Willow Island: A Horse Story Part 2

READ PART 1

Edited by Martin Wilsher

Gemini looked down at Emily. “Didn’t I leave you with Pip?” She asked.
“yes, oh dear, I ran after you, Pip couldn’t keep up!” Emily replied. Gemini
realised she’d been so intent on Sheissain she’d forgotten she’d left Emily with
the Falabella mare, so when Emily turned up, she thought nothing of it. Now she
was angry! “Why did you follow us!” Gemini yelled. “Because I wanted to see
where you were going,” Emily replied. They found Pip and Whitehoof talking
together. When she saw Emily Pip turned a furious expression on her. “I Told you
not to run after them!” She whinnied. “I know, I’m sorry!” Emily whimpered. Pip
snapped: “This foal ran away, and I couldn’t keep up! I’ve only got short legs,
so, once I saw where she’d gone, I left her.” Now Emily was in deep trouble.
“I’m really, really sorry!” said Emily, “Please forgive me Pip!” Pip
looked at Emily and found it very difficult not to smile, she remembered what it
was like as it was not that long ago since she was a foal herself and she had
not had the same freedom as Emily had now. “Just remember Emily, you must stay
with someone if that is what your mum has asked you to do,” Pip said firmly.
“it’s a worry if I don’t know where to go looking for you, I mean, at least I
knew this time that you had followed Gemini so I just hoped that you would be
safe, which you were!” “yes pip,” Emily sulked “Ok, forgiven and forgotten!” Pip
smiled at Emily now, she was becoming very fond of this little foal! Whitehoof
looked down at Pip, that was why he loved her, she always tried to be fair with
the horses, maybe one day she would have more responsibility, become second in
command, not yet though, he wanted her to be free to do as she chose and help
out where she was needed. Just because she was not his second in command didn’t
mean that she was not wanted in the herd because she was both needed and wanted
in many ways.
Pip rubbed noses with Emily who laughed at her antics. “You are so funny,”
she said. Pip smiled. Meanwhile, Gemini was trying to help Sheissain overcome
his fear of having his hooves touched. “I Really need a fox or a badger to help.
You see Sheissain, what you have to do is get used to having your feet handled
by another creature, it’s gonna happen sooner rather than later I’ll bet, and
you’ll need to get used to it.” Sheissain looked away. “If you get a stone in
your hoof tomorrow and Foxy has to remove it, you’ll have to keep your foot
still for her. You can’t be squealing like a foal neither! You’ll have to get
used to it Sheissain!” The stallion lifted a hind foot and looked down at it
dispiritedly. “I know, I know!” He whinnied, “but it’s horrible!” “Not as bad as
having a stone in your hoof though,” Someone said. Turning, they saw a skewbald
mare. Sheissain was shocked to see she only had one eye. “It’s better to have
the stone out of your hoof as soon as you can,” the mare said. Sheissain looked
down at his own hooves. “But who will do it? Who can pick stones out of horse’s
feet? Another question, who’ll help me lose the fear?” He asked. “Foxy,” the
skewbald mare replied, “She’s very gentle. I’d suggest she do it Sheissain. Tell
her Sandy sent you, she’ll know who you mean.”
Whitehoof approached the skewbald mare. She turned her head to look at
him. “How do you know where to go to get stones out of your feet?” Whitehoof Asked. He didn’t know, he’d been fortunate that he’d never yet had a stone in his hoof. “I
get them all the time,” Sandy replied, “I can only see on one side of my body,
so I sometimes don’t see the stones.” Whitehoof went to Sandy and nuzzled her
shoulder, which was as far as he could reach. Sandy lowered her head and nuzzled
Whitehoof’s ear. Pip watched this, feeling that Sandy should be reprimanded for
being too familiar with her leader, but she knew that was Whitehoof’s job to do
that if he felt that way. It was obvious to Pip that Sandy was comforted by
Whitehoof’s ministrations. He came back to her side and Sandy turned and walked
away. “She’s an outcast in her own herd,” Whitehoof said sadly. “What? How?” Pip
asked. “It’s like I was,” Whitehoof said, “one thing slightly out of the
ordinary, and some horses are not very nice to you,” he replied. “That’s why you
nuzzled her shoulder,” Pip said. “Yes,” Whitehoof replied, “she needs support,
and up until then, I don’t think she got it.” Whitehoof lay down, and Pip
settled beside him. She reached over, and touched his white hoof with her
muzzle. “I love you as you are,” she said. Whitehoof suddenly hugged her
tightly. He was reliving the terrible persecution he’d had as a foal, memories
of which had been stirred by Sandy. “Both of you need to talk it through,” Pip
said, “I don’t know what you are going through. Talk with her Whitehoof,” Pip
said. “I might do that,” He replied. “I love you Pip sweetheart,” Whitehoof
said. He buried his muzzle in her mane. Pip rubbed his ear with her muzzle. “I
wonder how Sheissain’s getting on,” she said. “I was wondering the same thing,”
Whitehoof replied. They got up and went in search of Sandy, Foxy and Sheissain.
Pip and Whitehoof found Foxy and Sheissain. Sheissain was lying on his
side, one forefoot outstretched, Foxy was trying to get the terrified horse to
relax. “What are you scared of?” She asked. “I hate the feeling of a paw on the
sole of my foot!” Sheissain yelled. Foxy reached over and touched Sheissain’s
outstretched forefoot. The stallion closed his eyes and squealed hysterically!
“I hate it! I hate it! Take your paw away Foxy, or, or I’ll murder you!” he
screamed. Foxy, knowing Sheissain was not going to hurt her, took her paw away
anyway, in case he would strike out. “That was awful!” Sheissain wailed. Sandy
came past. She was limping. Sheissain saw her and thought it was an elaborate
trick. “Walk properly!” he yelled. “I don’t think any horse with a stone in
their hoof could walk properly, not even you Sheissain! So shut up!” Sandy
whinnied. Foxy, used to extracting stones from this mare’s hooves, smiled at
her, making sure she was on Sandy’s right side so she could see. “Another
stone?” She asked. “Yep, you bet, sorry Foxy,” Sandy replied. “That’s what I’m
here for,” The vixen replied gently. Turning to Sheissain, she said: “Now watch
this, I am going to ask Sandy to Pick up her foot, then I will remove the stone.
What foot is it this time Sandy?” Foxy asked. “Right hind,” Sandy replied, and
it’s well in I think, very painful too!” Sandy turned and lifted her right hind
foot. Foxy lay down, and taking Sandy’s hoof in her paws, she cradled it in her
right, while letting Sheissain see the sole of Sandy’s foot. “See the stone?”
She asked. Sheissain nodded: “I see it,” he said. “Notice something else?” Foxy
asked. “Um, no,” the stallion replied. “There’s no sound from Sandy, she’s not
squealing, and she’s in a lot of pain from this stone,” Sheissain fought to
control his anger! “She’s an expert at this thing, I’m not Foxy!” he yelled.
“just watch this,” Foxy said. With that she felt for the stone with her left
paw, and worked it loose. While she was doing this, Sandy clenched her teeth for
a few seconds, This stone was in deep and Sheissain saw it really did hurt her,
but she didn’t cry out, and she didn’t threaten Foxy with anything. Once the
stone was out, Foxy let go of Sandy’s hind foot. “That’s a bit bruised,” she
said, “but it’ll heel soon.” “Thanks,” Sandy said with genuine relief. “That’s
okay,” Foxy said, “I like a compliant patient.” Looking pointedly at Sheissain
she said: “I wish they were all like that.” Sheissain bit back his
embarrassment. He’d been a wimp, he knew it, and this jumped up dog was doing a
very good job of showing the whole world! Sheissain leapt to his feet and ran
away, leaving Whitehoof, Pip, Foxy and Sandy to talk. Whitehoof thought this
might be a good time to talk to Sandy.
Whitehoof followed Sandy into the forest. “Hey,,” he called after her,
“Want a chat?” he asked. Sandy felt awkward, “Er, yeah, if you like,” she
replied shyly. “Come, let’s go and find a quiet spot where we will not be
disturbed!” Whitehoof came alongside the mare and they walked silently together.
They settled down under a large tree. “We should be all right here,” said
Whitehoof, “Tilly will take charge of the herd for as long as she is needed and
she has Pip and Ferdinand there to help her.”
Wondering what her leader wanted of her, Sandy settled down on Whitehoof’s
right. Whitehoof looked across at Sandy. He noticed she was nervously switching
her tail. To comfort her he reached over and nuzzled her ear, much as he had
done her shoulder earlier that day. Relaxing slightly, Sandy rested her head on
Whitehoof’s shoulder, tucking her forefeet under her. “How is life for you?”
Whitehoof asked. “It’s okay,” Sandy replied, sort of,” “Sort of what?” Whitehoof
asked softly, gently probing deeper. “Ever since the accident with the cart, and
my expulsion from my old herd,” Sandy said, “things have never been quite the
same. It started going strange as soon as I returned from the vet’s place after
I’d been patched up,,” She gulped hard, fighting with her emotions. Sandy had
never spoken to anyone about her feelings, and this tiny horse was dragging it
out of her, and she knew she would tell him, even though it would hurt her.
Seeing her pain, Whitehoof said: “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want
to.” Sandy closed her eyes and dug furiously at the dry leaves with a hind foot
as she tried to compose herself. “I suppose it’ll be okay,” she said, “You know
what it’s like, You’ve had it too, I can feel it, see it,” Sandy gabbled.
Whitehoof knew what she was driving at, and he knew she was trying to gauge in
her own mind if he was to be trusted with her inner most thoughts. “Whitehoof,”
the mare said, “I think, think you know how it is to be rejected by those that
were meant to be members of your herd. I don’t know how to put this, but I was
rejected too. After the accident, and, well, my problems, the herd, well, they
didn’t say anything spiteful, but I knew. One day, I was taken away to a show
ring, and sold, sold for dog meat,,” Sandy’s voice trailed away. “That’s
terrible,” Whitehoof said gently. He wanted to use stronger language, but knew
that this wasn’t the right time for a full blooded rant at the human race. Sandy
continued: “Knowing what lay in store for me, I escaped. I was only four years
old, despite what had happened to me, I had life ahead of me, I wanted to live
my life, even if I had only one eye to see the world! So I ran off, and hid, and
soon Petra found me, or I found her, I can’t remember. She took me in, didn’t
say a thing about my appearance, she saw through that, to who I was beneath.”
“You didn’t talk to her about this?” Whitehoof asked softly. “No,” Sandy
replied, “Petra was a lovely mare, but what would she know. You know how it is,
You’ve experienced ostracism for something that wasn’t your fault.” She glanced
at the gelding’s white foot. “You’re right there,” Whitehoof said heavily, “I
was born into a wild herd, and my mother loved me dearly, she didn’t mind about
my white hoof. It was the herd leader Sandy, she, well, let me explain.”
Whitehoof closed his eyes, feeling the same way Sandy had before she told her
tale. Sandy actually hugged him, she no longer worried whether it was proper to
hug the herd leader. Sandy moved as close to Whitehoof as she could get and
embraced him tightly. Whitehoof let himself go then, crying into her mane. After
a While, his tears dried and he regained his composure. “Thanks Sandy,” he said.
The skewbald mare just looked fondly at him, she couldn’t reply to that.
Whitehoof took a deep breath and said: “The herd custom was to bring every new
born foal to the leader to be named, the foal’s mother could not name her foal.
The herd leader saw me and proclaimed that I should be called Whitehoof. When my
mother asked why, the leader became very angry and asked why my mother hadn’t
let me die. Shocked, my mother, close to tears now, asked why she should have
let me die, and the leader pointed her nose at my white foot. “That,” she said,
“that hoof, what does it mean? That foal is going to grow up to be a witch-horse
or something, no horse has one white foot like that!” With that the leader told
my mother that when I was weaned, I was to be cast out, and left to live or die,
for there was no place in the herd for me. I was also born a gelding, I don’t
know why, but that stood against me also.” Sandy stared in horror at her leader.
“How can any herd leader do that?” She asked. “I didn’t question it, and my
mother couldn’t. She had to do what the leader said, and she did. Sandy, I’ll
never forget the day she left me. We walked far from the herd’s resting place,
and, crying bitterly, she left me alone. I wandered for ages, and got quite used
to living alone. It must have been about a year before one day, I heard another
horse squealing hysterically into the darkness. This horse, a mare, sounded as
desperate as I felt. So I went to her. This mare was Pip. We found each other,
each needing the other for their survival.” Sandy looked at her leader with
fresh eyes. “You have suffered too much,” she replied. “I suppose I have,”
Whitehoof replied, “now I know it is suffering, back then it was sad but I
accepted it as being what had to happen. It scarred me though, I know it has. So
when I saw Pip, all alone, as I was, I couldn’t leave her. Also, she was the
same breed as me, that was a bonus I can tell you. I love her Sandy, Pip means
the world to me,” Whitehoof said. “That is an awful tale,” someone said.
Whitehoof turned his head and saw Pip sprawled on the forest floor.
“Where? How? Where did you come from, and how did you manage to get here without
me hearing or seeing you? And how long have you been here!” He demanded. “I
heard your story,” the mare replied, “and I think you’ve been treated
shamefully. Whitehoof darling, why didn’t you tell me about it?” “You never
asked Pip dear,” he replied. Seeing where the conversation was about to head, he
said quickly: “I told Sandy because she told me her tale, I felt it was only
right that I tell her mine.” Pip hugged Whitehoof, then she hugged Sandy. The
skewbald mare whispered to her: “You have an amazing mate Pip, don’t ever forget
that.” Pip knew Whitehoof meant the world to her, and she knew she’d do anything
for him.
Yes,” said Pip, “I am very lucky!” Sandy got up from the ground leaving
Pip and Whitehoof alone. telling Whitehoof her story had made her feel jealous of
pip, Sandy didn’t know how much Pip had overheard, why couldn’t that horrible
little mare just keep out of the way, she thought to herself as she made her way
back to the herd.
Sandy thought she had more in common with Whitehoof than Pip. Over the
next few days her loathing of the Falabella mare came to a head. It all started
when Foxy had removed another stone from Sandy’s hoof. The fox was always on
hand to help, and she didn’t mind picking out horse’s feet. Sandy let slip to
Foxy that she’d told Whitehoof her story, and that Pip had overheard it all.
“What of it?” the vixen asked. Sandy replied: “Those two seem so happy together,
so peaceful,” “Do you wish they weren’t?” Foxy asked. “No,” Sandy said. Foxy saw
the mare’s expression though, and knew Sandy was extremely jealous of the
relationship Pip had with Whitehoof. Sensing the mare’s intentions, Foxy warned:
“Sandy, you say anything to Pip or Whitehoof to try and set one against the
other, I’ll make your life hell!” Sandy looked down at the vixen. “And how do
you propose to do that?” She asked. “Look what happened to Maynand,” was Foxy’s
reply. Sandy walked away, and ran straight into the two horses she least wanted
to see. Whitehoof and Pip were lying, as always, or so it seemed to Sandy, in
companionable silence. Sandy felt raging uncontrollable hatred for Pip! In a fit
of rage and anger Sandy turned and lashed out furiously at Pip! Totally
unprepared for this, the Falabella mare rolled away desperately, Whitehoof
throwing himself on top of her to shield her from the blow. Sandy’s hoof smashed
into Whitehoof’s shoulder! Knowing she’d be found out soon, Sandy ran away from
the scene. Whitehoof lay stunned with Pip beneath him.
Pip was shocked but not hurt. “What was all that for I wonder?” she asked once she was able to get herself up off the ground. “I don’t know!” replied
Whitehoof “But she isn’t going to get away with it!” Whitehoof was fuming!
“Are you all right Whitehoof love?” Pip asked. “I, I think so,” the
gelding replied. Pip could see his shoulder hurt. “I’ll be fine, don’t worry,”
Whitehoof said. Pip thought about the events that led to her mate throwing
himself on top of her. She’d seen Sandy, then Sandy had turned and lashed out,
then she was rolling desperately to get away from the hoof, and the next thing
Pip knew, she was being pressed flat on the floor by half a tonne of horse!
Despite being winded by Whitehoof’s sudden actions, Pip felt fine. Her main
concern was what had caused Sandy to go off on one. Pip turned to Whitehoof and
asked: “Whitehoof sweetheart, you don’t think Sandy is jealous at all do you? We
have a close relationship, and she sees that. It took a lot for her to tell you
her tale, and I walked in on it, and well, that’s it, she might not like me for
that, but that’s crazy,,” “No it isn’t,” Whitehoof replied, “I saw the look on
Sandy’s face, she’s jealous as hell Pip! She can’t stand you my dear! Neither
can she stand our relationship. I love you Pip darling, Don’t ever forget that!”
Sensing Whitehoof’s need for comfort, Pip hugged him tightly. “I love you too
Whitehoof, I would give or do anything for you, and you nearly gave your life
for me, if that isn’t enough to show how strong love is, I don’t know what is!”
She whinnied. Whitehoof looked into his mate’s eyes. “I love you Pip, and only
you,” the gelding said gently, “and I won’t let her hurt you. If Sandy lays a
hoof on you she’ll not live to see another sunrise, and that’s a promise!” Pip
didn’t think Whitehoof was capable of taking the life of another horse, it
wasn’t in his nature, but she knew what he meant. “We’ve got to find out what is
going on,” Pip said firmly, “who would Sandy have spoken to about this do you
think?” Whitehoof thought he knew who might know something.
Whitehoof and Pip went in search of Foxy. They found her talking to Gemini
and Emily. “Oh Whitehoof, you don’t look too happy!” Foxy said in a surprised
tone, “Foxy, I need a private word with you!” Whitehoof continued. Gemini and
Emily moved away, realising that Whitehoof’s request for privacy was serious.
“Oh no, what’s she done?” Foxy had put two and two together and worked out very
quickly what had happened. “so you do know about Sandy’s feelings then!”
Whitehoof said seriously. “Yes, she let it slip earlier whilst I was removing
yet another stone from her hoof, I told her that if she dared to come between
you and Pip, … well, I think you can guess the rest, I reminded her of what had
happened to Maynand!”
Whitehoof was furious! “I knew it!” he squealed. Stamping his tiny white
foot in rage he yelled: “It will happen Foxy, Sandy will be punished if she
tries to cause trouble!” Foxy tried to calm Whitehoof down by nuzzling his ear,
he shook her off. “Do you know what Sandy tried to do?” The gelding asked. “No,”
Foxy replied. “She tried to kill or seriously injure Pip.” Foxy was horrified!
