Saturday, 20 August 2011

The Protective Owner

Widowed for ten years, Rita Palgrave always said the main reason she came to Vaysey Pastures was "the company". Competition did not feature highly on her list of priorities.

For vivacious redhead, Rita, much of her time at the yard was spent over coffee with the girls in the common room or chatting animatedly somewhere around the stables.

In addition to her treasured Siamese, Barry, the light of Rita’s life was her irritable palomino pony, Norris.

Rita and Norris had enjoyed many years at the centre if things at Bide-a-Wee Stables, another livery yard on the edge of the Vale of Vaysey.

Although outwardly attractive and undeniably cosseted by his adoring owner, Norris was inclined to take a dim view of most other horses and all people.

On relocating from Bide-a-Wee to be closer to home, Rita felt that her mission in life was to make a comfortable new environment for her pony at Vaysey Pastures. On welcoming Rita to the yard, proprietor Bunty Pargeter reassured her “All our horses are treated equally well” but Rita needed further reassurance that her Norris would be recognised as “ extra special.

Rita was coping reasonably with widowhood. Her husband Wilf had suffered an ill-timed heart attack on his second visit to the salad bar at the Harvester one Saturday evening, before even finishing his ten ounce rump.

Childless, Rita now shared a cosy cottage in the pretty
village of Crispy Cantering, in the lea of Vince Hill, with her unmarried sister Mavis.

She made ends meet with Wilf’s executive pension from the Vale of Vaysey Water Company and irregular contributions from Mavis - although Mavis found her earnings from catalogue-modelling had tailed off in recent years in proportion to her increased consumption of
Malibu and Kit Kats.

Whatever life’s difficulties, Rita swore she would never part with Norris. It was essential that Norris had the best of everything, including any new rug or tack on the market.

Every ailment, however slight or transient, demanded a visit from the vet and detailed and almost universal discussion. The world was presumed to be holding its breath until Rita hung a reassuring metaphorical bulletin on the railings outside Norris’s stable.

Ignoring compelling evidence to the contrary, Rita argued that it had not been proven that her Norris had kicked Tiffany Lampwick’s mare, Donnerkebab, or stamped on Patsy Pottle’s little
Chihuahua, Rupert.

To the surprise of many, she later came close to admitting regret at only being concerned as to whether Norris might have jarred himself in such exertions but, careful as ever, still insisted on two week’s complete box rest as a precaution.

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