The Ice Incident
It was a chilly morning at the yard and David was cold. (obviously) He kicked at a random clod of dirt on the ground and rubbed his hands together to keep warm. Trust Abigail to organise a cross country lesson on a day like this. Yesterday had been nice and sunny and the day before that was like a summer's day but noooo she had to choose today - the coldest day of the year - to go gallivanting about the countryside. He scowled. He hadn't even brought anything warm with him. According to Abigail, he'd 'warm up once you're jumping' David pulled a face. He didn't even like jumping all that much.
Abigail arrived with Tamarind and David didn't even pretend to be looking forward to the experience.
"Ok then David, I've set out a small course for you, nothing major. Tam'll take you over them fine. Just watch when you get over the water jump...you need to take a left straight after it or you'll end up going the wrong way!"
David nodded, patted Tam and got on board. Afer a quick warmup in the arena (although sadly not for David) they set off towards the jumping field.
David glanced behind him and when he was sure Abigail was out of sight, slowed to a walk. Ha! No jumping for him!
He got the fright of his life when he heard Abigail's voice booming out of nowhere. Tam shot off in canter and once he'd gained control, David looked back to see Abigail leaning out of the horsebox's cab window with a megaphone in one hand and a mug of hot tea in the other. She was being sensible and was nice and warm. "Come on Dave - no slacking!" He sighed, rolled his eyes and did a circle in canter before approaching the first jump - a small cross poles.
They cleared it brilliantly and then moved on to the next - a jump curiously shaped like two Innocent Smoothie bottles. Tam spooked a bit at the sight and jumped it wonkily which made David lose his balance and fall.
He picked himself up and caught Tam, who had started grazing. Abigail's voice echoed around them. "Well done..now get back on and do that again!" He did a mock salute and did as he was told, this time jumping it well.
Next was the water jump. To get to it he had to backtrack and pass Abigail, then gallop for a few hundred yards. Hopefully Abigail wouldn't be able to see or hear him. He was rubbish at water jumps...
By a sheer fluke (so he thought anyway) they cleared it first time round.
There was something different about the water, but he just couldn't think what.
He turned Tam to the right and looked for the next jump.
Something wasn't right...there wasn't a jump to be seen! He turned around and started to canter away until something caught his eye. It was another water jump..only this one was a drop into water instead of a jump over it.
That's strange he thought. I could have sworn she told me there was only one water jump...oh well...
He turned Tam towards it and he leapt into it, his forelegs well out in front of him like a professional event horse.
The next thing he knew they were standing perfectly still. There was no tremendous splash as horse and rider hit the water...only an eerie silence. Tam figetted on the spot and swished his tail. He didn't like it one bit.
David looked down tentatively.
It was ICE!
Tam couldn't take it any longer and bolted, making David fall. He got up instantly and tried to catch his horse. "Oi you! Get back here!"
Tam disappeared into the distance and David shook his fist angrily. Now what? Suddenly he heard a cracking noise. He gasped and before he could do anything, the ice gave way beneath his feet and David went flying!
He hit the water with a loud splash and resurfaced with a gasp. It was freezing cold and he could already feel his limbs going numb.
He scrabbled at a nearby ice floe and tried to pull himself onto it but everytime he tried, it just started sinking.
A couple of minutes went by and he was beginning to tire. It was so cold...he just wanted to sleep...
A sharp, clear whinny brought him out of it. Tam was standing on the edge, his reins loose over his head.
David swam over as quickly as he could - his numbed up legs and waterlogged jacket threatening to pull him under. He reached for the reins and after a few attempts, managed to grab hold of them. Tam backed up and pulled, hoisting David out of the water.
He lay there shivering until he heard someone running towards them. It was Abigail. She had seen Tam galloping towards her, riderless and had feared the worst. Luckily, she had the foresight to bring a blanket with her.
"Oh god, David I'm so sorry! I should have known the pond would have been frozen...I should never have let you ride in these conditions...here, put this round you and let's get you back home."
David nodded and hugged Tam gratefully. "Thanks boy..I owe you big time" he whispered, his teeth chattering loudly.
Ten minutes later they had arrived back at the yard. Abigail saw to Tam and David was given a mug of hot cocoa and sent straight to bed.
A couple of days later, David was well enough to go out and see Tamarind. He had been let out in one of the outdoor arenas for exercise as it was far too cold for him out in the field at night. As soon as he saw David approaching, the stallion bucked with excitement and trotted over to him at top speed.
David laughed and gave him a big hug. "I really can't thank you enough for saving me Tam. I wouldn't have lasted much longer if you hadn't come when you did. I just wish there was something I could give you, you know, as a sort of thank you present..."
"How about these? Will this do?" It was Abigail, and she was clutching a bundle of fresh carrots in each hand.
"Straight from the garden and he deserves every one!" She pointed to a trug by her feet which was full of apples. "Those are for him as well, as I know you're not so keen on apples David."
David laughed. "They're perfect!"
He gave Tam an apple and when he had finished it, offered him one of the carrots. Tam munched on it happily and nickered.
All was well...finally!