Jackie cleaning Paula's hoof and the "big sofa" Paddy


As a child, like most girls, Lesley was mad on horses. She would walk several miles to muck-out stables in the hope of having a ride.

Her ambition was to have her own horse, but not being rich we thought that it was out of the question.

Lesley was retired from her job, at the age of twenty-five, on the grounds of ill health. At that time, we thought that there was a good chance of her having a long remission. This was not to be.

A friend, (some hopes!!), ( a nurse, Muriel Armstrong from Salsborough, Lanarkshire), said that she had a horse to sell. I hope the "friend" rots in hell. She was one of Lesley's work mates and knew that Lesley was seriously ill.

Lesley was sensible. She arranged for a vet to see the horse. But, the friend craftily had the horse where the vet could not see it at the time he was there. It had been put in a field some way away. Trusting the friend, Lesley gave her the 600 and organised for the vet to see the horse later.

The horse was collected and taken to a field near our home and the vet phoned to check over the horse.

On examination the vet found that the horse had a, (bone spavin?), could not be ridden and should be put down.

That was a crushing blow to Lesley. I hope the "friend" has sight of this page and realises what she did. Lesley was distraught.

I spent several hours ringing round knackers' yards to have the horse put down. By some providence I spoke to someone, I know not whom, who told me that the condition need not be too bad and to have another opinion.

We did that and the news was better. Paula could be ridden gently and could have a long life ahead.

About one year later, Lesley saw an advertisement for a horse for sale. Now! We had little money. Not one of us was working. My hypnotherapy practice had closed, Lesley was "retired" and Jackie was disabled. How could three people on the dole manage to keep two horses? We did! None of us smoked. We didn't go out pubbing or clubbing. I made home brew beer and wine and we found our entertainment with the horses and at home.

Jackie took over Paula while Lesley had Paddy. (One of his past registered names was The Hypnotist!)

Both Lesley and Jackie attended the local school to learn how to manage the horses. They met an RSPCA inspector and became friendly with him. He saw the horses and gave a lot of encouragement to Lesley and Jackie. He must have had sleepless nights!

The pictures above show Paula and Paddy in our back garden. The neighbours were amazed.

Lesley and Jackie would clean all the tackle and make the horses ready for a ride. On one occasion, Paula was very restless, spitting and chewing on her bit. Jackie could not understand why. I spoke to her as to what she had done. It transpired that Jackie had cleaned the bit with metal polish! Learning takes time.

When Lesley bought Paddy, she was told that he had been hit in the rump by a car. The rider had been catapulted through the windscreen. It was explained that the horse had settled down. Lesley rode him and we decided to take the chance. We were glad that we did.

The one problem that Paddy had was that he shied at small pieces of paper. Lesley was a good horsewoman and it didn't bother her too much.

Having an understanding of human psychology, I extended it to Paddy. Each time he was being groomed and eating from the hay net, I tied small pieces of paper on the net. I gradually made the pieces of paper bigger and bigger until I was using plastic shopping bags. He did not care! He was cured!

We had two small fields and rotated the horses between them. As there was no hut in the other field, I tied the plastic bags to a fence while I groomed Paddy. He must have dropped off to sleep, suddenly woken up and seen these two plastic bags flapping about. That was it! He was shocked, tried to get away, but I was holding his hoof. He must have realised what was happening because he did his best not to fall on me. He would have killed me. What did happen was that he put his foot down, and as he did it scraped down my leg. Did I feel sick!? Still at least I was alive.

I'm a townie. Not used to large animals or the country life. Yet I used to ride Paddy bare back with just a rope halter. He was just a great big sofa.

Lesley had a friend, Angela, who had children. Lesley let Angela and the children ride the horses.

Lesley died in July. She had arranged for Angela to have the horse for two weeks in August. Before she died she made me promise to let Angela have the horses for the holiday. When Lesley died, both Jackie and I decided to let Angela have both of the horses.

Oh! I forgot. Paula had got herself pregnant by a little pony in the next field. Either she knelt for him, or he stood on a bucket!

I was told later that Chloe was mad that I had given the horses away. She wanted a share of the money that they were worth. That's Chloe, true to form.