Hi, Jinja here! I’m distraught! Upset! Terrified! I don’t know how to put this!
RUBY NUDGES ME.
“Jinja dear, calm down a bit, please slow down a bit. I know you’re upset but the readers don’t know what you’re upset about. Take it slowly Jinja.”
So I’ll take it slowly. Where do I start? I know, start at the beginning, phew, sorted. Well, I, I,
“Ruby can’t you tell them what happened?”
“No Jinj’, it’s better if you tell what happened. Believe me, after you’ve told this story you’ll feel a lot better about the whole thing. Anyway she would have wanted you to. I’ll be here if you need me.”
I SWALLOW HARD TRYING TO COMPOSE MYSELF.
It happened so quickly. Three hours and she was gone!
“Who went Jinj’?” Ruby asked.
“Oh shut it Ruby! You know dam well who!” Ruby gives me a stunned stare and says quietly,
“Yes Jinja, I know, but the readers don’t. You must make it clear what’s happening. They can’t read your mind.”
“I told you I was not a story teller!” I yelled. Ruby said softly,
“I’m sorry Jinj’ but you’ll have to learn and learn quickly. I know it’s hard for you, harder for you than it would be for me to tell the story, but it’s got to be done.”
“All right Ruby.”
Well, I’m sad to say that Rosie passed away last week. As I have said it was too quick for her to realise what was happening. I spoke to her only five minutes before she went to work!
Let me set the scene for you. It’s a Friday evening about five thirty or six o’clock, I can’t really remember. Well, Rosie and I were chatting quite happily about this and that as husband and wife should do. She looked fine then; no sign of what was to happen. I remember the last words she said to me. Rosie said,
“See you in a few hours Jinja darling!” This was as she walked away towards the gate out of the field. I’m glad Rosie wasn’t stabled in her box that day because if she had then I wouldn’t have been able to see her before she passed away.
I SNIFF SLIGHTLY AND GULP HARD, TRYING TO GATHER THE STRENGTH TO CARRY ON. RUBY NUDGES ME GENTLY, GIVING ME THE STRENGTH TO CONTINUE.
“Take your time Jinja.”
The first I heard of trouble was when word shot round the field that the Manageress had been seen running from her house into the riding school where Rosie was working.
Fear shot through me in a sickening wave! I jumped the gate and ran up the yard yelling Rosie’s name again and again! I don’t know why I did this. I suppose I wanted Rosie to know I was on my way, I don’t know, something like that.
I sprinted into the school half a second after the Manageress. That’s pretty good for a horse in his twenties don’t you think? Anyway, the sight that greeted me was unpleasant in the extreme! As I ran through the door into the school I heard the words,
“There’s nothing that can be done.” Spoken by both vets that were trying to help Rosie. This phrase would have made me physically sick if a horse could be so. I stopped as I caught sight of my wife standing by the wall shaking violently. I tried telling Rosie that I loved her and that all would be fine in a minute. There was no visible reaction from Rosie! Rosie suddenly sank to her knees and rolled onto her side!
I charged forward towards Rosie! The Manageress fought me off! She then did something that was totally out of character. Although, thinking about it now I couldn’t blame her. She yelled at me!
“Get off Jinja, there’s nothing you can do!” I think her fury was fuelled by grief.
“Rosie’s my wife!” I sobbed. The Manageress calmed down a little.
“I know Jinj’, I know,” she said. I watched as a tremor seemed to shake Rosie’s body to the core. I knew then that the end had come, Rosie was dead! Strangely I felt anger towards the Manageress! I knew it was wrong, stupid, ungrateful, useless to feel angry, but I did! I managed to stop myself from accusing the Manageress of anything, just in time. I couldn’t do anything but cry. The Manageress put her arms round my neck and hugged me.
“Don’t worry Jinj’, she’s gone to a great home,” she said.
“I hope so! I hope so!” I replied. In time I calmed down enough to be led away. The Manageress had no head collar to hand so she put her arm round my neck and trusted me not to run off. I had no intention of doing anything of the sort. We walked back to the field from which I had fled in panic three hours previously. Those hours had seemed like decades! The Manageress let me walk on alone into the field. I trudged over the grass feeling almost too sick for description. I wanted to feel warm, safe, loved! I felt sure that John my owner, and the Manageress, and possibly some of the other horses loved me. But all this seemed unimportant, it shouldn’t have and I’m sorry for thinking such thoughts, it’s horrible to discount all your friends and family. But I hadn’t meant to. The thought that I may have for even a second discounted anyone made me feel worse, if that was possible. But my thoughts kept straying back.
“Rosie, oh Rosie dear!” I said out loud.
“What’s the point in that Jinja, she can’t hear you.” I thought. But I wanted to believe she could, I desperately wanted to believe it! I lay in the grass thinking of my wife. I remembered the good times we had together. I relived the time when I had first set eyes on her and realised that I could love another horse. You see until then I had disliked all horses. It seems strange, as I am one myself. But that was the case. Well, until Rosie came along that is. I think our relationship is written about in another story. Refer to that if you want Rosie’s view on things. I knew that Rosie was special, really special! I loved her as best I knew how. And you know what the most treasured thought I have is? I am certain of this; it is that I know our love would last through anything. I would defend Rosie with all my being. I think that was also written about not so long ago. My thoughts drifted away.
“Oh no! It’s only been two weeks since the last story ended! I’ve hardly recovered from Figaro’s departure and now Rosie’s gone! Who will lead the herd now?” Then my thoughts whirled back to Rosie. Against my better judgement I started talking aloud to her as if she were still alive and standing in the field next to me.
“You all right now Rosie? I hope so.” I ended up weeping into the grass. The feeling of total desolation was almost intolerable. I seemed then to take leave of my senses. I couldn’t control what I did. I was told later that I reared up on my hind legs and yelled,
“Rosie!!” at the top of my voice. I was also told that No horse had got vertical before. I was in imminent danger of falling over backwards. It was a still, quiet night and my cry brought a crowd of horses into the field. As for me I lay down in the grass exhausted by grief and my sudden activity. I hardly noticed the passage of time, nor the chatter and activity of the horses around me. I was once dimly aware of one asking,
“But why should he yell like that?” Another quickly answered the question.
In the morning I woke to find the horses gone and myself wondering whether Rosie’s passing had been a bad dream. The sight of a notice beside Rosie’s box brought the truth forcefully home to me. The notice bore Rosie’s full name, plus the date on which she passed away, and a small piece of text at the bottom saying that loving memories of Rosie would always be treasured. At the sight of this I dissolved into tears.
I felt a nose gently brushing mine. I looked up to see an Irish Draft horse, grey like Rosie standing there. She was looking at me with sympathy mixed with grief. My brain thought
“Rosie!” My eyes told me that I was looking at Ellen. I managed to bite back any exclamation, but Ellen was too smart and knew what had gone through my mind.
