Tag Archives: Alice

Home again

We came home first. The house felt welcoming, the grass incredibly lush and the weeds even more so. Alice was next, miaowing indignantly at us, and tucking into her feed as if she had eaten nothing for the last three weeks. Last night, Ben and Rosie: I drove the trailer to Sandra’s. All four horses were in a field together and Ben and Cassie headed to the gate, possibly expecting a bucket of feed. Ben came up to me, sniffed my arm and then paid attention to Cassie crowding in behind him: ears back, step by slow step backwards to send her further away. Minnie and Rosie stayed back.

We caught Ben and Cassie, Ben was very happy to be caught, dealt with mud and tacked them up for a ride. I have a new saddle, which I will post about tomorrow. We did a circuit with good hills in the gathering dusk. The evenings are shorter now. We have come home to strong winds, a chill in the air and the virginia creeper turning red. Ben looks darker, his winter coat starting to come. He looks terrific, coat shining despite the mud, fitter on the hills than I expected despite a rather large belly, even for Ben.

It has been great to read Sandra’s blog, allowing a glimpse of Ben and Rosie’s holiday. Sandra said that Cassie and Minnie love to canter and gallop round the field and so Ben did too, anxious to keep up with them as indeed he was yesterday evening, making sure to keep pace with Cassie whilst trotting up the hills, despite her long legs and lovely long stride.

Then Rosie; coming to catch her in the growing dark, I had a moment of memory of how hard she was to catch when she first came to us. We could just make her out. In the dark, she moved to where her bucket of feed would usually be. When there was no bucket she moved away. “Rosie”. She stopped, turned, I moved towards her, she moved towards me. She is the most beautiful, wise, self-contained presence and I felt honoured that she wanted to come.

Loading was no problem, except that Ben thought he should get into Rosie’s half of the trailer with her. I must admit, I felt a pang taking them from their new herd of Cassie and Minnie. Home, they trotted a circuit of the track before settling down to graze the grass that has grown at the edges. That is all they will be getting for now. We all need a diet after our holidays.

Grass on our track:

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Grass in the paddock:

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Home again this morning, Ben:

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Rosie:

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and Alice.

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A lie in

How is it possible for one cob-sized neigh to sound so indignant?

My husband is away, my youngest daughter decided she needed tlc in the small hours and I slept in. Result: one very indignant cat, one very indignant cob with Rosie, usually the vocal one, silent.

I put my head out the back door, and Ben utters. Not his usual deep-throated happy, anticipating breakfast, chuckle. No this sound started deep, went way up high and came down again. In human terms: where the hell have you been, do you not realise it is 10 in the morning and I have only got pickings of grass which is not enough? I go back in to find my wellies. Alice dashes in front of me, loud miaows, rivalling Ben on the indignation scale, don’t you dare go out to them without filling my bowl first. (Older daughter, who is in charge of Alice, is stuck to her bed in true almost-a-teenager style. She will later emerge reluctantly and then panic about being late for her riding lesson.)

I know, I am anthropomorphizing here. But I think I my translations of animal-speak would be fairly accurate this morning. (Billie, has a nice post, with a good discussion in comments, about anthropomorphizing here.)

I have to ask myself, was my lie-in worth it? I think I will get up early tomorrow morning.

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Morning

Morning; after a restless night, I go out as the others sleep. It is hard to wake up and I feel I am dragging a tired body across the courtyard to the paddock in response to Rosie’s usual loud neigh. There is a chill in the air this morning, and a threat of rain on the wind. I fill feed buckets and Ben gets his in his usual spot outside the shed and as usual knocks it over in his eagerness. Rosie heads into the stable where she always has hers. She is the slower eater and I usually shut her in as I reach for wheelbarrow and skip.

This morning, I wait, watching them, watched in turn by Alice and I breathe in the mist, the promise of rain and the wind and it is all worth while, these chores, these early mornings. It is my own private meditation and I come back to the house refreshed, awake and ready for the day.

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Weeds

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The farmers tell us that grass growth is about seven weeks behind what is normal for this time of year and it is because of the lack of grass that we are seeing so many dandelions. I may dread the price of hay this year but I can take advantage of the dandelions. Today was hot and sunny and the garden was calling for some overdue attention. In my weeding I kept the dandelions to one side and added about one plant to each bucket of feed this evening:

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Yes, they liked them:

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Alice keeps me company whenever I am out of doors:

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Paddock paradise

If not quite paradise – certainly the track system provided the two ponies with 24 hour turnout and movement during a month of floods followed by 5 weeks of frozen ground. All of my friends’ horses were stuck indoors with no exercise during this freeze. My two were out all the time. Thanks to the tree shading part of the yard by the stable, and the rough surface of crusher dust on the yard, the stable area stayed safe. One day I shut them into this yard as the ice in the ruts across the front of the track looked so severe. But otherwise each morning I hung haynets under the trees at the far end of the front section of the track. This is the section that poached badly during the wet weather and that I will, when I can afford it, have scraped back to the underlying rock. Both ponies picked their way carefully along this section of the track. They did not attempt to negotiate the exposed steep slope which was icy and mainly stuck to their careful journey across the front track and back.

When the thaw finally came both let off steam and had a few gallops round the entire track. It was fascinating to see how well they were able to take care of themselves.

What was not paradise was the frozen water: it comes from a hose in the courtyard at the back of the house which is connected by a pipe to the stableyard tap. Both hose and pipe are above the ground so I spent a lot of time ferrying water up to the yard. A project for another time: burying the hose and pipe.

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This is Alice. She follows me around as I skip out the track and, despite her best efforts, manages not to catch the tiny mice that shelter in the shed beside the stable.

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