THE TYPIST ACCEPTS NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE MISUSE OF GRRAMMER DURING THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE. ‘ORSES SHOULD LEARN TO SPEAK PROPER LIKE!
READING THIS STORY MAY DAMAGE THE GRAMMER OF SOME ‘UMAN READERS, YOU ‘AVE BEEN WARNED!
I was asked to put that in, ‘ope you enjoy the story.
The pub ‘ack season ‘ad started. This consisted of us ‘orses carrying ‘umans to and from the various pubs in the local area. It was all right really, we met many other ‘orses on our travels, and this story is about such a meeting.
It was a cold clear day in late September. Beyancca and Silver ‘ad been causing ‘avock in the yard, well Silver ‘ad mostly actually. She ‘ad been running round the yard plaguing the life out of as many ‘orses as she could find. But despite this, she was still a favourite in the yard. As for B’, well she was leading ‘er on! Beyancca doesn’t know when to stop! I must say she used to know, but since she and Silver ‘ad got together, well, it seemed to ‘ave deserted ‘er. All right, B’ might be leader, but she’s also a thorough pain! She will roll on the grass and act the fool at least once a day. This is probably Silver’s influence on ‘er. But I mustn’t say too much, B’ did spare me from a long spell in the fields. I miss Jasper more than I can tell you, I’m not proud of what I did, but it cannot be undone. Back to the story anyway.
As I’ve already said, the pub ‘[ack season ‘ad started and we ‘orses were pressed into service to carry ‘umans from one pub to the other. It was gentle work. This was possibly due to the substances the ‘umans consumed in those establishments. I remember one time when I ‘ad to carry a ‘uman who was so incapable of controlling me, ‘e ‘ad to be tied onto the saddle to stop ‘im from falling off! When we returned and the Manageress got to ‘ear of what ‘ad taken place, well it needs no explanation what ‘appened to the ‘uman concerned. ‘e was given a good shouting at and sent ‘ome for a good while. As for me, I went back to my box wondering if some of what ‘appened was my fault. I concluded that I was blameless after around four hours ‘ad passed and the Manageress ‘adn’t shown up. This is a brief outline of what ‘appened on one of the worst occasions. But in the main, the ‘umans were well be’aved, better be’aved in fact than some of us ‘orses. I don’t think you’re gonna like this, when I tell you that the ‘orses who caused most trouble were Brydy and Fleur!
“What! No they can’t be the troublemakers! You must be mistaken Chantilly!” I ‘ear you shout. But no, I’m not mistaken, I was there, so I should know! For example, Brydy would jump into the nearest ‘edge as soon as she sensed a car coming close, and Fleur, well she ‘ad a problem with letting Beyancca past ‘er. I thought they’d sorted that out earlier? Perhaps not, ah well, that’s life I suppose. Fleur would scream at Beyancca for attempting to pass ‘er on the road, while B’ would ignore ‘er totally. This infuriated Fleur to such a degree she ‘ad to be restrained by an instructor. As for me, well, hmmm yeah, I just clopped along, minding my own business, but watching everyone else’s. It seems we ‘orses ‘ave the same problem ‘umans ‘ave, in that we find it impossible to keep our private lives private in front of another species. If it’s not the ‘umans discussing their most intimate affairs in front of us, we’re doing exactly the same thing in front of them! Talk about bringing your private life to work! Fleur and some other ‘orses I could name, Confiada for one, ‘ad that problem. She was always bitching on about this ‘orse, or that ‘uman who ‘adn’t observed ‘er stupid rules on not visiting ‘er. I ‘ad tried to tell Confiada that it was a ‘uman thing to go and visit ‘orses. Confiada told me to go away in no uncertain terms and I took ‘er advice, not wanting to get into a fight with ‘er over the matter. I looked over at Confiada. She was calm, serene almost.
“Pity she wasn’t like that all the time.” I thought. There was no doubt that Confiada was good at what she did. But she was so frigid in her attitude towards ‘umans and ‘orses alike, that it did ‘er no favours at all. I ‘ad seen many newcomers to the yard, very upset by Confiada’s lack of warmth towards them. Confiada also ‘ad looks, yes she was a beautiful mare. She ‘ad looks to die for, she knew it, and flaunted it outragiously! So the poor unsuspecting ‘umans who came to pet her got a nasty shock when she showed ‘er inner self. She ‘ad bitten many a ‘uman who ‘ad crossed ‘er unwritten boundaries. Now she was clopping along quite calmly, her ‘ead ‘eld ‘igh, ‘er feet carefully placed, and ‘er whole manner one of stately grandeur. ‘ell she makes me sick! Confiada saw me watching ‘er and made comment:
“Yes Chantilly, what do you want?”
“Nothing Confiada, nothing at all.” I replied. Confiada sighed ‘eavily:
“I’ve been watching you. You’ve been watching me intently for the last ten minutes! Why is this?”
“Oh ‘ave I? Can’t say I’ve noticed it myself.” I replied. Confiada swerved across swiftly and butted me savagely in the neck! ‘er nose smashed into my neck causing me to stumble. I regained my balance to find Confiada walking beside me as if she ‘adn’t just attacked me. As for me, I was panting ‘ard and stumbling from time to time. Confiada’s attack ‘ad knocked me for six. I looked up and down the string of ‘orses to see if any of the ‘orses ‘ad noticed our little altercation. I noticed one break off, as if by accident and draw alongside me. I knew this trick, Confiada was razor sharp when it came to surveillance. She kept an eye out for anyone acting the remotest bit like they were watching ‘er. If she suspected anything, Confiada would seize them and punish them, ‘orse or ‘uman, it didn’t matter. I didn’t know it then, but I found out later, that it wasn’t the ‘uman’s decision to drop back, it ‘ad been made by the ‘orse. That ‘orse was Ruby. I know Ruby’s ‘ad bad press lately. She’s got a temper on ‘er that can only be matched by Confiada’s, but she’s not malicious. Ruby loves ‘er ‘erd, and ‘ates Confiada. But now she was looking out for another ‘erd member, making sure that the offending party did not get the upper hoof on anything. Ruby kept giving Confiada sideways glances whenever she was not looking. As soon as Confiada turned ‘er gaze on ‘er, Ruby would look at something totally removed from her. This practise, though well thought out on Ruby’s part, was not fullproof. This was to be proven very shortly. The plan would ‘ave worked a treat if Confiada ‘ad been ‘orrid and stupid. But she was ‘orrid and smart, a deadly combination. Confiada soon worked out Ruby’s plan, the first I knew of this was when she suddenly lunged at ‘er! Confiada took Ruby’s ear in her teeth and nearly tore it off! Ruby squealed and fought madly, but Confiada ‘eld on tight! Blood began to trickle from Confiada’s mouth as the two ‘orses fought. Ruby began to scream:
“Let me go! Let me go!” Confiada ground her teeth for answer. Ruby’s shriek of pain was ‘aeart rending!
“Let ‘er go Confiada, you stupid bloody idiot!” I snapped. Confiada opened ‘er mouth to reply, quickly Ruby freed ‘er now mangled and bloody ear from danger. Jinja appeared on the scene carrying the Manageress on ‘is back, ‘e ‘ad run back to us the moment Ruby cried out. The Manageress wisely ‘adn’t tried to break up the fight, for she knew what a dangerous task that would be. ‘er usual way of breaking up a fight, when diplomacy ‘ad failed, involved a lunging whip, or the threat of one at best. The Manageress never used it if she could at all ‘elp it. But today, she ‘ad no lunging whip, only a crop, and that was no use for long distance control. Confiada walked away, spitting insultingly on the ground at Jinja’s feet as she left. ‘e ‘ad watched this display of aggression with growing alarm and anger. The moment Confiada was out of sight, the Manageress dismounted from Jinja and walked across to deal with Ruby’s wounds. Jinja turned his ‘ead my way. I saw the torment in ‘is eyes as ‘e looked at me.
“She makes me feel sick.” ‘e said faintly.
“Who? Ruby?” I asked. Jinja sighed:
“No, no! Confiada of course!” ‘e replied. Jinja rested ‘is ‘ead on my shoulder.
“What a bloody awful mess.” ‘e groaned. I couldn’t ‘ave put it better myself. While Ruby’s rider led ‘er back to the yard, the rest of the string carried on. The Manageress re-mounted Jinja and ‘e clopped off towards the front of the string, leaving me alone with noone to talk to. I ‘ad been put with a ‘uman who wanted a quiet, slow ride to a pub. But I didn’t wan’a go slow! I quickened my pace and was checked back by my rider.
“Old codger!” I thought, and tried again. I ignored the now blistering contact on my mouth and sprinted forward! The bit bit into my mouth and I could taste blood as it rubbed against places it wasn’t meant to rub. My rider was screaming and yelling for assistance.
“Someone stop her! She’s going mad!” She yelled. The Manageress came up alongside me and spoke to my rider.
“Chantilly was probably looking for another horse to chat to. You can’t blame her really.” The ‘uman complained that she wanted an easy ride, and I wasn’t giving her it! The Manageress replied:
“Chantilly’s a horse, not a robot. She has mood swings like the rest of us.” The ‘uman shut up after that. I managed to join Beyancca at the front of the string. She was discussing Confiada’s outrageous behaviour with Jinja. When she saw me coming, she stopped ‘er discourse and turned to me.
“Hi Chantilly.” She sang out. I replied:
“Confiada’s behaviour is bloody monstrous Beyancca! I ‘ope you give ‘er something to think about when we get back.” B’ looked at me sympathetically.
“I’ll do my best to make her see. But it’s going to be difficult to do it. Confiada never reasons anything out. She’s worse than Fleur for that! At least Fleur has an excuse!” Over’earing B’s referance to ‘er, Fleur whinnied in indignation:
“What! You say I never reason anything out! How dare you!” Beyancca replied:
“You’ve got no common sense Fleur.” Fleur was outraged!
“How can you say something like that? I’ve got as much common sense as the rest of you!” She yelled. By now we were drawing near the pub which was our final destination. We clopped into the car park and were astonished to find, not a car, but an ‘orse and cart drawn up by the door! The ‘orse was a magnificent Shire mare, ‘er coat shone in the autumn sunshine. ‘earing our approach she turned ‘er ‘ead and whinnied at us:
“Hi! ‘ow’s things?” Beyancca muttered something under ‘er breath like:
“Oh hell! Another horse with terrible speech! As if one wasn’t bad enough! Now we have two!” I ignored ‘er comment. I answered the Shire ‘orse:
“Fine thanks, and you?” The Shire replied:
“Bored, bored, bored!” I was curious to find out more.
“Why? Why are you bored? I think I’d like your job, walking round the pubs, drinking endless amounts of beer, ‘n’all that.” I said. The Shire mare snorted in indignation:
“Pa! Yeah right! And when do I get a look in on the beer? Never! Bloody never!” She fumed. The Drayman appeared then. ‘e was a fat, lumbering old boot of a ‘uman. I noticed ‘e didn’t take much notice of ‘is ‘orse as she complained about the state of ‘er working conditions, perks of the job etc. e muttered:
“You be grateful for what you’ve got.” The disgruntled Shire mare replied:
“No! Why should I? For one thing ‘uman, I didn’t want to do this bloody job! And for another, you’re a fat, beer swilling brute!” The Drayman lost his cool and smacked the poor Shire mare with ‘is whip a few times. I felt bloody sorry for ‘er. She said:
“See what I ‘ave to suffer?” This was more a statement than a question. We all looked away in shame. The Drayman and ‘is ‘orse passed us and disappeared up the lane. Beyancca turned to me:
“Poor sod.” She said.
