At last, a new saddle is on order — The Husband can’t quite believe what it says on the bank statement, but Penny seems so excited, so he remains silent. She hasn’t had a new dress in years and he is never allowed to buy her any jewellery, but Ronnie is tricked out to the nines. It is beyond him!
Now, Penny decides, is the right time to get Ronnie’s back checked again. The Friend is consulted and many phone calls ensue. Finally, Penny decides on which professional back person will suit Ronnie best. Ronnie is not consulted, which he views as unfair.
Penny is quite nervous when the day of the visit arrives, she wonders what will be found, and if this is caused by something she has omitted to do in his daily routine. Ronnie is a little miffed, but decides to rise above it.
The Back Man arrives in a very sporty car. He marches up the yard and looks at Ronnie. Ronnie pretends to take no notice. Back Man feels him all over. Ronnie continues to look nonchalant, but Penny can see in his eyes that he is not amused by this unasked for intimacy.
Penny is instructed to run Ronnie up and down the lane. Ronnie drags his feet going away from home and canters sideways on the way back. Repeat. Repeat. Penny is too puffed to do it again.
Next, the dreaded lunge line is affixed to the bridle. Penny hates lungeing in front of people. She can do it perfectly well on her own, but becomes hopelessly uncoordinated in front of an audience. She immediately drops a loop of the line and treads in it. Ronnie completes one circle doing his finest imitation of a donkey. When asked to put in some effort, he rushes off and then dwindles back to mule. Penny is now red in the face, whether from effort or embarrassment, she cannot decide.
The Back Man pronounces his verdict and Ronnie is taken into the stable for some treatment.
Ronnie is now very far from amused — he is manhandled, pulled, pushed and stretched. He dances about to avoid the strong hands that are treating him. He savages the lead rope, and would savage Penny too if he didn’t like her so much, but the odd nip doesn’t do her any harm — after all, he wasn’t consulted about this. Gradually he subsides into non-violent protest and is just plain awkward.
Penny is shown various leg stretches to do with Ronnie — she looks on doubtfully. Ronnie is then required to demonstrate ‘carrot stretches’. He knows all about these — they are already a favourite part of his day. Now, however, he plays dumb in order to repeat them and get more carrots. He becomes rather smug.
Penny is told to give Ronnie a day off. Ronnie ramps up his facial expression to ‘very smug’.
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Ronnie explains a fear he has developed
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Penny is told to do in-hand exercises over poles to help improve Ronnie’s core. Ronnie is hopeful that this will involve the inside of an apple. She is also instructed to avoid jumping for 10 days. Ronnie’s smug expression is wiped off his face.
Two days later, Penny’s back has gone from doing Ronnie’s leg stretches, and her shoulder aches from dragging a recalcitrant Ronnie round the pole exercises, which he resents utterly. Now who should she consult to put it right? Or will pain killers just do the trick?
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