Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A walk with Buddy

Over the years, it has been my good fortune to meet some of the most desirable creatures that this planet has to offer - and there have even been a couple of people included in that list. However, in recent times I have been introduced to the laziest horse in the world. His only hobby seems to be to eat, preferably grass that he finds by the wayside. This horse could put a fully-grown goat to shame. He doesn't eat until he is full - he eats until he is tired.

This animal is, of course, Buddy - I've mentioned him previously. Yesterday I was collected by Pat and Dennis in  the car and young Jade was with them - the world's most entertaining chatterbox but a very quick-minded girl of thirteen. Off we jolly-well went, stopping to let me pick up a couple of things from one of the few shops that are open on Easter Sunday. Did that and then went to feed the ducks. (If anyone sniggers at this point I will be forced against my will to send large fellows to teach a few people manners.) Normally, me having a reputation to consider, I would deny all involvement with duck-feeding, but Jade took a photograph with a caption underneath stating, "Frank feeding the ducks" - a very difficult thing to deny under the circumstances. I tried bribery and blackmail, but to no effect - the picture stayed on her phone and will probably end up on You Tube or somewhere.

From duck-feeding we went off to the home of Buddy the Idle. I had to clean and oil a saddle, but that was pleasant enough, and Jade even joined in by cleaning her own, an apparently unheard-of activity. Maybe I'm a good influence.

Once the saddle had been cleaned and oiled and tucked away where chickens wouldn't sit on it, requiring a further clean, Sarah put a saddle on Buddy and I got aboard (pictures available - send bank notes in plain brown envelopes please).

"Do you want to just ride around the paddock?" asked Pat.

"No," said I. "I'll ride around the track and come back that way" - or words to that effect. This is AFTER I had bribed Buddy with apples and come to an agreement with him that he would do as he was told and I wouldn't tell him to do anything. So, I shook the reins, gave him a nudge and said, "Please."

Off we went, with an audience - and I'm certain someone sniggered. When I say "Off we went", what I mean is that Buddy kind of took his time putting one enormous hoof in front of the other. As soon as we were out of earshot I began to talk to the horse, telling him jokes, and we got along famously. Halfway to our destination Sarah arrived to see if we were okay, because we weren't exactly breaking any speed records, but I assured her that we were fine, so we went our way and Sarah watched us go.

Finally, man and horse arrived at a sort of natural turning point where several fields meet, so I pulled him up and sat on the saddle while I had a fag and Buddy put his head down to graze. That was where I made my mistake - letting him eat. Once he gets the taste of that good Lincolnshire grass, sweet after the rain, he's not stopping until he's full (or tired, as mentioned earlier).

I finished my fag and put it out carefully - crops take a long time to grow, as we all know. Then I took up the reins again and said to the munching equine fellow, "Let's go, Buddy," gave him a little kick and shook the reins. I swear that he sniggered. Did he move? Did he hell. All he did was rip out another clump of grass and masticate like an overworked cement mixer.

Ten minutes later, after countless swearwords and several boots into his ribs, the only progress we had made was about fifteen feet in reverse. He was pointing in the right direction, just going backwards - to where the grass was thicker.

Now, I can be called a lot of things, but I'm not a slow learner and by that time I had reached the conclusion that Buddy was going nowhere until he'd had his fill of England's green and pleasant land. He even tried to kneel down a couple or three times to remove the irritation on his back. Well, he tried that one last week so I was ready for him. However, I was slowly coming to the way of thinking which included me walking and just dragging him along behind me. Could have been worse - he could have wanted me to carry him for a change.

Half way back to our destination, yanking him away from the grass every couple of paces, we were met by Pat, who apparently has a bit of control over him (pause for laughter) - and he promptly took no notice of her either.

Still, we got back in the end and handed him over to Sarah to be unsaddled, and then I had a bit of a sit-down to recuperate. Dinner was good - a full roast din-dins - excellent with the chat afterwards and, of course, someone taking pictures.

Oh well, everything taken into consideration, it was a very successful sort of day, most enjoyable - and I even suppose my riding efforts were a success too. I enjoyed it. I can't speak for Buddy, and he can't speak for himself - his mouth is full.

The Voice In The Wilderness

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