In the holy name of Pegasus have I been through it these last weeks.
Kat wrenched me away from my lush green grassy home and best friends, Macy and Tiger, and dumped me in a small patch of barren wasteland down at the Farm.
When I asked why in the blazing green grasses was she doing this to me, she said I was too overweight and needed some time in the Weight Watchers field.
My first days in Weight Watchers are a blur – I think I was in shock. Not only was I being starved, but I could see my field in the distance and hear my friends calling me.
My security and safety had been wrenched away from me – by my trusted human! – and I was left reeling with anxiety and uncertainty.
Things started to look up when Tia joined Weight Watchers. I have been out on training sessions with Tia and her human Jeff, so I already knew her. She is so nice that I quickly elevated her to Aunty status, alongside Tills.
Aunty Tia really helped settle my nerves and get me focused on the challenging task of finding a decent meal from the hoof sized scrap of earth I’d been deposited on.
However, when Kat started taking me away from Tia to do some training, I got my fetlocks in a real old twist. I could hear Tia shouting me this time but I couldn’t see or get to her either!
What kind of punishment is this now I thought as all self-control slipped away from me? Continually being taken away from my friends, my home, my new Aunty, my herd, my safety, my patch of wasteland?
Kat insisted on taking me away from Aunty Tia over and over though and eventually I realised that I was okay, I survived and would always get back to her at some point.
This whole experience has made me realise I am not really the girl about the field I thought I was. I am still very young and inexperienced, with much to learn.
Since this realisation, we have been joined by a third member of Weight Watchers, Freckles.
This is me welcoming her. I think she’s a regular member and a pro in finding a good square meal from a bare patch of earth.
There’s more though…
On top of all this, I’ve had horse hay fever, making it hard for me to breath properly.
The human called Vet came to see me and gave me some medicine. Vet also tried to put the stick up my bum again, but I was ready this time. The serious level of clamping and clenching I was able to produce left her in no doubt that that area of my physiology was not open for business. Literally.
My breathing is now back to normal but I do have to wear this ridiculous nose net to stop something called Pollen getting into my tubes and clogging them up again.
Big Col in the field next to ours does provide a welcome respite from the starvation and annoying head gear – he is very handsome and knows it.
His human says he thinks he’s The Dog’s Bollocks. I have no idea why he is likened to the anatomy of my canine foes, but something tells me she’s got a point.
This is Big Col demonstrating his canine credentials.
When all is neighed and munched, I am really looking forward to getting back to my lovely grassy home and herd up the hill but I think my time at Weight Watchers will be an important experience – one that will hopefully decrease my size as much as it increases my wisdom.
I wonder what Macy and Tiger will make of this new slimmed down grown up version of me!!
Because of the loo roll crisis Kat has been spending more time just hanging out with me in the field.
As a bonus, I’ve been finding out more about the trail riding journeys she has planned for us. Any bonus stops at enlightenment, I might add.
Rather alarmingly, Kat wants to go on long journeys for days on end (or even weeks!) where we travel all day and stay out all night. She says they will be her Great Escape from the hurly burly of modern human life.
I rather like the journeys I do already – from the grass, to the water trough, to the hay and back to the grass. Throw in a stop on the way for some mutual grooming with my pals and it’s time to hit the shade for a doze.
Apparently, humans also embark on such journeys to try and find themselves. I reminded Kat she was right next to me in my field so there was really no need for all the toil and hardship.
She said it was my fault she wanted to spend so much time with me because I offered peace and calm – something that isn’t readily available in the human world.
Well honestly, humans can be a bit dense at times.
If they only managed to replace their endless noise and motion with a good dose of our peace and calm, not only would they stop interfering with the balance of the planet but, they might be able to discover that elusive thing known as Themselves.
No arduous journey required. I get to stay at home and enjoy the quality grassy munchies I’m accustomed to. Job done.
Maybe an increase in my peace and calm dosage might give Kat the escape and discovery she wants without all this journey nonsense.
I will need to be a bit nicer to her, but I can work on that – a sacrifice for the greater good.
So, it appears the human loo roll crisis has changed into something more serious. Now humans can’t even leave their homes unless it’s for essential business.
Luckily, Kat visiting me once a day with my grassy munchies is classed as essential, because there’s no one else to do it.
Although the loo roll crisis is difficult for humans, I seem to have come out of it rather peachy.
Training has been replaced with endless pampering sessions in the sunshine and visits to the big building with sand on the floor for some silly antics over poles.
This is the result of one of my pampering sessions.
Look at me! Aren’t I the swanky girl about the field? I just love the way it bounces against my neck when I’m running.
As well as new hairdos, Kat’s been spending a lot of time scratching my favourite itchy spots. I’ve got a lot – my entire hairy body really. Turns out human fingernails are superior to horses’ teeth when it comes to grooming. Who knew?
I’ve also been going to the building with sand on the floor where there are lots of poles on the ground. Kat walks by my side and uses Horse talk (body language) to tell me which direction we’re going in and which poles to step over.
