Wobbly Bottom

Well, my days with Kat just keep getting stranger and stranger.

She put this blue coat on me the other morning.

Do I look good in this blue coat? No, I look bloody ridiculous!

Kat said rain was forecast and my own coat needed to be dry as someone called Physiotherapist was coming to check my back.

We horses need our backs checking now and again because we aren’t designed to carry humans and it can sometimes make us sore. The only thing we would be unlucky enough to carry on our backs in the wild is a lion – before it drags us down for dinner.

Physiotherapist felt all over my neck, back and general bum vicinity (yes, I know).

I was starting to feel all nice and sleepy when I heard the words ‘wobbly bottom’.

Physiotherapist was saying the left side of my bum wasn’t as wobbly as the right side and they both needed to be equally wobbly. I was just starting to quite like her.

I always thought I was the proud owner of a peachy, pert posterior. To discover it’s not only wobbly, but uneven in it’s wobbliness, is pretty shattering.

See any wobble?

Then she pressed all around the none wobbly left side until she was satisfied it had reached an equal level of wobbliness to the right side.

Then – and you’re not going to believe this – she showed Kat how to do a wobble test on the left side – just to make sure it didn’t lose any of its new found wobbliness.

I was an ergot away from retreating to my happy place, where these insults couldn’t reach me, when Kat put my mind to rest.

She said wobbly was good as it meant my muscles were nicely relaxed and working properly. Not wobbly meant they were too tight and needed releasing a bit. Then she reassured me my bottom was perfectly peachy, wobbly or not.

Just when I was starting to get all sleepy again, Physiotherapist told Kat I might need some schooling. What? Why? I don’t think I’ve been overly naughty lately?

Apparently, the schooling she means is going round and round in circles and other fun (yes, again, I know) shapes in the building with sand on the floor.

Kat did promise Physiotherapist she would do this but the look on her face said differently. She prefers straight lines in the great outdoors, like me.

Once all the rubbing, massaging and general wobbling was done, this very strange afternoon was rounded off in a nice way. Physiotherapist showed Kat how to do some stretching exercises – with treats!

Every day I have to stretch 5 times on each side of my body and be justly rewarded with a hay cob when I try really hard.

I’m going to be trying really, really hard. A lot.

GMFN

F x

Horse Talk

A man visited me recently with Kat. He’s called Ross and he can talk Horse.

It’s a blessed relief to be honest as Kat can’t. Well, not my version of Horse. I speak Pure Horse.

Pure Horse is the subtle body language that only horses, other prey animals and a handful of humans can speak and understand.

The wrinkling of a nose or the twitch of an ear is as clear as day to us, but way too understated for many other species, including humans.

Infact, the whole purpose of Pure Horse is that predators can’t understand us. No real surprise humans struggle.

Echo told me Pure Horse was no good with Kat so she used a more direct, simple version called Beginner Horse. This version gives clearer signals including affection for getting things right and unadulterated fury for getting them wrong. She said it worked a treat with Kat.

Kat obviously got it right this time.

I don’t think there’s a picture of her getting it wrong – she was probably too occupied with running away.

Anyway, turns out Ross is going to help me and Kat understand each other better. I can already understand Human so he’s going to teach her Pure Horse. Hurrah, I’ll finally get to tell her all my gripes.

The body language of people is what we horses call Human. Horses understand Human completely. Unfortunately most humans seem to have no idea what their body is saying – to us or each other.

Learning Pure Horse would help humans not only understand our subtle body language but also their own.

If a human’s body language is tense we will be tense. If a human’s body language is soft and relaxed, we will be. You could call us an emotional mirror.

Apparently, this is why we are sometimes used for therapy – to help troubled humans understand what they are feeling.

We horses really are the gift that just keeps on giving aren’t we!

Perhaps there should be a National Horse Appreciation week. When Kat can understand Pure Horse I’ll suggest it.

In the meantime, she’s got some work to do…

GMFN

Fx

The Beast of Burden and her Saddle Tramp

Apparently Tilly and I are going on a trail riding adventure holiday in, what our humans call, May.

Kat says I am a trail riding horse and this is my purpose. I personally don’t see why I can’t just chill my hoofs in the field with my pals, but Kat says all horses have to work for their grassy munchies.

Tilly and I are going to travel in the sweat box on wheels to get to a place called Rushup – I wonder if we have to run very quickly up hill to get to it?

This is where we’re staying. Not sure where our humans will be.

Then we have to carry our humans and all their belongings for 3 long days. For their amusement.

I know. Why doesn’t she just rename me her ‘Beast of Burden’ and be done with it? You can probably tell, my hairy feathers are extremely ruffled about all this.