“I’m not Rosie Jinja,” she said.
“No Ellen, I know, I’m sorry!” I replied. Then I remembered why Ellen had similar looks to Rosie. My mouth was suddenly dry! I thought franticly!
“Ellen’s Rosie’s niece! Ellen’s mother was Rosie’s sister!” That would explain the look on Ellen’s face as she faced me, it explained everything! Ellen shook herself and finally spoke.
“You frightened a lot of horses last night Jinja.” I asked stupidly,
“Why? What did I do?” To my surprise Ellen became angry!
“You reared up on your hind legs and screamed my aunts name! Why did you do this Jinja?” she asked harshly. It struck me that Ellen didn’t know that Rosie and I had been in a relationship together for a long time. I tried to get the words “Rosie was my wife” out but they didn’t come. My hesitation and faltering explanation served to anger Ellen further. Ellen was maddened by grief!
“What is it Jinja?” she screamed! I didn’t answer, couldn’t answer. I was too upset for confrontation. My saviour was a horse that I had never met before. This was strange since she lived next door to Ruby. This horse was named Clover, and I’ll be eternally grateful to her for saving me from the business end of a kick from a very powerful and very angry Irish Draft mare. Clover said,
“Rosie was Jinja’s wife Ellen.” I stared at Clover, I know it was extremely rude to stare at a horse I had never met before, but Clover didn’t seem to mind. In fact she gave me as good as she got.
“Sorry Sir, that was disrespectful.” Clover said.
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“Well, you were married to Rosie. You are now technically the leader of the herd.” Clover replied.
“Oh no, no I’m not the leader. I couldn’t do it.” I protested.
“We’ll have to have an election then.” Clover said. She thought for a few seconds.
“And this time it had better work.” She added. Ruby said,
“If I remember rightly the last elections were unacceptable because the vote counter cast rather than counted votes.”
Clover has not had any part in the previous stories and it is only now that she has made herself known. She kept quiet up till now and I have to say that I think Clover is one of the most wonderful vaulting horses I have ever met. On top of being good at her art she is also tolerant of most people. Unfortunately for Clover she has only a short time to live due to liver failure. She knows this but does not let it get her down. Today’s events were a prime example of this unstoppable love of life. I nuzzled Clover’s cheek, she started to laugh! This was a strange sound, strange in that only fourteen hours ago a horse had died.
“Get off Jinj’!” she said playfully. Clover delivered a stinging blow to my nose with hers. It hurt!
“Be careful Clover! Jinja’s Mrs. Would never forgive you!” Misty shouted. Then she realised what she had said and looked away, deeply ashamed.
“Sorry Jinja.” Misty said quietly. I stopped dead! Rosie! I laid my head on Clover’s shoulder and sobbed like a foal.
“Hey Jinj’, come on mate. Rosie wouldn’t want you to cry.” Clover said softly. I hugged Clover as best I could.
“You’re wonderful Clover.” I said.
“I don’t think I would go quite that far.” Clover replied. After a while I left the main yard and went for a walk on my own. I walked up towards Fleur’s wood, or should I say where Fleur’s wood used to be. The felled trees still littered the landscape where they had been dumped. I looked at the carnage with sadness. I realised that it symbolised my life, yes, in pieces. I didn’t spend long there. I carried on back down the track and into the yard thinking of my wife all the time I walked. It was only when Cleo commented on it that I realised I was crying. I suppose I had got to the stage where I didn’t care what people thought of me showing my feelings.
In one way or another all the horses were affected by Rosie’s passing. I knew that Ellen hated me. Clover, who had many problems of her own was trying her best to cheer me. This meant a lot to me. I have mentioned two out of several horses. Please understand that I cannot document all the reaction to one of the most unhappy episodes in the yard. The reasons for this are double-edged. Firstly that I would not want any horses to be made more unhappy than they already are. Secondly that if I asked them anything, they’d probably hound me off the premises. I’m no journalist and never could be.
Enough of that journalist stuff however. A week had passed since the events of the ninth of April nineteen ninety-eight. The media had been informed of Rosie’s passing and the local B.B.C radio station to anyone that listened to the radio had broadcast it. It appeared that Rosie’s misfortune had affected far more people than just the horses and the Manageress’s family and the people she employed to look after the horses. People were coming in from far and wide to do whatever humans always seem to do when a much-loved animal passes away. It seemed that far more people came to visit the yard and it’s occupants than could possibly live in Wickham Market and the surrounding villages. I concluded that Rosie must have appealed to far more people than we, or even she knew. Over time my outpouring of grief for my wife became less intense but more potent. By this I mean that in the first two days I was away for long periods of time on my own. Private grief I suppose. Now I was ready to share my memories of Rosie with other people and to have them share their memories of her with me. It seemed to help some horses and countless humans to be able to talk face to face with me. I know for a fact that some of the humans didn’t understand what I said in return but it seemed to help.
One day I was talking to Clover and telling her about the time when Rosie and I first met. When I say met, I mean really got to know each other. We had known each other for years. Our relationship started two years ago. It seemed like a lifetime I can tell you. Rosie was the best thing that had ever happened to me and I wanted everyone to know that. I didn’t know then but this seemingly ordinary chat with Clover wasn’t so ordinary. I don’t know if the events that took place in the following months had anything to do with what she said on that day. I would like to think that Clover was right. She kept saying things like:
“Rosie will come back Jinja.” And:
“Rosie’s standing right behind you but you can’t see her.” This scared me I can tell you.
“What do you mean Clover? What are you? Some sort of paranormal psychic or something?” Clover smiled at me.
“I’m none of those things Jinja, anyway, I wouldn’t tell anyone if I were.” I have to say that Clover’s amazing but from that day on she gave me strange vibes that I didn’t entirely like. Clover noticed my reluctance to talk about certain subjects and commented on it.
“You’re not frightened of me are you Jinja?” She asked pleasantly.
“No, no, I’m not frightened of you. Why should I be?” This was a bare faced lie and Clover knew it. I was just about to blow my top at Clover and give her a lecture on brainwashing when a horse, who was walking into the yard at that moment caught my eye.
I watched in astonishment as the horse walked towards me. She was Irish Draft and to my eye looked like Rosie, too like Rosie. But I knew that from now on all grey Irish Draft horses would look like Rosie. There was something in the way the horse behaved. Something unusual for a newcomer, odd, very odd indeed. The Irish Draft mare was too assured for a newcomer. She seemed to be too familiar with her surroundings to be a total stranger. Clover and Ruby noticed it too. Ruby called out to the newcomer.
“Hey! What do you think you’re doing?” The Irish Draft mare looked at her.
“Nothing much, why what does it look like?” the mare replied. Ruby lost her temper!