“No! You’re wrong Whitehoof!” She barked. Then, seeing the look on the horse’s
face, she said: “You aren’t wrong, are you. She really did try to have a go at
Pip.” “I threw myself on top of Pip to protect her,” Whitehoof said. “I can see,
your shoulder’s bruised,” Foxy replied. “It’s painful, but nothing I can’t deal
with,” Whitehoof said. Foxy shook herself. “I’ll get Brock and the others to
keep an eye on Sandy. I think she might need to be taught a small lesson. To be
shown what the forest creatures can do, yes, I’ll arrange that,” She said.
Foxy alerted Brock, nutty and the other forest animals to watch out for
Sandy. “Brock no like horse hurt Pip!” he said angrily, Pip and Whitehoof found
a quiet spot to rest. Pip massaged Whitehoof’s bruised shoulder very gently. “I
still cant understand why she did it!” Pip said. Whitehoof closed his eyes and
enjoyed the attentions of his loved one.
Meanwhile Brock had found Sandy in the forest. Foxy was removing yet
another stone from the mare’s right forefoot. The boar badger watched this, and
when Foxy retired to her earth, he approached the skewbald mare. “I hear you
angry with Pip,” he grunted. Sandy looked away, she couldn’t guess how all the
forest creatures knew of her attempt on Pip’s life. “I am, I mean I was,,,”
Sandy shrieked as Brock leapt out of the undergrowth and managed to lift her
left forefoot and twist it sharply! Screaming, she crashed onto her side. Brock
then went round and grabbed hold of Sandy’s right ear in his massive paws and
twisted it hard! Sandy screamed! “Let go of my ear, Let go! You’re hurting me!”
She yelled. “You plot hurt Pip, and you nearly kill whitehoof! Brock no like
that! Brock and family with forest creatures protect Whitehoof and Pip!” Brock
bellowed. Sandy knew she was in deep trouble. “You’re not going to hang me
upside-down like you did Maynand are you?” She squealed. “Brock no decide yet
what punishment mare have for attacking Pip and Whitehoof,” Brock replied
crossly, “You horrid mare, me no like mare who attack small horses! Pip and
Whitehoof do spotted mare no harm!” Sandy was furious! “I’m not spotted, I’m
skewbald!” She screamed. Brock let go of her ear. “Me no care what you be!” He
yelled. Sandy Got to her feet. Her ear and fetlock hurt from the badger’s
assault, and she knew she was marked, not in the same sense as Maynand, but how
long would it be until she was? “What be your name?” Brock demanded. “Sandy,”
the mare replied. “Sandy?” Brock enquired. “Yes, it is Sandy! I told you, you
stupid animal!” Sandy yelled. “Brock no stupid! Me ask because me think it be
short for something else!” he yelled. “Ok,” Sandy said, “It’s short for Sandy
spot, I was owned by humans once. They named me that because I am skewbald.”
Brock looked up into Sandy’s face. “Me no happy with you,” he said. Sandy knew
somehow that this badger meant business. His manner was not threatening, but she
knew that Brock never forgot.
Whitehoof was more concerned about Pip’s safety than he would let on. He
didn’t want her left alone at any time if at all possible. “all I did was chat
to Sandy!” he said to Tilly, “and now … now she thinks she owns me! “Oh dear!”
replied Tilly, “So what do you suggest we do about it!? She asked. “I know pip
likes to be by herself a lot, she’s a very private horse really but I don’t want
her being left alone in case, Sandy decides to attack her again!” “I think most
of the horses are aware of the situation and the forest animals, particularly
Brock, will make sure that no harm will come to her!” Tilly said, trying her
best to reassure Whitehoof. Whitehoof seemed slightly happier. He went to find
Pip, he hated being apart from her, he loved her so much separation for too long
made him anxious. He found her talking to Gemini and Emily, another horse was
present too, it was Poppy. “Hi Pip, Darling!” he said as brightly as he could.
“Oh and Poppy, how are you today?”
“I’m fine thanks Whitehoof,” Poppy replied. This mare was just about the
largest mare, excluding Petra, that either Whitehoof or Pip had ever seen. She
was a Suffolk punch mare, and she was very concerned. “I hope this isn’t prying
into your private affairs,” she said, but Pip told me about Sandy attacking
her.” “Yes,” whitehoof replied sadly, “It is concerning me a great deal. I need
to know You are safe Pip. I know you like to be on your own from time to time,
but it isn’t safe now love, you need someone who will look after you, not be
with you twenty four seven, but be nearby in case of anything happening.” While
he said this he looked at Poppy. “I’ll do it. It will be an honour and a
pleasure,” the Suffolk punch mare replied. Pip didn’t much like the idea of
having a bodyguard, but she knew Sandy’s attack was serious, and next time it
might be more serious still. Pip looked Poppy over. She saw a heavily built
mare, but this massive mare also had a kind look in her eye. Looking down, Pip
saw she had hooves almost as large as Petra’s had been. Pip thought Poppy was a
strange name for such a large mare. “Maybe she’s gentle,” Pip thought, “Yes,
that’s it, she’s a gentle mare.” Pip went up to Poppy, and the Suffolk punch
mare looked down at her. Poppy lowered her head and nuzzled Pip’s ear. The soft
warmth of Poppy’s muzzle, coupled with her obvious gentle nature, made Pip
instantly trust her. Whitehoof saw this and hoped her trust was not misplaced,
and that Poppy was not so gentle that she couldn’t raise a hoof to another horse
in a crisis.
“Poppy, thank you for offering to protect Pip,” Whitehoof said. He had
another question for the Suffolk punch mare. “have you ever struck another horse
in anger?” Poppy replied: “I hit a stallion once,” She looked very unhappy “he,
he killed my foal!” She squealed. “Why?” Pip asked. “I had his foal and it had a
white hoof, and he killed it.” Whitehoof’s shock registered with Poppy. “Looking at him she said:
I know your story.” “What have you told her Pip!” Whitehoof demanded.
“Nothing Whitehoof love, I told Poppy nothing!” “What happened in my story
then?” Whitehoof asked harshly. “You were condemned to death by your leader
because you had a white foot,” Poppy replied. “How do you know!” Whitehoof
shrieked, his distress mounting. “Because it happened to my foal,” Poppy said
softly, “I suffered the loss of my foal due to her white hoof. I’m glad you have
a white hoof. You will have special power because of it, if you don’t already
that is,” the mare replied. Whitehoof breathed heavily, trying to control rising
panic. “I don’t understand how you know so much!” The gelding screamed. He dug
furiously at the ground with his white hoof, trying to scrape it out of
existence, of course he couldn’t. “I can’t stand this any longer!” Whitehoof
sobbed. The next thing he knew Poppy was lying beside him. Tears rolling down
his nose, Whitehoof cuddled up to Poppy. She nuzzled and fussed over him, while
he wept into her long thick mane. “Shh Whitehoof my pet,” she whispered. The
gelding cried uncontrollably into her mane. “I know your story,” Poppy said, “I
know it because I knew your mother Snowdrop. She was a dear friend of mine, I
was there when you were born. I helped your mother while she was foaling, and I
was the first non related member of the herd to see you gain your legs. Your
mother loved you dearly Whitehoof, and, when I left the herd only a few weeks
back, after the death of my own foal, Your mother told me to tell her little
Whitehoof, as she called you, if I ever saw you, that she loves you as much as
she did when you were born. She’s had no more foals, and it is said she’ll never
have another. Dear Whitehoof, you have to be strong, for your mum and for
yourself,” Poppy said softly. Whitehoof swallowed hard and said: “I don’t
remember you, but I don’t dispute your story.” “I left your mother as soon as
she’d recovered from foaling you,” Poppy replied. “Yes Poppy, my mum used to
call me her little whitehoof. Oh Poppy, I so wish I could see her again,”
Whitehoof whispered. A soft muzzle brushed his ear, and a voice said gently:
“Dear little Whitehoof, look at me my little Whitehoof.”
Whitehoof turned his head and couldn’t believe who he saw. He saw a
Falabella mare, all white, white hooves, white ears, white legs, white all over!
“Mum? It’s you?” He asked incredulously. “Yes my little Whitehoof, I’m here
now,” the mare replied softly. Whitehoof couldn’t help bursting into tears, but
they were tears of joy. Snowdrop hugged her one and only foal tightly. “You’re
safe now,” she whispered soothingly. Pip and Poppy watched this reunion trying
not to cry themselves, but it was a hard struggle. Whitehoof returned his
mother’s embrace with equal longing. He’d missed her so very, very much. Once
he’d composed himself, he asked: “Mum, what brings you to this herd?” Snowdrop
looked at Whitehoof with terrible sadness. “I was expelled, because I can’t have
any more foals, so I came looking for you my little Whitehoof, and I’ve found
you! I never thought I’d live to see you again Whitehoof, never! When I left you
in that clearing, I thought I’d seen you for the last time. Now,,” tears fill
her eyes as he watched, “Whitehoof,” Snowdrop said, “I’m here, and I know you
are leader, and I know you have control, and I know you have a lot to deal with,
but please, please could you let me stay?” Whitehoof’s reply took the form of a
fierce embrace of his mum, and a whispered reply: “Welcome home mum.”
Pip’s emotions got the better of her, yet again she broke
down and clung onto Poppy as if her heart would break. Poppy held tightly to the
little mare, “Oh Pip, its ok,” Poppy said “Its ok!” “Whatever will Snowdrop
think of having a wreck like me as part of her family!” Pip smiled weakly.
Snowdrop had worked out very quickly that there was a bond between Whitehoof and
Pip. “Oh Poppy,” Pip continued to weep, “I miss Petra, please poppy can I … she
dare not say the rest. She desperately wanted Poppy to take her under her wing.
“Hey Pip,” Poppy said “I told you, I will look after you, no one is going to
hurt you!”
Snowdrop, or snowy as Poppy had dubbed her, had worked out what the
relationship between her foal and Pip was. She was glad to have a herd again,
even more happy than that to have found Whitehoof, and positively over the moon
that Whitehoof was leader! Pip looked Snowy all over. She was totally white,
from nose to tail, from ears to hooves she was totally white! Pip also noticed
that, every time Whitehoof and she met, she would brush his muzzle with her’s.
Although she hadn’t seen Whitehoof for a long time, Snowy never referred to him
as “my little Whitehoof,” when other horses were around. She actually accepted
him as her leader, even though he was her foal. One day Whitehoof asked his
mother about his birth. “Thank eohippus, your birth was an easy one,” she said.
When I recovered, I looked round to find a wet little bundle, a colt with black
fur, and three black hooves, and that one white hoof. Of course I couldn’t name
you, in that herd no horse but the leader could do that, so we carried on our
lives, until that day.” Snowy looked as if she would burst into tears at any
moment. “The leader said what she did, you know that, but I remember you not
understanding it, neither did I! You would ask me why your white foot should be
cause for you to be expelled from the herd, and I remember not being able to
tell you anything Whitehoof love. That awful day dawned, and you wouldn’t let go
of me, I had to leave you, and I hated myself for it afterwards. I went back to
the place where I’d left you a day after, and you’d gone. I didn’t know whether
to feel relief or sadness. I think I was so upset that it did something to me,
and I was unable to have another foal. I hunted all over for you little
Whitehoof. I heard news that a horse with a white hoof had joined a herd of
other horses, but I heard nothing detailed. Then the leader of the herd realised
I wasn’t able to have foals and she expelled me. I wandered for days, trying
desperately to find any news of you. A badger, gruff fellow he was. Well, I
described you to him, and he became very excited. “You be whitehoof mother?” He
asked. I replied that I was, and he got even more excited. “He be very glad to
see you,” he said. With that he told me where you were, and the rest is history
little Whitehoof,” Snowy said. Whitehoof didn’t mind his mother calling him
“Little Whitehoof,” as long as it was in private. Snowy knew that also, and
generally kept to that. All the horses were talking about the white mare that
was said to be Whitehoof’s mother. Snowy’s name was mentioned by everyone at one
point or another during the days that followed her appearance in the herd. Poppy
and Pip grew very close, Poppy marvelling at how small Pip was, and Pip
wondering how on earth a mare could get so large! Once they measured hooves, and
Poppy’s were at least twice the size of Pip’s, larger too!” The elation of
Snowy’s arrival, somewhat took over talk among the chattering horses, so Sandy’s
transgressions were temporarily forgotten.
Snowdrop was wandering through the forest one day when she saw a skewbald
mare with her right hind foot raised, and a fox removing a stone from the mare’s
hoof. Seeing her, the skewbald mare called out: “Is your name Snowdrop?” Snowdrop replied
that it was, and could she have the pleasure of knowing the mare’s name?
“Sandy,” was the mare’s terse reply. Snowdrop thought that Sandy’s manner was
sharp, too sharp. Sandy said: “I hear you are Whitehoof’s mother?” Snowdrop
smiled: “I am,” she replied. Sandy spat in Snowdrop’s direction. This shocked
the Falabella mare. “There’s no need for that!” She whinnied. Sandy looked
murderous! “I hate Pip!” She screamed. “Why?” Snowdrop asked, her distress
mounting. “She has Whitehoof under her hoof!” The skewbald mare shrieked. “She’s
Whitehoof’s mate,” Snowdrop said, “and she’s not dominant over him, not at all!”
Sandy tore her hind foot free of Foxy’s paws and, whipping round, lashed out at
Snowdrop! The Falabella mare leapt backwards and sideways, trying to avoid the
deadly hoof! Snowdrop felt the wind of it’s passing. Rolling furiously, Snowdrop
leapt to her feet and bolted for cover! Haring through the forest, she literally
collided with Brock. Falling over him, they ended up in a tangled heap. “Woh!
Hey stop!” Brock yelled. “I’m so sorry, but I was running, running for my life!”
Snowdrop panted. Brock looked at her. “Brock think me know you, you be Whitehoof
mother?” Snowdrop replied: “yes.” “You also be called Snowy by large mare named
Poppy?” the badger asked. “yes, she does,” Snowdrop replied. “Me know who you
running from,” Brock grunted, “you see skewbald mare having stone picked out of
hoof yes?” “Yes I did, but how,,,” “You get talking to mare, she asks you what
you name be, and when Whitehoof mother tell her, mare get very furious and
attack?” “yes,” Snowdrop replied, “but how do you know all that!” “Ah,” the
badger said kindly, “Brock know plenty, Brock know forest creatures very well.
He know who come, and who go from herd, and he watch over herd, Pip and
Whitehoof especially. Whitehoof and Pip much liked by forest creatures, so Brock
and others protects them like crazy! I talk to forest creatures too, they say
they like mare named Snowdrop too! We protects small white mare with white
hooves. Brock know what Snowdrop go through too with Whitehoof as foal. Me know
how Whitehoof life was when foal, me hear things, but me no repeat.” The badger
smiled at Snowdrop. He took her tiny left forefoot in his paws, and said softly:
“Brock be good friend to Snowy and little Whitehoof ay?” Snowdrop, realising
this badger was at heart a gentle creature, gently removed her hoof from his paw
and looked him in the eye. “I see you be good friend to little Whitehoof’s
mother?” Snowdrop said. Brock smiled: “Whitehoof mother be right, Brock protect her and little
Whitehoof, and Pip! Now me go and see what horrid skewbald mare be doing,” he
said, “me teach horrid mare lesson she never forget!” With that he disappeared
into the forest, leaving Snowdrop alone to think. Once he’d gone, Snowdrop
turned and made her way back to Whitehoof and Pip.
She found Pip and Whitehoof resting under a tree. “Mum! What’s up!”
Whitehoof saw the fear on his mother’s face. “I was almost attacked by a
skewbald mare back there in the forest!” she said wildly, “A vixen was removing a
stone from her hoof and the mare was questioning me as to who I was, If I hadn’t
rolled away so fast, I, I” she stopped. “Oh no!” said Pip! Sandy’s at it again!”
“Oh the vixen is foxy!” said Pip. “I practically ran for my life!” continued
snowy and I fell over Brock, just didn’t see him because I was so frightened!”
“Oh well, if Brock knows!” Whitehoof relaxed slightly, “The whole forest folk
will know very soon and … well who knows what they will do to her!”
Brock stormed through the forest looking for Sandy. He found Foxy first.
The vixen was furious! “Ah Brock, there you are,” she said. “Brock hear that
Sandy try hurt Whitehoof mother?” He asked. Foxy’s fur stood on end. “Yes,” Foxy
snapped, “if poor Snowdrop hadn’t rolled away as quickly as she did,, well, you
know what might have happened. There was no provocation either!” “Brock know
what go on, Mother of Whitehoof and Brock met in forest. White mare called
Snowdrop tell Brock everything. She nice mare, Brock plenty angry with Sandy!”
The badger yelled. Foxy went up to Brock and hugged him. The Badger, unprepared
for this show of affection from her, didn’t quite know how to react at first.
Then he returned her embrace. “You’ve been a good friend to me,” Foxy said
softly. Brock nuzzled the vixen’s ear. “Brock try plenty to be good friend to
Foxy ever since me met foxy having cub. Me know how being alone is, me lose mate
to humans.” Foxy stared at Brock in horror!” “They,,,” “yes,” Brock replied,
“humans took Brock mate away. Brock mate now dead me think.” Foxy couldn’t
believe her ears. This badger, who had walked in on her in her most vulnerable
moment, and who she trusted with her own cub, had never even eluded to this!
Brock continued: “That happen year or so ago now. Brock recover, sort of, but
very depressed. Me want reason to live, so, Me digging out set in preparation
for family if find mate again. Me dig through earth, dig, dig dig, then bang! Me
find vixen screeching in pain on floor! Brock plenty frightened, but me remember
sort of what this be from when first mate have cub. Brock plenty scared though!
Vixen grab hold of, and screeching, crush hind paw of Brock when me try to
leave, so me stay! Me have no choice! But me see Foxy give birth to cub, and me
know then that me want to live to look after little fox and little fox’s mother.
Brock feel then as feel now about Whitehoof, Pip and Snowdrop! So me want punish
Sandy plenty for hurting Snowdrop!” Brock said. Foxy released the badger and
they went in search of the skewbald mare.
Sandy had gone in search of Maynand and Sheissain, she knew of the bad
things they had done in the past. “Sheissain, I need help!” she said, trying to
sound convincing. “No. sorry, no can do!” he replied, he was too interested in
getting the interest of the lovely Gemini. “ah well, I’ll have to see if Maynand
will oblige then!” she snarled in a vicious tone. “no, you don’t!” said
Sheissain, “If you are not careful, you will have that mark from Whitehoof and
that will be it, you will have to go!”
