We’ve finally in the course of today come to understand a quiet tragedy which has been developing up in the back field: the beautiful and sweet-natured colt Magic, for all his blond mane, chestnut hide, big brown eyes, and general beauty, has turned in the last couple of months into a total disaster. He has the equine equivalent of flat feet; as he has begun moving towards his adult weight and size, the bit which in the human would represent ankle-to-ball-of-foot, which in a normal horse is a marvellously springy, shock-absorbing bundle of bone and sinew permitting jumping, weight-carrying and what have you, has been unequal to his weight; his feet, so to say, have sagged forward, so that the poor thing looks almost as if he actually has feet, rather than hooves. We, of course, seeing him moving about quietly at 200 yards’ distance and without any kind of horsey background, have not been aware of the state of play — it was only when our attentions were directed to his back legs that we noticed. The father of the family happened to be here being thoroughly neighbourly & good, but out of earshot of his womenfolk (with whom Magic is a very sensitive topic), and thus we learned what was actually going on. Magic is not incapacitated, he can move about quietly, and I have seen him cantering across the top field, his blond tail held like a banner ; but he cannot jump, and above all, he cannot be ridden. Tayla, understandably, is devastated. The sensible answer is ’shoot him’, but the whole concept of having ponies is not reducible to a purely utilitarian approach. We are attempting at the moment to prevent ourselves from acquiring him, as a lawnmower. He is a lot nicer than the sheep but I have an awful feeling that he would be a very great deal more trouble.