Hovis’ Friday diary: were the magic calmers for me or mother?

  • Dear diary,

    So last week I told you about my first day at the Lincolnshire Show, the vast hordes of people I entertained, the children I let violate my nasal passages with their little fingers and the star role I took in the ring to showcase how I should have been called Hamlet not Hovis.

    So, let’s now focus on the second day, where it’s fair to say I didn’t entirely cover myself in glory…

    To start with mum was, for the first time at events like this, flying totally solo. Aunty Em couldn’t make the second day at the last-minute and dad was at work, so mother was alone. This did not please she-who-must-be-obeyed as she likes to know that at least one person is thwarting my attempts to steal things out of people’s handbags, savage people who think that because they have been around other horses (mainly warmbloods, I note), that a lowly bog trotter like me presents no challenge and drink peoples Pimm’s, while she talks to my adoring public. Alone she must be able to do both as I decided it might be fun to test how good she really is…

    It’s also fair to say after nearly 9.5 hours of being mauled the day before, I was a tad grumpy — I am an animal not a machine people. I’m entitled to get out of the shavings the wrong side — so I wasn’t really “feeling” it. I demonstrated this by half-heartedly refusing to get on my executive transport, but a swift flick with lunge line and a glare that would melt the ice caps from mother and I was on faster than you could say lazy lorry loader.

    Upon arrival at the showground, it was blowing an absolute gale and mum started to look worried — the Bransby Horse gazebos made a break for freedom several times, stall holders were behaving collaboratively by allowing their stock to drift across everyone else’s stand, price lists were whistling past like Usain Bolt heading for a free bar and mother’s hair was resembling an electrocuted poodle more by the minute. It was a bit not good.

    Now also bear in mind that I’m merely held in a round pen with a gate at the front of it, strategically lower so I can hang out and say “hi” to people. I’ve also in my day been known to be a bit of a showjumper — trust me when I say that gate is no challenge. And boy does mother know that.

    She started eyeing up the magic calmer syringes more and more but I never did ascertain if they were to be for me or her…

    So, most of the day was spent apologising for me being tetchy, trying to stop me nibbling people — although worthy of note I never once tried to nibble a child, only grown ups — and distracting me when she felt I was eyeing up the gate with too much of a “gleam in my eye”.

    The girls from Bransby and most of the public did point out to mother that in that wind, with all the distractions and all the mauling that most horses would be going absolute bat poop crazy and that my mild bad temper was nothing short of a miracle. But this is mother — the founder of the phrase “perfection” — so she was cross with me. I blame her — I was much better when I couldn’t see but it was her daft idea to pay for me to have a bionic eye so thus it’s her fault I now can see everything, and that I react accordingly.

    As the day progressed it became less of a meet and greet and more of a bomb proof your horse event. The rubbish blowing into my cage (sorry, pen), the gazebos flapping wildly and the loose dogs who cavorted in to see me with gleeful abandonment and under zero control by their owners was all dealt with; a few snorts, a bit of power ponce trotting and that was that.

    It got a bit more interesting when the Red Sparrows took to the air and insisted on dive bombing over my head spewing blue, red and white smoke for the best part of 20 minutes. Mum, by this stage, had me headcollared and on a “time out”, which is code for she was now at the upper limits of her outwards sense of cool and was hanging on to me for grim death while muttering about public liability insurance…

    The final straw however came when there was a bird of prey demonstration in the ring opposite us, and in either a deliberate test of my resilience or a lack of control on behalf of the handler, an eagle type thing flew into my pen straight at my head. Mother ducked faster than Donald Trump trying to protect his toupee from the downdraft of the presidential helicopter and I was left to eye ball this taloned terror as it hurtled past looking about as happy as Victoria Beckham at the Royal Wedding. By this stage, mother looked like she was considering sticking a syringe of happy juice up each nostril and inhaling hard, so a decision was made that I could retire to my executive transport for safety.

    The day wasn’t finished testing me yet though as a bunch of gun dogs broke loose in the tree line next to the lorry and my evasive action nearly resulted in mother taking a header off the side of the ramp. Her language was its usual expressive self and I almost felt sorry for the dog owners if she caught up with them — but then I have to deal with her so why shouldn’t they?

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    Suffice to say I’m still in the bad books where mother is concerned. Aunty Em and everyone else thinks I was amazing to put up with everything and they’re all totally right of course.

    Mother doesn’t feel that way though, so if anyone is in the market for a very patient, supremely talented, occasionally-but-justifiably-grumpy superstar then keep your eyes open — something tells me there might be one on the market sometime soon…



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