Alezane's Diary Archive January 2005
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The day to day life of an ex-racehorse and her companions in Dartmoor UK and Mayenne France
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Saturday 1st January 2005 interesting clouds
It was an interesting start to the new year. I can say that without exaggeration. It started normal enough. HE came out to do late stables and told me that there would be some fireworks tonight but to take no notice. THEY were not going to stay up to see in the new year but were just going to bed at THEIR normal time. Anyway, I ate my supper and forgot all about it. Sure enough, there were some bangs around midnight but nothing very much or frightening so I just did my usual of turning my back on the door and carrying on eating my haylage and dozing. The next thing I know, it must have been about three in the morning, there was some sort of motor vehicle with a load of lights flashing came and pulled up outside our front gate. I kept my head in but watched it very carefully out of the corner of my eye. Then I noticed HIM outside talking to two men in very bright shiny coats who followed HIM into the house. A little later one of then came back to his motor (HE later told me it is called an ambulance) and got some sort of chair on wheels which he took into the house. By this time, I did have my head out of the door, watching intently the goings on. After a short while, when nothing happened but the lights on top of the ambulance kept rotating and flashing, SHE was half wheeled, half carried out, sitting in the chair, by the two men. They then rolled HER up the ramp into the ambulance and I lost sight of her. HE stood outside the back door of the motor for quite a while and then one of the men closed the door. HE came over to me and told me that SHE had come over all wheezy and was being taken to hospital. HE gave me some mint sweets and said that HE was going to follow the ambulance in HIS car but that HE would be back in time for my breakfast. As Wicky would say, at least HE had HIS priorities right. After a further longish wait, they all drove off and the road became dark and quiet again.

Just after five in the morning, HE drove up. HE came over for a brief chat and disappeared indoors. After that, things appeared to return to normal. HIS kitchen lights came on at the normal time of six thirty and HE came out and gave me a carrot and stroked my nose. After HE had HIS coffee, HE came out and cleared out my stable, gave me my breakfast and drove off to give the two old lads their breakfast as well. Twenty five minutes later, HE drove back, changed my rugs and walked me up to Ninefields. The only difference there was that HE had to walk back home again instead of getting a lift from HER in HER car.

THEY both turned up this evening, as usual and the weather had changed from bright and sunny to very windy with downpours of rain. The wind always makes me skittery so we had an interesting walk home too. I told you it was an interesting start to 2005!

Sunday 2nd January 2005Treg and Alli
”Excuse me, Tregony?”
”Er, yes Alli?”
”Would you mind just walking over there a little way?”
”Er, no Alli. About here? Is that alright?”
”Just a little further, Treg. Yes. That's it. Right. That's perfect.”
”Oh good, Alli. I'm glad you're pleased. Is that it?”
”No, not quite, Treg. Now would you start to turn to your left a little.”
”Er, that's this si … no this side … ER, which way again, Alli?”
”To your left, Treg. Towards the field shelter. Is that better? No, no don't walk towards the field shelter, just turn round in a circle starting off that way.”
”Oh, I see, Al. Just turn in a circle. Right! Er, when would you like me to do it, Alli?”
”Anytime you're ready, Treg. Any moment now might be alright.”
”Right. Ok. Gottit.”

“Well what, Alli?”
”Are you going to turn or not?”
”Oh yes. You said when I'm ready and I'm not ready yet. Won't be long though.”
”Is that in sane time or bay time?”
”Ah, I see, you're joking. Come on Al, you can't fool me. It's ‘night time or day time' not ‘sane time' aint it?”
”Treg. Let's start again, shall we?”
”But we've not finished this one yet, Alli. Let's do this circle one first, eh?”
”Just as you like, Treg. Right! Ready! Straighten up. Now! Start turning!”
”Towards the field shelter?”
”Towards the field shelter, as you say, Treg.”
”Well, really, it's as you say, Alli. I was just repeati …”
”TREG! Turn, now!”
”Round and round and roundy and roundy and … ‘s that OK Alli?”
”Perfect, Tregony. Now, stop. Now, start turning the other way.”
”Sort of unwinding, eh, Alli?”
”That's it, Treg. Unwinding.”
”Now? Oh right, now. Here we go … Unroundy, unroundy, and unroundy and there. Back again Alli. Was that good or was that good?”
”Really very good. I'm proud of you. Well done Treg!”
”Cor, thanks Alli. Just wait till I tell Wicky. He'll be so proud of me too.”
”Hey. Wait a minute, Treg.”
”Yes Alli?”
”Don't you want to know why you were going round and round?”
”Cause you told me to, Alli?”
”But why would I want you to go round and round, Treg?”
”Your first question was the easiest one, Al. Couldn't we just stop while I was winning?”
”Oh dear. I should have known, of course. Alright Treg, I'll tell you. They were your New Year's Revolutions! Get it?”
”Oh right. But why was I going round and round?”
”Treg, it's a joke. Don't you see? New Year's Revolutions! See?”
”Er, oh yes, Alli. Ha, ha, ha. Er HA, HA. That's very funny. Is it Alli? Oh, she's gone. Well I never, a joke eh? That'll be a good one to try on Wi … Oh, hello Wick. Ere Wick?”
”Yes laddie, come to wish me a felicitous Hogmanay, have ye Treg.”
”No Wick. I wouldn't do anything like that. We're mates aint we? No, I wanted to wish you a Happy New Year. And to tell you something.”
”To tell me something, eh, laddie. Is it important?”
”Oh yes, Wick. Now, just go and stand over there.”
”No, Treg. I won't. Why don't you stand over there instead?”
”Er, oh alright. Now Wicky, start turning towards the field shelter.”
”Oh, I see Treg. Bucket time already, is it?”
”No. No, you mustn't spoil it. Just go round and round like … er … like, like a spinning bucket. There.”
”Oh, I see Treg. It's a game. Right. Like this OK laddie?”
”Right, that's perfect. Now back again the other way. Right. Lovely Wick. You do learn fast, don't you?”
”Known for it, laddie. Now, tell me, what's the point of this game?”
”Ha, ha, Wick. It's your New Year Circles. Gettit? Well, smile Wick. It's a joke, don't you see. Alli thought it was very funny.”
”Must be some sort of French joke, I think Treg. I can't see what's funny about it.”
”Tell you a secret, Wick, neither did I. But I didn't want to hurt her feelings. You Know?”

Monday 3rd January 2005 having a drink
HE asked me today if I knew why, when you are typing in Word, you always need to put a blank space after a date otherwise the stupid machine appends the date backwards onto your last number. I just looked at HIM until HE had to turn away in shame. I mean, why keep a human and compute yourself? It's like that other silly question that keeps coming up when typ …. Excuse me a moment.

“Yes Alli?”
”Treg dear, you can stop going round and round now, the joke's over.”
”Oh. I was still looking for it Alli.”
”Now, run along, there's a good chap.”
Where was I? Oh yes. HE keeps trying to find a way to indicate I am talking about HIM or HER without HIM having to use another finger to type in capitals. Now, you would think HE wouldn't mind using three fingers occasionally, wouldn't you? I mean, typing is not rocket science, at least for those with fingers. I do hate being dependant on others but what can you do? I mean, it's not as if ….

“What, Treg?” Sorry about this. “What is it now, Tregony?”
”Ha. Ha, ha, ha. HA, HA, HA. Revolutions! That's it. Aint it Al? Everyone's revolting against having to go round in circles for the New Year. That's funny, aint it Alli?”
”Er, not quite, Tregony love.” Oh dear. I wish I hadn't started this now. I was only trying to give him a bit of fun, poor old lad. He was acting so serious after his Boxing Day triumph. He was worrying what to do for next year already.

“Tell you what, Treg. Go up the field and see if you can find any bunnies. Try it out on them and see if they find it amusing.”
”Right, Alli. Good idea. See you later, after you've told him about today's diary.”
There he goes. Dear old Treg. Simple but happy in his own way. I often feel the same about HIM, you know. I mean, the things HE chatters about when we are walking up and down the Throwleigh Road . And touchy! I've never known a human so keen to put his arms round you and fondle your nose. It's a good job I know HIM or I might suspect something, er … you know … but, thank goodness HE's not like that, at least, not with me. Just a touch of the human version of the Tregs, I suspect...

So! What can I tell you about today? There was the dangerous thing lurking up the hill, opposite my stable. But it's hard to put it into words. I didn't actually see it but just nearly. Every time I put my head in, I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye. I would shoot my head out of the stable door and stretch my head up high as high it will go but it would just elude me. But I could hear it alright. One morning I'm going to be too quick for it. Still, as long as I keep my wits about me, it won't be able to sneak up on me.
Oh, and Wicky gave the game away and showed THEM that he can eat large carrots. I don't know if you remember that when they cut up the carrots, apple and swede that THEY put into our buckets, THEY have to cut Wicky's ones into very tiny fine portions to stop him leaving them and going and stealing Treg's dinner instead. This, of course, takes THEM a not inconsiderable amount of extra time but as Wick is very dentally challenged, THEY didn't mind doing it. Well, SHE threw quite a large carrot to Tregony who was standing a way away from us but Wicky ran to it first and his greed led him to show THEM that he has no trouble at all in chomping his way through a large carrot. HE told me that they will continue to cut his veg up fine but THEY can't help feeling that Wick is putting one over on THEM. Really? Quell surprise!


Tuesday 4th January 2005 passing a car
OK, all back to work, holidays all over. Treg says he has to report back to the Human Watch force. He asked Wicky to join him but Wick said he is already looking for work. This was news to me, so I asked him what he was doing. He told me that he has put himself forward as a volunteer for any horse feed firm looking for testers. ‘Yes, I know it will be hard', he told me, ‘but someone has to do it'. I ventured to say that I rather doubted that and he just looked at me hard and gave me a long, slow wink. I'm not at all sure that Wicky is serious in his search for employment. And me? Well, I've already got a full time job – at least, full time while I'm at Ninefields. And if you think keeping two old veterans in order is not a full time job, I suggest you try it some time. Sometimes they are grumpy and irritable and are always squabbling, other times they get the devil in them and get up to all kinds of naughty tricks. And then there are the times when they are just plain lazy and won't do anything at all. I gather this morning Tregony decided to have another lay in. Fortunately I wasn't there but HE was. HE is getting clever about it now though. HE just walks up to Treg as usual and gives him his carrot treat and then just walks away and ignores him. After the usual amount of time anything takes to seep into Treg's brain (or thereabouts), he just decides that he must get up on his own. It really is the best way to deal with a cob. If it were Wicky … but then, it never is Wicky. I've never known him to sleep when it's anywhere near food time. He may catch a pony nap now and again in the field (when he is absolutely full) but he doesn't as much as shut one eye if there is a chance of filling his face.
It's been fun watching all the humans today, driving their cars along the Throwleigh Road , on their way back to work after such a long holiday. I say ‘it's been fun'. I mean for me. There weren't a lot of laughs or even smiles on their faces, just a sort of grim determination not to actually cry out loud. As usual, it was slightly better on their way home, after they had found that it was all much the same and felt as if they had never been away after the first hour. I suppose that for most humans, work is what they are. It is their life and so they have leaned to live in it. It is only the disruption of holidays that puts them out of sorts for a short while and then it's back to living again. It was a bit like that for me, when I was racing or for the old boys, when they were in the riding stables. We all moaned about having to ride or race but it was what we did and we would really have been lost without it. Things are different now that we have retired. We have had to learn a new way of living. I have my charges, Treg has his Human Watch (and his other artistic endeavours) and Wick? Well, Wick has the ever present promise of tomorrows bucket!


