Monday, 30 July 2007

The writer's life

The dogs next door are howling. Usually I have no idea what sets them off, but in this case I do. Sitting down to write this afternoon I glanced out my window to see one of our neighbour’s horses grazing cheerfully in the garden. I am somewhat intimidated by horses, having no idea how they will react or how to handle them.

My initial plan was to lure the horse down the hill. Sadly, all I did was manage to lure all the neighbour’s horses over to press against the fence, begging for food. My second plan was to go get my neighbour to fetch her own horse.

In another life, another world, I would quietly go and knock on my neighbour’s door. I would ask politely how they were and indicate what I was there for. With three dogs roaming the house yard and two chained outside, I abandoned all such city standards for the expedient of standing behind the barn yelling my neighbour’s name. This is what set the dogs off. I may be somewhat intimidated by horses, but I find the kind of dog that crouches low and bays deep in their chest totally terrifying so there was no way I was going any closer.

Unable to make human contact, I left the dogs barking and clambered home over several gates. A rope harness was lying on the ground so I borrowed it with the idea that I might be able to do something. I would have simply left the horse grazing except that two things strongly motivate me to action: threat to my children and threat to my garden. And my garden is looking particularly nice right now.

I have learnt several things today and was reminded of another. One is that horses, even quite young ones, don’t object too much to having a rope slipped over their head. Even if the “slipper” is internally trembling. Another is that if you are leading a horse and it takes off down a steep gravel driveway at speed “Let go of the rope!” I did so and survived to write this tale.

Having cleared the driveway, I shut our front gate and contemplated leaving the horse on the road. Charity and common-sense prevailed and I trotted along behind the horse: it with halter trailing, me chanting “I can do this, I can do this” and “Keep moving horsey.” Somehow I managed to persuade it into its own driveway and shut the gate behind it. I tried then to catch it to remove the halter but failed miserably there. So I left it. After all it didn’t seem to slow it down on the driveway or road.

I hope the neighbours notice the shut gate when they return.

Returning panting and triumphant home, I spend forty minutes convincing my son to go back to sleep. I had thought he was asleep but he hates to miss any action and had spent twenty minutes howling for me. Having got me, he wasn’t going to let go easily.

And my reminder? The phone rings “Hello Blithe the Horse Musterer …” It’s another neighbour. Nothing is secret in the country.

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