`Hi! I’ve got another story for you. Oh yeah, by the way it’s Beyancca narrating this one, this is my sixth story I think.
My work had been almost non-stop for four weeks. I was doing maybe four or five hours a day with no let up. Of course I was not ill treated in any way, but no matter how well you treat a horse, or a human for that matter, they will still suffer if they do too much. My problem was that I was, and still am liked a great deal by members of the public. I get more requests for work than any other horse in the yard. While this is an honourable state of affairs, it becomes a strain after a while. During my day I would meet many different types of rider. There would be those who were kind, considerate and thoughtful for me, and those who thought I would do what they wanted if they gave me a hefty kick. I will tell you of one such human.
It all started about two weeks ago. I was eating grass in the top field when one of the riding instructors came through the gate and approached me. Yanking up a mouthful of grass, I watched her come slowly across the field towards me. She held a bridle in her right hand and a saddle over her arm. I swallowed the grass and asked:
“Going riding are we?” The instructor put the tack down and put her arms round my neck. Hugging me she said:
“I’m really sorry Beyancca. But all the horses are out on hacks, or sick. Well all the large safe ones are anyway. We’ve got this man who wants to ride a horse, says he has never ridden before,,,” I held up my right forefoot to stop her.
“And you think I’d be the right horse for the job, yes?” The instructor looked very uncomfortable.
“Yeah B’, sorry about this. Look, I know you’ve worked hard and you were put in here for rest, but things have happened that we couldn’t foresee. Please come and help us,” She pleaded. I looked up at the sky. The clouds were scudding across it in a rather disordered manner, the sun was watery and not very warming and the wind,, well, that was still bitterly cold. I pawed thoughtfully at the grass with my right forefoot for a few minutes, trying for all I was worth to get myself back into work mode. This was difficult. I sighed:
“Yeah, all right. But the rider’d better be gentle, kind and light weight,” I replied.
When we reached the yard we found the Manageress talking to a short, fat man wearing what looked to me like a boiler suit. He had a gruff voice and this, along with the unsuitable riding attire, made me wary of him from the start. I thought:
“A horse can’t be a chooser.” The man came up to me and looked me in the eye.
“She’d better be safe,” he snapped.
“Beyancca’s as safe as houses.” The instructor said. I was tacked up and then the man noticed something else, he turned to my instructor friend and asked:
“I saw you and this horse coming down the track, and you weren’t leading the horse at all. No head collar, nothing at all. Don’t the rules say you have to lead a horse? Not just hope it follows you like you seemed to?” The instructor was angered by this, but she didn’t say anything to the man. The Manageress said:
“Have a good ride Mr Neil.” This set my mind suddenly active.
“Neil, I’ve heard that name somewhere before. But I can’t think where,” I thought as I was turned and led into the riding school by the instructor. I was brought to a halt and the stirrups were lowered. Mr Neil got into the saddle right enough, but from then on it was hell for me. Everything that man did was heavy handed. When the instructor asked him to urge me forward, it wasn’t a light nudge he used. Oh no, it was more of a hard jab in my ribs with his boot! I jumped and started trotting. Mr Neil started yelling:
“Stop her! She’s gonna hit a wall and kill me!” This couldn’t be further from the truth in fact. I had been trained to carry novice riders and part of that training was not to hit walls. I trotted round the riding school until I was stopped by the instructor.
“Wooh B’, cool it.” She said soothingly. I cooled it, to a walk. But it was the instructor and not my rider who had affected this change. I stopped because I needed a rest. The instructor took this opportunity to take my rider through what he’d done wrong.
“For a start Mr. Neil,,,” My rider interrupted:
“Call me James, please.”
“All Right. Well James, what you did wrong there was,,,” But I wasn’t listening any more. The name James Neil had set my mind working once more. That name had sinister associations, I was sure of it! James Neil gave me a hefty kick and I shot forwards. Then he began to kick me harder, and harder still, urging me to go faster and faster in a trot, when I knew I would be better off cantering, but he wasn’t giving me the signal! In the end it was the instructor who put me out of my misery. She brought me to a trembling,
much frightened halt. I stood there, my legs shaking violently. James Neil was angry with me!
“you stupid bloody animal! I want you to canter and you don’t do it! Haven’t you been trained to canter? I think you haven’t.” Then he hit me! Again and again he hit me! First he beat my shoulder, but then he hit me round my head! I gave vent to a wail of terror. The instructor fought Neil off me and threw him out. I limped back to my box, my head and shoulder aching where James Neil had hit me. I collapsed on the straw in my box and closed my eyes. I lay on the straw a good deal frightened by my experience, and in a great deal of pain from being attacked. I felt another horse come into the box and lie down beside me. Feeling a muzzle brushing mine I opened my eyes and looked straight into Josh’s face.
“’ello mum, got yourself into some shit have you?” he asked. I motioned to him that I was in a lot of pain and that he shouldn’t swear like that. Josh rested his head on my shoulder.
“What the ‘ell did ‘e do to you?” He asked. I told him all of it.
“Cor’, ‘e sounds a nasty bugger mum. What was ‘is name?” I told Josh that also. Jinja was walking past my box as I imparted my information to Josh. The mention of James Neil made Jinja stop and put his head over my door to take a look at me.
“You know who James Neil is don’t you B’?” He asked ominously.
“Well Jinja, no I don’t. if I did, well then I’d not be in such a state.” Jinja replied:
“most likely you’d be in more of one. James Neil’s Ellen’s old owner. You know the one? Our friend James Neil is the man who sent his lackey to shoot Ellen’s mother, and Ellen’s mother also happened to be Rosie’s sister! You remember that now?” The sudden realisation of who I’d been carrying, added to the anger and pain I felt made me rest my head on Josh’s shoulder and burst into tears. Josh was so dam strong, stronger than I could ever be, and he was only a foal. Well not so much of a foal now, more a yearling. He was growing into a fine Shire horse. It wasn’t just his body that was growing and maturing. Josh’s mind had come on in leaps since I’d first met him. He was the kindest horse you’d ever wish to meet. Josh let me rest my head on his shoulder as I got the fear and terror out of my system. I shook and trembled as I lay there. I had had such an awful experience at the hands of James Neil that I couldn’t leave my box for three days afterward.
My refusal to venture outside my box concerned the Manageress a great deal. She would spend hours at a time, petting, grooming or just plain talking to me. I tried on many occasions to explain to her what had gone on in the riding school, but it always seemed to make no sense at all. It came out as a confused account, I couldn’t make it sound sensible! In the end the Manageress said she’d ask the instructor about it.
“You were a good girl B’, not to do him any damage,” She said. When the Manageress had gone I flopped onto the straw and tried to sleep. All through this drama Josh scampered in and out of our box with quantities of straw in his mouth. He would stack these mouthfuls of straw to forma sort of wall, then he would collapse behind it. I wondered what the hell he was playing at and asked him as much. Josh’s reply was:
“SO I don’t ‘ave to look at them bloody doves mum.” Despite his efforts to keep them out, the doves still invaded his fortress. I remember once when Josh was at the end of his tether, that he actually picked the doves up, one by one, and carried them kicking and squawking, out into the yard, dumping them there and returning for more. This was drastic measures indeed. Josh was at this fortress building game once more. As I watched him he turned his head and smiled at me.
