I’m horse-sitting this weekend, as mum and dad are away. It’s been a long time since I’ve done any hands on work or care with the horses. Also, these two horses (Palha and Tchã – half-sister and brother) have been in Wales for the past few years and I haven’t seen them at all during that time. Grey horses (the correct term for “white” – but not albino – horses is ‘grey’) are born with black hair, and as they age their hair goes through various stages of charcoal and dappled grey, eventually turning white. The last time I saw Tchã he was still pretty grey; but now he’s 13 and very white.
One might think that this outward sign of ageing would be accompanied by a degree of mental maturation.
One would basically be wrong.
Tchã looks so SO like their mum, Ruça. When you looked into Ruça’s eyes though, you saw a brood mare’s years of experience; trust in familiar people tempered with caution; all her instincts and actions geared towards the safety and protection of her foals. You saw wisdom in those eyes.
One would need a degree of optimism more correctly known as delusion to find wisdom in Tchã’s eyes. Instead you see friendliness; incorrigible curiosity; a recklessness borne of having lived in happy security all his life, never having shouldered responsibilities of parenthood or leading a herd. In Tchã’s presence one his left with a distinct impression that this is a horse no less likely to fall down a hole or walk into a tree while staring at the moon than he was as a yearling.
Princess Palha has been angelic this weekend: standing quietly without trying to run off anywhere; manoeuvring efficiently around gates; not farting on me while I clean out her back feet. Tchã has thus far attempted to devour a headcollar; tried to walk through a fence instead of the massive space created by the opened gate; and seemingly decided that his enjoyment of eating hay will be enhanced if he stands with one hoof planted in his food bucket at the same time.
The path between the stables and the field is very overgrown, so they both like to have a munch en-route. Having turned round to usher Palha along – who lifted her head up with a mouthful of grass and followed; I turned back to Tchã and was met with his face inches from mine, a sizable plantation’s worth of foliage protruding from either side of his mouth. Naturally, he choked on it and coughed for a while before looking at me quizzically to see what we were doing next. I’ve missed Tchã.