropped like a stone and vanished. I expect it was out looking for something to feed its young with. We’ve not seen any young yet although they (it?) must be quite big now. Anyway, nowadays HE keeps his little compact camera in his pocket to get shots to illustrate this diary but it was no good to HIM this time. First that camera would have been too limited to get the shot and anyway HE wouldn’t have had time to get it out of HIS pocket but there was a wonderful opportunity when the raven turned with full wings outstretched against the bright but misty sun. What a shame you will probably have to look at a picture of Wicky eating instead!
HE told me something tonight that may amuse you. HE was in the ordering part of the farmers shop today getting us some more food when HE bumped into Clarence who has the field next to ours (and lots of others besides). They got chatting and Clarence told HIM about some of his lambs that had been killed by a fox or a badger. When HE met up with HER inside the shop, HE mentioned this and then SHE saw Clarence and told him she was sorry. Clarence said that the fox or badger probably had a family to feed. Then he stopped and thought for a moment and said “but then, so have I but I don’t go around killing anyone!”

The field rolledWednesday 12th April 2006
Well lads and lassies, that was something I wasn’t expecting. I was just waiting for Alli to come back from her stable so we could all go up the top field. But then, whn she did arrive, HE walked right in, up to the field shelter and emerged with my head collar. The next thing I knew, I was on the Throwleigh Road and heading down to Ramsley. Strangely, Alli didn’t kick up a fuss like she usually does when I am taken out of the field which is probably why I didn’t twig what was going on until a lot later. Half way down the road I started to pull back and, by the time we got to Dry Bridge, HE was practically pulling me. Of course, by then, it had come to me. It was time for me to have my coat trimmed. It’s funny, I really don’t mind so much any more. The first time was a bit of  fright. But then, it did take nearly our hours as my ciat was very thick at that time. Nowadays, THEY have it done every eight or nine weeks so it doesn’t have time to grow too thick.
I’ll tell you what the good bit is. Whenever I have to go back to the stable for a haircut, I always get extra food. I don’t know if it is a late breakfast or an early lunch but, whatever it ir, it is very welcome. The bad bit is … well. Today it was having my legs and feet trimmed. Lat time because the weather was so bad, SHE let me keep my legs furry. This time, because it is nearly Easter and the weather should be better (even if it isn’t), SHE decided that I should be shaved all over. I don’t mind it, although I hate having it done but he most embarrassing thing is that now I look luike a cute and cuddly little pony and everyone stops as I go by and wants to talk about me. Not to me, you understand but about me. Really there’s nothing more aggravating than a car drawing up and having the driver say something like “oh, your horse has shrunk then” or “isn’t he a cute little thing”.
There was one really good moment though, when I got back to Ninefields. Alli and Mims were up above the field shelter. I was very pleased to see that they hadn’t gone off far without me. HE called out to them but didn’t get much response so I gave a really loud neigh which made them start and look up. Well, you couldn’t have wanted a better reception. Alli went quite mad with delight that I had come back. She shouted back and then galloped down into the home paddock snorting and neighing with pleasure. Mims wasn’t quite sure at first what was going on but then, when she realised, she too did the same and followed her mum down to greet me. We came in by the back gate along the bridle path and Alli ran along the top of the bank along the stream to meet me. I had to stop at the stream for a good long drink and the both of them ran up and down like steam engines with excitement.
I’ll tell you the best bit though. When HE had unlocked the gate and led me through and after HE had rewarded Alli and Mims with some carrot, HE took us all up to the field shelter and we all got a handful of the oats that he usually gives to the birds. What with that and Alli and Mims’ excitement, it was on of the best homecomings that I have ever had.

Wicky and I (with Mims)Thursday 13th April 2006
This is a mixture of déjà vu and the lost week end. Well, what I mean is … Oh, let me start at the beginning.

First, you see the date above this paragraph? What does it say? 13th April, right? Wrong. Well, right, it does say that but wrong for now it is actually 16th May. Isn’t that clever? You see, something happened to HIS Thursday. I told HIM what to write, as usual, while I was having supper. I should have known then that HE seemed a bit distant but then, HE never has seemed the brightest to me, so I can maybe be forgiven. And that, really, was that. Until about the 12th May – twenty nine days from now. I shan’t tell you how he found out because you may well read about it in a month’s time. Of course, you may never read this either as it wasn’t there to read when you should have read it, if you get my meaning, in which case you won’t care anyway. Suffice to say that HE was doing something which made he re-read this month’s diary entries and in doing so, HE discovered that there was no entry for 13th April. At first, HE thought it might be explainable by HIM using the wrong copy to type on and that HE had just got the dates muddled up. You see, when HE gets back from giving me my supper and hearing what I want HIM to type, HE goes and gets his notebook computer and sits down in comfort to make the day’s entry. About a year back, HE was doing this and his computer died on him and so he lost a lot of work. Therefore, for safety’s sake now, HE always saves a copy both on the notebook and, over the network, onto his desktop machine as well. Now, sometimes if the desktop is not switched on, HE will save it on HER machine instead which can mean that one copy misses a day and if that is the copy HE chooses to use to make the day’s entry…. Well, you get the picture.
But no, that was not the case this time. The only clue HE has to explain what went wrong is that, when a neighbour came in to see HIM, HE dashed upstairs to his office to give him something but couldn’t find it. Then the neighbour told him that HE had already given it to him. Was that on the same April 13th, HE wonders. There was a day when SHE, not being well (if you remember) went to bed after lunch without drinking HER wine. HE can remember thinking it would be a shame to waste it. Now, it’s just possible  ……?