She does put a head-collar on me that’s linked to her hand by a long line, but she doesn’t use any pressure to guide me. I wish she would to be honest – it’s exhausting trying to understand her inept version of Horse. Shoddy is all I can say.
When we’ve practised this a bit, she’s going to take the head-collar off and I’m meant to walk by her side, going everywhere she does. Really? Can’t see it myself.
Once free of the head-collar my plan is (obviously) to go straight to the door of the big building with sand on the floor and request permission to immediately leave. Who wouldn’t?
I’m not convinced about the weird pole stuff and the less said about Kat’s slapdash efforts with Horse the better – but the pampering gets a big hooves up from me.
In fact, I’m sure Kat and I would become firm friends if she was prepared to drop this silly riding business in favour of a daily full body groom and weekly new hair style.
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.
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’.
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!
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.
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?
When I’m not being prepared by my human Kat for life as a trail riding horse, I’m having an altogether pleasing time just being a horse, with my pals in our field.
The field is a large space and there are 5 of us in our little herd. There is an accepted hierarchy. I appear to be No 4, second to the bottom (I’m working on this).
What it means is there are 3 others who are allowed to eat the haylage before me and to move me out of their way. Or any way they feel like actually. I feel very smug when Kat comes into the field and moves them out of MY way.
Anyway, it’s a work in progress and my extreme hairiness is a good disguise for my true wily and tenacious nature. You remember the grand theft hay cob incident don’t you? Say no more. I will be No 3 by the time I’m 6.
As there is one below me, there is hope. Although, Tiger is the only male of the field so it could be argued he is taking his rightful place.
Cassie is very much the Leader of our group, with Gilly her close No 2.
A Leader horse is very different to a Boss horse. Leaders are intelligent and use minimal effort to make us ‘want’ to do as they ask and to follow them.
Boss horses, on the other hand, are dim-witted and heavy-hoofed. They make a real song and dance about ‘ordering’ us to do what they command and to follow their bossy lead. Or else.
It’s easy to tell the difference. Even a human could probably spot this one.
Leaders just give us ‘that’ look and we understand what we need to do. A Boss horse will create a right old rumpus over the smallest thing. They will charge at us, ears pinned back, teeth bared to bite our retreating bums. Even worse, run us a ragged 10 laps round the field, just to move us away from the haylage. It’s all very brash and unnecessary.
The main problem with Boss horses though is they’re using up all their energy to put on this hullabaloo of a show. The question we then ask as a herd is how much energy will they have left when they need to lead us into a flight or death situation?
The Leader horse who uses little energy to get us to do what they want, generally earns the respect as the intelligent, trustworthy Leader. The one we feel confident and safe in following. The one we know will have unstoppable energy to help us all hot-hoof it if a lion came calling.
Cassie fills this role pretty well. She is another wise old lady with plenty of years under her fetlocks.
Echo used to tell me about Murray who was the out and out Leader from the moment he stepped one of his long, black, aristocratic limbs into the field. He only had to saunter past the other horses and they were putty in his hoofs. Secretly, I think all the females were up to their forelock in deep swoon.
Humans can get annoyed with their horse if they are a bit lazy out on the trail or in the arena. Little do they realise they might have a highly intelligent Leader horse as their partner, conserving vital energy in-case they need to high tail it in the opposite direction to something intent on a horse/human sandwich for dinner!
It’s grass for thought actually. Perhaps I’m a bit too keen on my training sessions…
We of course prefer to have a Leader horse in charge rather than a Boss horse. Same goes for our humans. We like quiet but clear and considerate requests that make us feel safe, confident and happy. Much nicer than a loud, flappy, angry, order, thank you very much.
I haven’t experienced much loud flappyness from Kat yet, although she did get a bit cross the other day while she was cleaning my feet. I was convinced that with a little effort, and on 3 legs, I could reach those hay cobs in her zipped pocket. I did hear her muttering something about NO more hay cobs for you Mrs. Might have blown that one.
Life in the field with my pals has settled down recently to a nice routine of food, food and more food.
We have a constant supply of hay and Kat, my human, visits every day with a bucket full of delicious mushed up grassy munchies. I can’t tell you how amazing it is; I can quite lose myself.
Our training sessions seem to be less, which Kat says is because there’s more dark. Whatever. It works for me.
There is just one thing that isn’t right and for the hairy feathers of me I cannot understand it.
As a horse we feel safest with our own kind. It’s a safety in numbers thing. Our highly tuned instinct to detect horse eating beasts is far stronger combined than individually. It also means we can snooze if someone else is on watch. Bonus.
So why in the blazing green grasses does Kat insist on taking me on a training session without any of my pals. Just her? How can I rely on her detecting a horse devouring threat from mere instinct when she’s not one of us?
I don’t mean to be rude, but do humans actually have any instinct?
Kat says the females often do, but the males are pretty devoid. And I mustn’t mention this to John, her male human.
Needless to say I have raised the question of ‘just the two of us’ over and over.
