Well, what a month we’ve had! Such adventures, such excitement, it’s enough to make a unicorn feel quite dizzy. That is if she was one of those lesser unicorn types (there is rumoured to be the odd one or two about) and not patently the most amazing of them all. So, without further ado, we’ll spill the beans....
We went travelling....
Unicorn transport arrived in the shape of a trailer attached to a Land Rover, IP sniffed it all with some degree of concern. What was this new stable on wheels? Surely it was not of the correct proportions for one of her sleep requirements, I mean, one wasn’t sure but it certainly didn’t look generous enough for much more than a small catnap. I indicated the haynet and the window to gaze out of which she inspected with obliging, if brief, interest, spoiling it by then asking if I could stop messing about and let her get on with her day as the grass wasn’t getting any younger in her paddock. Better grass where we’re going I said, she was doubtful...I mean what could be better than your own grass and your own paddock? Exactly where is this better grass she insisted, wait and see I told her; look out of the window, eat your hay and be patient, you’ll see soon enough. We set off. Within a minute, she was asking, quite loudly, ‘are we nearly there yet?’ But then she remembered her window and silence reigned as she discovered that the world was going past her alarmingly fast. Brief stop at a service station and she introduced herself to a group of unsuspecting lads waiting for a bus, they shuffled a little further away when she asked if she was coming with them. They didn’t answer. She asked again, loudly and slowly, in the manner that the English do when abroad and can’t speak the local language. Strangely, the whole group of them suddenly remembered that they actually needed to be waiting right over the other side of the car park and not next to IP’s mobile stable after all. Still, that’s lads for you...
On we went until the world began to slow down outside her window again and then...glory be!...Highlands! Out of her window she saw Highlands! Being well brought up, she introduced herself as her stable rolled past and they (also being very brought up) answered her in great delight. She was astounded when she found out that these very Highlands were not just any old Highlands (if that is ever possible) but her relations! And then, as if that wasn’t exciting enough, her Dad was there too with Short Stuff in attendance! It was only now that she remembered that I’d told her that she was going away for a surprise weekend and that she had to be on her very best behaviour as she was going to see Someone Very Important. I must have missed the bit off about lots of very important someones because here they were all around her. Stepping from her mobile stable she saw Someone Very Important and then it became clear, she was home again - Someone Very Important was her very first human mother (and quite clearly the best so far)! Into an immaculate stable with a window (she made notes to show me later with changes she will require at my place), she made full use of room service. The afternoon saw her taking her very first human mum for a ride in the woods and, sticking with firsts, also the very first time she has been ridden by anyone else. She chatted on...a lot...as she bustled around the woods, asking constant questions and whether or not she was allowed to do bouncing (I’d said not, best behaviour at all times, she’d said she’d try).
All very grown up but she then she did have help from a rather dashing escort, who accompanied her and her Someone Very Important around the woods. Not just a temporary dashing escort either but more of a permanent one to ensure that she grows up into the very best kind of unicorn. Balleroy Rooster to use his Sunday name, or Rupert to his friends, has come to join the family in Dorset and IP’s trip home was to a)show what a delightful girl she has grown up into and b)to collect Rupes and to chauffeur him to his new abode.
Travelling back was easy as IP had someone else to bore...sorry...entertain with her questions. Rupes had lots to tell her too, there was some sniggering which makes me think that Rupes may know some slightly risqué jokes. So with tall stories and Eddie Stobart lorries to spot down the motorway, the journey back to Dorset passed very quickly.
However, all was not all totally new and shiny....IP was working on the basis that Rupes, dashing and drop dead gorgeous as he may be, would be bored within a day or so - what is that old saying, she said, about house guests and fish both starting to smell after three days...? And then he would leave. Wouldn’t he? No, I told her, Rupes is here to stay. I have to confess that she took this news with poor grace and went from worshipping the ground he walked on to trying to give him the Highland equivalent of a Glasgow handshake. Her unicorn aura was tinged quite green with jealousy. Whilst she muttered spitefully under her breath, Rupert became even more Knight in Shining Armour as far as everyone else was concerned.
