The dogs met us as we arrived and have stayed beside us ever since, particularly Brandy. She is a bit of a labrador and a bit of something else but who knows, along with that bloodline she was the runt of the litter. She has a lower jaw defect which in humans would be called an over bite. For her, this results in the end of her tongue permanently poking out as a cartoonist would draw a cute little dog. It doesn’t seem to bother her but if she licks anything it tends to end up muddier! She is a leaner, whenever she wants to be petted she leans on whatever part of you she can. On arrival she inserted herself between our legs (not at the same time) and just stayed there, not in a traditional crotch-sniffing mode, just stood so that you straddled her and couldn’t move. Both dogs are locked up at night but let out first thing when the horses are fed. At this time she makes her way to our door step and is there every morning when we first get up, usually in a bit of a rush to get to our outside toilet (!!) bleary eyed; how she hasn’t been trodden on yet is beyond me. She has rather amazing golden eyes and this appearance is further enhanced by the matted red paint in her head fur where she leant against a wet wall. She is quite lovely though and a very welcome companion in all our activities.
Bea, meanwhile, is a grand old lady. She likes to join us when she’s up to it but opts to take life at a sedentary pace, preferably in the shade. She’s always pleased to see us but allows us to come to her. Periodically, she’ll leap up and charge towards the woods barking madly with Brandy in tow. This can be quite disconcerting as we are unable to see what has attracted her attention, a wolf? a deer? a bear? cougar? or shadow? Any could be possible but so far nothing has materialised, fortunately, so we’ll just believe it to be shadows, that or they’re very good guard dogs.
The horses are obviously a major part of this and despite them all being lovely there are already a few favourites. Unsurprisingly for anyone who read the Silver Brumby series, the palominos are our favourites. Trigger is a highly trained and strung reining horse who has gone a bit loopy. He is on his own in a paddock as he doesn’t get on very well with the other horses and is too expensive to get injured. He exercises unridden in the arena and to see him respond magnificently to merely voice commands is quite amazing. Galloping along the side with his mane and tail streaming out behind is a beautiful sight. Shirley is a trail horse who can also be used for lessons. She was tolerant enough for us to be able to learn to lunge on her and also have our first schooling lesson for years. I knew that she could have a little attitude, despite being very patient when I first managed to catch and halter her on my own, so I declined a canter. Roger tried and she nearly took him out.
Fiona is a lovely girl and we are exchanging nasal exhalations, I’m not kissing her. She is quite timid but provided another horse is receiving the main attention she’ll sneak around your back and nuzzle your neck, ears, shoulder, hat, anything as long as its not face to face so this is a big step. The trail horses are all in the chorale together and it can be lovely to be in the middle of them, they are gentle with us although their weight and strength cannot be underestimated, particularly if they get a bit agitated with each other.
Brass (out of Shiney and Sterling, get it?) is this year’s addition and is heading for trouble. At 6 weeks old he hasn’t learnt his place. He isn’t aware that he is meant to be submissive to older horses and when his mother doesn’t give him the attention he wants he lies on her hay or worse still, wees on it. He’ll be a gelding before he knows it.
A couple more faithful steeds are the Jeep which has seen better days. The broken windscreen is a common feature around here due to rocks spat up from the tracks and apparently the police don’t bother unless the breakage is right in front of the drivers seat! The other is the quad bike and trailer which we use all over the ranch. It isn’t a huge area but certainly makes life much easier for carrying and quicker to get around.