††††† Hi, Domino here!† Rosie asked Jinja if he wanted to tell this story but he declined the offer.† I think his excuse was something to do with Rosie having experience of story telling where he had none.†† When Rosie pointed out to him that she had no experience of story telling but she had jumped at the chance Jinja looked away and said nothing.† So It's my turn,† I was thrown in at the deep end.† I'm new to this job and to tell you the truth I'm scared stiff.† Rosie told me to tell the story as I saw it and the typist would do the rest.† I'm not so sure about that,† What happens if I dry up?† Who'll get me out of that one?† These typist people don't wait for anybody, no human gets waited for.† So a horse won't will they? ?
†††† I'd better describe myself I suppose.† I think Rosie's already told you that most of the horses in the yard are white.† I would like to alter that a bit.† I'm a black and white horse, and,, there's another thing.† You've heard of Natasha?† Well she's ginger in colour.† We reminded Rosie that not all horses are white and kept on at her until she apologised.† Jingle stopped us short when she reminded us that Rosie's mistake may have been quite genuine.† We stopped teasing Rosie after that.† Oh!† I forgot, , , I'm meant to be telling you a story, sorry about that.† Well, hmm,† err yes well. .
†††† Jingle poked her head out of her box and looked at me.
†††† "You've dried up then Domino."† she said.
†††† "Well yes Jingle I have really.Ē† Jingle fell silent for a while thinking deeply before continuing.
†††† "What're you going to tell your story about Domino?"† I was totally clueless for a suitable plot!† I felt rising panic taking hold.
†††† "I Don't know really Jingle.† I haven't got an idea.† See how it turns out shall we?"† I suggested.† Jingle sighed heavily.
†††† "You've done it again Domino."† she said wearily.† I was a little offended.
†††† "Done what?"† I asked.
††††† "Rushed in to things without thinking Domino."† Cleo said.† I felt confused and upset by these accusations.
††††† "Rush?† I never rush anything!"† I said sharply.† Jinja raised his voice so I could hear him and said,
†††† "Oh yes you do Domino.† You've got so little patience I don't know how you've survived this long."† Rosie looked at him, fury in her expression.
†††† "Leave her alone Jinja.† I can remember you being like that yourself."† This shut Jinja up.† I looked round at the horses stabled nearby.† These were Jingle, Cleo, and Natasha.†† They were a quiet lot really.† Cleo had a fiery temper and could be seen most days when she isn't working, either,†† butting at anyone that passes her or kicking at her stable door.† This behaviour was tolerable, well, anything† was better than the language that flew about recently.
†††† Now I come to Jingle, so called because of her rather individual whinny.† She† is a middle sized motherly horse who refers to everyone in a friendly manner, no matter who they are.† She calls everyone "dear,"† at one point or another during her dealings with a person.† This is rather sweet really.† We didn't complain, in fact† Jingle was first choice when we had a problem.† She seemed to have a calming presence that settled the most jangled nerves.
†††† Next I come to Natasha.† you've heard of her before I think.† My impression of Natasha is of a horse that is quiet, easily upset but kind.† My thoughts went back to the time when Natasha took Polo the Boxer dog in when he had been frightened by Balugue and fled into Natasha's box.† She had been gentle towards him and had kept him out of Balugue's way.† That's the end of my list, I included all horses didn't I?† Back to the story then.
†††††† "I'm not holding much hope for your story Domino,† it's a flop already."† Cleo said.† I stared at her.
†††† "I'm not used to this,,, "† I started to say.
†††† "I know that Domino!"† Cleo snapped.† She looked at me severely.
†††† "I'm pretty liberal..."
†††† "No you're not Cleo."† Natasha remarked.† Cleo bared her teeth at Natasha making her recoil into her box.† Cleo turned back to me.
†††† "As I was saying, I'm pretty liberal but I cannot abide a bad story.† This one's crap Domino."† she said.† my expression must have caused a reaction in her because Cleo stamped her foot in rage.
†††† "You're a bloody novice.† You can't tell a good story if it fell in front of you Domino!"† she shouted.† I was furious,
†††† "Don't write me off just yet Cleo."† I said.† Jingle caught my eye.
†††† "Don't let her get you down."† Jingle said.† She looked at me fondly.
†††† "Do your best, that's all you can do."† she added.† The truth was there had been nothing really worthy of recounting since Christmas.† Rosie had told that one.† I suppose I had better properly introduce myself.
†††† You know my name,† you also know that I'm an exception to the rule of whiteness in the yard.† I am four years old and sorely inexperienced as horses go.† I was trained to work the English style of riding.† Now they're trying to teach me Western!† It's more difficult than they imagine to pick up a new style.† In fact I would go so far as to say it was bloody difficult.† Coupled with that I am in foal and it's a tiring job carrying two horses.† These two horses are myself as one and the foal is the other.† I'm just a breeding machine as far as those humans are concerned.† I didn't want to have sex with that stallion.† He's an ugly sod!† Also he's an uncaring thoughtless git.† I'm looking forward to having the foal, to get shot of the bloody thing!† No, I'm not meaning it in that way.† I'm not ready for motherhood yet.† I'm only young, I want freedom to make my own choices.† There's another thing, there's no contraception available to horses!† This really pissed me off.† So, I'm in foal, the Stallion is getting even more fillies pregnant and we can't do a sodding thing about it.† Cleo is in the same predicament as I am.† She's become bad tempered over the last few months and is almost intolerable now.† I've just become resentful of the bloody humans who have screwed me for a year. †I don't wan'a foal!† I didn't wan'a have sex!† I hate breeding programmes!† I kicked my door in frustration.† A stable lad came round towards me.† I told him exactly what I've told you.† The human didn't understand however and patted me reassuringly.† That did it!† I kicked my door until the bloody thing splintered and gave.† I ran round the yard whinnying at the top of my voice denouncing humans, their activities, their existence, their evolution and domination.† Rosie stopped me as I passed.
†††† "Hey Domino, calm down dear, please calm down."† she said.† I rounded on her.
†††† "You can shut up!"† I yelled.† Jinja yelled,
†††††† "You talk to Rosie like that and I'll murder you!"† Rosie yelled back at Jinja,
†††† "Leave her alone Jinja.† You don't know what it's like to be pregnant with a foal you don't want!"† I leant against Rosie's box door feeling distraught.† What was I to do?† I couldn't face killing the foal,† no, the thought sickened me.† But I didn't want it!† I rested my head against Rosie's neck and closed my eyes.† I've always marveled at her strength.† She held the entire weight of my head on her neck, how she managed it I don't know.† Rosie supported me literally for about half an hour.† I had recovered enough by then to be able to stand on my own.† I shook myself vigorously.† I sniffed,
†††††† "Ah well, sorry about that."† I said.† Rosie looked at me strangely.
