The Custard Cream Trail, Part 2

It’s happened again.  A while ago at that. But, it’s taken me this long to gather my thoughts.

I was all set to enjoy another lazy day loafing about my field when before I knew it I was in the sweat box on wheels with Aunty Tills and any notion of my all day grass buffet fading into the distance. Literally.

Tills who was very calm, and considerably less sweaty, said I didn’t need to get my fetlocks in a twist as we were probably just going on another Custard Cream Trail.   

I did worry though.  And my fetlocks were in a twist.  And I was very sweaty. 

Tills came to my rescue as always, reminding me why our senseless wandering for miles and days on end was called the Custard Cream Trails.

Aunty Tills is always right

Well, we climbed a mountain, traversed a swamp, got caught in a monsoon and had to contend with a sub-species of horse called ‘Competition’.  And that was only the first day. 

Mountain climbing
Swamp traversing

You’d have thought our resilience and fortitude in the face of these trials would have been acknowledged with a few Custard Creams. No, not a one.  

Verbal praise is all well and good but I’d rather have a Custard Cream

At the end of the day, however, we were given a field of knee-high grass the likes of which I have never known.  I was in grassy munchy heaven and could have stayed forever, but it belonged to the scary ‘Competition’ horses, so we had to give it back.  

Although the second day presented less challenges, the Custard Cream drought endured. I also had to think on the hoof when Kat became a bit vague in her instructions to me. It was shortly after we’d met two of Sara’s human herd members who watered her and Kat with something called G&T. I’m not sure if the two were connected or not. 

The G&T watering hole

At the beginning of the third day we went through a very human landscape with nothing green or soft. Just hard surfaces and endless small sweat boxes on wheels whizzing past us.  

At one point Tills stood bold as grass in front of a strange tree with a long thin black trunk and a red light at the top, while sweat boxes of all shapes and sizes (even without the box and just two wheels!!)  whizzed and whirled around us.  Aunty Tills is fearless indeed!  

Finally, much to my relief, we were out of the human landscape and back into the real world.  

And then it happened!

During our grassy munchies break Tills and I heard it.  Rustle, rustle… We knew straight away.  Sara, the Custard Cream bearer, didn’t stand a chance.  After being deprived for two days we threw forelocks to the wind and mobbed her. 

Mobbing the Custard Cream bearer

Topped up with our favourite treat that makes this toil worthwhile, we headed off to our next overnight field through a big wild landscape of hills and moors and valleys and streams.

Senseless wandering in the big wild places
Being roused the next morning
Trying to wake up

The fourth day was more big wild places, Custard Creams a plenty and a couple of strange incidents.

Firstly, Kat played an absurd game of asking everyone to follow her up a very narrow steep track and then seeing if we could all turn round at the narrowest point. This proved very easy for humans, relatively easy for Tills (she has a short wheel base) and very hard for the more stout member of the crew. Me. 

Kat then got injured with something called blister where the skin had shed from her foot.  Horse code dictates that we must remain stoical in the face of pain so that predators won’t see us as weak easy pickings.  

Kat definitely needs to gen-up on her horse code! There can’t have been a single living thing within 5 miles that didn’t know of her discomfort.

Surely this kind of reckless behaviour now gives me the right to apply for another human?

The wild places
Scouting for lions
Aunty Tills and her Sara human
At the top of the wild places

After another long day, Tills suddenly picked up pace, which could mean only one thing.  We were going home!  And she was right.  Aunty Tills is always right. 

There we were, back at the beginning with the sweat box on wheels and it’s human Nigel (who is as perplexed as we are about this senseless wandering) waiting to take us home.

The humans in their sweat box following us

What did I learn from my second Custard Cream Trail?

Firstly, Kat would definitely make a rubbish horse. Secondly, in the event of a Custard Cream ‘no show’ mobbing is acceptable. And, thirdly, I think I might be all grown up now.




The Custard Cream Trail

I’ve been on tour with Aunty Tills!  Three days away and up to our forelocks in all kinds of escapades. 

It started badly.  We were forced unceremoniously onto the sweat box on wheels and had to stay in it for a long sweaty time while we were transported to the beginning of the Custard Cream Trail – a place called Rushop Hall.   On the plus side, once we arrived, we did have a field of grassy munchies all to ourselves. 

Our field at the beginning of the Custard Cream Trail

Tills seemed quite happy about this and quickly got down to the business of filling her fetlocks.  I tried to catch on to her relaxed vibe, but for some reason I did find it hard to blink for a good while.

