Hi, Beyancca here. Yes, I know I didn’t want to tell the last story when Jinja offered it to me, but now, well, I’ve changed my mind.
“Why not? Come on Beyancca, don’t be a wimp!” I thought:
“After all, Jinja did it and he was not used to story telling.” Well, are you all sitting comfortably? Well, I’ll begin. Oh no! I’m sounding old fashioned aren’t I, forget that! Start again Beyancca!
What’s happened recently? Jinja’s told you most of what has happened. I’ve been left to pick through the scraps from the end of the last story, thanks Jinja! No, I’m not really feeling that way, sorry Jinj’.
I’m lying on a straw bale as I dictate this. I never stand if I can help it. I’m lazy you might say. But I’m determined that I’m not going to be like most horses. I mean, you never see a horse lying down do you? well not often. I’m not scared of things happening to me if I lie on bales of straw. I know horses are vulnerable if they lie for too long. But I’ve never come to harm yet and I’m not likely too as long as I am cared for in a stable yard. I am feeling the joy of summer. It’s a wonderful day outside and I’m going out there in a bit. The Manageress hasn’t got any work for me today. That’s unusual, I seem to be in demand. A lot of riders like me. I don’t really know why, I’m not as experienced as some horses. Enough of that, I’m bored with it.
What’s happening at the moment? I
can see that Misty’s half asleep, Fleur’s begging a human to give her a polo
mint, and I can’t stand polo mints.
Digby’s flat out on a straw bale just like me, Candy and
“Wow that feels good! You can stay as long as you like.” I think as the human strokes me some more. He rubs my ears and I rest my head on his shoulder and close my eyes. The human strokes me some more and then leaves.
“Hey! Don’t go! I was enjoying that!” I yell. The human takes no notice and walks on. I am now seriously annoyed and kick my door with all my force! One of The instructors comes sweeping round the corner and yells at me.
“Beyancca!” I reply:
“Yes and what can I do for you?” The instructor gets very annoyed with me for this and yells something about me being a spoilt horse with no manners, I can’t believe what I’m hearing!
“Fleur’s the bad mannered horse, not me!” I protest. Fleur squeals at me to:
“Shut up Beyancca!” While the instructor stamps off in a raging fury. I unbolt my door and walk out into the yard. As I pass Fleur she attempts to bite me!
“Hey Fleur! Stop it!” Fleur gives me a disgusted stare and turns her back on me. You can’t please everyone can you? I’m still chewed up about Clover and Rosie’s passing. I can’t get my head around re-incarnation, or anything else Jinja told me. I’m still feeling bad for coming on at Jinja. I shouldn’t have done it! It’s dishonourable! But I couldn’t help myself! It just happened! I return to my box and look at my timetable. No work for the next few hours, good. I walk up to the top field and settle down to narrating my story.
I am flopped on the grass while I narrate this. Hmmm where shall I start? I haven’t got anything really important to tell you about. Oh yeah, there is something, I just remembered something that happened a few days ago! It’s funny now I think about it. But it wasn’t at the time. Well, it all started last Wednesday. I had been tacked up and was standing in the yard waiting for my rider. We were due to go on a hack. I could see that the day was warm and that the hack would be a pleasant one. Or that was what I thought. My rider was the worst ever! I mean, I can take novice riders, I have no problem there. But a novice that’s also a pain in the, well, you know, is a sorry prospect for any horse. Rosie would have left the country if she had to deal with this human! I’ve got nothing against larger people before you start! But this human’s dimensions were almost more than I could comprehend! He was the largest, clumsiest, rudest most thoughtless human imaginable. All right! I’ll admit that is a bit of an overstatement, but it sounds good on paper doesn’t it? Well, there was this human. He was large, rude and thoughtless. I looked at him and decided to see what he was like. Horses cannot make judgements just like that. Well, they’re not supposed to. I’ve seen Fleur and Crofter refuse to carry a few humans. But I wasn’t the type then to do it, but now, well, I just might you know. After the time this human gave me I’m qualified to refuse anyone! Well, this male human decided that he would like to mount.
“All right, fine, no problem.” I thought as he tried unsuccessfully to get his foot into the stirrup. Short of dropping to my knees I couldn’t do anything to help. The stupid human started cursing and swearing. The Manageress got annoyed with him and told him in no uncertain terms that he would be thrown off the premises if he carried on like that. The man, for that’s what I think older human males are called, started swearing at me! I hadn’t done anything to harm him! Words I didn’t know the meanings of came from the man! The Manageress soothed me as the man got more and more annoyed. In the end the Manageress gave him a leg up. But the stupid human had said time and time again that he was an expert rider, oh yeah mate! I’ll believe that! Not! The Manageress had taken him on his word however. She had no reason to doubt him. But I knew, yes I knew that this male human was a lot less than an expert. The Manageress couldn’t be blamed for her mistake. She hadn’t met this idiot before. Once the man was sitting on my back I realised how heavy he was.
“I’ll not be able to go above a jog with this clumsy oaf on me!” I thought. I tried to tell the Manageress that the situation was very serious indeed. The Manageress told me to try the human out for size. I thought:
“I know he’s too large for me!” but said nothing. I found that the Manageress was right. I could work with this buffoon on my back. But he was so annoying! He would fiddle with the reigns so I didn’t know where to turn. In the end I stopped and put my nose down to some grass. I chomped contentedly at the lush green foodstuff for a few minutes while the Manageress assessed the situation. I turned my head towards the Manageress and tried pleading with her.
“This human’s a sod! I can’t work with him!” I COULD SEE THAT THE Manageress was seeing that our “friend” wasn’t so expert after all. I had a crafty plan.
“Give this bloody human what he wants. I’ll be as unpredictable as possible and see how he likes it!” I thought. So I played up big time! I bucked and reared until the Manageress had to hold me down with force!
“Hey Beyancca, come on dear, calm down a bit.” She said. I had no intention of calming down! I suddenly shot off towards the river. I ran right to the edge and stopped dead! The human flew over my head in a beautiful arc and landed smack in the middle of the river. He landed with a huge “SPLASH!” I was laughing so hard I could hardly stand. The Manageress after seeing that the human in her care was none the worse for wear collapsed also.
“Ha! Ha! Fixed you!” I whooped. The enraged human strode up to me and clouted me across my nose with the riding crop he had grabbed from the Manageress before he left the yard. I say grabbed because he just took it without consulting the Manageress as to whether he would need to use a riding crop with me. This irresponsible behaviour by humans really does nothing to improve their image with us horses. The Manageress had been driven to distraction by this human’s antics. But her professional mind stopped her from displaying her outrage at seeing one of her horses clubbed around its nose with a riding crop. As for me I squealed with pain and lashed out at the human. The man took four hurried paces backwards, lost his balance and fell in the water.
“Serves you right!” I thought. The Manageress dismounted from her horse and came over to me. She examined my nose carefully. I felt her fingers gently pressing on the fur making sure that the skin underneath was undamaged. I squealed as she touched the bruised part.
“Sorry Beyancca.” She said. The Manageress then turned her attention towards the man who had pulled himself out of the water. The human looked unfit for anything, let alone riding. I looked at the man with pure raging hatred. The Manageress noticed this and commented on it.
“Beyancca’s angry with
you.” The Man turned away and squelched
off. The Manageress took hold of my
reigns and led me alongside her horse. I
jogged along feeling very tired. The
Manageress made her horse walk at my pace.
Very slow. I stopped. The field was spinning faster and
faster! Suddenly it turned
upside-down. I lost my balance and
crashed onto the grass! I felt terrible. The Manageress stopped her horse and
dismounted. She knelt down beside me and
shook my shoulder. I whimpered with
misery. The Manageress produced the now
famous mobile phone from her pocket and punched in a number. She spoke to the person on the other end and
requested that my box be cleaned out and fresh straw be put in it. She then phoned the vet and spoke at length
to him. The Manageress came out of her
technological conference and told me that I was suffering from sunstroke. I didn’t know what sun stroke was, all I knew
was I felt awful. I struggled to my feet
and stood there swaying alarmingly. The
Manageress instructed her horse to lean against me to support me. I then realised who the Manageress’s horse
The loose box had never been so welcoming. I flopped onto a straw bale and closed my eyes. I felt hot and cold all at the same time. I got to the point where I couldn’t stand anyone touching me! I would cry out if a human stroked me, or if a horse nuzzled me. The heat of contact was too much. I shivered and shook my way through a week of hell! My condition upset many horses as well as humans because they couldn’t touch me. Even Domino had a change of heart. Ever since Mac and I had become friends, she had hated me. But she came and visited me and felt my pain like the rest of the horses did. Domino had her fair share of problems and she could see that the problems were not just confined to her, other horses had them also. Mac came to visit me on the fifth day of the week of hell. This brightened up the day for me. Mac was the first horse to hug me since the sun stroke had set in. I realised that it didn’t hurt. The pain had gone and I could enjoy physical contact once again. I had missed a good stroke or a hug. Mac rubbed my nose with hers. I rubbed back and Mac laughed.
“You’re on the mend Beyancca.” She said. I smiled, that was strange to me also. For a week I hadn’t known what a smile was. I had felt anti-social.
The first day I walked out into the yard after my recovery was a joyful event. Just the feeling of the concrete under my hooves after what seemed like ages of straw was wonderful. I was back working a fortnight after my collapse. I felt better than I had for a long time. For the first time in months it felt good to be alive. I suddenly had an uncontrollable urge to run! I took off across the fields and didn’t stop until I was swimming the river. I swam and swam until I was tired. Then I scrambled out onto the bank and stretched out on the grass. I had to be careful, or I would be back to square one with the sunstroke. After five minutes I swam back down the river towards the yard and climbed out into Coquin’s field. Coquin looked at me and smiled.
“Good to have you back.” He said.
“Thanks.” I replied. Coquin gave me some bad news about Cleo then.
“The Manageress tried to put Cleo and me together. But we’re in the field with the Field horses and Cleo was beaten up.” I knew what Coquin meant when he said the Manageress had put him and a mare “together.” I felt rage towards the Field horses.
“Why do they do this all the time?” I asked. Coquin looked mystified.
“Search me.” He replied. Jinja thumped me on the shoulder then.
“Hey Beyancca!” he yelled.
“Hello Jinja.” I replied. Jinja nuzzled my shoulder.
“I’m pleased to see you back on your feet.” He said. I walked back to the yard with him. We clopped along the road while we chatted.
“You had the same thing as what I DID.” Jinja said.
“What? Sunstroke?” I asked.
“Yeah, that’s right.” Jinja replied. We had reached the yard by now and were stopped by Domino. She rubbed her nose against mine. I thought:
“You’re changing your spots Domino.” I noticed that Mac wasn’t at Domino’s heels. I wondered if Domino had rethought her methods of Mac’s education. I nuzzled and thumped Domino until she cried out.
“Hey Beyancca! Cool it a bit my dear.” I stopped bashing her when the Manageress stepped in.
“Come on Beyancca, stop bashing Domino. She’s not a punch bag, even if you are being friendly.” She said. Domino thumped me back. This rough and tumble made me feel that Domino was changing beyond all recognition. I went in search of Cleo.
I found her in a very bad mood in her box. She swore viciously as she limped over to meet me.
“The bloody Field horse! I’ll bloody kill him!” she fumed. Cleo limped about looking very sorry for herself. Cleo’s eyes were full of pain!
“That horse smashed my leg!” she gasped. I stared at her.
“What? Smashed your leg Cleo?” I asked dumbly.
“Yeah, that’s what I said Beyancca!” she snapped. We didn’t know then how close to her actual problem we were. We didn’t know then that the Field horse’s madness would lead to months of torment for Cleo. The Manageress came to take to the vet.
“Stay with me Beyancca!” Cleo whimpered. I saw she was really scared.
Cleo, the Manageress and I made slow progress towards the lorry. Digby was waiting for us. It seemed that Cleo had a real fan club. So the Manageress loaded three horses into the lorry. We drove towards the vet’s place with Cleo drugged up to her eyeballs on morphine.
We arrived in the midday heat. Digby and I were led to loose boxes as we refused to leave Cleo. Cleo was led into the vet’s place. We saw nothing more until she came out after her operation.
I will hand over to Cleo for this part because I can’t say for sure what went on during her operation.
“I was led into the strange room with the rubber flooring. The vet then stuck a needle in my neck. By this time my leg was aching like hell! I felt awful. My vision suddenly went fuzzy and I flopped onto the rubber matting. I was winched into the theatre and my legs were tied to posts to stop me from kicking the vets. Well, three legs were tied to the posts while my smashed leg was free and drooped uselessly. I’m sorry about this, but I have to describe what happened next. The vet then opened up my leg and took a look at the damage caused when the Field horse had a go at me. The bone was smashed right through! The vet stared at the damage in horror and consulted the Manageress about what she should do. I knew that horses were put to sleep if they broke their legs. I was scared that this might happen to me! I would find out soon what my fait was going to be. I waited for ages. The vet and the Manageress had a long talk. Then the VET RETURNED.
She called to another human.
“Hey Peter! I’ve got a problem you might be able to solve.” The human named Peter came into the operating theatre and offered his services. I then heard something very strange indeed! After looking at my injury Peter said:
“There is something we can
try. It’s a treatment developed in
“Surgeon had no way of fixing broken limbs because there were no plaster casts available. He got an idea one-day from seeing the spokes on carriage wheels. He developed this idea and used the spokes to hold the ends of the broken bone together. One day a few months later a patient of his came to him saying that they thought they had turned the screw that operated this contraption the wrong way. The surgeon noticed that the leg he had operated on was slightly longer than the other. When he asked the patient how long he had been doing this, the patient said about four weeks. “ I was bemused by all this and so was the Manageress. The vet and Peter had a long chat and decided that they would try this with me. In short the vet took all the smashed bone out of the wound and made sure all was ready for the next stage. The two ends of bone were now about three centimetres apart. The vet then asked Peter to take over. Peter fiddled with wires and metal for a long time. I couldn’t feel much, I couldn’t feel anything in fact, and I could hear what was said. Peter launched off into a technical description of the work he was doing. It seemed that Peter helped out human patients who had broken legs. I asked myself what he would be doing in the vet’s place? The answer became clear. Peter wanted to see if medicine developed for humans could do the same thing for horses. I heard that he had owned a horse that had to be put to sleep after it had broken its leg in a fall. Peter told the vet that he had been so distressed after his horse had died that he looked at ways of making sure that the same thing did not happen to another. By this time the operation was almost complete. I was released from my moorings and carried back into the strange room again. I woke up gradually from the doping drugs.