Wednesday 5th January 2005 Hossifer Treg
8 hunred hay em (in the morning) … er … (AB - after bucket)
I was proceeding in an upwards directshun, having concluded my duties to my heard by letting Wicky nibble my knees and Alli bite my neck, when orl of a sudden I herd this loud flapping noise. I looked up to hobserve this big grey bird flying eastwards along the course if the stream. I stopped to concentrate my powers of hobservation and watch the said bird come to an ungainly landing in Marsh Field.

After a moment to regain it's balance (not to menshun it's dignity) the bird proceded to stand very still in an effort to be hunobserved. It did not move one feather but looked like a statue of a bird. I remember remarking to myself that if it were common to find statues of big grey birds in fields then this big grey bird could have remained hanonymouse for quite along while before anyone saw it was there. This was probably it's intention, I surmised. In fact, it stood still like that for so long that I

Quite forgot why I was looking at it and then even forgot to look at it and started thinking about my supper bucket. When, orl of a sudden, it's beak shot out or at least shot down and then came back up with something in it.

Now, I am not silly and I realised, straight away that this bird might be poaching. I consulted my rule book under … er … P and I looked up to check on this fact. Now, hit appears that if the bird was taking things out of a river and that river had a sign that said ‘NO FISHING or else you will be in a lot of trouble” then it might be poaching, in which case it would be my duty to go and harrest it. I looked up out of my book and stared hard at the field but, hunfortunately, was unable to discern or note or even see any such notice. In fact, the harder I stared, it became hobvious that there was not even a river. ‘Oh fetlocks' I breathed to myself.


However, not put off by this slight set back, I looked and consulted my rule book again. If the bird was doing this in a field wot didn't even have a river in it but did have a big sign up wot said ‘NO POACHING or nicking things wot don't belong to you – or else you are in even worse trouble', if it had one of those then it would be my duty to go and catch it bang to rites as they say. I proceded to take my eyes off of the rule book and hobserve the field for signs of the aforesaid big sign. ‘Oh double fetlocks' I thought. No big sign. Now I was in a quandary – or is that a laundry?

What did the rulebook tell me to do? This is no time for pedanticness, I thought. Do what your instinct tells you to do, Hossifer Tregony. Well, I listened for my instinct to tell me something but I think it was waiting for me to tell it something, so, in the end I decided to hinvestigate the situashun personally by my big self. I started to walk in the direckshun of the aforementioned big grey bird. As I approached, I couldn't help just having a quick look in my rule book and found out that now was the time to say ‘Allo, allo, allo. Wot have we got here then'. The big grey bird looked up at me and said “Newt”. ‘Oh yes you have my sun', I said to him. ‘Just look at your beak. There's a long green thing dangling from it.' Wotever it was, in a trice, he swallowed the hevidence. Then he looked at me again and said “Good evening all” and flew away.

I couldn't help feeling hurt that he had stolen one of my best lines but, after consulting my rule book once more, I found that this was not an harrestable hoffence which was just as well as he had now vanished. And so, I proceded back to my hoffice behind the field shelter to make this entry in the log.


Defective Constable Bay , Tregony of the Human Watch


Thursday 6th January 2005
“Wicky, are you really serious about applying for that job?” Wicked
”You mean that one as a food tester, Alli? Why not, it seems good to me.”
”But you've not had a job before.”
”You think passing your nights in Treggy's company is not a job, lassie?”
”Well, not a job that you have had to apply for.”
”Aye, I agree there, girl. That job was sort of thrust upon me.”
”How do you think you will get on at interview?”
”Interview? What do you mean, interview?”
”Didn't you know, Wick? When you apply for a job, you are not the only one applying. So, to find out who would be most suitable, they ask you along for an interview. You know, ask you questions about yourself and that.”
”But that's silly, Alli. Obviously I am the best one. I'll just tell them that they don't need to waste their time. That should do it.”
”I'm afraid not, Wick. I mean, what if everyone told them that.”
”Well, they would be lying, wouldn't they? And I'm sure no one would want to lie at an interview. Would they?”
”No, I don't suppose it would occur to them, of course. Still, the potential employers wouldn't know that, would they? Let's face it, Wick. You are going to have to attend an interview, just like everyone else.”
”But I've never done it before, Alli. What shall I say? How shall I get them to see how good I'd be?”
”What you need, Wick, is some practice. Would you like me to give you a mock interview to get a bit of practice?”
”I won't have anyone mock me, lassie. Just because I haven't done it before …”
”No, it's not like that. A mock interview is a pretend one, that's all.”
”Oh, that doesnae sound so bad then, lassie. Alright. If you think it will help. What do I have to do?”
”OK Wicky. First you have to go and have a bath and tidy yourself up. You can't go to an interview like that.”
”Listen Alli. I'm applying for a job tasting food not as a beuty6 queen. We'll skip that bit. OK?”

“Alright, if you say so. Now, go out of the field shelter and then come back in again when I call you.”
”When you call me what, Alli?”
”Wicky. Don't mess about. This is serious. Go outside and say knock, knock.”
”Oh, I get it. And you say ‘who's there?' and I say ‘Wicky' and you say ‘Wicky who?' and I say ... er ... what do I say, lassie?”
”No, it's nothing like that, Wick. Listen. ‘Come in Mr Mudd. Take a seat. Let me introduce the panel. This is Miss Hayrack, I'm Alezane de Bayeaux and this is Mr Bucket. We're going to ask you a few questions to see how you'd fit in with our organisation. Would you first like to tell us something about yourself?'”

“I'm good at eating!”
”Er, Wick. You have to work up to it gradually. Start with something more general, you know, ‘I was born on Dartmoor with mainly Shetland pony ancestors and I was bought in the Exeter sales …..”
”What's all that to do with being a food taster? What if my sire was an Irish Draught horse?”
”Then I should think that they would be awfully sorry for your dam, Wick. Let's move on then. ‘Now, Mr Mudd. Tell us why you think that you would be good at this job?'”

“Ah, now you're getting to it, lassie. ‘Well, I eat every day. With a bit of luck all day and if I can keep awake, all night as well. When I was a foal on Dartmoor , I learned to eat all manner of rubbish that the tourists used to give us. I used to eat some things that they didn't give us as well, when they weren't looking. Then, when I went to the riding stable, there was always a little girl around who thought I was cute and they would slip me the odd snack now and again and again and again.”
”' That tells us a lot about your appetite, Mr Mudd, but what about your ability to discern between good and bad?”
”'Oh, that's easy. Eating's good and not eating's bad'.”

“'No, I mean between good and bad food'”
”'That's another easy one. There is no such thing as bad food.'”
”Yes Alli?”
”You really have no intention of going for this job, have you?”
”Well, you know how it is with New Year's Resolutions, Alli. Anyway, the grass is still good this year, isn't it, so why bother?”


Friday 7th January 2005
And what's been happening in my world, while the old boys have been adjusting to the New Year? Well, not a lot really. Mt stable has gone back to normal. No more over the hillXmas lights going on and off in the mornings and evenings. No more Xmas wreath over my stable door. In a way, I miss them but it is nice to get back to normal again. I've had a change of haylage over the last week but HE tells me that this was not intentional, it's just that the one I have has to be on special order and with all the disruption over Xmas and the New Year, even though THEY ordered it, it didn't come in so THEY had to buy some of the ordinary stuff. Strangely, this stuff which is rye grass and appears to be soaked in some sort of syrupy goo was the cause of my bout of colic earlier. Now, because it is not my normal food, it has become that much more attractive. So much so that now HE has got more of the special order timothy haylage and mixed it in, I ignored that and only finished the ordinary stuff. Well, it keeps THEM on their toes.

Weather-wise, we have been having some very strong winds and, with the tall trees on the hill above my stable, the winds sound even more fierce than they are. I think I have told you that I always get wound up when it's windy. Well, this morning the wind coincided with the day that HE had been told not to take HIS normal asthma puffer as HE had to go to the doctor's for tests. Now the wind drove me to almost run up the hill to Ninefields this morning whilst, at the same time, HE was out of breath even before HE started. I'm afraid that I nearly killed HIM. By the time we got to Ninefields, all HE could do was collapse in the car that SHE drove up to collect HIM in. HE was a little better by tonight and anyway it was downhill. HE asked me a question as we walked home. HE said ‘why is it that you always stop and want to look around on the way home when we are walking downhill but never when I am struggling to keep up with you, going up in the morning?' You know, that is a good question, that. I must remember to ask Tregony. I'm sure I don't know why. That's life, I expect!


Saturday 8th January 2005looking out on Ramsley Lane

I mentioned the strong wind yesterday, didn't I? Well, I'm afraid I have to report that it nearly killed me last night. After I got back from Ninefields yesterday, the wind just got stringer and noisier so that by the late evening the best I could do was to turn my back on it and try and shut my ears. Then, the next thing I next, a terrible wolf was swept into my stable and started racing round my stable floor, trying to seize my ankles. Step as I might to get out of it's way, it just followed me round and around. By the time THEY came to do late stables, I was exhausted and terrified. At last HE came in and found a piece of white plastic bag lying in the corner of the stable. I will admit that after HE had taken it out, the wolf seemed to have gone as well but, as one can't be too careful, I was not going to turn my face to the door to get my pieces of swede from HER. Instead, SHE had to come into the stable and even then I would only snatch them from her hand. She asked HIM to fix the top part onto my stable door but HE couldn't make it fit. HE found that HE had fixed some bits of wood onto the sides of the door to fix a fly screen earlier in the summer and these were getting in the way. HE went to get a screwdriver to remove them but, after that, the top door still wouldn't fit on so in the end HE had to give up and leave the top open.