†††† "Don't be silly Domino, there's nothing to apologise for."† Rosie said.† I looked at her feeling better than I had for a long time.† I studied Rosie's face carefully trying to work out what she was thinking.† Rosie saw me staring at her and remarked,
†††† "Why don't you ask me what I'm thinking then Domino?"† she asked.† I smiled,
††††† "I was trying to sort out your thoughts without you noticing.† I've caused you enough trouble."† I stuttered.† Rosie looked at me sadly.
†††††† "You don't need to be sorry for anything Domino!† You really don't.† I know you're feeling awful because of the foal.† I can understand that."† she said.† I nuzzled her gently.
†††† "Thank you Rosie.† Thanks for listening to me."† I said.† Rosie nodded and watched me depart thinking deeply.† I walked down the yard towards the indoor riding school.† I walked into the small school and decided to look in on what was happening in the large one.† I banged on the door until it was opened.† The instructor and I stared at each other.† My mild amusement turned to terror as I saw who I had interrupted.
†††† "The Manageress!† Hell!"† I thought.† The Manageress looked at me strangely.† I thought,
†††† "I'll drop my foal if this carries on."† I tried to make the Manageress understand my predicament.† I nuzzled her shoulder.† She stroked my nose gently noticing my distress.
†††† "What's the matter Domino?† You seem upset about something."† I tried to show her what was bothering me by directing her towards my belly.
†††† "Oh you're upset about you're foal."† she said.† I nuzzled her franticly trying to make her understand that she was right.† I couldn't wait to go to the vets, perhaps she might do something?† I wanted to do something, but, not kill the foal.† I felt so confused, I could not think straight.† I felt angry, really furious with the blasted breeding programme.
††††† "I wish I had been consulted first.† Humans have a choice to have sex, we don't."† I thought angrily.
†††† I was at the vets place before I could think.† The vet examined me and came to a decision.
†††† "She's depressed.† I think the foal has something to do with it."† she said.† The Manageress said,
†††† "What do you think we should do?"† The vet replied,
†††† "The foal is fine,† I don't think it's anything to do with the health of the foal.† I don't think your horse wanted the foal in the first place."† I thought,
†††† "You bet I don't."† I listened to the vet with anticipation.† What was she going to suggest?† One half of me wanted rid of the foal, the other couldn't abide the thought of killing the defenseless creature.† I felt ill, really sick, I trembled violently and watched in horror as the vet became two vets.† The Manageress doubled to two also.† I put my head down to try and ease the sickness,† suddenly I blacked out.
†††† I regained consciousness in my box.† I didn't realise what had happened.† I tried to speak.
†††† "What's happening?† Where am I? †Help!"† I yelled.† I felt something nuzzling me, what was it?† Who was it?† Then a voice I recognised.
†††† "Domino,† Don't worry dear.† It's all right† I promise."
†††† "Jingle?"† I said tentatively.
†††† "Yes Domino dear, it's Jingle."† she said softly.
†††† "Oh Thank God!"† I thought.† A sea of relief flooded through me, I felt weak because of it.
†††† "What happened?"† I asked.
†††† "Look to your left."† Jingle said.† I did as she instructed.† There was another horse there,† I stared at it.† It looked pathetically back at me.† It said,
†††† "Mum, I'm starving."† I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
†††† "My foal!† Tell me I'm dreaming Jingle!"† I exclaimed.† The foal chipped in,
††††† "No you're not dreaming mum,† Are you gonna feed me or will I have to hunt for food?"† I watched the foal as it fed.† I couldn't comprehend the past twenty four hours.† All I knew was a feeling of pure joy at the sight of the foal.† I couldn't take my eyes from it.† It looked so fragile that I dare not touch it for fear of breaking it's bones.† The foal noticed this and butted me hard in the shoulder.
†††† "See, I'm not gonna smash to pieces."† he said.† I nuzzled him feeling the soft fur against my nose.† The foal suddenly smiled, a mischievous sparkle in his eyes.
††††† "Mum's gone all soppy."† he said.† I smiled,
†††† "I love you."† I said.† The foal lay down beside me.
†††† "Mum, what do the humans call you?"† he asked.
†††† "Domino."† I replied.
†††† "That's nice." he said.
††††† "They'll come up with a name for you soon."† I said.† The foal raised his head.
††††† "Dominic."† he said.† I smiled,
†††† "Yes, that's good, Dominic then."† I said.† Dominic nuzzled me.
†††† "I want to meet the rest of the horses."† he said.† So we escaped from my box and Jingle took us on a tour of the yard.† I could have done this myself but Jingle insisted that she came along to protect Dominic.† The first horse we saw on leaving the barn was Rosie.† Dominic stared at her in astonishment.
††††† "She's huge mum!" he said.
†††† "Hey little one! Don't say things like that!"† Rosie said playfully.† Dominic retaliated with,
††††† "Not "Little one!"† My Name's Dominic."† Rosie laughed slightly,
†††††† "Plucky little character isn't he." she remarked to nobody in particular.† Dominic seemed to be taking control of the situation.
††††† "What's all this "Plucky little character" Stuff Rosie?"† he asked.† It was clear that Rosie hadn't met horses like Dominic before.† His up front manner disconcerted her.
††††† "I meant you were a lively chap."† she said faintly.† Jingle led us to Jinja's stable door.† Jinja had worked Dominic out and greeted him with,
††††† "Hi Dominic, how ya doing mate!"† Dominic stared at him.
†††† "What?† who?" he said nervously.† Jinja had overcooked it.† Instead of endearing himself to the foal he had frightened him.
†††† "Don't worry Dominic dear."† I said softly.
††††† "What's his game?"† Dominic asked quickly.† Jinja knew he had blown it and now felt wretched.† Jinja looked at Dominic pleading with him to give him another chance.† Dominic looked at Jinja for a few minutes.
††††† "You thought you had sized me up didn't you Jinja."† he said.† Jinja seemed to shrink as the foal looked at him.
††††† "I, I'm sorry Dominic, I didn't mean to, to offend you, really I didn't." Jinja stammered.† Dominic suddenly smiled.
†††† "No, Jinja you haven't." he said airily.† Jinja's relief was quite comical.
†††† "Thanks!"† he said gratefully.†† Dominic reached up to Jinja and nuzzled him.
†††††† "Just playing about."† Dominic said.† I could tell that Jinja and Dominic would get on from then on.
††††† "How was it then Domino."† Figaro asked.† Dominic answered him.
†††† "She was spark out, ask me if you want to know."† he said.
†††† "When they got me out it was freezing!" Dominic added.† From what my Son was telling Figaro I worked out that the vet had cesarean sectioned me.† I was glad about this, I couldn't have faced a natural birth, not in my state.† We followed Jingle back into the barn to meet the horses there.† Dominic suddenly said,
††††† "I've heard that Cleo's a bad horse."† I motioned him to be silent.
††††† "Don't say things like that Dominic."† Jingle said.
†††† "Why not?† auntie Jingle."† Dominic's reference to Jingle as "auntie" both amused and touched her.† Jingle smiled at her adopted nephew.
