Monday, June 20, 2011

Dougie, Dennis and The Queen

My friend Dougie Donkey from Scotland puts in a very full day running his farm but he found time to send me a report on an occurance of great interest to me. His friend, Dennis the Horse, who shares the farm with Dougie, went to an event to raise funds for the British Horse Society, of which the Queen is the patron, and who do you think Dennis met? The Queen! Yes, the real one, HRH Elizabeth II. I am literally green with envy - though the woman says it's actually the same sort of algae that grows on sloths...

Dennis not only met the Queen, who graciously hosted the event at her summer place, Balmoral Castle, but she remarked that he looked terribly "keen". Dougie says this is code for somewhat barmy. Dennis's human wrote "Dennis the Menace" on his blanket to give the Queen an idea of the horse within. Dougie is a homebody and chose not to travel the three hundred miles in what he refers to as a tin box on wheels for a few moments of possible glory. I would endure virtually anything for the chance of a word from HRH, even to the extent of being bathed with water (there, I've admitted it in print).

Dougie, thoughtful lad that he is, sent me some photos of the occasion to admire from afar what I could not experience first hand. We are not to say a word to Dennis as Dougie feels his ego is already the size of the Hindenberg.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Strange Week Indeed

My week began when the Woman rummaged around, found the green cloth bag with my harness in it, opened said bag and pronounced a series of old Anglo Saxon words that made me blanch. It seems that mice had chewed a hole in the bag and made a vast homestead inside, using bits of material and leather to create a multi-family dwelling. The odour was rather overwhelming. She aired out the harness and, in her absent-minded fog, attached me to the cart with it. I felt like a hobo donkey. She said it was perfectly fine, just a bit rough around the edges.

She must have re-thought her rather foolish stance because next day she went off and returned with a quite lovely leather harness, complete with a stylish collar. It belonged to a donkey called Tiddles who regards pulling things with unabashed horror. This horror cause his human to decide that the best policy was to sell it to a donkey who enjoys touring with cart in tow. That donkey is me.

This afternoon they tried the collar on me and Herself opined that it seemed not to fit well. The male human suggested it was upside down. He was quite correct. And he is supposedly the non-equine expert in residence. You see the sort of thing I'm up against. I can only imagine where she will think the mouthpiece goes...

We had a diversion this morning when one of those large land fowls, (brown, small pointy head and rather vacuous look) wandered right up to the gate. I did my best to converse but all I got for my troubles was "guk buk ook". Chester glared at it in a fixed manner, hoping against hope that it would enter, whereupon he could pulverize it. It became distracted by something in the forest and ambled off. Not a very satisfying encounter at all.

Chester is now being ridden in the aisle and run-in, learning to relax and accept the pressures of steering without rushing forward in a panic. He was exemplary and is a tad too smug in my opinion. If he is still relaxed on Sunday he will go out toting saddle and human. Our feet were pedicured this week and Chester's finally look like horse feet and not large, ragged blocks of wood. His thrush is gone and the last of his dry winter coat coming out. Herself performed the bizarre ritual of rifling through his manure and bagging some up - this means the dreaded dewormer is in our future. I will endeavour to channel Jack and seal my lips firmly.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Chester's Busy Week

It's been a busy week indeed for young Haflingers around here. Between lessons, exploring the paddock, bossing us around and tooth care, Chester has had hardly any time to terrorize the Jolly Ball.

He finds his lessons hard because he was told as a very young horse that he must pull things no matter how hard they might resist and the consequences for not doing so were dire. He has done something called logging as a two and three year old and says one must move said logs or suffer verbal abuse and physical assault. It all sounds barbaric to me. Thus, when the humans put him on the spinning rope, he pulls and keeps pulling, retreating into some place where he feels he can't be reached or hurt. They are teaching him to relax and bend his neck when he feels pressure and have finally convinced him that he will not be punished. He was quite hot and sweaty again but seems most pleased with himself. He receives lavish praise for his efforts.

Now that he is nicely settled in his true personality is beginning to show. He is obviously part terrier because he loves to dig and explore with his feet. I have spoken of the delight he takes in stomping on and otherwise abusing the bedding bags. Now, our paddock has been the dumping ground for household discards from the mid-eighteen hundreds until my own humans bought it. After the winter or a heavy rain, many wonderous things make their way to the surface. Shards of very old blue and white pottery, green and blue glass from medicine bottles, bits of crockery and more recently, automotive bits and pieces. The woman does a daily scan for rubbish and whisks it away.

The trees under which this debris surfaces are Chester's favourite playground. Yesterday morning he found a small piece of the dreaded plastic material embedded in a root. He dug and pulled and worked away for hours. When he had finished, there was a large sheet of very old crinkly plastic spread out under the tree. It looked like he was having a picnic. The woman was highly startled when she beheld his handiwork and beetled off to get a shovel to fill in the excavation.

Yesterday afternoon Chester's dental appointment took place. The medical woman arrived with her assistant and they set up a wonderous array of objects on a table. Chester, an innocent in the world of dentistry, was readily caught and led into the barn. He was given a needle, which bothered him not one whit, and quickly grew quite inebriated. His first dental tune-up revealed many points on his teeth, a tiny, deformed wolf tooth, which was extracted, and a canine tooth so sharp it had cut his tongue. Canine tooth? I have felt from the beginning he was part Golden Retriever (in addition to the terrier blood) and this would seem to prove my theory.

I stayed well away from the proceedings but Molly kept sticking her head in the barn, checking to see he wasn't getting treats. He wasn't. He was helped to his stall and told he had to stay there for two hours. Within a few minutes we could hear pitiful wailing and crying coming from within - no gnashing of teeth though, thank goodness.

He was back to his usual self in no time, running around the paddock in straight lines and generally making a nuisance of himself. Who know what he'll dig up next or what creative pastime he'll invent for his newly perfect teeth.