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Willow Island: A Horse Story

 

Unknown to all, until that fateful day in July, was a kingdom all it's own. A kingdom that belonged completely to the graceful creatures we know as horses. It was on an uncharted, yet large and beautiful island, full of weeping willow trees, which earned it it's magical name: Willow Island. There was a powerful leader, the stallion Ferdinand. There were other stallions too, but none like him. And, as you read on, you shall find out about all the rest, his favourite mare, their playful daughter, her friend Hector, and the terrible trouble that builds up throughout the story. Yet, do not despair, for every story has good times.

 

Ferdinand loved to play, though he was stern with his herd, as he was the head stallion. He taught the young foals and fillies how to fear man, and how to stay clear of them. He firmly taught his daughter, Marisa, how to deal with humans. Marisa was very young, and she did not understand the dangers that man would bring to her home. The herd would flee her home, and her father would firmly lead them. She would rather be out playing with her friend, Hector, son of the second stallion and head mare, Jolie and Black Thunder.

 

Her and Hector thought it would be safe to play, so they went to the other side of Willow Island. They had just got there when they heard unusual voices. They ignored the voices and kept on playing, until they heard a loud bang. Marisa looked over at Hector and he was just lying there. She ran back to Ferdinand and told him what had happened.  Hector? Lying still on the ground on the other side of the island? Before a loud bang? Ferdinand didn’t like the sound of that. He tossed his head nervously. Marisa stood before him waiting for his answer. He clicked his tongue while he thought deeply. Hearing a noise Ferdinand looked behind him. The herd’s head mare and his favourite came to his side in a trot. “Ferdinand, Marisa what is going on?” Jolie asked Ferdinand replied:

     “Jolie I need you to take Marisa to a place where she won’t cause any trouble”

     “Momma, me and hector were playing and-“ “Marisa you are commanded not to talk!” Ferdinand snapped at her.  Marisa flinched at Ferdinand’s words. She could only run to her mother’s side crying. Ferdinand didn’t care how Marisa felt. He was more concerned on what he had to do. There could only be one reason why Hector laid still on the ground. He had been shot by one of those gun sticks the humans used. So that meant there were humans on the island. For what reason? He thought. There wasn’t anything to hunt except horses. He turned to look over at his herd that he had led for years. He would do anything to protect the herd. They were like a family to him. Even though he wasn’t raised on the island, after all he got shipwrecked here when he was young, he cared for them. He cared for them enough that he had to take stern measures to keep them safe. He turned towards Jolie. “And make sure she doesn’t talk, because I have a lot of work to do,” Ferdinand added before galloping off to the only thing that could help him. Duran and his herd of bachelors!

 

When he got there Duran didn’t want to get his group in danger so he refused to help Ferdinand and his herd. There was only one more herd on Willow Island, but they were scrawny and weak. They were their only hope. As he was running to them he met up with a group of humans.

The humans yelled and pointed at Ferdinand, and immediately threw a net on him before he could even think whether to run right or left. He struggled, but he could not brake free. The humans tied a rope around his neck, and began trying to pull him back to their camp. Ferdinand reared and whinnied, but the humans held fast, and dragged him back to their camp.

They called him names, jeered at him and poked him with a stick. Only one human from the group stood up for him. He had kind hazel-brown eyes, and a sad face. He was strong and comforting. When the other men hurt him, he glared at them through angry eyes and told them in a loud voice to stop. Ferdinand immediately felt close to him.

 

They took him on a small ship, crowded with other horses Ferdinand did not know. They were all crammed into it, and some of the humans fell in a bad mood. They smoked, drank beer and swore.

Only the kind man didn't. He, Ferdinand felt, was a leader, like himself.

After many days of travelling, they finally reached land. The land wasn't at all like the place Ferdinand had lived in. It had lots of buildings, and cars everywhere. The boat docked in a semi-quiet area and Ferdinand, with the other horses, was taken off. He was led to a stable and put in a small stall. Only because the nice person was leading him did Ferdinand do this quietly.

The man led the horses into an open pasture. At the very edge of the pasture, there was an opening between some trees. It seemed like a quiet spot for Ferdinand to rest while he thought about everything that had just happened. He went into the opening of the trees, and saw...

A whole bunch of other horses, gathered around in a circle! When they saw him, they snorted and backed away. "Who are you?" they asked. "I am Ferdinand." he replied. "What are you doing?" "We are holding a council on how we might escape. The fences are high and electrified, so we cannot escape."

 

Ferdinand and the others considered ways to escape from the pasture. They were just getting a good idea when they saw three men approaching them. Each man had two funny pieces of cloth and a rope. The kind man slipped one of the funny pieces of cloth over Ferdinand’s head and attached a rope. He also did this to another horse, a small black mare with a white star and two white socks. The other horses were being captured in the same way. The kind man led Ferdinand and the black mare to a trailer. He led both of the horses up into it and slammed the door. After a long bumpy ride, the gate was opened. Ferdinand stiffened. What was this place he had been brought to? Who were all these strange horses and men? The kind man came back again and led the two horses out of the trailer and to a small ring. By and by, many people came to observe the two horses. One little girl pointed at the pretty black mare and said, "daddy, daddy I want that one!" Another girl, about 14 carefully observed Ferdinand and kept her eye on him.

 

Ferdinand snorted. He had an idea what was going on. He had been brought to a place where people sold horses. "Can't I please have that one?" asked the little girl, pointing again to the black mare. "And I think my sister wants that one!" She pointed to Ferdinand. "Yes, yes, you can have those two." the dad began talking to a stranger, wrote something on a small piece of paper, and handed it to the man. The man led Ferdinand and the mare out. Again they were led into a trailer. "What's your name?" Ferdinand asked the mare. "Kora." she hesitated for a moment, then said, "Don't tell anyone, but I used to be a princess."

 

Ferdinand stared in incomprehension at the black mare. "What do you mean you were a princess?" he asked. Kora looked sadly at him. "What I mean is I was once owned by humans in high society, I had good food, lodging and fine appointment, now, well, what'll happen to me, to us?" Ferdinand couldn't reply. The trailer started moving, the driving was so bad that Ferdinand and Kora had trouble keeping their balance. At one moment, the trailer rocked so much that Kora was almost crushed under Ferdinand, even though the stallion did his best not to injure her. Their distress increased when they saw the kindly man who’d helped Ferdinand into the lorry running along side the trailer trying to keep up while screaming at the driver to have a care for the two horses inside it!

 

As the trailer turned a corner, Kora and Ferdinand lost sight of their only friend in the world. Picking himself up off the floor after another crashing meeting with it, Ferdinand looked at Kora and said: “It’s just us now, you and me, we’re in this together. We’ll have to help each other, I can’t live without you, and you without me, we’re horses against the cruelty of humans.” Kora looked at the stallion. “All right, I’ll do what you want.” She said. “What?” Ferdinand asked, “You think that’s all I want?” “Well,” Kora replied, “You are a stallion, and in my short life, I’ve got the impression that that’s all stallions want! You’re saying you are different, that you’ll respect a mare’s wishes?” “I wouldn’t touch you if you gave me oats, not unless you wanted me to.” Ferdinand’s shock was visible to Kora, who felt anger at herself for judging this stallion too quickly. Her thoughts were interrupted by the trailer jerking to a sudden stop, throwing her full weight on top of Ferdinand. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she stammered, levering herself carefully off of him. “That’s all right,” Ferdinand gasped, “I’m just winded, I didn’t expect that from the trailer!” Kora helped Ferdinand to his feet. The driver of the horsebox came to undo the ramp.

 

The driver unlatched the hinges of the float and let the ramp drop to the ground with out a care in the world, the ramp made a loud bang and the black mare shied into the stallions shoulder. Three men appeared at the side of the ramp with prodders, "These look good the poor little girl thought she was really getting these horses ha-ha, there too good for her" one man said, the other nodded: "We better put em with the others or the boss will get mad you know how much he wants these things lookin' good before we sell em to those Japanese fellas," said another guy and they all started laughing. The mare and the stallion gave each other scared looks and wondered what was going 2 become of them. One moment they were going to live with two little girls and now they were going with other horses somewhere, other horses appealed to them but where were they going?

 

Kora stared at Ferdinand in horror! “Now we’re really in for it,” she said. Ferdinand didn’t know what these humans were doing, he’d never been in a holding pen before and didn’t like it at all. “What do they do here?” he asked. “We’re gonna be paraded each in turn until someone buys us. Then where we go, who knows,” Kora replied. “Where do horses end up?” Ferdinand asked. “Most, well, they end up going to riding stables, some though,” she looked uneasy,” well,” she continued, “they are put to other uses. Uses to which I don’t want to talk about.” Ferdinand knew his lot was in the hands of humans now. A horse used to deciding his own destiny, he didn’t think he was going to enjoy this next bit.

 

They were brought to another auction. A lot of strangers came to look at them, some smiling, some frowning. Kora was acting up a little. "If I were you, I would put in my best behaviour for these people, if they see we are good, they will be more willing to take us to their homes," said Ferdinand. "You're right" added Kora. The people around them seemed to be richer than the people at the other auction. Then, two men walked up to Kora, examining her carefully. "Do you think she will do?" one asked to the other, while stroking his hand over Kora's neck. "She looks awfully good to me." He answered. How much do you want for her?" He asked the man who was standing near them. "Oh, about $2000, considering we don't know her bloodlines nor her past." He replied. "What are they talking about?" Kora asked Ferdinand. "They want to buy you." "But-" with that the two men took her away. Great, now what was Ferdinand supposed to do, he had no friends, and he didn't even know what was to become of him.

 

Ferdinand looked about him. The people who ran the auction left the horses free to roam about in large enclosures, the boundaries of which were low enough for a large horse such as himself to jump easily. Ferdinand was on the hunt now, he was looking for another horse, as desperate as he was to escape from this dreadful situation. Leaping the fence he wandered about for a bit. Rounding a corner he found himself beside a row of gated pens, in one of which stood the horse he’d been looking for. There were many horses round him, some fine beasts, others not so. This horse, well, Ferdinand hadn’t seen this breed for years, but instantly he recognised it. Falabella horses, being the smallest horses in the world, weren’t inconspicuous amongst taller breeds. This one was three feet tall, as tall as they got, so Ferdinand thought, and she looked terrified! Scared out of her fur! Approaching her cautiously, Ferdinand asked: “Can I help? You look lost.” The tiny mare stared at him for a minute or so. “I don’t know,” she said, “after what’s happened to me I don’t know anything now! All Certainty has gone, I don’t know where I am any more, or what’s gonna happen to me, or anything! She stared, wide eyed into Ferdinand’s face.

Ferdinand took in this tiny mare from her ears to her tiny hooves. He’d never seen a horse so small before! Seeing him appraising her, she tried to look her best by flicking her mane about a bit. Ferdinand smiled at her. “What’s your name?” He asked. The mare replied: “I don’t really know, my owners,” she looked tearful. Taking a deep breath she continued: “they called me Pip, don’t know what that means, but that was my name. Now they’re gone, I’m here, and I don’t know what to do!” Seeing Pip’s distress Ferdinand dropped to his knees and hugged her. “I’ll protect you, I’ll not leave you if you don’t want me to,” he said gently. Pip returned his embrace by rubbing his ear with her muzzle. “Thanks, um, I don’t know your name,” Embarrassed now, Ferdinand gabbled: “oh, um, yeah, my name? Ferdinand it is.” “”That’s a nice name, I like that, it suits you, if you don’t mind me saying,” she said. Ferdinand wanted to ask her so much, thoughts of escape had fled from his mind as soon as he’d set eyes on this amazing creature. He wanted to know all about her, wanted to learn about her breed, and everything there was to know about anything to do with her.

 

Shaking himself out of his trans, Ferdinand recovered his senses and told her his plan of escape. "But," Pip reminded him, "How can I escape for I am not big enough to jump out of this pen. So Ferdinand began kicking at the gate of the pen Pip was in. It finally broke apart and then she was out. He led her to the main fence, and kicked that one open too. Then they cantered off, away from this horrible place, to try to find what they didn't know.

Ferdinand, used to going at his own fast pace, found it difficult to slow down to Pip’s as he was anxious they might be found quickly. They cantered along the edge of a main road, the site of which unnerved Pip a good deal. Seeing her distress, Ferdinand called a halt in a patch of dense woodland where they could be hidden from prying human eyes. “Sorry about this Ferdinand,” Pip said, “It’s just that I haven’t seen things like a road before, not like that! Tracks and open fields, yes I’ve seen that, but not large roads with all sorts of I don’t know what passing us!” Ferdinand, not being used to roads himself, but feeling he must act as if he knew a lot for the sake of the tiny mare’s confidence in him, said: “I know these, we’ll be okay if we stay on the grass verges or in the fields.” Satisfied with that, Pip replied: “Okay, if that’s how it should be.” With that they continued their journey. At length they came to a place where there was no grass verge, no fields, and a lot of road! “Um, Ferdinand, you said we should stick to the Fields or the grass verges, there aren’t any here!” Pip whinnied. They were surrounded by cars, at an intersection between four major highways, and Ferdinand knew he couldn’t go back the way they’d come, he’d have to go forward, but how? He might be able to do it, but Pip would be in danger of being run down by the larger lorries he could see speeding past. How was she going to get across the road safely?

 

The sun, now baked through their short fur coat, was becoming unbearable. There was the sound of running on the pavement. "Their after us!” Pip cried in a panic stricken voice. "Calm down, they'll here you!" Ferdinand said in a hushed undertone, but it was too late! All it took was the bark of a dog and the loud bang of a gun, the horses were off, tearing through the traffic, drivers were slamming on their brakes, their tyres screeching to a halt. When on the other side of the road the horses didn't bother slowing down from their wild gallop. Ferdinand who only started after Pip, had now come neck to neck with her and called:

"Slow down  to  a  walk!" in-between huge gasps of breath. When he had caught his breath a thoughtful expression crossed his face. "What is it, Ferdinand?" Pip asked. " This, This is the thing that brought me here!" he said in wonder. "Well, it's, it's leaving!" Said Pip sending out a sharp kick behind her. "Now what?!" She screamed in agony.

Hearing Pip’s pained squeal, Ferdinand bullied her into a field. “What’s all the squealing for!” He demanded. Pip, frightened and in a lot of pain, replied: “You remember the gun going off?” “Couldn’t forget it could I?” Ferdinand snapped back. “Well,” Pip replied, “I think I’ve been shot!” Ferdinand checked the mare over, finding a flesh wound on her right hock. Instantly Ferdinand saw the wound wasn’t bad. “It’ll hurt like hell for a bit, but she’s not in danger,” he thought. Pip looked up into his eyes. Ferdinand saw fear and terror in the tiny mare’s eyes, and it saddened him. “Everyone’s after us,” Pip said.

 

Ferdinand lowered his head and nuzzled Pip’s ear. “The humans have the upper hoof on us at the moment Pip, but we can survive, If we stick to the fields, hide in woods, maybe try to find a herd of wild horses, then we can remain free. I am a wild horse, you are clearly not, but you can learn how to be so,” He said. “I want to stay with you Ferdinand,” Pip replied. “Right, then we have to get cover in numbers, There are wild herds of horses here, if we can find them, then we can disappear.” “Right,” Pip said, “We find the wild horses then, but where do we start?” She asked. “Follow me,” Ferdinand replied. With that he cantered into a stand of trees on the other side of the field, Pip followed.

 

The 2 horses stopped. They needed a break from the hard run. Ferdinand told Pip about his earlier life on the Island. When he was finished, Pip was smiling. "most of that tale was nice Ferdinand." Pip sighed. "It was till the men came." Answered Ferdinand. |

 

Ferdinand and Pip wandered through the trees searching, searching for a horse, any horse. Suddenly Pip pricked her ears and hared off to the left, Ferdinand followed. Pip charged through the wood, eager to find the source of the sound she’d heard. “What are you doing?” Ferdinand asked. “There’s another horse Ferdinand, another horse! I heard it!” Pip panted. Sure enough, when Pip slowed down, Ferdinand found himself in a clearing, and there, standing in front of him and Pip, were a herd of horses, different breeds all, with a leader, a horse who was unmistakably leader. Seeing them, a huge Shire mare came forward, She was the largest shire mare Ferdinand had ever seen! Fully eighteen hands tall she stood in front of them, seeming to be larger than ever when she stood beside him. Ferdinand took in her huge form, from her large ears, to her huge hooves. “What are your names, and what can we do for you?” She asked.

 

"Our names are Pip, and Ferdinand," Ferdinand answered. "What may we do for you Ferdinand?" The Shier horse asked. "We are looking for a herd to live with, we ran away from some bad people." Pip answered. "You may join us, keep out of trouble though." The Shier answered.

 

Ferdinand followed the huge mare to the rest of the herd, Pip following a short distance behind. Off to her right, a colt saw her walking towards the herd. He thought he would have a go at this tiny mare, and attacked her. Pip shrieked as the colt bit and kicked her mercilessly. The Shire mare whipped round and beat the colt off Pip. She drove the colt, bruised and angry, away from the herd. “I’ll talk with you later!” She squealed. The colt ran into the wood. Returning to Pip, the mare asked: “You all right?” Pip picked herself up off the grass and the mare examined her critically. “he’s bruised your hock, torn your ear and grazed your nose Pip, I’m really sorry about that.” Pip looked at the mare: “Do wild horses do that to each other?” she asked. “I try to stop it, really I do! But we have trouble with some colts yes pip,” the mare replied. Pip looked at the massive mare. “I can’t defend myself against a colt like him, so how am I gonna defend myself against the larger horses if they have a go at me?” she asked. The mare looked down at the tiny falabella horse. “We’ll have to think of a way of protecting you Pip,” she said. Pip asked: “What is your name?” Ferdinand was terrified that Pip might incur the wroth of the mare by asking that, but she didn’t seem to mind. “My name’s Petra,” The huge mare replied. She leant down and nuzzled Pip’s ear: “I think we’re gonna get on,” she said. Pip felt she might grow to like this mare a great deal.

 

Petra left the herd after a while to sort out the colt who had harmed Pip. "Ferdinand, are you going to stay here?" Pip asked. "I hope so," Ferdinand answered. A horse came up to them, she was a reddish brown, she looked like a Shetland Pony. "Excuse me, do you know where Maynand is?" She asked slowly. "Um, no, sorry can't help you there," Ferdinand replied. "He is a colt, looks like..." "He is in trouble with the boss." A voice sneered from behind them. Pip spun around and looked in to an angry face. "What, what, er..." Pip stammered. "It is me, the second in command, my name is Sheissain. "Er, hi." Ferdinand said nervously. The horse walked away. "He's an odd one," The Shetland mare said before leaving her self.

 

\Petra looked severely at the colt. “You, Maynand are heading for big trouble!” she whinnied. Maynand looked with loathing at Pip. “The trouble with you Petra is you give sanctuary to the craziest horses! Is that thing over there a horse?” he waved a mocking hoof at Pip. “For your Information Maynand, Pip is a falabella horse, you might not have seen them before, but they are horses, not ponies!” Petra squealed. Sheissain came up to them then. “What was that Maynand? You think you can do a better job than Petra?” he snapped. Maynand stared into Sheissain’s face. “I hate small horses! You know how tall she’ll become when she’s older? No taller than she is now! She’ll be a foal for all her life! Being protected by other horses because she’s a scrap! Bet you can’t have foals Pip, you couldn’t have them!” Hearing Maynand’s squealing rant against her, Pip crossed the grass to stand beside Petra.  Pip asked: “Okay, so how do you think I came into the world?” Maynand hesitated: “You, you were a foal? You had a mother?” he asked. The mention of her mother, from whom she’d only been taken a few months before, upset Pip. “I was taken from her at three months old, as soon as they could the humans took me away from my mother. I’m only nine months now, I’ve had no permanent home, and now I’m being insulted by a jumped up colt!”  Pip squealed.  With that she whirled round and lashed out furiously, her sharp little hoof catching Maynand on his shoulder, splitting the skin. Maynand walked away very downcast and rapidly reassessing his thoughts on the falabella mare.

 

Pip felt better. “where is Ferdi’”? she thought. Her mind wandered, Ferdi, she liked him, she trusted him, on their journey they had talked about many things, she didn’t know why she trusted him, he was different, knew things, listened without interrupting, she knew that this horse was someone special.

Pip looked about her. She saw Petra remonstrating with Maynand, Sheissain standing off to her right staring at the Shire mare, and Ferdinand, well, where was he? Suddenly a voice behind her said: “You look lost Pip.” Shrieking with fright Pip leapt six feet in the air and fell over backwards. Legs thrashing, she fought to stand, while Ferdinand tried hard not to laugh helplessly. He’d looked round the local area and had come back to see his tiny friend looking lost, and had only remarked on that, and now Pip was thrashing around on her back, hooves waving helplessly as she tried to get to her feet again. Pip rolled over and scrambled to her feet. “Oh, Ferdinand! You frightened me, where, where did you get to? Did you see that colt, the one who insulted me? Have you seen Sheissain? I’m so glad you’re here now,” Pip gabbled. Ferdinand nuzzled and licked her ear. “I’m here Pip dear, forever, if you want me here,” he said. Pip felt she wanted him by her side forever. She knew a foal with Ferdinand would be out of the question, but she didn’t care. Pip looked up into the larger horse’s soft brown eyes. “I feel safe with you Ferdinand, Well, I think this is what safe should feel like. No fear, no anxiety, like I used to feel all that time back, so long it seems, when I was with my mother, but different from that in so many ways too. I can’t explain how it is,” she said.

 

Pip was happy to trot around the field beside Ferdinand, he’d taken In the scene and was not afraid of talking to the horses and introducing himself to them. Pip, on the other hand, was very shy by nature and remained half a pace behind him, yet still taking in what was,; for the time being, to be her new home. She knew that her friendship with Ferdinand would never be more than that. Even though she had become very fond of him and was so very young she had had to mature very quickly and meeting Ferdinand had made her aware that she was growing up fast, almost too fast! She had to weigh things up very quickly, she didn’t want to lose this horse as a friend, not now, he was too special, She found it hard not to get excited when she saw him and occasionally butted in with “Hi Ferdi” when he was trying to assist another horse with a problem, he was good at that … helping others and she knew that she must try and keep quiet as it would irritate him if she kept shouting out to him every time she saw him. “We’ll talk later, Pip, dear!” he would say giving her a friendly nudge. Meanwhile, Ferdinand had something else on his mind, he couldn’t stop thinking about Kora, where was she, was she well, was she safe ,, would their paths ever cross again?

 

Ferdinand decided to ask Petra if she’d heard of Kora. The massive Shire mare looked thoughtful: “Um, well, I remember a mare who looked similar to how you describe. She was loose on the road along which we were walking to fresh grazing grounds,” Petra said. “yes, and what then? Did you speak to her?” Ferdinand asked anxiously. “I didn’t, Sheissain did,” “yeah,” Sheissain spat,” the mare was all mixed up, she kept wining on about how she was lost, how humans had mistreated her, have you ever heard of such rubbish!” Petra glared at her second in command. “You Sheissain have been born wild, you know nothing of humans do you? I know you do not, I do. They can be a friend to us horses, but then again, they can be our enemies. Kora, if this mare was indeed her, spoke true words, her fear was real, her flight justified. Sheissain shut up fast, he knew he was wild born and bred and knew nothing about humans. Petra looked into Ferdinand’s tortured eyes. “I wish I could help you more Ferdinand, I really wish I could tell you more, but I can’t.” Ferdinand sighed with disappointment. “Thanks Petra, thanks for everything. One more thing, when did you see her last?” The Shire mare’s ears drooped as she considered the stallion’s question. “About seven nights back, we horses only know day and night,” she replied. Their attention was grabbed by Pip squealing hysterically! Both Ferdinand and Petra turned as one to see the tiny mare galloping for all she was worth across the clearing. “What’s the matter now!” Ferdinand asked irritably. He was getting fed up with this mare’s constant harassment. “There’s a mare in the wood!” Pip whinnied. “Oh great, there must be hundreds,” Sheissain scoffed. “yeah, but, Ferdinand,” Pip ploughed on, “that mare you were talking to Petra about, I think it’s her! Also, she’s in trouble!” Pip shrieked.

 

"Ok Pip, Dear," Ferdinand continued, "Let’s go and see what is going on, I just hope you are not playing silly games ... "I'm not"! yelled Pip, "Why would I do that"?

Ferdinand and Pip raced off towards the woods. “I think it is Cora.” Pip panted. “We should see Pip.” Ferdinand answered. They dashed in to the forest, there standing in open grassland stood Cora, she was looking around her. “Cora!” Ferdinand yelled. “Yes, oh, its Ferdinand!” Cora cried as she ran towards him. “This is my friend, Pip.” Ferdinand said, “she is not a pony, she’s a falabella horse.” Ferdinand kept talking as the 3 of them headed back to the herd. “Our leader’s name is Petra, she is very nice and will help you, or even let you in.” Pip said. “I hate humans!!” Cora whinnied. “Er, okay, then, welcome to the human hater herd.” Ferdinand answered. Petra took 1 look at Cora and said, “Welcome dear.”

 

Kora studied Pip closely. “You are so small Pip!” She whinnied. “There’s nothing wrong with being small is there?” Pip replied, “I happen to think you are tall, but I don’t remark on it do I!” She snapped. Kora made a mental note to be more careful next time. She took in Pip’s tiny stature, and looking down, the tiniest set of hooves she’d ever seen on a horse! Pip saw the larger mare appraising her and said: “I know you think I’m small, that I can’t fight, that I’m little better than a foal! I’ll have you know that I sent Maynand packing earlier! The stupid colt thought he could insult me and get away with it!” Pip yelled. Kora dropped to her knees and said: “I’m sorry Pip, really I am, but I have never seen the like of you before. Can’t you understand my curiosity?” Pip looked into Kora’s face. She saw a kindly mare, who’d been abused by the humans, and who needed understanding like she herself did. “all right, sorry Kora,” Pip said. Kora nuzzled Pip’s shoulder. Instinctively, Pip cuddled up close to the larger mare. Kora began to stroke the tiny horse’s ear with her muzzle, and soon Pip was asleep. Ferdinand watched this in silence. Petra said: “Pip’s still a foal. She hasn’t had time to grow up yet, and she’s been thrown into all this poor thing.” Ferdinand looked into the massive Shire mare’s face to see tears welling in her eyes. Petra went to Pip’s right side, dropped to her knees and rested her nose on Pip’s neck. “We’ll look after you littl’en,” she whispered.

 

The tiny mare drifted off into a dreamless sleep. She hadn’t slept like this for a long time. She was exhausted from the long journey and then … the attack by the vicious colt. “Take care of her for me Petra, she needs plenty of love!” Ferdinand whispered. “I will,” Petra reassured him. “I love her very much” Ferdinand continued, “but she needs a mother figure to focus on right now so I am relying on you to fulfil that role. I am telling you this if, for any reason, we are separated, tell her I will always be there for her”!

 

Ferdinand and Kora walked away. Ferdinand didn’t want to be there when Pip woke. Although he loved the Falabella mare dearly, she was only a foal, and she needed Petra, not him. Meanwhile, Pip had woken to find Ferdinand and Kora gone, but Petra was still there, watching over her. “Where has Ferdinand gone?” Pip asked. Petra replied: “He’s gone away for a short while, gone with Kora, they needed to talk.” Pip got to her feet and looked around, she couldn’t see Ferdinand, it was the first time she’d lost sight of him since they’d met and this frightened her. “Where is Ferdinand! Where is he!” She squealed. Petra dropped to her knees, and hugging Pip tightly she said gently: “Pip, my dear filly, listen to me.” Pip twitched an ear in the Shire mare’s direction. “Ferdinand has left the herd, he went with Kora, and I don’t think they’re going to return. He told me, that he loved you dearly, and that he’d always be there for you, but that he couldn’t stay.” Pip stared at Petra in confusion. “he’s left the herd for good?” she asked. “yes Pip dear, I’m afraid he has,” Petra replied. Pip then said: “You called me your filly, I’m not a foal any more, and I’m not your foal!” “No Pip, I know that, but through no fault of your own you were taken from your mother, I’m looking after you now.” Pip looked at the massive shire mare, she wondered how this massive horse could ever look after her, a tiny horse, only three feet tall. “I suppose, with Ferdinand gone, I must make an effort to stand on my own four feet,” Pip thought. Pip looked Petra over, From the mare’s head, Pip wondered how a horse could have such large ears, to her neck, strong and powerful, to the massive body and legs, down, down, down, to the larges set of hooves Pip had ever seen on a horse. Pip glanced at her own hooves, tiny they were. She suddenly felt a lot safer with Petra around. Maynand came cantering across to her. “So your nurse has gone for good then Pip,” he scoffed. Then he lashed out at her! Maynand was never to know quite what happened next, the next thing he knew he was flying, yes flying through the air, he landed with an almighty crash on the grass ten feet from where he’d been standing. Picking himself up off the grass, he looked straight into the eyes of an enraged Shire mare. Petra stared the colt down, she was furious! ““You stupid fool Maynand!” She shrieked. Maynand spat at her feet. “That scrap doesn’t need our protection Petra, she’s a liability to us!” He blustered. Petra turned and showed the now terrified colt a huge hind foot. “You wouldn’t hit me with that, you haven’t got the,,, she lashed out at him! Maynand wasn’t fast enough to get out of the line of fire. The shire mare’s hoof smashed into his shoulder, lifting him off his feet, sending him into a summersault. Maynand crashed painfully onto his back and lay stunned. Petra regarded her work with disinterest. “Don’t you ever, ever! Go after Pip again Maynand! That is if you still can of course.” She snarled. The Shire mare went across to the colt and nudged him with a forefoot, Maynand groaned pitifully.

 

Pip got used to Ferdinand being gone every day. She was sad though. Petra helped the best she could, but Pip was the one who had to let go. Petra was still having problems with Maynand. He still kept chasing Pip around the clearing. One day Pip woke up to a sound of horse hooves running towards them from far away. A yell, then a shout. “Petra!!” Ferdinand yelled, “We found a better place for your herd!!” “Ferdinand, you are back.” Pip said with a smile. “Yes Pip dear, let me show your herd the place.” “That is very nice of you Ferdinand, I’ll bring my herd.” Petra said. After an hour of sorting things out, the herd moved on. Two days later, the herd reached the Island of Ferdinand’s. “Home Sweet Home!” Ferdinand sang. “I’m wet from that swim.” Petra laughed, “Feeling good to be having fun at last.”

 

Ferdinand and Kora ranged all over the island, or what was left of it. Ferdinand’s emotions ranged from rage to grief as he looked upon his beloved home. The humans had not only taken all the horses off the island, that was bad enough, they’d cut down all the willow trees that gave the island it’s name! Ferdinand suppressed an urge to squeal and whinny in anger at the moon, which was the custom on the island before the humans came, as the horses believed the moon controlled the earth. Ferdinand felt a deep and growing hatred for the human race who had desecrated his island. Depressed, Kora and Ferdinand returned to the rest of the horses. “It might have been nice once Ferdinand dear,” Petra said, “but now it’s a dump! All the willow trees,,,” “yeah, I know,” Ferdinand replied, trying not to cry in front of her, “it’s awful, the humans have a lot to answer for. Maybe this isn’t the place it was. My island no longer exists. This place is shut to me.” With that he walked away, head down and hooves barely leaving the ground as he walked. “it’s depressed him greatly,” Kora said. “It’s not how Ferdinand said it would be, that’s fur sure,” Pip remarked. “Humans have no idea what they’ve got till they lose it,!” Sheissain snapped. Petra looked about her and said: “Even though my fur has hardly dried out since the swim earlier, I think we should get off this island sharpish.” “In case the humans come back?” Kora asked. “exactly,” Petra replied, she beckoned to Kora, “look at what I found,” she invited. Petra led Kora across the island to a group of tree stumps, around the stumps were strange things, wire, blocks of something that looked like plastic, as well as spades, and other junk. “You know what that is?” Petra asked, waving a hoof at the plastic and wires. “No, but it smells like man, it has fearful things about it, and frankly I don’t want to be here Petra, I hate this place!” Kora whinnied. “Okay, we’re going, fast! It’s explosive, they’re blowing up the stumps! I know, I’ve seen it, and we don’t want to be here when they do!” Petra whinnied. With that she galloped away, calling the other horses to follow her. Every horse plunged into the water and swam for their lives! Once safely on the other side of the lake where the island was situated, they turned back at the sound of loud explosions. “they’ve started it already,” Petra said. Maynand looked with spite at Ferdinand: “You brought us to your island, now they’re blowing the thing up! It was a hellhole anyway! Your island is a dump, just as Petra said it was!” he scoffed. Ferdinand, upset and angry at the humans, felt his control snap! He drove the colt under his hooves, trampling him into the forest floor. “I hate, loath and despise you Maynand!” Ferdinand screamed, his eyes blazing with naked hatred!

 

Ferdinand’s attack was severe. It took Petra and Sheissain to pull him off the colt. “Leave him Ferdinand, that’s enough! Stop!” Petra squealed. Ferdinand lay on the forest floor, pinned down by Sheissain. “I know you are upset about your home, and I’m sorry, but you don’t need to attack Maynand in the way you did!” “He’s been getting to me Petra, attacking Pip and all that! You’re saying I should let that go?” Ferdinand whinnied. “No I’m not saying that, he deserves punishment for that, and he will get it. It is me or Sheissain who punish in this herd, noone else. You are as bad as Maynand if you sink to his level,” Petra replied. Maynand focused his gaze on Ferdinand, and swore viciously at him. “We’ll have less of that!” Petra snapped. “And what are you gonna do about it Petra, kick me? Bite me? Go ahead, do it, everyone else is!” Maynand screamed.

 

Pip didn't know what to do, she was frightened, she felt desperately alone, oh why was Ferdinand so angry?

 

So much had happened to her in her short life, why did it all happen to me, she thought, its not fair!

 

Pip looked round for someone to talk to. She saw Ferdinand cantering off into the distance. She felt she couldn’t ask him why he’d gone crazy, in case he went mad at her too. Sheissain wasn’t right Pip decided, so it would have to be Petra. The tiny falabella mare walked up to Petra, took her courage in her tiny hoof and asked: “Petra, can, can I talk to you about something,,,” Her voice trailed away. Pip felt a moment of naked terror as the huge mare looked down at her. She was surprised and relieved to see the gentle expression on Petra’s face. “of course you can Pip dear,” Petra replied, “here, or somewhere private?” she asked. Pip said: “Somewhere else, please,,,” Seeing the tiny mare’s fear and general anxiety, Petra lowered her head and nuzzled the mare’s ear. “Maybe she doesn’t think I’m on her side,” Petra thought. The Shire mare knew that the talk she was about to have with Pip would make or break their friendship.

 

They found a quiet corner, Pip didn’t know quite what to expect but she knew that whatever Petra had to say to her was very important. Listen pip dear,” Petra began, “I know you have been through a lot, but your just gonna have to stop feeling sorry for yourself, and learn to stand on your own hooves for once.   Ferdinand is getting fed up of you demanding his attention all the time and if your not careful, you will lose him for good and you don’t want that, do you”? “Course not” whispered pip, “I need Ferdinand, he’s like a big brother to me, I just wish he would sort himself out … I’m sorry Petra, I just feel so lonely sometimes, I don’t mean to bug him”! “Ok, well listen to me, dear, promise that you will try to make the effort to pull yourself together and grow up a bit, just for me”! “yes mum, I promise” she said quietly. Petra was stunned!  She didn’t know what to do after this last comment:

     “She called me mum,” Petra thought to herself, should she hug her and tell her she loved her, o blow it, she hugged the tiny horse close to her, you’re the foal I never had, she thought, how can I ever tell her everything!” I love you pip” she said warmly. “You’ll never know how much”!

 

Pip had wanted to say so much to Petra. Her young mind just could not get the words together to say the things that had been going through her mind. Petra’s talk to her had made it all right, she knew now that she would have to change, be positive and start to enjoy life and have some fun! The past was behind her now, she knew she was loved by those who were most important to her and that was all that mattered,

 

Pip looked into the shire mare’s face. She asked gently: “Why didn’t you have a foal?” Petra lay down and patted the grass with a forefoot to indicate that Pip should lie beside her. Once they were both comfortable, Petra answered the filly’s question. “You know I said I knew humans, and how awful they could be to us horses?” she said. Pip nodded: “I remember you saying something mum,” she said. Petra continued: “Well, the last human I was with,,,” Petra stopped. Staring into the middle distance at horrors she hoped she’d never revisit, she said: “I was a dray horse, pulled beer carts and such like, maybe I’ll tell you of the history of my breed someday. I was a dray horse as I said, and my driver was a terrible human. Most drivers were male where I worked, butt I had a female.” Petra swallowed hard, her voice cracking she said: “That female human should never have even been let near horses. She beat me until I was sore, shire horses aren’t race horses Pip, we can’t go very fast! This human wanted me to go like an engine, faster, and faster and faster! I couldn’t! I tried my best, we all did, us horses, the humans, well,” she snorted, “I wouldn’t have given a barrel of oats for the lot of them.” Pip asked: “Was it the beating that injured you?” Petra’s eyes filled with tears: “No, no, it wasn’t the beating,,, it was one day,,,” Pip felt wretched for asking the shire mare about anything now. “You don’t have to tell me mum, not if it hurts you,” she said gently. “Give me time Pip darling,” Petra replied, “after all, I made a pretty big statement calling you my foal, and my only foal at that, me being eight now n’all. Most mares have had at least one foal by the time they get to my age.” Pip nuzzled Petra’s massive right ear. This attention from her foal seemed to calm Petra enough to continue her tale. “This human drove me hard that day, making me trot where I couldn’t trot, that was as fast as I could go with a full dray, and that was a struggle, every step at a trot with a full dray was a massive effort, but what do humans know of the work we horses do. I fell, my feet slipped from under me at full trot, and, well, the dray ran over me, crushed me, I would have died if a vet who was up for anything hadn’t been called. This vet saw me lying there, heard from passers by what had happened and decided that I was worth it. This vet fixed me up, did a fine job too. I owe that human my life, although I can’t ever tell them that.” Pip had noticed Petra walking stiffly sometimes, but she put it down to the mare being old, not this, not abuse! “although the vet fixed most of the damage, I lost the ability to have foals,” Petra concluded. She looked at Pip: “I will never forget the pain of that dray running me down, never!” she squealed. Pip was appalled. “Saying I’m Sorry doesn’t seem enough mum, what you told me is beyond anything I imagined. No wonder you went wild, no wonder you hate humans!” “Ah Pip, I don’t hate all humans, not like Sheissain, who’s never encountered one, good or bad. That horse is a fool! he knows nothing!” she exploded. Calming down a little, she continued: “I know there are good humans and bad humans, but I’m wild, I don’t want to be shod, groomed, and definitely not shut in a stable ever again!” Pip looked down at the mare’s massive hooves. “your hooves are magnificent,” she said. Petra smiled. Like all horses, she took pride in how her hooves looked. “Thanks,” she said with genuine appreciation. Pip let her gaze travel all over Petra. From her massive hooves, to her legs, body and neck, finishing on her face, and the eyes shining with love and joy at having her, Pip to call her foal. Pip suddenly felt very safe, safe enough to cuddle up to this massive mare, who five days ago she’d never met, and fall asleep. Petra nuzzled Pip’s ear and brushed her muzzle with her’s. “I love you mum,” Pip yawned. Petra let herself go, weeping with joy into the long grass. Soon the mare’s tears dried, and she settled to sleep with her new foal beside her.

 

The mood of the herd changed, the recent explosions unnerved even the most hardened of them. It was difficult to believe that Maynand was frightened by such events. They didn't like it, something had to be done, they must move onto somewhere new and safe!

 

Pip woke slowly from a deep sleep. She got up carefully, so not to disturb Petra. She looked about her, wondering whether all that had happened to her was a dream, but then she looked back at Petra and realised it wasn’t. Pip nudged Petra’s shoulder with her nose. “Hmm, yeah?” Petra said drowsily, “Oh, Pip it’s you.” She stretched languidly. “Have I been asleep?” she asked. “We both have mum,” Pip replied. Petra got to her feet, shook herself and looked down at Pip. “We’d better find Ferdinand, see where he’s got to,” she said. With that they left the place where they’d spent over fifteen hours. They found Ferdinand grazing, he didn’t seem to notice Petra or Pip. Then he looked Petra full in the face and said: “I think we’ve got to leave here, the men will be here soon, and then we’re running, running for our lives.” Petra replied: “Ferdinand, I am the one who makes decisions round here, not you! The herd is lead by myself and Sheissain, when he’s not bullying other horses.” Ferdinand snorted: “What about that disgusting colt? Maynard, isn’t that what he calls himself? What is he in this herd,” Petra wanted to say exactly what she thought of Maynand, but thought of Pip and refrained from speaking her mind. “He’s a jumped up colt, as Pip said,” she replied, “he thinks he’s big enough to insult a tiny mare and get away with it.” “I hate Maynand mum,” Pip said viciously.

“Yes, dear I know, but you've just got to put up with him.” Petra said.  Ferdinand interrupted the little mare filly chat. “Look, while you two stand around discussing your likes and dislikes, we're all going to get caught. I'm going to make the escape proposition to the heard, and tonight, whether any one comes with me or not I'm leaving this place for safety.”

Later that day, all the horses stood by an old oak. Ferdinand addressed the whole herd. “I can’t stay here any more, since the men came to my island, I’ve thought that staying a long time in one place is not advisable.  I am leaving this island as soon as this meeting is over.” Sheissain spoke up then. “Ferdinand, I’m sorry to correct you here, but I feel I must.  We left the island as soon as we found out about the strange man things from Petra and Kora, we are no longer on the island any more.” Maynand spat: “What rubbish you talk Ferdinand. I say to the whole herd, this horse is deluded! He’s a misfit and should be thrown out!” “yes Maynand, you should, and you will soon enough,” Petra replied. The colt stared at his leader. “Me?” he asked, “I meant Ferdinand when I said this horse, not me!” \Petra stared Maynand down. “Stay here after the meeting,” she snapped. Ferdinand, realising his mistake, said: “I feel so small now. In my stressed state, I forgot about the flight, the swim and everything, I’m sorry, I beg you all for your understanding and forgiveness.” Petra looked round the herd, probing for decent. Finding none, she said: “You are forgiven Ferdinand, it’s forgotten now. “No it isn’t!” Maynand yelled. With that he was running, running because he was being chased by a massive Shire mare! Petra chased Maynand into the woods, knocked him to the floor and gave him a kicking he’d never forget! “don’t ever come back to my herd!” she shrieked.

 

"But, but, Petra, why are you throwing me out?" Maynand Moaned.

 

Petra stared down at the prostrate colt. “I am throwing you out because you are a menace to the herd. Going after Pip like you did, what did you think you were playing at!” Maynand screamed: “She’s a nothing Petra, a nothing!” Petra snapped: “But you are a bigger nothing Maynand, she didn’t get kicked out of the herd.” The Shire mare reminded him. Maynand looked down at the mare’s massive hooves. He wondered what damage they’d do if she decided to crush him. Petra shifted her weight a bit, involuntarily showing Maynand a massive hind foot. Terrified now, he shrieked: “Don’t crush me Petra! I’ll do anything! Please, let me live!” Maynand was surprised to see the look of horror on the mare’s face as she faced him. “Kill you? Why would I want to do that?” she asked. “because I’ve done all those horrid things to Pip,,,” “So you admit it now, you are saying they were horrid things, so are you apologising for them?” the mare snapped. “if I have to, I will,” Maynand said. That was his undoing, Realising the colt’s insincerity, she turned rear on to him, and showed him a massive hind foot. “Maynand, do you want the sight of my foot to be your last memory?” she asked. “No, no! Pleas! Don’t, don’t crush me, Petra, please,! Spare my life! He squealed.

 

Petra placed her huge right hind foot on Maynand’s nose. Maynand shrieked with terror! “Petra! Please! Don’t crush me! I’ll do anything for you, anything!” “You are an insincere creature Maynand, you deserve nothing!” Petra whinnied. The colt squealed: “I know I was untruthful, I’m sorry, really I am! I’ll never touch Pip again, I’ll be a good colt from now on. Please let me show you! If you crush me, I can’t show you!” Petra lifted her hoof off of Maynand. “Okay, one more chance, but beware, if you fail, then you won’t see another sunrise Maynand.” Petra said coldly. Maynand knew the Shire mare hated him.

 

The following morning things started to happen, the herd was making last minute preparations for the move, Petra and Ferdinand went round giving instructions and making sure that everything was in order. There was an air of excitement as the horses made sure that no one was left behind, even Maynand tried to make an effort to be helpful! How long would this last though?! Pip couldn’t contain her excitement, she rolled round the field playfully getting under horses hooves as they were trying to get organised. “Pip, be careful, dear” said Kora kindly nudging the tiny horse playfully. “you’ll be trampled to death before we get anywhere if you carry on like that! “Sorry” replied Pip getting up and shaking herself into shape “Better go and see where my mum and Ferdinand are, must be nearly time to go. Kora watched her gallop off and as an afterthought shouted, “be a good girl Pip”! 

 

 

Pip ran to Petra: “Where are we going?” She whinnied. “Somewhere,” Petra replied. “Oh yes yes yes I know that!” Pip said, “but where is somewhere?” “Follow the herd and you’ll find out Pip,” Petra replied. The herd were making good progress now, Soon they came to a road, Petra looked up and down the road, looking for a place to cross. She saw two poles in the distance, they looked promising, she remembered from her times with the humans that they used these for crossing roads, in fact she’d had to stop for humans as they crossed between these two poles. “Right you lot, follow me!” she whinnied. Turning right the Shire mare led the herd along the edge of the field parallel to the road. Pip, still up with Petra, asked: “What are we going to do? That road’s busy, and, I don’t want to be killed under a car, I nearly got hit when Ferdinand and I crossed that busy, um, I think Ferdinand called it an intersection.” Petra smiled down at the Falabella mare. “I’m going to use something the humans taught me, we’ll get across safely. Petra made her way swiftly towards the two poles, and she could now see the flashing lights on the top of them. Petra watched carefully, noting how the cars stopped when the lights were red, and went when they were green, She also noticed a box about half way down that humans pressed to make the lights turn red for the cars, and green for themselves. After watching this for a while, she said: “Right, Ferdinand, Sheissain, come over here!” They did so. “Right, how we are going to get across the road. I will press the box, and you Sheissain, then you Ferdinand, lead the horses across when I give the word, Remember this is a human road, and remember mostly that they don’t care about us horses! Caution must be the watchword. Keep your wits about you and you should be okay.” Petra said.  Their instructions understood, Sheissain and Ferdinand marshalled all the horses so they would get across the road safely. Petra broke cover, went up to the box, and pressed the metal plate with her nose. The lights changed to green, the cars stopped, then they moved on again. Some drivers waved angrily at her when they passed, but she couldn’t understand what their gestures meant. “Okay,” Petra said,” As I said, when the lights are green, go, but when they are red, stop on your side of the road!” So, little by little, with Petra alternately pressing the metal plate with her nose, and watching anxiously as the horses crossed the road, all horses got over safely. This left Petra on the other side of the road to her herd. “How will mum get across the road?” Pip asked. “The same way we did, watch,” Ferdinand replied. Petra pressed the plate, waited till the lights went green, then she crossed too. “There, nothing to it,” she said. Pip looked up into her mum’s face with pure admiration. “You are a wonderful horse mum,” she said.

 

Petra smiled down at her foal. “I wouldn’t go quite that far Pip, you see my dear, we’ve all got to help the herd, any little bit we know about anything might be the difference between life and death for us.” Pip shuddered at the thought: “Yes, I suppose things could get that bad,” She said. Maynand favoured Pip with scorn. “You mean to say Pip that you think Petra a wonderful horse for pressing a plate with her nose? That’s stupid!” He whinnied. Pip snapped back: “Could you have got us safely across the road?” Maynand looked down at his hooves and mumbled: “Um, ah, er, well, I,,,,, I,” “I suppose not, isn’t that right Maynand?” Pip said. “Um, well, ah, yep.” Maynand conceded. “Well don’t make silly comments like that!” The Falabella mare screamed.

 

The herd pressed on through the Fields. Maynand plodded along, much subdued after Pip turning on him. He decided that though this mare was small, she had a quick temper. The herd came to an abrupt halt. “What’s up?” Petra yelled. “There’s a river!” Sheissain yelled back. “I’m sure there are plenty of rivers!” Petra whinnied. “yes, but one’s blocking our path, we’ll have to swim it, no bridge!” Sheissain replied. “Okay Pip, I’ll lie down, and you get on my back,” Petra said. Pip looked anxious. “Will you be able to carry me?” She asked. “I hope so, if not, we’ll have to stay here, you can’t swim that river, it’s fast flowing,” The Shire mare replied. With that she lay down, and Pip clambered onto her back. Heaving herself to her feet, Petra commanded. “Hang on tight with your teeth Pip, and don’t move!” Pip hung on to Petra’s mane and the mare followed the herd towards the river.

 

The bank of the river was very steep. Petra’s hoof slipped as she edged her way slowly and cautiously down the steep slope into the cold water. Pip hung onto her, not daring to open her eyes but just feeling herself going down, down, down into the fast-flowing water. Maynand watched,

     “Ah, “no buttons to press here.” He thought. Petra swam frantically, it was hard work, the river was deep and cold, and the current waited for no one, Sheissain, as second in command hurried the herd along, one by one the horses followed Petra into the water, Kora went next then Maynand … Ferdinand watched as the horses one after another entered the icy water. Sheissain and Ferdinand were the last to dive in. Most crossed safely but … some perished … this made them more determined than ever to find a safer place.

 

Petra scrambled out onto the river-bank. Looking about her frantically she couldn’t see Pip, who she was sure had slipped off her back during the river crossing. Sheissain came up to her. “We lost some, some horses didn’t make it Petra, Six of them,” he panted. Petra wasn’t listening however. She’d lost her foal, and at that moment, the herd was the last thing on her mind. Suddenly Ferdinand Whinnied: “Look! Petra!” All horses stared in the direction of Ferdinand’s frantically waving hoof. What they saw made all the watchers wonder whether they were dreaming. Apparently, Maynand was swimming across the river, not only that, but Pip was there, bullying the protesting colt through the water! Petra squealed a warning to Pip to be Careful! “What are you playing at!” Ferdinand shouted. “Can’t talk now!” Pip gasped, “go on Maynand you loser, move it!” Soon Maynand and Pip made it across the river. Once they were on safe ground again, Petra regarded her adopted foal with anger! “I thought I told you to hang on!” She squealed. “I tried, mum, I tried to! But the river carried me away, back to the bank too! There was Maynand, up to his fetlocks in the water, watching us. So I shoved him in, easier while he was in the water. Once he was unable to touch bottom, well, I swam with him, protested he did, “why are you doing this? What have you ever done for the herd,” etc etc etc. Mum, the words he used, they were awful! Disgusting language! I couldn’t let him get away with that, so I bullied him across the water. It was a hard struggle for me, but I’m here, and, well, so’s he.” Finding herself beside the horse who’d made her life hell, Pip had put her fellow horses before herself and helped Maynand across the water, not leaving him even when he swore at her. Petra was thankful that her foal hadn’t come to harm, but was still angry with her for doing what she’d done. “You should have got out on that side, and I would have come back for you!” the Shire mare screamed. “No mum,” Pip replied, “You couldn’t have got back over the river. It was either me swim it, take my chance, or I lose my herd. As for Maynand, well! I don’t know what he was thinking of!” Maynand stared at the Tiny Falabella mare. The Possibility she’d saved his life, and that he owed this scrap something, actually made him feel sick, but it couldn’t be denied, she’d risked her life for him, she could have swum the river, had she not fallen off Petra’s back she would have got across safely. The colt couldn’t escape the fact that when she’d found him in the water, she’d thought about getting him across the river, not of just swimming it herself, leaving him. Feeling the colt’s eyes on her, Pip turned to him. “Oh, Maynand, there you are,” she said. Maynand opened his mouth to say something, but couldn’t bring himself to thank Pip for saving him. “Why did you stop to help Maynand?” Ferdinand asked. “I, I don’t know,” Pip replied, “he was there, and you were here, and he wasn’t going anywhere fast, and I thought I could help him if he got into problems getting across, that sort of thing,” the Falabella mare replied. “You are both safe now,” Petra said, “but don’t you ever! Ever! Do that again Pip!” She shrieked.

 

Pip grieved the loss of Kora. She couldn’t believe it, why had such a graceful mare, who had claimed to have worked with royalty been taken by the strong river current! Only yesterday she had shouted after pip to be good, she had been good! She had helped that awful Maynand across, she’d have done it for anyone. Surely ;no one would leave a struggling horse however much they disliked them. Maynand hadn’t wanted to show anyone his fear of the water least of all that brat of a pip!! Petra and Sheissain decided that now would be a good time to rest and recover some strength.

 

“how come so many drowned”? was the question which was repeated over and over again. Pip thought her heart would break, “why, why, why”? that was all she could say. “I don’t know” Petra replied honestly. “Pip, I know you are sad at losing Kora, but we have to move on, life goes on, sweetheart. Look, settle down, you will feel better after a good night’s sleep.” “yes,” Pip agreed tearfully. “?Where is Ferdi? “ “He’s busy” Petra said “but he will be back soon, he’s just helping Sheissain, making sure that the herd are comfortable for the night. We all have to stick together Pip and do our bit to keep the herd safe and happy”.

 

After an hour of trying to sleep, Pip gave up. Getting slowly to her feet, being careful not to wake Petra, Pip looked round her. She walked slowly round the sleeping horses towards a patch of woodland. The wood was dark, but this didn’t alarm her really. Pressing on into the wood, deep in thought, Pip was unprepared for someone shouting at her. “Stop!” Squealing with fright, Pip looked round her.” “Who, Who’s that! Where are you!” She demanded. For answer a huge boar badger came into the open. “It be me who told you stop,” he said. Pip stared at this massive creature. “Oh, yes,” Pip gabbled. “What be your name?” the Badger asked. “Pip,” She replied. “Me be Brock,” the badger said. “Pleased to meet you Brock,” Pip said, her mind spinning. “I saw what happened to horses in river, that bad thing,” Brock said. “Yes that was, I knew at least one of them well,” The mare replied. Brock looked Pip over. “You be smaller than other horses in herd, they be bigger than you by lots.” He observed. “Yes I am smaller,” Pip replied. “Well, me give Pip advice. Brock like Pip, Brock say that to keep Pip safe Pip no go into wood at night. In wood be bad creatures, them harm pip like crazy if they see her. You no fear from Brock or family, we keep horses safe, especially Pip. But you listen to Brock and take note, wood no place for small horse!” Pip thought she might grow to like this massive Badger with the strange talk.

 

The next morning, Pip wandered back to her herd. Seeing her coming Petra

asked: “Where have you been?” Pip told her all about Brock. “You went into the

woods!” The Shire mare shrieked. “Yes, I was unable to sleep,” Pip replied. “You

never ever do that again Pip! You didn’t know what was in that wood! What if you

had come to harm? What if that Badger had harmed you!” Petra yelled. Brock,

woken by the squealing horse, came lumbering into the open. “Me no hurt Pip, Pip

friend of Brock and Brock family! We look after Pip. Badgers make big trouble if

harm Pip! Brock snapped. Petra stared open mouthed at the boar badger.

 

“Petra, where is your spirit of adventure?” Pip was beginning to get really

fed up of Petra’s persistent nagging. Petra couldn’t believe what she was

hearing, Pip had called her by her name for the first time. “Pip, I am

concerned for your safety, I couldn’t bare to see anything happening to you, I

love you and … she stopped, was suddenly disturbed by a commotion. What was

happening now?

Petra haired off in the direction of the squealing. She saw Maynand and

Brock in a fight, and it seemed the badger was winning! Petra waded in and broke

the two feuding creatures up. “What was all that about?” she demanded. “Maynand

said he hurt Pip like mad just for being small horse!” Brock yelled. “Yeah, and

she deserves all she gets, she’s a scrap Petra, nothing more than a snivelling

scrap!” Maynand screamed. “I could apply that description to you Maynand, and I

will. You are a horrid horse, your manners are disgraceful, you wouldn’t even

thank Pip for saving your life!” Petra whinnied shrilly. Meanwhile, Pip had

followed her foster mother and heard everything. “go for it Brock, beat the

stuffing out of him!” she whinnied. Petra whipped round on her foal and nipped

her ear hard! “What was that for!” Pip yelled. “Never incite violence Pip!”

Petra squealed.

 

No one heard Sheissain approaching. “Wha’s goin’ on here!” he questioned, “we’re

sposed to be getting ready to move on and you lots fightin,” “I don’t want to

move on” Whinnied Pip sulkily. “I wants to stay here with Brock, I’ve ‘ad enough

of ‘orses, all I gets is nag, nag, nag from Petra and I just feel so unhappy,

Maynand treats me like dirt and I haven’t spoken to Ferdinand for days!”

 

Sheissain’s fur stood up on end. “Don’t drop your H’s when you talk to me

Pip!” he snapped. Pip looked at him. “I’m only trying to speak your language, I

didn’t,,,,” Sheissain lashed out at her! Pip threw herself backwards,

desperately trying to avoid the hoof. She landed heavily on her back, winding

herself. Petra meanwhile had leapt on top of Sheissain and given him a proper

thumping. When she’d finished Sheissain was barely alive. “Don’t you ever! Ever!

Lash out at Pip Sheissain, for if you do it again, I swear, I’ll murder you!”

Petra squealed. She left her second in command to think on what she said, and

went in search of Pip, who was lying groaning on the grass a short distance

away. She made an anxious examination of her foal, finding no broken bits, Petra

helped Pip to her feet. “He tried to kill me mum,” Pip sobbed. Petra wanted to

ask Pip why she’d once referred to her by name but thought now wasn’t the time.

 

“I know, he won’t get another chance Pip darling, not while I’m here,” she said

gently. “I’m so frightened” Pip sobbed uncontrollably. “I don’t understand why

Sheissain behaved like that He’s supposed to be my second in command ” Petra said

to Ferdinand later that day as the herd prepared to continue their journey. “Why

doesn’t Pip want to come with us?” Ferdinand asked quietly. “She’s taken a liking

to Brock, seems to think that he can protect her from danger, and remember Pip

had struck up quite a friendship with Kora, and now Kora is no longer with us,

Pip is in no fit state to be left by herself Ferdinand, and I don’t want her

getting hurt” Petra replied. “But she cant possibly stay here alone,” Ferdinand

said in a firm but quiet tone. “You will have to talk to her Ferdinand” Petra

continued, “she respects you and I am sure a quiet fatherly word from you will do

the trick.”” “Of course” said Ferdinand looking round for the tiny horse he had

taken under his hoof those few months ago. While Petra and Ferdinand were in

conversation Pip wandered off back into the wood” I won’t go with them, she

sobbed I won’t.”

 

Pip found Brock digging up worms. Seeing the mare was in a terrible state,

he stopped digging and asked: “What be the matter?” Pip sniffed and replied:

“They want me to go with them, but I don’t want to, I want to stay here!” Brock

looked mystified. “Why you want stay? Here is no place for small horse like

Pip,” he said. “But I want to stay with you!” Pip squealed. Brock looked sternly

at the Falabella mare. “No, you no stay with me! Me badger, you horse, me no

look after horse! You go with other horses Pip, or me make you go like crazy!”

Brock yelled. Pip ran away, knowing she’d have to go with the horses, knowing

she’d have to try to get on with the others. Pip felt lost and totally helpless,

who could she turn to?

 

Pip ran and ran, she didn’t know what to do. “I feel so lonely” she cried,

tears still streaming off the end of her nose. Time didn’t seem to matter any

more, she knew she just had to keep going, going going. How long she ran for she

didn’t know and then exhaustion took over and she flopped down in an emotional

heap on the ground under a large tree in the middle of the forest. Suddenly, Pip

realised that she was truly lost. She drifted off into an uneasy sleep. She was

jerked back into consciousness by the sound of an owl hooting up above her. It

was dark, and she was cold. “Oh no” she whinnied, “Where is the herd, they will

have gone on without me, I should have listened to Brock “ I cant cope here by

myself, what am I going to do now?”

 

It was getting dark now. Pip laid her head back on the dried leaves. She

felt cold, lonely and more frightened than she could remember being before.

Suddenly a branch cracked nearby. Screaming in terror Pip leapt to her feet!

“Hey now, shh, there’s no need for that,” someone said gently. “What? Who? Where

are you!” Pip screamed into the darkness. For answer she felt a nose rubbing

her’s. Looking round, Pip couldn’t believe her eyes! Another horse just like her

stood beside her! He was small, with tiny hooves, and best of all for Pip, he

was company. “Why all the screaming littl’en?” The Falabella gelding asked.

“Littl’en?” Pip asked incredulously, “If you don’t mind me saying, you’re not so

large yourself.” “Why were you screaming like that?” The colt asked, obviously

ignoring her statement. “I was part of a herd of horses, we crossed a river,

some died, I couldn’t cope, can’t cope even, and now they’re gone! I don’t know

how I’m going to catch up with them, look at me! I’m tiny! I’ve got short legs,

I can’t run as far or fast as larger horses!” Pip whinnied. The colt nuzzled her

cheek. That felt wonderful. “I think I’ve seen someone you might know,” he said,

“A large Shire mare came past where I was lying up one day. When I asked her her

business, she said she was looking for Pip, whoever Pip is.” “I’m Pip, and that

was Petra, my, um, foster mum, Where did you see her?” Pip asked. “Oh, hours

ago, she would have gone far from here now,” the colt replied. This news broke

Pip, who cried into the gelding’s mane. “Hey Pip, don’t cry dear,” he said

softly, “Tell you what, we’ll look as soon as it becomes light enough to see,”

he promised. Calmed by this strange horse’s presence, Pip settled down. “I never

asked you what your name was,” she said. “My name? Well, I can’t remember it

really,” Pip stared at him in astonishment! “You don’t know your own name?” She

asked. “No, it’s just that, well, my herd cast me out,” he replied. “Yes, but

what’s that got to do with you forgetting your name?” Pip persisted. “They

called me Whitehoof. I suppose that’s my name, if I have one at all,” The colt

replied. Pip then noticed he did have one white hoof. She’d taken note of it,

but hadn’t commented on it. “Whitehoof? Do you mind me calling you that?” She

asked hesitantly. “No, it’s as close to a name as I’ll ever get,” The colt

replied. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of, having one white hoof,” she said. “I’ve

learned to live with it,” Whitehoof replied. Pip reached out with her nose and

touched the colt’s left forefoot, his one white hoof. “I like it, and, I like

you Whitehoof.” She said. Whitehoof hugged Pip tightly. “Tomorrow I’ll help you

find your mum,” he said. Strangely though, Pip didn’t want to. This new horse

had kindled in her an urge to go her own way, with Whitehoof she’d be safe she

was sure. “Whitehoof, can, can I stay with you?” She asked. The colt smiled. “If

you like,” he said.

 

Petra was beside herself with worry. “I think we should go back and have

another look for her, remember that little horse with the white hoof, maybe he

can help us. “Ok” Ferdinand reassured her “we’ll go and have one more try,

surely she cant be that far away, she would have been tired and fallen asleep

somewhere, come on, let’s go Maynand, you can come too, Sheissain can stay in

control while us three go to find Pip. “The stupid thing should not have gone

off by herself” Maynand said, “its her own fault.” “Hey you,” reminded Ferdinand

“just you remember what Pip did for you!!” he said angrily. Maynand recoiled and

reluctantly followed Petra and Ferdinand into the wood.

 

Petra, Maynand and Ferdinand wandered through the wood looking for Pip.

Meanwhile, Pip and Whitehoof had left their resting place and gone further into

the wood. Pip wanted to ask Whitehoof so much about himself. He answered her

questions patiently, why this why that, but he didn’t mind. Suddenly there was

an angry squeal. “There you are Pip, where have you been!” Whitehoof and Pip

spun round to be confronted by Petra standing looking disapprovingly at Pip. “I

ran away when we were near the river, into the woods I went. Then when I looked,

you’d all gone!” Pip replied. Maynand snapped, waving a mocking hoof at

Whitehoof: “And what has he got to do with all this?” Whitehoof strode up to

Maynand. While Maynand was only a yearling, he was quite a bit larger than

Whitehoof, who was fully grown, and a few months older than Maynand himself.

Even though Maynand was larger, he seemed to cower away from the smaller horse.

“You know me I think Maynand,” Whitehoof said ominously. “Yes Whitehoof, I, I

know you,” Maynand stammered. “What’s going on between you two?” Petra asked,

all thoughts of disciplining Pip flying from her mind the minute she’d seen what

affect Whitehoof had on Maynand. “He was in my old herd,” Whitehoof replied, “I

believe he’s only been with your herd for a few months?” the gelding asked.

“Yes, he came just before Ferdinand and Pip did,” Petra replied, “But what of

it?” “He persecuted me,” Whitehoof replied, “and I smashed him up for it. I

didn’t want to, but talk didn’t do any good. It was humiliating wasn’t it

Maynand? A smaller horse teaching you a lesson?” Maynand looked down at his

hooves. “Yes Whitehoof it was, but you were still ousted, they still threw you

out!” “What did they throw you out for?” Petra asked. “Can’t you guess?” Maynand

scoffed, “show them why they threw you out Whitehoof!” Maynand commanded.

Whitehoof turned on Maynand for a second time, giving the larger colt a proper

kicking. At the end of the swiftest fight Petra had ever seen, Maynand lay on

the grass, with the wind knocked out of him, While Whitehoof stood, apparently

unscathed, glaring down at Maynand, prostrate before him. “You are a disgusting

creature Maynand, you deserve nothing! I can’t think of the words to describe

how much I despise you!” Whitehoof snarled. Petra suddenly realised why

Whitehoof had been thrown out of his herd. “Um, sorry to mention it, but was the

reason for your expulsion from the herd, um, your white hoof?” She asked

ashamedly. “Yes it was,” Pip replied, sparing Whitehoof the torment. “Whitehoof

doesn’t like it mum,” Pip said, “I’ve told him that I like him, that I think his

white hoof is no problem.” Maynand got up, and spitting contemptuously on the

grass at Whitehoof’s feet, he turned and walked away. “Next time, I’m going to

kill him,” Whitehoof said firmly. “So you found Pip in the forest then

Whitehoof?” Ferdinand asked. “Yes, that’s right, whinnying pitifully she was

poor thing, I couldn’t leave her like that, so I stayed,” he said. “Thank you

for looking after her,” Petra said. “Looking after her? You make her sound like

a foal!” Whitehoof shouted. “She is!” Petra squealed. “No she isn’t,” Whitehoof

stated, “Pip’s a year old, more than that now, so am I. Would you call me a

foal?” He asked. “No,” Petra replied. “Then don’t call Pip a foal!”