 

 

Crows mobbing a buzzardFriday (What’s so good about it?) 14th April 2006
Funny goings on today. We were having breakfast and already things weren’t going so good. You see, as I explained only a couple of days ago, I like to … well… distribute my food over the floor rather than keep it in the bucket. Now this is alright if the floor is clean but, if it is covered with rivers, which a certain little hill pony knows quite a lot about, it is not really the best idea to drop ones food in it. But this morning, unfortunately, the food just jumped out of the bucket and landed you know where. I straight away went over to Wick to mildly remonstrate with him and got a telling off from HIM. I went back but somehow I had quit lost my appetite and wasn’t in the best of moods when HE drew my attention to a figure wandering down the road field from the gate. HE muttered something about the ‘fetlocking right to roam’ and the ‘wormy tourists’ when the figure spotted us and waved. I could see HE was having second thoughts. ‘Oh, maybe it’s Adrian’s cousin who was going to come and look at the home paddock’. I remembered HIM telling me that the paddock which had been drained by Adrian’s cousin but was now running with water as if he had never touched it, had prompted Adrian to say he would get his cousin to come and have a look at it. Maybe the drains were silted up or maybe there was a new natural spring started up somewhere.
So we looked up at the visitor with interest and then, as he crossed the stream, we both realised that it was grandson James, who had grown his beard back again. He said that he and some friends had driven down overnight and were just on their way to get some breakfast. He stood chatting while HE absent mindedly fed me carrots and Wicky, who is not so fastidious as me, tucked into my breakfast and then they left, walking up the field together.
Later on this afternoon, the road gate was opened up and a blue car drove in. A load of young men piled out and they started to erect a couple of tents next to the car. They then lit a fire and started to cook a barbeque which really freaked Mims out. Although they were on the other side of the stream and the stream gate was closed anyway, Mims and Wick decided to withdraw up the hill a way and keep an eye on the proceedings. I stayed sort of mid way between them and the visitors to try and show them that there was no need to worry (and also to boast how brave I was).
Then THEY turned up with our suppers or, to be more exact, Mims’ and Wick’s suppers as it was my turn to go home. On the way over the stream and up the hill, HE stopped to take a couple of photos and then we walked over to the barbeque to see what was what and I very nearly got a bite of one of their rolls. I wonder if they will be there in the morning when I go back and, more interestingly, if they will all have hangovers?

Fire on the commonSaturday 15th April 2006
They were still asleep when HE took Mims’ and Wicks’ breakfast this morning but, by the time I walked along the Throwleigh Road they were up because we met them near my second carrot stop. Apparently James was off to the pub to look for his wallet which he thought he must have left there but, just before he caught up with us, his friend phoned him to let him know that they had found it in the tent. So, we walked back to the field together.
Good news today. The first day of the year when we were allowed out with no rug on. Both Wick and I celebrated by having a really good roll in the mud. Mims didn’t join us I was surprised to note but maybe she will tomorrow. HE found that she has a pretty bad gash under her throat which has now turned septic and THEY are worried that, if it is not looked after, it could get worse. HE rubbed some cream on it this morning when HE found it and THEY were going to give it a good clean up tonight when she got back to the stable.
Getting back to the morning, it was really nice to see Mims go really excited when I came along. I don’t really understand why, when I come into the field from the back door so to speak (along the bridle way and in by the bottom gate) she gets all excited and calls out and canters about. She doesn’t do it when I used to go in by the road gate. Maybe it is because the boys were camped in the road field and she was a bit nervous? Who knows?
Anyway, it was nice. It made me feel really wanted. Because we both had no rugs on, it wasn’t long before we were mutual grooming which was very nice after so long a time. The trouble at this time of year is that you get mouths full of hair as our winter coats are making a rapid exit these days. But we made up for it later by having a real good old game of turning and pretending to kick each other. Wick just wandered off muttering about silly girls but I think he was just jealous!

Sunday 16th April 2006
And talking of Wicky, I’m glad to say he’s better now. Oh, you didn’t know, did you? When HE went up to Ninefields this morning with the breakfast buckets, HE noticed nothing amiss until he went to pick out their our feet. When HE turned to Wicky, HE found the poor little lad was shivering. Now, I wasn’t cold but then, I still have my winter coat as it is only now starting to moult out. But, of course, Wick had his coat shaved the other day.three rears The weather forecast had told HIM that it wouldn’t get cold overnight but I think THEY reckoned without both the wind and the fact that Wick had been rolling in wet mud. Anyway, as soon as HE saw what was happening, HE got Wick’s thickest rug from the hay store and quickly put it on him. Then HE hung over him and rubbed him hard to get him warm. The funny thing was that all through this, Wicky just carried on eating as normal. He didn’t even raise his head, except when HE went and got a handful of the rolled oats that HE gives to the birds to give Wick a quick boost.
When THEY came up later, HER in the car and HIM leading Mims, SHE came down to the field shelter and changed over Wick’s rug as the other one, although not so thick, is waterproof as well as wind proof. By this time Wick had completely got back to normal and was just enjoying all the attention. I can’t blame him really as we girls do rather tend to keep to ourselves and Wick gets a bit left out. Mind you, he profits from our feeding habits and spends a lot of time cleaning up after us. Oh, that reminds me. When THEY were going this morning, HE tried to revive the game THEY used to play when dear old Treg was with us – ‘flying carrots’. There was nothing Treg liked better than having a carrot thrown down in front of him. He would rush (for him) over and pick it up and have a good old munch. I used to join in too and we had carrots flying all over the place. So, this morning, HE threw me a carrot as HE was leaving. I went over and was just about to pick it up when Mims came along and grabbed it from in front of me. SHE felt sorry for me I think because SHE told HIM to throw me another one which HE did. And blow me if Wicky didn’t come along and snatch that one from me too! So don’t feel too sorry for him. I did get one in the end so you don’t need to feel sorry for me either.
Just a last bit. As we were walking home tonight, I stopped to eat the few treats in the boot of the car as usual. Just then the pair of ravens flew right over our heads. I could see HIS arm twitching as HE decided if HE could get HIS camera out quickly enough. Then they flew away and HE put his hand back in his pocket. Just then one of the pair reappeared and HE did get the camera ready and took a few, I’m afraid, very long shots in the hop that one might be any good. We shall have to wait and see



