Hi, B’ here.  You remember I was chained up at the end of the last story?  Well I’m still here and Confiada’s got josh!  I can’t cope, I haven’t seen my foal for two weeks!




“Oi!  Stop crying you big foal!”  I looked round to see Confiada standing in front of my door.  She was kicking at it with her forefeet.  I got up from my prone position and walked as far as my chain would allow.  I was stopped a foot from the door.  Confiada looked at her handiwork with satisfaction.

       “Stuffed you didn’t I.”  She remarked fatly.  I bared my teeth at her and tried to boot the door as hard as I could.  But my foot couldn’t reach the door.  I gave up and concentrated on jerking the chain taught with all my force!  Confiada watched my discomfort with undisguised delight.

      “You won’t get free Beyancca.  You won’t you know.”  She teased.  I stopped struggling against my restraints and lay down.  Yes, I knew it was hopeless to even attempt to free myself.  Confiada wasn’t that stupid.  My mind wandered back to the time when she had come to make sure I was securely tied up.  While Confiada tied me up, Jamie made quite sure I wasn’t going to try anything on.  He kicked and thumped me until I was nearly unconscious.  Then he stopped, let me recover a little and started it all over again!  They had trust me up and left me to suffer.  Josh had been taken away from me, making my situation worse.  I had no idea what he was going through at the hooves of Confiada.  Was she holding him hostage?  Or was she just playing with me?  I couldn’t be sure.  What I knew was that I hadn’t seen him now for two weeks.  Confiada left me and I settled back onto the concrete.  You see, there was no straw in my box.  Also my boots had been removed so I was barefoot now.  I had no protection against stones or the hard concrete.  Because my hooves were softened by the use of horseshoes, they weren’t up to the job when it came to protecting my feet from stones and other sharp objects on the road.  As a result I was footsore already.  You might be asking why the Manageress didn’t intervene in this.  The plain truth was that Confiada guarded me jealously.  If anyone came within spitting distance of me she would beat them up.  So the humans never attempted to get close.  Even the lunging whip couldn’t bring Confiada to order.  I drifted on the edge of an uncomfortable sleep.  Suddenly I heard Confiada yelling for me:

        “Come on Beyancca!  Get your lousy carcass out here now!”  I scrambled to my feet, swore viciously as the concrete irritated them and staggered towards the door.  I stopped as my chain jerked taught.

        “I can’t come to you Confiada, I’m still chained up!”  I shouted back.  Confiada came blustering into the box and kicked me on the way past.  Her hoof connected with my fetlock!  I squealed with pain and raised my foot off the ground to massage the painful area.  This was what Confiada’d been waiting for.  She waited until my foot was clear of the ground and then kicked the sole of my hoof, hard! Too bloody hard!  This was meant to hurt me, and it did!  I screamed in agony and lashed out with my hind feet.  I heard Confiada yell as I caught her a sharp crack on her nose.  The chain was off now, I turned and attacked Confiada for all my life was worth!  I converted the pain from my fore feet into anger to spur myself on!  I beat her into the concrete!  When I’d finished I was bitten, bleeding, sore, sweating, but victorious!  I made quite sure Confiada was tied up before I escaped into the main yard.  My feet hurt like hell as I walked.  In the end I had to stop.  I stood leaning against Ruby’s door, lifting my right forefoot, then my left, my right hind and so on.  I did this to take the weight off each foot so that the pain wasn’t too much to cope with.  I looked over to where the barn stood.

       “Wana get over there.”  I thought.  I put one foot in front of the other, slowly, very slowly I limped towards the barn.  I staggered up the two steps and tore franticly at the bolt on my door.  I hadn’t eaten much during my imprisonment and now I was weak and in desperate need of food and a lot of attention.  You see, even though the food was there, I hadn’t eaten much, mainly because Confiada wouldn’t let me.  She would stand guard over the bucket and beat me off when ever I tried to get a mouthful.  In the end I stopped trying.  I scrabbled the bolt open and yanked furiously at the door.  It gave and I flopped down on the straw suffering from acute exhaustion and severe hunger.  I sank into a restless sleep.

      “If you’re so hungry Beyancca, why don’t you eat?”  I hear you ask.  Well the reason is this.  I was so weakened by the treatment I received at Confiada’s hooves that I couldn’t summon up the strength to.  I lay there feeling worse than I had for ages.  I knew I must eat, but I couldn’t, didn’t much want to anyway.  I got up after an hour or so of just lying there.  I shuffled over to my haynet and took a few half hearted mouthfuls of straw.  Forcing myself to eat was a struggle.  I didn’t want to, but common sense told me that if I didn’t eat when I had the chance, I might never get the chance again.  I managed five or six mouthfuls of straw before I was too sickened by the sight, smell and taste of the stuff to eat any more.  Flopping back down again I, I felt something nuzzling me! I screamed in terror!  A voice I didn’t know said gently:

     “Hey B’, come on dear, it’s only me, Ellie, don’t you remember me?”  I had been so absorbed in my weakened state that I had failed to notice her arrival.  Ellie surveyed my dishevelled appearance with undisguised horror.

      “What did she do to you?”  She asked.

      “Um, starved me into submission, beat me black and blue.  That sort of thing.”  I replied.  Ellie nuzzled my shoulder.  I flinched away from her as my bruises complained.  I saw Ellie’s distress as she realised for the first time how badly battered I was.  She brushed my nose gently with hers.  Ellie asked:

       “Have you told the Manageress about this?”  I shook my head.

       “She knows it’s been going on.  She couldn’t get close to me for two horrendous weeks Ellie.”  I replied.  Ellie suddenly looked very unhappy.

       “What’s the matter?”  I asked gently.  Ellie gulped hard and blinked back tears.

        “Your foal, Josh, he,,,”  Ellie took a deep breath and it all came out in a rush:

        “He’s been incarcerated by Confiada, hostage like.  She’s kept him in her box and hasn’t let him out for two weeks now.  I watched them both, to see no harm came to Josh.  Sometimes he wept because he was missing you.  But Confiada, she, she,,,”  Ellie suddenly buried her head in my shoulder and broke down completely.

      “She hit him!  Confiada, she beat him until he was nearly unconscious!  Then she left him to suffer!”  Poor Ellie was now crying her eyes out, and I couldn’t blame her.  She gulped and continued:

       “Confiada told Josh to shut up more times than I can remember.  I think Carina was right when she said Confiada would make a bloody awful mother.”

       “Where did you hear that?  You weren’t there.”  I said.

         “No, I wasn’t.  But Carina expressed her views on Confiada when she and I were in a field together.  She told me about the argument with josh.”  I let Ellie get it out of her system.  It must have been hell for her to keep what she’d seen locked away for as long as she did.  But now it was out and action could be taken, first to rescue Josh from his tormentor, and then secondly, to teach Confiada that she couldn’t do what she did and get away with it!  I told Ellie about my dramatic escape from the slammer.

