~ Sooty's Diet ~

'It's the spring grass that's done it,' said Mr. Halston, shaking his head, his flat cap set at an angle as he looked down on the groaning pony.

Sooty, the jet black Welsh Mountain pony, and love of Rachel's life was the cause for concern, who lay stretched out on the stable floor.  His stomach huge and bloated as he let out loud groans, the whites of his eyes showed in his fear and distress.

Rachel knelt down with one hand on his soft dark nuzzle, in the other she tightly clutched her pony's bridle.  It had been a shock to come to the field and find him in this sorry state, obviously in great pain and distress.  She felt like crying.  It was as if Mr. Halston read her thoughts.

"Ayle be alright lass," he said kindly, his voice low.  "Just too much o' that rich grass.  Ayle, soon be rate, just needs to go on t'diet."  He nodded his head with each slow word as if to verify their validity.

Diet!  Her pony!  Why, all he had eaten these past weeks was the young, rich grass.  She looked up at the old man, then back at her pony.   He seemed to have grown huge, his belly fat and barrel like stuck out like the round hulk of an upended ship, his head flat to the ground.  She rubbed his soft nuzzle gently, and slowly stood up.

"I'm going to call the vet to him."  she said decidedly.  Her eyes, wet beneath dark lashes, looked questioningly at the old man.

He nodded "Aye lass, if it makes tha' feel better,  but ay's just got a bitta bellyache.  Too much Spring grass."  He turned and made his way slowly towards the rough old stable door that opened into the sunlit field.

Rachel at his heels, they strode over the loosely piled straw bedding, put freshly down yesterday.  Then, it had smelled sweetly and looked a picture.  Today it was flattened and untidily strewn, containing at least one lot of round brown droppings.

As she walked through the half stable door, Rachel automatically pulled it to behind her, and as she dropped its latch into place, a loud belch, an even louder windy fart, and a groan from inside hastened her movements.

She hurried down the field in the wake of the old farmer, who strode quickly for his age, too concerned even to notice the ferocious geese, she was usually so wary of.  She followed the old man into the warm farmhouse kitchen where a huge fire blazed in the old stone hearth.

That had been yesterday.  Today there was a determined lift to Rachel's chin, her eyes were calm and clear.  She had a new goal to achieve!  The vet had been and upon his instructions, Sooty had to lose a hundredweight no less.  And she had to ensure that he did!

(C) February 2000 Maureen Annette Norman

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