tentsMonday 17th April 2006
Hi everyone. Wow, have I had an interesting evening. It was my turn to come home and, having had a really good day messing about with mum, I was quite happy to go. We stopped and I had my treats from the boot of the car. I say treats. Some of them were swede (turnip to you non brits) which is not my favourite. I got my own back by spitting them out all over their car and just eating the large pieces after I had finished the carrots. So, we went on our way and got very nearly home when who do I spy coming round the corner but that Cal. He was not being ridden but being led by a young lady I didn’t recognise but HE obviously did. It was Vicky, Annette’s daughter who is home from Uni or College or somewhere and who used to ride Amber (so HE tells me) before she went away.
So, HE stopped and spoke to Vicky and gave far too many of my apple biscuits to Cal. I pretended to be disinterested to try and get his attention but, typical bloke, he was far more interested in the treats than in me. Oh well, fetlocks to him then, I thought. Mind you, as soon as I got home in my stable, I kept rushing from my supper to look over the door and watch him make his way up Ramsley Lane hill.  For a And so that was my evening, I thought. I finally finished my bucket and had just started on the haylage when HE appeared with my head collar. I wondered at first if I was in for a hard grooming session because then THEY (or most likely SHE) used to put a head collar on me to make me stand still.  But no, it wasn’t that because then HE led me out of the stable and we were joined by Her and we started off down the road (not up) towards the recreation ground.
In the mornings, SHE has been taking me to the recreation ground, but then I am waiting to go to Ninefields, so I don’t really settle to grazing, although there is some lovely long grass there. But this evening was different. We walked into the park and up onto the bank where there is a picnic table in the middle and the first thing I noticed was that there were a load of children down by the pavilion. Now I like children, in fact, to be more honest, I love children. I don’t know why. I think I get it from mum. Anyway, I was far too interested in the kids to eat any of the long grass there. The next minute, two of the kids came over and I recognised Martin and Rosanne who talk to me in my stable sometimes. The good bit was that THEY went through the ‘would you like to give her a mint sweet’ routine. I love that. Then they said Martin could have a ride. That was fine (if you like walking round and round over the same bit of grass) and then, a load of other children turned up and I spent the rest of my time in the park giving rides to all and sundry. It was really good. I loved it. At last I had found something that I was good at and enjoyed.
Tell you what though. When THEY thought I had had enough, THEY said ‘that’s it tonight’ and all the kids said, ‘OK, see you tomorrow night’. My goodness won’t mum be surprised if she gets taken over the park tomorrow?

barbecueTuesday 18th April 2006
Actually, HE told me that Rosanne poked her head in at lunch time and asked if Mims was coming home tonight. When THEY told her no, it was my turn, she asked ‘will Alli be coming over the park?’ Again she was told no so I guess I will have a quiet evening after all.
Another thing HE told me was that, this morning, as HE was walking Mims up to Ninefields, SHE passed them in HER car. As they turned the bend, they could see that SHE had stopped the car and they thought SHE was waiting for them. But no, SHE drove off so they thought maybe she was just waiting to see how long they would be as Mims was eating grass from the roadside. However, when they got to the spot where SHE had stopped, they looked up and saw a beautiful deer standing staring at them. He and the deer just stood looking at each other for a few seconds and then, just when it occurred to HIM to get his camera out, the deer turned tail and they watched it run away right across Clarence’s field and up into the woods. Just before it got to the woods it was joined by a second deer and the pair just vanished from sight. Funnily enough, on the way home tonight, there was a rabbit just standing and looking very near the same spot.
Mims and I gave Wicky a tough time today. Not really bad you know, just in play so to speak. First this morning over breakfast, he must have been eating really quickly because he was finished well before me and had the cheek to leave his empty bucket and stand staring at my food. Well, all I had to do was to snake my neck and give him one of my looks and he went a stood a bit back, just waiting for me to finish. I carried on eating a bit longer, just to let him know who’s breakfast it was and then I gave in and went to HIM for some treats. In a flash, Wick was there doing what he calls ‘tidying up’. I have to admire him. Mind, as soon as HE picked up the buckets and went off to get Mims, I went back to what little was left and Wick had to get out of my way again.
Later, when Mims came along, HE brought her in the back bridle path gate as has now become usual. I met them at the gate and got a carrot then HE let Mims in and we both had HIM cornered. Wick just didn’t get a look in so HE shoved a carrot into both our mouths and went round the back to be able to give Wick something. I think this must have annoyed Mims because she turned and went up to Wick to give his tail a nip. Mind, Wick wasn’t having any of it from her so he turned and gave a flying buck. The two of them then had a bit of a lark making sure neither of them touched the other.
It’s good to start the day with a bit of fun, isn’t it?