       “So that’s where all the blood’s come from.”  She said.

      “hmmm, yeah, most of it.”  I admitted.  Ellie got up from her prone position and shook herself.  She did a thorough job of it as well.  She seemed to shake from her nose right to the tip of her tail.  I can’t say if she did this for sure, but that’s what it looked like.  Ellie noticed me watching her.

      “Neat trick isn’t it.”  She observed.

       “Yeah, how d’you do it?”  I asked.  Ellie then did something so human that I had to take a second look to confirm what I’d seen.  She raised her right forefoot and touched her nose, much like a human raises their hand and touches their nose with a forefinger to signify that they’re sworn to secrecy.

     “That’s for me to know and you to find out B’.”  She said.  I stared at Ellie in utter astonishment!

       “How the hell did you do that?”  I asked.

      “Do what?”  She enquired.

      “how did you touch your nose with your forefoot?  I saw you do it Ellie, you can’t deny it, so how’s it done?”  Ellie looked mystified.

      “Honestly Beyancca, I don’t know what you’re on about.”  She replied.  I shook my hoof at her.

      “Ellie!  You did!  You raised your right forefoot and touched your nose in a very human gesture.  Where did you learn to do that?”  Ellie smiled suddenly.

       “I watch humans a lot of the time.  They’re big on sign language you know.  I just pick the signals I want to imitate, and have a go.  First I learn what they mean, don’t want to be saying the wrong thing in the wrong place do I.”  I admired her perseverance,  I felt sure I would have given up very soon indeed.  But Ellie, from what I could tell about her from our brief meetings before this, was a horse who had drive when it pleased her.  She looked at me.

       “Better go and rescue Josh from Confiada hadn’t we.”  She said.

       “What?  Both of us?”  I asked dumbly.

`      “Yeah, you don’t think I was gonna let you go alone do you?”  Ellie replied.  I hugged my new-found friend.  Ellie was quite a bit smaller than me and still is.  She’s a New forest pony, where as I am a cross breed between an Irish Draft horse and another breed that I can’t even begin to pronounce.  Ellie didn’t seem to mind my embracing her.  If anything she returned it.  We walked out of the barn and along the alley to where Confiada was still struggling to free herself from my handiwork.  She glared at me with pathological hatred!

       “I despise you Beyancca!  You’ve really stuffed me this time!  I don’t know how many times I’ve tried, but I can’t get free!  I’ve tied myself into all kinds of knots in my attempts to gain freedom,,,”  here Confiada seemed to collapse within.  Her voice cracked as she said:

        “And now I’m at your mercy, I, I’m finished!”  She said this last bit with harsh resentment.  I could see she wasn’t exaggerating her state.  Sweat had stained her usually beautiful fur and she was shaking from released tension.  Ellie asked:

       “Are you going to apologise for what you did to Beyancca Confiada?  Also, will you tell her where her foal is?  What have you done to her foal over the last couple of weeks Confiada?  I saw what you did, but I want you to tell Beyancca yourself.  Admit you did it, go on.”  She coaxed.  Confiada related all that Ellie had told me earlier, without the tears of course.  Confiada found no qualms with mistreating Josh.  While Confiada re-counted her catalogue of abusive behaviour, I watched Ellie’s reactions to what she said.  I was not surprised to find that Ellie felt very angry with Confiada for what she did.  At one point the anger nearly boiled over into a full blooded assault.  Ellie quivered with rage as Confiada re-counted how she’d held Josh down and beaten him with a lunging whip for daring to ask if he could be allowed to go and see me.  As for me, well, the emotions I was experiencing ranged from rage to fear, and from there to rage again.  What I wanted to know more than anything was whether Josh was unharmed, despite all Confiada was telling us, and secondly, where she’d hidden him.  I stopped Confiada in her tracks and asked sharply:

     “Where’s Josh Confiada?  Where’s my foal!”  I still had no boots on so I couldn’t kick her.  I just waved a forefoot in her face.  Confiada replied:

       “He’s in the topmost field.  I’ve been keeping him out in the rain and wind these last few days.  I meant to harden him up, make him see what he’d have to endure during the winter.”  Ellie said:

        “But we’re brought indoors for the winter.”  Confiada shook her head.

     “If Beyancca, the bitch!  If she hadn’t escaped and put me in here, then, I, I’d make Josh stay out there all winter!  He’d know what real suffering is!  He’d freeze to death and then, you Beyancca, you would know what I really wanted!  I hate you bringing other horses into the yard!  I cannot abide Josh, I hate his guts!  He’s a scrap, a snivelling scrap I tell you!  Get rid of him Beyancca!  You’ve got no need of him!  Kill Josh if you have to!”  I was stunned.

       “I can’t!  I can’t kill my own foal!”  I thought.  Although Josh wasn’t related to me in any way, I now regarded him as my foal.  I was going to do the best I could for him and that’s final!  I kicked Confiada, much as it hurt to do so.  I kicked her hard in her right foreleg making her scream With rage and pain!  Ellie finally lost control of her emotions.  She struck out at Confiada with all her force!  Ellie’s boot was caught by the now maddened mare and twisted sharply!  Ellie squealed in agony and collapsed on top of Confiada.  Confiada made sure she kicked Ellie a few times and made her bleed.  Ellie came out of her scrap badly bitten in her nose, bleeding from her right ear where Confiada had torn it, and to top it off, she’d lost a chunk of mane.  Confiada had ripped it out with her teeth.  She shoved Ellie off her and stood up as best she could.  Confiada screeched:

     “If I wasn’t tied up I’d murder you Ellie!”  Ellie looked frightened at this suggestion.  I looked at Ellie’s wounds.  Her nose and ear were bleeding and the boot on her right forefoot had come adrift and lay on the straw on the other side of the box.  I retrieved it and helped Ellie to put it on again.  While she put her foot in and made sure the tip of her hoof touched what would be the toe on a human’s boot, I tightened the ratchet thing that stopped the boot from coming adrift.

      “Thanks B’.”  Ellie said.  She sniffed:

        “Better get out of here and rescue your foal hadn’t we?”  She suggested.  So we left Confiada’s box and made our way through the now pouring rain towards the field where Confiada had said she’d left Josh.  The weather was dreadful now.  The rain came down at a forty five degree angle to the ground, stinging our faces as it fell.  Ellie looked in a sorrier state than ever now.  The blood from her ear  had dried to begin with, but now it was mixing with the rainwater and running down her face.  Plus her fur wasn’t in a very good state after she’d been crying.  In short, Ellie looked a proper mess.


We found josh.  He was where Confiada’d said she’d left him.  And yes he was cold, wet and very frightened.  When he saw us at first he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.  But then he realised that his torment was over.  The poor chap shook from nose to tail!  I walked up to him and hugged my very homesick foal.  He wanted to be warm, safe, loved.  For two weeks he’d been none of these.  He’s had to worry about whether he’d ever see his foster mum ever again, and no foal should have to worry about things like that.  Josh pressed himself against me, shivering like mad!  I hugged him tightly.  Ellie watched this display of affection, all the while trying not to cry.  Josh noticed her and made comment.

