Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pony invasion

We've had ponies in the field opposite the house for the last week. We arrived back from a trip in the van to ice and snow (an hour to get the van up the hill of the last hundred metres or so) and saw hoofprints and neat piles of horse droppings up the track. I thought it was someone out for a hack but no. The next morning the dogs went roaring out barking. When the small one does this I don't always take notice unless it's the bark that says there really really is someone there. When it's this type of bark and the big one joins in I go and see.  Three ponies were looking startled, stopped in their tracks, surprised at the reception. 'Where did you come from?' they seemed to say, then turned and trotted away across the flat bridge.

I thought that would be the last of them, that they were escaped from somewhere, but they were back. The dogs got used to them and they became proficient at breaking into our neighbour's field across from the house. Making themselves at home. Relaxing in the sunshine.

None of this is particularly remarkable - stray cattle are a fairly regular occurrence, though we haven't had ponies before. But it's made me think. Our neighbour came up and chased the ponies away. They came back, got into his field again, ate the grass he would be wanting for his cattle. He chased them away and closed the gate across the track outside our house. They came back, flicked their heads at any notion of ownership, broke through his electric fence (not turned on) and sunbathed on the precious bit of new grass.

So why did we do nothing? I only feel part guilty, and I shouldn't feel guilty at all. This is the neighbour who fell out with Joe - and therefore me - over the cutting of an ash tree, and who objected when we had someone he didn't like renting out our converted barn. The gate he closed was the one he put there in the hope of inconveniencing us. So to see those ponies eating his grass, to see him chasing them away again and again. Well I won't say it gave me pleasure, but...

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