view from shelterWednesday 19th April 2006
Let’s start by telling you something which has absolutely nothing to do with us horses. But, it’s fun!
HE had to go out this morning and climb up a ladder to go into a loft to take some photos. When HE came back, HE had the ladder on the roof of his car and, as HE was unstrapping it, HE was struck by guilt as HE had not cleared out the gutters on the front of the house which overflow when it rains because they have filled up with moss. HE decided that, as HE had managed to climb a ladder for another purpose, HE shouldn’t be scared to do it at home. After going indoors for what is termed Dutch courage (don’t ask me, I only repeat what I am told), HE put the ladder up against the side of the wall and started to shakily climb up. Halfway up, HE froze. It was no good, HE couldn’t do it. (Did I say HE is no good at heights?). However, so that HE would not be a complete failure, HE decided to trim the climbers that had gone rampant up the side of the house. So, down HE goes and gets his long arm cutter and proceeds to snip way at the quite thick creepers. However, halfway through, things appeared to get stuck and, on investigating, HE could see that the climbers were wrapped around some sort of wire. Up the ladder HE went again to investigate and, by untwisting some of the climbers, HE was able to establish two things. First HE discovered that the wire was, in fact, his telephone cable. Secondly (and this is the good bit) HE found that HE had cut clean through it!
Disaster. Not that THEY made or received many phone calls but the internet connection had been cut clean through. HE panicked but then clamed down and rationally tried to find the phone number of the telephone engineers from the phone book. Although HE had cut the cable, HE would ring them on HIS mobile phone. That was the plan. HE discovered that the telephone book tells you how to contact everyone from the police, local authority, medical service, you name it, everyone but the phone engineers! Brainwave! HE went and got an old phone bill and there was the number. After a nightmare of automatic re-routing and getting cut off, HE redialled again and got connected to India. That’s right, India. They were very polite and promised to send an engineer but, knowing how fast things move in this country, HE decided to go up the ladder again and try and effect a temporary repair.
After stripping and twist joining the orange, white, black and green wires he was faced with three red wires to join up. Which joined with which, HE wondered? HE was in the process of trying to work it out rationally by length when the phone rang! That’s right – the phone rang! It was the phone engineer. Two mysteries. Why did the engineer phone when he knew the wire had been cut? And, why did the phone work with the three red wires not connected?
When he came, the engineer said something about the red ones being for stabilisation or something. Oh well. HE will say though that the service was really good, an engineer within a couple of hours. Maybe all jobs should go via India? They’d get done quicker.
As for horses, THEY stopped and waylaid four horses who were riding past the house today. All were given sugar lumps. I can see all the horses from Throwleigh Road making Ramsley Lane a compulsory route from now on!

mims canteringThursday 20th April 2006
Alli’s gone off back to the stable and Mims has wandered off up the field so I’m left tidying up the field shelter all on my own. I was doing alright for a while and then something, I don’t know what, brought dear old Tregony to mind. It may have been that I was working in what will always be ‘Tregony’s Corner’ of the shelter. Or, it could, of course, be that old Treg was calling to me from wherever he has gone to. We don’t really know much about these things as much as we make up reassuring stories to fill the gaps. So, I was working away and I found myself wondering. As much as we don’t really know where Treg has gone to, we also don’t know where he came from. Oh yes, I know he was born in Cornwall, I didn’t mean that. The foal was born there but where did the person Tregony come from that existed inside his body?
Some horses think that we are just born and born again and so Treg might have been a warrior horse in an earlier life, of a plough horse or even a bakers horse. Who knows? If you are one of those horses who believe that then you can comfort yourself with the idea that he is now reborn as a young foal somewhere ready to learn and then go to work as, well as virtually anything. Seems funny to imaging deal old Treg being a racehorse in the next life. He was too much of a gentleman. He always be saying ‘oh no, after you’ to everyone and losing every race. Thinking on a bit, there’s not a lot of jobs open to us horses nowadays. Times have gone when, like my ancestors, you could go down the mines or work on a seaside beach or be a stage coach or taxi cab horse. Even the military only use us for ceremonial duties. No horse, thank goodness, has to go to war anymore. I suppose the possibilities are wider in other parts of the world, still. There are places where the horse still works for man, at least for the poorer man in a real way, not just as a leisure activity.
I’m getting away from my old friend but that was just how my mind was working while I was clearing up after supper. I did come back to Treg and how much I miss him. Mims is alright, even fun sometimes but when her mother is here those two go off on their own and I don’t feel a real part of it. I suppose I miss bullying old Treg as much as anything. He would always get out of my way when I told him to and always leave me his bucket if I was still hungry after mine (which was all the time). But, I wasn’t really nasty. We were more like husband and wife, so to speak. We just used to bounce ideas of each other. Not earth shattering ones. Just silly little things like ‘is it going to rain’ and ‘how many legs would you have if one fell off’ – stuff like that, you know, homely stuff. Oh well, no use crying over spilt pony nuts. I think I’ll go up and see if I can’t tease that Mims some more. She falls for it every time you know. Actually, she’s quite sweet. Just don’t let her know I said that, eh?

