My ponies may be psychic. I think they are communicating with each other telepathically. And before you call me delusional, let me tell you I have witnesses.
It has happened three times now. The first time, I had taken Darcy on her first hack alone without Grace. Normally, a friend and I ride the pair of them out together. But on this occasion I had decided to get Darcy used to doing things for herself.
I should explain that the two are very closely bonded. Despite being much smaller in stature, Gracie is a mother figure to Darcy because they were turned out in a field together when Darcy was growing up. Grace, the worldly-wise ten-year-old, took the thoroughbred yearling under her wing and taught her everything she knew: chiefly, how to avoid being caught on sunny days when the grass was nice and sweet by running round and round in circles, and how to queue up at the gate to be brought in when it was raining — ‘That’s it, look miserable. See, here she comes!’
Now Darcy is three, and nearly 17 hands, but little 14.3 hands Gracie still shows her sister what to do. With Grace left behind, therefore, Darcy was very nervous on her first hack out alone and kept startling at every rustling leaf or dog in the undergrowth. When we returned to the yard, Grace was anxiously pacing in her box. As I walked Darcy past her, she reached out and sniffed her then made a furious screaming sound. I could have sworn she said, ‘Don’t you ever go to the woods without me again! I was worried sick!’
Of course, sceptics will say Gracie had no idea where we went. She was simply fretting about Darcy being gone. But the next time Grace went berserk it was harder to explain. Because it was during the hack when Darcy cut her leg on a concrete mounting block by the A3 bridge, a good few miles from the stable yard. When we got back on that occasion, Gracie was pacing and neighing at the top of her voice like a car alarm.
‘She started about an hour after you left,’ said one of the grooms. ‘It’s been driving us mad.’
About an hour after we left was when Darcy banged her leg against the block. And the thing is, the resulting cut was so small I missed it at first. I didn’t notice it when I got back to the yard either. But someone knew about it. As I untacked Darcy, Grace stuck her head over her stable door and, with her neck at full stretch, sniffed and sniffed the air around her. Unlike the previous time, when she settled back down after we returned, she wouldn’t stop pacing and fussing and sniffing as if she was hyperventilating until about ten minutes later, as I washed Darcy’s legs, I found the cut.
Sceptics will say it was purely a coincidence that after we had tended to the cut Grace went back to eating her hay. Sceptics will also describe as pure coincidence what Grace did last Sunday when Darcy and I almost met with disaster on a country lane.
We had ridden out without Grace again and about a mile from the yard a peloton of about 15 cyclists came over the hill and sped towards us. Darcy had never seen a peloton before and she all but lost her mind. She started spinning in circles. I yelled at the cyclists to slow down but they ignored me and kept coming. Darcy ran in a blind panic all over the road until I thought we were done for.
Fearing I was about to be thrown under one of the cars queueing behind, I yelled again at the cyclists to stop, in fairly colourful language. None of them did. But that’s another story. I clung on for dear life as the Lycra louts sped by, without so much as a glance in my direction as I pleaded for help.
When we finally made it back to the yard, Grace was pacing and screaming. I asked the grooms when she had started. Shortly after they came back from lunch, they said, which would have been just after 2 p.m., so about 2.15 p.m. She had been fine until then. I can clearly remember, because I looked at my watch as we set off, that we left the yard at 1.45 p.m. and hit the cyclists about a half hour later.
So, did Grace hear me yelling at the cyclists, over a mile away? Or did she pick up the scent of Darcy panicking? Did she smell the fear, like she smelt the injury? Or is it possible my horses are telepathically linked? To themselves? To me? I’m opening the Pony X-Files. The truth is out there.
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