Cyril’s Diary

On all four legs - a photo of me when I was very young, standing

On all four legs – a photo of me when I was young

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to my new family in Warleggan Village who saved my life. You are very special people.

On the evening of Thursday 8th May 2003 the “farmer” who owned my Mum and her friends transported her some distance and dropped her off on Warleggan Downs. Mum was weak after a long winter and probably the journey was the last straw for her.

Just after midnight Mum began to give birth to me. But the strain was too much.   She gave me a life but in doing so sacrificed her own.   I struggled around in the dark; I nuzzled up to her face; but there was no movement, no loving first licks of a mother’s tongue. Mum’s body was getting colder and there was no milk for me.   All Mum’s friends had roamed away; I felt very lonely.

Luckily for me it was a dry night and it was now starting to get lighter. I started to look around but being only about 15 inches tall I could not see very far.   I could not see any movement until after a while I heard the engine of a car drive along at the top of the hill.   I gave poor lifeless Mum one last nuzzle and made my way through the gorse and bracken to the road and then down to a gate to a farm with a sign “Torhouse” – it looked a homely place with green grass and sheltered hedges.

I had not been standing by the gate long when along came a nice young man (he looked young to me) and his dog – this was John Keast and Toby – on their way up to the farm to give the cows their morning feed.   I knew the one asset I had that would help me were my large appealing eyes.   John looked at me and pondered. Toby just could not understand what sort of horse this was that was smaller than him.   John left me and set off around the moors; I thought he had deserted me but after about half an hour he returned. I realised then that he had gone off to try and find Mum but he had not been successful.

John took pity on me and I trotted after him in a shakey sort of way up to Torhouse farmyard where he put me in the old stable where it was warm and dry.   He then came in with a bottle of water which he proceeded to try and force down my neck but I managed to make him spill most of it over his trousers – I don’t know why I did that because he was trying to help me and really I was quite thirsty. So the second time he tried with his clumsy fingers in my mouth I drank most of the bottle – that made me feel much better.

John had to go off to work so he left me in the stable and a little later Cyril Keast with Gill Keast and Thea Lawrence came out to see me. Thea was brought along as “she knew everything about horses”.   I looked up at these three with my brown appealing eyes. They smiled back at me; I knew I had met friends. Cyril lifted me up in his arms and dropped me in the back of his car and they took me down to stay in Thea’s stable. They gave me water and sugar but to be honest I was not feeling very strong and despite the great care being given to me by these people I began to wonder whether I would make it through the day.

Meanwhile Thea’s husband Rick had gone up on the moors to see if he could find Mum. He found her cold lifeless body by Downhouse and along came the “farmer’s” wife.   She said to Rick that the mare must have died foaling; Rick said that he had the foal and the wife apparently replied that I would have to be put down as I would not survive with no mother to rear me. I believe Rick clearly explained to the woman that I would be looked after and if I died it wouldn’t be through lack of caring.

So I am now causing a problem to Thea and her friends – all of whom soon also became my very dear friends.   Rick decided that I should be called Cyril. I heard him say that Cyril always made people smile and was always willing to help. I will make it my ambition in life to live up to that name and will do my best to make people happy.

Thea drove up to Tavistock which I believe is a long way away to get some colostrum to feed to me and some special powdered milk.   Ron Fraser, the vet from Bodmin, gave Thea lots of advice including that I must be fed every 2 hours. You see my tummy is very small and I cannot yet take big feeds so I need my milk little and often.

You Warleggan folks are wonderful.   As soon as word spread around the village of my little body needing a hand to start it off in life, help came from all directions. Thea, Amanda Barnes, Jenny Hill, Rick Lawrence and Alan Fraser all came along at all hours of the day and night to give me my feed. Alan even volunteered to do the 2 a.m., 4 a.m., and 6a.m feeds – what a great guy. I always greeted everyone with a smile and hopefully they all knew that I really appreciated their care.

However, by Saturday I had caught an infection of some sort and began to get weakly. Thea got some antibiotics for me and they seemed to make me feel a little better. I began to feel very cold and shiver but I was loaned one of the dog’s coats (which was five sizes too big) and that kept me warmer. But I was also constipated and that made me feel very uncomfortable.   And if that wasn’t bad enough on its own Thea gave me some foul tasting liquid paraffin – why is it that anything that is supposed to be good for you tastes so bad? My friends were all looking at me very concerned and I heard mutterings that I might not make it through the night. I would try not to let them down.

They were all relieved when I was still alive on Sunday morning. My tummy was feeling better and I managed to do a little poo. This was greeted with a tremendous cheer by my friends. Word quickly spread around the village that “Cyril has done a poo”. I wonder if they will be so ecstatic each time I do a poo when I am older?

From that Sunday on I have been feeling stronger everyday and am longing to be out running around the paddocks with the other horses.

I am only a few weeks old now but I know that I have received more love and care in my short life than my Mum and her friends receive in all their years. On a clear night I look up into the sky and wonder which twinkling star is Mum? On the one hand I feel very sad that I was not able to be brought up by Mum on the open moors but I know that would have often been a miserable existence particularly during the long cold and wet winter when food is scarce. But I am overjoyed that I was found wandering that Friday morning and have been cared for so well by my friends. You kind people of Warleggan, you are my family.

Thanks for my life.

Cyril.

P.S  ~  A very special thanks from the Lawrence household, to Alan Fraser for his night-time shifts, to Jenny Hill for weekend feeding and to Abbot, Draper and Fraser for their continued advice.

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