As if by magic my friend Jack suddenly popped up from behind a stable door. She almost sent me and Poppy into orbit from the shock.
“Oh my God!” I exclaimed, as Poppy spun around, knocking me sideways. “What are you doing in there?!”
“I thought I’d hide until everyone had gone!” Jack grinned, brushing straw (and what suspiciously looked like poo) off her jacket. “I can’t believe you had the nerve to get on that crazy horse, she’s so fast! No way would I ever ride her!”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
“Then why did you set me up to ride her? What were you thinking? This horse is way too much for me!” I said in a very high-pitched voice (due to fear!)
Jack looked sheepish.
“To be honest I just wanted you to come here so we could ride together again. I really miss our hacks and everyone here is a bit nutty.”
“I miss our hacks too, but oh my God what a horse! Couldn’t you have found me a nice quiet cob?!” Poppy sidestepped into a bucket, squashed it flat then danced about for a few moments and bashed into a stable door.
Jack dived out of the way and unfortunately fell into a wheelbarrow laden with muck. She looked so funny that I laughed and that helped Poppy who immediately settled down which was a huge relief, as I had visions of the whole place being smashed to bits.
As Jack cleaned herself off for the second time, I told her the sorry tale of how I was too embarrassed to admit that I was scared of Poppy and how the owner had been so pleased with my riding she now trusted me with her horse and wouldn’t be back for months.
“Yikes! What are you going to do?” asked Jack
“I don’t know! I’m stuck now!” I replied
Suddenly there was a loud crash and in staggered a middle-aged woman wearing a leopard print onesie with her face smeared in make-up.
“Oh, good afternoon!” she said in a terribly posh voice, her breath heavy with gin. “Who do we have here Jacquline?”
Jack managed not to laugh as she introduced me to the bizarre lady whose name was Veronica.
Veronica worked for Leeds Central Library and lived in a very ordinary semi-detached house but she liked to fantasise that she was an heiress with a massive fortune.
“Welcome to our yard dearest Grace!” she said with a flourish of her hand. “If you require any dressage coaching then do be sure to ask me. I would be terribly happy to help.”
And with that she lurched off into the tack room, singing the national anthem very loudly in an operatic style.
“Is today really happening?” I asked Jack, “Or am I having the maddest dream I’ve ever had?”
“That’s nothing you’ve not met the rest of them yet.” she grimaced.
“I don’t know what the heck to do now with this horse.” I said.
“Well you could either turn her out or put her in her stable?”
There was no way I was going to do battle with the mad wild ponies again so I decided on the second option.
It took several attempts (and many expletives) to get Poppy into her stable as she kept leaping sideways at the last minute. It was very stressful and more than a bit scary but finally we managed it, miraculously all in one piece. Luckily, once she was in she immediately settled down. Poppy looked over her stable door with a thoughtful expression on her face. She was definitely sizing me up and I wished I could hear her thoughts.
“Oh my God, what am I doing with this horse?”…