An Unexpected Blog Post about An Unexpected Adventure

What did you guys do last night? I had quite an eventful evening and I wanted to share it with you.

I visited my Mum last night. This is nothing unusual. I generally go o hers for dinner once a week. Yesterday seemed unlike any other. She dyed my hair (it’s hard to do the back if you’re on your own!) and I baked some yummy puddings which you’ll all see on Sunday. And all was well.

My adventure starts at about 25 past 10. I left Mum’s and was driving home with the dog in the boot of the car and all was normal. It’s not a long drive between our two houses; there’s a bit of countryside and one village to get through. So I’m approaching this village just on the outskirts of the small town I live in, and I see this pony running along the road, clearly rather freaked out by the traffic (it’s a 30 limit, but many people disregard that) I slow down as I pass it, trying to see what’s going on. I can’t see anyone getting involved, so I turn around in someone’s driveway and crawl back along the road, pausing outside a pub to ask the smokers if they know anything. They are a lot less than helpful, so I go a bit further, then pull in to the side of the road and put my hazards on. I jump out into the spitting rain and start walking in the direction of the pony, who’s running now and having a tough time with the cars. He (or she) has got a fairly long way down the road, so I pick up speed.

As I walk I meet a guy with two dogs. He’s a local, and says he’s going to help, but he disappears into his house to de-dog and I never see him again. I keep walking down this surprisingly long road, and find the pony has been stopped by a car coming toward me. The car’s occupant is just sitting there, presumably not knowing what to do with this pony in front of her car. I’m close enough to make reassuring noises and get hold of the pony’s head collar and wave a thanks at the car for stopping, because it seems the polite, country-girl thing to do. We’re just near a small grassy area at the side of the road, so I can lead my new pony friend away from the cars and encourage it to be distracted by feasting on the hedgerow.

I call 101, the non-emergency police number, and am in the process of trying to explain to the Hampshire dispatch lady where I am and what’s happening when a jogger turns up. I want to call him Steve, but that might be a mis-memory. Steve lets me know he’s reported the pony to the local police station who are sending a car out from Basingstoke, so I tell the 101 lady I’ll call her back if no one shows up.

Pony is still a bit freaked out by traffic and by two strangers keeping it in one place, so I take my belt off my coat and hook that into its headcollar, giving it a bit of room to move its head, and it continues to nom on the vegetation. Every so often it tries to run somewhere, so I kinda hold on and make it walk in circles, which seems to calm it down a bit. I have to tell you at this point that I’m not exactly a horsey person. I went to a few riding lessons when I was a child, but I haven’t been on a horse in about 10 years. I do, however, know a bit about dogs, and so I sort of combined my dog knowledge with something I read in Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers about a horse with colic who needed walking round a yard – on that basis I kept the horse walking when it wasn’t looking too happy. It seemed to work!

By about 11:15 it’s gotten dark and the on/off rain is a right pain. Steve disappears home to get his phone/some gloves. So I call my Dad, mainly so someone local knows where I am! I’m about to ask him to come and help when a police car pulls up, so I tell him not to worry and that I’ll call him a bit later to let him know what’s happened. A lady police officer gets out of the car and asks if the horse is mine. I give an emphatic no. She comes over while her male colleague stays in the car. Police lady and I have a brief chat and then her colleague goes away in the car to see if he can find any nearby fields/people looking for horses. Steve returns, and we sort of hang around on a verge with a pony who’s alternating between happily munching and realising he’s tethered to a human and wanting to wander off.

After a bit more time has passed, a car pulls in to the house next to us; a gated plot of land, and Steve goes to ask the driver if we can bring the pony into their driveway and be safely away from the traffic. At this point the pony has had enough and rears a couple of times in frustration more than in wanting to hurt anyone, I let go of the belt-rein – not particularly wanting to get trampled on. Luckily the pony calms and Steve is able to get hold of it. We all walk into the driveway and hang fire there for ten, fifteen minutes. Man-police officer radios in to say he’s found fields the other side of Pamber, which may be a safe place to return pony to, so we figure out the logistics of getting pony a mile up the road. The house-owners give us a carrot and some sturdy rope, so I get my belt back and fasten this longer lead rein to its headcollar (to several questions of ‘do you know anything about horses?’ which I have to answer with a ‘not really’)

Eventually the police car is in place behind where we want to go. I take the pony’s headcollar (lady police wants to call it Fred, but I’m not sure the name fits) and gee it on out of the driveway. We start our long walk. I’m holding the headcollar in my right hand, and have the loose end of the rope in my left. Police lady is on the other side of the pony, and we attempt to keep on the left hand side of the road. She flashes her torch at oncoming traffic whilst the car behind us is stopping anything from coming up and surprising us. I’m wearing stupid ballerina pumps, and am, at this point, soaked almost up to my knees thanks to the puddles at the side of the road. It takes us a while to get the pony through Pamber Heath and then down the short stretch of 40mph road between there and Tadley. A couple of times pony stops and we have to feign changing direction to get it going again.

Finally we reach a little road off the main, which is beside our target fields. We take pony a little way up the road and pause whilst a 2nd police vehicle drives past us, heading down the road in search of a way into any of the fields. Pony seems happy munching on grass until it realises there’s another equine beast the other side of the hedge, and it starts to get a bit excited. Police lady offers to take the reins and I hand it over, but pony is not happy to stay still and takes off down this little dark side road. Police lady lets go – it’s safer than the main road and pony’s definitely fed up of staying still. Police man sneaks the car up past us and creates a road block, so pony is contained on this road, with a car and two police officers at each end. It runs around for a bit, neighing, and I realise I’ve reached the end of my horse knowledge, and am not sure if it’s happy to be home/interested by the other horse noises/just generally freaked out. Police lady suggests I get in the car and warm up, so I do so. This is the first time I’ve ever been in a police car, so I take a moment to marvel at the sheer number of buttons. Eventually the pony calms and the police woman manages to get hold of the rope.

At this point, 00:10, I check my phone and see a missed call from my Dad and a voicemail asking what’s occurring. Unbeknownst to me, at some point after we’d turned in to this side road, Dad had come out looking for me, found my empty car and was driving around, debating whether to call my Mum and alert her to the fact that I’m missing! I call his house, get no answer, and leave a message saying I’m with the police and will call back when things are sorted.

After investigating, the police decide there’s no way into the field from where we are, so police man is going to go survey the field from the main road. Before doing so he takes me back to my car, where we find a car facing us, flashing its lights. We pull over and open the window and I go ‘That’s my dad!’ So I get out and say bye to the policeman, then start telling Dad about my evening, and realise I’m soaked and it’s bloody cold. He suggests I come back to his for a cup of tea. I say ok and that I’ll follow him back in my car.

I try to unlock my car but the remote doesn’t work. I get in using the key, and try to start it only to have the alarm go off. I somehow manage to stop that and try to start the engine again.

Nothing happens.

Apparently leaving your hazards and headlights on for 2 hours drains your battery. So I have to call Dad again and get him to come back out with jumpleads! It takes a little while, but we get the engine going. I manage to drive back to his place and we leave the car running whilst I come in for a well-earned cup of tea, eventually getting back to my own home at about 1:30.

Such is the unpredictability of the countryside. My dad’s herded a couple of sheep who had found their way onto the road once, and a couple of years before that I’d found a trio of calves on a country road, which I sort of chased back to their farm in my car, but this is definitely the biggest critter-centric adventure I’ve had in a long while!


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mumsi
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 16:54:29

    You are a real hero, so many people can’t be bothered. Well done.


  2. Trackback: Not so ‘Grand’ National | Gavel! Discuss...

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