The Singing Horses here. We are so pleased we have been published at last. We offer our neighpologies for the virus thing which is affecting your community. We wish you all well and want to brighten your days, cheer you up and make everything feel better because that is what equine do. So, we have Lady M's permission to share the first few pages of our story for you to hoof. We know you will love us and we will neigh you where you can purchase us from at the end.
Leaving ‘The Paddock’
“Neigh and welcome to our sweet home, ‘Alabama Paddock’.” #5, the bossy, old, grey mare, was seated by the paddock gate making daisy chains as she waited to welcome new equine into their contest home. She had been the first one to submit her manuscript; the first one Mr Jacob, the stable manager, had led into this paradise. She considered it her duty to sit there daily, welcome each new contestant and give them a daisy chain. Heaven knows why! She has welcomed over one hundred during the last two horse weeks. Anyway, I will let her tell you or rather neigh you about it. “Neigh, it’s so, so fantabulous here; you can taste the excitement. So many brilliantly talented equine authors from all around the world. We are all waiting for the contest to begin on the next horse day and we all want to win the most coveted award of ‘Best Equine Author of the Year’. We have submitted the first two chapters of our manuscripts, a small, hundred-word neighographical piece about ourselves and a pretty pic showing our best profile with horsey grin. All this material has been put online, well apart from our pretty pics. They have yet to appear. We keep looking, but there is just a blank space where our horsey grins should be. I’ve neighed Mr Jacob about this many times, but he just igneighs my question and rushes off. The contest has three rounds and a voting procedure, although the final decision is made by the publishing house’s editorial board and we are not sure how much notice will be taken of the votes, but we are determined to get them anyway. This first round lasts for sixty horse days. Then we will be told that only thirty-two of us will advance to round two. The thirtytwo will submit two more chapters for consideration and the voting continues for them. The rest of us will be given our return tickets to our home stables. Round two lasts for three horse weeks and then only ten will advance to the final round. Those lucky last ten equine standing will submit chapters five and six and have a further nerve-racking horse week waiting to hear which honourable equine will receive the award. Neigh, Mr J…” She rose and stood, in total disbelief, as Mr J approached the gate with a small brown foal; he was so young that his foal saddlebag covered most of his little body. All #5 could see was his short, black tail and mane, a small part of his brown hindquarter, his brown legs, black fetlocks and hooves and his most striking feature, a white star marking on his forehead. This young equine could not possibly be a contestant; he must be looking for his mama or papa. 16 “Ah #5, neigh. This is our last and youngest contestant. He’s from the London Equine Orphanage (LEO) and in seven. Look after him, please.” “Neigh, Mr J, of course. Have you got our pretty pics sorted yet?” “No” was his quick reneigh before making a hasty retreat and leaving #5 looking down at this young foal who was overwhelmed by what he could see. He was jet lagged, really tired, his legs ached and his back hurt from carrying all his possessions for so long. He did not know how long it was in horse hours, but it seemed like forever since he left the orphanage. He had travelled to an airport in a horse van and been told not to lose his passport. Then there had been a very long journey on a plane to Birmingham. This had confused him because the only Birmingham he knew was about a hundred horse miles from London. He had wondered why there was talk of America and why he was travelling by plane with humans, not equine. He was glad he had kept quiet or all the other orphans who were bigger than him and envious because he was escaping for an equiniday in America would have chuckled at him. He had also been neighed ‘an unaccompanied minor’. This was a new neigh. He had no idea what it meant but some human who wore a badge neighing ‘flight attendant’ had been especially nice to him because he was an ‘um’. Her name was Anna and she kept neighing with him. She accompanied him into the terminal. Humans had used a lot of neighs that he did not really understand. He intended hoofing them up in his hoofing dictionary when he reached this place called ‘The Paddock’. Once inside the terminal, Anna shook his hoof, neighed him goodbye and wished him all the best. He was sad to see her go but another human took over and led him through immigration and customs. More new neighs and humans in uniform neighing him questions. He neighed that he was going to ‘The Paddock’ to Mr Jacob because his foal story was in a contest. They had looked impressed. Next, another long journey in a horse van. He had been told to keep his saddlebag with him at all times, even when