“What do you think you’re doing walking in here unannounced, and then talking to a resident in that fashion?” The poor mare looked unhappy, in fact she looked so unhappy that I felt sorry for her. Ruby put the hoof in hard!
“all right what’s the story? LONG LOST TRAVALLER I’LL BET!” SHE SCOFFED. Clover apologised to the now frightened newcomer for Ruby’s actions and asked the mare what her name was.
“They call me Jessie.” The newcomer replied.
“Jessie? Rosie?” My mind was whirling. All I knew was that there was something almost too familiar about that mare. Clover continued her gentle questioning, teasing the story out of the Irish Draft mare standing before us. Clover’s patient coaxing did the trick and the newcomer was coming out with information with far less misgiving than she had at first.
“I used to live in a stable near Manchester.” Jessie began.
“Oh yeah, I’ll really believe that! What did you do, fly down here?” Ruby sneered. I had never known Ruby to act like this. Perhaps she noticed the same things as I did and they frightened her? I don’t know. Jessie stopped to take a breath and then continued:
“The horse box I was in crashed on route to Suffolk. I was on route to a prison of some sort. They said it was to help the prisoners or something. I think the place I was going to had something to do with hoses. Something like that anyway, I’m no longer sure, come to think of it I’m no longer sure about anything!”
“You’re going the wrong way. The place you’re looking for is in the opposite direction.” Clover said.
“Let me finish please!” Jessie pleaded. Her eyes were wild as she said:
“The horse box was being driven along the motorway. It was dark. I didn’t know the time of day. The last time I looked at a clock it was seven thirty and I think at least three hours had passed. Oh yes! I remember now, the ten P.M news had just finished, ah that makes it ten thirty then. Well, The horsebox suddenly braked to a halt and ended up on its side in a mangled wreck with many other cars that had ploughed into it. The accident was so quick I couldn’t take it in! Then I was lying on the verge where I had been thrown by the force of the crash. Then I don’t remember much more until I found myself on a big main road from Ipswich. I spent hours trying unsuccessfully to piece together what had happened. Surely the crash happened in Northamptonshire? Anyway I gave up this fruitless search for answers and addressed the needs I had at that moment.” Ruby, Clover and I were staring at the newcomer with an intensity that bordered on having a kick in the teeth as punishment, literally! Jessie bore it bravely however. I thought of Rosie and of the way she used to be able to stand up to people staring at her.
“No she’s not Rosie, she’s not Rosie!” I told myself forcefully.
“What were those needs my dear?” Clover asked gently. Jessie paced back and forth in front of us.
“Those needs? Ah yes, well, you know, a place to sleep, food, water, immediate survival, that sort of thing. I also felt a tremendous sadness. I can’t explain why I felt unhappy. All I knew was that I had to get to a place, a stable yard. Don’t ask me which one because I don’t know. But there was no getting round the fact that someone needed me, I don’t know who.” I nearly cried out! I bit my tongue to stop myself. Jessie observed my antics with slight amusement. Ruby noticed the slight smile on her lips and shot her down.
“You think that seeing a horse go through hell is funny? Jinja’s just lost his wife, by pure coincidence you look remarkably similar to her. That is why he’s going mad!” Jessie continued:
“I walked for days and arrived here. Don’t ask me how I found this place.” Clover stopped the newcomer.
“Hey, hang on, wait a minute. You say that you set off from Manchester with one destination and arrived in Suffolk with an uncontrollable urge to get to a completely different place?” This question totally foxed Jessie who looked down at her hooves trying to conceal the fact she was sobbing.
“I don’t know, I don’t know! I’m confused!” she yelled.
“When did the horse box crash? I mean what day?” Clover asked. I could almost see Jessie thinking out her reply.
“A Friday I think.” She replied. I choked back tears. Jessie came close and hugged me. Clover’s shocked expression stopped misty on her way back to her box.
“What’s the matter Clover?” she asked. Clover knew better than to answer her truthfully. For it appeared that Misty couldn’t see Jessie. Or if she could she wasn’t letting on.
“Perhaps she thinks Jessie’s Ellen. Misty can go on thinking that until I’ve sorted this out.” Clover thought. She replied to Misty’s question.
“I was thinking about Rosie.” Well that was half-true. The truth was, Clover didn’t know what had brought this strange mare to the yard.
Meanwhile I had stopped crying and Jessie was engaged in rubbing her nose in a rather too familiar way against mine. Clover said,
“Jessie, something tells me that you’ve met Jinja before.” Jessie replied,
“Well, yes I feel as if I’ve known him all my life.”
“She’s Rosie.” I thought. Suddenly someone said,
“There’s Ellen standing next to Jinja.” I thumped Jessie urgently!
“Run Jessie!” I yelled. Jessie bolted down the yard. But the Manageress was too quick for her. She expertly caught her and slowed her down to a walk and then to a halt. The Manageress looked at Jessie and Jessie stared back.
“You are not Ellen.” The Manageress said. She looked harder at Jessie’s coat and her mane and into her eyes. Jessie stood with every muscle tense. Only when the Manageress let her go did she relax. The Manageress walked away in silence, evidently thinking deeply. Jessie drooped with tiredness.
“I can’t take much more of this,” she said. I opened my mouth to quiz her further, but Jessie stopped me.
“No more questions Jinja. Wait and see,” she said. My pulse was racing, not good for a horse in his later life. I blurted out:
“Look Rose’, I mean Jessie, I’m getting past my prime, if you’re holding back on me I must know, for sure if you are, or are not Rosie!” I implored.
“All right, just one more question Jinj’.” Jessie conceded.
“Do you remember a riding lesson?” I asked. I should have seen that asking a horse if she remembered a riding lesson, was like asking a dog if he remembers eating a bone.
“Yes, several, one in particular? She asked.”
“Well Ye’, one in particular.” I replied. I then outlined to Jessie or Rosie, I wasn’t sure any more, what had taken place at ten fifteen on Friday ninth April. As soon as I had finished I wished I hadn’t ever started! The fear and terror was visible in her eyes. She said,
“I remember.” Jessie was now sobbing. I asked,
“Look Jessie, are you my wife? Are you Rosie? I know you are, so admit it. Please tell me yes or no. I can’t stand much more of this my darling!” I ventured. This type of address always used to bring Rosie close to tears. Jessie looked at me through her tears.
“Come with me,” she said. Jessie or Rosie, it doesn’t really matter what I called her, I was convinced that they were one and the same. Well, she led me into Fleur’s street. Misty stared at her as she passed. Misty snorted.
“And you’re swearing that you’re not Rosie?” she asked. Jessie looked uncomfortable.
“I don’t know, I really don’t know.” She replied. Jessie then said something that made me stop dead in my tracks.
“Where’s Natasha gone?”
