If you have read my Nice to Meet You post, you will have met my family members of the animal kind. I haven’t really delved into their stories and last night there was an incident with the ponies which made me gush with pride over Daphne.
A few days ago, the ponies escaped their big field and went galloping with some neighbouring throughbreds (obviously mine stuck out like a sore thumb!). My landlord kindly caught them and put them in my garden but neglected to tell me. So when I arrived home and got ready for bed and left the dogs outside I saw the silhouette of Foal. This of course meant, if I wanted to protect my hard work sowing all the vegetables they had destroyed some weeks before, I had to head out and fence off the cold frame and my very nearly flowering rock bed, all in my pjs in the dark!
Anyway, for those couple of days they behaved, mostly. My salvaged sink is in three pieces as Daphne thought she was Greek for a few minutes and smashed it and my hen house may now need to be salvaged after chunks having been taken out of it and they toppled it over!
Last night, all that good-ish behaviour came to an end! I was in the kitchen making chocolate cake in a mug, as you do and I heard a crash, various thuds and hoof beats. As I looked out the window I spotted the foal galloping, completely wrapped up in white tape (the electric fence kind). Attached to that was some of the metal frame from the shelves where I pot seeds and keep stuff. I had forgotten that I had tied up the fencing which was around the rockery to the shelves as it was dark, late and I was very tired and I just needed a quick fix. Whoops!
I knew there and then that if I did not move the ponies to another field, it would be the end of my cold frame, shelves, sink, Virginia creeper and my flowers (and my sanity and patience).
Normally I need another person to help move them as the foal won’t lead, he just follows Daphne and I have to walk along the road which can be very busy with fast cars but I just had to move them, I knew I couldn’t go through that awful feeling of utter disappointment again. I ran inside, sliced up an apple, grabbed Daphne’s lead rope and convinced her I wasn’t going to try scratch her ears (which is usually what apples mean)!
It was dusk, there were birds, scary wheely bins, noises, dogs barking but she led perfectly and even Foal behaved himself too. It completely transported me back to the day I got her and how far she has progressed since then.
Daphne is a rescue horse (of course!). Her owners had contacted Equine Rescue and Rehoming to try and help find her a home as they were running out of grazing and she would most likely have gone for meat.
She isn’t really what I should have gone for, she was young, unhandled and a mare (they can be rather cranky, boys are much better!) but I fell in love with her and after debating with myself for weeks, I decided I would have her. I was super excited about getting a horse. I had only waited about 20 years!
She arrived August Bank Holiday 2010, and walked off the trailer all jittery, ears twitching and sniffing the air and hopping about. The driver took her straight into the field and let her go. I didn’t even get to rub her but looking back I don’t think she would been have too happy.
I left her be. I spent my days off work and evenings sitting on an upturned bucket in her field, waiting. Eventually she came nearer and nearer and I just stared at the ground, not moving, she would sniff my hair and wander off again. I had plans with Daphne. I would work slowly with her in being handled and the following summer, I would send her to the local riding school to be broken for riding. Perfect. A week after I got her, I found out I was pregnant. When the doctor confirmed it, I wailed ‘But I just got a horse’! I still worked with Daphne as much as I could with my growing bump (which she always nuzzled) but there was only so much I could risk doing. It turned out she had been previously handled but just not in a very long time and she would turn on a penny for a carrot! We built up a trust and she allowed me to scratch her neck, groom her and most importantly lead her. Although the vet was a big no no! She loaded quite well onto the horse boxes when she was being moved. She is a clever pony, knows how to open the back door, gates and unzip coats! Although the first time I put a rug on her, she walked backwards for about 3 minutes!
I don’t get to spend as much time with her as I would like now but she is such a sweet pony and when I think of her being packed into one of those transporter lorries with other horses all terrified and stressed with no food or water, it breaks my heart. Leading her last night made me very proud of my little mare and proud that I helped her for from a fate unknown. It will be a while before I get to do anything with her but I’m very lucky to have her as a very pretty field ornament!