†††† "We don't talk about Cleo's behaviour."† she said.† Dominic was already getting a judicial streak in him.
†††††† "If she's been bad she aught to know about it."† he said.
†††† We had reached the barn now and the end of our tour was in sight.† We passed Cleo on our way to talk with Natasha.† Cleo looked at Dominic with interest, and then at me.
††††† "You've dropped it then."† she said gruffly.† Dominic's courage had not deserted him at the sight of the "Bad horse"† he said,
††††† "Dropped what?† If you're referring to me I was actually lifted into the world."† Cleo was taken by surprise.
††††† "You mean you had a Cesarean section Domino?"† she asked coldly.
†††† "Well, yes mum did, what's it to you?"† Dominic asked Rudely.† Cleo kicked her door in fury.
††††† "Rude sod isn't he!"† she spat.
††††† "Can't say much for you miss."† Dominic said sarcastically.† Cleo stamped her foot in a sudden fit of rage.
†††† "I'll get you when you're out in the fields!"† she screamed.
††††† "Hell her temper's hot!"† Dominic said quickly.† He turned from Cleo and looked at Natasha.† He noticed her frightened expression and volunteered a comment.
†††††† "Don't worry Natasha, she'll blow out soon."† Natasha smiled at Dominic.
††††† "I wish I held your optimism."† she said.† Dominic went closer to Natasha.
††††† "I get the feeling you are easily frightened by that cow."† he said.† I couldn't believe his talk.
†††† "Dominic, we're going to have a long chat about this!"† I said.† Cleo snapped,
††††† "Yes!† Grind the sod into the dust Domino!"† I instantly forgot the lecture I was going to give Dominic and decided that maybe he had got the right attitude towards Cleo.† Cleo noticed the furious looks directed at her from Natasha and Jingle.† Dominic seemed to side with Natasha appointing himself her guardian.
††††† "Let's go back to our box Dominic."† I suggested.† Strangely enough Dominic didn't argue.† This was strange, really strange.† If I were in his position I would be off round the yard eager to see everything.† He seemed very relaxed about the whole thing.† I thought about my Son.
††††† "He's a tough fighter. Cleo won't be able to get the better of him easily."
†††† Balugue had been working in the school when we passed her box.† I told Dominic about the leadership election and about Cleo's reign of terror.† As a bit of light relief I Also told him about the Great Christmas Carol singing.† He laughed when I told him about the Manageress.
††††† "She sound's fun!"† he said.
I almost forgot, I'd better describe Dominic.† He was much like me which was a relief.† About the only thing he got from that wretched Stallion was his gender.† Even if he had been an exact replica of the Stallion I wouldn't have thought any less of him.† Dominic settled down to sleep.
††† †"I like it here, it's fun."† he said dreamily.† We fell asleep without a care in the world.
†††††† Dominic dreamed of a large white horse snapping it's teeth at him.† He tried to get away from it but it chased him.
††††† "Grind the sod into the dust."† the white horse was saying.† Dominic tried to run, to defend himself but it was useless.† He screamed in terror!
†††† I nuzzled my wildly thrashing foal.† When he finally came round I asked him what the matter was.
†††††† "Cleo!"† he panted.† Natasha had been woken by Dominic's thrashing.
††††† "You scared him Cleo."† she said.
††††† "Good thing too."† Cleo said viciously.
†††† "Don't worry Dominic, she won't hurt you dear."† I said gently.† Dominic huddled closer to me.
††††† "Protect me mum!Ē he pleaded.† I was upset by his fears.
†††† "Of course I'll protect you Dominic darling."† I said softly.† He buried his head in my shoulder.
†††††† "I hate Cleo."† he sobbed.† I felt awful.† I called to Jingle,
†††† "Come over here Jingle,† please come and help me."†† †Jingle opened her door and was soon in my box with Dominic between her and myself..
†††† "Go to sleep Dominic dear."† Jingle said softly.† Now feeling safe Dominic did sleep, but it was light and fitful.† He kept waking, standing up and looking round the box before settling down again.
†††† The next morning dawned bright and clear.† We awoke to a warm day.† Dominic yawned.
†††††† "Nice day isn't it."† he remarked.† Cleo stamped on his cheer quickly.
††††† "I'll get you Dominic, little sod Dominic!"† she said icily.† Dominic looked at her.
†††† "You're nasty Cleo.† All you want to do is deprive mum of the only joy she has in her life."† he said.† Cleo sneered at him.
††††† "Joy?† That scrap gives you joy Domino?"† she asked spitefully.
††††† "Yes, he does." †I said.† Cleo suddenly kicked her door.
††††† "You were complaining about that scrap.† You were saying that you'd want to get rid of him."† she said.† Jingle looked appalled, she looked at Dominic, her distress evident.†
††††† "Don't say things like that Cleo!"† she said tears welling in her eyes.
†††††† "Cleo, don't mess with mum, don't mess with me, you do and I'll hit you where it hurts."† Dominic said ominously.† Cleo bared her teeth at Dominic and said nothing.† I didn't realise at that time how close Cleo's dressing down would be.† I could never have imagined the affect such a small thing would have either.
††††† That afternoon we were in the large riding school with the Manageress.† This was to get Dominic acclimatised to the school.† Cleo, Balugue, and Rosie were in the school also.† Cleo was making aggressive postures towards Dominic.† The Manageress noticed this and told Cleo off.
††††† "Come on Cleo, stop it!" she said forcefully.† Dominic had had enough however.† He walked up to Cleo calmly and kicked her on the fetlock.† Cleo's reaction was instant.† She recoiled in horror and her facial expression told us volumes.† She had been totally humiliated by the little chap.† Cleo had always scared foals off.† No foal up till then had the courage to come within a metre of her, let alone kick her on the fetlock.† But Dominic was different, his store of courage was endless.† He knew Cleo's boast and aimed to break her assurance.† Now looking at Cleo's face it was plain that she had been totally destroyed. †She stamped out of the school head down and ears flat back.† Balugue looked incredulously at Dominic.
††††† "You fixed her didn't you." she said her eyes showing total admiration for the foal.
†††† "You gave birth to a bundle of courage Domino."† Rosie said.
††††† "All in a day's duty."† I said modestly.† Dominic looked at Rosie and† asked,
†††††† "You've tried it before haven't you?† I mean humiliating Cleo."††† Rosie nodded,
††††† "Yeah, but it did very little.† I couldn't have done what you did."† Dominic replied,
††††† "No, you're not a foal."† We all laughed at this.
††††† We left the riding school.† The Manageress came over to us looking with considerable interest at Dominic.
††††† "So you're the chap Domino gave birth to."† she said.† Dominic's reply was as foal like as ever.
††††† "You were there!† You saw it!"† I tried to hide a smile, we returned to our boxes.† Cleo's humiliation had fuelled Dominic's courage.
††††† "I stuffed Cleo."† he said in a matter of fact manner.
†††† "Don't go boasting about it Dominic."† I warned.
††††† "No, you boast about things you risk one very angry horse."† he said.