“Yeah, she is that.” I replied.
“She’s not even allowed any beer, that’s an outrage!” Fleur spat.
“What would you know about beer Fleur? You’re not old enough to drink.” Beyancca pointed out.
“Well! That’s mighty fine coming from you Beyancca! You’re only seven yourself!” Fleur replied acidly. I tried to defuse the situation:
“Look B’, and you Fleur. Can’t we ‘ave a peaceful ‘ack? Can’t you forget your differences and be civil to each other?” Fleur snarled:
“No, no I won’t! Beyancca’s a domineering bitch!” Beyancca squealed with rage:
“What! You’re not so fine yourself Fleur, so shut it!” Jinja gave me a withering look.
“No peace on the horizon.” ‘e commented.
Meanwhile, our riders ‘ad dismounted from our backs and found their way into the pub. Beyancca looked down at the grass under ‘er ‘ooves.
“Don’t feel like eating none of that.” She said dispiritedly. I think the Shire ‘orse’s complaints ‘ad struck a chord with all of us. She was a fine ‘orse with all ‘er life ahead of ‘er. No ‘orse in their right mind would stay at that job for more than a few years. They’d go insane! I know I would. Eventually the ‘umans came out of the pub and re-mounted. We carried a chattering, laughing group back to the yard. I think the Manageress was the only sober ‘uman in the group. On reaching the yard we were untacked and left to go our separate ways. I was walking back to my box, thinking of a warm straw bed, when Beyancca stopped me.
“Look, Chantilly, I can’t get that poor Shire mare out of my head. I just wondered if you felt the same way?” She enquired.
“yeah B’, she was definitely depressed.” I replied. Beyancca sighed ‘eavily:
“I hope she’s not gonna do anything stupid.” She said.
“Trust me B’, she won’t, she won’t.” I replied gently. Beyancca rubbed ‘er nose against mine.
“Cor’ that feels good.” I thought. Ever since Jasper’s death, I ‘ad missed an ‘orse’s touch. I ‘ad felt lonely I suppose. Beyancca noticed my reaction to ‘er nuzzling.
“You’re a soppy thing Chantilly.” She remarked.
“I’m a very lonely thing.” I thought. B’ noticed my expression.
“You all right Chantilly?” She asked.
“No, not really.” I admitted. B’ stared long and ‘ard at me.
“You’re missing Jasper aren’t you.” She stated. At the mention of ‘is name, tears began to roll down my nose, I couldn’t stop them.
“Yeah Beyancca, I’m missing ‘im more than ever.” I sobbed. Beyancca ‘ugged me. I sniffed:
“I wan’ ‘im back B’! I love ‘im, I didn’t mean to kill ‘im!” I choked. Confiada over’eard me and made spiteful comment:
“You know who to blame for that, bitch! You killed Jasper, and I’m gonna kill you one day Chantilly! After what you did, that’s a light punishment for you!” I buried my ‘ead in Beyancca’s shoulder and ‘owled in misery. Beyancca supported me literally for about five minutes or so, while I cried like a foal. Silver noticed my distraught state and came up close. She nuzzled my shoulder and tried ‘er best to comfort me. I put my nose down to ‘ers and rubbed it. Silver ‘ugged me as best she could.
“Don’t worry about Jasper.” She said. I sighed ‘eavily.
“It’s bloody ‘ard Silver. I can’t believe what I did.” I replied. Cleo came into view around the corner of the barn. She clopped towards me, and passed me, ‘eading towards the indoor riding school. I watched ‘er go:
“I wonder if she’s forgiven Beyancca yet?” I asked myself. I walked back to my box and lay down on a fresh straw bed. I stretched out languidly on the straw and closed my eyes.
“Sleep.” I thought gratefully. I settled down in the straw and fell off black cliffs into oblivion. I floated in blissful nothingness for what seemed an age before I felt someone shaking my shoulder. I partially surfaced and realised that I was being nuzzled by an ‘orse. I opened my eyes and saw,,,
I couldn’t believe who I saw! In front of me I saw the Shire mare who ‘ad been at the pub! I was sure of it! She looked at me sadly.
“Can you ‘elp me? I tracked you down, followed you, please forgive me for that.” I nodded:
“Yeah, don’t worry about that, let’s get down to business.” I urged. The shire mare shrank back as the wind blew ‘arshly through the yard and savagely whipped at ‘er.
“Cor’! It’s bloody cold!” She gasped. I don’t know whether she meant to look at me pointedly. I patted the straw with my ‘oof.
“Come on, come in ‘ere and get warm.” I suggested. The Shire mare settled down in the straw. I closed the door, then drew the top door closed also. This made the interior of the box gloomy. But this was comforting. The Shire mare sighed contentedly.
“I like it ‘ere.” She murmured.
“Why did you track me down?” The Mare looked frightened.
“I, I, didn’t mean you any ‘arm Chantilly! I really don’t mean you any ‘arm! All I want is to get out of my job, but there’s one thing I wan’a do before I say farewell to the ‘ell. I wan’a steal as much beer as I can. But I need you to ‘elp me do it. Could you do it? Per’aps you could ask a few of your friends to ‘elp as well? ‘ow about that large white ‘orse? She looked as if she could pull something like that off.” The Shire mare was in full flood with this idea. I ‘eld up my right forefoot to stop ‘er!
“Firstly, ‘ow the ‘ell did you manage to find me? Secondly, I would very much doubt it if Beyancca would ‘elp you in your plan, and thirdly, what the ‘ell’re we gonna do with the beer if we do manage to steal it?” The Shire mare was astonished at my question!
“What do you mean “What the ‘ell’re we gonna do with the beer?” Drink it of course! Are you that stupid Chantilly?” The Mare’s manner annoyed and offended me.
“What the ‘ell do you think you’re playing at, addressing me like that? You don’t know me, and I certainly don’t know you! I’m at my wits end with you Shire ‘orse! Just get to the point and then don’t trouble us any more!” I yelled. The poor mare looked worried.
“Look, Chantilly, I, I, didn’t, didn’t mean to cause you offence! All I wanted was to see if you would like to ‘elp me get payment for our years of toil under these ‘umans.” I shook my ‘oof at the Shire mare and she fled from my box in terror! I ‘eard her ‘ooves skidding on the concrete as she tried to run away and slipped as ‘er ‘ooves lost grip. But then she was off! Running for ‘er life! I watched the dust settle.
“I wonder if I was to ‘arsh on ‘er.” I thought. Dismissing those thoughts from my mind, I settled down and fell asleep. I was on the edge of unconsciousness when Beyancca came calling. She thumped on my door, making me start with fright!
“Um, yeah, wha’s matter? Who wants me?” I asked quickly. Beyancca was almost dancing with rage!
“Did you have a visit from that bloody Shire mare Chantilly?” She snapped.
“Um, yeah I did, why what’s the matter with ‘er?” I asked. Beyancca looked down at me lying on the straw and lost ‘er temper!
“Stand up you lazy bloody horse!” She commanded. Wondering what ‘ad changed B’ from a placid creature into a raging bitch, I stood up as she commanded. Seeing my expression, Beyancca relented:
“Look, Chantilly, sorry about that. I didn’t mean it.” Beyancca fought back tears.
“I don’t know what came over me, I really don’t.” She sighed. I ‘ugged ‘er.
“What’s wrong with wanting to steal a bit of beer?” I asked.
“It’s wrong Chantilly, stealing’s wrong! Didn’t your mother teach you that?” Beyancca replied.
“Well yeah she did B’. But there’s nothing wrong with taking a bit ‘ere and there is there? Come on B’!” I coaxed. Beyancca’s ears flopped as she considered my statement.
“yeah all right Chantilly. But how the hell’re we gonna do it? We can’t just walk up and carry one of those huge barrels away with us? No horse could do that, could they?” Beyancca enquired.
“What do you mean “’ow’re we gonna carry it away?” The same way as it got there of course! We take the lot, take it as it came. All we ‘ave to do is make sure the Shire mare gets off without getting ‘er ‘ide whipped.” Beyancca released ‘erself from my embrace.
“All right, how’re we gonna do it.” She asked.
“We’ve got to somehow make sure the ‘uman she’s always with, is some’ow put out of action.” I replied. Beyancca was ‘orrified!
“I’m not ‘hurting a human for a barrel or two of beer!” she whinnied.
“No, no B’! Where the ‘ell did you get that idea from? We wouldn’t ‘urt a ‘uman. We’d just make sure ‘e was out of the way, that’s all.” I replied. Beyancca shook ‘erself and straightened up.
“I’ll give the matter some thought. Can we involve a few of the others in this?” She asked.
“Um, well yeah, not too many mind. We don’t want arguments in the ranks on the day as to who’s gonna do what.” I replied. Beyancca walked away slowly. I watched ‘er go, wondering for the thousandth time what ‘ad made ‘er blow up at me.
“Nerves possibly, the enormity of ‘er position in the ‘erd per’aps.” I reasoned. B’ disappeared out of sight, leaving me to my own thoughts. I opened my door and escaped into the yard. I walked into the driving yard where Carmen and two other ‘orses, Sunny and Ellie were stabled. Ellie was owned by Beyancca’s instructor friend. I knew nothing of Sunny, and we’ve met Carmen and know about ‘er. Carmen was re-counting ‘ow she’d been in an English riding lesson and found it bloody ‘ard going.
“This female human made me canter! At first I couldn’t get it together, began to think I’d never do it. But then, bingo!” Ellie was listening intently. I don’t know much about ‘er. She never causes trouble in the yard, but then she’s not been ‘ere long. I wondered where Sam, our resident badger ‘ad got to. ‘e could usually be found in the driving yard, either arguing with Carmen, or chatting to Ellie. But today ‘e was nowhere to be found. I felt strangely annoyed at this. Turning to leave, I found Sam standing be’ind me. At the sight of ‘im I jumped a mile!
“’ang on a bit! Where the ‘ell did you spring from?” I exclaimed. Sam smiled:
“I was standing behind you all the time Chantilly.” ‘e replied.
“Well thanks for not telling me.” I said. Sam raised his paw and smacked my right forefoot. I lay down and ‘e clambered onto my back. I ‘eaved myself to my feet and walked out of the driving yard into the main yard. I turned to my right and walked past the indoor riding school. The Majority of the Field ‘orse ‘erd were ‘oused in there, and so were Balugue and a stubborn mule named Muffin. I wandered aimlessly about, sort of accidentally on purpose making my way into the indoor school. Sam moved restlessly on my back. ‘e whispered into my ear:
“Is this safe?” I looked round at ‘im.
“Yeah, of course it is. Why shouldn’t it be?” I enquired.
“you know? Field ‘orses ‘n’all that Chantilly.” Sam replied.
“Oi! Smart bugger! Don’t drop your H’s just cos’ I do it, right!” I remonstrated.
“Sorry.” Sam replied. I noticed that while all the field ‘orses were tied up with ‘ead collars, Balugue wasn’t. All she ‘ad was a chain in front of ‘er. She could ‘ave easily stepped over it and freed ‘erself. I knew she did this quite often.