“I need to get help with something! The least you could do is describe
Maynand to me!” Sandy whinnied. “Okay,” Sheissain said wearily, “He’s got dark
brown fur, black hooves, and the mark of a tiny hoof on his shoulder.” With that
he turned his back on her. Sandy walked away. She found Maynand grazing
peacefully in the wood. Seeing her, he yanked up another mouthful of grass, and
while chewing slowly on it, raised his head, and watched her coming towards him.
Swallowing the grass, He waited for her to come within a few feet before asking:
“What can I do for you?” Sandy replied: “I think you might be able to help me. I
need to get rid of a horse. I understand you had a grudge against this horse
once. I want to get rid of Pip.” Maynand had struggled with his own feelings of
resentment towards Pip. He’d spoken at length to her and Whitehoof, and had
worked out his differences with them, which were non existent anyway. He’d just
been jealous and that was it. So being asked to help eliminate Pip shocked and
appalled him. “No, I’ll never dip my hoof in that pool again!” He squealed.
Sandy became angry! “Why not?” She asked. “Because I’m finished with all that,
I’m not discussing it any more, subject closed!” The colt shrieked. Maynand
turned tail on Sandy. Incensed, she approached him, Maynand lashed out with a
hind foot, his hoof crashing into her foreleg, nearly breaking it. Limping away,
Sandy vowed to get even with this obnoxious colt! Maynand, terrified by what
he’d been asked to do, and relieved he’d been able so easily to resist the
temptation to have a go at another horse, lay down exhausted on the grass. He
hoped this would be the last he’d hear of any plot to hurt Pip, Whitehoof or any
other horse, although he doubted this wish would ever come true. Closing his
eyes, he thought about another horse, a tiny white mare, with white hooves.
Although he felt no desire for Snowdrop, and Maynand knew nothing could ever
come of anything between them, He wanted to know more about her. After all, a
mare who could give birth to a horse like Whitehoof must be one amazing mare!
Maynand didn’t know how his questions would be received, but he reasoned that if
he never asked them, he’d never know. Getting to his feet, Maynand went in
search of Snowdrop.
Maynand found Snowdrop, Pip and Whitehoof lying under a tree. Seeing him
coming, Whitehoof got up and went to meet him. “You look like you’ve been in a
fight,” he remarked. “Sandy asked me to help her, help her get rid of Pip!”
Maynand squealed. “What did you say to her?” Whitehoof asked, all the while,
watching Maynand’s manner. “I told her I wouldn’t do it Whitehoof, I don’t want
to get into that again!” Whitehoof saw Maynand was truthful. “What brings you to
us?” Whitehoof asked. “I wanted, to, to speak to Snowdrop, ask her questions,
about her breed, her life, etc,” Maynand replied. “What if I don’t want to
answer those questions?” Snowdrop asked. “You wouldn’t have to,” Maynand
gabbled, “but I was thinking that any mare who could give birth to a horse such
as Whitehoof had to be special, I mean, it’s not every day a horse is able to
brand other horses with his hoof!” “I can’t do that,” Snowdrop replied, “It’s
only Whitehoof who can. I see you have a mark on your shoulder. Is that
signifying that you are excluded from this herd? Or is it meaning you are on
probation?” Snowdrop enquired. Maynand told her everything, putting all his
cards on the table. “So,” he concluded, “When I saw you, I wanted to know
everything about you!” Snowdrop was wary of Maynand, but he had refused to hurt
Pip, and he had stood up to Sandy, so he must be coming round to sensible
thinking. This is what Snowdrop hoped anyway. She went up to the dark brown
colt. “You can take a look at me, but I am telling you nothing! Okay?” She said.
Maynand gazed at the Falabella mare. He couldn’t believe how white her fur was,
nor how white her hooves were! Her tail, and mane, all white! Snowdrop lifted a
hoof and showed Maynand the sole of her foot, that was white too! It seemed this
mare had no pigment at all in her! “You are a beautiful mare,” Maynand said.
Lowering her foot to the floor, Snowdrop turned and looked at him. “You are
sorry for what you did to Petra and Pip?” She asked. She looked deep into his
eyes, and Maynand couldn’t stand it. Crying out with distress, Maynand averted
his gaze and prostrated himself before Snowdrop. “Do what you will with me! I am
at your mercy!” he whinnied.
Snowdrop looked down at Maynand. “Get up,” she commanded. Maynand did so,
wondering what this mare was going to do to him. “As you say you are at my
mercy, and therefore, my command,” Snowdrop said, “Bring Sandy to me Maynand, so
that I may deal with her.” Maynand trotted away, eager to do Snowdrop’s bidding.
“What can you do to her?” Whitehoof asked. “Wait and see, let’s say, she’ll
never trouble Pip again.” Snowdrop replied.
Maynand returned with Sandy. The skewbald mare snapped: “What do you
want!” Snowdrop got up from where she’d been lying languidly on the forest
floor. Sandy stared at her! “I’ve seen you before somewhere, I think,” she said.
Snowdrop looked into Sandy’s eyes. The Falabella mare’s stare was hypnotic.
Sandy’s legs gave way beneath her and she sank to her knees. The skewbald mare
began to shake with fear! “Eohippus, oh Eohippus, don’t hurt me, have mercy on
me!” Sandy squealed. Snowdrop kept staring into Sandy’s eyes, her gaze
penetrating the mare’s very being. “I can make you suffer very much Sandy,”
Snowdrop said. Pip wondered how this tiny mare could hurt anyone, but said
nothing. “I can make it so you feel a stone in your hoof. I can do it, although
I don’t want to, I don’t want to hurt you Sandy, but I will if you don’t do my
will.” Whitehoof stared open mouthed at his mother. She was motionless,
apparently effortlessly controlling Sandy with her eyes. “What is your will?”
Sandy asked. “You will go from here, and you will no longer trouble Pip or
Whitehoof again,” Snowdrop said, “You will mention no more your jealous
feelings, nor will you bourdon Whitehoof with them,” she said softly. Snowdrop
stepped forward, and placing her forefoot on the mare’s right hind foot, she
said: “You will be marked, you will be marked to signify that you have been put
under watch. If you do not do as I ask, you will be punished severely,” Snowdrop
placed her tiny right forefoot in the hollow of Sandy’s larger hoof, and when
she lifted her foot away, a white mark remained on the sole of Sandy’s hoof. “I
thought she said she could not mark horses!” Pip Whispered to Whitehoof. “I
don’t believe this!” Whitehoof hissed, “I can’t believe my eyes!” Snowdrop
walked round Sandy, and when she was before her again, said: “Go now, and do no
more harm.” Sandy got to her feet and walked away.
Whitehoof stared at his mother. “You said you couldn’t mark horses!” He
squealed. Snowdrop smiled: “I suppose I can, I’ve never really had the need
before,” she said. “And what was all that about Eohippus?” Pip asked. “Eohippus
is the name the humans give to the first horses that ever roamed the earth. I
think it means the dawn horse. We Falabella horses are said to be closer to the
first horses than other breeds. Some horses also regard Eohippus as a kind of
deity,” Snowdrop replied. “You were hypnotising Sandy with your eyes!” Whitehoof
yelled. “I suppose I was,” his mother said. “Who are you mum? Is there more to
you than you’ve told me? Come to think of it, is there more to me than I know?”
Whitehoof asked. “I don’t know Whitehoof dear,” Snowdrop said, “but the ability
to mark horses with one’s hoof is not bestowed on every horse, so I suppose
there is more to us than is usual for horses, yes.” Pip looked Snowdrop over,
from her white ears, to her white mane, white body fur, white legs and white
hooves. “You certainly have unusual markings,” she said. Snowdrop shook herself
hard. “Your black fur came from your sire’s side of the family Whitehoof,” she
said. “And the white hoof from yours,” he concluded. “Yes,” his mother said.
Poppy, who’d been silently watching all this, said: “I remember when you were
born Whitehoof. I remarked to your mother on the contrast between the colour of
her fur and yours. A more striking pair there could never be.” Tilly and
Ferdinand appeared in the distance, they looked very happy indeed with
something. “Hey you two!” Whitehoof called, “found lush grass have you? If so,
leave some for us!” hearing him, Tilly came cantering through the trees.
“Whitehoof! Whitehoof!” She whinnied, “I’m in foal! I’m having Ferdinand’s foal!
Yippee!” With that she disappeared into the trees. “That’s right,” Ferdinand
confirmed, “she’s about eight months gone, so we should have a new addition to
the herd in a few months!” he seemed almost as pleased with the news as Tilly
was, although Whitehoof knew stallions never got really excited about foals, not
like mares. “I’m so pleased for you,” Whitehoof said. Pip thought about foals,
she’d wanted to have a foal, but knew it was impossible with Whitehoof. She
decided she’d have to content herself by looking after the youngsters. After
all, Tilly would have her time taken up by a new born foal very soon indeed. Pip
knew somehow that soon she would be unable to put a hoof to the ground for
pressure of work. Whitehoof looked at her, reading her thoughts. “Do you want a
foal?” he asked. “I, I do,” Pip replied, “but you can’t sire them, I know that,
and Whitehoof, dear Whitehoof, I love you dearly, and I couldn’t have another
Falabella horse’s foal.” He hugged her tightly. “I love you too, but I would
understand if you felt you had to have a foal with another horse,” he said
gently, “after all, it’s not my fault I am how I am, and it’s not your fault
that nature decreed that you should want foals.” “No Whitehoof,” Pip said, “I
couldn’t do that my love. The thought of giving birth to a foal that wasn’t ours
doesn’t bare thinking about.” Pip nuzzled his ear. “Anyway,” she said airily,
“I’ll have my time taken by the newborn foals, Tilly’s included. For she’ll
still have her job as second in command to occupy her, and she’ll need someone
to look after her foal. I know she used to do that for other horses, maybe now
it’s my turn.” Whitehoof felt a lot happier. He knew Pip would do a good job at
looking after the foals. “They’ll feel more at home too, as you are more their
size,” he said. Pip smiled: “Yes, that’s true,” She said, “But they get bigger,”
“Very true too Pip darling,” Whitehoof replied, “but you are wonderful with
foals. Look at the way Emily took to you.” Pip relaxed. She knew Poppy and
Whitehoof would look after her, and make sure she was safe and had a real place
in the herd. Gemini and Sheissain came past then, they also were very excited.
“Another foal Gemini?” Whitehoof asked. “Yes,” she replied, “and it’s
Sheissain’s!” Whitehoof turned to Pip. “And there are two in the class of two
thousand two for certain my dear,” he said.
Maynand had seen what Snowdrop did to Sandy and it frightened him. How
could a horse control another just by looking at them? He didn’t know. He was
unnerved by the fact that Snowdrop could mark other horses with her hoof too!
He’d listened all through what Snowdrop had said about Eohippus, and he believed
it all. He wanted to rebuild relations between himself and the Falabella horses.
Who, very shortly now Tilly was in foal, would be leading the herd. He looked at
Snowdrop standing beside Whitehoof. “I wonder,” Maynand began, “I wonder
Whitehoof, if, if I could ask you to consider removing my mark?” The gelding
looked at him. “Hmmm,” he said, “how do you do that again?” Maynand’s eyes
widened with shock! “You can’t remember how you got rid of the mark?” He
squealed. “I remember,” Whitehoof replied, “I was stringing you on. Come here.”
With that Maynand went to Whitehoof, and the gelding placed his black forefoot
over the white mark on the colt’s shoulder, removing it. Maynand looked deep
into the Falabella gelding’s eyes. Whitehoof gazed back, assessing Maynand’s
character. Suddenly the colt dropped to his knees. Whitehoof nuzzled the colt’s
ear. “You are trying very hard to better yourself Maynand,” He said, “now make
sure I never have to brand you again.” Maynand reached out with his muzzle and
touched Whitehoof’s white foot. “To think such a tiny hoof has so much power,”
he said.
Sandy watched all this happening. She had hidden on the other side of the
track and had seen Maynand lose the mark, as well as the colt make his peace
with Whitehoof. Sandy knew Snowdrop and Whitehoof were not ordinary horses, she
knew that because she’d seen the mark on the sole of her hind foot that Snowdrop
had given her reflected in a puddle of water. She’d tried rubbing her hoof hard
on the ground, but the mark wouldn’t fade or leave her. Jealousy and anger
flared in her! She hated Whitehoof and Pip, despised Snowdrop and feared Brock.
She had wanted Whitehoof for herself, but had heard his declaration of love to
Pip, had heard him virtually give Pip the job of looking after the newborn
foals, and because of that, she hated Whitehoof even more! She hoped she’d be
asked to assist at foaling time, but realised that no mare would let her near.
Sandy finally realised her chances of a place in the herd were busted and gone.
It wouldn’t be her that saw the foals born, although she’d seen it before and
knew what she was doing, it would be Poppy’s, or Pip’s, or some other mare’s
privilege to help the foaling mares. Her resentment grew over the next few days.
She feared Snowdrop, but didn’t really think the Falabella mare could do her any
real harm. Sure, the encounter with Snowdrop had frightened her a great deal,
but, Sandy reasoned that a mare couldn’t be that powerful, could she? Then Sandy
remembered the mark on her hind foot, and uncertainty replaced defiant thoughts.
Weeks past, where Sandy was not seen in the herd. Many horses thought she’d gone
from the herd after her run in with Snowdrop. Tilly was close to her time now,
and was fearful of Sandy’s return, terrified that she might try to injure her
newborn foal as retribution for all that she felt was done to her. Poppy was
there to help when Tilly felt the first pains that told her her foal was ready
to be born. They retired into a secluded clearing for Tilly to have her foal.
Soon things really started happening. Tilly lay down and Poppy watched over her
as Tilly, with a massive effort, gave birth to a Palomino thoroughbred cross
colt. When it was all over, Poppy circled the clearing, making sure noone was
near Tilly and her newborn foal. The colt was soon on his feet, Tilly on her’s a
little after him once she’d recovered from foaling her first foal. Tilly gazed
at her foal in wonder that there was a new life standing beside her. Lowering
her head, she nuzzled the tiny creature’s ear. The colt, hunger satisfied after
his first drink of milk, lay down on the ground. Tilly did likewise, and the
colt cuddled up to her. Burying his muzzle in her mane, he closed his eyes and
slept with his head resting on her neck. Tilly couldn’t take her eyes off this
tiny miracle of nature.
Tilly slept. She woke to find Whitehoof and Pip lying around her and her
new born foal. “How are you Tilly?” Pip asked. “Fine thanks,” she said, “as you
can see, I have a foal now.” The colt woke and looked around. Seeing the two
Falabella horses, he turned to his mother and asked: “What are their names?”
Tilly told him. The colt looked at Whitehoof. “I can see why he’s called
Whitehoof mum,” he said. “Whitehoof is herd leader,” Tilly said. “Have you
thought of a name for your foal Tilly?” Pip asked. “No not yet,” Tilly replied.
It was Pip’s turn to be appraised by the colt. He went up to her and asked why,
if Whitehoof had the name he had because of his white foot, what Pip meant. “I
don’t know littl’en,” Pip said. The colt looked her all over from ears to
hooves. “You have small hooves,” he commented. “They’re about the same size as
yours littll’en,” Pip replied. “Are you a foal too?” The colt asked. Pip
laughed: “No!” She Whinnied, “nor is Whitehoof.” “But you are so small, like me,
but you are not foals you say? How is that!” The colt replied. “We are Falabella
horses littl’en,” Whitehoof said. The colt went across to him. “You are not a
foal, like Pip is not a foal?” He asked. “No, I’m not a foal,” Whitehoof
replied. “I don’t understand this,” The foal said. “Pip and I are of a breed of
horse that is the smallest horse in the world,” Whitehoof explained. The colt
looked down at Whitehoof’s white foot. “Does your white hoof mean anything?” He
asked.
“Well, its like this, littl’en !” Whitehoof explained very simply to the
young colt that his whitehoof was white because his mother was Snowdrop the pure
white falabella mare. He didn’t really want to frighten this foal with stories of markings and he knew that he would soon hear about it from the other
horses anyway. The foal seemed satisfied with this explanation. Whitehoof and
Pip left mother and foal to rest, they retired to a quiet spot and settled down
together for a chat. “Whitehoof,” said Pip. “You are a wonderful herd leader and
Snowdrop is so very proud of you!” “Thank you sweetheart, I am just so pleased
that she has found me again after all this time!” It was almost too good to be
true that things were going so well now, but for how long?
Tilly and her foal left the clearing and made their way back to the main
herd. The first horse they met was Sandy. Seeing Tilly with her foal, Sandy laid
back her ears and lashed out at the foal. Tilly shrieked with anger and knocked
Sandy to the floor. Placing her forefeet on Sandy to make sure she couldn’t get
to her feet, Tilly yelled to her foal to find Whitehoof and bring him to her.
“You remember him, he’s the small horse with the white hoof!” She whinnied. Her
foal scorched the grass as he fled in search of the horse with the white foot.
Skidding round a tree, the foal nearly collided with Whitehoof and Pip. Seeing
the tiny fellow was distressed, Pip asked: “What’s wrong littl’en?” “Mum’s got a
horse under her feet,” the foal panted, “she said to me to find Whitehoof,” he
looked at Whitehoof. “The mare tried to kick mum,” the foal continued. Whitehoof
and Pip got to their feet and followed the foal to the place where his mother
pinned Sandy to the floor. “Good lad,” Whitehoof said to the colt, “You did
well.” With that he turned a thunderous expression on Sandy. “What were you
doing?” he demanded. Sandy squealed: “I hate that foal!” “Why?” Pip asked, “He’s
done nothing to harm you. He’s barely a day old and you hate him?” Sandy
struggled beneath Tilly. The foal watched her fearfully. Seeing his fear, Pip
sidled up to him and said: “Don’t worry littl’en, I’ll protect you,” The colt,
glad of reassurance from this tiny mare, cuddled up to her. “Will mum be all
right?” the foal asked. “Yes,” Pip replied firmly. Whitehoof said: “Release
Sandy Tilly.” Tilly did so, and her foal caught sight of the white mark on the
sole of her right forefoot. “Why is my mum’s foot white?” he asked Pip. “I saw
her hind foot once, and that was black like yours are.” Pip explained that Tilly
was second in command to Whitehoof, and that the mark on her foot told every
other horse that. Sandy lay, knowing what was about to happen. Whitehoof touched
her with his white foot, and branded her. “Now go!” he commanded. Sandy got to
her feet, knowing she’d totally lost the respect of her herd. She knew lashing
out at a mare protecting a foal was not done, it was a heinous crime! She looked
at the tiny horse who had ended her possibilities. “No questions,” Whitehoof
said, “Sandy, go, leave, get out of my sight!” Sandy trudged away.
