Hi! My name's Jingle, remember me? I hope you do, I haven't had a very large part in the previous stories but I've been mentioned now and again.
This story starts one day in February. I didn't get up that day until late. I eventually got up and looked, or should I say sniffed my surroundings to find my feed bucket. Why don't you look for it? I hear you ask. Well the truth is that I can't really see that well, My sight has been getting steadily worse for years now. I'm unable to function in the dark. In daylight it's easier, but not perfect. The sad thing is I couldn't remember what it's like to have perfect vision. I had been getting further and further isolated visually from my surroundings with every day that passes. I sometimes feel angry about it, who wouldn't? But I know that crying over spilt milk is not a good idea, so I try not to think about it much. I do the best I can and that's all I can do.
I used to have full vision, I think Ive already told you that however. I remember one night when my disability came forcefully to the forefront of things.
I was carrying a human on a nighttime hack in October. The night was clear and every star could be seen. But I couldn't see them, I couldn't see anything much. Night blindness they call it. my loss of vision is caused by a film growing over the surface of my eyes. I can't pronounce the medical name for it.
All I know is that I'll be totally blind before long. This film across my eyes was the root cause of my accident on the nighttime hack.
I was struggling to see where I was putting my feet. This slowed me down quite a bit. I placed my feet down carefully trying not to upset the human on my back. I shuffled forward slowly trying to see what lay ahead. I slithered along behind the string of horses last in file. My growing apprehension turned to fear as the realisation hit me that we were coming to a very dark patch of wood. My mouth was dry as I pressed on slowly. I stumbled along in the darkness feeling more frightened than I had for a very long time. Even the episodes with Cleo didn't rival this! I ground my teeth together trying to concentrate on the task in hand. My feelings of isolation and terror increased. I gulped hard and took a few deep breaths trying to calm myself.
"Come on Jingle, it's not that bad. You'll be out of here in a,,," Suddenly my foot slipped!
As I crashed into a ditch my rider jumped for his life. I lay there wondering what had happened. I felt stupid! Really stupid! I staggered to my feet and got tangled up in brambles as I tried to fight my way from the ditch. Eventually I gave up in frustration. I lay on the damp ground shivering with fright. Then I knew what had happened, my sight had let me down. I hadn't seen the ditch at the side of the road. Moving out for a car had caused me to lose my balance. I slid into the ditch and the rest is history. Now I felt sick. My fears were realised, I was not fit for work!
I tried to get to my feet again. I managed it this time and stood in the teeth of the wind, my legs shaking uncontrollably. The rest of the string had stopped and walked back to the place where I had fallen. The Manageress dismounted from Candy's back and took hold of my reigns.
"Joe, look after Candy for me. I'll be back in a minute, she said. With this the Manageress led me back to the yard.
I felt so drained, so frightened, so frustrated. I wanted to smash something! To attack something! To cry for weeks! I didn't understand what was happening. All I knew was that I had failed miserably in my duty. I walked behind the Manageress with my head hung in shame. No human would ever fully understand the sense of failure that a horse feels when they fall. I felt that the accident was my fault. Perhaps until then the Manageress didn't know about my problem. Now she did, that was only too plain to me as she led me back to my stall and strapped my rug over me.
"We'll have to take a look at you Jingle, she said. She stretched out a hand to pat me. I tried to nuzzle her arm but couldn't see enough even to do that! I was horrified.
"I've finally gone totally blind, I thought. The Manageress hugged me. I needed someone to do that, I wanted to be sheltered, comforted, told that everything was fine. But I knew it wasn't, I was useless! No good for anything, totally finished!
"I can't take any more of this!" I whimpered. The Manageress seemed to understand.
"It's all right Jingle, you'll be fine, she said soothingly.
All the other horses had returned from the hack. Figaro, Domino, and fudge were re-stabled and the barn settled down for the night.
"What happened to you Jingle?" Domino asked gently. She had guessed most of it however.
"You couldn't see the ditch, she said gently.
"You've answered your own question, I said sadly. I couldn't sleep that night, I stood in the darkness terrified of moving. I was still standing there when dawn arrived.
"Sleep well did we Jingle?" Fudge asked.
"Fudge! You know dam well she didn't so why do you ask?" Domino asked irritably.
"You wanted to upset Jingle didn't you, Figaro added. Fudge was really upset by their accusations.
"No! I didn't mean to upset her!" Fudge whimpered.
"You be careful you don't, Figaro warned. Fudge was distraught,
"I never meant to upset anyone! Least of all Jingle!" she yelled. Domino and Figaro had made a huge blunder, they knew it only too well.