††††† "That's about the size of it Dominic."† Natasha said.† Cleo had been put back in her box and now gave Dominic death stares from behind the half wall separating us.
†††† "You wait, you wait for the summer!"† Cleo yelled.
††††† "I'm looking forward to it Cleo dear."† Dominic said mockingly.† Cleo bared her teeth at him.† Dominic wasn't through with her yet.
††††† "Nice set of teeth, dentist good is he?"† he asked.
††††† "Shut up! shut up!† Shut up!"† Cleo screamed.† Dominic lay down in the straw.
††††† "I'm giving up, she's no fun."† he said.† Now I realised, Dominic thought of Cleo and her antics as one huge game.† Perhaps it was for him, I didn't know.† I looked at the foal sleeping in the straw.
††††† "What ever you do, don't get hurt Dominic."† I whispered.† Dominic's ears twitched slightly.† I settled down into the straw next to him.† I hovered on the edge of unconsciousness thinking about how far Dominic had progressed in a day and a half.
†††† "If he goes on like this he will put me to shame."† I thought.† I knew what other horses thought of me.† The words inexperienced, dim, backward and inobservant came to mind.† This really pissed me off.† I must stress that the opinions above were only held by a minority of the horses in the yard.† Mostly bad feeling was out with the horses in the field.† They never came into the yard, and didn't meet with me on a regular basis.† Because of this their opinions of me were based on hear-say rather than fact.† I had been the butt of comment once.
†††† This was when I had taken time out because I was lame.† This term is used to describe whatever a horse has wrong with it.† This is a silly term really.† So I was lame, that's no matter to the story but I needed an excuse for dossing in the fields.† That's mine and I'm sticking to it all right!† Anyway, there I was with a few other horses who I had never met before.† But as horses will sometimes do, they think they're the expert on a newcomer.† This was so with me.† They had their own stupid opinions of me.
†††††† "I've heard you've got a brain of straw."† one said.† I couldn't counter this accusation so I kept silent.† The horse that had made the accusation took this to mean that I was admitting not having a brain.† He whirled off across the field shouting,
†††† "Domino's an airhead!† She as good as told me herself."† This horse was the ring leader of the gang if you like.† He had total control of the opinions and goings on in that herd.† I wouldn't say he was out right leader, no herd like that has an out right leader.† I'm trying to distance the likes of him from horses such as Rosie who have a legitimate right to leadership.† These horses in the field on the other hand have leadership battles.† Not the democratic type, no, I mean teeth and hooves stuff.† The leader led with fear and terror.† He struck fear into any horse that crossed him.† It wasn't uncommon to find up to five horses isolated at one time for one thing or another, the crazy thing was that the offenses didn't have to be major.† Little things such as saying the wrong thing at the wrong time could land a horse in the isolation group.† The horses in this group hated it and regularly thought of defection to the yard.† But they were a brainless bunch who couldn't lead a rice pudding let alone a herd.† I hated these horses, in fact I despised them!† I longed for my illness to clear up so I could get back to the yard and my friends.
††††† Dominic slept on, he was tired after the day's excitement.† I wasn't so fresh myself.† But the funny thing was, I couldn't sleep no matter how I tried.† I felt very tired the next morning I can tell you.† I looked out at the world through a haze of sleep.† I wanted to sleep but couldn't, if you see what I mean.† Dominic was too lively for my liking.† He kept running round the box until I let him out into the yard.† Usually I would have accompanied him at all times but today I was not thinking straight.† That oversight probably contributed to the events of that day.† Dominic ran out of the door and round the corner.
††††† "Good, at least he's leaving Cleo alone."† I thought.† I settled back in the straw feeling terrible.† Dominic Came back around eleven o'clock and saw me lying on my side.
†††††† "You're not feeling good are you mum?"† he asked.
†††††† "No, Iím feeling terrible Dominic dear."† I said faintly.† I trembled violently as the fever took hold of my system.† Dominic stayed with me throughout the day.† Even when Jingle asked him if he wanted to go for a walk with her he wouldn't leave me.
†††† "Sorry Jingle, but mum's ill.† If I leave her who will look after her?"† he said.† Jingle looked at me concern in her eyes.
†††† "You're doing the right thing Dominic.† Stay with mum, that'll cheer her up."† she said.† I didn't notice Jingle leaving.† The next thing I knew was a fierce kick in the ribs.† I squealed in pain!† Dominic told me that I hardly made a sound when Cleo attacked me.† Suddenly there was a scream I recognised as Cleo's.† Someone was attacking her, good thing too!† The screaming and yelling continued until Cleo backed out of the box and stormed into her own.† I couldn't think of anything else but Dominic.
††††† "Dominic!† Dominic!"† was all I could say.† A soft nose nuzzled mine.
†††††† "Mum, mum, calm down please calm down."† Dominic said soothingly.† He continued:
†††† "I stopped Cleo, she came to attack us.† I stopped her mum.† I'm all right though."† he added quickly.† He laughed,
†††† "That cow was real mad."† he said.† I couldn't believe what I was hearing.† I tried to speak, a croak came out.
†††††† "What, what happened?"† I asked.† My Son lay down beside me resting his head on my neck.
††††† "Cleo came storming into our box to attack us.† I was watching her, all day I watched her.† When she came in I kicked her, that's† all I did mum."† he said.† It sounded like Dominic was trying to justify clouting Cleo.
†††† "You don't need to justify hitting Cleo."† I rasped.
††††† "The sod attacked me!"† Cleo whimpered.
††††† "Good thing too, cow!"† Natasha remarked.† Cleo put all her strength into kicking our door down.† The maddened animal kicked and battered the door with all her force, it held firm.† Jingle stared at Cleo for a few seconds before walking up to her and kicking her on the backside.† Cleo whipped round on Jingle, at the same time Jingle was racing into her box and slamming the door.
†††††† "Phew!† close one!"† she panted.† Cleo looked murderous.† She went up close to Jingle and put her face as close to Jingles as she could.† Cleo screamed,
††††† "I hate the sight of you!† I hate that bloody nephew of yours!† I hate Domino, I hate her!† I hate her!"† Jingle didn't even bother to twitch her ears.
†††† "Why exactly do you hate Domino?"† Natasha asked.† For answer Cleo looked at Dominic.
†††† "He's the reason for my hatred of Domino!"† she said ominously.† Dominic looked so small compared to Cleo that I was slightly worried about his constant war with Cleo.† I wasn't worried about the continuation of Cleo's harassment.† Other horses would take care of that.† I was worried for Dominic's safety.† I told him as much.
†††††† "Dominic dear, don't do anything silly."† I urged.† Dominic nuzzled my shoulder.
††††† "I don't intend on Getting hurt mum.† I'll be careful, but you must understand that Cleo's got to be taught a lesson.† She's ruining life here."† he said.† I was in no state to argue the point, I left it.† Dominic looked hard at me.