       “Orange horse’s crying mum.  Soppy old thing isn’t she.”

      “Oi!  Less of the old, and I’m bay, not bloody orange!”  Ellie retaliated.

       “Sorry.”  Josh replied.

      “Better get you back and see what we can do about drying you off hadn’t we.”  I said.  Josh grimaced:

      “Yeah, bloody awful it’s been out ‘ere mum.”  He said.  We wandered back to the yard in silence.  Josh broke it after a bit:

        “you know what Confiada said about you being a ‘orrable leader mum?  Are you still leader now?”  I reassured him that I was and told him not to worry about Confiada.

       “Why not?  She’s a bitch that one!”  Josh said.

      “I tied her up in knots Josh, she  won’t be able to get free.”  I replied.  Josh whooped:

       “Yeah!  Nice one mum!”  I smiled down at him.

       “Let’s get you dry.”  I said.  Josh, Ellie and I retired to my box and I dove into the back of it to get something I’d pinched from the Manageress’s house a good month earlier.  Ellie stared at what I produced from beneath the straw.

      “That’s a towel Beyancca, you’ve stolen a towel!”  Ellie exclaimed.  I smiled:

       “yeah, one of the Manageress’s best ones I’ll bet.”  I said.  Ellie touched it with her muzzle.

        “It’s soft and warm B’.  Just right for drying off the little chap.”  She had another thought.  Ellie rubbed her cheek against the towel, feeling it’s warmth and softness.

       “How did you keep it so warm Beyancca?”  She asked.

       “I sleep on the straw over there.  I kept the towel under the straw so it would be warmed by my body heat.  The straw insulated it from the outside air.  So one nice warm towel for emergencies.”  I replied.  We wrapped Josh in the huge towel and Ellie and I lay down on either side of him to keep him warm.  Josh settled down and was soon asleep.  Ellie looked across at me, her ravaged face seemed to hit me afresh.  I hooked the tea-towel off the door and dipped an end in my water bucket.  I then, as well as a horse can do this, tried to wipe away the blood and tear stains from Ellie’s nose.  She didn’t seem to mind my ministrations.  When I’d finished Ellie’s face looked almost normal.  Ellie smiled:

      “You’re really gentle you know B’.”  She said.  I smiled back at her.

      “I try to be.”  I replied.  Meanwhile Josh slept on.  Ellie settled down on the opposite side of him to where I was lying and we drifted off ourselves.


I was suddenly woken by a horrendous banging on my door.

        “Um yeah, wha’du’wan’?”  I drawled.  An angry voice said:

       “Beyancca!  Get your backside out here now!”  I recognised the Manageress’s tones.  Scrambling to my feet I opened my door and was met by a blast of enraged invective from the human.

       “Hang on a minute, stop, stop will you!”  I pleaded.  The Manageress stopped shouting at me and listened, finally.

      “What’s bothering you?  Have I missed another lesson?  Or is it that I’m never around when you want me?”  I asked.  The Manageress replied:

      “No, none of those actually.  I found a towel missing from my airing cupboard a few days ago.  I wondered if you, with your liking for towels, had seen it?”  The incriminating evidence was wrapped around Josh.  The Manageress could not have failed to see it, but she made no mention of it.

     “Perhaps she wants me to point the towel out to her, admit I did it.”  I thought.  The Manageress picked up the blood stained tea-towel and looked at it in horror!

      “What’s been going on here?  Have you been Bleeding B’?”  She asked.  I told her about Confiada’s attack on Ellie and of how I’d wiped the blood off Ellie’s nose with the tea-towel.  The Manageress took a look at Ellie, who was still asleep, and pronounced that she was fit to work.

      “Confiada’s got a lot of answering to do.”  The Manageress stated.  I then dropped the bombshell.  I told the Manageress about every little thing Confiada  had let slip during our meeting.  By the time I’d finished, the Manageress was furious!

      “yeah B’, keep the towel for as long as you like.  The poor chap needs it more than I do.  Man!  Confiada’s gonna get a proper hiding for this!”  She yelled.  With that a very angry Manageress strode out of the barn in search of Confiada.  Of course, she didn’t have to look far to find her.  I watched the Manageress go.

       “Confiada’s in for a roasting.”  I thought.  Ellie brushed my nose with hers.  I turned to her:

       “Josh’s still asleep.”  She said.  I shook myself and looked out at the fast darkening sky.  The stable clock said five in the evening now.  I noticed that the rain had become more intense and the yard was now swimming in rainwater.  Horses and humans sloshed about their business while the heavens vented their anger on the yard.  Carmen came splashing into the barn and stuck her head in at my door.  She looked angry and frightened.

      “Wha’s matter Carmen?”  I asked lazily.  Carmen hesitated:

      “You still leader Beyancca?”  She asked.

      “yes I am, you haven’t been listening to Confiada by any chance?”  I enquired.  Carmen wrinkled her nose:

      “It’s hard not to.  She’s persistent and won’t shut up!”  I said:

      “yes, I’m still leader, despite what Confiada’s been saying.  She’s only jealous because she didn’t get it.  What can I do for you Carmen?”  I asked.  She hesitated once more, summoning up the courage to tell me what she felt she had to.

        “It’s Confiada, she’s been attacking me B’.”  Carmen suddenly buried her head in my shoulder and wept.

       “She keeps going for me at the slightest opportunity.  I can’t stop her, neither can any of the instructors.  It’s hell B’!”  She sobbed.  I cradled her head on my shoulder and let her cry it out.  I knew what a bitch Confiada could be when she wanted.  I’d been on the receiving end of her abusive remarks and taunting comments.  I sympathised with Carmen,,,  I stopped!  I thought:

     “What the hell’s Confiada doing in the riding school anyway?  She’s been imprisoned!  Surely the humans haven’t done the unthinkable and let her out!  Have they?  I hope they haven’t.”  I shook myself free of Carmen, a little too roughly I’m sorry to say, and escaped into the barn, Ellie woke Josh and they followed.  I approached the riding school to be met with the sight of Confiada sprawled on the concrete where one of the Field horses had dropped her three seconds before.  The Field horse in question stood over her bristling with rage!

       “Why should a field horse want to attack Confiada?  I thought she was on their side?”  I asked myself.  But then I took another look at the Field horse and saw that it wasn’t a field horse at all, but Balugue!  Balugue had obviously had enough of Confiada, and contrary to her usual avoidance tactic, had attacked the mare she hated more than she’d ever hated any other.  As a result, Confiada was now unconscious on the concrete.


All the fire had died from Balugue now.  She stood shaking with fright.

      “Oh dear, what have I done?  What have I done!”  She wailed.  It was plain that She couldn’t understand what had happened to her.   Balugue couldn’t comprehend the fact that she’d just laid a horse out on the concrete to dry.  She stared down at Confiada in horror!