“You what!” I said.
“Natasha’s name plate has gone, where has she got to?” Jessie asked anxiously.
“There is no point in hiding your true identity Jessie or should I say, Rosie. No horse that was in any way a newcomer to the yard would know of Natasha let alone feel something towards her. You are Rosie!” I said.
“Don’t pressure me Jinj’ love, please don’t pressure me.” She pleaded. I think I’ll refer to this new horse as Rosie from now on. I am certain that her real identity was uncovered.
Meanwhile the Manageress and her employees were having an emergency meeting about the events described above. The Manageress was being quizzed about supposed sightings of a horse that looked almost identical to Rosie.
“All right, you say you saw this horse that looked much like Rosie wondering around the yard?” one instructor asked.
“Well yes, at first I thought Ellen was standing by Jinja. Then I took a second look and realised that she wasn’t. The horse ran off, I caught her and examined her.”
“What did you find?” another instructor asked.
“A healthy horse, good teeth, coat, clear eyes, a picture of health.” The Manageress replied. One instructor started to say,
“We all wish that Rosie hadn’t passed on, but there’s,” Suddenly the door to the restaurant where the meeting was being held was kicked open! A large Irish Draft horse thrust her nose in through the opening. The humans around the table stared at the large horse in astonishment! Rosie then said,
“Hey man! I’m gasping for tea!” In the middle of the table stood one of those large tea urns, you know the type of thing. A large kettle affair with a tap for drawing the liquid. Well, Rosie saw this much-desired source of tea and whinnying with delight snatched off the lid and started drinking. The fact that the liquid was almost boiling didn’t seem to bother her in the slightest. One of the instructors said angrily,
“Get your nose out of there!” Rosie took no notice and kept on drinking. Meanwhile the Manageress was laughing helplessly.
“You see, no other horse had a passion for tea like Rosie had.” The Manageress said. With a satisfied slurp Rosie finished the tea and withdrew her nose from the urn.
“Wonderful stuff!” she said.
Meanwhile I had gone round the back and into the riding school to approach the restaurant from the other side. I squeezed down a narrow passage and was now engaged on bashing the connecting door to the restaurant with all my force! There was a crash and a sound of splintering wood mixed with human swearing as Rosie fought her way through the restaurant leaving a trail of destruction in her wake.
“This place goes from eccentric to insane!” the Manageress shouted. Rosie looked behind her and saw the mess.
“Sorry about the damage. But it’s fun isn’t it!” she said. The Manageress surveyed the battered restaurant in silence. Rosie tried to open the door into the passage and gave up after a few attempts. With a sigh of frustration she put her large left fore foot on the lever that opened the door and pushed down. The door came swinging my way, dam! I felt stupid, I had been trying to kick a door down that opened my way! I hurriedly backed off and stood in the school keeping my gaze from the restaurant. I noticed for the first time that Domino had been shut in with me.
“Perhaps she’s working.” I thought. On closer inspection however it seemed that Domino wasn’t working, no, not working, more like asleep! There is a half door type of thing that the instructors put across the gap into the school during lessons. Domino was leaning on it sleeping peacefully. I felt sorry for bashing the restaurant door as hard as I had. Domino shifted her weight slightly. The door suddenly gave way under her! With a scream of terror Domino pitched sideways over the collapsing door and on into the small riding school. She screamed,
“Help! What’s happening!” as she fell and rolled across the school. Domino finally came to rest on the concrete of the yard. She sprang to her feet and whirled round to see what damage had been caused. Domino’s horrified expression as she saw the state of the door was comical!
“What have I done!” she asked. I was laughing too hard to be of assistance to her. Domino said,
“You can laugh Jinja. It wasn’t you that destroyed that door!”
“Sorry Domino.” I laughed.
“You’re not, if you were you wouldn’t be laughing.” She replied. That was true. I saw Rosie and the Manageress walk into the indoor school behind Domino. Instinctively Domino rested her head on Rosie’s shoulder, not realising what she was doing. When Domino looked properly and saw Rosie she squealed with fear and charged off round and round the perimeter of the school. Rosie set off in pursuit. She seemed to think this was some sort of game. But Domino was really frightened! She ran right into the corners to avoid Rosie. In the end Rosie’s staying power defeated Domino and Rosie managed to catch up with her.
“What’s going on Domino?” Rosie asked gently. Domino’s eyes were wild.
“You mean I laid my head on the shoulder of a spirit?” She asked hoarsely.
“I don’t know.” Rosie replied. Domino yelled into Rosie’s ear at close range.
“Well, Rosie, Jessie or whatever you want to call yourself. You should know, You couldn’t go round not knowing your own identity. You must be a spirit, because horses don’t come back from the dead. Rosie or Jessie, oh whatever, anyway you were dead. Well Rosie was anyway. And then there’s Jinja. He keeps calling you Rosie, I don’t know whether that’s wishful thinking, or whether it’s true. If it’s true, then how did it happen?” Domino had been so intent on holding forth about spirits and such like that she had not noticed that Rosie had tears rolling down her nose. She noticed at last and made a very spiteful comment.
“You big Foal! What’s the matter Rosie? Missing mummy are we?” she scoffed. I saw that Domino’s fear made her vindictive. Rosie sobbed,
“I don’t know, I’m frightened, confused, terrified!” I tried to comfort Rosie as best I could.
“Come on Rosie my dear. You should know what Domino’s like, you were leader of the herd. You remember that don’t you Rosie dear?” I rubbed Rosie’s wet nose with mine. I noticed that she was trembling violently. My mind strayed unbidden back to the sight of her in the school moments before she passed away.
“Don’t die on me Rosie!” I pleaded.
“I’m not dying. I’m just badly frightened Jinja.” Rosie replied. She tried to bury her head in my shoulder. This was almost impossible because Rosie’s a lot larger than I am. The Manageress had stood silently watching us. Domino stamped out of the school and before she left she had one last shot at Rosie. She yelled,
“I want answers Rosie!” Rosie howled in misery. The Manageress watched Domino’s departure from the scene with fury.
“Stupid horse!” she fumed. The Manageress came closer to Rosie and put her arms around her neck. The massive Irish Draft mare rubbed her nose against the Manageress’s shoulder.
“Are you Rosie? Come on dear, you can tell me.” The Manageress coaxed. She ran a finger down Rosie’s nose. Rosie bashed the Manageress’s shoulder hard! She said,
“Hey! Get off! That tickles!”
“Rosie you bully!” the Manageress said. She returned to the point.
“Are you Rosie or aren’t you?” The Manageress asked. The expression on Rosie’s face made the Manageress wish she hadn’t asked. Rosie looked so unhappy that the Manageress thought of telling her that it didn’t really matter what her answer was. Rosie sighed heavily.