†††††† "You're getting worse aren't you mum?"† he said.† A curious numb feeling overtook me.† All sound seemed to be echoing and very far away.† I felt a tremor run through my body.
††††† "Am I dying?"† I thought.† Dominic's question registered then.
††††† "Yeah I am, am, drifting off..."† I collapsed totally.† I cannot say for certain what happened next.† All I know was that a voice was yelling at me from a great distance.† I knew it was Dominic.† He thought I was dead, I'm sure of that.† I tried to answer him, couldn't make any sound, nothing, bloody nothing!"† Terror gripped me then.† I tried to thrash about, to make some type of sound, nothing moved, nothing responded dam it!† I could just about feel the straw beneath me, apart from that I was in total oblivion of my surroundings.† except for that voice, yelling!† yelling!† It was calling me.† I heard another voice say,
††††† "She's dead, she'll never get up again."† I heard Dominic shouting,
†††††† "No!† It can't be true!"† Then Dominic turned his fury on Cleo.
†††††† "You killed my mum Cleo!"† he shouted.† Cleo said something I couldn't catch.† Dominic's response was to try and hug me.† I could feel a slight pressure,† very slight pressure.† In reality Dominic was virtually crushing me.† I knew then that I must live, for Dominic.† He was as greater incentive to live as I had ever come across.† I willed myself to come out of that comatose state.
†††††† "You're not much use to Dominic like this!"† I told myself† severely.† I heard Dominic say,
†††† "You're not dead are you mum, you're not."† That upset me greatly.† I knew he was pleading with me to live.† I was going to live and that was that!† I then experienced a strange sensation.† It was as if someone had switched on a light.† Bright light came from nowhere and illuminated the box.† I could see Jingle, Dominic, Rosie and Natasha.† They were all there watching me.† I still couldn't move however and lay there wondering what the hell was going on?† Movement and feeling came back just as sight had done.† I forced myself to stand upright.† That was a struggle I never want to attempt again!† I felt so tired,† my joints seemed to have no lubrication.† Bone scraped painfully against bone.† I almost sobbed with the pain of it.† But I hung on and eventually managed to stand.† I moved my head slightly to see if anything worked.† Amazingly enough it did.
†††† I will never forget the expression on Dominic's face as our eyes met.† Dominic didn't say anything, he just stared in astonishment and joy.† This was almost overwhelming.† I stretched my nose towards him and he nuzzled it gingerly as if I were about to drop to the straw.† He didn't speak for fear of breaking this spell that had seemingly brought me back from the edge.† Dominic feared that if he spoke to me I would drop on the straw and that would be the end of it.† He said faintly,
††††† "Mum?† Are you in there?"† I said shakily,
†††††† "Yes Dominic darling, I'm here and you need not worry any more, I won't leave you."† He stared open mouthed at me.† In fact all the horses in the box stared.† Rosie said,
†††††† "I've seen some strange things but I think that takes the prize."† Jingle came a pace closer and looked into my eyes.
†††††† "You've made it then Domino.† You've come back to us."† I thought that was rather obvious and told her so.
†††† "I need not worry then.† If you can reply like that I know you're not going to die on us."† she said.† Rosie then came to convince herself that I was really living.† She snuffled at me carefully exploring gently.† Dominic watched her with a huge smile on his face.
††††† "You're just like mum was with me!† Snuffling round like that Rosie."† he said.† Rosie took no notice, she was still trying to work out what on earth was going on.† I eventually freed myself from Rosie's exploration.† I could tell she was still mystified about the events of the past day.† She stalked out of the box muttering something under her breath.
†††††† "I don't know what's happening, I really don't."† Dominic watched her go.
†††† "You've really foxed Rosie mum, she can't understand it."† I smiled, I never thought I would ever get the chance to do this.† To be able to smile at my Son was a heavenly thing.† Don't ask me why it was, the truth is I don't know why.† I took a few paces forward towards the door.† Cleo watched me intently, snorting occasionally.† She then gave comment.
†† †††"I didn't kill your mother you stupid foal!"† she said coldly.† Dominic looked at her quickly.
††††† "You might have with your spiteful attitude."† he said.† Cleo snorted in disgust.
†††††† "I don't want to murder anyone, but, I may have to."† she said.† She looked at Dominic as she said this.† I moved to defend my Son.
†††† "You'll leave him alone Cleo.† I'll make sure of that."† I said carefully.† This might have sounded brave but I was really frightened of her.† Cleo gave me a black look and remained silent.† Jingle and Natasha had retired back to their boxes while all this was going on.
†††† I was surprised that the Manageress hadn't bothered us.† I wondered why this was.† Dominic's thoughts turned to who was going to ride him.
††††† "I want to get out into the school, I want to learn to carry humans.† I like the sound of this western riding thing.† Apparently you're being trained in it yourself mum."† he said.† I looked uncomfortable.
†††††† "Well, yes, sort of."† I replied.† Dominic then said,
††††† "I'm being taught by Rosie.† She's teaching me what the humans want if they do certain things.† You know?† Side passing, jogging, loping and all that."† I knew well enough, and, I hated it.† I couldn't stand Western style.† Dominic seemed to enjoy it.
††† †"Apparently it's easier than the English style." he said.† After grabbing a mouthful of straw he continued:
†††† "It's easier on the horses, not so much stretching stuff.† It's more natural as well, we're not built to go over huge fences, nor are we built to trot like they do."† I looked at my son hopefully.
†††††† "Could you teach me?† I'm getting nowhere with the humans, they're not very understanding."† I said.† Dominic looked steadily at me.
††††† "Yeah, all right."† he replied.
†††† So from that day Dominic and Rosie taught me the Western style.† I was looking forward to the time when I could show the others what I could do.† Dominic and Rosie said I was doing fine.† Three months passed like lightening.† Dominic had taught me so much,† I couldn't believe I had ever thought of disowning him.† Those thoughts had flown out of my mind the minute I set eyes on the little creature.† Now he wasn't so little.† Dominic grew quickly into a solid colt.† His teaching career took a leap when he managed to teach me to work western style.† Rosie and Dominic said I had made a significant improvement, what ever one of those is.† I asked Dominic what a "significant improvement" was.
†††††† "It means you've made noticeable progress mum."† he explained.† I smiled at him.
† †††††"You're going to go far Dominic."† I said.† He laughed,
†††† "No, it's you who's gonna go far mum.† You've got so much of life to live yet.† When I'm the same age as you are now you'll be eight.† That's still young."† he said.† I nuzzled him gently.