The horses made their way back to the herd. There was a commotion, “What’s
going on?” asked Whitehoof irritably, all he had wanted to do was get some rest.
“It’s Gemini!” Poppy said, “She seems to be in distress, she needs
help and quickly, Sheissain is frantic!”
Gemini paced about, panting hard. Poppy asked her what the matter was. “I,
I think I’m having my foal!” She squealed shrilly, “It feels the same as it did
when I had Emily!” With that Gemini lay down and gave birth to her foal. The
birth of Gemini’s foal was over faster than anyone could have thought possible.
Squealing with fear and terror, Gemini gave birth to her second foal. Mother and
foal lay on the grass, both exhausted. The foal got to it’s feet, but Gemini
didn’t. “What’s happening!” Sheissain demanded. Poppy looked down at Gemini. She
could feel the mare’s life force fading and dying. Poppy knew it was the end for
Gemini. In a few minutes, it was all over. Tilly looked at the tiny wet bundle
that was Gemini’s foal. “I never thought I’d be mothering two foals,” she said.
Tilly didn’t think twice about her actions, she dried off the tiny creature and
nudged it to it’s feet. The tiny foal staggered over to Tilly, where it found
the milk it needed. Tilly’s foal looked at the newcomer suckling
enthusiastically. Putting his mouth close to the newborn foal’s ear, he
whispered: “Mum and I will look after you.” The foal, a filly, looked round at
him. “Are you my brother?” she asked. Smiling, the colt replied: “Yes little
sister, I am.”
Sheissain stared down at Gemini’s lifeless form. Raising his head, he
squealed: “Why!” Looking round, he spotted Snowdrop and grief turned to anger,
as he connected her with Gemini’s death. “It’s you who’s done this!” he
screamed. Snowdrop, as distressed as everyone else, snapped back: “What!”
Sheissain shook his hoof at her. Snowdrop had heard of Sheissain’s hatred of
having his hooves handled and used this to knock some sense into him. “Want me
to touch that hoof?” She asked. Sheissain whinnied: “No! no! no! no! Leave my
hooves alone!” he looked towards his foal. The filly had finished her drink and was now cuddled up to Tilly and her adopted brother. Tilly and her foal had Gemini
and Sheissain’s foal between them to keep her warm. The colt nuzzled his little
sister’s ear. Emily watched Sheissain and everyone and everything else. She had
seen her mother give birth to a foal, and had seen her die. She was now at a
loss as to what to think about anything. If Tilly had taken on Gemini’s newborn
foal, would she take her on too? Emily could eat grass now, so that wasn’t a
problem, but she was still so young, she needed comfort and guidance, and Tilly
already had two foals, and it was getting worse! Emily, with all these thoughts
crowding in on her, began to cry. Snowdrop went across to her and hugged her.
This was the best thing anyone could have done for Emily at that moment. Feeling
the Falabella mare’s touch, Emily buried her head in Snowdrop’s thick mane.
“It’s okay,” Snowdrop said gently, “It’ll be all right.” Emily drew strength
from Snowdrop’s presence. Meanwhile, Sheissain was trying to keep Snowdrop from
touching his hooves. Although she’d threatened it, and made no attempt to go
near him, he was watching her intently. When she went across to Emily and hugged
her, Sheissain knew he was safe for the moment. Relieved, he lay down exhausted
on the grass. Unfortunately, he didn’t think of who else had seen his reaction,
and would exploit it because they misinterpreted his reaction to the mention of
having his hooves handled. Tilly’s colt, seeing his opportunity, went across to
Sheissain and touched his outstretched right forefoot. Sheissain, half asleep,
woke with a squeal and, leaping to his feet, he ran shrieking across the
clearing. “What did I do?” the colt asked. “Sheissain doesn’t like anyone
touching his feet,” Pip replied. “He went off like a race horse!” the colt
whinnied. Sheissain turned and glared at the tiny colt. “I hate anyone touching
my hooves!” he screamed. “Sorry,” Tilly’s colt said contritely. “You will be,
don’t you ever, ever! Do that again! You hear me!” Sheissain yelled, “If you do,
I’ll murder you!” The next thing Sheissain knew he was falling, he crashed onto
the grass! Looking up, he found Tilly glairing down at him. “Threatening my
foal?” She asked. “No, No I wasn’t!” Sheissain protested, “the little bleeder
touched my feet, I hate that! You know I do Tilly!” “You Threatened him though,
didn’t you,” she stated. “I suppose I did,” Sheissain admitted. He knew what was
coming, and he closed his eyes waiting for the discomfort and torture. Tilly
placed her right forefoot on Sheissain’s shoulder to make sure he went nowhere,
then she touched his left forefoot with hers. The stallion squealed and
whinnied, begging her for mercy! “Tilly, Tilly! Leave my hooves alone!” He
squealed shrilly. “I will tell my foals not to touch your hooves again
Sheissain, but they were not to know this time! Don’t you ever threaten my foals
again! If you do, You’ll be getting more of this! I’ll get Brock to tie you down
and touch your hooves!” “No! please no! Don’t do that Tilly please!” Sheissain
pleaded desperately. “I will, Tilly said, “another thing, if you harm my foals
in any way, I’ll personally administer the punishment, You will remember what I
say,” she said quietly. Taking her weight off of him and removing her forefoot
from his, Tilly said: “Remember what I say. For I do not speak empty words.
Also, if you harm my foals, I’ll make sure Whitehoof marks you, but marks you on
your hoof!” The thought of this made Sheissain clench his teeth. Tilly turned
and went back to her foals. She warned them against tormenting Sheissain and
then turned to a very important matter. What she should name her colt and
Gemini’s filly. Settling down with her family around her, she considered this
matter.
Tilly looked at the two foals. She saw the colt, his brown head, with a white
blaze down his nose, his white mane, brown body fur, white tail and black
hooves. She thought about a name for him. “How does Ben sound?” She asked. The
colt instantly replied: “Ben, hmm, yep okay.” Ben he was then. Tilly then turned
to Gemini’s filly. She saw a tiny creature, piebald fur, her black head with
white ears, her black and white body, one half black, the other white. Black
forelegs, white hind, and finally white hooves. Tilly smiled at the filly. “How
would it be if I named you Jess,” she suggested. The filly pricked her ears.
“Okay,” she whinnied. Ben and Jess they were from that day on.
Sheissain was overcome with grief, he hadn’t meant to hurt Ben, why was it
that he so easily angered? He wanted desperately to be with Gemini, he had not
known love until Gem and Emily had come along, it wasn’t fair! Why had she died?
He cried desperately for her ….he never wanted his hooves to be marked by
Whitehoof, all he wanted was to be loved! Well, he thought on, at least he had
Jess, yes, he had Jess and Emily, he would take care of them and throw his whole
energy into looking after them if Tilly would allow him near Jess that was!
Sheissain went to Tilly and asked her straight out. “You threatened my
foals!” Tilly squealed. “I threatened Ben, I know, I’m sorry!” Sheissain
whinnied shrilly. Jess looked at Sheissain. “Ben touched your hooves didn’t he?”
She asked. “Yes he did Jess, and I hate having my feet touched,” Sheissain
replied. He turned to Tilly and implored her to let him be with his foal! “I
know you are taking care of Jess Tilly, but she’s my foal too!” He squealed.
Tilly relented slightly. “I suppose you can,” she replied. Sheissain went to
Jess, lay down and hugged the tiny filly tightly. Jess returned his embrace.
“Why do you hate people touching your hooves?” She asked. Sheissain knew he’d
have to face up to his fears. “Okay,” he said, “I’ll try, I’ll try to overcome
my fear. How I will do it I don’t know. I think I’ll have to be forced into it,
because I won’t do it otherwise.” Jess touched his right forefoot with her tiny
hoof. Sheissain, feeling sick with fear, lifted his foot, letting his foal touch
it. She rubbed his hoof with her’s. She even gently rubbed the sole of his foot.
Sheissain breathed deeply, trying to overcome his fear. He said: “Okay, Jess,
you do that every day, to each of my feet, one at a time.” Jess saw the reaction
Sheissain had given to Tilly’s threats to touch his feet, and compared it with
his reaction when she actually touched them. Sheissain wasn’t crying, wasn’t
lashing out. He was frightened, but that would pass she was sure. Sheissain knew
Jess would be his saviour. He knew it would be a hard fight, that he would
probably squeal pitifully like a foal, that he would fight against Jess’s
treatment, but he would win this battle with his fear, and maybe, he would get
to know this foal better, the last link he’d ever have with his dear Gemini.
Sheissain worked it out at last, all he had to do when Jess touched his
hooves was to think of Gemini, to remember her and to think of the love that was
between them. He had loved her with a love which he could not explain, the
intimacy between them had been something special and all he had to do was to
remember, would that be enough for him to overcome this fear?
Sheissain lay on the grass, while Jess touched first his left forefoot,
then his left hind, right hind and so on. Jess felt him flinch away as she
touched each hoof, but she knew it was a terrible struggle for him to let her do
what she was doing. “What is it that you are frightened of?” Jess asked.
Sheissain took a deep breath. The filly was now touching his right hind foot
with her tiny hoof. “It all started when I was young,” Sheissain began, “I used
to get lots of stones in my hooves, I don’t know why. It was very painful, and
when I had them removed, my feet would be sore for ages after. I associated the
feel of a paw or a hoof on my hoof with the feel of those stones, Because,
sometimes, if there wasn’t a fox or a badger about to do the job, some of the
horses with smaller hooves used to try and pick out the stones from the larger
horse’s feet. That was how it was. I began to dread getting a stone in my hoof
Jess! Every time it happened I would do anything not to have anyone touch my
feet! I would leave it until it got unbearable , then of course, the treatment
would be longer, and more painful, and the bruising worse, and everything! So
that’s how it came about. Of course, when the other colts got to hear of this,
they teased me awfully about it. They would try to touch my hooves when I was
asleep. When this happened I would wake, leap to my feet and run screaming
across the pasture. The colts loved this sport! So now, I have a terrible fear
of having my feet touched by anyone at all.” Jess touched Sheissain’s left hind
foot, She rubbed her hoof gently over the sole of his hoof. Sheissain made no
sound, he didn’t even flinch. “How’s that,” she asked. “Getting easier to bear,”
Sheissain replied. He looked at this tiny filly, not yet weaned off Tilly’s
milk, and she was already putting herself in danger, selflessly helping another
horse in distress. Ben watched Sheissain’s reactions too. He’d sparked all this
by touching the stallion’s feet as a prank, not realising how terrified
Sheissain was. Once his treatment was over for the day, Sheissain got to his
feet and looked down at Jess. “Thanks,” he said. Jess looked up into his eyes.
“We’ll beat this thing,” she said. Sheissain so wanted to overcome his fear. “I
will overcome this!” He whinnied, “I’ll make it so I am as laid back about hoof
care as Whitehoof is. I’ll make it so that when Brock touches my hooves I don’t
instantly want to lash out! At the end of this I’ll let every horse touch my
hooves and I won’t hurt them!” Jess said: “That’s good. The next part of the
treatment is to do it when you are not expecting it. I’ll come up and ask to
look at your hooves. You will, if you can, while you are standing, pick each
foot up for me to look at it. I’ll touch your hooves one at a time. We’ll se how
that goes.” Sheissain knew this would be a challenge. He’d been expecting this
last round of treatment, but the next time it would be when Jess chose, and he’d
have no choice but to comply or fail himself and her.
And so this treatment continued, the first time Jess touched his hooves
when he was not expecting it he jumped. “Its ok Sheissain” The tiny foal tried
to reassure him in her simple way. “Yes!” he said, “I am determined to overcome
this phobia completely!” Suddenly Sheissain heard a voice behind him, “Brock
family bury Gemini for Sheissain, Brock know Sheissain try made better from
hooves bin touched. Brock help if Sheissain do want it, Brock know how Sheissain
love Gemini and look after Emily and Jess for her!” “Thank you Brock!” Sheissain
said trying to smile at this badger who knew everything that was going on in the
forest. Very little escaped Brock’s ears. Poppy and Pip were busy helping Tilly
with her little family, Tilly worried about her responsibilities as second in
command but Pip reassured her that all was fine and Whitehoof had everything
under control. Foxy was kept busy at her task of removing stones from various
horses hooves, one day Maynand limped painfully towards her. “Oh Maynand,” she
said “Let me get that stone out for you!” Maynand was happy for Foxy to do this
for him. “Thank you foxy!” he said letting her get on with the job. “I see sandy
is still lurking about,” went on Foxy, “I wonder who is removing the stones from
her hooves these days?”
Sandy was in a bad way. She had gone back to the herd led by the large white
mare. When she’d confessed her crimes to the white mare, Sandy knew she wouldn’t
get any mercy. This mare was ruthless. Even she didn’t take kindly to mares who
struck out at foals. On hearing this news, she knocked Sandy to the ground and
threatened to trample her. It was only Sandy begging her for mercy, and telling
her she’d do anything for her, that stopped the white mare from doing her
serious damage. “I want you to kill whitehoof!” The mare whinnied. Sandy refused
out right. “No,” She said, “I’m not doing that!” The mare, not used to being
refused, galloped away squealing. Sandy left the herd again, she was alone, and
worst still, she had another stone in her right forefoot! Sandy limped along the
track, all the while, the stone worked itself further in. Soon she could no
longer walk and lay down on the track. She tried to get the stone out with her
teeth, but couldn’t reach it. It was a sharp stone, and she saw blood on the
track. She knew this one was bad. Getting to her feet, she managed to limp
forward, walking on the toe of her injured right forefoot, but this was
unnatural and soon began to make her shoulder very painful. She struggled on,
making for her old herd and Foxy. The first to see her was Sheissain. He was
walking along the track thinking of Gemini when he heard a limping horse.
Looking up he was surprised to see Sandy. “Sheissain,” she gasped, “Please,
please help me!” “Why should I?” he asked. “For Eohippus sake! I’ve got a stone
in my hoof and it’s in deep! Can’t you see that!” Sandy shrieked. “No need to be
like that!” Sheissain whinnied shrilly. He remembered how painful a stone was,
remembered how Jess was treating him for his fear, and knew how destructive the
fear was. “I’ll help you, but only this once, then you go!” He replied.
Sheissain took Sandy to Foxy, who kept her council, and didn’t ask questions.
She removed the stone from Sandy’s hoof, and patched up the wound in the sole of
her foot. “That’ll hurt for a while,” she said, “but it’ll get better.” Sandy
looked at Sheissain. There was something different about him, and why had he
helped her. She’d done so much to harm this herd, but he’d helped her! Sandy
also noticed something else about him. He was a lost horse, with no direction.
Sandy asked: “Sheissain, why did you help me? And you look lost!”
”I helped you because I know how it is to have stones in my hooves Sandy,”
Sheissain said. Sandy was about to ask more when she saw a tiny filly foal
coming through the trees. As she watched, the foal approached Sheissain and
said: “Please lift up your right hind foot.” Mystified, Sandy watched as
Sheissain did so and the filly touched his hoof with hers. After a few minutes,
where the foal touched every part of Sheissain’s foot, she let him lower it to
the floor, only to repeat the process with his left hind foot. After this she
moved to his forefeet, and it all started over. “Sheissain,” Sandy asked
carefully, “what is that filly doing?” Sheissain looked at her, totally
unconcerned by the filly who was now rubbing the sole of his left forefoot with
her tiny hoof. “As I said,” he replied, “I know how it is to have stones in my
hooves, so I helped you. I had a terrible fear of having my hooves handled, and
Jess here is helping me overcome this fear. She is now randomly asking me to
pick up my feet and let her touch them. I understand from horses who have worked
in what humans call riding schools, that they are asked to do this from an early
age so they are used to having their hooves handled.” “I know this goes on,”
Sandy said, “I was once domesticated for the use of humans. Foals are taught to
pick their feet up on command, much as Jess is teaching you now.” Sandy watched
as Jess completed this round of treatment by rubbing Sheissain’s right forefoot
with her hoof, while he held his foot off the ground. “I’m getting used to this
now,” he said, “soon I’m hoping I can let every horse do this. At the moment,
I’m only letting Jess do this, as I trust her. Soon however, I’m hoping even
Brock could do it, any horse or forest creature could touch my hooves without me
lashing out. I’m making progress.” Sandy asked: “You seem lost Sheissain. Oh, by
the way, where’s Gemini?”
“Oh,” Sheissain said, suddenly remembering the intensity of his love for Gemini. “well, if
I don’t tell her myself then she will hear it from someone else.” So he decided
that it would be better it came directly from the horse’s mouth. “Sadly, Gemini
died just after giving birth to Jess.”
“So who’s looking after Jess now?” Sandy asked. Listening to all this,
Jess said angrily: “I don’t know what your name is, but I can answer for
myself!” Sandy took a few steps backwards, surprised by the filly’s sudden anger
after her gentleness with Sheissain. “Sorry, so sorry,” Sandy gabbled. “yes,
well,” the filly snapped. Sandy could see Jess was rather put out by not being
asked questions that she could quite obviously answer. “Tilly looks after me,
and Ben is my brother,” Jess spat. She turned tail on Sandy, showing the mare
contempt. Sandy thought this behaviour rather rude, and challenged the filly
about it. “Jess, turn and face me you disrespectful filly!” She demanded. “Why
should I?” Jess asked. “Because I am older, and know better than you do, so I
deserve some respect you horrid little scrap!” Jess turned her head to look at
Sandy, but didn’t actually turn round. “Why should I show you respect when you
insult me like that?” She asked. Sandy was furious! “Because I’m older than you
and know better than you do!” Whitehoof was passing and stopped at the sound of
the disagreement. Realising he hadn’t been spotted, he lay down in the cover of
a large bush to listen. “Older and better?” Jess asked scornfully, “If you are
called Sandy, and I think you are, Foxy says you are. Then I heard you lashed
out at my brother! You do not know better! Also, what is that mark on your
shoulder? It looks like a tiny hoof!” Sandy knew her arguments were useless.