“Per’aps the Manageress knows that Balugue won’t cause problems if she escapes. Not like them bloody Field ‘orses.” I thought. Balugue stopped me.
“Have you seen Beyancca lately?” She asked.
“yeah I ‘ave. Why? You want ‘er for something?” I asked.
“I was curious to find out how she’s getting on with her job, that’s all.” Balugue replied.
“Go and ask ‘er then.” I suggested. Balugue’s ears flopped as she thought about this.
“No, no I couldn’t do that. She’d never forgive me if I went to her. Not after what I did to her Chantilly.” She said.
“That’s fine by me.” I replied. Just then Beyancca came into the school, she looked tired. She yawned:
“Just been on a hack. Cor! It’s bloody freezing out there!” She said. B’ looked at me blearily.
“I could sleep for a week.” She said. Beyancca looked at the clock in the small riding school. She swore at it’s message:
“Oh bloody ‘ell! I’ve got another lesson in fifteen minutes, and it’s English riding ‘n’all! I hate English riding style!” She whimpered. With that B’ turned tail and walked dejectedly back to ‘er box. I turned and strode out of the riding school. Sam still ‘eld on for dear life as I walked. ‘e put ‘is mouth close to my ear and whispered:
“Can you put me down here please?” I lay down and put ‘im on the ground. Sam scampered away leaving me feeling strangely lonely. I gulped and stood up.
“Come on Chantilly, pull yourself together!” I told myself. I shook myself vigorously and stamped about a bit.
“A little better.” I thought. I knew the root of my problem was Jasper, or ‘is absence to be accurate. The sound of ‘ooves brought me out of my trance. I looked up and saw Beyancca coming towards me. She looked bored with the whole thing.
“I wan’a sleep.” She said to noone in particular. I rubbed ‘er nose with mine.
“Just an hour more, that’s all B’.” I said gently.
“It’s all right for you! You’re not the one who’s already done three hacks today!” Beyancca complained.
“You will sign these contracts b’.” I pointed out. This wasn’t what Beyancca needed to ‘ear at that time. I was told this by B’s sharp ‘oof crashing into my right foreleg. I yelped and ‘opped about a bit.
“Cor! Bloody ‘ell B’!” I gasped. Beyancca stormed off with ‘er rider. I limped painfully back to my box and rested my now throbbing leg. I reflected that my comment was ill advised, if not utterly stupid. I reasoned that I probably deserved what I got. I lay down to take the weight off my sore foreleg. I tried to sleep, but the pain in my leg stopped me. It was so intense I couldn’t manage it. In the end I cried like a foal. The Manageress put ‘er ‘ead round my door and saw my distressed state. She came in and gently touched the sore part of my leg. I screamed in agony!
“What’ve you done now Chantilly?” The Manageress asked. I gasped:
“The bloody sod kicked me!”
“Who? Who kicked you?” The Manageress enquired. I replied through clenched teeth:
“b, Beyancca.” My leg was ‘urting me more than ever now. The pain was so intense I was beginning to feel sick. The Manageress called the vet and ‘e came to see me. ‘e felt my leg gently and told the Manageress that I ‘ad a possible fracture.
“There’s a possibility she’ll never be able to work again.” The vet said. My whimper of protest caused the vet to look round.
“You’re not ‘appy are you Chantilly.” ‘e stated.
“Would you be ‘appy if you were told you’d never work again?” I asked.
“Look Chantilly, it’s only a possibility.” The vet replied. Meanwhile the Manageress was trying to come to terms with the facts laid before ‘er. According to me, Beyancca ‘ad kicked me so ‘ard she’d fractured my leg. This was so out of character for Beyancca that the Manageress ‘ad trouble believing any of it. She went to ‘ave a word with ‘er.
Beyancca was working in the riding school when the Manageress came calling. She asked Beyancca to go with ‘er because she ‘ad to ‘ave a word with ‘er. Beyancca knew what the chat was going to be about and laid ‘er ears back at the thought of ‘aving to discuss our little altercation. She said:
“yeah what? If it’s about Chantilly, her leg’ll be all right. I didn’t kick her that hard.” The Manageress shook ‘er ‘ead.
“I’m afraid you did Beyancca. You fractured her leg.” B’ was stunned:
“What! I can’t have done that! There must be some mistake! Surely you’ve got it wrong!” She yelled.
“No Beyancca I haven’t got it wrong.” The Manageress replied.
“Is she all right?” B’ asked anxiously.
“The vet says she might not work ever again.” The Manageress replied conversationally. This was meant to ‘it Beyancca ‘ard and it ‘ad its desired affect. She raised ‘er ‘ead and whinnied in misery:
“I never meant to hurt her! I was tired, frustrated, totally pissed off! I never meant to do her damage! Honest I never meant to!” She wailed. The Manageress ‘adn’t finished yet.
“You’re meant to be leader of the herd Beyancca! You’re meant to show restraint! You didn’t do that, you lashed out at another horse and now she’s in a lot of pain and might never work again! You’re no leader Beyancca.” With that the Manageress turned her back on an extremely upset horse, and strode away. Beyancca ran to my box and found it empty. Ruby informed ‘er that I ‘ad been carted off by the vet only five minutes before.
At the vet’s place I was pumped full of painkillers and my leg was X-rayed for damage assessment. After a long agonising wait, the vet announced that my leg was not broken, just badly bruised.
“It feels worse than that!” I thought. The vet proscribed field rest for me and drove me back to the yard. I limped into Jinja’s field and collapsed on the grass beside Silver. She watched my uncontrolled flop and noted the way I ‘eld my leg.
“Confiada kick you did she?” She asked.
“No, Beyancca.” I replied. Silver was disbelieving:
“Oh yeah, and pigs might fly. What’re you on about? Beyancca wouldn’t do a thing like that. It’s not in ‘er.” Silver replied. Someone said:
“Actually, I did do it. I kicked Chantilly Silver.”
“Oh hi B’. What’s this about you kicking ‘er then?” Silver asked. Beyancca re-counted the whole sorry tale.
“I lost my temper without good reason. I know you were right Chantilly, I had signed too many contracts. It was my own fault. Look, I know this is gonna sound inadequate and cheep, but I’m really sorry for what I did. The Manageress had a real go at me. She told me I was unfit to be herd leader, and, and she also told me you might not work again!” Beyancca’s eyes filled with tears. These were genuine I knew. ‘ere was an ‘orse who ‘ad flown off the ‘andle and was now paying the price. Beyancca sniffed:
“Is it true? Can’t you ever work again?” She asked.
“No, it’s not true. I’ll be back, in a month, or month and an ‘alf.” I replied. Beyancca didn’t look as relieved as I thought she might.
“Per’aps she’s mulling over what the Manageress ‘ad to say to ‘er. I bare no resentment towards ‘er.” I thought.
“I feel terrible Chantilly.” Beyancca sobbed. She lay down beside me. another familiar voice said:
“yeah and so you should!” I looked up, straight into Confiada’s eyes. She was staring, not at me but Beyancca.
“I’m gonna make you like her Beyancca!” Confiada threatened. Before Beyancca could even think about jumping to ‘er feet, Confiada was on top of ‘er. She kicked and bit at Beyancca, tearing ‘er right ear and beating ‘er up severely. Silver could do nothing to ‘elp, so I ‘ad to. I got to my feet as quickly as was possible without causing me to go through the roof and attacked Confiada. I beat ‘er off B’ and made quite sure she wasn’t gonna get up! I then took a look at my friend.
Beyancca was lying on the grass breathing ‘arshly. She was sobbing and shaking violently. I touched ‘er nose with mine.
“Beyancca, Beyancca! Talk to me! Talk to me!” I pleaded. She groaned and struggled to ‘er feet. Beyancca coughed ‘arshly and panted for breath. She shook herself and looked at me.
“Chantilly, are you all right dear? Are you injured? Did that bitch hurt you?” She panted. I shook my ‘ead.
“No, No she didn’t. Don’t worry Beyancca dear.” I replied. Beyancca let me lean on ‘er shoulder. Confiada sprang to ‘er feet and screamed at me!
“You’re a bloody disgrace Chantilly! Leave me alone! Don’t ever,,,” I kicked ‘er ‘ard in ‘er forelegs! Confiada squealed and charged at me! I beat ‘er up for a second time and made ‘er ‘ave to lie prone on the grass and beg for mercy. She resisted like ‘ell, but soon she gave in.
“I give in, just leave me alone Chantilly! Leave me alone! Go on! Leave me, leave me!” She pleaded. I left ‘er and limped off with Beyancca and silver. Confiada ‘ad another go at us as we left. She screamed obscenities at us.
I reached the yard and limped up the two steps into the barn where Beyancca lived. I collapsed on the straw in ‘er box and she joined me. Beyancca gently touched my sore foreleg with ‘er nose.
“That hurts still doesn’t it.” She said.
“I don’t think beating up Confiada did it any good.” I replied.
“Why risk yourself Chantilly? I’d’ve been okay.” B’ said.
“No! Of course you bloody weren’t okay! Confiada would ‘ave killed you if she ‘ad the chance! Come on Beyancca, you know she would ‘ave done it. I couldn’t ‘ave that ‘appen to you could I.”
“Even after what I did to you?” Beyancca asked.
“yeah, even after that. You might be ‘erd leader Beyancca, but you’re still very young. You ‘aven’t ‘ad the experience to deal with this yet. What’s more, you don’t know the first thing about fighting. You wouldn’t ‘ave stood a chance against ‘er!” I said. Beyancca’s ears drooped as she thought about what I’d said.
“Yeah Chantilly, you’re right there.” She replied. I yawned and stretched. I struggled to my feet and looked out at the weather. Rain ‘ad started coming down in sheets.
“Glad I’m not hacking out in that!” B’ said. She touched my nose with ‘ers.
“You know something Chantilly? Ever since I hit you I’ve not been able to sleep.” She said. I looked at ‘er face and saw ‘er exhaustion. I also saw ‘er tears of frustration at the situation.
“I’m worried about you Chantilly!” She said quickly.
“Don’t worry about me B’. Get some sleep, you need it, I can see you’re totally beaten. Settle down, close your eyes and drift off, that’s an order!” I replied. Beyancca ‘esitated:
“As long as you’re gonna be okay Chantilly.” She said. I replied:
“Of course I bloody will. I’m not a foal any more.” Beyancca did as I suggested. She rested ‘er ‘ead on my shoulder, closed ‘er eyes and was soon asleep. I rubbed my nose against ‘ers from time to time, reassuring ‘er like. Beyancca breathed deeply.
“you snore and I’ll kill you!” I thought. The Manageress came round then. She took note of the situation and left us to it. Beyancca began to snore, I thumped ‘er ‘ard!
“Shut it!” I snapped.
“Hmmm, wha’?” Beyancca enquired drowsily.
“you’re snoring!” I snapped. Beyancca sighed deeply:
“Sorry for that.” She murmured. With that she fell asleep once more. I closed my eyes and drifted off. The warmth and security of B’s presence calmed me. We seemed to sleep for an age. Suddenly Beyancca screamed in terror!
“Wha’s matter now?” I groaned. Beyancca was staring wildly about ‘er.
“I ‘ad an ‘orrable dream Chantilly, it was awful!”
“What ‘appened? And don’t drop your H’s b’.”