“I should be able to tell you, more than anyone, but the absolute truth is that I don’t know who I am. I know Jinja, I even knew Natasha. So I must be Rosie. But who’s Rosie? I mean that I remember all that happened before my death. But why did I die?” The Manageress led us out of the school and towards Rosie’s box. Rosie saw another horse standing in her place.
“Who’s that?” she asked. I read the nameplate on the door.
“Crofter.” I read. The horse named Crofter was in a foul mood and had his back turned to us. The Manageress whistled and shouted at the horse.
“Oi Crofter, wake up!” The horse turned towards us and brightened a little.
“Hey Rosie!” he welcomed. Then he looked at the notice informing horses and humans of Rosie’s passing. Then he look quickly back at Rosie. Crofter’s face told us he was frightened! With a massive effort he controlled himself enough to ask carefully.
“what or who are you?” Rosie’s confused expression upset me.
“She’s a horse Crofter, don’t you recognise Rosie?” I asked. Crofter replied,
“Rosie’s dead.” Ruby chipped in,
“Passed away Crofter, not dead, it’s not very nice.”
“Oh whatever.” Crofter said. Rosie looked at the notice referred to above.
“It says “passed away due to colic”” Rosie said. Clover called Rosie over to her.
“If you are Rosie, how can this happen?” Rosie looked away.
“I don’t know Clover, why does every horse I meet ask me that?” Rosie was getting upset. I had a question for Clover.
“What was that you said about Rosie coming back to me?” I asked. Clover stiffened and a wild frantic look flitted across her face.
“Oh, um, well, err, well Jinja I, I didn’t really think it would happen. I was trying to comfort you, that’s all I meant to do.” Clover replied. The Manageress said,
“So you are Rosie.” Rosie squealed with Frustration and screamed her reply into the Manageress’s ear at close range.
“I keep telling you human, I don’t know!!” The Manageress stood back a fraction.
“Thank you Rosie I heard you quite clearly the first time,” she said. Rosie asked,
“If you heard me the first time why do you insist on asking the same question?” Rosie suddenly yelled!
“I can’t stand this “Are you Rosie? Are you Rosie? Are you Rosie?” All the time. Can’t you ask me something else?” Rosie suddenly ran off! She sprinted down the yard and across the road towards some fields. I followed her at a more sedate pace.
We wound up in a field a good distance from the yard.
“Why have we come here?” I asked.
“Because I wanted to spend some time with you on your own.” Rosie replied. Then I remembered, it was only ten hours ago that Rosie, or Jessie as she was then known, came onto the scene. It was now dark and I was getting a little apprehensive about the next few hours. Would Rosie have to leave me? I asked her.
“Oh no Jinja. Where ever did you get that idea from? I’ll never leave you, never ever again.” Relief flooded through me in a wave that made me feel sick.
“Good!” I replied. I asked,
“Rosie dear, what happened while you were away?” Rosie made a great effort not to break down.
“It frightens me to think about it Jinj’. Well, I was in the riding school I think. I can’t be absolutely sure because I don’t remember much. But I remember being in sudden pain, then the pain going quickly and a sort of drowsy feeling taking over. I heard someone say something about them loving me and that all would be fine, at least I think that’s what they said.” I rested my head on Rosie’s shoulder and burst into tears.
“Don’t say any more Rose’, don’t tell me any more. It’s too awful Rosie. Leave the detail out, just tell me the facts!” I pleaded. Rosie closed her eyes marshalling her thoughts before continuing.
“Well, err, ah yes. I woke on a grass verge in a strange place. I didn’t know what had happened to me. All I knew was that I had to survive. I didn’t know why I had to find a home, I just had to. There was that other feeling that wouldn’t leave me. The feeling that someone needed me desperately. I also had these other memories of another journey to deal with. I hope that explains my confusion when I arrived here. I half remembered things from here. I found Ipswich and walked round there for a while, in the dark of course. There was no inspiration there so I ventured out further from the town until I came to Wickham Market. I saw a sign I recognised as pointing towards home! I ran! Driven by some unexplainable force. Then, I arrived here.” Rosie shivered.
“It’s cold out here Jinj’, Isn’t there anywhere else we could go that’s a little warmer?” I had stopped crying and now felt composed enough to look for a warm dry place to sleep. Rosie shivered her way across the field in my wake as I searched out a dry warm place. I remembered that Rosie used not to be affected by the cold. Now she shivered violently. Her teeth chattered and she drooped with misery.
“I don’t know about Y, You Jinj’. But I’m going back t, to the yard. It’s freezing!” Rosie said. She turned tail and walked down the field back towards the yard. I followed her more slowly. I observed that Rosie’s walk was different than I remembered. More spring in her step. I remember that she was said to amble rather than walk. Now the way she walked was different. As she walked she sung a curious song. It sounded human in its origins.
“I got my first real six string, bought it at the five and dime. Played it till my fingers bled, was the summer of sixty nine.” Then she stopped.
“Is that all?” I asked. Rosie looked round at me.
“What? Oh no, no there’s more to it than that I think. You see Jinj’ I’ve only heard it a few times, it’s by someone called Brian Adams I believe.” I nuzzled her cheek gently. Rosie laughed and rubbed back against me.
“Jinja I love you more than I can tell you,” she said. For some strange reason I started laughing too. It was a strange thing to do because there was nothing remotely funny in walking down a field singing a half-known song. But all the same, there we were laughing like foals at nothing in particular. I think the joy of life and love had stirred in us. We entered the yard feeling better than we had for years.
As we were entering the Manageress was leaving to go home.
“Oh hi you two!” she said. We rubbed our noses affectionately against her coat and each in turn we rested our heads on her shoulder. First Rosie then I did it. This made the Manageress laugh.
“You two are soppy,” she said. She rubbed a hand along our backs and fondled our ears. This felt wonderful! Rosie obviously felt the same way as I did because she whinnied with joy and hugged the Manageress. I think Rosie was too enthusiastic because the Manageress had to fight her off. That was another thing that had changed. Rosie used to be very visual when it came to showing affection. Now she was more tactile. Buy tactile I mean she nuzzled and rubbed herself against the objects of her affections more than she used to.
A cold blast of wind bit into us as we stood in the darkness. There was a light above where Rosie and I stood and the Manageress saw Rosie shiver. She thought for a minute.
“I know what we’ll do with you two. How does a night in the indoor school sound?” Rosie and I were delighted! We nuzzled the Manageress and skipped about.
“Thought you’d like that.” The Manageress said.
We followed the Manageress into the indoor school where she left us and closed the door behind her.
“Good night you two.” She had said as she left.
“See you in the morning and thanks again!” We whinnied. The Manageress was laughing as she left.
“Those two are great,” she said to no one in particular.