“Them doves ain’t gonna get through this inn an ‘urry,” He pronounced.
“We’ll see, they always have in the past Josh,” I reminded him.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence mother,” He replied playfully. I made as if to swipe at him with a forefoot. Josh dodged my feeble attack and fled. I struggled to my feet and left my box also. Walking round the corner into the barn I found myself in the midst of an argument between Misty and Carmen. From what I heard of it in the first few seconds before they realised they had company, it seemed Carmen was getting the worst of it. She always did poor thing. Carmen was so nervous and unsure of herself that she couldn’t stand up to any horse in a contest. It was like that now. Misty had reduced Carmen to a quivering sobbing wreck. I felt ever so sorry for her. I rounded savagely on Misty.
“What the bloody hell’s going on here!” I demanded.
“Misty’s been saying that I’m a nervous wimp, and no good for anything!” Carmen sobbed.
“yeah, and I’m right. Do you know what B’? Carmen nearly caused an accident between Jinja and a car! The stupid bitch was so scared, so she claims, that she ran in front of Jinja causing him to swerve out of her path straight into the path of an oncoming car!” Carmen screamed:
“That ain’t true and you know it misty! It was Confiada who started all this. She, she started biting and thumping me really hard! Frightened and hurt by her I fled from her side, to get away from her! In my panic, I, I, didn’t see Jinja in front of me. Yes he nearly was run under the wheels of a car, but it wasn’t all my fault! Not like Misty says, who wasn’t there anyway!” I thought:
“This is beginning to sound like a paddock squabble,” But kept my views to myself. Misty suddenly kicked her door, making me bite my tongue painfully.
“Youch!” I yelled. Misty stretched as far as she could over her door and bellowed at me!
“Keep your long nose out of it Beyancca!” I turned toward her and replied:
“Remember this Misty, you raised no objection when I became leader of the herd. Now you have to abide by your decision. Part of a leader’s job is to sort out disputes between the members of his or her herd, and so it is my duty to find out what has gone on here and sort it out.” Misty Blustered:
“But there’s nothing to sort out! Carmen was being a stupid cow and she deserves everything she’s getting! Confiada never bites anyone without real reason.” I held on grimly to what temper I had left.
“Confiada hates Carmen. She takes every opportunity open to her to make Carmen’s life hell. I’ve seen it, Confiada needs no provocation what so ever Misty. And you should know that more than anyone. For it was you and Confiada who nearly killed Brydy and myself.” This last statement was meant to hit misty where it hurt, and it did. Her moan of pain was strangely satisfying.
“Fixed you,” I thought uncharitably. Misty turned her back on me and started eating straw. I looked over at Carmen. Her face was streaked with tears and her eyes were red. I put my nose up to hers and tried to make the situation a little easier to bare. Carmen asked:
“Can I talk with you for a bit?” I unbolted her door and she followed me out into the yard. We picked up josh on route and he accompanied us to the river, along that, and finally into the clearing where Chantilly had nearly lost her life. We crossed the river to the other side and made our way towards another field a short distance from the riverbank. Leaping the gate we found ourselves in a large field with a herd of cows in it. The leader of the bovine herd looked up at the sound of our boots. She jumped a mile when she saw who it was.
“I thought you were a gang of humans!” She exclaimed.
“No Daisy, we’re just ‘orses,” Josh replied. the cow looked down at Josh’s boots.
“But why do you horses wear those boots? For no other horses in these parts wear them.” Josh told the cow all about my idea.
“Yeah I see what you’re on about now. Of course, us cows could never come up with that sort of idea. We’d have no use for mountain boots,” she concluded. I turned to Carmen. She was lying on her side in the long grass at the edge of the field, she seemed to be asleep. Walking up to her I found she was shaking violently.
“What’s the matter Carmen?” I asked gently. She looked up into my face.
“I can’t face Misty no more,” She choked. I hugged her as best I could.
“Look Carmen dear, Misty’s just bluster, nothing more,” I tried to reassure her. Carmen sniffed:
“No Beyancca, she isn’t. Don’t you remember what she did to you?” She asked.
“Well yeah, but it was Confiada as well you know,” I replied.
“Exactly, Confiada started this trouble,” Carmen said. I helped Carmen to her feet. Meanwhile Josh had been looking on with a confused expression on his face.
“’ang on a bit mum. Who’s the aggressor round ‘ere? Is it Misty or Confiada? I’m lost!” He said. I explained about the two vendettas and about my place in the midst of both. I told Josh about Fleur’s involvement and of her incomprehension when she was told what had been done to her.
“Poor Fleur. She must ‘ave felt terrible!” josh remarked.
“She did. I just hope she’s not gonna do anything like that again,” I replied.
“She won’t, well not now she knows what to watch out for,” Josh said. I sighed:
“That’s just it. Fleur doesn’t know what to look out for Josh. She realises when someone points it out to her, and she won’t ever learn I don’t think. Fleur needs protection from those horses who would readily take advantage of her. Figaro, I don’t think I’ve told you about him yet. But he was Fleur’s protector. He loved her dearly, and when he was retired and removed from the yard, well, Fleur’s been ill treated by one horse or another ever since. Not me or any of the well known horses I HAYSSEN
to add, but others who have come into the yard and have now left.”
“Oh yeah? I’m interested mum. Tell me more,” Josh urged. I told him of Figaro, of the way Figaro used to look out for Fleur, and of his distress when he learned that he was going to be retired to another yard. Josh looked very upset when I told him of their parting.
“That’s too dam much,” he said. I told him about Joe. Of Fleur and Joe’s history and of the way he’d left her when she needed a friend more than ever. I then told him of Rosie’s distress at hearing the news and of her valiant attempt to protect Fleur.
“But then Rosie passed away suddenly, and Fleur’s been friendless ever since,” I concluded. Josh asked:
“Wouldn’t you help Fleur mum?”
“Yes of course I would. But she needs someone that can work on her level. I can’t do it as effectively as some. I just hope she finds someone who can,” I replied. Carmen looked shocked.
“I never knew there was so much to Fleur,” She said. I replied quickly:
“Well there is, and don’t go spreading it about Carmen,” I warned. She sighed:
“Compared to Fleur’s problems, mine are small,” she said. I shook myself and walked slowly across the field towards the gate, Carmen and Josh followed, much subdued now. We retraced our steps back to the yard. I was collared by one of the instructors and told that:
“Our friend James Neil wants to ride again. The worst of it is that he’s said he wants to ride you B’.” I groaned loudly:
“Oh hell, not him!” The instructor tried to stroke my neck, I shook her off roughly!
“can’t you tell the bugger that I’m unavailable? Make up some story about me going lame or something,” I whimpered.
“I’m sorry Beyancca. But you have to do it,” The instructor said. I stamped my foot in anger! I shouted:
“I ain’t gonna carry him and that’s final!” I laid my ears back as a sort of reinforcement of my intention. The instructor said:
“you know what I’ll do. I’ll go to the tackroom, get a bridle, reigns and a saddle, tack you up and then you’ll have to come.” I snapped back:
“No I bloody won’t! I’ll buck him off! He’ll hit the ground so dam hard he won’t know what’s hit him!”