Wicky starts his moveFriday 21st April 2006
Quite a night, last night. Normal at first up to the point where THEY did late stables and then went up to bed. It was a bit noisy with all the ewes calling out and their lambs replying or rather the other way round, I’m not sure. But then there was a far worse sound. A blood curdling sound. So I looked over my stable door and all I saw was this blinding flurry of flying fur. Next thing the lights were going on all over the house and THEY had got up again. It was Tom the cat who had got into the most terrible fight. THEY have a thing about Tom that there is a Tom A, a Tom B and a TOM C. Tom A is lethargic and can hardly be bothered to walk but needs carrying about everywhere. Normally HE has to go and retrieve him from the bed when it is time for supper and carry him down stairs. Then, if he gets upset, there is Tom B, the fighter. Tom has been know to join in the pack of Burmese (when his brother and sister were alive) and set upon a barking dog and need to be hauled off before the dog gets seriously hurt. Then there is Tom C. That is who was fighting last night. No one saw who he was fighting but there were two huge pools of blood outside my stable door this morning and it wasn’t Tom’s. However, he was soaked through and through and SHE thought that part of his eye was hanging out. On closer inspection it wasn’t but he did have some nasty bites and a bad limp so he was taken up onto their bed for the night.
This morning, THEY were not at their best. Tom, luckily, was looking quite a lot better after a good night’s sleep but he was still taken to the vest this morning. He is now on a course of antibiotics and eye ointment. Somehow, after having had my sleep disturbed, I had pulled most of my haylage out onto the floor but had not eaten it. Just something mre for him to bag up and through on the pile in the field.
The day started damp and grey but very warm. Just the weather, Mims and I thought, for a mud bath. (did you know that if you leave the a out of weather it turns into a sheep?). Sorry about that. Just a little typist’s joke. Where was I? Oh yes, we were having a mud bath. Still the joke leads quite well into the next bit because, as Mims was being led home, just as she got to the field gate, along came loads and loads of mother sheep and their lambs along the road. Mims just placed herself in the middle of the road to stop them running away past her but she needn’t have bothered as they turned sharply right just before her and ran down the bridle path. It wasn’t long before Michael and Sue came along on their quad bike with the dog rounding up the stragglers. It made Mims think though. She was so absorbed that she took ages to walk home and ended up with HER car driving up behind. Mind, I think the weather may have had something to do with it to because the sun had come out and it was a glorious evening. Let’s hope this is the start o the really good weather so we can stay out all the time.

no one lookingSaturday 22nd April 2006
The daft one was in a great mood this evening, that is, if you can call running and bucking and generally being a pain, being in a great mood. It’s all right if you don’t get in her way and at least I am small so I can run round and round and easily avoid her.
Otherwise, pretty good news this evening. For the first night since I came over a bit chilly a week or so ago, I have been allowed to go without having my rug on. Actually, I don’t mind too much at night as long as I can have it off during the day. We had a very warm and sunny day today and we are in great danger of losing muddy patches to roll in if it goes on like this. Mind, it is Dartmoor so really there is no need to worry, the weather can soon go back to a sort of grey drizzly (did I tell you that if you leave the a out of weather then you ….. oh, Alli told you? Right then, I won’t bother) cloud [you thought that was never coming].
This is getting a bit bitty isn’t it lads and lassies? Well, I canna help that, it’s been one of those days. Actually, it’s been pretty good because no-one told the flies that it was sunny.
Oh, I know what I have to tell you. Second hand really, it’s something HE told me this evening. It appears that HE has volunteered to produce a leaflet for the tourists to tell them how to walk from the Finch Foundry at Sticklepath to the Church House at South Tawton (did I tell you that if you leave the u out of South you get, well Soth?). Where was I? Oh yes, the leaflet. You see, HE wanted to say how long it would take to walk from one to the other and, being a very noble and genuine idiot, HE decided the only way that HE could do this was to walk it HIMSELF. It would have the advantage of giving Him the opportunity to take some photos to go into the leaflet as well. So, after fixing the electrical fault (tell you later), off HE drove to the foundry. Now, I told you it was a hot day, right? What HE discovered was that the first two minutes require you to walk along a dull boring road, then you turn into a lane called the Tarka Trail. This is nice, shady, narrow, stony and most importantly uphill for the next thirteen minutes. You do know that HE has asthma, don’t you?
HE met a nice lady who would have talked to HIM but HE was gasping for breath, so she just went on ahead. After the top of the hill is reached, it is all downhill for the next five minutes. Good? Well yes, it would be if HE wasn’t coming straight back again. That meant that it was five minutes uphill, if you see what I mean.
After 40 minutes of hard walking, 20 of which were uphill, HE was ready for his pub lunch and then his afternoon nap before HE had to walk Alli home.
Very quickly, the bedroom power point to which HIS bedroom radio alarm is connected didn’t work this morning, resulting in THEM getting up at six am instead of 6.30. HE went on a voyage of discovery finding that it was the same circuit as the stable and tack room, took down the lights in both and cleaned them before HE discovered it was a slug which had got into a junction box in the stable and had melted itself over the terminals. I think HE passed a happy two hours solving that one. Aren’t I glad I’m a pony, even with Mims!

