Writing about horses: surely ewe are joking?

small__8644933753“B*gger off!” I screamed at this particularly large and pesky ewe. Day after day she would hang around while the horses were eating their feeds out in the field and no sooner had one come up for air for two seconds than the great white woolly head would zoom down into the feed bowl.

“You great wimps!” I’d yell to the horses who would just stand there, staring meaningfully at me to do something about it.

Usually shouting and stamping of feet and the odd Greek expletive (only words I ever manage to learn in a foreign language) would get rid of her but on this one occasion nothing would budge the woolly head.  “Right you little monster,” I said, or at least something along those lines, and I grabbed her by the scruff and pulled hard. Nothing.

A second hand clutching at the dreadlocks. Heave, heave, pull. Eventually I was pulling so hard that my backside was mere millimetres from the thick mud and I could feel my fingernails snap one by one, but it worked. The ewe reversed out of the feed bowl. No sooner had I righted myself than she was back in, and I lost it.

Blind rage. One hand shot out and clutched the scruff again and the ewe, surprised this time, came scurrying back. Whack, whack. I smacked it across the cheeks twice with my other hand and she finally took the hint, ambling off with a disgusted look on her face.

Later that evening I was recounting all this on the phone to the other horse’s owner and after having done so there was a short silence at the other end of the line. “Er, have you had a look at that ewe’s undercarriage?” she eventually asked.

“No, I was too busy trying to pull its ****ing face out of the feed bowl.”

“Well, perhaps you should have looked.”


“It’s not a ewe. It’s a ram.”

Somebody had suddenly turned on a very cold, very powerful shower right over my head. “Right,” I stammered, recovering quickly, “perhaps I shouldn’t be quite so rude to him then.”

Various thoughts ran through my head at this time, including the recollection of a very strange guy I knew, Jeff, who had a farm full of impossible animals which had committed every crime in the book from stealing food to killing their owners. Jeff was well over two metres tall and the breadth of a small car, which must have helped him to keep the animals under control. But even two massive, flame-breathing bulls he kept (obviously) in separate fields behaved like mewling kittens when he handled them. He definitely had a gift.

Jeff loved to tell the story of a phone call he received from his local (rural) police station saying someone had dumped an escaped rogue ram there and could he come and take it away please? When Jeff got there all four local constables were standing on filing cabinets, trembling, while the ram methodically charged and destroyed every stick of furniture in the building.

Jeff, being Jeff, captured the raging monster, shooed it into the back of his truck, took it home and turned it out into a field. Jeff did admit, though, that “the little b*gger charged me once and managed to break both my tibia.”

small__46072245With these thoughts fresh in my mind, the next day my little charmer was waiting for me as usual, lurking under the horses’ bellies as I put the bowls down. Glancing quickly at his under-carriage, I saw the error of my earlier ways. I began shouting and waving my arms around but despite being sure I was acting the part perfectly, big Bertie the colored (paint) horse, for once, decided to get involved.

Glancing at me as if to say “oh, shut up, you stupid woman, you’re way out of your depth” he lowered his head like a mud-splattered Charolais bull and charged. The ram executed a nifty 180 and nano-seconds later was quaking by the hedge on the far side of the field. Well, you would too if you’d been galloped at by wellover 1,000 kilograms of angry Shire Horse cross with a bone to pick and probable brake failure. Even Jeff’s ram would have thought twice about arguing with Bertie.

The ram did not return. All the same, in future I shall remember that old line – how does it go? I think it’s “look before ewe leap.”

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