"I'm sorry Fudge, Domino said. I could see she meant it too. Well, I say see, I couldn't actually see much now. A hazy field separated me from the outside world. The bad thing was, this film was getting denser. I suddenly felt very alone. It's hard to describe how it feels to be in this situation. I suppose the best way to describe it is to try it yourself. I think the humans use a scarf tied over their eyes or something. Try that for a day or two, you'll know then. It's scary, really awful. I couldn't see anyone or anything. I had to do everything by touch alone. I snuffled round my box until I found the hole in the top of the door. I cautiously pushed my head through. I knew there was daylight, but I couldn't see it. I suddenly cracked!
"I can't cope with this!" I wailed. If the truth be known, Figaro was getting very annoyed with me.
"Stop complaining!" he shouted. Domino rounded on him!
"I'll bet you would complain if you lost your sight!" she bellowed. Figaro shut up then. He knew he would complain bitterly.
"Sorry, he said.
"That's hardly good enough, Domino replied. She unbolted her door and walked towards me.
"I'm coming towards you Jingle, I'm over here, she said. Domino brushed my nose with her's to let me know she was next to me. Domino then unbolted my door and walked in.
"Side step to your right until you feel the wall," she said. I did this and felt her move alongside me.
"I'm going to move your feed bucket so I can stand next to you, Domino explained. She picked up the bucket, placed it on the straw a few metres away and bashed it with her nose making the handle rattle against the bucket itself.
"It's over here Jingle. If you have any trouble finding it I'll guide you, she said helpfully.
"Thanks for everything Domino, I said. Domino suddenly stopped.
"Thank me for what? I'm helping out a friend. You helped me enough, this is the least I can do. I had problems with Cleo, Your problem is far greater than mine ever was, she said. I tried to nuzzle her, in the event I just touched her nose with mine.
"I'll go and get my feed bucket, Domino said. I must add at this point that Dominic and Poppy had been moved to separate boxes. They were older now and could cope with living away from Domino. Domino looked at my expression, she read fear and bewilderment.
"I can't begin to imagine how frightened you are Jingle, she said softly.
When Domino returned from her trip to recover her feed bucket she slammed the box door shut.
"You'll cope Jingle, you'll cope I know you will, she said gently. Then it seemed impossible, coping with blindness was something I didn't see happening.
"I'll stay here for the rest of my days until I die, I said. Domino was angry, really mad!
"How can you say such a thing? You'll cope! You'll get out into the yard! If you don't then I'll bloody kick you out!" she yelled. I was upset.
"But Domino!" I protested. Domino wasn't hearing any of it.
"Do you know that I know a human who happens to be in the same situation as you? He rides Rosie, Ive seen him. Don't give me any of that "I can't do it" stuff, you can, and, you will, she said forcefully.
"What? you mean that guy who writes those stories that Cleo hates?" I asked.
"yes, that's him, Domino replied.
"But he can't ride Rosie without a leading reign surely?" I asked.
"You talk to him about leading reigns and he'll slap you, Domino replied.
"But what happens if she decides to run off? He can't see where she's taking him!" I yelled.
"No, he can't see where Rosie's taking him. Rosie knows that she has to look after him though. You ask her about those sessions. She'll tell you about them, So I made a point of asking Rosie about this. I asked her when she next came into the barn to visit us.
"Yes, he does ride me unaided. I look out for corners, jumps, walls etc but other than that, no, no other aids. Oh yeah, I nearly forgot. The Manageress tells him when I'm about to jump. But even that's being stopped now,
"But how can he tell when you're going to Jump?" I asked curiously.
"I loap, Rosie replied. She smiled suddenly.
"He's gentle too. Really gentle with me, he won't hurt me. although I know only too well when I've upset him. The reigns get shorter and he guides me with so much traction that it's almost painful, Then realising what she had said Rosie hastily corrected herself.
"But that's only when I'm being stupid, she said quickly.
"Like that time when we had a pick up race, Domino remarked.
"My leg hurt! I was feeling terrible!" Rosie wailed. Then she had another thought, she grinned suddenly,
"He'd better not ride you at night Jingle. If he did then I'd hate to see the mess you two would get in, Domino laughed slightly. This might have been the type of joke they were used to cracking when this man was about. I didn't find it funny however, in fact I found it offensive in the extreme.
"Rosie! How can you say something like that?" I asked incredulously. Rosie and Domino could see I was upset.
"It was meant to be a joke Jingle dear, Domino said.
"Joke? What joke? That's no Joke!" I screamed. Rosie looked thoughtful.