       “I didn’t, I didn’t mean to do her real harm!  She, she just tipped me over the edge!  I couldn’t stop myself, I, I just hit her! And she fell!  And now, now, well she’s like this.”  She whimpered.  She waved a boot at Confiada.  Confiada still lay inert and unheeding on the concrete.  She was breathing, that was a good sign, the only good sign.  Suddenly Confiada’s eyes focused on my face.  She bared her teeth and swore harshly in a whisper.  What she said doesn’t bare thinking about.  Confiada struggled to her feet and stood swaying alarmingly.  She looked awful, I had no idea what Balugue had done to her.  Confiada coughed and gasped for air, her whole body trembling!  I honestly thought she’d die in front of me.  Confiada wheeled round and staggered off towards her box.  She stumbled about a bit and finally made it.  The door slammed behind her and there was no more sound from her.  I stared at Balugue.

       “What happened?”  I asked.  Balugue stared at me wildly.

      “I, I don’t know B’.  I don’t know!”  She replied hoarsely.  I told her of my thoughts on the subject.

       “Yeah, that sort of happened, I suppose it did, Oh Beyancca, what’ve I done to her?”  Balugue buried her head in my shoulder.


Meanwhile, Josh and Ellie had been watching this with some degree of amazement.  They couldn’t work out, however hard they tried, how Balugue could ever outfight Confiada.  Ellie came to much the same conclusion as I had, while Josh couldn’t work it out, and was too young and too impatient to think about it for long anyway.  Balugue recovered a little and levered her weight off me.  I shook myself, wheeled round and left the yard at a trot.  Ellie and Josh followed me.  I led them up the track to where Fleur’s wood was re-generating after it had been cut down in error.  Ellie and Josh walked amongst the trees in silence, while I thought long and hard about my situation.  Confiada had been released, that was certain now.  Now I had to be on my guard and keep an eye on Josh.  I knew Confiada would have a go at him if she had half a chance.  I was brought out of my trance by Ellie resting her head on my shoulder.  She seemed to be shaking violently.

        “It’s c, Cold B’.”  She stammered.  I hugged her and turned to walk back to the barn.  Josh came sliding in and took out Ellie’s forefeet!  She crashed down on her side with a squeal of indignation!  I turned on Josh and nipped him hard!  The foal yelped and fled!  When I was sure he was out of our way, I took a look at Ellie.  She had managed to get to her feet and now stood wondering what had happened to her.  She rested her head once more on my shoulder.  We walked away, leaving Josh to find his own way back.

       “Punishment for what you did.”  I thought.  I was determined that Josh wasn’t going to end up like Dominic had.  Hoof happy Bastard he was!  Eventually Josh realised he was on his own and came scampering down the lane to find me.

      “Mum, mum!  Why’re you leaving me?  Don’t leave me mum!”  he yelled.  I saw the look of pity on Ellie’s face.

      “Don’t feel sorry for him Ellie.  He’s got to learn that he can’t go round playing tricks on any horse he pleases.  I don’t wan’a make the same mistakes Domino did.”  I said.  Ellie asked:

        “I know domino, but who the hell’s Dominic?  I’ve heard of him, sort of, well, he’s regarded as a bit of a bad character in the yard.”  I replied:

       “yeah, mmm, well,  Dominic’s dead, Jamie killed him.”  Ellie’s eyes widened.

       “You what?  I thought he was still about!”  Ellie laughed slightly:

“ And there’s me, all the time looking out for a piebald stallion with mean eyes and a desire to beat up anyone who got in his way.”  Josh had rejoined us and was trying to get a word in edgeways.

         “When you two have stopped gossiping about an ‘orse, who isn’t ‘ere so ‘e can’t defend ‘imself, can I join the discussion?”

       “You mean you wan’a gossip?”  Ellie asked.

        “No no no, silly ‘orse you are Ellie!  Of course I don’t.  What I would like to know is, well,  yeah, forget it.  Oh yeah!  Dominic, who was ‘e?  And what’s all this about ‘im being a bad chap?  I’d ‘ave thought that an ‘orse like ‘im would ‘ave been good for defending the ‘erd.”  He said.

       “He was good, very good at doing what he did.  But when he got corrupted, well then it’s a different story Josh.”  I replied.  Josh thought for a bit and said:

        “yeah, all right mum.”  He wasn’t interested enough to pursue the matter further.  But Ellie found Dominic’s story irresistible.

        “Tell me more Beyancca.”  She pleaded.

       “You won’t like what I’m gonna tell you Ellie.  It’s not at all pleasant.”  I warned her.  Ellie waved this aside:

       “Shock me.”  She replied.  So I told her everything that has been narrated in previous stories to do with Dominic’s character.  Ellie went through many emotions, every one in the book I think.  The horses she felt most sorry for were Domino and Mac.  When I told her of how Dominic was planning to kill Mac, and then his mother, she nearly broke down.

        “That’s terrible!  Oh no!  I couldn’t cope with that!  I’d go mad!”  She said.  Despite his apparent lack of interest, Josh had been listening to my story and trying to make sense of the reasons why Dominic should have gone over to, as he saw it, the side of the Field horses.  By now we’d reached the yard and the night had drawn in tight around us.  The driving yard where Ellie lived looked dark and uninviting at nine in the evening.  She put her head in and decided not to venture any further.  Ellie turned to me shame faced.       “Look, B’, I know this might sound silly, foalish even coming from a grown mare.  But can I stay with you tonight?”  I nuzzled her cheek gently.

       “Dominic’s dead, he can’t harm you Ellie.”  I reassured her.  Ellie gulped, her real feelings showing at last.

       “Your story’s really shaken me up B’.”  Ellie admitted.  She sighed:

      “I’m really being silly aren’t I B’.  Go on say it.  Tell me I’m just a nervous wreck.”  I replied:

       “No Ellie.  I’d be shaken up by what happened.  Indeed I was for quite a long time.  Yes you can stay the night if you like.”  I hugged her, Ellie laughed slightly:

        “Sorry about all this.”  She said.

     “Stop apologising for everything Ellie.”  I replied.  I said:

        “There’s another reason for you wanting to stay the night with me isn’t there.”  Ellie looked shocked!

      “How, how did you know?”  She asked incredulously.

      “I watched your reaction to the darkness in the driving yard.  I saw you were perturbed by it.”  I replied.  Josh said:

       “er, mum, it’s getting cold out ‘ere.”  I replied:

      “Go back to our box then Josh.”  Josh said:

        “But I can’t!  Mum, there’re big ‘orses, ‘orrid ‘uge ‘orses lurking around the yard.”  I looked down at my foal.

      “Don’t talk about Ruby, or Chantilly, or Valencia like that, they’d never forgive you.  As for Confiada, well, yeah you’re right about her.  But she’s not a threat to you josh.  She’s locked away in her box, she can’t get out.”  Suddenly Ellie screamed!