To say I felt sick would be an understatement. When I woke from the operation I felt ill, I
was disorientated, my leg was sore and my mouth was as dry as the
“Why are they holding me down? What the hell’s going on?” I thought. It appeared that the humans didn’t want me to put any weight on my damaged leg. I was eventually carried out into the sunlight and placed on a low loader of all things! I thought:
“I’m not a steam roller you know!””
I’M HANDING BACK TO BEYANCCA NOW, IT’S HER STORY AFTER ALL.
It seemed like several millennia had passed since Cleo had disappeared into the vet’s place. She came out after a long time and was placed on an industrial sized low loader. This had to be done because on no account should Cleo put any weight on her leg until it had been lengthened. You see, one of her legs was three centimetres shorter than the other three. Cleo was strapped down and we were led out and loaded back into the lorry. So Digby, Cleo and I were separated for the journey back to the yard. When we reached it the low loader with it’s unusual cargo stopped in a field. Cleo was lifted off and placed on the grass lying on her side. The low loader then departed. We were led out of the horse lorry thing and were told by the Manageress that we weren’t to go into the field with Cleo.
“Why not?” Digby asked.
“You’ll tread on her.” The Manageress replied. Digby was incensed.
“What! Cleo’s my girl friend! I wouldn’t do anything of the sort! Tread on her, who do you think I am?” Digby shouted. The Manageress sighed and turned away to walk back to her house. The moment she was out of sight we broke her rules and entered Cleo’s field. I saw a husk of a horse lying on the grass. Cleo looked very sorry for herself. There was another thing; she had a thing on her leg that looked like a pair of wheels from one of the Manageress’s carriages! I asked myself why the Manageress would dismantle her carriage. I supposed that her horses were very important to her, so she would do anything for them, even go so far as to dismantle her carriage. But why? Why would Cleo be wearing part of the carriage? I tried talking to Cleo.
“Hey Cleo dear, can you hear me dear.” I ventured. Cleo opened her eyes and looked blearily at me. She tried to speak but failed. Her eyes said all she wanted to say.
I knelt beside her and whispered:
“What happened in the vet’s place?” Cleo shook her head and I left it. She didn’t know or didn’t want to tell me, one or the other. Cleo tried to speak once again.
“I, I can’t say what happened for sure.” She whispered. Digby looked tortured.
“I can’t watch her go through this!” he whispered. I thought:
“I know this might be blunt Digby, but, you’ll have to get used to it because she’ll be like this for three months.” I spoke my mind. Digby snorted.
“And you’re an authority on that are you!” he snapped. Cleo heard this and tried to defend me.
“No Digby, no, don’t say that dear. Leave Beyancca alone. She’s right, they’ve said three months of hell!” I looked at Digby.
“You must help her Digby. Give her all the love you can.” I said. Digby looked at his girl friend with pain in his eyes.
“Don’t look at me like that Digby.” Cleo pleaded. Digby knelt on the grass and laid his head on Cleo’s shoulder. Cleo’s left leg stuck out uselessly. Cleo rubbed back against Digby’s nose.
“I love you Digby, we’ll get through this.” She said. The Manageress then came back. She stared at us and then lost her temper!
“Digby! Beyancca! Get out of there!” she screamed. We ran! We watched what happened next from a safe distance. The Manageress knelt down beside Cleo and seemed to turn a nut on the contraption thing on Cleo’s leg. This made Cleo cry out in pain! Digby yelled at the Manageress.
“Can’t you see you’re hurting her!” he yelled. The Manageress stroked Cleo and produced a syringe of liquid. She injected it into Cleo’s shoulder. Digby gasped:
“What the bloody hell’s she doing now?” I tried to calm him down.
“The Manageress is trying to help Cleo through her ordeal.” I said. Digby swore over and over again at the Manageress. The Manageress stood up to Digby and slapped him on his rump!
“Don’t ever swear at me like that again!” she shouted. Digby was crying.
“You say you’re helping Cleo, then, then you make her cry with pain! That’s not helping her!” he whimpered. The Manageress saw the cause of Digby’s anger. She attempted to explain what had gone on during Cleo’s operation.
“Look Digby, I’ll put it to you straight. Cleo’s going to be like this for a few months yet. Every time that nut is turned she’ll be in pain. That’s it. I can give her pain killers and I’ll do all that I can for her but you must let me do my job. You might feel that it is cruel to put her through pain. But it’s for the best.” Digby asked the inevitable question.
“What’s the alternative?” The Manageress looked him in the eye.
“she would be put to sleep.” She said. Digby almost passed out at the thought!
“Oh! I didn’t know that! I really didn’t realise it was this serious!” he stammered. The Manageress asked:
“Will you let me do what I have to? You know if you refuse I’ll do it anyway.” Cleo fought the tranquilliser to turn her head and plead with Digby. She said quickly,
“Let, let her do her Job Digby darling.” Digby switched his attention from the Manageress to Cleo.
“But you’re in pain.” He said.
“Blame the Field horse!” Cleo replied viciously. Digby took a few paces towards the prostrate horse. The Manageress stopped him.
“let Cleo recover in peace.” She said. Digby looked at Cleo.
“Cleo’s the best thing that’s happened to me.” He murmured. I looked at him.
“Look after her Digby.” I said. The Manageress checked on Cleo every hour. Cleo became bored very quickly.
Digby and I in the most part stayed with Cleo night and day. Sometimes Jinja helped out. The truth was that Jinja wanted to stay but Cleo told him that the rest of the herd needed him, and that she was not the only one. Mac came round once. She found the contraption on Cleo’s leg interesting.
“What does that thing do?” Mac asked. We explained about the bone stretching thing.
“Oh right. Is it painful?” Mac asked. Cleo’s expression told her volumes. Cleo replied through clenched teeth.
“Every time the Manageress turns the large red nut I go through the roof!” Just then the Manageress came to turn the red nut. Cleo watched her approach with visible dread.
“Oh no not again!” she whimpered. The Manageress stroked Cleo for a long time. She then reached for the hated and feared red nut. The Manageress turned it a quarter turn clockwise. Cleo stiffened, clenched her teeth and shut her eyes tightly! The Manageress hugged her until Cleo relaxed. Cleo panted as she fought to keep control of the pain.
“I’m looking forward to the time this bloody frame comes off!” she yelled. The Manageress left and Cleo swore over and over again to get rid of her stress. Mac stared at her.
“Cleo, don’t use those words.” She said. Cleo smiled at the foal.
“Sorry, but the pain’s awful.” She replied. Cleo rolled onto her back and thrashed about. She had to do this because she couldn’t actually stand. It looked hilarious, but there was no laughter in any of us. Cleo came to rest and closed her eyes.
“I’m going to sleep.” She said.
Two weeks later Cleo went through the harshest part of any recovery. This is the midway point. Where you’ve gone through so much but there’s just as much more to go through ahead of you. That day Cleo would have given up had it not been for our encouragement for her to keep going.
That day we woke to rain. Cleo was soaked through to her skin.
“Yuck! What a mess!” she fumed. You may ask why the Manageress kept Cleo out in a field when she could be in a loose box? The reason is this. In a loose box Cleo would be bored and other horses would not be able to visit her as often as they would, or she would like. Cleo shook herself as best she could.
“What a day to be immobile.” She fumed. The Manageress came and put up a tent over Cleo to stop her from getting wetter than she already was. Cleo watched the Manageress’s curious behaviour.
“Thanks for that.” Cleo said. The Manageress rubbed Cleo’s nose with her hand. Cleo bashed back as hard as she could.
“All right Cleo!” The Manageress said. Cleo stabilised until the time when she had to have her red nut turned once more.
The Manageress came over towards Cleo and Cleo rolled away trying to keep the Manageress from her task. But the Manageress grabbed Cleo and turned the nut. Cleo thrashed and squealed with rage and pain!
“I hate you! I hate you all! You’re all scum of the Earth!” She came to rest panting for breath through Clenched teeth and shaking violently. Cleo began to cry.
“I can’t stand any more of this! I want to end it! I wan’a stop now!” she wept. Digby rubbed his nose against Cleo’s.
“Don’t give up Cleo my love.” He pleaded.
“Put your anger into getting better.” I suggested. Cleo relaxed.
“Only three more weeks of this hell!” she said. I then noticed that the spokes of the contraption were cutting into her skin. Blood stained her fur. I looked at my friend.
“Hang on in there Cleo.” I urged. Cleo smiled suddenly,
“I will, I will hang on, for you Digby, for you Beyancca and every other horse. I’m not going to let that Bloody Field horse get the better of me!” she yelled.
Cleo had suffered pain and torment for seven weeks. The day the frame came off Cleo went to the vet’s place. But the vet didn’t take the frame off. I supposed he wanted Cleo to be free as soon as the frame comes off. Cleo waited in the field with Digby, Jinja, Mac and myself. The hated frame looked worse than ever. The vet started snapping off the frame. The vet did this with Cleo under light sedation. Cleo watched the proceedings. She winced from time to time. Soon the frame fell off. Cleo’s cuts from the spokes of the frame were dressed and the vet made a fuss of her. Cleo bore this attention pretending that she wasn’t really enjoying it. But we knew different. The truth was Cleo was lapping it up! The vet roared off in his landrover. Cleo ran about displaying all the energy she had stored up for seven long and often painful weeks. Digby was so happy that if we hadn’t known better, we would have thought it was he who had the frame removed that day. He hugged Cleo and she thought about returning it. But she was nervous and shy of showing her true emotions towards Digby in front of Jinja and myself.
“Show what you feel Cleo.” Jinja suggested. Cleo’s eyes said all she couldn’t say out loud to Digby. Digby ran off, Cleo followed with amazing speed considering her enforced stay in a field. Cleo and Digby splashed into the river and swam downstream. They played about like foals. Cleo hadn’t been allowed to stand on her own four feet for a month and a half. I walked back to the main yard to talk to one of the newest arrivals in the yard, and no I’m not talking about Mac. The horse I mean is stabled next to Ruby. Her name’s Whinny would you believe! She’s all right. I passed her box and saw she was eating straw. I yelled at her.
“Hey Whinny!” the poor horse jumped a mile and almost fell out of her box.
“Who? What? Who are you?” Whinny asked.
“My name’s Beyancca.” I replied. Whinny looked at me through the masses of hair in front of her eyes. I wondered how she managed to see where she was going. Whinny was a grey horse and had a similar build to Rosie. I asked her what breed she was.
“Irish Draft.” Whinny replied. Whinny was only one and a half years old, so she wasn’t fully-grown. I unbolted her door and Whinny watched me.
“What are you doing? The Manageress will go mad if I get out!” I smiled at her.
“Whinny dear, it’s not like that here. The Manageress doesn’t mind if we walk about. As long as we don’t destroy the place it’s all right.” Whinny hesitated:
“I don’t know Beyancca.” She said.
“Come on, don’t be a wet blanket Whinny.” I urged. Poor Whinny looked out through her mass of mane at the frightening open space of the yard. She put one foot in front of the other and came out of her box into the yard. I left her door open so she could return to her box if she wanted to. I walked slowly keeping pace with Whinny. I wondered why she had been called “Whinny.” I asked her.
“I don’t know really. I was just called Whinny by my first owner and it’s stuck ever since.” She explained. We had reached the driving yard where Jingle, Cleo, Fudge, Domino and Carmen lived. As we turned into it I saw the Manageress applying some special cream stuff to Fudge’s eye. If you remember in the last but one story Jinja had said that Fudge had rubbed her eye so much after getting a bit of dust in it that she had caused it to get sore. Now Fudge was coming to the end of her treatment. When Whinny saw the Manageress she displayed the reason why she had been given the name she had. Whinny whinnied in terror and ran back to her box fearing that the Manageress would come and punish her for escaping. The fact that all the other horses were wandering about in front of her didn’t seem to occur to Whinny. The Manageress tore off after Whinny, more out of concern for her than anything else. This led to a chase developing. Whinny ran for her life, while the Manageress chased her to stop and talk with her, nothing more. Whinny was a heavy horse. If she crashed into you, you knew it! She was fleeing along the passage between two boxes when Mac shouted to her to be careful because she was standing in front of her and couldn’t move to get out of her way! Whinny crashed head long into Mac and fell over her! Mac was thrown off her feet and landed on the concrete with Whinny on top of her! The Manageress stared at the two entangled horses and ran off to get assistance.
Mac had been knocked unconscious by half a tonne of flying muscle and bone. Whinny had fairly minor injuries compared to Mac’s. Whinny struggled to her feet, forgetting that she had crushed Mac and now was treading on her. The Manageress saw this and she did something that I don’t think she could ever do again. I think they call it super human strength or something like that. But the Manageress threw Whinny to one side, totally freeing Mac. One human cannot lift half a tonne without practise. I couldn’t imagine the Manageress taking up weight lifting!
The Manageress looked down at the foal lying inert on the concrete. She thought:
“Any moment Domino will come chasing round to see where Mac’s got to.” The Manageress worked quickly. She and a couple of her stable Lads checked Mac over and found only a very shell-shocked foal. There were a couple of bruises here and there but nothing serious. But Mac was still out cold. It had been four minutes or more since the accident and I could see that the Manageress was becoming concerned. Mac was breathing, that was reassuring for us. The Manageress picked Mac up and carried her into the barn. She was looking for a loose box where the occupant of that box wouldn’t mind looking after Mac. Domino didn’t have a box at the moment because she was still out in the fields after Mac’s birth. The Manageress laid Mac on the large straw bale in my box. She then came to inform me of what she had done.
“Look Beyancca, I’ve put Mac in with you because,,,” I stopped her.
“I’ll look after her, don’t worry.” I reassured her. The Manageress put her arms around my neck and hugged me.