"I've been thinking Jingle,
"Go carefully Rosie or you'll do yourself damage, Domino replied. I was in no mood for joking.
"You know that man I've told you about? Well, he was talking to the Manageress last session about your problem. I think he knows something that could help you,
"What thing?" I asked.
"It's a laser. They fire it into your eyes and it gets rid of the problem, Rosie replied. She shook herself.
"I'll talk to him about it and see what else he knows, she promised.
I spent another fearful night, well, I say night but all was night. I couldn't even see shadows. Total blackness filled everything, That's so frightening. Nothing changes, nothing moves. I dare not move for fear of injuring myself. Domino and the other horses in the barn helped me as much as they could but even they couldn't give me what I wanted more than anything.
"Now my sight is gone I just want to start learning again. I want to learn everything afresh. I'll have to if I'm going to get by, I thought miserably. This may be a view that you might think courageous, but I was really confused and frightened.
Now I move on to pick up the account a week on from the events described in the last paragraph. Nothing much happened last week, Rosie had obviously talked to the man with the laser thing because things started to happen. One day The Manageress came to my box and led me out. She led me towards the outside air. We turned right and then I felt my feet on wood. I walked carefully up a ramp and into what I knew to be a horse box. The Manageress then left me!
"Hey! I'm in here on my own! I'm scared!" I shouted. Someone said,
"All right Jingle, I shook from nose to tail.
"What's going to happen?" I sobbed. A human hand massaged my ears and stroked my mane.
"It's all right Jingle, don't worry dear,
"I am worried! I'm bloody frightened!" I screamed.
"Jingle, Jingle, Cool it dear, another voice said softly.
"Who were these people? Where was the Manageress? Where was the man who had put me in this hell hole with his words? When I get out I'll kill him!" I thought angrily. Then another sickening thought crept upon me and gripped coldly at my heart.
"If you ever get out of here, it said. I began to kick and squeal! Kicking desperately at everything in my path be it human, wood, metal, glass, whatever stood between me and the outside air. someone said roughly,
"Someone tie her up!" Then a voice I recognised,
"Let me deal with her, she's frightened,
"The Manageress, phew!" I thought gratefully. I rubbed my nose against her coat.
"Protect me!" I pleaded.
"Of course I will, I'll not let them do anything to you without telling you first, the Manageress said softly.
"What am I in here for?" I asked.
"You're going to the vet's to get your eyes looked at, the Manageress replied.
We started moving. I found the going hard because I couldn't see when the lorry was going to turn a corner. This meant that I nearly fell at every bend and junction. After what seemed to be an age we reached the vet's place. This is in reality only a few miles away. But reality had ceased for me. I lived in a frightening world of my own creation. Everything bad seemed larger and more frightening. But by the same token friends meant a lot more to me.
I was led out of the box into a strange smelling room. The smell was almost unbearable. The flooring was spongy under my hooves.
"I'm going to give her a shot to dope her, someone said. My mind raced!
"shot? Oh no! They're going to shoot me!" I thought. I began to scream,
"No, I'm young, what happened to the laser? Why do you have to kill me?" The Manageress was upset, I could hear it in her voice.
"No Jingle dear, they're going to give you an injection to make you sleep. Don't worry, she said softly. I stood tensing every muscle in my body. That probably contributed to the pain I went through during that first "shot, I howled as the needle went in. After that I stood shaking violently. I couldn't stop. I panted desperately for air!
"I'm dying! I'm dying!" I thought.
"She's going, someone said.
"Hang on! Everything's echoing, something's wrong!" I thought. With that I crashed onto the padded flooring. I felt the people attaching chains to my legs.
"What's going on?" I thought. I tried to speak but no sound came out, my fear increased!
"What the hell's going on?" I sobbed. My cries for assistance went unheard by most of the humans. Only the Manageress could understand me, and she seemed to be so far away. The chains lifted me up, carried me along for a bit and then landed me gently on a table. The humans then strapped my legs to posts, well, I think that's what they were. I felt something being put into both my eyes.
"Water, they're putting water into my eyes, I thought franticly.
"Give that time to work, I heard some disembodied voice say.
After what seemed like ten thousand years the humans came back. I wondered what they could do to me now? My answer came soon enough, far to soon!
A strange thing like a pair of staple removers was put into both eyes to keep them open. Then a thing like a clamp was put on my eyeballs to keep them still. I could feel pressure but no pain. But sometimes even that was almost too much! There was now another sound, a whirring, fan like sound. I wondered for the millionth time what was going on. Then a horrid snapping sound!
"Oh no!" I thought. Suddenly the world seemed flooded with water. Water, and a smell. A burning smell. I began to panic.