We went out one morning, we as in me, IP (under saddle) and Sir Rupert of Ashdown (on lead). We’d a pep talk about what was expected and what was not…give them their due, they did at least look like they were listening… Ten yards and there was a sibling spat. IP whined that Rupes was invading her personal space, Rupes was certain that he should be in front (he’d polished his armour especially) should a dragon appear and little sisters clearly knew nothing about anything. I cajoled and persuaded and we got a further ten yards, Rupert said something personal about IP because he couldn’t help himself and that was it. The handbrake went on. No further discussion was possible. IP put her hooves in her ears and started singing loudly, Rupes decided he was going without her regardless as the lane looked interesting…slight flaw there as I was sitting on the immobile one at the time. But Rupes was adamant that if he and I just carried on then IP would change her mind…I tried to explain that, logistically, he and I could not go on without her cooperation. Stuff and nonsense he said and set his neck, marching off like he was going to try and physically drag her.
I called it a day at that point, as we had by now caused a small roadblock, two Highlands may represent a wide load in any case, it was either admit defeat or knit a balaclava and roll up my sleeves with them both. Dear D (long suffering chap who provides excellent bed and board for IP and now Rupes) rescued Sir Rupert who was still going on about how sisters are the absolute pits, escorted him back to his stable and a nice slice of hay, which strangely made everything alright again as far as Rupes was concerned. IP gave a huge sigh of relief and unlocked her legs, achieving forward motion without a backward glance to her departing relation. Buster arrived at this point and she proceeded to tell him all about it, using shocking exaggerations from what I heard.
But like all good stories, this one does have a very happy ending. It took a day or so for IP to realise that having her very own ‘big brother’, especially one that makes all their visitors go a little girly and silly in his presence, was actually going to be a lot of fun. She went from sticking out her tongue at him to being glued to his side.
Lovely, I hear you say, alls well that ends well then? Umm...there is one small downside as I quite quickly found out to such a strong bond between two Highlands of a magical leaning.
You see, from the outside, there they are, such well behaved ponies, easy to do everything to, perfect Sunday manners at all times…. I often stand there gazing at them, finding it impossible to suppress that ridiculous grin that comes when you know, hand on heart, that you are in the presence of something very special.
However, there is that old adage of pride coming before a Highland pony equivalent of carelessly strewn banana skin, but, with my rosy tinted specs firmly on, I failed to remember it in time. And, of course, when the proverbial hits the fan and you are about to be made a fool of in a big way, there is always an audience.
Quick scene setting, eightish in the morning, ponies have been in for night in new stable, time for them to go out to paddock as riding later in the afternoon. Neighbour drives past in estate car and stops at the end of the lane to chat to K who is de-mob happy as her small and occasionally draining children are finally back to school. I approach estate car road block, Rupes in one hand, IP in the other. Stupidly I’d ignored the warning signs in the stables, failed to hear the sniggering, missed the raised eyebrows and expressive faces, all of which would have helped me to be prepared if only I’d been paying attention.
As if Rupes said, one…two…three…go, IP upped her pace, became as steerable as the QE2, whilst Rupes on the other hand decided that he would eat that particularly tasty cow parsley waving at him enticingly (snacking is not allowed without written permission in triplicate - my rules and I insist on them) which meant he had to stop and sniff it delicately first (think Ferdinand). I was suddenly torn in two directions at once by the forward motion of the Miss Cruise Liner and the abrupt stop of Sir Rupert of Ashdown. Afraid for the immaculate paintwork of very shiny estate car, I decided that altering course to new coordinates with IP was the best first plan of action, she feigned deafness….inability to understand a word I was saying (actually I was hissing as neighbour can be a bit sniffy), on cue, Rupes then decided that he was clearly being ‘left behind’ and that would require a nought to sixty surge to get upside with IP again.