“I know you’ll look after her Beyancca. You’re a good friend to Mac aren’t you.” The Manageress said.
“I try my best.” I replied. The Manageress then went in search of the cause of Mac’s accident. She found Whinny cowering in her box. The Manageress then found she had a dilemma. Should she reprimand Whinny for her actions? Or should she try and reassure her. The Manageress knew that the root of the problem was that Whinny didn’t understand the workings of the yard. She decided to give Whinny a talking to but reassure her at the same time.
“Look Whinny, you’ve got to be more careful. We have foals walking round here you know, other horses have to be careful also. You’re not exempt from that.” Whinny protested:
“Do you think I wanted to crush that foal? If you think I did then you’re wrong!” she shouted. The Manageress retaliated:
“Don’t you shout at me Whinny!” Whinny lost her temper and struck out at the Manageress! The Manageress just managed to dodge the flying hoof! It missed her head by a fraction of an inch! She backed off and was stopped by a massive horse. The Manageress turned to see Dominic standing behind her.
“I’ll take over from here.” He said. Dominic strode into Whinny’s box and faced the furious horse.
“Don’t ever try that again.” He warned. Whinny did something stupid then. She challenged Dominic to a fight. Dominic’s response was to lift one huge fore foot and show her his massive hoof. Whinny didn’t continue her challenge. The sight of Dominic’s massive hooves put Whinny off trying anything like attacking him. She was afraid of getting kicked.
Meanwhile I returned to my box to check on Mac. The foal lay on the straw moaning that her head hurt.
“shh! Mac, don’t say anything. Keep your strength for recovery.” I said softly. Mac rested her head on the straw.
“I feel sick Beyancca.” Mac whimpered. Domino appeared then. Seeing that her foal was in trouble she questioned me as to what I had done to her! I told her sharply that I wasn’t the cause of Mac’s problems. I told Domino about Mac and Whinny’s meeting. Domino looked at Mac.
“She was knocked out?” she asked.
“Yeah, the Manageress wanted me to look after her until she was stable.” I replied. Domino took offence at this.
“Does the Manageress think I’m incapable of looking after my foal?” she asked crossly.
“No, No of course not! The Manageress had to put Mac in a box to keep her safe. She had to make sure that the occupant of the box would not be upset by Mac’s presence. As I am a friend of Mac’s the Manageress put her in my box. You haven’t got a box at the moment Domino, and the Manageress couldn’t find you.” Domino nuzzled Mac’s shoulder. The foal complained as Domino rubbed against her bruises. Domino’s eyes filled with tears as she saw Mac’s pain.
“Sorry Mac darling!” she sobbed. Mac looked at her mother.
“Whinny did this.” Mac said.
“Who the hell’s Whinny?” Domino asked harshly.
“She’s a new arrival in the yard. You’ve not heard of her because of this. I was talking to her and she told me she was frightened to walk about the yard because she thought the Manageress might beat her. When I told her this was not true and that she would be safe Whinny came out with me. All went well until she saw the Manageress. Whinny fled and crashed into Mac on route to her box. You know the rest Domino.” I replied. Domino looked at me.
“Look Beyancca, I, I have to apologise to you for the way I’ve treated you over the last few weeks.” She stammered. Misty snapped:
“So you have come to your senses and realised that Beyancca is not the nasty horse you thought she was!” Domino whimpered with misery. Mac struggled painfully off of the straw bale and stood up.
“I feel like I’ve been kicked by a horse!” she said. Candy said:
“If that was meant to be a joke Mac, it was a bad one.”
“Thanks.” Mac replied. Domino left my box and walked round towards the riding school. Mac and I walked slowly around the yard to let Mac loosen her stiffened limbs. We were walking past the covered street where Balugue lived when Mac suddenly squealed with Surprise!
“There’s a horse lying in the passage Beyancca!” I stopped and looked. Sure enough there was a horse lying in the passage. I walked in to take a look. Mac was too frightened to follow. I found one of the Field horses asleep in the passage between two rows of stalls. When I saw the Field horse I felt fear shoot through me. The Field horses were regarded as a traitorous herd without an elected leader or a law. I think the supposed leader of the Field horses has been written about before. But I think the term “Field horse” is more a description of the breed than the temperament of the horse. Well, it started out like that. Now the term was used as an insult and struck fear and terror into any horse that came across one of the Field horses. But here was one, asleep, harmlessly lying in the passage minding his own business. I’m of a fairly liberal mind and am willing to give any horse a chance. The problem we have with the Field horses is that we can’t always understand what they say. They speak a different language to us. I tried to communicate with this one.
“Excuse me! Are you asleep?” I asked. It was quite obvious to me that he was, but there’s no harm in asking at least one stupid question, after all it breaks the ice. The Field horse looked up at me and almost left the country!
“Who, what’s happening! Ay? Oh no! Who, Who the hell’re you?” he gabbled. I told him who I was and he scrambled to his feet apologising most sincerely for lying in my path.
“I’m not royalty you know.” I said pleasantly. The Field horse looked at me.
“You yard types don’t like us Field horses much do you.” He said.
“I know some of us have reservations about certain members of your herd.” I replied. The Field horse then said something that changed my views instantly.
“Our leader’s a shit!” I was shocked at his language, but I knew what he meant. I thought:
“Here’s a Field horse who does not like his leader. Perhaps he’s not been out with the leader of the Field horses yet. He’s only young, so perhaps he hasn’t been conditioned to hate the yard horses yet.” Mac stood back and watched us with fear and terror! She had heard that the Field horses had beaten up Cleo. If Cleo had been beaten up by one of these Field horses and Beyancca was Cleo’s friend, why would Beyancca be talking to one of these feared and mistrusted brutes? Mac asked herself this question and didn’t come to an answer she agreed with. Mac thought:
“I’m going to tell mum and Jinja about Beyancca, see what they have to say.”
Meanwhile the Field horse and I chatted a little more.
“Just because one of our number causes all the trouble here doesn’t mean to say we’re all bad!” the Field horse protested. I thought:
“There he goes again, defending himself when I haven’t said anything to him.” I tried to reassure the horse.
“Look, I’m not like those other horses. I’ll give you a chance.” I told him. Mac was incensed at this!
“Why the hell’s Beyancca making friends with this Field horse? She’s got to be working for the other side!” She thought. Mac couldn’t believe what her friend was doing. She called out to me:
“Hey Beyancca, what’re you doing talking to that Field horse. They’re bad, traitorous horses. I wouldn’t even pass the time of day with one!” The Field horse looked at Mac. I saw sadness in his eyes.
“You’re too young to be saying things like that.” He said. Mac strode boldly up to him and asked him a question.
“How much did you pay Beyancca to work for your side?” The Field horse stared at her in confusion.
“What? Who’s Beyancca?” Mac lost her cool.
“Beyancca’s the horse you’ve been talking to for the last ten minutes you fool!” The Field horse looked upset.
“What’s this about payment for work? I’m not evil! I’m not the leader of the Field horses, all right, I’m the same breed, but that’s all!” he was almost sobbing, poor fellow! Mac was unrepentant!
“You’re all traitorous!” this was obviously a word she had heard Domino use in connection with the term “Field horse.” The Field horse turned to me.
“What’s this little foal saying? She shouldn’t be saying things like that at her age. Why have you told her that about us?” I replied:
“I haven’t told her anything. I’m not her mother, Domino told her all this probably.” I looked at Mac.
“You’re being breedist Mac.” I said. Jinja then walked in. He stared at us.
“Why the hell are you two in here?” he asked angrily. Mac said:
“Beyancca’s been talking to the Field horses Jinja. I think she’s on their side.” Jinja turned towards me and snapped:
“I’ll talk to you later.” I thought:
“Even Jinja’s tainted with this breedist attitude.” I felt sick, I asked myself over and over again why some horses could not accept others from a different breed to themselves. I think this sort of thing is going on in human society as well. I think it went on in South Africa a few years back. I knew that Jinja was wrong! I liked this Field horse, from what I could see there was no bad feeling towards me. I am quite clearly not of his breed and he didn’t try to bite or kick me! I think that’s worth something. Perhaps it’s because he is young and I am young, the new generation type of thing. Jinja yelled at the Field horse:
“You’re rotten to the core so why don’t you sod off!” the Field horse actually cried. He could not see why Jinja was being breedist, he was, the Field horse was sure of it. Jinja and Mac walked out with Jinja making one final comment to me before he left.
“I want to speak to you about this Beyancca!” I ignored him. Jinja turned on me then! He whirled round and kicked me so hard that I ended up sprawling on the floor! The Field horse yelled at him to stop kicking me but Jinja took no notice. He kicked and beat me until I was exhausted.
“You were once my friend Jinja!” I thought. But I knew that the friendship was over now. I had found out that Jinja was a lot less broad minded than I first thought. Jinja still kicked and thumped me. Even Mac had a go once! Jinja yelled:
“YOU’RE A FIELD BITCH Beyancca!” I had got to the stage now where I couldn’t feel the pain of blows raining down on me. I could feel the impact of each kick but there was no pain any more. I could also hear the Field horse pleading with Jinja to stop hitting me. I must have blacked out then because I remember no more.
I regained consciousness in what felt like my box. My sadness was still with me and I burst into tears.
“How could anyone do that?” I asked out loud. Someone said:
“Quite easily!” I screamed as Jinja put the hoof in once more! I felt betrayed. How could a horse that everyone trusted to the ends of the earth do something like that? I decided I hated Jinja! I knew it would hurt him greatly if I told him so, that’s exactly what I did do!
“If you don’t stop doing this, I hate you, I’ll hate you forever!” I yelled. Jinja was enraged by my outburst. He stamped on me again and again! The Manageress found us then. She whipped Jinja off me and he ran off. The Manageress looked down at me.
“Why did Jinja come back?” she asked. I told her about the events leading up to my black out. The Manageress listened and became angry.
“Why? I know there’s mistrust between the Field horses and the yard herd. But why can’t this change? It takes only one horse to change their views for real change to take place.” I looked at the Manageress.
“I can’t forget what Jinja’s done.” I said. I struggled to my feet and looked around. I saw Digby looking at me. He unbolted his door and came towards me.
“I heard you had been talking to one of the Field horses.” He said. I nodded:
“Yes, I was talking to one.” I replied. Digby smiled.
“Carry on talking to them.” He said. Then I realised why he would say that.
“He’s one himself!” I thought. I hugged Digby tightly.
“You’re wonderful!” I said. Digby laughed slightly.
“I try to please.” He said. I nuzzled his shoulder. Jinja came back and stared at us.
“I can’t believe what I’m seeing! I can’t believe I considered Digby as a friend! He’s a Field horse!” he yelled. Digby said:
“You’ll see that all Field horses are not bad Jinja!” Jinja stormed off in a raging fury.
From that day on Jinja made it quite clear to all that would listen that I was on the side of the Field horses and that Cleo was about to be married to one. Domino, Whinny, Misty, Fleur, in fact all my friends turned against me. Some friends they are! The only horses who didn’t turn against me were Cleo, Digby, the Field horse who had unwittingly started this whole thing off, and Balugue. She stood by me and my friendship with the Field horse. But unknown to me and the rest of the horses something was going to take place that would change everyone’s view on “Field horses.”
The day of the great change dawned clear and bright. The sun was shining and the grass was green, and I’ll cut the crap and get on with the story, HA! HA! HA! Well, it was a fine day anyway. All the horses were going about their daily business. I had the usual mountain of work ahead of me. Two hacks, lungeing, vaulting etc. By the middle of the day I was hot and frustrated at the flies that kept invading my eyes and ears!
The time had come for the second hack of the day. There were a total of ten horses going out today. I recognised Jinja, Balugue, Fleur, Candy, Digby and Cleo among them. Then I saw my Field horse friend! I whinnied at him and he shouted back!
“Hey Beyancca!” He was not shy of showing his liking for me in front of those who despised him. The Field horse’s rider had a difficult job to keep control as the horse decided he would come to see me. We rubbed noses in front of all that thought it dishonourable for a yard horse to rub noses or even associate with a Field horse. But we didn’t care. The hack began. My rider was somewhat less of an expert, why do I get all the troublemakers? As I was saying, this rider was less of an expert than he would have liked to consider himself. I was left to work out my own pace.
“Yeehaa, loap!” I thought. Pulling out to the right I ran to the front of the ride and sped away making quite sure that the Manageress saw that her horse had control and that the rider didn’t have a bloody Clue! I ran as if my life depended on it! My rider fell off somewhere back there didn’t he? I don’t know. What I do know is that I came to rest without a rider. The Manageress was picking a human that looked like my rider up off the grass about fifty yards back. She pointed me out to the human and he came running over waving his arms in rage! He was shouting!
“You bloody cow Beyancca! Why did you throw me off?” The Manageress said:
“Beyancca didn’t throw you, you fell.” The Man caught up with me and started smacking me with the riding crop! I squealed and bucked! I charged off back to the yard not stopping until I reached my box. I stood on the straw shaking violently and panting hard! My heart was beating like a bass drum in my chest and I felt sick! I lay down in the straw and tried to sleep. I suddenly had an awful feeling that something dreadful was happening to one of the yard horses. I ran out of my box and fled with the hounds of hell at my heels! I ran back along the track to the place where the hacking party was riding by the river. I found them all shouting as Jinja’s rider along with Jinja was in the river! The Manageress had given up her usual mount to let another rider take Jinja. She was riding Balugue. Jinja was obviously having problems. The weight and thrashing of the rider was forcing him to have to swim extra hard to keep his head above water! The bloody human hadn’t got off and attempted to swim! The Manageress was yelling at him to do so but he ignored her. So Jinja was drowning! One time his head went under for a minute or so as he struggled to get to the bank! I noticed my Field horse friend standing beside me. He was watching the scene with disbelief.
“Why doesn’t the human get off Jinja’s back? If he doesn’t then Jinja’s going to drown!” he said. I was too horrified to reply.
The next thing I knew was the Field horse plunging into the water after Jinja! He swam out towards the floundering horse with powerful strokes that I watched with admiration. Balugue nudged me.