“I dreamed that the Farrier had taken my shoes and replaced them with these horrible mountain ones. They were like the mountain boots the humans use. Just like the ones I told you about a few months back.” I nodded:
“Yeah, but what’s so bad about them? Your idea was a good one.” I replied. Beyancca wrinkled ‘er nose at me.
“I hate being shod! If anyone touches my hooves I go mad! To have these horrid mountain boots strapped onto my hooves, well it’s a shock! That’s what made me cry out.” I looked down at Beyancca’s ‘ooves. The old shoes were still there. Beyancca suddenly squealed:
“Oh hell! Farrier’s coming round tomorrow! Perhaps he’ll have these mountain shoes I keep dreaming about!”
“I doubt it very much B’. But what damage would they do? If anything I think they’d improve the situation for us ‘orses. No more loose shoes, no more ‘oof picks, fantastic grip on slippery grass, and, totally recyclable!” I said. Beyancca looked at ‘er ‘oof.
“yeah, might be good.” She mused.
“you came up with the bloody idea!” I pointed out.
“Did you tell anyone?” I enquired.
“yeah I told the Manageress.”
“There you go! mountain boots on the way.” I said. Beyancca groaned.
“I didn’t mean her to take me seriously Chantilly.”
“Tell the Manageress that.” I suggested. Beyancca looked down at ‘er ‘ooves.
“No more loose shoes, no more working days lost because of lost or loose shoes. Wow that’d be wonderful!” She thought.
I was booted out of Beyancca’s box later that evening and told to:
“Go to the office and get your shoes removed.” I did so, wondering what the ‘ell was going on! My shoes were only two weeks old, why change them so soon? My shoes were removed and I was allowed to go. I ‘ad to be careful now. I ‘ad to make sure I didn’t walk too much on concrete. My feet felt light and I almost floated back to my box. I settled down that night feeling I ‘ad been messed about by the ‘umans.
The next day I was woken by the Farrier bashing on my door.
“Go away!” I shouted. The Farrier opened my door, grabbed ‘old of my right forefoot and shoved it into a boot type thing. Before I knew what was ‘appening, all four feet were in mountain boots!
“I must look like a bloody idiot!” I thought angrily. I tried to remove the boots, but couldn’t. This enraged me so much I began to whinny at the top of my voice. This, along with the boots she was wearing, tipped Ruby over the edge! She tried unsuccessfully to break down ‘er door. The mountain boots stopped ‘er from doing any damage what so ever. I opened my door and went out into the yard. My ‘ooves, no, boots, made next to no sound on the concrete. This really annoyed me!
“Now ‘orses will be able to creep up on each other more easily. I’ll bet you one ‘orse will find that out and exploit it!” I thought angrily. I stamped round to Beyancca’s box. She was lying on ‘er straw bed, trying for all she was worth to get ‘er boots off. Of course she couldn’t do it. The ‘umans weren’t that stupid. I saw that the sole of the boot ‘ad studs, like a football boot, but in a different fashion. Seeing me, Beyancca sprang to ‘er feet and waved a booted forefoot at me.
“See! What did I tell you? I said they’d be round with these bloody monstrosities didn’t I!” She screeched. Beyancca’s female riding instructor friend told ‘er to:
“Stop complaining B’. it’s for your own good.” Beyancca was scornful.
“Oh yeah right! I really believe that! They were more expensive than ordinary horseshoes weren’t they?” The Manageress came past and over’eard ‘er remarks.
“Half price actually.” She pointed out. This shut Beyancca up for good. She looked down at ‘er feet and sighed ‘eavily:
“I suppose I’d better get used to them.” She said to noone in particular. Beyancca opened ‘er door and strode out into the barn. Fleur gave ‘er a disgusted stare.
“Why the bloody hell didn’t you keep your bloody mouth shut!” She complained. Beyancca ignored ‘er torrent of invective and clomped round to the indoor riding school, I followed. The atmosphere in the small riding school could be cut with a knife! The Field ‘orses were waiting for the ‘orse who ‘ad suggested that they wear the boots. Beyancca stamped into the school and was stopped abruptly by Balugue.
“What the bloody hell do you call these Beyancca?” She asked acidly. B’ looked at ‘er sympathetically.
“I know they’re unusual, but there’s a good reason for their conception.”
“Conception? What’s conception?” Canterello asked.
“Isn’t it another word for birth control.” Fabrecai replied. Beyancca collapsed with laughter.
“No no! That’s contraception!” She whooped. Balugue brought the subject back to the boots.
“I mean, look at these!” She waved her right forefoot,
“They’re awful! I can’t see why you suggested the Manageress take it up!” She yelled. I shot a look over at Jitan. She was looking dispiritedly at ‘er boots.
“Oh dear B’, what ‘ave you done?” I thought. Balugue stepped over ‘er chain and escaped into the main yard. She ran along to the office, burst in and screamed at the Manageress.
“What the ‘ell do you call these?” She waved ‘er right forefoot at the Manageress.
“Boots, what else would you call them?” The Manageress asked. Balugue almost danced with rage!
“Beyancca might have suggested an idea to you, but you didn’t have to take it up! Now we’re gonna look like idiots!” Balugue complained. The Manageress ‘ugged ‘er.
“You’ll get used to it in time.” Balugue stamped her foot in rage!
“You don’t see other horses wearing boots!” She bellowed.
“Carmen does.” The Manageress pointed out.
“Carmen’s strange! She’s mad!” Balugue replied. Carmen over’eard Balugue’s ‘igh volume denunciation of ‘er and flew out of ‘er box intent on doing ‘er serious damage. The Manageress ‘eld Carmen off and shied the lunging whip at ‘er. Carmen ran off in fear. Balugue clomped back to ‘er stall and lay down. Jitan complained loudly:
“If I don’t get these boots off soon, I’m gonna go insane!” I asked ‘er to lift up ‘er right forefoot. Jitan did, and I saw a curious contraption thing on the rear of the boot. There was a lever sticking out ever so slightly. Curious to find out what it did, I pushed it gently with my muzzle. There was a click and the boot fell off! Jitan whinnied in triumph:
“Yehaa! Look! One hoof!” she waved ‘er now exposed right forefoot.
“Can you do the same with the others?” She asked breathlessly.
“Um, yeah don’t see why not.” I replied. Jitan watched in amazement as I freed each of her four feet from it’s mountain boot.
“I’m free!” She yelled. With that Jitan fled from the school and charged off up the yard. The Manageress appeared after a few minutes, dragging a very angry Field ‘orse with ‘er. Jitan looked really dangerous!
“You’re not gonna put those bloody boots on my feet again! You do and I’ll bite you so hard you’ll be cursing me for the rest of your life!” Jitan squealed. The Manageress and two Lads made quite sure Jitan was fully immobilised before they strapped the mountain boots on again. The Manageress had a question for anyone who could answer it, ‘orse or ‘uman.
“Hang on a minute. The manufacturers of these boots said horses couldn’t ever get them off. If that’s the case, then how the hell did Jitan manage it?”
“Outside help I’d bet.” One of the Lads replied.
“Another horse you mean?” The Manageress asked.
“Yes.” The Lad replied.
“I’ would not be surprised at anything these horses did.” The Manageress said. She looked Jitan in the eye.
“Who helped you to get your boots off?” She asked. Jitan looked dumbly back at the Manageress.
“They didn’t fall off by themselves did they!” Fabrecai shouted.
“Who helped her to get them off?” The Manageress asked again. Fabrecai squealed on me, the bastard!
“Chantilly, it was Chantilly! She helped Jitan to remove ‘er boots!” ‘e yelled. I flew at ‘im! I kicked and butted at ‘im as ‘ard as I could. Fabrecai used ‘is teeth to fight me off. I came out of that scuffle bitten and bleeding.
“That’ll teach you to mess with me Chantilly!” Fabrecai snarled. Balugue surveyed the damage.
“You Big bully! You horrid little shit!” She screamed. Fabrecai charged at ‘er. Balugue screamed in terror! Fabrecai flattened ‘er! ‘e trampled ‘er under ‘is boots! When the Manageress finally beat Fabrecai off ‘er, Balugue was barely conscious.
“Can you ‘ear me Balugue?” I asked anxiously. I felt it was all my fault that she ‘ad got into this mess. Balugue groaned pitifully.
“I feel terrible Chantilly.” I dropped to my knees and laid my ‘ead on ‘er shoulder. Balugue was sobbing.
“Why did ‘e do this?” She asked faintly. The Manageress coaxed me to my feet and ‘elped Balugue into a more comfortable position. Then she went and ‘ad a bloody good shout at Fabrecai!
“What the bloody hell did you think you were playing at!” She yelled. Fabrecai snapped viciously at the Manageress. She smacked ‘im with the lunging whip. Fabrecai swore.
“Balugue called me a shit! I won’t have her calling me names like that!” ‘e screamed.
“She had good reason to.” The Manageress replied. Fabrecai tried to kick the Manageress off the face of the planet! The Manageress ran out of danger. I lost my temper and flattened Fabrecai into the dust! I left ‘im to ‘is stupidities and escaped into the yard. The rain was coming down in sheets now. My boots kept my ‘ooves dry. I sloshed along to the barn, climbed the steps and took shelter. Brydy caught my eye.
“These boots are bloody pointless!” She snapped. I kept my views to myself. I thought Beyancca’s idea to be a good one, I was sure there would be a use for these boots in the end. I clomped along to the restaurant and kicked the door in. I wanted a cup of tea! I thrust my head in and saw a ‘uman serving be’ind the counter. ‘e saw me and nearly left the country!
“First it was Beyancca. Now it’s Chantilly!” ‘e yelled. I waved a forefoot at ‘im.
“One ‘uge cup of tea please.” I said. The ‘uman nearly tore ‘is ‘air out!
“What’s going on? Am I going mad? I must be! Is this true? Are horses coming to me for cups of tea all of a sudden? Or am I dreaming?”
“Never underestimate us.” I said. The ‘uman screamed and attacked me with a broom’andle! I snatched it from ‘im and beat ‘im with it!
“See ‘ow you bloody like it!” I screamed. I threw the broom’andle down and fled from the restaurant. I saw Jinja in the car park, ‘e looked ‘acked off! “I’m gonna fry Beyancca for this! Mountain boots indeed! Only Beyancca could have thought up such a bloody awful idea!” ‘e fumed.
“I thought B’ was your friend?” I said.
“Don’t get me wrong, she is, but I still think this mountain boot idea was bloody awful!” ‘e replied. I ‘eard a strange sound. What was it? Ah yes! The clop of an ‘orse’s ‘ooves, that’s what it is! Sure enough, an ‘orse did come into the yard. I was shocked and annoyed to see who it was. The shire mare ‘ad come back:
“Bugger!” I thought angrily. I stood in front of the mare and asked:
“What the ‘ell do you want now?” The mare looked at me sideways. I flipped!
“Look, either say what you ‘ave to say and get out, or just get out and never trouble us again!” I shouted. The Shire mare looked frightened.
“I can’t stand any more Chantilly. My master’s a proper,,,”
“yeah, we get the idea.” Jinja interrupted. The Shire mare looked terrified.
“Look, beers gone now. I don’t wan’a steal it any more, just ‘elp me, ‘elp me get out of there!” She pleaded.
“Is it just your master you’re worried about or is there more to it than that?” I asked.