At the time I was pleased HE did because I was getting more and more wound up with all the banging and crashing. However, later that night, when THEY had gone to bed, an even worse event occurred. I was nearly crushed by a falling tree! The wind co0ntinued unabated and I ventured to look out after THEY had gone. The tree standing at the corner of the house was swaying wildly and I was just lucky to get back inside before one very large gust toppled it. Crash, it went, right down by my door. I just moved right over into the far corner of my stable and thanked my lucky stars that I had survived.

In the morning, HE came out to give me my pre breakfast carrot and noticed the tree lying on its side. While HE was feeding me HE said how lucky it was that it didn't still have the Xmas lights on it when it fell and then HE walked over to it and stood it back up in its bucket before carrying it back to the other side of the garden where it normally lives. Well, OK, I didn't say it was very big, did I? But, a girl can't be too careful you know. HE reckons that when God made horses he put a great big dollop of fear into them, just to keep them safe. Well, it's worked up to now, hasn't it?



Sunday 9th January 2005 Treg lays down again

Tregony had another lay in this morning. He has a certain way of laying very, very flat that makes everyone who sees him sure that he has passed on to pastures new. Then you look up and he is sitting up, apparently taking in all that is happening around him. Now, whilst the first thought might be erroneous, in that he has not passed away just passed into a deep satisfying sleep, I am afraid the second thought is erroneous also. Far from surveying the prospects from a somnolent Treg, his body may be sitting up, his eyes may appear open but I am afraid the rest (what there is of it) is still completely shut down. Usually, when HE sees old Treg like this, HE just leaves him alone, at first, while HE goes and sees to Wicky's needs (and also does things that don't have to do with eating). Then, when that is finished, HE often walks over to Tregony and gives him the carrot that he normally gets at the waiting point near the stream. Now this is a good example of Treg operating on two quite different levels. When the carrot is offered, his head goes forward and his jaw opens, the carrot goes in and Treg's mouth shuts round it. However, his mind is still far away in those dark recesses that contain his dreams and, if you were to ask him some time later how the carrot tasted, he would be sure to reply ‘what carrot?'

There was a time when SHE would encourage Treg to get up by putting on his head collar and waving a reed about, pretending it was a stick. This often would have the effect, certainly, of putting Treg onto his four legs but really that didn't bring the rest of him back at all. Even now, when Treg gets up in his own time, a certain lack of co-ordination has been noticed. His bucket will be waiting for him in the field shelter but he will make a determined effort to get to the place that he normally waits at, before his bucket arrives. When he gets there, something deep, deep inside him tells him that no one else is there and he verges off towards the field shelter, only to be struck by another thought which swings him past it, just as he is nearly there. And in this way, I think they call it ‘tacking' at sea, he finally gets to join up with his bucket. It must be a very pleasant surprise for him to wake up and find himself eating. (Something Wicky has aimed for all his life). However, don't be fooled into thinking that Tregony is silly. It's just that he has a slower ‘mental' metabolism to the rest of us. On a good day, he can recognise a carrot, flying through the air, in the time it takes HER to put her arm down again. It's just that it takes all sorts, as they say!


Monday 10th January 2005 Wicky tied up

“Excuse me, Wicked old chap?”
”What? Who's that? Did you her that, Treg?”
”Did I hear what, Wicked?”
”That voice, calling me.”
”Of course I did.”
”Well, where is he? Who was it?”
”Oh, Wick. Don't be silly. It was me, of course.”
”You, laddie. But you don't talk like that. ‘Excuse me'. No, you say ‘Ere, Wick', that's what you say.”
”Not always, Wicky. You see, I don't have much say in it.”
”What do you mean? You're not telling me you're possessed. A multiple personality or something?”
”Maybe not in the sense you mean, Wick. But I am possessed in another sense, we all are.”
”Oh no, laddie. You leave me out of this. While I don't mind being your friend, best mate even, I don't want to be included in everything Treggy. That would be too much.”
”What I'm trying to say, Wick, is that the way that I speak has nothing to do with me. It's HIM. HE gives me a voice. HE gives us all voices. And there's not a lot we can do about it. Take you. One minute you are a Devon dialect Dartmoor pony and the next you're all haggis and laddie. Half the time I'm an ardent Cornish nationalist touting St Piran and Kernow and that, next I'm like the hammiest character out of East Enders crossed with Dixon of Dock Green.”
” Dixon who?”
”You're too young, laddie. There. Now I've caught the ‘laddie' bit. I'm telling you Wick. It's time we made some sort of stand and demanded our own natural voices.”
”Neigh-h-h-, heh, heh, heh. Brhhhhh!”
”Oh, come on Wick. I didn't mean our ‘horse' voices. No, we want HIM to give us our natural voices, translated to human speak.”
”And how are you going to bring pressure on HIM to do that? Go home with HIM and watch over HIS shoulder while HE types it?”
”There. And that's another thing. Why do HE and SHE get all the capital letters? Without us, HE wouldn't have anything to write. We are the important ones. We ought to make sure that he writes TREGONY and WICKED and he and she, not the other way round.”
”And who's going to make sure HE does? Do you realise it would mean having to read it all. Every word in Alli's Diary. How boring not to mention wasting good eating time. If you feel that strongly, you do it Treg. But don't try to get me involved. If it amuses HIM, what harm does it do? As long as HE turns up every morning and evening with my bucket, I really don't care.”
”Hmm. If you put it like that?”
”Yes, I do laddie.”
”Er …. Ere, Wick?”
”Aye, laddie?”
”D'ye see that haggis, back along?”
”Nah, me ol' mite. Ya got me bang to rites!”
”Ha, ha. Hahahahaha!”
”He, he, hehehehe!”
”Bonsoir, you two. What are you giggling at?”
”Ere, Wick. You tell her, eh?”

“Mais non, mon ami, après vous! TEE hee hee splutter!”

Tuesday 11th January 2005 long grass

I'm feeling vindicated now. All that business about me being ‘an old silly' because of the strength of the wind and the very lightly veiled sarcasm in that piece about the Christmas tree being blown over! HE was looking out of the upstairs window this morning and saw a really big tree, in the recreation ground just behind the house that had been blown down with its trunk split in half. Now, it's alright for them, fast asleep in their house behind two foot thick granite walls but I've only got a thin wooden stable between me and the elements. They wouldn't hear a thing whereas I could hear the tree's trunk first creaking and groaning, then splitting and finally come crashing down with no idea what it was because I can't see out onto the back garden. HIS only concern was that it was a pity it wasn't the bigger tree next to this one that keeps most of the light out of the back garden. ‘What an improvement it would be if that one came down' HE said wistfully. ‘And what a crash that would make when it came down through my stable roof', I thought. HIS trouble is that HE doesn't think things through.

HE was happy this afternoon however because the weather behaved better than the forecasters had predicted. As HE sat over HIS morning coffee, they said that there would be very strong, dangerous winds and pouring rain this afternoon, after a bright start in the morning. ‘I expect it will come just as I have to walk Alli home', HE moaned. But it didn't. For once the weather was kind to HIM and the gales and torrential rain came earlier, just after lunch and were all but over by tea time.

That was the only really interesting thing today (apart from the weather). We saw Clarence's cows, as we walked home, all standing huddled up right up by the hedge at the end of their field, many of them standing in the stream but making nothing of it, just as if they were standing on dry ground. (I use that last term figuratively as there is no such thing on Dartmoor , particularly at this time of year!)

Oh, and one last thing. HE told me, as we walked up to Ninefields this morning, that Tregony had another lie in. So soon after his last one is slightly worrying but maybe it is just the atrocious weather we have been having and the fact that it calmed down a bit in the morning. Maybe the old guy had been just waiting for a time to have a lay down when the weather improved. However, it was also not such good news that Treg had some problems getting up again. He made several attempts and just kept falling back and rolling over. In the end, HE took Treg's head collar over and decided that the straps on the front of Treg's rug were too tight and were hampering him getting a balance. So the combined effect of head collar, loosened straps and lots of ‘good boy' encouragements and Treg made it in one. HE told me, ‘I'll say this for him. Once he was up, there was no stopping him getting to his breakfast bucket!' Wicked was proud of him. HE has a theory, though. HE thinks that Wicky tells Treg to have a lay in because then Wick gets to have more treats while they are waiting for Treg to finish. Rather like the weather, it's an ill wind …!


Wednesday 12th January 2005

“Hey, Runny, what are you doing out at this time of day?”
”I could say the same about you, Flopsy. Not afraid of a bit of weather then?”
”I get so fed up, down that hole, day in day out. I'd rather be out in this rain than sat staring at the wall all the time.”
”True. I often come up here just to watch those three horses down there.” Flops
”I'm not sure that's not only marginally better that looking up and down my tunnel. They don't do an awful lot, do they?”
”Maybe not in our eyes, but I'm sure that they think it is important. You ought to watch them carefully for a while Flops. It's not all chewing grass you know.”
”Oh, I agree that they do take a step now and again when that square yard is nibbled down to nothing. But really, that's about all.”
”Now, that's where you are wrong, my girl. If you concentrate a bit and take in the overall picture, you'll be able to see the patterns in their movements. And a whole lot more as well.”
”Oh my, oh my. Don't excite me too much Runny. A pattern eh? I've seen more exciting sheep droppings. I know you have a hard home life, what with all those kids at home but really Runny! Watching horses eat, whatever next.”
”There's no need to be sarcastic, Flops. It's not just a waste of time, you know. I'm not just a spectator, this is serious. It's a scientific study for the bunny uni.”
”My, the bunny uni! Shouldn't that be in capitals? At least the opening letters?”
”Well, it's not actually the official B.U. More a sort of open uni, at least an open air uni.”
”I see. I was right the first time. You're just getting away from the family for a while. How many is it you've got now, Runny?”
”Er … Thirt …no er .. fourt … two hundred and seventy fou … six up to this morning.”
”Just as well you come out here for a while then. Mrs Brabbit will be grateful for the break, I imagine.”
”Anyway. Back to the horses. They really are interesting, all joking aside. I love to study their body movement, the way that big red one gets them to move with just an inclination of her head or the way the little grubby one manages to get in the front for everything. And I enjoy watching them roll. That big red one can only roll one way and then has to get up and lay down on the other side to make the mud even all over. But the old bay one. Now, he's real good at rolling. Standing up is harder for him but rolling. He's a wonder at it.”
”Have they got names, do you think, Runny?”
”Well, the humans have names for them but they are nothing like their real names. I can't tell you what they are though because they are silent names not spoken ones. Only another horse can know what they are.”
”Still you do alright, just by describing them don't you. Big Red, Little Grubby, Old Bay. I think they are nice names.”
”Not as nice as Flopsy, though, eh? That's a real good name because it's so descriptive. Sort of gives the impression that you can't sit up straight, doesn't it?”
”Get out, Runny. You know it's because of my ear. One's alright but the other will keep falling down, I don't know why.”
”And I expect you think I got my name because I'm some sort of an athlete?”
”Actually, I thought it referred to your nose.”
”Well, that's just where you're wrong. It's just a play on words. Just like we did when we were kids at school. And mine sort of stuck.”
”Ooh, look, look. Movement down there. Look, the Old Bay is chasing that human up the hill. What's that she's got in her hand?”
”You know. It's the one thing I envy those horses for. It's a carrot. They eat more carrots in a day than most of us see in a lifetime. I don't know why they didn't write that story about a horse going into Mr McGregor's garden. It would have been more realistic.”
”Hadn't you better be getting home now Runny? It must take you a while to read all those bedtime stories.”
”Don't remind me. I think I'll get them all together tonight and tell them all about the three horse giants eating all the carrots in the world. That should keep them quiet.”
”Tell you what, Runny. Have you ever thought of hibernating?”
”Couldn't do that, Flops. Life's too exciting!”