"What's happening?" I yelled. Some sound must have got out because one of the humans said,
"About time you noticed!" I thought crossly.
Switch out the lights, Someone said. with that the snapping sound stopped and the staple removers and clamps were taken away. I felt relief in huge amounts.
"It's over!" I thought. my eyes were closed and pads of some soft stuff were put over them. These pads were stuck down with some type of tape.
My legs were untied from the posts and the chains lifted me up into the air. I felt myself flying through the air, slowly floating towards, well, somewhere. I felt the thing carrying me stop, and start lowering me down towards the floor. The chains were taken off my legs and I was rolled over onto my side and left to wake up.
I began to feel the floor for real, My eyes felt gritty and my mouth was dry. I then decided to try and stand. I fought waves of sickness and managed to roll onto my chest. I struggled to my feet managing it after the fifth try. I stood swaying, feeling sick and frightened by my situation. My nose told me that the smell of the vet's place was worse than ever, My brain told me that I felt sick, my legs shook, in fact my whole body felt useless.
"I don't want to go through this again, I thought angrily. I stamped my foot with rage.
"Don't ever try this again!" I shouted.
"Jingle, Jingle, calm down dear, the Manageress said softly. I shook with fear.
"What's going to happen now?" I asked.
"Don't worry Jingle. You'll be fine, we're going home, the Manageress replied.
"Oh yes, yes! yes! I'm going home!" I yelled. I would have danced about if the space had allowed it. The Manageress picked up a head collar and offered it to me. I let her put it over my head. The Manageress then attached reigns and led me out to the waiting horse box. I was still in darkness but my fear had gone.
We were taken back to the yard and I was put in my box. I stood in my box almost knee deep in straw. I felt so happy I nearly cried.
"All I would like now is to have my sight back, I thought. The Manageress came into my box and injected me with something. I lay down on the straw and fell asleep. When I awoke my legs were stiff.
"Where am I?" I thought. Then I remembered. Domino interrupted my thoughts.
"How you doing Jingle, she asked. I thought for a bit,
"Oh fine, just fine, I said dreamily. Domino rubbed her nose gently against mine.
"They're taking off the bandage things today, Domino said. I heard a sudden crash and then a yell from Figaro.
"Watch it Dominic!" Domino started laughing helplessly.
"Figaro has taken to putting his feed bucket up on the partition wall so he can reach it. Now Dominic's knocked it flying. Figaro's covered in the stuff!" she collapsed against the wall,
"We haven't had so much fun in ages, she added. Dominic came towards me.
"I heard you had treatment for cataracts, he said. Domino looked at him wearily.
"Jingle doesn't know what those are, she said.
"I had to tell you mum, Dominic replied. Domino explained,
"Dominic has been reading up on your eye problem. This new word he's quoted at you is another name for the thing that was stopping light getting to your brain,
The Manageress came round to see me. She took the pads off my eyes and I was able to open them for the first time in a week. The light was so bright I screamed and buried my head in Domino's shoulder.
"It's too bright!" I sobbed.
"Close your eyes and take your time Jingle, the Manageress said. Already furious with Dominic, Figaro took his anger out on the Manageress.
"You should have put a blanket over her head or something, he said rudely. The Manageress strode over to him and slapped him hard on the rump.
"Sorry!" Figaro said. I had another go at exploring my surroundings. Yes there was my feed bucket. I hadn't seen this in ages. Then I looked at the horses, I had forgotten how striking Domino was, and I had never seen Poppy or Dominic. Domino rubbed her nose against mine.
"Dominic looks similar to me, and Poppy looks similar to Cleo, she pointed out.
"Yes, I don't need to be reminded of it mum, Poppy said.
"Oh yeah, and Figaro's usually white, but he's now brown thanks to the feed bucket, Dominic remarked. Figaro bared his teeth at Domino's Son.
"I'm going for a walk, I said. With that I unbolted my door and walked out into the yard. I felt so carefree and happy. I almost danced along to Rosie's box.
"Hey Rosie! You in there?" I asked. There was a groan from inside the box.
"Go away, I'm asleep, Rosie moaned. I started to say,
"What's the matter with,,," When Rosie suddenly catapulted into the opening over the half door.
"Jingle?" she asked breathlessly. Rosie blinked in the morning sunlight and stared at me. I looked back at her and saw her expression change as she saw me focus.
"You can see me can't you?" she asked nervously.
"Well yes, and I forgot how large you were, I said. To a human this comment may have been offensive. But to Rosie it wasn't in the least. She was proud of her stature and didn't care if everyone knew it.