†††††† "I love you."† I said.† Dominic smiled,
†††††† "Same to you mum."† he replied.† I thought life was great, it couldn't be better.† Dominic had grown into a fine yearling and Cleo's temper had cooled down.† She had given birth to a foal about four months after me.† Since that event she had calmed down enormously.† Cleo's foal was female, she was named Poppy.† From the start Poppy resented Dominic's up front manner towards others.† I think Cleo had something to do with this.† Dominic's up front manner disconcerted people sometimes, yes, this was true but he was never offensive.† Poppy couldn't stand him, nor could she stand me.† This was really strange, but, the cause of it became quite obvious as time went on.† When Dominic heard of Cleo's behaviour he thought of stopping her as some sort of game.† Poppy on the other hand openly despised Dominic.† She couldn't even speak to him civilly and would do everything in her power to avoid him.† Dominic couldn't see what the fuss was about.† As far as he was concerned Poppy could do what she liked, it was no matter to him.† She could take him or leave him, it was up to her.† Dominic saw that Poppy was leaving him.† He didn't care either way.† Cleo fiercely protected Poppy.† The freedom I had let Dominic enjoy was not forthcoming with Cleo.† She didn't take Poppy on a tour of the yard as I had done.† She didn't let Poppy out into the yard on her own as I had let Dominic.† Poppy soon began to resent this treatment.† She heard stories of how Dominic had been allowed to do these things and naturally she wanted to.
††††† "Maybe if you're more friendly towards Dominic he may take you with him."† I suggested.† Poppy thought about this.
†††††† "Well, yes, perhaps I might try."† I knew Poppy's resentment was only a front for Cleo's benefit.† Cleo hated Dominic and she put a lot of effort into discrediting Dominic.† But Poppy was secretly forging links with the older horse.† Cleo hated any mention of Dominic's name.
†††††† "Don't ever mention him in front of me."† she warned Poppy.† Poppy didn't, if she had Cleo might have killed her.
††††† One night at about two in the morning Dominic and I heard a tapping on our door.
†††† "Hey, Dominic, let me in."† Poppy whispered.† Dominic released the bolt and Poppy walked into our box.
† †††"We've been trying to get round Cleo for about four weeks mum."† Dominic explained.
†††††† "Get round her for what reason?"† I asked.
†††††† "I want to go with Dominic to see the other horses in the yard."† Poppy replied.† She looked at my Son.
††††† "Dominic said he would take me but we'd have to get round my darling mother first."† she added gruffly.† Poppys resentment was out in the open now.† She settled down in the straw beside Dominic and they were both soon asleep.† I thought about those two.
††† ††"I've never seen a worse case of conditioning.† Cleo's trying to make Poppy hate me and Dominic.† Poppy is strong willed though and can resist Cleo's poison.† I think a little freedom wouldn't go amiss for Poppy.† She needs to mix with other horses."† With these thoughts I fell asleep.† We were woken by a furious kicking at the partition separating Cleo's box† from mine.† Poppy's expression held fear and terror.
†††††† "What am I Gonna do?"† she asked.† We had to think quickly or Poppy would be in deep trouble with her mother.† I suddenly had an idea.
†††††† "Dominic, take Poppy out into the yard and explain to Rosie what the situation is.† Ask her if you can stay in her box until all this is over."† Dominic stopped me.
††††† "And leave you to face Cleo?† No way am I doing that!"† he said.† Poppy looked at me with real concern.
†††† "When you had fallen asleep Dominic told me what my mother did to you Domino.† I won't let her do it again."† she said.† Cleo's banging had increased to a screaming torrent of abuse and bad language.
††††† "Just listen to her!† Swearing like that, it's awful."† Natasha commented.
††††† "You bet it is."† Poppy agreed.† Cleo's rage overflowed suddenly!† She battered her box door to matchwood and came flying out of the box.† Poppy screamed in terror,
††††† "Mum's going to murder me!"† She buried her head in Dominic's shoulder.† Cleo tore at the bolts on our door and ripped it open!† I faced the seething fury for a few seconds.† Dominic and Poppy had retired to the back of the box in terror!"† I hadn't got much time to think.
†††††† "Oh hell!† What shall I do?"† I asked myself.† I hit Cleo!† I made sure that she felt it too.† Hard and fast with as much force as possible.† I didn't have to worry about any foal inside her now!† I kicked and bit and butted her as hard as I could.† When it came to the crunch, Cleo had no fight in her what so ever.† She was fine when it came to hitting someone who couldn't hit back.† But now, I was hitting her hard! very hard!† Cleo began to scream with pain and anger.† We stood eventually with four feet of open space between us.† Suddenly Rosie came racing round the corner to see what the matter was.† When she saw the scene she stopped and stared for a few seconds.
†††††† "What the hell's going on?"† she asked angrily.† Poppy looked at the large horse with total amazement.
†††††† "She'll sort mother out."† she said.† Cleo yelled,
††††† "I want my foal, give me my foal Domino!"† Rosie turned to me.
††††† "Did you steal Cleo's foal Domino?"† she asked.† Poppy chimed in,
†††† "No, I came in to get away from that cow over there."† She waved a hoof at Cleo.† Rosie stared at Poppy,
†††††† "That's no way to talk about your mother is it."† she said.† Poppy snorted with indignation.
†††† "You don't know her, she's a real cow!"† she said.† Rosie turned her attention to Cleo.† She looked into her eyes for a few minutes.
†††††† "Were you going to do Poppy harm Cleo?"† she asked.† Cleo said quickly,
†††† "Well, yes, I mean no."† Rosie knew what the real answer was.† The foal being protected by Dominic was all the proof she needed.† Rosie took a deep breath and said,
††††† "Here's my interpretation of things.† In the middle of the night Poppy came to Domino's door looking for refuge from Cleo's tight reign on her.† Dominic and Domino decided to give Poppy sanctuary.† Cleo noticed this and started bitching on about Domino having stolen her† foal, A fight ensued.† At that point I walked in.† Am I right?"† she asked.
††††† Well Yeah."† Dominic replied.† Rosie looked at me, I braced myself for retribution.† She said,
††††† "You were protecting Poppy weren't you Domino."† This was a statement not a question.† I nodded and looked at Poppy.
††††† "My darling mother's† been saying she would kill me if I had anything to do with Dominic."† Poppy said mockingly.† Rosie sighed heavily,† she looked at the other horses in the barn for confirmation and got it.† She finally turned to Cleo.
†††† "I don't know why Poppy ran off, but, I think it has something to do with you not letting her out with Dominic.† I feel you've tried to influence Poppy's opinion of Dominic and his mother.† You have never liked Domino, and have despised Dominic."† Cleo didn't say anything, she knew she was beaten.† Rosie looked at Jingle.
†††† "You've seen all of this?"† she asked.† Jingle nodded,
††††† "Yes."† she said.† Cleo finally found her tongue.
†††† "You've been spying on me Rosie?† You've had Jingle as an agent all along?"† she asked.
†††† "No Iíve not had Jingle as an agent Cleo."† Rosie replied.† Cleo lost her temper.
††††† "And what the hell's going to happen to Poppy?† You're going to give custody to Domino aren't you?† Tell me!† Tell me!"† she yelled.† Poppy said,
†††††† "I wouldn't mind having Domino for a foster mum.† She's done a good job with Dominic."† Cleo turned to her daughter.
†††† "Go then!† Go with Domino if that's what you want!† Don't care about me Iíll be all right!"† Rosie spoke up.
