One look at Grace when I went to get her in from the field, and I knew she had eaten herself to the verge of oblivion.
Leaving the horses kicking their heels up in the field, while we went to France for a break from them, was always going to have mixed results. This is because, like Jack Sprat and his wife, one eats too much while the other eats too little. While Darcy the thoroughbred picks daintily at the grass, the pony is as greedy as Mr Creosote in Monty Python. I have known Gracie to eat so much she has burped. And horses, it is well known, cannot burp. It is physiologically impossible. I have thought about ringing David Attenborough and telling him I have the world’s only belching pony. He wouldn’t believe it unless he witnessed it. She opens the side of her mouth like a lager lout and goes, ‘Urrrrrrrrrrp!’
And yes, I know most horses gorge themselves on grass to an extent at this time of year, but truly, Gracie is something else. She is a compulsive over-eater who needs to be on a 12-step programme. She should go to meetings and say, ‘My name is Grace and I’m a grassoholic.’ In an ideal world, she would get a sponsor and not colic herself, one day at a time.
In reality, she pigged herself from dawn until dusk, and all through the night in all likelihood, for the entire ten days we were away. And unlike Darcy, who will have walked regularly to the water trough to drink and hydrate, Gracie will have refused to waste precious minutes journeying a few yards to the trough when those were minutes she could be spending stuffing her face.
When I went to get them in, they were stood together in the shade, swishing their tails.