Is this to be my fate?

Couldn’t they just get one of our Donkey or Mule cousins to carry all their human stuff? There’re much better at this kind of thing than us horses. Also, less forgiving so Kat would need to behave herself. That could be fun.

However, what alarms me the most is where in all the blazing green grasses are my soggy grassy munchie supplies and hay cob treats going to go?

I blatantly refuse to go through this level of toil and strife unless I am amply rewarded. A lot. Every hour I would say.

I did suggest to Kat that she could walk – on her feet, on the ground – carrying her own stuff. I would happily walk beside her carrying my stuff (the grub). Apparently though, that is not fulfilling my purpose of trail riding horse. Meh.

Tilly seems quite accepting of all this servitude and toil. She says it’s grown up and exciting to have a few nights away from home and we will get to share a field.

She told me to stop getting my forelock in a twist and be grateful I’m not being asked to dance like the dressage horses. She’s got a point there, I do have 4 left hooves and would undoubtedly trip over my extremely hairy feathers.

She also reassured me that my substantial stoutness means I won’t even notice the extra weight – not sure if I should be happy or offended about that.

Finally, she reminded me that our humans never seem to change their clothes and are always quite disheveled. They’re clearly not typical female humans, and will probably wear everything they need, opting for the saddle tramp look. This of course should free up pack space for our essentials – food.

I can always trust Aunty Tills to make me feel better.

GMFN

F x

The Wrath of Ciara

Recently my pals and I were subjected to the full fury of Storm Ciara.

While my friends at the farm were in their boxes called stables, we were hunkered down in our field as she raged around us for a day and a night.

The thought of those snug stables did cross my mind – especially when the torrential deluge turned sideways – but my extreme hairiness and amazing physiology prevailed in the end.

Stables just aren’t really for me. I love the freedom and fresh air of outside too much – even when that air is extremely fresh and wet.

You might remember my recent experience of being in a stable was when Vet put that stick up my bum – didn’t really put me in the best frame of mind to enjoy my new surroundings. 

Despite having a great roomie for the night (one eyed Jake, who is very old and impressively hairy) I didn’t really take to pooing and weeing in my own bed – the fumes got a bit over powering somewhere around 3am.

I can’t see humans doubling their bed up as a loo, so I’m not sure why they expect us to…

I also lost my freedom of choice. I had to wait for Kat the next morning before I could move freely, eat again and talk to my pals. In the field, I can make these choices at liberty, in line with how I feel and what I need.

I think when all is neighed and munched, I really am an outdoors kind of a Cob. I wasn’t born with this extreme roundness and abundance of hair for no reason.

With a constant supply of forage, my wonderfully thick winter coat, fresh air, open space and my pals, I can keep warm, dry, healthy and happy – even in the eye of Ciara’s storm

The bacteria my gut produces from eating forage – hay in the winter – kicks starts an internal furnace and the long, slow digestion process really helps me sustain this heat.

Stoking up our furnace

There is also great natural shelter in our field with a line of trees against a stone wall. This is our hunkering down spot of choice when the weather is bad – we often while away this time swapping notes about our humans.

As well as huddling together, being able to freely move keeps my blood circulating and my body temperature toasty. Then of course there is my amazing thick winter coat that traps in body heat, provides insulation and helps keep my skin dry. 

The day Ciara came, Kat bought me an extra-large bucket of warm soggy grassy munchies which stoked up my furnace nicely. Seeing her battling through the storm, trying to stay on two feet while being pummeled with the sideways deluge, was also a welcome distraction.

Although Ciara is now spent, I think we will be hunkering down again soon when her brother Dennis descends his fury on us. Despite my amazing ability to thrive in this foul weather, I think I speak for all horses and humans when I say ‘Spring, we are now ready for you’.

GMFN

F x

The Shoot Creature

There wasn’t a dull moment on my last trail riding training session with Aunty Tills.

We negotiated icy roads, waited at a red light on a stick, waded through deep water, and scrambled up a rocky path. Then we met The Shoot…

trail ride with horse
  • trial riding
  • trail riding horse on track

Coming home from this action-packed 10-mile session (yes, I agree, it is a very long way for my wonderfully hairy but unfortunately very short legs) we heard some loud, continuous boom, boom, bangs. Kat and Sara said it was The Shoot.

The others didn’t seem too worried but I was. What was this loud scary Shoot creature that was booming and banging all around us? The noise was so loud, I reckoned it was either very large or very close. Or both!

I began to, what can only be described as, run on the spot. I didn’t want to leave Tills, but I needed to be good and primed in-case I had to hot-hoof it. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something.

It must be The Shoot, coming for us!!!!