he move in for Ali's feedSunday 23rd April 2006
They heard from Wick’s old mum Michelle today. And, do you know what? She had the cheek to call him a ‘Little Monster’. Well, when HE told Wick, you should have seen his face. Was he upset? No, he had trouble to keep from laughing. That’s one of the nicest things about Wick, he doesn’t take offence. I try to give him a nip now and again when he tries to eat my food. What does he do? He just runs out of the way and go round the other way. Sometimes Mims will put her back to him and threaten to give him a kick. All he does is keep about a couple of inches out of range and the look on his face is sheer bravado. He really is a brave and gutsy little pony and will probably outlive us all.
We (HIM and me) had a lovely walk up to Ninefields this morning. Really unhurried so I was able to do one or two gardening jobs as we went along. I don’t know why, it seems terribly unfair to me, but the grass on the hedgerows is growing much faster and more luxuriantly than the grass in our fields. And, as well as that, there is that lovely herby plant which grows there this time of the year. I don’t know what it is called but it makes your breath really sweet and tastes really succulent. Again I just don’t know why but we don’t have it in Ninefields so it is great to grab as much as you can, as we walk along.
We had a couple of sheep in the next field (Clarence’s) last night and they were still there this morning. They were laying down and one of them was very near the hedge. THEY were worried that the one near the hedge had got itself caught up as they often do. However, when Sue came past THEIR house riding Lily, she told them that the sheep were ‘wild ones’ off the moor and that they had been in Michael’s fields first .and they would probably be gone soon. And by this evening they were, so HE didn’t need to display his heroics and go to free it. I don’t know if you remember but last time HE did that, HE ended falling flat on his back. Best HE doesn’t have to do it again.
I am trying desperately to remember something else I was going to tell you. All I can remember was that it was about HIM again so maybe it doesn’t matter if I can’t remember. Having said that, I’ve just remembered. Do you know when his birthday is? Well, it’s no secret, it’s in January. Today, SHE was having a bit of a tidy up in the cupboard under the stairs when SHE came across three envelopes and a package. When HE came in SHE said that the grandchildren must have left HIS Xmas present in the cupboard when they went home after Xmas. HE opened the first envelope and said ‘It’s a Birthday Card’. The other two were as well and the package was a book for HIS birthday. So, HE has now had two birthdays this year, one in January and one now, three months later. If you think about it, it’s not such a bad idea, is it?

view of NinefieldsMonday 24th April 2006
Funny day today. HE has not done anything silly (that HE knows of). HE did tell me something pretty disturbing though. SHE has been not at all well, these last few days, with a very heavy cold that has badly affected her breathing. So, when HE noticed today when making our feed buckets (a job SHE usually does) that our feed was running out, HE told HER that HE would go to the feed store and get more. Included in HIS list was our sugar beet but SHE told HIM not to buy any more because the spring grass is in now. Yes, I know the grass is nice but we do like the nice sweet comfort of  good filling helping of sugar beet. Feeds will be a bit empty soon without it although SHE did say that the feeds will be topped up with chaff instead. Oh well, one shouldn’t be greedy, should one although I don’t fancy being around Wick when he finds out. I’m not telling him, that’s for sure!
Another lovely day today. Started out a bit misty but soon the sun came out and we all trooped up to the top field. Mims got round Wick and got him to tell us a story. She can do that, you know. One minute they are kicking and bucking as if they were each other’s worst enemy and the next she turns all girly and twists ‘Uncle Wick’ round her little chestnut. He seems to respond to all her blarney and rather likes to be cast in the role of uncle.
It was a nice story today. Not a silly one and not one of his fantasies. Just a sort of gentle looking back to the old days, when he was a foal up in the high parts of Dartmoor. As much as he is always stressing the hard times and the lack of food and so on, apparently there were also lots of good, heart warming times where the herd members were really kind to each other. You know, it’s very difficult to know with Wick when he is telling the truth and when he is making up stories because there is no-one now who knows his background well enough. Treg was the one who knew him best but I’m afraid he was a bit too gullible and would just accept what Wick said at face value.
Well, whatever, truth or not, it passed a very pleasant afternoon in the sunshine and I’m sure it will help to stop Mims from teasing him so much tonight as it is my turn to come home. And that’s about all really. There were a few kids messing about on bikes on the top of Ramsley Mine slag heaps but only having fun as kids do. As we neared home they all drove past us, probably like me, all going home for their supper.

Tuesday 25th April 2006
And then there were three!
Mims and I were up above the field shelter when the car drove up tonight. This gave us a good view of just HIM getting out of the car and carrying the buckets through the gate. Maybe we should have gathered then but we were too far away to see that there were three buckets, not two. By the time HE had crossed the stream, we were down and nearly outside the shelter so we did notice then that HE didn’t have a head collar with HIM. Mims on guardAt first we thought that maybe SHE was still in the car and making HER way down slowly, as SHE has not been very well lately and it has taken HER some time to get to the shelter. But no. HE just put down Wick’s bucket first, then mine and then Mims’ and walked outside of the shelter to watch us.
That’s it. We are both staying out tonight! Great, and it is such a lovely sunny evening as well. We settled in to eat our supper but both Mims and I were really to excited to really get on with it. Wick just put his head down and that was it as usual. Because there were three of us, we were a bit crowded in the shelter and I looked over my right shoulder to observe Wick. I may have leaned a bit too far that way and given the wrong impression because the next thing HE was shouting at me to leave Wick’s bucket alone. That annoyed me. In fact, it annoyed me a lot and I put my ears back, snaked my head round and gave Wick a good hard nip. The next thing, HE came up to me at speed and gave me a real hard slap on my side. It didn’t hurt really but it did upset me. Not for long though. I turned and saw that Mims had spilled quite a lot of her supper out of her bucket and had moved back from it a bit as her bucket had slid back.
If I couldn’t have Wick’s supper then I certainly could have my daughter’s. She put her nose up and I put mine down on to it and let her know that mum knows best. Then I tucked into her spilled pile. No smack for that! I noticed later that, when we had finished eating properly and Mims and Wick were outside mugging HIM for treats, Mims just couldn’t resist giving Wick a nip. Slap number two. HE really does stick up for that little squirt and I don’t know why because Wick himself doesn’t take a bit of notice. Well, I’ll rephrase that. He does take a bit, a very tiny bit of notice and then he just runs around the other way and carries on as if nothing has happened.
Really, it’s all a game and tonight, what with the sun and us all being together, we all enjoyed it to the full. You’ll probably see a photo of us (at least our backsides) all lined up in the field shelter eating. That is if they come out because HE was shooting against the sun and had to get right down on his knees to try and avoid the glare.
Right, that’s it as we are all going up to the top field to enjoy the evening and then watch the sunset in glorious colour. We’ve got it all to go through tomorrow as there will be here of us for breakfast, as well!

