Over the stable door: Police chase brings drama... and a broken finger

Jo Foster sorting out the tack at her stables at Menston near Leeds.
Jo Foster sorting out the tack at her stables at Menston near Leeds.
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The battered Fiat screeched to a halt in the middle of the road. Ignoring the threat from oncoming traffic four young lads burst out and leapt over the nearest wall straight in to a field.

They were clad in dark tracksuit bottoms and black tops but looked the age of those who should still be running across a school playing field rather than away from a stolen vehicle.

Clearing the stream, they hurtled through the grazing sheep. Johnny the lamb brayed loudly after the youths as one attempted to pull his Adidas trainers from the boggy ground he had just run aground in halfway up the field. Failing to gain any attention the giddy sheep skipped excitedly up the field after the teenage medley, swiftly followed by a policeman in pursuit.

This was the sight unfolding in front of the farm just a few days ago. The builders, who are still at Brookleigh converting the barn, had been watching the action as they sat in their vans drinking instant coffee. Sensing some unexpected heroism might be called for ‘Part-Time-Paul’ (the boss builder) puffed out his chest like a prize cockerel and strutted towards the driveway.

“Come on lads, I think those coppers might need our help,” he shouted as an array of workmen gathered to watch the teenage tearaways.

But the youngsters were too swift, they cleared the next rail fence easily and pelted up the hill towards the railway line. ‘Part-Time-Paul’ was puffing before he reached the gateway. The policeman was still in pursuit followed closely by P-T-P’s workmen but none were close enough to prevent the kids disappear over a wire fence into the undergrowth of the railway line.

Apparently, the policeman explained, the kids were suspected of committing a burglary out of our area and had been followed, in their rather dilapidated Fiat, by the police before abandoning it and trying to scarper.

Meanwhile my apprentice groom, on her last job of the morning, had been leading an old point to pointer across the paddock and hadn’t noticed the escapade unravelling around her. The horse she was leading had noticed and was warily watching the policeman running across the field and jump over the gate. As he came into view the horse spooked, pulling backwards and yanking the lead rope in the apprentice’s hand. An action which somehow broke her middle finger.

The finger needed pinning so she has told me to expect her off work for six weeks - four for recovery and two weeks for physio. It’s a shame as she was just a few weeks away from completing the course which she has been training towards for 18 months.

So courtesy of the teenage runaways we were left with a gap to fill.

It is times like these when a new flame can suddenly rise from the embers. A few weeks earlier I had enrolled a new recruit to help out a few days a week. Charlie knew very little but was keen and pleasant. My instinct told me this one would be worth the training. It takes six months to thoroughly educate someone to the task. I liked her.

As soon as she heard about the apprentice’s injury she offered to cover whatever work was needed immediately. It seems my instinct was right after all.