“He’s a bloody marsh horse!” she hissed. There was an electric buzz in the air rather like the one when you see the super hero appear in a movie and you know all’s going to be fine, but part of your mind is telling you that there is still danger. The Field horse reached Jinja and his stupid human rider. The Field horse’s human helped Jinja’s human onto his horse’s back. Then the Field horse turned back and swam to the bank. Depositing his cargo of two the Field horse went back in for Jinja who was so exhausted he had given up swimming and was in imminent danger of drowning. The Field horse took Jinja’s full weight across his back and raised his head to keep Jinja’s clear of the water. So Jinja was lying half across the Field horse’s back with his head on the Field horse’s neck. The Field horse put all his strength into getting the two of them back safely to the bank. He managed it, PHEW! The Manageress helped the two horses out of the water.
The Field horse stood shaking violently! Jinja was by no means free from the affects of the river. The Field horse was suffering psychological shock. He lay down on the bank and closed his eyes.
“Oh hell,” he moaned. I couldn’t really blame him. The Manageress phoned for a car to come and pick the two humans up, and for a horse transporter to pick up Jinja and the Field horse. When the transport arrived I made it quite Clear that I would like to go along with the Field horse. Fortunately for me the horse transporter was the three horse and not the two horse one. So two very wet and tired and one fairly fresh horse were loaded into the transporter lorry and taken back to the yard. When we arrived Jinja and the Field horse were turned out into a field to dry off. The Lad turned them out into the same field, lucky Jinja! The two horses walked about for a while and then faced each other. Jinja wanted to say something to the Field horse but his pride was stopping him. The Field horse waited quietly for things to unfold. Balugue came past then and made a comment that had Jinja spitting with fury!
“That Field horse would make a good herd leader.” Jinja ran across to Balugue and snapped at her! She dodged his teeth and fled back to her street. You see the Field horse didn’t want Jinja to thank him for saving his bacon, all he wanted was Jinja to apologise for saying what he did about Field horses. Comments like:
“Barbaric tribe, illiterate sons of cows, scum of the turf.” But Jinja would not retract any of those comments. Digby passed on his way back to his box, he said:
“You’ll come to your senses one day Jinja, and when you do you’ll be alone because all the horses will leave you and go somewhere else.” Digby was referring to the leadership of the herd in a round about way. The post was technically still open. For since Rosie’s passing Jinja’s been acting leader. There had to be a proper election before a new leader could be sworn in to office. I thought it would be a fine thing if a Field horse was leader of the yard herd. Jinja’s eyes burned with pathological hatred for the Field horse that had saved his life.
“I hate you!” Jinja screamed. The Field horse replied:
“Fine, just remember what I did for you. I knew what you have said, what you have done in the past to me and my breed. I put all that aside and went in to save your life because you are a horse. I could have said:
“Ah well, Jinja’s hated me all along, so I won’t help him.” But I didn’t. I know the Field horse leader has done some pretty awful things to you and your friends, I’m sorry for that. But I have had nothing to do with that. Just because I’m the same breed as he is doesn’t mean that I’m like him in any way. Beyancca saw that. Why can’t you?” he asked. Jinja stared at the Field horse for a long time. The Field horse added:
“I used to hear that you were an easy going chap who would accept almost anyone Jinja, well why not me?” he asked quietly. I saw that Jinja was crying. The Field horse saw this also and made no comment. But he walked across and hugged the horse that had said so many awful things about him. Jinja was so overcome with emotion that he didn’t have the strength to fight the Field horse off. All the Field horse wanted was peace! Jinja rested his head on the Field horse’s shoulder. He could do nothing else because he was too weak. The Field horse supported him and kept him from ending up on the grass. Eventually Jinja recovered enough to stand on his own. The Field horse looked at his breed’s old enemy.
“I don’t want conflict Jinja.” He said. I walked over to the Field horse and hugged him.
“Oh hi Beyancca.” He said. I realised I was becoming quite attached to him. Jinja watched this in silence.
“You two are going to stay together.” He said. This was more for his own records than the Field horse’s or mine. We walked out of the field leaving Jinja to reflect on what the Field horse had said. The Field horse looked at me.
“It seems funny that we’ve been friends for ages, but I never told you my name, but I’ve known yours from the start.” He said. I asked him:
“What is your name?” The field horse looked at me.
“I have a French name, but that’s too hard to pronounce, and I don’t care for it much. I don’t really know. I only know my French name. You pick one, I’m not fussed.” I thought hard.
“How about Jamie? something like that?” I suggested. The Field horse nodded.
“Yeah, all right, Jamie then.” He said. So Jamie and I returned to the place where our friendship had taken off. The other Field horses watched us enter the barn.
“Where the hell have you Been Jamie!” one snapped.
“Oh, let me think. Out on a hack, saving Jinja’s life, mending the cancer of breedism, cementing my friendship with Beyancca. That sort of thing.”
“Rubbish!” another horse snapped. Jamie looked around him desperately. Now he had made friends with a horse from the “other side” he would be ousted from the Field horse herd. Jamie was a dissident from now on, an untrustworthy member of the Field horse breed who was not included in the herd because he had befriended a yard horse.
I could see the hostility starting. One of the horses took a pace forwards and kicked out at Jamie. Another spat insultingly in his direction.
“You can leave now Jamie. Leave with your half breed girl friend.” One said mockingly. Another said:
“Look Jamie, Beyancca’s not even a thoroughbred horse, she’s half-caste! Are you sure you want to pass on to your foals the stigma of being half-caste horses? In fact they’ll be third cast, if there is such a word. You see Jamie, it’s Beyancca, oh what a common name that is, who’s messing it up for you. But it is she who’s the half-caste; you can go and find a thoroughbred Field horse to settle down with. Don’t go with Beyancca!” Jamie looked at me. Another horse added:
“Stay and all will be fine. We’ll forget this little escapade. Go and we’ll hunt you down and kill you!” The Field horses were known for their violent tempers. Jamie hesitated.
“I’m going with Beyancca.” He said. With that he walked out of the barn never to return.
Now Jamie and I had a problem. The Manageress didn’t know about our situation. When she found Jamie out of his place she would put him straight back in to a dangerous situation, but she wouldn’t know she had until it was too late! I had to make sure that the Manageress didn’t accidentally assist one of her horses to his death. I then realised I had a big problem with communication. You see, Rosie had known how to make the Manageress understand her. I had no real means of communication with the humans. But I decided I could try and see where I got. I cornered the Manageress one day. She got annoyed with me because I wouldn’t let her go back to her work. I stood in front of her every time she tried to pass me.
“”Why are you acting like this Beyancca? What’s your problem?” I tried explaining it to her slowly so she could understand me.
“You know that Field horse that I’ve been friends with for ages? Well, don’t, what ever you do put him back with the others. They’ve threatened to kill him if he goes back.” I said. The Manageress knew horse talk, she had done for as long as I could remember. She said:
“So you mean that the other Field horses have rejected Jamie?”
“Yeah, and they’re being breedist in the extreme.” I replied. The Manageress looked across the yard to where Jamie was returning from a hack. She said:
“But he’s a Field horse. Other horses won’t like him amongst them.”
“Well they’ll have to get used to it won’t they!” I said forcefully.
“I make the decisions around here Beyancca!” the Manageress snapped back. I protested:
“But Jamie’ll die if you don’t separate him from the rest of the Field horse herd!” The Manageress replied:
“The other horses won’t like it Beyancca. Jamie’s only one out of I don’t know how many horses in my care. I must think of them as well you know, and putting a Field horse in with the yard horses is not a very good idea. Anyway the Field horses have done nothing for you yard horses in their lives, why do you suddenly want one to live in the yard with you?” I replied:
“To answer your first declaration that the Field horses do nothing to help us yard horses. Jamie saved Jinja only yesterday!” I reminded the Manageress of the events on the river bank.
“Jamie might have done that for personal gain Beyancca.” She said. I was exasperated!
“No! No! He did it because Jinja was in trouble and needed help! No other horses will go in the water as readily as a Field horse will they? So Jamie did so, he’s a Field horse. Jamie doesn’t care for the old feud. He wants peace between the two herds. Ask Jinja for his side of the story. But don’t be surprised if you get a very breedist response from him.” The Manageress walked off to speak to Jinja. I followed at a safe distance.
When I reached the barn where Jinja stayed I hid myself down a passage. I didn’t want the Manageress to see me snooping around. This is what I heard.
“Well Jinja, what’s this I hear about a Field horse saving your life?”
“I have to admit that he did.”
“You do know that now he’s done this for you he’s been isolated from his own herd don’t you Jinja?”
“The Field horses are not supposed to help the yard herd Jinja!”
“You mean to say that the Field horse would have to live in the yard with us?”
“Yes Jinja, he would.”
“No, I couldn’t have that!”
“The alternative is much worse. The Field horses despise Jamie for saving you Jinja! If you don’t let him in he’ll be killed by the Field horses!”
“No I couldn’t do that! The other horses wouldn’t allow it! I’d be the scum of the herd!”
“It sounds as if you already are.”
“Yes Jinja. The other horses have seen that Jamie is a decent Field horse.”
The truth was that the Manageress hadn’t spoken to the other horses in the yard. She had made this last part up to put pressure on Jinja to let Jamie in.
“No! They’d never say a thing like that. THEY’D NEVER LET A FIELD HORSE INTO THE YARD!” he yelled.
“Oh yes they would.”
“Over my dead body is that horse coming into the herd!”
“You’re breedist then Jinja.”
“Don’t you ever accuse me of being breedist!”
“But you are Jinja. We have equal opportunities you know.”
Jinja then said something unprintable about equal opportunities.
“Fine, you think like that Jinja and you’ll no longer be herd leader.” She turned and walked out of the barn slamming the door with rage! I slunk back to my box and thought about what I had overheard.
“Jinja, my friend, a breedist!” I thought. I couldn’t believe it. The thought made me feel sick! I looked out at the other horses. Candy stared back at me. She said:
“I heard you talking to the Manageress a few minutes ago. What was that you said about letting a Field horse into the herd?” I explained Jamie’s and my position. Candy wrinkled her nose at the suggestion.
“No, I can’t see the other horses accepting it.” Brydy spoke up then. She said in her broad Irish accent:
“We’ve got a chance for peace in Northern Ireland, so why can’t we have peace in the yard also!”
“What are you Brydy, Catholic or Protestant?” Misty asked. Brydy became edgy and replied:
“Mind your own bloody business Misty!” Misty was shocked!
“Now hang on a minute Brydy,,,,”
“No Misty, I won’t “hang on a minute.” Religious beliefs are a very private thing! So are political beliefs!”
“Are you an I.R.A sympathiser then Brydy?” Misty asked. Brydy flipped! She smashed her door and came surging out in a boiling rage! She put her mouth close to Misty’s ear and screamed:
“Are you accusing me of supporting Violence?” Misty dug her hole even deeper.
“Well you have to be a supporter of some organisation.” She said. Brydy went crazy!
“I don’t have to be anything! I can be neutral, an Irish citizen, without supporting Violence! I can’t believe you Misty!” Brydy was crying. I couldn’t blame her either. Rosie had told me some of the problems that the Irish people had to face in the last thirty years. I felt sorry for Brydy. I wanted to hug her, to tell her that all was going to be fine. But I couldn’t. Brydy stormed off in floods of tears. I felt sick with a grief I couldn’t explain. I went in search of Brydy. Jamie followed me after hearing the uproar.
We found Brydy in the top field. She was lying on the grass not moving. We opened the gate and walked across to her. She raised her head as she heard us coming.
“Brydy?” Jamie said. Brydy looked at Him.
“You’re a field horse aren’t you?” she said.
“Well, yes I am Brydy.” Jamie replied. Brydy looked at me.
“You know him Beyancca?” she asked.
“Yes Brydy, he’s a friend of mine.” Brydy’s attention sharpened.
“Are you the horse that all this fuss is about?” she asked.
“Yeah, I’m the one.” Jamie replied.
“You’ve been turned out of your herd haven’t you Jamie?” Brydy saw Jamie quickly suppress his emotions as her question hit home.
“Yeah, I’ve got a death sentence hanging over me.” He replied. Brydy got up and came across to us. She sidled up to Jamie and hugged him.
“You have my vote Jamie.” She said. Jamie nuzzled Brydy’s shoulder.
“Thanks.” He said.
“No problem.” Brydy replied. We walked back to the yard in companionable silence.
The first person we saw on arriving at the yard was Domino. She stared at Jamie and spat! She said:
“There’s a vote tomorrow on whether this scum can stay in the yard.” Brydy said:
“Jamie’s got my vote Domino.” Domino sneered at her.
“What would you know Brydy? You’re just an old bag of bones!” Brydy went wild!
“Why do you insult me when I’ve done nothing to harm you Domino?” she yelled. Mac raced into view then.
“I know which way I’m voting tomorrow!” she said.
“You’re not old enough to vote.” Brydy pointed out. Domino walked up to her and kicked her!
“Ow! Bitch!” Brydy yelled.
“The Manageress has said that all horses who have two brain cells to knock together can vote!” Domino screamed. Brydy said:
“That’ll exclude you then Domino!” Domino grabbed Brydy’s ear in her mouth and shook it! Brydy wailed with pain! What Domino said then was unprintable. All I can say is it was intensively insulting to the Irish, and Brydy was unimpressed. Brydy walked back to her box and slammed the door hard! I returned to my box and lay down on the straw. I was nervous as hell about the coming vote. I started asking myself questions.
“Would the horses accept Jamie? What would happen to him if they didn’t? What would I do if they didn’t? Where would I be this time tomorrow if the vote went against Jamie?” I heard Brydy say:
“It’s like the thing in Ireland here. People campaigning for yes or no votes.” I felt sick!
That night I couldn’t sleep. My mind wouldn’t settle down. The questions of what, where, and what if raced through my mind over and over again. The dawn stole over the yard. Voting was due to start at seven and go on till ten. All yard horses were required to be present unless they had a good reason not to be. Seven o’clock came round and I stood in the queue waiting for instructions from the Manageress.