sleeping and visiting the bathroom, so his back really ached, but, at last, he was here. He could not believe it or his luck and change in fortune. He intended enjoying every horse minute; he did not expect to win the coveted award because he was too young and had much to learn. This paddock was massive, much larger than any of the London parks and he could see lots of mares and stallions all neighing about their manuscripts or hoofing them. One of those black stallions looked across, saw him and came trotting over. “Who’s this young foal?” #5 fluttered her eyelids, neighed slowly and softly, (she usually neighed abruptly and in a harsh tone), as she placed a daisy chain round his neck, “He’s a young orphan from London in seven next to you.” #6 looked down at him and neighed in disbelief, “You’ve never hoofed a manuscript. You’re too young.” Suddenly, this little, brown foal seemed to get a new lease of life and forgot about his tiredness, aches and pains. He stood to his full height of eight hands, held his head high, showed his horsey grin and proudly neighed in his little shrill voice, “Neigh, sir, I’ve hoofed a foal story. Mr J says I’ve got po…po…” He 17 stopped, his horsey grin disappeared and his head drooped down in shame; he had forgotten the neigh. “Potential?” #6 neighed. “Neigh, sir, that’s it potential.” Happiness radiated from him again; he jumped up and down with glee neighing, “I’ve got potential. I’ve got potential.” Then he stopped, looked pensive, the white mark on his forehead seemed to shrivel up, “Sir, what’s potential?” #6 reneighed, “It means, young equine, that you have some talent when it comes to hoofing stories.” “Neigh, really?” His visage shone with happiness again. All was well in his little world. “Neigh, if you hadn’t, you wouldn’t be here, would you?” He thought for a horse second, “Neigh, no, I suppose not.” He looked up at this big black stallion; every horse inch of #6 was black from his nostrils right down to his hooves and tip of his bushy tail. He reminded this little foal of his papa and he so wanted to grow up and be like him. #5 had been very quiet during this neighing between the young foal and #6. In fact, she had almost forgotten of the new arrival’s existence because she had been too busy gazing dreamily at her hunky stallion, #6. He had only arrived a few horse days ago, but she had been smitten. It was love at first sight. This old, grey mare, who was as grey as #6 was black, was an Irish draft horse who had spent her filly days working on a farm in Ireland. She had had many exciting thrills with stallions when she had been but a young filly and done much romping in the hay, but that had all been many horse years ago before she came to live in America and decided to spend her dotage years hoofing. Now, #6 had rekindled her fire and passion. “Well, you’re #7 and I’m #6, next to this beautiful mare, #5.” He looked at #5 who fluttered her eyelids and blushed while her stomach was doing somersaults. She was head over hooves in love. #7 did not realise that he was to be known as a number. He neighed, “Sir, my name is…” “Young equine, we do not use our names. We’re all known by our stall numbers. You’re #7.” “Oh,” #7 looked puzzled. Suddenly, there was a neigh coming from their left. They all turned as another black stallion approached them, walking on his hind legs, wearing an apron and carrying a feather duster in his right hoof: “Neigh, it’s all done, all done. All spick and span. Spick and span. Who are you, young equine?” #7’s eyes widened, “Neigh, sir, I’m #7.” “Neigh, pleased to meet you, #7. I’m #Phi. I look after this paddock. Keep it spick and span.” “Neigh, #Phi? I thought we all had numbers?” “Neigh, always the exception that proves the rule,” #6 reneighed. #7 did not understand but just neighed, “Oh.” And looked perplexed. 18 “#7, I’ve just hoofed up that stall. Nice, fresh hay bed, new blankets. Dusted. All spick and span. Follow me. You can meet the rest at the campfire this horse night. Right #5, #6?” They both neighed. #7 trotted after #Phi thinking how exciting a campfire was going to be. This was all a fantastic adventure. “Neigh, here we are,” #Phi opened the stall door. #7 could not believe what he was seeing. “Neigh, sir, is all of this just for me?” At the orphanage, he had shared a stall with five other foals and it had been smaller than this one. It was wonderful. First, he looked at his bed on the righthand side of his stall: not just a small amount of hay on a cold stone floor which he had become accustomed to at the orphanage, but masses of hay on a base wooden board. “There’s two blankets, it can get a little chilly in the horse night.” #7 looked at the bottom of his bed where #Phi had placed two dark-brown, massive horse blankets. Opposite his bed was a table, chair, chest of drawers and a mirror, but what concerned him was the area at the back of his stall reached by a separate door. Did he have to share his stall, after all? “Sir, what’s that, am I sharing?” he neighed while looking at this area. “Neigh, of course not. All our stalls have private facilities. We groom in our stalls. The