“Um, a slab of concrete?” Josh suggested. I turned on him savagely:
“Shut up!” I screeched. Josh fled as fast as he could. The instructor looked pitifully at me.
“Look B’, can’t you give him one more chance? He’s new to the idea.” I bared my teeth at her.
“No, and no again! He’s not new to the idea at all! You know who James Neil is?” I proceeded to tell the instructor all about James Neil’s sordid background.
“He sounds a nasty chap,” she said. I looked across to the riding school. James Neil was standing there and he saw me looking at him.
“Ah, Beyancca,” he said. I stopped him.
“If you think you’re getting on my back you’ve got another thing coming!” James Neil said gruffly:
“You’re here for my pleasure and I’m gonna ride you if you like it or not!” I exploded at him:
“You’re a hard handed brute! I hate your bloody guts and so do all the other horses!” James Neil countered with:
“I’ll ride Fleur then.” My blood ran cold.
“No! No! No!” I whinnied angrily. Despite my protests, that’s how it was. Fleur was tacked up and James Neil rode her. I watched the whole sorry episode with feelings of utter hatred for myself, and loathing for James Neil.
What I witnessed that day was so awful, I can hardly put it into words. Neil kicked and beat Fleur with such ferocity that she ended up squealing and pleading for mercy. The instructor did her best to stop him from abusing Fleur, but she was not strong enough against the brute force of the man. In the end, after a terrible struggle, Fleur managed to buck James Neil off. He landed with a thud on the peat flooring and Fleur bolted! She scorched past me, her boots thudding on the peat flooring with desperate urgency. Then she turned right, stumbled and fell! Fleur landed heavily on her right side, winding herself in the process. I ran to her and fell upon my knees beside her. Fleur looked dreadful! She had foam on her lips where James Neil had pulled so dam hard on her mouth, her whole body was soaked in sweat and to top it off she shook violently from nose to tail! I felt sick.
“I put her in this position. If I hadn’t refused to work with Neil, then none of this would’ve happened. It’s all my fault, you selfish bitch Beyancca!” I tried to provoke a reaction from Fleur.
“Fleur? Can you hear me Fleur?” I asked urgently. The poor mare drew a sharp breath and gave vent to a wail of fear and pain. I shall never forget that sound, never as long as I live.
“Beyancca, B’? Protect me Beyancca!” She screamed. Then Fleur raised her head, took hold of my mane in her teeth, and dragged me down so I was almost lying on top of her! I knew by this what she wanted. Fleur was putting me between her and her attacker. This was very primitive behaviour on Fleur’s part and I couldn’t blame her really. I lay there, almost smack on top of Fleur, while the poor mare sobbed into my fur.
“I’ve got my just deserves. I’ve got her into this mess and I’ll have to get her out,” I thought numbly. Fleur clung to me desperately.
“Don’t leave me Beyancca!” She pleaded.
“I won’t, shh
Fleur, calm down dear. I won’t leave you, promise,” I replied gently. Fleur trembled beneath me. I nuzzled her ear reassuringly.
“Come on Fleur dear. Time to get up now,” I said. I levered myself off her and stood up. Fleur did eventually rise to her feet, after much persuasion I must add. She stood there, her fur stained by sweat and tears. I noticed also that her legs shook under her. Fleur leant her shoulder against mine and we walked unsteadily back to her box. Once there, Fleur flopped down on the straw, much exhausted by her ordeal. She stared up at the rafters and shook violently. Her gaze suddenly sharpened on my face. Fleur tried to stretch her nose towards me, but she didn’t have the strength to get very far.
“What did he do to you Fleur?” I asked awkwardly. The poor mare tried to speak, but only a feeble whisper came out.
“he, He hit and beat and thrashed me. Pulled savagely on my mouth, that sort of thing,” Fleur replied. I knew she was censoring her ordeal. All horses do this so that their brethren won’t be too upset by their tale. I knew Fleur’s half hour with James Neil had driven her to unspeakable thoughts. Fleur struggled to her feet and looked at me sorrowfully.
“I can’t put into words what I went through in the riding school Beyancca. It’s just too much for any horse to take.” I then told her of my refusal to carry James Neil.
“But now I wish fervently that I had carried him Fleur. I wouldn’t wish any horse to go through what you’ve been through. I know this sounds cheap and nasty, but I’m really sorry for putting you in that position. I was a selfish, thoughtless bitch, and I’m meant to be leader. I mean, what kind of leader puts one of the most vulnerable members of her herd in danger?” With that I walked away, not daring to look at the mare I’d virtually destroyed. Fleur came running out after me.
“Beyancca! Beyancca! Don’t go! Don’t leave me, please!” She pleaded. I stopped, I said incredulously:
“I dam near killed you, and you want me to stay?” Fleur almost choked on her reply.
“Well yes, I think so, Oh B’! I don’t know what I want, I’m scared B’!” She wailed. It hit me afresh then how young Fleur really was. She might be large, but emotionally she was only slightly more mature than a yearling. I hugged her tightly, trying to dispel the feelings of guilt I still had. It was obvious Fleur didn’t connect me in any way with her ordeal. Fleur wanted a mare she could cling to, call her friend, actually be a friend to her, for no other horse, apart from Brydy and Chantilly perhaps, would even attempt it. I held onto Fleur tightly. She leant into me, pressing herself against me for all she was worth. I thought:
“I’ve got no idea what’s going through your mind Fleur. But you’re safe with me, I’ll protect you.” I then thought:
“Dam it B’! You don’t want to be thinking it, you wan’a be saying it to her! That’s what she needs!” So I spoke my mind. Fleur burst into tears on hearing what I had to say, soppy thing isn’t she? Eventually Fleur dried her eyes and looked at me.
“Thanks B’,” She said simply. I still felt guilty for what I’d done and couldn’t speak, I just nodded. Fleur stretched and winced as her bruised body complained.
“Yow! Ah! You know what B’? I’d almost forgotten about the battering I received,” Fleur gasped. My distressed expression registered with her, and she rested her head on my shoulder.
“What’s the matter Beyancca? Please tell me,” she pleaded. I told her of my feelings of wretchedness at what I’d done to her. Fleur said:
“But if I hadn’t carried him, you would’ve had to. Neil would have done the same to you as he did to me B’, and then where would we be? Landed up with a leader who couldn’t lead her herd because she was half dead! That’s what!” I couldn’t say anything, I just stood there and cried. Tears rolled down my nose and fell on the concrete. Fleur hugged me.
“Don’t cry B’, please don’t cry,” she pleaded. I couldn’t answer her. Eventually my tears dried and I was able to think straight. I shook myself and looked over to where Chantilly was coming round the corner into the barn. She spotted us and came scampering towards us.
“’ello B’, and you Fleur!” She yelled. Chantilly threw herself at both of us in turn. If we weren’t so large I think we’d both have ended up on the concrete. But as it was we managed to cope with Chantilly’s welcome. She nuzzled and nudged us in her most friendly manner, That was just what we needed after recent events. Brydy put her head out into the daylight and looked at us. She asked:
“That James Neil human, is it true he was Ellen’s old owner?” I replied that he was indeed Ellen’s old owner. This seemed to trouble Brydy a great deal.