Thursday 13th January 2005Ere, Wick?
“Ere, Wick. Wot's them two old rabbits doing up there?”
”What's that Treg? Two old rabbits? I can't see anyone. Where d'you mean?”
”Up there, above the field shelter. I think I recognise one of them. It's Runny, aint it?”
”I'm sure I wouldn't know, Treg. You talk to so much low life I can't keep track of them.”
”Ere, Wick. I should be careful who I called low life if I was you. Eh, heh, heh?”
”Oh, very witty Tregony. That assertiveness course is doing wonders for you, isn't it?”
”Mustn't grumble, Wick. At least you get to meet some nice characters there.”
”Like who, then. Not old Phreaky Pheasant? Or Meeky the Mouse? Such very nice characters they are. Won't even raise their eyes when you talk to them, just mumble and scuff their feet in the grass.”
”No. I've not seen them since the New Year's Eve party when they were putting on the records and serving the drinks. No, I've made some new chums at the class. Very nice, not pushy at all.”
”But that's the whole point, isn't it Treg. The problem is, if you like them now at the start of the course, they will have changed by the end and they will be all aggressive and horrid. You should wait till the end of the course and choose your friends then.”
”But it will be too late then because we will all split up and go our separate ways.”
”Just as well then because, if the course is really any good, you will be different as well and none of them will like you.”
”Oh dear. I hadn't thought about that. You mean that if I learn to be assertive then I won't be likeable any more.”
”My only problem is with the phrase ‘any more'. Don't you think you are making a big assumption there?”
”I'm not sure I know how to make them, Wick. You can teach me if you like.”
”I don't think I'll bother, Treg. Life's too short. Why don't you just be content to stay the way you are?”
”Because you nick my dinner the way I am, Wick. And you nip my knees.”
”And you don't think a little thing like going on a course is going to change that, do you? You'd be better off going to fitness classes to learn how to run away quicker. That'd do you much more good in the long run. Oh me, I've just made a joke.”
”Ooh, have you Wick. Tell me, I like jokes.”
”Er, I think this one may have got away from you, Treg, when I ran it passed you!”
”I think I'm getting confused, Wick. Never mind. Tell me. What are we going to do today?”
”Now, that's a difficult one, laddie. I must think about that for a moment. Er … Oh, yes. I've got it. It's something beginning with G.”
”With G, eh? Now, let me think. Golf? Are we going to play golf?”
”Golf, you great big ninny. How could we hold a golf club for a start?”
”No, you answer the hard ones Wick, you're cleverer than me.”
”Right, think again then. G. What begins with G?”
”Goldilocks? You going to tell me stories?”
”Rubbish. Think again. What do we usually do. Every day?”
”Oh, I don't know that Wick. I'm usually too busy grazing to notice what you do.”
”Er, yes Wick? Oh no, not my knees. No, no, gerrof …..”


Friday 14th January 2005 sheep shelter?

It was a brilliantly sunshiny day. Not a cloud in the sky and the temperature had been in the high regions since before breakfast. We had all been out on a training ride first thing, had come back, rested and been fed. Now, I was being tacked up again, this time for a pleasant, solitary ride around the countryside. My rider was the wife of my ‘lad' who had come along to the stables as she had a day free from her normal work as a lawyer for a big firm in the nearby city. She was an experienced rider and we had both been out together before. I liked her as she was very light on my mouth and knew all the foot and body signals that I was used to. Once I was tacked up, she mounted and we started off, out of the yard and along the local lane, both of us enjoying the sunshine and the birdsong and the view of the rolling countryside.
We had been just walking quietly for about a quarter of an hour when she decided that I had warmed up sufficiently. We came to an open field and she guided me in and signalled me to break into a canter. We were both just getting a nice rhythm going when something in the far corner of the field caught my eye. Without breaking my stride, I used my body to indicate to her that something needed her attention. She got the message straight away and steered me towards the mystery sighting. As we got closer, I could see that it was human and it was lying down in a very awkward looking posture. We rode up to it and my rider dismounted. I stood back a little while she examined the situation. ‘It looks bad, Special', she said (that was my name back then – Always Special), ‘we better go back for a doctor as quick as we can.' And saying that, she quickly remounted and turned me back in the direction of the town. You have to remember that this was back in the 1980s, before everyone had mobile phones. If you needed a doctor you either went there or went to the nearest phone box and rang for one. As our town's doctor was as near as the phone box, that's where we headed. This time, it was no quiet amble along the country lanes. As soon as we hit the road we changed to a fast trot and covered the ground to the doctors in a very short time. When we got there, she dismounted, leaving me tied up outside in the small car park. She had been gone some time and I started to look around for something interesting going on while I waited. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a young lad come running into the area. He skidded to a stop and looked all around until his eyes rested upon me. Walking swiftly over, he took a flying leap up onto my back, leaned forward and undid my reins which were looped over some railings and gave me a good kick in the ribs to move on. I had no choice so I went where he rode me. We went fast, trotting most of the time and cantering when able. In no time at all, we were back where we had found that human lying on the ground. The boy leaped off my back and ran over to the figure which was now, sitting up and groaning.

Now, I am not a silly mare, regardless what HE says about me. I sized the situation up straight away. The lad had just jumped off my back and not stopped to tie me up. I knew that I didn't belong here and that there would be a nice big haynet waiting for me back at the stables. So0, I did what any self respecting horse would do. I left the humans to sort themselves out as best they could and I high tailed it back to the stables as fast as my legs would carry me.

As I turned in at the yard gate, I just slowed enough to notice that there was no one around and then I walked smartly over to my stable. Luckily the door was open, so I just walked straight in and started munching at my hay net.

“Cor, Alli, didn't you get into trouble?”
”Me? No, not me, Treg. Everyone thought how clever I was to find my way back home, all on my own. I tell you Treg. If you need a definition of gullible, you don't have to look much further than humans.”
”Strordinary, Alli. You learn something new every day. An' I thought they was some sort of big smelly bird!”


Saturday 15th January 2005Tregony

“Ere, Wick. What d'you think of Alli's story yesterday?”
”Load of brumby, if you ask me, old mate. Never had no ending or anything, did it?”
”No, that's what I thought. Do you think she made it up?”
”No, Treg. It was too much rubbish to anything but the truth. If you make something up, you make it at least interesting, don't you?”
”Er, well, no, Wick. I don't. At least that's what you and Alli tell me. ‘Load of gaskins' is what you usually say.”
”I didn't mean ‘you' exactly Treg. More ‘one', if you know what I mean. What I'm saying is that generally stories are much better than real life.”
”I would imagine that they are better than my life Wick. I mean, there's nothing wrong with it exactly but it's not what you'd call a haynet of laughs either.”
”Oh come on laddie, cheer up. It's probably just the weather and the time of year. All the excitement of Xmas and the New Year is over and now ….”
”What excitement was that, Wick? I don't remember being overloaded with prezzies or being dragged along to loads of parties with lots of flirty young fillies. No, the ‘festive season' somehow seems to have passed me by. And now it's over, what is there to look forward to? Flies! That's about the extent of it.”
”My goodness, Treg! I would say you have a mild case of depression there laddie. We'll have to do something about that you know. When's your birthday?”
”Now you really are trying to depress me, aren't you? You'll be asking me how old I am next.”
”Oh no I won't, Treg. What's that saying about horses in glass stables?”
”It's no use trying to change the subject, either. I have no idea about glass stables except that it sounds a perfectly silly idea to me. What happens when you want to have a bit of a kick about? And you can be seen by all kinds of predators, wolves, snakes, plastic bags, everything.”
”It was just a saying Treg. Cheered you up a bit though, didn't it?”
”Cheered me up? Rubbish! Irritated me, more like.”
”Well, old pal. Think back to your success with the panto. That was good, wasn't it?”
”It was a lot of hard work. That's what it was. And I didn't make a carrot out of it. Yeah, alright, it was nice when people said that they enjoyed it and it was nice to bask in the starlight for a while. But, when you come down to earth, you're still left with the dark rainy days and all the aches and pains, aren't you?”
”Think back, Treg. When you were younger, you didn't have all these aches and pains and lots of things were new and exciting. But what else? What came with it? A load of uncertainty, awkwardness and trying to measure up to expectations. Now you can please yourself. Well, and me and Alli, but apart that, you can do what you want. You don't have to prove a thing, nothing much can surprise you. Isn't that worth something?”
”Yeah, about half a bucket of short feed. And, when there's plenty of grass about you know what that's worth.”
”You know what, Treg. There's no pleasing you today. You're just a grumpy old man! And just because you didn't understand Alli's story.”
”I did. Bits of it!”
”Which bits?”
”Er, I think I'm feeling better now, Wick. Talking to you really is good for me. Don't you have some grass to see to or something?”
”Ere, Treg?”
”Yes, Wick?”

