Saturday, 6 April 2013

A Moment of Madness...

I believe that, like every dog has its day, every pony has its moment of madness....

Molly the Shetland pony had her mad moment one day when she decided that she’d had enough of being in the field on her own (this was before  Kelpie, the Highland pony joined her) and very cleverly opened the gate of her enclosure, I’m not sure how, as there were no human witnesses, but she got into the goat enclosure which has a convenient little hillock where the goats love to play King of the Castle. Molly, however, was not interested in being Queen for the day, she had more practical ambitions. Being a goat area, it has a high gate separating it from our garden. Molly further exercised her sharp brain, took a few steps back, ran up the hillock, using it as a springboard, and made a prodigious leap over the gate, clearing it easily (I was a rather shocked witness to this part of her escapade) Most animals in new and unexplored territory proceed with caution – looking around and sniffing for danger. Not Molly – she must have known that she was the biggest danger around. Before I had a chance to get anywhere near her she was off around the ponds at a sharp, confident trot - raising her legs and head high,  all the while keeping a rolling eye on where I was (at this point I was rushing off to find her head collar). After a quick recce around the larger areas of grass, sending chickens and ducks dashing for cover, she decided that she would like to explore further afield and off towards the house she trotted, up a few steps, around the side of the house and into the front garden. This was my chance to catch her as there are only narrow entrances and exits to this area. I followed her round but she was determined not to have her fun curtailed so early, brushed right past me, knocking me sideways into the rose bushes, and back into the larger side garden where she couldn’t be captured so easily. Soon she spied her downfall – the compost heap, brimming with rotting vegetable peelings. She didn’t think twice, and began greedily chewing great mouthfuls of decomposing carrots, onion leaves and cabbages. I knew I had her then.

I never imagined that Kelpie, a rather senior and placid Highland pony, would have a moment of madness, but one day, thanks to the weather, he did. This time it was nearly the end of me.
Kelpie doesn’t really like going out – preferring laziness and the company of his best friend Molly. He will go – but showing his reluctance by being as slow as he can get away with. I used to think that if he was a car he’d be one of those old Morris Travellers with the wood panelling – dependable, charming to look at but not built for speed.
One winter afternoon I took him out for a little (leisurely as usual) hack on a regular route – up the road and then turning off onto a grassy lane. As we got to the point of turning around and heading for home I heard a distant long, slow rumble of thunder. So did Kelpie. His ears twitched and his head jerked upwards. ‘Never mind, we’re on our way home ‘I told him (I often talked to him – he prefered it to my singing). Home- as quickly as possible- was evidently Kelpie’s objective. He started trotting – ‘this makes a change’ I thought, then I felt him change gear into a canter,  he pulled his head forcefully forward, got the bit between his teeth, and started galloping for all he was worth. I’d never known him actually gallop before – my little Morris Traveller had turned into a roaring red Ferrari. As the end of the lane, and the junction with the road, was fast approaching I tried to brake – the brakes didn’t work.  By the time we were at the junction I was standing in the stirrups, pulling with all my might on the reins but it was no use – this was his Moment of Madness. For a brief moment I contemplated hurling myself off sideways, Cossack style, into the hazel bushes, but threw in my lot with Kelpie and prayed that there wouldn’t be a vehicle coming along. Well, somebody must have been watching over us that day, because the road was closed for drainage work. When he felt the tarmac under his feet Kelpie screeched to a shuddering halt, with me grabbing hold of his mane to prevent myself flying off over his head. As you can imagine, we were both in a bit of a state after this, and we trembled in unison all the way home through the wind and rain that was preceding the thunder. From then on I studied the weather forecast very carefully before riding out...

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