“’orses as well. There’re ‘orses who wan’a kill me Chantilly.” The Shire mare replied.
Well you’re ‘ere now, just come with me to
Beyancca’s box and we’ll see what we can do.” I suggested.
“I ‘ave to go back first, You see, I ‘ave a foal, ‘e’s dependant on me.” The Mare replied.
“You’ve ‘ad a foal? You don’t look like you ‘ave.” I said.
“No no, not me. I’m looking after ‘im. ‘is mother died after giving birth to ‘im.” The mare said. My opinion of this Shire mare was beginning to change. I ‘ad first thought of ‘er as a menace. But now she ‘ad told me about the foal, and I could see what just talking about this foal did to ‘er, I began to revise my view of ‘er.
“All right, you go back to your foal and bring ‘im ‘ere. Then we’ll se what we can do to ‘elp.” I suggested.
“Will you come with me Chantilly?” The mare asked.
“Why? What can I do?” I asked.
“I need protection. Those ‘orses, they’ll kill me and my foal if you, or you and your mate,,,” ‘ere she looked at Jinja, “don’t come with me.” Jinja said out of the corner of ‘is mouth:
“The sod thinks we’re married!” I ‘ad an ‘ard job not laughing. I mean, Jinja and I, what a match! I signalled to the mare to wait, and then took Jinja aside for a minute.
“Should we involve Beyancca in this?” I asked.
“yeah, of course we should, she’s ‘erd leader.” Jinja replied.
“Oi! Don’t drop your H’s, and you’re right.”
“Sorry Chantilly. But I can’t help it sometimes, your way of speaking is so funny.” ‘e replied. So while Jinja kept the mare company, I went in search of Beyancca.
I found ‘er ‘aving an argument with a number of the ‘orses, both yard and field, about the mountain boots. There was a good deal of ‘oof, or boot waving, and a deal of swearing also. When B’ saw me she broke away and came towards me.
“Bloody Shire mare’s back ‘ere again.” I said. Beyancca bared ‘er teeth.
“What does the bugger want this time? Beer is it?”
“No, more like asylum.” I replied. Beyancca snorted:
“You what Chantilly? You know we haven’t got any more room in the yard. Not with all the horses being wintered here ‘n’all.” She replied.
”I know that! But this is a desperate case, there’s a foal involved.” I said. I outlined to ‘er what the mare ‘ad told me. To say Beyancca was shocked would be putting it mildly.
“What! No! That’s awful! You know how to put me in awkward situations don’t you!” She whinnied.
“Don’t shoot the messenger.” I cautioned.
“Sorry Chantilly. But we can’t do it! But on the other hoof, If these horses come to harm because I didn’t pull my hoof out, I don’t know what I’d do!”
“So the answer’s yes?” I asked ‘opefully.
“yeah, but I don’t know what the Manageress will have to say about it. She’ll probably hit the roof when she finds out. But by then, well it’ll be too late.” B’ replied.
“You ‘ave a plan then?” I asked.
“Um, yeah, not very well thought out though.” I was excited, things were beginning to move at last!
“We’ll give it a go, come on, let’s go! The foal’s in imminent danger!” I urged.
So Beyancca rounded up Cleo, Ruby, Ellie and Balugue and told them to meet in the car park.
B’s plan was a simple one.
“We enter the yard, take the foal and escape. Then we get back here a.s.a.p.”
“A.s.a.p.?” Ellie asked.
“As soon as possible you stupid idiot!” Cleo snapped.
“Oi! That’s not very nice Cleo!” Ellie whinnied. Beyancca’s right forefoot crashed into Cleo’s left foreleg making ‘er squeal.
“That’s only a taste. You’ll be getting more if you keep harassing Ellie.” B’ warned.
Meanwhile, I ‘ad been trying to find out a bit more about the yard where we were paying a visit. I tried to get the mare, who’s name I found out was Petra, to tell me a bit more about the ‘orses, good and bad who lived there.
“There are six we ‘ave to be bloody careful of. They’re dangerous, real dangerous!” She warned. Beyancca ‘ad been listening throughout the conversation, even when she ‘ad to break off to deal with Cleo. She was formulating in ‘er mind, ‘ow and where we were gonna strike. She quizzed poor Petra on details of the layout of the yard that obviously put the poor Shire mare up to a great deal of description of the place. I could tell she wasn’t used to in depth description, When Beyancca pressed ‘er on a finer point, Petra would almost break down in frustration.
“You do want an ‘ell of a lot of details don’t you Beyancca.” She complained.
“Look Petra, do you want your foal safe and well when we come out of this? Cos’ if you do, then there’ll have to be a lot of planning. Due to the urgency of the matter, we haven’t been able to plan it as we’d like. So it’ll have to be done on the way to the job, Okay?” B’ replied. Petra relented.
“Oh all right Beyancca, fire away.” She sighed. Beyancca exploded!
“If you’re gonna behave like that, then I’m not gonna bloody help you! We put our lives on the line for you and your bloody foal and you treat us like this! I’ve got a good mind to tell the others to go back to the yard and leave you here Petra! So what you wan’a do? Be a bitch and lose your foal, or clean up your feted act!
“’ow the bloody ‘ell can you say that Beyancca? It’s you who’s being the bitch! Not Petra! She’s distressed, you’ve never ‘ad a foal, so you’d never know! Just leave ‘er alone! Just do your job!” I yelled. Beyancca couldn’t answer me back. She ‘ad ‘er mouth open in shock that someone ‘ad answered ‘er back and won! Beyancca turned ‘er ‘ead away from me. She knew she was beaten. We Reached the yard around ten in the evening.
The yard was quiet. We crept along the first row of boxes, Petra leading the way. She ‘ad removed ‘er shoes and was now pretty quiet. Our rubber soled boots made next to no sound anyway. Petra entered one of the boxes and I ‘eard ‘er talking softly to another ‘orse.
“Come on Josh, time to go love.” She whispered. She reappeared with a tiny foal. ‘e must ‘ave been less than two months old! ‘e looked at our ‘uge forms and nearly cried out in surprise. Petra managed to calm ‘im and we crept away. Suddenly there was a shout!
“’ello! What’s this? We’ve got an invading ‘erd lads! Let’s get them!” Petra screamed:
“Run! Run!” We fled from the yard, Josh pounding along beside ‘is foster mother with amazing speed! We could ‘ear ‘ooves coming fast after us. We swerved onto the grass and pounded across it. Then into a grassy field, our boots slipping, but then gaining grip as we charged. But poor Petra and Josh weren’t so lucky. They had no mountain boots to give them grip. As a result Petra fell ‘eavily and couldn’t get up. Naturally Josh stopped to ‘elp ‘is mother. The angry ‘erd pounded over the field straight for the two unfortunate shire ‘orses! The next bit’s ‘orrable!
(CHANTILLY GULPS AND TRIES TO CALM HERSELF.)
The ‘erd trampled on Petra. They stamped on ‘er and made quite sure they did a thorough job of it. Petra’s squeals of agony were sickening! I cannot describe in words the ‘orror of seeing an ‘orse trampled to death by it’s own kind. We watched in utter fear and terror as the ‘erd went about its business. I felt sick then, and still do now when I think about it all. Petra wasn’t overstating the seriousness of the situation when she said they’d kill ‘er. When the ‘erd left off, Petra was dead. Josh ‘owever ‘ad survived the attack. If they intentionally left ‘im alone, that’s one of the cruellest things ever! The poor foal stared down at ‘is lifeless foster mum in disbelief.
“Mum! Wake up mum!” ‘e pleaded. Balugue couldn’t cope. She buried ‘er ‘ead in B’s shoulder and wept. I know there wasn’t an ‘orse in our group that didn’t ‘ave a lump in ‘er throat. The largest of the Shire ‘orse ‘erd knocked Josh flying! When the poor chap was lying on the grass, winded and sobbing, the blasted Shire ‘orse kicked ‘im!
“She’s dead! There’s no point crying over ‘er!” ‘e screeched. Beyancca ‘ad ‘ad enough! She shook ‘erself free of Balugue and charged the ‘orse who kicked Josh. She flattened ‘im into the grass and made quite sure ‘e wasn’t gonna get up. Seeing one of their own defeated, the other Shire ‘orses fled in panic!
Beyancca stopped. She looked round ‘er at the near lifeless Shire leader, and then at Josh Petra’s foal, and finally at poor Petra. I saw Beyancca was shaking violently. She breathed deeply, trying to control ‘er feelings of rage and grief. She approached Josh. The poor creature watched ‘er coming with a mixture of fear and wonder.
“What’s going to ‘appen to me now?” ‘e asked. Beyancca took a mental grip on ‘erself and answered calmly:
“You’re coming with us Josh.” Josh said something that tipped Beyancca over the edge.
“Will you look after me?” ‘e pleaded. B’ did ‘er best not to cry, but she couldn’t stop ‘erself. She ‘ugged the little chap as best she could, and let ‘erself go. Josh looked at ‘er sadly.
“you’re young aren’t you.” ‘e observed.
“yeah.” Beyancca sniffed:
“I am, sort of, I suppose.” Josh was too observant for ‘is own good.
“you’re leader also. I can see that. ‘ow old are you?” ‘e asked. Beyancca replied through ‘er tears:
“Six or seven, I can’t remember.” Josh exclaimed:
“you’re young! I thought you’d be about twenty!” Cleo snorted with indignation:
“How dare you talk to our leader like that!” She shouted. Beyancca gave ‘er a look that shut ‘er up instantly.
“I Can see what ‘e means.” She said quietly. She struggled to ‘er feet.
“Where’re you going?” Josh asked.
“Home, and you’re coming with us.” B’ replied. Josh looked B’ straight in ‘er eye.
“I don’t know what’a call you.” ‘e said foalishly.
“Try Beyancca.” She replied. To ‘is credit, Josh ‘ad a go at pronouncing it.
“B, Beya,,, I give up.” ‘e conceded.
“All right, try just B’.” Beyancca suggested. Josh didn’t like that.
“Ugh no! ‘ate that. Much rather learn the full version.” ‘e said. We walked away, leaving the Shire ‘orse leader to make ‘is own way back to ‘is yard. All through the long night’s travelling, Josh stuck close to Beyancca. She tried to be strong, to carry on doing ‘er job as leader. But the little foal beside ‘er was stirring in ‘er feelings she ‘adn’t experienced before. I think if she could describe them, it would go something like this:
“A feeling like I’d gladly give my life to protect josh. I suppose the feeling is like that which I had for Jamie, but then it’s totally different. The protective instinct wasn’t there with Jamie, but Josh, well put it this way. I’d meet death before I’d see him harmed. Yes, I’d give my life for Josh. I think it’s part of the maternal instinct, whatever that is.” These strange, confusing feelings were playing ‘avock with ‘er mind. For a time, Beyancca found it difficult to balance the needs of the ‘erd with those of Josh. We reached the yard around five in the morning. Josh followed Beyancca into the barn and into ‘er box. ‘e settled down in the straw and B’ lay down beside ‘im. Josh rested ‘is ‘ead on ‘er shoulder and fell asleep. But poor Beyancca could not sleep. What she ‘ad witnessed in the field earlier that night ‘aunted ‘er. The sight of those ‘orses, maddened by Petra’s desertion, and further enraged by our invasion, ‘ad, as far as she could see, trampled Petra to death for no reason. The ‘orror of the memory, plus the lack of any reason for the killing, made B’ very restless indeed. There was also the question of what to do with this foal she’d acquired. Beyancca got up slowly, being careful not to disturb Josh, and paced about ‘er box thinking deeply. Josh shifted slightly. Beyancca looked at ‘im and thought about ‘er feelings towards ‘im.