Ali and MimsWednesday 26th April 2006
Hi guys. Great night, great day. Funny really. I don’t suppose there’s a lot of you gals that would enjoy spending a night with your mother. But I did. It was really good. We had all night to roam under the stars, grazing here and there and just talking about things. Something about the dark seems to let you relax. I don’t know how long I’ve been here now but we talked about things last night that we’ve never said before since I’ve been here. I told mum how I felt having to be left on my own and how I blamed her for leaving me. She explained that she didn’t have any choice in the matter and how terrible she felt having to leave me. We both chatted about what happened to us after we were parted and the time seemed to whiz past. Before we knew it, it was morning and the sun was rising over Michael’s farm. Wick was very good and sensitive. He stayed close by but just out of earshot so we could talk without being overheard.
In fact, he was so good last night that I was happy to leave him some of my breakfast to tuck into after he had finished his. Mum’s funny about that. She will let him steal some while she is bullying HIM for treats but as soon as HE goes, she turns back to her leftovers and chases Wick away. She was funny tonight as well, not with Wick but with HIM. HE was in the middle between me and mum and we were both getting treats out of HIM faster than HE could put his hand into HIS pocket. This meant that HE pretty soon ran out and HE just raised HIS hands in the air to show that there was no more. Mum didn’t believe HIM and carried on pushing so HE put his hands gently round her muzzle and held her still. Suddenly, she got the absolute rats and pulled away with a look of thunder and went back to what she had spilled on the floor. HE didn’t care but just laughed at her and called her an old ‘grump bum’.
I think HE had already upset her by grooming her. She had spent most of the afternoon covering herself with nice thick brown mud which had dried up all flaky all over. While she was eating her supper, HE got out the brush and proceeded to loosen the mud flakes which put her in a bad humour. She drew herself away but HE wouldn’t let her get away with it and carried on until it was all loosened up. I can’t say it was brushed off because it wasn’t but at least HE will be able to get it off in the morning.
Anyway, it looks as if we are now staying out for the summer. I am looking forward to the summer because HE told me about a new sort of saddle thing SHE has bought which is supposed to be like bareback riding. It would be nice to be like all the other horses I see going past and be able to ride out, even if it is just for a quiet hack. It would make me feel real proud and not feel silly because I cant be like the others. Chestnuts crossed, as they say!

WickedThursday 27th April 2006
We were all a lot more relaxed this morning. You see, we had thought that being allowed to stay out all night was just a temporary thing while SHE was not well and so we had tensed up in case the head collar thing started up again. But, by this morning, it seemed obvious that it was the permanent arrangement for the summer. I even let him groom me this morning without getting bad tempered about it. In fact, we were all very happy and in a good mood, so much so that no-one gave Wick a nip this morning. I’m sure he missed it. Things were so relaxed that HE had time to go round all three of us with the grooming brush although to be honest, none of us were very dirty. Grubby, yes but dirty no. I waited till later in the day for that.
Actually it has been another really glorious day weatherwise. Looking over the gate that THEY have now left permanently closed, the grass in the Throwleigh Road field is really growing now. Mind, it is in the other fields as well, it’s just that the grass is greener etc. etc.. you know what I mean.
The trouble is that when the day is really good and we are really good and everyone is happy and contented, there is really nothing to write about. We had breakfast, then we went out to graze all day and then we came in for supper and then we went out to graze all night. Not really gripping stuff is it? I’ll see if I can get Wick or Mims to have a fight or an accident or something for tomorrow. Either that or we will be back to one of Wick’s pseudo Scottish stories.

 

 

Friday 28th April 2006
We’ve not seen anything of HER for a long while now. I understand from HIM that SHE is not at all well and has been staying in bed for several days. SHE did get up for a while yesterday and today but when HE asked if SHE was coming to see us tonight, SHE replied that SHE would not be able to walk up the field and back. We all feel sorry for HER but we are even more sorry for ourselves. HE has started getting delusions of grandeur now that HE is in sole charge. Take this morning for instance. I was happily eating my breakfast when along HE comes with the grooming brush and starts to brush my back.Sheep in the road Now, if there is one thing I hate, it’s being groomed while I am eating (I’m not really overjoyed with it at any time) so, I am afraid to say, I lost my temper and just stormed out of the shelter, leaving HIM standing there with the brush in HIS hand. Of course, as soon as I was out I could see that it was rather a silly thing to do because there was really nowhere to go and my breakfast was still in the shelter. So I just stood there giving HIM one of my very nasty looks. And, do you know what HE did? HE went into the hay room and got an old head collar. Then HE walked straight up to me, put it on and tried to lead me away. I say ‘tried’ because I was so shocked that for a moment my legs just wouldn’t move and HE was left tugging on the lead rein. After a few seconds, I could see no purpose in carrying on like that any longer so I followed HIM and was ties up to the ring on the side of the shelter. HE then went and got the grooming brush again and gave me a quite rough and very thorough brushing over. It didn’t hurt but the shame of being forcibly groomed like that in front of my daughter wasn’t very pleasant. I will admit that, as soon as HE had made HIS point, HE untied me and I was glad to go back to my breakfast. But then, this evening, HE made a point of getting the brush and starting on me first. I couldn’t see the sense of making a thing of it so I just let HIM but, you can see what I mean about HIM getting too big for his wellies, can’t you?
Mims and I got our own back on him later though. HE told HER that we work like a professional team when it comes to mugging. One either side, both with elastic necks and pushing nozzles, we can drain HIS pockets of carrots, biscuits and mints in next to no time. I can see the panic in HIS eyes as HE desperately glances to see if Wick is finished his bucket yet so that HE can escape and go home. You see, HE has to stay and act as ‘dinner lady’ to make sure that we don’t mug Wicky as well.
Tell you what, it’s really nice having Mims here. We really do make a great team!

