18 SEPTEMBER, 2007 ‘Where’s Delilah?’ Nikki hitched a saddle up under her oxter.
‘Don’t know.’ I hate it when I can’t find one of the horses. I think the worst, immediately: she’s hurt, she’s dead— she died and I didn’t get to say goodbye—
‘Not in the stalls?’
‘I checked. I’ll look in the back, by the polocross guys, but she’s never there, none of the school horses are ever there—’ I babble off down the aisle towards the back where the livery horses are kept, Nikki already gone, looking in the stalls again.
Did I see her, was that her, out in the field, in the distance? The truth is, I sometimes fail to recognise her without her bridle on, a fancy bit of business with white braiding on the noseband and across the forehead [the poll? Is a horse’s forehead called a forehead, or is it some equine term? Google it: nope, it’s actually the forehead.]
I wander out of the barn, check out the top fields, check out the west field, am about to start calling her name, afraid to, afraid of what my voice will sound like, calling for the missing Delilah…
I go back to the barn, Nikki is going over the lesson list, looks up briefly. ‘She’s shooting.’
‘Ooh! She loves that, I bet!’ The Tudors have been using ‘our’ horses in the mini-series; Mercury did a star turn in a joust, under Jonathan Rhys Meyers himself. I imagine Delilah in a horse box, a star on the door, being fed craft services carrots by a PA.
“Who do you want?’
‘Have you ridden him before?’
I go to bridle him, and he won’t open up. I slouch over to Nikki, who rolls her eyes. But kindly.