.......when I went to fetch Notsofatso from his paddock and he stood stock still while I put on his headcollar and walked politely up to the yard. I should have known when I tied him up and he stood stock still and politely ate from his haynet, lazily chewing every last bit. I should have known when he stood stock still and offered each foot up in order to be picked out.
I should have known that I had indeed entered The Twilight Zone.
Normally I go to fetch him and he wants to play tag. This is cool if you aren't in an hurry. Normally putting on his headcollar entails him trying to eat it, then offering to hold the leadrope for you. Normally bringing him in means you either have to drag the little sod, or march very very quickly up to the yard. And normally, eating at the haynet is done with tremendous force and violence, as if he's never going to eat again.
Today we're behaving.
I am very suspicious at this point, and wonder if I need to say a few Hail Mary's before carrying on!
Not to worry, I'll just tack up, as per usual, and wait for Louise to arrive.
So, I do just that. I get a text to say Louise is on her way, so I take Notsofatso to the mounting block, and he stands stock still while I do stirrups, check girth and get on.
Now I'm confused.
Over the previous weekend I'd had a migraine, and it was still hanging around in the background, so I'd taken some codeine. I put these strange events, and my sense of foreboding down to that, and decide not to worry, it just means that our ride will be fun, and incident free.
Yes, I really am that stupid.
We spot Louise at the end of the driveway, and pootle up to meet her. Lukey stops dead in his tracks and refuses to move. I nudge gently, nothing. I kick. Nothing. Smacked bottom, ok, we'll move. We've hacked out with Louise several times over the last few weeks so no need for Notsofatso to be so silly.
Louise goes infront, and we do the small amount of roadwork we need to do before picking up the bridleway. Louise and I chat, ponies mooch along, not a care in the world. We cross scary bridge, no problems. We pass milk carton tied spookily to tree, no problems.
We come to the field where we usually go and Mr Farmer has ploughed it. Shit. Ah no, it's ok, Nice Mr Farmer has left a little skirt around the edge so we can still go this way. Brilliant. Bring it on!
We turn left along the bottom of the field and Lukey spots the horses over yonder. They're normally turned out in the bottom paddock, but today they're in the top field. Excellent. Nothing for Lukey to get worried about today.
Lukey turns himself inside out, upside down, every which way but the way we're meant to be going just so he can get an eyeful of these damn horses. We slip off the skirt of the field and fall flat on our faces. Pick your feet up you pillock is the order he's given. In one long, furry ear, and out the other. We slip off the skirt again, then slip trying to get back up it. Oi, fuckwit, pick your damn feet up!!!
Phew, we're out of sight of the horses, and about to cross the road.
Wait for the traffic to clear,and off we trot. Clip clop, clip clop. Excellent. Road successfully crossed.
Oh My God, there's a fecking great tractor(Lukey HATES tractors).....Oh that's just marvellous, there's another one. All ride, halt! We take the ponies to the side and turn them to face the tractors, me expecting Lukey to turn into fire breathing idiot at any second. I want my mummy.
This is weird, waaayyyy too weird.
We can see another tractor coming towards us, so as tractor number one goes past we decide to follow it, and trot along behind it. Look Lukey, we're chasing nasty tractor away.
Woohoo, the tractors wander off into the field, and we carry on trotting. Lukey isn't pulling, he's being very good, I'm actually quite liking this. Louise is onfront on Earl. Big brave Earl. Fearless. Strong.
Next thing I know I'm practically sat on Earls backside, Lukey's head is jammed up inside it(well, not quite, but you get the idea). Big, brave Earl has spotted..........some black plastic. And it's going to get him. Louise swears a little, Earl ignores her. She smacks his bottom, and he ignores her. Then he decides to just carry on. Problem, what problem?
I die laughing, Lukey gets over the horror of almost losing his head, and Earl carries on regardless.
Entering the forest, we both think that that's it, we've tackled the tractors, and Earls little hiccup, so we're fine, and can enjoy the rest of the ride.
Oh dear. Delusional much.
For the most part, the next hour or so is indeed incident/heart attack free. Until we reach Lukey's nemesis, The Donkey.
Immediately prior to this, Lukey had been a very big , brave boy, and crossed the road as lead pony, no mean feat on a major A road with cars whizzing past. I am so pleased with him, tell him he's so so good. What a plonker.
As we near The Donkey, Lukey starts to slow up. I give a little reminder and he carries on, albeit reluctantly. Louise takes the situation by the scruff of the neck and puts Earl into trot, Lukey, as was the idea, follows. I spot The Donkey first, but keep my leg on, look ahead, determined not to let it bother us.
One minute I'm trotting smartly forwards, next moment I'm going backwards at an incredible speed. Lukey had spotted the offending animal, and it was lying down. This is all too much for Notsofatso and he craps himself. Then the damn donkey rolls, and now Lukey is convinced that this animal, this thing, is inherrently evil. He snorts, his eyes out on stalks. I'm peeing myself laughing, and almost fall off. Louise is peeing herself and has tears rolling down her face. Earl is not amused.
Then Lukey spots Funny Man Carrying Manky Dog, and in that split second I take the opportunity to kick him forwards(Lukey, not the man), and Lukey responds by shooting off. Louise is still laughing.
We piaffe past the man, and I pray that Lukey doesn't knock him over, trying to explain about Lukey's aversion to Evil Donkey. Old Man looks confused, Earl is still not amused, and I need a change of underwear.
Once past Evil Donkey, Lukey calms back down as if nothing had happened. What donkey?
I now need a strong drink, and am glad that we are very near to home. Nothing else can go wrong.
Lukey tackles scary bridge as the lead pony*good boy*, and all is well with the world until we hear the train. Now I'm convinced that this is the end, I am going to die. Surely huge noisy train = massive strop and spook from Notsofatso.
He just watches it go past without a care in the world. I breathe a sigh of relief.
We get to the road, and once again Lukey takes the lead. Good boy, whose SO brave eh? *pat the pony*.
Then he jumps.
A bloody daffodil!
One is now fed up, and Notsofatso gets a verbal earbashing.
I'm just about to say hello to Nice Man Gardening when Lukey stops dead in his tracks and tries to spin.
What the holy f*ck is wrong now?!?!?!?! There's a bloody car trying to get past us(cheers mate for waiting, cretin) and I'm almost sat on his bonnet.
Lukey has decided that Nice Man Gardening, who wasn't there the first time we walked past that very same garden, is going to kill him, and I ask the man, through gritted teeth, to say hello to Lukey so that Lukey realises that it's just a human bean and it's OK, he won't hurt him. Nice Man Gardening's son is obviously confused by my request, and waves.
Oh dear god, I'm going to wring his neck. Speak, not wave, you fool! It's not that difficult, alright? Just say the word, 'Hello'.
Nice Man Gardening then says that very word, and Lukey concedes to walk on. Dear god I'm going to cry.
I'm now in the throes of a nervous breakdown, Louise is once again peeing herself laughing, and Earl is convinced Lukey is an idiot.
Earl, my friend, I'm right there with you!