“Um, ah, Fleur, was it him that was riding you earlier?” She asked hesitantly.
“yes Brydy I’m afraid so,” Fleur replied. Brydy sighed:
“I’m really sorry for you Fleur,” She said. Fleur shook herself and wandered out of the barn, Brydy turned to me.
“Is James Neil really that bad B’?” I replied that he was every bit as bad as Fleur had made out, and worse sometimes. I looked out of the barn towards Chantilly’s box. She had her back to me. Brydy said:
“I hope James neil gets thrown off! Someone should buck him off again and again! and again! until he gets the message that we hate him!” I told her that I couldn’t do it without provocation, but if he angered me, then I wouldn’t hesitate.
The next few days are uneventful so I’ll skip them. I now come to a bright Saturday morning. The air was cold and the stables were coated in ice. I stumbled out of my box, I was late for work and the ice wasn’t helping matters! I made my way carefully across the concrete towards the riding school. Reaching that I was collared By my rider. James Neil looked down at my boots with obvious distaste. He whirrled round on the Manageress, who was about to teach him how to ride me properly. He ordered the Manageress to:
“Remove her boots! Horses should not wear boots! If God meant them to wear boots he’d have made sure they were born with them!” The Manageress protested that:
“If Beyancca doesn’t wear those boots she will be unsteady. I don’t have any horseshoes here now. I got rid of them when these new boots became available. And I’m sure you don’t wish to anger your horse? Beyancca’s quite attached to her boots. And she’d not be very impressed if you took them away from her.” But James Neil was unbending. I had to remove my boots. So one by one they were unfastened and taken away. I stared down at my hooves.
“So that’s what they look like,” I thought. James Neil clambered onto my back and I started off. Slowly at first, but with growing confidence as I got used to how light my bootless feet now were.
James Neil was as bad as ever! He punished me mercilessly for the slightest little thing I did wrong. The Manageress pleaded with him to leave me alone, but he refused. I’m sure she would have pulled him off me, if the law allowed her to. But as it was she could only plead with the bastard on my back. She couldn’t actually touch him, for she might be charged with assault. So Because the law left the Manageress powerless to do anything, it was down to me, a horse who couldn’t be charged with anything, to sort James Neil out.
My mind went back to the removal of my boots, and how the Manageress had said I would be unsteady without them. I decided to prove her right. James neil had just booted, and I mean just that, booted me into a canter. He was at the same time pulling on my mouth so I didn’t know what to do. I decided to canter anyway. My hooves were drumming on the peat flooring and I was going steady as you like. A corner was coming up and I decided in a split second that I would try my best to slip and fall at that point, making out that it was my lack of grip that had caused the accident. As it happened I didn’t need to act the part.
As I came round the corner, a loose patch of sand caused my right forefoot to slip! I felt myself going and couldn’t do a sodding thing about it! I squealed as I fell heavily on my side. James Neil was thrown off my back and landed with a hard thud on the peat a little way off.
I lay on the peat, winded and disoriantated. My legs were crumpled beside me, my hooves seemed to be telling their own sorry tale, I left them to it. For it was James neils insistence that I remove my boots that had caused the accident. The Manageress had got James Neil up on his feet and was making sure he was fine. As she found no bones broken she came to look at me.
I gave vent to a pitiful whinny as she approached. I was only slightly exaggerating my state. When I was eventually coaxed to my feet, I stood there, shaking violently, that wasn’t faked. The Manageress checked me over and then she put her arms round my neck. Resting my head on her shoulder, I relaxed and let her stroke me. How good it felt to be handled gently by someone who knew horses. My body began to ache from the fall. I must have communicated this to the human embracing me, for she gently rubbed my bruised right shoulder. I straightened up slowly.
“Can I reclaim my boots?” I asked. The Manageress helped me put them on and after that, well, things were much improved. I limped from the riding school and was making my way slowly to my box when I felt a muzzle brushing mine. Turning to see who it could be, I saw Fleur, much distressed.
“I saw what that bloody man did to you Beyancca. How could you stand for it? He knocked you about, and it was only when you fell that he stopped! Did you mean to fall? Or was it unplanned? You look pretty bruised and battered, are you all right? I mean really all right? I know you B’. You’ll work yourself silly and then wonder why you get so tired.” I stopped her outpour.
“No Fleur I’m not fine. Is that what you wished to hear?” Fleur replied:
“At least it’s the truth.” I shook myself carefully. My body still ached like hell, I wish it would stop! Sighing with exasperation at life in general, and myself in particular, I tried for Fleur’s sake, to put on a brave face.
“yeah Fleur, I’m fine, a little bruised and shaken, but by all accounts, well it could’ve been a hell of a lot worse,” I said. Chantilly stuck her head out into the daylight and said:
“You look bloody awful B’! What the ‘ell did that bugger do to you? Kick you from ‘ere to next week did ‘e?” I nodded:
“You know what Chantilly? I couldn’t have put it better myself,” I replied.
“Come ‘ere B’,” Chantilly invited. I went to her and she opened her door, beckoning me inside. Fleur wandered off up the track and I saw her no more.
Chantilly looked long and hard at me.
“You ‘ave been knocked about a bit ‘aven’t you,” She observed. As she said this my bruises seemed to make themselves felt more than ever. Noticing my distress, Chantilly motioned to me to lie on the straw. Once I was stretched on my side, Chantilly lifted her bootless right forefoot,,,
“Hang on a bit, what’re you gonna do with that?” I asked suspiciously.
“I ain’t gonna ‘urt you B’. I wouldn’t ‘urt you would I? It’s a technique my mother taught me. You see, our old master was an ‘orrid man. When the ‘orses in our field were ‘urt, the bloody ‘uman wouldn’t give them any drugs to ‘elp with the pain. So they used to use this method to ‘elp the injured ‘orse cope with the pain, that’s all it is,” she replied. I sighed:
“yeah Chantilly, and you wan’a try it out on me, yes?” Chantilly nodded:
“Yeah that’s right,” she replied. I looked once more at her poised right forefoot.
“You hurt me, you won’t see tomorrow!” I warned. But I needn’t have worried. Chantilly used the most lethal of weapons a horse possesses to great healing affect. I’ve never known a mare who could be so gentle with her hoof as Chantilly was. She put gentle pressure on my shoulder with the tip of her hoof. Then she gently massaged the place. I daren’t look at her face, in case I disturbed her concentration. It was obvious to me that this thing was fairly new to Chantilly also, for she was trembling with fear. I could feel it ever so slightly as she massaged various points on my body. I think Chantilly was scared out of her skin. But it was her desire to help her friend that kept her at it.
As for me, well, the pain disappeared instantly. I don’t know what Chantilly was doing, and still don’t till this day, but it was wonderful! The pressure of Chantilly’s hoof seemed to be distant. I seemed to be floating on the edge of a blissful sleep. But my fear of what Chantilly might do to me made me fight the sleep. In the end I decided that what would be would be, and if she hurt me, I could always get her later. Now I feel dreadful for thinking that at all, I slipped away.
