Horses For Courses

It was almost dark by the time they finally reached the buildings. Chips had been trailing behind his little legs tired, not used to walking so far. He had stopped a few times and tucked his head under his wing. Out of sight, and out of mind he had thought, safe when he couldn’t see what could be out there in the dusky time of day.

Max had come and nudged him with his nose, knocking him awake as Chips had just shouted ‘Why?’ over and over flapping his wings and attempting to fly in protest several times.

It appeared to be a farm building of some kind, although all was quiet, no one was home.

The wooden frame building stood, what was left of it, torn and broken after the storm. Rubble and debris thrown all around, blown by the strong wind that whipped and twirled everything in its path, up and off the ground. It had taken quite a beating, and as they trotted around the outside of the house, and in through the gate, they found more devastation at the back.

Ralph and Daisy out in front, leading the way. Sniffing the air for food or any signs of life. Max and Sprock tailing not far behind with chips.

Chips stopping and pecking the damp ground every few minutes once in the farm yard. Looking for anything that may resembles a grain. His stomach shrinking with it hunger.

 

At the back of the farm house, they were met with more mayhem. A tractor over turned and lodged into the wall of the house, on its side, looking far older than its years. Bits of machinery and broken metal, lay strewn around, upside down or stuck at funny angles into the ground.

Daisy cautiously staying behind Ralph, with his nose to the ground, treading carefully, picking out a safe route through.

A old stone building with its roof ripped off and blown away, its tall doors still in tacked, sheltered by the three ancient oaks. Branches torn but still standing guard.

A heavy branch had broken off and was now wedged into the wall, stone loosened, revealing a hole just big enough to fit sheep through or a dog.

Ralph sniffed at the opening, as Daisy stood behind, waiting for the other three to catch up.

‘I can smell life’. Barked Sprock, getting second wind and running to where Ralph was, pushing his nose in through the hole. Pushing Ralph out of the way.

‘Yep, life here’ He smiled smugly, looking back at Ralph and Daisy as they stood. Max and chips sat, watching and listening.

Chips muttering to himself, ‘Why?’ so the others couldn’t hear him, as they would only tell him to be quiet.

‘Well’ said Max, taking charge, just to remind the others who was still top dog, even if he hadn’t really been showing it today.

‘what are you waiting for?’ he ordered Ralph, not feeling quite brave enough to venture in first himself. His true colours showing.

Ralph looked at Daisy, and then around from Sprock to Max, looking for reassurance, and then finally crawling through the hole on all fours.

 

The others waited, as Ralph disappeared from view. All was quiet, nothing was heard in the darkness.

‘Well?’ Max asked. Now sitting up and anxious to hear what Ralph may say.

Upon not hearing anything Max sprang into action.

‘I will go next, you Sprock stand guard here, Daisy you follow me, then chips,’ he said.

Adding ‘ keep quiet until I say so’. looking hard at Chips who looked away, not sure if his beak would run away with him.

Max ducked down and outta site through the hole. Closely followed by the troops, Sprock the last to make it through.

 

 

Sprock got through to find Max, Daisy, Ralph and Chips, quietly sitting in the dark, looking into the blackness. As now the night sky had fallen to a dark shade of grey, no moon to lighten even the tiniest stars.

Something was out there, near the back wall of the barn, and there was more than one.

Imposing thought Sprock as he joined the others. Not sure exactly what it was they were facing. The small from the barn vaguely familiar but still he couldn’t quite remember where from.

Ralph could make out a shape as it moved nearer to them, his eyes adjusting to the darkness. He shifted his weight back, standing up the others following suit.

‘Who goes there?’ A deep throaty well spoken voice asked. Showing himself to be a tall proud mare. With a air of importance about him.

Max immediately noticing the grandeur of the Stallion, who was closely followed by a young strapping Mare, barely able to keep the bounce out of his walk.

‘Hello, I am Max, and this is my troop’. he barked, trying to be as imposing as possible with his small build.

‘Hello’ he said coming into full view, towering above the small group of five stood below him.

‘Sergeant Major, Merlin, B company, at your service’ and he stood to attention, his head held high.

‘And this er… young flighty fellow here is Bruce’ he said dipping his head down to the back for Bruce to come forward.

‘Bruce Almighty if you….’. The young Colt instantly seeming friendly but with not the same graces as Merlin. He nodded a cheery ‘ G’day’.

 

‘We er…. Just need a bed for the night, a place to rest our heads, at least until sun up.’ Max said looking from one mare to the other.

‘Hey the more the merrier, its…..’ Bruce trailed off as Merlin’s glare silenced him. He’d make a solider out of him yet, he thought.

‘Would that be all?’ Merlin asked. Thinking to himself, assessing the situation before him.

‘Yes I think so’ Max said.

‘Well at your service’ said the ruffty tuffty horse. ‘Follow me’

And he turned around and led them to the dark corner of the barn.

‘Its not much, but I’m sure you will find yourself most comfortable here’.

‘May be more than your used to’ he added. Bruce bowing his head embarrassed by Merlin’s demeanour.

