How fate forced sale of much-loved Filly

3 September 1999

How fate forced sale of much-loved Filly

BORN a Sagittarian, it was no surprise to anyone, that my main passion in life was horses. For many years I kept and bred various British native pony breeds and having bred nine colt foals in succession, I was lucky enough to witness the birth of my tenth foal from my dining room window, one sunny April afternoon.

I ran down the field to see the new-born foal, still partially enveloped in its amnion, and lifted its hind leg to check the sex. I punched the air in triumphant delight, "Yes! My first filly". The quaint rural dance soon attracted a gathering of neighbours and the cameras clicked, as if it were a celebrity premiere. The dam had repaid our efforts. We had rescued her as a desperately poor yearling and nursed her back to health.

The precious new arrival was in turn nursed, nurtured and reared. We accustomed her to flapping plastic, umbrellas, traffic, discarded pop bottles and barking dogs – indeed her training resembled that of a police horse. By the time she was three years old, she had passed my ultimate test of walking over a silage bag in a gale.

The plan was to break her and compete in ridden Mountain and Moorland pony classes, when she was four-years-old, which is something I had always wanted to do.

But we all know what happens to the best-laid schemes… The 20th March 1996 happened, a date branded on every livestock farmers brain – and our income melted away like an ice-cube on an Aga. The decision had to be made to drastically cut our expenditure, so everything not earning had to be sold, including my precious filly and her dam.

Trading animals is part and parcel of livestock farming, so selling the ponies couldnt be easier. Just take them to a sale.

It was all over so quickly. A couple of circuits of the sale ring, a well-trained pose in the centre and the gavel fell with a sickening thud. It took the walk back to the pre-sale arena for the reality to sink in, looking at the redundant halters in my hand. Filly wasnt mine any more. I thought of what might have been. Only one more year to wait and I could have been showing her.

As I slid into the back of the vehicle to travel home, I could not see the roads for the rivers of tears streaming down my face.

The sale of Filly was the most heartbreaking sale that I have ever made. Although we sell livestock almost every week with little emotion, the sale of Filly was so different. She was my pleasure and my panacea against the problems and pressures of modern farming. They say that time heals but only another enthusiastic equestrienne would understand the continuing devastation of that untimely sale.

A C Robinson

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