It’s becoming quite a regular occasion, riding down at the Whangamona coast with Jacquie, Ineke, Heather, and Dawn. I don’t take Smitty because I don’t have a horsefloat and even if I did, old horses don’t travel too well behind a vehicle – they find it hard to keep their balance.

So I ride Trixie, the minxiest little grey Arab mare I have ever met. She’s about 18 years old and has an outstanding personality. Her shoulders are a little stiff from arthritis, so she doesn’t like trotting or going downhill. When we start going down a slope, Trixie starts pig-jumping (some people call this pig-rooting – it’s a mild form of bucking). She doesn’t get me off, but it’s a bit disconcerting.

She really likes being out in front of all the other horses, with her ears pricked, striding out, and she loves the sound of her shod feet going clip-clop, clip-clop on the tarseal road. When we go through a narrow pass in the valleys, or round the side of a hill which looks a bit steep and spooky, and the other horses shy and be silly, Trixie pushes her way through and insists there’s nothing to be woosy about. “Make way, make way,” she seems to say. “Get out of my way, and stop being silly babies. See, there’s nothing to it.”

Once when we let the horses go, and Jacquie’s donkey stallion was bothering Holly, trying to climb on, Trixie rushed over and chased him away, “We’ll have none of that nonsense in MY paddock. Go and find someone your own age, size, and breed for heaven’s sake. Jacquie doesn’t want any mules.”

She’s incredibly sure-footed, and very careful where she puts her feet. You can totally trust her to take you where the ground is safest. But there’s one thing she absolutely, unreservedly hates, and that’s Heather’s horse Dawn. Dawn is beautiful – a black, glossy mare with a lovely head – and if she gets near Trixie, the little trick will lay her ears back and, if I’m not concentrating, go for Dawn and bite her or kick her. She even kicked out at her friend Holly on Tuesday, when she got too close, just because she was feeling a little crowded.

But I love her to bits. How could you not, when you see her darling face:


She really belongs to Donald McIlraith, the neighbouring farmer, who gave her to Jacquie to ride. I know I’m getting too fond of her and it has got to stop. This always happens with me and animals – I bond with them too tightly.

But meanwhile, I’ll enjoy Trixie while I can, along with her dear paddock-mate Holly, seen here with Ineke (caught trying to put her foot in the stirrup) up top:


And here’s me on Trixie, posing:



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