Many years ago, while I was still living in England, I had come out to Prainha to visit Neu and to avoid the expense of a pousada, we were sleeping in a tent in his parent’s garden by the beach.
One night I woke hearing what I assumed was donkeys in the garden, I came out of the tent into the bright light of a full moon and to my amazement standing around the tent were six white horses. It was the most magical sight and I stood in the moonlight watching them, hardly daring to breath, tears slipping.
The horses stood regarding me for a few minutes, swishing their long silky tails and then, on a secret signal, took off straight for the fence of rough hewn stakes, jumping it at a low point, though at least one just crashed through the posts.
The noise brought Neu out of the tent but the horses had gone, he gave me a funny look and asked what I was doing. I pointed around the garden and managed to tell him in my faltering Portuguese about the horses, he smiled and said I meant donkeys, I could only shake my finger and say “No donkey no, horses yes” a lack of language can be so infuriating at times!
The next morning, Neu told his father who said I must have been dreaming as there was no way the horses could have got in or out through the fence and there was no damage to it either but they were there I swear.
There are often groups of horses out on the dunes, Neu tells me they have owners, though they are certainly pretty wild, not much chance of getting close to them. It can hardly be said to be good pasture land here, though the horses usually look to be doing well on their diet of scrubby plants, except some I came across recently that looked painfully thin, the lack of rain cannot be helping.
Some months back while my son and I were out with our dogs and walking our newly rescued horse Mister, we were stunned to have a herd of horses come charging out of the forest. They thundered down into a dip in the land which we, on a higher dune were looking down on, I half expected them to stop there as it’s a favoured grazing area but they charged straight on up towards us. As they approached Mister neighed loudly which brought them all skidding to a halt only a few meters away.
It was a very strange moment. My dogs who are normally keen to bark at anything that moves, stood stock still. The lead horse was eyeing us suspiciously, his ears twitching back and forth, Mister was breathing hard down his nose, some of the horses tugged at strands of the sparse wiry grass that covers the dunes, acting unconcerned but keeping a sharp eye on everything, while the younger horses skitting about anxiously. It felt like a stand off in a Cowboy Western.
The lead horse began stamping the ground and I really wasn’t sure what was going to happen next, should I let Mister go and walk away, would that set the dogs off, what was the lead horse thinking to do? I decided to stick with Mister, he seemed calm enough and I figured I should follow his lead.
At that moment another group of horses came charging out of the forest, they were going hell for leather, like something had really spooked them. They came up the slope towards us and as if the other group had been waiting for them, they all wheeled to the right and tore away across the dunes. The spell was broken, my dogs gave chase but the horses had already put a good bit of distance between them and the dogs soon gave up and came back.
I had no idea what had brought the horses out of the forest at such a pace but I decided probably best not to hang about to find out and anyway the dogs had just given themselves enough exercise for the day.
Another group of wild horses.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, let me know what you think.