"How was it then Jingle, Rosie asked. I told her about the operation in as much detail as I could. This clearly frightened her because she turned her head to look the other way a few times during the more frightening bits of the description. I knew Rosie liked detail, but not this type it seemed.
"That's interesting, she said. My eyes told me that what she really thought was,
"Oh no, I can't even think about it, I nuzzled her.
"Rosie, don't worry about it, I reassured her. Rosie looked sick.
"If anything is put near my eyes I go mad, but having something put into your eye to hold it still, ugh! no!" Suddenly Rosie sniffed.
"It upsets me just to think about it, she sobbed.
"Hey Rosie, come on, don't cry about it. I'm not, I said. Rosie, strong horse that she was, had one fear and it was a deep seated one. That was the fear of losing her sight.
"I'm sobbing like a foal and I have no reason to, she said eventually.
"Why not?" I asked. Rosie dried her eyes and looked at me.
"Because there's a chap who rides me every week who can't see a dam thing and he gets along fine!" she said harshly.
"you hate him for that?" I asked. Rosie choked on her tears. But now these were tears of anger.
"No! No! No! I didn't mean that!" she shouted.
"Can I come in on this conversation?" someone said. We both whipped round to see who had spoken. Rosie's face lit up.
"Hi!" she said airily. Rosie then remembered that I hadn't met this newcomer.
"Jingle, this is,,," Rosie never finished. She noticed that I had turned away and had my head in at the office.
"Jingle, don't be so rude! This is the human who had the information to cure your problem, Rosie said sharply. The reason why I had turned away wasn't obvious at first.
Well, Rosie didn't see it. The man was wearing reflective strips and a reflective jacket. I asked,
"Can't you see why I turned away?" Rosie looked for a possible reason.
"No, she replied.
"That man is wearing the brightest jacket I've ever seen. The sun was coming off of it and it was hurting my eyes, I said. Rosie leant towards the man and whispered in his ear.
"Take your Jacket off. Jingle's operation worked a treat, now she can't look at anything too bright, I watched embarrassed as the man removed the Jacket and the strips. A black leather jacket was beneath the reflective display.
"Why on earth do you wear all that?" I asked pulling myself reluctantly from the comparative darkness of the office.
"I need to be seen in any weather, the man replied.
"Why?" I asked. Rosie almost knocked me down.
"Don't ask that!" she hissed. But it was no good now.
"I can't see where I'm going. I use a stick to find my way about but I need to be seen in other ways as well. If I'm going along a street and all people can see from their cars is my stick then they might run me down, The man turned and walked towards the indoor riding school. I had another question.
"And what's this I heard about you being that man's girl friend Rosie. You're not being unfaithful to Jinja are you?" I asked.
"No, Im not! Who told you about that? Second thoughts, don't answer that. Anyway, He learned to ride with me that's all, Rosie replied.
"That was meant to be a joke Rosie, I said lamely. Rosie didn't seem to hear me.
"This "Girl friend" stuff is all to do with our relationship. You know what I have to do when he's working with me. That's rather a close bond we have. The trust he has to put in me is unimaginable. All right I do sometimes run off. I forget about him sometimes. I don't mean to forget, but I do. I run across the school and am sharply reminded that he's in control. He can be forceful sometimes, I nodded,
"Some people say you take advantage of him, I said neutrally. Rosie opened her mouth to protest. Jinja suddenly jumped into the conversation with all four feet.
"You run off when he's plainly told you not to, he said. Rosie bit her lip suppressing her anger. Then she snapped!
"You've never been in the school with us!" she exploded. Jinja kept his mouth shut.
"There must be some truth in what Jinja said. He wouldn't say things like that if there was not some truth in it, I said. Rosie looked sad.
"All right, I do take advantage, I'll admit it. But it amuses him. He finds it amusing and takes it as part of my character. He doesn't hold it against me, she said forcefully. she looked towards the indoor riding school.
"He's riding another horse this week, Rosie said sadly.
"You miss him don't you Rosie, I said.
"Yeah, I do, she said faintly. I said,
"Just because he's riding another horse doesn't mean you're forgotten Rosie. He'll come to visit you whenever he's here. I'm sure of that, I reassured her.
"I hope so, I really hope so Jingle. I know he's getting on now and I'm too trained for him. He's got to teach other horses the ropes, I know that, but it's difficult, I felt really upset when he started talking to the Manageress about moving on to another horse. I thought at first that I had done wrong. That was the reason why I tried to hug him. I rubbed my nose against his cheek trying to make him understand how I felt, Rosie was sobbing.