Well, that was it for me. I did what any horse keen on staying alive would do. I ran.

Every last inch of me, right to the tips of every hair on my extremely hairy body, said RUN NOW!!!!!! Kat’s yell down my ear and Tilly hot on my heels only bolstered my need to instinctively run. Faster.

After a few seconds I realised Tills wasn’t behind me any more and that my head had been pulled sideways making a forward projection somewhat difficult. It also seemed that The Shoot creature was gone, so, I let Kat slow me down.

When Tills caught up she asked what in the blazing green grasses was I playing at? Was I really hearing her right? Hadn’t she seen The Shoot creature coming for us? And, shouldn’t she be thanking me for getting all four of us to safety with my speedy hot-hoofing?

Apparently not. And, what follows is a tad embarrassing, but, let’s not forget, I am only 5 going on 6.

Turns out The Shoot, was a bunch of humans playing with something called guns and, what I saw out of the corner of my eye was just humans perched on those two wheeled contraptions called bikes.

I would point out that we horses don’t do things like this for fun or to scare our humans so they don’t ride us any more. Although, that is grassy munchies for thought…

No, we are genetically wired to instinctively run when our fear and adrenaline levels spike. There is no conscious thought process; it’s simply a primal act to stay alive.

Once she could speak, Kat said we just need to keep working together so my trust in her as Leader grows. Then, eventually, my instinct will be to turn to her, instead of letting the fear take over every inch of my extremely hairy body.

She also said if I ever did that again she would ban hay cobs for a month and reduce my soggy grassy munchies to one a week.

I’d better start working on my trust issues.

GMFN

F x

The Thwarting of my Advance and Retreat

A frustrating thing happened today; my ‘advance and retreat’ head-collar evasion strategy was thwarted.

Kat came striding across the field with my soggy grassy munchies at the ready. Mmmh, here we go, grub up! Then I spotted the head-collar, which meant a training session might also be on the menu. So, I actioned the retreat.

Now, there is an obvious flaw with this. I am turning my back on my soggy grassy munchies, which, as you know, I’m rather fond of. So, I combine a bit of advance with the retreat – just to see if Kat is prepared to drop the head-collar and let me get stuck in, without being snared.

That’s a win win for me. I get the lovely grub and don’t have to leave my field and pals.

The advance and retreat usually goes on for about ten minutes, while Kat follows, waits, follows, waits. Between you and me, I sometimes have to remind myself why I’m doing this – it’s very entertaining.

Now, I am not of an awkward disposition. I just don’t see why I should happily leave the safety of my own field and own kind. It’s scary out there!

There are large noisy machines that whiz past me. Humans sitting on two wheeled contraptions that creep up on me and then swoosh past. More importantly, how can I be sure there aren’t any hungry lions hiding behind the hedges or around the next corner?

Kat says there are no lions in Derbyshire. How does she know? Humans aren’t as intuitively tuned into these dangers as horses. So every cell, in my extremely hairy body, remains on high alert.

Anyway, back to the thwarting. Today, as soon as I began my retreat, Kat walked back to the gate and sat down! What in the blazing green grasses was this now!?

What is she doing?

After a while, she came towards me again, armed with said headcollar. Cue, retreat. And, there she was, back at the gate, sitting down! What in the name of Pegasus was she doing?

Now, I’m smarter than I look. It’s all the hair – it masks my intelligence. Next time she came to me, I tried a small retreat and just turned my head. Off she went! Major thwarting was clearly staring me in the face.

However, I did what any dogged extremely hairy cob would do – I put it to the test and carried on.

The sight of my grassy munchies – so close yet so far – was my eventual undoing. And, I stood, without moving a single hair on my hairy body, while she snared me with that ******* head-collar.

Makes it all worth while 🙂

She seemed very pleased with this, clearly believing victory was hers.

Round 1 is all I can say. I am very resourceful as well as very hairy.

GMFN

F x

A Stick Too Far

Grassy Munchies All.

I’ve not been myself this week, so Kat asked someone called Vet to come and check me over.

We met Vet down at the Farm and she placed a round circle on different parts of my body. The circle had tubes coming out of it that went into her ears. She seemed to be listening for something. Music? Voices?

It’s a small wonder she could hear anything through my extreme hairiness but she seemed to find what she needed.

I was okay with that. Then she tried to put a small stick up my bum.

What in the blazing green grasses did she think she was doing? I did not agree to this! Horses have rights you know!

Well, as you can imagine, some serious clenching ensued. Then Kat got me with the old hay cob distraction trick. For a second my attention was drawn from the clenching to the hay cob and, of course, in went the stick.