Whitehoof yelled. “She might have had a bad start in life, but she’s grown up a

lot, she’s not a foal any more!” He said sharply. “Well,” Ferdinand said,

“thanks again for looking after,,,” he stopped when Whitehoof’s right forefoot,

crashed into his foreleg with alarming force! Ferdinand screamed and limped

away. “Will you larger horses stop treating us smaller horses like foals!” He

yelled.

 

Petra was relieved to have Pip back with her. “We were worried about you

Pip, darling, Promise me you will never, ever do that to us again. We really

need to get along now!” Petra spoke sternly but quietly. “Petra?” Pip asked “can

Whitehoof come with us please I don’t want to leave him here by himself, and

…” Pip stammered, “ I, I think it would be nice for there to be two of us…two

falabella horses in the herd. “no, no, no, I don’t want that brute coming with

us” Maynand yelled furiously. “You just saw what he tried to do to me … and and

you heard him say, he’ll kill me!!” “Maynand, shut up” Ferdinand recovered from

the kick Whitehoof had given him. “you continue the way you are and you will be

the one to be excluded from the herd” “its not for you to decide that” Maynand

screamed, its up to her, er I mean Petra and Sheissain, not you! you come here

and think you can take over … you won’t get the better of me Ferdinand.” “that’s

it, stop it Maynand,” Petra said sharply , stop it right now.”

 

 

Petra looked down at Whitehoof. “Would you like to come with us?” She

asked. The Falabella gelding looked at Pip. “I would like that,” he said.

Maynand scowled at Whitehoof. “I think you’ve made one enemy all ready

Whitehoof, sorry about that,” Ferdinand said. “Why do you hate me and Pip

Maynand?” Whitehoof asked. Maynand turned his back on the Falabella horse.

“Don’t trouble yourself with Him Whitehoof,” Petra advised. Whitehoof looked up

into her face. “I wish to know why he hates us Falabella horses so much Petra,

that’s not too much to ask is it?” he asked. “No,” Petra conceded. Not meeting

Whitehoof’s eye, Maynand said: “I can’t understand how you or Pip can call

yourselves horses Whitehoof. You’re tiny!” “Sometimes good things come in small

packages,” Sheissain said. He’d come up from the group a little way off and had

overheard most of their conversation. Seeing him, Whitehoof’s fur bristled. “You

attacked Pip didn’t you?” he asked crossly. “Um, yes, I did,” Sheissain

admitted. His expression turned to fear as the Falabella gelding approached him.

“You attack her again, and I’ll smash you up!” Whitehoof warned. Sheissain

stared at the horse in astonishment! “You know who I am?” he asked. “Yes, you’re

second in command here, or so I’ve heard,” Whitehoof replied. “Yes and as second

in command, I am due some respect!” Sheissain yelled. “Due respect?” Whitehoof

asked,” Is any horse due respect in matters of leadership? Not in my book,

unless they earn it of course. I for one, whatever your name is, do not respect

you, for you committed unleader-like acts in beating up Pip when she tried

talking to you in your language. Beating up another horse is disgraceful

behaviour, and you are unfit to be leader if you take recourse to that action

every time a dispute arises.” It was plain Whitehoof was enjoying himself.

Sheissain wasn’t, and Whitehoof hadn’t finished. “If I remember rightly, you

didn’t even give Pip a chance to explain herself,,,” he paused, “you are not my

leader, nor are you my second in command, I do not respect you,” Whitehoof said

quietly. Sheissain’s fur stood up on end and he was close to doing to Whitehoof

what he’d done to Pip, but couldn’t escape the truth of the gelding’s words.

Petra had noted them too, and had taken them on board. “I want to talk with you

Sheissain, alone, and in private,” she said. Tonight will do, midnight,” she

looked around her, “under that willow tree.”

Midnight came, and the two horses met under the Willow tree. “What have you

got to say for yourself Sheissain?” Petra asked. “I won’t have horses

disrespecting me!” Sheissain whinnied. “Disrespecting you?” Petra asked, “How

were Whitehoof or Pip disrespecting you?” Sheissain hesitated: “Pip imitated me!

That’s disrespect isn’t it? Also, Whitehoof challenged me, as is he were second

in command! That’s not right Petra!” He yelled. “Whitehoof had a perfectly

reasonable question to ask you, why you had beaten up his friend. Sheissain, why

did you beat up Pip?” Sheissain’s eyes blazed with hatred! “I hate her, pure and

simple Petra,” he said acidly. Swallowing her anger, Petra asked: “Why do you

hate her?” “Because she is small! Too small! Horses need to be able to defend

themselves in their own right, each defending themselves! Pip, and Whitehoof for

that matter can’t do that! They are too small Petra! We have to nanny them like

they’re foals!” “Whitehoof doesn’t need nannying, as you put it Sheissain, he’s

a tough horse, small though he might be.” She paused, and then continued: “I

appointed you as second in command didn’t I?” “Yes You did,” Sheissain said,

dreading, but knowing what was coming. “I can also, under herd customs and laws,

demote, and reappoint my deputies. It is only the leader who is elected, right?”

She asked. “Yes,” Sheissain whimpered. “Therefore, as of now, now Sheissain! You

are demoted to an ordinary herd member! You have shown little regard for

anyone!” “Who will be deputy?” Sheissain asked. Then as the realisation sank in,

his fur stood up on end! “No! not Whitehoof!” “Whitehoof indeed, if he will.

He’s got it right Sheissain, you haven’t. What he said to you was true, it came

from a horse who new truth, had honesty in his heart, and would do what he could

for the herd. He can tell it as it is, and I’ll bet can have things told to him

as they are. He’s sensible, a lot more sensible than you!” Petra whinnied.

 

 Sheissain ran off, very angry with his leader. He knew Petra had the right

to do what she had done, but to give the deputy leadership to a scrap like

Whitehoof! How could she! Petra walked back to the herd, and dropping to her

knees, she nuzzled Whitehoof’s shoulder. “Yeah?” Whitehoof said sleepily, “Who’s

that?” Opening his eyes he saw who it was and said: “Oh, Petra, it’s you,.” He

stretched languidly, “What’s up?” He asked. Petra motioned to him to go with

her. Getting slowly to his feet, Whitehoof followed the Shire mare into the

woods. Once they were out of earshot of the herd, Petra said: “I brought you

here for a very special reason Whitehoof. You see, um, well, Sheissain’s been

demoted,,,” Her voice trailed away. “What of it?” The Falabella gelding asked,

“With all due respect Petra, what can I do about it? It was your decision after

all. My thoughts on the reasons for doing what you did, I feel it would not be

appropriate to give.” “No, Whitehoof, I wouldn’t expect that of you, and it is

because you can keep your own council and keep your cool that I have brought you

here,” she hesitated, It’s probably too much to ask, but would you?” “would I

what?” Whitehoof asked pleasantly, all the while his mind racing to think of

what the Shire mare might want of him. “Would you take Sheissain’s place? Be my

number two, second in command?” Whitehoof’s mind spun horribly. He thought: “I’m

not cut out for this!” but heard his voice saying. “I, I would consider it a

great honour, and will do my best to serve the herd.” Petra looked relieved.

“That’s sorted then, all finished,” she said airily, “I’m sorry for disturbing

your sleep Whitehoof.” Whitehoof went back to his place beside Pip somehow

realising he wouldn’t sleep again that night.

 

Whatever is the matter with you Whitehoof?” Pip asked dreamily, “Pip, I am

so excited!” he replied, “Come with me somewhere private and I will tell you

about it.” “Oh, Oh what’s happened, is it Sheissain or has Maynand been up to no

good again!” “Quiet” whispered Whitehoof “I don’t want anyone to hear yet, Petra

will tell them very soon, hurry before its too late!” As they moved away into

the wood Pip suddenly heard a sound behind them. Pip froze to the spot, “What’s

that?” she squealed “Whitehoof, where are you, what is happening?” “Pip, Pip,

get help fast” Whitehoof shouted. Pip ran back to the herd to find Ferdinand.

“Ferdi, quick, come, I don’t know what is going on in the wood but Whitehoof

needs help right now, hurry, please go and see what is happening!” “Pip, calm down dear,” Ferdinand said quietly. “You stay here with Petra and I will go

and see what the trouble is, “all we wanted was a little privacy to have a chat,

I think whitehoof was about to tell me something very important” Pip couldn’t

control herself anymore, once again her emotions took over and she started to

shake, and throwing herself down on the ground began to sob openly. “Oh no, baby

face is crying again,” Sheissain sneered

 

Ferdinand coaxed Pip to her feet. “I’ll go and see what’s the matter,” he

said gently. With that he cantered into the trees. The sight that met

Ferdinand’s eye terrified him. Whitehoof stood beside Petra, who lay motionless

on the forest floor. “What happened!” Ferdinand squealed. Petra took a deep

breath and said hoarsely. “Sheissain, Maynand too, they attacked me, sprang out

at me, now, I think it’s the end for me, can’t move, tried, pain everywhere!”

She squealed. Petra panted desperately, then, almost in a whisper, she said:

“Ferdinand,” He put his ear close to the Shire mare’s mouth. “Whitehoof’s leader

now, it was a good job I gave him second in command,,, He’s leader now. Tell all

the other horses, they’ll take it from you.” Ferdinand, realising what the Shire

mare meant, said quickly: “I will.” With her last remaining strength, Petra

gasped: “Whitehoof, he knows, he knows he’s in charge. One thing, bring

Sheissain and Maynand to justice, if not for me, for Pip.” With that Petra laid

her head on the forest floor, and it was all over. Ferdinand and Whitehoof

looked down at Petra, wondering how they were to break the terrible news to Pip.

 

 

Ferdinand regretted telling Pip to stay with Petra. he hadn’t thought she’d

not be there. He hadn’t looked to see if she was, and now,, Someone shrieked

with terror! Ferdinand whipped round to find Pip racing towards him, towards the

awful truth.

 

no, no, no, why is everyone I love being taken away from me! First Kora

“and now, now my adopted mother!” Pip wailed miserably. “Come with me,” Whitehoof

led the shivering mare gently to a quiet spot, he let her cry, “its ok Pip

sweetheart” he said gently, “Ferdinand will take care of the herd for as long as

you need me.” “Pip, I’ve only known you these last few days but, but” Whitehoof

hesitated suddenly feeling very self-conscious. “I love you so much,” he

whispered “I want you to myself forever.”

 

“I want to stay with you Whitehoof,” Pip said. Whitehoof looked at his

sweetheart. Her face was stained by tears, and seeing her cry saddened him.

“Look Pip, I can’t have foals, that’s impossible for me, but I will stay with

you forever! If you want me to,” he said. Pip sniffed and said: “I, I want you

to, I think,,,” Suddenly she hugged him tightly. “don’t leave me!” she sobbed.

Whitehoof stroked Pip’s ear with his muzzle. “I won’t, I promise!” He said

firmly. They went back to the rest of the herd, Whitehoof had a leader’s job to

do.

"Who did you have in mind as your deputy?” Ferdinand asked Whitehoof. "I

 

don't know" Whitehoof replied, "maybe you could help, after all, I have only been

here for a few days and don't really know the horses as well as you do.”

Ferdinand thought for a minute, "How about Pip" he suggested. "no, whitehoof

said quickly, "I love her but ... “She’s too emotional, and, and I don’t think she

would cope very well with it.  We’ve talked about it and she’s very happy

about that. “Hmm, I know who you could ask, how about Tilly.”

 

 

 “Tilly? Who’s she?” Whitehoof asked. “Oh, she’s that welsh Palomino

standing by the large oak tree, see her?” Ferdinand waved a hoof at a mare, who,

to Whitehoof, looked rather too nervous to be a deputy leader of any herd, let

alone the one he had charge of. “I’ll talk to her,” Whitehoof promised. “Later

that day, Whitehoof called Tilly over to him. “You know about the events of last

night?” He asked. “I heard a story about Petra being attacked by some horses,

but that’s crazy!” Tilly Hesitated, “Isn’t it? Oh, maybe not,” she said quietly.

“Tilly, I asked you here for a reason,” Whitehoof said quickly, “It’s just,

well, would you be my deputy?” Tilly’s mind raced, she’d never been asked

anything like this before! As a foal she was more steady than any of her friends

had been, they had got into trouble all the time, whereas playing the older

horses up hadn’t interested her in the slightest. She’d been mocked for this. It

had hurt at first, to be singled out, but then she realised it had it’s rewards,

and that her path wasn’t to isolation in the herd, far from it! While her

friends were getting into mischief and being roundly punished with kicks and

nips for it, Tilly worked behind the scenes, comforting the little foals,

helping mare’s during foaling, and then teaching the young ones how to behave

properly. It was noted in the herd, that not one of the foals under Tilly’s

supervision had caused any real trouble. All right they did try it on once, but

when Tilly showed them what could happen to those who disobeyed the grown

horses, they soon desisted from whatever they were doing. So now, Tilly was in

her seventh year, and to be asked to be deputy leader so soon! Part of her

wanted to leap at the chance, but part said no, hang back! “I don’t know,” she

said. Tilly paused, shook her mane out, then said: “I know you have to make an

appointment before you go to the horses and tell them that you are leader, I

know Ferdinand will second you, and that this has to be done quickly, but I need

time! ?Time that I haven’t got! What am I to do?” Whitehoof said: “Tilly, do you

know who attacked Petra?” Tilly looked startled. “Why do you ask?” She asked

suspiciously. “Because I know,” the Falabella gelding said, “I know you know, I

can see it.” Tilly swallowed hard, fighting to control her fury. “I know who did

it, and I know what they did! I’m not gonna describe it here to save Pip, but

I’m sickened by it!” She whispered. “Would you like to help get rid of behaviour

like that in this herd Tilly?” Whitehoof asked. “Yes I would!” Tilly replied

firmly. “Tilly, you are now my second in command,” Whitehoof said solemnly,

“your formal appointment will happen soon, but that’s only a formality. Help me

Tilly, help me to bring Petra’s attackers to justice. After that, help me lead

this herd to safety and prosperity. Will you do it?” “You are my leader,” Tilly

said, “and you already called me deputy, so yes Whitehoof, I will, and gladly

too.” She replied. “

 

well done, and thanks Tilly, I know Petra would be pleased with your

appointment, she had a lot of time and respect for you.” Ferdinand said. Pip was

overjoyed when Whitehoof told her of Tilly’s new position in the herd. “She’ll

do well” she said “and I will back her; up as best I can” she continued in her

usual way. She went to find Tilly. “your appointment ceremony is tonight Tilly.”

Pip said, “don’t worry, I haven’t told anyone, I promised Whitehoof that I

wouldn’t say anything to anybody, its just so exciting, I am really pleased that

you have got the job Tilly.” Tilly had been a comfort to Pip after Kora’s death

and now that Petra had gone too, oh no, she must tell them who had done it and

how. “Pip,” confided Tilly, “I have to tell Whitehoof how your foster mum died,

please will you come with me?” “Of course I will” said Pip warmly.

 

 “Now Pip,” Tilly said gently, “What I’m going to tell Whitehoof is not very

pleasant.” “Okay, I’ll try to be strong Tilly,” Pip said. Tilly found Whitehoof

and drew him into a corner for a chat. “I think I had better tell you how

Sheissain and Maynand killed Petra,” She said. Pip was already trying to hug

Whitehoof. The Gelding lay down, Tilly did likewise, and Pip lay between them

cuddling close to Whitehoof, all the while trying not to cry. “They ambushed

Petra in the wood. Sheissain knocked the wind out of her, while Maynand took her

feet from under her. Once she was down, Sheissain and Maynand took their revenge

out on her for appointing You leader Whitehoof. They branded you a witch horse,

because you could outwit Maynand, they also slated you Pip. They said that

they’d kill you once they’d killed Petra. I saw it all, and I couldn’t do

anything to stop them, not on my own!” “Why didn’t you try and stop them>”

Whitehoof asked. “I was terrified! I just stumbled across this happening

Whitehoof, honest I did!” Tilly Protested. She closed her eyes, trying to stop

the tears of rage that threatened to overcome her. Once She’d recovered, she

finished her sorry tale. “They only left off when I shouted at them, but by

then, it was too late. I was so scared I ran, ran away from, from the sight of

my leader,,,” Tilly let it all hang out. Tears ran down her nose, splashing onto

the forest floor. “The sound Pip and I herd was Petra’s cry for help,” Whitehoof

said grimly. Tilly nodded, unable to speak. Poor Pip, at first she was

frightened, but now, well, terrified wouldn’t do her feelings justice. Tilly’s

sudden emotional disintegration frightened her almost as much as the Palomino

mare’s story had. “Is it true Tilly? Maybe, I mean, maybe your mind played

tricks with you, after what you’d seen, maybe Petra didn’t die that way,” Pip

said quickly. Tilly looked through her tears at the Falabella mare. “I wish,

Pip, dear, I wish I could say it was any other way,” She said. Whitehoof asked:

“Did anyone else see what happened?” Tilly shook her head. “Noone, they were

careful about that.” Their attention was grabbed by a sudden rustling in the

undergrowth. All three horses looked in the direction of the sound. Brock forced

his way into the open and said: “You wrong, me see what horses did to mother of

Pip, me tell all what I see if Whitehoof want. Me plenty furious about what

horses did to Mother of Pip. I say Brock protect Pip, and Brock no break word!

He protect Pip like crazy! Brock tell all what he see on dark night, Brock see

all, more than mare see! Brock put bad horses in place for what they do to

mother of Pip!”

 

Oh Brock,” Pip melted into another fit of crying “Thank you so much” she

wept uncontrollably again. “I’m so frightened,” she cried “they are after me now

what am I going to do.” “No pip darling, no one is going to hurt you,” said

Whitehoof holding her close to him. “I love you, that is why I didn’t want you

to be my second in command, that is why I gave the position to Tilly.” Tilly

made her way back to the herd leaving Pip and Whitehoof alone. “Pip,” Whitehoof whispered

 “Everything will be all right, I promise,, no one will hurt you, we

have to get back now, its almost time for Tilly’s appointment ceremony … and

Brock, thank you, I will let you know when you are needed. “me always be here

for my Pip” Brock said. “She Brock special friend.”

 

 

All the horses were gathered under the willow tree, where, a day earlier,

Petra had spoken severely to Sheissain. “Quiet please, all of you!” Whitehoof

commanded. Sheissain and Maynand kept talking to each other, they didn’t care.

Whitehoof snapped: “Quiet you two!” They ignored him, so, Tilly, seeing that

something more than words needed doing, strode up to both of them and clouted

them with a hard hind foot. That shut them both up, being hit by a mare! That

just didn’t happen!” “What was that for?” Maynand wailed. “You disobeyed our

leader,” Tilly replied. “And who do you think you are?” Sheissain scoffed,

“Second in command?” Tilly smiled: “Yes,” She said. Maynand lost his nerve then.

For ages he’d been terrified of the palomino mare named Tilly. It seemed strange

to him that she kept quiet, that she never drew attention to herself, and now,

now she was deputy to Whitehoof, and worse still, she knew his and Sheissain’s

secret! Maynand turned to Sheissain and blurted: “We’re finished! That mare will

tell all! Probably has! We’re done for!” Tilly, the ceremony over in double

quick time, as everyone knew and hadn’t raised objections to her appointment,

strode up to Maynand and Sheissain and asked: “Maynand, tell the herd what you

know of Petra’s death, and you Sheissain, come on, don’t keep us waiting.”

Maynand lost all control, shaking uncontrollably, he told all, right down to the

last terrifying details. Sheissain made several attempts to stop the stupid colt

from condemning them to almost certain death, but Maynand ploughed on, throwing

the whole despicable act into the open. Suddenly there was a scrambling noise in

the undergrowth and then a shout: “That colt, he speak truth! He and other horse

named Sheissain kill Petra! Brock see all!” Sheissain ran at the boar badger,

intent on destroying him. From the undergrowth, a huge gang of badgers appeared,

and while the horses watched, they overbalanced Sheissain, tied his legs

together and then muzzled him. Brock stepped forward. “Horse no attack badgers,

horse attack badgers, we defends us like crazy! You now know what badgers do to

horse who attack them or other horse. Brock looked at Sheissain, then walking up

to him, he extended a huge paw, and gently touched the enraged horse’s muzzle,

tail, and all four hooves. Demonstrating the fact that Sheissain couldn’t hurt

anyone now. “He tied up plenty, he no danger to Pip or other horses now,” Brock

announced. “What about Maynand?” Whitehoof asked. Brock looked over at the colt,

who was prostrate at Tilly’s feet. “He no hurt anyone, he big foal, when he in

trouble, he no fight,” Brock said. The badger turned a look of hatred on

Sheissain. “This horse though, he deserve more than he get at moment! He attack

Pip, then attack Pip mother! Brock very angry with horse named Sheissain!” With

that the huge badger went to Sheissain’s head, and, taking hold of the horse’s

right ear in both paws, Brock twisted it sharply. Sheissain screamed! “You be

punished lots for what you did! You be leader of Maynand yes?” Crying with pain,

Sheissain said: “Yes, I thought of it, Let me go! You’re hurting me!” Brock

didn’t let go. He released his hold slightly, but then twisted the ear he held

sharply once more. Sheissain shrieked! “I make very sure you no hurt Pip or

other horses!” Brock yelled, “I make you pay forever for what you do to Pip

mother!” With that he let go of Sheissain’s ear and stepped back. Sheissain

watched as the boar badger went round, again touching his muzzle, and all four

hooves. “Leave my feet alone!” Sheissain yelled, “Why are you doing that anyway?

I hate having my hooves handled!” Brock looked back at Sheissain. “It is known

by badgers that horses use hard hooves for defence yes?” Sheissain nodded, “so,”

Brock continued, “me show you that you no hurt me with hooves, yes?” With that

Brock untied Sheissain’s hind feet, and stood there, in range of deadly attack,

but Sheissain couldn’t hurt the badger. “Go on, try hurt Brock,” The badger

coaxed. Sheissain didn’t move. He was too terrified to do anything. “Okay,”

Brock said, “so I have to do this, I touch hoof, then Sheissain go for me?” With

that he touched the sole of Sheissain’s right hind foot. Sheissain clenched his

teeth, trying not to lash out, for he knew, if he did, he’d lose all face, for

the badgers would tie him up and throw away the key. Brock seemed Satisfied, he

said: “I show you all now how Sheissain changed. I show him he no big horse, he

no hurt other horses any more, me show.” With that he untied Sheissain’s

forefeet, then unmuzzled the now becalmed horse. Sheissain got to his feet and

looked at Pip. The Falabella mare regarded him sadly. “Why did you kill my mum

Sheissain?” Pip asked.

 

 

“I hated her” Sheissain screamed, “but why!” demanded Whitehoof “she gave

you the privilege of being her second in command!” “I wanted to be leader”

continued Sheissain. ”So you decided to terrorise horses like Maynand and Pip as

revenge for not getting the leadership?” “yes” he replied defiantly.

 

Sheissain looked behind him to where Brock was standing, he so wanted to

lash out at the boar badger, but knew, that if he even attempted it, he would be

on the floor, tied up, and worse still, that badger would touch his hooves

again! Sheissain knew Brock was using the threat of this to keep him under

control. Sheissain thought: “It’ such a small thing, but I hate people handling

my feet!” The thought of this torment kept him from attacking Brock, Pip or

anyone else. Pip looked into Sheissain’s face. “I’ll never forget you killed my

mum,” she said. Tilly found it hard not to cry. “Do you know what you’ve taken

from her Sheissain?” Whitehoof asked. Sheissain felt vulnerable. His mind

flicked back years to the death of his own mother. She had been drowned while

crossing a river, much as Kora had. He remembered the terrible gut wrenching

pain of her loss. Whitehoof watched the hated horse’s mental processes. When he

realised Sheissain was most vulnerable, he said: “Imagine if your mother had

died at the whim of another horse Sheissain. Also, while you’re thinking of

that, think of Pip here, she’s smaller than you, you could kill her with one

blow from a hind foot,,,” Whitehoof watched Sheissain’s mental implosion. “I

hope this lesson is one you’ll never forget,” Whitehoof said calmly. Sheissain

suddenly threw himself on the ground in front of Pip, and hugging her fiercely,

the horse who five minutes ago was apparently invincible, sobbed into the

Falabella mare’s thick mane.

 

Pip didn’t want this monster hugging her but she didn’t resist it for her

own safety. She was tense but she knew that Tilly, whitehoof and Ferdinand were

close by and Brock was there too. “You hurt my Pip and you be dead” Brock said

threateningly. “Its ok Brock,” said Pip. “I can deal with it.” Pip went on,

“Sheissain, you need to control yourself and your feelings of jealousy, you need

to try and look at situations in a more positive way,” she said kindly but

sternly. “Ok, I think he has been punished enough,” Tilly took over the

conversation here, “One more step out of line Sheissain and you will be turned out

of the herd, do you understand?” “yes” he whispered. Sheissain released Pip from

his grip and she moved closer to Whitehoof, Ferdinand noticed this, this pleased

him, he was happy to see her loving this little horse. “We really need to move

on” Whitehoof said to Ferdinand later that day. “yes,” said Whitehoof, “So much

has happened in the past twenty-four hours.” “I know, and I see that there is

more than just friendship between you and Pip,” Ferdinand said smiling: “You take

care of her, Whitehoof” Ferdinand continued, “I found Pip tied up in a pen, she

was frantic, together we managed to release her and we escaped, we travelled a

long way together, crossing a very busy road which scared the life out of her,

she trusted me and eventually we found the herd and Petra welcomed us in.”

“Petra took care of Pip for me, and I think you know the rest.” “I am so glad

you did,” Whitehoof went on, “I love her Ferdinand and I will keep her safe”

“Thank you.” Said Ferdinand, “She’s yours from now on, I will always be here for

both of you.”

 

Maynand watched Sheissain coming across the grass to him. “I noticed you

hugging Pip Sheissain, you haven’t gone all soft have you?” The colt snapped.

Sheissain, his voice cracking, replied: “Maynand, I can’t, can’t hurt Pip any

more,,,” he stopped. “Frightened that badger will touch your feet again

Sheissain?” Maynand asked acidly. “No, not really, I hate that, of course I do,

but if it stops me from hurting Pip, then that’s what needs doing. I must try to

stop hurting Pip, I must! She’s gone through hell lately, and I must remember

that, and remember the feeling of that badger’s paw on the sole of my foot, and

how awful it was, if, if only to stop myself from doing something I will later

regret.” Maynand snorted: “If you have gone soft, and you are not going to harm

Pip any more, then I’ll have nothing to do with you any more! You are a weak

horse Sheissain! I hate that mare, but I am not strong enough to get at her, not

with that huge badger and that weird gelding with the white hoof guarding her

twenty four seven. I need someone like you, who has the muscle to put an end to

Pip! Now you say you won’t, because, you can’t stand someone handling your

hooves! I would have killed that badger!” “No, it’s not just that Maynand!

Didn’t you listen to what I said? Forcibly having my hooves touched is only a

last resort to stop me from harming Pip, it’s the final thing that will stop me!

Before I get to that, and hopefully I never will, I have to keep a lid on my

emotions, and not hurt other horses! Or, or I’ll be tied down,” he shuddered,

“And I will be tortured!” Sheissain whinnied. He calmed down a little. “It’s not

just the fear of having my feet handled that stops me Maynand, it’s also the

realisation that Pip went through the same thing I did four years ago when my

mum drowned. The difference here was that I, along with you, took Petra’s life.

I can never forget that.” He said sadly.

 

“Anyway, we are moving on tonight, I heard Whitehoof and Ferdinand talking

about it just now,” Sheissain went on “And, and if I do any further damage they

will throw me out and then … I couldn’t bare to be left by myself” “No, and

there’s you, you got away with murder just now, I was the one who was tortured

for what we did to Petra and don’t you ever forget that Maynand … and if you

dare to touch Pip or whitehoof, I’ll, I’ll,” Sheissain stopped here “Ok Ok” said

Maynand sharply “cool down will you!” “No, I won’t cool down,” went on Sheissain

“You just remember what I said .”

 

Maynand couldn’t bare the thought he owed two debts of gratitude now, one

to Pip for saving him, and one to Sheissain! The herd moved off, Sheissain up

with the lead horses, Maynand some way back. They came to another river, Pip was

terrified by the sight of it. She remembered Kora’s last desperate swim, and

started trembling at the thought of having to cross. “Okay,” Whitehoof said, “We

have to cross this river.” “How are we going to do it?” Pip asked. “You Pip my

dear,” Whitehoof replied, “will have to travel on another larger horse’s back.”

Pip looked instinctively towards Tilly. “No Pip, I can’t,” the Palomino mare

replied, “I’ve got to stay at the back, and I can’t carry anyone!” “How will you

get across Whitehoof?” Pip asked. “I’ll swim, on my own, I’ve done it before,”

the Gelding replied. Pip had to accept this, although she was terrified.

Whitehoof looked about him for a horse that would be able, and willing to carry

his beloved Pip. He spotted Sheissain and motioned to him to come across. Once

the larger horse was standing beside him, Whitehoof said: “Sheissain, you said

you’ve changed, now I want you to prove it. You are to carry Pip across the

river. Now’s your chance to prove yourself.” Sheissain looked at his leader. “I,

I, Whitehoof, I don’t know what to say to that,” he stammered. So Pip clambered

onto Sheissain’s back, and they set off across the river, Sheissain swimming

alongside Whitehoof so that his leader might be able to see what he was doing.

Once all horses were across, Sheissain lay down, and Pip slid off his back.

“Thanks,” she said. Sheissain wanted to hug Pip, to tell her how sorry he was,

for everything! He remembered though how tense she’d been when he’d last hugged

her. Sheissain’s eyes screamed at Pip. “You really are trying hard aren’t you,”

Pip observed. “I’m trying, so hard, so much,,,” Sheissain replied faintly.

Suddenly Pip hugged him. Sheissain buried his muzzle in the smaller horse’s

mane. “I don’t want to hurt you Pip!” Sheissain sobbed.

 

 “its ok Sheissain, dear” soothed Pip, “we really need to forget the past

now and move forward.” “I am prepared to do that but, but its Maynand, he won’t

let up … he just taunts me all the time now …”Oh, I’ll talk to Tilly, see if she

will sort him out, I really do know how hard you are trying Sheissain.” “thanks,”

he replied, “I miss my position as second in command and have learnt lessons

from what has happened, I just want to keep on going now and do the best I can

and to support you in every way possible, this herd is my home Pip.” “I

understand” she eased her way out of his embrace and spotted Tilly coming

towards her. “everyone is across safely thank goodness” Tilly said. “You look

all in Tilly.” Said Pip “yes, but we need to keep going for a while now, and

find somewhere safe for our next stop.”

 

 

Tilly trailed away. To Pip she looked exhausted. Tilly’s foot dragging

progress caught Maynand’s eye. The sight of her dragging her feet angered him.

“You should be setting an example Tilly, go on, hoof it!” He yelled mockingly.

The next thing he knew Tilly had attacked him and lain him on the grass. “I’m

tired, we all are! I don’t need that from you Maynand, and neither do the

others, so shut it!” The Palomino mare screamed. Maynand coughed and panted,

fighting for air. “I thought you didn’t like violence,” he choked. “I don’t, but

that’s the only language you understand isn’t it,” Tilly snapped. Maynand picked

himself up off the grass and walked slowly away. “That colt really angers me!”

Tilly whinnied.

 

 

Ferdinand saw what had happened. “What’s the matter Tilly?” “its Maynand,

he seems to think that no one is allowed to be tired,” she said wearily. “I need

some rest Ferdinand, I will be better after a good night’s sleep.” ”That animal

is just pushing his luck. All he wants to do is cause trouble and upset everyone

while he’s about it. you get some rest now dear, don’t worry about Maynand, if

he starts again he will have me to answer to .” Tilly lay down in the long grass

and drifted off into a dreamless sleep. Ferdinand left her. Pip saw him and,

pleased to see her old friend again couldn’t resist calling after him “Hi

Ferdi!” “did you want anything in particular Pip dear?” Ferdinand gave her a

playful nudge. “ No, nothing in particular, is Tilly ok?” Pip asked, “Yes, she

just needs some rest, please don’t disturb her Pip unless it is absolutely

necessary.

 

After a long trek, the horses found themselves in a clearing, with a stream

running through it. Thirsty, the exhausted herd drank deeply from the stream.

Sheissain found himself next to Whitehoof. He couldn’t help glancing at his

leader’s white foot. Seeing his eyes flick downwards, Whitehoof said: “Want to

take a closer look?” With that he lifted his foot off the grass. Sheissain took

a look. The hoof was pure white, while Whitehoof’s other three hooves were

black, as black as Sheissain’s were. Placing his foot on the ground again,

Whitehoof asked: “are you frightened of me Sheissain?” “No, not now, not now

I’ve seen what love you have for Pip, and for the herd. Whitehoof, um, Maynand’s

been giving me trouble. He wants me to hurt Pip, and, and I can’t! I can’t do

it!” “Because you don’t want your feet handled?” Whitehoof asked. “No! I don’t

want to hurt her! Sure, the threat of that badger picking up my feet is a break

on my actions, but it’s the final one! I have to make sure it doesn’t come to

that!” Sheissain Whinnied. “I wanted to tell you, about Maynand,” Sheissain

said. “Okay, I’ll keep an eye,” Whitehoof promised. Tilly arrived then. She

looked totally worn out. “You need sleep Tilly,” Whitehoof said. The Palomino

mare opened her mouth to protest, when Whitehoof stamped his white hoof. “Now

Tilly! You are exhausted, leave the herd to settle down,” he smiled, “They’re

not all foals you know,” he said. Tilly went away to find a place to sleep.

 

 

 

Although Ferdinand had left Tilly sleeping the previous night, Tilly had not

slept at all well, she was still shattered in the morning as the herd had continued

their journey and that day had been a particular hard trek, climbing hills which

made her even more exhausted.

 

 

 It was Whitehoof’s watch. He was awake, pacing about, keeping an eye on

everything while the other horses slept. Suddenly he stopped, listening

intently. Yes there it was again! Scuffling in the undergrowth. Sensing no

danger, Whitehoof followed his ears and almost tripped over a vixen! “Hey

Whitehoof, watch it!” it remonstrated. “How did you know my name?” Whitehoof

asked. The vixen replied: “What else could it be with that white foot of yours?”

“Logical,” Whitehoof thought. He asked: “How is life round here?” The vixen

replied: “Life’s good, Prey is plentiful. Oh, um, I’m sorry, you don’t eat mice

do you,” she replied. “No, grass and such like,” Whitehoof said. The vixen

looked Whitehoof over from nose to tail, her eyes lingering on his white foot.

“You’d be no good at stealthy movement, not with that foot,” she remarked.

Whitehoof suddenly felt anger! “Look dog, don’t mention my hoof again! If you

do, You’ll find it doing you damage, okay!” He whinnied shrilly.

 

 

 “Okay Whitefoot, or whatever your name is, keep your fur on!” “It’s

Whitehoof!” the gelding snapped. Whitehoof turned his back on the vixen. “I know

my white hoof marks me out, but I don’t need reminding of it all the time!” he

thought angrily. Whitehoof went back to the herd and walked round the outer

perimeter of the group. Suddenly he heard a scream! Whirling round he found

Sheissain thrashing about furiously! It was plain to Whitehoof the poor horse

was in the midst of a nightmare. Avoiding the flailing hooves, he went up close.

Stroking Sheissain’s ear with his muzzle, he whispered gently: “It’s okay

Sheissain, peace, shh.” The terrified horse woke suddenly. Shivering with terror

Sheissain looked up at Whitehoof. “I, I, I had a horrible dream,” Sheissain

whinnied, “I dreamt I was attacking Pip, that was awful! But then, I was tied

down, and my hooves were handled, and I hate that!” Sheissain looked at his

feet, noone was near them: “I can still feel it, I can feel it Whitehoof!” He

sobbed. “There’s noone near you Sheissain,” Whitehoof said gently, “noone is

near your feet, it was a dream, nothing more. Now go to sleep.” “No, I can’t

sleep, I can’t!” Sheissain whimpered. “Okay,” Whitehoof said,” be that as it

is,, you might be able to help. We have a troublesome vixen here, she’s a bit

full of herself. You know a bit about foxes, I don’t, talk to her, find out a

bit about her.” Sheissain knew this was as good as a command from his leader, so

he got to his feet and went in search of the vixen.

 

 

Sheissain was not looking forward to this at all! He made his way slowly

into the undergrowth stopping from time to time to listen. He tried to keep

calm, “Who’s there?” he asked quietly. “Its me!” a voice replied “Maynand, what

are you doing here!” “Oh its you Sheissain” Maynand said “I’m surprised you left

your herd, scared are you?” “No, course not!” said Sheissain. “I was looking for

the vixen.” “vixen?” questioned Maynand “That’s what I said or have you gone

deaf.” “Hey, no need to be like that now!” Maynand snarled. “Where is she then,”

went on Sheissain. “How should I know!” Maynand started to walk away. “Hey, you

stay here, bout time you helped me out” said Sheissain. “Ok ok, let’s go and find

her then!”

 

 

Maynand and Sheissain walked through the wood. They had just about given up

hope when an angry snarl announced the arrival of the vixen they were looking

for. Sheissain saw the anger in the fox’s eyes. “What, what’s the matter?” He

asked. The vixen gave Maynand a disgusted stare. “You!” She barked, “You

trampled my cub!” Sheissain stared at Maynand in horror! “What! Why?” he asked.

Maynand spat: “The stupid thing said he’d kill me!” The vixen snapped: “But he

couldn’t have hurt a horse! Foxes don’t eat horses, I couldn’t harm you!”

Maynand knew this, he also knew that he was now in big trouble. The vixen’s eyes

flashed angrily in the moonlight. “I don’t know what your name is,” she growled,

“but I will take revenge for the death of my cub, You remember that!” Maynand

scoffed: “Oh, I’m really scared, boohoo, I’m crying with terror! How can you

hurt me?” He asked. The vixen turned and screamed into the darkness! Suddenly

Brock appeared! “I know who need plenty punish! He yelled, “Leave colt to me!

Brock finish him off plenty good!” With that Maynand was knocked off his feet

and before he knew it, was tied up. Then, there was a rustling in the treetops,

and a gang of squirrels scampered down, attached ropes to Maynand’s legs, and

hauled him bodily into the air, binding him with ropes to a couple of strong

branches, so he was left hanging, tied to the tree by his feet. The Squirrels

then looped a rope under the colt’s back to take the strain off his legs,

tightening the rope so the horse’s legs were slightly bent. Then they muzzled

Maynand, making sure his head was supported by yet another rope. Sheissain

stared at the squirrel’s work in terror! Brock growled: “Colt no more hurt

cubs.” He turned to Sheissain, “Go get leader, tell him what bad colt do to cub,

then bring leader here, show him what Brock and friends do to horse who kill

cub!”

 

 

Sheissain fled back to the herd. “Whatever’s the matter?” Pip asked, catching up

with him. “He’s done it this time, I had nothing to do with it I promise, please

believe me Pip, he’s killed the vixen’s cub, the forest animals have tied him

up good and proper this time, where’s whitehoof and Tilly, they need to know

what’s happened.” “Ok, calm down, dear.” Pip tried to soothe the shaking horse

“look, over there, “Tilly, quick you need to get into the forest fast, take

Ferdinand and anyone else with you.” “Why, what, where, Oh no.” Whitehoof heard

the commotion and rushed over to see what was going on. “come quick, I’ll

explain on the way, just hurry, where’s Ferdinand, pip you keep things under

control here while we go and sort Maynand out, that’s if he’s still alive!”

Whitehoof, Tilly and Ferdinand rushed off into the forest while Pip tried to

calm the now sobbing Sheissain. “Pip, I’m sorry, I’m really sorry,” he cried

like a baby. “I didn’t know, I really didn’t know.”

 

 

Whitehoof and Tilly found Maynand tied to the tree. All the forest animals

had left him to suffer, knowing that, in a short time, the other horses would be

round to find him. Tilly stared open mouthed at Maynand hanging upside down from

the branches. “You really have done it this time haven’t you!” Whitehoof

snapped. Maynand whinnied shrilly: “That fox threatened to kill me Whitehoof,

what else could I have done!” “Used your common sense maybe Maynand. Since when

has a fox ever attacked a horse, let alone killed one?” “Never,” Maynand

admitted. Tilly walked round Maynand, looking him all over. Her eyes moved from

his head, Maynand’s eyes were terrified, to his neck, ,to the sweat soaked fur

of the colt’s body, and finally to his legs and hooves. As she watched, the colt

tried to free himself by digging his toes into the branch to which his legs were

tied, and when he thought he had enough purchase, Maynand violently straightened

his legs to sway the tree. Tilly and Whitehoof watched the colt’s efforts with

disinterest. Whitehoof knew the laws of the horses didn’t apply here, Maynand

was being punished under a different law system. It was up to the forest

creatures how long Maynand stayed there. Whitehoof knew Brock and the others

wouldn’t leave Maynand to starve, but they’d make quite sure he was as

uncomfortable as they could make him without causing him permanent harm. Closing

his eyes, Maynand made one last effort to free himself. Digging his hooves into

the branches, he heaved desperately! The tree’s branches might have been strong,

but not strong enough to hold half a tonne of horse when that horse was furious!

The branches broke, and Maynand fell, twisting in mid air and landing on his

side, winding himself. The colt squealed as he hit the ground. As soon as he’d

got his breath back, Maynand started biting desperately at the ropes binding his

legs together. Whitehoof and Tilly turned away, they knew Maynand would be all

right now. He could eat leaves and things, and as for the ropes, they could be

left for the disgraced colt to deal with. “Let him struggle, let him fight for

his freedom,” Whitehoof thought. Tilly’s mind strayed to the cub who Maynand had

killed. “We must try to make some reparation for what he’s done,” she said.

“We?” Whitehoof asked, “no Tilly, he, Maynand must, he’s got a lot of learning

to do.” They went back to the herd, both horses deep in thought.

 

 

Once back at the clearing, Whitehoof was stopped by Sheissain. “Whitehoof,”

he said, “I, I didn’t know Maynand was a killer!” Whitehoof saw the pain in the

larger horse’s face. “He’s not your problem Sheissain, forget about him,”

Whitehoof replied. “But they, the forest creatures, tied him up! For all we know

he’s probably freezing cold and starving to death!” Sheissain squealed.

Whitehoof heard a horse coming through the trees. Turning, he saw Maynand. The

colt looked terrible! He’d managed to free his forelegs, then managed to arch

his back enough to get his teeth around the rope holding his hind legs, and bite

through it, freeing himself. Whitehoof saw the exhaustion in Maynand’s face.

“Maybe you’ll remember this!” The gelding snapped. Maynand pushed past Sheissain

and disappeared from sight. “How did he get free?” Sheissain asked. “Ask him,”

Whitehoof suggested, “Maynand likes to boast. He’ll enjoy telling you the story,

then, come back and get the truth from me or Tilly, find out what really

happened.” “But why can’t you tell me now?” Sheissain asked. “I want to test

Maynand, he said he was finished with you when you said you no longer wished to

persecute Pip. So he’s got no incentive to impress you. Therefore, he might tell

you the truth Sheissain,” Whitehoof replied. “Okay, I’ll ask him,” Sheissain

said. With that he went in search of Maynand.

 

 

Sheissain found Maynand trying to hide behind a tree. “Maynand,” , “ I want

to talk to you.” “Why do you want to talk to me, I thought you’d gone all soft

like Pip and … ” Maynand’s voice trailed off. “why did you do it, why did

you kill that poor cub, and I want the truth, no more of your lies Maynand?”

Sheissain softened slightly. “I only wanted to play with the stupid cub, I never

intended hurting him and then, then he called me a bully.” “ Well, he was right

there, wasn’t he!! for goodness sake Maynand, that poor vixen has lost her baby

because of your stupidity.” “and, and, what am I sposed to do about it?” the

realisation of what he had done was beginning to sink in. “how about an

apology!” suggested Sheissain. “If you think I am going back into that forest,

you got another think coming they practically crucified me, that Brock’s an evil

so-and-so.”  Maynand wailed.

      “Oh no you don’t get out of it that easily.” Ferdinand crept up on

the two horses, “you’ll go and apologise to her if it’s the last thing you do.”

 

 

 

 “How did you get free?” Sheissain asked. “I dug my hooves into the branches

holding me and managed to break them,” Maynand replied flatly. “That’s right,”

Ferdinand chipped in, “but it was a struggle after that wasn’t it Maynand?” The

colt looked down at his hooves. “Yes, you stood there and watched me struggle!

You didn’t lift a hoof to help!” The colt whinnied. “I wanted you to learn a

lesson,” Ferdinand said, “to learn that freedom is a struggle, as you found, and

that it is not easily gained. We horses have it, but we only have it because we

obey laws that enable us to know what is right and wrong. It is because we know

this, that we are free. Now you go and apologise to that vixen,” Ferdinand

replied. Sighing heavily, |Maynand turned tail, lashing out at Sheissain as he

did so. The colt’s hoof caught the unsuspecting horse on his foreleg. “You are a

bully!” Sheissain yelled.

 

Sheissain chased Maynand through the trees.  Suddenly the colt turned and faced Sheissain, and stood nose to nose, hoof to hoof with him. “I hate you!” the colt yelled. Sheissain stared Maynand down. “You are a

weak colt,” Sheissain replied. Maynand turned rear on and raised a hind foot to

attack Sheissain. Sheissain watched the colt’s foot intently. When Maynand’s

foot was clear of the ground, he kicked the sole hard! Maynand screamed! “If you

want the others doing, I can help!” Sheissain snarled. “You’ve bruised my foot!”

Maynand wailed. “You killed that cub,” Sheissain replied, “The soreness in your

foot will ease off. That vixen’s pain caused by the loss of her cub won’t ease

so fast.” Maynand limped away.

 

 

 “serves you right.” Maynand swung round at the sound of the voice, it was

the vixen. “You murdered my baby, she cried. “he called me a bully.” Sulked

Maynand. “that you are.” Replied the vixen. “look what Sheissain did to my

hoof!” he lifted it. “You won’t get any sympathy here, that’s nothing to what

you have done to me.”  The vixen replied.

 

 

The Vixen looked closely at the colt’s foot. Then, raising a forepaw, she

slapped the frog of Maynand’s foot hard! The colt shrieked! The Vixen then

reared up on her hind legs, grabbed hold of Maynand’s raised foot in both paws,

dug the toes of her hind feet into the forest floor, and threw herself backwards

with all her force! Sheissain couldn’t believe what happened next. Maynand was

dragged backwards! Scrabbling for a foothold with his three free feet, Maynand

was dragged apparently effortlessly by this vixen! At the last moment, the fox

twisted the hoof she was holding. Maynand howled in agony, then, screaming, he

fell sideways! The Vixen only let go when the colt was past the point of no

return. Maynand crashed onto the forest floor. He tried to kick the vixen out of

existence, but she’d taken refuge on Sheissain’s back, and was watching the

disgraced colt’s antics from safety. “Now who’s won! Sheissain snapped.

 

 

 “don’t you be bothering to come into this forest again Maynand because you

not be welcomed by any of us forest folk.” So you better be hearing me good and

proper.” Brock didn’t give Maynand a chance to say anything. “and if you lay a

hoof on Whitehoof, Pip or any of the other horses ever again, I tell you, we be

killing you next time, understand that?” Maynand looked at Brock defiantly but

again ~Brock continued speaking, “You just be gone away from here now and leave

us to get on with our lives.”” Maynand limped away, knowing the Badger and all the other forest creatures

had been serious. Maynand felt dreadful. His left hind foot hurt from Sheissain

kicking it, and his head ached from hitting it on a root as the vixen

overbalanced him. The colt wondered how the fox had managed to do what she’d

done. He couldn’t work it out, but she’d done it, yes, he wasn’t dreaming, his

body told him very clearly indeed that it had all happened. Maynand looked back

to find Sheissain following him, and watching every move. Maynand felt the anger

rise in him, but fought the urge to challenge Sheissain by remembering how the

older horse had outwitted him previously. By this time Sheissain and Maynand

were back at the herd. Many horses asked him what happened in the forest, but

Maynand refused to talk about it. In a raging fury at the world in general,

Maynand went into a corner to sulk and lick his wounds. Throwing himself down on

the grass, Maynand considered his lot. He wondered why he hated Pip and

Whitehoof so much. “What I can’t stand is how small they are,” the colt thought,

“Whitehoof and Pip are so tiny, but Whitehoof is herd leader! How can a horse so

small as Whitehoof, if Whitehoof can be called a horse, and that goes for Pip

too! Well, how can Whitehoof lead the herd. Noone will take orders from a scrap

like him!” Leaping to his feet, Maynand went in search of Whitehoof to talk with

him.

 

 

Maynand found the Falabella gelding resting under a willow tree. Seeing him

coming, Whitehoof got to his feet, shook himself and waited for the colt to

approach him. Maynand looked Whitehoof all over. From his ears, one white, the

other black, to his body, all black fur, to the gelding’s legs, all black fur

here too, to Whitehoof’s feet, and that one white hoof. “What can I do for you?”

Whitehoof asked. Maynand replied: “How is it, that the horses take commands from

you?” Whitehoof considered this. “Petra gave me the leadership, she’s within her

right to do that. If I am a bad leader, then I am driven from the herd. Noone

has tried to do that yet, so I think I’m doing okay,” the gelding replied.

Maynand said: “Whitehoof, I, I have a problem with this. You see, you are small,

and I can’t get my head around why a horse so small should be leader!” Whitehoof

didn’t show any anger at Maynand challenging him, he waited patiently for the

colt to continue. “You don’t look like a leader, you’re not large, you’re not

bossing us all around,,,” “did you ever see Petra bossing you around,” Whitehoof

said. “No,” Maynand admitted, “she didn’t, but I would have thought you might,

to make up for your lack of physical clout! You can’t attack anyone!” Whitehoof

smiled grimly and said: “Want to try me Maynand? Brute strength isn’t

everything.” Maynand hesitated: “No,” he said. “All right,” Whitehoof said, “but

the offer’s there.” Maynand suddenly felt fear, fear of this horse with the

white hoof! Squealing, he turned and fled! Whitehoof watched him go, wondering

what he’d said to cause Maynand to lose it.

 

 

Whitehoof didn’t follow Maynand, he knew the colt would be better left

alone to simmer down. “whitehoof, dear!”   “Pip!” Whitehoof whinnied, jumping a mile, “I didn’t

hear you.” “No, you were miles away, what’s up?” Pip asked. “Oh, Maynand just

confronted me about my being leader,” he said. “He just cant get his head round

the fact that just because we are small, that it doesn’t mean we are not

strong.” “well, you are certainly strong in character, Petra definitely made the

right choice for you as her successor as leader of the herd.” Pip hugged him

gently. “That’s why I love you so much.” She continued.

 

 

Whitehoof cuddled close to Pip. Closing his eyes, he let himself go. Pip

watched him sleeping. “He is wonderful,” she thought. Pip brushed Whitehoof’s

ear with her muzzle. After an hour or so, in which Pip’s legs got very stiff

from standing in the same position, quite literally supporting Whitehoof, the

gelding woke. Standing upright, he asked: “Was I asleep?” Pip flexed her legs,

trying not to draw attention to the fact her legs felt as if they didn’t belong

to her any more. “Yes you were,” she replied. Seeing his mate’s discomfort,

Whitehoof said: “You should have woken me!” Pip smiled at him: “You looked so

sweet, I couldn’t bare to,” she replied. Whitehoof went to Pip and hugged her.

She laughed: “You are so soppy!” She whinnied. Whitehoof knew he’d found the

mare he wanted to be with forever. “Suppose we’d better get back to work,” he

said. With that both horses went to check on their herd.

 “You’re a big softie, Whitehoof,” said Pip as they made their way back to

the herd. “yes,” he smiled “I can be when I want to be.” They both laughed. Pip

was so very, very happy!

 

 

They were stopped by a pained cry from off to their right. Whitehoof turned

and haired off in the direction of the sound. He found himself witnessing the

birth of a foal. A piebald mare lay on her side, Whitehoof didn’t recognise her.

The foal was half born, and as he watched, the foal emerged completely into the

world. Whitehoof quite forgot what danger he was in as he watched the tiny

creature, smaller than him, getting to it’s feet. Instantly he recognised the

foal was a filly. Pip arrived then, and stared open mouthed at the scene. The

mare was recovering now. Her gaze fastened onto the gelding. “Who are you!” She

demanded. Whitehoof told her who he was. “Herd leader?” The mare asked. “yes, of

my herd, maybe not of yours,” Whitehoof replied. “My herd, I don’t have a herd!”

She whinnied. “Why Not?” Pip asked. “Because I was turfed out!” The mare

snapped. “You were wandering, and pregnant?” Pip asked. “Yes,” the piebald mare

replied. “You felt your foal coming and lay down here to give birth to her,”

Whitehoof said, “and I came across you?” The mare sighed: “Yes.” She got to her

feet, and the filly took her first drink of milk. The piebald mare looked

Whitehoof over. “I need a herd,” she said, “Could you suggest one?” Smiling,

Whitehoof replied. “Welcome home.” The Mare’s eyes widened! “In your herd?” She

asked. “Yes,” Whitehoof replied. Pip felt sure, that if her foal hadn’t been

feeding at that very moment, the piebald mare would have dropped to her knees

and very nearly worshiped Whitehoof. Pip was glad she didn’t, because she knew

the gelding would have found any display like this hugely embarrassing. The new

born Filly finished her drink, and shaking herself, said: “What now?” Both

Whitehoof and Pip laughed helplessly at this. “Eager to get on isn’t she?” Pip

whinnied.

 

 The filly looked Whitehoof all over, from his ears to his hooves. She

noticed his white hoof, and looked down at her own. “Why is one of your hooves

white?” She asked. “I was born with it,” Whitehoof replied. “I like it,” she

said. Whitehoof smiled at the tiny foal. “Are you a foal?” she asked. Whitehoof

tried not to fall over. “No, I’m a grown horse,” he replied. The poor filly

looked so confused at this that Pip took Pity on her. “Whitehoof and I are

special horses, we are only three feet tall when we are grown up. You will grow

to be a lot bigger than me or Whitehoof,” She said. “Where are we going?” The

filly asked. “Back to our new herd,” her mother replied, “Follow whitehoof

and,,, I don’t know your name?” She looked down at Pip. “I’m Pip, the Falabella

mare replied. “Follow Whitehoof and Pip,” the Piebald mare said, “Whitehoof is

our leader now. “What are your names? Pip asked.

 

 

“My name is Gemini,” said the mare “and this is … um, you know what? I

haven’t even thought of a name for her yet”> they all laughed. “We’ll have to

think about that one,” Gemini went on. They made their way slowly back to the

herd. Tilly saw them coming. “Oh, who is this?” Tilly asked inquisitively.

“Gemini and … her foal,” said Pip “they have come to join our herd.”

“welcome aboard,” said Tilly warmly.

 

Tilly looked down at Gemini’s foal. The filly looked back at her. “This

foal’s only a few hours old,” Tilly observed. “I found Gemini foaling,”

Whitehoof said. Maynand cantered into view. Catching sight of Gemini and her

tiny foal, he snapped: “I hope you aren’t gonna let those two into the herd

Whitehoof!” “I have,” Whitehoof replied, “and since when have you had any say in

it?” Maynand, knowing his words would make no impression on the gelding, stamped

off. “What a horrible colt!” Gemini whinnied. “yep,” Tilly said, “He’s a tough

one is Maynand.” “What’s your name?” the foal asked. Tilly smiled down at the

tiny creature. “I’m Tilly,” she said. “What’s yours?” The Palomino mare asked.

“I, I don’t know,” the foal replied. “How about Emily,” Gemini suggested. “Why

Emily?” Tilly asked. “Don’t really know,” the Piebald mare replied. Emily it was

then. Pip looked Emily all over, from her tiny ears, both black, to her face,

all white, to her body, white fur mostly, with a bit of black fur on her right

hock. The Mare’s gaze travelled down the filly’s legs, her right fore black, the

others white, to her hooves, all black. Emily saw Pip doing this and had a good

long look at the Falabella mare. What she saw was a grey mare, all grey, with

black hooves. Then Emily took a look at Whitehoof. She saw a black horse this

time, all black fur, one white ear, all black fur on his legs, three black

hooves, along with Pips, the smallest she’d ever seen, and of course, that one

white hoof. Seeing her watching him, Whitehoof stretched his nose out to Emily.

“You are safe here,” he said. Emily began to relax, Maynand had clearly upset

her.

 

 “What did that colt want?” Gemini asked. “Maynand? Oh, nothing.” Tilly

replied. “He’s a pest,” Pip muttered. Pip looked about her. “What a day,” she

mused. It was raining. “What’re you on about ?” Whitehoof asked. “Just think, we

started off with just an ordinary day, we meet Gemini and Emily, and now we have

more horses in our herd.” “Yep, we do that,” Whitehoof replied. Sheissain came

past then. “Hey Whitehoof!” He yelled, “What’s this about you stumbling across a

foaling mare!” Whitehoof shouted: “You don’t have to shout! Yes I did find a

mare foaling.” Sheissain suddenly stopped dead and stared open mouthed at

Gemini. “She’s beautiful!” He thought. Gemini warned Sheissain off with laid

back ears. “Oh well,” Sheissain said gruffly, “maybe next time,” “Can’t you see

she’s only just foaled?” Pip asked angrily. “I didn’t know that!” Sheissain

whimpered. “Well you do now!” Gemini screamed. With that she chased Sheissain

away, leaving Emily alone with Pip and Whitehoof for a short while. “Why is mum chasing that

horse?” Emily asked. “She doesn’t like him much,” Whitehoof replied. Emily

seemed satisfied with that. Gemini came galloping back. “That horse!” She fumed,

“Disgusting manners! He couldn’t wait for anything! Rude, disgrace to the equine

species!” She whinnied. “Are you okay?” Pip asked. “Oh, yes,” Gemini snapped,

“thanks Pip, but that horse, Sheissain or whatever he calls himself, he needs to

learn timing! What a plonker!” She stamped off in a raging temper, Emily

following at her heels.

 

Whitehoof found Sheissain lying under an oak tree, the rain dripping off

the leaves onto him. He looked in a bad way. “What’s the matter?” Whitehoof

asked. Sheissain grimaced: “That new mare, the Piebald one, she’s got hard

hooves!” Sheissain whined. “You did try to seduce her, she’s only just foaled

Sheissain! you stupid idiot!” Whitehoof remonstrated. “Yes, I know that now!

Sheissain snapped, “she busted me up proper, those hooves were sharp Whitehoof!”

“Did she do you any real damage?” The gelding asked. “No,” Sheissain admitted,

“Only a bit of bruising.” “Your pride is in bits though I’ll bet,” Whitehoof

thought. Both horses turned round at the sound of two horses coming near. Gemini

and Emily came into view round a bend in the track.

 

 

Pip liked this mare Gemini, it was good that they seemed to get on together

so well. “tell me about the herd,” Gemini wanted to know everything. “I am a

relative newcomer myself, Ferdinand rescued me and we found the herd together,

Petra, she was the herd leader at the time, took me under her wing, in fact, she

adopted me as her foal. I also made good friends with Kora, unfortunately she

was drowned whilst we were crossing a particularly fast-flowing river.” Pip told

her about how she had met Brock in the forest and she had wanted to stay there

with him and she ran away and then, and then Whitehoof appeared and the horses

had come looking for her. “What happened to Petra?” Gemini asked nervously. “She

was murdered in the forest, by Maynand and Sheissain. Sheissain has since

repented but Maynand,” she shuddered at the thought of him. “Oh goodness, that

must have been awful for you.” Gemini said. “Yes, it was, and then, the forest

animals strung Maynand up on a tree.” “Sheissain used to be second in command

but because of what he did Petra handed it to Whitehoof,” Pip went on, “and in

her dying moment, she handed it over to Whitehoof, Whitehoof elected Tilly as

second in command.” “How about you Gemini,” how come you were thrown out from

your herd?”

 

 

Gemini looked at Sheissain with distaste. Pip had followed her and Emily

down the track, and they had come across Whitehoof and Sheissain. The Piebald

mare looked deep into the Stallion’s face, Sheissain couldn’t meet her eye. “I

was thrown out because another horse sired Emily. The head stallion got to hear

of it, and he beat me up, and I didn’t want to lose my foal, so I ran away.”

Gemini said. “The stallion wasn’t really my cup of tea anyway,” she admitted,

that other piebald horse though, hmm, yeah, the one for me,” she said wistfully.

“What happened to him?” Whitehoof asked. “He was killed by a car, a careless

human took his life,” Gemini said sadly. “I’m sorry,” Whitehoof said. “Emily

makes it worth going on,” Gemini said, “I have her now.” Emily looked down at

Sheissain and said: “You upset my mum!” Then she kicked him!

 

 

Emily’s tiny forefoot crashed into Sheissain’s fetlock. The Stallion

shrieked and lashed out at the foal! Gemini, sensing danger to her foal,

defended the tiny creature. She placed her forefeet on Sheissain, one on his

shoulder, the other on his hock, Pinning the stallion to the floor. “You will

not go after my foal!” Gemini squealed. “She kicked me!” Sheissain wailed. “You

threatened to do a lot worse to me Sheissain!” The mare yelled. Sheissain looked

at Gemini’s left forefoot pinning him down. “Having a good look at my hoof?”

Gemini asked. With that she showed him it, Gemini was a massive mare, she must

have had a bit of shire in her, and her hoof was huge! Sheissain squealed in

terror! “No!” He pleaded, “Don’t crush me!” Gemini left him then, lifting her

weight off him. Sheissain was so relieved, he forgot about hurting Emily.

 

 

 

 “Hey Pip, I thought you said that Sheissain was not violent anymore.”

Gemini said to her later that day. “hmm, I think somehow that he is trying to

get your attention Gemini, remember when he first saw you? You could see in his

face, maybe that is just what he needs, a female companion.” “But he was so rude

to me, and then Emily decided to kick him one.” Gemini laughed, ”ah well,” she

said, smiling to herself, “I think I will have to just play along with this one

for a while and play hard to get. “just be careful, Gemini dear!” Pip advised.

“Don’t worry,” she continued, “at the moment my first priority is Emily, but

watch out Sheissain.”

 

 

Sheissain got up from the forest floor. He could still feel the mare’s

hooves on him, even though she’d been gone for over an hour. “I must talk with

her on her own,” Sheissain thought. He knew Gemini’s protective instincts were

all to do with Emily, and would dissipate as soon as Emily was able to eat grass

and fend for herself. Sheissain couldn’t wait for that day, he wanted Gemini so

badly! He cantered off in the direction the mare had taken. Sheissain found

Gemini, Whitehoof and Pip resting under an oak tree to get out of the rain.

Seeing him, Gemini laid her ears back. “I don’t want you!” She squealed. Then

she launched a huge hoof at him! Sheissain dodged the mare’s attack and fled!

Emily was badly frightened by the huge horse’s reappearance on the scene. “I

don’t like him mum,” she sobbed. Gemini tried to comfort her distressed foal.

“He’s not going to hurt you Emily dear,” Gemini said gently, “It’s me he wants

to talk to, but I’ve warned him off, for now.” Gemini nuzzled Emily’s ear. “Now

go to sleep my dear,” she said softly. Emily cuddled up to her mother and closed

her eyes. Pip watched the foal sleeping peacefully. “She’s lovely,” Pip thought.

Pip went across to Whitehoof, who was sleeping, and nudged him. The gelding

opened one eye, regarded her for a minute or so, then shook himself awake.

“Hi-ya Pip,” he yawned, “what time is it?” The Falabella mare looked up at the

sky. “Nearly dusk,” she replied. Whitehoof got up, stretched and said: “Has

Sheissain tried to talk Gemini round again?” Pip spat contemptuously on the

grass. “yes he has! “ She squealed, “disgusting brute he is!” Whitehoof moved

closer to Pip, and nuzzling her ear, he attempted to calm her down. “Hey Pip,

shh darling,” he whispered. Feeling the gelding’s warm muzzle on her ear melted

Pip’s anger. She cuddled up to him, rubbing his ear with her muzzle, then

burying her face in his thick mane. “I love you so very much,” Pip Whispered.

Whitehoof closed his eyes, enjoying this ,mare’s company. “I love you too Pip,”

he murmured. Pip lay down beside her mate, cuddling close to him. Resting her

head on his shoulder, she closed her eyes and drifted off into a dream.

 

 

It was morning when Pip awoke. Whitehoof was still beside her, “Oh that

felt so good,” she thought to herself smiling with delight. Gemini and Emily

were nowhere to be seen. “Wonder where she’s gone?” Pip said this aloud thus

waking Whitehoof. “You ok, dear?” Whitehoof asked sleepily. “Just wondering

where Gem and Em are,” she said.

 

Gemini and Emily wandered through the forest. They were curious to meet the

badger who had tied Maynand up in knots. They didn’t have to look far to find

Brock. The badger came towards them and said: “You know where Pip and Whitehoof

go?” Gemini said she knew. “Very good,” Brock said, “Brock need to talk with Pip

soon,” Gemini noticed the badger was troubled. “Is something wrong?” She asked.

“Yes, Brock admitted, “You see, badgers bury Pip mother. Pip mother die,,,” “I

heard,” Gemini said. “yes well, we badgers bury Pip mother. I no do it, another

family, they do it. It be their job you sees.” Gemini said: “You want me to tell

Pip?” The boar badger shook his head: “No,” he said, “I tell. Me Friend of Pip

and she need to know.” With that he shook himself and asked: “Please, where be

Pip now?” Gemini and Emily turned and showed the badger where Whitehoof and Pip

were lying up. Brock wished he was telling Pip anything but this. “Ah well,”

Brock thought, “Pip got horse with white hoof with her now. To Brock it seems

Horse named Whitehoof love Pip plenty, so he look after her, comfort her too.”

They arrived back at the oak tree Where Pip and Whitehoof were eating grass

peacefully.

 

 

 “Brock,” Pip was pleased to see Brock coming towards her. “You be here too

Whitehoof, Whitehoof look after Pip for Brock. Pip will need you with her when I

tell news”> Pip’s heart sank. “What is it Brock?” Whitehoof asked. “family bury

Petra for Pip.” Pip broke down, Whitehoof didn’t like seeing her like this, he

held her close and hugged her tightly. “I love you sweetheart.” He said over and

over again. “I know it won’t bring Petra back but I love you so much it hurts to

see you like this Pip.” Brock left them alone, he went off to find Gemini and

Emily. “Gemini and Emily leave Pip and Whitehoof by self for while.” “Of

course.,” replied Gemini and they went off to find Tilly.

