A day by day account of a journey is pretty boring. Got up, moaned about my back, my feet, my legs, the weather, lit Kelly kettle, drank tea, loaded vehicle, harnessed Obama, hitched up, walked, when knackered took a break. Walked, looked for place to stop for the night. Stopped, lit Kelly kettle, ate food if available, moaned about feet, legs, the weather, contemplated half inch of bedroll and realised that the next morning the litany would start again, moan about my back....
Camping is camping, if you've done it, you know the issues, if you haven't, don't read about it, do it. Camping with a pony just increases some problems, and reduces others. Weight is no longer such a critical issue, as long as you avoid the serious hills, and don't listen to your pony when he is pretending they are too steep.
Obama got me pulling up most of the steep hills, which I didn't really mind. What I didn't like was his attitude. The minute I took hold, and we were working level, his head was snaking round, teeth bared, saying "pull harder you sod!" I am never completely convinced by people who claim to understand their horses, but the minute you are pulling next to them, the language is crystal clear, and mostly rude. I found Obama and I settled down quickly to walking in step.
If I didn't the body language got a lot nastier, but however hard I worked, and I swear to God we went up some hills with Obama being pushed by the bloody breeching, Obama was consistently swearing under his breath at me. What is odd, is that if I left him to do it on his own, I got no such insults, though by the end, he had developed a definite tendency to stand at the bottom of the shallowest gradient until I lent a hand.
Obama settled down wherever we stopped, and although there were times where he wasn't too impressed, he never really complained. With 8 electric fence posts I could give him a reasonable stretch of grass each night, and as long as I was around, he stayed calm. What did surprise me is the extent to which he needed my company. By the end of the journey, it was really difficult to leave him anywhere unless I was in sight. Collecting the van and trailer to pick him up from Perivale, really worried me, even though I was leaving him with a friend, in a well fenced garden with the remains of an orchard. When I put him in, it was in a well fenced garden with an orchard, but Obama decided that the smaller apple trees, once denuded of their fruit, were there to provide him with entertainment, so he flattened them.
The minute I left him on his own, he worried and started calling me. The bonds you build travelling are strong, but of much greater importance is the stress level on the animal. Obama didn't like London, and the bond which had been rather a compliment at the start, had become a matter of concern by the end. The bond had kept us both safe, as Obama would do almost anything to stay close to me, and when things went pear shaped, he wouldn't run, but stayed close, as he proved during the final crash.
An animal that feels secure when you are present, can't be trusted if you leave him, and there's the rub. The last three days, I could only eat if I could find a shop where I could see Obama, and he could see me, while I shopped. There aren't that many shops in London that allow this. I found one. It was a hungry three days.
Returning to Brecon, to Nick Sander's place, was as much for Obama's sake as mine. I knew I could put him straight out in a field with Tiki, and as I expected, he didn't give me a backward glance as he set off to join his friend. In fact the next day he was pretty snotty about being caught, and decidedly uncooperative about virtually everything. I just fed him treats. He'd earned the right to be snotty, my main concern was whether he would go back in a Saddlechariot.
After a full check over for any injuries, bruises or whatever, I put him back in the Saddlechariot in front of Nick, who pointed out that Obama wasn't worried at all, but I was clearly terrified. Depressingly true, not that I was terrified of getting hurt, I was terrified I had damaged a pony to whom I owed so much, but he seems genuinely unconcerned by the whole thing.
I am settling down to retrain him pretty much from scratch, partly for my sake, but mostly for his. He needs, and deserves, a more relaxed time, learning to behave again with children, sorting out his issues going over bridges, getting rid of his problem with flocks of birds round his head and introducing him to the joys of driving through the surf.
I have shown what Obama and I can do, it is time now for him to chill a bit, and lead a semi normal life, working in a happy low stress environment, maybe taking a someone in a wheelchair across Dartmoor, but nothing strenuous.
Because in the spring, I fancy a little travelling, nothing major, just from Troy to the Tigris. It's only 600 miles as the crow flies, and it shouldn't take long to drive Obama in the Bannedwaggon to Turkey. Then it's only 600 more miles.
To see some of my marginally more organised rants, try these links. If all else fails, try hitting them with whips. It works with horses, doesn't it? http://sites.google.com/site/wehithorsesdontwe/ http://saddlechariot.comlu.com/index.php