main bathrooms with showers and baths are at the far end of the paddock.” “Oh, thank you, sir,” #7 made an effort to stand on his hind legs, so that he could undo his saddlebag, but because he was so tired, he just fell back on to all fours. “Neigh, let me help you,” #Phi put his feather duster down and lowered himself so that he could undo #7’s saddlebag without him having to raise his little body. #7 dropped his head in shame and embarrassment. He was eight hands high; he should be able to stand on his hind legs without falling down. “Thank you, sir.” “Neigh, you unpack and rest. We’ll see you later at the campfire.” #Phi left. The first thing #7 did was investigate the ‘private facilities’. This was another new neigh to him. When he saw his own proper flushing toilet, not a hay one and wash basin, he was amazed. Awesome. Was it really just for his use? No more queuing for the bathroom or being pushed to the back of the queue because he was the smallest. It did not take him long to unpack because he did not have many possessions. He looked round his stall, yawned, fell onto his superior hay bed and slept. He was oblivious to the commotion outside when the vet arrived. #23 had not been feeling well for a couple of horse days. To every horse’s horror that filly was now in isolation with the horsepox (equine equivalent of chickenpox). Fortunately, most of the equine had already suffered this malady and were immune. #7 had not met her, so he would be safe from catching it. Some of the stallions were collecting wood for the horse nightly campfire and singsong. There was great concern among them all because their pretty pics had not yet arrived online with their chapters and neighographical details. They 19 were a vain lot and wanted the whole world to see their visages. When Mr J brought the vet in, there was no way he could make a hasty retreat; he reassured them that all their visages would be on the website in the horse morning. #5 had put herself in charge of things. She was a bossy, old mare. She thought that sixty horse days in such a confined space would lead to arguments, tension and problems. They really needed to get out and neigh people about the contest, their work and neigh them to vote. The excitement was growing as dusk fell and in five horse hours, the contest was to begin. They congregated round the campfire waiting for evening fodder. It was easy to see the later arrivals; they were still wearing daisy chains. Mr J had promised them a treat for their evening fodder; they were waiting for the pizza delivery van or rather truck considering the number of them. The aroma of pizza reached #7’s nostrils and brought him back to reality from dreamland. At first, he thought he was still dreaming as he looked at his surroundings. Where were the other orphans? Why was his hay bed so comfortable? Pizza? Then he saw his daisy chain. He was not dreaming. But just to make sure, he raised his right forehoof and pinched his little chest. Neigh, he was not dreaming, but he was hungry and it was dark. He remembered being neighed about the campfire where he would meet the others. His visage lit up. This was another adventure. He was no longer tired, nor did his body ache. He was awake; he had heard about campfires but never been to one. Time for a new adventure. He was up and trotting over, or rather following his nostrils to the campfire. #6 saw him, “Neigh, here, #7. Come and get some fodder.” He neighed in that deep, sexy, husky voice that sent goose bumps down #5’s spine. #7 did not need inviting twice. An open box of ham and pineapple pizza just waiting to be devoured. This was no time for neighing; he knelt down and wolfed four pieces before he heard #6 neigh, “Manners, young equine, manners. When we eat together socially, we use our hooves, don’t we?” #7 raised his head, with pizza hanging out of his mouth and realised that all the big equine were staring at him and looking disapprovingly. He had made a very bad first impression. He dropped the pizza and tried to make things right in his foal like way, “Neigh, neighpologies. I’m so hungry, I didn’t think.” His humble effort at making amends just provoked chuckling from the assembled equine. He hung his head down in shame. How could he have been so silly? He really had intended making a good impression and it had all gone wrong. #6 continued neighing, “This is our youngest contestant. He’s hoofed a foal story. Meet #7.” There was a lot of neighing about a youngster hoofing a foal story. #7 was not sure what it all meant, but felt he needed to neigh something, “Neigh, I’m eight hands high.” Whenever he neighed this, he always arched his back, rose to his full height, stood on the tip of his hooves and held his head high in an attempt to make himself look even taller. “And Mr J neighs I have potential.” He was so pleased he had remembered that neigh and looked to #6 for approval. #6 just 20 grinned and chuckled so #7 continued neighing, “Nice to meet you all.” He thought that was the correct thing to neigh before he sat down again and carried on eating pizza correctly. It was now #5’s turn to take control of