Once I was asleep Chantilly stopped massaging and walked carefully out into the yard. She had never felt so scared in all her life! During my treatment it was all she could do to stop herself sweating with terror! Now she was shaking and panting desperately. Fear overcame her in a sickening wave! Chantilly lay down on the concrete, she felt dreadful. She lay there for ten minutes or so, panting and shaking violently! One of the instructors, a young female human I think, came and almost picked Chantilly up off the concrete. She helped Chantilly into her box and there she found me sleeping.
“What’s been going on here?” The human asked. Poor Chantilly could only manage a garbled reply.
“Don’t ask, just don’t bloody ask!” She gasped. I think the affect of her treatment on me frightened Chantilly more than anything. Chantilly thought:
“What’ve I done to ‘er? Is this right? Why the ‘ell is she so sleepy?” She prodded me with a forefoot and yelled into my face.
“’ere Beyancca, wake up! Wake up!” I groaned and shifted.
“Yeah what do you want?” I asked blearily. Chantilly collapsed, weeping into my fur. I came to my senses proper with Chantilly almost lying on top of me, crying her eyes out. At first I couldn’t think why she was so upset, but then it dawned on me.
“Hey Chantilly, come on dear, don’t cry, please don’t cry,” I said gently. I asked:
“What’s upsetting you?” The poor mare clung to me desperately.
“I was so scared. When you dropped off like that, I, I didn’t know what to do!” Chantilly sobbed.
“But haven’t you done that sort of thing before, to other horses?” I asked. Chantilly shook her head:
“No I ‘aven’t. ‘ere there’s very little need for it. You see, my mother taught me it only days before I came ‘ere. ‘ere there is no need for it. ‘we ‘ave it good ‘ere B’, bloody good in fact. Not like some places. In the place I came from you needed everything you ‘ad to stay alive! It was ‘ell there B’.” I thought:
“Chantilly never told me about this!” I reflected that possibly she’d been trying to block it out of her mind forever, but this thing had brought it all flooding back. I let her get it out of her system. I had no idea what Chantilly had suffered at her other place, and I don’t think she’d tell me if I asked. Perhaps it was too awful for her to contemplate. In time Chantilly got to her feet and shook herself.
“You’re a wonderful friend to me B’,” She said. I didn’t know what to say to that, so I kept quiet.
Just then the door opened and a stable Lad walked in. She coaxed me to my feet, put a head collar on me and led me out of Chantilly’s box, eventually leading me into my own. She took the head collar off and left me to it.
Suddenly I heard, away in the distance, the sound of a horse’s hooves coming closer at an alarming rate! I thought I could distinguish Confiada’s high stepping gallop. Sure enough she came tearing into the yard with her rider hanging on for dear life. I then saw something that I hope I’ll not see again in a very long time. Confiada tried to turn right, slipped, skidded and nearly fell onto the concrete. Her rider was almost unseated by the commotion, while Confiada squealed in agony! She stood stiffly, blowing through her nostrils. I stared intently at her right ear, which was inches from my face. Confiada’s rider jumped off her back while Confiada herself cursed and swore at the top of her voice.
“Cor’ bloody hell! Shit! My leg hurts! Bugger it!” I smiled at Chantilly:
“Drop the H’s and it could almost be you dear.” Chantilly snorted:
“Shut it!” I looked at Confiada. The poor mare was staggering about the yard with the Manageress and all the Lads trying to catch her. In the end they managed it and she was checked out.
Later on that night I heard Confiada complaining to ruby that:
“I’ve dam near broken my leg! Bloody rider should be sued! She made me go too dam quick!” But Ruby, wise to Confiada’s ways, and merciless to the last said:
“More like you went too dam quick.” Confiada squealed and whinnied her protestations, but Ruby told her to:
“Shut up!” Confiada did as she was told and tried to sleep. Much as I hated and do still hate her, I felt sorry for Confiada, as I had been in much the same situation before. I knew how painful and frustrating a damaged leg could be. Confiada couldn’t sleep however and ordered me to go and fetch the Manageress.
“Oi Beyancca! You’re meant to be the leader round here! Go and get me some pain relief!” she demanded. Chantilly aired her view that:
“If you talk to B’ like that she ain’t gonna do a dam thing for you Confiada.” Josh yawned expansively.
“Can’t an ‘orse get any sleep round ‘ere?” He asked. Confiada squealed with rage and kicked her door, which hurt her even more.
“Shut it you horrid scrap!” She screamed. Josh ignored her and buried his head in the straw. I did go and get the Manageress. She came and pumped Confiada full of morphine.
“That’ll fix you until the vet comes in the morning,” she said. Confiada wailed:
“Stay with me! I’m scared!” Chantilly remarked:
“Who’s the big foal now?” Confiada screeched:
“And you can shut your bloody mouth also!”
“It’s a free country ‘ain’t it?” Chantilly asked. This tipped Confiada over the edge. She squealed and whinnied until Ruby got furious!
“Shut up now! Be quiet! Get your act together Confiada!” She bellowed. Confiada did as Ruby commanded, and we heard no more from her. Josh worked closer to me under the blanket which covered both of us. It was the large blanket that Rosie used to favour.
“It’s fit for a leader really,” I thought sleepily. I drifted off with Confiada’s squeals echoing round my head.
That was an uncomfortable night for all of us. Josh couldn’t get to sleep, no matter what he did. In the end he leapt to his feet, used a word that I am not going to repeat and stormed out of our box. I heard his boots leaving in a hurry. Feeling much the same as he did, I got up slowly and followed Josh into the night. I caught up with him on the riverbank. He was staring dejectedly into the water.
“Josh? Josh Darling?” I inquired softly. He didn’t seem to hear me. Then he turned and gave me a look that unnerved me a good bit. Josh said:
“it’s gonna get an ‘ell of a lot worse ‘ere. Confiada’s gonna turn the yard upside-down. You watch ‘er mum.” I moved closer to Josh and hugged him.
“No Josh Darling, you’re wrong, Confiada’s not that strong.” Josh was crying now. This was strange, for he hadn’t cried in ages, no matter how angry or upset he was, so I figured that this must be terrible.
“She’s gonna ‘urt you mum, possibly kill you if she ‘as ‘alf a chance. I know ‘er mum, I’ve seen mares like Confiada before,” He sobbed. I hugged him tightly, all the while feeling that what he was saying might be too close to the truth for comfort. Eventually Josh stopped weeping into my fur. The moon was up now and the water made the light shatter into a thousand pieces. We watched it together, Josh rubbed his nose against mine.
“I’ve been wanting to get away from the yard for a long time. I ‘ate it there sometimes mum. There’s always some ‘orse getting at another ‘orse for no reason at all! They should ‘ave spent a week in the place where I came from, then they’d know what things to really argue about. Cor’ mum, I never told you this, but we used, well I didn’t, I was too young, but the others did. Anyway, them other ‘orses, you know? Those ‘orrable ones that chased us out of the yard, and did them ‘orrable things to that Shire ‘orse? Well, they used to steal my food! All the time they were at it! I’d find ‘ay gone one day, and oats the next! I don’t know ‘ow I survived! Now that’s something to get on your
‘igh ‘orse about ain’t it?” He asked. I replied that it indeed was and that he shouldn’t worry about that sort of thing happening in my yard.