The voting set up was like this:
A horse had two options after being funnelled into the voting ring. He could either go out the yes or the no exit. After they had passed through this point they could not change their mind and go into another section. There was also a section for what the Manageress called “abstentions” whatever an abstention is. The voting started.
I walked through the “yes” exit and was held in a pen type thing until all the horses had passed through the voting machine. This took several hours in which I heard some of the younger horses complaining that they were getting bored. Eventually however the voting finished and the horses for the yes, no and abstention sections were counted. I can’t remember the exact numbers but I remember feeling that the “no” vote would win. Brydy reassured me that it wouldn’t. Jamie couldn’t vote because he was a Field horse still. Jinja had the job of announcing the results.
“Hard luck if it’s a yes vote Jinj’.” Brydy thought. Jinja began to speak:
“The I’s to the right,,,” I asked Brydy a question.
“What happens to all the abstentions?”
“They are discounted.” She whispered. Jinja said:
“Can I continue? Good, as I was saying, the I’s to the right, sixteen, the no’s to the left, sixteen!” I collapsed on the concrete! Brydy looked down at me.
“Beyancca?” I blurted out:
“What does this mean Brydy? What’s gonna happen now?” Brydy replied:
“The Manageress will cast a vote. If it goes against Jamie then he’ll have to go, but if it goes in his favour then he’ll stay.” The Manageress walked about for a while. Really it was up to her if Jamie stayed or went, it was her yard. She walked into the “yes” pen. Jinja was furious!
“How could you, how could you do this!” he shouted. Jinja stormed off the platform thing he had been standing on and barged through the crowd of horses. He trampled some of the younger ones under foot as he passed. Jinja charged into his barn and slammed the door.
“He’s a very sad horse.” Brydy remarked. The Manageress looked at her.
“He’s got a lot to learn Brydy.” She said. So Jamie was allowed to stay. Jinja was furious with the Manageress for casting her vote in Jamie’s favour. I was delighted with the result and couldn’t think what to do next. I picked myself up off the concrete and went in search of Jamie. I found him nervously waiting in the barn.
“I feel almost too sick with nerves to ask you how it went!” he said. I smiled at him.
“Welcome home.” I said.
“What? You mean I can, I can stay?” he asked.
“Yes Jamie, you can stay my dear.” Jamie hugged me.
“Thanks Beyancca!” he said. I replied:
“It’s not just me you should be thanking, there’s Balugue, Brydy, Digby, Cleo, the Manageress, and many others.” Jamie looked around him.
“I would love to live here, with you.” He said.
“You mean share a box?” I asked. Jamie looked away. I started to say:
“Well I don’t know Jamie you see,,,” Jamie interrupted me:
“No Beyancca I shouldn’t have asked it.” He said. I held up a hoof to stop him.
“I was going to say, if you’d let me finish, that there might not be enough room in my box for the two of us. I’m not small you know.” I said. Jamie hugged me again.
“Let’s go for a walk Beyancca. Let’s forget this for a bit.” Jamie suggested. So that was exactly what we did. Jamie and I walked out of the yard and down towards the river. We wandered about for a while enjoying the countryside. Jamie then said something that brought tears to my eyes.
“I’m free Beyancca.” I then realised how much Freedom we yard horses had compared to the Field horses. You see the Field horses had no elected leader, or have I already told you that? I can’t remember. Oh forget it. Well because they have no leader and no laws the members of the herd never knew when they were going wrong. Because they didn’t know what was right and what was wrong their supposed leaders could abuse them. That was how the leader of the Field horses got so much power. We yard horses on the other hand with laws and leaders, we knew where each of us stood. We had freedom in that sense where the Field horses had none. I didn’t know it then but we were due for a change of leader very soon indeed.
A few days later Brydy told me that Jinja was thinking of resigning as acting leader of the herd. I wasn’t surprised really considering his opposition to the herd’s acceptance of a Field horse into there midst. Sure enough the news was broadcast formally on the local B.B.C radio station. I couldn’t work out why the B.B.C took such a keen interest in us. Surely the greater population of Suffolk wouldn’t be interested in a herd of horses having an election would they? Well the B.B.C seemed to think they would. We had reporters swarming around the yard. They were interviewing everyone! The Manageress, Jinja, Jamie, Jingle, Brydy, Digby, even I got roped into it once. I’ve never been so nervous in my life! This reporter from the most respected broadcasting organisation in the world stood in front of me with what looked like a huge sausage on a stick! I stared at the reporter.
“What do you expect me to do with that thing?” I indicated the sausage. The human looked dumbly back at me. I looked desperately around me trying to find the Manageress for translation purposes. I saw her standing looking at the mayhem. I called over to her:
“Come over here a minute will you! I need a translator!” She came over and translated what I said into English from horse talk. My interview over, I thanked the Manageress and walked off to find something else to occupy me. I was passing the riding school where there were yet more reporters interviewing horses. Domino was standing by the door looking very hacked off!
“I wish these bloody reporters would go away!” she said. Domino looked around her.
“Have you seen Mac today?” she asked. When I admitted that I hadn’t, Domino charged off in pursuit of her foal. These reporters were full of questions.
“How did the election come about? Is it true that there is a Field horse in the yard herd now? Who do you think will take Jinja’s place when he steps down? Is it true that you haven’t had a proper leader since Rosie passed away? Is there any truth in the stories coming out of the yard that Rosie was Re-incarnated?” This last question was answered differently by each horse according to his or her beliefs. Eventually the reporters left and the yard settled down to normality again, that is if you can call any day in the yard normal.
The election was held on a Thursday in June. The voting system was much the same as it was for the vote that decided Jamie’s future. The main candidates were as follows. I don’t think you’ve heard of half of these horses but here goes.
All right, perhaps you have heard of them, but I only got the list about a minute ago! I don’t know! The typist is saying he’ll “delete” some of the words, whatever “delete” means. Oh well, it seems he’s not going to.
“Drop me right in it won’t you!” Humans! Who’d have them! Enough of that, I’m bored.
The candidates for the post of “Leader of the herd” had to be voted for by a majority of the horses eligible to vote. No horse could vote twice. If there was an even number of horses voting for two candidates then the Manageress would have her casting vote. The voting started. I must add that Balugue had been talked into it. I think Jinja had said that she would never stand for the post of leader because of her run in with Rosie some years back. But she was talked into it and I think she’d make quite a good leader. I can’t say whom I’m voting for, confidential you know. I walked through the gate of the Candidate who I thought would make the best leader. The horses in the holding pen watched me go. The vote was done. The votes were now counted. The winner was not known until the late afternoon. The Manageress called a meeting of all the horses. She announced that from now on Balugue would be leader of the herd.
So Balugue had gone and done it. She had taken a chance and had won the post. It was clear that a majority of the horses in the yard wished that Balugue should be leader. I can tell you now that I voted for Balugue. There was another thing to be happy about. In fact Brydy was screaming with delight and dancing about. When I asked her what she was excited about she said something about the being a “yes” vote in the Irish referendum. Brydy ran up and down the barn screaming and yelling. She ran into the riding school. She collared Whinny and yelled at her.
“The vote was “yes!”” Whinny looked dumbly back at Brydy.
“What the hell are you going on about?” she asked. Brydy shook her hoof at Whinny.
“You’re stupid Whinny! I mean the Irish peace referendum! You know, they were voting whether to accept the peace agreement!” Brydy said. Whinny stared at her.
“What’s it got to do with me?” she asked. Brydy replied:
“It’s your future Whinny!” Whinny said:
“This is England not Ireland Brydy.” Brydy looked towards the door. She fled out into the sunlight-leaving Whinny alone in the riding school. Brydy skipped along towards my box.
“Hey Beyancca, let’s celebrate!” she yelled. I hugged her and Brydy bashed me with her nose.”
“All right Brydy! Let’s take it slowly.” I said. Brydy almost cried with joy.
“We have a chance of peace in Ireland!” she yelled. Balugue came around to see us.
“You’re in high spirits Brydy.” She said.
“Yeah, I can’t contain my elation at the news!” Brydy replied. Soon all the horses knew about the “yes” vote. Brydy wouldn’t shut up about it. Jamie and I settled down that night in my box. Jamie stretched out in a straw bale beside me.
“I’m a member of the yard herd now.” He murmured. I stretched out my nose and touched his.
“Yes Jamie my love you are certainly that.” I said. We slept for a long time. The night, which followed, held for me the best sleep I had for ages. I awoke with the sun. It rose over the yard bright and warm. The light filtered into the barn through the skylights in the roof of the barn. No other horse was awake and there was absolute silence. I quietly opened my door and left my box. I crept along to where I knew Crofter’s box to be. He hated to be disturbed while sleeping. The day before, Polo the yard dog and I had hatched a plan to frighten Crofter. He was too moody for our liking. We felt he needed a bit of a shock to bring him to his senses. Polo got hold of one of those old fashioned alarm clocks with the bells on the top. You know the ones don’t you? The ones that your Grandparents always seem to have in the top cupboard and you used to spend hours making it ring non-stop. Well Polo got hold of one of these and managed to set it so it was primed to go off! I took this mechanical time bomb along to Crofter’s box. Opened his door, placed the alarm clock inside the door right next to his ear and re-bolted the door. I walked away and waited for developments. Polo was waiting around the corner. He fell about with laughter when he realised that I had managed to plant the device without Crofter noticing. This was a once in a lifetime chance. If it didn’t work now it would never work! The clock ticked loudly and I felt sure that Crofter would notice it. But he slept on oblivious to his fait.
“What’s it set for?” I asked quietly.
“Five o’clock.” Polo replied.
“What’s the time now?” I asked.
“Two minutes to five. I set it by the stable clock.” Polo replied. We waited, and waited. Polo watched the hands of the stable clock anxiously.
“Thirty seconds.” He whispered. We waited, not breathing for fear of waking our victim. The clock ticked ominously.
“Tick, Toc, tick Toc, tick,,,” Polo moved restlessly. Then,,,,,,
The most amazing sound came from the clock! It was better than we could ever have dreamed of! The bell was louder than we could ever have hoped for! Best of all it had the desired affect. Crofter screamed and leapt in the air! He shrieked with terror!
“What the bloody hell’s that!” He stood shaking violently! Polo and I rolled on the concrete laughing helplessly. Crofter managed to get his hoof under the clock and chip the offending object into the air so it smashed against the wall. It hit the wall with a “CRUNCH!” The clock stopped ringing. Crofter was furious! He couldn’t open his door to get out because the Manageress had put a grill over it. I think Jinja explained why in the previous story, or was it the one before that, I don’t know. Well because of this grill he couldn’t open his door to get at us. We took full advantage of this and teased him rotten.
“Get woken up did we Crofter?” Polo asked. Crofter glared at him through the bars.
“Polo and you Beyancca! I never thought it could be true. Maybe Polo and Mac but not you Beyancca! You should know better!” he yelled. By this time all the horses were awake. They had been woken by the alarm. Some were yelling:
“FIRE!” Because the stable fire bell sounds like one of those alarm clocks. Ruby stuck her head out of her box and looked at me.
“What possessed you Beyancca?” she asked.
“I wanted to show Crofter a thing or two.” I replied. Crofter spat:
“Yeah a thing or two about getting the crap scared out of you!” he said. The Manageress came running at the sound of equine protestation.
“What’s going on here?” she asked crossly. She whipped round on me and yelled into my face!
“What the bloody hell’s this!” I looked dumbly back at her, pretending that I had no idea of what happened, and had no part in it. Ruby blew the whistle on me.
“She was the one! She woke Crofter up with that fire bell!” The Manageress asked Crofter about it.
“Yeah, that’s it.” He said pointing out the smashed remains of the alarm clock. The Manageress wasn’t impressed!
“I wondered where that had got to. How did you get hold of it?” Then her eye fell on Polo.
“You stole it from the house didn’t you?” she asked. Polo couldn’t deny it. The Manageress was upset about the loss of her old clock, but at the same time she saw the funny side of the situation. She found it amusing that a dog and a horse could conspire together to pull off a stunt like Polo and I had done. A few hours afterwards I heard her laughing about it with the other instructors.
But Ruby, Crofter, Whinny and Misty were not happy horses. They made quite sure that Polo knew he had done wrong. They wouldn’t talk to him and would give him dirty looks whenever they had the chance. As for me, my fait was worse. They took physical revenge on me. I received more blows on my fetlocks from the hooves of angry horses that day than I care to remember. Every time Misty, Crofter, Ruby or Whinny came within kicking distance of me they would attempt it. At midday however the Manageress had had enough and produced the most feared piece of equipment she owned. The lungeing whip came out and was shown to each of the offending horses. Then the Manageress cracked it over one of the stable doors. It landed with a spine tingling “CRACK!” The offenders didn’t attempt to kick me again.
You may be asking if there were any horses in favour of our little prank. Well, yes there were a few who thought the same as Polo and myself, or thought it would just be a hilarious sight to see Crofter jump a mile. Those horses were Brydy, Fleur, Chantilly, Digby, and any others I haven’t mentioned. When the Alarm went off the horses in the barn were jerked from sleep but calmed down when they realised what was going on. Brydy turned towards Fleur and said:
“Crofter’s getting one hell of a wake up call.” Fleur still drugged with sleep replied:
“What? Yeah, I suppose he is.” With that she closed her eyes and fell asleep. Brydy stared at Fleur.
“I don’t know how you manage it Fleur, I really don’t. She’ll sleep through anything! You’d need an earthquake to wake her!” she thought. Brydy looked at the shattered wood around the repairs made to her door.
“I hope there’s peace.” She whispered. Candy looked at Brydy.
“What was that?” she enquired.
“Oh nothing Candy.” Brydy replied. This didn’t deter Candy.
“You pray for peace don’t you Brydy?” Brydy opened her mouth to defend herself. Candy held up a hoof to stop her.
“Hang on a bit Brydy, there’s no problem with that.” Candy said. Brydy smiled at her.
“You really believe that?” she asked hopefully.
“Why yeah, there’s no problem with prayer.” A huge cloud lifted from Brydy’s life then.
“I’m not alone! I’m not mad! There are other horses that have religious beliefs!” she thought.