I whipped round to see Confiada towering over Ellie!  She had dropped her where she stood, and now she stood over her threatening the poor pony with destruction!  Josh ultimately saved Ellie’s life.  His terror was so acute that he got previous events mixed up.  He yelled:

         “There’s Dominic’s mother!  She ‘as to be!  Domino was too kind to ave given birth to a sod like that!  You’re Guilty of making Dominic like ‘e was Confiada!  I know you are!”  Confiada turned on the little chap and threw him into the air.  I screamed at her, incoherent sound, it was just a yell of pure terror!  Josh flew threw the air, before landing on the concrete with a “CRACK!”  Confiada charged off, leaving two very frightened horses and one unconscious foal.  Ellie struggled to her feet, she looked shell shocked!  She looked awful!  Ellie staggered towards me and collapsed against me.

     “Josh, is he all right B’?”  She gasped.  I looked over at my poor foal.  He was still sprawled in an undignified fashion on the concrete.  I told Ellie to lean against the wall while I went to take a look at him.


I found a very bruised, very frightened foal.  He was so terrified that he daren’t move for fear that Confiada might return and finish him off.  When I touched him with my nose Josh screamed in terror!

      “hey Josh, it’s me love.  It’s mum, there’s nothing to be scared of.  Confiada’s gone far away from here now.”  I said gently.  I lay down beside my foal on the freezing ground and let him rest his nose against mine.  He said:

      “Mum, It, it’s cold mum!”  I signalled to Ellie to help me get Josh back to my box.  She  helped me carry him, and we got him home safe and sound.  The poor foal flopped down exhausted on the straw.  Ellie lay down beside Josh on his right and I did likewise on his left.  Ellie said something under her breath that I didn’t quite catch:

      “What was that?”  I asked.  Ellie sighed:

      “I don’t know why we can’t just have a trouble free week B’.  Not a week goes by without horses getting at each other.”  I hugged her tightly.

       “Go to sleep Ellie dear.”  I coaxed.  Josh had already nodded off and I could see Ellie was sleepy.  But her fears were keeping her awake, and that was not good.  Ellie huddled closer to Josh, actually resting her head on his shoulder.  She closed her eyes and was soon sleeping peacefully.  Now I had a huge problem.  After telling Ellie and Josh to sleep, I couldn’t!  I sighed and shifted slightly.  I felt so unhappy about the situation with Confiada that I couldn’t even attempt to sleep.  But nor could I go for a walk, for I was propping up two horses.  I knew that I’d run the risk of ending up like Rosie had just before the fire that nearly cost us dearly.  Rosie had been on the edge of a precipice in the days leading up to the fire.  I knew that I could get that bad if I didn’t let everything go for a while and get on with my job.  I looked across at Ellie.  She lay with her head on Josh’s shoulder and her legs tucked up under her.  Turning to Josh, I saw he was lying with all four legs outstretched.

      “There’re two horses sleeping peacefully, and I can’t get any!”  I thought angrily.  I looked down at my hooves.  My boots still hadn’t been found, and now my hooves were getting hardened and the pain was a lot less than it had been.  I now appreciated the need for the mountain boots, in fact, I missed mine.  I decided to corner Confiada and ask her where she’d hidden them.  Ellie rolled onto her right side, freeing Josh from his burden.  Although I didn’t mind in the slightest that Ellie and Josh were using me as a pillow, I wanted to go and find my boots.  Eventually josh shifted also and I was able to get up quietly, open my door and escape into the yard.  I wandered along to where Confiada’s box stood and banged on the door.


Confiada’s squeal of rage would have woken every horse in the place!

       “What the bloody hell do you want!”  She demanded.

      “Um, my boots maybe.”  I replied.  Confiada looked down at my hooves with distaste.

       “yeah, well, they’re in the tackroom, but it’s locked.  You’ll have to suffer till morning.  But get your boots on as soon as you can Beyancca, your hooves look bloody awful!”  She snapped.  I looked at hers.  Confiada had refused to wear the boots from the outset and nothing the Manageress could do would make her consider wearing them.  Confiada considered herself superior to the rest of us, so she felt she had no need of the boots that we lower forms of Equine life wore.  While all the other horses in the yard, including the Field variety I must add, submitted to having to wear these boots, Confiada would kick and bite any human that tried to even talk her into wearing them.  I thought:

       “Since we’re wearing leather boots, maybe a leather muzzle would be a useful addition to Confiada’s outfit.”  I told her as much.  Confiada was unimpressed.

       “And what would be the use of that?”  She asked acidly.

       “It would stop you biting humans and horses when you’re angry with them.”  I replied.  Confiada spat:

       “Pa!  Yeah right Beyancca!  You’ve got a lot of learning to do my girl.”  With that Confiada lunged at me, eyes maddened, mouth gaping!  I dodged her credible attempt to bite me and fled from the scene.  Confiada came tearing out of her box!  She chased me down the yard, up the track, along the riverbank and finally into a large field where a small herd of cows was grazing peacefully.  As I fled across their field they looked up curiously.

       “What’s up with you?”  One asked calmly.

       “I’m being chased by another horse, willowy white thing, mad eyes, bent on destroying me, looks like she’d do better in the Household Cavalry.”  I panted.  Another cow said:

       “I know ‘er, that’s Confiada, she’s a bitch!”  A larger cow, obviously the leader said:

      “Don’t worry young’n, we’ll stop ‘er.”  I didn’t stay to find out if they managed it or not.  I ran to another field and turned back to see if I was safe.  My heart was racing as I re-traced my steps and then stopped.


Squeals of fear and pain were reaching me on the breeze!  I recognised Confiada’s voice and those of the cows who had promised to help me.  I slowly made my way back towards the sound of battle.


I found Confiada lying flat out on the grass where the cows had left her.  She looked badly beaten.  Her right ear was bleeding and bruises covered most of her body.  As much as I hated and do still hate her, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for her, as I had been in a similar situation myself and knew how she would feel when she regained consciousness.  But then I got to thinking about the fear and hurt she had caused me and my friends, and the old resentment came back.  I turned her over and she groaned pitifully.  What she said next would have shocked Jasper.  I ignored her remark and made sure I stood well back, so any flying hooves couldn’t reach me.  But Confiada wasn’t in the mood for fighting.  She felt too bruised and battered for that.  Suddenly a voice in my right ear said sharply:

       “And where the ‘ell’ve you been!”  I turned to find Chantilly standing behind me.

       “it’s a long story.”  I replied.  Chantilly looked down at Confiada with distaste.

      “It concern ‘er?”  She asked.

      “yeah, main character actually.”  I said.  Josh piped up then.  He’d been riding on Chantilly’s back, not having the stamina to keep up with her on the long journey to the place where we now stood.

      “Mum, Where did you go?  I woke and you were gone!  I couldn’t find you anywhere!  Ellie’s waiting back at the yard in case you turned up.”  I explained about my boots and the chase n’all.

