Over the stable door: Horse encounter with a roaming bullock

Country Week columnist Jo Foster. Picture by Tony Johnson.
Country Week columnist Jo Foster. Picture by Tony Johnson.
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The parentals went away on holiday last week and it was as though a whisper had spread through the pastures announcing the news. Barely had their feet walked up the airplane steps when the first in a number of agricultural related incidents occurred.

The last (I hope) was this morning when a big Hereford bullock made a bid for freedom, pushing through a bramble hedge to get out on to the old village road. He was found wandering up the road by one of the grooms who was exercising a racehorse. The young horse was shocked to see the bullock in a place it was least expecting and snorted in utter disgust, refusing to venture any closer.

The groom rang me not sure what to do. Fortunately, I had just returned from the gallops and jumped in the car to find them. When I arrived on the scene I could see the bullock in the middle of the road. I could almost read its thoughts. “Do I go and investigate that succulent garden rose bush waving at me in a tempting fashion over there or do I return to persuade the rest of my chicken-hearted mates back in the field to join me in a bold bid to ransack the local housing estate?”

Before his white head had time to fully digest both options myself and the groom, who was still on board the now more relaxed racehorse (having finally worked out it was actually the same cow it sees every day, but just in a different place) began ‘shooing’ the beast along the road in the direction of the field.

Usually horses are not ideal for rounding up cattle, unless thousands of acres of prairie stretch ahead, but in this instance the racehorse worked as a perfect distraction for the excited Hereford, who was far too busy looking behind at the horse following him for a change (role reversal) to pay attention to the ornate pathways and succulent lawns on offer to him on the way back to the field.

I had positioned a keen volunteer to open the field gate and back away when given the signal. It wouldn’t do to let the other 19 head of cattle out whilst trying to catch a single loose one as can often happen.

Thankfully, the Hereford bullock was soon back where it belonged. The racehorse can add a string to his bow after being such a help.

Today is the grand opening of my doggy exercise field named after my naughty Patterdale. This week has been hectic but finally the paint is dry, the parking area stoned, the signs are up and my secure field for disobedient, disadvantaged or distrusting dogs is open. Anyone with a pooch they need to train or who, like me, has one with selective hearing loss can find details at www.baffles-dog.co.uk