I’ve suggested we just don’t go at all. Nope. Or maybe ask one of my pals if they want to come too? Nope. I continually recommend the quicker route home. Nope. The fact I could literally be saving our lives here just doesn’t seem to be getting through.
Between you and me I did discover quite a nifty trick of taking the quicker route myself.
I just locked my neck, set my jaw and hey presto I was in control! Unfortunately, Kat responded by the aptly named ‘circle dance’. She just turned me round and round until I was so dizzy I didn’t realise I was back on her longer route until it was too late.
Then, one day I was quietly moving into the neck lock position when this long stick appeared from nowhere. I didn’t fancy moving towards that stick at all, I can tell you.
I’ve heard stories from my pals about these sticks, or whips as they are sometimes called. I know if a human hits you with them they will hurt. I can’t see Kat doing that, but the fact it was there was enough to ruffle even my extremely hairy feathers.
The stick has been there ever since so I guess that nifty trick has had it’s day.
So it seems these ‘just the two of us’ training sessions are here to stay.
Echo, who left us in the summer to make her journey to the ever green fields and horse friends over the bridge, told me not to worry. She said her and Kat used to go for miles, always just the two of them and that eventually she began to trust Kat’s instincts, almost as she would one of her pals.
I find that hard to believe, but Echo was one wise old lady who I respected and trusted, even if she did only have one eye. So I guess I need to trust her on this one.
And, I suppose I could at least try and trust Kat. After all, her instincts were bang on with the soggy delicious grassy munchies she brings me every day.
Still, if she’s asking me to trust her instincts and follow her as my leader, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to put this to the test now and then. You know, just in case I did find any more nifty tricks up my feathers. Perfectly reasonable if you ask me.
My name is Frankie. I’m a 5 year old Piebald Cob – and a proper one at that. I mean I must be about 50% hair – I even get a belly beard in the Winter! I’m very proud of it.
I’m so hairy my Human also calls me Her Royal Hairiness – or HRH for short.
I’ve been with my new Human for a while now – I think I heard her say
something about 9 months the other day..? Well, this is what I think
about the whole situation so far..
My new owner is called Kat (strange as I thought they were small feline creatures..) Still, as me and my equine pals always say, there’s just no accounting for the oddness of humans…
I was delivered to Kat in a very cramped box on wheels. It took a very long time and made me very sweaty. It wasn’t pleasant and I was right to pull every trick out of my hairy feathers to refuse climbing on board that evil box!
When we arrived I had no idea where we were, I was just so glad to see daylight and hear the call of some of my equine cousins. There was a lady there (that was Kat, I know this now) who I recognised. She untied me and led me off the lorry. She seemed rather excited and giggly. Strange. Again.
Turns out this Kat woman was my new Human and we’ve been doing all kinds of things together over the last 9 months.
Some good, some okay, some just downright worrying. A fine example of this is the constant chitter-chatter to her human friend about trail riding for 20 miles a day, every day! They get very excited about this.
Kat’s human friend Sara rides Aunty Tilly – well that’s who she is to me. They call her Tilly the Train, which I think is a bit rude.
Tilly and I ponder on these excited babbling human discussions about trail riding and wonder what it entails for us..? All we know so far is we are going on very long rides, up to 10 and 12 miles long. Apparently, we’re in ‘training’. Don’t they know we are capable of wandering for 15 – 20 miles a day, every day, in the wild!?
We should maybe consider staging a protest to all this activity, whilst carrying a human. But, we’re allowed breaks and to sometimes even participate in one of my favourite things – Grassy Munchies! Sometimes I am given a nice treat if I stop and stand nice and still when Kat asks me to.
These are my rewards for being good – they are called Hay Cobs.
I would literally do anything for them – including break through two electric fenced gates, barge through a metal gate, tenaciously open a closed box of the tasty morsels (the secret of how I did this will go with me to my grave..) and happily munch the lot. A lot of the humans were annoyed about this feat. Kat said I was a ‘canny little bugger’ (I think she was secretly impressed with my stealth and cunning).
So anyway, there we are, my story with Kat has begun.
Humans are a strange bunch and probably only about 10% of them seem to truly understand us. The rest somehow imagine we think and feel exactly as they do.
Please! We don’t. We are the opposite.
Our intelligence is a highly refined intuitive connection to ourselves and the natural world around us, in a way humans could barely remember.
We are true sentient creatures, existing only ever in the moment and able to spike and drop our stress levels in 10 seconds flat, simply to save our lives. Unlike humans who seem to keep their stress on high alert 24/7. It really isn’t very good for them!
I’m truly hoping Kat falls into this 10%. I did hear her say the other day she thought horses were actually better and more intelligent than humans. It gave me hope and made me happy.
She also seems very sure there are no Lions behind the hedges waiting to devour me. I need more time to believe her. After all she is a human, I’m a horse and we have a long road ahead of us!
One thing seems certain though – looks like I’m destined to be a Trail Riding Horse! Whatever that really means…