 

 

Pip cried into Whitehoof’s mane. “They couldn’t just leave her there Pip

darling,” Whitehoof said softly. “No,” Pip sobbed, “I know they couldn’t.”

Whitehoof hugged Pip fiercely. “I’ll always be here,” he whispered. “That’s what

Petra said,” Pip sobbed. “I know Pip dear, I know,” Whitehoof replied, trying

not to cry himself. “Sheissain’s reformed, and Maynand’s scared of me, so I’ll

be here forever,” he said gently. Pip looked at her mate. He was slightly taller

than her, but not by much, and the thought of Maynand being scared of Whitehoof

made Pip laugh helplessly. “You’re serious?” She asked. “Yep, took off three

days back and I haven’t seen him since,” Whitehoof replied. “Maynand scared of

you. Hmm, that’s funny!” Pip whooped.

 

 

Gemini and Emily found Tilly grazing. “what’s up?” Tilly asked seeing the

sad look on Gemini’s face. “The badgers have buried Petra,” Gemini said

solemnly. “Oh, I see.” Tilly came alongside the mare and hugged her. “I somehow

feel as if I knew her,” went on Gemini. “Yes, she was a good leader, well liked

and respected by most.” Tilly continued. “Brock just came and told Pip,

Whitehoof is with her now, ,,” went on Gemini.

 

 

Tilly, Gemini and Emily went back to the oak tree under which Whitehoof and

Pip were standing. Seeing them coming, Whitehoof went to meet them. “Ah Tilly,

there you are,” he said, “I suppose Gemini told you?” Tilly nodded: “Yeah,” she

replied. Sheissain came into view then, he tried to be silent on his feet, but

Gemini had noticed him. She turned rear on, and, when he was in range, she

lashed out! The piebald mare’s hoof smashed into Sheissain’s foreleg, almost

breaking it! The Stallion screamed! “What was that for!” he yelled. “You know

very well what that was for!” Gemini yelled back. Sheissain limped away, cursing

Gemini fluently. “That horse is disgusting!” Gemini fumed, “he’s driven by one

thing! Ugh! Horrible!” She whinnied shrilly. Whitehoof thought of Ferdinand. “A

nice horse,” he thought, “respectful of a mare’s wishes too, if Kora’s story was

anything to go by.” But said nothing. Ferdinand must have read the Falabella

colt’s mind, for he came around a willow tree and headed towards them. “Evening

all!” He whinnied. His carefree air died as soon as he saw the look on Pip’s

face. “What’s the matter Pip dear,” He asked. The Falabella mare turned a

shattered expression on him. “The badgers buried mum,” Pip said sadly. Then she

turned tail and walked away from the group. “Where’s she going?” Ferdinand

asked. “Can’t you guess?” Tilly asked. “Not there, not all the way back to that

clearing! Surely not!” Ferdinand whinnied. “Maybe she needs to,” Whitehoof

replied.

 

“Then I shall go with her.” Ferdinand followed Pip. “Oh Ferdi,” Pip said as

he came up to her and nudged her gently with his nose. “Why did she have to

die?” Pip cried uncontrollably again, hugging into the large horses neck. “Hey

Pip, its ok, take as long as you like.” Pip let herself go, she was overtaken

with grief.

 

 

 “Where were you going?” Ferdinand asked. “To the clearing,” Pip replied, “I

must go back there Ferdi’, I must!” “You can’t go on your own,” Ferdinand said

firmly, “who would you like to come along with you?” Pip sniffed and replied:

“Whitehoof, if he will, and you,,,” Ferdinand cantered back to Whitehoof and

asked him about it. “I’ll come,” he said. Whitehoof told Tilly she was in charge

until he got back. Then Whitehoof and Ferdinand rejoined Pip to make the journey

back to the clearing. “It’s not really that far,” Ferdinand said, “there’s quite

a bit of climbing to do, that’s the biggest problem.” Whitehoof and Pip took it

in turns to ride on Ferdinand’s back, but soon, sooner than they expected, they

were back at the place where Petra had died. “This is the place,” Whitehoof said

sadly.

 

 

They stayed there for quite a while, long enough for Pip to say her

goodbyes. This made her feel better. “I know it won’t bring her back,

Whitehoof,” she said quietly, “but at least you saw where it happened.” As they

were about to leave they heard another horse approaching, they looked round, it

was Maynand!

 

 

 “What are you doing here?” Ferdinand asked pleasantly. The colt looked down

at his hooves, ashamed at being found out. Pip saw Maynand was close to tears.

She’d never thought this colt could possibly know anything about sadness. He had

always been a hard brute for as long as she’d known him, and now, yes, there he

was, almost crying. “I came, came back, to say farewell, to Petra,,” Pip became

angry! “Why?” She demanded, “Why would you, of all horses! You who plotted to

fight and kill her, feel anything for her!” She shrieked. Maynand swallowed hard

and replied: “Pip, it’s like this. I, I, well, Petra, she was my foster mum

too.” Pip stared at him in confusion. “Petra couldn’t have foals, she said

that!” She yelled. “Yes, and it was true, but she found me, I didn’t join the

herd a few months ago as was at first thought, I was Petra’s first foal. When

you came along, I felt jealousy and raging hatred for you. Because, because you had

come along and diverted Petra’s attention from me.” Pip’s vision blurred with

tears. “You killed her Maynand!” She squealed. Pip turned tail and bolted!

 

 

 “Whitehoof, you go after Pip and I’ll talk to Maynand.” Ferdinand ordered

quietly. Whitehoof wasted know time in running after Pip. “Pip, Pip,,” he

shouted “slow down, I need to talk to you.” At last he caught up with her, she

was frantic with rage. “don’t touch me whitehoof,” she said angrily. “but, but,

we need to talk, this needs sorting out Pip,” he said firmly. “ok, ok,,” she

started to shake, “Pip, come here,” he drew her close and she started to cry yet

again. “Why didn’t he tell me this before,” she sobbed, “Then this would never

have happened.” “Hey Pip,” Whitehoof continued, “if you don’t stop crying soon

we’ll drown in your tears.” Pip brightened slightly and then started to laugh

again. “Oh whitehoof,” she laughed and cried at the same time, “You always know

when to say the right things,” she said. “what about Maynand,” she shuddered.

“leave that to Ferdinand,” Whitehoof said gently, “I am sure he will be fair

with him.” “yes,” agreed Pip.”

 

 

Ferdinand regarded Maynand with contempt. “Why didn’t you tell Pip about

your link with Petra?” Maynand snapped: “Pip’s a scrap! I was hoping she’d die

or something, I hoped Sheissain would finish her off, but he didn’t! That badger

touched his hooves and Sheissain went all soft! I wanted Pip dead! I hate her!”

Maynand yelled. “So you killed Petra to get at Pip?” Ferdinand asked. “Dead

right I did!” Maynand screamed. Ferdinand refrained from giving Maynand a clout,

but it was a hard run thing. “Maynand, Petra may have shown you love in the

past, but you showed her none! When she didn’t do what you wanted you took your

anger out on her, attacking her and ultimately causing her death. You are not

fit to be considered a member of this herd! I don’t have authority to expel you

from the herd, but I’ll make it known that you are a horrible creature. You did

not deserve Petra’s affection, you deserve nothing!” Ferdinand whinnied.

Whitehoof and Pip arrived then, they’d overheard it all. Whitehoof looked long

and hard at Maynand. “Come here!” He commanded. Maynand went to the Falabella

horse. “You are no longer a member of this herd,” Whitehoof said, “you will

leave, and so that everyone knows you have been thrown out, you will be marked

for life!” “How are you going to do that?” Maynand asked bitterly. To the

astonishment of all the horses, Whitehoof reared and extended his white hoof

towards Maynand’s shoulder. The contact between hoof and hair was only brief,

but as they watched. The hair around the place where Whitehoof’s hoof had

touched Maynand’s shoulder turned white, so, after a short time, the colt had

the imprint of a tiny hoof on his left shoulder. “Now you are marked for life.”

Whitehoof said. “You can go now,” Ferdinand ordered. Maynand knew he’d been

singled out, and this was a terrible thing. Every horse he met would ask about

the marking he’d been given. He was an outcast, and he knew it.

 

 

Three silent horses made their way back to the herd. Pip was exhausted, she

went to find Tilly. “Pip dear, what’s up,” pip threw herself down onto the lush

grass. “I feel so awful,” she cried into Tilly’s coat, “if he’d told me this

before Petra would still be here and this would never have happened.” “Pip, calm

down and tell me all about it.” She told Tilly what had happened in the forest

clearing, “Oh, I see,” said Tilly, “well, I guess that will be the end of Maynand

now! Brock appeared, “Maynand be bad Pip, he don’t be part of herd no more.”

 

Tilly Approached Whitehoof. “I was talking to Pip today,” she said, “and

she told me a story about you rearing up on your hind legs and marking Maynand

for life. Is she telling the truth?” Whitehoof replied: “Yes, I did mark him for

life. He’ll not be able to get away from his dreadful evil acts.” “Why did you

not mark Sheissain?” Tilly asked. “Sheissain made an effort to change, he’s

reformed now.” Whitehoof replied. Tilly had another question for her leader.

“Just how did you mark Maynand? It is said you touched him with your white hoof,

and, this is the crazy part, Maynand’s fur went white where you touched it. How

was it done?” Whitehoof smiled. “I can’t tell you that,” he said. “Why not?”

Tilly asked. “Because I don’t know,” Tilly had an idea. “I’ve heard there’s

something called chalk, that’s white. You could have rubbed some on your hoof

and when you touched Maynand, that would have come off on his coat.” “No,”

Whitehoof replied, “I’m no fraud, here, take a look at my hoof. First, I’ll paw

the ground a bit.” He did so, vigorously pawing the ground with his white foot.

“You see, look at the grass where I pawed the ground, there’s no chalk on my

hoof. Now look,” With that he raised his hoof for Tilly to take a look at the

sole of his foot. Tilly looked down at the white hoof. She could see nothing

wrong with it. It wasn’t flaking, so nothing could have been left behind with

the brief contact Pip described. Tilly even touched Whitehoof’s white hoof with

her muzzle, it was hard horn, no trouble there. The realisation that there might

be more to Whitehoof than she first thought began to creep up on Tilly. “Could

you mark another horse?” Tilly asked. “I could,” Whitehoof replied, “but it

would be for life, as was with Maynand. I couldn’t and wouldn’t do it just for

the thrill of the thing,” the gelding replied. Tilly wondered who this Falabella

gelding really was. Tilly shook herself. Whitehoof, who’d been keeping his foot

lifted for five minutes now, asked: “Can I have my hoof back now?” Tilly

laughed. Yes, sure,” She replied. “Thanks,” Whitehoof said, “my leg was getting

tired. Tilly dropped to her knees and hugged Whitehoof. She didn’t know why she

wanted to, but the gelding didn’t seem to mind. “I must talk to Pip,” Whitehoof

said. With that he gently disengaged himself from Tilly’s embrace and left her

alone to think.

 

 

Whitehoof went to look for Pip. He found her talking to Gemini. “So he

should do the same to Sheissain,” Gemini was saying to Pip. “No, no, no! I will

not,” “Oh, whitehoof, dear, I didn’t hear you creeping up,” Pip smiled at him.

“But Sheissain is a nasty piece of work,” Gemini went on. “Gemini, stop it this

minute!” ordered Whitehoof, “I’ve heard enough of this now!” As she opened her

mouth to say more Whitehoof lifted his white hoof ever so slightly from the

ground and seeing that he meant business, she changed her mind and wandered off

to find Emily. Pip could see that Whitehoof was angry. She moved closer to him,

“What’s up, darling,” she asked quietly. !Pip, I hoped I would never, ever have

to do that, expel a horse from my herd … but I had to.” “Hey, come here,” she

drew him to her. He was trembling, she nuzzled up closer, trying hard to ease

the tension from his body.

 

Whitehoof Shook uncontrollably. “What’s the matter?” Pip asked. “I don’t

understand this power I have,” Whitehoof sobbed. “The power to brand horses with

your hoof you mean?” Pip asked. “Yes,” Whitehoof replied, “why have I got that

power? What use is it to me?” Pip hugged her mate tightly. “How did you do

that?” She asked. “I don’t know Pip love, I don’t know!” Whitehoof whinnied

shrilly. Pip took a look at Whitehoof’s white hoof. “There’s nothing out of

place here,” she commented. “No,” Whitehoof replied, “I’ve had Tilly take a

look, every horse can if they like, but they’ll find nothing!” “Raise your foot

off the ground,” Pip said. Whitehoof did, and Pip touched the white hoof with

her muzzle. “Is my muzzle white now?” She asked. “No,” Whitehoof replied, “It’s

not like that. It only works when I place my hoof on the shoulder of a horse I

mean to mark. I don’t want to mark you.” “Try,” Pip said. With that she lay

down. “Here,” she invited, try branding me.” Whitehoof placed his white foot on

Pip’s shoulder, closed his eyes, and tried to do what he’d done effortlessly to

Maynand. He could not. “Try really hard!” Pip urged. Whitehoof tried harder,

willing his hoof to brand Pip, but it wouldn’t! Whitehoof panted as he forced

himself to think hard about branding Pip, but still he couldn’t. Exhausted, he

lay down on the grass. It will only work when it’s needed,” he gasped. “You

needed to brand Maynand,” Pip said. “Yes,” Whitehoof replied. Pip changed the

subject. “What about Gemini? She hates Sheissain!” “She doesn’t like what he’s

doing because she’s only recently foaled. Give her a bit of space, and she’ll

want him as much as he does her,” The gelding replied. Pip got to her feet. She

cuddled up close to Whitehoof again. “You need not be scared of the power you

have,” she whispered.

 

 

Tilly Found Ferdinand and they both walked into the wood. Walking in

silence, they both thought about Whitehoof. Tilly, having talked to Whitehoof at

length, and also looked at his white foot, was sure there was something unusual

about it and him. Ferdinand asked her about Whitehoof. “I’ve looked at his

hoof,” Tilly said. “He let you?” Ferdinand asked incredulously. “Yes,” Tilly

replied, “He was willing to show me. Whitehoof seems not to have the same hang

ups about his hooves as Sheissain. I looked at Whitehoof’s hoof, and touched it

too. There’s nothing wrong, but he still managed to brand Maynand!” Ferdinand

thought about this information. “I’ll bet Whitehoof’s still confused about his

power. He probably misunderstands it as much as we do. The poor fellow probably

doesn’t know what to think,” Ferdinand replied. Tilly asked: “How would you feel

if you found you could mark a horse for life, just by touching them with your

hoof Ferdinand?” “I’d probably be as confused as Whitehoof is,” the stallion

replied. “He’s got Pip though,” Tilly said, “she’s a lovely mare, they’ll work

it out together I’m sure. Tilly suddenly hugged Ferdinand. She’d had her eye on

him for ages, and thought he had been watching her too. Both horses ventured

deeper into the woods. They wanted some time alone together.

 

 

Emily wandered off in the opposite direction to which Gemini had gone.

There was a horse grazing in the distance. “Wonder who that is?” she thought to

herself. As she drew nearer she saw who it was and as she was about to turn back

Sheissain spotted her and called across “Hi littl’en!” “ he said breezily, “you

ok? Where’s ya mum, she’s never usually very far away from you.” “Oh, I last saw

her talking to Pip and Whitehoof, haven’t a clue where she is now, she’ll have a

head fit if she knows I’m talking to you!” “Hey come on, chill out,,” Sheissain

went on munching on the grass “ your mum’s really cool!”

 

 

Emily remembered that whenever Sheissain was around, her mum became angry.

Taking her courage in the hollow of her tiny hoof, Emily asked Sheissain a

question. “Why does mum get angry when you are around?” “I don’t know that

Emily,” Sheissain replied. “You haven’t done something wrong have you?” the

filly asked. “Oh, no, nothing like that,” the stallion replied. Gemini appeared

then, she’d been listening to their conversation and wasn’t happy about it.

“Emily, come here this instant!” She squealed. The foal went to her. “What have

I told you about talking to Sheissain!” She screamed. Emily couldn’t remember

her mother ever warning her against Sheissain, indeed Gemini had never mentioned

him as being a danger to Emily herself. “Um, mum,” Emily said, “you have never

told me not to go near Sheissain. You have said he’s a horrid horse, and lots of

other words I can’t remember too, but you’ve never told me not to go near him.!”

Gemini hesitated. “Well I’m telling you now!” She yelled. Sheissain watched them

go. When she thought she was out of Sheissain’s hearing, Gemini said: “Time to go and

find that Whitehoof. I wonder if he’s got that stupid idea out of his head that

he can brand horses? What a stupid horse he is! That white ear of his is

strange, and as for that foot of his, hmm, branding horses! What a joke!

Whitehoof’s just a foal! A foal who thinks he’s got special power! I’ll bet it

was just a story, all of it just a tale!” Sheissain heard this. He’d seen

Maynand walking through the trees, but hadn’t spoken to him. Sheissain had seen

the mark of Whitehoof’s hoof, and he knew it was as genuine as his own four

hooves were.

 

 

Emily heard her mother’s words of condemnation for Whitehoof. She believed

that the horse with the white hoof was really able to mark horses by touching

them. She hoped her mother was not right when she spoke of it being a tale.

Emily desperately wanted the story she’d heard about Whitehoof’s power to be

true. “That would be wonderful if Whitehoof can do as the story says he can. I

hope it is true! She thought.

 

 

Gemini and Emily found Whitehoof and Pip lying together under a tree. The

two Falabella horses got to their feet when they saw them. “Mum thinks you’re

silly Whitehoof!” Emily yelled. Gemini nearly clouted her foal. “I never said

that Emily!” She shrieked. “You did! You did! You said that Whitehoof was a

foal, a stupid horse! You said that all this about his hoof was untrue!” Emily

squealed. She was getting rather upset now. Whitehoof, seeing the filly’s

distress, went up to her and hugged her. “It’s okay,” the gelding said, “She’ll

realise soon enough how true it is. That is if she goes on like you say she

has.” Whitehoof turned to Gemini and demanded: “Did you say what Emily says you

did?”

 

 

 “Yes, I did,” she replied “But I didn’t mean anything by it” she continued.

“I don’t believe you Gemini!” said Whitehoof. Pip could see that he was getting

agitated, she tried to soothe him by nudging him gently with her nose. “Listen

to me, Gemini, I warned you before that I don’t want to hear any more of this,

just you remember, you have been here a very short time, and … he hesitated

before continuing, “I don’t want to have to expel another horse from my herd, do

you here me?” “I se,” she said turning to move away, “I haven’t finished yet,”

Whitehoof said sternly. this jerked her back to face the tiny horse.

 

 

Whitehoof stared Gemini down. “I know Emily would know nothing of this

unless you said it to her. You can only mean one thing by what you said, there’s

no misunderstanding here, none at all Gemini!” He whinnied. Pip squealed:

“Whitehoof, calm down darling! Please!” Whitehoof’s fur stood on end, he was

furious! “You Gemini, will feel my hoof soon if you want it!” he yelled. Pip

realised the gelding hadn’t heard her. “Whitehoof dear, please, calm down!” She

pleaded. Gemini looked down at the smaller horse. “Go on!” She yelled, “If you

can brand a horse, do it now! Mark me!” She challenged. The Falabella gelding

strode up to her, and reared, touching Gemini’s shoulder with his white hoof. As

with Maynand, Gemini’s fur turned white where Whitehoof’s white foot touched it.

The power was needed, so it came to pass. Emily stared at her mother!

 

 

Emily knew now that her mother would be ousted from the herd and she was

frightened. “Its true then!” she wailed, “You do have special power!” she said to

Whitehoof. “I told you that right from the start,” he turned and strode away, he

hadn’t wanted to do this again, it was too late now. “Does that mean I will have

to leave as well?” Emily asked Pip. “No Emily, you can stay” she said quietly,

“I will take care of you as Petra took care of me.” “You cant do that!” Gemini

shrieked. “Oh yes I can,” said Pip, ,” he allowed you to come into this herd

with your foal, you will have to go Gemini.” Ferdinand and Tilly made their way

reluctantly back to the herd. “oh look,” said Tilly, “there’s Whitehoof, he

looks terrible.” “You go and find Pip Tilly dear and I will see what the problem

is with Whitehoof,”  Ferdinand said.

 

 

Ferdinand went after Whitehoof. “What’s the matter?” He asked. The

Falabella gelding looked shell shocked. “I’ve had to do it again!” He whinnied.

“do what again?” Ferdinand asked. “Brand a horse of course!” Whitehoof snapped.

Ferdinand could see the gelding was shaking violently. “Why?” Ferdinand asked.

Whitehoof hesitated, then replied: “Gemini, she, she told Emily that my power

was false. She said that I was a foal, a stupid horse! I know it might sound

petty, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you said it does, but I couldn’t take

that!” “So you showed her the power of your white hoof.” Ferdinand said. “Yes,”

Whitehoof replied miserably. The Falabella gelding closed his eyes for a minute,

fighting with his emotions. Then he squealed: “All I want is for horses to

accept the fact that I am different! I don’t want to have to prove my power to

anyone! People can look at my hooves if they like, I don’t mind that, but please

don’t ask me to demonstrate my power again!” Ferdinand heard the pain in

Whitehoof’s voice. “I won’t ask anything more,” Ferdinand promised, “Tilly said

you’d let her take a look at your hoof, and she said it was fine, and I’ve seen

what you can do, so I won’t ask again!” Whitehoof, who had kept his eyes closed

for around five minutes, opened them and stared blankly into the middle

distance. “Gemini has to go, but Emily can stay. I’m glad she can just about eat

grass now. If that wasn’t the case, then we’d be in trouble,” Whitehoof said.

“How do you feel about Pip taking on Emily?” Ferdinand asked. “That’s fine,”

Whitehoof replied. He stared down at his forefeet, one black, the other white.

“Let’s get back to the herd,” Whitehoof said briskly.

 

 

Pip and Gemini were still arguing when Tilly arrived. “Hey, stop! now!” Pip

had never heard Tilly use such a severe tone of voice before and she closed her

mouth instantly. Meanwhile, Gemini remained defiant. “I won’t shut up,” she

screamed “not for you Tilly, or anyone else for that matter. He’s branded me now

and I’ve got to go and I am not allowed to take Em with me!” “Gemini, you

provoked Whitehoof, you asked for what you got” went on Tilly. “but I didn’t

think he would actually do it, I just thought,” her voice trailed off now and

she started to cry. “What will happened to me now?” she sobbed. “hmm, I’ve just

had a thought,” said Tilly. “I need to go and find Whitehoof, just lie low for a

while Gemini, maybe there is something which can be done. Tilly went to find

Whitehoof. “Whitehoof, I’ve had an idea!”” “Yeah?” said Whitehoof, “what’s that

then!” Tilly told him her thoughts, maybe we should have a meeting with the herd

and see how they feel about it!”

 

 

 “Slow down, Tilly, I need time to think about this, your saying you want me

to mark the whole heard with my hoof to identify them as our herd?”” “Yes,” said

Tilly. “But that means Maynand could come back and … and I’ve expelled him”

“Maybe we should give him one last chance, what I was thinking, we could kind of

not mark them until we are definitely sure they will fit in with it.” “Be Quiet

about this for now Tilly, just give me time,” said Whitehoof.

 

 

Whitehoof found a secluded part of the wood and threw himself down on the

forest floor to think. The thought of marking all the horses in his herd made

sense, but what would happen if one needed to be punished with expulsion? How

would he remove the mark? Whitehoof had a sudden flash of inspiration. Maybe, if

he touched the horse with his black forefoot, then the mark would disappear?

Leaping to his feet, he went in search of Gemini. Whitehoof found her very

downcast and ready to lash out. Seeing him she spat on the floor at his feet. “I

hate you!” She yelled. “Tilly told me of the plan she had. I’ve added to it a

bit,” Whitehoof said. “Stand Still Gemini, just for a minute,” he commanded.

Gemini did so, not understanding what the falabella horse was going on about.

Whitehoof reared, and touched the place where the mark was with his black

forefoot. As he’d hoped, the mark disappeared! “Great!” Whitehoof said. With

that he quickly re-branded Gemini. “Tilly’s idea might be possible,” the gelding

thought. He ran into the wood. “What are you playing at?” Gemini yelled. “I’ll

explain at a meeting of the whole herd!” Whitehoof whinnied. With that he went

in search of Tilly.

 

 

A meeting was arranged for midnight of the same day. There was an air of

excitement although there had been much gossip about Whitehoof special gift.

“Tilly,” Whitehoof said, “Go and tell all the horses to be under the large oak

tree dead on midnight,” Whitehoof said, “I need to be quiet and think about how

I should say what I need to say. Tilly and Pip wandered around the herd passing

on the message from Whitehoof. “What’s all this about?” this question was asked

time and time again. “Wait and see,” Tilly replied, “You’ll know soon enough!”

 

 

Whitehoof paced around, wondering how he was going to sell the idea of

branding every horse in the herd. He hoped it wasn’t too like man to do this,

for as he knew, man branded animals to signify ownership. So, if whitehoof

branded the horses, did he own them? He thought not. But then was it right for

him to do this? The horses were all beautiful creatures, from the smallest foal,

to the largest stallion, they were all special in their own way. He had noticed

a mare with only one eye, she had obviously been injured and had lost her eye,

but she was beautiful too. Whitehoof wondered if he had the right to brand these

horses. He looked down at his white hoof. “It’s all because of this,” he

thought, dragging his white foot through a patch of leaves. Whitehoof turned

back towards home. He had a few questions to ask of the herd.

 

At midnight, all the horses were gathered under the oak tree. Whitehoof

explained his idea, and his problems with it. “Man brands horses,” he said.

Whitehoof continued: “If I branded you all with my white mark, then would I own

you all? I don’t like the thought of that! It is not natural for horses to wear

marks that are not given to them at birth. Man brands his horses so he can tell

his from those of the fellow men. Horses need not do this to each other! Also,

great idea though it is, I couldn’t do it! Tilly came up with a great idea, and

it would have worked, it did work! I feel though, that it is wrong! I don’t own

any of you! We horses need to tell who’s out of our herd, these are few in

number, most horses are welcome in our herd!” “Which ones wouldn’t be?” someone

asked. The questioner was the one eyed mare. Whitehoof looked at her. “Those

like Maynand who have done terrible things to the herd,” he replied. “if you

don’t want to mark our coats,” Pip said, “then how about marking in a place

where noone would see unless they were looking for the mark?” “Where do you

suggest branding these horses?” Whitehoof asked. “the sole of a horse’s foot,”

Pip replied, “You can’t see that without the horse picking up his or her foot to

show you. Also, it wouldn’t mark our coats.” Whitehoof considered this. “So

Pip,” he said, “You are suggesting I brand the horse’s hooves, just one on every

horse. But I mark the sole of their foot so it wouldn’t be visible?” “yes,” Pip

replied, “maybe a forefoot, because it is visible without the horse having the

opportunity to kick you.” Whitehoof, relieved that the dilemma of marking

horse’s coats had been sorted, turned to the general ethics of marking. “We

horses need to know who’s out, not who’s in,” he said. “So mark those who are

in, and remove the mark from those who are out,” Pip replied. Whitehoof said:

“One thing more. I need to put this to a vote. If anyone feels strongly about

being marked, speak now.” Gemini looked at Pip. “So this mark, the new one, is

to signify that we belong here?” she asked. “yes,” Pip replied. “What about my

mark?” Gemini asked. Whitehoof went to her and said: “I’ve been thinking about

what you said to Emily. How do you now feel about my power? If you can’t accept

what I do, you don’t have to agree with it. Then I will remove the mark and you

can go. If you agree with the marking, then you can have the old mark removed,

and the new one placed upon your hoof, then you can remain in the herd.” Gemini

thought about this for a long minute, before replying: “I see now that this

power you have is no fraud. You have removed the mark, and replaced it. I don’t

understand it, but I need a herd, and so does Emily.” Whitehoof turned and

walked away, satisfied. “Any other questions or objections?” Pip asked. No horse

objected. One did ask a question though, A skewbald mare, the one who’d lost an

eye, who had asked the question about who would be kept out of the herd, turned

sideways on to look at Whitehoof and asked: “Which hoof will carry the mark?”

Pip looked at Whitehoof. “Your left forefoot is the white one,” she said. “Yep,”

Whitehoof replied. He continued: “My feelings are all horses should have their

right forefeet marked, so not to confuse them with me,” “That’s not very likely

anyway!” Sheissain said, “You’re three feet tall!” “That too,” Whitehoof

replied, “if I have an entirely white forefoot, and only the sole of the right

forefoot of all other horses is white, there can be no confusion.” All horses

seemed to be in agreement with this. “that’s decided, so what now?” Pip asked.

 

Tilly started to walk away from the herd, she was upset! Ferdinand spotted

her leave so decided to follow her: “What’s up Till?” he asked, “You look

confused!” “I am,” she said, “I just wish I had never come up with this idea of

Whitehoof marking the herd, I hope the vote goes against now, I think that would

be the best idea and that marked horses should just be those who have been

excluded. I was just thinking of Gemini, I really don’t think she meant to

provoke Whitehoof in the way she did, she needs one more chance, for Emily’s

sake I just feel so stupid!”

 

Ferdinand hugged Tilly tightly. “You’re idea was a good one, we need to

know who’s in and who’s out. Whitehoof will rebrand all the horses, he’ll change

Gemini’s mark, and she’ll be accepted into the herd,” he said. Tilly wasn’t

convinced. “If any horses need to be branded, then let it be the second in

command. Or even make it so that the horse with the mark on his or her forefoot

is second in command, any with it on their shoulder is not a member of the herd.

We need to know who’s in charge anyway!” Tilly replied. They went back to the

herd and put the suggestion to Whitehoof. He agreed, feeling that he would be

soon exhausted from having to brand loads of horses. “If you are agreed, this is

how it will be from now on!” Whitehoof whinnied. “Gemini, you’re mark will be

removed, and you will be accepted back into the herd. Maynand’s mark will stay

because he has done dreadful things to the herd. Tilly will bare the mark of a

second in command. The sole of her right forefoot will be white, signifying to

all of us that she is second in command. Is this agreed!” There was no

objection. Whitehoof went to Gemini and removed her mark. He then asked Tilly to

raise her right forefoot, and he touched the sole of her foot with his white

hoof, marking it. Tilly pawed the ground with her right forefoot, then lifted it

for Whitehoof to see if the mark had rubbed off, although she knew it wouldn’t.

The mark was still there. “Noone can see it if you don’t show them,” the gelding

said. Tilly was happy with that. Whitehoof called for a badger, a fox and a

squirrel. When they came to him, he instructed them to tell all the forest

creatures, and any other herds of horses in the area, what the new markings

meant. Once they had gone about their business, Whitehoof dissolved the meeting

and went with Pip to a secluded part of the wood for some peace and quiet.

 

 

 Whitehoof fell into a deep sleep, he was shattered. Pip, on the other

hand, was unable to get any rest. She decided to move away and leave him in

peace. “How you be?” “Oh Brock, I am so pleased to see you!” Pip said. “I be

telling the forest folk about what be happening in herd,” he went on. “That’s

good, thank you Brock,” said Pip. “Me do it for Pip and Whitehoof!” he said.

 

Brock looked at Pip. “You have no mark?” He asked. “No,” Pip replied,

“Only Tilly does, and Maynand, Whitehoof’s got his hoof of course.” “Yes,” Brock

said. “So whitehoof no mark Pip to show her mate of Whitehoof?” The badger

asked. “No, I think everyone knows,” Pip replied. “How he do marking thing then?

It be very strange to Brock and family how horse mark other horses with hoof.”

“I don’t know how he does it,” Pip replied. “I hear he also mark Palomino mare

named Tilly. Whitehoof mark horse’s foot though, not coat like Maynand be,”

Brock said. “Yes, he did so,” Pip confirmed. “I also hear horses found mare

having foal in bush?” Pip smiled: “Yes that is true too. Whitehoof found Gemini

giving birth to Emily.” “I also hear horse named Sheissain be very interested in

Piebald mare, but Piebald mare not happy with Sheissain. Her brush him off like

crazy because Piebald mare looking after foal?” “Nothing gets past you does it,”

Pip said. “No, we badgers keep big eye on horses, especially Pip! Badgers like

Pip, whitehoof too! We thinks little horses is very good for big horse herd,

give them leadership, make them see that small horse is good if not better than

big horse! That Whitehoof though, I no know how he do marking thing. That be

very amazing thing.” Pip looked back towards the place where Whitehoof lay. “I

must try to get some sleep,” She said. Brock nodded: “Oh yes, Brock forget

horses day creature, me night. Me come and make sure Pip and Whitehoof safe,

okay?” Pip led the badger back to the tree where Whitehoof lay. When she lay

down beside him, he woke. “Hi-ya Pip,” he yawned. “Brock’s here, he’s been

telling all the forest creatures what you asked him to,” she said. “Thanks

Brock,” Whitehoof yawned. “How you mark horses?” The Badger asked. “I don’t know

how it’s done,” Whitehoof replied, “It just happens when I touch a horse with my

white hoof.” “I be wanting to know how this done. Brock think this be crazy,

that it no happen, but Whitehoof prove Brock wrong.” “It happens,” Pip said.

 

 

 

 “Brock, I really cannot tell you what I do not know,” Whitehoof persisted,

“You really must trust me on this one,!” “But Brock want know!” Pip turned and

spotted the vixen, “I’ve alerted all the foxes,” she said. This seemed to

distract Brock and he moved off into the wood out of sight. “I see you marked

that wicked horse who killed my cub!” the vixen said, “Yes,” said Whitehoof. Nutty the

squirrel then appeared, “Hi Nutty,” said Whitehoof “Thanks for letting the

squirrels know about the herd meeting.”

 

Nutty looked into Whitehoof’s eyes. “I’ve never met you before,” he said.

Whitehoof, lying down as he was, beckoned to the Squirrel. “You can meet me now

if you like, also, I’ll introduce my mate,” he said. Nutty came forward. The

squirrel took in every bit of Whitehoof, from the geldings nose, to his tail.

Glancing down at the horse’s feet, Nutty saw the smallest hooves he’d ever seen.

“Why do they call you whitehoof?” Nutty asked. “Because of this,” Whitehoof

replied, waving his white forefoot. “They named you because of your appearance?”

the Squirrel asked. “Yep. All the horses in the herd where I was born called me

Whitehoof, and it’s stuck.” The squirrel seemed satisfied with that. Nutty

watched the vixen searching for mice and things. “I wonder why Brock disappeared

like that when she arrived,” he said to himself. The vixen turned and went

across to them. “He’s still embarrassed about something that happened ages ago.

He was digging out his set when he dug through a wall of my earth,” she said.

“What was wrong with that?” Pip asked, “Apologies all round and forget about

it.” “I was in the middle of having my cub. Brock, when he saw what was

happening, turned and fled! Or at least he tried to. I needed company, and

although I was in terrible pain, I managed to grab hold of a hind paw and drag

the badger back to me. I needed someone to help me through it!” She barked, “the

fox who’s cub I had disappeared long before the cub was born. Brock stayed with

me all through the birth of my cub. He couldn’t watch poor fellow, kept a

forepaw over his eyes all the time. Every time I cried out in pain, the badger

would nearly do a runner! All I wanted was company! Brock came along just at the

right time, and there were no other vixens about, so he had to do. He did very

well! Although he hasn’t got over it yet. Anyone would think he’d had the cub!”

Brock appeared then. He’d obviously overheard the vixen. “Yes,” he said gruffly,

“I see vixen having cub. Brock plenty frightened by it too. Vixen force me to

stay by grabbing hold of hind paw when I try leave. Brock keep eyes closed all

time, no look!” “You did very well Brock, thanks for staying,” the vixen said.

“Brock no choice whether he stay or go, paw in vixen’s paw, strong paws vixen

have. Every time she cry out, she crush Brock’s paw! My paw hurt like crazy for

weeks after!” Pip and the vixen laughed helplessly. “You think that funny!”

Brock yelled. “Yes,” The vixen replied. “Brock no think funny! Brock scared like

crazy! Brock no know what go on when he kept prisoner by vixen!” He paused and

then continued: “I know now though, that why me protect cub and why me and

family bring bad colt named Maynand to justice,” Brock said. Dawn was coming in

now. Whitehoof looked at the sky and decided it was time to get back to the

herd.

 

 

Brock, the vixen and Nutty followed Whitehoof and Pip back to the herd.

While they were walking, Pip introduced herself to nutty, who thought he’d soon

grow to like the falabella mare. Brock was still trying to drag the secret of

the white mark from Whitehoof. “Brock want know!” He yelled. “I don’t know how

it’s done!” Whitehoof protested. “You mark horses for life, but you no know

how?” Brock asked. “No!” Whitehoof replied. They were back at the herd’s resting

place now. Brock asked: “Brock want look at white foot, you let me?” Whitehoof

raised his forefoot. The Badger cradled the tiny hoof in his massive forepaw and

stared down at it. “Me no see anything here,” he confirmed. “Exactly,” Whitehoof

said, “my hoof is normal!” Brock rubbed his paw over the white hoof and looked

at it. “Nothing wrong here,” he grunted. Dropping the foot, Brock looked

Whitehoof in the eye. “Me think you lie!” he yelled, “Brock think horse with

white hoof telling big stories! I see Maynand with mark, but I no see you mark

him! You say you be able to mark horses, but you no do it!” Whitehoof sighed

heavily: “I can’t do it all the time, only when it’s needed! He whinnied. At

that moment, the gelding was close to marking Brock on his shoulder. “Just leave

me, and my hoof, and the subject alone!” Whitehoof Squealed.

 

 

 “Brock,” said Pip “Why cant you just accept that Whitehoof’s gift is

special and can only be used when necessary, if you continue the way you are, he

will brand you as an outsider, and you don’t want that, do you?” “Me no like it,

Brock no happy, me no understand,” whined the badger. Pip turned to her now friend the vixen, “hey, foxy,” she said “can you try and knock some sense into

this senseless creature for me because I am not getting anywhere!” “I’ll try,”

responded the fox, “come with me, Brock!” They disappeared back into the

forest. Pip needed to be alone, all this talk about Whitehoof’s white hoof was

beginning to get her down. Pip was not alone for long, however, she heard

someone approach her. “Ferdi, oh Ferdi,” she started to cry, “I really don’t

know how much longer I can go on like this, all this talk about Whitehoof’s

special power and everything … its all just beginning to get on top of me, I

just don’t know what to do!” Ferdinand got down to her level and hugged her

close. “its ok Pip dear, just remember, I am always here whenever you need me, I

promised Petra that I would take care of you and as Whitehoof is not here at

this very moment then I am sure he won’t mind!” Pip dissolved into fresh floods

of tears, she cried for a very long time into Ferdinand’s coat. “Hey, I’m

getting wet!” laughed Ferdinand, “come on, let’s go and find Tilly!”

 

 

Foxy led Brock into the wood. She was furious with the badger! “Whitehoof’s power is inexplicable!” She yelled, “can’t you

understand that there are things we don’t understand and never will, but they

need to be accepted?” Brock blustered: “Me no understand how horse brand other

horses. Me frightened of what I don’t understand.” “Listen,” Foxy said,

“Whitehoof’s power isn’t sinister, he doesn’t mean harm by it. Just let it be.”

Brock gruffly agreed. “One other thing, don’t mention Whitehoof’s white foot

again.”

 

Whitehoof lay alone under a willow tree. Rain was falling and he felt

depressed. Brock wanted answers he couldn’t give. “To be quite honest,”

Whitehoof thought, “I don’t understand the power I have.” He looked down at his

white foot. “I don’t know what it is doing to Pip either, all this talk about my

hoof n’all,” he thought. Getting to his feet, he went in search of Pip.

 

 

Pip was talking to Tilly, Ferdinand had left them to it, Tilly would

handle this delicate situation much better than he could. He knew that Whitehoof

was in no fit state at this very moment to be dealing with Pip’s emotions as

well as his own. Tilly hugged Pip tightly to her, “Listen, Pip dear, I know

things are difficult right now, but life is like that sometimes but it will sort

itself out, believe me,” “Oh Tilly, I just miss Petra so much,” Pip Wept. “if

she were here, everything would be all right!” Tilly held Pip close, not wanting

to let her go. “I just want to tell you that I love you and that I, like

Ferdinand and Whitehoof, who I know loves you more than words can express, will

always be here for you!” “yes, thank you!” Pip said softly.

 

 

Whitehoof appeared then. “What’s the matter Pip darling?” He asked. Pip

told him. “hey Pip sweetheart,” Whitehoof crooned, “I love you more than I can

say. I know this problem with Brock accepting my power has been getting you

down. That was what I wanted to talk about. You see, I hate seeing you chewed up

like this! It tears me apart!” Whitehoof whinnied. He lay down beside Pip, and

Tilly left them to talk.

 

Pip clung onto Whitehoof for a long time. “Whitehoof,” she asked, “If

Brock really does care about us like he says he does, why doesn’t he just accept

us as we are, surely, if you really love someone you just have to trust and if

he doesn’t trust us then, well, to my way of thinking,” she paused, “then its

not really love because love is based first on respect and secondly on trust.”

“Yes!” was all he could say, he didn’t want this moment together to end. “Pip, I

think foxy has sorted Brock out, that vixen is very strong and will not let

Brock get away with anything, now, get some sleep my darling and then you will

feel better, I love you.”

 

 

Pip rested her head on Whitehoof’s shoulder and closed her eyes. Whitehoof

watched over Pip until she woke in the early morning. Pip opened her eyes and

looked round her. Seeing her beloved was awake, she asked: “You been awake

long?” “Never slept Pip darling,” was Whitehoof’s response. This almost moved

Pip to tears. “Why didn’t you sleep?” She asked, although she knew the reply

Whitehoof would give. “I was watching over you my dear,” he said. Pip embraced

Whitehoof tightly. They were like that when Tilly and Ferdinand came past.

“Don’t those two look sweet,” Tilly remarked. “They sure do,” Ferdinand replied.

Tilly settled down under a nearby tree, Ferdinand did likewise. He took Tilly in

from nose to tail. His eyes travelled from her head, to her neck, the white mane

falling over the brown fur of her neck, to her body, and her shiny brown coat.

To her tail, white, to her legs, brown fur covered these, and finally to her

hooves, all black, with a white mark on the sole of her right forefoot.

Ferdinand thought he’d never seen such a magnificent mare as Tilly. He rested

his head on her shoulder. Tilly closed her eyes, enjoying Ferdinand’s proximity.

 

 

Ferdinand was so intent on gazing at Tilly that he hadn’t noticed the goings on around him.  A gang of squirrels sauntered past, Ferdinand giving them no more attention than he would a fly.  It was when  a newborn foal was dragged past him that Ferdinand took notice.

 His eyes Bloodshot with rage, Ferdinand followed, desperate to hunt the person who had

Stolen the foal. Then a net dropped onto Ferdinand. Whinnying frantically,

Ferdinand tried to escape, but his run had made him tired. Defeated, Ferdinand

lay still.

 

Whitehoof heard Ferdinand’s whinnying and leapt to his feet. Cantering

across to him, he asked: “What happened?” Ferdinand, exhausted from

struggling in the net, replied: “I tripped over a rope I think. Now I’m in

here!” Whitehoof thought he might call in a few favours he was owed. Whitehoof

whistled shrilly! Ferdinand had never heard a horse do this, but who knew what

Whitehoof’s powers were. In answer to the whistle, two mice came to the

Falabella horse’s aid. “I suppose you want us to free ‘im,” one mouse said.

“Yes, please,” Whitehoof replied. With that the mice set to work, gnawing

through the rope, freeing Ferdinand. Once he was free, the stallion got to his

feet. “Thanks,” he said. “That be no problem,” the head mouse said, “whitehoof

be good friend to mice, so we help.” With that they disappeared. Ferdinand told

Whitehoof about the stolen foal. “Who took him?” Whitehoof asked, “there are no

men here.” “He was being dragged, by something, tied by his forefeet he was,”

Ferdinand replied, “I was too busy admiring my sweetheart Tilly to see who took

The foal, who I think was named Lucky, it definitely wasn’t man though, I know man, they are far more

aggressive. I think we are looking closer to home for Lucky’s abductors. That

net too, who could, apart from man, have strung that?” “Squirrels?” Whitehoof

suggested. “hmm, maybe, but I thought they were friendly forest creatures, ask

Nutty, he’ll know.” With that Whitehoof went in search of Nutty. “I know who did

it,” Nutty said, “Maynand was so furious with you Whitehoof for throwing him

out, that he plotted to steal a foal to show you he wasn’t beaten. Squirrels

aren’t as steadfast as badgers I’m sorry to say, and give them enough nuts,

they’ll do anything for you.” “Even make nets and steal foals?” Whitehoof asked.

“Yep,” Nutty replied, “You saw how they managed to hoist Maynand off the ground,

they’re strong in numbers. I will find the foal for you, have no doubt about

that,”

 

 

Nutty ran off into the wood. He knew where the foal was, he’d tracked the

squirrels from the herd’s resting place. He found Lucky, the poor foal was

hungry and frightened. At only a few hours old, Nutty knew Lucky would not

survive long if he was not reunited with his mother. Nutty found the foal tied

to a tree in much the same fashion as Maynand had been. Lucky was struggling

feebly to free himself. “Hey Littl’en!” Nutty called, “I’m here to help now,”

With that he released the terrified foal from his prison. “I’m cold and hungry,”

Lucky whinnied. “I know littl’en,” |Nutty said. “Not littl’en!” the foal

protested, “my name’s Lucky!” “You certainly were that,” Nutty replied. “What do

you mean?” Lucky asked. “No matter, let’s get you home,” Nutty said. With that

they made their way back to Ferdinand and Whitehoof, who had managed to track

down Lucky’s mother, who was distraught. “I woke and he was gone!” She wailed.

“All’s fine now,” Whitehoof said, “Nutty’s found Lucky for you.” The mare fussed

over Lucky until the foal complained. “Get off mum!” he whinnied. Both mare and

foal disappeared into the wood. “What now?” Nutty asked. “Maynand, if this is

his doing, needs to be tracked down and punished for his crime! He, of all horses

should know that stealing a foal is wrong! He was lost and frightened once, and

it was Petra who saved him!” Ferdinand yelled. He stamped off in search of

Tilly. Whitehoof and Nutty went their separate ways, Nutty back to his dray, and

Whitehoof back to Pip, who was lying, still asleep, where he’d left her over an

hour ago.

 

 

Ferdinand found Tilly and told her what had happened. “Oh no,” she said,

“so, what we gonna do about Maynand? She asked. You think that stupid horse

would know better!” “yes,,” agreed Ferdinand, “We’ are gonna have to find him,

now who seems to know everything that’s going on around here, ah yes, Brock, he

seems to be the expert, and Foxy seems pretty knowledgeable as well so let’s go

and find them!”

 

 

Ferdinand and Tilly roamed all over the wood looking for Brock and Foxy.

They found them lying up under an old willow tree. Seeing them coming Brock

scrambled to his feet. “Foxy tell Brock not to be suspicious of Whitehoof’s

hoof. She tell me me silly badger!” “yes,” Tilly replied, “but I think even

Whitehoof would forgive you anything now Brock, you see, we have a problem,,”

The mare paused because Foxy held up a forepaw. “I saw something,” she said, “a

foal, being dragged through the forest, it looked strange. Squirrels were

dragging him, and he was crying out for help, I tried to keep up, but those

squirrels are so fast! They had him up in a tree, tied by his feet, much like

Maynand had been!” “Why did you not tell us!” Ferdinand demanded. Foxy looked

unhappy. “I tried to find you, I couldn’t, so I ran back to the place to find

the foal gone!” “Do you know where Maynand is?” Tilly asked. “No,” Foxy replied.

“Brock have good idea where bad colt be,” the badger snorted. “Tell you where he

be, he be tied up like foal be in tree, but Maynand down big hole! Brock find

bad colt and do to him what he tell squirrels to do to poor foal. Brock plenty

furious with colt! Me show you where I put him!” With that he led Foxy,

Ferdinand and Tilly deeper into the wood. They came to a huge hole in the

ground. “Who made this?” Tilly asked. “Badgers, foxes, rabbits. They all make

him,” Brock replied. “Don’t foxes eat rabbits?” Ferdinand asked. “Yes, we do,”

Foxy replied, “but only those that annoy us.  Chickens though, now they’re a different

matter entirely. I love chicken!” Brock pointed with a paw down the hole to

where Maynand lay at the bottom. He was trussed up, well bound, with his legs

tied to each other, and another rope looping round his muzzle, pulled tight and

tied off, so he couldn’t open his mouth, nor could he move his head. Lying on

his side, with his neck permanently bent, Maynand looked very uncomfortable

indeed.” “He be like this for hour or so, then we let him out of this rope, but

we keep his legs tied, muzzle too!” Brock said. With that he went and untied the

rope holding Maynand’s head in the awkward position he’d had it in for an hour

or so. The colt threw his head around, trying to ease the stiffness that had

accumulated in the muscles of his neck. “You plot to steal foal!” Brock

screamed, “You need plenty big punish for this!” Maynand whimpered in misery.

 

 

 

Tilly was horrified. “Tilly, please help me!” Maynand cried from the

bottom of the hole. “I cant,” she answered “You silly thing, whatever possessed

you to steal Lucky, I thought by now you would have learnt your lesson!” “I

will, I will, I promise, I promise,” he whinnied, “it was her fault, the other

herd leader, she made me do it!” “Who made you do it,” Tilly asked quietly. “She

said that if I didn’t do it, she’d, she’d hurt Gemini!” “I see,” Tilly turned to

Whitehoof, “so somewhere not far from here is Gemini’s old herd!”

 

 

 “Release him Brock,” Whitehoof commanded. The Falabella gelding had

followed Ferdinand and Tilly to Maynand’s hole. Pip looked down at the hated

colt. “You can help us,” she said, “show us where the other herd is.” Maynand

shook with terror! “Oh no, I couldn’t go back there!” He wailed. “You’re going

to have to,” Whitehoof said. Brock untied Maynand and the colt clambered out of

the hole. He led the horses out of the wood and across a field. In the next

field a large herd of horses grazed peacefully. Hearing the approach of other

horses, a large white mare raised her head and watched them. Spotting Maynand,

she snapped: “I wondered when you’d come back! You have failed Maynand! One, you

failed to keep the foal imprisoned, I understand from a rat that a squirrel

released the little blighter! I also understand that you got tied up and thrown

down a hole by a badger and yet more squirrels! You are a disgrace! I wanted

that foal! Another thing, who on earth are these horses?” She waved a hoof at

Pip and Whitehoof, “and what on earth are you?” she sneered. “I am leader of my

herd,” Whitehoof replied civilly. He waved his white hoof at Tilly: And this is

Tilly, my second in command.” Whitehoof deliberately omitted to introduce Pip as

this was an official meeting, not a social gathering, and as such, Pip was not

needed in the discussions. The white mare looked down at Whitehoof. “You didn’t

answer my question,” she said, “What are you!” Whitehoof told her what breed of

horse he and Pip were. “I’ve heard something about a horse with a white hoof who

can mark other horses,” the mare spat, “Maynand, that disgusting wretch told me

a horse had marked him for life.” “Yes indeed that was the case,” Tilly replied,

“as second in command, I am marked too.” Whitehoof hoped he wouldn’t have to

explain the new system of marking to this new mare. He hoped the forest

creatures would have done that, and it proved the case. “Oh yes,” the mare said,

“You Tilly have a mark on the sole of your right forefoot.” “yes I do,” Tilly

confirmed. “Now what do you want with us? Apart from returning a complete

failure to us.” The mare demanded. “A mare who joined our herd not long ago was

apparently threatened by you, if you are the leader of this herd,” Whitehoof

replied. “Oh yes, Gemini, what a disgrace! She had a foal outside the herd.” The

mare turned and spat onto the grass with disgust. “I hope the foal died, did it?

Or did she die foaling, that’s all that is good for her!” The mare screamed.

Whitehoof looked up into the white mare’s maddened eyes. “She did not die,

neither did the foal die. They are safe,” Pip said. The white mare tried to

attack Whitehoof! What happened then noone, not even Whitehoof himself could

quite explain. The mare rushed at Whitehoof, the Falabella gelding rearing to

fend her off as best he could. The two horses met, Whitehoof’s white foot

touching the mare’s muzzle as she tried to lower her head to bite him. As soon

as the hoof made contact, the mare shrieked in fear and pain and turning tail,

ran away! “What happened?” Tilly asked. “I don’t know!” Whitehoof replied. “It

got rid of her anyway,” Ferdinand observed. The White mare came back. All the

horses could see an angry red burn mark on her muzzle. It looked painful, no

wonder she’d squealed. “I don’t understand what is going on, but I don’t like

it!” She screamed. “We don’t like threats being made towards members of our

herd,” Whitehoof replied. “Go away and leave us alone!” The gelding commanded.

 

 

 

They made their way slowly back to their own herd. As they approached the

horses gathered around to find out what had been going on. They had heard from

the birds that their herd leaders had gone to find Maynand, “Wasn’t he tied up

in a hole?” Sheissain asked. “What’s this about a herd leader wanting to hurt my

Gemini!” “If I get my hoofs on her!” Sheissain, “Quiet!” Commanded Whitehoof,

“Gemini will be fine now, that is why she was so frightened, she thought that

big white horse was after her, well, she won’t bother her any more, don’t worry.

Sheissain seemed contented by this explanation, he so desperately wanted to get

close to her. “and Maynand?” another horse asked, “What has happened to him?”

 

 

 

Meanwhile, Maynand was getting the worst of it. The White mare had kept

him from leaving with Whitehoof and the rest of the horses by tripping him, and

when he was on the floor, placing her forefoot on his shoulder so he couldn’t

move. “Don’t, don’t hurt me! Maynand pleaded. “What else do you expect me to

do?” The mare asked. “Do anything, but don’t hurt me!” Maynand whimpered. The

mare turned rear on and shoed Maynand her right hind foot. “You wouldn’t like to

be crushed by that would you,” she stated. “No!” Maynand screeched, “don’t do

it!” He closed his eyes against the sight of the hoof threatening him with

destruction. Suddenly the mare turned and attacked! His eyes closed, the first

Maynand knew of the attack was hooves smashing into his body. He tried to rise,

to fight, but the mare knew where to hit, and she made sure she was accurate.

Maynand was down, winded and helpless. When she left off Maynand was bruised and

bleeding. “I make sure I don’t break anything,” the white mare said, “I’ve never

broken another horse’s bones, but they never come back for more!” She left him

then. After an hour or so, when he was sure she wasn’t coming back, Maynand got

to his feet. That hour, where he’d done nothing, served to stiffen his muscles

and joints, so moving caused him terrible pain. He struggled to his feet, hoping

the mare wasn’t waiting for this to finish him off. Standing, swaying

alarmingly, Maynand thought about where he should go. “Whitehoof,” he thought.

Maynand didn’t care at that moment where he went, but he knew, although he’d

done terrible things to Whitehoof’s herd, the gelding wouldn’t do to him what

the white mare had, no matter how provoked he was. Maynand forced his legs to

carry him across the field, down a track and into the wood. Eyes closed in

concentration, he didn’t see Foxy until he was nearly on top of her. “Oi! Hey

you!” She yelled. Maynand’s eyes snapped open. “Sorry, so sorry,” he gabbled.

Foxy stared at the horse who had nearly trampled her. Maynand was bruised and

battered. Blood from a ripped ear stained his fur. Maynand’s legs were shaking

so much he could hardly stand. Foxy could also see, that now he’d come to a

halt, Maynand was finished. As she watched, the colt collapsed in front of her.

Forgetting her loathing for him, Foxy turned and ran into the wood in search of

Whitehoof and Brock. She found Whitehoof and Pip, Brock was nowhere to be found.

“It’s Maynand!” She barked, “He’s in the wood, and he’s injured, and it looks

awful!” Whitehoof and Pip followed Foxy back to the place where Maynand lay

exhausted on the forest floor.

 

 

Whitehoof quickly assessed the situation. “Pip dear! you stay here with

Foxy and I’ll go and get help from Tilly and Ferdinand,” Whitehoof went back and

broke the news to the rest of the herd. Sheissain flew into the wood, he too was

not thinking of the past but just wanted to be there with the injured young

colt. “How dare she do this to him,” he said to Pip and Foxy as they busied

themselves making Maynand comfortable. Maynand tried to speak then, he

whispered, “Pip, I’m really sorry for what I did to your mum, I loved Petra too

and Foxy, please forgive me for what I did to your cub!” “ok,” they both

replied, “just stay quiet and get some rest, Whitehoof and Ferdinand will be

here soon. Maynand drifted into unconsciousness knowing that he had said sorry

and meant it, that was all that mattered to him right now, because if he died he

knew that everything would be all right and that he had been forgiven. “Your not

going to die,” said Pip as if reading his thoughts, “we’ll make sure you are

constantly watched over until you are fully recovered.

 

 

Maynand lay on the forest floor feeling dreadful. The white mare knew her

stuff about immobilising horses, and thankfully she hadn’t broken anything. The

colt lay, eyes closed, breathing shallowly. A few days later, Brock came past

Maynand’s lie up. Seeing the colt, the badger yelled: “What you doing here! Me

plenty wanting never see you again!” Maynand, asleep until the badger yelled at

him, snapped into full wakefulness. “Ay? Who? Oh Brock, it’s you,” the colt

babbled. The badger clouted Maynand with a hard forepaw. The colt squealed and

lashed out with a forefoot, catching Brock on a foreleg. Brock limped away

cursing fluently. Maynand wept into the wet leaves.

 

Pip arrived to find Maynand sobbing. “Maynand! what’s happened?” she asked

in her usual soft tone. He didn’t have time to answer. Brock appeared then. “Oh

that be Pip?” he asked in his usual drawl. “does it look like me?” she asked

irritably. “Oh Pip be moody, what I done to be making Pip in mood, why you be helping bad colt get better, Brock no like colt, Brock hit him with paw!” “If you hadn’t

already noticed, Brock, he has sustained bad injuries by being beaten up by the

big white mare, do you know her?” Pip asked. “Course Brock know her, Brock no all

round here she be leader of herd over on other field, she throw Gemini out from herd!”

Pip was trying to calm Maynand down, “You’ll soon be well enough to come back to

the herd!” she said reassuringly to him “What, you mean I am allowed back?” he

asked brightening up slightly. “Well of course that decision is for Whitehoof

and Tilly to make as herd leaders,” she replied.

 

 

Brock turned away. “You help bad colt, then me not staying,” he wined. The

boar badger disappeared into the undergrowth. “That horrid badger hit me!”

Maynand wailed. “I know, I know,” Pip said softly. Whitehoof and Tilly came past

then. They looked Maynand over. “How are you feeling?” Whitehoof asked. “Sore,

even worse now that badger had a go at me,” Maynand whimpered. “Brock had a go

at Maynand,” Pip said. “I lashed out at him and my hoof connected,” Maynand

said. “You hit him for shouting at you?” Tilly asked crossly. “No no no!”

Maynand shouted, “The badger hit me! I defended myself, that’s all!” “I hope

that was all it was,” Whitehoof said. “It was! It was!” Maynand squealed. “What

have you got to say for yourself?” Whitehoof asked. “I want, I mean, would like

to come back to my herd, back home,” Maynand pleaded. “When you are better, then

we will have you up before the whole herd, and they can decide,” Whitehoof said.

Maynand felt sick. He knew a great number of the herd didn’t like him.

 

 

A meeting was arranged. “I take it you have all heard about Maynand?”

Whitehoof asked. “We need to vote as to whether Maynand should be re-instated

into the herd, and should his mark be removed now or left for a while until we

are satisfied that we have made the right decision. “Tilly and I have decided

how the vote will happen. Those who say yes will line up by the river bank and

those who say no will line up by the large oak tree, understood?” Everyone

agreed, “and who will count the votes?” asked Gemini. “I’ve asked Foxy,” said

Whitehoof and should there be a tie, Foxy will cast the deciding vote.

 

The horses lined up. Foxy counted them all, whitehoof and Tilly could not

vote as they were leadership and had therefore to be impartial. Maynand watched

the vote fearfully. Whitehoof noticed that Pip lined up on the side of the no’s.

“Who could blame her after what he put her through,” Whitehoof thought. Foxy

counted the votes, and it was a hung vote. She looked over at Whitehoof. “Your

choice,” Whitehoof said. Foxy went to Maynand and looked deep into the colt’s

eyes. This scrutiny made him feel uncomfortable, foxy meant it to. Foxy took the

opportunity to walk all round Maynand, inspect his coat, even asking him to pick

up his feet so she could look at his hooves. She was making sure he was totally

submissive, totally compliant. “I think we should give him a second chance,” she

said.

 

 

 “I don’t think his mark should be removed yet though,” went on Foxy, “He’s

on like a sort of probation and only after that time can the mark be removed

from his shoulder.” Whitehoof closed the meeting and he and Pip went off into

the wood to be alone. Sheissain went over to Maynand, “You’d better mean this!”

he said savagely. “Ok, give him a chance,” said Ferdinand hearing the remark

that Sheissain had passed to Maynand. “What about Gemini’s mark, is hers going

to be removed?” asked Sheissain.

 

 

 “I would think so,” Tilly said. She had overheard his question and thought

that Gemini’s punishment should be over. Maynand walked away, wanting to be

alone to think. Sheissain went in search of Gemini. Meanwhile, Pip and Whitehoof

lay together under a large tree. Whitehoof didn’t ask his mate about her voting

no in the referendum, because he knew what she’d say, and he sort of agreed with

her anyway. Whitehoof looked at Pip. He marvelled at how beautiful she was, her

grey coat, and black hooves, he loved everything about her. Seeing she was being

appraised, Pip flicked her mane about a bit, then, turned her head to meet

Whitehoof’s gaze. The two horses looked into each other’s eyes. Then Whitehoof

rubbed her ear with his muzzle. Pip closed her eyes and rested her head on his

shoulder. Breathing deeply, she slept. Whitehoof soon slept also.

 

 

Maynand was glad to be part of the herd again, he knew now that he had to

behave or he would be ousted from the herd forever and he never, ever wanted to

see that horrid white mare again. How she became leader of her herd he could not

understand, he had never known such cruelty, not even before Petra took him in.

Sheissain found Gemini and Emily lying under a tree. “Gem,” he said “I hear you

are having your mark removed!” “Oh yeah?” she replied not really looking at him.

“Yep,” he said, “Tilly gonna see whitehoof about it tomorrow!” “That’s good,”

she replied, she looked at Sheissain now, “Please will you tell me about

Maynand?” she asked nervously.

 

 

Sheissain settled down beside Gemini and Emily. “It’s not much of a story

for foals,” he said looking at Emily. “It’s quite a distressing story actually.”

Gemini said nothing, Emily said: “I don’t care, scare me! Go on Sheissain, tell

the story.” “Well Sheissain said, “Maynand was found by Petra, our former

leader. She found him wandering and alone. He was quite young, a little older

than you I think Emily. Well, she took him in and looked after him. Now I come

to about six full moons ago when Pip and Ferdinand came to the herd. Petra,

knowing Pip needed help, took her in as she had Maynand. Maynand became jealous,

and did all he could to make Pip’s life a misery. Petra tried to put an end to

it but Maynand kept trying to do Pip harm in any way he knew. Everything was

going wrong for him, every time he tried to make Pip unhappy enough to leave the

herd, he would be put in a position of debt to her or Petra. Once the herd

crossed a river, and Pip fell off Petra’s back, Maynand hoped she would drown,

but she came back to his side of the river and bullied him across. It is said

that she saved his life that day. Maynand hated the fact that this tiny mare had

saved him, and wouldn’t show her any gratitude. Soon the herd came to a

clearing. On a night time wander, Whitehoof found a fox, Foxy. He asked me to

check her out, as I’ve had more experience with foxes than he had. While I was

looking for the fox, I found Maynand, We had a major disagreement earlier, and

Maynand wasn’t happy with me. Soon we found the fox also, and she was not happy

with Maynand for killing her cub. The Forest creatures, Brock, Nutty and a few

others, punished Maynand by stringing him up from a tree, much like Lucky had

been a few days ago. Maynand got free, but not after a lot of effort.” Emily’s

eyes were wide with surprise. “So that’s why he was thrown out,” Gemini said.

“Yes,” Sheissain said. “What happened to Petra?” Emily asked. “She died,”

Sheissain said. “How did she die?” Emily asked.

 

 

Sheissain had been dreading this question, he would tell her the truth, he

didn’t want to lose this mare’s trust now. “I was in the woods with Maynand, I

didn’t know he was after her life, honest I didn’t Gem, please believe me, I

love you and I want you to know the truth about everything!” At this point he

broke down and cried uncontrollably into Gemini’s fur. “its ok,!” she said to

him over and over, “I didn’t realise it would hurt you so much talking about

it!”

 

 

 “I was angry with Petra for giving Whitehoof my job as second in command,”

Sheissain said. “You were second in command?” Gemini asked. “Yes,” Sheissain

replied. “Why should Petra give the job to another horse?” Emily asked. “I went

for Pip,” Sheissain replied faintly. “She had annoyed me by doing something, I

can’t remember what it was now, but I threatened to kick her, to kill her! I

think I may have lashed out at the mare, and Petra caught me, and she took me to

the willow tree and told me that she had given the second in command’s job to

Whitehoof, who I hated!” “So in revenge for that, you plotted with Maynand to

attack Petra,” Gemini said. “Yes,” Sheissain replied, fresh tears rolling down

his nose. “Maynand And I, we beat her up, I held her down, while Maynand

trampled her,” Sheissain said. He tried to hug Gemini, but she wouldn’t let him.

“Then what,” she asked coldly. “We left Petra then, she was badly injured, we

knew that. Whitehoof found her, I think. Oh Petra, Petra I’m so sorry,!”

Sheissain sobbed. Gemini let Sheissain compose himself before asking: “What

happened then?” Sheissain looked at her through his tears. “I suppose, with the

last of her strength, Petra told Ferdinand to pass the leadership onto

Whitehoof. Then, she, she died, and a few weeks later, the news came back to us

that the badgers had buried her.” Gemini had been supportive of Sheissain until

she’d heard the extent of his involvement with Petra’s death, now she didn’t

know what she thought. Getting to her feet, she walked away to think, taking

Emily with her. Sheissain lay on the forest floor, crying bitterly into the wet

leaves. He said aloud: “Oh Petra, Petra, I’m so sorry! Please forgive me!”