They had been torn apart by a tiny filly! “I don’t respect horses who hit my
brother!” Jess squealed. Whitehoof got up and made his presence known. “What are
you doing back here Sandy?” he asked. “I had a stone in my hoof and I couldn’t
get rid of it,” Sandy replied, “so I came looking for Foxy and I found Sheissain
who took me to Foxy. Once the stone was taken out, I got talking to Sheissain.
Jess went up to Sheissain and started asking him to pick up his feet! That
looked strange, so I asked him about it and he told me something about Jess
treating him for his fear of having his hooves touched. Then I got into an
argument with Jess, what a disrespectful filly!” “She can answer for herself you
know,” Whitehoof said, “and you called her a disgusting scrap or something
similar, I heard that, in fact I heard all your talk.” Sandy stared at the
Falabella gelding. “Where were you hiding? Or are you bluffing!” Sandy demanded. For answer
Whitehoof went to the bush and disappeared beneath it. “You can’t see me can
you?” He asked. “No,” Jess replied. Sandy kept silent, wondering what else the
gelding had overheard. “Can you see my white foot?” Whitehoof asked. “No,” Jess
replied again. Sandy decided she should leave before she got herself in any more
trouble. If Whitehoof could hide under bushes, where else could he hide?
The episode with Sandy had frightened Jess. She tried hard to conceal this
fact from Tilly but it didn’t work! “Jess, what’s up?” Tilly asked. “You don’t
seem your usual self!” “Sandy called me a horrid little scrap!” Jess said,
beginning to cry. “Hey, its ok my baby!” Tilly comforted the sobbing foal. “Did
anyone else witness this scene?” she asked quietly. Jess answered once her tears
had subsided. “Yes, Whitehoof overheard the conversation, he was hiding in the
bushes. “good!” said Tilly reassuringly. “Now, you go and find Pip and I will go
and talk to whitehoof!”
Tilly found Whitehoof sheltering from the rain. She wondered why it was
always raining hard. When he saw her, Whitehoof came across the soggy ground to
meet her. “Hi Tilly,” he whinnied. Tilly got right down to business. “Sandy
upset Jess Whitehoof,” she said. “I know,” the gelding replied, “I saw it all,
but she’s gone now, I’ve told all the others not to approach her, even if she
has a stone in her hoof.” They were disturbed by the sound of tiny hooves coming
slowly towards them. Tilly and Whitehoof turned as one to find a small horse
staggering towards them. “Are you lost?” Tilly asked. The tiny colt stared
through a mass of matted mane at her. She could see the fear and terror in his
eyes. “I don’t know,” the poor colt Whinnied, “I know I’m cold, and frightened,
and hungry, and it’s raining, and my hooves and coat are filthy!” “Where is your
mother?” Whitehoof asked. The colt was level with them now, and he could see the
little chap’s legs were shaking beneath him. “I don’t know now,” the colt
replied sadly, “she took me to a place deep in the wood and then left me,
running away, I couldn’t keep up with her! I wandered for days, eating this and
that, leaves, a little grass, whatever I could find. I was not long weaned when she left me, I
suppose I should be glad I got to that stage before she left me.” “What does
your mother look like?” Tilly asked. The colt turned an ear in her direction,
but didn’t look at her, she thought this strange. “I’ve never seen her,” he
said. With a lack of caution that she regretted later, Tilly lost her temper
with the colt. Her distress at his state got to her finally and she thought he
was now being silly. “What do you mean you’ve never seen her!” She squealed.
“Just that,” the colt said calmly, “I’ve never seen her,” “How can you be born
but never see your own mother!” Tilly yelled. The colt turned towards Whitehoof
and said: “I can’t see you, but I think there is another horse here, a stallion
or gelding, if you are here, please could you tell her, if you know, why I’ve
never seen my mother?” Whitehoof went up close to the colt and rubbed noses with
him. “I’m Whitehoof, I’m herd leader,” he said. The colt returned his gesture,
rubbing Whitehoof’s muzzle with his. “What is your name?” Whitehoof asked.
“Sam,” the colt replied. “Who was that mare who keeps asking why I’ve never seen
my mother?” “That’s Tilly,” Whitehoof replied. Sam said: “It is said that I
cannot see anything, I have known nothing other than this. All I know is that
other horses hit me, and my mother left me, but I could not defend myself, or
catch her up. I also know that I fall over roots and down holes. I’ve taken this
to be a fact of life. I know my coat is filthy because I can feel it, and as for
my hooves and mane. They feel terrible! I don’t care now though, I’ve been like
this for so long, I’ll never get the dirt out. Worse still, I think I have a
stone in my right forefoot, and I need help, warmth, a place to sleep, then I’ll
be going again I suppose. If you are herd leader, could you please tell me where
I can sleep?” Whitehoof looked Sam over. His fur was caked in mud, his mane
matted, and hooves filthy. “There is a large bush, if you can get under it,”
Whitehoof replied. With that he led Sam, the colt listening to his footfalls,
over to the large bush in which he’d hidden from Sandy. Sam crawled beneath the
bush. As he disappeared, Whitehoof thought he recognised the little chap’s
breed. It was his hoof that had given it away, how small it was, not like a
foal’s hoof at all, like his own in fact. “What breed are you?” he asked.
“Falabella horse,” Sam replied. Whitehoof said: “Before you get some sleep, I’ll
take that stone out for you,” Whitehoof found the stone, it was wedged in Sam’s
right forefoot. Using a stick held in his mouth, Whitehoof managed to work the
stone free. “Thanks,” Sam said. “That’s Okay,” whitehoof replied, “I would have
got Foxy on this job, but it’s too late, and too dark now. She’ll be hunting for
her dinner.” Sam knew what kind of animal Foxy was, he was quick witted, he’d
had to be, having been alone for near on two years now. As Whitehoof was about
to leave, Sam begged him to stay. “Would you stay with me Whitehoof?” the colt
asked. “Why?” Whitehoof enquired. “I’m in a new place, and I don’t know who’s
round here, I’m frightened, and I can’t cope any more!” Sam whinnied. Sam buried
his face in Whitehoof’s mane. “Hey Sam, shh,” Whitehoof whispered, “I’ll stay,
but my mate will be looking for me. I must go and find her.” “No need,” Pip
said. She’d been walking down the track looking for Whitehoof and heard him and
Sam talking. She pushed through the undergrowth to shelter under the bush. “Who
have you found?” Pip asked. “I’ll let him answer for himself I think,” Whitehoof
replied. “My name is Sam,” the colt said. “I’m Pip,” the Falabella mare replied.
“You look in a terrible state, what happened?” She asked. “Pip darling, if it’s
okay, maybe it would be better to leave those questions till Sam’s’ had some
rest.” Whitehoof said gently. Pip saw how tired Sam was. Sam finally drifted off
with Whitehoof and Pip watching over him.
Sam slept soundly. Pip and Whitehoof’s body heat keeping him
warm. He felt much better the following day, he woke late, Whitehoof had gone
off to do his duties as herd leader but Pip stayed with him. “Did you sleep ok,
Sam?” Pip asked gently. “Yes, I feel much better, will feel even better once
I’ve got all this muck cleaned off my fur, you know Pip, my mum’s name is Cleo!”
“Cleo?” Pip asked “I’m sure I know that name from somewhere!” she thought to
herself.
“Let’s first get you cleaned up,” Pip suggested. With that they found a
stream and Pip helped Sam into it. “Lie down in the water,” Pip said. Clenching
his teeth, Sam lowered himself into the water. “It’s freezing!” he whinnied
shrilly. Pip made him stay beneath the water till he was thoroughly soaked, then
she helped the shivering colt out of the water. “Are you trying to kill me!” Sam
protested. “Sorry,” Pip said, “but I couldn’t groom you with all that mud and
filth caked on your coat, now stand still while I get all this muck off your
fur.” With that she began grooming him. Working methodically, Pip groomed from
Sam’s nose to his tail, missing nothing. She even managed to pick out his
hooves. After an hour of this attention, which Sam thoroughly enjoyed, Pip said:
“Right, now you are clean! Hey Sam, you are a handsome horse!” She saw a
chestnut colt with a black mane and tail and black hooves. Pip had also remembered where she’d heard the
name Cleo. It was in her old home, her mother used to talk to a mare by that
name. Then she remembered something else. She remembered Cleo talking of her
foal, she said something was wrong with him, but then he had no name. Pip
remembered Cleo saying that she would leave her foal at the first opportunity
she got, because he was a misfit. Pip also remembered playing briefly with the
foal before she was carted off to her new life. She remembered she’d had to be
careful because the foal would keep tripping over things, and she couldn’t work
out why that was. Sam meanwhile, had been thinking hard. He’d caught Pip’s cent
and remembered it from somewhere, way back, so far back in his life. Suddenly he
remembered when he was very young, tripping over a root, and this tiny filly
helping him to his feet. Hadn’t she been his foalhood sweetheart? “I think I
remember you Pip,” he said. “I have a feeling I remember you Sam,” she replied.
Whitehoof appeared then. “Hi you two!” He whinnied. Sam and Pip said in unison:
“We both think we know each other!” Then fell about laughing at the situation.
Whitehoof smiled at the two horses, who were rolling on the track waving their
hooves in the air. “Calm down and tell me what you mean,” he said. Pip and Sam
regained their feet and told him what they remembered. “I see what you mean,”
Whitehoof said. Sam then said: “I remember something else too! One day, the
owners of the horses came and took me to a vet to do something to me. >From that
day I was no longer a horse, I was a gelding. My mother said it was a good
thing, but she never said why she thought it was a good thing.” Whitehoof
touched Sam’s right forefoot with his. “You can stay here if you like,” he said.
Sam was overjoyed. “Can I?” He asked, “Oh thank you Whitehoof! Thank you!” He
whinnied. Pip wondered if she’d ever see Cleo again. She was sure Cleo meant Sam
to die when she left him. He hadn’t died, he was very alive, and Pip was
determined to make sure he stayed that way. She hated Cleo so very much!
Tilly found it difficult to accept Sam into the herd. She couldn’t explain
why she didn’t understand that he was different. She wasn’t jealous of him, in
fact, she felt the opposite she really did want to help him but just didn’t know
how. Ben and Jess accepted him without any difficulty, they played with him and
made sure he did not come into contact with any danger. Even Brock accepted him
in his down to earth way. It was strange how the younger members of the herd and
the simpler creatures of the forest just treated Sam the same as the rest of the
animals. Foxy was always there if he had a stone stuck in his hoof.
Tilly met Sam on the track one day. The colt was picking his way slowly
along the track. She noticed how carefully he placed each foot down. Tilly
thought it must be terrible for him. “Are you all right?” She asked. Sam leapt
into the air, squealing with surprise! “Oh, hi Tilly! You scared the fur off me!
I’m fine, I’m just looking for Jess or Ben,” Sam replied. Tilly thought his
reaction very extreme. “Why did you leap into the air?” She asked crossly,
“that’s overdoing it a bit isn’t it?” “You were standing still, and you were
quiet,” Sam replied, “when you spoke was the first I knew of you there, and I
was concentrating so hard on not getting myself into danger that you frightened
me Tilly.” Tilly still couldn’t understand what the colt was on about. Jess
cantered into view then. Seeing Sam, she ran to him. “Hey Sam!” She whooped. The
colt moved towards her, and she hugged him. “How are you?” She asked. “Okay
thanks,” Sam replied, “your mum just scared the fur off me though. It wasn’t
very apparent she was there till she spoke, and I wasn’t expecting that. Jess
turned to her mother and said: “Mum, please, remember that Sam can’t see you! If
you see him coming towards you, go up to him, make a noise, drag your foot
through a pile of leaves, anything so he knows you are there! If you don’t do
that, when you speak to him, he’ll jump a mile.” Tilly looked at her adopted
foal. “You youngsters are so accepting of Sam. You play together like foals have
always done. I’ve even noticed Ben being slightly rough with him, isn’t that
dangerous?” “I gave as good as I got in that rough and tumble game,” Sam
replied. “Mum, what is it you have against Sam?” Jess asked. Sam knew, so did
Jess, but they wanted Tilly to express herself. Whitehoof appeared, and hid
under a bush to listen. He’d noticed Tilly’s fear of Sam and wanted to see how
this situation would develop. Jess noticed him, but Tilly didn’t. “If things
were correct,” Tilly said, “With the problems you have, you would have been dead
by now Sam.” “Are you saying things aren’t correct?” Jess asked. She looked at
Sam. He knew what Tilly meant, and her attitude saddened but didn’t surprise
him. “How can he defend himself? How did he live alone for two years and not be
killed by another horse?” “Ask him mum, go on! Ask Sam a question for once!”
jess squealed. Whitehoof listened carefully, remembering everything, noting
expressions, words, actions, fixing the scene in his mind in case it would need
to be resurrected later. Tilly turned to Sam and asked: “How did you manage to
live on your own? When you came to us you were in a terrible state. Did you
attempt to wash that mud and filth off your coat and hooves? Or do you like
looking a mess!” Jess was appalled. Sam replied: “Tilly, listen to me. I was
left by my mother at the first opportunity she had. I wandered alone, slowly,
but I did so. I hurt myself on several occasions when I fell down holes and tripped over roots, but
I kept going. The urge to find a herd, a place to call home kept me going. I
walked when I felt like it, I slept when I was tired, and ate when I was hungry.
When you are as desperate as I was, you don’t think of your appearance. And when
you are alone, you can’t clean the mud off your fur. Tilly, answer me this, have
you ever groomed yourself?” “No,” she answered quickly, “No horse can.”
“Exactly!” Sam shrieked, “and neither can I! The grooming Pip gave me was the
first I’d had in ages you stupid mare!” Tilly was shocked and angry! “You don’t
ever call me that! I’m second in command here!” She squealed. “I don’t care
Tilly, I don’t give two sugar lumps for your authority!” Sam screamed. Tilly was
so angry she lashed out at Sam! Jess stepped into the line of fire and her
mother’s hoof smashed into her shoulder! In a lot of pain though she was, Jess
turned to her mother and yelled at her! “Sam can’t move out of the way like most
horses can! You would have killed him!” “That was my intention!” Tilly squealed
shrilly. Whitehoof couldn’t believe what was happening. He didn’t want to
believe his second in command had tried to kill another member of the herd.
Attacking Sam was the biggest mistake of Tilly’s life, and she knew it as soon
as her anger subsided. Whitehoof emerged from the bush, and when Tilly saw him
she began to sweat and shake with fear. Jess turned, and taking gentle hold of a
chunk of Sam’s long mane in her teeth, she led him away to a quiet place. Her
shoulder hurt like hell, but this didn’t bother her. Jess’s main concern was
Sam, and would remain so. They left Tilly and Whitehoof together, not wanting to
be present when the explosion happened.
Whitehoof looked severely at Tilly. “What on earth did you think
you were playing at!” He demanded. Tilly replied crossly: “Sam’s no use to us
Whitehoof!” “No use?” Whitehoof enquired. “No!” The mare screamed, “He’s a
misfit, like his mother said he was!” Whitehoof, who’d spoken to Sam at length,
and thought the colt to be very good natured, said: “I disagree Tilly. I also
know why you tried to kill him earlier!. Whitehoof strode up to his second in
command and looked deep into her eyes. Tilly felt uncomfortable, Whitehoof meant
her to. “Tilly,” Whitehoof said, “I believe you would have killed Sam if you had
the chance.” It was plain to him what Tilly believed. The only problem for her
was the whole herd liked Sam, in fact Whitehoof thought Jess felt something more
than just a liking for him. Whitehoof knew that whether Sam stayed or left was
the herd’s decision, or his, not Tilly’s, and she knew it. “Attempting to kill
another horse with intent to do so is a crime Tilly, you know that,” Whitehoof
said. Tilly looked down at her hooves, unable to meet the gelding’s eye. “What
is my punishment?” She asked.
Jess led Sam quietly away, he was shaking. "Its ok, Sam!” Jess soothed ,
"I'll look after you!” "Oh Jess," he cried, "I'm no good to you, I cant give you
any foals, Jess, you need someone, someone who can look after you properly, what
good am I?” "and you can stop talking like that right now!” Jess scolded. "But
its true Jess!” Jess stopped, they heard another horse approach, a small horse.
Whitehoof told Tilly that he would let her know very soon about her
punishment. She went deep into the wood to be alone, she didn't want to see any
of the horses. Pip watched over the little ones, "Where is Tilly?” Pip asked
Whitehoof when he returned to the herd. Whitehoof told Pip what had happened.
"Oh dear!” she said, "what is going to happen now and who will take her place as
second in command if you choose to dismiss her from this position?" "I don't
know Pip darling!” was all Whitehoof said. "Oh Whitehoof!” Pip nuzzled up to
him, "What is becoming of the herd, and look, there seem to be more of us
falabella horses now!” Whitehoof turned round to see Snowdrop coming towards
them with Sam and Jess. "And who is this?” Whitehoof asked looking at a rather
bedraggled-looking mare, Pip couldn’t believe wo she saw, it was Cleo!
Cleo remembered Pip. “What are you doing here!” Pip demanded. Cleo looked
away. “I was thrown out of my herd,” she whinnied. “So you should have been!”
Pip yelled. “Hang on Pip, who is she?” Whitehoof asked. “This, Whitehoof, is
Sam’s mother!” Pip replied crossly. “Well Cleo,” she continued, “what do you
have to say for yourself!” Whitehoof watched this situation unfolding, his mind
working furiously. “I couldn’t believe it when I saw Sam alive and well,” Cleo
said. “He is, no thanks to you,” Pip spat. Sam cuddled up to Jess, and she
stroked his ear with her muzzle. “So Cleo, what do you want?” Whitehoof asked.
“I would like a home, a place to stay,” she replied. Pip spat on the floor at
Cleo’s feet. “Whitehoof,” she said, “I’m leaving if you give that mare a home
here!” Whitehoof looked at Cleo. “What you did was horrible,” he said, “I cannot
excuse that! It was Sam’s determination and will to live that kept him alive!
When he found us, he was in a terrible state!” Pip chipped in: “I had to amerce
him in a stream to make the mud soft enough to remove. I can’t believe you left
him to die Cleo!” By this time, Sam was crying into Jess’s mane. “I’ll look
after you Sam,” she said, “I promise I’ll look after you.” She embraced him
tightly. Cleo looked at her foal, looked at Whitehoof, then at Pip. “I cannot
stay where I am not wanted,” she said. With that she walked away. Snowdrop spoke
up: “I saw Tilly walking through the forest, she looked awful!” “She tried to
kill Sam,” Jess said. Snowdrop was disbelieving. “No, she wouldn’t, would she?”
