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Why Clive the bay gelding was out of sorts

Why Clive the bay gelding was out of sortsOn Saturday morning a week ago, I was sleepily wandering up to the bakery with Maddie the dog and dreaming about fresh bread. I got a hoy from Trevor, who lives on the other side of the creek, but whose horses sometimes feed below our back fence. He was having trouble getting a big bay gelding called Clive, aka 'The Flyer', into his float. Clive was meant to be at the races in a couple of hours, but he was snorting and stamping and being distinctly uncooperative.

"He’s missing his mate," said Trevor.

With a lot of pushing and pulling, a wet unhappy horse and a relieved trainer got on the road. Maddie came out from behind the tree where she was hiding, and we went off on our business.

A few days later Maddie was barking away down at the back fence, but not at horses. A small mob of black and white cows had somehow gotten into the long grass around the railway line near the creek. This didn’t look good.

I rang the dairy farmer’s family. He was around in an instant to whistle the cows back to where they belong. He’s an old fashioned farmer who rides a horse, cracks a stockwhip, and has a three-legged dog to supervise progress. It turned out that the recent rains had swollen the creek and washed away the fences near the railway.

Early next morning matters got out of hand. The cattle were down in the long grass again. Maddie was barking at them and scaring them up onto the railway tracks. The train was five minutes away. My neighbour Super Barry was on the case, but John the farmer couldn’t come as he was busy in the dairy. Barry and I, looking like unmade beds, peered across the fence as the level-crossing bells began to ring.

Why Clive the bay gelding was out of sortsBut then a lone cow came up through the scrub and stood in the middle of the bridge above the creek, forlorn and silhouetted against the grey sky, just as the sound of the train grew in on us. It blew its horn and huffed and puffed and managed to stop a couple of metres from the solitary cow. The train and the cow glowered at each other. The train hooted. The cow did not move.

And then something unexpected: all the other cattle in the long grass came up the embankment to join their isolated companion. This made the train hoot and huff even more. Meanwhile, Super Barry had gone into action, leaping the barbed wire fence, loping along the ballast on the tracks, and shooing the cattle off. The train moved on.

With Barry shooing at one end, and Maddie cutting off an escape route at the other, we got the cows under the bridge. Barry walked them through the muddy, snaking creek bank, across a field, and back into another paddock where he could secure them behind a gate.

Suddenly it was Saturday morning again, and Trevor was putting a horse into his float. "How’d he go?" I asked. "He didn’t get the chocolates," said Trevor with a smile, "but he ran second."

Then he added, "He wasn’t missing his mate, you know, he was trying to tell me he was crook."



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