††††† "When there's a threat to her life involved I've got no choice but to recommend that Domino takes custody of Poppy."† Cleo snarled at Rosie, laid her ears flat back and snapped at her.† Rosie took a few hurried paces backwards.
†††† "I see now that you're not fit to look after a foal Cleo!† You cannot even stand it when Poppy fights against your stupid rules.† Let her have her freedom, don't poison her mind with untrue sentiments.† I'll give you one last chance.† If you don't let her have a certain degree of freedom I'll have to do what I said.† There's another thing, don't threaten to kill Poppy again.† I'm watching you, remember that Cleo."† she said.† Cleo stamped back into her box.† Dominic and Poppy came out and Poppy was introduced to the leader of the herd.
†††† "Well, I knew Cleo had had a foal, but Cleo being Cleo, she didn't introduce you to us.† She's a cagey mare."† Poppy gazed open mouthed at Rosie.
††††† "If you don't mind me saying, I've never seen a horse as large as you before."† she said.† Rosie smiled and nuzzled Poppy.
†††† "Don't worry about that.† Dominic said much the same thing."† she said.† Poppy couldn't take her eyes from Rosie.
†††† "The picture of you I was given by my mother was of a horse who is always out to get others.† That's not true."† she said.† Rosie hid her face.† I think she had blushed and didn't want comment.†
Jinja suddenly yelled,
†††††† "You finished there Rosie?† I'm lonely."† Poppy asked,
†††††† "Who's that?"† Rosie replied,
††††††† "Jinja my husband."† Poppy smiled conspiratorially.
††††† "Oh yes, I've heard of him, he's the horse that thought he had Dominic worked out."† Rosie fixed her with a look that was reproving in it's nature.
†††††† "Oh he told you about that did he?"† she said coldly.† Poppy looked at her in astonishment.
†††† "Did I offend you?"† she asked.† Rosie's expression told her all she needed to know.
†††† "Jinja's still chewed up about that."† Rosie said.
†††† "Oh sorry Rosie."† Poppy said contritely.† Rosie smiled suddenly,
†††††† "You couldn't have known, but Dominic should know better."† Dominic hid his face.
†††† Rosie led us to the entrance of the yard and we circled it meeting all the horses in turn.† Rosie even stuck her head in at the office to see what was going on.† This was our undoing, the Manageress was in residence.† Rosie suddenly jerked back and fled across the yard and into her box shouting for us to do the same.† She slammed her door hard.† We raced back to the barn in panic.† I didn't relax until I slammed my door home.
††††† "Phew!"† Dominic said.
†††† "That was fun!"† Poppy added.† Dominic gave her a sideways look.
††††† "You call that fun?† That was a dash for cover.† The Manageress doesn't like us to escape from our boxes."† Meanwhile the Manageress had left the office and approached Rosie.† She opened the door while Rosie cowered in the corner of her box.† The Manageress came into the box and grabbed Rosie's head collar.† She shook it roughly and yelled at her.
††††† "Rosie!† You are meant to stay in your box!† What about Cleo and Domino's foals?† you'll trample them!"† Rosie did try to explain what had happened but to no affect.† The Manageress stamped out of the box leaving Rosie a shivering wreck.
†††††† "I don't know if I can take much more of this."† Rosie thought wearily.
†††† As for us, we were recovering from our fright when the Manageress came round the corner.
††††† "Here comes trouble."† Dominic murmured.
†††††† "Be quiet Dominic."† I hissed.† The Manageress came to my box and looked in.† She saw Poppy and opened the door.
†††† "Come on little one.† Go back to your mother."† She tried to urge Poppy back into Cleo's box but she wouldn't go.† Cleo stamped her foot in warning.† The Manageress noticed the icy way in which Cleo looked at her foal.
†††††† "Perhaps not."† The Manageress said.
††††† "I can't believe what I just saw."† Cleo said.† She spat on the ground in Poppy's direction.
††††† "I nearly had you back with me, ugh what an awful thought."† she spat.† Poppy huddled closer to Dominic and hid her head, I ignored Cleo altogether.† Jingle looked over at me.
††††† "You all right Domino?"† she asked.
††††† "Yes thanks Jingle, Iím fine I think."† Jingle was smarter than she looked.† She knew I wasn't feeling one hundred percent.† She unbolted her door and came across towards me.† The Manageress watched her from the entrance unable to do anything about it.† Jingle unbolted my door and walked in.† The box became very cramped but we didn't mind.† She settled down beside me in the straw.
†††††† "What's the problem Domino?"† Jingle asked.† The truth was I didn't know how to phrase it.† I began uncertainly,
†††††† "It's more of a communication problem I think.† It's that humans don't seem to understand why Poppy's in here, nor do they realise what's been going on with Cleo.† If they did then I think they would leave us alone to deal with it.† You saw what happened back there.† Poppy was almost compromised by the Manageress.† The problem is that these humans think they know all there is to know about horses.† That just isn't true.† If they were to watch what went on during the hours of darkness they would know a great deal more."† Jingle nodded,
†††††† "I see what you mean Domino, it's a problem I know.† Unfortunately there's no way of speaking their language.† We can understand them, but they cannot understand us.† It frustrates me also."† she said.† Dominic nudged Jingle.
†††† "Perhaps if we try and show her what went on.† Perhaps she might understand then?"† he said.† I said,
†††† "Yes, but what happens if they get the wrong message?"† Poppy remarked,
††††† "Teeth and hooves can only give out one message."
†††† "That's right."† Jingle agreed.
†††† The next day we escaped from our boxes and staged a sort of protest.† I think that's what Rosie and the more worldly wise horses called it.† I didn't read newspapers so I didn't know what an organised† demonstration or a picket line was.† We stood in a line blocking the entrance to the indoor riding school.† Some of the horses declined to take part in the protest but even so we had about five or six influential members of the herd there.† These consisted of: Rosie, Jinja, Figaro, Natasha, Dominic, Poppy, Jingle and myself.† We didn't sing songs of solidarity or anything like that, all we did was stand there disrupting business.† Cleo shouted,
††††† "You can't get far with that.† They'll shoot the lot of you, mark my words, you'll have a bullet through your heads before you can think."† Poppy shivered.
††††† "Is she right Domino?† Will they shot us?"
†††† "No I don't think so Poppy dear."† I said firmly.† I wasn't so sure however.† Some of the Lads had fiery tempers and I didn't trust them one inch.† Rosie was more certain however.
††††† "I remember hearing the Manageress say something about that once.† She said she couldn't shoot anything."† Poppy sighed with genuine relief.
†††† "Good!"† she said.
†††† We stood out in the yard for a good hour before anyone noticed us.† One of the Lads commented that,
†††††† "Those horses won't go back into their boxes,† I've tried everything."† The Manageress was wiser than that however and approached us.† She knew we had† minds of our own.† She also knew that some of us read the local newspapers before they were put on the fire.† The Manageress walked up to Rosie and stood looking at her for a few seconds.† Rosie put her head down to hear what she had to say.†† A horse finds it easier to hear human speech if it is almost whispered in the ear rather than spoken normally.† The Manageress tried this.