Rosie and I were now alone in the shelter and warmth of the indoor riding school. There was a stack of straw in one corner. We knocked this over and found that the stack was made of bales and not just a mound as we had first thought. Best of all there was enough for food and bedding, Luxury indeed! You see with all the activity of the last day both Rosie and I had either felt too ill to eat or had just forgotten to. Now all was quiet we were ravenous. We scoffed the straw at an alarming rate! Rosie didn’t used to eat much but now she ate her old fill and about twice as much again. Not excessive, healthy amounts I’d say. We both lay down on the straw bedding feeling on top of the world! As I drifted off to sleep that night I thanked whoever it was that had brought Rosie back to me. I finally rested my head on my wife’s neck and slept peacefully.
I awoke in the middle of the night feeling terrified!
“Rosie! Rosie’s gone!” I thought. I raised my head and whinnied loudly. It was a sound that was full of pain! Suddenly I felt something rubbing my nose. Another nose? It had to be, yes, a horse’s nose. There was another horse in here with me. But who could it be? Someone said softly,
“Jinja, Jinja darling. What’s the matter?”
“R, Rosie?” I choked.
“Yes Jinj’ it’s me, Rosie.” Rosie added,
“I’ll only leave you if you stop loving me.”
“That’ll never happen.” I said earnestly. Rosie said,
“You know something Jinja? It was your love for me that brought me back here.” I stared at my wife.
“But if you didn’t want to come back I wouldn’t have forced you!” I said.
“You’ve got it wrong Jinj’, I love you more than I have ever loved another horse. What I meant was that usually if a mare passes on the male will search out another mare and carry on. You didn’t do that, you remained true to me, true to my memory. I know you Jinja, you’ll never go with another mare, never in your life. It’s not your way. I think being with humans has influenced this. The society we live in is Monogamous.” I stopped her.
“Hang on Rosie, what’s “monogamous?”” I asked. Rosie laughed,
“Oh that means that there are only two people in a marriage.”
“Oh right.” I replied.
“And because you have been influenced by the way humans behave that’s why you don’t really like other horses. When you found one you did like you wanted to stay with them forever. “In sickness and in health” isn’t that the saying?” This reduced me to tears. I hugged Rosie and told her that I would never leave her, and I meant it. I wanted Rosie more than I could tell her, and, it seemed that she wanted me. I noticed that Rosie was crying also. She dried her eyes and perked up a little. Rosie suggested:
“Come on Jinj’, let’s walk about for a bit.” We opened the door to the outside air. A cold blast of freezing April air hit us! Rosie swore under her breath and withdrew back into the warmth of the school.
“Maybe not Jinj’,” she said.
“But Rosie, you used to go out in all weather without a rug on. You never minded then. So why now?” Rosie seemed to be screwing herself up to tell me something important.
“I don’t know how I can put this. You see Jinj’, my body’s changed. I’m the same person inside, but my body’s that of a younger horse. All right this body may look much the same as my old one but it’s not. You’ve probably seen that for yourself. The fact that I can’t stand the cold is one change.” I thought that I might be able to solve her problem. I knew where the Manageress kept the horse rugs. I thought I could get one for Rosie. I ran through the wind and cold towards the rug room. I saw there was a key to the door on a hook well out of reach of most horses. But I, Jinja, am not like most horses. I reared up and grabbed the large Chubb key off the hook. Fitting it into the lock was proving more difficult. Eventually I resorted to feeling with the key for the hole rather than looking for it. Eventually I got it in and turned it with my teeth. The door swung outwards and I was in! Pull cords operated all the lights in the tack and rug rooms. Great for horses really, don’t you think? I pulled the cord and was in business.
That proved to be my undoing. The light from the rug room brought the Manageress and her Son John from their house. They were running! They stopped when they saw me. John asked,
“Jinja, what are you doing here?” The Manageress was looking on the floor for the key. Finding it she picked it up and re-hung it on the hook.
“Come on Jinj’, explain yourself,” she said. I thought quickly!
“Rosie’s cold, I was getting a rug for her.” I replied. The Manageress smiled.
“Isn’t that sweet,” she said. She dove into the rug room and re-appeared with the duvet rug mentioned in the first two stories written about the occupants of the yard. I stared at it!
“That’s Rosie’s old rug. She loved that rug!” I said. John put his arms around my neck and hugged me.
“You’re a great horse Jinja,” he said. I returned his hug feeling that I had neglected him lately. We returned to the riding school.
We walked through the door to see a very distressed Irish Draft mare stamping about. Rosie turned towards us. Her face was pale and she was shaking with fear!
“Jinja! I was so worried about you! Where the hell have you been?” she asked.
“Sorry Rosie I was held up. The Manageress found me in the rug room and stopped my search.” I explained. The Manageress produced the large rug, Rosie stared at it.
“My rug! I haven’t seen that in ages!” she whooped. Rosie ran towards the Manageress nearly knocking her down.
“Hey Rosie! Calm down dear!” the Manageress said. She threw the rug over Rosie’s back and pulled it around her shoulders.
“That’s better. Thanks.” Rosie said. The Manageress hugged Rosie tightly.
“You don’t know how much I think about you Rosie,” she said. Rosie nuzzled the Manageress’s shoulder while trying to fight back tears. Rosie said,
“It’s the love that you have shown to me that keeps me alive.”
“You’re a soppy old thing Rosie.” John said. Rosie then said something that started me thinking.
“It’s your memories of me that keep me alive.” I stopped.
“You mean that if we stopped thinking of you, you would die?” I asked.
“Yes.” Rosie replied.
“So you’re living in our minds Rosie?” the Manageress asked.
“Well, yes, I think so.” Rosie replied. I said,
“But Rosie, you’re real. I have rubbed noses with you.” Rosie looked confused.
“Yes, I can’t explain that,” she said.
“Forget the explanation. It’s better if we don’t know.” The Manageress said. John yawned.
“Time for bed I think,” he said. The Manageress agreed with him. I was not surprised because it was three in the morning. The Manageress had to be up at six thirty. The two humans walked out of the school and closed the door. Rosie lay down on the straw bales and wrapped herself in the rug. She left enough of the huge rug for me to do the same as she had. I wrapped myself in the remaining part of the rug and joined Rosie on the straw bales. We fell asleep feeling strangely elated.
The next day Rosie and I woke to a rainy day. Rosie looked out of the window and made a face at the rain streaming down the glass.
“Ugh, yuck! Horrible, disgusting weather!” she fumed.
“No change there then.” I thought. Rosie turned away from the window and faced me.
“Back to work today?” she asked.
“Can you work?” I asked.
“Yes, why not?” Rosie asked.
“No reason.” I replied.
So Rosie went back to work. But she was far, far different to what she used to be. She seemed to react faster to commands than she used to. The humans noticed this also. Rosie ran about with the energy of a five year old horse. I watched her almost fly around the school. At one point she got too enthusiastic and nearly decanted her rider on to the peat flooring.
