It is with a heavy heart that I deputise for Tiny Tim, my friend and companion for the last 11 years, who has now departed this life.
Tim was a big horse in a little body. For a full up 9.3hh his heart, courage and charisma were huge. Many ponies would not have survived the early abuse he suffered, but Tim came through and has been a champion of all needy animals since. He enjoyed life and was always up for a day out, doing fundraisers, going to shows and patiently standing still while those with special needs stroked and cuddled him. To those of us who knew him well, the ‘standing still’ part was very awesome!
For the last year or so, in failing health, he has been in my thoughts more or less constantly. And when not in mine, he was in Sarah’s. Our yard routine was plotted around him with military precision, but spending longer and longer on box rest was not the thing for a pony like Tim. Frequent visits from Joanna (with lettuce – it’s low in sugar) and Rob (with Reiki) made his days more bearable.
Fancifully, I’d like to think of him over that rainbow bridge, playing tag with Bonni, rolling in a snow drift (his favourite thing), eyeing up the women and of course, wearin’ his red on special rugby days.
But wherever you might be, my dear Tim, thank you. It’s been a real privilege.
Well it has been a fun year! My new friend William Bach is great company and we do get up to some stuff I can tell you! Nearly every day, there is an excuse to tear around the paddock and make very satisfactory hoof marks. Sadly, we haven’t had any snow yet, but there is plenty of time to go.
In July we had a grand day out! It was Cardigan Show and the first of the new Rescue Horse and Pony classes, sponsored by the local branch of the RSPCA. William Bach and I were bathed the day before. I get terribly excited when I have a bath, because I know it means we are heading for a day out. William Bach is, of course, young and experienced in these matters so he stood still like a rock and got some quite unnecessary praise I thought. He’ll learn.
On the day, she and Sarah polished us up and oiled our hooves and off we went in the trailer. We were pretty mucky by the time we got there, so then they had to start again! I went in the Rescue Pony class, which was judged on my story as well as my condition, turnout and conformation. I had the best time! Everyone was watching while I tore about, doing my finest trotting, with William Bach bellowing at me from the sidelines. He didn’t realise that he was going into a different class because he is a Miniature Shetland which is something like a big panda, only faster. I got lots of ribbons and a sash and William Bach got two blue rosettes, which I must admit suited him very well. We had lots to tell the girls when we got home – I had nearly forgotten how much I like shows.
In October, we were invited to attend St David’s Church in Blaenporth for a Service of Pet Blessing. Clearly Megan Dog couldn’t go, the minister wouldn’t get a word in edgewise! William Bach and I were up with the sparrows that morning, getting groomed and having a shoe shine. She and Sarah popped us in the trailer and off we went up the road. It isn’t too far to walk, but the main road is much too busy for ponies, even on a Sunday. We were soon there and had a stroll up the road to the Church which has a very peaceful setting and loads of grass! The people were very nice to us and the Minister and his wife said some really good stuff. Thank you to my new friends Chris Frost and Kate, for commending us animals, blessing us and wishing us long lives.
But today is my birthday! As you know, it isn’t my real birthday, but it’s the day we celebrate my coming here, to start on my second chance in life. I struck lucky that day I can tell you because things had got really bad for me. You can look at my story here if you want, just scroll up to another of my biirthdays to see my films.
Anyway, I am always happy to celebrate my birthday with friends. When it falls on a weekend, I invite my people. I depend on them and they never let me down. But they work on weekdays, so when my birthday is a week day, I invite my yard friends. And for the first time, I have asked Megan Dog to be here! Megan has been with us for more than a year and I would dearly like her to be my friend. Sadly, she doesn’t understand yet and she barks a lot, but one day, we will play properly. I know we will!
These days, I tend to lead a quiet life as you know. I have, I suppose, largely retired as a public figure and enjoy my peace and quiet here on the yard. Lately, though, it seems I am in demand!
My Auntie Jane in the North sometimes asks me to send her some tail hair. I find this quite a personal request really – we have never met – but she says Auntie Jane is a good egg and does clever things, so I spare her some tail now and again. She uses it to do pottery. There is a technique called Raku and they use tail hair like mine to make patterns. Last year, Auntie Jane gave her a pot which had been decorated using my hair. Imagine! *whispers* There is a rumour that it may be awarded a place in the new kitchen as well.
Anyway, a few weeks ago, she asked for some hair again but here’s the thing: I need my tail! There are a lot of flies around at the moment, it’s hot, and our tails are really useful for swishing. And I also have another call on my valuable time -I am going to a show, so best tails are needed!
My local show is Cardigan County https://cardigancountyshow.org.uk/. I have been there before, in the coloured pony class, but this year there are special classes for Rescue Horses and Ponies like me! There are two classes, one where we are shown in-hand and another where the ridden boys strut their stuff. The classes are sponsored by my good friends at RSPCA Ceredigion. They will be judged equally on history, condition and turnout, and conformation. Everyone has to submit a little story with their entry and then turn up for judging on the day. I am very excited because I love a day out!