Sunday 16th January 2005 view from Treg's tree

On the subject of predation, I have to report some very disturbing incidents today. Now, imagine, it was a Sunday, a day of rest and relaxation, of prayer and meditation. And strangely, if you are a horse (or even a pony), a day of silent, enjoyable grazing. It would appear that, if you are a human, Sunday is not that kind of a day, particularly when the weather is at all kind. No, Sunday for humans (some of them, anyway) is a day for taking very small but very noisy motor bikes up onto the Ramsley mine waste tip hills and then seeing how fast and how loudly you can go up and down the bumps. Now, it's not my business what humans get up to, to enjoy themselves. I can even see what pleasure they might get from this kind of activity. But, that doesn't mean that it doesn't scare me or that I have to like it too. I expect I should blame the weather because the other thing that we found equally disturbing today was the sound of lots of human shouting and laughing coming from somewhere in the direction of the main road. I call it the main road to distinguish it from the Throwleigh Road which runs past our field. The humans call it the ‘old A30' because that is what it was until the big by-pass was built about 15 years ago. Before then it was the main road between Exeter in Devon and Cornwall and the west. It was long before my time but HE has told me that, during the summer tourist season, the road would be nose to tail full of cars. Anyway, I digress. To help you locate the sounds that disturbed us, I will tell you that this is the road that goes over Dry Bridge and Dry Bridge is so called because a road (the one I walk to and from home along) passes underneath it.

Anyway, the upshot of all this noise and disturbance today is that Treg, Wick and I decided to stay up in the high fields today to be sure of staying safe. Now you may think that silly but our nature is to run first and ask questions later (and if you can't do that, forget about the questions)! It could well be some people having a whale of a time but it could equally be a raiding party out to catch and eat horses – it has been known. It might well have just been the sound of a few motor cyclists having fun riding up and down the slopes but it could have been the sound of a gang of chain saw maniacs out to saw off our legs. It might be silly but we would look even sillier with no legs – better safe than sorry.

And the consequence of all this was that, when THEY brought our evening buckets along, we were still up in the middle field and THEY moaned at us for being late. Then, when I was waiting to go home, I just couldn't settle to put my head in the car boot (they call it trunk in the US , like the car is an elephant) and eat my treat carrots. Then I was jumpy all the way home and nearly landed on HIS toe once when I started at something HE couldn't see. I tell you something, I was glad to get home to the safety of my stable. Thank goodness Sunday is over for another week.


Monday 17th January 2005
Treg had another lay in this morning, But, the problem was,pink sky he chose to do it just outside of the field shelter where the ground is not very level. He just sat and apparently watched s HE walked up with the breakfast buckets. I say ‘ apparently ' because it is not all that easy to tell whether there is anyone in at all, just because Treg has his eyes open. While Wicky tucked in to his food, there were some more signs of life although HE tells me it is painful to watch the old boy trying to get a grip on reality when he is just waking up. He appeared to have an idea that he had to do something and then turned his head to watch Wicky eating. One could hear the gears grinding rustily as Treg tried to work out what it was that he had to do next. Finally it came to him that he should get up but as he was laying half way up a hill with his front legs much higher than his rear ones, all he succeeded in doing was to roll over and fall back again. When he had repeated this performance over a period of about a quarter of an hour, each time turning about 20 degrees clockwise as he rolled back, he finally found himself on the level and no one was more surprised than him when, at his next attempt, he found himself on his feet. The trouble was that by this time, Wick had finished his breakfast and so offered to help Treg with his and he had to be put on his head collar and lead into the Throwleigh Road field with the gate firmly shut behind him so Treg could have his late breakfast in peace.

Mud, mud, mud – I'm covered in mud, just like a real moorland equine should be. No one can accuse me of being a pampered thoroughbred now. I'm just one of the lads (albeit a female one!) This has come about as a result of two or three factors. First the weather which has, of late, been true Dartmoor . It doesn't so much rain as the world finds itself on the inside of a very wet cloud. Sometimes the wind blows the moisture so that it looks and feels like rain but for most of the time it's like walking about in a cold Turkish steam bath. This of course, over a period of many weeks, leaves the ground nice and soft and mushy, especially where it has been churned up by various sets of equine hooves. Now, when the ground is like this, a girl just cant resist in having a little roll or two and when you try to get up, you just cant help using the side of your face for leverage (ask Treg). And then, of course, when it doesn't work first time, you try levering yourself from the other side (ask Treg again) and this does rather have the effect of a facial that someone has forgotten to take off. The final factor is that SHE has been disinclined to brush it off in the mornings as SHE is still finding it an effort after HER last bout of illness and it doesn't really seem worthwhile to undergo all that pain just to see the mud reappear again that afternoon. So, until both SHE and the weather improve, I'm having a really good time. There has to be some compensation for growing up!


Tuesday 18th January 2005 let me whisper

An exciting day today. First there was the weather again. This time it was a real mixture. We set of from my stable to walk to Ninefields in nice warm sun. By the time we got to Dry Bridge , the skies were darkening and then, as we started off up the Throwleigh Road , we found ourselves in the middle of a snow blizzard. It didn't last long however and by the time we got to Ninefields it was sunny again.
OK, the weather is not that exciting. But this next bit was, at least for me. Just after eleven when we were just settling down for a nice steady graze, I heard that old familiar sound. The hounds and the hunt were about. I've told you before that I used to go with the hunt in my younger days and those sounds just bring it all back again. I may be a lady of maturity now but I could still chase across the fields with the best of them. Whatever you think of the ethics of the subject, you can't deny the exhilaration of galloping across fields and jumping hedges and ditches and just flying with the wind for the sheer exhilaration of it.
I suppose now is the time to talk about hunting as a good or bad thing, for many people are both passionately against it and equally many people are for it. It would be easy to just sit on the fence or ignore the question to avoid upsetting people you like and respect. HIS position used to be that HE was against it. Then HE moved to the slightly weaker position of not wanting to be involved HIMSELF but not wanting to stop others doing what they want. And that was where HE stood, really wishing the whole embarrassing subject would go away. HE really does like the social aspect and the continuance of countryside traditions but just doesn't understand why this can't be achieved by drag hunting instead of live animal hunting.
As we walked home this evening, HE made a further attempt to sort things out in his mind, using me as a sounding board. He decided that there was no getting away from the fact that hunting live animals is cruel. You can argue that they are murderers, that they kill lambs and chickens for fun or whatever. However, accepting all those arguments, it still doesn't detract from the cruelty of it. If murderers or terrorists or prisoners of war were treated like that, there would be an outcry.

However, breeding animals and then killing them to eat them is also cruel. Saying that they are ‘humanely' destroyed is no excuse and probably isn't very true anyway for the bulk of our slaughtered animals. It may be less cruel to put a bolt through an animals head than to chase it and tear it to pieces but the process of breeding, growing, fattening, taking to the abattoir, the waiting with the smell of fear and death all around, that's not so great as things go. It's not as if humans must eat meat to survive. They do it for pleasure. Just like the hunting crowd. Many people live quite well as vegetarians. Meat eaters like it and the price is the slaughter of animals. Maybe we should ban hunting when we ban animal farming?
By this time we were home. It is funny for an animal to listen to stuff like this. It must be very difficult sometimes being a human?


Wednesday 19th January 2005
“Ere, Wicky.” the stream overflows
”Here I am, Treg, you don't have to shout!”
”Yeah. Sorry about that, Wick. I couldn't see you. I should have looked down, of course.”
”Very amusing, laddie. Tell me, what can I do for you now? Lost your way to the field shelter, have you?”
”OK, I'm sorry, Wick. No, what I was going to say was that Alli was very serious yesterday, wasn't she?”
”Och, it's not her, Treg, it's HIM. HE goes like that sometimes. The best thing to do is what Alli does. She just nods a lot and agrees with HIM. In the end, HE just runs out of steam and then everything goes quiet for a few weeks or so.”
”Oh, right. That's what I'll do then if HE comes round trying to talk serious to me.”
”Unlikely, Treg, but yes. That's the best tactic. Tell me, what were you doing this morning down by the stream. You were looking a bit serious yourself?”
”This morning? Oh, yes. I was having a chat with the stream.”
”You were what, Treg? Chatting with the stream? That's a new one. I didn't know that streams could talk.”
”Oh yes. It's quite common in Cornwall to talk to them, to find out what's going on outside your own field.”

“Oh, right. It's a Kernow thing. That explains it. Anything can happen there. It's the home of Merlin and pixies and things, isn't it?”

“Well yes but this isn't magic. Just a technique of standing very quietly and listening. Anyone can do it with a bit of practice.”
”So, what did our particular stream have to say?”
”Well, I asked it where it had come from and it told me that it had started thousands of miles away, out in the Atlantic Ocean .”
”Where's that, out near Chagford?”
”Much further than that, Wick. It's even further than Moreton or Newton Abbott. Even on to Plymouth and then past the land and out into the great big sea.”
”So, it's a foreigner then. Not even a Devonian?”
”No, much further than that. Apparently it started as drops of water in the sea which rose up into the air and then all got together and made some clouds. Then the wind came along and blew the clouds along to the coast and up into the land and over high Dartmoor .”
”Wait a minute, Treg. Are you asking me to believe that this stream of ours was running in the sky no so long ago? Why couldn't we see it then?”
”I told you, Wick, because it changed its shape into a cloud. But then, when it got over Dartmoor , it changed back again and fell as mist and raindrops onto the moor.”
”If it came from the sea, why don't it taste salty then?”
”Oh, that's a good question. I must ask it next time we have a chat. Maybe it left all the salt behind in the sea when it became a cloud which is why the sea tastes so salty. I don't know. Anyway, when it falls on the moor, it soaks into the land and goes down until it comes to rock that it can't soak into. Then it's joined by lots of other water and it runs down the rock until it gets so big that it pops out of the ground as a spring. Then it runs down the hills into the valleys and finally it passes us here.”
”Where's it going in such a hurry?”
”I asked it that. It's going home, it said. Back to the sea again.”
”Sounds a bit like us, drifting up the hills to graze during the day and back down to the field shelter for bucket time.”
”Oh, yeah. I hadn't thought of that. Anyway, that's what I was doing, talking to the stream.”
”You know, Treg. Sometimes you amaze me. Your smarter than you let on, aren't you?”
”What me, Wick? Nah. Just simple old Hossifer Trog, that's me!”