"Rosie, don't cry, I said gently.
"You don't understand what I'm going through. You cannot understand it. I cannot describe what the bond is. It's a relationship that goes deeper than just rider and horse, She sniffed,
"He was a friend!" she yelled.
"Rosie, you're being silly, in fact I'd go so far as to say you're being stupid. He's still you're friend, I said sharply.
"I know that, I am being stupid, I know that, she replied. I looked over at the entrance to the yard. Who should I see running through it but Cleo! She had been sent out into the fields a few months before and now had escaped! She looked so frightened I took pity on her.
"Cleo, what's going on?" I asked. She stared at me her eyes full of terror.
"Jingle, Rosie, help me!" she panted. Cleo ran towards me and collided with me nearly knocking me down.
"What's happened Cleo?" Rosie asked.
"Those horses, they, they, they threatened to kill me Rosie!" she tried to hug me.
"Don't worry Cleo, I said. Cleo stared at me.
"You're able to see me aren't you?" she asked.
"Yes, I said. Cleo actually cried with joy.
"I'm so pleased for you, she sobbed. Jinja spoke up.
"Is this genuine Cleo?" he asked.
"Of course it's genuine Jinja!" Rosie snapped.
"Tell me what's going on, I said. Cleo huddled closer to me.
"The horses in the field have been threatening to do me harm for a long time. I heard them planning it yesterday. They said that today would be the day of my death. They wanted to kill me Jingle, Cleo sobbed.
Meanwhile Rosie's human friend had returned and stood watching us.
"Cleo's back then, the strange man said.
"Yes, that's right. I said. I knew I might seriously upset Rosie by confirming Cleo's return to the yard but I would take the risk. I looked at Rosie fearfully.
"Don't worry Jingle. It's all right, she said. Cleo walked away towards the barn. Figaro saw Cleo and started shouting.
"What on earth's she doing here?" he yelled.
"Leave her alone, Rosie said softly. Figaro was upset,
"Don't give me that!" he said.
"I'll hold you accountable if anything happens to her, Rosie threatened. Figaro kept quiet.
"Don't you remember what she did to us?" Domino asked.
"I'm sorry for that Domino, Cleo said. Domino looked at Cleo with a mixture of fear and resignation.
"I'll say nothing to you because you won't take any notice Cleo, she said. Rosie looked at Domino with sadness in her eyes.
"Give her a chance Domino, she said. Domino looked at her hooves.
"I can't. I've been attacked by her too many times, she said faintly. Cleo tried to hug Domino, Domino fought her off.
"Get off you evil, spiteful, heartless horse, she growled. As Cleo tried again, Domino kicked her. I watched this with some anxiety.
"Domino, I've never known you to kick out at anyone. Why are you doing it now?" I asked. Domino gave me a hard stare.
"I have kicked out at Cleo before, and I'll do it again. I'll do it until she's dead! I can never forgive her for what she did to me and my foals,
"Poppy's my daughter, Cleo whimpered painfully, she looked at Rosie for back up.
"Although you are looking after Poppy Domino, Cleo is still her natural mother. You cannot change that, Rosie said. What little control Domino had over her anger at Cleo and anyone else that seemed to be siding with her suddenly snapped! She lunged at Rosie making her back away quickly. Domino hit the box door with her full weight, The door collapsed under her. Domino lay on the concrete and smashed door. She had tried to kick at Rosie with her fore legs. In trying this stunt she had flown through the air and had been stopped by the box door which gave way under her. So now she was lying on the concrete of the yard with Rosie and the rest of us staring down at her.
"That was the dumbest thing I ever saw, Dominic commented. Domino gave him a look that would have murdered him five times over.
"Shut it!" she warned. Domino got up and shook pieces of Rosie's stable door from her mane. She looked over at me with a mixture of embarrassment and fury.
"You've now seen me in one of my worst moments, she said.
"I thought it was amusing, I said. I watched Domino's face for a reaction.
"I suppose I looked rather silly. I think I was trying to imitate Pegasus, she laughed. So Domino was able to see the funny side. But Cleo was still chewed up about the situation. She looked to Rosie for support.
"Can I stay here? The horses in the field will kill me if I go back there!" she pleaded. Rosie knew of the situation in the field. She had been there for six months herself and preferred not to talk about it. Rosie closed her eyes thinking about Cleo's problem.
"I'll let you stay here, you've suffered almost too much, she said. Domino suddenly tried to attack Cleo. I've never seen a horse move as fast! Seeing that Domino was heading for Cleo, Rosie tried much the same tackle that she had when Cleo had been after Natasha. It worked beautifully. Domino crashed onto the floor with Rosie on top of her. As so often happens in these situations the Manageress came round the corner just as the heat was on. She stared at the two horses stretched out one on top of the other on the concrete.
