Well, it was a pony actually. The horses are much better behaved. This was my wife’s New Forest pony. Well into its twenties now, long retired from active service, a docile family pet. Just the thing to give rides to the grandchildren.
Well, that’s what my daughter thought. She was coming at the weekend with her kids, who’d had a couple of lessons at a riding school. They’d loved it, but it had been indoors, a bit tame – perhaps they could ride Rosie in the woods? On a lead rein, naturally, with Grandad in charge. It would be quite safe.
A lovely idea, of course. She’s a friendly animal – the kids feed her carrots when they visit. An old pony, a bit arthritic, easy enough to handle. What could possibly go wrong?
All the same, a little bit of practice might be wise. So one evening I led the pony out on a walk, just to see how she would behave. A quiet stroll, I thought, no distractions, nothing exciting. Except that I forgot – silly me – that the pony hadn’t been away from its field and stable for nearly a year. So for her EVERYTHING was exciting.
And the further we got from home more thrilling and scary it all seemed.
Finally she could bear it no longer. Drop the shoulder, kick up her heels and then – WHAM! The pony is half a mile away bolting for home, and the granddad flat on the ground.
Thinking, what’s wrong with this leg?
It took five minutes to get to my feet. Another ten to hobble three yards. Then I gave up. I was half a mile from the nearest house, with no mobile phone. So I just stood there like a tree, rooted to the spot. Watching the sun go down and the stars come out.
Hoping Santa might come along. It was Christmas, after all. A long age passed.
No Santa. But finally a neighbour appeared, walking her dog. And eventually an ambulance. So there I was in hospital, with a broken hip.
I’m not writing much now since it’s still not great sitting at a desk. Thank goodness the grandchildren aren’t learning to walk again, like granddad. I’m glad it was me, not them. They’re happy, they just bounce.
My fictional heroine Sarah Newby ran serious risks for her kids too, though she hasn’t crippled herself. She defended her son who was accused of murder. If you’d like to read about that, A Game of Proof is available for FREE now in the US and UK. ($0.99 elsewhere)
If not, take care. Stay away from old docile ponies. That’s my advice.