My friend Maíre has gone on holiday for three weeks and her two ponies, Ben and Rosie, have come to spend their holiday with us. Ben is well known to both Minnie and Cassie and the sight of Ben arriving in his trailer usually means we’re going for a hack together. They arrived last Thursday evening and Maíre drove into my yard as usual. Even before we started unloading Ben and Rosie, I could hear my two whinnying and cantering in the field. They knew something was different, there would be no hack today. We walked Ben and Rosie up to the entrance. Cassie and Minnie raced each other up and were waiting for us when we got there, both very excited. I was leading Rosie, who seemed mostly interested in the grass on offer, which was just as well, because I had a complicated bit of management to do. Switch off fencer. Push back Cassie and Minnie who were standing right at the tape. Open tape, lead Rosie through gap and make sure Cassie and Minnie don’t run out to greet Ben, who is still outside, prancing like a stallion. I let Rosie go and open the gap wider for Maíre and Ben. By now, Ben looks about 17 hands high, all Maíre can do is unclip his lead rope, and off he goes, straight to Rosie. He herds her away from Cassie and Minnie and they find a corner to graze. For a little while there is a stand off, then Cassie and Minnie decide to investigate.
Ben notices them coming and starts performing. Freestyle dressage at its best. Here he is doing a very impressive Spanish walk. I have a friend over from Holland for a couple of days. She doesn’t know anything about horses, but she immediately recognises Ben’s moves as something she has seen on tv, when Anky van Grunsven was performing. “Ben is dancing like Bonfire or Salinero”. Ben is truly magnificent, but it is too much for Cassie and Minnie and they take off.
For a while, there is another stand off. Ben and Rosie are grazing in the far corner and Cassie and Minnie watch them from a safe distance.
I notice that Cassie lets Minnie take the initiative. That surprises me, because Minnie is usually happy to follow Cassie’s lead. Not today. I think Minnie remembers that Ben and Rosie spent their holiday here last year too. At that time, Ben managed to take Minnie away from Sam, leaving Sam to graze on his own. Maybe that time spent together with both Ben and Rosie has given her the edge over Cassie, but Minnie is not content with waiting and watching and goes off to investigate again. She looks confident and has purpose in her step. Cassie just tags along.
Ben decides to move Rosie away from the other two, and they disappear into the next field. Minnie and Cassie follow.