Stories from Farfrae Farm

The People The Pets The Horses The Stories

Saving Cheeky

Things get pretty slow around Farfrae in the winter, so Morgan and I decided to head up to Aberdeen for their weekly Thainstone Friday Sale.

We had liked the sound of several animals in the online catalogue, so we optimistically drove up in the horsebox. For once we arrived early enough to go around the pens before the auction, and we liked our online picks even more in person.

The auction was about to begin, so we headed inside and found our seats. The bidding went fast, but our luck was against us today as every single one of our picks slipped through our fingers.

The last one, a tidy little cob, went for miles above his actual value when a bidding war kicked off between the parents of two serious looking pony club girls.

Morgan was all for leaving after that, but I always like to stay to the bitter end. The next lot couldn't have been more of a contrast to the fat and sassy cob just sold.

I don't know how we missed this pony in the pens, but we must have because I know I would have remembered the shaking, straggly-haired, scarecrow of a pinto pony that was led out for our consideration.

It was so thin it could barely totter around on its toothpick legs while the auctioneer had the audacity to proclaim it a top riding pony, just in a little need of a good grooming. Its hooves were massively over-grown and split and there were sores on its urine-stained flanks.

I was shocked the mart would allow an animal to remain in their pens in this condition, but we later learned it had been a last minute entry after the auction had actually begun and the owner left directly after their lot had sold.

The handler did his best to show off the points of the unfortunate animal, but the ancient looking creature was too weak for much and soon stood with dull-eyes and heaving sides in the center of the pen.

Bidding was heavy going - even the kill-buyers weren't interested in this walking skeleton - and calls of "shame!" and "where's the vet?" could be heard over the auctioneer.

I'm normally the softie of our auction team while Morgan is the practical one. Many is the time he's held my arm down, whispering "we can't save them all" while some broken down animal is led through the sales pen.

So imagine my surprise when suddenly I hear a shout of "twenty pounds!" from my left!

"SOLD!" the auctioneer shouted and we found ourselves the owner of a pony who looked as if he might not survive the two hour drive home.

On closer inspection the pony looked just as bad, though not quite as ancient.

He, for it was a gelding, was actually only around five years old and had a nice build, which could be clearly seen under his dry, clinging hide.

We gently lead him into the trailer and slowly began the long drive home.

While I was driving, Morgan called our vet and Dr. Richard pulled into the yard just ahead of us.

After a thorough exam, Dr. R declared the pony healthy and sound aside from the hoof situation and his extremely emaciated state.

Apparently there was nothing wrong that a good grooming, hoof trim, and a careful plan of feeding wouldn't fix.

Kristof came out on his day-off to give the pony his first hoof trim (the thing would have to be done in stages over a period of weeks) and promptly named him Cheeky after the pony, despite his extremely debilitated state, tried to take a chunk out of Kris' backside.

After several months of good care and good food, Cheeky has blossomed into a beautiful pony.

He has proved intelligent and easily trainable, though he does frequently live up to his name.

One can easily believe now that he is, as the auctioneer claimed, a top riding pony.