I had left bringing the horses in at night for as long as possible for a couple of reasons, first the field in which they spent their time was quite sheltered and they were happy, and second… second, was Alfie.
But with the wet weather coming in and the high winds it felt the right time to start stabling them at night. I dug out a head collar and made my way to the gate. I could see Alfie at the other end of the field, his rug twisted and untucked, his knees muddy, his mane scruffy and sticking out at odd angles on his head.
“Just William,” I mumbled, “I’ve ended up with an equine Just William.”
He turned – he couldn’t have heard me, there was no way he could have heard me, but he turned as though he had and spotting me galloped over, careful to find the biggest puddle of mud to run through on the way. The mud splashed up everywhere, covering his belly and his legs in thick oozing yuck.
“Oh Alfie,” I said as he dashed up to me and went to rub his head affectionately on my arm but misjudged and put so much effort into it he sent me flying.
Oh Alfie. I slipped the head collar over his nose and stepped back when he got so excited he started bounding up and down on the spot, which is quite a feat for a tinkers pony.
“Calm down, wooo, calm down boy.” I stroked his neck and watched his eyes come back from helter-skelter to nearly normal, and the bounding up and down slowed to a bopping, then a mooching, and finally his front stood still with just the hint of a bum wiggle at the back. We can handle a bum wiggle.
“That’s a boy,” I said, still stoking him, still claming him. Then I opened the gate and lead him through.
The second we made it out of the field he went crazy, ‘…yeah yeah, dad dad, yeah, come on, where are we going? Yeah, come on, wherever it is, let’s go there fast! Wow, I love going… anywhere…’
“William—I mean, Alfie, will you calm down, please.”
This was going to be a nightmare.
We made our way to the stable door with him prancing about like a Spanish stallion.
‘…yeah, woooo, I love jumping about, woooo…’
I took a deep breath, and marched him confidently into the stable.
He stopped prancing. He walked in, and stood there. Quiet. Well behaved. With good manors. Nicely.
I looked at him.
He looked back at me.
I scratched my head.
He nibbled some hay.
I tied him to a ring on the wall and undid his outdoor rug, all the time expecting him to explode in such a confined space, but he couldn’t have been better behaved if he was stuffed. I moved around touching and talking to him so he knew were I was all the time, and groomed some of the mud off – to remove it all would have involved walking him through a petrol station carwash. I threw on a fleece indoor rug and buckled it up. Not a murmur.
Early the next morning I went down not knowing what to expect, but he was still calm, still relaxed, standing on a straw bed that hardly looked slept on. I couldn’t work out why my naughty horse had turned nice, other than the fact that he loved being inside and was trying hard to be good – I didn’t even know he was capable!
I swapped rugs, put on a head collar, opened the stable door and the moment he was outside he went, ‘…wooo, we’re out again, yeah, dad, let’s PAR-TY!’