High drama in the night, as helicopters with searchlights hover low over the village. The Horse Talker wakes up at 3am to find her entire house is shaking. Thinking only of what the horses must be making of this unexpected airborne activity, she rushes up in her pyjamas to check on the herd, whilst Stanley the Dog and I sleep through it all.
She finds the little band amazingly calm. Red the Mare has taken up her familiar station at the head of the pack, in protective stance.
Red does this when there is any fracas or hullabaloo. When unexpected fireworks go off, and I race to the paddock myself, I always find her staunchly in place, between her two charges and the potential danger.
It touches me amazingly how seriously she takes her duties as lead mare, and it is one of the things I love most in her. She has never been a boss in her life, and had to learn it all as she went along. At first, she over-compensated madly, preening and prancing and dancing round the field with her tail stuck vertically in the air and her head stretched to the sky, performing impossible bucking and rearing combinations to indicate her dominance. Now she gently moves her two girls round the field from time to time, to remind them she is in charge, and doggedly keeps them safe from any perceived harm.
It turns out that a poor old lady wandered from the local care home in the night and lost herself on the hill. Police, sniffer dogs and mountain rescue all joined in the search, and she was found and taken to Aberdeen Infirmary. It astonished us all how much manpower was hurled at the problem and how quick and efficient the effort was. But since the most noise we hear in the night is usually the cry of the oyster-catchers and the occasional chilling death-yell of the owls as they hunt small creatures, it has been a bit of a shock all round. In the newsagent, they can talk of nothing else.
The touching thing, from a personal point of view, is the joint custody of our field. Whilst I slumber, the Horse Talker is on full vigil. First thing in the morning, I take up the baton, and go to check the herd myself. Autumn the Filly has suffered some mysterious stiffness and imbalance, we are not sure whether coincidental or not, and I spend half an hour checking her before sending off reassuring emails. Then, the two of us meet to survey our girls, relive the night’s events, and give everyone a soothing pick of the lush grass in the set-aside.
Sole responsibility for equines is a heavy burden to carry; we are both lucky enough to have each other to lean on. It’s not just when things come out of a clear sky, as they literally and metaphorically did last night; it’s also that it’s lovely to have a witness, to share the progress and the triumphs and the enchanting, funny things that the girls do. It would not be nearly so lovely if there were only one set of eyes to see all that. It goes back a little to my previous theme; it is Look, look, and the giving of time and attention. It is why, I suspect, people put up their horsey pictures on Facebook or share links on Twitter. The horse love is a consuming one, and sometimes it spills over and needs to be shared.
The day is cantering away from me now, so just time for one picture today. I have not managed to catch a good herd photograph lately, so this one is from a couple of weeks ago, showing my dear girl watching over her little herd. One should not get sentimental about horses; they are not sentimental about us. But it does bring a tear to my eye: