My recent mongoose post reminded me of an incident involving one of them, a horse, and a cigarette …
(Wow! Sudden interruption! The mongooses just arrived on the front lawn! My Nikon has suddenly given up the ghost – all pictures come out with bands like the mongooses – but I have just captured some stills using my Handycam – to be processed later!)
Anyway, I should first fill in the background as to how it came about that we had a horse here.
It started when, on a Drakensberg ride, Younger Daughter saw fit to dive face-first into some gravel. In spite of this she and Elder Daughter remained starry-eyed at the idea of riding, so after our return from the break we booked riding lessons nearby for the two of them. YD then chickened out at first, so I finished the course of lessons already paid for on her behalf, but then she un-chickened a bit later so the three of us had regular tuition until we reached jumping and cross-country abilities.
What helped YD a lot was a lovely little bay horse called Magic Socks. Strangely, most of the kids were terrified of him, and when daredevil ED rode him, he was as wild as she was. However, with YD he was as gentle as a lamb, and he built her confidence enormously. We took half-shares on him with the riding school, and when he developed a bit of lameness and it was found that wading in the sea (transported by horsebox) helped a lot, we decided he should come and live with us over school holidays. I constructed a paddock in the back garden, widened the beach path a bit, and all was ready.
Socks arrived very nonchalantly at the beginning of the hols, and after being taken to the beach seemed to benefit even on that first day. He and a half-Siamese that we had at the time, Coojee, promptly bonded and thereafter whenever Socks came to stay Coojee would camp at the paddock and they would sleep together.
Anyway, late that first evening I went to check that all was well and that there was enough water etc., and I left a happily slumbering bundle of horse and cat.
The next morning there was a complaining cat – but no horse although the paddock gate was still firmly closed. Panic set in, and I started dashing round the neighbourhood in the car while Much Better Half tried to calm hysterical kids and to phone at the same time.
SPCA: ‘You’ve lost a WHAT?’
Local vet, in voice used for humouring lunatics: ‘No, we haven’t had any horses handed in’.
I arrived back from my trip to find MBH receiving a phone call from a neighbour some way down the road. As it happened, she kept a horse, as well as a cow and a warthog. Yes, we live in a suburb, but she has particularly large grounds. ‘Have you by any chance lost a horse?’ she asked. ‘You have? Ah, good, I thought I remembered you saying something about one at book club …’
Apparently a youngster who happened to be abroad very early had seen Socks wandering down the road, assumed he came from their paddock, and inserted him through the gate. On getting up the next morning said neighbour had stared out from the upstairs bedroom window and announced hesitantly to her husband, ‘Er … dear … we’ve suddenly got two horses.’
‘Don’t be b***dy mad!’ was his reported reaction.
The mystery of Socks’s escape was solved when I caught him doing a limbo under the lowest bar of the fence I had constructed – I had to rebuild it to discourage that little habit.
Anyway, that was the first of many happy visits by Socks, whose lameness cleared up remarkably with the help of soft sand and seawater. Wild gallops along the beach became a regular feature of our lives. The daughters, in particular, had eagle eyes from horseback. There would be a sudden screeching halt in mid-gallop, a dismount, and a pickup, to add another cowrie to our collection.
One incident from a visit will always stay in my mind. I was fondling Socks at his paddock when a set of pins jabbed painfully into my calf, and I swung round to find Coojee demanding some attention. So I bent over to stroke him – and Socks took umbrage at suddenly being ignored and gave me a good nip on my behind. I really did feel a bit hard-done-by that day!
(The mongoose/horse story will follow later.)
© Colonialist (24.Com/Blogs) April 2009; reblogged WordPress November 2013