 

 

 

Gemini went in search of Whitehoof. She found Him lying beside Pip under a

large tree. “Did you know that Sheissain killed Petra!” Gemini squealed. “I

know,” Whitehoof replied, “and he was punished.” “Punished?” Gemini asked, “How

was he punished!” “Brock tied him up, and then, handled his hooves,” Whitehoof

replied. “Handled his hooves?” Gemini asked, “how could that be punishment for

killing Petra!” “It was,” Whitehoof replied, “it was punishment for him. He

hates anyone touching his feet. Brock tied him up and touched his hooves, and

Sheissain loathed it intensely. He took the punishment for his crime, where as

Maynand did not. Sheissain has not offended again, where as Maynand has.”

Sheissain came into view. Whitehoof saw his shattered appearance, and asked:

“What’s the matter?” Sheissain collapsed at Whitehoof’s feet. “I told

Gemini about what I did to Petra,” he whimpered. “I know you told her,” the

gelding replied, “we’ve just been talking about that. I told her of the

punishment you were given.” “Do you really hate having your hooves touched?”

Gemini asked. Sheissain’s immediate reaction was to look around nervously to see

if anyone was near his feet. “I hate it,” he replied, “I hate it! Don’t do it,

please! Leave my hooves alone! I’m begging you!” Sheissain leapt to his feet and

bolted! “Is that good enough proof for you Gemini?” Whitehoof asked.

 

 

 “Yes,! Pip, please look after Emily while I go after him.” “Of course!”

Pip took charge of the young foal. Gemini raced after Sheissain, catching up

with him running along the river bank, “Sheissain, stop!” she screamed after

him. “I believe you, please stop!” he skidded to a halt turning to look at

Gemini. She didn’t say anything but threw herself down! “Don’t

touch them, please don’t Gemini!” Sheissain was frantic. “I’m not going to touch

your hooves!” Gemini spoke gently to Sheissain. “Just calm down!” They talked

for a very long time.

 

 

 “I can see now how having your feet touched affects you,” Gemini said

gently. “Yes, I hate it, the thought makes me want to lash out!” Sheissain

replied. “Maybe that was just punishment for you,” she said. “It wasn’t

punishment Gemini, it was torture,” Sheissain replied. “That bad?” She asked.

“yes,” Sheissain replied. Emily looked down at Sheissain’s hooves, seeing her

doing this, the stallion warned her off. “Don’t even consider it!” he snapped,

“it’s not funny Emily!” “Sorry,” The foal said. “You will be, If I ever catch

you looking at my feet again, I’ll, I’ll do something terrible!” Sheissain

squealed. “She’s only a foal Sheissain! She doesn’t know what terror you go

through!” Gemini yelled. Sheissain looked down, measuring the distance between

his feet and Emily. “You dare come any closer!” He shrieked. “Sheissain, you’re

being stupid now!” Gemini screamed. Sheissain began to cry like a foal. “I can’t

stand having my feet touched!” he sobbed. Emily asked: “What are you scared of?”

“I hate the sensation of a [paw or another horse’s hoof on mine, The other foals

used to tease me when I was young!” Sheissain wailed. “Emily, you lie on my

right, so that you are not close to Sheissain,” Gemini said. Emily did so. “It

is a good job you are a wild horse,” Gemini said, “Riding school horses have

their feet handled all the time by humans who pick out their hooves once or maybe

twice a day. You’d go spare.” Sheissain knew he would. “I must try and overcome

that fear,” he said, “what would happen if I got a stone in my hoof, and Foxy or

another woodland creature had to help me, I wouldn’t be a very good patient,”

Sheissain said. Gemini got up, and going over to Sheissain, she hugged him

tightly. “Don’t worry,” she said, I’ll help, and so will Emily.” They made their

way back to the rest of the herd.

 

Gemini looked down at Emily. “Didn’t I leave you with Pip?” She asked.

“yes, oh dear, I ran after you, Pip couldn’t keep up!” Emily replied. Gemini

realised she’d been so intent on Sheissain she’d forgotten she’d left Emily with

the Falabella mare, so when Emily turned up, she thought nothing of it. Now she

was angry! “Why did you follow us!” Gemini yelled. “Because I wanted to see

where you were going,” Emily replied. They found Pip and Whitehoof talking

together. When she saw Emily Pip turned a furious expression on her. “I Told you

not to run after them!” She whinnied. “I know, I’m sorry!” Emily whimpered. Pip

snapped: “This foal ran away, and I couldn’t keep up! I’ve only got short legs,

so, once I saw where she’d gone, I left her.” Now Emily was in deep trouble.

 

 

 

 “I’m really, really sorry!” said Emily, “Please forgive me Pip!” Pip

looked at Emily and found it very difficult not to smile, she remembered what it

was like as it was not that long ago since she was a foal herself and she had

not had the same freedom as Emily had now. “Just remember Emily, you must stay

with someone if that is what your mum has asked you to do,” Pip said firmly.

“it’s a worry if I don’t know where to go looking for you, I mean, at least I

knew this time that you had followed Gemini so I just hoped that you would be

safe, which you were!” “yes pip,” Emily sulked “Ok, forgiven and forgotten!” Pip

smiled at Emily now, she was becoming very fond of this little foal! Whitehoof

looked down at Pip, that was why he loved her, she always tried to be fair with

the horses, maybe one day she would have more responsibility, become second in

command, not yet though, he wanted her to be free to do as she chose and help

out where she was needed. Just because she was not his second in command didn’t

mean that she was not wanted in the herd because she was both needed and wanted

in many ways.

 

 

Pip rubbed noses with Emily who laughed at her antics. “You are so funny,”

she said. Pip smiled. Meanwhile, Gemini was trying to help Sheissain overcome

his fear of having his hooves touched. “I Really need a fox or a badger to help.

You see Sheissain, what you have to do is get used to having your feet handled

by another creature, it’s gonna happen sooner rather than later I’ll bet, and

you’ll need to get used to it.” Sheissain looked away. “If you get a stone in

your hoof tomorrow and Foxy has to remove it, you’ll have to keep your foot

still for her. You can’t be squealing like a foal neither! You’ll have to get

used to it Sheissain!” The stallion lifted a hind foot and looked down at it

dispiritedly. “I know, I know!” He whinnied, “but it’s horrible!” “Not as bad as

having a stone in your hoof though,” Someone said. Turning, they saw a skewbald

mare. Sheissain was shocked to see she only had one eye. “It’s better to have

the stone out of your hoof as soon as you can,” the mare said. Sheissain looked

down at his own hooves. “But who will do it? Who can pick stones out of horse’s

feet? Another question, who’ll help me lose the fear?” He asked. “Foxy,” the

skewbald mare replied, “She’s very gentle. I’d suggest she do it Sheissain. Tell

her Sandy sent you, she’ll know who you mean.”

 

 

Whitehoof approached the skewbald mare. She turned her head to look at

him. “How do you know where to go to get stones out of your feet?” Whitehoof Asked.  He didn’t know, he’d been fortunate that he’d never yet had a stone in his hoof. “I

get them all the time,” Sandy replied, “I can only see on one side of my body,

so I sometimes don’t see the stones.” Whitehoof went to Sandy and nuzzled her

shoulder, which was as far as he could reach. Sandy lowered her head and nuzzled

Whitehoof’s ear. Pip watched this, feeling that Sandy should be reprimanded for

being too familiar with her leader, but she knew that was Whitehoof’s job to do

that if he felt that way. It was obvious to Pip that Sandy was comforted by

Whitehoof’s ministrations. He came back to her side and Sandy turned and walked

away. “She’s an outcast in her own herd,” Whitehoof said sadly. “What? How?” Pip

asked. “It’s like I was,” Whitehoof said, “one thing slightly out of the

ordinary, and some horses are not very nice to you,” he replied. “That’s why you

nuzzled her shoulder,” Pip said. “Yes,” Whitehoof replied, “she needs support,

and up until then, I don’t think she got it.” Whitehoof lay down, and Pip

settled beside him. She reached over, and touched his white hoof with her

muzzle. “I love you as you are,” she said. Whitehoof suddenly hugged her

tightly. He was reliving the terrible persecution he’d had as a foal, memories

of which had been stirred by Sandy. “Both of you need to talk it through,” Pip

said, “I don’t know what you are going through. Talk with her Whitehoof,” Pip

said. “I might do that,” He replied. “I love you Pip sweetheart,” Whitehoof

said. He buried his muzzle in her mane. Pip rubbed his ear with her muzzle. “I

wonder how Sheissain’s getting on,” she said. “I was wondering the same thing,”

Whitehoof replied. They got up and went in search of Sandy, Foxy and Sheissain.

 

 

Pip and Whitehoof found Foxy and Sheissain. Sheissain was lying on his

side, one forefoot outstretched, Foxy was trying to get the terrified horse to

relax. “What are you scared of?” She asked. “I hate the feeling of a paw on the

sole of my foot!” Sheissain yelled. Foxy reached over and touched Sheissain’s

outstretched forefoot. The stallion closed his eyes and squealed hysterically!

“I hate it! I hate it! Take your paw away Foxy, or, or I’ll murder you!” he

screamed. Foxy, knowing Sheissain was not going to hurt her, took her paw away

anyway, in case he would strike out. “That was awful!” Sheissain wailed. Sandy

came past. She was limping. Sheissain saw her and thought it was an elaborate

trick. “Walk properly!” he yelled. “I don’t think any horse with a stone in

their hoof could walk properly, not even you Sheissain! So shut up!” Sandy

whinnied. Foxy, used to extracting stones from this mare’s hooves, smiled at

her, making sure she was on Sandy’s right side so she could see. “Another

stone?” She asked. “Yep, you bet, sorry Foxy,” Sandy replied. “That’s what I’m

here for,” The vixen replied gently. Turning to Sheissain, she said: “Now watch

this, I am going to ask Sandy to Pick up her foot, then I will remove the stone.

What foot is it this time Sandy?” Foxy asked. “Right hind,” Sandy replied, and

it’s well in I think, very painful too!” Sandy turned and lifted her right hind

foot. Foxy lay down, and taking Sandy’s hoof in her paws, she cradled it in her

right, while letting Sheissain see the sole of Sandy’s foot. “See the stone?”

She asked. Sheissain nodded: “I see it,” he said. “Notice something else?” Foxy

asked. “Um, no,” the stallion replied. “There’s no sound from Sandy, she’s not

squealing, and she’s in a lot of pain from this stone,” Sheissain fought to

control his anger! “She’s an expert at this thing, I’m not Foxy!” he yelled.

“just watch this,” Foxy said. With that she felt for the stone with her left

paw, and worked it loose. While she was doing this, Sandy clenched her teeth for

a few seconds, This stone was in deep and Sheissain saw it really did hurt her,

but she didn’t cry out, and she didn’t threaten Foxy with anything. Once the

stone was out, Foxy let go of Sandy’s hind foot. “That’s a bit bruised,” she

said, “but it’ll heel soon.” “Thanks,” Sandy said with genuine relief. “That’s

okay,” Foxy said, “I like a compliant patient.” Looking pointedly at Sheissain

she said: “I wish they were all like that.” Sheissain bit back his

embarrassment. He’d been a wimp, he knew it, and this jumped up dog was doing a

very good job of showing the whole world! Sheissain leapt to his feet and ran

away, leaving Whitehoof, Pip, Foxy and Sandy to talk. Whitehoof thought this

might be a good time to talk to Sandy.

 

Whitehoof followed Sandy into the forest. “Hey,,” he called after her,

“Want a chat?” he asked. Sandy felt awkward, “Er, yeah, if you like,” she

replied shyly. “Come, let’s go and find a quiet spot where we will not be

disturbed!” Whitehoof came alongside the mare and they walked silently together.

They settled down under a large tree. “We should be all right here,” said

Whitehoof, “Tilly will take charge of the herd for as long as she is needed and

she has Pip and Ferdinand there to help her.”

 

Wondering what her leader wanted of her, Sandy settled down on Whitehoof’s

right. Whitehoof looked across at Sandy. He noticed she was nervously switching

her tail. To comfort her he reached over and nuzzled her ear, much as he had

done her shoulder earlier that day. Relaxing slightly, Sandy rested her head on

Whitehoof’s shoulder, tucking her forefeet under her. “How is life for you?”

Whitehoof asked. “It’s okay,” Sandy replied, sort of,” “Sort of what?” Whitehoof

asked softly, gently probing deeper. “Ever since the accident with the cart, and

my expulsion from my old herd,” Sandy said, “things have never been quite the

same. It started going strange as soon as I returned from the vet’s place after

I’d been patched up,,” She gulped hard, fighting with her emotions. Sandy had

never spoken to anyone about her feelings, and this tiny horse was dragging it

out of her, and she knew she would tell him, even though it would hurt her.

Seeing her pain, Whitehoof said: “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want

to.” Sandy closed her eyes and dug furiously at the dry leaves with a hind foot

as she tried to compose herself. “I suppose it’ll be okay,” she said, “You know

what it’s like, You’ve had it too, I can feel it, see it,” Sandy gabbled.

Whitehoof knew what she was driving at, and he knew she was trying to gauge in

her own mind if he was to be trusted with her inner most thoughts. “Whitehoof,”

the mare said, “I think, think you know how it is to be rejected by those that

were meant to be members of your herd. I don’t know how to put this, but I was

rejected too. After the accident, and, well, my problems, the herd, well, they

didn’t say anything spiteful, but I knew. One day, I was taken away to a show

ring, and sold, sold for dog meat,,” Sandy’s voice trailed away. “That’s

terrible,” Whitehoof said gently. He wanted to use stronger language, but knew

that this wasn’t the right time for a full blooded rant at the human race. Sandy

continued: “Knowing what lay in store for me, I escaped. I was only four years

old, despite what had happened to me, I had life ahead of me, I wanted to live

my life, even if I had only one eye to see the world! So I ran off, and hid, and

soon Petra found me, or I found her, I can’t remember. She took me in, didn’t

say a thing about my appearance, she saw through that, to who I was beneath.”

“You didn’t talk to her about this?” Whitehoof asked softly. “No,” Sandy

replied, “Petra was a lovely mare, but what would she know. You know how it is,

You’ve experienced ostracism for something that wasn’t your fault.” She glanced

at the gelding’s white foot. “You’re right there,” Whitehoof said heavily, “I

was born into a wild herd, and my mother loved me dearly, she didn’t mind about

my white hoof. It was the herd leader Sandy, she, well, let me explain.”

Whitehoof closed his eyes, feeling the same way Sandy had before she told her

tale. Sandy actually hugged him, she no longer worried whether it was proper to

hug the herd leader. Sandy moved as close to Whitehoof as she could get and

embraced him tightly. Whitehoof let himself go then, crying into her mane. After

a While, his tears dried and he regained his composure. “Thanks Sandy,” he said.

The skewbald mare just looked fondly at him, she couldn’t reply to that.

Whitehoof took a deep breath and said: “The herd custom was to bring every new

born foal to the leader to be named, the foal’s mother could not name her foal.

The herd leader saw me and proclaimed that I should be called Whitehoof. When my

mother asked why, the leader became very angry and asked why my mother hadn’t

let me die. Shocked, my mother, close to tears now, asked why she should have

let me die, and the leader pointed her nose at my white foot. “That,” she said,

“that hoof, what does it mean? That foal is going to grow up to be a witch-horse

or something, no horse has one white foot like that!” With that the leader told

my mother that when I was weaned, I was to be cast out, and left to live or die,

for there was no place in the herd for me. I was also born a gelding, I don’t

know why, but that stood against me also.” Sandy stared in horror at her leader.

“How can any herd leader do that?” She asked. “I didn’t question it, and my

mother couldn’t. She had to do what the leader said, and she did. Sandy, I’ll

never forget the day she left me. We walked far from the herd’s resting place,

and, crying bitterly, she left me alone. I wandered for ages, and got quite used

to living alone. It must have been about a year before one day, I heard another

horse squealing hysterically into the darkness. This horse, a mare, sounded as

desperate as I felt. So I went to her. This mare was Pip. We found each other,

each needing the other for their survival.” Sandy looked at her leader with

fresh eyes. “You have suffered too much,” she replied. “I suppose I have,”

Whitehoof replied, “now I know it is suffering, back then it was sad but I

accepted it as being what had to happen. It scarred me though, I know it has. So

when I saw Pip, all alone, as I was, I couldn’t leave her. Also, she was the

same breed as me, that was a bonus I can tell you. I love her Sandy, Pip means

the world to me,” Whitehoof said. “That is an awful tale,” someone said.

 

 

Whitehoof turned his head and saw Pip sprawled on the forest floor.

“Where? How? Where did you come from, and how did you manage to get here without

me hearing or seeing you? And how long have you been here!” He demanded. “I

heard your story,” the mare replied, “and I think you’ve been treated

shamefully. Whitehoof darling, why didn’t you tell me about it?” “You never

asked Pip dear,” he replied. Seeing where the conversation was about to head, he

said quickly: “I told Sandy because she told me her tale, I felt it was only

right that I tell her mine.” Pip hugged Whitehoof, then she hugged Sandy. The

skewbald mare whispered to her: “You have an amazing mate Pip, don’t ever forget

that.” Pip knew Whitehoof meant the world to her, and she knew she’d do anything

for him.

 

Yes,” said Pip, “I am very lucky!” Sandy got up from the ground leaving

Pip and Whitehoof alone. telling Whitehoof her story had made her feel jealous of

pip, Sandy didn’t know how much Pip had overheard, why couldn’t that horrible

little mare just keep out of the way, she thought to herself as she made her way

back to the herd.

 

Sandy thought she had more in common with Whitehoof than Pip. Over the

next few days her loathing of the Falabella mare came to a head. It all started

when Foxy had removed another stone from Sandy’s hoof. The fox was always on

hand to help, and she didn’t mind picking out horse’s feet. Sandy let slip to

Foxy that she’d told Whitehoof her story, and that Pip had overheard it all.

“What of it?” the vixen asked. Sandy replied: “Those two seem so happy together,

so peaceful,” “Do you wish they weren’t?” Foxy asked. “No,” Sandy said. Foxy saw

the mare’s expression though, and knew Sandy was extremely jealous of the

relationship Pip had with Whitehoof. Sensing the mare’s intentions, Foxy warned:

“Sandy, you say anything to Pip or Whitehoof to try and set one against the

other, I’ll make your life hell!” Sandy looked down at the vixen. “And how do

you propose to do that?” She asked. “Look what happened to Maynand,” was Foxy’s

reply. Sandy walked away, and ran straight into the two horses she least wanted

to see. Whitehoof and Pip were lying, as always, or so it seemed to Sandy, in

companionable silence. Sandy felt raging uncontrollable hatred for Pip! In a fit

of rage and anger Sandy turned and lashed out furiously at Pip! Totally

unprepared for this, the Falabella mare rolled away desperately, Whitehoof

throwing himself on top of her to shield her from the blow. Sandy’s hoof smashed

into Whitehoof’s shoulder! Knowing she’d be found out soon, Sandy ran away from

the scene. Whitehoof lay stunned with Pip beneath him.

 

Pip was shocked but not hurt. “What was all that for I wonder?” she asked once she was able to get herself up off the ground. “I don’t know!” replied

Whitehoof “But she isn’t going to get away with it!” Whitehoof was fuming!

 

 

 “Are you all right Whitehoof love?” Pip asked. “I, I think so,” the

gelding replied. Pip could see his shoulder hurt. “I’ll be fine, don’t worry,”

Whitehoof said. Pip thought about the events that led to her mate throwing

himself on top of her. She’d seen Sandy, then Sandy had turned and lashed out,

then she was rolling desperately to get away from the hoof, and the next thing

Pip knew, she was being pressed flat on the floor by half a tonne of horse!

Despite being winded by Whitehoof’s sudden actions, Pip felt fine. Her main

concern was what had caused Sandy to go off on one. Pip turned to Whitehoof and

asked: “Whitehoof sweetheart, you don’t think Sandy is jealous at all do you? We

have a close relationship, and she sees that. It took a lot for her to tell you

her tale, and I walked in on it, and well, that’s it, she might not like me for

that, but that’s crazy,,” “No it isn’t,” Whitehoof replied, “I saw the look on

Sandy’s face, she’s jealous as hell Pip! She can’t stand you my dear! Neither

can she stand our relationship. I love you Pip darling, Don’t ever forget that!”

Sensing Whitehoof’s need for comfort, Pip hugged him tightly. “I love you too

Whitehoof, I would give or do anything for you, and you nearly gave your life

for me, if that isn’t enough to show how strong love is, I don’t know what is!”

She whinnied. Whitehoof looked into his mate’s eyes. “I love you Pip, and only

you,” the gelding said gently, “and I won’t let her hurt you. If Sandy lays a

hoof on you she’ll not live to see another sunrise, and that’s a promise!” Pip

didn’t think Whitehoof was capable of taking the life of another horse, it

wasn’t in his nature, but she knew what he meant. “We’ve got to find out what is

going on,” Pip said firmly, “who would Sandy have spoken to about this do you

think?” Whitehoof thought he knew who might know something.

 

 

Whitehoof and Pip went in search of Foxy. They found her talking to Gemini

and Emily. “Oh Whitehoof, you don’t look too happy!” Foxy said in a surprised

tone, “Foxy, I need a private word with you!” Whitehoof continued. Gemini and

Emily moved away, realising that Whitehoof’s request for privacy was serious.

“Oh no, what’s she done?” Foxy had put two and two together and worked out very

quickly what had happened. “so you do know about Sandy’s feelings then!”

Whitehoof said seriously. “Yes, she let it slip earlier whilst I was removing

yet another stone from her hoof, I told her that if she dared to come between

you and Pip, … well, I think you can guess the rest, I reminded her of what had

happened to Maynand!”

 

 

Whitehoof was furious! “I knew it!” he squealed. Stamping his tiny white

foot in rage he yelled: “It will happen Foxy, Sandy will be punished if she

tries to cause trouble!” Foxy tried to calm Whitehoof down by nuzzling his ear,

he shook her off. “Do you know what Sandy tried to do?” The gelding asked. “No,”

Foxy replied. “She tried to kill or seriously injure Pip.” Foxy was horrified!

“No! You’re wrong Whitehoof!” She barked. Then, seeing the look on the horse’s

face, she said: “You aren’t wrong, are you. She really did try to have a go at

Pip.” “I threw myself on top of Pip to protect her,” Whitehoof said. “I can see,

your shoulder’s bruised,” Foxy replied. “It’s painful, but nothing I can’t deal

with,” Whitehoof said. Foxy shook herself. “I’ll get Brock and the others to

keep an eye on Sandy. I think she might need to be taught a small lesson. To be

shown what the forest creatures can do, yes, I’ll arrange that,” She said.

 

 

Foxy alerted Brock, nutty and the other forest animals to watch out for

Sandy. “Brock no like horse hurt Pip!” he said angrily, Pip and Whitehoof found

a quiet spot to rest. Pip massaged Whitehoof’s bruised shoulder very gently. “I

still cant understand why she did it!” Pip said. Whitehoof closed his eyes and

enjoyed the attentions of his loved one.

 

Meanwhile Brock had found Sandy in the forest. Foxy was removing yet

another stone from the mare’s right forefoot. The boar badger watched this, and

when Foxy retired to her earth, he approached the skewbald mare. “I hear you

angry with Pip,” he grunted. Sandy looked away, she couldn’t guess how all the

forest creatures knew of her attempt on Pip’s life. “I am, I mean I was,,,”

Sandy shrieked as Brock leapt out of the undergrowth and managed to lift her

left forefoot and twist it sharply! Screaming, she crashed onto her side. Brock

then went round and grabbed hold of Sandy’s right ear in his massive paws and

twisted it hard! Sandy screamed! “Let go of my ear, Let go! You’re hurting me!”

She yelled. “You plot hurt Pip, and you nearly kill whitehoof! Brock no like

that! Brock and family with forest creatures protect Whitehoof and Pip!” Brock

bellowed. Sandy knew she was in deep trouble. “You’re not going to hang me

upside-down like you did Maynand are you?” She squealed. “Brock no decide yet

what punishment mare have for attacking Pip and Whitehoof,” Brock replied

crossly, “You horrid mare, me no like mare who attack small horses! Pip and

Whitehoof do spotted mare no harm!” Sandy was furious! “I’m not spotted, I’m

skewbald!” She screamed. Brock let go of her ear. “Me no care what you be!” He

yelled. Sandy Got to her feet. Her ear and fetlock hurt from the badger’s

assault, and she knew she was marked, not in the same sense as Maynand, but how

long would it be until she was? “What be your name?” Brock demanded. “Sandy,”

the mare replied. “Sandy?” Brock enquired. “Yes, it is Sandy! I told you, you

stupid animal!” Sandy yelled. “Brock no stupid! Me ask because me think it be

short for something else!” he yelled. “Ok,” Sandy said, “It’s short for Sandy

spot, I was owned by humans once. They named me that because I am skewbald.”

Brock looked up into Sandy’s face. “Me no happy with you,” he said. Sandy knew

somehow that this badger meant business. His manner was not threatening, but she

knew that Brock never forgot.

 

Whitehoof was more concerned about Pip’s safety than he would let on. He

didn’t want her left alone at any time if at all possible. “all I did was chat

to Sandy!” he said to Tilly, “and now … now she thinks she owns me! “Oh dear!”

replied Tilly, “So what do you suggest we do about it!? She asked. “I know pip

likes to be by herself a lot, she’s a very private horse really but I don’t want

her being left alone in case, Sandy decides to attack her again!” “I think most

of the horses are aware of the situation and the forest animals, particularly

Brock, will make sure that no harm will come to her!” Tilly said, trying her

best to reassure Whitehoof. Whitehoof seemed slightly happier. He went to find

Pip, he hated being apart from her, he loved her so much separation for too long

made him anxious. He found her talking to Gemini and Emily, another horse was

present too, it was Poppy. “Hi Pip, Darling!” he said as brightly as he could.

“Oh and Poppy, how are you today?”

 

“I’m fine thanks Whitehoof,” Poppy replied. This mare was just about the

largest mare, excluding Petra, that either Whitehoof or Pip had ever seen. She

was a Suffolk punch mare, and she was very concerned. “I hope this isn’t prying

into your private affairs,” she said, but Pip told me about Sandy attacking

her.” “Yes,” whitehoof replied sadly, “It is concerning me a great deal. I need

to know You are safe Pip. I know you like to be on your own from time to time,

but it isn’t safe now love, you need someone who will look after you, not be

with you twenty four seven, but be nearby in case of anything happening.” While

he said this he looked at Poppy. “I’ll do it. It will be an honour and a

pleasure,” the Suffolk punch mare replied. Pip didn’t much like the idea of

having a bodyguard, but she knew Sandy’s attack was serious, and next time it

might be more serious still. Pip looked Poppy over. She saw a heavily built

mare, but this massive mare also had a kind look in her eye. Looking down, Pip

saw she had hooves almost as large as Petra’s had been. Pip thought Poppy was a

strange name for such a large mare. “Maybe she’s gentle,” Pip thought, “Yes,

that’s it, she’s a gentle mare.” Pip went up to Poppy, and the Suffolk punch

mare looked down at her. Poppy lowered her head and nuzzled Pip’s ear. The soft

warmth of Poppy’s muzzle, coupled with her obvious gentle nature, made Pip

instantly trust her. Whitehoof saw this and hoped her trust was not misplaced,

and that Poppy was not so gentle that she couldn’t raise a hoof to another horse

in a crisis.

 

“Poppy, thank you for offering to protect Pip,” Whitehoof said. He had

another question for the Suffolk punch mare. “have you ever struck another horse

in anger?” Poppy replied: “I hit a stallion once,” She looked very unhappy “he,

he killed my foal!” She squealed. “Why?” Pip asked. “I had his foal and it had a

white hoof, and he killed it.” Whitehoof’s shock registered with Poppy. “Looking at him she said:

     I know your story.” “What have you told her Pip!” Whitehoof demanded.

“Nothing Whitehoof love, I told Poppy nothing!” “What happened in my story

then?” Whitehoof asked harshly. “You were condemned to death by your leader

because you had a white foot,” Poppy replied. “How do you know!” Whitehoof

shrieked, his distress mounting. “Because it happened to my foal,” Poppy said

softly, “I suffered the loss of my foal due to her white hoof. I’m glad you have

a white hoof. You will have special power because of it, if you don’t already

that is,” the mare replied. Whitehoof breathed heavily, trying to control rising

panic. “I don’t understand how you know so much!” The gelding screamed. He dug

furiously at the ground with his white hoof, trying to scrape it out of

existence, of course he couldn’t. “I can’t stand this any longer!” Whitehoof

sobbed. The next thing he knew Poppy was lying beside him. Tears rolling down

his nose, Whitehoof cuddled up to Poppy. She nuzzled and fussed over him, while

he wept into her long thick mane. “Shh Whitehoof my pet,” she whispered. The

gelding cried uncontrollably into her mane. “I know your story,” Poppy said, “I

know it because I knew your mother Snowdrop. She was a dear friend of mine, I

was there when you were born. I helped your mother while she was foaling, and I

was the first non related member of the herd to see you gain your legs. Your

mother loved you dearly Whitehoof, and, when I left the herd only a few weeks

back, after the death of my own foal, Your mother told me to tell her little

Whitehoof, as she called you, if I ever saw you, that she loves you as much as

she did when you were born. She’s had no more foals, and it is said she’ll never

have another. Dear Whitehoof, you have to be strong, for your mum and for

yourself,” Poppy said softly. Whitehoof swallowed hard and said: “I don’t

remember you, but I don’t dispute your story.” “I left your mother as soon as

she’d recovered from foaling you,” Poppy replied. “Yes Poppy, my mum used to

call me her little whitehoof. Oh Poppy, I so wish I could see her again,”

Whitehoof whispered. A soft muzzle brushed his ear, and a voice said gently:

“Dear little Whitehoof, look at me my little Whitehoof.”

 

 

Whitehoof turned his head and couldn’t believe who he saw. He saw a

Falabella mare, all white, white hooves, white ears, white legs, white all over!

“Mum? It’s you?” He asked incredulously. “Yes my little Whitehoof, I’m here

now,” the mare replied softly. Whitehoof couldn’t help bursting into tears, but

they were tears of joy. Snowdrop hugged her one and only foal tightly. “You’re

safe now,” she whispered soothingly. Pip and Poppy watched this reunion trying

not to cry themselves, but it was a hard struggle. Whitehoof returned his

mother’s embrace with equal longing. He’d missed her so very, very much. Once

he’d composed himself, he asked: “Mum, what brings you to this herd?” Snowdrop

looked at Whitehoof with terrible sadness. “I was expelled, because I can’t have

any more foals, so I came looking for you my little Whitehoof, and I’ve found

you! I never thought I’d live to see you again Whitehoof, never! When I left you

in that clearing, I thought I’d seen you for the last time. Now,,” tears fill

her eyes as he watched, “Whitehoof,” Snowdrop said, “I’m here, and I know you

are leader, and I know you have control, and I know you have a lot to deal with,

but please, please could you let me stay?” Whitehoof’s reply took the form of a

fierce embrace of his mum, and a whispered reply: “Welcome home mum.”

 

Pip’s emotions got the better of her, yet again she broke

down and clung onto Poppy as if her heart would break. Poppy held tightly to the

little mare, “Oh Pip, its ok,” Poppy said “Its ok!” “Whatever will Snowdrop

think of having a wreck like me as part of her family!” Pip smiled weakly.

Snowdrop had worked out very quickly that there was a bond between Whitehoof and

Pip. “Oh Poppy,” Pip continued to weep, “I miss Petra, please poppy can I … she

dare not say the rest. She desperately wanted Poppy to take her under her wing.

“Hey Pip,” Poppy said “I told you, I will look after you, no one is going to

hurt you!”

 

Snowdrop, or snowy as Poppy had dubbed her, had worked out what the

relationship between her foal and Pip was. She was glad to have a herd again,

even more happy than that to have found Whitehoof, and positively over the moon

that Whitehoof was leader! Pip looked Snowy all over. She was totally white,

from nose to tail, from ears to hooves she was totally white! Pip also noticed

that, every time Whitehoof and she met, she would brush his muzzle with her’s.

Although she hadn’t seen Whitehoof for a long time, Snowy never referred to him

as “my little Whitehoof,” when other horses were around. She actually accepted

him as her leader, even though he was her foal. One day Whitehoof asked his

mother about his birth. “Thank eohippus, your birth was an easy one,” she said.

When I recovered, I looked round to find a wet little bundle, a colt with black

fur, and three black hooves, and that one white hoof. Of course I couldn’t name

you, in that herd no horse but the leader could do that, so we carried on our

lives, until that day.” Snowy looked as if she would burst into tears at any

moment. “The leader said what she did, you know that, but I remember you not

understanding it, neither did I! You would ask me why your white foot should be

cause for you to be expelled from the herd, and I remember not being able to

tell you anything Whitehoof love. That awful day dawned, and you wouldn’t let go

of me, I had to leave you, and I hated myself for it afterwards. I went back to

the place where I’d left you a day after, and you’d gone. I didn’t know whether

to feel relief or sadness. I think I was so upset that it did something to me,

and I was unable to have another foal. I hunted all over for you little

Whitehoof. I heard news that a horse with a white hoof had joined a herd of

other horses, but I heard nothing detailed. Then the leader of the herd realised

I wasn’t able to have foals and she expelled me. I wandered for days, trying

desperately to find any news of you. A badger, gruff fellow he was. Well, I

described you to him, and he became very excited. “You be whitehoof mother?” He

asked. I replied that I was, and he got even more excited. “He be very glad to

see you,” he said. With that he told me where you were, and the rest is history

little Whitehoof,” Snowy said. Whitehoof didn’t mind his mother calling him

“Little Whitehoof,” as long as it was in private. Snowy knew that also, and

generally kept to that. All the horses were talking about the white mare that

was said to be Whitehoof’s mother. Snowy’s name was mentioned by everyone at one

point or another during the days that followed her appearance in the herd. Poppy

and Pip grew very close, Poppy marvelling at how small Pip was, and Pip

wondering how on earth a mare could get so large! Once they measured hooves, and

Poppy’s were at least twice the size of Pip’s, larger too!” The elation of

Snowy’s arrival, somewhat took over talk among the chattering horses, so Sandy’s

transgressions were temporarily forgotten.

 

 

Snowdrop was wandering through the forest one day when she saw a skewbald

mare with her right hind foot raised, and a fox removing a stone from the mare’s

hoof. Seeing her, the skewbald mare called out: “Is your name Snowdrop?” Snowdrop replied

that it was, and could she have the pleasure of knowing the mare’s name?

“Sandy,” was the mare’s terse reply. Snowdrop thought that Sandy’s manner was

sharp, too sharp. Sandy said: “I hear you are Whitehoof’s mother?” Snowdrop

smiled: “I am,” she replied. Sandy spat in Snowdrop’s direction. This shocked

the Falabella mare. “There’s no need for that!” She whinnied. Sandy looked

murderous! “I hate Pip!” She screamed. “Why?” Snowdrop asked, her distress

mounting. “She has Whitehoof under her hoof!” The skewbald mare shrieked. “She’s

Whitehoof’s mate,” Snowdrop said, “and she’s not dominant over him, not at all!”

Sandy tore her hind foot free of Foxy’s paws and, whipping round, lashed out at

Snowdrop! The Falabella mare leapt backwards and sideways, trying to avoid the

deadly hoof! Snowdrop felt the wind of it’s passing. Rolling furiously, Snowdrop

leapt to her feet and bolted for cover! Haring through the forest, she literally

collided with Brock. Falling over him, they ended up in a tangled heap. “Woh!

Hey stop!” Brock yelled. “I’m so sorry, but I was running, running for my life!”

Snowdrop panted. Brock looked at her. “Brock think me know you, you be Whitehoof

mother?” Snowdrop replied: “yes.” “You also be called Snowy by large mare named

Poppy?” the badger asked. “yes, she does,” Snowdrop replied. “Me know who you

running from,” Brock grunted, “you see skewbald mare having stone picked out of

hoof yes?” “Yes I did, but how,,,” “You get talking to mare, she asks you what

you name be, and when Whitehoof mother tell her, mare get very furious and

attack?” “yes,” Snowdrop replied, “but how do you know all that!” “Ah,” the

badger said kindly, “Brock know plenty, Brock know forest creatures very well.

He know who come, and who go from herd, and he watch over herd, Pip and

Whitehoof especially. Whitehoof and Pip much liked by forest creatures, so Brock

and others protects them like crazy! I talk to forest creatures too, they say

they like mare named Snowdrop too! We protects small white mare with white

hooves. Brock know what Snowdrop go through too with Whitehoof as foal. Me know

how Whitehoof life was when foal, me hear things, but me no repeat.” The badger

smiled at Snowdrop. He took her tiny left forefoot in his paws, and said softly:

“Brock be good friend to Snowy and little Whitehoof ay?” Snowdrop, realising

this badger was at heart a gentle creature, gently removed her hoof from his paw

and looked him in the eye. “I see you be good friend to little Whitehoof’s

mother?” Snowdrop said.  Brock smiled: “Whitehoof mother be right, Brock protect her and little

Whitehoof, and Pip! Now me go and see what horrid skewbald mare be doing,” he

said, “me teach horrid mare lesson she never forget!” With that he disappeared

into the forest, leaving Snowdrop alone to think. Once he’d gone, Snowdrop

turned and made her way back to Whitehoof and Pip.

 

She found Pip and Whitehoof resting under a tree. “Mum! What’s up!”

Whitehoof saw the fear on his mother’s face. “I was almost attacked by a

skewbald mare back there in the forest!” she said wildly, “A vixen was removing a

stone from her hoof and the mare was questioning me as to who I was, If I hadn’t

rolled away so fast, I, I” she stopped. “Oh no!” said Pip! Sandy’s at it again!”

“Oh the vixen is foxy!” said Pip. “I practically ran for my life!” continued

snowy and I fell over Brock, just didn’t see him because I was so frightened!”

“Oh well, if Brock knows!” Whitehoof relaxed slightly, “The whole forest folk

will know very soon and … well who knows what they will do to her!”

 

Brock stormed through the forest looking for Sandy. He found Foxy first.

The vixen was furious! “Ah Brock, there you are,” she said. “Brock hear that

Sandy try hurt Whitehoof mother?” He asked. Foxy’s fur stood on end. “Yes,” Foxy

snapped, “if poor Snowdrop hadn’t rolled away as quickly as she did,, well, you

know what might have happened. There was no provocation either!” “Brock know

what go on, Mother of Whitehoof and Brock met in forest. White mare called

Snowdrop tell Brock everything. She nice mare, Brock plenty angry with Sandy!”

The badger yelled. Foxy went up to Brock and hugged him. The Badger, unprepared

for this show of affection from her, didn’t quite know how to react at first.

Then he returned her embrace. “You’ve been a good friend to me,” Foxy said

softly. Brock nuzzled the vixen’s ear. “Brock try plenty to be good friend to

Foxy ever since me met foxy having cub. Me know how being alone is, me lose mate

to humans.” Foxy stared at Brock in horror!” “They,,,” “yes,” Brock replied,

“humans took Brock mate away. Brock mate now dead me think.” Foxy couldn’t

believe her ears. This badger, who had walked in on her in her most vulnerable

moment, and who she trusted with her own cub, had never even eluded to this!

Brock continued: “That happen year or so ago now. Brock recover, sort of, but

very depressed. Me want reason to live, so, Me digging out set in preparation

for family if find mate again. Me dig through earth, dig, dig dig, then bang! Me

find vixen screeching in pain on floor! Brock plenty frightened, but me remember

sort of what this be from when first mate have cub. Brock plenty scared though!

Vixen grab hold of, and screeching, crush hind paw of Brock when me try to

leave, so me stay! Me have no choice! But me see Foxy give birth to cub, and me

know then that me want to live to look after little fox and little fox’s mother.

Brock feel then as feel now about Whitehoof, Pip and Snowdrop! So me want punish

Sandy plenty for hurting Snowdrop!” Brock said. Foxy released the badger and

they went in search of the skewbald mare.

 

Sandy had gone in search of Maynand and Sheissain, she knew of the bad

things they had done in the past. “Sheissain, I need help!” she said, trying to

sound convincing. “No. sorry, no can do!” he replied, he was too interested in

getting the interest of the lovely Gemini. “ah well, I’ll have to see if Maynand

will oblige then!” she snarled in a vicious tone. “no, you don’t!” said

Sheissain, “If you are not careful, you will have that mark from Whitehoof and

that will be it, you will have to go!”

 

“I need to get help with something! The least you could do is describe

Maynand to me!” Sandy whinnied. “Okay,” Sheissain said wearily, “He’s got dark

brown fur, black hooves, and the mark of a tiny hoof on his shoulder.” With that

he turned his back on her. Sandy walked away. She found Maynand grazing

peacefully in the wood. Seeing her, he yanked up another mouthful of grass, and

while chewing slowly on it, raised his head, and watched her coming towards him.

Swallowing the grass, He waited for her to come within a few feet before asking:

“What can I do for you?” Sandy replied: “I think you might be able to help me. I

need to get rid of a horse. I understand you had a grudge against this horse

once. I want to get rid of Pip.” Maynand had struggled with his own feelings of

resentment towards Pip. He’d spoken at length to her and Whitehoof, and had

worked out his differences with them, which were non existent anyway. He’d just

been jealous and that was it. So being asked to help eliminate Pip shocked and

appalled him. “No, I’ll never dip my hoof in that pool again!” He squealed.

Sandy became angry! “Why not?” She asked. “Because I’m finished with all that,

I’m not discussing it any more, subject closed!” The colt shrieked. Maynand

turned tail on Sandy. Incensed, she approached him, Maynand lashed out with a

hind foot, his hoof crashing into her foreleg, nearly breaking it. Limping away,

Sandy vowed to get even with this obnoxious colt! Maynand, terrified by what

he’d been asked to do, and relieved he’d been able so easily to resist the

temptation to have a go at another horse, lay down exhausted on the grass. He

hoped this would be the last he’d hear of any plot to hurt Pip, Whitehoof or any

other horse, although he doubted this wish would ever come true. Closing his

eyes, he thought about another horse, a tiny white mare, with white hooves.

Although he felt no desire for Snowdrop, and Maynand knew nothing could ever

come of anything between them, He wanted to know more about her. After all, a

mare who could give birth to a horse like Whitehoof must be one amazing mare!

Maynand didn’t know how his questions would be received, but he reasoned that if

he never asked them, he’d never know. Getting to his feet, Maynand went in

search of Snowdrop.

 

Maynand found Snowdrop, Pip and Whitehoof lying under a tree. Seeing him

coming, Whitehoof got up and went to meet him. “You look like you’ve been in a

fight,” he remarked. “Sandy asked me to help her, help her get rid of Pip!”

Maynand squealed. “What did you say to her?” Whitehoof asked, all the while,

watching Maynand’s manner. “I told her I wouldn’t do it Whitehoof, I don’t want

to get into that again!” Whitehoof saw Maynand was truthful. “What brings you to

us?” Whitehoof asked. “I wanted, to, to speak to Snowdrop, ask her questions,

about her breed, her life, etc,” Maynand replied. “What if I don’t want to

answer those questions?” Snowdrop asked. “You wouldn’t have to,” Maynand

gabbled, “but I was thinking that any mare who could give birth to a horse such

as Whitehoof had to be special, I mean, it’s not every day a horse is able to

brand other horses with his hoof!” “I can’t do that,” Snowdrop replied, “It’s

only Whitehoof who can. I see you have a mark on your shoulder. Is that

signifying that you are excluded from this herd? Or is it meaning you are on

probation?” Snowdrop enquired. Maynand told her everything, putting all his

cards on the table. “So,” he concluded, “When I saw you, I wanted to know

everything about you!” Snowdrop was wary of Maynand, but he had refused to hurt

Pip, and he had stood up to Sandy, so he must be coming round to sensible

thinking. This is what Snowdrop hoped anyway. She went up to the dark brown

colt. “You can take a look at me, but I am telling you nothing! Okay?” She said.

Maynand gazed at the Falabella mare. He couldn’t believe how white her fur was,

nor how white her hooves were! Her tail, and mane, all white! Snowdrop lifted a

hoof and showed Maynand the sole of her foot, that was white too! It seemed this

mare had no pigment at all in her! “You are a beautiful mare,” Maynand said.

Lowering her foot to the floor, Snowdrop turned and looked at him. “You are

sorry for what you did to Petra and Pip?” She asked. She looked deep into his

eyes, and Maynand couldn’t stand it. Crying out with distress, Maynand averted

his gaze and prostrated himself before Snowdrop. “Do what you will with me! I am

at your mercy!” he whinnied.

 

Snowdrop looked down at Maynand. “Get up,” she commanded. Maynand did so,

wondering what this mare was going to do to him. “As you say you are at my

mercy, and therefore, my command,” Snowdrop said, “Bring Sandy to me Maynand, so

that I may deal with her.” Maynand trotted away, eager to do Snowdrop’s bidding.

“What can you do to her?” Whitehoof asked. “Wait and see, let’s say, she’ll

never trouble Pip again.” Snowdrop replied.

 

Maynand returned with Sandy. The skewbald mare snapped: “What do you

want!” Snowdrop got up from where she’d been lying languidly on the forest

floor. Sandy stared at her! “I’ve seen you before somewhere, I think,” she said.

Snowdrop looked into Sandy’s eyes. The Falabella mare’s stare was hypnotic.

Sandy’s legs gave way beneath her and she sank to her knees. The skewbald mare

began to shake with fear! “Eohippus, oh Eohippus, don’t hurt me, have mercy on

me!” Sandy squealed. Snowdrop kept staring into Sandy’s eyes, her gaze

penetrating the mare’s very being. “I can make you suffer very much Sandy,”

Snowdrop said. Pip wondered how this tiny mare could hurt anyone, but said

nothing. “I can make it so you feel a stone in your hoof. I can do it, although

I don’t want to, I don’t want to hurt you Sandy, but I will if you don’t do my

will.” Whitehoof stared open mouthed at his mother. She was motionless,

apparently effortlessly controlling Sandy with her eyes. “What is your will?”

Sandy asked. “You will go from here, and you will no longer trouble Pip or

Whitehoof again,” Snowdrop said, “You will mention no more your jealous

feelings, nor will you bourdon Whitehoof with them,” she said softly. Snowdrop

stepped forward, and placing her forefoot on the mare’s right hind foot, she

said: “You will be marked, you will be marked to signify that you have been put

under watch. If you do not do as I ask, you will be punished severely,” Snowdrop

placed her tiny right forefoot in the hollow of Sandy’s larger hoof, and when

she lifted her foot away, a white mark remained on the sole of Sandy’s hoof. “I

thought she said she could not mark horses!” Pip Whispered to Whitehoof. “I

don’t believe this!” Whitehoof hissed, “I can’t believe my eyes!” Snowdrop

walked round Sandy, and when she was before her again, said: “Go now, and do no

more harm.” Sandy got to her feet and walked away.

 

Whitehoof stared at his mother. “You said you couldn’t mark horses!” He

squealed. Snowdrop smiled: “I suppose I can, I’ve never really had the need

before,” she said. “And what was all that about Eohippus?” Pip asked. “Eohippus

is the name the humans give to the first horses that ever roamed the earth. I

think it means the dawn horse. We Falabella horses are said to be closer to the

first horses than other breeds. Some horses also regard Eohippus as a kind of

deity,” Snowdrop replied. “You were hypnotising Sandy with your eyes!” Whitehoof

yelled. “I suppose I was,” his mother said. “Who are you mum? Is there more to

you than you’ve told me? Come to think of it, is there more to me than I know?”

Whitehoof asked. “I don’t know Whitehoof dear,” Snowdrop said, “but the ability

to mark horses with one’s hoof is not bestowed on every horse, so I suppose

there is more to us than is usual for horses, yes.” Pip looked Snowdrop over,

from her white ears, to her white mane, white body fur, white legs and white

hooves. “You certainly have unusual markings,” she said. Snowdrop shook herself

hard. “Your black fur came from your sire’s side of the family Whitehoof,” she

said. “And the white hoof from yours,” he concluded. “Yes,” his mother said.

Poppy, who’d been silently watching all this, said: “I remember when you were

born Whitehoof. I remarked to your mother on the contrast between the colour of

her fur and yours. A more striking pair there could never be.” Tilly and

Ferdinand appeared in the distance, they looked very happy indeed with

something. “Hey you two!” Whitehoof called, “found lush grass have you? If so,

leave some for us!” hearing him, Tilly came cantering through the trees.

“Whitehoof! Whitehoof!” She whinnied, “I’m in foal! I’m having Ferdinand’s foal!

Yippee!” With that she disappeared into the trees. “That’s right,” Ferdinand

confirmed, “she’s about eight months gone, so we should have a new addition to

the herd in a few months!” he seemed almost as pleased with the news as Tilly

was, although Whitehoof knew stallions never got really excited about foals, not

like mares. “I’m so pleased for you,” Whitehoof said. Pip thought about foals,

she’d wanted to have a foal, but knew it was impossible with Whitehoof. She

decided she’d have to content herself by looking after the youngsters. After

all, Tilly would have her time taken up by a new born foal very soon indeed. Pip

knew somehow that soon she would be unable to put a hoof to the ground for

pressure of work. Whitehoof looked at her, reading her thoughts. “Do you want a

foal?” he asked. “I, I do,” Pip replied, “but you can’t sire them, I know that,

and Whitehoof, dear Whitehoof, I love you dearly, and I couldn’t have another

Falabella horse’s foal.” He hugged her tightly. “I love you too, but I would

understand if you felt you had to have a foal with another horse,” he said

gently, “after all, it’s not my fault I am how I am, and it’s not your fault

that nature decreed that you should want foals.” “No Whitehoof,” Pip said, “I

couldn’t do that my love. The thought of giving birth to a foal that wasn’t ours

doesn’t bare thinking about.” Pip nuzzled his ear. “Anyway,” she said airily,

“I’ll have my time taken by the newborn foals, Tilly’s included. For she’ll

still have her job as second in command to occupy her, and she’ll need someone

to look after her foal. I know she used to do that for other horses, maybe now

it’s my turn.” Whitehoof felt a lot happier. He knew Pip would do a good job at

looking after the foals. “They’ll feel more at home too, as you are more their

size,” he said. Pip smiled: “Yes, that’s true,” She said, “But they get bigger,”

“Very true too Pip darling,” Whitehoof replied, “but you are wonderful with

foals. Look at the way Emily took to you.” Pip relaxed. She knew Poppy and

Whitehoof would look after her, and make sure she was safe and had a real place

in the herd. Gemini and Sheissain came past then, they also were very excited.

“Another foal Gemini?” Whitehoof asked. “Yes,” she replied, “and it’s

Sheissain’s!” Whitehoof turned to Pip. “And there are two in the class of two

thousand two for certain my dear,” he said.

 

Maynand had seen what Snowdrop did to Sandy and it frightened him. How

could a horse control another just by looking at them? He didn’t know. He was

unnerved by the fact that Snowdrop could mark other horses with her hoof too!

He’d listened all through what Snowdrop had said about Eohippus, and he believed

it all. He wanted to rebuild relations between himself and the Falabella horses.

Who, very shortly now Tilly was in foal, would be leading the herd. He looked at

Snowdrop standing beside Whitehoof. “I wonder,” Maynand began, “I wonder

Whitehoof, if, if I could ask you to consider removing my mark?” The gelding

looked at him. “Hmmm,” he said, “how do you do that again?” Maynand’s eyes

widened with shock! “You can’t remember how you got rid of the mark?” He

squealed. “I remember,” Whitehoof replied, “I was stringing you on. Come here.”

With that Maynand went to Whitehoof, and the gelding placed his black forefoot

over the white mark on the colt’s shoulder, removing it. Maynand looked deep

into the Falabella gelding’s eyes. Whitehoof gazed back, assessing Maynand’s

character. Suddenly the colt dropped to his knees. Whitehoof nuzzled the colt’s

ear. “You are trying very hard to better yourself Maynand,” He said, “now make

sure I never have to brand you again.” Maynand reached out with his muzzle and

touched Whitehoof’s white foot. “To think such a tiny hoof has so much power,”

he said.

 

Sandy watched all this happening. She had hidden on the other side of the

track and had seen Maynand lose the mark, as well as the colt make his peace

with Whitehoof. Sandy knew Snowdrop and Whitehoof were not ordinary horses, she

knew that because she’d seen the mark on the sole of her hind foot that Snowdrop

had given her reflected in a puddle of water. She’d tried rubbing her hoof hard

on the ground, but the mark wouldn’t fade or leave her. Jealousy and anger

flared in her! She hated Whitehoof and Pip, despised Snowdrop and feared Brock.

She had wanted Whitehoof for herself, but had heard his declaration of love to

Pip, had heard him virtually give Pip the job of looking after the newborn

foals, and because of that, she hated Whitehoof even more! She hoped she’d be

asked to assist at foaling time, but realised that no mare would let her near.

Sandy finally realised her chances of a place in the herd were busted and gone.

It wouldn’t be her that saw the foals born, although she’d seen it before and

knew what she was doing, it would be Poppy’s, or Pip’s, or some other mare’s

privilege to help the foaling mares. Her resentment grew over the next few days.

She feared Snowdrop, but didn’t really think the Falabella mare could do her any

real harm. Sure, the encounter with Snowdrop had frightened her a great deal,

but, Sandy reasoned that a mare couldn’t be that powerful, could she? Then Sandy

remembered the mark on her hind foot, and uncertainty replaced defiant thoughts.

Weeks past, where Sandy was not seen in the herd. Many horses thought she’d gone

from the herd after her run in with Snowdrop. Tilly was close to her time now,

and was fearful of Sandy’s return, terrified that she might try to injure her

newborn foal as retribution for all that she felt was done to her. Poppy was

there to help when Tilly felt the first pains that told her her foal was ready

to be born. They retired into a secluded clearing for Tilly to have her foal.

Soon things really started happening. Tilly lay down and Poppy watched over her

as Tilly, with a massive effort, gave birth to a Palomino thoroughbred cross

colt. When it was all over, Poppy circled the clearing, making sure noone was

near Tilly and her newborn foal. The colt was soon on his feet, Tilly on her’s a

little after him once she’d recovered from foaling her first foal. Tilly gazed

at her foal in wonder that there was a new life standing beside her. Lowering

her head, she nuzzled the tiny creature’s ear. The colt, hunger satisfied after

his first drink of milk, lay down on the ground. Tilly did likewise, and the

colt cuddled up to her. Burying his muzzle in her mane, he closed his eyes and

slept with his head resting on her neck. Tilly couldn’t take her eyes off this

tiny miracle of nature.

 

Tilly slept. She woke to find Whitehoof and Pip lying around her and her

new born foal. “How are you Tilly?” Pip asked. “Fine thanks,” she said, “as you

can see, I have a foal now.” The colt woke and looked around. Seeing the two

Falabella horses, he turned to his mother and asked: “What are their names?”

Tilly told him. The colt looked at Whitehoof. “I can see why he’s called

Whitehoof mum,” he said. “Whitehoof is herd leader,” Tilly said. “Have you

thought of a name for your foal Tilly?” Pip asked. “No not yet,” Tilly replied.

It was Pip’s turn to be appraised by the colt. He went up to her and asked why,

if Whitehoof had the name he had because of his white foot, what Pip meant. “I

don’t know littl’en,” Pip said. The colt looked her all over from ears to

hooves. “You have small hooves,” he commented. “They’re about the same size as

yours littll’en,” Pip replied. “Are you a foal too?” The colt asked. Pip

laughed: “No!” She Whinnied, “nor is Whitehoof.” “But you are so small, like me,

but you are not foals you say? How is that!” The colt replied. “We are Falabella

horses littl’en,” Whitehoof said. The colt went across to him. “You are not a

foal, like Pip is not a foal?” He asked. “No, I’m not a foal,” Whitehoof

replied. “I don’t understand this,” The foal said. “Pip and I are of a breed of

horse that is the smallest horse in the world,” Whitehoof explained. The colt

looked down at Whitehoof’s white foot. “Does your white hoof mean anything?” He

asked.

 

“Well, its like this, littl’en !” Whitehoof explained very simply to the

young colt that his whitehoof was white because his mother was Snowdrop the pure

white falabella mare. He didn’t really want to frighten this foal with stories of markings and he knew that he would soon hear about it from the other

horses anyway. The foal seemed satisfied with this explanation.  Whitehoof and

Pip left mother and foal to rest, they retired to a quiet spot and settled down

together for a chat. “Whitehoof,” said Pip. “You are a wonderful herd leader and

Snowdrop is so very proud of you!” “Thank you sweetheart, I am just so pleased

that she has found me again after all this time!” It was almost too good to be

true that things were going so well now, but for how long?

 

 

Tilly and her foal left the clearing and made their way back to the main

herd. The first horse they met was Sandy. Seeing Tilly with her foal, Sandy laid

back her ears and lashed out at the foal. Tilly shrieked with anger and knocked

Sandy to the floor. Placing her forefeet on Sandy to make sure she couldn’t get

to her feet, Tilly yelled to her foal to find Whitehoof and bring him to her.

“You remember him, he’s the small horse with the white hoof!” She whinnied. Her

foal scorched the grass as he fled in search of the horse with the white foot.

Skidding round a tree, the foal nearly collided with Whitehoof and Pip. Seeing

the tiny fellow was distressed, Pip asked: “What’s wrong littl’en?” “Mum’s got a

horse under her feet,” the foal panted, “she said to me to find Whitehoof,” he

looked at Whitehoof. “The mare tried to kick mum,” the foal continued. Whitehoof

and Pip got to their feet and followed the foal to the place where his mother

pinned Sandy to the floor. “Good lad,” Whitehoof said to the colt, “You did

well.” With that he turned a thunderous expression on Sandy. “What were you

doing?” he demanded. Sandy squealed: “I hate that foal!” “Why?” Pip asked, “He’s

done nothing to harm you. He’s barely a day old and you hate him?” Sandy

struggled beneath Tilly. The foal watched her fearfully. Seeing his fear, Pip

sidled up to him and said: “Don’t worry littl’en, I’ll protect you,” The colt,

glad of reassurance from this tiny mare, cuddled up to her. “Will mum be all

right?” the foal asked. “Yes,” Pip replied firmly. Whitehoof said: “Release

Sandy Tilly.” Tilly did so, and her foal caught sight of the white mark on the

sole of her right forefoot. “Why is my mum’s foot white?” he asked Pip. “I saw

her hind foot once, and that was black like yours are.” Pip explained that Tilly

was second in command to Whitehoof, and that the mark on her foot told every

other horse that. Sandy lay, knowing what was about to happen. Whitehoof touched

her with his white foot, and branded her. “Now go!” he commanded. Sandy got to

her feet, knowing she’d totally lost the respect of her herd. She knew lashing

out at a mare protecting a foal was not done, it was a heinous crime! She looked

at the tiny horse who had ended her possibilities. “No questions,” Whitehoof

said, “Sandy, go, leave, get out of my sight!” Sandy trudged away.

 

The horses made their way back to the herd. There was a commotion, “What’s

going on?” asked Whitehoof irritably, all he had wanted to do was get some rest.

“It’s Gemini!” Poppy said, “She seems to be in distress, she needs

help and quickly, Sheissain is frantic!”

 

 

Gemini paced about, panting hard. Poppy asked her what the matter was. “I,

I think I’m having my foal!” She squealed shrilly, “It feels the same as it did

when I had Emily!” With that Gemini lay down and gave birth to her foal. The

birth of Gemini’s foal was over faster than anyone could have thought possible.

Squealing with fear and terror, Gemini gave birth to her second foal. Mother and

foal lay on the grass, both exhausted. The foal got to it’s feet, but Gemini

didn’t. “What’s happening!” Sheissain demanded. Poppy looked down at Gemini. She

could feel the mare’s life force fading and dying. Poppy knew it was the end for

Gemini. In a few minutes, it was all over. Tilly looked at the tiny wet bundle

that was Gemini’s foal. “I never thought I’d be mothering two foals,” she said.

Tilly didn’t think twice about her actions, she dried off the tiny creature and

nudged it to it’s feet. The tiny foal staggered over to Tilly, where it found

the milk it needed. Tilly’s foal looked at the newcomer suckling

enthusiastically. Putting his mouth close to the newborn foal’s ear, he

whispered: “Mum and I will look after you.” The foal, a filly, looked round at

him. “Are you my brother?” she asked. Smiling, the colt replied: “Yes little

sister, I am.”

 

Sheissain stared down at Gemini’s lifeless form. Raising his head, he

squealed: “Why!” Looking round, he spotted Snowdrop and grief turned to anger,

as he connected her with Gemini’s death. “It’s you who’s done this!” he

screamed. Snowdrop, as distressed as everyone else, snapped back: “What!”

Sheissain shook his hoof at her. Snowdrop had heard of Sheissain’s hatred of

having his hooves handled and used this to knock some sense into him. “Want me

to touch that hoof?” She asked. Sheissain whinnied: “No! no! no! no! Leave my

hooves alone!” he looked towards his foal. The filly had finished her drink and was now cuddled up to Tilly and her adopted brother. Tilly and her foal had Gemini

and Sheissain’s foal between them to keep her warm. The colt nuzzled his little

sister’s ear. Emily watched Sheissain and everyone and everything else. She had

seen her mother give birth to a foal, and had seen her die. She was now at a

loss as to what to think about anything. If Tilly had taken on Gemini’s newborn

foal, would she take her on too? Emily could eat grass now, so that wasn’t a

problem, but she was still so young, she needed comfort and guidance, and Tilly

already had two foals, and it was getting worse! Emily, with all these thoughts

crowding in on her, began to cry. Snowdrop went across to her and hugged her.

This was the best thing anyone could have done for Emily at that moment. Feeling

the Falabella mare’s touch, Emily buried her head in Snowdrop’s thick mane.

“It’s okay,” Snowdrop said gently, “It’ll be all right.” Emily drew strength

from Snowdrop’s presence. Meanwhile, Sheissain was trying to keep Snowdrop from

touching his hooves. Although she’d threatened it, and made no attempt to go

near him, he was watching her intently. When she went across to Emily and hugged

her, Sheissain knew he was safe for the moment. Relieved, he lay down exhausted

on the grass. Unfortunately, he didn’t think of who else had seen his reaction,

and would exploit it because they misinterpreted his reaction to the mention of

having his hooves handled. Tilly’s colt, seeing his opportunity, went across to

Sheissain and touched his outstretched right forefoot. Sheissain, half asleep,

woke with a squeal and, leaping to his feet, he ran shrieking across the

clearing. “What did I do?” the colt asked. “Sheissain doesn’t like anyone

touching his feet,” Pip replied. “He went off like a race horse!” the colt

whinnied. Sheissain turned and glared at the tiny colt. “I hate anyone touching

my hooves!” he screamed. “Sorry,” Tilly’s colt said contritely. “You will be,

don’t you ever, ever! Do that again! You hear me!” Sheissain yelled, “If you do,

I’ll murder you!” The next thing Sheissain knew he was falling, he crashed onto

the grass! Looking up, he found Tilly glairing down at him. “Threatening my

foal?” She asked. “No, No I wasn’t!” Sheissain protested, “the little bleeder

touched my feet, I hate that! You know I do Tilly!” “You Threatened him though,

didn’t you,” she stated. “I suppose I did,” Sheissain admitted. He knew what was

coming, and he closed his eyes waiting for the discomfort and torture. Tilly

placed her right forefoot on Sheissain’s shoulder to make sure he went nowhere,

then she touched his left forefoot with hers. The stallion squealed and

whinnied, begging her for mercy! “Tilly, Tilly! Leave my hooves alone!” He

squealed shrilly. “I will tell my foals not to touch your hooves again

Sheissain, but they were not to know this time! Don’t you ever threaten my foals

again! If you do, You’ll be getting more of this! I’ll get Brock to tie you down

and touch your hooves!” “No! please no! Don’t do that Tilly please!” Sheissain

pleaded desperately. “I will, Tilly said, “another thing, if you harm my foals

in any way, I’ll personally administer the punishment, You will remember what I

say,” she said quietly. Taking her weight off of him and removing her forefoot

from his, Tilly said: “Remember what I say. For I do not speak empty words.

Also, if you harm my foals, I’ll make sure Whitehoof marks you, but marks you on

your hoof!” The thought of this made Sheissain clench his teeth. Tilly turned

and went back to her foals. She warned them against tormenting Sheissain and

then turned to a very important matter. What she should name her colt and

Gemini’s filly. Settling down with her family around her, she considered this

matter.

 

Tilly looked at the two foals. She saw the colt, his brown head, with a white

blaze down his nose, his white mane, brown body fur, white tail and black

hooves. She thought about a name for him. “How does Ben sound?” She asked. The

colt instantly replied: “Ben, hmm, yep okay.” Ben he was then. Tilly then turned

to Gemini’s filly. She saw a tiny creature, piebald fur, her black head with

white ears, her black and white body, one half black, the other white. Black

forelegs, white hind, and finally white hooves. Tilly smiled at the filly. “How

would it be if I named you Jess,” she suggested. The filly pricked her ears.

“Okay,” she whinnied. Ben and Jess they were from that day on.

 

Sheissain was overcome with grief, he hadn’t meant to hurt Ben, why was it

that he so easily angered? He wanted desperately to be with Gemini, he had not

known love until Gem and Emily had come along, it wasn’t fair! Why had she died?

He cried desperately for her ….he never wanted his hooves to be marked by

Whitehoof, all he wanted was to be loved! Well, he thought on, at least he had

Jess, yes, he had Jess and Emily, he would take care of them and throw his whole

energy into looking after them if Tilly would allow him near Jess that was!

 

 

Sheissain went to Tilly and asked her straight out. “You threatened my

foals!” Tilly squealed. “I threatened Ben, I know, I’m sorry!” Sheissain

whinnied shrilly. Jess looked at Sheissain. “Ben touched your hooves didn’t he?”

She asked. “Yes he did Jess, and I hate having my feet touched,” Sheissain

replied. He turned to Tilly and implored her to let him be with his foal! “I

know you are taking care of Jess Tilly, but she’s my foal too!” He squealed.

Tilly relented slightly. “I suppose you can,” she replied. Sheissain went to

Jess, lay down and hugged the tiny filly tightly. Jess returned his embrace.

“Why do you hate people touching your hooves?” She asked. Sheissain knew he’d

have to face up to his fears. “Okay,” he said, “I’ll try, I’ll try to overcome

my fear. How I will do it I don’t know. I think I’ll have to be forced into it,

because I won’t do it otherwise.” Jess touched his right forefoot with her tiny

hoof. Sheissain, feeling sick with fear, lifted his foot, letting his foal touch

it. She rubbed his hoof with her’s. She even gently rubbed the sole of his foot.