As you know, I have a companion now. His name is William Bach.
He is not a rescue pony but there are two classes which he can go in, so he will be coming with me. I will have to give him a few pointers on how to behave, trot nicely in-hand and how to leave me for short periods, but I am confident that we will have a great party. Come and join us if you can!
You see what I mean about being in demand?
Well I must say the rugby was quite satisfactory this weekend. The brave Scarlets led from the front on Saturday and the Azzurri gave that other side plenty of food for thought on Sunday. After the match, she came whizzing down to the yard on the quad to do evening stables. I am in pony prison at the moment, because I have had a bad spell with my feet. Maciej says the x-rays look good, but ouch! my toes have been tender so I am in a small stable on rubber mats and a lovely straw bed, until the inflammation goes away. Here’s the thing though: for the first time since William Bach came to join me, he has to sleep in his own stable. It is right next door to mine and we can touch noses through the window space, but he doesn’t like it much – he squeaks a lot, even though I tell him it’s OK. During the day, he is allowed the freedom of the yard and at 3pm yesterday, he decided to go exploring. By the time she came down, he had completely disappeared. She called and rattled the feed buckets, but there was no William.
There are some ponies next door, so she bravely set off in the twilight to see whether Willliam Bach had crossed the stream to join them. As she scrambled past the big badger sett, she heard a rustle just ahead of her. It was an otter! This, apparently, was very exciting.
The trudge up the neighbour’s field proved fruitless, The ten (rather tasty) Shetland mares had not seen William Bach. She came back to the yard, calling, whereupon William the cat showed up, wondering why she wanted his attention.
She focused on the woodland next. It is rather steep but she tried to follow William Bach’s tracks through the leaf mold.
As she got further away, I could hear her calling William Bach. She also shouted some words I haven’t heard before. It was when she reappeared in front of the stables on her back side – I expect she wasn’t very keen on making that climb all over again. I ate my hay and kept quiet.
She struck off up the stream past the Moyers Dam. It’s in a state of disrepair now, because the engineers have not attended for quite a while. The stream is in full spate and there were more words as she stepped in mud so deep you could have lost a small pony in it.
I shouted back to her, by way of moral support, and then we heard WIlliam Bach! He did what passes as his whinny – sounds a bit like a large pig – and it definitely came from the woodland above the stables. Joanna heard it too and we all thought we had found him.
Off she clambered again, muttering in a tired way, about other people’s animals, young ponies, the Napoleon syndrome (what?) and winter. Because winter was really the problem here; by now it was dark. She checked the quarry and behind the hen house, but couldn’t see him anywhere. She came back down, this time on her feet, and said ‘It’s no good TIm. I can’t see in there. Keep talking to him and I’ll be down at first light.’ Joanna checked before she went to bed, to see if he was home (brought me an apple, she’s good like that), but there was still no William Bach.
I did as I was told and first light came. Joanna went off to work and she arrived. She quickly did the feeds and rattled the buckets. A definite piggy squeak was heard – William Bach was hungry! She set off again, with renewed energy, and found him! He was, as you can see, well camouflaged in the wood and really not very far from where she had been last night.
He had burrowed his way through some bushes and could get no further. He was very glad to see her and did a lot of nervous chattering. She had to crawl through the trees and bushes, the way he had gone, and ask him to turn around (it would appear that he hadn’t thought of that). Once he was facing the other way, the escape route was easy. There was now only one thought on his mind – breakfast!
I do hope, for sake of my nerves and her immortal soul, that he has learned his lesson!
I have two young friends you know;
One’s called Josh, the other one’s Joe.
They don’t live here, but a little way away,
But they know me and I know they.
Sometimes they visit, do Josh and Joe
They bring me treats and they always know
My favourite things that I like to eat.
A carrot of my own is my biggest treat!
Now I’ve a friend who is all my own
He lives in my stable so I’m never alone.
His name is William and he’s very small,
But we’d look pretty silly if he’d been tall!
A Happy New Year from Josh and Joe
Was a present to eat, and I won’t say no!
Carrots and parsnips in a bag to share,
William and I had a feast then and there!
I have two young friends you know;
One’s called Josh, the other one’s Joe.
They don’t live here, but a little way away,
But they know me and I know they.
It’s my birthday. Well, probably not my for real birthday, but the anniversary of when I came here, exactly ten years ago. I was a poor thing then, as you know, and you can see my transformation if you look back at my blog: https://youtu.be/8W7ExbcLmx0
I have been well and happy for so long now, I think I am just an ordinary guy.
This year has been a bit tricky though. My laminitis has been giving me some bother and I need to chop and change my paddocks and stables, so that I can stay comfortable. The other horses are bigger than I am
and they need more grub, so the long and the short of it is, I have been spending a lot of time on my own. Luckily, I enjoy human company, so it’s not too much of a bind.