     “But ‘ow did Confiada get like this?  She’s ‘ad the crap kicked out of ‘er!”  Chantilly observed.  I then told them about how the cows had helped me.  They had disappeared as soon as they’d finished what they felt was their duty.  Chantilly carefully prodded Confiada with her right forefoot.  Confiada groaned:

      “Get your bloody boots off me.”  Watching the once proud mare lying there, I couldn’t help feeling wretched at what I’d done.  Cows were a horse’s worst enemy when angry and I’d made them so.  In short I’d laid the best trap I could and It’d paid off.  Chantilly read my mind.

      “Don’t apologise to ‘er B’.  She’s not worth it.  If you apologise to ‘er for what you did, well then she’s got’a apologise to you for all she’s done in the past.  You think she’s gonna do that?”  she asked.

       “No, think not.”  I replied.  Confiada tried to get to her feet.  Her squeal of pain was chilling!  I knew then this wasn’t theatrical in any way, Confiada was in a very bad way indeed.


Confiada flopped back onto the grass sobbing.

     “When they said they’d stop her, I never thought they really meant it!”  I thought.  I could see that the cows had really done Confiada damage.  That squeal of pain still haunts me now five weeks later.

       “Go Chantilly!  Go quick!  Get the Manageress, now!”  I commanded.  Chantilly hesitated and I got furious!

      “Look Chantilly, leave josh here, go!  Go now!  Before she dies!”  I yelled.  Chantilly galloped off leaving Josh behind.  The poor foal looked frightened.

      “You shouldn’t be involved in this Josh darling.”  I thought bitterly.  This was all my fault, some of it at least, and now Confiada was seriously injured, and, well, who knows what would happen next.  Josh came up close and rested his head on my shoulder.

       “She looks awful mum.  Is she going to die?”  He whispered.

       “I don’t know Josh darling, I don’t know.”  I replied.  Josh gulped:

        “I don’t wan’ ‘er to die mum.”  He sobbed.  I hugged him.  I knew I couldn’t let Josh see my misgivings about Confiada’s condition.

      “She won’t die Josh, I promise.”  I said.  This seemed to calm him a little.


The Manageress arrived then.  She was riding Chantilly and looking a little bit anxious about the arrangement.  Chantilly was panting hard.

       “’ere she is, ran as fast as I could I did.”  She gasped.  The Manageress slid off Chantilly’s back and knelt down to take a closer look at Confiada.  She questioned me as to what had taken place.  I told her it all.  She examined Confiada carefully and found she had fractured two ribs.

     “That’s what is causing her so much pain I’ll bet.”  The Manageress said.  All the while, Confiada had been moaning that this was all my fault and that the Manageress, in her opinion, should beat me senseless for my crimes against her.  The Manageress shut Confiada up when she pointed out that if this was the case, that if she, the Manageress was permitted to beat horses who committed crimes against others of their own race, then Confiada would be due for one hell of a beating.  The Manageress called for back up and got a large low loader thing to carry Confiada back to her box.  When the hated mare had been loaded onto it and all was quiet, the Manageress put her arms round my neck and hugged me.

      “So this all sprung from your suggestion that Confiada wear a muzzle ay B’?”

     “Mmm, yeah that’s right.”  I replied.  The Manageress then turned her attention to Josh.  She stroked the little chap, while talking to him gently.  Josh soon relaxed and laid his head on her shoulder.  Soon after that he was asleep. Chantilly shook herself, yawned expansively, stamped about a bit and declared:

       “I’m bloody tired, think I’ll fall asleep ‘ere.”  With that she lay down and was soon snoring loudly.  I thumped her:

      “Oi!  Chantilly you lazy bloody creature!  Get up now!”  I barked.  Chantilly opened one eye, regarded me blearily for a second or two and told me in a dreamy voice to:

     “Piss off.”

       “That told you mum.”  Josh remarked.  I prodded Chantilly until she got up slowly swearing viciously at me.  I ignored her and told Josh to do the same.  The Manageress watched us with a sort of:

     “My horses are mad and I’ve got to get used to it.”  expression on her face.  I shook myself and walked slowly back along the riverbank towards the yard, the others followed.


When we reached it we saw Confiada staggering painfully about.  She gave me a sour look and made a credible attempt to kick me.  I dodged the flying hoof and got my attack in far more accurately than she had hers.  My hoof smashed into Confiada’s fetlock making her shriek with pain.

      “You started this.”  I reminded her.  Confiada turned and limped off in an exaggerated fashion.

     “Stupid bitch!”  Chantilly said angrily.  I walked back to the office in search of my boots.  I found them and stuck my feet into them.  Then Chantilly helped me to tighten the ratchet that held the boot on.  The feeling of cushioning air under my feet was indescribable.  I felt as if I was floating on air, it was wonderful!  I walked across to where Balugue was being groomed.  I crept silently up to the Lad who was performing this task and calmly removed the brush he was using.  Then I turned sharply and fled!  I pounded down the yard, jumped a fence into Jinja’s field and streaked across that, over a hedge, across a road and finally into the woods with my loot.  I stopped, panting hard for air.  I dropped the brush, found a rabbit hole to bury the brush in and did just that.

      “Sorry Benjamin.”  I thought.  The job done I wandered about the wood for a while, thinking of my next move.  Those boots had paid dividends, I knew I’d never have made it this far without them.  You might be asking me why I stole a brush.  To be quite honest about it, I really don’t know.  I felt like doing it and I did it.


After an hour or so I took a look at the yard from the safety of the wood’s edge.  The Lads were still bustling about their business, seemingly unmoved by my absence.  Then I heard a branch crack!  Whirling round I came face to face with Balugue.  I saw instantly she was trying her hardest not to laugh.  She could hardly control herself as she said:

      “The Lad’s not very happy with you Beyancca.  You’d better,,,”  But then she collapsed against me laughing helplessly.

       “Cor’ B’, you really know how to upset the humans don’t you.  I’ve never seen a lad so angry in all my life.  He was a novice!  At first he wondered what the hell’d happened.  He never bothered chasing you because you were well out of range when he recovered.  The lads are upset, but I found it hilarious!”  I smiled at her.  Balugue needed that after her run in with Confiada.  She levered herself off me and straightened up.  From time to time Balugue would stifle her laughter.  It seemed my little transgression had amused her greatly.  I heard the quick, urgent thudding of a tiny horse’s hooves coming over the field.  Turning slowly I saw Josh coming fast towards me.  He looked wild!

       “It’s Confiada, she, she’s after you mum!”  He panted.

      “What?  No Josh, she’s got no quarrel with me.  If anyone’s got a bone to pick, it’s the Lad, not Confiada.  It’s all right love, honest it’s fine.”  I replied.  Josh shook his head.