“Do I love him?” She asked ‘erself. She thought she did, in fact she knew she did.
“But he’s not my foal. Can a mare love some other mare’s foal as if it were her own?” She thought. Beyancca touched Josh’s nose with ‘ers. It felt soft and warm.
“He hasn’t even lost his infant coat yet.” B’ concluded. Suddenly Josh woke up, and stared straight at ‘er!
“Hi mum!” ‘e said. Beyancca nearly fell over in shock! Josh noticed ‘er distress but couldn’t understand what she was upset about.
“What’s the matter? Why are you so upset?” Josh asked. Beyancca gulped. She felt angry at ‘im for referring to ‘er as “mum.” But then again, well, she was strangely comforted by it also. Poor Beyancca didn’t know what to do! Part of ‘er was saying:
“Get on with your life! Leave the foal to someone else!” But another part of ‘er, possibly the stronger side said:
“This foal needs you, look after it, don’t give it up. Every foal needs a mother you know.” Beyancca walked straight out of the barn, leaving Josh wondering what ‘e’d said.
Beyancca walked up the track to Fleur’s now regenerating wood and lay down amongst the young trees. The morning was a disgusting mix of wind and rain, but she didn’t care. She ‘ardly noticed if the truth be known. Beyancca admitted to ‘erself that she was furious with Josh for calling ‘er “mum.” She thought:
“But why am I angry with him? Josh’s only young! Less than three months old I’ll bet. He doesn’t know much about anything yet. What would I have done if I was in his position?” She asked ‘erself. B’ realised she would have done exactly what Josh did. Beyancca sprang to ‘er feet, shook ‘erself, took three deep breaths and felt an ‘ell of a lot better.
“I’ll give the poor chap as much love and affection as I can.” She decided. With that Beyancca walked back down the track and into the yard. She was amazed to see Josh coming towards ‘er.
“Oh hi Josh.” She said flatly. She was so exhausted by emotion she couldn’t put any go in it. Beyancca saw ‘e’d been crying. She dropped to ‘er knees and ‘ugged the little creature.
“Hey Josh dear, wha’s matter?” She asked gently. Josh’s eyes filled with tears.
“Why did you storm off like that?” ‘e whispered. Beyancca ‘esitated.
“How can I explain what I felt to him? He’s so young! He’s been through a lot, I owe it to him to have a go at least.” Beyancca thought. She said:
“When you called me “mum” I was shocked,,,” Josh stiffened, Beyancca moved quickly to reassure ‘im.
“No Josh, it’s not your fault love. Look, I don’t know how to explain this to a youngster. Come to think of it I find it difficult explaining it at all. But when you called me “mum” I felt both anger and joy. I shouldn’t have been angry, I don’t know why I felt that way. But I had to get out of the situation and think through what I felt. I love you dearly Josh, don’t ever forget that. But there was something inside me that told me to leave you to another mare to care for.” When ‘e ‘eard this Josh looked frightened.
“You’re not gonna leave me are you?” ‘e asked anxiously.
“No Josh, of course not.” Beyancca replied gently. She ‘ugged ‘im tightly.
“I’m never gonna leave you Josh.” She said. Josh said:
“I didn’t mean to upset you. It just slipped out. I never thought for a second it would upset you B’.” Beyancca nuzzled ‘is shoulder.
“No Josh. As I said, I’m overjoyed to be called your mum. But I’ve never had a foal before. I mean, you expect it from a foal you’ve given birth to yourself, but not from one that you haven’t.”
“Shall I call you something else then?” Josh asked.
“No, you can call me mum if you like Josh dear.” B’ replied.
“You won’t be annoyed with me?” ‘e asked. Beyancca replied:
“No, carry on, please carry on.”
“I love you mum.” Josh said.
“I love you too.” B’ replied. Josh dried ‘is eyes and Beyancca got to ‘er feet. Josh seemed to notice the boots she was wearing for the first time.
“Hey mum! Those boots you’re wearing, what they for? They look cool!” ‘e said. Fleur over’eard ‘im and made unprintable comments.
“I ‘ope I never ‘ave language like ‘er.” Josh said. Beyancca gave Fleur a disgusted stare and she shut up. Josh looked down at Beyancca’s boots.
“I’ve never seen anything like them before. Where did you get them? I noticed you’re all wearing them.”
“I don’t know where they came from. But it all started with an idea of mine that I told to a human. She put it into operation and these boots were the result.” Beyancca replied.
“Worst luck!” Fleur snapped. Silver appeared then. Josh gazed at ‘er as if ‘e’d seen a miracle.
“At last, an ‘orse more my size!” ‘e thought. Silver rubbed ‘er nose against ‘is.
“Hi little’n.” She said playfully. Josh replied:
“You’re not so tall yourself so shut it!” Fleur was offended by ‘is familiar tone with Silver. But Silver didn’t seem to mind, in fact, if the truth be told, this endeared Josh to ‘er in a way little else could. She ‘ad a potential friend in Josh who was more ‘er age and for the time being at least, more ‘er ‘eight. Josh stared at the boots Silver was wearing. They were the same as the ones ‘is new foster mum was wearing, but smaller. ‘e turned to Beyancca.
“Would the ‘umans make me a set of these?” ‘e asked ‘opefully.
“I don’t see why not, but they have to learn about you first. They don’t know you’re here yet you see.” B’ replied. This state of affairs appealed to ‘im greatly.
“’ey! That sounds cool! Let’s keep it that way shall we?” Josh suggested. Silver said:
“Um, I admire your enthusiasm for covert existence Josh dear. But that wouldn’t be a very good idea.”
“Why not? I’d love ‘iding from the ‘umans. ‘ang on, I don’t know your name, but you know mine! ‘ow’s that?” ‘e asked. Silver smiled:
“My name’s Silver. I knew yours because I ‘ave other ‘orses who tell me things. I think you’ve met Chantilly?”
“yeah, think I ‘ave. She that ‘orse who speaks like me? Bloody awful like?” Josh enquired. Silver laughed:
“Yeah, that’s ‘er.” She replied. Silver turned to Beyancca.
“Can I show ‘im round the place?” She asked.
“Go ahead.” B’ replied. But Josh was wary.
“You will bring me back ‘ere won’t you?” ‘e asked. Silver seemed to understand ‘is agitation.
“I will.” She promised. With that Josh and Silver escaped into the main yard. They visited me first of all. I saw them coming.
“’ere come the two ‘ell raisers.” I teased. Silver took the bait beautifully.
“”’ang on a bit Chantilly! We ‘aven’t even started yet!” She replied. She reared up on ‘er ‘ind legs and thumped my nose with ‘ers. Josh found this display ‘ilarious. In a fit of total madness, Josh rolled on ‘is back and waved all four legs in the air. This was when the Manageress caught sight of ‘im. She approached ‘im carefully and made quite sure ‘e saw ‘er coming. Then she scooped ‘im up in ‘er arms and carried ‘im squealing and kicking into the office. Silver looked at me in ‘orror!
“What the ‘ell’s ‘appening? Where’s she taken ‘im?” she asked.
The Manageress ‘ad tied Josh to the leg of ‘er desk so ‘e couldn’t escape. She was furious that another ‘orse ‘ad been brought into the yard without ‘er knowledge. She was determined to find out who ‘ad done it. She stroked Josh gently and spoke kindly to ‘im.
“It was not his fault.” She thought. Josh shook with fright. ‘e watched as the Manageress left ‘im alone as she went to quiz us. ‘e whinnied with the pain of loneliness. This brought the Manageress back into the office. She led ‘im out into the yard and approached my box. The Manageress banged on my door until I came to it and opened it.
“What can I do for you?” I asked.
“Recognise this chap?” The Manageress asked.
“yeah I recognise ‘im. ‘is name’s Josh. We rescued ‘im from an ‘erd of ‘orrable Shire ‘orses. ‘e needs a mother. Beyancca’s looking after ‘im.” I re-counted the events that led up to Josh’s arrival in the yard. The Manageress listened intently.
“That’s horrible! How can horses do that to one of their own?” She asked.
“Search me.” I replied. Ruby watched Josh intently. ‘e noticed ‘er watching ‘im.
“There’s a large white ‘orse watching me Chantilly. What does she want?” ‘e asked. Ruby opened ‘er door and approached Josh. She rubbed ‘er nose against ‘is shoulder. The Manageress was out of ‘er depth.
“Hang on a bit Chantilly, let me get this straight. Beyancca’s mothering a foal from another yard?” She pointed at Josh.
“yeah, sweet isn’t ‘e.” I replied.
“Sweet he maybe, but we haven’t got room for another horse Chantilly!” The Manageress yelled.
“tell Beyancca that!” I shouted back. Just then Beyancca came past. The Manageress grabbed ‘old of ‘er mane and screamed at ‘er!
“What the bloody hell do you call this?” She asked angrily.
“Um, I think the common name for it is a foal.” Beyancca replied coolly.
“Cut the wise cracks! I wan’a know what the hell it’s doing in my yard!” Beyancca sighed:
“Firstly, ”it”, has a name, his name’s josh, and as to the reason why he’s here, well, his mother was killed by a rampaging herd of Shire horses. Will that do?” She replied.
“We haven’t got room for another horse! We’re snowed under as it is!” The Manageress yelled. Fortunately for Josh, Ellie ‘eard ‘er shouting at B’ and came to investigate. Guessing rightly what ‘ad gone before, she put a strong case to the Manageress as to why she should allow Josh to stay. Ellie described in great detail what ‘ad taken place before and during the rescue attempt. This, along with our evident liking for Josh, and Beyancca’s protective manner towards ‘im, caused the Manageress to rethink ‘er plans for Josh.
“He can stay in my box until he’s large enough to fend for himself.” B’ suggested.
“I should think so, you’re his foster mother I hear.” The Manageress replied. So that was settled. Josh was allowed to stay:
“Phew! Close one that was!” I thought. Silver took josh on a tour of the yard, Beyancca, Ellie and I followed.
First we ventured into Jinja’s barn. ‘e was eating straw and didn’t notice us approaching. Josh, the little scoundrel, crept up on Jinja and screamed into ‘is ear! The poor ‘orse jumped several feet in the air and whirled round.
“What the bloody,,,” ‘e stopped ‘is torrent of invective when ‘e saw who ‘ad frightened ‘im. Jinja’s eyes were wild!
“You scared the living daylights out of me!” ‘e exclaimed. Josh replied:
“Oh yeah, and the rest. What was it you were saying? Like to finish it?”” ‘e asked. Jinja waved this aside and changed the subject.
“Where the hell did you come from?” ‘e asked. Josh gave Jinja a sorrowful look.
“An ‘orrable yard a short distance away from ‘ere. An ‘orse was killed during my escape.” ‘e replied. I said:
“They trampled ‘is mum to death.” Jinja was outraged!
“Why? Why should they have any reason to do that?” ‘e asked.
“The fact she was lying on the grass, after slipping and falling was a good enough reason for them Jinj’.” I replied.