Uttering forty-five Hail Marys, I somehow steered the QE2 around the car, gave Sir Rupert of Ashdown my hardest Paddington Bear hard stare to which he sucked his teeth and raised his eyebrows with the clear words ‘who me?’. I squeaked at K that she might help me with the gate as the QE2/IP was still holding her line all engines, full speed ahead. The ponies had clearly roped K’s horse, Buddy, in on their plan and he stood immoveable in the gateway leaving no room to manoeuvre either IP or Sir Rupert. Believing that IP would now behave herself and do what she does every day, stand quietly whilst her headcollar is removed and then proceed at a sensible pace into the paddock all by herself, I rashly removed the headcollar with trusting expectation…. Sir Rupert was still eyeing me as if running through the next moves he planned to execute.
Now, the estate car neighbour chose this exact moment to announce loudly ‘lovely new pony, Midge! Are you going to train them to pull a cart, you need two heavy horses for that don’t you?’….You could have heard a pin drop…. IP drew herself up to her full 14.2 and not a little bit more and with astonishing speed and athleticism, turned on one hoof and double backed out the gateway flattening K who, under the same impression as I was that IP had manners (note the past tense) had tried to stop her. Buddy, who can be a little slow to the table, now began to understand that this had potential to be a party with a capital P and began breakdancing on one hoof in the gateway (still open) and trying to copy IP’s flatten the human move. I shut the gate on his nose….
But what of Rupes in all of this? Was he still savouring his illicit cow parsley? No. He’d moved on to glueing his head to the ground with the strength of ten Shetland ponies who live on fat patches, pathetically I couldn’t even get him to consider that he might wait a mo and go in the paddock and do that. K tried in vain to catch IP who was now waltzing around the paddock at speeds I thought impossible for one of her…build. Fighting the urge to burst into tears, by sheer force of will, I got Buddy far enough from the gate, removed Sir Rupert of Ashdown’s teeth from the clearly delicious grass at his feet, negotiated terms that he would agree to and enable me to be able to actually get him into the paddock. All the while, IP is doing the wall of death around the small area beside us. Once well inside the paddock, Rupes was released from his headcollar without turning a hair of his drop dead gorgeous film star/pop star looks, Buddy, now with a partner in crime beside him, leapt somewhat ungainly in the air to give him a high five of the equine kind resulting in Rupes needing to take a neat sideways step to avoid an ‘incident’…such a shame that I’d left my foot carelessly in the way… he looked at me with faint horror, not in what he had done but in the final realisation that there I was, clearly stupid, and yet I was supposed to be looking after him now. (I sense a letter may be on its way home pleading for the chance to return) Also, he said he’d never heard such language…
K had given up with IP who had decided eating was the best plan b she could think of. I hobbled away from Rupes, dared IP to even think about not letting me catch her by the chin hairs and put her in the paddock with her equally badly behaved big brother. Estate car neighbour watched all of this unfold with the expression of a frozen goldfish and, as she prepared to drive away, uttered the immortal words…’you should get them properly trained you know, or someone might get hurt….’ I was too far away to punch her and I don’t know her well (not a situation that will change anytime soon) but I mouthed some fairly choice words of acknowledgement at her. IP and Rupes scampered off down the field with Buddy, still high fiveing each other. I went home to apply the frozen peas….
In an effort to retain some dignity, I decided that Rupes needed to go on boy’s trip with IP’s best friend, Buster - be good for him to do some male bonding and to see the sights. The downside of living in Holidayland is that the world and his extended family tends to inhabit the roads here during most daylight hours when the sun shines...we’ll go early, Becky and I thought, miss the traffic. Blinking in the very early morning light, we set off to one of the very high points here to show Rupes the lay of the land. He observed the sea from a distance, IP had filled him in on the blue stuff, he’d checked it out on the iPad and decided that, as he was here to make a new life for himself, he’d take up surfing. I mean, after all, he does already have the hairstyle and has been practising the moves in the paddock with IP... Whilst Becky and I savoured that certain feeling of deliciousness resulting from a very early morning ride with a sunrise and awesome scenery thrown in for good measure, Buster taught Rupes how to use surfer slang with a west country accent... (if he calls me ‘dude’ one more time and asks ‘how’s it hanging?’ we may have to have words....)
I’m taking IP to see the sun rise tomorrow as Rupes has begged a lie-in with the catalogue from our local surf shop. We’ll keep you posted....
Love Midge, IP and Rupes xxx