Why is it that, when you are digging up your spuds, the biggest and best spud is the one that comes up impaled on the tines of your garden fork?

It's good old Murphy's Law, I guess. The same law that dictates that your horse will come up and playfully nudge your mucking-out wheelbarrow and tip it over when it's full of manure ... not when it is empty.

Water pumps always break down on Friday morning of a long weekend when you are about to have visitors and really need to flush the toilet, and the cat can tiptoe all the way along the mantelpiece and step ever so carefully over the candles, tin toys, bird nest collection and the gaudy plaster toucan (just me?) ... until it trips over your collection of green glass baubles.

Most of the time, when around the horses, I follow the rules and wear suitable footwear.


When you wear steel-capped boots horses never tread on you. If you wander barefoot into the paddock to show your daughters how well Chalkie's injured forehead is healing, however ...

I was particularly pleased with how Chalkie's small but annoying injury was going. Even more so since I had worked out a strategy for cleaning it and dressing it, despite his acting like an offended giraffe if I tried to touch it.

The hose.

The hose could reach where I couldn't. Even offended giraffes can't out-stretch an artfully aimed hose.

And after a good soaking with the hose Chalkie's nasty wound was clean and he threw his hooves up in defeat and happily buried his face - traumatic 1cm injury and all - in a nice dry towel and let me daub it with iodine.

Daub, not spray. There are limits after all.

I was a bit over excited to show the girls how nearly healed Chalkie was, so I walked into the paddock with bare feet and stood chatting and patting both horses. Murphy and his damned law came too.

Horses, daughters, dogs and I were quite happily interacting until a grandchild walked from the house onto the deck. Carrying a large exercise ball nearly as big as himself.


And he bounced it.

The ball bounced and as it did Bryn - being a horse of delicate sensibilities - took fright and bounced in response. But while the ball bounced up and down, Bryn bounced sideways.

He's only a small horse but when he landed on my bare foot he felt quite substantial. I shouted and fell over.

Because Bryn bounced sideways and I shouted and fell over, Chalkie, made of slightly sterner stuff but only just, thought perhaps something was up. And in that case if bouncing away from whatever was up was the done thing ... best he do it also.

Chalkie bounced sideways and when he landed he did so on top of the nearest chihuahua. Mungo - because it had to be my most neurotic chihuahua - shouted even louder than I did and then set off running.

While one daughter tended to her injured parent (mainly by repeatedly asking me if I could wiggle my toes and me saying yes but it felt a lot nicer if I didn't) the second daughter took off after the quite possibly injured chihuahua.

Mungo was running awfully fast so I assumed all his legs were okay. He negotiated running down the paddock and squeezing under the back gate just fine so his eyes were probably okay, too.

He wasn't heeding my daughter's calls and pleas to stop, so maybe the horse had trodden on his ears? Although as he ran to the top of the stopbank, veered left and headed down the cycle path at pace I began to wonder if Chalkie had knocked the sense out of him.

Mungo was getting ever smaller as he disappeared into the distance, getting away from my flagging daugher. It was a useful distraction from my throbbing left foot but I was beginning to wonder if he intended stopping. At all. Ever.

Just before the diminishing dog-shaped dot disappeared completely, my daughter made a heroic last-ditch sprint and caught him.

By now the horses had long recovered from their excercise-ball-induced trauma and gone off to munch grass. Mungo, when he was delivered to my side, seemed completely fine.

He had a small limp, so did I.

We went to have a little lie-down on the couch together. "I should have worn my boots," I told Mungo. "And you should have been born a great Dane, way safer."

In the meantime Murphy had taken his Law and was back out in the spud patch, making sure my garden fork was lined up with only the biggest and most perfect of my potatoes.