“If a Shire horse can slip and fall. Then why aren’t you all on the grass with the crap kicked out of you?”
“Jinja!” I remonstrated.
“Sorry, forgot about the little chap.” ‘e said. I said:
“These boots ‘elped us to keep our grip on the grass. Josh’s mother ‘ad normal ‘orseshoes on.” Jinja stared down at ‘is boots.
“So there was a reason for the boots.” ‘e replied:
“It was ‘orrable what ‘appened to ‘is mum.” I said. Jinja looked into Josh’s eyes.
“We’ll look after you little’n.” ‘e said. We left Jinja’s barn with ‘im in tow. Jinja, Josh and I made our way towards Ruby’s box. Josh recognised Ruby as the ‘orse who ‘ad approached ‘im earlier in the day. Ruby dropped to ‘er knees and ‘ugged the little chap. The day ‘ad turned cold and Josh was freezing! Ruby’s fur was nice and warm. ‘e pressed ‘imself against ‘er to share ‘er body ‘eat.
“Poor chap’s cold.” Ruby observed. I walked back to Beyancca’s box and Josh followed. I returned ‘im to ‘is foster mum and went away to the top field.
(I’M GONNA GIVE THIS BIT TO BEYANCCA TO NARRATE.)
“I saw Chantilly arrive with Josh. She left ‘im with me and then disappeared up the track. Josh turned to me.
“Mum, I saw an ‘orse looking at me as if I was dirt!” he said.
“Can you describe her?” I asked. Josh looked at me strangely.
“Tell me what she looked like.” I translated. Josh proceeded to describe Confiada exactly.
“Yeah, you’ve met Confiada. She’s a bitch!” I said. Confiada came into the barn as I spoke. She stared down at Josh in disgust.
“Ugh! Yuck! What a horrid scrap! Who’s looking after it?” She asked. Josh said under his breath:
“She is a bitch, you’re right there mum.” Confiada heard him and nearly kicked him out of the barn!
“What! What did you say! Did you call me a bitch? I think you did!” She raised her right forefoot to kick Josh out of existence. I waved a warning boot at her.
“Don’t try anything Confiada!” I warned. Confiada laughed:
“Now that’s the funniest thing I’ve herd! You couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding Beyancca! I’d like to see you try and fight me, I really would!” She mocked.
“I beat you once, and I’ll do it again Confiada, have no fear of that.” I replied. Confiada snorted with indignation.
“Insolent cow isn’t she?” She scoffed to anyone who would listen. Misty sighed:
“I have to disagree Confiada. You’re tolerance level is knocking on zero at the best of times, but now it’s in minus figures! You’re the intolerant one! You can’t even stand the sight of our most precious asset!” Carina added:
“In short you’d make a bloody awful mother.” Confiada clenched her teeth and fought to control what temper she had left.
“You’re all scum! I’d rather be in the Household Cavalry! If the Manageress had listened to me, not that she took much notice when I told her that I never, ever wanted to work in a stable yard, I’d be somewhere else!” A voice behind her right ear said:
“Ah! Isn’t that nice to hear now.” Confiada bared her teeth at the Manageress. The Manageress grabbed a handful of Confiada’s mane and shook it! Before she could say anything, Confiada wheeled round and struck out! The Manageress jumped clear of danger and left the scene. Confiada snorted and stamped about a bit.
“I deserve better treatment than that!” Candy spoke up.
“You deserve nothing! You’re an unpleasant, bigoted, breedist, unfriendly cow!” Confiada opened her mouth and screamed obscenities at me, Josh, Misty, Fleur, Brydy, when it came to her opinion of Brydy, Confiada was unrelenting in her condemnation and denunciation of her character, sexual preference, religious belief etc. I saw Brydy’s hurt and anger at Confiada’s insults. She quivered with rage! I motioned to her to leave it. Brydy surged out of her box and came across to me. Confiada left abruptly. I opened my door and let Brydy in. Josh followed, then I brought up the rear and closed the door behind us. I saw a deep, clean bed of straw. It was huge! I motioned to Josh and Brydy to eat their fill from the haynet. They did as I suggested, and when they’d finished, I scoffed the rest. Brydy and Josh lay down in the deep straw. I finished my tea and lay down beside Josh. Josh worked closer to me and laid his head on my neck. Brydy made quite sure Josh was sandwiched tight between herself and me. She knew how cold the day had become. But now the day was turning to evening. The evening stable run had started and it was time for warm rugs and a warm drink. The Manageress, knowing we were partial to the odd cup of tea, would sometimes come round with bucket fulls of the stuff. Wonderful it was! She did this that night. She was not a bit surprised to see Brydy in my box. This had become a regular occurrence, and the Manageress was used to it. She put two large buckets of tea in my box and we waited for her to depart before we drank the hot, life giving liquid. The tea wasn’t too hot to drink, it was a pleasant temperature, not too hot to drink, but not too cold that it didn’t satisfy our need for warmth. Josh watched Brydy and I drinking.
“Can I ‘ave some of that?” he asked. I removed my nose from the bucket and looked at him.
“yes, of course you can.” I drew back from the bucket, leaving it free for Josh to have his fill. Josh put his mouth down to the liquid, took a mouthful, turned and spat it onto the straw!
“ugh! Yuck! That’s ‘orrable mum!” he spluttered. I drank the lot. Josh watched me with undisguised disgust.
` “’ow can you drink that stuff? It’s ‘orrable and, well, it’s bitter and leaves a nasty taste.” Josh stated. Here was a foal who liked sugar in his tea. The Manageress never put it in ours, because as she said once:
“you horses have too much sugar in your diet anyway.” This was indeed true. Brydy and I settled down once more with josh between us. He rested his head on my shoulder and closed his eyes.
“Good night mum, good night Brydy.” He said dreamily. Brydy rubbed her nose against the little chap’s shoulder.
“Sweet isn’t he.” Brydy whispered.
“yeah, he’s wonderful.” I replied. I rested my head on my forelegs and fell asleep myself.
I was dreaming of a warm stable. It had loads of straw on the floor, bales of the stuff! It also had a full haynet, and a heater like the one I had seen in the office on cold winter days. Suddenly I heard a scream of terror! Very far away it was. At first I took no notice of it, but then someone, or something was bashing the life out of my nose! I shoved them, or it away with a forefoot and concentrated on sleeping. The voice, if it can be called that, was yelling for it’s mother.
“Shut up!” I thought angrily. My nose received another assault. I woke up suddenly! I was furious! I started to say:
“What the bloody hell do,,,” I stopped. Josh was sobbing into Brydy’s fur and she was doing her best to comfort him.
“What’s the matter? What’s wrong?” I asked. Brydy looked at me, her eyes were furious!
“You ignored your foal!” She snapped.
“What? I don’t know what you mean Brydy, honest I don’t.” I confessed. Brydy replied:
“Josh woke up after he’d had a nightmare. He squealed in terror but you never woke up! He tried prodding you with his nose, then his right forefoot, but you never bloody responded! You’re only action was to push him away! You’re not meant to respond to your foal like that Beyancca! You’re not meant to push him away like you did!”
“I don’t know what the bloody hell you’re going on about Brydy!” I shouted. Cleo told me to:
“Shut your trap!” Poor Josh was now getting over his tears, but despite this, he was still terrified. He turned to me. Fleur had been woken by Josh’s squeals of terror and now voiced her opinion.
“Don’t talk to her Josh. Beyancca’s not worth it. Not if she doesn’t even respond to the cry of her own foal!” I was upset, offended, grief stricken, everything to do with that, all at once. My emotions were so intense I just lay there, unable to move, unable to weep, unable to do anything to express how dreadful I felt. Fleur’s words, more than Brydy’s had done it. In the end I burst into tears.
“I hope you suffer!” Fleur snapped. Even Brydy felt this was a bit harsh. It was Candy who supported me.
“Come on you lot! Give poor B’ a chance will you! All right, she makes one mistake, does that make her a bad foster mother? Have you thought that what went wrong might not be what you think? A mare, when she has given birth to a foal, often makes bonds with that foal that protect it from harm, such as the one you expected Beyancca to have with Josh. Please remember that whilst Beyancca loves Josh dearly, he is not her offspring. She has taken the role of a guardian until Josh is old enough to fend for himself. I don’t know the full story of how or why he came to be here, but please, all of you, let her get on with her job.” Cleo asked:
“Have you finished candy?” Fleur snapped:
“Yeah Candy, since when have you been an authority on this subject?” candy couldn’t answer her, but she was sure she’d got it right.
Meanwhile Josh had lain down beside me. I asked:
“What was your nightmare about?” Josh looked more frightened than I’d ever seen him. Tears began to run down his nose as he fought with sheer terror!
“Confiada.” He whispered. I cursed Confiada out loud for ever existing!
“What happened?” I asked. Josh gulped hard, sniffed and said:
“You and ‘er were ‘aving an argument. She started beating the stuffing out of you mum! She ‘ad you on the grass and was killing you! Then I woke up. It was awful!” Josh buried his face in my shoulder and wept.
“Don’t leave me mum!” Josh pleaded.
“I won’t Josh, I won’t love. Confiada can’t touch me. She wouldn’t dare lay a hoof on me.” I reassured him. Brydy had rolled over and gone back to the land of nod. Fleur and Cleo had also retired to that very same place. Apart from Fleur’s snores, the yard was silent. Josh and I crept out of my box and along towards Confiada’s. We stood outside her box, staring in at the hated mare with a sort of deadly fascination. For if she had caught us, well I’d rather not think about what might have happened. By the light of the moon we watched Confiada sleeping. There was a sort of exhilarating terror running through us as we spied on her. Suddenly Confiada shouted!
“And what the bloody hell do you think you’re doing!” Josh screamed in terror!
“She’s gonna kill us mum!” Confiada snorted and panted, stoking up for a real explosion! She surged from her box, and picked josh up and threw him aside, literally! The poor foal squealed in agony as she gripped his ear in her teeth. Confiada twisted Josh’s ear until he was screaming with fear and pain! I was so sickened by this display of furosity that I just stood and watched, my body wouldn’t do anything else. My mind was willing my limbs to work but they wouldn’t. Confiada kept up the pressure until Josh was lying on the concrete, screaming and yelling. From the time when she had grabbed hold of Josh’s ear to the present moment must have been thirty seconds, no more, but it seemed like a lifetime.
”Once I’m working properly, I’ll flatten the bitch!” I thought. Well that was the plan anyway. What actually happened takes a lot of courage to describe in any detail. To this day I don’t know how she did it, but Confiada, she picked up my poor foal, and threw him bodily into the air like a Terrier would with a rabbit! I watched in horror as Josh arced through the air and landed on the concrete with a “Thud!” There were now a crowd of onlookers. Mainly field horses, the other yard horses couldn’t bare to watch our deadly match. Confiada opened her mouth and I saw blood on her teeth. That blood was Josh’s, I felt like vomiting, but a horse cannot. Confiada said:
“I want something you’ve got. I want the leadership of the herd Beyancca. All you have to do is submit to me in front of all the others, and your precious scrap of life you call Josh will be left alone. If you do not comply with my request, I will do two things. First I will Kill that bloody foal, and then, I will get rid of you slowly, so you have as much time to suffer as is possible. I will have the leadership one way or the other Beyancca. So what’s it to be? Will I have to carry out my threats? I can assure you they’re not empty ones. Or can I rely on you to be a good girl and save me a lot of messy business?” I thought madly that Confiada hated getting her hooves muddy, so how would she react with blood on them?