†††††† "What do you lot want?"† she whispered.† Rosie didn't need to translate for us.† Jinja said,
†††††† "We want to show you something we think you might have missed."† The Manageress didn't understand.† Rosie nudged the Manageress until she looked towards Cleo.
†††††† "Yes, Cleo, but what is it with her your all steamed up about?"† she asked.† I then nudged Poppy.† The Manageress watched in growing comprehension.† Jingle bared her teeth and snapped at Poppy.† The Manageress guessed everything in a flash.
†††† "You mean to say Cleo's been attacking Poppy?"† she asked.† Rosie nudged her encouragingly.† She said,
††††† "Yes that's right."
†††† "That's why Poppy wouldn't go back in Cleo's box then."† the Manageress said.† Rosie nudged her even harder urging her to continue.† Figaro said,
†††† "You're on the right track."††† Rosie's status as leader of the herd was well known among the humans that ran the yard. †They had seen her refereeing many a dispute.† The Manageress then asked a question.
†††††† "Rosie, what were you doing when I caught you in the yard with Jingle, Domino and Poppy?"† For answer Rosie took the sleeve of the Manageress's coat and made as if to lead her away.
†††††† "You were leading them."† Rosie waited for more.
††††† "You were giving Poppy a tour round the yard."† The Manageress said.† Rosie was so excited she nearly knocked the poor woman down.
††††† "All right Rosie dear."† the Manageress said soothingly.† She then thought of another thing.
††††† "Who's looking after Poppy if Cleo isn't?"† I raised my head and whinnied at her.
†††† "All right Domino, I've got the message."† she said.† We waited until the Manageress had gone into the school before disbanding and heading back to our boxes,† Cleo was furious with us.
†††† "How dare you try and undermine me!"† she said.† Poppy knew this was directed at her.
†††† "You're in the doghouse now Cleo, you've really done it now."† Poppy said.† Cleo laid her ears flat back on her head and snapped at Poppy.† While Jingle's snapping motion had been of a descriptive quality, Cleo's action was full of savage intent.† Poppy dodged the snapping teeth and fled into our box.† I passed Cleo giving her as wider birth as possible.† Suddenly I felt a set of teeth bearing down on my ear!† Squealing in pain and fear I tried to fight whoever it was off.† I managed to turn my head to catch a glimpse of who was attacking me.† Cleo had hold of my left ear in her teeth and was biting down on it much as she had done to Natasha.† Natasha saw this and volunteered advice.
††††† "Don't struggle Domino!† Don't move, you'll only do yourself more damage!"† This was near impossible however.† Cleo began to grind her teeth together.† This damaged the soft skin of my ear even more.† I screamed in agony!
†††† "For God sake Cleo!† Let me go!"† I pleaded.† Cleo bit down harder.† I felt myself beginning to buckle at the knees.
††††† "If I go down my ear will be ripped clean off!"† I thought anxiously.† The pain was causing my vision to become fuzzy.† Every nerve seemed to have a private line to my ear.† I clenched my teeth in desperation.
††††† "Hold on Domino!† hold on!"† I told myself.† I couldn't hold on however.† I blacked out and crashed onto the floor.† I surfaced from oblivion into a world of sickening pain!† Awful searing pain that blotted out all else.† I heard a voice saying,
†††† "This ear looks as if it has been chewed."† The Manageress chipped in,
†††† "Yes, Cleo had a go at it." †The first voice, obviously a vets said,
†††† That'll need stitching.† We'll have to do it quickly or the tissue will die."† I groaned painfully.
†††††† "All right Domino, all right."† The Manageress said softly.† I thought,
††††† "No I'm not all right."† I began to sob despite my attempts not to.† I felt so unimaginably frightened.† I shook violently with fear.† I was so upset that sight had left me.† I was blind, totally unable to see anything.† I was a shivering wreck of my former self.† I lost control totally then.
†††† "Get Cleo out of here!"† I yelled.† The Manageress tried to calm me.
††††† "Don't worry, Cleo's not here, I promise Cleo's not here."† The vet asked,
†††† "How do you know she's yelling about Cleo?"† the Manageress's reply was,
††††† "Wouldn't you if you had just been attacked by her?"† The truth was that Cleo filled my imagination.† I imagined her attacking Dominic and Poppy while I was away.† I thrashed about wildly in a feeble attempt to fight the apparition in front of me.† The vet got frustrated.
†††† "Can't you tie her legs up or something, she's thrashing about like nobody's business."† The Manageress said,
†††††† "I'm no psychologist but I'll bet Domino's so scared of Cleo that she's going mad."† How right she was!† The vet eventually managed to stitch my ear.† Be it with the help of a few CCs of Nembutal.† I was so drowsy from the anesthetic I didn't notice the drive back to the yard.
†††† I stumbled into my box feeling ill.† I flopped on the straw and closed my eyes fighting yet another bout of pea green dizziness.† I felt a warm body lie down beside me.† A nose explored mine and I felt a tongue licking my ear.
†††† "It's all right mum, Cleo's been moved, it's all right I promise."† Poppy said.† Dominic came in at that moment.
†††† "Yes the Manageress fixed the cow!"† he said with evident satisfaction.† Poppy said,
†††† "They've fixed your ear mum."† I stared through another dizzy spell at her.
††††† "Had Poppy just referred to me as Mum?"† I asked myself.† I feigned not hearing her.
†††† "Could you repeat that please?"† I asked.† Poppy was too smart for that however and said,
††††† "Yes I called you mum."† I was overwhelmed by this.† I couldn't say anything worthy of such an accolade.† I hugged Poppy, I felt even that wasn't expressive enough.† My feelings were beyond words.† I cannot describe how I felt, pure elation isn't even close.† Dominic looked at me.
†††††† "You've made her day I think Poppy."† he said.
†††† My recovery was rapid and I have no doubt that the two youngsters helped me.† Before I knew it I was back in work.† Western riding would you believe.† Despite my turbulent time since my last lesson with Dominic and Rosie, I did fairly well if I do say so myself.† The Manageress commented at the end of the session.
†††† "Domino's come on famously.† She was awful last time, how did this happen?"† As I was munching on a polo and being stroked by my rider,† I thought,
†††† "You'll never know, you'll never know."
††††† Well, Iíve dried up after ten thousand words.† That's pretty good considering I had not thought of a story when I started.† Dominic and Poppy are the best things that have happened to me.† I wouldn't give them up for the world.† I'm looking forward now to life with my Son and daughter. †It's late now,† I'm shattered!† I've been dictating this story for ages, I never knew it took so long.† Well, that's all experience I suppose.† I'll go to sleep now I think.† See you in the morning.†
I, MARTIN WILSHER, here by assert and give notice of my right under section 77 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of the foregoing article.
© Copyright Martin Wilsher 1998-2000
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