My horse Slip is very dear to me, but like many of his sensitive disposition he has Issues. He has issues with burdock leaves: too large and could easily have dragons concealed beneath them. He has issues with wheelie bins: same reasons as burdock leaves. He has issues with donkeys (“have you SEEN the ears?!”) And above all he has issues with being ridden on his own. In company with another horse to share dragon watch duties, he is delightful to ride. On his own he is all revolving eyeballs and wobbly knees.
Today I rode with a friend who lives about half a mile away. After an excellent hack we parted company at her field and Slip and me had to do what I think of as the Trembling Walk of Terror – the short ride back through the village. And my goodness it lived up to its name today.
First up was Frank wheeling a wheelbarrow. That was bad enough in itself, because his wheelbarrow squeaks (if you think about it) (and Slip does) in exactly the way a dragon would squeak if it was crouched to spring. But to add to the horror, Frank’s wheelbarrow contained a pile of hedgetrimmings and a little furry dog. Slip hyperventilated and covered the next quarter of a mile in ten-yard leaps.
Then we were at The Field With The Llama, and Slip finds llamas even worse than donkeys – it’s not just the ears, it’s the neck. This brought us straight on to Audrey’s house. Audrey works at her garden constantly in company with her downtrodden gardener. I clocked Audrey, doing something complicated with bamboos at the far end of the garden, but I didn’t see until too late that her gardener was clipping the hedge. Hearing hoofbeats he popped his head over the top to say hello – and became to Slip a torso-less head, still miraculously talking but obviously a zombie. So we set off like a rocket and did the next stretch of village at warp speed.
We were nearly home when we met my geese swaggering up the road. My fault, I’d left the gate open and they had gone in search of cars to chase. No cars, but a hysterical horse, which was just as much fun – we covered the last few yards with three geese pounding along behind us hissing their heads off and trying to catch Slip’s bright orange tail.
Slip’s recovered now, but he says he’s never, ever again leaving his field without an armed escort. And I am in complete agreement.