My hand flew to my mouth in shock. I began shaking. It was horrible. I stood on a branch and Powdie raised his head at the cracking sound. His whole face was cut; scratches and deeper cuts. His bridle was broken and hanging. His saddle had slid to the side. The left stirrup was gone, and in the right stirrup there were branches, ferns and bracken.
I kneeled down beside him, and touched his neck. Blood was seeping out of his wounds. I pulled out my phone and dialled Leah's number wit shaky fingers.
"Hello?" "Hi, ti's Naomi. I found him... He's- he's in terrible condition. I'm not far from the yard. I'll meet you back there." "Okay. Be careful."
I took his reigns, and pulled. He grunted, and scrambled to his feet. Tears came to my eyes as I took in his condition. He had cuts all over him. How could he have gotten into this condition? I undid hs girt, and took his saddle. I slung it over Forest's hindquarters, and tied it to her crupper.
I mounted up, and walked her over to Powdie. I took hs regns, and clicked. He followed Forest, his muzzle almost touching the ground. His movements were stiff, and every time he put weight on his near fore, he raised his head slightly.
The horses' shoes chimed against the concrete, announcing our arrival. Leah obviously wasn't back as she didn't come out. Sarah trotted out of the forest towards us. Forest heard her, and began jogging. I stretched my right arm back so that I wasn't pulling Powdie, and pulled on her reigns. She slowed to a walk again.
"What happened to him?" Sarah's face was drained of colour, and she looked like she was going to pass out.
"I don't know... I found him lying on the ground, like this." I was crying again. Kim wheeled herself out of the house, and looked as if she might throw up.
"I'll call Paudie." Kim said, pulling her phone out of her coat pocket. "He'll be here in ten minutes. He said to keep Powdie outside or in a stall with no bedding."
I led Powdie into one of the many vacant stalls. We used to have a riding school, but all of the ponies were sold, mostly to Leah, when mam fell ill. I took off his destroyed bridle, and didn't know what to do. I couldn't put a headcollar on him because he had too many cuts. I took a leadrope and tied it around his neck. I hoped it wouldn't slide down and rub off the cuts on his neck.
I walked into the stall that Forest was in. Kim had brought her in. The mare was used to wheelchair bound people leading her.
Leah popped her head in just as I finished. "Where's Powdie?"
"The next stall down. Paudie will be here in a few minutes," I said, closing the stall door. I led her to Powdie.
"My god..." She said. "My poor baby." He looked up at her voice. A van pulled into the yard, and we both went outside. Paudie parked next to te horse truck. He jumped out.
"Rght, where's Powdie?" He asked, walking into the barn. Paudie was the vet at Red Leaf, so he knew Powdie. When he saw the gelding, he shook his head.
"I might need to bring him to the surgery. He needs stitches in some of those cuts. The trailer's padded. I won't put a rug on him. I don't want anything to get into the wounds."
Kim came out of the house as Paudie was leading Powdie into the trailer. She had tidied her hair, changed her clothes, and put on mascara. "Will he be okay?" She asked.
"You're welcome to come along. You too Leah." He added the last part quickly, blushing slightly. Kim grinned like a maniac. Paudie helped her into the jeep, and Leh climbed in after. They pulled out of the yrad, and I realised that it was just me and Sarah.
"I'm going to lunge Horizion. He hasn't been excercised since he got here, and he's putting on weight like there's no tomorrow," I said to Sarah, slipping his lunging cavesson over his nose. I led him out to the large lunging ring. He pulled at the line, and started to trot. I pulled him back, and thought of Thorn. She always pulled slightly when I led her out. Never badly, just so that there was pressure on the line.
I opened the gate, and let go of the rope, only holding it halfway along. I took the lunging whip fro Sarah, and walked to the centre of the arena. I cracked the whip well behind Horizon, and he broke into a trot. "Wwwwalk on," I said slowly. He slowed to a walk.
After four circuits of walking, I asked him to trot. Verbally first, but he he didn't get the message, I said 'trot on' and cracked the whip at the same time.
I unclipped the lunging reign, and gave the whip to Sarah. I walked to the centre again, and suared my shoulders, looking Horizon in the eye. "Go on!" I shouted, flicking te lead line. He tossed his head and cantered. After five circuits, I steped in fornt of him. He swung around so that he was going anti-clockwise. I squared my shoulders to him again. I repeated this process.
His ear fixed on me, and I smiled; the first sign. After a while, he started to make smaller circles. He slowed to a trot, and dropped his head. He started to lick and chew, as if he was eating the air. I kept him going like this for another circuit, then dropped the lunge line, relaxed my shoulders, looked down, and turned at a forty five degree angle to him. He stopped and snorted. Soon I heard his hoofs on the sand. He bumbed his nose against my shoulder and I grinned, slowly turning. I raised my hand and rubbed between his eyes before walking away again.
He followed me wherever I went. I started to jog, and he trotted to keep up. I walked to the gate. "What do you think? Should I try riding him? I've put the bridle on his loads of times."
Sarah nodded, "You should. I'll give you a leg up." I took the bridle off the fence, and turned to Horizion. I slid the bit into his mouth, and pulled the bridle over his ears. He played with the bit as I tied the throat lash.
Sarah climbed over the fence, and walked over. I took Horizon's reigns in my left hand, and raised my left leg, bending my knee. Sarah boosted me up, and I lay flat across his back, my feet on hs left side, and my head on his right side. When he didn't protest, I slid my right leg over, and lay that way. One leg on either side of him, I slowly began to sit up. He raised his head, and I paused. Sarah clicked for him to walk on. She was holding his reigns as he walked. I straightened slowly until I was sitting upright. I felt him hunch his back, and I stroked his neck, talking to him. Sarah let go and walked to the centre of the arena.
He had just settled down againd when he stumbled. I lost my seat slightly, and he hunched his back again. I gripped with my knees as he started bucking.