(……….Or How Two’s Company, But Three Isn’t Necessarily A Crowd.)
Today we tackled a “First” that I’ve been putting off for a while. Taking Pom out for a hack and leaving the Pie behind ….On His Own.
The last time the Pie was left behind he ploughed through several electric fences as though they were strands of candy floss. But that was many years ago, when he and his new best friend Aly had just moved in together.
As I’ve written before in “The Other One “, the Pie came to us entirely of his own accord.
His “family” built a new house about half a mile up our lane and no-one seemed to ride him. They were occupied with finishing their house and moving in and a new baby was, increasingly evidently, on the way. He seemed well fed and looked after but he was obviously a sociable type and desperate for company.
It became a regular occurrence to find the Pie standing next to my horse’s fence, content just to be near another equine. He seemed to accept his fate with a long-suffering sigh when I slipped a headcollar over his ears and trudged him back home. Then, a day or so later, he’d boomerang right back again.
Inevitably we got to know the family. The pregnant woman had been a professional horsewoman and made sure we knew it. She name-dropped the famous riders she’d worked for or rubbed shoulders with. As she told it, she’d been the mainstay of a variety of riding establishments; most recently at the château of a well-known, local millionaire who kept a string of horses to entertain his rich and famous friends and clients. Florence had photos on the wall of herself with Tina Turner and Richard Gere, as well as sailing over a massive oxer at a national show-jumping competition.
The Pie, bless him, is a relatively small and not at all showy kind of horse, whose virtues are of the homely variety, so he was of no interest whatsoever as a mount for Flo. With disparaging reference to his riding school past, she referred to him as a “transport de viandes” – a meat carrier! He had, in fact belonged to the partner’s ex-girlfriend, a rackety sort of girl who had airily discarded both the Pie and the partner.
He was now kept as a pet – maybe a possible future ride for the children. To catch him, the partner used to chase him round the field waving a halter, which, after he’d given up the chase, he threw at the Pie as he galloped off into the distance. These many years later, the Pie will always move away swiftly if you suddenly raise an arm. (Though in all other aspects, he really is good as gold – if occasionally a surprisingly canny “bear of little brain”!)
When the small field beside the new house was sold as another building plot, Flo and partner readily accepted our offer to keep the Pie with Aly for company. Aly, who had always been quite self-sufficient, eyed the Pie with resignation and welcomed him with a bite on the bum. The Pie squealed happily. He was home.
A while later, his owners needed the money so they decided to sell the Pie to an acquaintance who wanted a “lawnmower” for his large garden ……of course we offered to buy him, refusing to believe that the Pie had suddenly acquired a value above rubies.
Now the Pie was ours, he taught my husband to ride and was a lively mount for more experienced friends to accompany Aly and I on country rides. On the other hand, there was no way we could go out without him: the Pie wouldn’t let Aly out of his sight. No fence or shelter could contain him and at that time we hadn’t built the boxes in the barn.
As Aly got older and wheezier, I rode less and less and finally he and the Pie were free to live the life of Riley, untroubled by all the bothersome saddles, bridles and paraphernalia dreamed up by us humans.
Two was good company for around ten years. And then there were three.
A lot of people, including Flo, felt they ought to inform us – not that we were asking anyone’s opinion – that three was bound to be difficult; a Crowd.
But once Pom had decided to unpack his bags (and baggage) and settle down, the three geldings got on remarkably well together. Pie took a shine to the handsome newcomer and recovered some youthful verve. While they fooled around pretending to be colts, Aly was able to keep his own counsel and snooze in a shady corner to conserve his strength and breath. And when I rode Pom, who was always good about going out alone, Aly and the Pie reverted to their old partnership. Pie would holler for a while but showed no inclination to follow.
But now, Aly is gone and we are back to two again.
Before Christmas, Eric wondered out loud if he could ride the Pie again. Our vet and farrier agreed that a little light work might do him more good than harm, so I asked Kerri, who is almost Kylie-sized, to saddle up the Pie and join Pom and I on a couple of short, gentle trial rides. It was a treat to see his little face light up at being out and how game he was to go. Kerri rode him very tactfully but it was obvious that he wouldn’t be capable of much greater mileage, even with “Bute” and especially not with Eric up top.
So, it had to be tackled. Leaving the Pie Home Alone.
Dank, mizzly, slippery weather has been the dish of the day for the last few weeks with hardly a shard of sunshine to bolster our better intentions. So it’s been easy to procrastinate, especially since the other three of us weren’t at all keen to push the issue.
Today dawned a little brighter, so I tacked Pom up and Eric led the Pie into his box in the barn, with eye-high walls. Short of making like a springbok or breaking through like a rhino, Pie would be a pampered prisoner with a huge hay-net and an on-hand treat dispenser – Eric. We kept all this as cool and calm as possible, (though I cursed I’d forgotten to buy some “calmer” to put in his feed) and with a minimum of fuss, I hopped on Pom and off we went.
We took our shortest, kilometer, round-the-block ride, phone in pocket in case of trouble. Pom was fresh and keen to race, but conditions underfoot were slippery as eels and we kept a steady pace to get back quickly and safely.
We were home within twenty minutes, despite stopping every few minutes to listen out for neighing or frantic hoofbeats! Pie had wailed and kicked the door, but as soon as we hove back into sight all was well.
A promising “First” for this budding year. Next hurdle – into the trailer ……..