Ben arrived in the village with my sister who had just come to live on the hilltop on the opposite side of our 14-acre goose green to my own cottage. They say that size isn’t everything, and my sister’s Shetland pony proved the point. The pony, Ben, measured all of 36 inches to the withers (the highest point of his shoulders), but in his mind he was as big as a Thoroughbred with the courage of a lion. He also liked mares. The fact that most of them were considerably larger than he was just didn’t enter into it as far as he was concerned. As soon as one came into view he would start snorting, stamping and showing off, galloping up and down behind the fence as they passed. When they looked down their noses at him and walked on he obviously thought it was their loss. That was until he got his come-uppance from my palomino pony.
It was a nice summer’s day. Bees buzzed, birds sang, and my sister decided to take Ben for a bit of road work. As usual in the holiday season the village green was swarming with holidaymakers, some playing games, some enjoying picnics and some just sitting. A couple of local lads were playing round on motorcycles and one young man was washing some mud off a pick-up down by the stream.
I took my palomino filly, Kerry Dancer, out of the stable and tethered her on the hill in front of my house then walked over the green to join my sister who had stopped to let some admirers have a closer look at the little chestnut pony. Ben ignored us all and munched happily at the lush grass. Suddenly his ears pricked and his nostrils flared. He’d scented Kerry Dancer. Rearing up with a stallion-like screech he set off over the green at a flat out gallop. We were all completely taken by surprise. My sister hung on to the lunge rein for the first 30 feet or so down the hill ending up on her backside in the middle of the stream before she finally gave up and let go. Released from her annoying encumbrance Ben’s speed increased.
People scattered right left and centre as he set out to prove that the shortest distance between two points was a straight line. As the risk of being trampled to death passed most of them joined in the growing crowd chasing after the miscreant.
From Kerry’s point of view the approaching stampede must have been a hair-raising sight.
First was Ben, closely followed by a mini-pick-up, a couple of motorbikes, several push bikes, a gaggle of people on foot, three sheepdogs, a terrier, a Labrador, an English setter, me, and my sister, sodden from the waist down.
What else could any self-respecting filly do? As Ben screeched to a halt in front of her she swung round and planted two hind feet fair and square in his chest.
Ben was unhurt but devastated. Having at last encountered a filly with no intervening fence to get in his way he found his attentions were not wanted. Rejection hit him hard. Head down, tail drooping he turned and plodded back across the green - small, pathetic and almost lost in the crowd of erstwhile pursuers.
Ben, we decided, would have to be gelded in the interests of public safety and our peace of mind. Arrangements were duly made.
Ben was not the only Shetland stallion in the village - just the best known. So when a vet turned up one morning enquiring for the whereabouts of the Shetland stallion he had come to geld, no-one thought for a moment about the other little pony who was quite happy to live life quietly keeping down the grass in his owner’s garden. By the time I got back from work that afternoon I discovered that the deed had been done.
I was surprised because the vet had promised to come later on when I was there. Half way through supper there was a knock on the door and the vet walked in, apologising for being later than he promised.
That’s right! Wrong vet, wrong pony! Just as well they’d both needed gelding.
The only difference that gelding made to Ben was that he was no longer interested in mares. He remained convinced that he was as big as a Thoroughbred and brave as a lion. His new interest was terrorising the friends of my sister’s partner when they were working on their stock cars. But that’s another story.
© Copyright Percydale Press 2006