Emily visited me every morning and afternoon. She also rode me often, so I wasn’t too lonely. She told me much about her life in those winter morning walks.
“I was born with this leg Jilla, doctors can’t say why, and it’s never going to get better. I want to represent Tasmania in eventing one day. Because riding is the only thing I’m any good at. My last horse was big and won a lot of small competitions, but he was lazy and had no interest in the sport. Catching him became a nuisance, and I never trusted him. I couldn’t fully control him, that’s why we bought you.”
I remember clearly the early morning frost that would bite me and make Emily’s nose and cheeks go red, her blonde hair was often hid under a woolen scarf. Her breath would come out as visible vapors of air. We would walk this way down the paddock, Emily leading me with a rope, to the end of their boundary where she would stand and wait for her school bus. If Emily was late she would tie the lead rope at both ends to my halter and ride me bareback using the rope as reins. I would canter quickly, and she never lost her balance slightly. When school was over, Emily would call me and we would do the same routine back to the house.
One day, when I’d been in my new home for a week, the routine changed. Emily wasn’t there in the morning. Panicked and shocked, I neighed and whinnied near the house hoping that she would hear me. Emily did come, and wasn’t particularly impressed with my carrying on. She was dressed in a furry pink thing called a dressing gown, and her hair was not done up in the way she usually did it for school.
“Jilla, today’s Saturday. I’m not walking to the bus stop. See you later.”
I heard Mr Sanders talking in the house, “you know Em, that horse almost understands English.” I snorted; did he think I was stupid?
I had never heard of weekends before. Farmer Jo worked everyday, and if he was away Jack was always there.