Sheissain breathed deeply, trying to overcome his fear. He said: “Okay, Jess,

you do that every day, to each of my feet, one at a time.” Jess saw the reaction

Sheissain had given to Tilly’s threats to touch his feet, and compared it with

his reaction when she actually touched them. Sheissain wasn’t crying, wasn’t

lashing out. He was frightened, but that would pass she was sure. Sheissain knew

Jess would be his saviour. He knew it would be a hard fight, that he would

probably squeal pitifully like a foal, that he would fight against Jess’s

treatment, but he would win this battle with his fear, and maybe, he would get

to know this foal better, the last link he’d ever have with his dear Gemini.

 

 

Sheissain  worked it out at last, all he had to do when Jess touched his

hooves was to think of Gemini, to remember her and to think of the love that was

between them. He had loved her with a love which he could not explain, the

intimacy between them had been something special and all he had to do was to

remember, would that be enough for him to overcome this fear?

 

Sheissain lay on the grass, while Jess touched first his left forefoot,

then his left hind, right hind and so on. Jess felt him flinch away as she

touched each hoof, but she knew it was a terrible struggle for him to let her do

what she was doing. “What is it that you are frightened of?” Jess asked.

Sheissain took a deep breath. The filly was now touching his right hind foot

with her tiny hoof. “It all started when I was young,” Sheissain began, “I used

to get lots of stones in my hooves, I don’t know why. It was very painful, and

when I had them removed, my feet would be sore for ages after. I associated the

feel of a paw or a hoof on my hoof with the feel of those stones, Because,

sometimes, if there wasn’t a fox or a badger about to do the job, some of the

horses with smaller hooves used to try and pick out the stones from the larger

horse’s feet. That was how it was. I began to dread getting a stone in my hoof

Jess! Every time it happened I would do anything not to have anyone touch my

feet! I would leave it until it got unbearable , then of course, the treatment

would be longer, and more painful, and the bruising worse, and everything! So

that’s how it came about. Of course, when the other colts got to hear of this,

they teased me awfully about it. They would try to touch my hooves when I was

asleep. When this happened I would wake, leap to my feet and run screaming

across the pasture. The colts loved this sport! So now, I have a terrible fear

of having my feet touched by anyone at all.” Jess touched Sheissain’s left hind

foot, She rubbed her hoof gently over the sole of his hoof. Sheissain made no

sound, he didn’t even flinch. “How’s that,” she asked. “Getting easier to bear,”

Sheissain replied. He looked at this tiny filly, not yet weaned off Tilly’s

milk, and she was already putting herself in danger, selflessly helping another

horse in distress. Ben watched Sheissain’s reactions too. He’d sparked all this

by touching the stallion’s feet as a prank, not realising how terrified

Sheissain was. Once his treatment was over for the day, Sheissain got to his

feet and looked down at Jess. “Thanks,” he said. Jess looked up into his eyes.

“We’ll beat this thing,” she said. Sheissain so wanted to overcome his fear. “I

will overcome this!” He whinnied, “I’ll make it so I am as laid back about hoof

care as Whitehoof is. I’ll make it so that when Brock touches my hooves I don’t

instantly want to lash out! At the end of this I’ll let every horse touch my

hooves and I won’t hurt them!” Jess said: “That’s good. The next part of the

treatment is to do it when you are not expecting it. I’ll come up and ask to

look at your hooves. You will, if you can, while you are standing, pick each

foot up for me to look at it. I’ll touch your hooves one at a time. We’ll se how

that goes.” Sheissain knew this would be a challenge. He’d been expecting this

last round of treatment, but the next time it would be when Jess chose, and he’d

have no choice but to comply or fail himself and her.

 

And so this treatment continued, the first time Jess touched his hooves

when he was not expecting it he jumped. “Its ok Sheissain” The tiny foal tried

to reassure him in her simple way. “Yes!” he said, “I am determined to overcome

this phobia completely!” Suddenly Sheissain heard a voice behind him, “Brock

family bury Gemini for Sheissain, Brock know Sheissain try made better from

hooves bin touched. Brock help if Sheissain do want it, Brock know how Sheissain

love Gemini and look after Emily and Jess for her!” “Thank you Brock!” Sheissain

said trying to smile at this badger who knew everything that was going on in the

forest. Very little escaped Brock’s ears. Poppy and Pip were busy helping Tilly

with her little family, Tilly worried about her responsibilities as second in

command but Pip reassured her that all was fine and Whitehoof had everything

under control. Foxy was kept busy at her task of removing stones from various

horses hooves, one day Maynand limped painfully towards her. “Oh Maynand,” she

said “Let me get that stone out for you!” Maynand was happy for Foxy to do this

for him. “Thank you foxy!” he said letting her get on with the job. “I see sandy

is still lurking about,” went on Foxy, “I wonder who is removing the stones from

her hooves these days?”

 

Sandy was in a bad way. She had gone back to the herd led by the large white

mare. When she’d confessed her crimes to the white mare, Sandy knew she wouldn’t

get any mercy. This mare was ruthless. Even she didn’t take kindly to mares who

struck out at foals. On hearing this news, she knocked Sandy to the ground and

threatened to trample her. It was only Sandy begging her for mercy, and telling

her she’d do anything for her, that stopped the white mare from doing her

serious damage. “I want you to kill whitehoof!” The mare whinnied. Sandy refused

out right. “No,” She said, “I’m not doing that!” The mare, not used to being

refused, galloped away squealing. Sandy left the herd again, she was alone, and

worst still, she had another stone in her right forefoot! Sandy limped along the

track, all the while, the stone worked itself further in. Soon she could no

longer walk and lay down on the track. She tried to get the stone out with her

teeth, but couldn’t reach it. It was a sharp stone, and she saw blood on the

track. She knew this one was bad. Getting to her feet, she managed to limp

forward, walking on the toe of her injured right forefoot, but this was

unnatural and soon began to make her shoulder very painful. She struggled on,

making for her old herd and Foxy. The first to see her was Sheissain. He was

walking along the track thinking of Gemini when he heard a limping horse.

Looking up he was surprised to see Sandy. “Sheissain,” she gasped, “Please,

please help me!” “Why should I?” he asked. “For Eohippus sake! I’ve got a stone

in my hoof and it’s in deep! Can’t you see that!” Sandy shrieked. “No need to be

like that!” Sheissain whinnied shrilly. He remembered how painful a stone was,

remembered how Jess was treating him for his fear, and knew how destructive the

fear was. “I’ll help you, but only this once, then you go!” He replied.

Sheissain took Sandy to Foxy, who kept her council, and didn’t ask questions.

She removed the stone from Sandy’s hoof, and patched up the wound in the sole of

her foot. “That’ll hurt for a while,” she said, “but it’ll get better.” Sandy

looked at Sheissain. There was something different about him, and why had he

helped her. She’d done so much to harm this herd, but he’d helped her! Sandy

also noticed something else about him. He was a lost horse, with no direction.

Sandy asked: “Sheissain, why did you help me? And you look lost!”

 

”I helped you because I know how it is to have stones in my hooves Sandy,”

Sheissain said. Sandy was about to ask more when she saw a tiny filly foal

coming through the trees. As she watched, the foal approached Sheissain and

said: “Please lift up your right hind foot.” Mystified, Sandy watched as

Sheissain did so and the filly touched his hoof with hers. After a few minutes,

where the foal touched every part of Sheissain’s foot, she let him lower it to

the floor, only to repeat the process with his left hind foot. After this she

moved to his forefeet, and it all started over. “Sheissain,” Sandy asked

carefully, “what is that filly doing?” Sheissain looked at her, totally

unconcerned by the filly who was now rubbing the sole of his left forefoot with

her tiny hoof. “As I said,” he replied, “I know how it is to have stones in my

hooves, so I helped you. I had a terrible fear of having my hooves handled, and

Jess here is helping me overcome this fear. She is now randomly asking me to

pick up my feet and let her touch them. I understand from horses who have worked

in what humans call riding schools, that they are asked to do this from an early

age so they are used to having their hooves handled.” “I know this goes on,”

Sandy said, “I was once domesticated for the use of humans. Foals are taught to

pick their feet up on command, much as Jess is teaching you now.” Sandy watched

as Jess completed this round of treatment by rubbing Sheissain’s right forefoot

with her hoof, while he held his foot off the ground. “I’m getting used to this

now,” he said, “soon I’m hoping I can let every horse do this. At the moment,

I’m only letting Jess do this, as I trust her. Soon however, I’m hoping even

Brock could do it, any horse or forest creature could touch my hooves without me

lashing out. I’m making progress.” Sandy asked: “You seem lost Sheissain. Oh, by

the way, where’s Gemini?”

 

“Oh,” Sheissain said, suddenly remembering the intensity of his love for Gemini. “well, if

I don’t tell her myself then she will hear it from someone else.” So he decided

that it would be better it came directly from the horse’s mouth. “Sadly, Gemini

died just after giving birth to Jess.”

 

“So who’s looking after Jess now?” Sandy asked. Listening to all this,

Jess said angrily: “I don’t know what your name is, but I can answer for

myself!” Sandy took a few steps backwards, surprised by the filly’s sudden anger

after her gentleness with Sheissain. “Sorry, so sorry,” Sandy gabbled. “yes,

well,” the filly snapped. Sandy could see Jess was rather put out by not being

asked questions that she could quite obviously answer. “Tilly looks after me,

and Ben is my brother,” Jess spat. She turned tail on Sandy, showing the mare

contempt. Sandy thought this behaviour rather rude, and challenged the filly

about it. “Jess, turn and face me you disrespectful filly!” She demanded. “Why

should I?” Jess asked. “Because I am older, and know better than you do, so I

deserve some respect you horrid little scrap!” Jess turned her head to look at

Sandy, but didn’t actually turn round. “Why should I show you respect when you

insult me like that?” She asked. Sandy was furious! “Because I’m older than you

and know better than you do!” Whitehoof was passing and stopped at the sound of

the disagreement. Realising he hadn’t been spotted, he lay down in the cover of

a large bush to listen. “Older and better?” Jess asked scornfully, “If you are

called Sandy, and I think you are, Foxy says you are. Then I heard you lashed

out at my brother! You do not know better! Also, what is that mark on your

shoulder? It looks like a tiny hoof!” Sandy knew her arguments were useless.

They had been torn apart by a tiny filly! “I don’t respect horses who hit my

brother!” Jess squealed. Whitehoof got up and made his presence known. “What are

you doing back here Sandy?” he asked. “I had a stone in my hoof and I couldn’t

get rid of it,” Sandy replied, “so I came looking for Foxy and I found Sheissain

who took me to Foxy. Once the stone was taken out, I got talking to Sheissain.

Jess went up to Sheissain and started asking him to pick up his feet! That

looked strange, so I asked him about it and he told me something about Jess

treating him for his fear of having his hooves touched. Then I got into an

argument with Jess, what a disrespectful filly!” “She can answer for herself you

know,” Whitehoof said, “and you called her a disgusting scrap or something

similar, I heard that, in fact I heard all your talk.” Sandy stared at the

Falabella gelding. “Where were you hiding? Or are you bluffing!” Sandy demanded.  For answer

Whitehoof went to the bush and disappeared beneath it. “You can’t see me can

you?” He asked. “No,” Jess replied. Sandy kept silent, wondering what else the

gelding had overheard. “Can you see my white foot?” Whitehoof asked. “No,” Jess

replied again. Sandy decided she should leave before she got herself in any more

trouble. If Whitehoof could hide under bushes, where else could he hide?

 

 

The episode with Sandy had frightened Jess. She tried hard to conceal this

fact from Tilly but it didn’t work! “Jess, what’s up?” Tilly asked. “You don’t

seem your usual self!” “Sandy called me a horrid little scrap!” Jess said,

beginning to cry. “Hey, its ok my baby!” Tilly comforted the sobbing foal. “Did

anyone else witness this scene?” she asked quietly. Jess answered once her tears

had subsided. “Yes, Whitehoof overheard the conversation, he was hiding in the

bushes. “good!” said Tilly reassuringly. “Now, you go and find Pip and I will go

and talk to whitehoof!”

 

Tilly found Whitehoof sheltering from the rain. She wondered why it was

always raining hard. When he saw her, Whitehoof came across the soggy ground to

meet her. “Hi Tilly,” he whinnied. Tilly got right down to business. “Sandy

upset Jess Whitehoof,” she said. “I know,” the gelding replied, “I saw it all,

but she’s gone now, I’ve told all the others not to approach her, even if she

has a stone in her hoof.” They were disturbed by the sound of tiny hooves coming

slowly towards them. Tilly and Whitehoof turned as one to find a small horse

staggering towards them. “Are you lost?” Tilly asked. The tiny colt stared

through a mass of matted mane at her. She could see the fear and terror in his

eyes. “I don’t know,” the poor colt Whinnied, “I know I’m cold, and frightened,

and hungry, and it’s raining, and my hooves and coat are filthy!” “Where is your

mother?” Whitehoof asked. The colt was level with them now, and he could see the

little chap’s legs were shaking beneath him. “I don’t know now,” the colt

replied sadly, “she took me to a place deep in the wood and then left me,

running away, I couldn’t keep up with her! I wandered for days, eating this and

that, leaves, a little grass, whatever I could find. I was not long weaned when she left me, I

suppose I should be glad I got to that stage before she left me.” “What does

your mother look like?” Tilly asked. The colt turned an ear in her direction,

but didn’t look at her, she thought this strange. “I’ve never seen her,” he

said. With a lack of caution that she regretted later, Tilly lost her temper

with the colt. Her distress at his state got to her finally and she thought he

was now being silly. “What do you mean you’ve never seen her!” She squealed.

“Just that,” the colt said calmly, “I’ve never seen her,” “How can you be born

but never see your own mother!” Tilly yelled. The colt turned towards Whitehoof

and said: “I can’t see you, but I think there is another horse here, a stallion

or gelding, if you are here, please could you tell her, if you know, why I’ve

never seen my mother?” Whitehoof went up close to the colt and rubbed noses with

him. “I’m Whitehoof, I’m herd leader,” he said. The colt returned his gesture,

rubbing Whitehoof’s muzzle with his. “What is your name?” Whitehoof asked.

“Sam,” the colt replied. “Who was that mare who keeps asking why I’ve never seen

my mother?” “That’s Tilly,” Whitehoof replied. Sam said: “It is said that I

cannot see anything, I have known nothing other than this. All I know is that

other horses hit me, and my mother left me, but I could not defend myself, or

catch her up. I also know that I fall over roots and down holes. I’ve taken this

to be a fact of life. I know my coat is filthy because I can feel it, and as for

my hooves and mane. They feel terrible! I don’t care now though, I’ve been like

this for so long, I’ll never get the dirt out. Worse still, I think I have a

stone in my right forefoot, and I need help, warmth, a place to sleep, then I’ll

be going again I suppose. If you are herd leader, could you please tell me where

I can sleep?” Whitehoof looked Sam over. His fur was caked in mud, his mane

matted, and hooves filthy. “There is a large bush, if you can get under it,”

Whitehoof replied. With that he led Sam, the colt listening to his footfalls,

over to the large bush in which he’d hidden from Sandy. Sam crawled beneath the

bush. As he disappeared, Whitehoof thought he recognised the little chap’s

breed. It was his hoof that had given it away, how small it was, not like a

foal’s hoof at all, like his own in fact. “What breed are you?” he asked.

“Falabella horse,” Sam replied. Whitehoof said: “Before you get some sleep, I’ll

take that stone out for you,” Whitehoof found the stone, it was wedged in Sam’s

right forefoot. Using a stick held in his mouth, Whitehoof managed to work the

stone free. “Thanks,” Sam said. “That’s Okay,” whitehoof replied, “I would have

got Foxy on this job, but it’s too late, and too dark now. She’ll be hunting for

her dinner.” Sam knew what kind of animal Foxy was, he was quick witted, he’d

had to be, having been alone for near on two years now. As Whitehoof was about

to leave, Sam begged him to stay. “Would you stay with me Whitehoof?” the colt

asked. “Why?” Whitehoof enquired. “I’m in a new place, and I don’t know who’s

round here, I’m frightened, and I can’t cope any more!” Sam whinnied. Sam buried

his face in Whitehoof’s mane. “Hey Sam, shh,” Whitehoof whispered, “I’ll stay,

but my mate will be looking for me. I must go and find her.” “No need,” Pip

said. She’d been walking down the track looking for Whitehoof and heard him and

Sam talking. She pushed through the undergrowth to shelter under the bush. “Who

have you found?” Pip asked. “I’ll let him answer for himself I think,” Whitehoof

replied. “My name is Sam,” the colt said. “I’m Pip,” the Falabella mare replied.

“You look in a terrible state, what happened?” She asked. “Pip darling, if it’s

okay, maybe it would be better to leave those questions till Sam’s’ had some

rest.” Whitehoof said gently. Pip saw how tired Sam was. Sam finally drifted off

with Whitehoof and Pip watching over him.

 

Sam slept soundly. Pip and Whitehoof’s body heat  keeping him

warm. He felt much better the following day, he woke late, Whitehoof had gone

off to do his duties as herd leader but Pip stayed with him. “Did you sleep ok,

Sam?” Pip asked gently. “Yes, I feel much better, will feel even better once

I’ve got all this muck cleaned off my fur, you know Pip, my mum’s name is Cleo!”

“Cleo?” Pip asked “I’m sure I know that name from somewhere!” she thought to

herself.

 

“Let’s first get you cleaned up,” Pip suggested. With that they found a

stream and Pip helped Sam into it. “Lie down in the water,” Pip said. Clenching

his teeth, Sam lowered himself into the water. “It’s freezing!” he whinnied

shrilly. Pip made him stay beneath the water till he was thoroughly soaked, then

she helped the shivering colt out of the water. “Are you trying to kill me!” Sam

protested. “Sorry,” Pip said, “but I couldn’t groom you with all that mud and

filth caked on your coat, now stand still while I get all this muck off your

fur.” With that she began grooming him. Working methodically, Pip groomed from

Sam’s nose to his tail, missing nothing. She even managed to pick out his

hooves. After an hour of this attention, which Sam thoroughly enjoyed, Pip said:

“Right, now you are clean! Hey Sam, you are a handsome horse!” She saw a

chestnut colt with a black mane and tail and black hooves. Pip had also remembered where she’d heard the

name Cleo. It was in her old home, her mother used to talk to a mare by that

name. Then she remembered something else. She remembered Cleo talking of her

foal, she said something was wrong with him, but then he had no name. Pip

remembered Cleo saying that she would leave her foal at the first opportunity

she got, because he was a misfit. Pip also remembered playing briefly with the

foal before she was carted off to her new life. She remembered she’d had to be

careful because the foal would keep tripping over things, and she couldn’t work

out why that was. Sam meanwhile, had been thinking hard. He’d caught Pip’s cent

and remembered it from somewhere, way back, so far back in his life. Suddenly he

remembered when he was very young, tripping over a root, and this tiny filly

helping him to his feet. Hadn’t she been his foalhood sweetheart? “I think I

remember you Pip,” he said. “I have a feeling I remember you Sam,” she replied.

Whitehoof appeared then. “Hi you two!” He whinnied. Sam and Pip said in unison:

“We both think we know each other!” Then fell about laughing at the situation.

Whitehoof smiled at the two horses, who were rolling on the track waving their

hooves in the air. “Calm down and tell me what you mean,” he said. Pip and Sam

regained their feet and told him what they remembered. “I see what you mean,”

Whitehoof said. Sam then said: “I remember something else too! One day, the

owners of the horses came and took me to a vet to do something to me. From that

day I was no longer a horse, I was a gelding. My mother said it was a good

thing, but she never said why she thought it was a good thing.” Whitehoof

touched Sam’s right forefoot with his. “You can stay here if you like,” he said.

Sam was overjoyed. “Can I?” He asked, “Oh thank you Whitehoof! Thank you!” He

whinnied. Pip wondered if she’d ever see Cleo again. She was sure Cleo meant Sam

to die when she left him. He hadn’t died, he was very alive, and Pip was

determined to make sure he stayed that way. She hated Cleo so very much!

 

 

Tilly found it difficult to accept Sam into the herd. She couldn’t explain

why she didn’t understand that he was different. She wasn’t jealous of him, in

fact, she felt the opposite she really did want to help him but just didn’t know

how. Ben and Jess accepted him without any difficulty, they played with him and

made sure he did not come into contact with any danger. Even Brock accepted him

in his down to earth way. It was strange how the younger members of the herd and

the simpler creatures of the forest just treated Sam the same as the rest of the

animals. Foxy was always there if he had a stone stuck in his hoof.

 

Tilly met Sam on the track one day. The colt was picking his way slowly

along the track. She noticed how carefully he placed each foot down. Tilly

thought it must be terrible for him. “Are you all right?” She asked. Sam leapt

into the air, squealing with surprise! “Oh, hi Tilly! You scared the fur off me!

I’m fine, I’m just looking for Jess or Ben,” Sam replied. Tilly thought his

reaction very extreme. “Why did you leap into the air?” She asked crossly,

“that’s overdoing it a bit isn’t it?” “You were standing still, and you were

quiet,” Sam replied, “when you spoke was the first I knew of you there, and I

was concentrating so hard on not getting myself into danger that you frightened

me Tilly.” Tilly still couldn’t understand what the colt was on about. Jess

cantered into view then. Seeing Sam, she ran to him. “Hey Sam!” She whooped. The

colt moved towards her, and she hugged him. “How are you?” She asked. “Okay

thanks,” Sam replied, “your mum just scared the fur off me though. It wasn’t

very apparent she was there till she spoke, and I wasn’t expecting that. Jess

turned to her mother and said: “Mum, please, remember that Sam can’t see you! If

you see him coming towards you, go up to him, make a noise, drag your foot

through a pile of leaves, anything so he knows you are there! If you don’t do

that, when you speak to him, he’ll jump a mile.” Tilly looked at her adopted

foal. “You youngsters are so accepting of Sam. You play together like foals have

always done. I’ve even noticed Ben being slightly rough with him, isn’t that

dangerous?” “I gave as good as I got in that rough and tumble game,” Sam

replied. “Mum, what is it you have against Sam?” Jess asked. Sam knew, so did

Jess, but they wanted Tilly to express herself. Whitehoof appeared, and hid

under a bush to listen. He’d noticed Tilly’s fear of Sam and wanted to see how

this situation would develop. Jess noticed him, but Tilly didn’t. “If things

were correct,” Tilly said, “With the problems you have, you would have been dead

by now Sam.” “Are you saying things aren’t correct?” Jess asked. She looked at

Sam. He knew what Tilly meant, and her attitude saddened but didn’t surprise

him. “How can he defend himself? How did he live alone for two years and not be

killed by another horse?” “Ask him mum, go on! Ask Sam a question for once!”

jess squealed. Whitehoof listened carefully, remembering everything, noting

expressions, words, actions, fixing the scene in his mind in case it would need

to be resurrected later. Tilly turned to Sam and asked: “How did you manage to

live on your own? When you came to us you were in a terrible state. Did you

attempt to wash that mud and filth off your coat and hooves? Or do you like

looking a mess!” Jess was appalled. Sam replied: “Tilly, listen to me. I was

left by my mother at the first opportunity she had. I wandered alone, slowly,

but I did so. I hurt myself on several occasions when I fell down holes and tripped over roots, but

I kept going. The urge to find a herd, a place to call home kept me going. I

walked when I felt like it, I slept when I was tired, and ate when I was hungry.

When you are as desperate as I was, you don’t think of your appearance. And when

you are alone, you can’t clean the mud off your fur. Tilly, answer me this, have

you ever groomed yourself?” “No,” she answered quickly, “No horse can.”

“Exactly!” Sam shrieked, “and neither can I! The grooming Pip gave me was the

first I’d had in ages you stupid mare!” Tilly was shocked and angry! “You don’t

ever call me that! I’m second in command here!” She squealed. “I don’t care

Tilly, I don’t give two sugar lumps for your authority!” Sam screamed. Tilly was

so angry she lashed out at Sam! Jess stepped into the line of fire and her

mother’s hoof smashed into her shoulder! In a lot of pain though she was, Jess

turned to her mother and yelled at her! “Sam can’t move out of the way like most

horses can! You would have killed him!” “That was my intention!” Tilly squealed

shrilly. Whitehoof couldn’t believe what was happening. He didn’t want to

believe his second in command had tried to kill another member of the herd.

Attacking Sam was the biggest mistake of Tilly’s life, and she knew it as soon

as her anger subsided. Whitehoof emerged from the bush, and when Tilly saw him

she began to sweat and shake with fear. Jess turned, and taking gentle hold of a

chunk of Sam’s long mane in her teeth, she led him away to a quiet place. Her

shoulder hurt like hell, but this didn’t bother her. Jess’s main concern was

Sam, and would remain so. They left Tilly and Whitehoof together, not wanting to

be present when the explosion happened.

 

Whitehoof looked severely at Tilly. “What on earth did you think

you were playing at!” He demanded. Tilly replied crossly: “Sam’s no use to us

Whitehoof!” “No use?” Whitehoof enquired. “No!” The mare screamed, “He’s a

misfit, like his mother said he was!” Whitehoof, who’d spoken to Sam at length,

and thought the colt to be very good natured, said: “I disagree Tilly. I also

know why you tried to kill him earlier!. Whitehoof strode up to his second in

command and looked deep into her eyes. Tilly felt uncomfortable, Whitehoof meant

her to. “Tilly,” Whitehoof said, “I believe you would have killed Sam if you had

the chance.” It was plain to him what Tilly believed. The only problem for her

was the whole herd liked Sam, in fact Whitehoof thought Jess felt something more

than just a liking for him. Whitehoof knew that whether Sam stayed or left was

the herd’s decision, or his, not Tilly’s, and she knew it. “Attempting to kill

another horse with intent to do so is a crime Tilly, you know that,” Whitehoof

said. Tilly looked down at her hooves, unable to meet the gelding’s eye. “What

is my punishment?” She asked.

 

Jess led Sam quietly away, he was shaking. "Its ok, Sam!” Jess soothed ,

"I'll look after you!” "Oh Jess," he cried, "I'm no good to you, I cant give you

any foals, Jess, you need someone, someone who can look after you properly, what

good am I?” "and you can stop talking like that right now!” Jess scolded. "But

its true Jess!” Jess stopped, they heard another horse approach, a small horse.

 

 

Whitehoof told Tilly that he would let her know very soon about her

punishment. She went deep into the wood to be alone, she didn't want to see any

of the horses. Pip watched over the little ones, "Where is Tilly?” Pip asked

Whitehoof when he returned to the herd. Whitehoof told Pip what had happened.

"Oh dear!” she said, "what is going to happen now and who will take her place as

second in command if you choose to dismiss her from this position?" "I don't

know Pip darling!” was all Whitehoof said. "Oh Whitehoof!” Pip nuzzled up to

him, "What is becoming of the herd, and look, there seem to be more of us

falabella horses now!” Whitehoof turned round to see Snowdrop coming towards

them with Sam and Jess. "And who is this?” Whitehoof asked looking at a rather

bedraggled-looking mare, Pip couldn’t believe wo she saw, it was Cleo!

 

Cleo remembered Pip. “What are you doing here!” Pip demanded. Cleo looked

away. “I was thrown out of my herd,” she whinnied. “So you should have been!”

Pip yelled. “Hang on Pip, who is she?” Whitehoof asked. “This, Whitehoof, is

Sam’s mother!” Pip replied crossly. “Well Cleo,” she continued, “what do you

have to say for yourself!” Whitehoof watched this situation unfolding, his mind

working furiously. “I couldn’t believe it when I saw Sam alive and well,” Cleo

said. “He is, no thanks to you,” Pip spat. Sam cuddled up to Jess, and she

stroked his ear with her muzzle. “So Cleo, what do you want?” Whitehoof asked.

“I would like a home, a place to stay,” she replied. Pip spat on the floor at

Cleo’s feet. “Whitehoof,” she said, “I’m leaving if you give that mare a home

here!” Whitehoof looked at Cleo. “What you did was horrible,” he said, “I cannot

excuse that! It was Sam’s determination and will to live that kept him alive!

When he found us, he was in a terrible state!” Pip chipped in: “I had to amerce

him in a stream to make the mud soft enough to remove. I can’t believe you left

him to die Cleo!” By this time, Sam was crying into Jess’s mane. “I’ll look

after you Sam,” she said, “I promise I’ll look after you.” She embraced him

tightly. Cleo looked at her foal, looked at Whitehoof, then at Pip. “I cannot

stay where I am not wanted,” she said. With that she walked away. Snowdrop spoke

up: “I saw Tilly walking through the forest, she looked awful!” “She tried to

kill Sam,” Jess said. Snowdrop was disbelieving. “No, she wouldn’t, would she?”

Whitehoof raised his white foot, only slightly, but Snowdrop saw it, and knew

then that her foal had seen Tilly’s transgression. No other horse saw

Whitehoof’s cryptic signal to his mother. “I’ll have to look to finding a new

second in command,” he said, “but who would be suitable?” “What qualities would

a horse need to be second in command?” Snowdrop asked. “I need a brave horse,

one that has come through adversity preferably. So they know what it is to fight

for the freedom to live their life. I also would need a horse who was young

enough to appeal to the foals, but old enough to give authority. I have a horse

in mind mum, and he’s not a million miles from me now,” Whitehoof replied.

 

 

"What do you mean, do you really mean it!” Jess piped up. "Why not, just

because he is blind doesn’t mean that he's stupid as well,” went on Whitehoof.

"Sam, what do you say?” asked Snowdrop, "We'll all be with you and help you as

best we can. "What about Tilly, surely you will have to remove the mark from her

foot and mark Sam's foot instead,” chimed in Pip. "yes, let's go and find her

now and sort this thing out while the iron's hot!” said Whitehoof seriously.

 

 

Whitehoof, Snowdrop, Jess and Sam wandered through the forest looking for

Tilly. They found her grazing peacefully. “I’ve decided on your punishment

Tilly,” Whitehoof said. “What will that be?” The mare asked. Whitehoof thought

she was taking it very calmly. In fact Tilly had regretted what she’d done from

the outset, and had told Whitehoof as much. “You are to be stripped of the

deputy leadership,” Whitehoof said, “and Sam is to take your place.” Tilly

asked: “How can a blind horse lead a herd?” “I’m sure he will do fine,”

Whitehoof said, “anyway, you have two foals to look after Tilly. Leave the

deputy leadership to Sam.” Tilly raised her left forefoot, and Whitehoof removed

the mark. Going up to Sam Whitehoof said: “In this herd, the second in command

bears a mark on the sole of his or her right forefoot, but for continuity, (I will place the mark on your left forefoot to denote that you are

second in command. You don’t have hang ups about having your hooves touched do

you?” “No,” Sam replied, “I’m fine with that. I have to touch other horses

because I cannot see them, so they can touch me. As you’ve seen, I like being

nuzzled and stroked by other horses.” He lifted his left forefoot. “Go on, mark

my hoof,” Sam invited. Whitehoof touched the sole of Sam’s foot with his white

hoof. The mark of his hoof remained on the sole of the Falabella colt’s tiny

forefoot. Tilly watched this, and when Sam was marked, she turned and walked

away. First Jess, then Snowdrop hugged Sam, who clearly enjoyed every second.

Whitehoof realised Sam loved physical contact with other horses. He remembered

how Sam had instantly responded to his friendly nuzzle when they’d first met on

the track. Whitehoof rubbed Sam’s shoulder with his muzzle. “Come on Sam, time

to introduce you to the rest of the herd as my second in command,” He said. With

that they all returned to the herd, Sam shoulder to shoulder with Whitehoof.

 

 

Darkness fell. Whitehoof looked up at the moon and it hit him afresh what

Sam missed in the world. They arrived back at the herd’s resting place. Yawning

expansively, Whitehoof said: “I don’t know about you Sam, but I think I’m gonna

go to bed.” Sam was tired, but too excited to sleep. He didn’t mention this to

his leader however, and settled down under the bush where he’d sheltered with

Whitehoof and Pip when they’d met on that night which seemed to be so long ago.

Sam must have slept, for the next thing he knew Brock was yelling at him! “What

be this!” “Ay? What?” Sam asked sleepily. “What this be?” Brock asked, pointing

to the mark on the sole of Sam’s left forefoot. “What this be!” Brock screamed.

“With all due respect Brock,” Sam said, “I can’t see you, nor if you are

pointing with your paw, what you are pointing at. Please enlighten me.” Brock

snorted: “Me sorry Sam. Me forget you no see Brock. My paw pointing at white

mark on sole of hoof! What that mark be then? Me thinks it mean second in

command, but Tilly be second in command so Brock think. Brock up on what horses

do, so nothing slip past Brock, usually.” Sam smiled at the badger. “You know

Tilly attacked me,” he said. “Yes, Brock know about what Tilly do to Sam. Me

plenty annoyed about that!” “Well,” Sam continued, “Tilly was stripped of the

second in command’s job and it was given to me, and now I have the mark.” “Me

very happy for Sam,” Brock said warmly, “me think Sam be good deputy leader.

Tell me, you have hatred of having hooves touched like Sheissain have?” Sam knew

of Sheissain’s hatred of hoof care, and of Jess’s attempts to help him overcome

it. “No,” He replied, “I don’t mind horses, or any other forest creature

touching my hooves.” He extended his forefoot towards Brock. “Here, touch my

hoof,” he invited. Brock reached out a paw and touched Sam’s left forefoot. Then

he touched all four of the Falabella colt’s hooves, while Sam lay there, totally

unconcerned. Sam even rubbed Brock’s paw with a hind hoof. “See?” he said, “I

don’t mind it, actually I quite like it. I like physical contact, as I can’t

have contact any other way. Most animals express themselves through gestures and

visual expressions, but I can’t see those. So a friendly nuzzle, a hug or a paw

or muzzle stroking me is wonderful!” Brock closed his eyes, and tried running

his paws all over Sam’s body, feeling the colt rather than seeing him. This was

a weird experience for the badger. “When me no see you Sam, you seem larger when

felt by paws,” he said. Sam then took the opportunity to explore the badger with

his muzzle. Brock withstood the colt’s gentle exploration of his head, body and

legs, but when Sam gently brushed a forepaw with his muzzle, Brock recoiled

suddenly. “What’s the matter!” Sam asked anxiously. “it be no problem,” Brock

replied, “me have ticklish paws!” he whooped. “Oh, sorry,” Sam said contritely.

“No trouble,” the badger grunted. He went up close to Sam and took the colt’s

right forefoot in his paw. “I likes Sam,” he said, “Brock protect Sam and wish

him all best for future as second leader of herd.” Gently removing his hoof from the

badger’s paw, Sam replied: “Thank you Brock.” “Now me go,” Brock said, “Brock

sorry for disturbing sleep.” Sam settled back under the bush and drifted off

into slumber land.

 

"Sam, are you awake?" Pip asked gently. "Ah, er, not really." Sam mumbled

sleepily. "Well, the sun is up and we still have horses to introduce you to."

Pip said with a smile in her voice.

 

Sam crawled out from beneath the bush he’d been sleeping under, got to his

feet, stretched and shook himself. “Okay, let’s go,” he yawned. The whole herd

were gathered beside a great oak tree, Whitehoof prominent among them. When Sam

arrived, Whitehoof went across and rubbed noses with him. “Hi Sam,” Whitehoof

said, “it’s your big day today.” Sam smiled at Whitehoof who playfully nipped

his ear. “Hey!” Sam whinnied. Sam retaliated by playfully kicking Whitehoof on

the fetlock. “Okay boys,” Pip laughed, “You have work to do!” Whitehoof took a

chunk of Sam’s mane in his teeth and led the colt to the centre of the action.

When the other horses saw Sam, they fell silent. “As you know,” Whitehoof began,

“there have been some changes around here.” Pip looked at Tilly, who, when she

realised the Falabella mare’s eyes were on her, lowered her eyes. “You know what

happened a few days ago,” Whitehoof said, “I put the record straight today. So,

now we have a new second in command, and I hope you will agree that the horse I

have chosen for the post is well qualified. His name is Sam, and some of you

already know him I think. I know you younger horses know him, as I’ve seen him

regularly playing with you.” “he’s a nice guy,” Ben said. His comment was only

meant for Tilly and Snowdrop to hear, but Whitehoof caught it, and so did Sam,

who felt like dying of embarrassment. Sam really didn’t like these public

ceremonies. Whitehoof noticed his discomfort, and nuzzled his ear. “It’s okay,”

he whispered. Jess then broke protocols by going up to her second in command and

giving him a hug. Sam, relieved that she’d seen him, returned her embrace.

“Ain’t that sweet,” Snowdrop remarked. Whitehoof realised the proceedings were

getting less formal by the second. “Do I take it,” he whinnied, “that by the

lack of descent, you all accept Sam as second in command?” There was absolute

silence. “I’ll take that as assent then,” Whitehoof said, “meeting closed!”

“Thank Eohippus for that!” Sam said into Jess’s mane. Jess laughed merrily. “I

love you Sam,” she said. Sam had been a little hesitant of telling her of his

feelings towards her, but now he forgot that and said: “I love you too Jess

dear,” Whitehoof watched them both. “She’s a lovely filly Sam,” he said. Jess

disengaged herself from Sam’s embrace, and, taking a chunk of his mane in her

teeth, she led him away from the great oak tree. Whitehoof and Pip looked at

each other. “I think you made a good choice there Whitehoof dear,” Pip said.

“Thanks,” he replied. Whitehoof and Pip hugged each other. “now that Sam’s

second in command,” Ben said, “does that mean I won’t be able to play with him

any more?” Whitehoof and Pip laughed and Pip replied: “No! Sam is still free to

play with whom ever he likes. Just remember Ben, that he is second in command,

and might not be available for fun and games all the time.” Ben was happy with

that. “Sam is a very good and kind horse,” he said. Tilly asked: “Ben dear, how

can you play rough and tumble with a horse who can’t see you?” Ben looked at his

mother and replied: “I don’t run away from him, or him from me. We have contact

at all times so he knows where I am. I have even tried playing with my eyes

closed, but that’s scary! So I don’t do it often. But mum, Sam’s not a fighter.

He’s so gentle!” Tilly wasn’t convinced of Sam’s ability to do anything. All she

could see was the fact that Sam was blind. She couldn’t see beyond that to the

horse beneath. Ben, Jess and all the other horses were frustrated and saddened

that Tilly couldn’t see the Sam they knew,, the kind, gentle, helpful colt who

loved a hug.

 

Jess loved Sam so much but she desperately wanted a foal of her own and

she knew that this was not possible. She also knew Pip was unable to have any

foals with Whitehoof and that Pip had accepted this fact because of her love for

him, but Jess could not quite come to terms with her natural feelings. She went to

find pip, “I need to talk to you, Pip, I am so very unhappy!” “Oh,” pip replied

in a surprised tone. “Want to talk about it?” “Pip, I love Sam so much but I

desperately want foals of my own, I know you are happy to help look after the

little ones but I, I,” she broke down and cried hysterically, “How am I going to

tell Sam about my feelings!”

 

Before the two mares could start talking, a yell was heard from some

where. "What now!" Jess asked nervously. For an answer Sam's voice could be heard.

"Sandy, listen good, I'm blind but I'm smart and fast." "You knew where to

strike." Sandy stated, "How?" "My secret." Sam said. "I'm out of here!" Sandy

whinnied. "Glad to hear that." Sam said. "Um Sam, this is Tilly as you might know,

how did you know she was coming?" "Tilly, when you are relaxed and not tense at

all, it is easier to sense your surroundings, and if you are not tense when you

are fighting, it is easier and faster to strike." Sam stated.

 

"Pip, may we get back to the foal business?" Jess asked. "Sure jess." Pip

said.

 

“The question you need to ask yourself Jess,” Pip said, “is could you live

with yourself if the foal you had was not Sam’s? There are horses who will sire

foals, and then leave the mares, so you could have a foal. I could have done

that, but the thought of having a foal that wasn’t Whitehoof’s sickens me.” Jess

thought about this. She could see Sam lying under a bush trying not to overhear,

but failing miserably. Jess looked at Pip. “How do you overcome the longing for

a foal?” She asked. “First, I answer the question I’ve posed to you. Could you

have another horse’s foal jess?” Pip replied. Jess thought for a long time. “I

don’t think I could,” she said finally. In my mind I don’t want foals, I’m only

young, and having foals isn’t what I’d like to do yet. My body though, that says

have a foal! And do it now! I can’t win!” Jess Whinnied. “I amerce myself in

helping the younger foals. There are plenty of mares foaling all the time in

this herd,” Pip replied, “If you like, I need a helping hoof, want to join me

Jess?” Jess looked at Pip with renewed hope. “Okay,” she said. Sam left the

cover of the bush and approached Jess. “How on earth,” Pip asked, “did you

manage to beat Sandy off!” “I know more about fighting my own corner than I

could put into words,” Sam replied, “I had to fight for my life on several

occasions, and I learned the hard way.” Jess went to her mate and hugged him

tightly. “I’ve decided to do what Pip does, and satisfy my longing for foals

that way,” she said. “As long as you are happy,” Sam replied, “that’s my only

concern.” “I wouldn’t be happy if the foal wasn’t yours Sam,” Jess said. Sam

nuzzled her ear. “I love that,” she whispered. Sam nuzzled her ear some more,

and Jess cuddled up closer. They returned to the bush and lay down together. Sam

kept stroking, stroking stroking Jess’s ear with his muzzle, Jess relaxing with

every gentle massage of her ear. Sam then touched her muzzle with his, then

moving to her neck, he nuzzled her once again. Jess was now totally comatose

with pleasure. Sam lay down beside her and rested his head on her shoulder. “You

certainly know how to relax a mare,” Jess yawned.

 

They slept for a long time, waking in the early hours of the morning.

Leaving their bush, the two horses wandered through the forest. Jess watched Sam

as, ears twitching, he listened constantly to his surroundings. Jess stopped and

closed her eyes, listening. “Hear that?” Sam asked. “What?” Jess enquired. “A

nightingale,” Sam replied. “Wait,” he said, “I’ll call to it, then it will sing

for us.” “What?” Jess whinnied, staring at her mate in astonishment, “you can,,.

“Imitate a nightingale, yes,” Sam replied. With that he whistled like the bird

he wanted to attract, and the nightingale whistled back to him. “Is there any

end to your talents,” Jess said. “See,” Sam said,” if you can call the animals

in their own tongue, then they trust you. The forest creatures understand the

horses, and we them, but there are the dogs, cats and other animals who don’t

understand us.” Sam then imitated the call of an owl, and sure enough, a tawny

owl came swooping down from a tree on silent wings, landing on Sam’s back. “”Ah

there you are Tawny,” Sam said. The owl flapped down to the forest floor and

stood by Sam’s right forefoot. Sam reached down and stroked the owl’s back

feathers with his muzzle. “You two are friends then?” Jess asked. Jess, not

being up on owlspeak, Sam translated what Tawny said: “he said, “yes, Sam and I

have been friends for years, ever since he was a foal.”” Tawny then flew away.

Jess hugged Sam tightly. After a long time of standing embracing each other,

they returned to the herd’s encampment. Walking along the track, they were

disturbed by a scream, then a colt leaping out of the bushes almost knocking Sam

down! Sam recovered his poise and asked: “What on earth were you playing

at!” “Bet you can’t hit me!” the colt teased. Sam soundly walloped the colt.

“Does that answer you?” Sam snapped. “Leave me alone!” the colt wailed, walking

dejectedly into the night. “He tried to attack you!” Jess whinnied shrilly.

“yep, and look how far that got him,” Sam replied. “I wouldn’t like to be on the

business end of a kick from your hind feet,” Jess remarked. Jess couldn’t

believe a horse could have such tiny hooves as Sam had. The two horses crawled

back under their bush and fell asleep.

 

Sam and Jess found Whitehoof standing under a tree. "I need to talk to you

Whitehoof." Sam said. "Okay, Sam, go right ahead." Whitehoof sighed. "This colt

tried to attack me, I threw him off, but he is a danger to the herd." Sam

replied. "Well, hmm, let me see, I can't ask you what colour he was, I'll look

out for a colt anyhow."  Whitehoof responded. An hour later, a colt came up to

Whitehoof. "I need to talk to you about something." The colt said nervously. "Go

right ahead, what is your name first of all?" Whitehoof asked. "Er, I think it

is Goldenberg." The colt answered. "What is it that you want to talk to me

about?" Whitehoof asked calmly.

 

“Well,” the colt said, “I was attacked by a horse in the dead of night!”

“Oh,” Whitehoof said. “Yes,” Goldenberg continued: “He beat me up!” “This colt,

what did he look like,” Whitehoof asked neutrally. “Brown fur, black hooves,”

Goldenberg replied quickly. “Goldenberg,” Whitehoof said, “did the colt strike

first? When I say this, I mean did the colt start the fight?” “Well, I

challenged him to hit me, and he did! Sam hit me! He used his hind feet to smash

me up!” “What do you expect Goldenberg!” Whitehoof yelled, “You probably scared

the fur off him and he reacted, defending himself!” “He’s tiny!” Goldenberg

squealed, “but his hooves are hard and sharp! He is also strong and knows where

to hit a horse to disable them, without actually damaging them permanently. I

barely came out of that alive!” “Barely came out with your pride intact you

mean,” Whitehoof said coldly. “Goldenberg, tell me this, do you enjoy picking on

other horses? What thrill does it give you to pick on a horse, who was enjoying

time with his mate? Also, remember this. Sam has lived on his own for the last

two years, defending himself against attack. So why did you even bother

challenging him!” “I wanted to see what a blind horse with such tiny hooves

could do!” Goldenberg squealed. “And you found out didn’t you,” Sam said. He’d

come along the track and overheard Whitehoof talking sternly to Goldenberg.

“This was the horse who attacked me Whitehoof,” Sam said. Goldenberg foolishly

tried to attack Sam again, right in front of the herd leader. Sam knocked the

colt to the floor, then trampled him. “Get off me!” Goldenberg wailed. “You are a

horrid colt!” Sam shrieked. When it was all over, Goldenberg was bruised and

battered, but he knew a lot more about what a tiny horse with a lot of knowledge

could do with his tiny hooves.

 

Goldenberg limped away. he knew he had been beaten. “What’s the matter

with you golden burg?” asked Maynand. “That scrap of a horse beat me up.” “Who

beat you up?” Maynand continued questioningly. “Sam!” “Well, I did warn you that

those little horses have a lot of power behind them.” Maynand went on, “And I

said if you dare to hurt pip!” “I didn’t even see pip!” whined Golden burg,

“She’s another one who thinks she can boss everyone about even though she hasn’t

got any control. “Hey, stop that, Pip does a good job helping Tilly look after

the little ones and you know that I won’t have anything bad said about her!” Maynand yelled.  “I

suppose what I did will be round the herd like wildfire now!” Whinged on

Golden burg. “Well, what do you expect, bashing the living daylights out of the

second in command isn’t exactly a good thing to do!” Went on Maynand. “Ok, is

that the end of the lecture now?” sneered Golden burg “Because if it is I’m off

for some peace and quiet!” Golden burg slunk away into the forest.

 

The other herd members soon heard of Goldenberg’s attack on Sam. It was

noted by Whitehoof that horses took every opportunity to kick golden burg on the

fetlocks whenever they passed him. Whitehoof ignored this though, for he felt

that this was small punishment for trying to smash Sam up. One day Golden burg

picked on Snowdrop. “You look like someone’s painted you white!” the colt

whinnied. Snowdrop sighed heavily with exasperation: “No Golden burg, that’s my

fur’s natural colour.” “Or lack of it,” he scoffed. Snowdrop was getting very

tired of the colt’s taunts, so she lashed out at him. She made it look as if her

foot had slipped, so convincing was she that Golden burg didn’t see the danger

till it was too late. Snowdrop’s hard hind hoof crashed into his belly. With a

strangled squeal of surprise and pain Golden burg collapsed onto the floor!

“Sorry,” Snowdrop said unapologetically, “I’ll hit you harder next time!”

Golden burg lay gasping for air. “You could have killed me!” he squealed. “You

didn’t think of that when you attacked Sam did you,” she said coldly. Golden burg

struggled to his feet and walked slowly away. Snowdrop watched him go, hatred

for him growing in her. “He’s worse than Maynand ever was!” she thought.

Snowdrop met Sam on the track. Hearing her, he went to her and rubbed noses.

Feeling Snowdrop’s tension, he asked: “What’s happened?” “I, Sam, well,”

Snowdrop stammered. She knew she wasn’t above the law, and she could be punished

for clobbering Golden burg. “Well, Sam,” she said, trying to marshal her

thoughts, “I hit Golden burg, he started making horrid comments, so I hit him.”

Sam hugged her tightly. Snowdrop buried her face in his long mane and wept.

“Hey, it’s okay,” Sam said gently, “if he angers you and talking didn’t work,

and with Golden burg I know it seldom does. You’ve got to do something.” “I

know,” Snowdrop sobbed, “but that makes me as bad as him, and I’m not! I’m not a

bad mare Sam!” Sam could see Snowdrop was becoming hysterical. “Look,” Sam said,

“I’ll deal with this, and we’ll say no more about it. You hit him, so what! He

probably deserved it ten times over!” “But that’s not the point Sam,” Snowdrop

said. “yes it is,” Sam replied, “that disgusting colt needs to be taught a

lesson, and being hit by a mare, more than the pain of being hit would have

sobered him up no end. I say well done for teaching that reprobate a lesson! Now

let’s say no more about the subject. For we are only sensationalising his

despicable actions more by talking about them Snowdrop.” She hugged Sam Tightly.

“I’m sorry for what I did,” she said. “I’d take that apology back Snowdrop,” Sam

said, “Golden burg needed a thumping.” They returned to the herd together.

 

 

Golden burg retired into a quiet spot to think. He couldn’t believe that

the small white mare had hit him! Mare’s just didn’t do that! But she had, he

could feel the bruise starting, and could still feel the mare’s hoof on him,

even though the attack had been over an hour previously. Golden burg lay down on

the forest floor feeling dreadful. A few hours later, Whitehoof wandered past.

Seeing a horse lying abnormally still, he went up to it and took a look. He

found Golden burg, and he was dead. Whitehoof had heard of Snowdrop’s attack, but

couldn’t work out how a kick like that could have killed him. “Maybe she did

more damage than was first thought,” he mused. Whitehoof found Brock and told

him about it. “Ok, me bury bad colt,” the badger grunted. Whitehoof went back to

the herd to tell Snowdrop what had happened.

 

Snowdrop was horrified when she heard that Golden burg was dead. “But, I

didn’t hit him that hard!” she cried despairingly, “What will happen to me now?”

she wailed, “I’m gonna have to leave the herd, I might as well just run away and

find myself a new herd to attach myself to very far away from here, no one is

going to want a murderer living with them.

 

 Brock appeared then. “me have news for Whitehoof,” he grunted. “Yes

Brock,” Whitehoof said, “What is it?” “Me examine colt called Golden burg, Me

find no wrong with him! Me find bruise, but no other problems. Me no know why he

die, because there no problems at all! Brock very confused, and me no like

that!” Whitehoof looked at his mother. “maybe your kick wasn’t the cause of his

death,” he said. Snowdrop stared at her foal. He read her mind. Powerful

distress and a lot of uncertainty. “Mum,” Whitehoof said, “while you were

loading up to strike Golden burg, did you ever think about killing him?”

Snowdrop’s legs began to shake and she had to lie down. “I might have, but I

can’t remember,” she replied, “I hated him, that was certain.” Whitehoof lay

down beside his mother. “Mum, he said gently, “We Falabella horses are more

powerful than we think. Have you ever entertained the notion, crazy as it might

sound, that you might have killed Golden burg with the force of momentary

intention? It would only have to be brief, in the moment that your hoof struck

him, and you could have dismissed it afterwards, but the damage was done.”

Snowdrop stared into her foal’s eyes. “You’re saying that I could do damage just

by thinking hard enough about it?” “You might be able to do good things too,”

Whitehoof replied, “but that’s the only explanation I have for the cause of the

colt’s death.” Snowdrop looked at her hooves. “I don’t know how to deal with

this!” She squealed. Whitehoof hugged her. “Look mum, it was an accident. He

provoked you to lash out. I’m not taking any part of this anyway, it’s Sam’s

job, and if he says subject closed then it is.” “He did say he’d say no more

about it,” Snowdrop replied. “There you go,” Whitehoof said, “subject closed.”

 

 

The badgers buried Golden burg and the incident was soon forgotten. Time

passed and things seemed to move pretty smoothly for Whitehoof’s little herd.

Sam was doing a good job as second in command backed up by Jess who was almost

constantly by his side. Pip helped Tilly with her now growing family another

foal was expected by Tilly any day now and she was quite excited about it.

Would Poppy’s midwifery skills be needed this time?

 

Tilly foaled one dark and rainy night. Feeling the first foaling pains,

she retired to a quiet place. Tilly remembered what Poppy had said to her about

going with the flow, not fighting the foal, and doing what she felt like doing

in the latter stages of foaling, but she was still terrified. She was quite a

long way from the herd’s base, and she knew that she wouldn’t be able to walk

far, not with the foal so near it’s time. The pains worsening, Tilly lay down

under a bush to deliver her second foal. Tilly closed her eyes and bore down

against the foal, forcing it out into the world. She couldn’t remember such

pain, not the first time, but now, fear and terror made it worse! Squealing into

the darkness, she made another massive effort to have her foal. Tilly wished

another horse were here, Maynand even, any horse, she didn’t care! Coming down

from another horrendous effort, Tilly thought she heard a horse coming near.

“Somebody help me!” She Shrieked. Sam found Tilly, and didn’t need to ask what

was happening. “Sam, it’s you,” Tilly panted, another pain building in her.

“It’s okay,” Sam said, “just go with it.” Tilly, furious with him for being

male, and in horrendous pain, squealed: “That’s what I’m doing you stupid

horse!” Then, closing her eyes she bore down against her foal for the last time.

Tilly panted hard as she recovered, while Sam investigated the foal to see if it

was okay. The little wet furry bundle shifted as he gently nuzzled it. “What are

you doing!” the foal remonstrated. “I’m sorry,” Sam said, “but I can’t see you,

and your mum’s concerned about you, but unable to get up yet.” The foal seemed

satisfied with that. Tilly got up, and when she saw Sam she screamed at him!

“What are you doing!” “I was checking to see if your foal was all right, like

any other foaling attendant would,” Sam replied. “Don’t touch my foal!” Tilly

yelled. “How else am I meant to make sure it was okay?” He asked. “Use your

eyes!” She yelled back. Sam turned tail and walked away, no longer caring about

anything. He didn’t wish harm on the foal, for he knew it wasn’t the foal’s

fault it’s mother was like she was, but Tilly, oh, how he despised her!

 

Poppy had witnessed the scene from a distance. She could not understand

why Tilly had such a phobia about Sam. She approached Tilly who was now feeding

the tiny filly for the first time. “Tilly!” said Poppy kindly, “Why do you find

it so difficult accepting Sam for who he is and not for just the fact that he is

blind?” “I don’t know!” Tilly started to cry. “Its not something I have come

across before, I just cant see how he MANAGES without his sight.” “But Tilly!”

Poppy said quietly “He’s been with us a good while now, and you have seen HOW

WELL HE COPES with the herd and how he tries to do it independently without much

help from Jess.!” “yes!” the mare continued, nursing her foal, her tears

subsided. “I did once try to close my eyes and work out for myself what it would

be like for him!” Tilly confessed “it scared me to death, I can tell you!” she

smiled remembering how she had almost fallen over a tree stump whilst carrying

out this operation and hoping that no one would see her.

 

Meanwhile, Sam had found Jess and told her about Tilly foaling. “You saw,

I mean, heard it all?” Jess asked. “You could say I saw it, with my ears, and I

felt the foal with my muzzle,” Sam replied. He sighed heavily. “What’s the

matter?” Jess asked. “Well Jess darling,” Sam replied, “I came across Tilly

foaling, that was amazing! I couldn’t see it, but I wouldn’t have missed it for

the world! What a horrendous ride! Fear and joy in so quicker time! Well, once

Tilly had the foal, I checked it over as I know attendant mares do when the

foaling mare is still lying down. Tilly screamed at me to leave her foal alone

Jess! Even when I told her what I was doing!” “I know you were trying to help,”

Jess said, “and so, I’m sure, does Tilly now she’s calm. Foaling is horrendously

painful and stressful. She probably didn’t mean to squeal at you.” “Tilly hates

me Jess, and I know the reason why, and It’s horrible!” Sam sobbed. They were

disturbed by Tilly and Poppy. It was clear to Jess that Tilly had overheard Sam.

“Sam,” Tilly said, “I don’t hate you. It’s just that I don’t understand you.”

She dropped to her knees and stroked Sam’s ear with her muzzle. “I’m sorry for

squealing at you when you were checking my foal over. I foaled in the dark, I

was alone, in pain, and scared!” I’m so sorry!” She sobbed. Sam replied: “When I

told you what I was doing, you told me to use my eyes, but I can’t! You know

that! You seem to hold my blindness against me Tilly!” Tilly finally realised

how all this had affected Sam. She still couldn’t work out, despite her attempts

to recreate his world, what he faced every day of his life. Tilly’s filly foal

saw Sam and recognised him. She ran up to him and, pushing her mother out of the

way, hugged him tightly. “Hey! It’s Sam!” She whooped. Feeling her touch, Sam

returned the tiny filly’s embrace. “Hello littl’en,” he said, genuine pleasure

in his eyes. The filly said: “Whitehoof said you have to stroke new horses you

meet, so come on, stroke me! I like it!” So Sam did so, exploring the foal with

his muzzle, she even lifted a tiny hoof for him to feel. At the end of this, the

foal lay down beside her new found friend. Sam found himself hugging her to him,

crying into her soft mane. “Why are you crying,” she asked. Sam sniffed and

said: “I don’t know if I can explain it.” “Try,” the filly persisted. “I’m so

happy, happy that you, only a few hours old, are accepting me for who I am,

listening to me and those who know me, trying to understand something that

hopefully, you’ll never encounter, and best of all, seeing beyond my disability.

You, a tiny foal, have done and learned more in your few hours on this earth

than some horses do in several years.” The filly nuzzled Sam’s ear. Then she

closed her eyes, and explored Sam with her muzzle, as he had done to her. She

felt his ears, mane, body and legs, and finally she brushed one tiny hoof. “Your

hooves are almost as small as mine,” she said, “but my mum says you are fully

grown up, is that true?” “It is,” Sam replied. “Whitehoof is small like you, and

so’s Pip, and so’s Snowdrop. You are so nice though, I love you all!” Sam

swallowed hard, trying to restrain the tears that were threatening to overwhelm

him. He remembered every second of her birth, every second of Tilly’s pained

cries, and lastly, every second of the short time he’d spent checking this tiny

foal over after her birth. Sam didn’t know if Tilly thought the ordeal she’d

gone through was worth it, but Sam instantly fell in love with this tiny filly.

“I love you very much too,” he whispered. The filly gently wiped the tears away

from Sam’s eyes with her muzzle. “Don’t cry Sam,” she said gently.

 

Sam had persuaded Tilly to call her foal joy, as it had indeed been a joy

for Sam to witness the birth of this filly. Tilly softened slightly towards Sam,

trying her best to speak to him when he was around which seemed to be often as

he was either with Jess or Joy, there was a special bond between him and Joy and

Tilly was beginning to realise that Sam did have character and personality on

his side which made up for his lack of sight.

 

Joy Soon met Ben, who adopted her as he had Jess, and soon they were

playing up the older horses, getting under their hooves and plaguing any horse

who wouldn’t play with them, even the older horses weren’t spared their foalish

enthusiasm. One day they were playing on the outskirts of the wood when a

skewbald mare came up to them. Ben saw she only had one eye. He’d been warned

about a mare with one eye, but he couldn’t remember why he should keep away from

her. “What can I do for you?” He asked pleasantly. Sandy recognised him as one

of Tilly’s foals and, turning tail, lashed out at him! Joy saw the white mark on

the sole of the skewbald mare’s right hind foot as she lifted it to strike the

colt. Without thinking she threw herself at the mare! The force of her meeting

the hard hoof matched that of the hoof meeting her, so Joy wasn’t hurt, but

Sandy’s leg was painfully jarred. Squealing with rage Sandy ran away, furious

with the newborn filly! “Thanks Joy,” Ben said. “That’s why you should stay

clear of her,” Joy observed. “I didn’t seek her out!” Ben whinnied. “No,” Joy

replied, “but I’ll bet she’s hating me a good bit now.” “Why did you throw

yourself at her hind legs?” Ben asked, “that hoof smashed into you and you threw

yourself towards it!” “If I am travelling at one speed, and the hoof is

travelling at the Same speed in the opposite direction, when the hoof found me,

the impact would be lessened.” The filly replied. She flexed her right shoulder.

“A bit bruised,” she pronounced, “but I can live with that.” Snowdrop found the

two friends chatting. As soon as she saw the pure white mare, Joy gazed at

Snowdrop in wonder. Seeing the filly’s eyes were like saucers, Snowdrop said:

“Come on then, stroke me if you want to, I don’t mind. I’m as easy about being

stroked as Whitehoof or Sam are, I love it.” Joy went up to Snowdrop and rubbed

noses with her. “Whitehoof’s lovely isn’t he,” Joy said. Snowdrop smiled: “I

can’t comment, I’m his mum,” she replied. Joy took this strange mare in from

nose to tail, her eyes finally coming to rest on a set of tiny hooves, as small

as Sam’s they were, and all white! “Snowdrop,” Joy asked hesitantly, “would you

please lift up your left forefoot?” Snowdrop consented, and the filly looked

closely at her hoof. “Why the sudden interest in my hoof?” She asked. “It’s the

Same,” Joy replied, “you see Snowdrop,” She explained, “Ben and I saw a skewbald

mare. This mare was horrible! She tried to kick Ben, but I got in the way. On

the sole of her right hind hoof was a white mark, obviously made by a tiny hoof.

I’ve just found that hoof!” Snowdrop recounted how she’d given Sandy the mark,

telling Joy and Ben about the strange powers possessed by Whitehoof and herself.

She didn’t tell them of the strange goings on with Golden burg, for she couldn’t

bring herself to contemplate the fact she’d wished the colt dead. “That sounds

very interesting,” Ben said, “but how is it done?” “Noone knows,” Snowdrop

replied, “It’s a mystery. It just happens when it needs to. Whitehoof did try

branding Pip when he first used the power, but he couldn’t. The poor chap tried

so hard he slept for ages after. The power can only be used when it’s needed.”

“It was needed when you marked Sandy,” Joy said. “Yes it was,” Snowdrop replied.

Joy let her have her foot back. “How can horses get around on such tiny hooves?”

She asked. “We do,” Snowdrop replied, “Eohippus decreed that we are that way.”

Ben and Joy hugged “aunt Snowdrop,” as they called her. Their reference to her

as “aunt,” made Snowdrop smile with pleasure. They went back to the herd’s base.

Joy saw Sam and ran to him to tell him about their meetings with Sandy and

Snowdrop.

 

Sam had heard about the mare with one eye, he’d be interested in meeting

this horse after all, she was half blind and maybe they could compare notes!

 

 

Sam didn’t have to wait long to meet Sandy. He recognised her as soon as

her cent drifted to him on the wind. She was the mare who had attacked him a few

months back! She stared at him. “You are disgusting!” Sandy squealed. “Why?” Sam

asked. “Your fur is horrible! You’re unclean!” Sandy yelled. Sam had washed his

fur and hooves in the stream earlier that day, and knew he was clean. “I’m

clean, look at my fur, feel it, look at my hooves even,” he invited. Sandy

looked at his fur and hooves, and yes, he was clean. “I hear you went after Ben

earlier in the month,” Sam remarked. “He’s a horrid colt!” Sandy blustered.

“He’s a gentle fellow, and his two sisters Emily and Joy are lovely too,” Sam

countered. Sandy was angry and bitter about her expulsion from Whitehoof’s herd

and that of the white mare. She was a loaner now, and she hated it intensely.

“You also have a mark on your right hind foot I understand,” Sam said. Sandy

snapped: “Yes I do! If you want to feel the business end of a kick from it, I

can oblige!” Sam said gently: “Sandy, lie down, here,” he patted the ground with

a forefoot. Sandy, confused and upset, complied, wondering what he was about to

do to her. “What is troubling you?” He asked gently. Sandy stared at Sam. “I was

jealous of Pip for she had Whitehoof. It all stemmed from that,” she replied.

“Why do you hate Tilly’s foals?” Sam asked, “they’ve done nothing to harm you,

and you nearly killed Ben.” Sandy took Sam in, from nose to tail, his brown fur,

his black hooves, his kind eyes and non threatening manner. Tears overcoming

her, Sandy wept bitterly for what she’d lost. Sam nuzzled and fussed over her,

Managing to calm the mare down enough to get her to her feet and lead her back

to the herd to talk with Whitehoof. “If you are truly sorry for what You’ve

done, Whitehoof might be able to help you,” Sam said. Sandy followed Sam, her

feet hardly leaving the ground as she walked.

 

Whitehoof received Sandy coolly. “What can I do for you Sandy?” he asked.

“I, I” she blubbered “I was just wondering, please, please may I come back to

your herd, please may I have another chance, I’m so lonely by myself and, I

promise I will make my best effort to change my ways!”

 

Whitehoof looked at her standing there shivering and sobbing. “What you

did to my mum, to Pip, to Ben, to Joy and to Sam, can not be excused or

forgotten Sandy!” He whinnied. He walked round her, examining the mare from all

angles. He even got her to lift each hoof so he could examine each of them.

Sandy wondered what the gelding was up to, but this was only Whitehoof’s way of

passing time while he thought deeply. He called Snowdrop over, and she did the

Same as he had, examining Sandy’s coat and hooves. “What is all this about?”

Sandy asked. “I’m trying to come to a decision as to what to do with you,”

Whitehoof replied. “Why not put her on probation?” Snowdrop suggested. “Good

idea mum,” Whitehoof replied, “how about if I brand her shoulder while you

remove the mark from her right hind foot.” So Sandy lay down, and the necessary

branding and brand removal was completed. “I am watching you Sandy,” Someone

said. Turning her head, sandy saw Sam standing beside her. “How can you watch

me? You are a blind horse Sam!” Sam touched her nose with his tiny hoof. She

didn’t like that at all! “Okay! Okay!” Sandy screeched. Sam removed his hoof.