      “No no mum, it’s not.  She ‘eard what you did to the Lad and now she’s on the ‘unt for you.  The Manageress, can’t, cant do anything to stop ‘er mum!”  Josh began to cry:

       “Confiada’s gonna ‘urt you mum.”  He sobbed.  I hugged my foal tightly.  Looking up at the sound of stumbling hooves, I saw Confiada limping slowly towards me.  She looked furious and was putting all her concentration into getting across that field.  I knew that she’d be beyond fighting when she reached me.  Balugue waved a boot at her mockingly.

      “Don’t do that!”  I warned sharply.  Confiada screamed at Balugue:

       “You bitch!  You bloody sod!  Do you know how much pain I’m in?  Have you any idea what went on in the field?  I don’t think so!  Them bloody cows smashed me into the earth!  I don’t know who’s instructions they were following, but whoever it was had  better watch out, because when I’m better I’ll break them!  Bone by bone I’ll break them, I swear, on the lives of my unborn foals I swear I’ll make them pay!”  Someone said:

      “Grand speech, now will you stop talking bull shit!”  We all turned to see, Rosie!  It had to be!


The huge Irish Draft mare stood in front of Confiada regarding her with disapproval.

      “Why the hell’ve you come back?  Get out of our lives Rosie!  Go on!  Get out of our lives, and while you’re at it, take Jinja with you!  He’s had enough time here!”  Confiada shouted.  Rosie gave Confiada a contemptuous look and turned to me.

       “I know what you did Beyancca.  I watched you as you did it.”  My blood ran cold!

      “She’s gonna blow the bloody whistle on me!”  I thought franticly.  But then Rosie said:

      “that was fine work with the brush B’.”  Phew!  My relieved expression must have registered with her, because Rosie came up close to me and whispered into my ear:

      “I also know about the cows, but I’m not telling Confiada that.”  I nudged her conspiratorially.

     “What was that you were saying to Beyancca Rosie?  Like to share it with us?”  Confiada asked.

       “Oh nothing, nothing at all Confiada.”  Rosie lied.  Either she hadn’t heard Confiada’s spiteful remark about her arrival, or Rosie was choosing to ignore it.  But she had heard it.  Rosie strode up to Confiada and looked deep into her eyes.

      “What you said to me did not go unnoticed.  Usually you cannot see me because you do not want to see me.  That was then, and is now, but, now is different because you have to see me because I want you to.  I want you to know that you cannot beat up Beyancca, nor can you beat up Josh without facing the consequences of your actions.  I saw what you did to Beyancca and her foal.  What you did to Beyancca was inexcusable, what you did to josh was worse!  Why should you involve a foal who has nothing to do with your disagreement?  He’s not even related to Beyancca!  But you still involved him in this sordid game!  You put Beyancca through hell both mentally and physically.  I have a good mind, because Beyancca cannot, to make it so that your hooves are like what B’s were.  I can make you suffer Confiada, and mark my words on that!  You are a disgrace to the herd and I can’t ever see a time when this will change.  I hate you!  I think you’re a spiteful, bigoted, snobbish, jumped up mare!  I’m even loathed to call you a member of our species!”  Confiada was bristling with rage!

       “How dare you, ever!  Ever speak to me like that!  You horrid bitch-cow Rosie!  When you died I could have done so much!  But you, along with Beyancca stopped me!  You planted Beyancca here didn’t you.  You put her here so that I would get nothing!  Beyancca’s all sweetness and light as far as the bloody humans are concerned.  She can do no wrong in their eyes!  You brought Beyancca into the yard so that she, not me, would take over as the main novice trainer!  You planned it Rosie, go on, admit you did!”  Rosie said:

       “I did help the Manageress to find my successor, yes I’ll admit that.  But Beyancca is her own horse.  She can do as she pleases.  I have no hold over her Confiada, none at all.”


All the while I listened with a sort of wonder.  Was I really groomed, and I use that word to mean trained for, the job of leader?  This question and many others weighed on my mind.  I thought:

      “Had I been chosen for this job?  Had Rosie been influential in the Manageress’s decision?  Why bring an outsider in to fill the post of leader?  Was it that Rosie felt all the others were too scatterbrained to do the job effectively?  If that is the case, then what sort of test had I undergone to make sure I wasn’t?”  Balugue’s voice cut into my thoughts.

       “Beyancca looks tortured.”  She remarked.  I seemed to have gone into a sort of trance.  I didn’t seem to be part of reality any more.  It was as if the events of the last seven months had finally sank in.  Rosie’s death, the upheaval in the herd immediately after, Balugue’s breakdown, my being catapulted into the job and all that had followed, well, it seemed to make sense now.  Rosie touched my nose with hers, bringing me back down to earth.  I realised my mouth was dry and I had a horrid feeling in the pit of my stomach.

      “I can’t cope with this!”  I thought franticly.  Rosie noticed my distress.

      “Don’t fret Beyancca, it’s going to be fine.”  She said gently.  I managed to gabble:

        “What?  What’s going to be fine?  What’s happening?”  Rosie replied:

       “Wait until tonight Beyancca, then I will tell you.”  She turned to Balugue and Josh.

       “You two tell all the other horses, be they Field or yard, to meet in the main yard at midnight.  Tell the Manageress also, but no other humans must be present, no instructors!”  Rosie stamped her foot to emphasise this point.  As for Confiada, Rosie turned to her and said:

       “You will attend this gathering.  If you do not, you will suffer.”  Confiada bowed her head in submission to the absolute leader and high commander of the yard herd.


To say I was frightened would be an understatement.  I cannot begin to describe the fear and terror.  I didn’t know what was going to happen.  Rosie stayed with me throughout the rest of the day.  She always stuck close to me.  Rosie even warned Jinja off!  Perhaps she didn’t want his attention.  Once he made a particularly powerful advance on her and Rosie warned him off severely.

      “Later Jinja!  I’ll talk to you later!  Leave me alone!  Go away!  Now!”  Jinja’s agonised expression would have melted a heart of stone, but not Rosie’s.  it was plain she was terrified by what she had to do at midnight.  She shooed Jinja away and stood shaking violently.  When I asked her what the matter was I got the same sharp response.

       “Don’t, don’t talk to me, leave me alone Beyancca.”  Then she whinnied loudly:

        “For heaven’s sake just leave me alone!”  I could see she was in terrible pain.  What was she going to say at midnight?  What was she going to do?  I didn’t know.


The day seemed to drag interminably.  Thankfully josh and I were kept together.  If we’d been separated I think we would have both gone mad!  I think I owe him a lot.  He kept me sane!  Soon however, midnight did arrive.


All the horses were grouped in the yard.  It was a tight squeeze, but we managed it.  Rosie, or her spirit, stood on a raised platform next to me.  The horses fell silent.  I looked up to where the Manageress stood looking out at the scene from her bedroom window.  Rosie cleared her throat and began to speak.