"All right, what happened here?" she asked. I could see that the Manageress looked bored with it all.
"Domino tried to attack Cleo, Rosie panted. Domino tried to kick Rosie off her. She rolled until her fore feet were under Rosie's stomach. Then she kicked upwards. Rosie squealed with pain! Domino then rolled out from under Rosie and ran for her freedom. I wondered how Domino managed to get out from beneath Rosie? Rosie was about twice Domino's weight! But she had done it, and now Rosie was in terrible pain.
She lay on the concrete breathing shallowly. Rosie's eyes told us that she was frightened.
"Jingle? Cleo? Jinja?" she sobbed.
"We're here Rosie, don't worry, Cleo said softly. Now I believed that Cleo really had changed. Her experiences out in the fields had shaken her to her bones. I felt so sorry for Cleo, Rosie and anyone that had been caught up in this. It wasn't my fault at all though, but I couldn't bring myself to feel happy about any of this. To tell you the truth I didn't like it when Cleo was sent away to the fields. I knew she needed a shock to jolt her into reality, but not a shock that would leave her open to anything the so called leader of the field horses could dream up. I didn't ask Cleo about her time in the field, although I wanted to, I think all the horses wanted to. I looked at Cleo, but I couldn't work out what she was thinking, Domino had disappeared. I looked at the Manageress, her face showed disgust and anger.
"I can't believe what I've seen here. Your behaviour is awful! What did you think you were doing Rosie?" she asked. Rosie raised her head a little and looked straight at the Manageress.
"Domino was attacking Cleo, she said. The Manageress turned and walked away.
"I'll talk to Domino..., She suddenly turned back and stared at Cleo.
"I thought I put you out with the field horses, she said. Cleo started to cry.
"Please don't put me back there, she pleaded.
"They are going to kill her, I said. The Manageress looked at me.
"I haven't seen you since I took the pads off, she said. I nodded and whinnied at her for no reason what so ever.
"You're a good horse aren't you Jingle, the Manageress said. I butted at her playfully. Rosie struggled to her feet and gave the Manageress a disgusted stare.
"You're not happy are you Rosie, the Manageress said. Rosie stamped her foot in warning.
"No Im not, and that's your first and last warning!" Rosie said.
"Don't take that attitude with me Rosie!" the Manageress shouted. She looked so tiny against Rosie's massive form that I felt slightly apprehensive. What was going to happen? Would Rosie back down or would she try to outwit the Manageress? The horse and the human stood opposite each other willing the other to back down. Rosie suddenly exploded!
"Go and find Domino! Ask that stupid animal what happened! She'll tell you what happened, The Manageress had one last try.
"Rosie, why were you on top of Domino?" Rosie clenched her teeth in rage.
"She attacked me, then she attacked Cleo, got it, she said slowly. The Manageress amazingly kept her cool.
"I can see that there has been a major disagreement, she received a hard but in the shoulder. She whipped round to find Domino standing behind her.
"Ah Domino, I wanted to,,," Domino tried to kick the Manageress! I had to do something, I didn't like what I was doing but I had to! I moved behind Domino and took careful aim with my left fore foot. Domino was maddened! She said harshly,
"You won't be able to do anything Jingle. You can't see enough to hit two horses let alone one!" I hit her then! Kicking her with all my strength. Domino screamed and kicked out knocking me down. My friend turned on me savagely!
"Don't do anything Domino!" I pleaded.
"Why not Jingle, you like Cleo! You're one of them! You're a sympathiser with the devil!" she yelled.
"I'm not! I'm no devil!" I replied calmly.
"I don't believe that Jingle, Domino said. I replied,
"I am your friend, I'm not the devil Domino. I helped you, you helped me, we're friends. Friends help each other, and they also respect each other's views. You're not doing any of this, Domino stared at me intently.
"I hate Cleo so much it's clouding my judgement, she whispered. She shook violently, Domino nearly fell onto the concrete. She stumbled and regained her balance. Domino panted for breath and Fear showed in her eyes. She had realised that I could see, she had forgotten that. Now she was scared that I would do something to her. I'm not violent, I can't hit others without feeling sorry for it.
"Keep Cleo away from me!" Domino screamed.
"Listen to me Domino. Cleo's changed, she's a better horse now, I said. Domino shook her head,
"No, she's not! She cannot be better. Cleo's not a good horse!" I was almost in tears.
"Cleo's got problems!" I sobbed.
