Sunday, 1 May 2011

34. Two Degrees of Seperation

The auction was surprisingly quiet given the circumstances. Over thirty horses and ponies of varying degrees of quality had been seized from a highly unsuitable owner a few months before by a horse charity and now, after a bit of rehabilitation, the best were being put up for sale and adoption.

David and Nikolai wandered through the building, tutting at the state of some of the ponies and lauding the condition of others. They hadn’t intended to go inside but when they passed a sign that read ‘Cobs and Ponies for saleCHEAP-’ they just couldn’t resist.

They probably wouldn’t buy anything anyway, they were only looking after all.

As they passed by one pen, Nikolai nodded towards the back. ‘What about that one? The little bay-and-white. I like his face.’

David squinted. From what he could see of the horse under all that hair and fluff, he did indeed look like a nice kind of animal. Perhaps even riding school material... ‘Hmmm, ok, let’s have a look at him then. Come on lad, c’mere!’ He clicked his tongue and held out a hand to the gelding, who, after giving the proffered digits a good sniff, padded over to the fence, followed closely by a heavily feathered liver chestnut skewbald.

David nodded approvingly as he cast his gaze across the horse. He lacked condition but otherwise appeared to have good conformation and he really couldn't fault him for looks. Nikolai seemed to think the same and after a moment's pondering, he went off to find the seller to ask all the usual questions. He came back a few minutes later with a headcollar and leadrope which he put on the cob without any trouble. The majority of the other horses had already moved off to the other end of the pen where one of the auction staff had put down some haylage for them. Only the cob they were interested in and the chestnut skewbald remained up at this end. 'According to Mr Murphy over there' he said, scratching the gelding's nose absently. 'his name is 'Pirate'. He is about twelve years old -although this cannot be confirmed- but one thing we do know is that he is partially blind in one eye.' David frowned. 'Argh, that's a pain, I was hoping he'd be completely sound.' Nikolai shook his head. 'The vets have already looked at him and say that it isn't a serious issue - they think he has had it for a very long time and has learned how to cope with it.' 'Can he be ridden though? That's the question.' 'Apparently so. From what they can guess of his history he's well used to tack and has been ridden by one of the people here.' 'What do you think? Should we chance it?' 'I will take him outside and put him through his paces first, then we can decide.' 'Good idea.' As he turned Pirate round to leave the pen, the other cob let out a shrill whinny and threw his head up, Pirate echoing him as he walked off in the opposite direction. 'Hey, hey, calm down lad, calm down!' David said soothingly, patting the gelding's neck softly. 'It's ok, he's not going anywhere!' 'Here' said Nikolai, tossing over a length of soft white rope from the depths of his coat pockets. 'I think he might be quite dangerous if he isn't restrained. Mr Murphy told me that they are never seperated and that he might not know what to do with himself when they are. His name is Simba by the way.' 'Cheers, I'll get a halter made up before you leave, hold on...' Sure enough, as soon as Pirate was out of eyeshot, Simba exploded.

'Steeeady lad, steady!' He bucked and reared, leapt and plunged his way around the small pen, sending ponies skittering to the corners of the other end in fright.

Although still young, he was very strong and after only a couple of minutes he'd managed to wrestle the rope from David's hands. Squealing like a pig, he took off at a canter, spinning on the spot and neighing his head off as he tried frantically to find his friend. Finally he stopped and stood, trembling in the middle, looking completely and utterly lost. David walked over to him slowly, hands out as through approaching someone with a hostage and gently picked up the rope. Now that he'd expended all that energy and fear, he was much more approachable, yet he still seemed worried. He was a very nice example of a cob though, David thought. Green yes, but he had potential... A sharp sounding whinny from the other side of the building announced the return of Pirate and Nikolai, and Simba's ears shot upwards in delight. 'So? How was he?' Nikolai nodded, the traces of a rare smile picking at the corners of his mouth. 'Good, very good. He needs more food and training but he is a very nice little horse. Very nice.' He gave him a pat and let his hold on the leadrope lessen slightly. 'He has a little attitude on him - tried to bite me once - but I rode him around for a minute bareback and he didn't put a...ah...hand wrong?' David smiled. He sounded perfect. There was just one thing... 'Well, he sounds exactly what we're looking for but there's a problem.' Nikolai raised a quizzical eyebrow as he took both halters off the cobs.. 'Yes?' David jabbed a thumb in the direction of Simba. 'We'll need to take him as well. Classic seperation anxiety - if we don't take him too he'll go mad without having his friend around.' The Russian nodded and stood back a little so he could assess the heavier cob's build. 'He's not had much training that I can see but we've dealt with worse -' Roscoe' -and once he's learned that it's ok to be away from Pirate for at least some of the time I think he'd make a really nice riding horse.' Nikolai nodded again and folded his arms. 'So. Prices?' 'Let's go and speak to that Mr Murphy then. I hope you're good at haggling - I can't even talk Aiden into selling me something that he and I both KNOW is only worth a fiver...' As the two men bartered with the seller nearby, Pirate lipped at the ground for leftover wisps of hay while Simba nuzzled into his friend's shoulder. Now that their future was secure, the cobs were calm once more.

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