Thursday 20th January 2005
Not one of my better days, that is, until this evening. The day started out with some electric carrots . Now I can't remember if I have ever explained what ‘electricround the seat carrots' are. Imagine if you were locked in a stable, all night, with the wind getting fresher and fresher until all manner of things, that you can't see, start jumping up and banging on the stable sides and then the wind gets extremely strong and you are surrounded by things flying about that you can see (plastic bags, tree branches, dustbin lids, etc.) and startled by unfamiliar, loud sounds. After a while, this works on the nerves of even a placid horse like me, and you start getting a bit edgy. Then, when you go to take a bite of hay from the hay rack and the wire twangs back after you pull some haylage out or, if you are offered a carrot and just as you take a bite, a wolf rushes past the street outside, well, then it really makes you jump. So, you get very wary about the next bite and tend to make a grab, in case you might have to make a run for it.

There is another factor which can bring about an attack of electric carrots and that's having sharp edges on ones teeth. Every time you go to take a bite of anything, the sharp bit catches inside your cheek and that makes you jump as well. And, if you are not thinking straight, after a night of strong winds for example, the cumulative effect is one of very electric carrots. (I told you it was not a very good day!).

The walk down to Ninefields was not my greatest moment either. First, HE started to snip things up while I was having my sugar from the kitchen table (you've seen the pictures). I like this part of my routine but having one's front end inside the kitchen while your back end is unprotected, outside the house, calls for a great deal of trust from a flight animal. What we don't enjoy is a strange sharp noise unexpectedly coming from behind us. I nearly fell in my haste to reverse out of that kitchen as fast as I could. And then, to cap it all, a bunch of suicide leaves hurled themselves at me while I was having my half way break. I tell you, I was greatly relieved to get to Ninefields and the company of my friends.

The day turned better then until, about midday , when we were peacefully grazing up the top field, THEY turned up with Phil the vet. I managed to herd old Treg up and get him down to the field shelter (Wick was no problem because he thought it was bucket time come early). The first thing that Phil did was to look Wicky over while he and SHE discussed something about Wicky having (or looking like) some cushions. I didn't really understand it until HE explained to me on the way home that they were talking about an illness called Cushings Disease. Apparently one of the results of having this is that HE will have to follow Wicky around with a bucket hoping he will do a wee. It takes all sorts! Next it was Treg's turn. He had to have his teeth rasped and I will admit it was pretty good about it for someone who hates vets. He did, however, lean his whole weight on HIM while it was being done. And then, surprise, surprise, it was my turn to have my teeth done. Well, I don't know what hurt more, having the rasp touching the sore bit on the inside of my mouth or watching HIM stuff treats down the throats of Treg and Wick while I couldn't have any because I had on the dentistry gag (which holds ones mouth open). All I could do was watch and suffer.

However, I do have to admit, eating my supper tonight was a pleasure without the sharp bit hurting. Now, if only they will turn off the wind …


Friday 21st January 2005leaves

For me, an ordinary day. I gather THEY had a more difficult time as THEY were involved with having one new cooker taken away to be replaced by another – don't ask, it is a long and sorry story. Humans bring it on themselves, they really do. I mean, who needs a cooker? What's wrong with grass (in season) and hay or haylage? Can you imagine what that would turn out like if you cooked it? No wonder they need plates. Anyway, what else can I tell you? Doesn't January go on and on? Very dreary, not even a hint to make you think that spring might be around the corner. I've been looking out for the primrose plants along the hedgerows as I walk up to Ninefields. I know it is far too early for the flowers although HE has some in his front garden but I suspect that they are not truly the ‘wild' variety – Primula Vulgaris. Now, aren't I posh? Actually I just heard HIM say it and I thought that I must remember to get that in the diary somewhere. Nothing like a French horse who can talk Latin, eh? There are some signs of the plants. I suspect that they are there most of the time, it is just that the grass and weeds grow over them until they get big enough to push through and be seen. There's really not much flower colour around at all at present. There's the gorse, of course; bright yellow straggling over the hilly places, a few small weeds and that's all.

What is interesting is the different tastes in the grass. HE is always pulling me to one side and saying ‘how about that grass, Al?' and when I go and smell it, it is terrible. Just because it looks bright and green doesn't mean that it is any good to eat. Often the most delicious stuff is quite poor and uninviting to the eye – to the human eye, that is. We don't rely on sight as much as on scent. We get a sort of first early warning that there might be something worth a nibble and so we move over it and have a scent. Then, if it seems to be what we need that day and that time, a small nibble will let us know if we should go in for a more serious graze.

Come to think of it, if you suffer from a lack of scenting apparatus, it probably is the best thing to go and cook everything, after all!

Saturday 22nd January 2005 Ninefields

“Rain, rain, rain, rain,

rain …..”
”Shut up Tregs, you've done that before, you know!”
”Rain, rain, rain, rain,

now I'm doing it again.
Rain, ….”
”Oh, alright, laddie. What's got into you now?”
”Nothing, really Wicks. I was just making up a little song to cheer me up while I was waiting for my supper.”
”And that cheered you up, eh? Well, what do you think it did to the rest of us?”
”Didn't you like it, Wick? I'm sure Alli did. I think I heard her humming along with me.”
”That was groans of pain, old man. Anyway, let's forget that now. What shall we do after supper?”
”Have some more supper?”
”I didn't say what would you like to do, I said what shall we do?”
”Rain, rain, ra …. Er, I don't know Wick. What shall we do?”
”It looks a bit too wet to stay out all night. How about we stay in the field shelter for a while and tell stories?”
”I thought you told me before that it was bad to tell stories. And lamb pies. You said I was always to tell you the truth.”
”Not tell stories that are not true. I meant tell … er.. narrate stories. You know, make up things to tell each other to pass the evening away.”
”But if I make them up they won't be true, will they Wick?”
”Tregony! You are being deliberately difficult. Now, who will go first, you or me?”
”That reminds me, Wick. When I was back in the riding school. We'd been out on a ride and it was a day like this, tipping it down. Well, as we cantered out of the forest, we came to a gate to the field and Sergeant and me was neck and neck in front of the others. I just had time to shout across to him ‘who goes first' and I thought he said ‘you' so I put on a spurt. At the same time, Sergeant also took the brake off and we found ourselves both shooting for the entrance at once. There was an almighty crash and I was thrown over onto my side and I just glanced Sergeant hurtling into the water filled ditch. Luckily both our riders were thrown clear, they got away with a few scratches and bruises. I managed to stagger up and, apart from a tear in my flank and a load of mud all over, I was just more shaken than hurt.”
”Gosh, Treg. What happened to Sergeant? Was he alright?”
”Dead! Stone dead, Wick. At least it saved the cost of a bullet, if he had been injured.”
”Tregony, how can you be so heartless? I thought she told me Sergeant was a mate of yours?”
”Yeah, he was, Wick. But there it is. Easy come, easy go.”
”Oh Tregony Bay . You really are horrid! I don't think I want to talk to you any more. What a nasty chap you are. And all this time …..”
”Rain, rain, rain, rain.

Wicky's taken in again!
Rain, rain, …”
”How horrid. How can you just sing abo …..? What? What did you say?”
”You said we was to make up stories, Wick, so I just made that up.”
”You mean Sergeant didn't die?”
”He couldn't Wick. There never was no Sergeant. I made him up too! And Wick?”
”Yes Treg?”
”Your turn!”

Sunday 23rd January 2005 windswept Wick

“The wind was whipping round the tor, as we made our way down to the lower slopes. I say we, that is the herd, with me following as best as I could behind. I had been born in the last of the winter snows and it was now mid April. I didn't know any other kind of weather but wind, rain and cold. Like most of us in the herd, we didn't mind the cold as we had heavy coats and warm bodies. But however thick your coat, it cant stop the rain and hail from stinging your face. We had been grazing on the lee side of the tor, taking what protection we could from the elements but the grazing had run out and our leader, Tavy, had decided we should move on in search of better pickings. I was doing quite well in keeping up when the ground was soft and grassy but I found it hard to move at their speed over the very rocky parts, having to weave round each large obstacle and try to keep my footing on the smaller ones. The lower we got, the more I gained in confidence, once or twice managing to get ahead of my mother and even show off a little. There were a couple of other foals in the herd, two fillies and a colt named Bignoz. I don't think his dam called him that but we foals certainly did. The two fillies were called Holly and Berry , probably due to a certain lack of imagination on the part of their mothers. Me, I wasn't called Wicky then. I wasn't called Flick either. My dam had decided I should have a name to grow into so she called me Mac-a-moir from the old Scots legends (I think she assumed that the ‘moir' was Scots for ‘moor'). Of course, the other foals just called me Mac but that was Ok as it was easy and not embarrassing.

So, as I ran down the hill, I caught a glimpse of Bignoz to my right and I decided to give him a race. I called out to him, something like ‘last one down's a donkey' and then we were off. As I said, it was no problem where the ground was free of granite but, of course, that is not so frequent on Dartmoor and soon we were both having to skip and jump our way out of trouble. I have to confess that I wasn't really looking where I was going, for the next thing I knew was a thud and blackness. I don't know how long I had been unconscious but when I woke up there was a whole crowd standing round, looking down at me. Most of the faces I recognised. Bignoz was there. So was my mother and a couple of aunties. My eye, however, was caught by Tavy who was standing in apparent deep conversation with an enormous red cow. She appeared to be standing rather lop sided and her flank was covered in mud and had some rather deep scratches as well. I started to become aware of my own body which was calling out to warn me all was not well. I went to talk to my mother and found I could not get the words out properly. I couldn't see it but Bignoz told me that my face was a mess and that I was bleeding badly from the mouth. He told me that I had run straight into the big red cow and we had both gone down. She was alright apart from a few bruises and the loss of her dignity but she was negotiating some extra grazing rights from Tavy as compensation for her trouble.

When we got to our new grazing ground and stopped by a stream, my mother got me to wash my mouth out and it was then that we noticed that I had lost a lot of teeth and that those remaining had become rather crooked. And that's it really. That's the story of how my mouth got into the state it's in today.”

“Oh, Wicky. What a rotten shame. So you've been like that since you were a little foal. Oh I am sorry. All because that old red cow got into your way.”
”Aye, laddie. It's bad. But then, not so bad as some things.”
”Well I think you're really brave, Wick, looking on the bright side like that.”
”Aye, Treg. You're right. It could have been really bad – if it had really happened! Oooh look, bucket time. That night went really quickly, didn't it?”