“Hey Rosie! Cool it dear.” The Manageress said. Rosie tossed her head with pride and was told to halt. Although her rider told her to halt in the correct manner, Rosie didn’t. All right she stopped for all of five seconds, but then was off around the school dancing about with a rookie human on her back!
“Rosie, have a care will you! Think about your rider! He’s only been riding for two hours, he’s not got a licence yet!” I yelled. Rosie started to loap around the school and caused her rider to hang on for dear life! Rosie loaped around the school four times before she came to a stand still.
“That was wonderful!” Rosie said. Her rider slid off her back and stood shaking beside her. He put his arms around her neck and leant against her shoulder to recover from the most frightening five minutes on horseback he’d ever had. Rosie’s rider said something unprintable.
“Give you a shock did she?” the Manageress asked.
“Yeah, something like that.” Rosie’s rider replied. Rosie thumped her rider’s shoulder until he produced a packet from his pocket.
“Something different for you Rosie,” he said. Rosie should have hung back and questioned it, yes, she really should have. The packet her rider had produced wasn’t containing the usual polo mints. Unknown to the rider Rosie had an intense dislike for the fruity polos. This was what the packet contained. Rosie crunched the polos and her expression went from happy to one of disgust! She spat the polos out onto the peat in a most undignified fashion. She ran from the school and barged into Ruby’s box in a most impolite manner.
“Hey what the hell do you think you’re playing at Rosie?” Ruby asked angrily.
“Sorry Ruby, but I need water, quick! “ Ruby was so unnerved by Rosie’s frantic manner that she let her drink. Ruby watched in astonishment as Rosie drained her water bucket twice causing it to refill automatically. Rosie finally withdrew her nose from the bucket and looked apologetically at Ruby.
“Look, Ruby, I’m really sorry. My rider gave me some of those fruity Polos. I had to get to water quickly, your box was the first I came to.” She explained. Ruby asked,
“But why panic? They were only fruity polos Rosie.” Rosie gave Ruby a look of disgust!
“Only fruity polos! Do you know what happens when I try to eat fruity polos? Well I’ll tell you. My mouth was burning!” Ruby looked dumbly at Rosie.
“Why?” she asked faintly.
“Acid!” Rosie replied.
“Acid?” Ruby enquired.
“Yes, citric acid. Found in all fruit Ruby.” Rosie replied.
“Oh right, I see what you’re driving at.” Ruby said. Rosie left Ruby’s box and returned to the riding school. The Manageress saw her coming.
“Oh there you are Rosie,” she said.
“Yes, I’m here.” Rosie replied flatly. She cast an angry look at her rider.
“It’s all your fault!” she snapped. I was totally unprepared for this.
“Rosie! That’s no way to speak to a human, and anyway, he didn’t know!” I said.
“No, I suppose not. I’m sorry.” Rosie said. Rosie’s rider came towards her holding out a fist full of polo mints.
“I think you’re looking for these,” he said. Rosie sniffed at them suspiciously.
“They are mint flavoured.” The Manageress assured her. Rosie took one carefully and sucked it a while. Then she crunched it slowly. Then quickly she wolfed the whole lot!
“Steady on rose’’!” her rider exclaimed. Rosie had changed physically beyond all recognition. The changes were mainly in the way she walked and held herself. The way she reacted to commands had changed. There was none of the lethargy that used to characterise her work. Now she was willing to work, very willing indeed. I think she would rival Ruby for reaction time. Rosie’s new rider left the school for another week.
Since Rosie had destroyed the inside of the restaurant the Manageress hadn’t been able to use it. The work was coming along slowly but Rosie’s few moments of madness had cost the Manageress more than just a lot of wasted time. The damage meant that she couldn’t hold business lunches or any other function in the restaurant. This frustrated her greatly. The Manageress had a stern word with Rosie about the trouble she had caused.
We were in a field just off the main yard when the Manageress came round looking for Rosie in a furious temper! The insurance people had just quoted the cost of repairing the damage Rosie had caused to the restaurant, and the Manageress wasn’t very happy. She could afford it that wasn’t the problem; the problem was that Rosie didn’t seem to care what problems she caused. The Manageress was furious with her. She came stamping across the field waving her lungeing whip angrily! I backed off hurriedly and let the Manageress and Rosie sort their own problems out. Rosie eyed the advancing human with misgiving. Something told her,
“That human’s going to hit me!” In truth the Manageress wouldn’t have hit anything with the whip unless all else had failed. But Rosie was convinced that the Manageress was intent on doing her harm. This was irrational because the Manageress had never hit her in the past. The Manageress had no intention of ever touching Rosie with the whip, let alone hitting her. It was a symbol to the mare that the Manageress meant business. Rosie let the Manageress get so close, then squealing in terror she ran across the field! The Manageress took off across the field after her fleeing horse. The long thong on the end of her lungeing whip streamed out behind her like some sort of tail! This looked curious I can tell you. In a moment of pure madness I THOUGHT,
“I never knew the Manageress had a tail!” Then it dawned on me that the tail was not a tail, but the thong on her whip.
Rosie stood on the other side of the field in a sorry state. She was shaking uncontrollably from nose to tail! Her breathing was rapid and shallow and her eyes were like saucers in their sockets as she faced the Manageress. Rosie was almost sobbing!
“Put that bloody thing down!” she pleaded. It must be understood that the Manageress had not threatened Rosie in any way with the whip. She had even stopped waving it. The whip pointed towards the ground with the thong curled around the shaft, and the end in the Manageress’s hand. In a normal situation this would have signalled to a horse that the whip was to be used as a directional tool only. Rosie knew this but something from way back in her life told her otherwise. The Manageress not understanding Rosie’s fear kept hold of her whip. Rosie lost all control! She screamed!
“Put that bloody whip down!” The Manageress was so surprised by Rosie’s outburst that she dropped the lungeing whip on the grass. Before she could retrieve it however, Rosie had kicked it far out of reach.
“What are you on about Rosie? You know I wouldn’t hit you with the whip. It was meant to show you that I meant business.” The Manageress said quietly. Rosie almost choked on her reply.
“No, not you, not you, someone, someone else. I’ve a distant memory of someone cutting me raw with a lungeing whip.”
“Rosie, you lived all your life in my yard. I never hit you, let alone cut you raw with it!” I must explain for anyone that doesn’t know, that the term “cutting a horse raw” means that the rider or driver whips the horse until the horse can’t stand any more and is pleading for mercy. It’s a horrid practise and I’m happy to say that the Manageress did not, and I repeat this, DID NOT! Ever practise this on any of her horses. This fact left the Manageress asking herself how Rosie had experienced anything like this? She thought,
“Rosie was never a driving horse. So how on earth could she ever experience being cut raw? I have never actually hit a horse with the whip. All right I may have threatened it, but I’ve never done it!” The Manageress asked Rosie about her experiences.