 



Saturday 29th April 2006
“What are you doing down there, laddie?”
“Ouch! You don’t have to shout, you know.”
“Sorry, that was just my normal voice, but I suppose you are a bit of a wee thing now.”
“Well, it’s all relative. When I’m with the other beetles, they think I am really a pretty hefty lad.”
“Oh, so that’s what ye are. A beetle. I thought you were rather a short worm.”
“Silly, ever seen a worm this colour? Course I’m not a worm. And you, what kind of sheep are you? You haven’t got as much wool as the others. Must get pretty cold in the winter, don’t it?”
“I’ll have you know laddie that I’m a pony not a sheep. Whatever next?”
“Well, you look like a sheep. Same colour. Four legs. Face is a bit sillier but that could pass in the dark. A pony eh? And what do they do?”
“Ponies don’t have to justify their existence. Especially to a little scrap o nothing like you. I’m not sure I should have even bothered to talk to you now. You’re a pretty insulting creature are you not?”
mims“Please yourself. I was quite happy working here on my own, I didn’t ask you to come over and shout at me. And, you still didn’t answer my question. What do ponies do?”
“And you still didn’t answer my question. What are you doing there?”
“That about makes us even then. Goodbye. I wish I could say it’s been a pleasure but beetles never tell lies.”
“Going then are ye, you little bug. And where would you be going to, that other leaf over there. If you start right away it shouldn’t take you more than a day.”
“Can ponies fly?”
“Of course ponies don’t fly. Why would they want to?”
“Watch this sheep face. Brrrrrrrrrrzzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzrrrrrrrrrb. There, to that wall and back in two seconds. Could you do that?”
“Hey, that’s no bad little fellow. Where’d you learn to do that?”
“It’s just natural. You know, a beetle thing. You don’t have to learn it.”
“Well, I am impressed. Mind you, we can gallop pretty fast if we have to. Don’t do it much though. Only if we are being chased or if there’s food at the other end.”
“Yeah, I’ve noticed you sheep don’t seem to do much else but eat. Don’t it get boring?”
“How many more times. I’m a pony.”
“Well, I’ve watched you and all you do is eat, just like the sheep.”
“Oh no, we are much more discerning than the sheep. We only eat the best stuff. Silly old sheep’ll eat anything.”
“Well, I’m sorry but I can’t stand here all day chatting. I’ve got this hole to make. Then there’s the lid, then the eggs. Never enough time in the day as it is. Why don’t you go off and talk to the other sheep. Nice meeting you.” Brrrrrrzzzzzzzzzzzz.
“Funny fellow. Bit cracked I should think. Forgetful anyway. But then, see what I’m reduced to. Talking to bugs! Oh I do wish old Treg would come back.”



Wicked eating againSunday 30th April 2006
There is an old saying about ‘ne’er cast a clout till May is out’ which some folk say means don’t take off clothing until the month of May (or even the end of May) while others say it refers to waiting until the hawthorne (or mayflower) is in blossom. Whatever, it is the first of May tomorrow and the blackthorn’s white blossom is out (and very pretty too) but not the hawthorne just yet. So what? What am I talking about? Why, the weather, of course. Today has turned so cold that HE came along at supper time and put Wick’s rug back on. Just a precaution, HE says, as HE still hasn’t got over poor old Wick being so cold that time. And, I gather, the weather forecasters are talking about rain. Now, that would be good – rain. Our stream is getting so low that even a human can step over it at the ford rather than having to walk through it. Also, of course, the rain will make our grass grow faster. It’s doing OK but needs some rain to make it grow again when we have nibbled it down. We can all see the grass in the Throwleigh Road field that THEY have fenced off, with a really nice length of grass now.
That reminds me. Maxwell was out in his field again today. We haven’t seen him for quite a long while. I gather he has been away for some training. I was reminded because his field has been divided off into two parts by an electric fence. It reminds me when HE put one in our fields one year to try and save some grass for later but HE has given it up now because, with only two and a half horses (sorry Wick) on nearly seven acres, we usually have grass to spare and have to get Michaels sheep in to crop it down a bit or Wick might end up with laminitis. The only thing working in Wick’s favour is his deficiency in teeth. What works against him is his appetite. Quite often Mims and I will walk away leaving some of our bucket feed. Now that’s something that you will never see Wick do. He says it is due to his experiences as a foal on the moor when it was every pony for himself and pickings were poor. You have to develop ways of getting your fair share, he says. Well, I have to agree that Wick has learned that lesson very well.
My accident prone Mims has got herself another scrape on her side. Goodness know how she does it. I don’t get them and Wick doesn’t get them and we are both in the same fields that she is. But, to be honest, if you look at her sides, she is covered with scrapes and scratches right down to her hide. Luckily this new one has not broken her skin but I am sure that was just good luck. She’s not worried though. I think she sees it a some sort of Dartmoor equivalent of street cred. I think I may have said this fairly recently but the more I am with her the more I like her. I’m not at all sure that even Wick has a grudging admiration for her too. She is such a funny mixture of silliness and high intelligence. Oh, and another thing. I gather she inherits her funny shape from Hyperion who confused everyone who looked at his conformation by going like the wind. Maybe she will make a decent ride after all as long as she is still in one piece to do it.

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