Monday 24th January 2005 primrose

We saw our first primrose today. It's funny after saying only the other day that we hadn't seen any yet. This one, admittedly a poor little thing, is in the bank of our wall on the Throwleigh Road , between our gate and the entrance to the bridle path. HE came up later this morning to take a photo of it and HE found quite a few other plants growing in the bank both sides of the gate, looking very healthy. This made us more aware of the possibility of other flowers and as we looked very carefully on the way home tonight, we found one more single primrose flower in the bank on the Ramsley Common side of the road. Now, when HE had been out taking some photos in the back garden yesterday, HE found some snowdrops out by the side of the pond. This made HIM remember the snowdrops we always see at out second stop up the hill, in a sort of lay-by, by the side of the old Ramsley mine workings. It's funny there because it looks as if some human has been planting bulbs there, maybe in memory of some favourite pet (there used to be a place in the forest where THEY used to live, where a friend had buried a pet dog and had planted nearly a hundred daffodils). This place, it's first the snowdrops and then daffodils. There is a large bunch of snowdrops on the other side of the road, as well. It is hard to know if they have been transplanted by the birds or if humans planted these as well. Whatever, it is a lovely sight in the dull winter days. So, having remembered them, HE made a special point of looking for them on the way home tonight, and sure enough, they were there! Now, why didn't we notice them this morning? The bunch on the other side of the road are still very slim white pencil like closed buds but the flowers on our stopping place side are already out. Probably it's because they are in among the undergrowth and are more protected from the elements which is also why we didn't notice them until we really looked for them.

We also saw my friend Amber, on the way home tonight. Well, alright, yes, I did say that through gritted teeth. I don't know why but somehow I just don't take to her very much. She has done nothing deliberately to upset me but it is just a load of little things. When we walk past her sometimes and HE makes his horse impressions, she will prick up her ears and answer HIM. Other times, she just looks up as if she pities me for having to walk along with HIM. Now, OK, so I feel the same sometimes, but I'm allowed to, he's my human. But, from her, it's an insult and I'm sure she knows it. Tonight she was standing on the side of the stream next to the road and when we came walking by, she rand up the hill and stuck her head over the fence to greet us. We rubbed faces in a sort of polite way and then HE gave her some mint sweets! Well, HE saw the look I gave HIM and very quickly gave me some too. But really, giving to her before giving to me! What kind of etiquette is that? And then, to crown it all, HE gave her half a carrot! Now, HE has taken recently to giving me an extra half a carrot when we get under Dry Bridge but whenever I ask him for the other half, HE always tells me that there is no more. Now, I always knew that where there is half a carrot there must be the other half. And now HE proved it by giving it to Amber. That was the last straw. I just pulled HIM away from there and I was tight lipped all the way home. Well, I meant to be but I had to open my mouth for my carrot half. But, I tell you, I don't like that mare!


Tuesday 25th January 2005
I thought I should give you an update on my Candlelight Vigil. We have just filled our first page – no big deal as HE and SHE provided two out of the eight Dartmoor hill poniescontributions. Still, it's a start. Maybe it will take off, maybe not. Whichever way, it's worth doing to raise people awareness of what goes on. Humans are very complex things. In all my dealings with them, I have found nearly all are rather nice and have a special soft spot for horses. I expect it is due to the very long association man and horse have had over the centuries. It is surprising to think that it is only about a hundred years since the horse was mans main means of carriage and transport and really only fifty odd years since the tradesman's horse was seen round our streets bringing our bread, milk, beer and other commodities to our doorsteps. Since that time our role has changed from one of commercial service to that of outdoor leisure and pleasure. Even those who do not own a horse or ride for pleasure still enjoy seeing us in the fields or riding around the streets. It seems to bring out some deep down good feelings, helping to reduce the stress of modern human existence.

But, unless those people are riders or horse owners, they pass on with a smile and forget all things equine. They are not aware of the other, less pleasant aspect of the horse world. Most people enjoy seeing ponies roaming free on our moorlands and forests. They enjoy reading or watching TV items about the ‘drift', the annual rounding up of the herds and the subsequent horse fairs or markets. But, unless you are a ‘horse lover', you tend to think that the animals at the markets are going to nice new homes where they will become the loved pet, for some little girl or boy to learn to ride on, living in a nice stable and field and spoiled like Wicky, Treg and I are. People either don't know or shut their eyes to the fact that most of these animals are bought by dealers who load them into trucks to be transported, often via the Republic of Ireland , to Europe to be slaughtered and eaten. To humans that should bring up memories of the slave trade or the Nazi concentration camps. If the people of Europe are used to eating horse flesh, that is their business I suppose. It is not possible to criticise this if you are an eater of beef, lamb, pork or chicken (although these animals cannot claim the close association to humans that horses can). But this is no reason why equines in other countries should be allowed to be transported, in trucks or trains, hundreds of miles to their deaths just to make money for the breeders, dealers and transporters. The breeders will argue that if they cannot sell their animals then they will cease to keep them and people will not be able to see them free ranging in the countryside. So what? Good! Murder should not be the price of a moment's pleasure. If people want to continue to see these free ranging creatures then let them be paid for by humans, not by the suffering of countless slaughtered horses.

I'm sorry if today's diary is too solemn but it does no harm to think about things once in a while, even if you disagree with me. On the lighter side, Treg decided to have a late breakfast today but when HE went up above the field shelter to where Treg was laying, HE could see why. There was the most glorious view of the red-orange striped sunrise from there. As usual, HE didn't have HIS camera!


Wednesday 26th January 2005 tree

“Wicky, Wicky, listen to this. I've had an idea!”
”That is good news, Treg. Not often that happens is it?”
”Er, no. No, Wick. You're supposed to say ‘Oh, Treg, what is it?'.”

“I'm not supposed to say anything, Tregony. I say what I like, not what I'm supposed to say.”

“Oh, come on Wick. This is serious. I've had a really good idea. Don't you want me to tell you about it?”
”Is that a serious or a rhetorical question?”
”I'm not sure if it's torrical, Wick. You're confusing me now. I'm going to forget my idea soon if you go on like that.”
”Only joking, Treg, laddie. Now, come on, spill it. What's this great idea?”
”Carrots, Wick!”
”Well, Treg. It really is a good idea but I think you'll find that it's already been thought of. In my case, many times a day.”
”No, not just carrots, Wick. Not just like that. I was thinking of starting a Carrotlite Vigil. There, what do you think of that!”
”The idea or the spelling, Treg?”
”What do you think of us starting a Carrotlite Vigil, Wick? It's a great idea, aint it?”
”Let's start with the ‘lite' bit first, Treg. Do you mean that it's not the full carrot, so to speak or are you trying to say the word that is the opposite of dark?”
”It's the word that means to make it easier to see, you know, like a torch and that.”
”Ah well then, Treg. I'm very pleased to tell you that we are talking about real bite size carrots and the spelling should be Carrotlight – l - i – g – h - t. OK Treg?”
”Right. Good. I want to start a Carrotlight Vigil then. Happy now?”
”Maybe, Treg. In a wee while, laddie. Now let's examine the ‘Vigil' part.”
”That's spelt right, Wick. I checked with Alli ‘cos I wasn't quite sure.”
”Now, there's nothing wrong with the spelling, Treg, I agree. What I want to know is what you think it means. I'm very happy with carrots, as you know, but why ‘Vigil'?”
”You know, Wick. Like in the cowboy stories. They have vigilantes don't they?”
”They do, Treg, they do. So you are proposing to have some carrots watch out for the bad guys, are you? Sort of protect Ninefields from rustlers and stuff.”
”Oh no, Wick. You know we don't get those snakes in Devon . They are in the American deserts. The nearest thing we have to them are those hosepipes Alli tells us about when she walks up to Dry Bridge .”
”I think you'll find they are rattlers, Treg, not rustlers. Now, come on man, I'm losing interest fast here. Do you really know what a Vigil is or not?”
”Er, …hmm, …well, I heard Alli talking about it and I thought it must be a good idea if she thinks so, so I decided to have one of my own.”
”One what, Treg?”
carrot vigil”Well, one like Alli's but with carrots. I mean, we all like carrots, don't we. We could get all the horses in the world to sign up. Everyone likes carrots. Even the bunnies would join us, wouldn't they?”
”Tregony, you're a lovable and kind hearted old fellow and I think it is a really well intentioned idea. But there is only room for one Vigil at a time, don't you think? How about we had a Carrot Festival instead? That way we needn't waste time signing things or being watchful – all we'd have to do is eat. I know I'd like that. How about it old lad?”
”Cor yes, Wick. What a smashing idea. Tell you what though. Don't let's tell Alli yet. She's worked so hard on her old Vigil, it would only make her jealous.”
”As you like, Treg. Whatever. Here, you got a carrot, lad?”

Thursday 27th January 2005 dartmoor hill pony

I'm starting to have second thoughts about Amber. I know I said I didn't really like her, the other day but now, I'm not so sure. She has started coming to her fence to greet us now. OK, I know it's the carrot treat she really comes for but she does always rub faces with me first. Today was an exceptional day as she came up to the fence in the morning, as I was going to Ninefields as well as in the evening when I was coming home. However, the thing that made me really pleased with her tonight was that, when she came to the fence and HE offered her a carrot she wouldn't take it until HE gave me one first. Now, that's what I call manners. I don't know if humans realise how important the so called ‘pecking order' is to us animals. And, it's not so much to do with pride as with security. If you know who ranks above who, it takes away all uncertainty and decisions can be made with the utmost swiftness which, for a prey animal, is essential to survival. Just imagine if we were faced with a tiger and spent our time saying ‘oh no dear, after you. I insist. Oh, really, well alright then, maybe just this once' and so on. There would be a lot less horses in the world, I'm sure. Anyway, I'm holding my opinion on Amber for now and we'll see how things work out.
Nearly at the end of the month again, it's amazing how time passes. It doesn't seem very long ago since we were all looking forward to (or dreading) Xmas. Now it will soon be Valentines Day. I overheard Treg the other day talking about this with Wicky and trying to decide who to send a card to. I don't think it has anything to do with fancying them, but more as a joke for a bit of fun. Treg may seem a daft old silly at times but he does have a good sense of humour. So does Wick, actually but in a much drier way. Often it's hard to know if Wick is serious or joking. What you need to do is watch his eyes.
Tonight, HE told me, as HE was carrying the old guy's buckets over the stream to the field shelter, HE was startled by what was most probably a fish. It was in the shallow water of the ford and as He stepped into it, whatever it was shot across HIS path into the deeper water on the other side. If it weren't for the speed, HE thought it could have been a frog, it was big enough. But HE used to do some fresh water fishing and was certain that it darted like a fish. The thing is, it really is only a little stream and HE has never seen a fish there before, in the whole of the last four or five years. How would it have got there? SHE said maybe the heron dropped it but that seems even less probable. Whatever, it's nice to have some water creature to add to the list of our Ninefields residents. Michael the farmer told HIM the other day that he had seen three deer larking about in the snow there on Xmas Day. I'm not surprised we didn't see them as we were larking about ourselves.
Anyway, if you didn't know it was nearly the end of the month, you could always tell because HE can be seen skulking around with HIS camera again. Really, there's only so many shots of Treg laying down that anyone might want to see!