Whitehoof raised his white foot, only slightly, but Snowdrop saw it, and knew
then that her foal had seen Tilly’s transgression. No other horse saw
Whitehoof’s cryptic signal to his mother. “I’ll have to look to finding a new
second in command,” he said, “but who would be suitable?” “What qualities would
a horse need to be second in command?” Snowdrop asked. “I need a brave horse,
one that has come through adversity preferably. So they know what it is to fight
for the freedom to live their life. I also would need a horse who was young
enough to appeal to the foals, but old enough to give authority. I have a horse
in mind mum, and he’s not a million miles from me now,” Whitehoof replied.
"What do you mean, do you really mean it!” Jess piped up. "Why not, just
because he is blind doesn’t mean that he's stupid as well,” went on Whitehoof.
"Sam, what do you say?” asked Snowdrop, "We'll all be with you and help you as
best we can. "What about Tilly, surely you will have to remove the mark from her
foot and mark Sam's foot instead,” chimed in Pip. "yes, let's go and find her
now and sort this thing out while the iron's hot!” said Whitehoof seriously.
Whitehoof, Snowdrop, Jess and Sam wandered through the forest looking for
Tilly. They found her grazing peacefully. “I’ve decided on your punishment
Tilly,” Whitehoof said. “What will that be?” The mare asked. Whitehoof thought
she was taking it very calmly. In fact Tilly had regretted what she’d done from
the outset, and had told Whitehoof as much. “You are to be stripped of the
deputy leadership,” Whitehoof said, “and Sam is to take your place.” Tilly
asked: “How can a blind horse lead a herd?” “I’m sure he will do fine,”
Whitehoof said, “anyway, you have two foals to look after Tilly. Leave the
deputy leadership to Sam.” Tilly raised her left forefoot, and Whitehoof removed
the mark. Going up to Sam Whitehoof said: “In this herd, the second in command
bears a mark on the sole of his or her right forefoot, but for continuity, (I will place the mark on your left forefoot to denote that you are
second in command. You don’t have hang ups about having your hooves touched do
you?” “No,” Sam replied, “I’m fine with that. I have to touch other horses
because I cannot see them, so they can touch me. As you’ve seen, I like being
nuzzled and stroked by other horses.” He lifted his left forefoot. “Go on, mark
my hoof,” Sam invited. Whitehoof touched the sole of Sam’s foot with his white
hoof. The mark of his hoof remained on the sole of the Falabella colt’s tiny
forefoot. Tilly watched this, and when Sam was marked, she turned and walked
away. First Jess, then Snowdrop hugged Sam, who clearly enjoyed every second.
Whitehoof realised Sam loved physical contact with other horses. He remembered
how Sam had instantly responded to his friendly nuzzle when they’d first met on
the track. Whitehoof rubbed Sam’s shoulder with his muzzle. “Come on Sam, time
to introduce you to the rest of the herd as my second in command,” He said. With
that they all returned to the herd, Sam shoulder to shoulder with Whitehoof.
Darkness fell. Whitehoof looked up at the moon and it hit him afresh what
Sam missed in the world. They arrived back at the herd’s resting place. Yawning
expansively, Whitehoof said: “I don’t know about you Sam, but I think I’m gonna
go to bed.” Sam was tired, but too excited to sleep. He didn’t mention this to
his leader however, and settled down under the bush where he’d sheltered with
Whitehoof and Pip when they’d met on that night which seemed to be so long ago.
Sam must have slept, for the next thing he knew Brock was yelling at him! “What
be this!” “Ay? What?” Sam asked sleepily. “What this be?” Brock asked, pointing
to the mark on the sole of Sam’s left forefoot. “What this be!” Brock screamed.
“With all due respect Brock,” Sam said, “I can’t see you, nor if you are
pointing with your paw, what you are pointing at. Please enlighten me.” Brock
snorted: “Me sorry Sam. Me forget you no see Brock. My paw pointing at white
mark on sole of hoof! What that mark be then? Me thinks it mean second in
command, but Tilly be second in command so Brock think. Brock up on what horses
do, so nothing slip past Brock, usually.” Sam smiled at the badger. “You know
Tilly attacked me,” he said. “Yes, Brock know about what Tilly do to Sam. Me
plenty annoyed about that!” “Well,” Sam continued, “Tilly was stripped of the
second in command’s job and it was given to me, and now I have the mark.” “Me
very happy for Sam,” Brock said warmly, “me think Sam be good deputy leader.
Tell me, you have hatred of having hooves touched like Sheissain have?” Sam knew
of Sheissain’s hatred of hoof care, and of Jess’s attempts to help him overcome
it. “No,” He replied, “I don’t mind horses, or any other forest creature
touching my hooves.” He extended his forefoot towards Brock. “Here, touch my
hoof,” he invited. Brock reached out a paw and touched Sam’s left forefoot. Then
he touched all four of the Falabella colt’s hooves, while Sam lay there, totally
unconcerned. Sam even rubbed Brock’s paw with a hind hoof. “See?” he said, “I
don’t mind it, actually I quite like it. I like physical contact, as I can’t
have contact any other way. Most animals express themselves through gestures and
visual expressions, but I can’t see those. So a friendly nuzzle, a hug or a paw
or muzzle stroking me is wonderful!” Brock closed his eyes, and tried running
his paws all over Sam’s body, feeling the colt rather than seeing him. This was
a weird experience for the badger. “When me no see you Sam, you seem larger when
felt by paws,” he said. Sam then took the opportunity to explore the badger with
his muzzle. Brock withstood the colt’s gentle exploration of his head, body and
legs, but when Sam gently brushed a forepaw with his muzzle, Brock recoiled
suddenly. “What’s the matter!” Sam asked anxiously. “it be no problem,” Brock
replied, “me have ticklish paws!” he whooped. “Oh, sorry,” Sam said contritely.
“No trouble,” the badger grunted. He went up close to Sam and took the colt’s
right forefoot in his paw. “I likes Sam,” he said, “Brock protect Sam and wish
him all best for future as second leader of herd.” Gently removing his hoof from the
badger’s paw, Sam replied: “Thank you Brock.” “Now me go,” Brock said, “Brock
sorry for disturbing sleep.” Sam settled back under the bush and drifted off
into slumber land.
"Sam, are you awake?" Pip asked gently. "Ah, er, not really." Sam mumbled
sleepily. "Well, the sun is up and we still have horses to introduce you to."
Pip said with a smile in her voice.
Sam crawled out from beneath the bush he’d been sleeping under, got to his
feet, stretched and shook himself. “Okay, let’s go,” he yawned. The whole herd
were gathered beside a great oak tree, Whitehoof prominent among them. When Sam
arrived, Whitehoof went across and rubbed noses with him. “Hi Sam,” Whitehoof
said, “it’s your big day today.” Sam smiled at Whitehoof who playfully nipped
his ear. “Hey!” Sam whinnied. Sam retaliated by playfully kicking Whitehoof on
the fetlock. “Okay boys,” Pip laughed, “You have work to do!” Whitehoof took a
chunk of Sam’s mane in his teeth and led the colt to the centre of the action.
When the other horses saw Sam, they fell silent. “As you know,” Whitehoof began,
“there have been some changes around here.” Pip looked at Tilly, who, when she
realised the Falabella mare’s eyes were on her, lowered her eyes. “You know what
happened a few days ago,” Whitehoof said, “I put the record straight today. So,
now we have a new second in command, and I hope you will agree that the horse I
have chosen for the post is well qualified. His name is Sam, and some of you
already know him I think. I know you younger horses know him, as I’ve seen him
regularly playing with you.” “he’s a nice guy,” Ben said. His comment was only
meant for Tilly and Snowdrop to hear, but Whitehoof caught it, and so did Sam,
who felt like dying of embarrassment. Sam really didn’t like these public
ceremonies. Whitehoof noticed his discomfort, and nuzzled his ear. “It’s okay,”
he whispered. Jess then broke protocols by going up to her second in command and
giving him a hug. Sam, relieved that she’d seen him, returned her embrace.
“Ain’t that sweet,” Snowdrop remarked. Whitehoof realised the proceedings were
getting less formal by the second. “Do I take it,” he whinnied, “that by the
lack of descent, you all accept Sam as second in command?” There was absolute
silence. “I’ll take that as assent then,” Whitehoof said, “meeting closed!”
“Thank Eohippus for that!” Sam said into Jess’s mane. Jess laughed merrily. “I
love you Sam,” she said. Sam had been a little hesitant of telling her of his
feelings towards her, but now he forgot that and said: “I love you too Jess
dear,” Whitehoof watched them both. “She’s a lovely filly Sam,” he said. Jess
disengaged herself from Sam’s embrace, and, taking a chunk of his mane in her
teeth, she led him away from the great oak tree. Whitehoof and Pip looked at
each other. “I think you made a good choice there Whitehoof dear,” Pip said.
“Thanks,” he replied. Whitehoof and Pip hugged each other. “now that Sam’s
second in command,” Ben said, “does that mean I won’t be able to play with him
any more?” Whitehoof and Pip laughed and Pip replied: “No! Sam is still free to
play with whom ever he likes. Just remember Ben, that he is second in command,
and might not be available for fun and games all the time.” Ben was happy with
that. “Sam is a very good and kind horse,” he said. Tilly asked: “Ben dear, how
can you play rough and tumble with a horse who can’t see you?” Ben looked at his
mother and replied: “I don’t run away from him, or him from me. We have contact
at all times so he knows where I am. I have even tried playing with my eyes
closed, but that’s scary! So I don’t do it often. But mum, Sam’s not a fighter.
He’s so gentle!” Tilly wasn’t convinced of Sam’s ability to do anything. All she
could see was the fact that Sam was blind. She couldn’t see beyond that to the
horse beneath. Ben, Jess and all the other horses were frustrated and saddened
that Tilly couldn’t see the Sam they knew,, the kind, gentle, helpful colt who
loved a hug.
Jess loved Sam so much but she desperately wanted a foal of her own and
she knew that this was not possible. She also knew Pip was unable to have any
foals with Whitehoof and that Pip had accepted this fact because of her love for
him, but Jess could not quite come to terms with her natural feelings. She went to
find pip, “I need to talk to you, Pip, I am so very unhappy!” “Oh,” pip replied
in a surprised tone. “Want to talk about it?” “Pip, I love Sam so much but I
desperately want foals of my own, I know you are happy to help look after the
little ones but I, I,” she broke down and cried hysterically, “How am I going to
tell Sam about my feelings!”
Before the two mares could start talking, a yell was heard from some
where. "What now!" Jess asked nervously. For an answer Sam's voice could be heard.
"Sandy, listen good, I'm blind but I'm smart and fast." "You knew where to
strike." Sandy stated, "How?" "My secret." Sam said. "I'm out of here!" Sandy
whinnied. "Glad to hear that." Sam said. "Um Sam, this is Tilly as you might know,
how did you know she was coming?" "Tilly, when you are relaxed and not tense at
all, it is easier to sense your surroundings, and if you are not tense when you
are fighting, it is easier and faster to strike." Sam stated.
"Pip, may we get back to the foal business?" Jess asked. "Sure jess." Pip
said.
“The question you need to ask yourself Jess,” Pip said, “is could you live
with yourself if the foal you had was not Sam’s? There are horses who will sire
foals, and then leave the mares, so you could have a foal. I could have done
that, but the thought of having a foal that wasn’t Whitehoof’s sickens me.” Jess
thought about this. She could see Sam lying under a bush trying not to overhear,
but failing miserably. Jess looked at Pip. “How do you overcome the longing for
a foal?” She asked. “First, I answer the question I’ve posed to you. Could you
have another horse’s foal jess?” Pip replied. Jess thought for a long time. “I
don’t think I could,” she said finally. In my mind I don’t want foals, I’m only
young, and having foals isn’t what I’d like to do yet. My body though, that says
have a foal! And do it now! I can’t win!” Jess Whinnied. “I amerce myself in
helping the younger foals. There are plenty of mares foaling all the time in
this herd,” Pip replied, “If you like, I need a helping hoof, want to join me
Jess?” Jess looked at Pip with renewed hope. “Okay,” she said. Sam left the
cover of the bush and approached Jess. “How on earth,” Pip asked, “did you
manage to beat Sandy off!” “I know more about fighting my own corner than I
could put into words,” Sam replied, “I had to fight for my life on several
occasions, and I learned the hard way.” Jess went to her mate and hugged him
tightly. “I’ve decided to do what Pip does, and satisfy my longing for foals
that way,” she said. “As long as you are happy,” Sam replied, “that’s my only
concern.” “I wouldn’t be happy if the foal wasn’t yours Sam,” Jess said. Sam
nuzzled her ear. “I love that,” she whispered. Sam nuzzled her ear some more,
and Jess cuddled up closer. They returned to the bush and lay down together. Sam
kept stroking, stroking stroking Jess’s ear with his muzzle, Jess relaxing with
every gentle massage of her ear. Sam then touched her muzzle with his, then
moving to her neck, he nuzzled her once again. Jess was now totally comatose
with pleasure. Sam lay down beside her and rested his head on her shoulder. “You
certainly know how to relax a mare,” Jess yawned.
They slept for a long time, waking in the early hours of the morning.
Leaving their bush, the two horses wandered through the forest. Jess watched Sam
as, ears twitching, he listened constantly to his surroundings. Jess stopped and
closed her eyes, listening. “Hear that?” Sam asked. “What?” Jess enquired. “A
nightingale,” Sam replied. “Wait,” he said, “I’ll call to it, then it will sing
for us.” “What?” Jess whinnied, staring at her mate in astonishment, “you can,,.
“Imitate a nightingale, yes,” Sam replied. With that he whistled like the bird
he wanted to attract, and the nightingale whistled back to him. “Is there any
end to your talents,” Jess said. “See,” Sam said,” if you can call the animals
in their own tongue, then they trust you. The forest creatures understand the
horses, and we them, but there are the dogs, cats and other animals who don’t
understand us.” Sam then imitated the call of an owl, and sure enough, a tawny
owl came swooping down from a tree on silent wings, landing on Sam’s back. “”Ah
there you are Tawny,” Sam said. The owl flapped down to the forest floor and
stood by Sam’s right forefoot. Sam reached down and stroked the owl’s back
feathers with his muzzle. “You two are friends then?” Jess asked. Jess, not
being up on owlspeak, Sam translated what Tawny said: “he said, “yes, Sam and I
have been friends for years, ever since he was a foal.”” Tawny then flew away.
Jess hugged Sam tightly. After a long time of standing embracing each other,
they returned to the herd’s encampment. Walking along the track, they were
disturbed by a scream, then a colt leaping out of the bushes almost knocking Sam
down! Sam recovered his poise and asked: “What on earth were you playing
at!” “Bet you can’t hit me!” the colt teased. Sam soundly walloped the colt.
“Does that answer you?” Sam snapped. “Leave me alone!” the colt wailed, walking
dejectedly into the night. “He tried to attack you!” Jess whinnied shrilly.
“yep, and look how far that got him,” Sam replied. “I wouldn’t like to be on the
business end of a kick from your hind feet,” Jess remarked. Jess couldn’t
believe a horse could have such tiny hooves as Sam had. The two horses crawled
back under their bush and fell asleep.
Sam and Jess found Whitehoof standing under a tree. "I need to talk to you
Whitehoof." Sam said. "Okay, Sam, go right ahead." Whitehoof sighed. "This colt
tried to attack me, I threw him off, but he is a danger to the herd." Sam
replied. "Well, hmm, let me see, I can't ask you what colour he was, I'll look
out for a colt anyhow." Whitehoof responded. An hour later, a colt came up to
Whitehoof. "I need to talk to you about something." The colt said nervously. "Go
right ahead, what is your name first of all?" Whitehoof asked. "Er, I think it
is Goldenberg." The colt answered. "What is it that you want to talk to me
about?" Whitehoof asked calmly.
“Well,” the colt said, “I was attacked by a horse in the dead of night!”
“Oh,” Whitehoof said. “Yes,” Goldenberg continued: “He beat me up!” “This colt,
what did he look like,” Whitehoof asked neutrally. “Brown fur, black hooves,”
Goldenberg replied quickly. “Goldenberg,” Whitehoof said, “did the colt strike
first? When I say this, I mean did the colt start the fight?” “Well, I
challenged him to hit me, and he did! Sam hit me! He used his hind feet to smash
me up!” “What do you expect Goldenberg!” Whitehoof yelled, “You probably scared
the fur off him and he reacted, defending himself!” “He’s tiny!” Goldenberg
squealed, “but his hooves are hard and sharp! He is also strong and knows where
to hit a horse to disable them, without actually damaging them permanently. I
barely came out of that alive!” “Barely came out with your pride intact you
mean,” Whitehoof said coldly. “Goldenberg, tell me this, do you enjoy picking on
other horses? What thrill does it give you to pick on a horse, who was enjoying
time with his mate? Also, remember this. Sam has lived on his own for the last
two years, defending himself against attack. So why did you even bother
challenging him!” “I wanted to see what a blind horse with such tiny hooves
could do!” Goldenberg squealed. “And you found out didn’t you,” Sam said. He’d
come along the track and overheard Whitehoof talking sternly to Goldenberg.
“This was the horse who attacked me Whitehoof,” Sam said. Goldenberg foolishly
tried to attack Sam again, right in front of the herd leader. Sam knocked the
colt to the floor, then trampled him. “Get off me!” Goldenberg wailed. “You are a
horrid colt!” Sam shrieked. When it was all over, Goldenberg was bruised and
battered, but he knew a lot more about what a tiny horse with a lot of knowledge
could do with his tiny hooves.
Goldenberg limped away. he knew he had been beaten. “What’s the matter
with you golden burg?” asked Maynand. “That scrap of a horse beat me up.” “Who
beat you up?” Maynand continued questioningly. “Sam!” “Well, I did warn you that
those little horses have a lot of power behind them.” Maynand went on, “And I
said if you dare to hurt pip!” “I didn’t even see pip!” whined Golden burg,
“She’s another one who thinks she can boss everyone about even though she hasn’t
got any control. “Hey, stop that, Pip does a good job helping Tilly look after
the little ones and you know that I won’t have anything bad said about her!” Maynand yelled. “I
suppose what I did will be round the herd like wildfire now!” Whinged on
Golden burg. “Well, what do you expect, bashing the living daylights out of the
second in command isn’t exactly a good thing to do!” Went on Maynand. “Ok, is
that the end of the lecture now?” sneered Golden burg “Because if it is I’m off
for some peace and quiet!” Golden burg slunk away into the forest.
