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Third Insight

Nature is our Greatest Teacher – The Girl, the Groom and the Pony

"The spring of joy in his stride, he whinnied with delight and recognition as he returned to his master"

When she went out into the garden, the ants would scurry away to hide deep in the ground when they heard her footsteps. The birds would flee any tree she walked near, cats would turn their backs and flick their tails at her in disdain if she passed by them, and the guard dogs would slink away and cower if they could smell her approaching. It seemed that all of nature felt uncomfortable in her presence.

Duchess, for that was this girl’s name, had one great passion: riding.

She loved to ride and she had ambitions to be the best rider in the country. She had seen her uncle and his friends ride. They always looked magnificent mounted on their steeds, so commanding that she wanted to be like them. One day she bought herself a pretty white pony, which she had seen performing beautifully on a neighbouring estate. She also arranged for the pony’s groom to come, so that the pony would settle in and be properly looked after in his new home.

When the pony arrived, she couldn’t wait to mount him and ride him. The groom, a gentle lad with kind dark eyes and a friendly smile, led the pony out to her. There was a happy spring in the pony’s stride, he arched his neck and sent his poise flowing beautifully from the tip of his muzzle to the final flick of his tail. He enjoyed being on show, knowing he was admired by his new owner. As the boy and the pony waited for their instructions; the pony nuzzled the boy affectionately with his head, and the boy acknowledged his friend by fondly patting the pony’s neck.

Duchess approached and the pony stood rock still, rigid, a glint of unease in his eyes. Duchess reached to stroke the pony’s head, the pony tossed it up out of reach; she moved in alongside him to mount, and he backed away. The lad intervened talking sternly to the pony. The pony obeyed and allowed Duchess to mount him. The pony’s whole body stiffened, his ears went flat back, he wrenched his head up and he side-stepped with discomfort.

Duchess cracked her whip and kicked her heels hard into the pony and they skedaddled off clumsily together. Gone was the happy spring in the trot and the flow to the tip of the tail. Duchess drove him towards a hedge. Pony swerved and lurched off in another direction. Duchess pulled him round, and pitched in again and launched him at the hedge a second time. Pony refused. A battle of wills was now declared between them, his against hers.

She kicked him and whipped him and shouted at him. He flared his nostrils, flattened his ears, lowered his neck and stuck his hooves deep in the ground. She screamed aloud at him, whipped in fury, and he reeled around and galloped away in outrage. He made for the trees, hoping a low bough would knock her off his back, but she ducked and clung to him, digging her nails deep into his neck. He veered off in desperation in the direction of a brook. Descending on it as fast as he could, he stopped dead, neatly depositing her on her head, in the deepest part of the running water.

Triumphant in his new found freedom, he tossed his head, kicked his hooves in her direction and cantered away. The spring of joy in his stride, he whinnied with delight and recognition as he returned to his master.

“Alright, I see,” the boy responded, patting the pony reassuringly on his neck. “That’s how it is, is it? Well I’d better go and sort her out.” He had gathered the whole story, and walked off in the direction of the brook, leaving the pony alone to graze and recover his equilibrium. He found the girl wet, bedraggled, and bursting with rage, stomping away from the brook. As soon as she saw him, she vented all her fury and frustration on him.

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