Going back to horses and gardens .................
When working with racehorses out of training we always had a jump racer come in to do all his fitness preparation.
This horse, known as Spesh, was what might term 'a character.' He was as nappy as they come, could buck for England and jump sideways faster then he could jump going forward. His owner was a very special lady, the Queen Mother and this horse was very dear to her heart.
The reason he came to us was because he had terrible legs. He had serious tendon trouble which had been the bane of his time in training. All sorts of treatment had kept him on the track but, he was treated differently to others in his work to get him fit for The Grand Military Cup held late in the season in late April.
Spesh was terrible when he first came into work after his summer rest as he got fitter he was a bit more sensible but, few people were allowed to ride him because he thought it great fun to drop whoever and gallop home without a rider.
One day, when he was nearly ready to go back into training proper, Spesh went out ridden by a very good man who had many years experience and had ridden Spesh many times and most importantly, always come home on top of him. Two girls were on other horses.
The girls returned with no Pete or Spesh, when I asked where they were they to;s me Pete had taken him on to do some more work as he was especially full of himself and on setting out had jumped sideways up a steep bank - gone sideways through a thick ornamental hedge across the lawn and back out sideways through the hedge further along, down the bank and then proceeded to show how hard he could buck.
The hedge he had gone through belonged to the most miserable grumpy villager that did nothing but complain about anything and everything - especially horses.
If he hated horses so much why buy a property in an area where there were four race training barns?
As he was such a miserable so and so, we decided not to own up as to being guilty of trespass.
His two neighbours had witnessed the infraction and both agreed that it could no have happened to a nicer bloke!
The damage consisted of the hedge looking like something out of a cartoon where something had gone through a wall leaving the outline - twice. The hoof prints were deep as the ground was wet. They certainly stood out, or should that be stood in, across the lawn that had obviously been clipped with a ruler and nail scissors.
He tried to find out who had done the damage for weeks but although everyone knew the culprit no one told him. All, very naughtily thought it funny.
It was about a year later when we had some heavy snow. The horses were fresh, the arena was unrideable so when they cleared the road we went out in a string of about 12. I was riding a horse that had come off the flat belonging to the Queen. He had done no good racing and I really think this horse was mentally deranged.
I was second from the back sitting on a time bomb. A car came up from behind and Sue, last in the string put her hand out to stop it as a car was coming from in front. The idiot driver took no notice and came level with me, saw the other car and cut in front of me. The horse used this as an excuse and exploded! He stood vertical, came down, whipped to the right and as he tried to shoot back the way we had come he bucked and double barrelled the car. The noise made him kick back again and followed with a rodeo performance that had me hanging onto his ears with my teeth as he bucked his way back down the road.
Be the grace of Him above I stayed in the plate and returned to the rest of the riders. The car driver, Mr Miserable, was yelling and screaming about the damage to his car. He wanted the name and address of the owner and when I told him, he did not believe me.
Legally he did not stand a chance of being recompensed for the damage, Sue had seen, as had another driver behind him and the oncoming car, all of whom were willing to be witnesses.
Mr Miserable came to the house a few days later complaining not only about his car but also the garden, he had just heard that the Queen's horse had kicked his car and the Queen Mother's horse had trashed his garden.
Needless to say, he never got more than an earful off us!