Yesterday, she hitched the trailer up and I wondered whether I was going to have a day out. I do enjoy a day out. But no, she went off this morning with an empty trailer and arrived home with a pony. Now, she used to do a lot of this, so we don’t take much notice, but it turned out this time was special. She brought William home with her and he is going to be MY FRIEND.
We spent a bit of time gurning through the gate at one another, then we were allowed to play.
William is only young, but he shows promise, so I have let him share my birthday cake.
(I am also changing my name to Big Tim).
This could be my best birthday ever!
Do you know my friend Maciej? He is my vet. We all like him but we try not to invite him to the yard too much, because if he arrives, it usually means that something is wrong with one of us animals.
He pitched up yesterday with a determined look. Tawny did a lot of walking about with her bad leg and then he said ‘We’ll do the first dental’. I had been observing from a safe distance, but I was summoned. ‘Good Boy Tim’ she said, as he stuck a needle in my neck! After that it was all fine.
I was vaguely aware that something metal was being put between my front teeth. I expect that is so Maciej could see my back ones. There was a cold mouth wash and then a far-away but persistent noise in my head. It was all fine really, because I had her to lean on as I got sleepier and sleepier.
I woke up a bit later, to be told I was a good boy again – that can’t be bad can it? My stable was completely bare. All my hay had been taken out because if I had tried to chew on it while sleepy, I might have choked. I was ready for my tea a couple of hours afterwards I can tell you!
Tawny did a bit more walking up and down, then Paddy got his dental. He didn’t have the needle and he says his was a lot noisier than mine. He is a really brave pony. I try, but sometimes that doesn’t work.
Maciej says my teeth are a bit wonk and perhaps I had an injury to my head in the past. All these years later, I don’t remember being in the boot of that car now, but maybe this is another battle scar from my past!
Yesterday was a sad day. Tabitha, Tawny, Bramble and I were privileged to be present at the funeral of a dear friend.
Bonni was a princess among dogs! She joined this yard before I did, nearly twelve years ago. She was born at the dog pound in Carmarthenshire and rehomed as a pup. Sadly, after three years, her adopter fell ill and she was discovered by an RSPCA Inspector in poor condition and after a short spell in care, she came to Cwmbern. Her carers gave all sorts of guarantees about her reliability. She didn’t chase cats or livestock – in fact, she was a paragon of virtue. And she didn’t shed hair. According to them.
For a Llanelli girl like Bonni, coming to live on a farm was like moving to Disneyland. There were so many things you could chase! Her breeding was Whippet cross Patterdale, and these mini lurchers are hard wired to chase and kill. Thankfully, her early years had not taught her a lot about killing, but her brain told her to chase it (if it moved). Cats, horses, cows – well, they all got used to her quite quickly. She meant no harm and they seemed to sense that. She loved her new surroundings, but had an independent streak, which caused much angst in the early years. Unless she had her daily walk, she would go searching for her own. Many a day was spent searching the parish for Bonni, who would arrive home with a look which said ‘Sorry, I forgot’.
Bonni had a knack of knowing what was needed. If someone was feeling blue, she would climb on their lap for a cuddle. When I first arrived, she was a frequent visitor to my stable. I was a poor thing and easily scared, so she didn’t chase me. She would wander into the stable, touch noses and have a sort through my straw bedding. She was just one of the many friends I made at Cwmbern. It wasn’t until I was fully recovered that we discovered a mutual love of a game of tag.
Running was her favourite thing and there are fields and beaches here which suited her down to the ground. When her lead was picked up off the side, she would smile, dance and sing a little song, anticipating the excitement to come. The more company she had on a walk the better, and she came to know the visitors who had ‘walk potential’. They tended to get a special greeting when they first arrived.
It’s quiet on the yard today and we all keep looking around for that little black shadow. Although she was one of the smallest of our company , she surely had the biggest heart.
We shall miss her.
What a day I have had! It began with a special hay net (she stole the idea from a lady on the internet) and I made short work of it I can tell you.
Then she made me pose in my new headcollar, which was a present from Aberystwyth University. I have friends in high places you know – well, north places anyway – and I speak to them on Twitter. The colour was NOT my choice – maybe I will be an ambassador for a blue sort of university next time.
I spent most of the day outside – which is what I like doing mostly. I am allowed out when the winter weather is mild, but not when it is freezing. At 4 pm my guests arrived! as well as the staff, Tawny and Bramble came:
Not to mention Winston and William, the stable yard cats!
It was time for my cake, which I shared with Bramble and Tawny. Look at me blowing out the candle!
It was a yummy cake made of apple and carrots, so we all enjoyed it while the staff ate something called mince pies (what?):
When they got around to the mulled wine, I thought I had better see what they were up to, and I tried some
We have a party for my birthday each year. It doesn’t mark the day I was born, but the day my new life began. I am a second-chance pony and my first life was not too happy. I can’t remember a thing about it now, but she says people shouldn’t forget what happens when owners don’t understand the kind way to keep a pony like me.
If you would like to see what happened to me, please follow this link. And if you ever see a pony in poor condition, do something – please.