“I know Confiada’s a bitch, but she’s no thief,” I reassured him. Josh sighed:
“I’m a wining bugger ain’t I mum,” he said. I whinnied;
“Josh!” He smiled:
“Sorry mum,” he said. I replied:
“I should think so! And you used another disgusting word earlier!” Josh said:
“Oh shit, I did didn’t I!” I nearly kicked him!
“There you go again! You swear too much Josh!” I yelled.
“Oh yeah right mum, and you don’t?” Josh countered.
“Look Josh, as your foster mum I have a duty to guide you as best I can,,,”
“Cut the guidance crap mum. I ain’t a foal no more, I ‘aven’t been one for most of my life. Unfortunately the opportunity for that was taken away from me long ago.” Josh’s statement had shaken me a great deal, so much so that I felt sick.
Josh noticed my shocked expression.
“Sorry if I upset you mum,” he said flatly. I blinked back tears, sniffed and swallowed hard. Josh read my mind.
“I know there’s no excuse for the way I speak mum, but there are reasons.” I nodded:
“Yeah Josh, I know,” I replied hoarsely. Josh sighed:
“I wish Confiada would shut up, I really do,” he said.
“She’s got as much right to air her views as you have Josh, it’s a free country you know,” I replied.
“yeah mum, I know that, but ‘er views are ‘orrible! She ‘asn’t a good word to say to anyone! She’s always got a problem with something, nothing ever satisfies ‘er,” Josh said. I looked up at the moon, wondering whether Confiada would ever change her ways. Josh shook himself.
“Suppose we’d better go back to the yard ‘adn’t we mum,” he suggested. I followed him back to the yard in silence.
The next morning started badly. Confiada had been seen by the vet early and she was now digesting the information that she wouldn’t work for a year.
“Oh isn’t that great! I’ve been injured by some bitch of a rider and now I’m unable to work! And I wonder who’s gonna take my work? Not that I had much anyway. But who’s it gonna be? Ah yes, bloody Beyancca of course! I hate your guts Beyancca!” she screamed. Josh remarked:
“Confiada don’t like you mum.” I was standing in the yard and was quite unprepared for what happened next. Confiada came striding up to me and booted me on my right hock! The pain was terrible! I screamed and limped away slowly. The Manageress came running at the sound and investigated the situation with amazing speed. The vet was still on the yard so he came to have a look at me.
“That hock’s been badly bruised. Six weeks off work I’ll bet,” he said. My whinny of horror didn’t seem to register with the vet or the Manageress. I thought:
“Now I’m off work! I hate standing about in my box forever and a day!” I used the same disgusting word Josh had earlier, but a few more times than he had I fear. My hock hurt like hell! I could hardly move my right hind leg at all! I dragged myself across the straw to my haynet and grabbed a mouthful of straw. I began to feel really angry! I asked myself:
“What right has Confiada to do what she did? When I did nothing to hurt her.” My hock was seizing up and I could hardly move it. I swore viciously and tried to lie down. Eventually I made it onto my chest, and resting my head on my forelimbs, I tried to sleep. I was drifting off when Josh burst into the box, slamming the door behind him! He panted:
“’ere mum, Mum! Are you awake mum? ‘ave you ‘eard the news? Silver’s announced she’s preggers! She’s gonna ‘ave a foal in a few weeks and it’s gonna be tichy! Man it’s gonna be so small that I’ll be able to carry it on my back! Are you listening mum? Did you ‘ear a word of what I said?” I groaned and shifted uncomfortably.
“yeah Josh, fine love,” I murmured. Josh thumped me!
“Mum! Silver’s gonna ‘ave a foal and you don’t care? Is that right?” I opened my eyes. I replied dreamily:
“No Josh, It’s not that I don’t care love, I do! It’s just that I’m in a lot of pain from what happened earlier, and I was trying to get some sleep.” Josh asked:
“’ow ‘ard did Confiada ‘it you?”
“Hard enough Josh,” I replied.
“Bitch she is!” Josh bellowed.
“Shut your mouth before I kill you!” Confiada shrieked. Silver came calling then.
I looked up as the pony walked in.
“Yes Josh, she does look pregnant,” I thought. Silver had a few words with Josh that I didn’t catch, and then disappeared. Josh settled down beside me and closed his eyes.
“Silver just wondered if I’d told you mum,” He mumbled. I sighed heavily:
“Six weeks off work Josh.” Josh sneezed:
“Sorry about that mum, sneezing at you I mean. Six weeks off work ay?” He asked. I sighed heavily, trying to control my hatred for Confiada. Suddenly I leapt to my feet, strode to my door and smashed it in two! Josh stared at my work in horror!
“’ere mum, was it worth that?” he asked incredulously. I snapped:
“yes Josh, it’s worth it when you’ve been written off for six weeks! Yes it’s worth it when all you can do is stand in your box all dam day!” Josh looked troubled.
“Mum, mum, Confiada ain’t worth it, she ain’t worth it mum!” He said. I lay down, pulled Josh closer to me and sobbed into his fur.
“’ey mum, don’t cry, please don’t cry. Confiada’ll come to ‘er senses someday. She’ll see ‘ow she made our lives ‘ell,” he said gently.
“I need you Josh,” I sobbed. Josh laughed slightly.
“Don’t be a daft bugger mum, it’s nice to ‘ear that though. You know what? Another thing I never told you, no other ‘orse ‘as ever said that to me and meant it. You mean it, I know you do. I loved you from the moment I saw you in the field that night long ago.” This set me off. I cried into Josh’s fur while he watched me with a:
“Mothers! who’d ‘ave them?” Expression on his face. Soon however the tears dried up and I was able to think straight again. Ruby came to my door, or what was left of it and looked at me.
“Confiada’s done bad work here,” she observed. Josh snapped:
“I wouldn’t call that bad work! I’d call it assault!” Ruby ignored his outburst. She had been enchanted by Josh to begin with, but now his appeal was wearing thin with her. You see, he was no longer the enchanting scrap of life he’d once been, No, he was now built like a battering ram! Josh was growing into a massive shire horse. I heard Ruby say once that she was frightened of Josh.
“He’s large, bullish and he swears a lot. That marks him down in my book as a bad type.” I got furious with her and demanded to know on what grounds, other than those she’d spouted out at me, she based her views. Ruby avoided the subject and slunk away. I called after her:
“I hate horses who insult others for no good reason!” Ruby’s box door slammed hard.
The next day dawned clear and bright. I woke around seven in the morning to a feeling of well being, despite the pain in my hock, and despite the racket josh was making, while doing his best to exterminate the doves that had been making our lives hell for the last month and a half. I stretched languidly, wished I hadn’t because my hock hurt when I did it, and took a look outside, I found Josh stamping on the concrete, trying for all he was worth to squash doves under his huge feet. I halted Josh’s dove extermination attempts and we went in search of Silver.
