Hector and Duchess
Hector was a big brown Shire horse, who did a lot of work at Hocker’s Farm. He pulled the big hay-wagon and the three-share plough and the biggest harrows, because he was very strong. He had lived at the farm for quite a long time. One day, Grandad thought that it would be a good idea to buy another horse to pull the smaller cart, and the small harrows, and then Hector wouldn’t have to do all the work.
At another farm nearby, the farmer had two horses that he wanted to sell, so Grandad went over to see him. They looked at both the horses. One was as big as Hector, and he was rather expensive, though he was a good worker. The other one was a pretty light brown mare, smaller than Hector, but quite able to do the work that Grandad wanted, so he bought her and walked her back to our farm. The mare’s name was Duchess, and Hector was very surprised to see her. He made a great fuss over the hedge, snorting and whinnying, but he soon got used to seeing her about the farm and they became good friends.
After Duchess had been at Hocker’s Farm for a few weeks, Bob, who helped to look after the animals, found that her harness didn’t fit properly any more, and he had to let out the straps. When he had to let them out again the next week, he said to Grandad that he thought they ought to ask the vet to have a look at her. When the vet came, he looked at Duchess carefully, and listened to her heart and lungs, just like a doctor does to people. Then he listened to her tummy, and smiled, and said, “There’s nothing at all wrong with her, she’s going to have a foal!”
Everyone was very pleased, especially Grandad, for, as Bob said, “You bought two for the price of one!” Duchess was not made to do any work after that, until her foal was born,but she was taken for walks to make sure she got enough exercise to keep fit. One night, when everyone was in bed, Hector started making a lot of noise, stamping and snorting, and then whinnying loudly. Grandad got up and went to see what was the matter, and there in Duchess’s loose box was her foal. She was black all over except for a white star on her forehead, so she was called Stella, which means star. We wanted her to be called Star, but one of the cows was called that, so Stella she became.
Hector made a great fuss of the baby, and would try to get between her and anyone who came to look at her, as if he was afraid they might take her away. “In fact,” said Bob, “anyone would think he was her mother, he makes more fuss of her than Duchess does.”
When Hector got too old to do any more work, Stella was old enough to start working herself, and Hector always watched over the hedge from his field if she was working nearby, and called to her when she came back to the stable. When Hector was very old and died, Duchess and Stella missed him very much, but a few months later, Stella had a foal herself, and he was called Hector the Second, so there was still a Hector at Hocker’s Farm.