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Relatable Ronnie — the fun game of plaiting

Join Ronnie and his owner Penny as they encounter some horse vs. human moments we could probably all relate to...

Penny has prepared well. Ronnie has been well exercised this morning, he has relaxed all afternoon in the field and been served his tea on time. Now is the moment…

All necessary items are collected and put out of reach in the stable. A stout grooming box-cum-step awaits Penny’s size three boot, and Ronnie is tied up securely. It is still only March. But his mane has been drenched and flattened with fly spry — Ronnie has a vivid imagination, and Penny is one step ahead. Only his neck and head are exposed for the forthcoming strategic battle.

Penny gets up onto her box and combs the mane. Careful not to pull one single strand of hair, Penny sections the mane from top to bottom. Ronnie has a complete aversion to having his mane pulled and he’s not afraid to show it. He sports, therefore, a luxurious full hair style on both sides of his neck, tamed (only by name) by all manner of combs and gadgets bought over the years. Ronnie stands still, his moment has not yet come.

There are 17 plaits to complete due to Ronnie displaying his Welsh, and not his thoroughbred, heritage. Although he stands at 15.2hh he can make himself extremely tall, and his long, bendy neck, which does exhibit his thoroughbred blood, is like rubber. Comb in mouth and elastic plaiting bands cutting off much of the blood to her fingers, Penny climbs onto her box determined not to get off it again and commences round two.

At the annoying height of 5ft in her wellies, Penny is forced to stand on this box to reach Ronnie’s mane. Ronnie is equally forced to bend his neck in any direction his rope will allow to test Penny’s reach and balance. He has his manoeuvres down to a T. He never fidgets enough to get told off, just enough to cause his mane to slip and the plait to lose tension. It is a great art, and he has developed great skill at it.

So starts the game of wiles. The first plait is secured and Ronnie bides his time, he will feel Penny relax. Here it comes, an invisible gnat, he is compelled to shake his ears. It is worth another dousing of fly spray to watch Penny get off her box to fetch the bottle. First blood to him! Annoyingly, while off her box, she has tied him even tighter — he didn’t think it was possible. Strategy is called for!

Two more plaits are completed before Penny is far enough down Ronnie’s neck for him to find that the oft played gambit of ‘weight the other hoof and twist the neck’ has Penny at the end of her reach just as she gets to the bottom of another plait. One more ounce of hoof weighting effort has the plait out of her fingers. Two : one to Ronnie.

Penny is now within sight of the withers. She has cut off as much of the lowest part of the mane as possible without giving a half hogged appearance. Ronnie’s thoroughbred pretensions come to the fore once again — he quivers and twitches his withers with all his might and the plait flies out of Penny’s hands. He can hear her teeth grinding.

An hour has passed and it is now dark outside. Penny’s advancing years have lessened her acute eye sight and the light bulb gives ‘mood’ lighting in the stable. Glasses perched on nose Penny begins the final furlong, to wit, rolling and sewing a black mane with black cotton in dim light.. Ronnie has fewer cards to play here, but he has a partner in crime, The Husband. The Husband, wondering why his wife has been so long — surely he remembers from last time?! — appears ghost-like from the shadows. He has never mastered the art of just walking up to the stable announcing his presence. “Ghost” yells Ronnie and pulls back, breaking the baler twine and stabbing the needle into Penny’s finger. The Husband gets the full force of all Penny’s pent up fury. He then tops it off with a huge helping of guilt by announcing that he has got supper ready. Penny looks for the blue moon.

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Finally a neck cover is secured along the 17 plaits. Penny long ago gave up on the use of tights down the neck, this was foals play to Ronnie. The neck cover has the added bonus of flattening the plaits so that they don’t look so huge.

Penny retreats to the house to dunk her stabbed finger in disinfectant in the hope that she can hold the reins properly tomorrow. If she is lucky only the forelock will need doing in the morning. Ronnie settles into his hay with great contentment and an ever so slightly smug look on his face. He reckons it was at least 6 : 1 to him this time!

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