Ronnie is puzzled. He hasn’t seen Penny for a few days. The Husband has been fetching and carrying for him, but not with his normal good humour. It all makes Ronnie a bit anxious. In fact, he has felt a bit glum since The Bad Mistake he made last week. It wasn’t really his fault, well not entirely. Penny and he had been for a nice hack, not very long she had said — just to warm up. When they got back to the stables, Penny was very excited to see a red car in the drive. Ronnie couldn’t see the point of this.
Penny pulls him up and dithers. Should she jump as planned in the school, or just turn Ronnie out and go in to see her son? There is no sign of anyone, and there are no dogs, they must be out walking, so she will jump. Penny hasn’t seen her son for over a month, if she turns Ronnie out she can scuttle indoors and put the kettle on. It will take a maximum of 5 minutes to jump the exercise she took ages preparing yesterday, and they are already warmed up. She will jump. Or should she…
Penny whizzes Ronnie into the arena, gathers her canter, sets him up. Ronnie has been very aware of her indecision, now he has a similar moment himself, and that’s where it all goes horribly wrong. Penny doesn’t usually lie on the ground for long. Ronnie puts his nose on her. She sits up very slowly and gets up inch by inch. Penny puts Ronnie into his stable and leaves him. Ronnie doesn’t like the feel of this — he has all his tack on. Penny is going away albeit very slowly. The Husband comes running out and removes his tack. Ronnie is perturbed to be hurried out into the field, not a rug in sight. That was the last time he saw Penny.
Now Ronnie is very cheered to see Penny walk onto the yard. He calls to her with a welcoming wicker, but she doesn’t come to rub his ears and neck as usual. Ronnie calls again, but Penny only hovers near the tackroom. The Husband arrives and, greatly to Ronnie’s delight, The Daughter appears too.
Ronnie is very fond of The Daughter and he feels a sense of relief when she comes up to him and scrumples his nose. “You’re coming to stay with me, you naughty rascal,” she says. Ronnie takes this as a term of endearment.
Penny supervises the packing of all Ronnie’s things from a distance, sitting on the mounting block.
Ronnie begins to feel excited. He thought holidays were banned this year. He is a little disconcerted to be led towards a trailer, but a holiday is a holiday — he agrees to walk quietly up the ramp. At the moment of leaving, Ronnie has a moment of unease and he calls goodbye to Penny and Little Friend Splash — something is definitely not quite right.
Ronnie arrives at his holiday accommodation. The Daughter is happy and cheers Ronnie up immediately. She whisks him into a stable while she unpacks his bags, and then she saddles him up.
Ronnie is shocked, Penny wouldn’t have moved so fast. He thinks a little poorly of such hurried behaviour, where was his tea anyway? He considers sulking. No he won’t, he can’t see a road anywhere. All he can see is grass tracks and a far horizon, he is hopeful of a good canter.
Ronnie is most surprised to find that he is expected to sleep out under the stars. He is also surprised to find that his neighbour visits his field in the night. He doesn’t sleep a wink, but he does eat! The Daughter arrives at 5.30am. Ronnie is flabergasted. Penny doesn’t roll out of bed until 7. This, he thinks, is excellent, breakfast at 5.30am. No breakfast! He is ridden! He is outraged! Then he has breakfast and is left in the field to contemplate.
Ronnie enjoys two weeks of early morning rides on some days and late evening rides on others. He gets used to sleeping under the stars, and the horse that insists on sharing his field has become a buddy. He feels this is a pretty good holiday. It changes with the word ‘trainer’. Surely The Daughter doesn’t use one of these people too? This trainer is a woman. The Trainer and The Daughter seem to be on very friendly terms. They have great fun jumping and all seems well.
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Ronnie is not on friendly terms with this Trainer because she is very rude to him. Ronnie likes to rub his head after work when his bridle comes off — the anatomical bridle hasn’t made any difference to this afterall. It is not his fault if The Trainer gets between him and the haynet he intends to rub on. Quick as that she tells him off roundly. Well he’s not having THAT. He answers back. The Trainer really tells him off this time. Ronnie wants to say a rude word but instead he takes the moral high ground. He stands as tall as possible and looks down at her with big, open, surprised eyes, with just a touch of ‘hurt’ in them. He sniffs and turns away, fairly sure that he has won the moral high ground.
“He must not do that,” The Trainer says. “Your mother’s shoulder won’t mend if she lets him push her around.”
The Trainer thinks she has won that particular battle. The Daughter laughs at his injured air and leads him up onto the trailer. Ronnie intends to remain aloof, but he can’t resist her when she scrumples his nose and gives him a kiss. He travels back to his holiday home a little mollified.
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