The other herd members soon heard of Goldenberg’s attack on Sam. It was
noted by Whitehoof that horses took every opportunity to kick golden burg on the
fetlocks whenever they passed him. Whitehoof ignored this though, for he felt
that this was small punishment for trying to smash Sam up. One day Golden burg
picked on Snowdrop. “You look like someone’s painted you white!” the colt
whinnied. Snowdrop sighed heavily with exasperation: “No Golden burg, that’s my
fur’s natural colour.” “Or lack of it,” he scoffed. Snowdrop was getting very
tired of the colt’s taunts, so she lashed out at him. She made it look as if her
foot had slipped, so convincing was she that Golden burg didn’t see the danger
till it was too late. Snowdrop’s hard hind hoof crashed into his belly. With a
strangled squeal of surprise and pain Golden burg collapsed onto the floor!
“Sorry,” Snowdrop said unapologetically, “I’ll hit you harder next time!”
Golden burg lay gasping for air. “You could have killed me!” he squealed. “You
didn’t think of that when you attacked Sam did you,” she said coldly. Golden burg
struggled to his feet and walked slowly away. Snowdrop watched him go, hatred
for him growing in her. “He’s worse than Maynand ever was!” she thought.
Snowdrop met Sam on the track. Hearing her, he went to her and rubbed noses.
Feeling Snowdrop’s tension, he asked: “What’s happened?” “I, Sam, well,”
Snowdrop stammered. She knew she wasn’t above the law, and she could be punished
for clobbering Golden burg. “Well, Sam,” she said, trying to marshal her
thoughts, “I hit Golden burg, he started making horrid comments, so I hit him.”
Sam hugged her tightly. Snowdrop buried her face in his long mane and wept.
“Hey, it’s okay,” Sam said gently, “if he angers you and talking didn’t work,
and with Golden burg I know it seldom does. You’ve got to do something.” “I
know,” Snowdrop sobbed, “but that makes me as bad as him, and I’m not! I’m not a
bad mare Sam!” Sam could see Snowdrop was becoming hysterical. “Look,” Sam said,
“I’ll deal with this, and we’ll say no more about it. You hit him, so what! He
probably deserved it ten times over!” “But that’s not the point Sam,” Snowdrop
said. “yes it is,” Sam replied, “that disgusting colt needs to be taught a
lesson, and being hit by a mare, more than the pain of being hit would have
sobered him up no end. I say well done for teaching that reprobate a lesson! Now
let’s say no more about the subject. For we are only sensationalising his
despicable actions more by talking about them Snowdrop.” She hugged Sam Tightly.
“I’m sorry for what I did,” she said. “I’d take that apology back Snowdrop,” Sam
said, “Golden burg needed a thumping.” They returned to the herd together.
Golden burg retired into a quiet spot to think. He couldn’t believe that
the small white mare had hit him! Mare’s just didn’t do that! But she had, he
could feel the bruise starting, and could still feel the mare’s hoof on him,
even though the attack had been over an hour previously. Golden burg lay down on
the forest floor feeling dreadful. A few hours later, Whitehoof wandered past.
Seeing a horse lying abnormally still, he went up to it and took a look. He
found Golden burg, and he was dead. Whitehoof had heard of Snowdrop’s attack, but
couldn’t work out how a kick like that could have killed him. “Maybe she did
more damage than was first thought,” he mused. Whitehoof found Brock and told
him about it. “Ok, me bury bad colt,” the badger grunted. Whitehoof went back to
the herd to tell Snowdrop what had happened.
Snowdrop was horrified when she heard that Golden burg was dead. “But, I
didn’t hit him that hard!” she cried despairingly, “What will happen to me now?”
she wailed, “I’m gonna have to leave the herd, I might as well just run away and
find myself a new herd to attach myself to very far away from here, no one is
going to want a murderer living with them.
Brock appeared then. “me have news for Whitehoof,” he grunted. “Yes
Brock,” Whitehoof said, “What is it?” “Me examine colt called Golden burg, Me
find no wrong with him! Me find bruise, but no other problems. Me no know why he
die, because there no problems at all! Brock very confused, and me no like
that!” Whitehoof looked at his mother. “maybe your kick wasn’t the cause of his
death,” he said. Snowdrop stared at her foal. He read her mind. Powerful
distress and a lot of uncertainty. “Mum,” Whitehoof said, “while you were
loading up to strike Golden burg, did you ever think about killing him?”
Snowdrop’s legs began to shake and she had to lie down. “I might have, but I
can’t remember,” she replied, “I hated him, that was certain.” Whitehoof lay
down beside his mother. “Mum, he said gently, “We Falabella horses are more
powerful than we think. Have you ever entertained the notion, crazy as it might
sound, that you might have killed Golden burg with the force of momentary
intention? It would only have to be brief, in the moment that your hoof struck
him, and you could have dismissed it afterwards, but the damage was done.”
Snowdrop stared into her foal’s eyes. “You’re saying that I could do damage just
by thinking hard enough about it?” “You might be able to do good things too,”
Whitehoof replied, “but that’s the only explanation I have for the cause of the
colt’s death.” Snowdrop looked at her hooves. “I don’t know how to deal with
this!” She squealed. Whitehoof hugged her. “Look mum, it was an accident. He
provoked you to lash out. I’m not taking any part of this anyway, it’s Sam’s
job, and if he says subject closed then it is.” “He did say he’d say no more
about it,” Snowdrop replied. “There you go,” Whitehoof said, “subject closed.”
The badgers buried Golden burg and the incident was soon forgotten. Time
passed and things seemed to move pretty smoothly for Whitehoof’s little herd.
Sam was doing a good job as second in command backed up by Jess who was almost
constantly by his side. Pip helped Tilly with her now growing family another
foal was expected by Tilly any day now and she was quite excited about it.
Would Poppy’s midwifery skills be needed this time?
Tilly foaled one dark and rainy night. Feeling the first foaling pains,
she retired to a quiet place. Tilly remembered what Poppy had said to her about
going with the flow, not fighting the foal, and doing what she felt like doing
in the latter stages of foaling, but she was still terrified. She was quite a
long way from the herd’s base, and she knew that she wouldn’t be able to walk
far, not with the foal so near it’s time. The pains worsening, Tilly lay down
under a bush to deliver her second foal. Tilly closed her eyes and bore down
against the foal, forcing it out into the world. She couldn’t remember such
pain, not the first time, but now, fear and terror made it worse! Squealing into
the darkness, she made another massive effort to have her foal. Tilly wished
another horse were here, Maynand even, any horse, she didn’t care! Coming down
from another horrendous effort, Tilly thought she heard a horse coming near.
“Somebody help me!” She Shrieked. Sam found Tilly, and didn’t need to ask what
was happening. “Sam, it’s you,” Tilly panted, another pain building in her.
“It’s okay,” Sam said, “just go with it.” Tilly, furious with him for being
male, and in horrendous pain, squealed: “That’s what I’m doing you stupid
horse!” Then, closing her eyes she bore down against her foal for the last time.
Tilly panted hard as she recovered, while Sam investigated the foal to see if it
was okay. The little wet furry bundle shifted as he gently nuzzled it. “What are
you doing!” the foal remonstrated. “I’m sorry,” Sam said, “but I can’t see you,
and your mum’s concerned about you, but unable to get up yet.” The foal seemed
satisfied with that. Tilly got up, and when she saw Sam she screamed at him!
“What are you doing!” “I was checking to see if your foal was all right, like
any other foaling attendant would,” Sam replied. “Don’t touch my foal!” Tilly
yelled. “How else am I meant to make sure it was okay?” He asked. “Use your
eyes!” She yelled back. Sam turned tail and walked away, no longer caring about
anything. He didn’t wish harm on the foal, for he knew it wasn’t the foal’s
fault it’s mother was like she was, but Tilly, oh, how he despised her!
Poppy had witnessed the scene from a distance. She could not understand
why Tilly had such a phobia about Sam. She approached Tilly who was now feeding
the tiny filly for the first time. “Tilly!” said Poppy kindly, “Why do you find
it so difficult accepting Sam for who he is and not for just the fact that he is
blind?” “I don’t know!” Tilly started to cry. “Its not something I have come
across before, I just cant see how he MANAGES without his sight.” “But Tilly!”
Poppy said quietly “He’s been with us a good while now, and you have seen HOW
WELL HE COPES with the herd and how he tries to do it independently without much
help from Jess.!” “yes!” the mare continued, nursing her foal, her tears
subsided. “I did once try to close my eyes and work out for myself what it would
be like for him!” Tilly confessed “it scared me to death, I can tell you!” she
smiled remembering how she had almost fallen over a tree stump whilst carrying
out this operation and hoping that no one would see her.
Meanwhile, Sam had found Jess and told her about Tilly foaling. “You saw,
I mean, heard it all?” Jess asked. “You could say I saw it, with my ears, and I
felt the foal with my muzzle,” Sam replied. He sighed heavily. “What’s the
matter?” Jess asked. “Well Jess darling,” Sam replied, “I came across Tilly
foaling, that was amazing! I couldn’t see it, but I wouldn’t have missed it for
the world! What a horrendous ride! Fear and joy in so quicker time! Well, once
Tilly had the foal, I checked it over as I know attendant mares do when the
foaling mare is still lying down. Tilly screamed at me to leave her foal alone
Jess! Even when I told her what I was doing!” “I know you were trying to help,”
Jess said, “and so, I’m sure, does Tilly now she’s calm. Foaling is horrendously
painful and stressful. She probably didn’t mean to squeal at you.” “Tilly hates
me Jess, and I know the reason why, and It’s horrible!” Sam sobbed. They were
disturbed by Tilly and Poppy. It was clear to Jess that Tilly had overheard Sam.
“Sam,” Tilly said, “I don’t hate you. It’s just that I don’t understand you.”
She dropped to her knees and stroked Sam’s ear with her muzzle. “I’m sorry for
squealing at you when you were checking my foal over. I foaled in the dark, I
was alone, in pain, and scared!” I’m so sorry!” She sobbed. Sam replied: “When I
told you what I was doing, you told me to use my eyes, but I can’t! You know
that! You seem to hold my blindness against me Tilly!” Tilly finally realised
how all this had affected Sam. She still couldn’t work out, despite her attempts
to recreate his world, what he faced every day of his life. Tilly’s filly foal
saw Sam and recognised him. She ran up to him and, pushing her mother out of the
way, hugged him tightly. “Hey! It’s Sam!” She whooped. Feeling her touch, Sam
returned the tiny filly’s embrace. “Hello littl’en,” he said, genuine pleasure
in his eyes. The filly said: “Whitehoof said you have to stroke new horses you
meet, so come on, stroke me! I like it!” So Sam did so, exploring the foal with
his muzzle, she even lifted a tiny hoof for him to feel. At the end of this, the
foal lay down beside her new found friend. Sam found himself hugging her to him,
crying into her soft mane. “Why are you crying,” she asked. Sam sniffed and
said: “I don’t know if I can explain it.” “Try,” the filly persisted. “I’m so
happy, happy that you, only a few hours old, are accepting me for who I am,
listening to me and those who know me, trying to understand something that
hopefully, you’ll never encounter, and best of all, seeing beyond my disability.
You, a tiny foal, have done and learned more in your few hours on this earth
than some horses do in several years.” The filly nuzzled Sam’s ear. Then she
closed her eyes, and explored Sam with her muzzle, as he had done to her. She
felt his ears, mane, body and legs, and finally she brushed one tiny hoof. “Your
hooves are almost as small as mine,” she said, “but my mum says you are fully
grown up, is that true?” “It is,” Sam replied. “Whitehoof is small like you, and
so’s Pip, and so’s Snowdrop. You are so nice though, I love you all!” Sam
swallowed hard, trying to restrain the tears that were threatening to overwhelm
him. He remembered every second of her birth, every second of Tilly’s pained
cries, and lastly, every second of the short time he’d spent checking this tiny
foal over after her birth. Sam didn’t know if Tilly thought the ordeal she’d
gone through was worth it, but Sam instantly fell in love with this tiny filly.
“I love you very much too,” he whispered. The filly gently wiped the tears away
from Sam’s eyes with her muzzle. “Don’t cry Sam,” she said gently.
Sam had persuaded Tilly to call her foal joy, as it had indeed been a joy
for Sam to witness the birth of this filly. Tilly softened slightly towards Sam,
trying her best to speak to him when he was around which seemed to be often as
he was either with Jess or Joy, there was a special bond between him and Joy and
Tilly was beginning to realise that Sam did have character and personality on
his side which made up for his lack of sight.
Joy Soon met Ben, who adopted her as he had Jess, and soon they were
playing up the older horses, getting under their hooves and plaguing any horse
who wouldn’t play with them, even the older horses weren’t spared their foalish
enthusiasm. One day they were playing on the outskirts of the wood when a
skewbald mare came up to them. Ben saw she only had one eye. He’d been warned
about a mare with one eye, but he couldn’t remember why he should keep away from
her. “What can I do for you?” He asked pleasantly. Sandy recognised him as one
of Tilly’s foals and, turning tail, lashed out at him! Joy saw the white mark on
the sole of the skewbald mare’s right hind foot as she lifted it to strike the
colt. Without thinking she threw herself at the mare! The force of her meeting
the hard hoof matched that of the hoof meeting her, so Joy wasn’t hurt, but
Sandy’s leg was painfully jarred. Squealing with rage Sandy ran away, furious
with the newborn filly! “Thanks Joy,” Ben said. “That’s why you should stay
clear of her,” Joy observed. “I didn’t seek her out!” Ben whinnied. “No,” Joy
replied, “but I’ll bet she’s hating me a good bit now.” “Why did you throw
yourself at her hind legs?” Ben asked, “that hoof smashed into you and you threw
yourself towards it!” “If I am travelling at one speed, and the hoof is
travelling at the Same speed in the opposite direction, when the hoof found me,
the impact would be lessened.” The filly replied. She flexed her right shoulder.
“A bit bruised,” she pronounced, “but I can live with that.” Snowdrop found the
two friends chatting. As soon as she saw the pure white mare, Joy gazed at
Snowdrop in wonder. Seeing the filly’s eyes were like saucers, Snowdrop said:
“Come on then, stroke me if you want to, I don’t mind. I’m as easy about being
stroked as Whitehoof or Sam are, I love it.” Joy went up to Snowdrop and rubbed
noses with her. “Whitehoof’s lovely isn’t he,” Joy said. Snowdrop smiled: “I
can’t comment, I’m his mum,” she replied. Joy took this strange mare in from
nose to tail, her eyes finally coming to rest on a set of tiny hooves, as small
as Sam’s they were, and all white! “Snowdrop,” Joy asked hesitantly, “would you
please lift up your left forefoot?” Snowdrop consented, and the filly looked
closely at her hoof. “Why the sudden interest in my hoof?” She asked. “It’s the
Same,” Joy replied, “you see Snowdrop,” She explained, “Ben and I saw a skewbald
mare. This mare was horrible! She tried to kick Ben, but I got in the way. On
the sole of her right hind hoof was a white mark, obviously made by a tiny hoof.
I’ve just found that hoof!” Snowdrop recounted how she’d given Sandy the mark,
telling Joy and Ben about the strange powers possessed by Whitehoof and herself.
She didn’t tell them of the strange goings on with Golden burg, for she couldn’t
bring herself to contemplate the fact she’d wished the colt dead. “That sounds
very interesting,” Ben said, “but how is it done?” “Noone knows,” Snowdrop
replied, “It’s a mystery. It just happens when it needs to. Whitehoof did try
branding Pip when he first used the power, but he couldn’t. The poor chap tried
so hard he slept for ages after. The power can only be used when it’s needed.”
“It was needed when you marked Sandy,” Joy said. “Yes it was,” Snowdrop replied.
Joy let her have her foot back. “How can horses get around on such tiny hooves?”
She asked. “We do,” Snowdrop replied, “Eohippus decreed that we are that way.”
Ben and Joy hugged “aunt Snowdrop,” as they called her. Their reference to her
as “aunt,” made Snowdrop smile with pleasure. They went back to the herd’s base.
Joy saw Sam and ran to him to tell him about their meetings with Sandy and
Snowdrop.
Sam had heard about the mare with one eye, he’d be interested in meeting
this horse after all, she was half blind and maybe they could compare notes!
Sam didn’t have to wait long to meet Sandy. He recognised her as soon as
her cent drifted to him on the wind. She was the mare who had attacked him a few
months back! She stared at him. “You are disgusting!” Sandy squealed. “Why?” Sam
asked. “Your fur is horrible! You’re unclean!” Sandy yelled. Sam had washed his
fur and hooves in the stream earlier that day, and knew he was clean. “I’m
clean, look at my fur, feel it, look at my hooves even,” he invited. Sandy
looked at his fur and hooves, and yes, he was clean. “I hear you went after Ben
earlier in the month,” Sam remarked. “He’s a horrid colt!” Sandy blustered.
“He’s a gentle fellow, and his two sisters Emily and Joy are lovely too,” Sam
countered. Sandy was angry and bitter about her expulsion from Whitehoof’s herd
and that of the white mare. She was a loaner now, and she hated it intensely.
“You also have a mark on your right hind foot I understand,” Sam said. Sandy
snapped: “Yes I do! If you want to feel the business end of a kick from it, I
can oblige!” Sam said gently: “Sandy, lie down, here,” he patted the ground with
a forefoot. Sandy, confused and upset, complied, wondering what he was about to
do to her. “What is troubling you?” He asked gently. Sandy stared at Sam. “I was
jealous of Pip for she had Whitehoof. It all stemmed from that,” she replied.
“Why do you hate Tilly’s foals?” Sam asked, “they’ve done nothing to harm you,
and you nearly killed Ben.” Sandy took Sam in, from nose to tail, his brown fur,
his black hooves, his kind eyes and non threatening manner. Tears overcoming
her, Sandy wept bitterly for what she’d lost. Sam nuzzled and fussed over her,
Managing to calm the mare down enough to get her to her feet and lead her back
to the herd to talk with Whitehoof. “If you are truly sorry for what You’ve
done, Whitehoof might be able to help you,” Sam said. Sandy followed Sam, her
feet hardly leaving the ground as she walked.
Whitehoof received Sandy coolly. “What can I do for you Sandy?” he asked.
“I, I” she blubbered “I was just wondering, please, please may I come back to
your herd, please may I have another chance, I’m so lonely by myself and, I
promise I will make my best effort to change my ways!”