The indignation! I have never felt so mortified – not even when my beloved belly beard was so cruelly taken from me. I tried to spit it out, but Vet had a good strong hold.

Vet and Kat seemed very approving of the stick finally reaching its intended destination. I, on the other hand, had to retreat to my ‘happy place’ until it was over.

It was dark when Vet left so I had a bed for the night at the Farm, next to Jack.

This is Jack

He used to live in my field and only has one eye like Echo, who he used to be good pals with. We had a good chat during my stay. He looks like me but taller and less round. Impressively hairy though, I must say.

The next morning Kat gave me my breakfast, made my bed and took me home.

She said I coped very well with my night away. Apparently, King of Cool, Murray, used to go to pieces when he had to stay at the Farm. He even put his foot through a new stable door once!

I don’t think this behaviour scored many points with Alison, the human in charge at the Farm. Hopefully, my quiet fortitude went down a bit better.

Anyway, turns out I have something called Virus and will just feel a bit out of sorts for a while.

So, now that’s official, maybe Kat will give me a holiday from our training sessions and extra treats for showing such stoic forbearance during my night away.

However, let this be said, if anyone comes within 10 foot of me again with one of those sticks, I’ll be ready. Just saying.

GMFN

F x

The Frog and The Farrier

A hearty Grassy Munchies all.

A man called Farrier trimmed my feet recently. He also responds to Mark, so I’m not completely sure which it is.

The first time Farrier trimmed my feet I wasn’t impressed. I mean, a flight animal can’t really take flight tied to a wall and on 3 legs… So, quite understandably, I tried every trick up my extremely hairy feathers to get all 4 legs back on the ground.

I tilted forward. I tilted backwards. Bit like a rocking horse actually. I even tried hoping around on 3 legs, but he just held on.

Turns out I had incorrectly reckoned my extreme round solidity would be more than a match for his extreme big tallness.

Despite my objections, I did end up with very nice tidy feet, so that’s a bonus. Kat said to think of it as a pedicure, which apparently is a therapeutic and cosmetic buffing for human feet.

These are my feet. Kat needs to trim my extremely hairy feathers so that Farrier can find them.

It’s Farrier who puts the shiny metal shoes on the feet of other horses. I don’t have these. Although Kat does sometimes put shoes on my feet that have the lovely grown-up shiny black strap I told you about.

You can just about see the lovely black shiny strap underneath my extremely hairy feathers

I can understand horses needing something on their feet. Standing in wet fields and stables can make our feet rather soft, which then makes them sore on the road or hard ground.

In the wild we would roam for miles, every day, over all kinds of hard and rough terrain, which would keep our feet naturally strong.

Unfortunately, the field I live in is almost soggier than my soggy grassy munchies at the moment. So, although Kat takes me over plenty of hard and rough ground during our trail riding training sessions – thanks very much for that – I still spend the rest of the time standing in a wet, muddy field.

Despite this, I think I would rather put up with occasional soft feet, than having those metal shoes.

Horses feet are an anatomical wonder – to be honest, the whole of my extreme hairiness is one of nature’s wonder, but I don’t like to brag. Anyway, our feet need to be pretty special as our survival depends on them.

The frog part of my foot is an elastic rubbery triangle structure that sits below the heel and functions as a shock absorber.

This is my frog

When the frog hits the ground it distributes the impact around the foot so minimal pressure is put on the bones and joints in my legs. It also keeps the blood flowing around my feet, keeping them strong and healthy.

I am literally feeding my feet soggy grassy munchies. How good is that!

I think there’s a strong argument here for Kat to feed me more soggy grassy munchies. Just to keep my feet strong. Obvs.

GMFN

F x

The Violation of My Belly Beard

I feel like I’ve been violated.

I can’t even muster up a happy grassy munchies today.

I’m utterly devastated. My luxurious and beloved belly beard has gone. A lady called Heather used a small zuzzy zuzzy machine to cut it all off.

Not just my beard either, but my chest hair too!

There was no consultation. No permission requested. It’s going to be a long road back from this for me and Kat. I need time. And a lot of treats.

To make the hairy matter worse, as I was leaving the so called ‘horse salon’ there was poor Aunty Tills waiting to go in after me!

I’m not one to gloat, but her belly beard isn’t (wasn’t!) a patch on mine, so I’m hoping her experience won’t be as traumatic.

When I’d regained my composure, I asked Kat what in the blazing green grasses did she think she was doing?

She said there was a little bit too much of me for January and she was worried there would be far too much of me by Spring, when really there needed to be a lot less of me.

Uhh? I think she means I’m overweight!