We found her lying in her box, SHE WAS obviously feeling the worse for wear. Wen Silver heard us coming towards her, she said wearily:
“Yesterday the Manageress tells me I’m preggers, and now, well I’m feeling preggers! It’s awful! I never knew I was pregnant until yesterday,” she laughed slightly.
“All I knew was I was feeling dreadful for days on end. I thought it was something I ate, but no, no it couldn’t be as simple as that could it, oh no! I’m ‘aving a foal, and I don’t particularly want one, but then again, perhaps I do.” Silver began to cry:
“I don’t know what I want!” She sobbed. She calmed down after a while, and made a huge effort to compose herself.
“You know what B’? Josh? I can remember the Shetland pony that, um, well you know. ‘e was a nice chap n’all that, we got together one night, one thing led to another and then, well, ‘ere I am today. I’m ‘aving a foal and there’s not a dam thing I can do about it.” Silver looked really unhappy. She continued:
“When I told you Josh, I wasn’t ‘appy with the situation,,,”
“No you weren’t Silver,” Josh chipped in. Silver sighed:
“And now, well, I’m soon to be a mother. To be quite honest about it the thought makes me sick. I’ve ‘ardly lived myself, so ‘ow am I gonna teach a foal to look after itself?” I said gently:
“You will Silver, you will.” Silver lost her temper.
“That’s what you all bloody say! Every dam ‘orse in this place says “Oh you’ll know ‘ow to look after your foal Silver.” Well the truth is I won’t and I don’t! I’m scared Beyancca, scared for my life and the foal’s! what ‘appens if I make a bloody ‘ash of it all ay? ‘ave you thought of that? Cos I ‘ave, and it ‘ain’t nice!” Silver was shaking violently. She suddenly shouted:
“And I thought you Beyancca, of all ‘orses in this place, would be able to tell me what to do, and you can’t! I need ‘elp, and I ain’t getting it from any of you lot!” Silver’s eyes blazed, but then the fire in her died suddenly.
“I’m scared, I’m bloody frightened,” she whispered. With that Silver got up slowly and walked away, we watched her go.
“Poor bugger,” Josh said, I agreed with him whole heartedly. Silver was in a difficult position, AND she could do nothing about it. Josh and I walked out of the yard and along the track towards the river. Once we reached the river we splashed across it and entered a field with two horses in it. These were not horses from our yard, no, wrong colour for a start. We horses who live in the yard are all white, or set to go that way at least. These two were piebald ponies. At the sight of two horses,, which were larger than themselves, the poor things bolted! Josh called after them:
“’ey come back! Come back! We ain’t gonna ‘urt you!” The two terrified ponies kept running, and only stopped their headlong dash when they were brought up short by the hedge which marked the boundary of the field. They spun round to face us, their nostrils flaring with fear, and their eyes nearly popping out of their sockets. Josh and I approached slowly, partly because my hock was giving me trouble, and partly so not to frighten the two ponies. The elder of the two ponies tried to speak, but he was so scared, that no words came. The younger pony pleaded in a high pitched whinny:
“Please don’t hurt us! We’ve done no wrong!” Josh smiled reassuringly and said:
“Didn’t you ‘ear what I said? We ain’t gonna ‘urt you, promise.” The two ponies looked suspiciously at Josh’s huge feet.
“You could do a lot of damage with those,” the elder pony observed. Josh replied:
“But I ain’t gonna do “a lot of damage” as you put it. I know ‘ow ‘ard I can kick or stamp, and I ain’t gonna do it to anyone ‘ere.” Both ponies looked down at their hooves, they were much smaller than Josh’s. The elder of the two piebald ponies asked:
“What do you want with us? We’re just two friends who were eating grass together, we come from a yard five miles from here. Have we intruded on your patch? If we have, we’re sorry, really sorry,,,” I stopped him.
“Look, you haven’t intruded on anyone’s patch. Josh and I were out for a walk that’s all. We mean you no harm what so ever. All right, Josh might look scary to smaller horses, but he’s gentle, really gentle.” The pony looked at Josh again.
“He doesn’t look gentle,” he murmured. The younger of the two ponies looked at me with interest. Then he turned to his friend and said:
“Wasn’t Rosie an Irish Draft mare? This one isn’t.” I thought:
“There’s gonna be a misunderstanding here, better sort it out quick.” I said:
“Um, No, my name’s not Rosie, I’m Beyancca. I’m the new leader of the herd. Rosie handed the leadership to me three months back.” The younger pony asked:
“But why? Why should she want to do anything like that? I’ll bet You’re only seven years old, no older. I’d have thought Rosie would have been a bit more careful in her choice for her successor?” I must have looked uncomfortable at the pony’s question for the older pony said:
“I heard a while back something about Rosie having died suddenly, but that was ages ago! How can she hand the leadership over to another horse when she’s dead?” I looked down at the grass. Josh and the two ponies looked at me intently. Then Josh pulled me over into a corner of the field to talk to me.
“’ere mum, ‘ow the ‘ell do we tell them what ‘appened? It’ll sound like a fairy tale!”
“Yeah Josh, that’s what I’m afraid of,” I replied. Josh smiled suddenly:
“I know what we’ll do. Tell them ‘ow it was and let them work it out for themselves,” he suggested.
“Great idea Josh,” I replied. So that’s what we did. Josh and I told the two piebald ponies what had happened, and let them work it out for themselves. When sunset came we had to take our leave, and we left two very confused ponies behind us.
We arrived back at the yard to be confronted by Confiada beating the stuffing out of Carmen. Forgetting my bruised hock I waded into the fight and managed, after a struggle, to beat Confiada off. The elder mare looked at me with pathological hatred!
“I despise you Beyancca! Why don’t you just piss off and die!” I ignored her petty insults and said:
“Get back to your box Confiada! That’s an order!” Confiada screamed back:
“I’m not taking orders from a half-caste cow!” Confiada was referring to my cross breeding, whereas she was pure bred herself. Naturally, this insult stung deeply.
“You can’t help who your parents are!” I said agrievedly. Confiada spat on the floor at my feet.
“I hope James Neil really beats you hard! I hope he makes your life hell!” Confiada screamed. Josh squared up to her, and yelled at her:
“No! You’re the bitch! I knew you were, right from the start I knew you were! I ‘ate you big time, ‘uge time in fact! I can’t see why you keep ‘assling mum over sod all!” Confiada launched a kick at him. Josh dodged the flying hoof and planted his right forefoot firmly in Confiada’s stomach. The mare squealed in agony and collapsed onto the concrete. Josh stood over her, his fur bristling with rage! He said ominously:
“You know what Confiada? You know what I’m gonna do now? I’m gonna bloody crush you!” Josh waved a huge forefoot in front of Confiada’s eyes. She squealed and whinnied for mercy. Josh brought the tip of his boot down onto Confiada’s nose and rested there for a while, while Confiada begged him:
“Don’t hurt me Josh, Please don’t hurt me!” Josh touched Confiada’s nose with the tip of his boot making her squeal in terror.
“I’ve ‘ad enough, I’m bored,” he said. Josh released Confiada, who scurried back to her box, the door slamming hard behind her. Josh turned to see what had become of Carmen and myself.