the evening’s proceedings, “Neigh, neigh, equine community. Before we have our singsong, I’ve had a neighdea. We’re here for sixty horse days and we need to neigh humans, equine and other species about our manuscripts and neigh them to vote. We can’t leave everything to Mr Jacob. We don’t even know if our pics are going to be up on the site. Some of us need to leave and gallop to other states to neigh about the contest. I suggest we leave for Tennessee at horse dawn.” This caused a lot of neighing. Some were happy to go. Others just wanted to enjoy their luxurious surroundings and free fodder. #7 was delighted. He had not thought of the fact that he would be leaving his accommodation behind, neither did he know where Tennessee was. Another adventure. He frolicked, “Neigh, neigh, #5. I’m coming.” “You’re too young. You have to stay here,” #5 neighed. He fell down to the ground, thoroughly downcast, thought and reneighed, “I’m eight hands high.” Once again, rose to his full height thinking it would make a difference. #6 and the rest of them neighed that he was too young. They then igneighed him and continued neighing the neighdea of leaving. “Neigh, I think it best if I neigh who is coming with me,” #5 neighed. #44, a brown pony, was the first to raise her hoof indicating she wished to speak. When #5 nodded at her, she rose and began her neigh, in her usual slow, monotone yet aristocratic way, ensuring that she had every equine’s attention and left them in no doubt as to who she was, “One thinks it is a first-class neighdea and One would be most pleased to be a part of it. One is #44 and British Equine Royalty in the New Forest. One is a Buckland Pony.” She had been one of the last to arrive and felt it important to indicate that she was not any ordinary horse or pony but of the equine aristocracy. “Thank you, #44. Sit down” was #5’s curt reneigh…She may only have been present for a couple of horse days, but #5 had noticed that she had designs on her stallion, #6. A mare knows these things and she was the last equine #5 wanted to take with her to Tennessee, but she dutifully and professionally hoofed #44 on her list. “Who else?” #666 and #4 neighed together; they had become firm friends and were game for anything. #5 added them to her list. Then the palominos, #3 and #83, who had been early ones into the paddock and also become great friends raised their hooves, “Neigh, we’re in.” “Neigh, so that’s five plus us, seven all together. Anymore?” It was clear that wherever #5 went, #6 would follow. A few shook their heads and neighed, “When’s the singsong starting?” But #5 had not finished; she was determined to have more than seven equine. She reneighed, “Anymore?” She looked at #3.14, #11, #13, #18 and #32 or rather glared at them. “Apart from #6, we’re all mares and fillies. I’m sure #6 would like some stallions to join him.” They neighed among themselves while 21 she added them to the list and chuckled, “Mares, we all know if you want a stallion to do something, you just neigh him, he’s doing it. Fillies learn!” All the mares and fillies chuckled because they knew #5 was right. “Neigh, for the final time. Anymore?” #1.618, #8 and #12 all thought it might be fun. #5 added them to her list. Now, she had fifteen. That was a nice manageable number. “Neigh, fifteen of us. I’ll leave this list for Mr J to find when he comes in. We’ll leave just after horse dawn, at six hundred horse hours.” “Neigh, I’ll come to the gate to hoof you off and I’ll neigh the list to Mr J,” #Phi, still with apron and feather duster, neighed. “Neigh, that’s settled then. We’ll meet at the gate. #Phi will see us off and neigh Mr J who’s gone. Now, time for our horse evening singsong before the embers die down,” #5 neighed. A singsong? Another part of the adventure. #7 was excited until, “#7, it is way passed your hay time. Off you go.” “Neigh…but I’ve been asleep all horse afternoon. I’m not tired.” “Do not contradict one of your seniors, young equine,” #6 neighed. “If #5 says it’s passed your hay time, it is passed your hay time.” “Yes, sir. Neighpologies. Goodnight. Nice to have met you all,” a subdued #7 rose, left the group and slowly walked back to his stall…thinking! They were going on an adventure. That was why he was here. He was definitely going with them despite what that bossy, old mare neighed. He repacked his saddlebag and prepared for the horse morning. He was not tired, just so, so excited at what lay ahead. What would Tennessee be like? Wherever it was."
#7 here. Yes, I am that little foal and I can neigh you it was an exciting journey. We took the world by storm. I became the Singing Horses' mascot. I loved neighing with humans and having my pic taken with them. I always tried to be a good little foal but it did not work out and I often got into trouble and needed rescuing. I love chips and it was eating them at the rear of McDoodles in Munich that got me lassoed. My brethren rescued me. Then there was.... you will just have to read the book.
The Singing Horses | Book| Austin Macauley Publishers or from your own Amazon site, Waterstones, Barnes and Noble
Neigh to you all, 🐎🐎🐎🐎🐎🐎