Spring is most definitely making the best of a tough deal down here in Dorset and pushing itself up through the filth that used to be known as IP’s paddock. Although IP is adamant that it doesn’t affect her, the soon to arrive flush of greenery through aforementioned mud requires advance action. (There are some ponies, who perhaps ought to remain nameless, that can put on weight by just looking at the green stuff.) Exercise, I told her, that’s the plan. Plan? She looked at me with her I’ll-just-humour-you look and carried on eating, she’d wait and find out what this new plan involved before deciding if she would deign to be part of it.
Step one of our plan involved a new saddle. As we do quite a bit of ‘off piste’ riding down here, we have gone with an Australian stock saddle which is working out beautifully for us both. (Ignore the slightly ‘gaucho’ stirrups, they have been replaced with Sprengers.)
One of the best aspects of a stock saddle is the deep seat, essential for those sudden and unexpected manoeuvres elicited by a Unicorn In Training. The sideways teleport is her favourite for special occasions and the harrier jump jet vertical is always worth it for a giggle.
Looking out for objects to spook out is currently top of IP’s list of entertaining things to do on an expedition and this can take many forms. We often have a chat about the continued necessity of extreme spooking, but she says she has to keep it up otherwise I’d be asleep and missing out on the scenery, especially in our new and far too comfortable saddle.
Take the other day for example, we went down the lane to meet up with Buster, ignoring the pheasants. Having survived the shooting season intact, these are the pheasants that now need real motivation to even consider flight as an option for evading the death hoof. Even if that said hoof is about to splatter them into not much more than pate on the tarmac, they remain resolutely grounded. They can run (oh my... can they run), but they refuse to entertain flying until the absolute last possible moment. I’ve often found a pheasant in the face or, even worse, under the belly of a Unicorn In Training to be quite disturbing. Nope, smirked a bouncy Unicorn, doesn’t bother me.
We also ignored the ‘undercover’ quail who make a habit of skulking and rustling in the undergrowth (probably in raincoats, with trilbys and sunglasses), whispering all sorts of inappropriate things to a young and somewhat impressionable Unicorn In Training.
Then, a real test, the man strimming his hedge. Now, don’t correct me, I do really mean strimming the hedge — this is Dorset... In any case the man was elderly and probably a little hard of hearing, but he had entered into the spirit of the job with alarming gusto, swinging a strimmer that, I believe but am happy to be proved wrong, should be used in a manner that does not include swinging it above head height. It did provoke an eyes wide, somewhat startled reaction but that was just from Becky and I - IP and Buster seemed to believe that as they were in Dorset, anything can and should be expected.
It is easy to understand then that I often find it hard to predict what may be considered of sufficient danger to justify the adoption of crash procedures and what does not. A jet flying overhead, army type, tootling along at tick over, (if that is possible for a jet), decides to move all its cargo/passengers to the rear of the plane by suddenly shifting into warp factor something speed...we saw the plane race off and, a second or so later, were hit with a wall of sound that reminded me vaguely of the morning after Glastonbury. (I was young and that’s another story.) Seriously, it was so loud even my teeth were vibrating for five minutes afterwards. ‘Course Buster and IP were deep in conversation and giggling so completely missed it. To make up for the disappointment of such an omission, the jaunty plant pot, placed with care on the garden wall of a house warranted extreme evasive action, including the equine equivalent of shifting their passengers to the rear of the plane... What’s so odd about that is that the jaunty little plant pot has been in position for two years and, to my knowledge, has not moved an inch in all that time and never made much in the way of a noise...but then they did say that about the triffids...
IP is enjoying playing her version of join dots in her paddock by rolling in several spots throughout the day, leaving a vivid coating of white/silver unicorn fluff in the drying mud patches. She’s still in at night as it is still going down to minus numbers at night and recent showers have topped up the gateway bog requiring wellington boots to be stapled on if one is rash enough to go wandering about in there. IP loves her stable with an almost religious zeal; sleeping, she thinks is a highly underrated pastime. By sleeping she means, horizontal unconsciousness that cannot be disturbed even by someone arc welding outside your stable and can be maintained for several hours at a time. Such sleeping is an absolute necessity as detailed in her copy of the Highland Pony’s Rights and Obligations and if deprived by, heaven forbid being turned out in the field, a Unicorn can become as reasonable as drunk who has just been told its last orders.
Aside from sleeping, we are keeping up with the exercise plan and making the most of the seaside before the hordes arrive to enjoy the ‘better’ weather. We went very early with Buster to the beach last week to examine the remains of the flood damage but IP is now more concerned about the predatory park benches that reside in that vicinity than anything else. To make sure we are spot-on trend, we spent the journey home taking gratuitous reflective selfies... Watch this space and remember that we told you it first!
With love IP and Midge xx