So many horses and so little time to blog. I’ve told the story of Punch in a different post under a different heading but I should have started with a tale of four horses because Punch certainly rated as one of the most remembered horses around the Camp family kitchen table.
This tale is about Tony who was a Section D Welsh Cob who had once worked in the mines but given his size I can’t believe he went below ground. But who knows? He is the the fine animal in the photo at the top of this blog pulling the box cart full of vraic.
He wasn’t young when he first came to Villa Castrorum but he was a faithful worker for many years. He pulled carts and vans. He ploughed and harrowed. He was ridden for fun by hordes of children from the near by estates. All in all he earned his keep.
On one particular day, Dad, noted that Tony was having trouble with a hill he he had happily driven up many times before. He was also holding his head lower when he pulled. No one else noticed but Dad had a very keen eye for these things and an almost uncanny way of knowing when a horse wasn’t well.
The vet was called on more than one occasion but pronounced Tony fit and well for his age. Notwithstanding what he was hearing Dad thought Tony needed an easier life than he had at Camps Farm.
Hearing that a strong Welsh Cob was on the market a prospective buyer from Sark turned up at Villa Castrorum keen to see Tony. Dad had many friends in Sark and was regularly chosen to judge at their annual show. Usually he went as a cattle judge but he sometimes judged the fur and feather.
He was a skilled judge of a huge variety of God’s creatures and often this was of benefit to the type of animal he was judging on any particular day. At the end of the show the best of each type of animal were judged to determine which was best in show.
For an expert rabbit judge picking the best rabbit from a line of other rabbits was a fairly easy process. Each animal was compared to the others and then marked down for any faults it had until a winner emerged.
But comparing a rabbit to a budgerigar is a different matter indeed. Or a hamster to a gold finch. When choosing the best in breed Dad would simply point out the main faults in all the other breeds and rarely did any of the other specialist judges have the skill to criticise his best of type.
Invariably given that all the other animals had obvious faults Dad’s rabbit or guinea pig would be declared best of breed.
Mum loved trips to Sark in the years he judged there. She was treated like a princess. Picked up from the boat in the Dame of Sark’s carriage she was whisked into the land that time forgot. Unfortunately time has caught up with Sark and that magical way of life has been swept away.
So a good friend from Sark came to the farm and asked if Tony was for sale. He was but Dad was reluctant to let him go to a friend. “He’ll be dead in three months” was Dad’s honest opinion expressed to Mr DC. The Sarkees’ know horses which were then the sole method of transport and a thorough check over had Mr DC convinced that Dad was completely wrong. “This cob has years left in him” was the response to Dad’s dire view of Tony’s chances.
Dad was still concerned and insisted that he wouldn’t sell him until the vet had issued a certificate to say he was in good health. The vet came down, Dad said once again there was only 3 months left in Tony. The vet laughed that off and issued the certificate. Money changed hands and Tony was soon on the boat to Sark.
The people of Sark fell in love with him. He had a great personality and his work load was much reduced giving him more time to just skitter about. Mr DC was extremely pleased with his purchase and he and his family considered this was the best animal they had purchased in many years.
Three months later he died.
Dad was concerned that Mr DC would want his money back but the vet’s certificate was enough to prevent two friends falling out. And Dad had given a very clear warning which the purchaser had chosen to ignore.
Tony in his three months had made a big impression on MrDC who over the years bought many more horses. He called them all Tony.