What had happened was this. When Josh had floored Confiada, Carmen begged me to protect her. I stood in front of Carmen, shielding the goings on from her view. Weeping pitifully, Carmen buried her head in my shoulder.
“Confiada just went for me!” She sobbed.
“I know Carmen, I know,” I replied gently. I had been on the receiving end of Confiada’s violence and knew what she meant. Josh went up close to Carmen and tried to hug her. The poor mare screamed at him!
“No! No! No! Go away! You’re big, and scary! And huge!” Josh replied:
“’ey Carmen, don’t be like that dear. I ain’t gonna ‘urt you am I.” Carmen’s eyes were wide with fear.
“how do I know that? You’ve got huge feet, there massive! How do I know you aren’t gonna hurt me?” Josh said:
“Let me show you.” With that he sidled up to Carmen, who by now was shaking like a leaf, and hugged her. At first Carmen resisted, but then, as her fear left her, and she realised Josh wasn’t going to hurt her, she rested her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes. I watched them, Josh doing his best to comfort a distressed mare, and Carmen doing her best not to be frightened of the huge horse embracing her. When Carmen was quite calm, Josh released her. He asked:
“There you are Carmen, it wasn’t that bad was it?” Carmen shook her head.
“No, No josh it wasn’t bad at all,” she replied. As she said this I noticed she looked at josh with, um, well, longing, yes that’s it! I had to take a second look, but yes, yes she was definitely watching him with an intensity that wasn’t anything to do with fear. I came to the conclusion that Carmen liked Josh a hell of a lot.
She sidled up to him and actually hugged him.
“Better not let Silver see you doing that Carmen,” I said. Fear crossed Carmen’s face:
“Why not?” she asked. I told her of Silver’s proposal to Josh and of him turning her down, and finally of her anger and distress when the news sunk in.
“So, the foal’s not yours then josh?” Carmen asked hesitantly.
“No Carmen, course it bloody ain’t. Man! If Silver ‘ad my foal, it’d kill ‘er!” Just then Silver arrived on the scene. She looked tired, frustrated and very uncomfortable.
“This foal’s giving me grief,” she gasped. I noticed that just moving took Silver’s strength from her. The foal was draining her for all she was worth. The poor Shetland pony looked up at me sorrowfully.
“I can’t stand much more of this B’,” Silver sobbed. I dropped to my knees and tried to hug the tiny creature. Of course, I couldn’t understand what she was going through, for I had never been pregnant, let alone given birth to a foal. Silver still had that to come, and I could tell she was frightened by the prospect. A thought then struck me of a mare who could help Silver more than any other.
“Balugue had a foal didn’t she? All right, it was some time back now, but there’s still a chance she could help Silver,” I released her, turned and went straight to the Field Horse barn to talk with Balugue. I found her engaged in an argument with Emmy over some stupid thing or other. When she saw me, Balugue looked relieved.
“Hi B’. Great to see you, you can help me take my mind off this stupid animal!” Balugue said. She waved her booted right forefoot at Emmy. I asked:
“How long ago did you have your foal?” Balugue thought for a bit.
“Um, about a year and a half I think, can’t really be sure though, what do horses know of time?” She replied. I then asked a question that would either result in my forceful expulsion from the barn or a straight answer.
“Do you remember the time you gave birth to your foal? You remember what it was like? Well, Silver’s frantic with worry about the birth of her foal, and I felt you might be able to give her advice, for I haven’t been through it before. Balugue, if it isn’t too much to ask, could you talk to her?” The mare looked at me with horror!
“you’re expecting me to discuss a personal thing like that? With a virtual foal? How could you ask it of me!” She shouted. I said quickly:
“Look, Balugue, it wasn’t Silver’s fault she got pregnant! It wasn’t!” Balugue bristled with rage!
“No Beyancca, I’m not gonna tell her what it was like.” I lost my temper.
“You talk to her, or, I’ll throw you out with the Field Horses!” I yelled. I’d forgotten that Balugue spent twenty four hours a day with the Field Horses, in fact, she was one herself. Balugue gave me a disgusted stare and stamped out of the barn.
“What a megabitch!” I thought angrily. A voice behind me said:
“Hey Beyancca, come over here a minute would you?” I turned and saw Brydy standing by the wall on the other side of the barn. She was tied via a head collar to a ring in the wall, and I could see she didn’t like it much. I walked across to Brydy, untied her from the rope, freed her from the head collar and then asked:
“Yes Brydy, What can I do for you?” The Conamara mare stared at me in astonishment.
“how the hell did you do that?” she asked.
“Do what?” I asked. Brydy stamped her foot with frustration.
“Don’t be a silly bugger, I meant how did you undo the head collar?” I smiled at her.
“My secret,” I replied conspiratorially. Brydy left it, she knew better than to try
and force it out of me. I shot a glance
over to where Fabrecai was standing by the wall. He was tied much as Brydy had been, and
looked angry with the situation.
Suddenly he leapt in the air, slamming the lead rope taught as he did
so. The rope held for a second, but then
he was straining against it until the rope gave up the fight.
Fabrecai, now free, fled to the other side of the barn and hid as best he could.
“Stupid horse, stupid horse!” Brydy remonstrated. I watched the Field Horse as he dared any of the others to come and fight him.
“He’s brash and egotistical as well Brydy,” I observed. One of the instructors came in then. She took one look at Fabrecai standing where he shouldn’t, and then took action. She grabbed hold of the dangling rope, or what was left of it, and dragged the protesting field Horse back to the tethering ring. She tied two secure knots in the rope around the ring before leaving Fabrecai to contemplate her handiwork. The instructor then stamped out of the barn, much annoyed by Fabrecai’s antics.
“Horrid cow she is!” Fabrecai whinnied.
“What!” Brydy protested. Fabrecai then said something about the instructor that I cannot print. Brydy lost her cool, strode up to Fabrecai and kicked him on the fetlock. Fabrecai was so surprised by this that he couldn’t do anything for a few minutes, the stupid bugger just stood there looking stupid.
“There you go B’. I’ve shown Fabrecai up for what he really is. He’s a stupid, immature, unpleasant creature, a Field horse in other words.” I cautioned her that Jamie was a Field Horse and I’d loved him once.
“Do you still love him?” Brydy asked. I replied:
“yeah, I think so. You see, he left me.” Brydy suggested:
“Go back to him and ask him Beyancca, you can only try!” I considered this for a bit and decided against it.
“No Brydy, no dear. Thanks for the suggestion, but it wouldn’t work. I’ve tried many times, but there’s no response from him at all. All he wants to do is fight other horses. All I can say for him is that he doesn’t fight other breeds, no, he confines his activities to the Field Horse herd.” Brydy looked a little nervous when I’d mentioned Jamie’s love of fighting horses, and now she was almost frantic!
“No Brydy, he won’t hurt you, promise,” I reassured her. Brydy and I walked out of the barn and along to my box. We entered to find it mucked out with fresh straw on the floor. Brydy and I lay down together, and as the sun set we drifted off to sleep. Later that night I felt Josh lie down beside me, he whispered into my ear:
“I love you mum,” then I drifted off without a care in the world.
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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