I asked her why horses in the wild weren’t defiled in this callous and inconsiderate manner. She said they don’t have any zuzzy zuzzy machines and they’d probably have trouble working them with their hoofs if they did.

Is she mocking me?

She also said they don’t necessarily have the same weight problems as domestic horses. This was because they can roam 20+ miles every day and eat dry grasses which aren’t as rich and sugary as the lush grass in our field.

Kat said our grass in Spring time is particularly high in sugars which can result in obesity and Laminitis. I had no idea what these were so, at this point, I started to listen – whilst retaining an air of frosty indignation, of course.

Obesity is when you get so overweight it can make you poorly and Laminitis is a very painful and serious disease of the hoof and foot. In severe cases it can lead to that final trip over The Bridge. Apparently, the high sugars and starch in rich Spring grass are one of the causes of Laminitis.

To reduce this risk, Kat said it would be better if I use the current ‘more of me’ to keep warm during the rest of Winter, instead of my ample belly beard and chest hair. That way, there will be just the right ‘amount of me’ when Spring arrives.

And, as an added bonus, I won’t drip so much with sweat after our trail riding training sessions. Bit rude.

After some grassy munchy ponderings, I decided I could understand why Kat had done it and, if she’d asked permission, I would have said over my extremely hairy dead body.

Kat doesn’t need to know that though. I’m happy for her to think I’m still grieving for my belly beard and need considerable time to recover from her betrayal. Plus, a lot more hay cobs. And, maybe a few weeks holiday from training. That might just bring me round.

GMFN

F x

Worlds Apart

Grassy Munchies all!

During a hearty munching session recently I found myself pondering on how different humans and horses are – literally worlds apart.

Despite this my pals tell me again and again of how horses and humans manage to become best of friends, creating unique partnerships and bonds with each other.

To stay alive horses live completely in the moment – all our senses tuned into the world around us at every second of every day. Our humans keep telling us only horses living in the wild need to worry about this. Try telling that to our genetics!

On the other hoof, humans seem to dwell on the past and future, paying little attention to the present. As most humans don’t need to spend their ‘here and now’ trying to stay alive, strikes me they could be enjoying it a bit more.

Worlds apart couldn’t be more true when it comes to our intelligence.

Humans are equipped with a high level of reasoning and self-awareness. Whether they choose to use this is another matter, but let’s not dwell on that.

Because horses are so different humans can sometimes think we’re not clever, but we are – just in a very different way.

Horses have a superior emotional intelligence with refined intuition and instinct. Bit of a nifty sixth sense actually. From a distance we can accurately understand the intent of an approaching animal. A sleepy lion, full up on it’s latest victim, will have a very different intent to a starving lion desperate to eat!

Kat may look very happy here (can’t blame her really being with a cob of such extreme and impressive hairiness) but I, on the other hand, am a bit worried because I’m shut in a building with sand on the floor and I can’t see any of my friends!

We horses can also sense the emotion of our humans. Often from a distance and sometimes before they have any idea what they themselves are feeling!

Just for the record, we really like hanging out with humans who are calm, consistent, true and trustworthy. A human bringing all the baggage of a bad day to us can quite honestly turn around and try again tomorrow.

Left to our own devices, we can spike our stress and adrenaline levels in seconds to take flight in a life or death situation and drop them back down in equal time – using stress for it’s intended purpose.

As I say though, this is left to our own devices.

Humans seem to carry far too much stress around far too much of the time, which they unintentionally pass on to us. Keeping us confined too long, isolated from our pals or generally never allowing us to be what we are – horses! – adds to this stress, creating an overload.

Horses are congruent by nature – my vocabulary is really coming on isn’t it! Anyway, this means we can look calm and content on the outside, but inside we might be unhappy and stressed. We need this characteristic to avoid showing any weakness to predators.

When we do start showing our stress with so called ‘vices’ or ‘bad behaviour’ it means our stress levels have peaked. Instead of seeing this as ‘bad behaviour’ it would be really helpful if humans considered it as ‘information’ we’re trying to give.

This horse below used to live with us in our field until her human moved her to a field on her own. I feel very sad for her and cross all my hairy feathers that Kat will never do this to me. Being alone can make us extremely stressed and unhappy.

The lonely horse

To sum up my grassy ponderings, I reckon that humans are probably light years away from truly understanding how we think and feel. In turn, we horses are light years away from understanding the sophisticated human intelligence.

It seems to me that with patience and understanding our opposing characteristics combined has the ability to create something truly extraordinary. And, I hope me and Kat are on this path.

Although, she could try a bit harder. I mean, a few more hay cobs wouldn’t go amiss. And, perhaps a bucket of grassy munchies twice a day instead of just once would help?

GMFN

F x