The next day our humans, Kat and Sara, took us out on a training session.   In the name of all the saints over the bridge I can’t tell you how hard this was.  We went up, down, up down, up down and then for the final down, our humans – for some absurd reason – decided we needed to go down a stone staircase.   My feet are not the daintiest – Kat calls them dinner plates – so I did find this a bit daunting.    

At the bottom of the staircase there was a small gate we had to squeeze through.  Tills went through no problem, but our humans spent a while debating if I would fit.  Bit rude.

More up
Top of the up
Down – the wrong way

Our efforts of the day were rewarded by Sara demonstrating a new hopping technique of mounting Tills on the move.   She almost hopped all the way around the car park – really impressive. 

On the way back to our field at Rushop I did call out over the valley beneath us, just to see if Jack could hear me.  I don’t think he did though.  On the plus side, I was so tired when we got back, I was relaxed enough to blink again.    

The next day we started properly on the Custard Cream Trail and headed south – towards home!!   Today was the longest day of my entire 6 years as an extremely hairy cob.   We covered 20 miles over 9 hours (I know, there must be rules against this kind of exploitation).  

Tills and I did lose our fear of water troughs though and slurped freely from them whenever we could find one. 

Happy Slurping

I also found out why it was called the Custard Cream Trail.     

Sara had packed enough of these human Custard Cream treats for 3 weeks instead of 3 days – no wonder our saddle bags had been weighed down!!    It was nothing less than our duty to try and lighten the load. 

Custard Cream anyone?
Sara and I working together to lighten the load

After this very long second day, brightened by the Custard Cream discovery, we finally arrived at the next overnight stop on the trail.   We were weary and hungry so another field all to ourselves was very welcome.   

The next morning we set off again – the load a bit lighter but more work required.   It was another very long day, but on this occasion brightened by the wee incident – seeing Kat scratting around in the squat and drop position while I ‘accidentally’ stood on my reins was highly amusing.  

In the afternoon Tills and I recognised where we were and despite our tiredness we picked up pace and headed homewards with renewed vigour.  

I would sum up my first real trail as follows – the world beyond my field isn’t all that scary after all and Hula Hoops are just so yesterday – it’s all about the Custard Creams.  In-fact, Tills and I have agreed to only ever go on Custard Cream trails in future – anything else and we’re calling a strike.    


F x

Hula Hoops with Tilly of the 3 Wees

Our training session the other day was so long that I had to go to the toilet 10 times and Tills was renamed Tilly of the 3 Wees…

The effort of being out all day was nothing compared to the serious deprivation of grassy munchies we had to tolerate. Tills and I had to pull all the tricks from the ‘How to Defeat your Human’ Manual for Horses to get the measly tufts we were able to snatch at rest times and on route.

Pretending to scratch our noses on the ground and then surreptitiously diving for the grass verge works well. However, we achieved the most success with the ‘Show and Swoop’ technique.

This little ruse involves leading our humans to a particular lovely view and, while they are oohing over the landscape, we then swoop down for some juicy munchies. On this particular day we were very high up so there were plenty of views to be enjoyed.

Tills demonstrating the Show and Swoop. I have no idea what Sara is doing.

Both these tricks work tolerably well, but not enough to keep us as full as we’re accustomed for 8 hours. Kat said we’ve been spoilt having endless grassy munchies in our field and wild horses would eat on the move most days.

Despite these hardships I discovered that if I helped Kat open the gates I got rewarded every time with a hay cob treat. She also shared some of her human hay cobs with me; she called them Hula Hoops.

Twice on this arduous day the sun was turned off and everything went black – all except a circle of light in front of us that kept getting bigger. Our feet on the ground were very loud and Tills got upset because her eyesight isn’t the best, even in daylight. Eventually the sun was turned back on but the same thing happened on the way home in the exact same place – very odd.

When we got home I was very tired and I can’t even find the words to express how hungry I was… That said, Kat was very pleased with me and said I was now a true trail riding horse as I’d done 20 miles on the trail with half of it in torrential rain.

Next week Tills and I are being loaded onto the sweat box on wheels and taken away from our home to ride 3 days just like this one. I don’t know whether I’m scared, excited or appalled, but I do know I’d like some more of these Hula Hoop human hay cobs. Fetlocks crossed Kat packs enough for both of us.


F x

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.


F x