I stood there, too shocked and horrified at her threats to reply. Chantilly asked:
“you wouldn’t really do Josh ‘arm would you?” Confiada stiffened:
“Shall I show you? I’ll show you what I mean!”
“No! Confiada, don’t touch him!” Balugue pleaded. Confiada strode over to where Josh was sprawled. She drew back her right forefoot and took careful aim.
“She’s gonna kill Josh! And there’s not a bloody thing I can do to stop her!” Chantilly thought franticly. As for me, well, how can I describe total breakdown? In a last desperate attempt to save the thing most dear to me, I threw myself headlong on top of Josh. Confiada’s hoof smashed into my ribs.
I woke, and from the first second of full consciousness I wished fervently that I hadn’t! My ribs hurt, my head ached, my left foreleg felt as if it had been crushed under the hooves of several horses and that was only for starters. In short I felt dreadful! I raised my head, took the deepest breath I could without ending up in the ionosphere, and asked quickly:
“Where, where’s josh?” I felt a nose nuzzling mine.
“I’m ‘ere mum. I’m fine.” The relief I felt was almost too much to cope with. I desperately wanted to hug Josh, but I couldn’t. He noticed my distress and hugged me instead.
“You saved my life mum.” He said. I struggled to my feet. That’s not something I wish to go through again! The transition from a prone position on the concrete, to an upright position was agonising. Josh pleaded with me to stay where I was.
“Mum! Why you move if it ‘urts you?” He asked..
”If I don’t get up now Josh darling, I never will.” I gasped. I walked stiffly back to my box. When I came to the steps into the barn, they looked like Mount Everest. I tried to lift my left forefoot and place it on the first step, but it wouldn’t respond! My leg had been so badly trampled under Confiada’s hooves that she had nearly broken it. All the muscles had seized up and I couldn’t move it an inch. I dragged my now useless leg around the block and into the barn from the other side.
“No steps, better.” I thought. I dragged myself into my box and collapsed gratefully on the straw. I dimly heard another horse approaching, but didn’t take much notice. I felt the other horse lying down beside me. Because I had my eyes closed I couldn’t see who had come in. By the information I was getting I deduced that the horse wasn’t Josh, no it was too large to be him. The mystery horse said:
“you all right B’ dear?”
“Chantilly, phew!” I thought gratefully. After Josh, she was the next best horse I wished to see at that moment.”
(RIGHT, I’M GIVING THIS THING BACK TO CHANTILLY.)
Beyancca looked terrible! She was bruised and battered from the beating Confiada ‘ad given ‘er. I felt partly responsible for B’s state. After all I ‘ad asked Confiada if she really would carry out ‘er threats. I now saw that as a very bad move indeed. I tracked B’ back to ‘er box and found ‘er lying on ‘er straw bed. She was obviously feeling the affects of Confiada’s ‘ooves. I lay down beside ‘er and waited for ‘er to notice me. I didn’t wish to disturb ‘er if she was thinking of sleeping. Beyancca shifted slightly. I asked ‘er ‘ow she was doing and she relaxed as she ‘eard my voice. Josh appeared then and lay down beside ‘is mum on the opposite side to what I was. Beyancca took a shuddering breath.
“Where, where’s Confiada?” She asked.
“The Manageress tied ‘er up in knots. She’s no longer a danger to anyone.” I replied. B’s relief was evident. Josh said:
“I didn’t know ‘ow right you were mum, when you said Confiada was a bitch.” Beyancca closed ‘er eyes and sank into a tortured sleep. She would wake from time to time, squealing in terror! Josh and I would ‘ug and nuzzle ‘er until she calmed down and fell asleep once more.
“Mum’s ‘ad an ‘ard time of it ‘ain’t she Chantilly.” Josh said.
“Yeah, too bloody right she ‘as.” I replied. I leapt to my feet and shook myself.
”Come with me Josh. I’ve got something to show you.” I said. Josh did as I suggested and we left B’s box and ‘eaded along the row of boxes, round the corner into the main yard, and finally into a little side alley. ‘ere there was a box, and inside the box, tied up like a chicken was Confiada. As she caught sight of us she let fly with a stream of obscenities. I ignored ‘er outpouring and concentrated on making sure Josh kept well out of ‘er way. Confiada leant over the half door as far as she could and snapped viciously at the air. I looked at ‘er with loathing.
“I ‘ate you Confiada, and so do all the other ‘orses! I ‘ope you rot in ‘ell for what you’ve done!” Confiada’s eyes suddenly filled with tears. I watched in growing amazement as she sobbed. I don’t think she’d ever cried in ‘er life before this. But the realisation that she was beaten, plus the ‘umiliation of being first whipped, and then shut in the slammer, broke ‘er ‘ard, cold ‘eart. Like all bullys, Confiada didn’t show any regard for the feelings of those she tormented. But when it was she who was getting stuffed by the very ‘orses who she sort to stuff, well that was different. She was a big foal when ‘er own ‘ide was in danger. Confiada gulped:
“I can’t cope!” She sobbed. I ‘ad no sympathy with ‘er at all. I said:
“You expected other ‘orses to submit to your demands. You thought you were of an ‘igher status than the rest of us Confiada. You couldn’t take it when Balugue chose Beyancca, not you to be leader of the ‘erd. You couldn’t stand that. You first fought Beyancca for punters when Rosie died, and now you’re fighting ‘er for leadership ‘n’all. Worse still, the only way you could think of getting what you wanted was to threaten, and dam near kill Josh! You subjected Beyancca and ‘er foal to the most ‘orrendous ordeal you could dream up.” Confiada screamed:
“Those two were staring at me! They were! They were! I hate being stared at!” I replied:
“Beyancca was probably showing Josh who to avoid.” Confiada’s eyes were full of fear and terror! I think these were alien emotions to ‘er. She strained against the chain ‘olding ‘er to the wall. Failing to progress even an inch towards freedom, Confiada shook the chain ‘ard and then slammed it taught, straining with all ‘er strength to get free. All she achieved was a very sore mouth, for she was wearing a bridle. Confiada gave up and lay down to recover. Josh and I watched ‘er discomfort as she realised that she could not go on. I knew that some ‘orses in the yard, Jinja for one, ‘ad waited years for this moment. The moment when Confiada would see that she was no better than any other ‘orse in the yard. She also learned that ‘er be’aviour was disgraceful in the extreme. We could see that Confiada ‘ad undergone a bit of a change. I believe she would, at that moment, ‘ave licked my boots if I’d commanded ‘er. Confiada got to ‘er feet and looked at us.
“Let me out!” She snapped. Josh walked up to the door, grabbed ‘old of the bolt in ‘is teeth and fiddled with it provocatively, as if ‘e were about to undo it. Then, just as Confiada’s ‘opes were raised, ‘e let go and returned to my side. Confiada screamed:
“You bastard! You big bastard!”
“ I don’t know who my father was, and my mother’s dead, so shut it!” Josh snapped. Confiada’s mouth snapped shut like a safe. She glared at Josh with an intensity that frightened me. Then ‘er expression softened slightly.
“Look, Josh or you Chantilly, please, let me out will you.” She said quietly. ‘earing Confiada being civil for once was such a shock to my system that I ran into the main yard yelling for Beyancca. She came flying out of ‘er box, ‘er mane dishevelled, and ‘er eyes full of terror!
“What the hell’s going on Chantilly!” She shouted.
“It’s Confiada! She’s being civil to another ‘orse B’!” I replied. Beyancca sighed ‘eavily.
“I thought it was a life and death situation the way you were going on.” She said. I grabbed ‘old of B’s mane in my teeth and dragged ‘er along to where Confiada was imprisoned.
Confiada and Beyancca looked at each other.
“Let me out of here Beyancca. I can’t stand another night in this place.” Confiada pleaded. B’ shook ‘er ‘ead.
“No Confiada. What you did to me and Josh cannot be swept under the straw and forgotten about. You’re going to stay in there for two weeks from now. Only then will I review your situation. You’re going to pay for your offences Confiada, and no amount of pleading, scraping or begging on your part will change my mind.” Confiada replied:
“You could hardly bare to send Chantilly to the field horses Beyancca. You released her as soon as you could.”
“You and Jamie beat her up! That’s why I released her!” Beyancca bellowed. Confiada asked:
“What is this I’ve heard that you released her because you and Chantilly happen to be buddies?” Beyancca looked away. Confiada pounced on what she saw as an admission from Beyancca that she ‘ad been bios! What Confiada said next was so colourful not even I can say it. After all the multi-coloured language ‘ad been removed, there was very little left, but it went like this:
“you’re a terrible leader Beyancca! You’re not fit to be herd leader! You are a bios horse who looks after her own and doesn’t give a shit for the welfare of others! You should have let Chantilly fight it out with me and Jamie, you should not have interfered. You’re an unfit horse to be leader Beyancca! Unfit I tell you!” Beyancca knew she’d made one ‘ell of a mistake. She knew Confiada ‘ad taken ‘er gesture for what it indeed was, an admission of guilt. The fact was and still is, that Beyancca is inexperienced, so much so, that she cannot conceal ‘er true feelings from anyone, not even Confiada.
“We’ll have to have an election won’t we Beyancca.” Confiada stated. Beyancca was shaking violently with shock. She stared at Confiada, Poor Beyancca could do nothing else.
“Didn’t I say Balugue had made a bad choice when she passed the leadership on? My views have been vindicated.” Confiada scoffed. Tears ran down B’s nose as she realised what she’d done. Confiada said:
“If I get the leadership because of this, I’m gonna make your life hell!” Confiada did something then that I still can’t explain. She freed ‘erself from the chain where previously she ‘adn’t been able to, or so it seemed. Then she opened the door of the slammer, walked out and turned to Beyancca.
“Get in there!” She commanded. Before poor Beyancca could take stock of the situation, she was bundled into the slammer, chained up, and the door locked! Confiada said:
“I wonder who’s going to look after Josh?” Beyancca was crying openly now.
“You leave him alone! Don’t lay a hoof on him Confiada!” She pleaded. Confiada replied:
“The poor chap’s so young he doesn’t understand what all this is about, does he Beyancca? Or should it be B’?” Beyancca bristled with rage! “B’” was ‘er pet name, only ‘er closest friends were allowed to call ‘er by it. To ‘ear Confiada use it was almost more than B’ could take. Confiada twisted the knife.
“Say farewell to your foal B’. For when I’ve finished with him, he’s not gonna want to know you!” She said. I felt dreadful! I wondered if all this was an ‘orrable dream? I bit my tongue:
“yow! That ‘urt!” I thought. I shook myself and blinked ‘ard, but B’ was still in the slammer poor thing, and she was still weeping, and Confiada ‘ad the upper ‘oof dam it! Confiada said:
“Josh’ll have to get used to his foster mum being a criminal! He’s not gonna want to know you B’.” She scoffed. Man! ‘ow I wanted to kill ‘er! Confiada led Josh away in floods of tears. As for me, I averted my gaze from my now disgraced leader.
“Does a lack of judgement merit this?” I asked myself. Poor B’ looked at me. She laid ‘er ears back.
“I want my foal.” She sobbed.
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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