Friday 28th January 2005 reedsand light
How would you feel if your best friend suddenly stabbed you in the back? That, I'm afraid, if how all of us, but particularly Treggy, feel today! HE had brought my breakfast in and was just about to take the old boys theirs when SHE got this good idea. According to the chart SHE keeps indoors, today was the day for our Bot wormers (if you don't know what that is, it is a medicine to kill the larvae of the Bot fly which get into our systems by either biting at the irritations caused when they lay eggs on our coats or from eating the grass that they have contaminated). Anyway, after that bit of medical instruction, normally the administration of this medicine is by a syringe of paste into the mouth. Wicky dislikes it, I hate it and Treggy goes absolutely cob sulky about it (and cries!). SHE thought it might be a good idea to do what THEY can do with some of the other wormer medication, and that is to mix it in with our food. SHE got Wick and Treg's buckets and mixed the paste up in it and sent HIM off, as usual. Then SHE dashed out to me to catch me before I had emptied my bucket and mixed the paste up in what was left. I took one taste and then decided that I would not eat another bite of anything all day. I was just going into a prolonged huff, leaving all that rubbishy food where it belonged, on the floor, when I heard the sound of HIS car returning. Normally HE is away a good half hour and returns with the two buckets empty and washed out in the stream. Today HE came back in ten minutes with a much different story. HE had gone up to the field and met the old guys as normal by the stream, given them both a little treat and carried up to the field shelter. He did as usual, put Wicky's bucket down first and then left him to scoff his way through it while he turned and put Treg's bucket down. Then, HE normally gets some corn to feed the birds with but HE heard a noise behind his back and turned to find Wicky had left his bucket and charged over to see if Treg ‘s was any better. He pushed Treg out of the way after the old lad had only just got one mouthful. However, Wick found that Tregony's bucket tasted no better than his. HE shouted at Wick and made him go back to his own bucket and then took Treg's bucket to him where he stood half way down to the stream. Treg took one more smell of it and he was off, over the stream and into the Throwleigh Road field, as far away from the bucket as he could get. HE had to leave Wicky, eating his breakfast but under protest and take Treg's bucket home with HIM.

We walked up the road as normal and I held out not eating anything, no mints, no carrots until at least halfway up to Dry Bridge when HE managed to tempt me with an apple biscuit. I ate one, then two and then had a snatch of carrot. I got through my carrot stops OK and then ate grass from the banks all the way to Ninefields to get rid of the horrid taste of the wormer. When we got there, Treggy had forgiven HER (but not forgotten HIM) and took a few sugar cubes. He then followed HIM up to the field shelter where he got a couple of handfuls of the bird's corn for his breakfast.

Back to normal this evening, thank goodness, but it is yet another reason why we never completely put all our trust in humans.


Saturday 29th January 2005 Treg rests his old bones

If I was a character in the ‘East Enders' soap, I would have to say of Tregony that ‘he does my head in'! And this morning was the worst moment I have had for a very long while. To begin at the beginning. All was normal at first. HE went off with the buckets and I stayed and ate my breakfast, a normal one this time, with no medication or anything to spoil it. HE came back at the normal time and HE leaned over the stable door and told HER, while SHE was giving me a bit of a groom, that Treg had decided not to come down for breakfast today and, as Treg was high up in the middle field, under the second big tree, HE had just left him to wake up and had brought his breakfast home again so that SHE could take it up when She drove up there. Again nothing very odd about that. Treg often decides to have a lay down just when it's time for something to happen. We think it's part of being a cob.

So, we set off to walk up the hill to Ninefields and, halfway there, we were passed by what HE calls ‘your mum's little green mote mote'. He means her car, of course, but I humour him. We carried on walking but when we got to within sight of the gate, I could see that something was up. Both the car door and the rear were wide open and instead of seeing HER standing with Wick and Treg, giving them treats, SHE was nowhere to be seen. HE led me in and took my head collar off and, as we both looked up, we could see everyone up by the top tree. As HE neared the field shelter, she called to HIM to bring some hay as, SHE said, Treg couldn't get up. I waited while he went into the shelter and untied a hay net and then I ran in front of HIM up the hill and into the middle field,

As soon as I got into the field, I could see that something was terribly wrong. Treg was lying flat on his side and SHE and Wicky were standing round him looking very worried. I just flipped. That's it, it thought, he's gone. My dear old friend and companion Tregony has finally dropped dead. I started snorting and ran in a circular route towards them, watching Treg's lifeless form as I ran. I got round to the left of the group and then, still snorting ran straight up to them. Treg still lay there motionless and I ran back to where HE was coming up the hill with the haynet. HE told me not to worry and carried on towards Treg. Then, Treg moved. He sat up and looked around him with such a sad look in his eye you could have cried. HE reached down and gave Treg a stroke and SHE said to put the hay all round Treg's feet. The3n HE undid Treg's coat and took it off so that the straps wouldn't constrain him if he tried to get up again. Finally, after a great deal of trouble and several failed attempts, Treg did manage to stagger to his feet and totter off down the hill a little way. HE went back to get Treg's bucket and Wick and I had treats to keep out of the way. But I never again want to see poor old Treg's look of bewilderment and exhaustion as he tried and failed to get up.

Maybe one good thing came of it as SHE put as all under the weigh tape today and as Treg had lost some weight, we all got a supplement of sugar beet in out buckets tonight!


Sunday January 30th 2005Treg gets up
“Look, I'd only just shut my eyes, when HE turned up. I wasn't trying to be funny, really!”
”Don't give me that, Tregony. You'd been laying down for a good fifteen minutes when I left you.”
”Yeah, but I'd only just shut my eyes. The rest of the time I was looking around, wondering what the day would be like today.”
”This is the second morning in a row, Treg. Yesterday you gave THEM a real bad fright. They were sure you were dead. And now you have to go and do it all over again, this morning.”
”I was just tired, Wick, honest. We had been up all night, hadn't we?”
”But so had I. I didn't decide to go to sleep just when breakfast bucket5s were coming, did I?”
”Well maybe you don't get as tired as I do, Wick. Or maybe your appetite keeps you up on your toes. I tell you, all I was doing, both today and yesterday, was having a little rest.”
”And, when HE came up to you and gave you a carrot and a cuddle? Why didn't you get up then?”
”Look, if you can lie down and still be given treats, what's the point in getting up. Surely you Wick, of all people, can see the sense in that?”
”We're not talking about me. I'm not the one who's making THEM so worried, you are! Anyway, you could tell HE really wanted you to get up when HE put your head collar on and started pulling on the lead rein. And what did you think HE meant when HE kept shouting at you to get up? Did you think HE meant just sit there and stare at HIM all stupidly?”
”I did not stare at HIM stupidly. I stared at HIM pleadingly. I was trying to tell HIM that I just wanted a few more minutes in bed. That was all. I'm sure HE's done it HIMSELF sometimes.”
”And then, when HE went and picked up that reed and pretended that it was a big stick and threatened to hit you with it? What were you thinking then?”
”Look Wick. I'm a cob, you know that. I can't be different from my nature. To be honest I was thinking that if HE thinks I will get up because HE shouts at me and threatens me with a stick then he will wait until Devon dries out.”
”Ah, so now we are getting to the heart of the matter, aren't we Treg. You were just being a stubborn old cob, all the time?”
”Was I being stubborn when I took several mouthfuls of my breakfast when HE offered it to me? Was I being stubborn when I let HIM take my coat off and give me a big hug? And – was I being stubborn when I got up after having to make several attempts and falling back over again? No ….”
”No …. You were being greedy. When you did get up, you ate all that bucketful all on your own and didn't let me have any.”
”No, I was lucky that HE put you on my head collar and tied you up to the fence, wasn't I?”
”You know, Treg. Sometimes I wonder why I treat you as my best friend?”
”Come on, Wick, admit it. You were a bit worried about me too, weren't you?”
”Treg, laddie, you know I was .. er .. am!”


Monday 31st January 2005 pony at Belstone

The month has ended on a good note. Well, two good notes, actually. The morning's breakfast was very satisfying. As Tregony said to me yesterday – ‘Strodinary, Alli. I just had to have two sit down strikes and see what an improvement we get in our food. It's only a few days ago when THEY tried to give us that disgusting wormer stuff in our buckets. And now see what we're getting!' And he's right. We now are getting sugar beet in our feed which is not only sweet but also filling. So with a nice full belly I started off to take HIM up to Ninefields this morning. I did get a bit bored when HE stopped after only a few yards to talk to a neighbour about getting my front yard re-laid but as it is in my interest, I waited with patience until HE started off again. Then, as we got to Dry Bridge , HE stopped again. This time it was to talk to Roy (If you remember, Harry's old dad). I started to try to find some more patience from somewhere when I overheard what they were talking about. Apparently SHE had seen Roy riding on a strange grey horse yesterday. I don't mean that there was anything wrong or strange with the horse, just that SHE had not seen it round here before.
Roy said that they had the horse on a two week trial so he didn't have a name yet (although his ‘official' name was silver prince). Apparently his is a six year old gelding pedigree Irish Draught horse who came from a stud in the north of Devon . As HE was hearing some more details, SHE drove up so we started to move off. As we did, I heard that THEY were invited to go along and meet ‘Silver' (I'll call him) on their way back from Ninefields.

As soon as I got up to the field, I told the old guys the news. Wicky said he would reserve judgment but Treg got quite excited at the prospect of having a new neighbour. ‘When will we see him, Alli?', he wanted to know and I had to tell him we would have to wait and see. Well, Treg got his wish sooner that expected. This afternoon, along came Roy riding on this very handsome, tall grey lad. Not only did he ride along but the next moment, Roy was letting him loose in the field next to ours, on the other side of the bridle path. What a great afternoon we had, running up and down in our respective fields. You should have seen the look on Silver's face when THEY came along this evening with the feed buckets. And things got even better because when SHE took me out of the field, SHE took me round to the bridle path so we could rub faces. After a little while, I gave him a playful snap and made him jump. After all, his is still a baby, really. I might be accused of cradle snatching. I expect we will have many more fun afternoons in the future unless the vet finds something terribly wrong. You see, I couldn't help noticing that, although he is on two weeks probation, he was wearing a brand new rug that Faith had got from the shops this morning!

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