Training the Army Horse.

(Whilst turning out old cassette tapes recently, I came across a recording in Devonshire dialect, made by my father, Percy Reed (1907 – 2001) of Northam, in 1985.

It told the tale of a childhood incident in which he was involved when his father was training a WW1 army horse.

I have since produced a 4-minute YouTube video which includes his recording, together with the script, for anyone who is interested! I have printed the script below.)

For the YouTube Video see:

I’d like to take ee back a vew years jist arter the first world war and tell ee bout Varmer Tom and the army horse. Now Tom was a master hand wi horses, what ee didn knaw bout em wadn worth the tellin. If anybody in the village had ort wrung wi their horse they’d come rinning to Tom and you may depain if ee couldn put en right twas a waste of time zending ver the Vet. Aye, ee knawed all bout horses sure nuff.

Wull twas like this yer. Arder the war the army had to zell off a lot of horses wot theyd vinished wi and zo they had these horse zales up to Exeter and anybody that knawed Tom would ax en to go up and buy one for em. This zeemed to work out purty well, they could trist Tom to git the right horse for em and nort plaized Tom better than to hav a day off to Exeter.

Now the one I want to tell ee about was one ee bought for eself an Ive yerd tell ee had a vine ole caper gitting en on the train up to St Davids til Tom thought about whipping off es best jacket and put en awver the horses haid and backed en in the truck.

Ive erd zay that zome of these horse traders when they wanted to zell a broken down ole horse theyd given a veed of Vuz chaff avore the zale to liven en up. Wull this one didn need ort like that, more likely ee needed something to quieten en down, zo Varmer Tom thought e’d try en out in the chaffcutter. Zo ee hitched en up and led en round a vew times to git en in the way au’t. Now me en me brither (jist boy-like) stood watching this gwain on, zo Tom axed us to leyd the horse round whilst ee went up to the tallet to git a vew wads of straw.

I dont knaw what thatole horse hed done in the war but whativer twas it didn include gwain roun-in-roun in little circles and no zooner hed Tom turned ees back he reared up and bevore us knawed what hed appened the horse was flat on the ground all tangled up with the tackle. Zo Varmer told us two boys to kneel on es neck while ee tried to git en free.

Wull us was only a couple of tackers and ver all the good us done us mayht jist as well ev told us to kneel on a vuz bush. The ole horse wadn gwain to let a couple of whipper snappers like us keep en down and twadn very long avore hes haid come up vollowed by the rest awn, and us two boys landed in the … wull I wont tell ee what us landed in but us didn smell very sweet, jist about as sweet as Varmer Tom when ee hollered “why didn ee keep ees haid down like I told ee”. Howiver there wadn no damage done but I can tell ee twas the last time thicky horse went in the chaffcutter.

Cynthia Snowden.

For the YouTube Video see:


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