Brydy opened her door and walked out into the barn. Fleur had woken up by now and she joined her. Brydy and Fleur walked round to the riding school to see what was going on. They found Crofter and myself working in the indoor school. Well I say working, Crofter was attempting to bite me at every opportunity. He felt bitter resentment towards me for my part in the practical joke played on him. The Manageress was attempting to teach a Western lesson while Crofter and I had our little disagreement. She became very short tempered with both of us and frequently threatened us with the whip. This fuelled crofter’s anger! He took his fear of the whip out on me! He charged at me from time to time causing me to back off and swerve alarmingly to keep out of range of his teeth, or even worse, his hooves! So the Manageress’s prediction that the rider would get a steady ride on me flew straight out of the window as I fought to save myself from Crofter’s boiling rage! Crofter even attempted to kick me in the stomach! He slid in and then kicked viciously upwards! I reared in an attempt to avoid the sharp blade like hoof! Crofter yelled insults at me as he missed his target. My rider on the other hand was less lucky. She was thrown off as I reared. The Manageress swore under her breath at Crofter. She then hit the panic button for assistance. This had been installed after the health and safety executive, whatever one of those is, had suggested it. This button was to be used if a rider or horse got into an emergency situation. Instructors poured into the school from all directions. They helped the Manageress to deal with a human who was only shocked by her fall, Crofter who was apoplectic with rage and me of course. My state of mind was not worth thinking about, if that’s at all possible. I was led back to my box quivering with fright! As soon as the instructor took my bridle off my legs crumpled under me. I hit the straw with a “CRASH!
The instructor ran out in panic!
“Beyancca’s just collapsed!” she screamed. This brought the Manageress and several other people into my box. I saw the vet, the Farrier, who had been shoeing horses when the instructor had yelled for assistance, and, another person who couldn’t be of any real physical assistance at all. This person was Rosie’s old rider. Yes, the man with the problem we couldn’t identify. Then I remembered it was a Monday!
“I’m meant to be working with him in a minute!” I thought. The vet checked me out for physical soundness and pronounced me fit.
“Fit for nothing.” I thought. All the humans left except the human with the problem. He knelt down beside me and stroked my ears.
“Come on Beyancca, talk to me.” He said gently. I took a deep breath to steady myself. I told him everything, right down to the lesson I had just that minute come from. The human stroked me some more and told me to get up. I struggled to my feet and rested my head on his shoulder. The human stroked my nose with a fore finger. That felt wonderful! I rubbed my cheek against his shoulder enthusiastically.
“Got you back to rights then.” He said. I pricked my ears and thumped his arm with my nose.
“Thanks a lot!” I said.
“No problem.” He replied. The Manageress came round to check on me, and to rescue my human friend.
“How’s Beyancca doing now?” she asked.
“All right now I think.” The human replied. The Manageress stroked my ears and thought for a bit.
“I think you’d better ride another horse, let Beyancca rest a while after that.” I was furious!
“What! How can you say that? I’m fine!” I yelled. I backed this up by hugging my human friend tightly, making sure that the Manageress could have no doubt as to my feelings. The Manageress laughed:
“I think she wants to work anyway.” She said. So I was tacked up and led out into the yard. My rider jumped onto my back and I waited patiently for further instructions.
I had several things to think about when working with this particular human. You see for some unexplainable reason he wouldn’t tell me where walls, jumps, corners etc were. So I had to work it out for myself. This was no problem, but I had to learn a lot in a short period of time. Rosie had told me how to treat this human. But now, I was at a loss.
“What was I meant to do now?” I asked myself. I thought:
“I’ll go and talk to Rosie, she’ll,,,” Then I realised with a horrible stomach churning lurch that I couldn’t ask Rosie! That thought sobered me up I can tell you!
“I’m on my own!” I thought. Then the panic subsided and I began to remember what I had done in the riding school before this. The human had ridden me before, what did I do then? Then it came to me!
“Watch what the others did, then copy them, if the human didn’t wish me to do the same he would tell me! That was it! Also look out for banks, ditches, etc that might cause a problem. Basically don’t get myself into danger! Simple rules!” This final leap of thought had me looking forward to, not dreading the hack! I almost danced!
“Hang on Beyancca!” the human said. I stopped!
“Oh, of course, all four feet flat on the floor, no dancing!” I thought. The human patted my neck.
“Wow! That’s wonderful!” I thought. There were two other horses on this hack. These were Candy, who was carrying the Manageress and Emmie; who carried another female human. We walked out of the yard.
“All right Beyancca, concentrate now.” I told myself. Then I thought:
“I feel sick with fear!” The human, feeling a change in my pace, patted my neck to settle me.
“Right, calm down Beyancca! Don’t worry, if you do the humans will notice.” I told myself. My mouth was dry. I chewed my tongue for a bit to moisten it. Fear was uppermost in my mind.
“If I screw up he’ll never ride me again!” I thought. Then Candy started making light conversation, I remember wishing she wouldn’t.
“All right Beyancca?” I thought:
“No! Now shut up! I’m concentrating!” Candy noticed my reluctance to talk and tried to encourage me to.
“Hey Beyancca, what way did the Irish vote go?” She knew perfectly well which way it went. If she didn’t then she must have been on the moon, Brydy was screaming and yelling about it all yesterday and the day before! I ground my teeth together as my frustration grew! It suddenly blew up in Candy’s face!
“Leave me alone Candy!” I yelled. Candy snorted with anger.
“You always brush me off!” she wailed. I lost my cool and said things about my rider that I instantly regretted.
“Look Candy, you haven’t got some bloody human with a problem on your back! Just shut up and let me get on with my job!” I yelled. Then it hit home what I had said.
“I didn’t mean it!” I said. We walked further from the yard. I felt a huge weight on my mind. I knew it was the thought of that human on my back. I shook my head and swallowed hard, trying to dispel my fears. The human seemed to realise there was something wrong because he patted my neck. I settled down into a feeling of total doomed failure. I must say that those first five minutes were the worst I had known for a long time. My lack of confidence stopped me from enjoying what should have been the most pleasurable part of my working day. We turned onto a field and accelerated to a jog.
“If he asks me to loap I’ll go crazy!” I thought. I shot a look at the other two horses. Emmie was going fine and so was Candy. The Manageress said:
“Time for a loap I think.” I thought and said:
“Oh please no!” Candy stopped dead!
“What was that I heard you say?” she enquired.
“I don’t wan’a loap Candy, I can’t.” I replied.
“Why not?” Candy asked. I swallowed hard.
“I’m worried about my rider, you see, what if I push him too hard?” Candy replied sharply,
“If he hears you say that he’ll clip you round the ear mate!” I was shocked!
“What?” Candy replied:
“He’s ridden Fleur without any trouble. She’s loped with him on her back Beyancca! If he can work with Fleur and survive, I’m sure he can work with you. Come on Beyancca! Give it a go!” Candy urged.
“All right, I’ll try.” I said. Candy rubbed her nose against mine.
“That’s better. What were you on about?” she said. I replied:
“Ask me that when it’s over.” I gulped and set off. During all this the humans had waited patiently. My insides were Jelly as I felt the human on my back giving me the “loap now” command. I tried to loap and tripped!
“Oh hell!” I thought. Then another command, another attempt, got it this time!” The loap settled down into its usual easy rhythm. We went up the hill and then my rider reigned me to a jog, then a walk, then to a halt. What a relief that was! My rider made a huge fuss of me. He obviously heard Candy’s conversation and mine and understood every word. I thought:
“If he’s understood every word I’ll be clipped round the ear!” I hoped the human would let it pass. Clopping across a road we entered another field and jogged down it’s shorter side. Turning right I was given the “loap” command once more. This time I managed not to trip over my own feet. The breeze got up then. It felt as if I were flying! For a few seconds I thought that if I closed my eyes I could almost believe I were. I decided on reflection that it wasn’t such a good idea and stopped myself.
“That’s the foal in me taking over.” I thought. We slowed to a jog and then to a walk. My feeling of doomed failure had evaporated. I now felt like the young horse I was meant to be. I raised my head and Whinnied with joy!
“Feeling the joys of spring are we Beyancca?” Emmie asked.
“It’s summer.” Candy pointed out.
“Oh yeah.” Emmie replied.
“Stupid horse!” Candy teased. Emmie took the bait beautifully.
“I make one mistake and you’re on to me Candy!” She snapped.
“Only joking Emmie dear.” Candy reassured her. We walked on. Eventually we reached the field where we were allowed to stop for a few minutes to eat grass. I mean we horses ate grass, the humans didn’t. Then Emmie made a comment that will stay with me forever.
“Do you realise Beyancca that you have that man’s life in your control.” I jerked my head up from where I had been contentedly munching on a particularly sweet patch of grass.
“You what?” I asked.
“You’ve got his life in your control. If you did something stupid he could bail off, in fact he’s trained to. But he wouldn’t know what he was bailing off into. So you’ve got to make sure that you don’t get yourself into trouble. You see now?” I did see, and it wasn’t a pleasant thought.
“A human’s life in my control, oh Beyancca, what a responsibility you have.” I thought. I looked down at the grass that I had been munching on quite happily only a minute ago. Now it seemed unappetising and the thought of food made me feel ill. My rider noticed my lack of enthusiasm for grass.
“Why aren’t you eating Beyancca?” he asked.
“Don’t want to.” I replied. The old fears came flooding back. I couldn’t look on working with this human in the same light ever again. I followed the other horses back to the yard thinking all the while about Emmie’s words.
“His life is in your control, his life is in your control, his life is,,,” It went round and round in my mind until I was sick of it! I kept my emotions in check until the man had disappeared from the yard for another week, then I kicked my door until it split in half! Misty looked at me.
“What’s the matter with you?” she asked. I told her.
“Both Fleur and Rosie had that to deal with and you never heard them complain once Beyancca.” Misty replied. Mac came into view then. She threw her two pence worth into the conversation.
“Rosie was used to it and Fleur was too stupid to realise it.” She said. Fleur, who by now was back in her box, yelled abuse at Mac.
“I’ll kill you! I’m not stupid! You’re a pain in the bum!” Fleur smashed her door off its hinges. Mac was unrepentant.
“That was why he stopped working with you Fleur, you were too stupid!” Fleur started crying. She suddenly burst out of her box and ran at Mac. Mac, thinking that this was some sort of game, mocked her! Fleur went mad! She booted Mac out of the barn, literally!
Mac yelled in terror!
“Mum! Fleur’s gonna kill me mum!” Domino hearing her foals shouts came flying into view with all her protective instincts firing! She knocked Fleur off her feet! Fleur crashed onto the concrete and Domino towered over her!
“What the bloody hell do you think you were doing!” she yelled. Fleur looked up into Domino’s blazing eyes.
“She said I was stupid Domino! She said I was too stupid to work with Beyancca’s rider! She said that I had no idea of the responsibility I had when working with him! She said that I was too stupid and that Rosie was used to it! I’m not stupid Domino, I’m not!” someone said:
“Could have fooled me!” Both Domino and Fleur stared at who had spoken. The huge form of Dominic stood in the entrance to the barn almost blocking out the light! Fleur thought:
“Dominic’s Mac’s brother!” she had forgotten that, I think we all had. Dominic took over from his mother and interrogated Fleur even further.
“You never try that again Fleur! If you do you’ll be beaten flat and punched into the earth! You hear me!” Fleur was sobbing.
“Yes Dominic, I hear you. Don’t hit me!” she pleaded. Dominic was waving a massive fore foot in front of her eyes.
“You’re a Cow!” Dominic yelled. For a horse to be branded a “cow” was a grave insult. Fleur bared her teeth in one more defiant stand against the huge horse. Dominic rested his huge fore foot on Fleur’s nose. Fleur screamed in terror!
“Don’t crush me!” Dominic replied:
“Leave my sister alone!” He released Fleur and she fled back into her box.
Mac looked at Dominic.
“Did you say I was your sister?” she asked.
“Yes Mac dear I did.” Dominic replied.
“How did you get that big then?” Mac asked. Dominic laughed.
“Lots of hard work Mac dear.” He said. Mac said:
“I’ll feel a lot safer with you around.” Dominic smiled down at his little sister. Well, against Dominic Mac was a scrap of life! He towered over her making her look smaller than ever! Dominic was too large for the Manageress to accurately measure! Even she had problems controlling him! Fortunately for her Dominic was a good worker. He nearly always listened to commands. I thought then that Dominic knew his place in the herd and his place in the yard. Domino, Mac and Dominic returned to their field. I understand that Domino did give Mac a good talking to. Tore a strip off her in fact. Mac was made to apologise to Fleur for what she had said. Fleur looked around nervously for Dominic as Mac spoke to her. Dominic got himself a reputation for dealing out brutal justice. The time was not long in coming when Dominic would have the law laid down to him.
Jamie and I were quietly eating grass in a field about three weeks later when Jinja came past. He stopped when Jamie called over to him.
“Yeah what Field horse?” Jinja replied.
“A chat, to pass the time of day, nothing else.” Jamie said. Jinja spat!
“What would the other horses think if I was to be seen talking to you Field horse?” he asked.
“They’d think you’d changed your tune Jinja, and the name’s Jamie.” Jamie replied. Jinja jumped the fence and came across to us.
“Let’s see what you’re really like then Field horse, oh I’m sorry, Jamie.” He said. Jinja looked Jamie up and down. He took him in from his forelock to his fetlocks. Jinja seemed to be making up his mind whether to accept this Field horse. He looked at me. I stared back giving him nothing.
“I want you to like him by yourself.” I said. By that I meant that he had to make his own mind up. I wasn’t going to try and swing him one way or the other.
“Can you swallow your old prejudice and start afresh Jinja?” Jamie asked. Jinja looked down at his hooves. I realised he was trying to conceal the fact he was crying.
“Sorry Jamie, that’s all I can say.” He said. Jamie walked over to Jinja and hugged him.
“That’s all right Jinja mate.” He said. Jinja replied:
“I never thanked you for saving my life.” Jamie nuzzled his new-found friend’s shoulder.