Max didn’t say anything. As they walked over on to the hay, looking for a patch that was at least a bit drier now. Chips pecking away at the straw. Sprock making himself comfortable almost straight away.

 

Merlin eyeing the chicken with disbelief at the mismatched group.

‘Yes very well’. ‘I shall be retiring over on the other side, slightly better comforts for a horse of such ranking as myself’ he huffed to himself, quite proud of the fact.

‘But I’m sure Bruce will be happy to er… stand guard or er… keep you company over here’. Bruce will debrief you’, and he started to retreat back into the shadows.

‘Well, hey no problem’ Bruce Almighty chimed. His accent appearing rather strange to them.

‘Yes, well the Australians are renowned for their over friendly nature, and brassiness’. Merlin neighed.

Bruce did a double take and shook his fine mane.

‘Well they do come from our off casts, the Australians’ Merlin added.

‘Oh and don’t be fooled by that race horse malarkey either, a failed one at that too’, and he stood down.

‘Bah, hey don’t be put off by his moody old shoes’ Bruce said moving in closed to the five, who were making themselves quite at home in the hay.

‘Laid off from work he was’, ‘Retired on ill health, thinks he is lord of the manor here, throwing his weight around, giving out orders’. And he dipped his head down, sniffing at Chips, who quickly stuck his head under his wings, his little legs already hidden underneath him.

Daisy was stretched out besides Ralph, who asked the Colt to ‘tell us some more’. Sprock all ready trying hard to fight the sleep that was slowly winning over him.

Max sat attentively by his side.

 

‘Well, you see ere mate’ he sang in his

ausie accent.

‘I came third in the Melbourne Cup three years in a row, head to head in second place over on the Irish, but lost me place and ranking out to some Saudi Harif, who had all the charm that money could buy. A right one with the ladies he was too, bit of a Dingo’. He said thinking back.

‘So how come you ended up here then?’ Daisy asked interested, resting her head on Ralph’s back, who was growing all the more closer to the Retriever by the minute.

‘Well, ya see, I got bought out by some Yankee wonder who thought he could push me a bit further, put a bit more fight into my sprit, but he pushed me too far. Then I Injured my hind leg, was out of action for quite a while’ He was looking kinda sad as he spoke.

‘Gona make Dingo food outta me, they were’s’. seeing the look on Daisy’s face. none of them really sure what a ‘Dingo’ was, and none daring to ask.

‘Really?’. Ralph and her both chimed together, and then looking at each other softly with affection. Ralph welcoming the close company, as he gazed up to the night sky above, still not sure if he could rest out in the open, beneath the twinkling, in case it fell down on him again.

‘Yea, fair dinkum, this

ausie is too good for that. The Stud farm’s daughter thought I would make a great present for the young Shelia that lives here, where ever they may be?’ And he dipped his head in to the sack hung at the side of the barn wall.

‘Lucky for us then’ Max joked, as the other two who were the only ones awake now laughed.

‘But what’s with the English gentry over there then?’. Daisy asked. Merlin the Sergeant major, now snoring his head off in the dark.

‘Well ya see Shelia’, he said smugly, enjoying his chance to get one up on the old bossy know it all. Who was well past his sell by date.

‘Daisy, its Daisy’ She corrected him. ‘ and this here is Ralph and Sprock is the shaggy one sleeping, and that there sleeping is Chips the chicken’ She said pointing her nose over in Chips direction.

‘Bonza mate. Well Old Merlin over there, he thinks I don’t know. Thinks all ausie’s are two hairs short of Possum. But I hear him’.

He said coming in closer almost whispering.

‘Nightmares he has, shakes about and nearly jumps out of his skin in his sleep he does. Got a huge scar across his chest. Think he has seen some action, survived the war, but not sure which war that would be?’ and he laughed.

‘and left him kinda dead in the ears’. he added chuckling to himself.

“Deaf as the finishing post he is’ and he chuckled some more.

‘Was posted over here some time ago, but never left. Not sure how he came to be here on the farm?’ and he ate some more hay, chewing on the dried up grasses.

Merlin snoring loudly.

‘But they seem to like the has bein’s here, had all sorts here, or so Merlin told me. Himself not included in that there though Shelia’.

‘Or he would have me guts for a harness’ and he laughed. The cheeky mare was enjoying telling the tale.

‘and he frightens the life outta me, he does. shouting orders all night.’ he said in-between chews.

‘Just make sure you use the Dunnie outside, and not in ere, or else he will have ya by the scruff’.

Dunnie? What’s a Dunnie? thought Ralph, not really liking the sound of that. This Mare certainly had a strange use of words.

‘Ah you Dingos don’t know what a Dunnie is do ya?’ and he neighed to himself.

‘Thunderbolt?’ he asked.

Daisy and Ralph shook their heads, Max just quietly nodding off himself now.

‘Dingo’s, thunderbolts, Dunnies?’ Ralph asked, looking at Daisy.

‘Well, think I need to hit the sack now’, Bruce said turning away, still chuckling to himself.

‘G’day to ya’ and he headed into the dark side of the barn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The End

27 comments about this story Feed