“You know what I can do then?” He asked. “leave me alone!” Sandy wailed. She got

up and bolted! When she’d gone, Whitehoof asked Sam what he’d done to make her

scream. “I placed my hoof on her muzzle,” Sam replied. “Okay,” Whitehoof

replied, “but how can that make her squeal like that? She was Terrified!” “The

only way I can explain is to show you,” Sam said, “you must promise me though

that you’ll do nothing to me once it’s over Whitehoof. You will not be

permanently damaged by what’s about to happen.” Whitehoof consented. “You’d

better lie down Whitehoof,” Sam said. He did so, and Sam placed his right

forefoot on the gelding’s muzzle. What Whitehoof experienced then shocked and

disorientated him. It was as if he was being spun round faster, and faster, and

faster! After a minute of this he didn’t know where his hooves were in relation

to his body, where his head was in relation to his tail, anything! Sam was

scrambling the directional parts of Whitehoof’s brain! “Sam, stop! Please stop!”

Whitehoof squealed. Sam took his hoof away. He listened to his leader panting

furiously as he came down from absolute disorientation. “Sam, what, what

happened!” He gasped. Snowdrop watched her foal’s reaction to Sam’s hoof on his

nose. She turned a worried expression on Sam and said: “Sam, what did you do to

him!” Sam replied: “I think it is done by electrical impulses. Every creature

has nerves, which work on electrical impulses. I can scramble those impulses, I

can do it however I like. With Sandy, and Whitehoof, I scrambled directional

parts of their brains. I could scramble sight, feeling, anything! I could make

it so they felt their hooves were burning or freezing. I could make them feel

hot or cold.” Whitehoof got to his feet and went across to Sam. “Promise me

Sam,” he said, “that you’ll never do that to me again!” Sam promised his leader

that he wouldn’t do it to him without his permission. “That was awful!”

Whitehoof said. “Any side affects will soon pass,” Sam reassured him. “I never

ever! Want to go through that again!” Whitehoof Whinnied. Snowdrop and Sam both

hugged him. “It’s all over now my little Whitehoof,” Snowdrop whispered.

Whitehoof began to relax.

 

Poppy and Tilly were lazing on the grass. “What is it about those little

horses?” Tilly asked “They seem to have some very strange gifts, I don’t even

know that that is the right word to use!” Poppy thought for a while. “I think

they have special power because they need them as a means of survival, just look

at how Sam managed for all that time by himself in the forest, he needed that

sense so that he could disorientate any animal that was out to harm him!” “Oh,

yeah, didn’t think of that,” Tilly replied. “I guess its all right for them to

have these powers,” continued Poppy, “Just as long as they are used correctly

otherwise I imagine they could be taken away from them.! At this point Pip

arrived surrounded by what looked like all the foals of the herd, “and that’s

Pip’s special power, the gift of play!” went on Poppy.

 

Pip saw Poppy and ran to her, all the foals following hot on her heels.

“Hi,” She whinnied. “Hi yourself,” Poppy replied, smiling at Pip and her

entourage. She had Ben, Joy and Emily following her. “You do a good job with

those,” Tilly remarked. Pip smiled at the group of foals. “They keep me out of

trouble,” she said. This made them laugh, it was meant to. Tilly brought up the

subject of Sam’s power. “I’ve heard of it from Whitehoof,” Pip replied, “he was

pretty shaken up about it.” Poppy said: “Yes Pip, Falabella horses have special

powers, some of which are not conventional.” Pip looked at the massive Suffolk

punch mare. “Poppy, do you think Sam will use his power to ill affect?” Poppy

shook her head. “No,” she replied firmly, “he’s had to have those powers to keep

him safe. He’s a small horse Pip, and he needs to put the frighteners on larger

animals who might harm him, that’s all this power does.” “Whitehoof said it

terrified him!” Pip squealed. “It might have done, but he’s none the worse for

it is he?” Poppy asked. “Well, no,” Pip admitted. Sam, Snowdrop and Whitehoof

came past then. Seeing his mate, Whitehoof ran to her. “Hello Pip dear,” he

whinnied. Pip looked at her mate, then at Sam. “Has he been frightening you

again?” She asked suspiciously. “No!” Whitehoof replied, “Whatever gave you that

idea?” Pip became angry! Striding up to Sam she tried to lash out at him with a

hind foot. “No! Pip!” Whitehoof yelled. What happened then would go down in the

history of the herd. Pip raised her hind foot to strike Sam. Suddenly her body

convulsed and she was thrown into a summersault, landing on her side with a

crash! Pip lay motionless on the grass. “What’s happened to her!” Whitehoof

screamed. “I can’t move!” Pip yelled, “What’s happening!” Sam stood motionless.

He said: “I will not release you Pip, you are my prisoner until I choose to let

you go free.” Whitehoof strode up to his second in command and yelled into his

face! “What are you doing to her you horrid creature!” Sam replied calmly:

“Whitehoof, if you were attacked, you would defend yourself with your hooves

wouldn’t you?” “Yes,” Whitehoof replied, totally disconcerted by Sam’s

composure. “Being that so,” Sam continued, “I cannot see who’s attacking me, nor

can I see where they are, can I Whitehoof?” “No,” Whitehoof replied. “So,” Sam

said, “I have to take action where I can, and if controlling another animal’s

mind will give me defence against that animal, I must do it Whitehoof! I must

protect myself!” Whitehoof stared at his second in command. “You can’t, you,,,”

he got no further, for his hind legs suddenly tensed, and he was flying through

the air, to land in a flailing heap on the forest floor a few feet away. “I

can,” Sam said, “now you see.” Whitehoof picked himself up off the ground,

totally stunned, confused and terribly frightened. “You don’t have to do it just

because you can!” The gelding squealed. “I don’t want to have to prove it to you

Whitehoof,” Sam replied, “but I will if you force me.” “Sam, please, let me go!”

Pip pleaded. Whitehoof looked at his mate lying on the grass. Pip looked

pathetically up at him. “Sam,” Whitehoof said, fear in his tone, “release her!

For Eohippus sake release Pip!” Sam could hear his leader’s fear and terror.

“I’m very sorry Whitehoof,” Sam said. “So you won’t release her?” Whitehoof

asked. “I didn’t say that,” Sam replied, “but if I’m asked to prove myself I

will. I do not want to harm your mate Whitehoof, and what she’s experiencing

won’t harm her at all, but she has to learn that I’m able to defend myself, and

I will!” Whitehoof threw himself down on the forest floor and begged Sam to

release Pip. “She is free, if only she’d get up,” the gelding replied. Pip got

to her feet and walked away, leaving her group of foals standing looking in

bewilderment at Sam. Whitehoof got to his feet and looked at his second in

command. “We must all try better to accept you Sam, and not ask you to prove

your power. The fact you’d spent two years on your own should have been enough

to prove to us that you were worthy of status. We all have been guilty in one

way or another of forcing you to prove yourself to us in ways that we ourselves

would find objectionable. I am sorry, very very sorry. I will talk to Pip

later.” Snowdrop looked at Sam and said: “Please Sam, please don’t ever do that

again,” Sam turned in the white mare’s direction, feeling her anxiety. “Snowy

dear,” he said, “I will not harm anyone with my power, but I will prove it if

they ask me. You are safe, Whitehoof and Pip are safe, the foals are safe. I

will not misuse my power, for I know what it can do.” Tilly thought about Joy’s

birth. Sam catching her thoughts, said: “Yes Tilly, I did once help a mare. She

was exhausted from a long foaling, the foal was fine, and ready to be born, but

the poor mare was not strong enough to deliver her foal. So I helped her. I took

over, telling her body what to do, she got on with foaling, and the foal was all

right., and so was she.” Tilly looked at him. “I could have done with a bit of

that,” she said. Sam replied: “I can only do it if the animal I’m helping

doesn’t resist, if they do, then I risk damaging them, I don’t want to do that

Tilly. You would have had to relax and let me take over, then I could have

helped. If I remember though, you squealed at me when you saw me.” “Sorry Sam,”

Tilly replied. “That’s okay,” he said. Pip came back then. “Pip dear, I think we

need to talk,” Whitehoof said gently. They walked away together.

 

Whitehoof and Pip settled down under a tree. Hugging her to him, Whitehoof

stroked Pip’s ears with his muzzle. She cuddled up to him, burying her face in

his mane. “I think we need to talk about Sam,” Whitehoof said. “He’s second in

command Whitehoof, that’s your job to get rid of him if you want,” Pip replied.

“I don’t want to get rid of him,” Whitehoof said, “I know what he said was true.

He has to defend himself, and that means against anyone Pip, even me and you.”

“I couldn’t control my legs!” She squealed, “the brute took control of me

Whitehoof!” “I know, he did me too, but that’s the only way he can defend

himself Pip! Can’t you see that?” “Sam did explain that to you Whitehoof, and

you challenged him, so he showed you!” Pip whinnied shrilly. “We must try not to

force Sam to show us his power Pip. I know it’s hard to work out how he

survives, but he does, and that’s the main thing! Sam’s a lovely chap Pip, he

doesn’t mean any of us harm!” Sam came past then. Pip looked at him. “This is a

private conversation Sam!” She squealed. Sam looked hurt, and well he might.

“I’m sorry, I’ll go, I don’t want to disturb anything!” With that he turned and

walked slowly away. Whitehoof followed the Chestnut gelding into the trees.

“Sam?” Whitehoof said softly. Sam cocked an ear in his leader’s direction.

“Please, stop here a minute will you?” Whitehoof said gently. Sam stopped

walking. Whitehoof went up to him and hugged him. He felt Sam trembling as he

touched him. “You probably think I’m horrible Sam,” Whitehoof said, “It’s just

that, well, we’re all having difficulties coming to terms with your abilities,

as well as your disability. What you can do with your mind is so unusual. I can

just about get my head round it, but there are those horses who can’t.” “I

noticed Pip is hostile to me,” Sam said. “No,” Whitehoof replied gently, “She

doesn’t mean it Sam. She’s frightened by anything she doesn’t understand.” Pip

wandered past then. She’d overheard most of this and regarded Sam with fear.

Feeling her general apprehension, Sam went to Pip and hugged her. Pip resisted

at first, but then she relaxed, coming to the realisation that Sam wasn’t going

to harm her. “I don’t mean to upset you Pip,” Sam whispered into her ear,

“please, tell me what frightens you and I’ll try to help you to understand.” Pip

looked into Sam’s eyes. She knew he couldn’t see her doing this, and that, along

with his powers, confused and frightened her. “I’ll try to help you Pip,” Sam

said. Pip closed her eyes, she felt the warmth of Sam’s body, his muzzle

brushing her ear, breathed his cent in with every breath, and felt at a loss as

for words to start telling him what she couldn’t understand about him, there was

so much! Whitehoof watched them, hoping Pip would eventually accept Sam for who

he was. “I think it’s better coming from you Sam,” he said, “I can’t help her

understand you, because I’m not you. I think it would be better if you told her

how you live your life. Tell her what you can to help her understand your

situation.” Sam and Pip lay down together. “I’ll leave you two to talk,”

Whitehoof said. Pip made to get up to follow her mate. She didn’t want to be

left alone with Sam, but Whitehoof motioned to her to stay where she was. “he

won’t harm you Pip,” Whitehoof said gently, “talk to Sam, ask him anything, even

if you think it’s silly. Touch him, stroke him, come to terms with how he is.

I’m not going far, but I want you to work things out alone Pip, that’s the only

way! You can’t keep asking me for advice! Sam can help, he’s capable, and he’s

second in command. What would happen if I was injured and he had to take over

the running of the herd? Then you’d have to deal with him. Please Pip, do this

for me, for Sam, and mostly for yourself,” Whitehoof pleaded. With that he

turned tail and walked away. Pip looked at Sam lying on the forest floor. “It’s

up to you Pip,” Sam said, “how would you like me to be, standing or lying down,

what is best for you.” Pip looked at him. She hated herself for mistrusting Sam,

but she couldn’t get over her fear of him. She lay down beside him. “Pip,” Sam

said gently, “I want to help you, so ask questions of me, touch me even, stroke

my fur, touch my hooves, do what you need to to get used to me as I am. I’m no

threat, I just want you to accept me, if you can. Dear Pip, please, tell me

what’s frightening you,” Sam coaxed. Pip took the gelding in from nose to tail.

She then touched his muzzle, his mane and all four hooves. Suddenly she drew him

to her and hugged him fiercely. “I don’t know where to start!” She whinnied.

“Take your time,” Sam whispered soothingly. He could feel she was shaking

violently. “Take a few deep breaths Pip, then, in your own time, please tell me

what’s upsetting you,” Sam said softly.

 

“I don’t know how to put into words what I feel Sam,” Pip began. She

looked at him, trying to sort out in her mind what she wanted to say. “I knew

you as a foal, you knew me, and we were good friends. Then I was taken away from

my herd. I saw blind horses, and they were all pathetic frightened creatures. So

that’s how I expected you to be, but you weren’t either of those. I thought

you’d become like those poor frightened horses when you got older and left your

mother,” Pip said, “I didn’t expect you to be able to fend for yourself Sam, but

Eohippus has decreed that you can, and have.” Sam nuzzled her ear and said: “I

came close to giving up many times,” he said, “but there was something that made

me go on, anger at my mother for leaving me, maybe that was it, sort of.” Pip

hugged Sam again. She said: “When I heard from Whitehoof about your power, I

couldn’t quite believe him, although he seemed very definite about what he’d

experienced. Sam, I’m sorry, very sorry for getting angry with you. I was

scared, I didn’t think, but then you took over, flipped me onto my side, and

held me prisoner. Then I knew your power wasn’t a false one.” She gently rubbed

his muzzle with hers. Then she took him in from nose to tail, missing nothing.

Sam’s markings went like this. He had brown, almost chestnut fur all over, from

nose to tail. His mane, tail and hooves were jet black. Pip touched Sam’s muzzle

with hers. She then brushed away a lock of mane from his eyes and looked into

them. Although she knew he couldn’t see her doing this, Pip found it difficult

not to. Sam meanwhile was reading the Falabella mare’s thoughts. “She’s still

confused,” he thought, “but she’s coming round slowly.” “What are you thinking?”

Pip asked. “That you are still confused,” he replied truthfully. This terrified

Pip! “Can you read my mind?” She asked. “Yes,” Sam said, “your personal secrets

are safe though. I only read what is needed to deal with the situation I’m in.

So at the moment, I know that you are still confused about me, maybe even more

so now you have found this out about me. Pip, I am no danger to you. I don’t

want you to feel fear when you are around me. After all, if you were about to

attack me, and I couldn’t read your thoughts, how would I be able to defend

myself?” “You mean,,,” “Yes Pip, I read your mind in the few seconds before you

raised your hoof to hit me. I defended myself against the thought by

immobilising you.” Pip stared at him in astonishment! “The next thing you’ll be

telling me is that you can fly!” She squealed. Sam smiled broadly: “I’m working

on that one,” he said. Sam suddenly hugged her to him. Pip knew then that this

gelding wouldn’t hurt her, and that his power wasn’t to be feared. “You are more

relaxed now I see,” Sam said. Pip couldn’t reply. What she was feeling was

strange to her. It was as if all the tension she’d ever known was flowing out of

her, leaving her too weak to do anything but lie there on the forest floor. “Let

it all go,” Sam coaxed. Pip felt she had no choice but to let all her anxiety

go. It was as if Sam was drawing it from her like a syringe draws blood. When

she was totally calm, Sam got to his feet and said: “Coming to find Whitehoof?”

Pip got to her feet, amazed that she still could after what she’d just

experienced. They found Whitehoof grazing peacefully.

 

Snowdrop lay beneath a bush a little way off.  Sam, Pip and Whitehoof Joined Snowdrop under the bush to get away from the rain that threatened to start at any moment.  Pip felt better about being around Sam now, and, lying beside him as she was, she knew he wouldn’t hurt her.  Whitehoof asked Pip about her chat with Sam.

      “I found I was worried about a lot of nothing,”  Pip replied, “Sam showed me he was just an ordinary horse.  That is once you discount the nerve control, the power to read thoughts and a thousand other things, all non malicious.” 

     “That’s good,”  Whitehoof replied.  He had some questions for Snowdrop.

     “Mum,  as Sam has more to him, so do you and me.  Do you know anything about that?  For instance, why are you white?”  Snowdrop looked at her foal.

      “It is said Whitehoof, that the seventh foal of the seventh foal of a Falabella mare will be a direct genetic descendant of The dawn horse.  It is said that we Falabella horses are directly descended from Eohippus, or as near as makes no difference.  All right, we don’t have three toes, and Eohippus did, but, barring some minor modifications, I, and we, are as close to Eohippus as any horse can get.”

      “What makes you white though, if we all are closer to Eohippus than any other horses?”  Pip asked.

      “If you took some of my DNA, and compared it with that from Eohippus,”  Snowdrop replied, “I could be him and he could be me.  Apart from me not having three toes on my foot, We are identical, modern horses have only one toe on their foot, it’s called a hoof.”  Pip thought this tale a wonderful one to tell the foals the next time they told stories under the great oak.

 

 

A few days later,  Ben sort out Snowdrop to ask her questions that had formed in his mind after Pip told him stories of Eohippus.   Finding the white mare, Ben snapped: “I heard some silly

tale from Pip about the seventh foal of a falabella mare being white and

possessing special abilities, this was a few days ago that she told me and the other

foals this tale, you are White,,,” “Yes, and I was my mother’s seventh foal,”

Snowdrop chipped in. Ben stared at her! “It all fits now!” he squealed. Snowdrop

looked at the colt, Ben was larger than her now, though not by much yet. Even

so, he would have prostrated himself on the floor and polished her hooves if

Snowdrop had been willing to give him the answers he wanted, but she stayed

silent. “You are a very strange mare,” Ben said. “Thanks,” Snowdrop said

aggrievedly. “No!” Ben protested, “I didn’t mean it that way Snowy!” He was

using her pet name to try and endear himself to her, and she knew it. Snowdrop

realised she was different, but played with Ben a bit more, pretending she was

offended by his comments. “I am not strange!” she snapped. Ben was

floundering in the mud of his own mistakes now. “What I meant was, that, well,

you are unusual!” He whinnied shrilly. Snowdrop could see Ben’s distress was

real. He really believed he’d offended her. Suddenly she advanced on him, Ben

squealed in fear and tried to escape, but then he was being hugged by the white

mare, and he couldn’t escape. Ben felt Snowdrop’s soft fur against his, her

muzzle brushing his ear and her general warmth. “It’s okay,” She whispered. Ben

looked into Snowdrop’s eyes. She gazed back kindly. He looked Snowdrop over,

from her head to her hooves. He couldn’t take his eyes off her. “You are one

amazing mare,” Ben said, “Snowdrop, what’s all this about marking horses?”

Snowdrop told him what she knew. “so you just touch another horse with your

hoof, and it happens?” He asked. “Yes, but only when it’s needed,” Snowdrop

replied. Ben touched her left forefoot with his. “Does your power ever frighten

you?” he asked. “Sometimes,” Snowdrop replied truthfully, “I see things other

horses can’t, and that scares me sometimes.” Ben hugged Snowdrop tightly. He

didn’t know what to make of this mare, all he knew was she was kind and gentle.

Snowdrop felt his anxiety and asked: “What’s up?” Ben looked into her eyes. “I

don’t really know,” he replied, “I’m confused, scared even.” “Scared of what?”

Snowdrop asked gently. “I don’t know really,” Ben said quickly, “I’m scared of

your power. I mean, what if you got really furious with one of us youngsters,

what could you do then!” Snowdrop lay down and patted the ground beside her for

Ben to do the Same. When he was lying beside her, Snowdrop hugged him. She

noticed Ben was trembling as she embraced him. “I will never hurt any of you,”

Snowdrop said gently, “my power isn’t malicious. Let me tell you something Ben,

only Whitehoof knows this, and you should tell no other horses, but when

Whitehoof was born, I saw his white hoof and knew he would be different, like I

had been. Ben, Whitehoof is more powerful than you could ever imagine. He is not

my seventh foal, something went wrong, and I only had one foal, but Whitehoof is

about as close in power to the seventh foal as is possible to get. The only

thing was that he was my first, not my seventh.” “What were you going to tell me

that I couldn’t tell other horses?” Ben asked, “and what is all this about

eohippus?” “it is said,” Snowdrop replied, “that the seventh foal of a Falabella

mare has communication with Eohippus.” “That’s why Sandy thought you were

Eohippus!” Ben squealed. “Yes,” Snowdrop said, “I am the dawn horse, and

Whitehoof is my one and only foal.”

 

Ben hugged Snowdrop tightly. The white mare laughed merrily at him. “You

are a soppy young thing aren’t you,” she said. Ben rubbed her muzzle with his.

Snowdrop got up and Ben followed her in search of Whitehoof. They found him

lying asleep under a tree. “Shh,” Snowdrop warned. They crept towards the

sleeping gelding. Snowdrop lay down beside her foal, Ben watched them lying

together, wondering what else these two horses would reveal about themselves.

 

 

Whitehoof opened his eyes. “Where’s Pip?” he asked sleepily. “I haven’t

seen her” snowdrop replied. “I bet she’s wandered off again!” Whitehoof sounded

agitated, “I told her she should stay here, not to go wandering off alone!”

 

 

 “I’ll look for her,” Snowdrop said, getting up from where she was lying.

Whitehoof got to his feet and shook himself. “Why did she disobey me!” He

squealed. “She is her own horse Whitehoof, you can’t keep her under your hoof

dear,” Snowdrop said. “I’m concerned about her though mum!” Whitehoof yelled,

stamping his white foot in anger. “I know,” Snowdrop replied, “but if you carry

on too much Whitehoof dear, then she’ll rebel. As you said once, she’s a very

private mare really, she needed to be alone I’ll bet.” Whitehoof sighed heavily.

He followed Snowdrop through the forest. They found Pip lying beneath a bush,

she seemed to be asleep. Whitehoof was so relieved to see her he snapped: “Pip!

I’ve been looking all over the place for you!” Squealing with surprise, Pip

leapt to her feet. “Where did you come from!” She demanded shrilly. “I was

worried about you,” Whitehoof said gently. “I wanted to be alone to think!” Pip

whinnied angrily. “Told you so,” Snowdrop said. Whitehoof turned on his mother

and lashed out at her! Snowdrop dodged the hoof and floored her foal. Whitehoof

knew he’d done wrong. He lay on the grass looking up at his mother glairing down

at him. It was like once before when he was young and he’d lashed out at her in

anger. That time she’d done exactly the Same as now, and he’d regretted lashing

out, now was no different. Whitehoof felt very ashamed of himself, and as small

as he was when he was newborn. “Sorry mum,” he whimpered. Snowdrop showed him a

hind hoof. “Don’t hit me!” Whitehoof pleaded. She lowered her foot to the floor.

“Have I ever?” She asked. “No,” Whitehoof replied. “I think you and Pip need to

talk about this,” Snowdrop advised.

 

Whitehoof looked at his mother. “I’m sorry,” he said. “let’s forget it

now,” Snowdrop replied. Pip looked at her mate. “I think we really do need to

talk about this,” she said. Whitehoof and Pip made their way to a secluded place

to talk, and lay down together. “I wanted to be alone for a bit,” Pip said. “But

Pip dear,” Whitehoof replied, “I asked you to stay with me, for your own safety

love!” Pip yelled: “I have got a mind, and I am capable of taking care of myself

Whitehoof! You imposed Poppy on me, and I’m not taking it any more!” Whitehoof

stared at his mate, fighting back tears of anger and frustration. “I only want

you to be safe!” he whinnied. His voice cracking, he said: “Pip, if something

happened to you, I’d hate myself forever!” Pip suddenly hugged him tightly. “I

know Whitehoof, I know you love me, I love you darling, of course I do! It’s

just that I need space sometimes, and it’s hard to get it here.” Whitehoof

finally dissolved into tears. Pip hugged him to her, stroking his ears, muzzle,

and finally his white hoof. This ministration seemed to calm him. “I love you so

much,” She said, “but I need my space Whitehoof dear!” Whitehoof sniffed and

replied: “I know Pip, I know.” Pip looked at Whitehoof. She took him in from

nose to tail, fixing him in her mind, from his black ears, to his hooves. How

she loved this gelding! Pip touched his white hoof with her muzzle, remembering

the first time she’d seen this amazing gelding who had changed her life.

Whitehoof hugged Pip to him burying his muzzle in her thick mane. “I love you so

very much Pip, and I don’t want you to get hurt,” he whispered.

 

Whitehoof held Pip close to him for a very long time, not wanting to let

her go. Pip knew that she was so very lucky having the herd leader as her mate,

how she loved him!

 

“Come on Whitehoof darling,” Pip said gently, “we must go back to our

duties.” Whitehoof reluctantly released Pip, who frankly wanted to stay there

forever, but knew she couldn’t. The two horses couldn’t keep their eyes off each

other. Shaking leaves from their coats, they made their way down the track to

the herd’s main base. Snowdrop met them, and she had another horse with her. Pip

couldn’t believe her eyes! Standing before her was a huge Shire mare! Pip’s mind

said “Petra!” but her eyes told her the piebald mare wasn’t Petra. Whitehoof

noticed his mate’s reaction and said gently: “Every Shire mare is going to look

like Petra to you Pip dear, It’s natural.” Snowdrop said: “Whitehoof, this is

Emma, she has come to us from another herd. She needs sanctuary because her

foal’s due soon.” Whitehoof took Emma in from nose to tail. She was large, on

account of her foal, but also on account of her breeding. He remembered the

general massive proportions of the Shire horse breed. Emma watched the Falabella

gelding appraising her. She said: “I am due to have my foal any time now, I need

a place to have it where I am protected. I’ll be going as soon as my foal is

able to walk enough to embark on a journey.” Whitehoof rubbed noses with Emma,

who returned his affection with a hint of: “This horse isn’t herd leader is he?”

in her manner. “You can stay here,” Whitehoof said. Emma looked relieved. “Thank

you,” she said. Then To their utter astonishment, Emma suddenly lay on the

forest floor and gave birth to her foal there and then! Whitehoof, Snowdrop and

Pip stared at the mare as she delivered her foal. “I can’t cope with this!” Pip

whinnied. Emma was doing well though, her foal half born, it was happening so

quickly! Another massive effort from Emma and the foal was born. Emma lay

exhausted and frightened. “I didn’t expect it to happen like that!” She whinnied

shrilly. “Neither did we,” Whitehoof thought, but said nothing. Snowdrop asked:

“Are you all right Emma?” The Shire mare looked at her. “In shock mainly,” she

replied. “How many foals have you had?” Snowdrop asked. “Six, this one’s my seventh,” Emma replied.

“that fits,” Snowdrop mused. Emma suddenly stared at her! “Snowdrop, you’re not,

are you? I mean, you’re not the seventh foal?” Snowdrop smiled: “I am,” she said

softly. Meanwhile, Emma’s foal had got to it’s feet and was demanding a drink!

“I’m starving!” it Whinnied. Pip couldn’t believe a foal could be so huge! It

was almost as large as she was! Emma fed her foal, all the while looking with

wondrous eyes at Snowdrop. Whitehoof surveyed the scene, wondering what else

would happen that day. He first angers his mother, then has a fierce

disagreement with his mate, and now a mare, who he’d met only a few minutes

before, foals in front of him! Whitehoof wondered if anything else could happen

to cap all this!

 

Pip introduced Emma and her foal Jasper to the rest of the herd.  Later that day, Jasper was taken by Pip to meet Ben, Emily,

Jess and the other foals. The herd seemed to be growing in size at an enormous

rate. “You remind me very much of Petra,” Pip said to Emma. “Who is Petra?” Emma

asked. “She used to be our herd leader, she took me and Ferdinand in and adopted

me as her foal.” Pip relayed the story of Petra to Emma. “You know, I think I

knew Petra!” Emma said.

 

Emma looked down at Pip. “Was Petra a dray horse?” She asked. “Yes she

was,” Pip replied, dreading what was to come. “I know her I think,” Emma

replied, “she had an accident didn’t she. Something about a cart running over

her.” Pip’s face told Emma all she needed to know. “yes,” she said faintly. Emma

asked: “What happened to Petra?” Whitehoof looked at Pip. Pip turned and walked

away. “What did I say?” Emma asked aggrievedly. “Nothing Emma, it wasn’t your

fault, Pip hasn’t got over her foster mum’s death yet. She was killed by two

horses from this herd,” Whitehoof replied. “That’s awful!” Emma whinnied. “yes

it was, but they have been punished now, so I don’t want you tracking those

horses down and making their lives hell!” “I won’t!” Emma whinnied shrilly, “I

won’t do anything of the sort!” Pip returned then, Jasper following her. “I’m

sorry Emma, Whitehoof,” Pip said, “I just can’t face talking about what happened

to Petra, not so soon after.” Whitehoof hugged her tightly. “That’s okay,” he

whispered. Jasper asked: “Who is that strange white mare I saw? She looks

weird!”

 

Whitehoof favoured Jasper with a warning stare. “That weird mare is his

mother!” Emma Whispered. Jasper blurted: “Who is he anyway? He has a funny white

hoof and acts as if he is a horse of some importance mum! How can a horse like

that be important, he’s too small!” Emma knew Jasper had blown it. She snapped:

“Whitehoof’s white foot is none of your concern, and he’s leader jasper!” Her

fur stood on end and she was stoking up to a gargantuan fury! “That white mare

is Snowdrop, and she’s a lovely mare! I won’t hear another bad word said about

her or Whitehoof Jasper! You hear me!” Jasper slunk away. He mistrusted the

smaller horses, feeling that they were useless and couldn’t be any good for

anything. Emma knew this, and it made her fear for her foal’s safety. She knew

that Whitehoof wouldn’t think twice about clobbering Jasper if the foal really

offended him. As it was, Whitehoof had taken note of the foal’s comments and had

made a mental note to talk with Sam and Snowdrop with a view to talking with the

newborn foal. Whitehoof walked away to find his mother and the herd’s second in

command. Finding them both, he told them of his concerns about Jasper. “I think

he’s got a bit of a thing against us falabella horses,” Whitehoof said. “What

makes you say that Whitehoof?” Snowdrop asked. “He asked his mother who you were

and said that he thought you were, in his words, weird mum,” Whitehoof replied,

“and that was only the start! Jasper then went on about my white hoof and a

whole lot more horrid stuff!” “To some horses I may be weird,” Snowdrop said.

“But he doesn’t have to say it does he,” Sam replied. “Um, ‘er, no,” Snowdrop

conceded. She was actually quite offended, but her natural good nature made her

put a lid on it. She would only get furious if the foal refused to change his

ways, or refused to keep his views to himself if he refused to change his ways.

“I don’t know Sam, what Jasper will think of you when he finds out about your

disability,” Whitehoof said. “We’ll have to see what happens,” Sam replied, “but

I think it would be good for us, that’s me, you Whitehoof, and you Snowdrop, to

have a chat with this foal.” Whitehoof and Snowdrop agreed, so they went in

search of Jasper.

 

Whitehoof told Pip what he was proposing to do. She was naturally anxious

that during this talk, Jasper didn’t get a chance to do anything dangerous.

“He’s got large hooves, and he could do a lot of damage with them,” she said. “I

know,” Whitehoof replied, “and I think we’ll have Emma there too, just in case.”

Pip seemed happier with this arrangement. Whitehoof called Jasper over to him,

and when the foal was standing beside him, he said: “Jasper, I have called you

over because of your comments about my mother and me you made a few days ago.”

“yes,” Jasper said, “what do you want from me, and apology? ‘cos you ain’t gonna

get one! I still think you, Falabella horses, as you call yourselves, are jumped

up and totally unfit to lead a herd! What a name for a horse breed Falabella is

anyway! It sounds like you’d command respect, but you don’t! You are small, your

hooves are puny! How can you do any damage with those!” Emma shifted her feet

nervously, she wondered how far Jasper would have to put his hoof in it before

either of the three Falabella horses , or worse still all three of them did

something serious. She was relieved to see Whitehoof was calm, but maybe that

wasn’t such a good sign, for who knew what he could be planning for her foal?

“You say that we are small?” Snowdrop asked. “Yes!” Jasper whinnied, “and you

can’t deny that!” “No Jasper, we can’t,” Snowdrop replied quietly, “but then I

turn to the matter of our hooves, and how small and ineffective they are,,,”

Jasper cut her off mid sentence: “I’ve heard a stupid tale about marks on horses

made by Whitehoof’s white foot, that’s bonkers! What rubbish! I’ll tell you what

that is shall I Snowy?” Snowdrop bristled at the use of her pet name by this

obnoxious creature, “it’s a tale, a way of making you scrappy horses seem big

and worthy of respect. You are a horrid mare Snowdrop! I hate you! I also hate

your foal! Ugh yuck!” Jasper then turned his back on them. Snowdrop took one

pace forward towards the colt’s hind legs. Whitehoof didn’t have time to scream

a warning before Jasper had tried to lash out at her! What happened next only

Snowdrop could tell, and she wasn’t exactly sure herself. Jasper’s right hind

hoof cleared the floor, exposing the sole of his foot to attack. Seeing what he

was about to do, Snowdrop lifted her right forefoot and placed it in the hollow

of the larger horse’s hoof. Jasper suddenly screamed and tore his foot away!

“What’s wrong!” Emma asked. “She burned my foot!” Jasper squealed, “Snowdrop

burned my hoof mum!” “let me take a look,” Emma said. Jasper lifted his hind

foot. Emma looked down at the sole of his hoof, but could see nothing, no burn

mark, no discolouration at all. “Are you sure?” She asked. Jasper snapped: “Of

course I am!” Snowdrop stood flat footed on the forest floor, giving away

nothing. “I hate that mare mum, I hate her so much!” “You did say horrible

things about her and her foal,” Emma replied, “she’s not going to be very happy

with you is she now Jasper.” “And you did try to lash out at her,” Sam said,

“Jasper, your behaviour is disgraceful!” Jasper then tried to kick Sam, who

flipped the colt onto his back. Jasper lay pedalling the air with his large

hooves. “You look like a dying fly!” His mother whinnied. Jasper was humiliated

and angry! These horses were making a fool of him! Leaping to his feet he

attacked Whitehoof! Whitehoof managed to overbalance the colt, Jasper finally

crashing heavily onto his side in a gorse bush. Emma and the three Falabella

horses left Jasper to find his own way out of the bush. Emma was disgusted by

her foal’s behaviour. She planned to have a stern word with him very very soon

indeed.

 

"Jasper, what is it you have against these horses" Emma asked. "I don't like

Sam, his eyes are moving with out focusing on anything..." Jasper said. "He's

blind." Emma said. "He's what?" Jasper cried out.

 

Emma hadn’t finished though, she persisted: “Ok, Sam’s sorted, but what

about those others, Whitehoof and Snowdrop, and whatever could you have against

Pip?” Jasper thought for a bit. “They are just too small!” he yelled. Jasper

wanted to follow up the matter of Sam however. He ran away from his mother in

search of the chestnut gelding. Finding him, he tried to creep up on Sam.

Thinking he was doing very well, and that Sam hadn’t noticed him, Jasper thought

he’d try screaming into the gelding’s ear when he reached him. Sam listened to

the colt coming with what Jasper obviously thought was light steps, but to Sam

were clomping great footfalls. When Jasper was level with him, Sam whipped round

and grabbed hold of a chunk of the larger horse’s mane in his teeth! Terrified,

Jasper tried to run, ripping out a chunk of his mane as he did so. Sam tripped

the colt and Jasper crashed onto his side. “I caught your thoughts you horrid

creature!” Sam Whinnied shrilly. “I thought you were blind!” Jasper moaned. “I

am,” Sam replied, “but I’m hot on the trail of horrid horses like you Jasper!”

Jasper felt fear then, who knew what this horse could do! Getting to his feet,

Jasper ran for his life!

 

Jasper galloped through the forest. He was so intent on putting his hooves

to the floor as fast as he could that he failed to see Brock until it was too

late. Tripping over the badger, Jasper fell sprawling. Brock recovered faster

than the colt did, and, getting to his feet, he looked the winded colt over. “Me

thinks you be named Jasper,” he grunted. “I am,” Jasper croaked. “Me also think

you try terrorise herd second in command!” Brock yelled. Jasper drew his legs to

him, trying to curl into a ball to avoid the badger, who he was certain didn’t

like him at all. “What do you want with me!” Jasper wailed. Brock looked him

over from nose to tail. The badger walked round the prostrate colt, touching

Jasper’s ear, muzzle, and finally all four hooves. “You have big feet Jasper,”

Brock observed. “I’m a Shire horse! What did you expect me to have? Tiny hooves

like those disgusting Falabella horses?” Jasper demanded. “Falabella horses no

disgusting!” Brock roared, “me no like horses that say bad things about

Falabella horses!” Jasper looked at the badger, and Brock took the colt in from

nose to tail. “You be in trouble with Whitehoof, Snowdrop and Sam me hears,”

Brock grunted. Jasper snapped: “You don’t miss much do you!” “Brock miss little

that go on with horses, me like horses big much!” Jasper got to his feet. “Why

you running anyway?” Brock enquired. “I was running from Sam,” Jasper replied,

“that gelding’s dangerous!” Brock yelled: “Sam no dangerous! He probably

defending himself from horrible colt named Jasper!” Jasper lost his temper and

lashed out at the badger with a hind foot, who caught his hoof and twisted it

sharply! Squealing in agony, Jasper scrabbled with his free hind foot, as the

badger dragged him backwards. Jasper ended up on his side with Brock holding

onto his right hind foot, twisting it painfully. “You’re hurting me!” Jasper

screamed. “You no lash out at badger and get away with it!” Brock yelled. Jasper

cried with pain. Emma came running at the sound of her foal’s screaming and

stopped dead at the sight of him on the floor. “What on earth is going on here!

She yelled. “Tell him to let me go mum!” Jasper wailed. Brock let the hoof he

was holding drop to the floor. “What have you done now Jasper?” His mother

asked.

 

“All I was doing,” screamed Jasper, “Was running away from the scrap

called Sam, he grabbed my mane and tripped me up!” “And what did you do for him

to do that!” his mother asked sharply. “Nothing!” “Don’t lie to me jasper, you

were creeping up on him and thought he didn’t hear you!” “So, why are you asking

me when you already know!” Jasper was fuming, after being infuriated by Brock

and now being interrogated by his mother.

 

“Get up Jasper! On your feet now!” Emma commanded. Jasper, angry and sore

from Brock’s assault, struggled to his feet. Emma was apoplectic with fury!

“Don’t ever! Ever! Ever! Go after Sam again! You hear me? Do you understand me!”

Emma squealed. “Yes Mum,” Jasper said quietly. Then she nipped his ear hard!

“That hurt!” Jasper wailed. “It wasn’t meant to be a picnic!” His mother

shouted. Jasper ran away, he was humiliated and angry! He hated the badger, he

hated the Falabella horses, and somehow, he knew they ran the show here. Who

else would he meet that would take an instant disliking to him? Blundering

through the forest, he found Sheissain lying under a tree. “Hi!” Sheissain

whinnied. “Hello,” Jasper mumbled, thoroughly furious with everyone. Sheissain,

in an attempt to lighten the mood, asked: “Who got out of the wrong side of the

bed this morning?” Jasper’s control snapped! He lashed out at Sheissain! The

Shire colt’s hoof smashed into Sheissain’s ribs! Sheissain’s shriek of pain and

surprise brought Emily and all the foals running, with Sam, Jess and Whitehoof

not far behind. Seeing them, Jasper tried to run, but was tripped by Foxy!

“Surprise!” She barked, as the colt crashed onto the floor! His head in a gorse

bush, Jasper yelled: “You can’t do this to me!” “Who says we can’t?” Foxy asked.

“I’ll get my mum on you!” Jasper wailed. “Oh yeah yeah yeah, of course you will!

I’m so scared! Boohoo!” Ben scoffed. Jasper floundered in the bush, finally

managing to extricate himself. He got up and looked at Sheissain. “I’ll get you

back one day! I’ll find out what you really hate and I’ll get you back for what

you’ve told these horrid creatures to do to me!” “He told us nothing,” Foxy

replied, “we just defend those who we love against those who would harm them.”

Jasper looked around, spotting Whitehoof he said: “Ah, White foot,” “It’s

Whitehoof!” Whitehoof snapped. “Whatever,” Jasper drawled. “How are you going to

punish me for this then?” Jasper asked, “bet you can’t! I’m bigger, I have

bigger hooves than you, and you wouldn’t dare come near would you?” Whitehoof

didn’t reply or change his position. “Thought not,” Jasper scoffed. He walked

over to Whitehoof, and when he was standing beside him, said: “I put it to you

lot that this horse is impotent, He is no leader! A tiny horse, with a white

foot! A misfit if ever there was one, and I’ll think you’ll agree. And what

about his second in command, a blind horse! Even worse! Whitehoof, your

decisions are terrible!” During all this, Jasper’s feet had left the floor.

Whitehoof lifting him into the air just by imagining him rising off the ground.

It didn’t take much effort, none at all. Jasper was so intent on rubbishing the

herd leaders that he didn’t notice until he was a good three or four feet off

the ground. “I’m, oh no! I’m flying!” he squealed! Jasper pedalled his huge feet

in mid air. “Put me down!” “No,” Whitehoof replied, smiling grimly, “You’ll stay

up there until I say you will come down. With that Whitehoof lay down beneath a

bush and fell asleep, all the other horses and forest creatures leaving him to

sleep. “Let me go Whitehoof!” Jasper pleaded. “Please be quiet,” Whitehoof said

civilly, “I’m trying to sleep.” “No!” Don’t go to sleep!” Jasper screamed,

“You’ll forget about me, and, and I’ll fall!” Whitehoof yawned expansively.

“Maybe,” he said, stretching out languidly. “Good night Jasper.” With that he

fell asleep. Jasper remained suspended three feet up. He tried willing his legs

and hooves to touch the ground, but they wouldn’t. Jasper looked down at his

hooves. They were large, a lot bigger than those of the horse who had put him

there. Soon Whitehoof woke and crawled out of the shelter afforded by the bush.

“You all right up there?” He asked. “No!” jasper whimpered, “let me go!” “I

could,” Whitehoof said, “from that height too, but you’d injure yourself when

you fell, so I can’t do so. My mother taught me how to get horses up, but she

didn’t teach me how to get them down again. Sorry about that.” Jasper squealed

hysterically, pedalling the air with his massive feet. “You Can’t do this!” he

yelled. During his angry display, Whitehoof had been lowering him to the floor.

As soon as his hooves touched firm ground, Jasper bolted!

 

Sheissain was frightened. “Suppose JASPER finds out about my not liking my

hooves being touched?” He confided to Ferdinand. “I thought you had overcome

this phobia?” Ferdinand replied. “I HAVE … BUT ITS ALWAYS THERE I guess.” “I am

sure everything will be fine!” Ferdinand continued kindly, “Surely you saw what

Whitehoof did to him!”

 

“I saw,” Sheissain said, “I was there all through it after Jasper kicked

me in the ribs!” “Well then,” Ferdinand said. Meanwhile, Jasper had found his

mother and thrown himself at her feet crying hysterically. When she asked him

what the matter was, Jasper told her what had happened. “Those forest creatures,

they went for me mum!” The colt wailed. “Why did they go for you is what I want

to find out!” Emma snapped. She was too used to her foal causing trouble among

the other horses to believe his tale that the forest creatures just started on

him. She looked down at her foal. “Get up!” She commanded. Jasper struggled to

his feet. “now we will go and find Foxy and the rest of them and see what went

on,” she said. Jasper followed her through the forest. They found Foxy,

Whitehoof, Snowdrop and Sam chatting animatedly under a willow tree. When the

group saw the two shire horses, they stopped chatting and turned to watch them

coming. Emma demanded: “What is all this I hear about you attacking my foal!”

Foxy favoured Jasper with a look of pure hatred! “That colt, that stupid idiot!”

She barked, “Sheissain saw him coming through the trees at an alarming rate!

Sheissain asked him quite civilly how he was and Jasper was so off hoof with

him! Sheissain asked if Jasper had got out of the wrong side of the bed this

morning,,,” Emma was laughing now. She found this line of questioning hilarious!

Foxy waited until the Shire mare calmed down before continuing: “Jasper got

furious and lashed out at Sheissain! We couldn’t let him get away with that, so

we attacked him, Whitehoof finally suspending him in mid air as a punishment for

saying dreadful things about the Falabella horse breed and Whitehoof himself.

That’s the short of it,” the vixen concluded. Emma turned a thunderous

expression on her foal. “You have behaved disgracefully!” She whinnied. “Those

horses were making fun of me!” Jasper squealed. “I don’t think so!” Emma yelled.

With that she clobbered Jasper with a hind foot. Jasper walked away dejectedly.

He found Sheissain sleeping under a tree. Thinking it would be fun to see what

this horse hated, Jasper crept up on Sheissain and touched his right hind foot

with his left forefoot. Sheissain screamed and leaping to his feet, bolted!

 

 

Sheissain ran through the forest with Jasper chasing after him. Sheissain

was frightened and knew he couldn’t keep running. Suddenly he tripped and fell

sprawling! Jasper took this opportunity to touch the stallions hooves one at a

time, delighting in tormenting Sheissain. Sheissain shrieked and squealed as the

Shire colt touched each hoof. Jasper made it worse by rubbing the sole of

Sheissain’s right hind foot with his hoof. Sheissain squealed and begged for

mercy! “Please stop! I hate having my hooves touched by anyone!” Jasper kept on

touching Sheissain’s feet. After five minutes, Sheissain was exhausted, and

could no longer fight. The fun went out of it for Jasper then. It was no fun now

the stallion was no longer squealing. Sheissain was going through hell, but was

too worn out to protest any more. Suddenly Jasper was falling! He crashed

painfully onto the forest floor! Looking up, he stared straight into the angry

eyes of a piebald mare! Jess stared down at Jasper with pathological hatred!

“You are fit for nothing!” She squealed. With that she kicked him hard! Jasper

screamed in agony! “I will make you pay for this!” Jess shrieked. She waved a

massive hoof in front of Jasper’s eyes. “No! no! no!” Jasper wined. “You deserve

nothing!” Jess screamed, “did you think Sheissain was enjoying what you were

doing to him? Didn’t you notice his fear and terror? Or were you enjoying

yourself hugely!! I think it was the latter! You are a horrid colt! I will

personally make sure you suffer forever!” Meanwhile, Sheissain wept into the

long grass.

 

Jasper got up and cantered away, leaving Sheissain and his foal to pick up

the peaces. Jess looked down at the shivering sobbing wreck that was Sheissain.

“He’s gone,” she whispered. Sheissain’s eyes focused on her face. “He tortured

me Jess, he touched my feet!” Sheissain whimpered. “I know, I know Sheissain

dear,” Jess said gently. Sheissain looked at her. “I thought the treatment would

have done the trick,” he said, “but I’m still terrified!” Jess stroked his

muzzle with hers. “Maybe you’ll never get over it,” she said, “maybe that’ll be

something you’ll have for life.” Sheissain was horrified! “I can’t live like

this, I must beat the fear!” He squealed. “We’ve tried everything!” Jess

whinnied. “I know Jess love, and I’m grateful!” Sheissain said with genuine

feeling, “but it hasn’t worked.” “Is it that you don’t trust other horses than

me?” Jess asked. Sheissain nodded: “Yeah,” he said. “how about if Whitehoof, or

Snowdrop, or even Sam tried touching your hooves, you trust them don’t you?”

“Yes, I do,” Sheissain replied. “I’ll see how Sam feels about helping you over

this then Sheissain,” Jess said, “I will help you beat this, and so will

everyone else!” Jess asked Sam if he would help with Sheissain’s treatment.

“What do I have to do?” the gelding asked. “Just come up to me any time you like

and ask me to pick up my feet,” Sheissain said, “then when I have my foot off

the ground, whatever one it may be, you touch it with your hoof.” “Make sure you

choose random times, and random hooves,” Jess advised, “Don’t let Sheissain get

into a pattern.” So that was settled. Sam was on the team to help Sheissain beat

his fear.

Sheissain walked away. Sam turned to his mate and asked: “Jess, were you

in a fight?” Jess replied: “Yep, rather one sided it was though, Jasper was

terrorising Sheissain as you know. I heard Sheissain’s cries of fear and waded

in to get rid of Jasper. That colt disgusts me!” Jess whinnied shrilly. Sam

hugged her tightly. “You did the right thing,” he said gently. “So I won’t get

punished for flattening him?” Jess asked. “No,” Sam replied, “You were defending

another horse, that’s okay.” Sam nuzzled her ear. “I love you Jess,” he said.

Jess hugged him. Meanwhile, Jasper was lying on the floor, his mother screaming

at him! “What did you think you were playing at!” She demanded. “Sheissain’s no

fun!” Jasper wailed. “You call torturing another horse fun?” Emma asked crossly.

“I thought he was enjoying the game!” Jasper squealed. “yeah right, bet you

did!” His mother snapped. “Have you ever seen a horse that is so scared his eyes

are nearly popping out of his head?” She asked. “I frightened Joy badly once,”

Jasper admitted. “What!” His mother yelled. “yes,” Jasper continued, totally

unapologetic for what he’d done, “I tripped her up and held her prisoner for

ages. That was ages ago now, and she won’t tell anyone, because if she does,

she’ll get one of these aimed at her!” he waved a massive forefoot. Emma

realised her foal was turning into a terrorist! “What have I done to make him

like this?” She asked herself. Emma knew her next duty was to inform Pip of

Jasper’s crime. She went in search of Pip and Whitehoof. Emma walked slowly

through the forest, all the while thinking of Jasper. Where had she gone wrong?

What had she done to turn her foal into a horse, that quite honestly, she now

hated and feared? This train of thinking reduced poor Emma to tears. Emma lay

down and wept. Snowdrop, walking through the forest on her usual early morning

stroll, heard a mare sobbing close by and went to investigate. Finding Emma in a

terrible state, Snowdrop asked: “Emma dear, what’s the matter?”

 

"I don't know what I did to turn Jasper nasty!" Emma sobbed.

 

Snowdrop lay down beside Emma on the forest floor. “Emma dear,” she began

gently, “it’s not your fault.” “Not my fault?” Emma asked, “but Jasper’s my

foal, I brought him into the world, and he’s my responsibility! Now, now he’s,

a, a terrorist!” She sobbed. “Sometimes foals go like that Emma,” Snowdrop

replied, “no matter what you do to help, they’ll go off the rails. When this

happens we have to hope that they don’t go too far astray.” “Jasper could end up

dead very easily if he carries on how he is,” Emma said. Snowdrop replied: “Yes

he could, but not by the actions of any of the horses in our herd. I can’t say

anything about the horses from other herds though.” Emma looked at the white

Falabella mare. “Snowdrop, I, I don’t know if I can cope any more!” she

squealed. Emma shook violently. “Hey, it’s okay Emma dear,” Snowdrop said

softly. Emma became hysterical: “I can’t cope any more! None of my other foals

turned out like this! What have I done Snowdrop? Tell me where I went wrong!”

Snowdrop looked into the eyes of a terrorised mare. “Emma, you did what you

could, now it is up to Jasper,” Snowdrop said gently. Emma clung to the smaller

mare, weeping pitifully into Snowdrop’s thick mane. Snowdrop felt Emma shaking

uncontrollably beside her. “I’ll help you as much as I can Emma dear,” she said,

“Whitehoof and I will help you through this, I promise.” Emma hugged Snowdrop to

her fiercely.

 

"Remember Emma, that you have to help us too." Snowdrop said.

 

“I’ll do what I can,” Emma said, “but I’m lost for solutions to this

problem Snowdrop! I’ve tried everything!” Snowdrop got to her feet, Emma did

likewise and they went in search of Whitehoof and Sam. When they found them,

Emma was horrified to find her foal tied up with the badger she’d once seen

holding his right hind hoof standing over him! “What on earth is going

on!” Emma yelled. “Horrid colt named Jasper tried hurt Pip,” Brock replied

angrily, “Brock no let him do this! Brock make plenty sure that Jasper no get

another chance to hurt Pip!” “Was she hurt?” Snowdrop asked. “No,” Brock

grunted, “Whitehoof manage get in front of her, Jasper hit him instead.”

Snowdrop’s blood ran cold! “Is Whitehoof all right?” She asked anxiously. “Try

asking me,” Whitehoof said. He’d crept up on her without her noticing. Squealing

with surprise, Snowdrop whipped round to find her foal laughing helplessly. “Hi

mum,” he said, “yes Jasper did go for Pip and me but it’s okay, we’ve stuffed

him now.” Relieved, Snowdrop went in search of Pip. She found her in a less than

composed state. Pip was lying on the ground, shivering and sobbing, with Sam

trying to comfort her. “What happened?” Snowdrop asked. “That colt,” Pip sobbed,

“he tried to kick me! Such big hooves! Whitehoof got in the way and I haven’t

seen either of them since! I don’t want to see the colt ever again, but

Whitehoof, where is he!” Snowdrop smiled and replied: “He’s fine, he’s just

about to warn Jasper off I think Pip dear.” Meanwhile, Emma was furious! “What

have you done now Jasper!” She screamed. “Pip got to hear about me frightening

Joy and she tried to bite me!” “You deserve that!” his mother yelled. “I tried

to kick her, and, and, got my hoof burnt!” “Whitehoof,” his mother thought.

“Then,” Jasper wined, “I was tripped by Sam, and, and then, this badger came and

tied me up! Mum, tell them to leave me alone!” All the foals had gathered round

now, and were laughing at him. “You do look funny!” Ben scoffed. “Shut up Ben,

Shut your mouth before I do you serious damage!” jasper shrieked. “Oh yeah yeah

yeah, I’m so scared, boohoo!” Ben whimpered mockingly. Jasper was apoplectic

with fury!

 

Jess strode up to Jasper, who was prostrate on the forest floor. As Emma

watched, she placed a huge forefoot on his shoulder pinning him to the floor.

Emma couldn’t believe her eyes! Jess, barely out of foal-hood herself, was

dealing out punishment to her foal! Feeling as well as seeing the hoof on him,

Jasper began to squeal and whinny for mercy! “You dare to go after Pip when she

is only doing her job!” Jess screeched. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” Jasper squealed.

“No you’re not!” Jess snapped, “you don’t know the meaning of the word!” She put

a little weight on the foot pinning the colt to the floor. Jasper shrieked!

“Don’t crush me!” Jess looked down at him with naked hatred! “I don’t know what

made you into the horrid colt you are,” she said, “I pity poor Emma that her

workload is so massive! You are a horrid creature Jasper! If you were not so

young, I’d have you gelded and then thrown out of the herd!” Jasper struggled

madly beneath Jess’s hoof. “You wouldn’t have me gelded!” He screamed, “Anything

but that!” Jess smiled grimly. She knew of forest creatures that could perform

such an operation. Down on the riverbank there were creatures that were just as

happy in water as out of it, she thought they were called otters, and she knew

they were the creatures of medicine. They could geld Jasper if necessary. Jess

also knew it would be Whitehoof’s decision as to whether this action was taken,

as it was he who decided on things like that. She knew, that if she had ultimate

say, she would have this colt gelded so he could not reproduce a foal, that

could be as horrible as he was. Jess looked into Jasper’s eyes, and saw he was

truly terrified. “You can’t geld me!” he whinnied shrilly. “I can’t, but I know

who can,” she replied. Jess released Jasper and went in search of Whitehoof to

discuss what should be done about the colt’s behaviour. “Geld him?” Whitehoof

asked. “Yes, then he couldn’t sire another foal that might turn out as horrible

as he is,” Jess replied. “Gelding a stallion is a very serious thing Jess, I

can’t do it just because he might produce a foal that might be as disagreeable

as he is! I have to do it for sounder reasons than that.” “It would make him

quieter though, gelded horses are more placid, as they don’t have, um, the urge

to, well, you know,” “procreate?” Whitehoof asked. Jess looked embarrassed. “Yes

Whitehoof, I mean just that,” she replied. “Nothing to be shy about,” Whitehoof

said smiling. “What would you know about it anyway?” She asked, “you’re a

gelding yourself.” “That I am,” he replied. “So what are we to do if gelding

Jasper is out of the question? We have to do something Whitehoof! That brute

could have killed Pip!” “I know that,” Whitehoof replied calmly. “And you don’t

care about that?” Jess asked, getting very upset now. “Of course I care!”

Whitehoof snapped, “I don’t think gelding him is a very good course of action to

take that’s all!” “Sorry,” Jess said contritely. “You need to learn that gelding

a stallion isn’t the answer to all behavioural questions Jess!” Whitehoof

yelled, “where would our herd be if all the horses were gelded?” “Dead within

fifty years Whitehoof,” she replied. “Exactly,” Whitehoof said, “there has to be

another way to deal with Jasper’s behaviour. He needs to learn that he can’t

resort to violence every time someone angers him. He’s large, with large hooves,

but the saying goes, the larger they are, the harder they fall. There’s got to

be a way of putting an end to his actions before it’s too late and more drastic

measures need to be taken. Give me time, I need to think on it.” Whitehoof said.

With that he ended the meeting and walked away to talk with Sam and Snowdrop.

He found them still trying to console a weeping Pip. Seeing Whitehoof

arrive Sam and Snowdrop started to get up from the ground, “No, stay there!”

said Whitehoof, “I need to talk to you both!” Whitehoof was disturbed to see Pip

in such a terrible state. “Listen, dear!” Snowdrop said, “You stay here with Pip

Whitehoof, she needs you right now!” “Yes mother!” he replied and taking that as

a hint Snowdrop led Sam away leaving Pip and Whitehoof alone.

 

 

Whitehoof looked at his mate still shivering and sobbing beside him.

“Jasper tried to hit me Whitehoof,” Pip sobbed. “I know,” he said, “it’s down to

Snowdrop and Sam to deal with Jasper now, I can’t do anything now.” Pip stared

at him! “But, Whitehoof, you’re, you’re herd leader! Now you’re saying you can’t

do anything to stop Jasper, and it’s down to Sam and Snowdrop to do it? That

means you have no power at all!” “I need to stay with you Pip,” Whitehoof said

gently, “You are my main concern now.” Pip was still uneasy. She remembered the

colt and his huge hooves, and the memory frightened her. “Whitehoof,” Pip asked,

“How can Snowdrop or Sam sort this matter? They are as small as we are, for all

his qualities, Sam is still a blind horse, and Snowdrop is so gentle she

couldn’t raise a hoof to any horse!” Whitehoof was concerned too, but didn’t

wish to burden Pip with this. “They’ll be fine,” he said airily. “No they won’t!

Pip squealed, “they’ll be dead before you know it Whitehoof! Jasper isn’t going

to think about you or Jess when he puts the hoof in! Sam and Snowdrop are in

danger Whitehoof, I can feel it!” Pip dissolved into tears again. Meanwhile Sam

and Snowdrop walked through the forest, tracking Jasper. Sam noticed something.

“I can’t hear your footfalls Snowdrop,” he said. “I’m not walking on the ground,

I’m walking on air,” she said calmly. Sam stopped dead. “You what!” He whinnied.

“I’m walking on air, go on, I’ll stand here, and you can feel my hoof, see if it

is touching the ground. Sam did so, and found that Snowdrop’s feet were not

touching the ground, they were a few inches off the ground. “How?” He asked.

“The mind can do amazing things Sam, you should know that more than anyone,”

Snowdrop replied. “Yes yes, indeed I do,” Sam said, “but what you are doing is

amazing!” “No, not really,” Snowdrop replied, “it’s just sensible if we are

tracking a horse with stealth. Your feet weren’t touching the ground either, I

made sure of that.” “But Snowdrop, I felt the ground beneath my feet,” Sam said.

“No you didn’t,” Snowdrop replied, “you felt a cushion of air. Sam, we are now

lighter than air.” Sam tried pushing Snowdrop with his nose, but she didn’t

float away as he had expected. “It’s an unusual power this one,” Snowdrop said.

“You bet it is!” Sam whinnied. They continued their journey, silently tracking

Jasper. “Oh, by the way,” Snowdrop said, “we’re invisible to him too, I made

sure of that also.” Sam said: “You are invisible to me anyway, but how can you

do that!” “Oh, it’s working on his brain again,” Snowdrop said, “when he looks

at other horses he can see them, but when he looks at us, his brain doesn’t

register our presence. Other horses can see us still,” she said. “Is there

anything else you want to tell me about?” The gelding asked. “No,” Snowdrop

replied, “of course there is a lot more I could say, but I don’t want to.” They

saw Jasper stop ahead of them, Sam thought it strange that the colt hadn’t

overheard their conversation. Catching his thoughts, Snowdrop replied: “Don’t

ask, because you’ll never believe the answer.” Sam accepted that. Jasper looked

round, sensing another horse nearby. “Who’s there?” he asked. Then fear growing

in him, more sharply: “Who’s there? Show yourself!” Snowdrop put the thought

into Jasper’s head that she was close by. “I am the dawn horse,” she said.

Jasper began to shake with fear! “Eohippus, where are you!” Jasper whinnied

shrilly, his eyes almost starting from his head. “I’m in front of you, look, and

you will see,” Snowdrop then relaxed the hold on his brain and Jasper saw her,

but not Sam. “You are Snowdrop!” he screeched, “not Eohippus!” Then his eyes

briefly looked into the smaller mare’s, and he couldn’t drag them away. Jasper

squealed as the white mare looked deep into his being! “You can’t do this to

me!” he shrieked. “You resist, and I’ll risk hurting you,” Snowdrop replied,

“take it nice and easy, and I’ll not cause you any pain.” She probed deeply,

reading, learning. “You are a vindictive creature,” Snowdrop said. Exhausted,

Jasper lay down, but Snowdrop’s gaze followed him. “leave me alone!” He pleaded.

“I want to know why you terrorise other horses,” Snowdrop said, “start with

Sheissain, and then work through every horse you have wronged, including your

poor mother!” “I know not being truthful won’t work,” Jasper replied. Sam

couldn’t believe his ears! “Sheissain, well, I worked out what he hated, and I

terrorised him with it, just because it was fun! Real fun to watch him struggle

and squeal as I did such a tiny thing as touch his hooves! He’s weak, and cried

like a foal! Sheissain’s the foal, I’m not!” Snowdrop showed no emotion, and

commanded him to continue: “Whitehoof,” Jasper said, “he’s no leader, he’s a

misfit, his white hoof proves him to be so.” Snowdrop implanted the tale of the

seventh foal, then of Whitehoof’s birth and what that meant for equines. “No!

That’s not true! It can’t be true!” Jasper whimpered. “it is,” Snowdrop replied,

“and I should know, I gave birth to him.” Jasper began to shake with fear. “He

is leader,” Snowdrop said, “and Sam is second in command.” Jasper was finished,

and he knew it. “What do you want me to do Eohippus?” he asked. “Stop

terrorising other horses, that is all. If you dare to disobey my instructions,

you will know my full anger!” Snowdrop released Jasper from her mind probe and

they walked away, leaving Jasper to think about what had happened to him.

 

 

Snowdrop and Sam returned to the tree under which Pip and Whitehoof were

resting. Seeing Snowdrop, Pip ran to her. “Thank Eohippus you’re safe!” She

whinnied. “We are safe,” Snowdrop said. Whitehoof saw his mother and leaping to

his feet, ran to her. “How did it go?” he asked anxiously. “I don’t think Jasper

will trouble us again,” Snowdrop replied, “if he does, then he knows things will

get worse for him.” “How did you get him to listen to you Snowdrop? He’s got

massive hooves, he won’t listen to a horse like you, would he?” Snowdrop smiled

at her. “Yes Pip dear, he would listen, and he did listen.” “What did you do to

him?” Pip persisted, “he’s got massive hooves, and with all due respect Snowy

dear, you’re hooves are tiny!” Snowdrop looked down at her hooves, then at

Pip’s. “So are yours,” she said, “but he did listen. I also learned a lot about

him.” “He told you why he terrorised other horses?” Pip asked. “No,” Snowdrop

replied, “if you can’t get a horse to give you information voluntarily Pip, you

need to get it yourself.” Pip knew not to question Snowdrop further. Snowdrop

shook herself. “Jasper won’t be troubling us again, I hope,” she said.

 

"Thank you mum!” said Whitehoof. They all made their way back to the herd.

Pip and Whitehoof had slept and felt somewhat refreshed.

 

Pip returned to her duties looking after the newborn foals. One day, while

she was marshalling all the foals round her prior to going to the river to

drink, she spotted a shaggy welsh pony mare with a scrawny foal beside her

coming through the trees. Seeing her, the mare brought her foal to Pip. “I am

told,” the mare said hesitantly, “that, that you would look after, after, foals,

I need you to look after my little one, you see, he, I mean, I, well, I can’t

give him any milk.” The poor mare looked desperately at Pip. “I had little Joey

only a few hours ago, and I can’t feed him, I, I don’t know what to do!” Pip

couldn’t look into the welsh mare’s panic stricken eyes. “I can’t do anything

myself,” Pip replied, “but I could ask our leader.” With that she cantered away

in search of Whitehoof. Finding him, Pip told him what had happened. “We can’t

take a foal on who’s mother can’t produce milk,” he said, “I’m sorry Pip, we

just can’t do that!” Pip’s heart sank. She knew there were no mare’s producing

milk at the moment who would consider taking on another foal. Dispirited, she

returned to the Welsh pony mare with her bad news. On reaching the clearing, Pip

saw the mare and Emma talking together. Seeing her, Emma waved a hoof at Pip to

come to her. “I’ve decided to help Joey out,” Emma said, “Jasper’s weaned now,

he couldn’t wait to get off my milk. I still have plenty going though.” “if you

feel you can,” Pip said, hardly believing her ears, “then go ahead, and thank

you Emma.” They came to a problem then, Emma was so massive that the tiny Welsh

pony foal couldn’t reach to suckle, so Emma had to lie down so Joey could feed.

Joey’s mother looked relieved that her foal was getting food at last. As Pip

watched, the mare’s legs collapsed beneath her and she crashed onto the forest

floor! Squealing hysterically, Pip ran for snowdrop who came tearing over the

grass when she saw the Falabella mare’s distress. Snowdrop took one look at the

welsh mare and shook her head. “it’s no good Pip, there’s no hope for her,”

Snowdrop said sadly. “You mean, she, she’s dead?” Pip asked. “yes Pip dear, I’m

afraid she is,” Snowdrop said gently. Pip walked away, unable to cope with the

situation. Snowdrop checked the poor Welsh pony mare over, but found no sign of

life. “Another job for the badgers,” Snowdrop thought. She wondered where this

mare had come from. Snowdrop had heard that she had only that day foaled, and

that she was desperate for food to feed her foal. Brock appeared, and said

gently: “Me know what happened, me arrange bury Welsh mare. Snowdrop no worry

about a thing, Brock got everything sorted.” “Thank you Brock,” Snowdrop said.