“You don’t have to thank me for that Jinja. The biggest thank you I had was when you accepted me.” Jamie said. Jinja broke down once more. Yes he had voted against having Jamie in the herd at the referendum. But now he was having a change of opinion. Jinja unknown to either Jamie or myself was watching us. He had seen the way we had interacted. He had seen how happy we were together. He had also weighed up that with the near certainty that Jamie would now be dead had the herd not voted “yes.” Jinja had become quite fond of Jamie.
Now he was chatting with Jamie and myself. I was telling Jinja and Jamie about the hack described above. At the mention of Rosie Jinja became suddenly silent. He said:
“Why did they take her away?” Tears rolled down Jinja’s nose. Jamie hugged his friend.
“Rosie wouldn’t want you to cry, would she Jinja.” he said. “No, I suppose she wouldn’t.” Jinja sobbed. I then told them about Mac’s comments to Fleur, and Fleur’s outburst and subsequent run in with Domino, and then Dominic. Jinja dried his eyes. He sniffed:
“Fabulous for her I don’t think.” He said. Suddenly someone said:
“Yes it must have been, and what are you doing talking to a Field horse Jinja? You voted against Jamie, remember that Jinja?” Jinja turned to see Dominic standing behind him.
“Oh hi Dominic, what can I do for you?” he asked airily. Dominic was spitting with rage!
“What the bloody hell do you think you are doing talking to a Field horse when you voted against having him in the herd?” Dominic asked harshly.
“I was passing the time of day, finding out the news, in fact Beyancca was telling us about a hack she went on today, wasn’t she Jamie?” Jinja replied. I knew what he was doing, and so did Jamie. Jinja was playing for time, because he knew as well as Jamie and I knew that Dominic’s interrogations always
ended in violence. Jinja was going to get laid out on the grass for his change of heart. Jamie wasn’t going to let Dominic do it however. He watched the huge horse carefully. All his lessons from the Field horses about the best way to fight larger horses came back to him. He was looking for Dominic’s weakness. The problem was that he could not find it until Dominic actually hit Jinja, and Jamie didn’t want that! He knew that one blow in the right place could kill Jinja! He felt sure that Dominic knew that place, Jamie did. He knew that he would have to kill Dominic or risk the lives of his friend, himself and possibly his future wife. Yes even I was not safe from Dominic’s hooves! Dominic stared into Jinja’s eyes.
“You have a choice Jinja.” He said.
“And what’s that?” Jinja asked coolly. He knew his life was in serious danger.
“Which ear the hoof comes in!” Dominic replied. Suddenly there was a shout from near the gate!
“Dominic! You kill Jinja and I’ll hate you forever!” Dominic took his attention from Jinja for one second, Jamie struck! He flew at the larger horse and missed his intended target on Dominic’s body. The two horses rolled on the grass biting and kicking each other. I yelled:
“Be careful Jamie! Dominic’s never been beaten! Have a go by all means but don’t get yourself killed!” I watched their match with growing alarm! Jinja swore viciously over and over again! Dominic was tiring. He wasn’t used to a challenge. His fights had always been short sharp affairs. His biggest match had been the self proclaimed “leader of the Field horses.” Even he had only lasted a few minutes before Dominic had overpowered him. But now Jamie was overpowering Dominic himself. Jamie had beaten the life out of a horse twice his size. Dominic lay motionless on the grass. Domino and Mac had joined us. In fact it was Mac who had led Dominic to his demise. I hoped no one would ever tell her that. Domino looked down at her Son. The Manageress turned up then, she had been alerted to the fight by Dominic’s yelps of pain. Strangely neither Jinja nor I had heard them. We were too horrified to hear. The Manageress knelt beside Dominic and looked into his eyes. They were opaque and lifeless. Dominic was dead! The Manageress’s shock was evident!
“How? Why? Who?” All those questions were fired at us. We explained all the circumstances leading up to Dominic’s death.
“You mean to say that Dominic would have killed Jinja?” she asked.
“Yes, I’m afraid so.” I replied. Jamie was flat out on the grass, exhausted by his effort. I don’t think he knew at that moment what he had done. The Manageress said:
“First Rosie, then Clover, and now Dominic! Will the sadness ever end?” I rubbed her shoulder with my nose.
“It will, this will be the last one.” I assured her. But I couldn’t be sure, I hoped that was the case. Jinja stared at Dominic’s body.
“It could have been me.” He whispered. Domino punched him in the nose!
“You don’t care do you Jinja!” she screamed. Jinja replied:
“Yes, Domino, I do, I really do! I wouldn’t wish anyone dead. ?But Dominic was out to kill me! He would have done so if Jamie hadn’t saved me.” Domino had tears rolling down her nose. She suddenly grabbed the Manageress by her coat and dragged her across the grass!
“You’ve let this happen! Why did you let that bloody Field horse Kill my Son?” she yelled. The Manageress replied:
“Dominic was a madhorse, he would have killed anyone that annoyed him. Look Domino, I’m sorry, really I am, but I can’t do anything to make it better.” Domino put her mouth close to the Manageress’s ear and screamed!
“Yes you bloody can! You kill that bloody Field horse!” The Manageress looked at Jamie who was now getting to his feet Unaware of what he’d done.
“Kill him! Use one of your bolt things, or whatever it is you use!” Domino yelled. Jamie said:
“Dominic would have killed you if he’d had the chance Domino.” Domino stared at him.
“What do you mean? Sons don’t kill their mothers!” Jamie looked sadly at Dominic’s lifeless form. He tried to explain.
“Domino, listen to me, and don’t interrupt or you won’t get it. Dominic learned to fight at an early age, yes?” Domino nodded, Jamie continued:
“He was given no guidance because the person he fought he couldn’t really hurt, and she was causing problems at that time anyway. Is this right?” Domino looked sick.
“Yeah, I, I suppose it is.” She said. The shock of what Jamie was implying was hitting home. Jamie started his explanation again:
“Because of this, Dominic thought he could fight anyone and get away with it, even the leader of the Field horses, yes Domino?” Domino’s mouth was now dry, she nodded dumbly.
“Dominic’s only method of justice was violence. That was all he ever knew. If someone crossed him he would beat them until they either begged for mercy or were dead!”
“Don’t say it like that!” Domino sobbed.
“But it’s true Domino.” The Manageress said. Jamie went for the finish.
“When Jinja voted “no” to my acceptance into the herd Dominic knew this. He made quite sure that Jinja couldn’t change his views. He made quite sure that everyone knew Jinja as a breedist. So when Jinja came to try and repair the damage he had done and Dominic found us talking, he went crazy! He would have killed Jinja if he had the chance Domino. I had to get in there, and I know this won’t make it any easier for you, but I didn’t mean to kill him. I’m more sorry than I can tell you.” Jamie gulped.
“Oh, I, I, I killed a horse! I’m like the rest of the Field horses!” he yelled. With that Jamie ran off and threw himself down on the grass on the other side of the field. Domino asked The Manageress a question.
“Why would Dominic kill me?” The Manageress shook her head.
“I don’t know Domino darling, ask Jinja or Beyancca, they might be able to tell you.” She replied softly. Domino turned to us.
“Why then!” she asked harshly.
“Mac.” I said. Domino jumped to defend her foal.
“What’s Mac got to do with it?” she asked crossly.
“Dominic didn’t like the way you treated her. At first you treated her in the same way that you had him. There was no problem there. But then you started being firm. Actually teaching her something rather than letting her run wild. Dominic saw this and hated you for it. He saw that because of your inexperience you had helped to screw his life up. I’m sorry Domino.” I said gently. Domino was crying again.
“You blame me for everything? It’s entirely my fault? I’m a bad mother? That’s what you’re saying isn’t it Beyancca?” she asked.
“No Domino, not bad, inexperienced.” I corrected. Domino still didn’t understand, I could see it in her eyes.
“If you were a bad mother Domino, you would have kicked and bit your foals, made their lives hell! You loved Dominic and you love Mac with all your heart. That’s plain to see. No you’re in no way a bad mother Domino! Please don’t think that for one second. You see Dominic thought he was invincible. He thought no-one could touch him Domino, not even you! He would have found a way of getting rid of you Domino, I’m sorry, words aren’t enough. You feel sad for him because you loved him. You loved the foal. You didn’t like the grown Dominic. You hoped he would come round, but he didn’t.” I was hitting the right notes and Domino knew it. I had got her sussed right down to her nuts and bolts. I continued:
“Love Dominic by all means Domino, but don’t lose sight of the fact that he was a madhorse.” Domino asked:
“Who would, who next Beyancca?” I glanced at Mac. Domino saw my eyes flicker towards her foal and actually physically leaped on top of Mac to protect her! Mac fought her way from beneath her badly frightened mother.
“Hey mum! Cool it a bit will you!” Mac said. Domino lay prostrate on the grass. She made quite sure that Mac wasn’t going anywhere where she couldn’t see her.
“He can’t kill my foal! Not Mac!” Domino yelled.
“Please Beyancca, it’s not true is it?” Domino gasped. Jinja snapped:
“Come on Beyancca, you’re making this up to frighten her.” I lost my temper!
“Would I do a thing like that Jinja?” I asked crossly.
“No.” Jinja admitted. Domino had got up and was now making quite sure for the fourteenth time in thirty seconds that Mac was still standing beside her. I couldn’t blame her. Domino said:
“But Dominic was kind to Mac, he saved her from Fleur.” Mac spoke up then.
“No mum, Dominic didn’t. When Fleur kicked me I flew out of the barn, yes that was true, and it hurt when I landed. But that’s taught me a lesson now. I know not to walk into a conversation half way through and make comments. Because I don’t know! I thought I would be safer with Dominic about, but now I’m not so sure.” Domino hugged her foal.
“Don’t ever get yourself into a fight Mac, promise me that you won’t.” she said.
“After Jinja pushed me over, I’ll never fight again mum, promise!” Mac promised. Domino turned to Jinja:
“What’s this?” she asked. Mac knew what was coming and quickly stepped in to save her uncle from a grilling he’d never forget.
“Oh, he only pushed me gently, I think you saw it mum.” She said quickly. Domino said:
“Changing the subject for a bit, nobody saw Dominic do any of this. You’ve no evidence Beyancca!”
“Sometimes hatred is invisible Domino.” I replied.
“Yes I suppose it could be.” Domino admitted.
You may be asking, in fact I’m sure you are asking what’s become of Jamie? Well if you remember the last we saw of him he was sprawled at the opposite end of the field trying to come to terms with what he’d done to Dominic. We wandered across and found him standing eating grass.
“You perked up a bit.” I observed.
“Yeah, the minute I heard he would’ve gone after Mac I had no reservations about doing what I did.” He said. Mac nibbled at the grass. I watched her with a keen interest I couldn’t explain. Then I realised what made this normal sight strange to me, when I had seen her feeding in the past. All right before you start saying anything funny, I didn’t deliberately look out for her. But when on the off chance I had caught sight of her, Domino had always fed her. Now she was eating grass. Domino watched Mac also. She suddenly started to laugh:
“You know what Mac said to me one day? She goes, “Hey mum, I hope you don’t mind but I’ve tried eating grass, like I’ve seen you doing.” I told her it was fine by me, and she said, “It’s a lot better than that milk of yours mum.” With that Mac walked off, I didn’t see her again for the next hour!” Mac laughed:
“That milk’s awful mum.” She said. Domino hugged her foal.
“I love you Mac.” She said. Mac looked away, she was embarrassed by her mother’s actions. Domino smiled at Mac.
“I nearly lost you Mac.” Domino said. The Manageress watched us.
“I’m sorry that Dominic had to meet his end in the way he did. I know he would have killed Mac and possibly Domino if he had been allowed to carry on.” She said. Jinja shook himself.
“Better get back to the yard and break the news to the others.” He said. We walked back to the yard in a bit of a gloomy mood. We knew that some of the horses were very fond of, even trusted Dominic. They’d have real problems accepting the awful truth about their supposed guardian angel.
When I returned to the barn Brydy caught my eye.
“I heard screaming and yelling coming from the fields. What the hell happened?” she asked. I told her.
“Dominic! Dead!” she said.
“I’m afraid so Brydy.” I replied. She then said:
“Dominic was always boasting he could beat any Field horse. But he was beaten by a Field horse, wasn’t he?” I nodded.
“Yeah, he was that Brydy.” I replied. Brydy said:
“But if Jamie hadn’t tried to help Jinja, I don’t know what would have happened! I don’t want to think of what would happen!” she looked at our former leader.
“If Dominic had killed you, I would’ve been sad forever.” It seemed that despite Jinja’s disgraceful temporary disownership of Jamie, he was still loved by many horses in the yard. Brydy asked Jinja what made him change his mind.
“Because you were against Jamie being accepted into the herd, weren’t you Jinja?” She asked. Jinja looked away.
“I watched Beyancca and Jamie. I watched the way he treated her and her treatment of him. I listened to the way they spoke to one another. I found that they loved each other, one was a Field horse the other was a yard horse. I realised that I could love and respect a Field horse. I felt that I wanted to try and make amends for what I had said and done. I wanted to say I was sorry, more sorry than I could tell them.” Brydy nodded.
“I’m glad you’ve changed your mind.” She said. Jinja smiled.
“All I saw was the Field horse in Jamie. I didn’t see the love and affection he shows towards Beyancca. I’ve been so stupid.” He said. Jinja opened Brydy’s door. She watched as he came up close to her and hugged her. Brydy was taken completely by surprise!
“Hey Jinja! What’s the meaning of this?” she exclaimed. Jinja pulled back quickly.
“I’m sorry Brydy, I don’t know what I was doing.” Jinja replied. Brydy smiled.
“That’s all right Jinja, I was a bit surprised that’s all.” She replied. She hugged Jinja. He pretended he wasn’t enjoying it, but we knew different. Jinja loved a hug, no matter who was hugging him. Brydy wasn’t the most unattractive mare in the world either. Also she was more Jinja’s height. Rosie had been teased because she and Jinja were so different height wise. But there was no doubt that Rosie and Jinja made an excellent couple. I knew that Jinja missed Rosie very much. I think you’ve already seen what the mention of her name does to him. Poor old Jinja, I feel so sorry for him sometimes. Jinja closed Brydy’s door and walked away. Brydy watched him go.