     “There has been many changes in the yard since April.  I know that most, if not all of you have heard what events took place then.  Due to these events a new leader has had to be found for the herd.  Subsequent elections failed to vote in a horse who could do the job.  Not that this is any reflection on those horses who were voted in.  During their reign they did the best they could, but for reasons of their own, they  decided that they could not continue in the post.  So it was down to me to find a suitable leader.  Balugue handed the leadership over to Beyancca a month ago today.  But this does not mean in any way that Beyancca will automatically become leader.  But due to the almost total support for her in her honorary role as herd leader, I propose to make her fully responsible for the well being of the herd.  She has been through a lot these last few days and has stood up to it well.  But that is not to say I put her up to it!  These tests have naturally occurred and have proven to you, me, the Manageress and hopefully Beyancca herself also, that she can do her job!”  At this point I seriously wanted to collapse on the platform, but I knew that wouldn’t do.  Rosie continued:

       “Will those horses who hold objection to this proposal speak now or forever hold their peace.”  There was absolute silence.  I began to wonder if Confiada was present.  But then I saw her standing off to the right of Jinja.  Strangely she said nothing.  Rosie said:

      “as there is no objection, I will now formally pass the leadership of the yard herd over to Beyancca your new chief and supreme commander!”  My legs just collapsed under me!


When I came to, my head was resting on the wooden platform beside Rosie’s right forefoot.  I stared at her hoof for a while before attempting to rise.  I made it to my feet, just, and surveyed the scene.  All the horses were just as I’d left them.  Standing erect and motionless.  I looked at Rosie in desperation.  I asked quietly:

      “What the hell’re we gonna do now?”  Rosie’s reply was:

       “you tell me, you’re leader.”  I took a deep breath and asked:

       “Where’s an order of ceremony when you need one?”  This made most of the horses laugh, but it wasn’t meant to.  It was a cry for help if anything.  Josh laid his head on my shoulder and I was distracted by him.  I rubbed his nose briefly with mine.

       “NOW’s not the time Josh.”  I whispered.  Josh said:

       “I can see you’re upset mum.  I was only trying to ‘elp.”  Evidently it was up to me to make the first move.  I cleared my throat.

      “I haven’t had any experience of these sort of occasions before.  To be quite honest, I’m lost!”  Jinja said:

       “Just tell us what to do.  You’re leader now.”

        “Um, ah, go get on with your lives?”  I suggested.  With that all the horses filed off to their various occupations and within five minutes the yard was clear.  Rosie hugged me and then walked off with Jinja.  Josh, Ellie who had stayed behind, and I were left in the middle of the yard.  Ellie embraced me tightly.  This broke my control.  I buried my head in Ellie’s shoulder and cried.  I think the whole thing just got on top of me then.  Ellie let me cry.  Soon however the torrent dried up and I felt a bit better about the situation.  I levered myself off of Ellie’s shoulder and shook myself.  I took a deep breath to steady myself.

      “It seemed like a dream, the leadership I mean, but now it’s very real.”  I said to noone in particular.  Brydy came into sight then.  She walked slowly towards me and stopped as she reached my side.  She hesitated:

        “Go on Brydy, wha’s matter?”  I asked gently.  Brydy looked frightened:

     “Now you’re leader n’all that.  Does this mean that you’re gonna distance yourself from the herd.  You know, only get your hooves dirty when it’s really necessary?”  What she really meant to, but could not bring herself to  say was:

       “I don’t want you to leave me Beyancca!”  I hugged Brydy and stroked her ears with my muzzle.  This always relaxed her, and now was no exception.  Brydy rested her head on my shoulder.

       “I’m still your friend Brydy.  The leadership won’t change that.”  I reassured her.  I stroked her cheek gently with my muzzle.  Brydy slipped into a sort of dream.  This was how I wanted her to be.  The problem with Brydy was that she worried unnecessarily about everything.  This constant anxiety affected her whole life.  I’ve known her not to sleep for days on end because she was worrying about one thing or another.  I won’t pretend that I’ve liked Brydy all the time I’ve known her.  No, actually for a considerable time I feared her.  Her inner confusion frightened me.  I couldn’t cope with a horse who had such mixed ideas about everything.  But now, well now was so different.  I had learned to accept Brydy for who she was and to make no attempt to change her.  If the truth be known, I loved Brydy’s openness.  I suppose her upbringing has something to do with it, Ireland n’all.  I don’t know, can’t really say for sure.  Brydy woke from her dream and straightened up.  She looked at me long and hard for a minute or so.

       “Thank you.”  Was all she said.  I noticed for the first time, and not without a degree of shock!  That Brydy hadn’t referred to me by name at all during our encounter.  As she walked away I blocked her path.

      “Look Brydy dear.”  I said soothingly:

       “I’m still Beyancca, your friend.  Just because I am leader now doesn’t mean I’ll forget my friends.  I’ll still protect you Brydy.  I’ll never forget where I’ve come from, never!  Just because I’ve been given the responsibility of herd leader doesn’t mean that I’ve got no time for other horses, you know that.  Come on, don’t be silly Brydy.”  I coaxed.  Brydy sighed, she sniffed and gulped back tears:

       “I’m sorry, I’ve got’a go.”  She choked.  With that she fled at a sort of half walk, half run type of pace.  I didn’t follow her.


Meanwhile Ellie and Josh had watched this with varying degrees if alarm on Ellie’s part and confusion on Josh’s.  I walked back to my box and the others followed.  I lay down on my straw bed and tried to relax.  Josh lay down beside me and I hugged him.

    “you’re leader then mum, proper I mean.”  He said.  All of a sudden I felt very tearful indeed, I can’t say what triggered it, but I rested my head against Josh’s shoulder and cried into his fur.

       “’ey mum, don’t cry, please don’t cry.”  Josh said gently.  He rubbed my nose with his.

       “Wha’s matter mum?”  He asked softly.

     “I don’t know Josh darling, I don’t know anything much lately.”  I sobbed.  Josh said:

      “You’re leader now.  ‘ey, tell you what mum, I’ll start you off shall I?”  Here he raised his voice to a shout and said:

        “Confiada!  Get your arse into that box now!”  He looked at me for a reaction.  I was so shocked by his use of Chantilly like language that at first I couldn’t say or do much.  All right I’m not very clean mouthed myself, but to hear a foal use that sort of talk was a shock!  I started to say:

      “Josh!  You don’t, you don’t,,,”  But then I could hold on to my control no longer.  I laughed helplessly.  I think that was the best thing Josh could have said at that moment.  Ellie also found it funny, if the waving hooves were anything to go by.  Ellie was engaged in rolling on the straw, waving her legs in the air in a most undignified display.  I dried my eyes and stood up.  A voice in my ear said:

        “Beyancca?”  I turned sharply to see Jinja standing by my door.  He looked more distressed than I’d ever seen him before.  He was making a masterful attempt to keep his emotions under control.  I opened my door and went over to him.

       “What is it?  What’s happened Jinja?”  I asked.  Jinja gulped:

        “It’s Rosie, she’s leaving me for good Beyancca.”  With that Jinja’s control snapped.  He buried his head in my fur and wept.

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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