Sometimes the events that test you just come out of the blue, from the left field, from the place that you least expected. Today we had one of those. Little Sherafey the horse has been on her own since poor Mabel died a month ago, and to be honest her field looks completely knackered. Weeks of rain, and a restless horse don’t make for healthy ground, and so it was that after several days prevarication, I decided that today was the day, and I’d fence off a bit of the forest field for her.
Now so far, Sherafey has largely respected an electric tape fence, even when it is off, and given the amount of grass in her new residence, there seemed little chance of her wanting to wander off. How wrong I was.
Having kept an eye on her for an hour or so, she seemed settled, happy to see some grass, and was having a look round at her new boundaries. I wandered off to sort out our ageing range cooker.
A little later, I decided to head up the lane to get some kit out of our truck, parked up at the neighbours yard. Passing the field, I looked in. No horse. I stopped the car, ran in, assuming that she might be standing under the hedge. No horse. I saw the tracks in the grass and followed them up the field towards the boggy end. Bloody hell, I thought, she’s got into the woods. In the distance I heard a splash. I ran on.
Coming to the end of the field, I could hear something, but could see nothing in the trees. Then I looked down.
Just the head and withers of my little horse was visible above the surface of the water and it was clear that she was in trouble. I sprinted around to the other side of the hedge where I could get to her, but it was clear that there was no way she could escape. The frightened mare whickered to me, and having given her a rub on the nose I ran back down the drive. Claire appeared, and I yelled to her to call the fire brigade.
Jumping into the car, I hurtled off in search of help. We have been blessed with amazing neighbours, and I arrived at Fergie Binghams, (who keeps the odd pony), and to my immense relief, found him in the yard, with two lads in tractors. I forget what I said, but to their credit, they all followed on round to the farm.
A by now shivering Sherafey had stopped struggling, which most likely stopped her from sinking further. Fergie knew what to do, and I put a headcollar on the mare, he tied the end of the leadrope to the tractor forks, and the lad backed away. Just when I thought the strain on her neck would be too much, she began to move, slowly, and as her front legs emerged from the bog, she struggled, nearly sending me in beside her.
Quickly we looped a strap around her legs, and the tractor took the strain. As the suction was released, poor ‘Fey slithered out and onto the bank, exhausted.
“She’ll go back in”, shouted Fergie – “pull her further out”. The tractor hauled her on into the field, and after a brief struggle, she lay back down in the mud, and we heaved the straps off her. Worried, Fergie gave her a slap on the rump, which seemed to shock her into standing, and to my immense relief, I couldn’t see any obvious signs of injury.
Rarely have I thanked a bunch of people more profusely, and as I led the frozen horse back down the lane, the pair of us covered in stinking mud, I was greeted by the arrival of the fire engine, lights blazing. The horse that can be scared by a bird walked calmly up to the front of the engine, and greeted the firemen, who were simply relieved to see her out of danger, and were so gracious about being called out for what was in the end a no-show.
A hose down and some warm rugs, and a visit from the vet, and our little horse has got away with a swollen leg, and minor shock. The poor girl just stood under her favourite tree all afternoon, looking sleepy. I’m sure she’ll be sore as hell tomorrow, but we’er just glad she is still with us. A truly narrow escape.
That end of the field will be permanently fenced off on monday, and we’ve put the house on hold until a stable is complete.
Just to emphasize how amazing our neighbours can be, Fergie was round this evening to check on Sherafey, and see that she was okay. We count ourselves lucky.