“That horse misses his wife more than he could ever tell anyone.” She observed.
“Yeah Brydy.” I replied. Jamie hugged me. He looked down the barn to where Fleur was draped over her box door in an attitude of pure boredom. She levered herself away from the door and looked at us.
“Where’s that bloody foal?” she asked.
“If by “that bloody foal” you mean Mac, well she’s in a field somewhere with Domino.” I replied. Fleur snorted:
“And where’s that mountain of fury that calls himself Dominic?” she asked. Jamie looked her straight in the eye.
“Dominic’s dead, I killed him.” He said flatly. Fleur stared at him.
“You? You killed Dominic? He’s twice your size!” she said quickly. Digby spoke up then.
“Jamie’s a Field horse don’t forget Fleur.”
“Oh yes, so he is.” Fleur said to no one in particular. Then she admitted something that I don’t really think she meant to.
“I had forgotten that.” She said. Jamie said:
“You can forget it again then Fleur.” Fleur looked Jamie straight in the eye.
“I’m never going to vote for a Field horse ever again!” She said. Just then Jingle came flying into view, very angry indeed, spitting with rage in fact!
“What’s this I hear about you killing Dominic then Jamie?” she yelled. Jamie faced the furious horse.
“Well, we got into a fight and I accidentally killed him Jing’.” Jamie replied. He had used Jingle’s shortened or “pet” name to annoy her, he succeeded. Jingle’s reply was unprintable, I had never heard such language from her! I think the gist of it was something like:
“Dominic was my Nephew, and don’t call me “Jing’” ever again if you value your life!” Jingle bristled with rage and looked as if she might kick out at Jamie at any moment. Jingle gave Jamie dirty looks all day after that. She once screamed out while standing in the middle of the yard!
“And what will Domino say when she finds out you’ve murdered her Son ay Jamie?” Domino crept up on Jingle and frightened her by screaming in her ear! Jingle jumped a mile and whirled round to face her tormentor. Seeing whom it was she launched into a denunciation of Jamie. Domino held up her right fore foot to stop Jingle in her tracks. But Jingle kicked her on her raised fetlock! Domino yelped in agony and a full blown equine version of a punch up took place. I stepped into the midst of it and got knocked about a bit. That was until they realised that they weren’t hitting each other. Then they stopped clubbing the life out of me.
“Oh, Beyancca, I’m so sorry.” Domino said. She added:
“I didn’t see you.” I looked at her strangely.
“You didn’t see me? Blind rage was it Domino?” I asked. Domino looked away. Jingle snorted and stamped about showing her anger at Domino and Jamie. Domino looked about her franticly.
“I need to get out of here!” she panted. Domino fled in a cloud of dust. She scampered up the track and disappeared into a field, probably in search of Mac, I couldn’t be sure. I suddenly knew I liked Domino very much. I remembered that she used to be public enemy number one. Jingle walked off swearing under her breath. I knew the grief and anger would be evident for some days to come. Dominic’s reputation as a super hero was established. This reputation would be difficult to shake off. I said earlier that I thought he knew where his place in the yard and his place in the herd were. But I know now that I was wrong. I looked around me and saw Jamie coming towards me.
“Hi Beyancca my darling!” he called.
“Hi Jamie dear!” I replied. Jamie ran to me and hugged me. My heart leaped as he touched me!
“Wow Jamie, this is wonderful!” I said. Jamie nuzzled my shoulder and my spirits soared to undreamed of heights. I wondered how I had managed without him. I thought:
“So what if he is a Field horse, he can love another horse with all his heart.” I could see that. I love him to the moon and the stars and back again, four times over, and more! I closed my eyes and concentrated on Jamie. He noticed my expression and teased me.
“You soppy old thing Beyancca.” He laughed. I hugged him tightly.
“I love you more than I could ever say Jamie, and what’s this about me being old? I’m only six!” I said. Jamie laughed.
“When we first met Beyancca, I never dreamed we would come to this.” He said. I couldn’t think of what to say. Balugue appeared then.
“Hi Jamie, Beyancca, how’re you today?” I replied:
“Finding out all about indescribable feelings of elation Balugue.” Balugue smiled at us.
“I thought I’d never see a yard horse and a Field horse deeply in love with each other.” She said. Jamie and I ran off up the yard and burst into the riding school. We found that the Manageress, Misty, crofter, Ruby, Chantilly, and Digby were working and were not impressed at us barging in. The Manageress whirled round on us.
“Can’t you see there’s a lesson going on here you two?” she asked.
“Sorry!” we said. We ran off and made our way back to our boxes, or should I say box. I opened my door and found Jamie coming in with me. That was fine by me. The weather had suddenly turned cold and it had started raining. In the barn we were sheltered from the weather even if we left our boxes and visited other horses that also lived in the barn. Jamie pressed himself close to me, I hugged him for the millionth time.
The rain drummed on the barn roof. Jamie sighed:
“Doesn’t weather like this make you even more grateful for shelter.” He said. I nodded:
”Yeah, it makes you think doesn’t it.” I said. The rain blew into the barn spraying our doors. Brydy looked out at the filthy weather through half closed eyes.
“I was trying to get some sleep!” she said sharply. I looked over towards Fleur’s box, yes you’ve guessed it, and Fleur was asleep! Not only was she asleep, she was snoring loudly! Brydy yelled at her.
“Oi Fleur! Wake up!” she yelled. Fleur twitched her ears but made no other response. Brydy gave up, she settled down in the straw and tried to sleep. Jamie and I settled down also. Soon all the horses, bar Misty, were either dozing, or totally spark out. Misty came back from her lesson while we were sleeping. She broke the peaceful atmosphere by slamming her door and crunching noisily into her straw. Digby came back almost silently and closed his door softly. Then I heard the steady clop of horse’s hooves coming round the end of the barn. The horse had a different tread to the horses that made up the usual traffic through and around the barn. I then recognised the horse, Cleo had come round to see her mate. Digby saw her and made “be quiet” signals to her. She joined him in his box. Digby and Cleo settled down and the barn fell silent once more. The Manageress came round then. She crept through the barn watching her horses sleeping. She opened my door softly and stroked my nose.
“Good girl Beyancca.” She said softly. I nuzzled her arm drowsily. The Manageress closed my door and left the barn.
We must have slept for a good hour or so before Mac shattered the peace! She came into ear shot shouting for me.
“Hey Beyancca! Are you there?” I shook myself awake and blinked hard to clear my vision. I looked over my door towards the entrance of the barn. Mac came thundering in with Domino panting along behind her. Domino gasped:
“Don’t you ever stop Mac?” Mac stopped, turned and looked her mother in the eye.
“Life’s too short to stop mum.” She said. Mac then battered my door with her fore feet until I yelled at her.
“We were trying to sleep Mac! Haven’t you got any consideration?” I asked. Misty put her two pence in.
“Yeah push off!” she snapped. Domino glared at Misty.
“Don’t talk to my foal like that.” she said ominously. Misty, feeling that Domino was pushing her luck, challenged her to a fight. There was no question that Domino would win the fight if this situation was to come to blows, because she was twenty-two years younger, and therefore more agile than Misty. Domino looked across at the enraged mare.
“Would you really want this to come to blows Misty?” she asked. Misty stared straight back at Domino.
“From what I’ve heard, you haven’t got Dominic to fall back on any more Domino! So I think we’d be quite evenly matched don’t you?” Mac then said something to Misty that sealed their acrimonious relationship for good.
“Look Misty, Mum’s twenty-two years younger than you. Do you really think you have a chance against her?” Misty was spitting with fury!
“What! Don’t you ever speak to me like that again you bloody Cow!” Misty shouted. Domino was enraged by the older horse’s disrespect for her foal!
“It was you who started all this Misty! Why don’t you just shut up and accept the fact that you’ve lost!” Misty bared her teeth at Domino and tore open her door. She advanced on the younger horse and made moves as if she would attack her. But instead of attacking Domino, Misty went for Mac! From that moment on Misty didn’t know what had hit her. She had seriously underestimated Domino’s agility and knowledge. After two and a half years of watching her Son fighting countless horses, Domino had picked some tricks up that Misty hadn’t even heard of. Because of this Domino beat Misty within three minutes, while still managing to protect Mac the whole time she was fighting. Misty came out of that scrap having learned not to try it on with Domino ever again! Misty limped back to her box worn out and bruised in many different places. She spent the rest of the day sulking. The Manageress noticed Misty’s sudden withdrawal into herself. She asked us about it and got a graphic description of the whole thing from Mac.
“Thank you Mac. I’ll take it from here I think.” She said. Mac looked up into the human’s face.
“Misty threatened my mum, and she paid for it, mum hit her!” she said. Brydy and Chantilly had kept quiet while all this was going on. They felt it was none of their business. Jamie had watched Domino’s technique when she fought Misty. He noted how much of the Field horse method was evident in her manner. Obviously Dominic had learned that way also. He decided he wouldn’t tell her the origins of her methods. He felt he might lose a friend if he did. Cleo stuck her head out of Digby’s box and looked sympathetically at Domino.
“I’m sorry to hear about Dominic.” She said. Domino blinked back tears. I thought:
“Dominic might have been a stupid fool and a violent menace, but we must never forget that he was your Son Domino.” Domino gulped back tears.
“Yeah thanks Cleo.” She said quietly. Then Domino remembered something.
“You used to hate Dominic and I, you couldn’t stand us!” Cleo looked very unhappy.
“Yes Domino, I remember that, but, I’ve changed, I’m not the horse I was.” Domino had been segregated from the rest of the herd during the last month and a half before Mac was born. She had been isolated from the herd, so she hadn’t seen Cleo and Digby’s sudden friendship. Nor had she seen the way that it had turned quickly into much more than a friendship. Domino stared at her enemy with undisguised fear and hatred! Brydy noticed Domino’s hatred and sighed with exasperation.
“For heaven’s sake Domino! Why don’t you let it drop and give Cleo a chance?” Domino turned her hatred on Brydy.
“What would you know? You never saw what she did to Dominic, nor did you see what she did to her own foal!” Cleo asked:
“Where is Poppie?” Domino looked at her quickly.
“The Manageress sold her I think.” She said. Cleo gulped:
“I never knew that. Why didn’t you tell me Domino?” Domino replied:
“Poppie never wanted me to tell you. You weren’t any type of mother to her were you Cleo?” Cleo began to cry.
“I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to think.” She sobbed. Digby hugged his girl friend.
“Look, in a year you’ll have another foal Cleo.” He said. Domino stared at her.
“You mean you’re pregnant!” she screamed.
“Yeah, I am Domino, and you can’t do a bloody thing about it!” Cleo yelled. Domino sneered at her old enemy.
“You’re not going to have that foal Cleo. I’m going to make sure of that!” she screamed. Mac looked at her mother.
“You won’t do anything to Cleo. If you do I’ll hate you forever!” she said. Domino looked at her Foal.
“No Mac, I won’t do anything to her. But I can’t ever forgive her for what she did to Dominic and Poppie.” Domino said softly.
“I’m sorry Cleo, I didn’t mean that. Perhaps you have changed. I haven’t seen that yet. But I can’t forget what you did to Dominic and Poppie.” Mac replied:
“Think of the joy you had when I was born and remember it. Don’t deny Cleo that joy, either before or after her foal’s born, all right mum?” Domino looked at her foal.
“I don’t know what to say Mac! I’ve never heard a foal say that to her mother before!” Mac said:
“There’s always a first time for everything mum.” Mac looked into Cleo’s eyes.
“You’d make a good mother I think Cleo, take care of your foal.” She said. Cleo smiled at Mac.
“Sometimes it takes a foal to turn a mother’s attitude around.” She said. Domino’s shock at her foal’s words was almost indescribable. Mac had made her think of what she had said to Cleo over the last two and a half years. Domino was beginning to regret saying those things. Domino suddenly said:
“I’m sorry for everything Cleo!” Brydy was so shocked at this that she nearly fell over!
“Would you repeat that Domino?” she asked. Domino threw a glance at Brydy.
“Why? I’m not saying it again! I’ve been screwing myself up to this for a long time!” she snapped.
“Make sure you keep to that won’t you.” Brydy replied. Then the Manageress and the vet came to check on Cleo. Then, To Mac’s intense annoyance, the vet checked her over also.
“What do you think you’re doing? I’m healthy, perfectly fine!” Mac yelled. The vet released her and she scampered away and disappeared out of sight. Domino sprinted after her. I marvelled at her turn of speed. Domino disappeared around the same corner that Mac had turned only half a second before. The vet then checked Cleo over.
“She’s fine.” The vet said. The Manageress asked the vet to take a look at Misty. The vet checked Misty over. She found a few bruises on Misty’s body, and a very bruised pride under her coat. The vet asked the Manageress what Misty had been getting up to. The Manageress told the vet about the fight between Misty and Domino.
“Herd tension.” The vet said.
“Something like that.” The Manageress agreed. I felt that I wanted to run through the fields. I wanted to run, jump, roll, and dance, anything to break the atmosphere of tension. Jamie, Brydy, Mac, Cleo, Digby and I escaped into the fields. We ran out of the yard and ran away towards the fields. We did exactly what I listed above, all of it!
We fooled about for a few hours. We had many rough and tumble games, being careful with Cleo of course. Mac and Cleo got on famously. Even Domino joined us. I then realised how young Domino still was! She was a similar age to Fleur and myself. She rolled and played like the rest of us. It was strange to think she had had two foals and suffered bereavement, and she was only six! I felt that Domino had had to cope with a lot in a very short period of time. We stretched out in the wet grass. The rain had stopped and the sun was shining. I thought of all the events that had taken place over the last two months or so. I wondered how the herd had pulled out of the nosedives it had taken. I also thought of the joy, pain, grief, love, and lessons both felt, experienced and learned over that time. We had learned a lot about tolerating and respecting both the breed and beliefs of others. I hoped the rest of the year was going to be fine.
Well that’s that. I’m worn out from rolling on the grass with the rest of the horses. I’ve narrated over twenty pages, and I’m shattered, I think I’ll go back to my box and sleep it off. See you sometime later friend! Come on Jamie, let’s go!
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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