Along for the ride:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tresco- the Highs & Lows of a Horse's Life

Tresco came to the riding school one day; a dark, shiny liver-chestnut horse with a white blaze. He was over 16 hh and sturdy. He surprised us by turning out to be an Anglo-Arab. He had jumped to a decent level of competition and been sold on when his rider moved away to college.
So-Angelo was his official moniker but was toned down to Tresco, the name of an island off the Cornish coast.
Tresco was a gentleman in the stable. Easy to groom, no trouble at all. Put a saddle on his back and his head and tail would lift in excitement. He grew in stature and charisma at the promise of activity. This horse was not the ideal beginners ride and even riding escort to a large group of holiday-makers, although fun and flashy, he covered twice the ground with his sideways fussing and circling to let everyone catch up. Tresco was one of my favorites. Fun and flashy were appealing to the late-teenager I was then and I rode him any time I could.
At the end of that season I moved to take a job in another county and lost sight of Tresco. I heard he had been sold to a private home and I was glad for him.
A year or more went by and I came home for family reasons, to help my parents run their General Store and Bed and Breakfast in a small village on the Cornish coast. I have always enjoyed walking and would take our two dogs and cover miles along the cliff-tops or up on the moors in the hours when I wasn't working.
One day I came upon a pitiful horse in a small muddy field, strewn with old rusty farm machines and other hazards. The horse was wearing a New Zealand rug to keep out the weather but his back and hip-bones were starkly visible through the tough fabric. The horse was Tresco. Head-hanging, dull-coated Tresco.
When your parents own the local store it is not hard, even for outsiders, to find information in a small village. Those members of the population who are not cousins or related by marriage had ancestors who were pirates and smugglers together. I learned who was responsible for Tresco's downfall and tried to improve his life by involving the authorities. The R.S.P.C.A. began by a process to educate the idiot girl who didn't see how miserably she was treating her horse. She wasn't doing it on purpose but was as thick in the head as two short planks. Progress was not being made and I went to see if she would sell him to me. She wanted more than was reasonable and more than I had.
Thanks to my parents, who never refused to help one of my ongoing collection of lame-duck animals or humans, I was able to offer more and buy Tresco out of the clutches of despair. His first week was all about vets and dentists and farriers, and food, of course.
The gruff and distant local farmers began coming in to the shop for more than their daily newspapers. They would ask after Tresco and offer the use of pasture. Tresco became friends with a lot of cows as he moved from one field to another. I'd bring him to our back yard every day for grooming and feeding and he was the only horse I had over the years who didn't scare my Mother when she went to hang out laundry.
After six months or so Tresco was back in fine form and we would ride out proudly with his tail banner-like and a bit of a prance from his hooves. I loved to stroll around the country lanes and wave to our Farmer Friends with the occasional unrestrained gallop on the open moors.
The Atlantic coast of Cornwall is soft and scenic in summertime but I will always prefer the craggy granite personality of wind-driven waves hammering the cliffs. The blustery winds bringing tears to my eyes and huge gulps of salty oxygen to my lungs. Tresco and I enjoyed it all, rain or shine.
Not being independently wealthy and knowing that my parents were getting ready to sell the business and retire to the gentler, Southern Coast, the time came for me to move away and resume my career. Tresco was too strong for my younger sister to ride comfortably and I was off to groom in Germany. Tresco needed a home.
The small-town grapevine extends beyond the village. A "Landed Gentry" family ten miles inland had been aware of us from the sidelines. They had always had Hunters and their horses stayed with them as "pasture ornaments" until the day they died. They gave Tresco a very classy home. Post and rail fencing, no less, which is unheard of in the land of dry-stone walls that is Cornwall. Tresco was an aristocrat who had come full circle.


  1. Oh what a fantastic piece, I could taste the salt in the wind reading it, thank you!!

  2. Great! I love a happy ending!!

  3. I am so glad you found Tresco. How sad to think he suffered from neglect. But a happy ending is always the best kind.