Meanwhile, Joey had finished his drink and was lying on the ground cuddled up to

Emma, who found she couldn’t stop stroking the tiny foal. Finding warmth, and

the attentions of this massive mare to his liking, Joey fell asleep. “Could you

look after him until he’s weaned?” Snowdrop asked. “yes, I would be delighted,”

Emma replied.

 

Pip was so relieved that Emma had taken little Joey on, it was good

for Emma to have another foal to think about. Pip loved her job helping with the

foals, and she knew that Snowdrop was always available to give her a hoof if

things got too hectic.

 

Whitehoof still couldn’t believe what had happened. He was furious that

another orphan foal had been taken on! “What was this herd, some kind of

refuge!” He thought angrily. Whitehoof’s anger was not directly aimed at the

foals themselves, they couldn’t help it, and it was sad that their mothers died,

but surely fostering a foal had a bad affect on the mare and on the foal being

looked after, for it wouldn’t know it’s real mother. He thought this over.

Snowdrop noticed her foal’s preoccupation with something and asked him about it.

Taking his courage in his tiny hoof, Whitehoof told her all. “Whitehoof,”

Snowdrop said, “if we can pick up an orphan foal then it’s a good thing. Orphan

foals who are not helped within the first few hours will die. They are born with

very little in the way of fat to survive, actually, none at all! If they were born

any bigger, I’d pity the mares. Well, that aside, they haven’t got any means to

survive long, so we have to help where we can! I know you cannot sire foals, so

it hasn’t crossed your mind Whitehoof, but we have to do what we can as a herd

to help foals in need! We can’t just turn them away!!” Whitehoof felt helpless.

He wanted a herd with mares who gave birth to foals sired by stallions in the

herd, not mares who adopted orphan foals, that wasn’t right! He turned tail and

walked off dejectedly to talk with Pip about it. “Absolute nonsense Whitehoof!”

Pip snapped. She turned a furious expression on her mate. “As Snowdrop said, it

doesn’t matter where the foals come from! They’re coming, and as for your ideals

of fertile mares, we have some mares who foal, others don’t, but that’s not a

problem. If we get orphan foals such as Joey, and we can save them, let’s do it

is what I say. Whitehoof, in the end, who cares what parentage the foals have,

as long as we have foals!” Snowdrop listened, wondering where her little

Whitehoof was going wrong. His ideals were at odds with the situation, and Snowy

knew that if he didn’t come round soon, Whitehoof would either leave the herd or

start turning orphan foals away, and she didn’t want that. Snowdrop felt she

must talk with another horse about this, so she went in search of Bobby, a wise

old cart-horse who’d been around the herd for years. Bobby, having heard of the

tiny white mare, was surprised when she told him she was looking for him. He

looked at her through, what seemed to Snowdrop, and impossibly matted mass of

mane. “Lie down here, and tell me all about it,” Bobby said kindly. Snowdrop did

so and, after swearing Bobby to confidentiality, recounted everything.

“Whitehoof is wrong!” Bobby pronounced, “I know I’m old, but I know also that

our leader, good horse that he is, is wrong. I agree with Pip on this, get the

foals in where we can. It doesn’t matter where they come from. For Eohippus

sake, we could get them from the moon, as long as they kept coming. It is our

duty Snowdrop, to look after foals in need. That is a herd’s overriding and

absolute responsibility! I hope I never live to see the day that we turn foals,

or any horses away because of a feeling that they are somehow not worthy.

Snowdrop, believe me, if this got out, the whole herd would be in revolt, and

Whitehoof would be a busted flush. He would be finished as herd leader. I have

no power, but those who have his ear must, must stop him! If they do not, I

don’t know what will become of this herd. Mares don’t foal at the leader’s

command, it is their own choice to bare a foal, and if they won’t, or if they

can’t, as poor Blackberry couldn’t, then it is not their fault. I am very

concerned about what you say, very concerned indeed. Snowdrop looked at the

massive old horse. “Thank you Bobby,” she said. “My pleasure,” Bobby replied.

Snowdrop got to her feet and went in search of Sam to talk with him. Her

conversation with Bobby had shaken her up a great deal, and she needed to talk

with a younger member of the leadership.

 

Snowdrop found Sam lying beside Jess, who was asleep. “Sam,” She

whispered, “I need to talk to you, private, and, now,” Sam sensed the white

mare’s distress. “Let’s go somewhere else to talk,” he said, “I know Jess

wouldn’t repeat anything she overheard, but it’s best.” With that they found

their way to a secluded spot and lay down. Snowdrop told Sam about her fears,

and about her talk with Bobby. “I know him,” Sam said, “Bobby’s a horse of

steady character, but gets names wrong, by Blackberry, I think he meant Petra,

but he says whatever name comes into his head poor fellow. Fundamentally though,

he’s a decent chap. You did well to confide in him.” “But he’s got no power, no

influence,” Snowdrop said. “No, but what he says is true enough. If Whitehoof

doesn’t relent, and this was to get around the herd, then the herd would revolt.

Whitehoof would be running for his life.” “I know Whitehoof feels strongly about

this matter, and he really doesn’t like orphan foals coming into the herd,”

Snowdrop said, “but if he had to be replaced, who would do it? Who would be the

best horse for the job?” “I think she’s lying beside me,” Sam said. Snowdrop

stared at the gelding: “No, Sam, I couldn’t do it, not me.” Sam replied: “It is

herd law, that if the leader is deposed, then the second in command is asked to

take the job, if the second in command does not want the job, then he or she

gets to nominate whom ever they wish to be leader. Snowy dear, that nomination

is final.” “I hope for Whitehoof’s sake it doesn’t come to the point where we

have to make that choice.” Snowdrop replied. “We both need to talk to Whitehoof

Snowdrop,” Sam said, “and it better be done now.”

 

Whitehoof was asleep next to Pip under the willow Tree. Snowdrop shook him

gently, “Whitehoof dear!” she whispered softly. Whitehoof woke, “We need to

talk, its urgent!” Sam said. They left Pip sleeping and returned to the secluded

spot they had just come from.

 

Whitehoof plodded along behind Sam and his mother. He knew what the talk

was about, and he wasn’t looking forward to it. There had been word flying about

the herd that his feelings on the orphan foals issue were known, and that some

horses didn’t like them. Reaching the secluded spot, Snowdrop and Sam lay down,

but Whitehoof kept pacing about, agitated and not willing to settle. “I know

what the talk is about,” he said, “and I’m not changing my views. No leader can

have orphan foals coming into his or her herd right left and centre! If they

can’t fend for themselves, then let them die, for that is what nature intended

them to do.” “Whitehoof,” Sam said, “all the orphan foals we’ve taken care of

have been those of mares who have been driven from their native herds. We

haven’t gone looking for orphan foals, the mares have come to us with their

foals, or have had their foals and then sadly died. We can’t help what happens

there.” “I also don’t like the fact our mares are not producing foals! If this

herd is going to remain true to itself, rather than being made up of all sorts,

mares need to have foals, by our stallions! If we aren’t careful, we’ll end up

with a herd of mixed horses, who have no heritage apart from the fact they have

no mothers! This is wrong!” Snowdrop asked: “So you think that we should turn

orphan foals away?” “yes mum, I do,” Whitehoof said. “You didn’t turn me away,”

Sam said. Whitehoof had forgotten that Sam was indeed a disowned foal, and

wasn’t that similar to being orphaned? He realised he’d made a huge error.

“Also,” Sam said, “You Whitehoof, say that our mares do not produce foals. They

have, Gemini did, Emma has, Tilly has, twice in fact. The foals are beautiful

creatures, and you haven’t noticed them? I have, and I can’t see them!”

Whitehoof knew what was coming, and it was unavoidable. “Our mares do not

reproduce on your command Whitehoof, and you’d better remember that,” Snowdrop

said. Whitehoof couldn’t abandon his stance though, he felt strongly about the

foal’s heritage, and about the mares. He also knew what this meant for his

position in the herd. If the rest of the herd agreed with Snowdrop and Sam, then

he’d be replaced by another horse. Whitehoof turned tail and walked away. “He’s

under no illusion as to what’s about to happen,” Snowdrop said. “No,” Sam

replied, “and it’s down to me to instigate the meeting.” He hugged Snowdrop

tightly. “It’ll be okay,” he said, “we’ll get through this.” Snowdrop looked

into his face. “Sam, do your duty as you are charged to,” she said, “I will not

hinder you.” Sam walked away to convene the meeting of the whole herd, leaving

snowdrop to think about what was to come.

 

Pip was not happy at all. She knew how she had to vote, she didn’t want to

go against Whitehoof but on the other hoof the foals were very important to her,

after all, her job was to look after them. Would this be the end of her and

Whitehoof? Was she going to have to choose between them? She didn’t want to lose

either, she loved whitehoof so much that it hurt and he knew how much she loved

the foals.

 

In Desperation Pip turned to Bobby for advice. “I know you’ve probably

heard about all this thing with Whitehoof not wanting orphan foals in the herd

Bobby,” She said, “and you know what I do, and what my relationship to Whitehoof

is.” Bobby replied: “Yes, I know, and I know also what you are about to ask me.

Pip, it’s hard in your position, but you have to do what you feel is right.

Could you live with yourself if Whitehoof turned all orphan foals away, because

he would make the ruling retrospective if he could. Or if you do go against him,

and the vote is carried, then could you live with what that might do to your

relationship.” Pip knew it was up to her, and her alone, and the meeting was in

an hour. She made her way to the meeting place. Sam presided over the meeting.

He outlined the case before them, asking Whitehoof to state his reasons for

wanting to expel orphan foals from the herd. Pip could see that many of the

horses, stallions included, did not like what was said. “So,” Sam said, “all

those who would support Whitehoof, gather over by the river, and all those who

would appose him, gather over by the great oak.” Whitehoof was prevented from

seeing who voted which way by having to turn away and keep his back to the

horses until the vote was decided. Pip nervously made her way to the no camp,

deciding in a split second that she needed the foals for her own sanity. The

vote went the way of keeping the orphan foals. Whitehoof was informed of this

and was then asked what he was proposing to do next. Whitehoof looked at Sam.

“You take it from here,” he said, “I can’t take any further part in this herd.”

With that he walked away. Sam knew he must, for the herd’s sake, keep things

running. So he took charge, invoking the rules that were laid down for such an

occurrence. “As is herd law,” he whinnied, “As Whitehoof has walked away from

the leadership, the second in command takes the place of the leader, unless that

is, the second in command does not want the leadership. I don’t. I feel I cannot

lead this herd, but I know a mare who might be able to, if she will.” Some

horses murmured: “Snowdrop, I’ll bet it’s Snowdrop!” Sam heard this and looked

over at the white Falabella mare. “Come here Snowdrop,” Sam said. Snowdrop went

to him. “Would you be so kind as to take on the responsibility of leading this

herd?” Sam asked. Some horses felt he wasn’t commanding her, more asking her,

but kept their views to themselves. Snowdrop felt trapped, but knew Sam had no

choice but to ask her. “I’ll do it,” she said softly, wondering how on earth she

was going to perform her duty. Meanwhile, Whitehoof had caught up with Pip. He

knew how she’d voted, and wasn’t surprised. Snowdrop had talked severely to him

about how his views had affected his mate, and he was now torn apart with

remorse for what he’d done to Pip. Whitehoof threw himself down on the ground,

thoroughly worn out with emotion. Pip saw the state he was in and lay down

beside him. They lay there in an awkward silence for about five minutes before

Whitehoof broke it. “I know how you voted Pip darling,” he said neutrally. “How?

It is illegal to observe a vote Whitehoof,” Pip replied flatly. “I know,”

Whitehoof said, “but mum had a chat with me that put me in no doubt as to what

your views were. Of course I knew, you’d told me yourself, but she rammed it

home to me what you, and the other horses felt about the foals.” “yes Whitehoof,

we need those foals,” Pip replied. Whitehoof found it very strange that Pip

hadn’t once tried to say he should agree with her. She’d expressed her view that

what he stood for, was in her view, “absolute nonsense,” but she hadn’t once

tried to brand him a bad horse for holding the views he held. Whitehoof felt

very small indeed. Wanting to curl up into a ball and die of shame, he looked at

his mate, wondering where they’d go from here. Catching the turmoil of his

thoughts, Pip suddenly hugged him. “Whitehoof darling, I’ll never leave you,”

She said. Suddenly Whitehoof felt the control on his emotions snap, and, burying

his face in her mane, he burst into tears.

 

“its ok, its ok!” Pip stroked Whitehoof’s mane gently. “I was worried that

you would leave me!” Whitehoof wept uncontrollably. “I would never do that! I

love you!” she said. They clung together for a very long time.

 

Meanwhile, Snowdrop and Sam talked together. “How does it feel to be

leader?” Sam asked. “I can only lead the herd if the horses respect my judgement

and decisions Sam, otherwise, I am not able to lead the herd,” Snowdrop replied.

“Before we talked about this a few days ago,” Sam said, “I checked with many

horses as to whether they’d object to you taking over. The herd knew about

Whitehoof’s views, and also felt that things needed to change. The horses were

anxious that you get the leadership if I wouldn’t do it, and I’m not doing it.”

Sam hugged Snowdrop tightly. He felt her warm thick fur against his cheek as he

nuzzled her ear. Sam noticed Snowdrop’s fur was thicker than his, |Pip’s, or

even Whitehoof’s. He couldn’t stop stroking, stroking, stroking her cheek with

his muzzle. Snowdrop smiled and said: “You enjoying that Sam?” Startled, Sam

stopped nuzzling her ear and replied: “Ay? Oh, oh dear, I’m so sorry, I, I was.

was miles away,,,” he gabbled. “I know,” Snowdrop said, hugging him tightly, “I

know what you mean.” “But, your, your fur Snowdrop, it’s, so, so warm and soft!

How do you get it so soft?” Snowdrop brushed his ear with her muzzle. Sam

blinked back tears from a rush of emotion he couldn’t explain. He didn’t desire

Snowdrop in any way, but, just by nuzzling him, she triggered the remembrance of

a feeling he’d not known since he was very young, before he knew anything about

rejection, about being second best. A time when he could cuddle up to his mother

and bury his muzzle in her soft warm fur. Snowdrop seemed to feel Sam’s emotion,

and, because she felt she could do nothing else, she lay down and drew him to

her. Sam felt he had no control over anything now. He lay down beside Snowdrop,

wanting this strange warmth, wanting to feel the soft fur.  Like a foal seeking

warmth and reassurance, Sam cuddled up to Snowdrop. Sam’s tears, born of the

realisation of what he’d lost from his early life, wet Snowdrop’s mane, but she

didn’t seem to mind. “It’s okay Sam, it’s okay my pet,” Snowdrop whispered

soothingly. Sam felt secure in Snowy’s presence, and the softness and warmth of

her fur against his face served to reinforce this. He knew he wanted this to go

on forever. Jess arrived and watched the goings on from a safe distance. She

wondered why Sam had mentally disintegrated. She thought he was made of tough

stuff, but now, well, would he tell her if she asked? Jess saw her mate cuddled

up to Snowdrop, like, like a foal would it’s mother, but Snowdrop wasn’t Sam’s

mother, Cleo was, and she’d disowned him! Jess suddenly demanded: “What on earth is going on!” Snowdrop gave her a look that silenced her. “Leave

it for Now Jess,” she said.

 

Snowdrop roused Sam, who’d fallen asleep with his head resting on her

shoulder. “Come on Sam dear, time to wake up,” she said softly. Yawning, Sam got

to his feet and shook himself. Jess looked at her mate, an expression of

confusion on her face. “What on earth was going on earlier?” She asked. “I can’t

explain it Jess, I don’t know quite what was going on,” Sam replied truthfully.

Jess turned her eye on Snowdrop. “You must know what went on there,” she said,

“what were you doing to Sam!” “He wanted a hug, so I obliged,” Snowdrop replied.

“He was cuddled up to you like a foal Snowdrop!” Jess squealed, “how do you

explain that away?” “He wanted reassurance,” the white mare replied, “so I gave

him reassurance.” Jess couldn’t believe her ears! Forgetting Snowdrop was leader

now, she snapped: “You are a horrid mare! You wanted to seduce Sam didn’t you

Snowdrop! You are a disgusting creature!” Snowdrop turned tail and walked away.

Sam turned a furious expression on his mate. “Now you are being stupid Jess!

Why on earth did you say that? Snowdrop’s got every right to hug

another horse if she wants. There was no other motive than reassurance in her

manner, none at all! What you said to poor Snowy was inexcusable!” “Snowy now is

it,” Jess shrieked, “is that your pet name for her?” “It’s a pet name all horses

have for her, they always have Jess. Indeed it was Poppy who coined that one.”

Jess walked away, furious and confused.

 

Snowdrop looked at Sam. “Are you all right?” She asked. “Yeah, better now

I think.” Sam replied, “Snowy, I’m, I’m sorry about earlier, I don’t know what

came over me.” Snowdrop hugged him once more, which almost reduced Sam to tears.

“That’s okay,” Snowdrop said softly. Sam gulped hard, fighting with the longing

to cuddle up to this mare, and the conventions and restrictions placed on him by

his post as deputy leader. “I, I can’t explain why I’m feeling like this,” he

said. “If you want a hug, that’s okay,” Snowdrop said. Sam touched her muzzle

with his. He suddenly blurted: “Snowy dear, I’ve never been hugged like that, my

mother never used to,,,” He knew what he’d inferred, and was waiting to be

clobbered by a hard hoof, but the blow never came. Snowdrop was standing next to

him, her muzzle touching his. “It’s okay Sam,” She said, “I’m here to be a

mother figure to all horses, of all breeds.” Sam didn’t understand what she was

saying. “You didn’t, couldn’t have given birth to all these horses Snowdrop, so

how could you be a mother to them all?” He asked. “Some horses do not have

mothers, like those orphan foals. Even grown horses need a hug sometimes Sam,

Eohippus decreed that it be my job to do what I could for horses in distress.”

Sam felt safe with Snowdrop, and he thought she knew it. “I’ve got to go, he

said, “I’ve got to talk to Jess about this. I don’t think she understands what

happened.” Snowdrop nuzzled his ear. “That’s okay,” Snowdrop said, “tell her I’m

here for her also, for she is an orphan foal herself.” Sam didn’t know what Jess

would say to this, but he said he would mention it to her.

 

Sam found Jess sulking under a tree. “We need to talk, Jess!” he said

kindly. “What do you mean we need to talk! I saw what was going on with you and

Snowdrop, it seemed that you were a bit too familiar with her!” Jess said

coldly. “Now, that’s not fair!” Sam reminded her. “Snowdrop was just showing

something of the mother in her, it was no more than that Jess, if you cant see

that then you are more blind than what I am!” “I don’t know what you mean!” Jess

stamped her hoof in rage. “I can see that!” Sam tried to keep calm. “I have no

interest in Snowdrop whatsoever except for the fact that I am her second in

command and that is all, if this does not satisfy you Jess then that’s it

between us. “I don’t know why you were cuddled up so tightly to her!” Jess

continued to whine. “Listen to me!” Sam went on, “Perhaps it would be a good

idea if you went and talked to Snowdrop yourself. Now, I have work to do.” At

this Sam left Jess and made his way back to the herd.

 

Jess stormed through the forest in search of Snowdrop. She found the white

falabella mare grazing peacefully in a clearing. Seeing her, Snowdrop stopped

grazing. “Hi Jess, what can I do for you?” She asked. “I want answers!” Jess

screamed. “Answers to what questions?” Snowdrop asked. “What were you and Sam

doing in that clearing?” Jess asked crossly. “Sam needed a hug,” Snowdrop

replied, “he was lonely and I hugged him. That’s all.” “He’s lonely? He’s got

me! How on earth can he be lonely!” jess yelled. “yes he has you Jess, but

sometimes horses need more than just their mates, they need a horse they can

cuddle up to. A horse that will love them no matter what they do or are. A

mother figure in other words. Sam had no mother figure, you did, you were

fortunate to have Tilly to bring you up. Sam was cuddling up to me because he

wanted a reassuring hug. That’s all Jess. I don’t want to hear anything more

about it. You never know, one day, you might need a hug from another horse.”

Jess stared at the white falabella mare. “How can a grown horse act like a

foal!” She squealed. “If they need some time to think in a place of security and

safety, then they can come to a horse like me,” Snowdrop said. Jess turned tail

and walked away, unable to muster the fire she had when first confronting

Snowdrop. She had to talk to Sam some more to find out what he’d gained from his

proximity to their new leader.

 

Jess wandered off to find Sam but instead of Sam she found herself talking

to Poppy. "Oh Poppy!” Jess wailed "I was looking for Sam, I need, I need to talk

... she started to cry. "Jess. what's up?” Poppy asked. Jess told her what she

had seen and how she had confronted Snowdrop. "You have no cause to be jealous

of Sam!” Poppy said kindly to Jess. "Come here!” she said and held Jess close to

her. Jess suddenly realised what was happening and cried, ashamed of what she

had done!

 

“Hey Jess, shh my dear,” Poppy whispered. “So all Sam wanted was a warm

hug from Snowdrop?” Jess asked. “yes,” Poppy said, “as Snowdrop probably said,

he was feeling lonely. He needed a hug, so Snowdrop hugged him. She’s soppy

Snowy is. She probably desperately wanted to hug him. Snowdrop’s as soft as they

come Jess. She means well.” “I see that now,” Jess sobbed, “I can’t believe I’ve

been so stupid!” Poppy smiled suddenly. “I remember being hugged by Snowdrop

once. Her fur was so warm and soft it felt like being wrapped up in the softest,

warmest blanket I’d ever known.” “I think I’d better go back and talk to

Snowdrop,” Jess replied, “I said some terrible things to her in the clearing. I

must try and mend things between us!” With that she gently disengaged herself

from Poppy’s embrace and went in search of the white Falabella mare.

 

Jess wandered through the forest, not really wanting to meet her leader.

All too soon however, she found herself face to face with Snowdrop. “Snowdrop,

I, I’m sorry. I know it probably sounds cheap and useless to say it but I’m ever

so sorry for what I said!” Snowdrop took Jess in from nose to tail, her gaze

falling finally on the filly’s hooves. “There was nothing more than reassurance

in what I did,” Snowdrop said flatly. “Yes Snowy, I know that now,” “It’s

Snowdrop,” the Falabella mare said curtly. “But Sam,,” “I know Sam calls me

Snowy, but you cannot do so Jess. I am Snowdrop to you.” Jess realised Snowdrop

was cutting her out in the most brutal way she knew. It wasn’t physically

violent, but emotionally Jess felt shattered. “I think Poppy showed you what Sam

felt,” Snowdrop said. “yes she did Snowy, I mean Snowdrop,,, Don’t hit me!”

Snowdrop had raised a hoof from the ground, frightening Jess so badly that she

turned and fled! Charging through the forest she nearly tripped over Sam. “Woh

there! What’s happening?” He asked. Jess collapsed onto the forest floor. “I’ve

put my hoof in it with Snowdrop. She threatened to hit me Sam!” “She’s very

upset Jess,” Sam said. “I know, I know!” Jess wailed, “and I tried to apologise,

but she didn’t accept it, and, and,,,” “I’ll bet you tried endearing yourself to

her by using her pet name,” Sam said angrily. “Yes Sam, I did,” Jess admitted,

“but how is it that you can call her Snowy, but I can’t? She’s meant to be a

mother to all foals, so she said, and she’s not acting like one!” “If a foal

needs disciplining, then she’s acting correctly,” Sam said. Jess knew what he

meant. “You are acting like a spoiled foal Jess,” Sam said, “and Snowdrop’s only

doing her job in putting you right. She probably raised a hoof to you too.” Jess

squealed: “Yes, Sam she did! She’s dangerous!” Sam lost his temper with her.

“Jess, has Snowdrop ever hit a horse that hasn’t physically gone for her?” “No

Sam,” She replied. “Not yet she hasn’t,” Sam said, “and she would like to keep

it that way I’ll bet. If you push her though, she might just lash out, and a

sorry thing it will be for you.” Jess thought of Whitehoof’s power, then she

thought of what Snowdrop might be able to do as she was his mother, and the

thought made her sweat with fear. “Snowdrop doesn’t want to make you fear her,

but she’s only doing her job Jess. You will have to wait until she feels you

have served your time of punishment. Be warned also, if you ever call her Snowy

to her face without permission, you’ll feel the business end of a kick from a

white hoof!” With that he got up and walked away to find his leader, leaving

Jess to think about what he’d said.

 

Sam found Snowdrop dealing with a minor scuffle between two horses. “Hey

Snowdrop, want some help?” He asked as he approached the sound of the shouting

horses. “Its ok Sam Dear, all sorted now, Shoo you two and Don’t let me see that

happening again!” the two disgraced horses slunk away nervously. “Right, now

what can I do for you Sam dear!? Snowdrop asked. “Oh I just came to find you and

see if you were ok, I know Jess was talking to you earlier. “Yes!” Snowdrop

replied, …” “She’ll be ok!” Sam said. “I have just left her to think, I’ll go

back in a while and see if she has calmed down.”

 

“What was all that squealing and whinnying for Snowy?” Sam asked. “Oh,

nothing, just Jasper and Ben in an argument. Jasper tormented Joy, Ben walloped

Jasper, and he came crying to me.” “Jasper’s not my favourite horse,” Sam

admitted. “No, he’s noone’s favourite, but we can’t be partial, we have to take

no side,” Snowdrop said, “So I found out what had gone on and gave Jasper a kick

for his troubles, Ben then got the worst of it from Jasper, for Jasper thought I

was taking Ben’s side, but I wasn’t! Jasper started it, so he got clouted. That

argument was what you heard. They’ve now gone away to lick their metaphorical

wounds.” Sam hesitated: “Um, Snowdrop, I, I talked to Jess about the reasons why

you got angry with her for calling you Snowy to your face.” “I don’t mind people

calling me Snowy, it’s just that she tried it to endear herself to me, and I was

telling her it wouldn’t work! She said horrible things to me Sam, horrible

things that I couldn’t excuse! So I let her know I wasn’t happy at all!” Sam

sensed Snowdrop was close to tears. “I’m only doing what comes naturally to me

Sam,” She said faintly, “the hugging other horses thing n’all that. Not the

anger.” Taking his courage in his tiny hoof, Sam went to Snowdrop and hugged

her. Snowdrop, unable to keep a lid on her emotions any more, buried her face in

his mane and cried. “It’s okay Snowy, “It’s okay,” he whispered. “No it isn’t,”

Snowdrop wailed, “I hit Jasper! I lost my temper and hit him!” “There’s nothing

wrong with that Snowy dear,” Sam replied softly, “you talked to Jasper first,

and he didn’t respond, he kept disobeying you and tormenting Ben. So you had to

hit him. If you hadn’t, he’d still be tormenting another horse. You did right,

you did what any other horse in your position would have done. Now dry your eyes

Snowy dear, and let’s here no more about this, all right?” “You’re beginning to

sound like me!” She laughed. “That’s better,” Sam said, “Now let’s go and find

Jess, together.” They went in search of Sam’s mate.

 

Snowdrop and Sam found Jess where Sam had left her to think. “Are you

feeling better now, Jess?” Snowdrop asked. “Er, yes, thank you Snowdrop.” Jess

answered. “good.” The older horse replied, “Now, you get along and give Pip a

hand while I go and talk to Emma!” Jess left the two falabella horses and

Snowdrop went in search of Emma. Sam wandered off into the forest almost falling

over Brock on his travels.

 

“Woh Sam!” The badger remonstrated. Sam picked himself up off the ground.

“I’m so, so sorry,” Sam gabbled. “That be fine, me know you no see Brock,” the

badger grunted. Sam smiled at him. “Yes, me no see you,” he said. Brock slapped

his shoulder with a hard forepaw! “Don’t say thing like that!” Brock roared. Sam

knew he was in trouble. “Sorry,” Sam said contritely. “You no talk like me, so

why you do it now?” Brock asked. “It was an attempt to talk your way,” Sam said

truthfully. “it be no matter now,” Brock grunted, “but you no do it again,

right?” He said. “Right,” Sam replied. Brock stroked the Falabella gelding’s

shoulder with a forepaw. “Me hear that Snowdrop now leader of herd. Me also hear

Whitehoof in very big trouble with horses for saying he throw out orphan foals!”

“You’d be right there Brock,” Sam said, “we had a meeting, and Snowdrop is now

leader of the herd.” “Very good,” Brock said, “Snowdrop good, kind mare. She

make good leader. Brock like her plenty.” Brock asked Sam to pick up his right

hind hoof. When he did, the badger looked down at it. “Me still think hooves on

you and Pip and Snowdrop be too small! Me know you be born with tiny hooves, but

Brock still find it impossible to believe!” “We are tiny horses,” Sam said, “so

we have tiny hooves, that’s the size of it.” Brock measured his paw against

Sam’s hoof. “Brock like small horses because they more like me. Hooves of small

horses more size like Brock paw too! That be good thing. Me no problem with

large horses though, but me scared of big hooves! Them do big damage! Me see

Emma, what big hooves! Brock plenty nervous!” “No,” Sam laughed, “Emma wouldn’t

hurt you! When she’s next in this part of the wood, I’ll ask her to show you her

hooves. She won’t hurt you.!” “Um, ‘er, are you sure?” Brock asked. “Perfectly,”

Sam said. With that they went in search of Emma and Snowdrop.

 

 

Emma saw snowdrop coming towards her. Her heart sank, what had Jasper been

up to this time! Snowdrop saw the tension on Emma’s’ face. “It’s all right, Emma

dear!” she said reassuringly. “I sorted it all out, It was nothing too serious!”

Emma relaxed, she was pleased that Snowdrop had taken the leadership of the

herd. She trusted both her and Sam.

 

Sam and Brock found Snowdrop and Emma talking together. “Hi you two!” Sam

whinnied. “Hello Sam,” Emma replied. “Emma,” Sam said, “I don’t know whether I

can ask you this, but Brock is terrified you’ll do him damage with your hooves.

Could you lift a hoof and show him that you won’t hurt him?” Smiling, Emma

lifted a huge hind foot and showed it to the petrified badger. “me think you

have big dangerous hooves!” Brock said. “They are large, but I’m no danger to

you,” Emma said. Brock put out a paw and touched Emma’s raised hoof. “Okay,” he

said, “I believe you now, but hooves still massive!” Brock yelled.

 

Emma laughed. She had heard about Brock from Pip and now saw for herself

what a hardy character he was. “Brock Like Emma!” he said “Even though she have

big hooves!” Snowdrop chuckled to herself, this badger knew all that was going

on around him, he and Foxy were very cunning and kept their ears to the ground

constantly.

 

Jasper passed the little group. Seeing his mother with her right hind foot

in the paws of possibly the biggest badger he’d ever seen, Jasper stopped and

asked: “Mum, what is that badger doing to your hoof?” “Brock’s just looking at

it Jasper, I don’t mind. I once had humans looking at my feet all the time, at

least twice a day they’d pick up each hoof and examine it, so I’m used to it.”

To prove her point, Emma turned her head and said: “Brock, could you possibly

look at my left hind foot? I think I might have a stone in that one.” “No Emma,

me no good with getting stones out of hooves, that be Foxy’s job.” Emma

grimaced. “It’s really painful though, and I can’t see foxy anywhere!” She said.

Terrified, only having been shown once how to pick a stone out of a horse’s

hoof, Brock dropped Emma’s right hind, and went to her left hind. She picked it

up, and Brock cradled the massive hoof in his right forepaw. Staring down at the

sole of the Shier mare’s hoof, Brock used his long claws to gently get rid of

all the debris from the hollow of Emma’s hoof. Soon he found the stone, and had

removed it. Relieved, Brock let Emma have her hoof back. “Thanks,” she said.

“That was well done,” Foxy said. She’d been hiding in a bush, watching Brock

attending to Emma’s hoof. “You be here all time Brock here?” Brock asked. “Yeah,

thought I’d let you deal with the stone in Emma’s hoof,” Foxy replied. Brock

yelled: “Emma have massive hooves Foxy! Me plenty scared!” “Brock, dear Brock,

listen to me,” the vixen replied gently, “If I wasn’t here, what would these

horses do? They can’t remove stones from their own hooves! So you or another

badger would have to do it for them. I want you to teach other badgers.” Brock

stared at Emma’s hooves once more. “Brock scared of huge hooves!” He protested.

“You need not be,” Foxy replied, “I’ll get some of the smaller horses to help

you at first, but then you must learn to pick out a larger horse’s hooves

Brock.” Snowdrop volunteered to help Brock with the small hoof work. “I’ll do

it,” she said, “my hooves aren’t large, but I don’t mind having them handled.”

“Thank you Snowdrop,” Foxy said, “but who will we get to do the big hoof work?”

She looked around, her eye falling on Jasper. “You!” She barked, “you will help

Brock by letting him handle your hooves.” It was clear Foxy didn’t like Jasper.

Jasper looked at the vixen. “Me?” he asked. “yes,” Foxy replied, “you have never

had your hooves handled, and Brock needs to learn on a large horse.” “But I’ve

never had my feet handled before!” Jasper wailed. “You’ll have to learn

someday,” Foxy snapped. Miserably Jasper lifted a hind foot and Brock examined

it. The colt squealed as the badger cleaned out the hollow of his hoof. “I hate

this!” Jasper moaned. “If you get a stone in there, you’ll have to have it

removed,” his mother replied. “It’s all right for you mum,” Jasper whinnied,

“You’ve been doing it for years!” “I had to start at the beginning,” Emma

replied. Brock finished cleaning Jasper’s right hind foot and moved on to his

left hind. In this manner, Jasper’s hooves were cleaned for the first time in

his life. Snowdrop examined the badgers work. “Would you do mine?” She asked.

Jasper snapped: “If you like it so much Snowdrop, you take over!” “I haven’t got

large hooves like you have,” the white mare replied. Jasper walked away to sulk.

 

 

Jasper found Sheissain grazing peacefully under a huge oak. Seeing him,

and still feeling offended from Brock’s treatment of him, Jasper called out.

“Hey Sheissain! You overcome your fear yet?” Sheissain hadn’t noticed the Shire

colt before this, and hearing Jasper’s voice, he whirled round to face him.

“What do you want!” Sheissain demanded, terrified that Jasper might handle his

feet at the first opportunity he had. “I just had my feet handled by force!”

Jasper whimpered, “I now know how you feel!” Sheissain walked towards Jasper.

“Brock was quite civil to you, so Nutty says,” the stallion replied. “Ok, he

might have been,” Jasper blustered, “but I still hated having my feet touched!”  Sheissain said:

“I’ve heard that the first time it is done, not many horses like it, but soon

they get used to it. Jasper, what you experienced was not what I go through. You

felt the unfamiliar sensation of a paw on the sole of your foot, and, okay, you

didn’t much like it, but you’ll get used to it. The fear I feel when anyone

touches my hooves is indescribable! As you know, I will do anything to get away,

roll, draw my legs to me, lie on my chest with my feet beneath me, not very

comfortable that, but it does the trick, anything but have my feet handled!”

Jasper saw the fear in the stallion’s eyes. “I’ve now got Sam and Snowdrop to

help me overcome this though,” Sheissain said, “they are asking me to pick up my

feet whenever they wish. I have to comply.” “What will happen if you don’t?” The

colt asked. “I won’t conquer the fear, and I want to Jasper, I really want to

get over this!” “Can I take a look at your hoof?” Jasper asked. Sheissain stared

at him. “O, Okay,” he said hesitantly, “which one would you like to look at

first?” Jasper saw the fear in the older horse’s face, but he now knew part of

what caused it, and it gave him no pleasure this time. “Your right hind,” Jasper

replied. Sheissain waited for the colt to stand at his right hock, before

lifting his foot off the floor. Jasper looked down at the hoof, then lifted a

forefoot and touched the sole of Sheissain’s hoof. Jasper heard the stallion

panting and grinding his teeth together as he fought to stop himself from

lashing out. “Okay,” Jasper said, “now your left forefoot Sheissain.” With that

Jasper moved round to the now terrified stallion’s left shoulder. Sheissain took

a deep breath and lifted his left forefoot. Jasper saw Sheissain’s hoof shaking

violently as the stallion tried to control his panic. “I’m terrified,” Sheissain

said, “but I’m not squealing, neither am I lashing out, that’s a start.” Jasper

touched Sheissain’s hoof with his. Sheissain forced himself to rub back against

the pressure of the colt’s hoof. “I thought you despised me,” Jasper said. “You

persecuted me Jasper, but then you had felt a bit of what I go through,”

Sheissain replied. Jasper removed his hoof from Sheissain’s. “My fear is only

the fear of the unknown,” Jasper said, “I have only had my hooves touched once

by my mother when I was very young, and then again by Brock. I still have to

learn. Placing his foot on the floor once more, Sheissain looked into Jasper’s

face. Jasper saw in an instant how this fear of hoof care ruled Sheissain’s

life, and how he’d exploited it that time under the willow tree. He also saw how

much of a struggle it had been for the stallion to let him do what he’d done.

Jasper had felt an inkling of the fear, and now he was torn apart by remorse.

Throwing himself at Sheissain’s feet, Jasper begged the stallion for

forgiveness, if not forgiveness, for mercy in his punishment.

 

“Ok, I’ll forgive you !” Said Sheissain to Jasper, “but if I ever, Ever,

see you touch any horses’ hooves without their permission, I’ll … I’ll kill

you!” “I won’t, I won’t, I promise, I promise!” he cried. “and You’d better mean

that!” Sheissain went on “Because I mean every word of what I have just said and

there, there’s Foxy and Brock coming towards us so they can be witnesses, did

you hear that Foxy?” “Yes I did!” the vixen replied sternly. “Me here it too!”

said Brock.

 

Jasper got to his feet and bolted! “What happened Sheissain?” Foxy asked.

“Jasper came up to me and asked me if I’d overcome the fear of having my feet

handled,” Sheissain replied, “I, then, well, I let him touch my hooves, whatever

one he wished, I don’t know why I did it Foxy, I just did it! I was terrified,

but still managed to lift the foot he wanted, and let him touch my hoof, and

even rub back against his hoof! Jasper said he hated having his hooves cleaned

out, but that’s not the Same as what I go through.” Brock looked down at the

stallion’s feet. “Me take look at hoof of Sheissain if he no mind?” Brock asked.

For answer, Sheissain lifted a forefoot. “Go on Brock, touch it,” Sheissain

invited. Brock did so, then moved to a hind foot and Sheissain lifted that and

let Brock touch his hoof. “How is it?” Foxy asked. “Okay,” Sheissain said, “I’m

coping, just.” Brock then rubbed the sole of Sheissain’s hoof with his paw,

making the stallion want to squeal, but he managed not to. Brock started picking

out Sheissain’s hooves, while the stallion stood, fighting with the fear and

terror! Even though he was petrified, Sheissain complied with the badger’s

requests to show him each hoof in turn. Foxy observed Sheissain’s mental effort.

“He will stop cleaning your hooves if you ask him,” the vixen said softly. “No,”

Sheissain gasped, “carry on Brock.” Then out loud to himself he said: “It’s

almost done Sheissain, almost done! One, one hoof at a time, you can manage

that, now lift that hoof, the right hind, that’s what he asked for,,,, that’s

it! Deep breaths, the badger won’t hurt me, He’s just doing his job, like Foxy.”

Brock encountered a stone, that, when he tried to pull it from Sheissain’s hoof,

almost resulted in the stallion losing his hard fought control. Sheissain

shrieked! Brock stopped cleaning and ran away! Sheissain calmed down a little

and said: “That’s okay Brock, you’re safe, that was just my fear, not any danger

to you.” Brock came back and looked at Foxy. “Go on,” She said. Sheissain lifted

his right hind foot. “There’s a stone in there I think,” he said. Brock found

the stone. “Me try no hurt you when me take this out,” Brock grunted. “it’s

okay,” Sheissain panted, “go ahead,” Brock worked the stone loose and Sheissain

hardly moved. “All done,” Brock said finally. Relief flooded through Sheissain.

“Thanks,” he said, with genuine feeling. “You did very well,” Foxy said.

Sheissain looked away, embarrassed by his foalish display. “No I didn’t,” he

said, “I squealed like a foal, I’m sorry.” Foxy smiled at him. “It’s a start,”

she said, “to have a badger clean your hooves Sheissain. Well done. Now let’s go

and find Jasper and Emma. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen Whitehoof,

Snowdrop or Pip lately. Maybe you’d like to practise on them Brock. I’m sure

they wouldn’t mind having their hooves cleaned.” Brock and Sheissain followed

the vixen in search of their friends.

 

The three friends found Snowdrop, Pip, Whitehoof, Emma and Jasper standing

in a group under a large spreading oak. When Foxy saw them, Jasper stopped

moaning about the fact he’d had his hooves picked out, and how horrible he

thought the whole procedure to be, turned and looked at the advancing group.

Seeing the badger, Jasper hawked and spat at him. “You have disgusting manners!”

Emma whinnied crossly. Jasper launched a hoof at her! Emma shrieked with anger

and knocked her foal off his feet! Jasper collapsed onto the floor and Emma

placed a huge forefoot on his shoulder, pinning him down. “You never, ever! Do

that again! I will warn you only once!” She yelled. Brock said: “Brock arrange

for bad colt to be tied up if Emma want. Jasper no get free when badgers tied

him up!” Emma looked at the huge boar badger. “I hope I’ll never have to take

you up on that offer Brock,” she replied. Emma released her foal, and Jasper

leapt to his feet. Favouring his mother with a look that would have killed her

ten times over, he turned and walked away. Sheissain watched the Shire colt go.

“I gave him a talking to as well Emma,” he said. “What has he done now?” The

Shire mare asked wearily. “I gave him a talking to about touching another

horse’s hooves without their permission. Or, rather, well, he found me, and

asked me whether I’d overcome my fears, and , Emma, well, I can’t explain why,

but I let him touch my hooves! I don’t know why I did it, even now, but I did.

Jasper learned of my fear, and begged me for forgiveness for what he’d done to

me in the clearing a few weeks back. I forgave him, but told him, that if I saw

him touching another horses’ feet without their permission, I’d kill him Emma.”

Emma looked down at the stallion’s hooves. They were smaller than her’s by a

fair margin. Sheissain saw her eyes flick downwards, and said: “Go on, take a

look if you want, Brock has.” Emma replied: “No, I don’t want to. Sheissain, I’m

sorry for what Jasper did.” “You need not apologise for what he does Emma,” the

stallion replied, “he has a mind of his own, he can decide what he wants to do.”

Meanwhile, Brock was cleaning Snowdrop’s hooves. While she lay on her side, the

badger cleaned each hoof thoroughly. When he was done, Snowdrop smiled at him.

“You are very gentle Brock,” she said. The badger smiled at her. “Me no want to

hurt horses, but me get very angry with horses who makes trouble!” he said.

Snowdrop got to her feet and shook herself. Pip watched all this, wondering if

the roomers about Jasper terrorising Ben and Emily were true. She said: “Um, I,

I’ve heard something from some of the other foals, that Jasper has been trying

to touch Emily’s and Ben’s hooves, they didn’t like it. I can’t investigate

that, I’m not large or powerful enough, but maybe, Whitehoof, or Snowdrop, you

could?” Whitehoof said he’d look into it, warning Sheissain off with a look that

put an end to any ideas of instant justice the stallion might have been

hatching. “I’ll deal with this,” Whitehoof said, “actually, I won’t, I’ll get

Sam on the case, he’s good at talking to the foals. After all, they consider him

as one of them.” With that Whitehoof went in search of the herd’s second in

command.

 

Whitehoof found Sam with the foals. It was clear to him that things had

moved faster than he’d thought possible. Sam said: “Jasper, I’ve heard you have

been trying to touch Ben and Emily’s hooves without their permission, is this

correct?” Jasper looked sulky. To Whitehoof, it seemed like an admission of

guilt. “When I was asleep, Jasper touched my forefoot, I woke and squealed at

him to leave me alone!” Emily wailed, “I can still feel the pressure of his hoof

on mine now,” she pawed the ground furiously, “it’s horrible!” Ben looked at

her. “He even tried it on with me!” He whinnied. Whitehoof said: “I think we all

need to talk about this, as a herd, and as soon as possible!” “You aren’t herd

leader any more,” Emily reminded him. “No, I’m not,” Whitehoof said, “but I

still think it is overdue that we talk about this terrible fascination Jasper

has with terrorising horses! Jasper, you know it upsets the horses, so why do

you do it?” “I’m bored!” Jasper complained, “there’s nothing to do here!” “So

you terrorise the foals, thinking that making them shriek is fun do you jasper?”

Sam asked. Jasper couldn’t admit it, but they knew what his answer was.

“Jasper,” Whitehoof asked, “do you mind horses touching your hooves?” The colt

stared down at his own feet. “Brock touched them once, and I didn’t much like

that,” Jasper admitted. “So how would it be if Brock tied you down and tormented

you by doing just that, touching your hooves?” Jasper looked away. It was plain

to Whitehoof and Sam that the colt hated the thought of having his hooves

handled. Ben said: “Look Jasper, if you really want to look at our hooves, we’d

let you, if only you’d ask, but you don’t! For we horses have to help each other

with hoof care where stones and things are concerned. The smaller horses, with

smaller hooves, can clean the hooves of the larger horses and so on. So if you

ask, we’ll show you, but as I’ve said, you never do!” “”I’ve sorted Ben’s hooves

out many a time when he’s got stones in them,” Emily said, “but I’ve asked him

first!” Whitehoof and Sam listened to this, both wondering why this kind of

conversation hadn’t happened without their instigation. Jasper watched as Emily

walked up to her second in command and asked: “Sam, could I possibly look at

your right hind foot? I noticed you were limping a bit.” This was utter rubbish,

but all the Same, Sam lifted his right hind foot, and Emily took a long look at

it. Then she let him have his hoof back. Turning to Jasper, she said: “There,

even the second in command let me take a look at his hoof, but I did one thing,

I asked!” Jasper’s mouth hung open in astonishment! “I could never ask my leader

to do that!” he whinnied. “I challenge you, next time you see Snowdrop, to ask

her if you can take a look at her hoof Jasper,” Ben said, “I’ll bet she won’t

refuse, and if she does, then you have to respect that.” Jasper walked away

dejectedly. “Sorry Sam,” Emily said. “That’s okay, honestly it’s fine Emily

dear. I knew what you were doing. I thought you might ask Whitehoof, but you

asked me, and that’s fine.” Whitehoof smiled. “I don’t mind horses looking at my

hooves,” he said, “they have been a constant talking point all my life.

Especially my white hoof.” Emily hugged Whitehoof tightly. The Falabella gelding

laughed. “You are so soppy Emily,” he said. Ben wandered off in search of

Snowdrop and the others, Sam, Whitehoof and Emily followed.

 

Snowdrop and Pip were talking under a tree when Jasper approached them.

“You don’t look very happy Jasper,” Snowdrop observed. “Um, Snowdrop, um, please,

please, may I look at your hooves?” he asked nervously. “Of course!” He backed

off as she lifted her tiny left hind hoof for him, “Its all right!” she said, “I’m

not going to hit you with my hoof!” She said irritably. At this point, Sam, Whitehoof and

Emily arrived, followed by Ben.

 

Ben smiled as he saw Jasper had indeed asked Snowdrop if he could look at

her hooves. As he watched, Jasper took a look at all four of the white Falabella

mare’s tiny hooves. “They’re so small!” Jasper said. “I know,” Snowdrop replied,

“but they are powerful too.” Jasper didn’t want to see the power of his leader’s

hooves. “Are, are they,” he stammered, “right, um, okay, I’d rather not see if

you don’t mind.” Snowdrop, lifting her right hind foot for him to examine, said:

“No, I’ve never hit another horse in my life. Be warned though, if you really

upset me, I’ll have to show you the power I have in my hoof.” “So you don’t mind

showing me your hooves then?” Jasper asked. “No! of course not! That’s fine

Jasper, as long as you ask first. That’s all I, or any other horses ask.” Jasper

looked down at the mare’s tiny right hind foot. Then he touched it gently. “How

can you get about on such tiny hooves!” he whinnied. “I manage,” Snowdrop

replied. “And what do I have to be careful of Snowdrop? What is this power you

have?” The Shire colt asked. “Ask Whitehoof about that, He’ll tell you of

Maynand and of Sandy. He’s a good relater of tales, but this one is true!” the

white mare replied.

 

Jasper hugged Snowdrop tightly. “Thank you for letting me look at your

hooves,” he said. “That’s okay, as I’ve said, you only have to ask,” the white

mare replied. Turning to Whitehoof Jasper asked: “What was your mum on about

when she spoke of Maynand and Sandy?” Whitehoof raised his white foot. “My white

foot has something to do with it,” the gelding replied. Jasper touched

Whitehoof’s white hoof with his muzzle. The gelding said: “About twelve moons

back now, Maynand caused a lot of trouble among the horses. Terrorising Pip and

making other horses lives intolerable. I got so angry with him that I marked him

with my white hoof. My hoof left an imprint of a white hoof on Maynand’s

shoulder. Sandy also got on the wrong side of the herd, trying to do horrible

things to Pip and myself, so I had to brand her too. I branded her on the sole

of her hoof to signify that she’d been expelled from the herd, whereas Maynand’s

shoulder mark meant he was on probation. Sandy has rarely been seen around these

parts since. Jasper, my mum also has these powers too. She can mark other horses

with her hoof if the need arises.” Jasper stared at Whitehoof in amazement! “You

are powerful horses then,” he said. “Yes we are,” Snowdrop replied. Jasper took

another look at Whitehoof’s white foot. “Could you mark me now?” He asked. “No,”

Whitehoof replied, “Pip asked that of me, and no matter how hard I tried, I

couldn’t mark her. It only happens when it’s needed.” Jasper said: “I hope I’ll

never have to feel the power of a Falabella horse’s hoof!”

 

Jasper went in search of Maynand, he needed to hear that what he had just

been told by whitehoof was true. “Did you want something?” Maynand saw jasper

coming towards him looking very nervous. “Um, Um, yes, , I, I wanted to ask if

what I have just been told is true!” “And what would that be?” Maynand asked

enquiringly. “Um, Um, I, I wondered,” Jasper stammered “is it really true that

Whitehoof marked you with his hoof?” “yes, it is!” Maynand replied. “Those

little horses are very powerful when they want to be so you just watch out

young’en!” he warned.

 

Suddenly the horses heard a horse walking towards them. Jasper spun

around to see who it was. "Hello, may I talk to Whitehoof?" The small stallion

asked in a high nasal voice. "Why sure," Jasper said calmly, "over there." He

pointed with his nose towards Whitehoof. "Ah, oops, didn't see him there,

thanks." The small horse answered walking away. "Say, he was strange." Jasper

said to Maynand. "Why?" Answered the other horse. "He didn't listen but read my

lips." Jasper said wonderingly. "I'll be..." Maynand started, "He's deaf!!"

 

 

The short stallion made his way across the grass to where Whitehoof was

talking to Ben. Seeing him, Whitehoof excused himself and walked towards the

stallion. “Hi Jerry, I haven’t seen you since I was cast out of my old herd!” He

whinnied. Jerry replied: “I heard you were leader of this herd,” “No more,”

Whitehoof replied, “you need to talk to Snowdrop,” Whitehoof looked about him,

“she’s the white mare with white hooves, you can’t miss her.” Jerry walked away

to talk with Snowdrop. Later that Day Whitehoof met up with his mother and asked

her what Jerry wanted. “He was just passing through Whitehoof dear,” she

replied, “he wanted to know how you were doing that’s all. I remember you and

Jerry were good friends when you were young.” Whitehoof had fond memories of

Jerry. He had been a small foal, and now he was fully grown he was still small

for his breed, Irish Draft, wasn’t he? Whitehoof couldn’t remember rightly, but

Jerry had been unusually small for his breed. The fact of Jerry’s hearing loss

had been noted, but not dwelt upon, as he managed to interact with the other

horses well enough. Whitehoof remembered that Jerry had found his white hoof a

great source of interest. The gelding smiled as he remembered Jerry’s endless

questioning to him and his mother about why his foot was white, and what did it

mean?” Whitehoof reflected that he was still being asked questions about his

hoof, and he still didn’t know the answers. Jasper appeared round a tree and

headed Whitehoof’s way. “I met a small horse in the wood a few days back,” the

Shire colt said, “Maynand said he was deaf, is that right?” Whitehoof replied

that Jerry was indeed deaf, and that he had been a friend of his for as long as

he could remember. “Noone really notices anything’s different about him,”

Whitehoof said, “it’s only if horses actually realise his ears aren’t twitching

that they guess.” Jasper looked down at Whitehoof’s white foot. Seeing this,

Whitehoof lifted his hoof for the Shire colt to examine. “it’s okay Whitehoof,”

Jasper said, “I’ll take a look at your hoof later if I may.” “I saw you looking

down at it,” the gelding replied. “I was,” Jasper conceded, “but the reasons are

these. Jerry saw me examining Snowdrop’s white hooves, and he asked me if I knew

the reasons why your hoof was white.” “He’s wanted to know that for years,”

Whitehoof said, “and neither of us have worked it out.”

 

 

Snowdrop thought she could find something about their history. She headed

off to the forest and wandered around. What if she could go in to her mind, and

find their history there? Would that work? The answer to the white hoof business

might be there.

 

Snowdrop lay down and thought about her white hooves. She knew Whitehoof

had inherited his white foot from her, but as to what it meant, well, that she

couldn’t work out. Snowdrop thought about Jasper, she wondered what he would say

if she asked to look at his hooves, would he refuse? Of course, he had every

right to, and she would have to respect that, but she thought she’d ask. Getting

to her feet she went in search of the Shire colt. Finding Jasper she asked him

if she could look at his hooves. Jasper lifted a huge hind foot and let the

Falabella mare examine it. They then measured hooves, and Jasper was hit afresh

by how small her hoof was compared to his. “Did you manage to work out what the

white hooves meant?” the colt asked. “Yes I did,” Snowdrop replied, “Whitehoof

inherited his white foot from me. The white hoof can mean power, or just a white

hoof.” Jasper lowered his foot to the floor, and, dropping to his knees, he

hugged Snowdrop tightly. Snowdrop took Jasper in from his head to his huge feet.

“You are such an amazing mare Snowdrop,” the colt said. “I’m just me,” Snowdrop

replied.

 

Snowdrop made her way back to the herd. Something was not right, Pip was

in a state. “What’s the matter Pip Dear?” Snowdrop asked. “Its Emily, she’s not

very happy and she won’t talk to me, can you help please Snowdrop?” “Well I’ll

try!” Snowdrop replied. She went off to find Emily.

 

Snowdrop found Emily curled up under a willow tree. Poor Emily had found

possibly the only willow with it’s branches touching the ground. The tree seemed

to be sheltering the shivering filly. Snowdrop walked into the covered space and

lay down beside Emily. “What’s up?” she asked gently. Emily stared at her with

wide terrified eyes. “The white mare, Snowdrop, she, she found me, guessed I was

Gemini’s foal and, and she, she chased me!” “Why wouldn’t you talk to Pip when

she asked you about it?” Snowdrop asked. “I couldn’t, you see, the white mare

chased me, because, because I refused one of their stallions! The disgusting

brute saw me and wanted me to have his foal, but I didn’t want to Snowdrop! I

didn’t want to! So I ran, and the white mare chased me, and I ran and ran,

Snowdrop, it was horrible!” Emma sobbed. “You will have that foal you know,”

someone said. Emily screamed! “No! Snowdrop, it’s, that, that stallion!” “Nice

place for our meeting I think,” the stallion said. He obviously hadn’t seen

Snowdrop, or, if he had, hadn’t thought her a threat. The stallion looked down

at Emily. He was a little older than Emily herself, about four or four and a

half years old, so Snowdrop thought. The stallion advanced on Emily. Snowdrop

got up slowly, shook herself languidly, as if she had no concern for Emily and

looked at the stallion. “You wouldn’t attempt it would you?” she asked quietly.

The stallion took three hurried paces backwards. “No, |I, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t

attempt it, not now, I was only joking!” he lied. Snowdrop raised a tiny hind

foot and showed it to the stallion. “Would you like to feel the power of my

hoof?” Snowdrop asked. The stallion was now looking for his escape route. He’d

recognised Snowdrop, his mother had told him of the tiny white mare with white

hooves, and of the power this mare was said to possess. Now he was meeting her,

and she was angry, and she was about to use, oh no! her hooves! The stallion

turned and fled! “I don’t think you’ll be troubled by him any more Emily dear,”

Snowdrop said calmly. Emily was so relieved, she burst into tears. Snowdrop lay

down and hugged Emily to her. “Shh, it’s okay now, he’s gone,” she whispered.

Emily wept uncontrollably into the white falabella mare’s mane. “It’s okay,”

Snowdrop said again, “look, Whitehoof’s coming through the trees now, He’ll look

after you, I’ll go and find Pip, everything will be okay Emily, I promise.” With

that Snowdrop got to her feet and left, making sure Whitehoof was beside Emily

before she went in search of Pip.

 

It was raining when Snowdrop got out of the cover of the willow tree. The

rain came down so hard that Snowdrop found herself wading through puddles. She

found Pip sheltering from the downpour under a large oak tree. Pip was about to

ask Snowdrop what she could do for her, when thunder rolled overhead and

lightening arced out of the sky. Snowdrop saw what was about to happen and threw

herself at Pip, knocking the mare off her feet! The two mares rolled away

seconds before the tree was split by the lightening. Pip would never forget the

horrendous bang as the tree was incinerated. Pip stared open mouthed at the

shattered remains of the oak she’d been sheltering under only a few seconds

before. Looking down, she stared straight into Snowdrop’s eyes. The white mare

hadn’t got to her feet. At first Pip thought Snowdrop was dead. Then she opened

her eyes and looked at her. “I took the full force of that,” the mare said. “No

Snowdrop dear, you’d be dead!” Pip whinnied. “it’s fortunate for me that my

heart was on the right cycle when the lightening hit me, or I would have been,”

Snowdrop replied. Pip realised that she, not Snowdrop, would have been in the

line of fire if the white mare hadn’t knocked her to the floor. Snowdrop got to

her feet, shook herself and looked around. Whitehoof came galloping across to

his mother, he looked anxious, his eyes wild with fear! “I saw the lightening

hit,” he said, “I came as soon as I could, once I’d forced Emily to stay

behind!” He whinnied shrilly. “The lightening hit Snowdrop,” Pip replied.

Whitehoof looked at his mother. “You look all right,” he said. “I feel awful,”

Snowdrop replied, “also, my left hind foot is painful too.” Pip took a look at

the white mare’s foot and saw a black mark where the electric charge had left

her. “The sole of your foot is burnt slightly,” she said. Whitehoof also looked

down at the white mare’s hoof. “How did you survive that!” he enquired. “I don’t

know,” Snowdrop replied truthfully, I know the physical reason why, but I don’t

know how or why I should survive that.” Whitehoof said: “But that’s,” then he

looked at the stump of the ex tree, “I mean that was the tree you were sleeping

under wasn’t it Pip?” He asked. “Yes, I was sheltering under there, but there

was no storm then,” Pip replied. Then she blurted: “Snowdrop saw the lightening,

I’m sure she did! She threw herself on top of me and took the shock herself, I’m

sure of it Whitehoof! I’m sure of it!” Whitehoof looked at Pip. “how can she see

where lightening is going to strike?” he asked scornfully, “Pip, you do come up

with some real stories sometimes! All Snowdrop did was hear the thunder and get

you away from the tree, it was bad luck she was hit. She did not see the

lightening, no horse can!” Whitehoof challenged his mother, staring right into

her eyes. Snowdrop stood her ground, staring straight back at her foal.

Whitehoof experienced something then that frightened him so badly he ran to

Snowdrop and buried his face in her mane, crying with fear and terror! Snowdrop

showed him through his eyes what she’d seen in the milliseconds before the tree

was hit, and what she’d seen after that. Whitehoof saw Pip, then he saw the

lightening arcing through the sky, heading for him! Snowdrop had seen the

lightening, impossible as it had seemed. “You see Now?” She asked. Whitehoof,

weeping pitifully into her mane, sniffed and said: “Yes mum,” “Snowdrop saved my

life Whitehoof,” Pip said, her own emotions welling up uncontrollably. Pip ran

to Snowdrop and hugged her fiercely, weeping into her fur. Whitehoof recovered

enough to stand on his own, and Snowdrop tended to Pip, who was overwhelmed by

the enormity of what had just happened. “You saved me!” Pip sobbed. “I couldn’t

do anything else,” Snowdrop replied. “But you could have been killed!” Pip

wailed, “It was silly of me to stand under that tree. You should have saved

yourself!” “ah,” Snowdrop said, “a mother never puts her own foal in danger.”

Pip stared at the white mare. “But you’re not,” “I may as well be,” Snowdrop

replied, “as I’ve said, a mother never puts her foal in danger. I couldn’t leave

you in danger.” Pip replied: “You should have run away! You should have left

me,,,” she stopped, for tears were rolling down Snowdrop’s nose. “Is your foot

hurting you?” Pip asked. “No,” Snowdrop sobbed, “it’s not that Pip. Please,

please understand, I couldn’t leave you in danger, because I’m not like that!”

It was clear to Pip Snowdrop hadn’t thought about herself at all. She had been

prepared to lose her life, rather than endanger Pip. “I am not related to you

Snowdrop, so why did you risk your own life for me?” Pip asked. Snowdrop looked

at her through her tears. “Don’t ask that,” she replied.

 

Two days passed with out any trouble. Snowdrop went about her duties

quietly. Then one day, Pip came running across the fields yelling for Snowdrop,

Whitehoof, anyone to come help! Sam ran towards Pip, panting Sam asked,

"What is going on?" "The stallion is back, and trying to..." Pip

started. "Don't need to tell me, where is Emily?" Snowdrop asked from the bushes

where she had been hiding. "Over there, under that Same willow tree!" Pip told

her.

 

The stallion found Emily, but Snowdrop found him faster! All Sam heard was

a scream from the stallion, and then a crash as he pitched over. He heard Pip

squealing something about the stallion just having fallen over backwards! “What

do you mean!” Sam yelled above the stallions screaming. “He just fell over!” she

yelled back. Snowdrop stood over the stallion. She looked into the horse’s

terrified eyes. “You know me I think,” Snowdrop said. The stallion whinnied:

“Yes, yes I do! Please Snowdrop, spare my life!” Snowdrop shoed the stallion,

what to her seemed a tiny hoof compared to his massive hooves. Even so, the

stallion was petrified. “Don’t, don’t touch me with that hoof!” He pleaded

shrilly. “Take a good look at that hoof,” Snowdrop said. The stallion couldn’t

help taking a good look, the white mare was brandishing it in front of his eyes.

“Leave here,” Snowdrop commanded, “never return, and never ever plague the

fillies. If you do not heed my commands and act on them, you will feel the power

of my hoof!” The stallion closed his eyes, dreading the touch of that tiny white

hoof. Snowdrop released the stallion. The disgraced stallion got to his feet and

walked away, not looking back. “I hope we’ll never see him again,” Whitehoof

said. Emily crawled from the cover of the willow tree and ran to Snowdrop.

“Thank you Snowdrop, thank you!” she sobbed. The white mare looked at her with

the Same expression Pip had seen when Snowdrop had saved her life and she’d

asked her why she hadn’t saved herself. “Say no more about it Emily,” Snowdrop

said gently, “you are safe, and that’s all that matters.” Emily hugged Snowdrop

tightly. “Snowdrop dear, I heard something about a lightening strike,” she said,

“Pip wouldn’t say much apart from that there had been a lightening strike, and

something that she couldn’t explain had happened to her and you. She’s not

talking about it much, doesn’t seem to want to tell me it all. Snowy, if I can

call you Snowy, what went on that night?” “I obeyed my instincts,” Snowdrop

replied. No matter how Emily persisted, Snowdrop would say no more about the

subject. A few days later, Emily heard from Joy that Whitehoof had been present

when the lightening struck. Emily decided to ask him what had happened, for she

knew Snowdrop was his mother, and she wouldn’t have kept the details from him,

and she was sure he would enlighten her.

 

Emily found Whitehoof sleeping beneath a bush. She’d noticed he liked this

bush, and seemed to sleep under it a lot. Pushing back a few fronds, she gazed

at the Falabella gelding. She looked him all over, from his ears, one black, the

other white, to his body with it’s black fur, and his hooves, three black, one

white. Emily couldn’t get under the bush herself, as she was too large, but she

really wanted to hug Whitehoof to her, she didn’t know why this was. “Maybe to

my eyes he looks like a foal,” she thought. Emily had never denied to herself

that she wanted a foal, but she wanted the stallion with whom she had the foal

to be of decent character. Emily had thought about Jasper, she knew he’d had his

problems, but was getting over them. Then she discounted him in that he was too

large, and having his foal would probably kill her. Emily then remembered Jerry,

he’d been a nice horse, quite small, but “a splendid chap,” as she’d heard Bobby

say once. “Jerry was only passing through though,” she thought miserably.

Whitehoof woke, saw her and asked: “How long have you been watching me?” Emily,

shocked by the sound of his voice, began to babble: “I wasn’t watching you, I

wasn’t!” “That bush was sheltering me,” Whitehoof said, “and you have pushed it

aside, and are holding it aside with your nose as we speak, so you were watching

me!” “I’m sorry, really sorry, but, but I wanted to ask you a question,” Emily

blurted. “About the lightening strike?” Whitehoof asked. “How did you know!”

Emily squealed. “Remember, I can read minds, I was asleep, and you came to the

bush. I know what you were going to ask me, and what you were thinking when you

saw me, foals wasn’t it?” Emily was simultaneously outraged, embarrassed and

impressed by Whitehoof’s power. “It was foals,” Emily said, “but I don’t want

you prying in my thoughts!” “Sorry,” Whitehoof said, “but that’s how I defend

myself from attack when I’m asleep. I scan around to see whether there are any

animals wanting to do me harm, if there are, then I wake up and move on before

they get the chance.” Emily said quickly: “I want to have a foal, but not with

that stallion, I want a decent horse not a brute, I want to have a foal so

much!” “I am no foal,” Whitehoof said. “no,” Emily replied. She remembered

hugging Whitehoof, she remembered his touch, the feel of his fur against hers,

his warmth, if she closed her eyes, he could almost be a foal, and his ears and

hooves, tiny, like a foals. Whitehoof watched her face. He knew what she was

thinking, and said: “you can hug me if you like, I don’t mind, come here, touch

me, stroke me, touch my hooves, I don’t mind. Emily lay down beside Whitehoof

and did just that. She looked at him, Whitehoof was indeed like a foal to her

eyes, all right, about five months old maybe, but he was still a foal. Her eyes

travelled from his ears, tiny they were, to his body, legs and tiny hooves.