“I remember being harnessed in a team of horses. Our driver was a cruel man who was known for his dreadful treatment of horses. I don’t know why they let him loose. Anyway, we were driving along a road quite happily one day. This man was being taught to drive with another team. The instructor let him go on around the course on his own! I remember feeling terrified at this news! As we set off the man flogged the living daylights out of all of us! The whip came down again and again! We were at full gallop and he still cut us raw! Some of the horses, for there were four in the team started complaining. This only made the man more angry with us! He cracked the whip harder and harder across our backs! I understand that the proper method of driving is not to touch the horse with the whip at all. But we were getting touched with it! Not touched, abused with it!” The Manageress hugged Rosie.
“I would never hit you with the whip. You never drove a yard in your life! So I don’t know where you got this story from. I believe you because you wouldn’t lie about that. Anyway your body language tells me it must be true.” She called me over to her.
“Hey Jinja! Come over here a minute mate! I’ve got a question for you!” I trotted over to the Manageress wondering what she could want with me? I didn’t cause the damage to her restaurant! When I reached her the Manageress asked,
“Jinja, can you explain what Rosie means when she says she has been whipped by a man while she was in a driving team?” I told her as much as I knew about Rosie’s memories of being in a horsebox on her way to Suffolk from Manchester.
“Wait! Hang on! I’m confused. So Rosie’s had a brain transplant sort of thing. Her brain has been put into the body of a healthy horse?” the Manageress asked.
“I’m sure I don’t know, and neither does Rosie, do you love?” I asked. Rosie shook her head.
“No, if I did then I’d feel a lot better. But logic tells me that brain transplants can’t happen. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions as to who or what caused this to happen. All I know is what I’ve told you.” Rosie replied.
“So you have some of another horse’s memories?” the Manageress asked.
“Well, yes I must have.” Rosie replied. The problems Rosie had caused in the restaurant had flown straight out of the Manageress’s mind it seemed. I knew that the Manageress thought of her horses as part of her Family. She had been extremely upset when Rosie passed away. The Manageress had said that she would never get another Irish Draft horse. But she had one, two in fact. Ellen still lived in the yard. Rosie rested her head on the Manageress’s shoulder as best she could. I could see she was shaking violently. The Manageress noticed this too.
“Hey Rose’, what’s wrong?” Rosie suddenly raised her head and screamed in terror!
“Get Domino away from me!” The Manageress was now confused more than ever.
“What do you mean Rosie? Domino’s nowhere near you. Come to think of it I’ve not seen her in days,” she said. Rosie’s eyes were full of fear and terror!
“Domino’s going to harm me in some way Jinja!” Rosie yelled.
You will probably be asking one, or both of two questions by now. One, why was Rosie asking me to get Domino away from her, if Domino wasn’t even within sight? And two, has Rosie totally flipped? The answer to one of those questions is, no Rosie has not flipped. She could feel the bad vibes that Domino was creating. In another part of the yard, at that very moment, Domino was saying some unprintable things about Rosie and myself. I couldn’t know this because I couldn’t hear, but Rosie could and it frightened her. She told us as much.
“I don’t know, these horses get stranger and stranger with every day that passes.” The Manageress said. Rosie was furious!
“Are you implying that I’m strange human?” She shrieked.
“No, No that was just me thinking aloud that’s all.” The Manageress replied. Rosie wasn’t convinced. She laid back her ears and snapped at the Manageress almost driving her attack home! I threw myself at Rosie managing somehow to knock her down! This might be said to be impossible considering Rosie’s advantage in terms of sheer size and power. But there’s always the element of surprise, and it’s said that the larger they are, the harder they fall. This was true in Rosie’s case. Rosie’s teeth missed their intended target and her jaws snapped shut on thin air, while her body fell sideways and crashed onto the grass with me on top of it. Rosie screamed obscenities at me as she fell. The Manageress looked on wondering what had happened. From the launch of the attack on the Manageress to the time I brought Rosie down was about one and a half seconds!
Rosie lay on the grass squealing with rage and terror!
“What the hell do you think you were doing Jinja?” she yelled.
“Saving the Manageress from a possible long stay in hospital!” I yelled back. Rosie kicked and thumped me a good deal.
“Get off me Jinja!” she yelled.
“No, not until you promise me you’ll leave the Manageress alone!” I replied.
“That human said I was strange, that I was strange! Jinja, she keeps asking me who I am, why this or that happens, what does this mean? What does that mean? I can’t stand it! Can’t you tell her that if I could tell her I would, but I can’t Jinja, I can’t! I can’t because I don’t know! I don’t know anything for sure!” Rosie sobbed. I released Rosie and stood up. Rosie was so weak from emotion that she had difficulty getting to her feet. Eventually she managed to stand however. The Manageress had heard every word that Rosie had said.
“You see Rosie dear, things like this don’t happen usually. It’s human nature to ask questions and to want to get to the bottom of something like this. Humans have a problem with accepting anything out of the ordinary without question. You passed away, and now you have returned. We think it’s you anyway. How can this happen? You say that it is our love for you and your love for us that keeps you alive. You may be right, I don’t know. What I do know is that we in the house and Jinja in particular feel a lot better for having you back with us.” Rosie replied:
“Let’s leave it unexplained shall we. I can’t explain what happened. You humans, who seem to be able to explain most things can’t explain it, so let’s leave it.” The Manageress walked away thinking hard about what she’d heard. For myself I don’t know what brought Rosie back to me. Nor do I know how long she’ll stay with me. But I’m grateful for every minute I have with her.
“While you have a good thing don’t question it.” I thought. But I don’t blame the Manageress or any other human for questioning what to them must have been a very strange thing indeed. Very few humans now just accept what happens to them. I suppose it’s not the human way of doing things.
Rosie and I are still together. The humans that look after us have stopped asking why she came back to us the way she did. I don’t know what the Manageress or any other human believes, for me though, well, I don’t know. Perhaps it is like Rosie said.
“Your love for me keeps me alive.”
Domino never got her “answers.” She’s still wondering till this day what or who brought Rosie back, and whether Rosie’s a spirit or not. I guess that’s a question for every horse and human to answer in their individual ways. I can’t say much about anything because I don’t know and never will, after all, I may be in a family with humans but I’m still only a horse, I can’t forget that.
I hope that no horse or human will be upset unduly when they read this account of one of the most distressing chapters in the life story of the occupants of the yard. I’m glad I haven’t got to tell it again. It would be too upsetting a second time. I have to thank the Manageress, Clover, Ruby and of course Rosie for helping me get through it. See you again some time.
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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