Whitehoof looked at her standing there shivering and sobbing. “What you
did to my mum, to Pip, to Ben, to Joy and to Sam, can not be excused or
forgotten Sandy!” He whinnied. He walked round her, examining the mare from all
angles. He even got her to lift each hoof so he could examine each of them.
Sandy wondered what the gelding was up to, but this was only Whitehoof’s way of
passing time while he thought deeply. He called Snowdrop over, and she did the
Same as he had, examining Sandy’s coat and hooves. “What is all this about?”
Sandy asked. “I’m trying to come to a decision as to what to do with you,”
Whitehoof replied. “Why not put her on probation?” Snowdrop suggested. “Good
idea mum,” Whitehoof replied, “how about if I brand her shoulder while you
remove the mark from her right hind foot.” So Sandy lay down, and the necessary
branding and brand removal was completed. “I am watching you Sandy,” Someone
said. Turning her head, sandy saw Sam standing beside her. “How can you watch
me? You are a blind horse Sam!” Sam touched her nose with his tiny hoof. She
didn’t like that at all! “Okay! Okay!” Sandy screeched. Sam removed his hoof.
“You know what I can do then?” He asked. “leave me alone!” Sandy wailed. She got
up and bolted! When she’d gone, Whitehoof asked Sam what he’d done to make her
scream. “I placed my hoof on her muzzle,” Sam replied. “Okay,” Whitehoof
replied, “but how can that make her squeal like that? She was Terrified!” “The
only way I can explain is to show you,” Sam said, “you must promise me though
that you’ll do nothing to me once it’s over Whitehoof. You will not be
permanently damaged by what’s about to happen.” Whitehoof consented. “You’d
better lie down Whitehoof,” Sam said. He did so, and Sam placed his right
forefoot on the gelding’s muzzle. What Whitehoof experienced then shocked and
disorientated him. It was as if he was being spun round faster, and faster, and
faster! After a minute of this he didn’t know where his hooves were in relation
to his body, where his head was in relation to his tail, anything! Sam was
scrambling the directional parts of Whitehoof’s brain! “Sam, stop! Please stop!”
Whitehoof squealed. Sam took his hoof away. He listened to his leader panting
furiously as he came down from absolute disorientation. “Sam, what, what
happened!” He gasped. Snowdrop watched her foal’s reaction to Sam’s hoof on his
nose. She turned a worried expression on Sam and said: “Sam, what did you do to
him!” Sam replied: “I think it is done by electrical impulses. Every creature
has nerves, which work on electrical impulses. I can scramble those impulses, I
can do it however I like. With Sandy, and Whitehoof, I scrambled directional
parts of their brains. I could scramble sight, feeling, anything! I could make
it so they felt their hooves were burning or freezing. I could make them feel
hot or cold.” Whitehoof got to his feet and went across to Sam. “Promise me
Sam,” he said, “that you’ll never do that to me again!” Sam promised his leader
that he wouldn’t do it to him without his permission. “That was awful!”
Whitehoof said. “Any side affects will soon pass,” Sam reassured him. “I never
ever! Want to go through that again!” Whitehoof Whinnied. Snowdrop and Sam both
hugged him. “It’s all over now my little Whitehoof,” Snowdrop whispered.
Whitehoof began to relax.
Poppy and Tilly were lazing on the grass. “What is it about those little
horses?” Tilly asked “They seem to have some very strange gifts, I don’t even
know that that is the right word to use!” Poppy thought for a while. “I think
they have special power because they need them as a means of survival, just look
at how Sam managed for all that time by himself in the forest, he needed that
sense so that he could disorientate any animal that was out to harm him!” “Oh,
yeah, didn’t think of that,” Tilly replied. “I guess its all right for them to
have these powers,” continued Poppy, “Just as long as they are used correctly
otherwise I imagine they could be taken away from them.! At this point Pip
arrived surrounded by what looked like all the foals of the herd, “and that’s
Pip’s special power, the gift of play!” went on Poppy.
Pip saw Poppy and ran to her, all the foals following hot on her heels.
“Hi,” She whinnied. “Hi yourself,” Poppy replied, smiling at Pip and her
entourage. She had Ben, Joy and Emily following her. “You do a good job with
those,” Tilly remarked. Pip smiled at the group of foals. “They keep me out of
trouble,” she said. This made them laugh, it was meant to. Tilly brought up the
subject of Sam’s power. “I’ve heard of it from Whitehoof,” Pip replied, “he was
pretty shaken up about it.” Poppy said: “Yes Pip, Falabella horses have special
powers, some of which are not conventional.” Pip looked at the massive Suffolk
punch mare. “Poppy, do you think Sam will use his power to ill affect?” Poppy
shook her head. “No,” she replied firmly, “he’s had to have those powers to keep
him safe. He’s a small horse Pip, and he needs to put the frighteners on larger
animals who might harm him, that’s all this power does.” “Whitehoof said it
terrified him!” Pip squealed. “It might have done, but he’s none the worse for
it is he?” Poppy asked. “Well, no,” Pip admitted. Sam, Snowdrop and Whitehoof
came past then. Seeing his mate, Whitehoof ran to her. “Hello Pip dear,” he
whinnied. Pip looked at her mate, then at Sam. “Has he been frightening you
again?” She asked suspiciously. “No!” Whitehoof replied, “Whatever gave you that
idea?” Pip became angry! Striding up to Sam she tried to lash out at him with a
hind foot. “No! Pip!” Whitehoof yelled. What happened then would go down in the
history of the herd. Pip raised her hind foot to strike Sam. Suddenly her body
convulsed and she was thrown into a summersault, landing on her side with a
crash! Pip lay motionless on the grass. “What’s happened to her!” Whitehoof
screamed. “I can’t move!” Pip yelled, “What’s happening!” Sam stood motionless.
He said: “I will not release you Pip, you are my prisoner until I choose to let
you go free.” Whitehoof strode up to his second in command and yelled into his
face! “What are you doing to her you horrid creature!” Sam replied calmly:
“Whitehoof, if you were attacked, you would defend yourself with your hooves
wouldn’t you?” “Yes,” Whitehoof replied, totally disconcerted by Sam’s
composure. “Being that so,” Sam continued, “I cannot see who’s attacking me, nor
can I see where they are, can I Whitehoof?” “No,” Whitehoof replied. “So,” Sam
said, “I have to take action where I can, and if controlling another animal’s
mind will give me defence against that animal, I must do it Whitehoof! I must
protect myself!” Whitehoof stared at his second in command. “You can’t, you,,,”
he got no further, for his hind legs suddenly tensed, and he was flying through
the air, to land in a flailing heap on the forest floor a few feet away. “I
can,” Sam said, “now you see.” Whitehoof picked himself up off the ground,
totally stunned, confused and terribly frightened. “You don’t have to do it just
because you can!” The gelding squealed. “I don’t want to have to prove it to you
Whitehoof,” Sam replied, “but I will if you force me.” “Sam, please, let me go!”
Pip pleaded. Whitehoof looked at his mate lying on the grass. Pip looked
pathetically up at him. “Sam,” Whitehoof said, fear in his tone, “release her!
For Eohippus sake release Pip!” Sam could hear his leader’s fear and terror.
“I’m very sorry Whitehoof,” Sam said. “So you won’t release her?” Whitehoof
asked. “I didn’t say that,” Sam replied, “but if I’m asked to prove myself I
will. I do not want to harm your mate Whitehoof, and what she’s experiencing
won’t harm her at all, but she has to learn that I’m able to defend myself, and
I will!” Whitehoof threw himself down on the forest floor and begged Sam to
release Pip. “She is free, if only she’d get up,” the gelding replied. Pip got
to her feet and walked away, leaving her group of foals standing looking in
bewilderment at Sam. Whitehoof got to his feet and looked at his second in
command. “We must all try better to accept you Sam, and not ask you to prove
your power. The fact you’d spent two years on your own should have been enough
to prove to us that you were worthy of status. We all have been guilty in one
way or another of forcing you to prove yourself to us in ways that we ourselves
would find objectionable. I am sorry, very very sorry. I will talk to Pip
later.” Snowdrop looked at Sam and said: “Please Sam, please don’t ever do that
again,” Sam turned in the white mare’s direction, feeling her anxiety. “Snowy
dear,” he said, “I will not harm anyone with my power, but I will prove it if
they ask me. You are safe, Whitehoof and Pip are safe, the foals are safe. I
will not misuse my power, for I know what it can do.” Tilly thought about Joy’s
birth. Sam catching her thoughts, said: “Yes Tilly, I did once help a mare. She
was exhausted from a long foaling, the foal was fine, and ready to be born, but
the poor mare was not strong enough to deliver her foal. So I helped her. I took
over, telling her body what to do, she got on with foaling, and the foal was all
right., and so was she.” Tilly looked at him. “I could have done with a bit of
that,” she said. Sam replied: “I can only do it if the animal I’m helping
doesn’t resist, if they do, then I risk damaging them, I don’t want to do that
Tilly. You would have had to relax and let me take over, then I could have
helped. If I remember though, you squealed at me when you saw me.” “Sorry Sam,”
Tilly replied. “That’s okay,” he said. Pip came back then. “Pip dear, I think we
need to talk,” Whitehoof said gently. They walked away together.
Whitehoof and Pip settled down under a tree. Hugging her to him, Whitehoof
stroked Pip’s ears with his muzzle. She cuddled up to him, burying her face in
his mane. “I think we need to talk about Sam,” Whitehoof said. “He’s second in
command Whitehoof, that’s your job to get rid of him if you want,” Pip replied.
“I don’t want to get rid of him,” Whitehoof said, “I know what he said was true.
He has to defend himself, and that means against anyone Pip, even me and you.”
“I couldn’t control my legs!” She squealed, “the brute took control of me
Whitehoof!” “I know, he did me too, but that’s the only way he can defend
himself Pip! Can’t you see that?” “Sam did explain that to you Whitehoof, and
you challenged him, so he showed you!” Pip whinnied shrilly. “We must try not to
force Sam to show us his power Pip. I know it’s hard to work out how he
survives, but he does, and that’s the main thing! Sam’s a lovely chap Pip, he
doesn’t mean any of us harm!” Sam came past then. Pip looked at him. “This is a
private conversation Sam!” She squealed. Sam looked hurt, and well he might.
“I’m sorry, I’ll go, I don’t want to disturb anything!” With that he turned and
walked slowly away. Whitehoof followed the Chestnut gelding into the trees.
“Sam?” Whitehoof said softly. Sam cocked an ear in his leader’s direction.
“Please, stop here a minute will you?” Whitehoof said gently. Sam stopped
walking. Whitehoof went up to him and hugged him. He felt Sam trembling as he
touched him. “You probably think I’m horrible Sam,” Whitehoof said, “It’s just
that, well, we’re all having difficulties coming to terms with your abilities,
as well as your disability. What you can do with your mind is so unusual. I can
just about get my head round it, but there are those horses who can’t.” “I
noticed Pip is hostile to me,” Sam said. “No,” Whitehoof replied gently, “She
doesn’t mean it Sam. She’s frightened by anything she doesn’t understand.” Pip
wandered past then. She’d overheard most of this and regarded Sam with fear.
Feeling her general apprehension, Sam went to Pip and hugged her. Pip resisted
at first, but then she relaxed, coming to the realisation that Sam wasn’t going
to harm her. “I don’t mean to upset you Pip,” Sam whispered into her ear,
“please, tell me what frightens you and I’ll try to help you to understand.” Pip
looked into Sam’s eyes. She knew he couldn’t see her doing this, and that, along
with his powers, confused and frightened her. “I’ll try to help you Pip,” Sam
said. Pip closed her eyes, she felt the warmth of Sam’s body, his muzzle
brushing her ear, breathed his cent in with every breath, and felt at a loss as
for words to start telling him what she couldn’t understand about him, there was
so much! Whitehoof watched them, hoping Pip would eventually accept Sam for who
he was. “I think it’s better coming from you Sam,” he said, “I can’t help her
understand you, because I’m not you. I think it would be better if you told her
how you live your life. Tell her what you can to help her understand your
situation.” Sam and Pip lay down together. “I’ll leave you two to talk,”
Whitehoof said. Pip made to get up to follow her mate. She didn’t want to be
left alone with Sam, but Whitehoof motioned to her to stay where she was. “he
won’t harm you Pip,” Whitehoof said gently, “talk to Sam, ask him anything, even
if you think it’s silly. Touch him, stroke him, come to terms with how he is.
I’m not going far, but I want you to work things out alone Pip, that’s the only
way! You can’t keep asking me for advice! Sam can help, he’s capable, and he’s
second in command. What would happen if I was injured and he had to take over
the running of the herd? Then you’d have to deal with him. Please Pip, do this
for me, for Sam, and mostly for yourself,” Whitehoof pleaded. With that he
turned tail and walked away. Pip looked at Sam lying on the forest floor. “It’s
up to you Pip,” Sam said, “how would you like me to be, standing or lying down,
what is best for you.” Pip looked at him. She hated herself for mistrusting Sam,
but she couldn’t get over her fear of him. She lay down beside him. “Pip,” Sam
said gently, “I want to help you, so ask questions of me, touch me even, stroke
my fur, touch my hooves, do what you need to to get used to me as I am. I’m no
threat, I just want you to accept me, if you can. Dear Pip, please, tell me
what’s frightening you,” Sam coaxed. Pip took the gelding in from nose to tail.
She then touched his muzzle, his mane and all four hooves. Suddenly she drew him
to her and hugged him fiercely. “I don’t know where to start!” She whinnied.
“Take your time,” Sam whispered soothingly. He could feel she was shaking
violently. “Take a few deep breaths Pip, then, in your own time, please tell me
what’s upsetting you,” Sam said softly.
“I don’t know how to put into words what I feel Sam,” Pip began. She
looked at him, trying to sort out in her mind what she wanted to say. “I knew
you as a foal, you knew me, and we were good friends. Then I was taken away from
my herd. I saw blind horses, and they were all pathetic frightened creatures. So
that’s how I expected you to be, but you weren’t either of those. I thought
you’d become like those poor frightened horses when you got older and left your
mother,” Pip said, “I didn’t expect you to be able to fend for yourself Sam, but
Eohippus has decreed that you can, and have.” Sam nuzzled her ear and said: “I
came close to giving up many times,” he said, “but there was something that made
me go on, anger at my mother for leaving me, maybe that was it, sort of.” Pip
hugged Sam again. She said: “When I heard from Whitehoof about your power, I
couldn’t quite believe him, although he seemed very definite about what he’d
experienced. Sam, I’m sorry, very sorry for getting angry with you. I was
scared, I didn’t think, but then you took over, flipped me onto my side, and
held me prisoner. Then I knew your power wasn’t a false one.” She gently rubbed
his muzzle with hers. Then she took him in from nose to tail, missing nothing.
Sam’s markings went like this. He had brown, almost chestnut fur all over, from
nose to tail. His mane, tail and hooves were jet black. Pip touched Sam’s muzzle
with hers. She then brushed away a lock of mane from his eyes and looked into
them. Although she knew he couldn’t see her doing this, Pip found it difficult
not to. Sam meanwhile was reading the Falabella mare’s thoughts. “She’s still
confused,” he thought, “but she’s coming round slowly.” “What are you thinking?”
Pip asked. “That you are still confused,” he replied truthfully. This terrified
Pip! “Can you read my mind?” She asked. “Yes,” Sam said, “your personal secrets
are safe though. I only read what is needed to deal with the situation I’m in.
So at the moment, I know that you are still confused about me, maybe even more
so now you have found this out about me. Pip, I am no danger to you. I don’t
want you to feel fear when you are around me. After all, if you were about to
attack me, and I couldn’t read your thoughts, how would I be able to defend
myself?” “You mean,,,” “Yes Pip, I read your mind in the few seconds before you
raised your hoof to hit me. I defended myself against the thought by
immobilising you.” Pip stared at him in astonishment! “The next thing you’ll be
telling me is that you can fly!” She squealed. Sam smiled broadly: “I’m working
on that one,” he said. Sam suddenly hugged her to him. Pip knew then that this
gelding wouldn’t hurt her, and that his power wasn’t to be feared. “You are more
relaxed now I see,” Sam said. Pip couldn’t reply. What she was feeling was
strange to her. It was as if all the tension she’d ever known was flowing out of
her, leaving her too weak to do anything but lie there on the forest floor. “Let
it all go,” Sam coaxed. Pip felt she had no choice but to let all her anxiety
go. It was as if Sam was drawing it from her like a syringe draws blood. When
she was totally calm, Sam got to his feet and said: “Coming to find Whitehoof?”
Pip got to her feet, amazed that she still could after what she’d just
experienced. They found Whitehoof grazing peacefully.
Snowdrop lay beneath a bush a little way off. Sam, Pip and Whitehoof Joined Snowdrop under the bush to get away from the rain that threatened to start at any moment. Pip felt better about being around Sam now, and, lying beside him as she was, she knew he wouldn’t hurt her. Whitehoof asked Pip about her chat with Sam.
“I found I was worried about a lot of nothing,” Pip replied, “Sam showed me he was just an ordinary horse. That is once you discount the nerve control, the power to read thoughts and a thousand other things, all non malicious.”
“That’s good,” Whitehoof replied. He had some questions for Snowdrop.
“Mum, as Sam has more to him, so do you and me. Do you know anything about that? For instance, why are you white?” Snowdrop looked at her foal.
“It is said Whitehoof, that the seventh foal of the seventh foal of a Falabella mare will be a direct genetic descendant of The dawn horse. It is said that we Falabella horses are directly descended from Eohippus, or as near as makes no difference. All right, we don’t have three toes, and Eohippus did, but, barring some minor modifications, I, and we, are as close to Eohippus as any horse can get.”
“What makes you white though, if we all are closer to Eohippus than any other horses?” Pip asked.
“If you took some of my DNA, and compared it with that from Eohippus,” Snowdrop replied, “I could be him and he could be me. Apart from me not having three toes on my foot, We are identical, modern horses have only one toe on their foot, it’s called a hoof.” Pip thought this tale a wonderful one to tell the foals the next time they told stories under the great oak.

READ PART 3

This story is a product of collaborative writing on Fabulous Fiction. The contributing writers are Whitney, Hannah, Miranda, Anna, Benjamin, Jazzy, Saffron, Jo W, Katherine, Katie, Martin, Nicky, Mule, Lisa, Vaughn, Cindy, Wendy, Italics, Vanessa, and Justin. Special thanks to Martin Wilsher for leading the story and later editing it for this web site.