Emily looked down at her own feet, measuring her hoof against the Falabella

geldings. She touched Whitehoof’s white hoof with her muzzle. “I’m no foal,”

Whitehoof said. “I know,” Emily replied. With that she left, having completely

forgotten what she’d come for. Whitehoof got up and stretched, he knew Emily

wanted a foal, and he hoped she’d soon have one with a stallion of her own

choosing. Snowdrop found Emily wandering about aimlessly. When she asked her

what the matter was, Emily told Snowdrop all. “You really want a foal?” Snowdrop

asked. “Yes, yes I do!” Emily replied. “Did Whitehoof realise what you were

thinking?” The white mare asked. “Yes, we discussed it. He said he was no foal,

but could understand why we larger horses thought he might be. He let me hug

him, stroke him, and touch his ears and hooves. Snowdrop, they were tiny! Like a

foals!” “He’s no foal Emily dear,” Snowdrop said gently. “I know,” Emily

replied. “I hope Pip never gets to hear about this, I don’t know how she’d take

it.” “It was all my fault!” Emily began to cry, “I shouldn’t have asked it of

Whitehoof to let me hug him, it’s disgraceful! But Snowdrop, do, do you

understand why I did it? Why I felt that way? To us larger horses, you Falabella

horses are like foals! So my mind said to me that Whitehoof was a foal, and it

shouldn’t have done.” “And Whitehoof loves a hug, and if he likes you, he’ll let

you hug him,” Snowdrop said. “Yes, he did let me hug him, and then, when I said

his hooves were tiny and I looked down to measure mine with his, he placed his

tiny hoof in the hollow of my hoof, and his hoof was tiny Snowdrop! I know you

can’t really empathise with this, as you are not my size, but I didn’t mean

anything by what happened by that bush, honest I didn’t!” Snowdrop looked at

Emily with sympathy. “I know you want a foal, and I understand why you did what

you did. I’m not angry with you, and I won’t tell Pip, but Emily, remember, he’s

no foal!” Snowdrop turned tail and walked straight into Pip. “I heard all that,”

the grey mare said. “All of it?” Snowdrop asked dumbly, completely shocked and

disconcerted by the younger mare’s appearance. “Yes,” Pip replied, “all of it. I

don’t blame Emily or Whitehoof for what they did. Whitehoof’s a very huggable

horse, I should know that more than anyone, and his natural desire to help

anyone through a crisis was what fuelled what he did. I’m sure he told Emily he

was no foal, so there’s no problem.” With that she walked away. Pip met up with

Whitehoof not long after and they discussed what had taken place between him and

Emily. “I know what went on,” Pip said, “and I don’t hold anything against you

Whitehoof. You helped her, and that’s good! You let her hug you because she was

in desperate need for a horse to hug. I wonder if her longing for a foal is not

a product of loneliness.” “Maybe,” Whitehoof replied, “maybe she needs a foal,

something to protect, something to take her mind off her own troubles.” “I don’t

think she wants a foal to help her through her troubles,” Pip replied, “Emily

wants a foal to love and protect. You looked to her, like a foal. So she obeyed

her instincts and hugged you Whitehoof.” “I’m no foal though Pip!” Whitehoof

whinnied. “No, I know you’re not, Emily does when she’s in control, but

sometimes her mind doesn’t register your age, only your size, and you are to

her, a foal!” “So what should I do if she asks to hug me again?” Whitehoof asked

anxiously. “Let her hug you Whitehoof, let her stroke you, for that’s what she

needs. It’s not a problem is it?” Whitehoof replied: “Well, no, but,” “Don’t

worry about me Whitehoof,” Pip said, “if it was another Falabella mare, then yes

I’d be worried, but Emily isn’t, and she’s only looking for a foal she hasn’t

got. There have to be limits. If she goes beyond just hugging and stroking your

ears with her muzzle, then put a stop to it. Until that time, let her have her

few minutes. It’s not her fault Whitehoof. A Falabella mare wouldn’t think like

a mare the size of Emily does, because they are of a different size, and

therefore have differing perspectives. To the larger mares Whitehoof, we are

foals! If it makes you feel better about things, Poppy sometimes hugs me and

nuzzles my ear. I know, and she knows what’s happening, but it’s a big horse

thing, and we smaller horses need to help them. Remember though, if it gets too

much for you, tell Emily that she’s going too far.” Whitehoof was relieved his

sweetheart wasn’t upset or angry with him. He was as confused about what to do

as Emily. He felt nothing for her, but understood her need for a foal, and the

reasons why she saw him as a foal. He looked at Pip. Looking into Pip’s eyes,

Whitehoof said: “I feel nothing for her Pip, nothing at all.” “I know that!” Pip

replied, “help her Whitehoof, like I’m helping Poppy.” With that she got up and

left Whitehoof to think.

 

Emily and Pip met under a massive oak. “I spoke to Whitehoof,” Pip said.

Emily looked away, greatly embarrassed. “I shouldn’t have done what I did,” she

said shamefully. “It’s okay,” Pip replied, “I know what was happening. You want

a foal so badly, your body tells you you do, and Whitehoof looked like a foal to

you.” “Yes,” Emily admitted. Ben walked past then, he looked at Emily, and she

at him. They were about the Same age as each other, and Emily couldn’t deny they

were great friends. Ben suddenly ran across, nuzzled her ear and fled! Emily

pounded after him, she knew what was happening, the Same message passed between

them, Their friendship had been strong, but now it was to become stronger still.

The two horses hurtled through the forest at a head long gallop. Ben then

slowed, Emily saw he was limping . Are you all right?” she asked. “No,” Ben

replied, “I think I’ve got a stone in my right hind foot! Could, could you help

me get rid of it?” Emily asked him to lie down, and she then examined his hoof.

There was no stone, this had been a white lie, and she knew it, but played along

anyway. She lay down beside her new-found mate. After a few minutes of just

lying there, they retired to a private place to talk.

 

Ben and Emily lay together for a long time. “I want this moment to last

forever,” Emily whispered quietly. “I love you Emily!” Ben said holding her

tightly to him.

 

A year passed, Emily was in foal, and it was now drawing close to foaling

time. Ben, overjoyed at first, started feeling acute anxiety when he remembered

what happened to Gemini when she gave birth to Jess. One day, Emily did indeed

give birth to her foal. Ben stuck by her all through the foaling, and Emily was

very grateful to him, having heard from Tilly how frightening foaling alone

could be. Emily had her foal in the early morning of a cold winter’s day. She

lay down on the cold ground and gave birth to a handsome colt. Ben stood well

back, concerned that he might anger Emily if he ventured too near the new-born

foal. Emily got to her feet after about ten minutes and went over to investigate

the tiny wet scrap of life. She nudged the tiny creature to his feet and stood

quietly as the colt took his first drink of milk. Then, exhausted and hunger

satisfied, he lay down on the frozen grass, Emily did likewise, and Ben, who

could stand waiting no longer, approached cautiously. “Emily dear, can I?” he

asked nervously. Emily looked round at him. “I’m surprised you waited that

long,” she said, “most stallions are only too impatient,” Ben saw the kind look

in his mate’s eyes and came forward to greet his foal. Ben lay down on the colts

left side, Emily was on the tiny creature’s right. The colt, sensing Ben’s

arrival, turned his head and looked at him. “Are you going to look after me

too?” The colt asked. “yes littl’en, I’m here to help your mother.” Ben looked

at the tiny foal, while he stared back. What Ben saw was a tiny colt with black

ears, brown head and body, brown legs, and four black hooves. The colt watched

Ben appraising him. “I’m tired,” he said. “Go to sleep my pet,” Emily said

gently. With that the colt slept, his head resting on her shoulder. Ben and

Emily looked at each other. “Well done Emily darling,” Ben said. Emily smiled:

“He’s lovely isn’t he,” She replied. “That he certainly is,” Ben agreed.

 

 

Emily Was happier than she had ever been. She fell into a contented sleep.

Ben watched over his little family, Emily and her foal, what would they call

him, he wondered to himself. After a while Emily woke up. “Hey, did you have a

good sleep?” Ben asked quietly. “Wonderful!” she ;smiled dreamily. “Now, what are

we going to call this littl’en?” Ben asked. “How about Woody!” Emily suggested

laughing, she couldn’t contain her happiness any longer. She hugged Ben tightly

to her remembering this time last year.

     “I want this moment to last forever, I

love you so much Ben!” she looked longingly into his eyes. They were both so

very, very happy.

 

Woody got up and shook himself hard. “I think we’d better introduce you to

the rest of the herd Woody,” Ben said. The foal was very excited by this

prospect. “That’s going to be so amazing, meeting all those horses!” he

whinnied. With that Ben and Emily led the way back to the herd. Snowdrop was the

first horse they saw. Woody squealed with surprise at the sight of her. “Wow!

Another foal!” “No, I’m no foal,” Snowdrop replied gently, “I’m herd leader.

What is your name? I’m Snowdrop.” “My name’s Woody,” the foal replied. “Welcome

to the herd Woody,” Snowdrop said. She looked around her and said: “If you stay

a while, you might be able to meet a few of the other horses, my foal and his

mate should be along soon, and Sam, my second in command should be here very

soon.” Sure enough, Whitehoof, Pip and Sam put in an appearance. Snowdrop

introduced Woody to them. Woody couldn’t take his eyes off the tiny horses! He

couldn’t believe Snowdrop’s assertion that she wasn’t a foal, it just wasn’t

possible to be that small and not be a foal, was it? He didn’t think so. Woody

instantly took to Sam, and they were soon rolling together in play. “He’s got a

way with the foals,” Pip observed. “So have you my dear,” Whitehoof replied. “I

can’t play like that though Whitehoof,” Pip said, “Sam can, he doesn’t mind

rolling with the foals, getting nipped and kicked in play, that sort of thing.”

Woody soon realised there was something different about Sam. Sam explained to

Woody that he had to explore him with his muzzle as he couldn’t see him any

other way. Woody accepted this without question. The tiny foal laughed

helplessly as Sam’s muzzle tickled him as the gelding nuzzled him. Woody then

asked Sam if he was a foal. Sam said he wasn’t, but Woody could pretend he was.

“But, you say you are no foal, and your hooves are smaller than mine, even now!”

Woody held up a hoof to demonstrate this point, then remembering Sam couldn’t

see him, said: Oh dear, I waved a hoof at you Sam, you can’t see that. Come and

touch my hoof, see how small yours is compared to it.” Sam did so, and Woody was

right, his hoof was larger than Sam’s. “I like you a lot Sam,” Woody said. He

nudged Sam, who theatrically fell over, and lay on his back, pedalling all four

hooves in the air, in what to the tiny foal, was a hilarious display. “You are

so funny!” Woody whooped.

 

Woody was a likeable little foal, he made friends easily and just loved

playing with the other foals. It was a bonus when Sam had time to play when he

was not busy doing his duties as second in command.

 

Woody quickly made friends with Joy, who missed Ben now he was no longer

playing with the foals. She didn’t like Jasper as he was too large, and too

boisterous. Also, the size of his hooves frightened her, they were so massive!

Woody was smaller than her, his hooves not so large as Jasper’s, and he was

quieter all round. Joy showed the tiny foal secluded places in the woods where

she thought no other horses knew. This was untrue, First Petra, then Whitehoof

and now Snowdrop, had ranged all over the forest. Snowdrop had travelled

extensively during her search for Whitehoof, and often found Joy and Woody

playing together. The foal’s surprise was always the Same, they thought only

they knew about the place, but Snowdrop quickly showed them that they were

mistaken in their belief. She didn’t mean to spoil their fun, but she always

managed to turn up. She was as surprised to see them as they were to see her,

but they always blamed her, as the older horse, for ruining their secret. Woody

soon grew to feel Snowdrop to be a mare who would do anything to spoil their

fun, and he told Joy so. Joy wasn’t very happy about this. She knew Snowdrop

didn’t mean to ruin their fun, she was just passing through a place, in a

forest, that when all was said and done, she had dominion over as the matriarch

of the herd. Woody mistrusted Snowdrop a great deal. She looked strange, with

her white hooves and impossibly white fur, and she was too small to be a leader,

or so he thought. Woody was so angry about Snowdrop’s appearances that he told

his mother about it. “Mum, Snowdrop’s a crazy mare!” “you shouldn’t say things

like that about any horse Woody,” Emily said sternly. “But she is, she is!”

Woody protested, “she turns up whenever me and Joy are playing in our secret

places, she looks funny, with her white fur and hooves, and she’s always there,

always spoiling our fun!” Emily couldn’t imagine Snowdrop spoiling anyone’s fun,

but said nothing. “How does Snowdrop spoil your fun,” She asked. “She’s just

there, all the time!” “Maybe she doesn’t mean to be there all the time,” Emily

replied, “the forest is her responsibility, she’s the herd leader Woody. I’ll

talk to her about it. But don’t you ever call any horse crazy Woody!” Woody

walked away, furious with the small white mare with white hooves.

 

Emily found Snowdrop sheltering from the falling snow under a large bush.

The weather was horrendous, and getting worse, and Emily longed to get under the

bush herself. “Snowdrop, can I talk to you?” Emily asked. The white mare crawled

from under the bush and got to her feet. “What can I do for you?” she asked.

“Woody told me you’ve been hanging round while he and Joy were playing together.

He said that every time he and Joy found, what they thought to be a secluded

place, you turned up! Are you doing this deliberately? Or is it a total

coincidence, or is Woody merging every sighting of you he’s ever had up into a

big story that it isn’t?” The white mare considered this. “No, Not really,” she

replied, “I have to make a circuit of the wood sometimes to make sure there are

no problems with other herds getting too close, stray horses, mares from other

herds who are foaling in the fields who might need help, that kind of thing. I

don’t think I’ve been harassing Woody, not intentionally anyway. I’ll keep away

from him if that’s what you want.” Emily was upset, she felt she must tell

Snowdrop what her foal felt about her, but she didn’t wish to hurt Snowdrop’s

feelings. Snowdrop saw Emily’s distress, and, lying down on the freezing ground,

Snowdrop beckoned her to lie beside her. Snowdrop hugged Emily to her. Emily

felt warm and safe. She no longer noticed the cold ground or the freezing wind.

“You were upset,” Snowdrop said gently, “what was upsetting you?” “I, I can’t

tell you Snowdrop,” Emily replied, “I just can’t tell you! If I did, then, well,

I, I don’t know what would happen, or what you’d think of my foal, or what you’d

think of me, or anything!” Snowdrop nuzzled the larger mare’s ear. This almost

reduced Emily to tears. She remembered the very first time she’d met Snowdrop.

Snowdrop had come up to her after Jess’s birth and Gemini’s death, and hugged

her tightly. Emily was still very grateful for Snowdrop’s actions even now four

years later. Emily looked into the white Falabella mare’s eyes. Snowdrop gazed

kindly back at her. “Woody,” Emily began, “He, he thinks, thinks, that, you,

you’re crazy Snowdrop, and he thinks you’re fake, and he doesn’t like your fur,

or your hooves. He says your fur is unnaturally white, and that you are too

small to be leader, and that your hooves could not do damage to any horse, and

that you are a bad mare, and I know you’re not, and I’m sorry, and Snowdrop,

dear Snowdrop, I don’t know what to do!” Snowdrop hugged her tightly. “You have

nothing to fear,” Snowdrop said, “I’ll talk to Woody. He can tell me himself

what he feels about me. If he wishes, he can touch my fur and hooves. He can ask

me anything he wants. I’ll talk to him Emily dear, now don’t worry yourself

about it.” Emily returned the Falabella mare’s hug. “Thank you Snowdrop,” She

said. Snowdrop released Emily and got to her feet. Emily looked her all over

from nose to tail, from ears to hooves. “You are very well camouflaged,” she

remarked. “I suppose I am,” Snowdrop replied. Emily looked down, and couldn’t,

however hard she tried, see where Snowdrop’s hooves were. They merged in with

the snow. Snowdrop lifted a hoof, and it was only when her hoof was clear of the

ground that Emily saw it, otherwise, it was a perfect match for the snow. “I’ve

got to find Woody now,” Emily said, “goodbye Snowdrop, and thanks for

everything.” With that Emily got to her feet, turned and left, leaving Snowdrop

to her own thoughts.

 

The snow fell heavily as Emily went to find her foal. “Looks like you are

having fun!” Emily shouted as she approached the group of foals who were playing

in the snow. “Hi mum!” Woody hurled a ball of snow at his mother. “I need to

talk to you Woody, and I mean now!” Woody reluctantly left his friends and

followed his mother to a quiet spot.

 

Emily looked severely at Woody. “I’ve spoken to Snowdrop, and she’s not

very happy with you, neither am I! Snowdrop is only doing her duty as herd

leader. She said to me, that if you wanted to put your feelings to her, you do

it to her face, otherwise she’ll not listen. Woody, Snowdrop’s no fake! She’s a

very sweet mare!” “You make Snowdrop sound like she was your mum or something,”

Woody said. Emily hesitated, before replying: “She is, sort of,” Woody snapped:

“That tiny mare is your mother? No mum, she isn’t! How could she have given

birth to you? You are as crazy as Snowdrop is!” Emily hadn’t told Woody of

Gemini’s death because she’d thought him not old enough to cope with that kind

of information. Now though, how could she explain? Woody was furious with her,

he thought her crazy, maybe she was. “My real mother died,” Emily said faintly.

“Did she now,” Woody spat, totally disinterested. He’d come to the mistaken

conclusion that his mother and Snowdrop were both insane. “I’m not listening any

more,” Woody said as he walked away, “I’m going to find that white mare, I’m

going to tell her she’s crazy to think of you as her foal, and let her know that

she’d better throw you out of the herd because you’re bonkers!” Tears filling

her eyes, Emily watched her foal leave. “What have I done!” She sobbed.

 

Ben found Emily in a distressed state. Once he’d coaxed out of her the

reason for her tears, he was both upset and furious. “Woody has got no right to

say what he does!” Ben yelled, “I hope he finds Snowdrop, and Snowdrop gives him

a good talking too. Maybe she’ll even show him the business end of a hoof!

That’ll scare him!” Meanwhile, Woody had found Snowdrop talking with Sam. “Hey

Snowy, I want to talk to you!” Woody yelled rudely. Snowdrop ignored him,

treating him with the contempt he deserved. “Oi!” Woody yelled, “I’m talking to

you, you horrid mare!” Snowdrop ignored him and said to Sam: “So we’ll see what

we can do about this matter of Emily’s problems with her foal.” Sam agreed and

they parted company, but not before Snowdrop had hugged Sam Tightly. She loved

him like he was her own foal, indeed he could have been. Releasing him she said:

“That was very un-leader-like of me Sam. I shouldn’t really hug you.” Sam smiled

at her. “I don’t mind Snowdrop. The truth is, I enjoy it.” Snowdrop let Sam go,

and when he was out of sight, She turned and walked away from Woody. Anger

flared in Woody, and he began to chase her down the track. Woody caught up with

Snowdrop and circled in front of her, bringing her to a stand still. Then he

attacked her! Woody’s hind foot smashed into Snowdrop’s shoulder, sending the

poor mare crashing to the floor. For some reason she hadn’t anticipated this and

was now getting the worst of it. Woody aimed another kick and this one winded

the white Falabella mare! Woody was apoplectic with fury! “I hate you Snowdrop!”

the foal screamed. He then felt himself flying! He saw, as if in slow motion,

the ground coming up to hit him in the face! Woody landed with a crash! He

didn’t know who’d attacked him, but was soon yanked to his feet by a grey mare,

similar in stature to Snowdrop she was, and her eyes were burning rage and

hatred! “Pip!” Woody whinnied shrilly. “yes it is me, and it is Whitehoof too!”

the mare squealed angrily. “Whitehoof? Where is Whitehoof!” Woody demanded. For

answer he was tripped, and soon found himself lying on the ground, with yet

another Falabella horse pinning him down. He saw this one had one white hoof.

Whitehoof stared down at the disgraced foal. “Your mum and Dad saw all of it,”

Whitehoof said, “I made sure of it! They might not be here now, but they know

only too well!” Meanwhile, Snowdrop had got to her feet and made her way

carefully across to them. “Woody won’t forget this,” she said, “I, and I’m sure

you, and all the other horses will make sure of that!”

 

Woody struggled beneath Whitehoof’s forefeet. “Why are you doing this to

me!” he screamed. “Because you attacked our leader,” Pip replied. “Snowdrop

ignored me, she’s a horrid mare Pip!” Woody whimpered. “She ignored you because

you were very rude to her!” Whitehoof whinnied. Woody stared up into Whitehoof’s

face. “Why did two Falabella horses attack me? You would have stood a better

chance if you were bigger, but no, you attacked me all the Same,” Woody said.

“We won though, didn’t we Woody,” Pip replied. Woody began to cry as he realised

what he’d done, and realised also what his mother would say to him.

 

Woody tried to hide in the deep snow. He didn’t get very far. Emily and

Ben spotted him. “Your not gonna get very far!” Ben said sternly as he

approached the disgraced colt. “Oh well, its time to face the music!” Woody

thought to himself as he followed Emily and Ben to find a tree to shelter under.

 

 

) Woody looked at the two large horses facing him. “Why did you attack

Snowdrop?” Emily asked. “She’s too small!” Woody wailed, “she’s no leader!” “She

may be small,” Ben replied, “but she is leader, and you’d better remember that

Woody!” “You kicked her!” Emily squealed, “You kicked your leader Woody!” “That

mare isn’t my leader, I don’t respect her mum, she’s too small to do anything to

me, so she can get lost!” Emily was shocked by her foal’s language. “You never

ever, say anything like that about your leader!” she screamed. “Snowdrop can’t

hurt me!” Woody yelled. Out of the corner of her eye, Emily saw Snowdrop coming

through the forest. “You say I can’t hurt you?” Snowdrop said. “No Snowy, you

can’t hurt me!” Woody scoffed, “go on, hit me you horrid mare!” Snowdrop turned

rear on to the tiny foal and lifted a hind foot. “See my hoof?” She asked. “Of

course I see your hoof you silly mare! By the way, it’s tiny, although I expect

you already know that!” “I wanted to talk to you Woody,” Snowdrop said, her foot

still raised, “I wanted to show you my hooves, let you touch my fur, all that,

to show you I am real, and that I mean business,” The Falabella mare replied.

Woody looked at the mare’s tiny hoof, then he touched it with his muzzle.

Snowdrop, who had a golden opportunity to do him real harm, never moved. “I mean

you no harm,” she said, “but you hit me, you attacked me Woody! I did nothing to

harm you!” Woody snapped: “Lower your foot to the floor Snowdrop!” Snowdrop

refused, asking Emily to take a look at her hoof. “I think I may have a stone in

it,” the mare said. “You have no stone in your hoof!” Woody screamed. “I’ll be

the judge of that,” his mother said. Emily examined Snowdrop’s hoof, then told

her there was no stone in it. With that she lowered her foot to the floor. “I am

leader,” Snowdrop said, “and I will not be ordered about by a tiny foal! You

Woody, have no right to attack other horses just because you don’t like them!”

 

 

 Snowdrop walked away, she was furious! She left Ben and Emily to deal with

Woody. She saw Pip and Whitehoof coming towards her as she made her way under

the trees. Whitehoof saw the anger on her face. “Mum!” he said gently. “whatever

is the matter?” he continued. Snowdrop broke down. She shook uncontrollably from

nose to tail both with anger and cold. “Hey, mum, its ok, its ok!” Whitehoof soothed

as he held her close to him and calmed her.

 

“I don’t know what’s happening any more! Snowdrop sobbed, “I would have

usually anticipated Woody attacking me, but I didn’t, he just turned on me

Whitehoof!” Whitehoof embraced his mother tightly. “It’s okay,” he said, “You

can’t be fast all the time, you just didn’t expect him to do what he did. Foals

like him are usually all mouth and no hoof.” “But he’s both!” Snowdrop wailed.

“yes he is,” Pip said, “but we have to make him see that he cannot treat us

Falabella horses like dirt Snowy dear,” Pip referring to her as “snowy” made

Snowdrop feel a little better. Whitehoof nuzzled his mother’s ear. “We’ll get

through this mum,” he Whispered, “you, me, Pip and Sam, we’ll get through this

together.” This reduced Snowdrop to tears once more. Both Pip and Whitehoof

hugged her. “It’ll be okay,” Pip Whispered, “You aren’t finished yet, neither

are me, Whitehoof or Sam. We’ll teach this obnoxious colt a lesson!” “You are

strong mum, Pip, Sam and I love you very much,” Whitehoof said gently. Snowdrop

began to feel better about things. Being attacked by Woody had given her a

shock. A foal had never attacked her before, she hoped this would be the first,

and the last time it would happen. Her voice shaking, Snowdrop said: “Thanks for

your support, your confidence in me too. I love you all dearly, I hope you

realise that.” Pip said: “We know we can turn to you Snowdrop dear, every horse

knows that.” She felt the white mare’s soft warm fur against her cheek, and this

made her feel safe. Whitehoof also knew the innate power his mum had, and even

though she was feeling battered and sore, she would be back soon, was already

recovering in fact, and, very shortly, would be herself again.

 

Woody tried to escape from his parents. “Oh no you don’t!” Emily said, “I

haven’t finished with you yet!” “I haven’t finished with that tiny white scrap

yet!” screamed Woody. “If I have my way she won’t last another week, nor those

other tiny scraps, I’ll kill them all!” “You will do no such thing!” Ben said

“They all know what you are like now Woody and you will never survive, Brock and

Foxy keep guard as well so all the forest animals know what you are like!” “I

thought Brock had hibernated for the winter!” Woody went on.

 

Meanwhile, Snowdrop had recovered sufficiently for Whitehoof and Pip to

return to where Woody and his parents were having an argument. They arrived to

hear Woody asking whether Brock had hibernated for the winter. The answer came

with the sound of crashing in the undergrowth, and Brock appearing. Rubbing a

paw over his eyes, he stared long and hard at Woody. “Me protects small horses

against foal who get above his station!” the badger yelled. “Bet you can’t

protect yourself against this!” Woody squealed, lashing out furiously! Emily

screamed a warning to Brock, then it was Woody’s turn to scream as his hind foot

was caught in Brock’s huge paws and twisted sharply! Woody crashed onto his

side! “I says me protects horses!” Brock yelled. Woody lay stunned. Snowdrop

arrived then, saw Woody on the floor with his hind foot in Brock’s paws, and

guessed all. “Thank you for coming to help,” the white mare said. “It be no

problem Snowy,” Brock said gently, “me very fond of small horses, me protects

them even when me meant to be sleeping!” Snowdrop went across to Brock and

nuzzled his ear. Brock would have liked to return the mare’s embrace, but still

had Woody’s hoof in his paws. “Me arrange for foal to be tied up in tree if

Snowdrop want,” he grunted. “Do that,” Emily said, “maybe that’ll teach him a

lesson that he’ll never forget.” Woody began to cry. “I’ve heard from Maynand

and Lucky what it was like being tied to a tree, and it sounds horrible!” he

wailed. “You shouldn’t have attacked my mum then should you!” Whitehoof snapped.

He looked close to kicking Woody. “You are a horrid colt Woody,” Snowdrop said,

“I feel very sorry for Emily and Ben that they have to suffer your antics!”

Emily looked at her leader. “I know it’s hard Emily dear,” Snowdrop said, “but

be strong, do what you feel needs to be done, for your sake, for Ben’s sake, for

the herd’s sake, and mostly for Woody’s. he needs to be taught a lesson.” Emily

blinked hard, trying to hide her tears. “I’ll go through with it,” she said.

With that Brock and a few squirrels tied Woody’s legs together, then suspended

him from a tree. All the other horses watched, Snowdrop, Whitehoof and Pip to

the fore. “You will stay there till your leader thinks me should release you!”

Brock commanded. Woody had no choice. Emily looked at her foal, thinking of the

short time he’d been in the world. She remembered his birth and the elation and

relief that had followed, her and Ben’s hopes for their new-born foal, and the

promise he’d initially shown. Now though, she blinked hard, hoping it was a

dream, but Woody was still tied to the tree when she looked again. Emily glanced

at Ben, who stood stony faced, fighting with his own feelings of fury and grief.

Emily swallowed hard and said: “I hoped it would never come to this.” “I can

hardly believe it myself,” Ben replied gruffly.

 

Emily moved closer to Ben. “Ben!” she cried, “I don’t like this! Where did

I go wrong!” she asked.

 

“It’s not your fault Emily dear,” Ben said softly, “Some foals won’t

listen to what their parents say, no matter what they do. Woody has to learn

from his mistakes.” “Mistakes?” Emily asked, “this is a catastrophe! We’ll be

branded bad parents, the whole herd will know about Woody’s behaviour, and, and

then, we’ll be kicked and bitten! I don’t want that Ben!” She wailed. “The foals

will realise what will happen if they transgress the boarders of what’s

acceptable Emily, we won’t be concerned with that. All we have to do is make

sure Woody learns from his errors. “I don’t like this!” Woody screamed. “Do you

think Snowdrop liked being kicked?” Whitehoof asked crossly. Woody began to cry.

“I can’t cope with this!” He whimpered.

 

Once Brock was satisfied that Woody had been strung up for long enough he

ordered the animals to take him down. “and, if this do happen again!” warned

Brock “You will be strung up and left alone!” “Ok, Ok,!” Woody whined.

 

Woody got to his feet and bolted! Brock watched the colt go, wondering if

he would be called upon again to string him up. Yawning expansively, Brock

crawled under a bush and went back to his set to sleep. Woody found Whitehoof

and Snowdrop lying together under a bush. Seeing him coming, Whitehoof laid back

his ears. “I came to apologise!” Woody whinnied. Snowdrop looked at him. “You

will have to do more than apologise to make up for what you’ve done to me!” She

squealed. Woody prostrated himself at Snowdrop’s feet. “I’m really really

sorry!” Woody wailed. He looked at Whitehoof for his reaction. The gelding

stared back, indicating the foal would have to do more than just say nice things

to his mother before he would forgive him.

 

Woody got up and stared down at Whitehoof trying to intimidate him.

Whitehoof looked the colt straight in the eye, which Woody didn’t like. “I hate

you Whitehoof!” he screamed. “As a point of interest, I don’t like you much

Woody,” Whitehoof replied. Woody tried to kick Whitehoof, who dodged the colt’s

hoof and lashed out himself. Whitehoof’s right hind foot smashed into Woody’s

ribs! The colt collapsed squealing onto the forest floor. Hearing his squeals,

Emily came running. “What’s going on here?” she demanded. “Whitehoof kicked me

mum!” Woody squealed. “He probably had good reason,” Emily replied. Woody got to

his feet and walked away. Emily and the two Falabella horses looked at each

other. “I’m sorry Whitehoof!” Emily said, “I, I don’t know what’s come over him

lately.” Whitehoof looked at her. “You are doing all you can, and noone could

ask any more. We’ll get through this Emily. Ben, mum, Pip, myself and all the

other horses will help you through this.” “Thank you,” she said faintly. “We

will do what we can,” Snowdrop said. Emily looked at her. Sensing her thoughts,

Snowdrop said: “Come on then,” With that, Emily lay down beside the white

Falabella mare, and Snowdrop hugged her. Emily relaxed for the first time in

ages. She felt safe with Snowdrop, safe and warm. Breathing deeply, Emily closed

her eyes. “Sweet dreams Emily dear,” Snowdrop said gently. Whitehoof looked at

the two horses. “She needs you more than ever mum,” he said.

 

whitehoof wandered away. He was looking for pip. He found her talking to

Sam. “Hi you two!” He said, “I have just left mum, she is with Emily. “Oh, ok!”

Sam left, using the excuse that he needed to see snowdrop, he’d guessed that

whitehoof would want to be alone with pip. It had been a very long day.

 

Whitehoof collapsed beside Pip. “You look awful,” she remarked. “I’m not

feeling very fresh if that’s what you mean,” Whitehoof yawned. He laid his head

on her shoulder and closed his eyes. “Sam said something about Woody loathing

Snowdrop, is it true?” Pip asked. “True enough,” the gelding replied dreamily.

Pip looked at her mate. “it’s been a long day,” she said. “I hope Woody learned

his lesson,” Whitehoof said. “It took longer than this for Jasper to learn not

to touch other horse’s hooves without their permission,” Pip reminded him.

“Yeah, it did,” whitehoof agreed, “has he been doing it again then?” “No, or if

he has, it has been with the consent of the horses,” Pip replied. “Snowdrop told

him all he had to do was ask,” Whitehoof said. “Yep,” Pip replied, “Jasper asked

me, and I said no. I don’t like my hooves being touched Whitehoof. Jasper didn’t

force me, I gave my reasons and he left it.” “Would you mind me touching your

hooves?” Whitehoof asked. “You never asked,” Pip replied. Suddenly scared, she asked

“do you want to?” “No, not especially, but I will if you wish.” Whitehoof

replied gently. “No Whitehoof, I know I have touched your white hoof in the

past, and you don’t mind that, but if you did I wouldn’t have touched it. I’d

rather you didn’t touch my hooves. “All right,” Whitehoof said. Pip looked at

Whitehoof, thinking how much she loved him. Whitehoof opened his eyes and looked

into hers. “I won’t touch your hooves unless you want me to,” he said. Pip

hugged him. “Thanks, maybe one day I might change my mind, then you, and every other horse can,” she

said. Whitehoof nuzzled her ear. “Whatever you wish my dear,” he said softly.

 

 

Ben walked up to Emily. "I wonder if gelding Woody would do it?" He asked.

"I'll talk to Snowdrop." Emily said.

 

Ben and Emily went to Snowdrop to ask her about gelding Woody. “I don’t

know,” Snowdrop replied, “he’s not mature enough yet to allow that. If we do it

too soon, we will adversely affect his development.” The two larger horses

looked desperately at their leader. “We need to do something!” Emily squealed,

“I can’t cope with this much Longer Snowdrop, and you know what can happen if we

let it go on much longer!” Snowdrop looked down at her hooves. “I know,” She

said, “I’m still sore from the kicking he gave me.” “So why don’t you do

something about it!” Ben yelled, “I know you can, so why don’t you!” “I don’t

think gelding him is the answer Ben,” Snowdrop replied gently, “I’ve seen

aggressive geldings too, and they are just as dangerous as aggressive stallions.

Woody’s anger is directed at us Falabella horses only. If we were larger, then

he’d feel better about us. Gelding him is not the answer I feel. We who are

Falabella horses need to think of a solution. I am not into gelding every angry

stallion. I need to talk to Woody, all of us Falabella horses as a group need to

talk to him. I’ll arrange that.” With this she indicated the meeting closed.

Turning, she went in search of Whitehoof, Sam and Pip.

 

Snowdrop found Whitehoof and Pip sleeping together under a bush. She lay

down beside Whitehoof and closed her eyes. Dozing, she didn’t see Woody coming

towards her. Sensing danger, Whitehoof opened his eyes and stared at Woody! The

colt screamed in terror and bolted! Woody’s scream woke Snowdrop and Pip who

demanded to know what was going on! “Woody came near us,” Whitehoof replied, “I

looked at him and he fled screaming.” “We Falabella horses need to talk to him,”

Snowdrop said, “we need to find out what he hates about us.” “Let’s not do it

with just us Falabella horses around,” Pip said, “we’d better have a big horse

with big hooves, just in case.” “Emma for example?” Whitehoof asked. “Yes, or

Poppy, either will do. They can show him a huge hoof if he gets out of line.”

Pip replied.

 

The meeting with Woody was arranged, Emma, Poppy and Ferdinand were also

in attendance.

 

“Why have you singled me out!” Woody wailed, “and why are there three huge

horses here!” “Ferdinand is here as a witness to this meeting, and as for Emma

and Poppy,” Whitehoof said, “um, ‘er, well, they will make sure we are not

disturbed.” Woody looked around for his parents, Ben and Emily were nowhere to

be seen. Snowdrop had asked that they not attend, so Woody could not look to

them for defence. “I’m sick of explaining his behaviour away!” Ben said once,

“he can stand on his own four feet for once, for it is not mine nor Emily’s

fault he’s acting like this!” So there Woody now was, standing before four

Falabella horses. “We want to know what you hate about us,” Pip said gently, “we

won’t hurt you Woody, we just wish to know.” Woody looked down at his hooves,

then looked at Pip’s, snowdrop’s, Whitehoof’s and finally, Sam’s. Seeing this,

Whitehoof asked: “Is it because of our hooves that you hate us?” “No,” Woody

replied, “I feel that you are too small, all of you! How can you lead a herd

Snowdrop? You couldn’t use your hooves against any horse!” “We can kick though,

can’t we Woody,” Whitehoof said. Woody grimaced, he still felt sore from

Whitehoof’s hoof smashing into his ribs. “Yes you can,” the colt admitted. Sam

lifted a hind foot and said: “Go on Woody, take a look at my hoof if you want,

touch it, measure it against yours.” Woody did as Sam suggested. All the time

Emma, Poppy and Ferdinand watched anxiously. “You said you wanted to kill us

all,” Snowdrop said, “Why did you say that Woody?” Woody let Sam have his hoof

back. “I don’t know,” Woody said, tears filling his eyes, “I don’t know why I

said that.” He tried to bury his face in Pip’s mane, but she shook him off. “You

will have to apologise before I will let you anywhere near me,” she said, “and

you’ll have to mean it Woody!” Woody looked at Sam. He knew of the chestnut

gelding’s status in the herd, and how he played with the foals despite his

status. Woody suddenly blurted: “I suppose I’m jealous because I want to be like

you, I want to be noticed, to have attention! I hate you because you have what I

want!” Woody yelled. “You can’t change your breed,” Emma said. “No,” Woody

replied. He looked at the massive Shire mare. “Have you ever wanted to be

smaller than you are? To have smaller hooves than you do?” Emma raised a hind

foot and looked down at it thoughtfully. “When I was very young, I saw Falabella

horses, and they fascinated me Woody,” she said, “but I never envied them at

all. Sure it amazed me how any horse could get about on such tiny hooves, it

still does, but |I never envied any of the horses. After all, wasn’t it Snowdrop

who found me just before I had Jasper, and wasn’t it Whitehoof who let me stay?

I am not jealous of them Woody, and neither should you be.” Woody looked into

the eyes of each Falabella horse in turn. “I will try not to be jealous of you,

I will try to accept that smaller horses can be powerful, even if they’ve got

tiny hooves. I am sorry Whitehoof, Snowdrop, Pip and you Sam, for what I’ve said

that has hurt you. Snowdrop, I don’t know why, if I wanted to be like you, I

kicked you.” He prostrated himself at Snowdrop’s feet. “Do what you will with

me!” Woody whinnied.

 

“Get up from the ground!” Snowdrop ordered. Woody got up. “Go away and

think about what we have just said to you!” Sam said. The group separated.

 

 

Woody walked away slowly. When he’d gone, Snowdrop and the other three

horses went their separate ways. Sam followed Snowdrop along the track. She

collapsed under a bush, totally exhausted. “Sam,” she said, “that was horrible.

“It wasn’t very pleasant,” he admitted. Sam settled down under the bush next to

her. “I can’t help thinking we’ve screwed his life up forever,” Snowdrop said.

“No Snowdrop dear, we’ve got no chance of that. He kicked you, remember that?”

Snowdrop remembered, she still felt sore from the colt’s kick. “Don’t let him

worry you any more Snowy dear,” Sam said.

 

Sam hugged Snowdrop. “Thank you Sam!” She said.

 

“Even the herd leader needs a hug from time to time,” Sam said. Snowdrop

fought back a sudden rush of emotion. “Yes,” she replied, “I’m grateful for it

too.” “You don’t need to worry about Woody any more Snowy dear,” Sam Said, “he

knows that you are leader, we all know that. The other horses respect you

Snowdrop. You’ve never hit a horse in anger, only in self defence. I’ll bet

there aren’t many horses who can claim that.” “No,” Snowdrop admitted. She

looked down at her hooves. “I don’t think I could do much damage with these

anyway,” she said. “You can mark horses with them,” Sam reminded her. “Yes,” she

conceded. “That mark is famous all over the land, even the white mare who leads

the herd across the valley knows about it, and respects it too! You know how

terse and objectionable that mare is.” Snowdrop got to her feet and walked away,

Sam followed. They made their way to where Whitehoof and Pip lay under a bush.

Snow had begun to fall again, thickly covering the ground. Snowdrop and Sam’s

tiny hoofprints were very visible in the snow. Seeing his mother coming through

the trees, Whitehoof got up and went across to her. “it’s snowing again,” he

whinnied. “Um, is it?” Snowdrop asked sarcastically. Whitehoof kicked her on the

fetlock, squealing, Snowdrop walked off, seemingly offended. Whitehoof chased

her, and he and his mother were soon rolling in the snow in play, like they had

when he was a foal. Pip described to Sam what Snowdrop and Whitehoof were up to,

trying not to laugh helplessly. “They’re like two foals!” She whooped.

 

“Come on you two!” Whitehoof Invited. The four Falabella horses rolled

around in the snow. Sam enjoyed the feel of the powdery snow against his body.

The play soon ended and Snowdrop and Sam returned to the herd. Whitehoof and Pip

huddled up under the bush. Whitehoof held Pip close. “I think the snowball fight

did mum the world of good!” Whitehoof said to pip. “Yes, she deserves a bit of

fun!” Pip replied.

 

Snowdrop felt energised. She hadn’t felt so good in ages! Playing with

Whitehoof had done her the world of good, for although she hated to admit it to

herself, she thought she’d never get the chance again. When Whitehoof had been

cast out of their old herd, Snowdrop thought, if she ever found him again, that

Whitehoof wouldn’t want to play like he had before their separation. Snowdrop

knew Whitehoof was now a mature horse, but she also knew he was still a foal at

heart. Crawling under a bush, she thought about her foal. Snowdrop remembered

Whitehoof’s birth, and the weeks that followed, up till the time when the herd

leader had to name her foal. As if it were yesterday, Snowdrop remembered the

sick feeling she’d had when she presented her foal for naming. She remembered

the look on the larger mare’s face as she saw the tiny black gelding with one

white hoof. Snowdrop remembered the mare becoming fearful and angry when she saw

Whitehoof’s white foot. She also knew he was a gelding from birth, this was

unusual too! Snowdrop knew her foal was in trouble. She knew the matriarch of

the herd would not have him in her herd because he looked strange. Snowdrop

knew, that her foal’s white hoof would be singled out for comment. The

devastation she felt when the herd leader pronounced that her foal was to be

known from that day forth as Whitehoof, still pricked her, even now. Although

Snowdrop knew her foal as Whitehoof, and that was his name, and quite frankly,

he couldn’t be called anything else now, she still felt terrible sadness that he

had to be marked for life, not only with the white hoof, but with a name that

told everyone from the outset why he’d been isolated. Snowdrop took a deep

shuddering breath. Why was she thinking like this. Was it partly a reaction

against the relief that she felt at being with her foal again? A feeling that

this relief and peace couldn’t last forever? A feeling that somehow, Whitehoof

could be taken from her, and this time, she’d never see him again? The thought

of not seeing her foal again moved Snowdrop to tears. Whitehoof and Pip found

her like this a few minutes later. Seeing his mum in a dreadful state, Whitehoof

crawled under the bush and lay down beside her. Feeling another horse lying

beside her, Snowdrop turned her head and saw Whitehoof. Snowdrop embraced him

fiercely, burying her face in his mane. “Hey mum,” Whitehoof said gently, “shh,

what’s wrong?” Snowdrop hugged him so tightly that Whitehoof was afraid she’d

squash him. ?”Please mum,” he begged, “tell me what’s upsetting you.” Snowdrop

told him everything. It all came out in a rush, her fears and misgivings, her

feeling that her happiness couldn’t last, all that. Whitehoof nuzzled Snowdrop’s

ear. “I know you were upset about what happened in the naming ceremony, I could

see it even then. I am Whitehoof, I could be noone else mum. I know the name

singles me out, I said as much to Pip the first time I set eyes on her. Until I

told her my name, she hadn’t really noticed my white hoof, but now she loves it

as part of me.” Whitehoof said. “I love you my dear little Whitehoof,” Snowdrop

sobbed. Whitehoof felt his own Emotions getting out of control. He loved it when

his mum called him “little Whitehoof,” it reminded him of days long past, where

he knew nothing of rejection, not really understanding what the lead mare had

said. He and his mother would lie together, sheltering from the rain beneath a

bush. Here she would tell him stories, stories of Falabella horses, and of the

special place they held. “I am still her little Whitehoof,” the gelding thought.

 

 

Snowdrop looked at Whitehoof. “I don’t know why I’m feeling like this,”

she said. “you’ve had a lot to deal with these last few days,” Whitehoof

replied. Pip cuddled up to Snowdrop, so the white mare was lying between her and

Whitehoof. Snowdrop looked around at her foal and then at Pip. “I feel so

powerless to do anything about Woody,” she said, “I am herd leader, or I think I

am, and I can’t do a thing to bring him under control!” “I agree we Falabella

horses aren’t as powerful as the larger horses, not physically powerful anyway.

What we have got is unity amongst us Snowdrop dear,” Pip said. “You’re right

Pip,” Whitehoof replied, “we Falabella horses do have unity, I don’t think many

breeds could say that.” Emma walked past with Joey. The orphan foal was now

about six months old, and getting into the kind of trouble all foals got in to.

When he saw Snowdrop he ran to her. “Mum tells me you are leader!” he Whinnied.

“I am,” Snowdrop replied. “You’re, all, all white!” Joey squealed. Snowdrop

smiled and replied: “yes, I had noticed that.” This made Joey laugh. “Sarcasm is

the lowest form of wit mum,” Whitehoof said. Snowdrop nipped his ear playfully.

“Hey! That hurt!” Whitehoof whimpered. He thumped Snowdrop’s shoulder with his

nose. Joey looked at Whitehoof with interest. “Mum said something about you, if

you’re whitehoof, which I think you are,” he said. Whitehoof asked Joey what

Emma had told him, but he thought he already knew. “Mum told me that, that you

didn’t want me in the herd, that when I came with my dying birth mother, you

refused to let me in.” Whitehoof looked down at his white hoof in shame. “I did,

and I’m sorry Joey,” he said. Joey turned rear on and showed Whitehoof a massive

hind foot. Even at six months of age his hooves were larger than Whitehoof’s.

Snowdrop glanced at Emma, who stared open mouthed at her foal. “I hate you

Whitehoof!” Joey screamed. He lashed out at the Falabella gelding! Snowdrop

threw herself on top of Whitehoof, and Joey’s hoof smashed into her shoulder.

Joey screamed as his hoof connected! He stood on three legs, unable to put his

hind foot to the floor. “What’s the matter?” Emma asked, fighting to control her

urge to give her foal a hiding. “I burned my hoof!” Joey wailed. Emma took a

look and couldn’t see any mark on the colt’s hoof. “I burned your hoof,”

Snowdrop said, levering herself gently off of Whitehoof. “Are you all right

Whitehoof dear,” she asked. Whitehoof struggled to his feet. “Thanks,” he said,

“thanks mum, for saving my life.”

 

With that Joey turned around. "Whitehoof, I'm honestly sorry, I shouldn't

have done that." Joey said gently. "That's all right, I'll let it go this time,

I kind of understood what you felt at that moment." Whitehoof said, "Now, go."

 

 

The burning sensation in Joey’s hoof subsided after a while. Snowdrop

controlled that, and she decided when he’d had enough punishment. Whitehoof was

strangely subdued after that. He obviously felt ashamed of what he’d said when

Joey had come to the herd. Pip hugged and comforted her mate, who blamed himself

for putting Snowdrop in such a position that she had to defend him once again.

Snowdrop’s shoulder was very painful, but when she went to one of the river

otters for treatment, she was told that she’d bruised the bone, and there was no

treatment as such, only potions to ease the discomfort. Snowdrop left the river,

wanting to let nature sort things out. She made her way carefully along the

track to the herd’s base. Seeing her coming, Emily cantered up to her. “Hi

Snowdrop,” Emily welcomed. “How are things,” Snowdrop asked. “Okay thanks,”

Emily replied, “Woody’s calmed down a lot now. He saw that you Falabella horses

had just as much right to lead a herd as larger horses did. I think he’s more

fascinated by you now. Sam let him touch his hooves, Woody still can’t get over

how small a Falabella horse’s hooves are. In fact, neither can I.” Snowdrop

smiled. “Our hooves might be small, but they have their uses,” she said. “I

heard something about Joey attacking Whitehoof, was that true?” Snowdrop nodded.

“Yep, why do you think I’m limping now?” Emily stared at her. “Why are you

limping?” she asked, “I had noticed it, but I daren’t ask.” “When Joey lashed

out at Whitehoof, I threw myself on top of him to shield him from the blow.

Joey’s hoof connected with my shoulder.” Emily looked shocked! “But surely that

couldn’t have resulted in Joey burning his hoof, could it?” Suddenly Emily

shrieked, lifting her right hind foot off the floor. “My foot’s burning!” she

yelled. “That is what I did to Joey.” Snowdrop replied. “Stop it Snowdrop!”

Emily screamed. Snowdrop released the larger mare. “How on earth do you

do that?” Emily asked, more curious than angry. Snowdrop smiled grimly: “I can

take control of another animal’s mind, I can make them feel whatever I want.

Joey will not kick me again.” “No,” Emily replied. Dropping to her knees, Emily

begged Snowdrop not to do anything like that to her ever again. “I can’t promise

anything,” the white mare replied, “for if you put me or my family in danger, I

will do what I have to.” Emily got to her feet and walked away thinking deeply.

 

 

Word got around the herd that Snowdrop had used her power to burn Joey and

then Emily’s hooves, this frightened a lot of the horses. Snowdrop was very

unhappy about this, it had to be cleared up and made known to the herd that this

power was used only when absolutely necessary. The falabella horses stuck

together on this one, they knew that Snowdrop had defended her foal when Joey

had attempted to attack Whitehoof, she loved him, she loved all of the horses,

that was why she was the herd leader, she knew that she and Sam did a good job

between them.

 

Snowdrop called a meeting late one evening. “I understand there have been

words said about me by some of you,” she said when all the horses were gathered

under a huge oak. “It has been said,” Bobby replied, “that you Snowdrop, have

burned two horse’s hooves. Is this true?” “Indeed it is,” Snowdrop admitted. “It

is also said,” Bobby continued, “that you leave no mark on the hooves of any

horses. Is this also true?” Snowdrop confirmed it was. “Why are you doing this?”

Tilly asked. “I was, in the first instance, defending Whitehoof against Joey’s

attack. In the second instance, Emily asked me about it and I showed her. That

was all.” Tilly asked harshly: “Do you enjoy causing other horses pain?” “Now

that isn’t fair!” Whitehoof whinnied. “It is a very valid question,” Snowdrop

said, “and no Tilly, I do not like causing other horses pain. I only do it as a

last resort, once they have attacked me. I use my power only for self defence.”

Jasper gave Snowdrop a fearful look. “I’ve also been burned by her,” he said,

“it hurt!” Sam could sense the horses gathering on mass against Snowdrop, he

played his trump card. “How would it be if Snowdrop were larger than she is,” he

said, “she could then deal out justice in the normal way of horses, by a kick or

a nip. As she is not large, she cannot do this, so she has to do it in other

ways. Can’t you see that?” Sam had another thought: “Snowdrop, if you will, turn

rear on to the herd and lift a hind foot. Show all the horses your hooves, let

them touch them, let them see and feel how small your hooves are. Then, let them

look at their own hooves, and they will surely see why you need the power you

have.” Snowdrop did as Sam suggested. Turning rear on to the herd, she lifted

her right hind foot.” “Take a look at my hoof, all of you.” The white mare said.

“All right, all right!” Tilly snapped, “I know you have tiny hooves! I looked at

Whitehoof’s in great detail once. I’m sorry!” Snowdrop lowered her foot to the

floor. “I warn you all,” she said, “if anyone attacks me or my family, I will

deal harshly with you.” Tilly believed her, Emily still remembered the pain

Snowdrop had put her through, and knew that the tiny mare was deadly serious. “I

would do anything for you all,” Snowdrop said, “even put myself in danger so

that no other horses are harmed, but I have my boundaries. I will strike back if

I’m harmed.” Snowdrop turned away from the group and walked into the trees,

signifying the meeting over. All the horses went their separate ways. Later that

night, as the horses grazed in the moonlight, the talk was all of the Falabella

horses. The larger horses knew that by “my family,” Snowdrop meant the Falabella

horses in the herd. She protected all the horses, but looked out for her own

breed too.

 

Whitehoof and Pip found Snowdrop crying under a bush. “Whatever is the

matter?” Pip asked quietly. “I don’t think the herd want me as leader any more!”

Snowdrop sobbed. “Why not?” Whitehoof hugged his mum to try and give her some

comfort. “I think Tilly’s after my job!” She continued.

 

Whitehoof said he would find Tilly and ask her about it. Snowdrop dreaded

what he’d find out. Whitehoof found Tilly and asked her straight out whether she

was fishing for the leadership. Tilly looked surprised. “What makes you say

that?” she asked. “You were bitter when you were demoted,” Whitehoof said, “and

now you want to get back at the very horses you blame for your demotion.” Tilly

said: “I just wanted to know if Snowdrop enjoyed causing other horses pain.

That’s all she does!” “That’s all you hear about,” Whitehoof corrected her. He

continued: “Tilly, you don’t hear about what goes on behind the scenes. all the

talking and reasoning, all you hear about is the aftermath of severe

punishment.” Tilly spat at the gelding’s feet. “I hate her Whitehoof!” She

yelled. “What has Snowdrop ever done to you that is not justified?” Whitehoof

asked calmly. “um, well,” Tilly stammered, struggling to find a reason to back

up her claims, she couldn’t. “You are as bad as Joey or Woody!” Whitehoof

yelled, “You can’t cope with us Falabella horses can you!” Tilly turned tail and

fled into the trees. “I think I’m right about you Tilly,” Whitehoof thought,

“you are a bitter mare, and you have no reason to be.” He walked back to where

his mother and Pip were lying beneath a bush. “Tilly’s bitter,” Whitehoof

said, “and as for the horses not wanting you as leader mum, well, I think

you’re safe, for you haven’t done anything near what I did. You’ve only defended

your family, no horse can be angry at that.”

 

. Snow fell for days on end. Snowdrop became increasingly worried as to

whether her herd would survive the intense cold. She was concerned for the older

horses.  Bobby in particular seemed to be suffering badly.

 

One night, a blizzard struck the forest, all the forest animals ran for

cover. Only the horses were out in the open. The Falabella horses and some of

the smaller foals managed to get under bushes, but the others were unable to

shelter much. That night, the temperature dropped further than it had ever done

before. Snowdrop, huddled under a bush with Sam, Pip and Whitehoof, wondered how

many horses would survive the night. Dawn came, and with it a lull in the

intensity of the blizzard. Snowdrop and her little group went out to see what

damage had been done. Snowdrop called a meeting of all the horses who could make

it to the old oak. She watched anxiously as first Tilly, then Emily, then Emma

made their way to the oak, their foals following. “Thank Eohippus they’re

alive,” Snowdrop thought. Then Poppy arrived, she looked exhausted. “Are you all

right?” Pip asked. Poppy didn’t answer at first, then she said: “Bobby, he, he’s

dead. The cold got him,,,” Poppy looked on the verge of tears. “He was a lovely

chap,” she sobbed. “You two were, um, ;er, were you?” “yes we were in love with

each other if that’s what you mean Joey,” Poppy replied. “How old are you

Poppy?” Joey asked. “eighteen,” she said, “but what does it matter!” That shut

Joey up. He took one look at her massive hooves and decided not to say any more.

“I’m sorry,” Snowdrop said softly. Poppy looked at her. “I’m glad all the

Falabella horses are okay,” she said. “We had the best of it Poppy, we could

shelter under bushes,” Sam replied. “I heard Maynand got buried under the snow,”

Ferdinand said. He’d come up from the frozen river where he’d had to smash the

ice with a hind foot before he could get a drink. “How is he?” Snowdrop asked

anxiously, dreading the answer. “Oh,” Ferdinand said dismissively, “his head

hurts apparently, but he’s fine otherwise. It seemed the snow protected him.”

“Where did you find him?” Pip asked. “In a clearing, lying down beneath a pile

of snow,” Ferdinand replied. “Out in the open?” Poppy asked. “bingo,” Ferdinand

replied. “What a stupid horse!” Emma fumed, “and what did he do to get a sore

head?” “You Know the apples in the orchard a few miles from the wood?” Ferdinand

asked. All the horses knew of the derelict orchard, there were rich pickings

there in the autumn. “Well, Maynand’s only gone and stock piled a load of these

apples, put them in an old hollowed out tree trunk, added water and left them

for ages.” “What of it?” Pip asked. “If you leave them for long enough, they’ll

ferment and make cider,” Emma replied. She’d been in a riding school where one

of the horses had done this by putting a load of the apples he’d got as treats

into a bucket of water and hiding the bucket away. One day the other horses

found him lying on the grass, rather the worse for drink. All the horses now

knew what Maynand had been up to. Sure enough, the horse himself came weaving

towards them, stumbling over his own feet and looking like he’d been dragged

through a hedge. “You look Terrible!” Emily whinnied. “Shut up!” Maynand

whimpered. He collapsed at Snowdrop’s feet. “Get that good for nothing creature

out of here!” She commanded. Ferdinand and Ben bullied Maynand to his feet, the

colt protesting profusely. “Cider indeed!” Emily snapped, “what an example to

set the young foals!” “I could do with some of that,” Poppy said, “I need a

drink after last night.” She’d been up all night trying to keep Bobby awake and

warm, now she was exhausted and consumed by grief. “Is there anything we can do

for you?” Whitehoof asked. “Tell Brock,” Poppy replied, “that is if he isn’t

asleep, and well he might be, and I couldn’t blame him, but he must know as soon

as is possible.” Whitehoof went to find the badger. Brock was not asleep, he’d

been awake all night, fretting about the safety of the horses in general, and

the falabella horses in particular. When he saw Whitehoof coming through the

trees Brock asked: “how Pip and Snowdrop be?” Whitehoof told him they were both

safe, but Bobby had died in the night. “Brock very sorry to hear this about Bobby, but pleased like crazy about Snowdrop and Pip,” the

badger said. “Poppy was great friends with him,” Whitehoof said. “Me know that,”

Brock said, holding up a paw to stop the gelding, “me know what you now ask me

to do. Me already done what you ask, me know that horse need be bury plenty fast

before ground too hard for me dig.” Whitehoof looked down at his hooves. “Yes

Brock, thank you,” he said.

 

Emma comforted Poppy in her grief. Bobby was not the only horse who

perished during that bad winter. “I’ve never known anything like it!” Snowdrop

commented to Whitehoof and Pip as they rested under a tree. The days were

lengthening now and the snow had long disappeared. The hedgehogs and badgers

were waking from their winter sleep and the birds sang in the trees.

 

Meanwhile, deep in the forest, Maynand woke from another cider induced

sleep. He’d made the cider, intending it to be a treat now and again, but it was

now a refuge, his only refuge from the terrors he’d seen. Every time he closed

his eyes when he was sober, he saw the evil white mare from across the valley.

He dreamt she was attacking him, like she had so many times before. The

nightmares he had were only dulled by the cider. Maynand knew that if he had a

drink of the cider before he slept, he didn’t have nightmares about what the

white mare from across the valley did to him. Every morning he would wake with a

terrible headache, but that was preferable to the terror. He was waking now, and

his headache was worse than ever! Struggling to his feet he blundered through

the forest, tripping over roots and walking into trees. Seeing Snowdrop in front

of him, Maynand collapsed at her feet, squealing about the nightmares. Snowdrop

looked down at the shivering sobbing colt. “We need to get help for you,” she

said gently. Maynand replied, his tongue thick with the affects of the cider:

“Make this horror go away.” Snowdrop hugged Maynand tightly. “We’ll help, but

first we have to find your store of cider and get rid of it.” Maynand became

frantic! “But that’s what, what keeps me from the terror!” he screamed. “You end

up with a headache every time you use it Maynand,” the Falabella mare replied,

“you don’t like it, you’ve said it to me often enough.” “But, Snowdrop, please!

I can’t sleep without it!” Maynand squealed shrilly. “I have to get rid of it

Maynand dear,” she replied. Miserably Maynand showed Snowdrop where he kept the

cider. Snowdrop pushed the empty tree trunk over, the liquid spilling onto the

leaves and dirt. Maynand watched his pain relief soaking into the forest floor.

“Every time I close my eyes Snowdrop, every time I try to sleep I see her, I see

the white mare from across the valley! She comes for me, to attack me, and hurt

me!” he screeched. Maynand began to cry. “You need support through this,”

Snowdrop said gently, “we will help you, but no more cider! We have to do it

another way Maynand! It won’t be easy, and it won’t be pain free, but you have

to do it, for your own sake! You have to come to terms with what happened, and

drinking your way into oblivion isn’t the way!” “I can’t cope Snowdrop, I can’t

cope!” Maynand sobbed. “Let’s go back to the rest of the herd,” Snowdrop

suggested, “there you can talk to Poppy, you know her don’t you?” Maynand

nodded. “She’ll be glad to help you I’m sure.” With that they went back to the

herd. Snowdrop told Poppy what had happened deep in the forest. Maynand’s

general appearance distressed the Suffolk Punch mare, but when she heard the

colt’s tale, she was determined to do the best she could for him.

 

Poppy and Maynand walked away together. Once they were in a secluded part

of the forest, Poppy lay down and patted the ground with a forefoot for Maynand

to do the Same. The colt lay beside her and Poppy began to talk gently to him.

“What happened to you?” She asked. Maynand stared at her. “Well Poppy, it all

started when I was a foal. My mother rejected me at birth and it was the white

mare who grudgingly took me on. She didn’t want a foal, but a dead horse wasn’t

what she wanted either. She used me to carry out her dirty work. She would ask

me to befriend horses who she thought were briefing against her, I would do so,

not realising what was happening. I would report back to her what I heard, and

then she’d go and punish the horses concerned. I got a bad name in the herd, and

was disliked by nearly all the horses. As I got older I realised I was being

used and started to refuse to do what the white mare wanted. I was in for

punishment now. She would bite and kick me. Sometimes when I was asleep she’d

attack me. One day she injured me so badly I nearly died. This was when I

decided to escape from the herd. One day I ran for my life! I found Petra, and

she took me in. The rest is history.” Poppy looked sympathetically at Maynand.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “So that is what drove me to cider, I couldn’t cope with

that on my own, and didn’t know who I could turn to. Petra’s death brought it

all back, and I decided to make the cider and drink myself into oblivion. There

were plenty of apples in the orchard, I knew how to make cider,” the colt said.

“Why didn’t you talk to Snowdrop, or pip?” Poppy asked. “They’re not interested

in me,” Maynand replied, “Pip hates me, ever since I made her life hell she’s

never liked me.” “I heard tell she helped you when the white mare beat you after

Whitehoof led a group of horses to the white mare’s herd for some errand or

other.” “Yes, she helped me then,” Maynand agreed. “But why do you distrust

Snowdrop?” Poppy asked. “I don’t know,” Maynand replied, “I, well, I don’t know

really. She looks strange with her white fur and hooves, and all this about

Eohippus n’all, I don’t know if I can trust her.” “Why not talk to her, then

you’ll be able to make a better judgement,” the Suffolk punch mare suggested.

 

 

 “She won’t bite you, Maynand!” Poppy continued. “Ok, I will go and find

her!” Maynand agreed. He went off to find Snowdrop. “Did you want something?”

Snowdrop asked him. “Er, yes, would it be possible to have a word with you,

please Snowdrop?” “Of course!” she said kindly. They went to find a quiet spot

and Maynand relayed his story yet again. Snowdrop did not speak until Maynand

had finished talking.

 

Snowdrop thought for a while before saying anything. Maynand felt nervous,

he was fidgeting. Snowdrop felt sorry for Maynand but she didn’t want to go all

soppy and sentimental about this, she had to be firm and straight to the point

here, she didn’t like having drunken horses in her herd. She had listened

carefully to Maynand’s story and wanted to help him in the best way she could.

“What do you intend to do about your drinking problem?” ,” Snowdrop asked once

she had got things sorted out in her mind. Er, um I’ve been talking to Poppy! , I

think, I think she is going to try and help me.” “That is good,” Snowdrop went

on. “ Poppy has had some experience in this field so I know she will do her best

as long as you are prepared to co-operate.” “Oh yes yes, I do, I do!” Maynand

stammered. “Good!” Snowdrop replied. “Now, go and find Poppy, there’s no time

like the present to start your therapy!” Snowdrop smiled sternly at Maynand and

gave him a gentle push. He knew now that he had to go straight to Poppy, which

is what he did.

 

Maynand found Poppy sunning herself in a clearing. The colt stopped dead

in his tracks. The sunlight was slanting through the trees making Poppy’s golden

brown coat seem to shine with an intensity that hurt his eyes. Maynand felt

uncontrollable longing for this mare, but he tempered this with the thought she

was eighteen years old, where as he was barely six. Poppy seemed to be asleep.

Creeping closer, Maynand saw this was indeed the case. Lying down beside her

Maynand drifted off into a dream.

 

Poppy woke up. “Maynand, you startled me for a minute!” She said. Maynand

jumped up. “Oh, er, sorry poppy didn’t um mean to scare you!” He said in his

nervous tone. “I, I, er, um,” Maynand babbled. “Spit it out you silly thing!”

Poppy tried not to laugh. “Er Um, Snowdrop suggested I come to you now and start

my therapy.” “Ah right, so where shall we begin?” Poppy could see Maynand

was shaking.

 

Maynand shook uncontrollably. The dream he’d had was all about Poppy, but

he couldn’t tell her that! “If I’m truthful about what my dream contained, I’m

liable for a kicking!” he thought frantically. Poppy looked at him. “You were

asleep,” she commented. “Yes, I was, and it was the best sleep I’d had in ages

Poppy,” Maynand replied. “And you haven’t been drinking?” Poppy asked. “No!

Snowdrop emptied the tree trunk all over the forest floor, that was my only

supply! That was a day and a half ago, maybe even longer than that, I don’t

know, but no, no drink this time,” he replied. “You said you couldn’t sleep

without cider, you said the terror would get you Maynand. Have you been making

all this up? Are you a born liar?” Maynand squealed: “No Poppy no! I’m not a

liar! What I said was true, every word!” “How then could you have just lain down

here and drifted off without the fear and terror coming back?” the Suffolk Punch

mare asked suspiciously. “I can’t tell you!” Maynand yelled. “If, If I did,

then, I don’t know what would happen to me!” Poppy knew she was attractive, and