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same team, and they didn’t have much time for Consort.
They still came and rode occasionally but most of their
time was taken up with going to the movies, preparing for
parties and shopping for clothes. Also, they had to be careful
not to break their fingernails on the saddlery, or to mess
up their elaborately styled hair. Katie was careless and lost
Consort’s bridle. They didn’t have much money left over
from their spending sprees so they could only afford to buy a
cheap replacement. Unfortunately the bit cut into Consort’s
soft mouth and dug into his tongue. He tried to run faster to
escape the pain, but the bit only dug deeper.
Finally, when Katie and Michelle had done enough riding,
his mouth was bleeding and raw. They took the bridle off,
threw a rug over him, and let him go, still covered with
sweat. His flanks heaved from all the unaccustomed work.
Consort felt very tired, but he was relieved to be free again
and trudged down to stand under the willows to dry out.
Dots tried to lick Consort’s mouth to relieve the pain,
but he couldn’t do much to help. The flies swarmed around
the blood and Consort was too tired to chase them away.
Fortunately the rug kept some flies off his body, but the leg
straps were too tight and they had never been dressed to
soften the hard leather. Consort felt very sorry for himself
and the other two didn’t dare remind him that only a few
days earlier he had boasted this his was the best life of all!
Even naughty, vain, Masterpiece was silent.
However, Masterpiece was in for a big surprise that day.
His owners arrived too, which was not unexpected as they
usually came every day to check on him. But on this day
they were extra keen. They had met an ‘expert’ who had told
them lots of things to do to help prepare their horse for the
show ring. Masterpiece’s owners, the Cunninghams, had
decided that they better get busy if the pony was to be at his
best for the Royal.
First of all they added a vegetable oil to his feed. It was
supposed to make his coat even shinier, but to Masterpiece,
it tasted thick and greasy. He didn’t want to eat his feed, and
when he did it gave him a belly ache.
They also decided to pull lots of hair out from his mane.
Mrs Cunningham said something about his plaits being
too fat and untidy, so they thought Masterpiece should
have less mane. It hurt when they pulled the hair but when
Masterpiece tried to escape the pain by wriggling his neck
and moving sideways, they just clamped a twitch on his nose.
He had no choice but to stand still. He hated it even more
when they pulled his tail. He thought it was torture that they
should pull out so much hair in one day, and it left the top of
his tail covered with little spots of blood. The flies thought
this was great, and buzzed around him without mercy.
They clipped the hair out of his ears, robbing him of
the means of protecting his hearing mechanism from the
dust. Some of the hair fell inside his ear and even though
Masterpiece shook his head and tried to hold it to one side,
he couldn’t get the hair out. It itched and itched inside of him.
Worst of all, they shaved off his beautiful whiskers round
his muzzle. Masterpiece could not believe it. He used his
whiskers all the time to detect objects around his face and
beneath his mouth - things that he couldn’t see well. This
was terrible. How could he detect grass and food now?
Finally the Cunninghams were finished and allowed him
to go free. But not before they had bundled four rugs on
him. Their adviser had told them that if you keep a horse
very warm, then his winter coat will not grow as early.
Masterpiece knew this was false, but he couldn’t do anything
to tell the Cunninghams. The rugs were hot and heavy, and
very soon he was sweating. Most of all he hated the hood
they put on him. It restricted his neck movement and made
him feel like a prisoner or a clown... not at all like a horse.
He was embarrassed by his new outfit, and shuffled
bashfully down to the willows in search of some shade. He
was very quiet and no longer boasted that he had the best
life. Consort and Countess were also quiet. Countess was
dreading having to leave Captain Bernard, and Consort’s
legs and mouth ached so much. Dots did not say anything.
He was sure he knew who had the best life of all, and he
didn’t need to argue. Still the other two were yet to come
home. Surely the life of a racehorse or an eventer, could not
be bad? hTHM
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