"You bet she has!" Domino snapped.
"Stop it Domino!" Rosie commanded. Domino tried to attack Rosie. Rosie looked at Domino.
"If I break your leg in a fight, you'll die Domino, she said. Domino backed off then. Cleo nudged me.
"I think I'll go. I'm tearing this yard apart, she said.
"No, Domino's being unreasonable. You can stay here. Rosie said so. I'm sorry that you are being treated like this, I replied.
"Thanks for that Jingle, Cleo said. I looked at The Manageress, she had stood back listening to our conversations.
"You've all been behaving disgracefully, she said.
"What happened to you Cleo?" she asked. Cleo gulped hard, she made a huge effort to calm herself before she replied.
"The leader of the field horses tried to, To.., she almost choked on her tears. Cleo took a shuddering breath and tried again.
"He tried to get me to..,
"Yes Cleo, I know, and you didn't want to, the Manageress said soothingly.
"No I didn't, she said.
"Did he hurt you?" Rosie asked.
"No, I was running from him when I came in here, Cleo replied.
"Funny you should mention that!" someone said. I whipped round to see who had spoken. The leader of the field horses stood there. Dominic suddenly appeared in the corner of my vision. He stood out of sight of the field horse. He moved round to the rear of the massive intruder. The intruder looked at me with disgust.
"You're that blind horse aren't you?" he asked. I started to answer,
"Well, yes, but..,
"So you'll not be able to see this!" he said quickly. With that he attempted to bite me! I dodged his snapping teeth while Dominic finished him off. Dominic dropped the field horse leader onto the concrete. Dominic was now a massive twelve hands. He towered over the unfortunate intruder.
"I'm finished, he said wearily. Cleo went up close to him and let him lean on her shoulder to recover. Domino watched her with disgust.
"I'm not going to watch this! My son is cuddling up with my worst enemy!" she shouted.
"Dominic's not cuddling up with me!" Cleo snapped back.
"That's what it looks like!" Domino replied.
"Cleo's helping me by letting me lean on her shoulder, Dominic explained. Domino turned and walked away her head hung low and her ears flat back.
"I don't know what's happening with Domino, The Manageress said.
I followed Domino back to her box. She saw me but didn't try to stop me.
"I'm so scared, I can't cope, she sobbed.
"Is this the reason why you're acting like this?" I asked.
"Jingle, I know this sounds false, it's going to after all I've done. But, please listen. Cleo frightened me, in fact she frightened me so much that I was almost driven to unspeakable things. I cannot forgive Cleo,
"You can, and you will Domino. I know you will, I said.
"What makes you so sure, she asked.
"I know you Domino. Tomorrow things will be different and you'll think differently. You're influenced by the moment, everyone is sometimes, that's not your fault. You'll think of what Cleo means to you and the rest of the herd. You don't despise her. You wouldn't wish her dead would you? If not then you don't despise her. You might hate her, but you'd do anything for her if she was in trouble. I would, we all would help anyone. Can't you see Domino? You're not a hateful horse. If Dominic came up against you he wouldn't lie you out on the concrete as he did with the field horse. I know he's your Son, but he knows your not a hateful horse. No horse in the yard is bad. We're all different to each other, I said. Domino shook her head.
"Cleo's awful, she bit my ear twice, she would kill Poppy, she bit Natasha, she attacked Rosie. Is that a long enough list for you?" she asked.
"We didn't listen to Cleo. We didn't listen to her because we couldn't understand her way of showing us. She couldn't tell us what was wrong,
"All right Jingle, Domino said harshly,
"What's wrong with Cleo? If you know so much!" she spat.
"Her mother was killed in an accident with a car. She saw it all, Now eight years later the results are showing in Cleo's behaviour. No, Cleo doesn't need to be isolated. She needs to be welcomed, told she's needed, in short, she needs love and affection, and lots of it. I can do it, I know you can do it. Come on Domino, we all can try, I said earnestly. Domino was crying into my fur.
"I'll try to help Cleo, I'll do my best. But I can't promise anything, she said.
"I'm glad you're going to give Cleo another chance Domino. Please don't let me or Cleo down, I said. Domino and I returned to our boxes. Figaro nudged me as he passed.
"We've done it again,
"Done what?" I asked.
"We've changed the plot of the story. It started as an account of your experiences with the laser. Now all this has happened,
"You cannot change life Figaro, I said. He nuzzled me.
"That's right Jingle, he said.
Cleo was re-stabled in the barn beside fudge. She vowed never to get into the sort of trouble that had led to her imprisonment again. We believed her, no horse likes being isolated, everybody knows that.
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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