Sunday, 1 May 2011

13. Like Butter Wouldn't Melt

Like Butter Wouldn’t Melt

It was a dull morning at EA Equestrian and although the sky threatened rain, there was a barely contained sense of anticipation in the air.
Abigail had been up since before six, a time to which the rest of the staff and horses were usually blissfully unaware of.
“Alright David, wakey wakey!” she had bellowed down the phone to him earlier, almost deafening him as he was jolted into consciousness with a shock. “We’ve got a lot of work to do before the new lot get here!”

Suffice to say, David wasn’t entirely alert when he trudged into the yard and it was several minutes before he realised that he had put his hat on back to front.

The two of them had already swept up the yard and fed the horses before Jill finally arrived at quarter past ten; her hair sticking up like she’d walked through a hedge backwards.
“Sorry I’m late...I …I...was still half a..a..sleeeeep” she yawned, running her fingers through the messy tangle that was her hair and absent mindedly picking up a brush that was leaning against the wall. “Want me to muck out the boxes?”
Abigail nodded and beamed. “We’ll need to have this place looking presentable before the new livery arrives.” She turned to David who was standing with his eyes closed beside Tamarind’s box. “As for you!” she said, thrusting a couple of buckets into his hands “You can put these away and make sure the feed room looks tidy – I don’t want anything to go wrong today, ok?”

David sighed and gave her a mock salute (which failed spectacularly as he had an armful of buckets) and headed off to the feed room.

Less than ten minutes later, the familiar sound of a horsebox pulling into the car park alerted them to the new arrivals. “Quick!” screeched Abigail “Someone hang those headcollars up before they see - go!”

The next minute it was all smiles as a blonde haired girl with a broad grin dropped out of the cab and walked towards them. “Hi, er Abigail? We spoke on the phone – I’m Lisa and that” she gestured to the horsebox “is your new tenant!” Abigail nodded and laughed. “Don’t worry, you haven’t arrived at the wrong yard! Lets get him out then shall we?”

Lisa nodded and with David’s help, pulled down the ramp of the trailer. She hopped inside, murmuring softly to her horse as she prepared to bring him out. Seconds later, she emerged from the box, leading a beautiful chestnut gelding behind her.

“This is Kerry, or Kerrygold as he is more formally known. He’s a partbred Arab and is the most gentle horse I have ever met!”

Jill squeaked with delight. “He’s beautiful! I really love the name and he looks like a perfect gentleman.”

“Yeah” David agreed “Like butter wouldn’t melt. Gettit? Butter? Kerrygold is a brand of butter?”
He was met with one of Abigail’s infamous blank looks, so he quickly shut up and gave the new horse a pat.

“Right” said Abigail, choosing to ignore David’s brave attempt at early morning hilarity. “I’ll leave Jill er, no actually…David to get him settled in and I’ll give you a quick tour of the yard. Jill, could you go and bring Cally, Spud and Todd in for me please? We’ll need them for the 11 o’clock, thanks.”

“Oh no it’s fine, I was just going to give him a quick groom and put him out in the field if that’s ok? He’s been in the lorry for ages and I think he’d appreciate some fresh air”

“No problem!” Abigail cried “They can sort him out, no bother…now, as I was saying…”

While David led Kerry to the main stableblock, Abigail showed Lisa the feedroom, tackroom and office, finishing with the ‘secret’ passageway behind Tam and Kestral’s stables.

“Wow, you really have got a brilliant setup here” Lisa remarked, trying to take it all in. Abigail smiled proudly and led her back to the main part of the yard.

David waved as they approached. “Well, what do you think of the place?”
She grinned. “Perfect, utterly perfect. I think Kerry will love it here! Ooh, who’s that?” She pointed to the chestnut mare in the stable.

“That’s Kestral” said Abigail “She’s one of our schoolies and oh, drat, that’s the phone – I’ll leave you to it shall I?”

Lisa rubbed Kestral’s nose affectionately. “She’s lovely. I really have a thing for chestnut horses – not that you would have guessed or anything!”
David nodded. “She’s really popular with the kids round here – never puts a foot wrong. Well…almost never. Hey, it looks like Kerry wants to say hello!”

Sure enough, the gelding was sniffing Kestral and seemed to be very interested in what she had to say.

Tamarind on the other hand…

David and Lisa wheeled around as the stallion kicked at his door, roaring and snorting at the top of his lungs the equine equivalent of ‘get your grubby hands off my bird!'

“What the…?” David rolled his eyes as Tam danced on the spot, tail swishing irritably and the whites of his eyes showing.
“Hey, calm down boy, caaaaaaalm down”
Lisa stepped over and stroked his nose softly.

“Now who is this?”

“Ah…” said David, awkwardly “That would be Tam. He’s a bit er…difficult sometimes” Lisa smiled. “Well I think he’s gorgeous!” The grey stopped kicking and tossed his head proudly. He liked this girl already.

With Tamarind satiated with compliments, they started to take Kerry’s rug off and groom him.

“Eurgh” said Lisa, frowning. “He’s all dusty from the travelling”

Once he was clean and shiny, she fetched his bridle from her bag and put it on him. “I always ride to the field” she said, answering David’s unasked question. “He can get a bit strong when he sees the gate sometimes, plus it’s much more fun than walking!”

She was just about to ask for a mounting block when Tamarind started screeching again. “Oh god, here he goes again, hold on – I know what’ll distract him” David said with a wink. He rushed off and returned a minute later with a bucketful of feed. “This never fails, trust me”

No sooner had the door opened, than Tamarind burst out of it at full speed, reared and started waving his forelegs at Kerry.

Tamarind took a swipe at him and suddenly Kerry joined in, throwing his head up and boxing with him.

There followed a brief squealing match for all of thirty seconds and then the two of them dropped back to the ground, sniffing each other.

Satisfied that the gelding would leave his mare alone, Tamarind turned round, picked up the fallen bucket and returned to his box, leaving David watching in dumbfounded amazement.

“Well that was…eventful.” Lisa said thoughtfully. “Does this sort of thing happen often round here?”
David shrugged awkwardly. “Er..yeah, sorry about that.”

Sorry? What on earth are you sorry for David?” Abigail’s voice cut through the tension like a knife. “Sue phoned. She won’t be able to make it for the hack today sadly, so it'll just be you, Jill and Rosie. Any problems here?”

“Problems?” David cringed. “No, none at all!”

Lisa nodded and grinned. “Nope, no problems whatsoever!”
“Hmmmm” said Abigail, her eyes narrowed, but the beginnings of a smile on her face. “I’m not so sure about that but I’ll let you off for today!”

She fetched a mounting block for Lisa and went back to check on Jill.

“Thanks for that David” she said as she patted Kerry’s gleaming neck. “I really think I’m going to have fun here!” Kerry snorted and pawed at the ground; eager to set off, and they both laughed. “Yeah, but I think he’s going to enjoy it more!”

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