The gift horse

Jools was considered by many the greatest horsewoman in the valley. When local trainers ran out of ideas or patience with their charges, Jools would be called in. It was said she could talk to the animals. Make them understand.

Her boyfriend—there’d been many—was  Oscar Morales, owner of gold cup winner, Westwind.

One fine autumn morning Oscar aske if she had a horse he could ride to town.

‘Take the bay,’ she said, pointing out a nondescript mare,  saddled in the yard.

Oscar mounted the called, ‘back by lunchtime,’ he swung the old horse round.


Jools sidled up to the old bay in the stables that evening. Anyone watching would have seen her whinnying and shaking her mane of hair. ‘So girl,’ she was saying, ‘where did he take you this morning?’

‘To the river.’


‘To meet a lady.’

‘A chestnut?’


In her human tongue Jools muttered, ‘If only men were as true as horses.’


Next day the bay met Jools’s other favourite, a draught horse she’d saved from the knackery. ‘How was your ride?’ asked the draught horse.


‘Where did you go?’

‘To the Post Office in town.’

‘An enjoyable route.’

‘Yes. But that man is fat and too keen on the whip. Never mind. I doubt we’ll be seeing him around here again.’

2011-Richard Holt / small stories about love (