To pick up my tale from last weekend, my friend Beanie had bought a ‘sensible hunter’ from a respected dealer in Newcastle. They had a written agreement stating unsuitability was grounds to return the horse and after two days ‘Cob’ was proving far from satisfactory at his new Gloucestershire home.
On day three Eva the vet checked him out. Finding nothing amiss she watched the horse ridden. Cob repeated his tricks, refusing to get mounted before Beanie finally leapt aboard. He set off, head on the floor, cantering up the farm lane. A busy country road lay at the end of the lane as Cob cantered blindly towards it, the bystanders grew anxious. Finally the pair veered into a hedge and ground to a halt.
“She might be fearless but she never gets on that beast again,” grunted Father climbing in his jeep and driving off. Eva shook her head.
Later removing the stethoscope from the gelding’s chest the vet sighed. “He’s dangerous and there’s no medical reason for it. I cannot imagine how he’s hunted.” It was a question that had been bothering Bea. She called the dealer. “The horse must come back,” she explained.
“What? He’s always been good as gold for us.”
“We had an agreement,” Bea replied, “He’s not safe.” They continued to disagree when a shrill female voice came on the line. The ‘wife’ gave Bea a piece of her mind rendering my friend speechless. She now had a problem.
Checking Cob’s passport Bee noticed a scribbled out address written on the owner’s page. Details could just be made out under green ink. She got to work, locating the ex-owner and rang them. The farmer’s wife who answered was happy to fill my friend in, but was surprised by the nature of the call. The family had owned him from being a youngster. He’d always been volatile so was solely a companion horse and had never hunted.
“Eventually, with all other options exhausted...” she said. “...the local knackerman was called to collect him and put him down so he never got in the wrong hands.”
Bea was stunned. “But,” continued the farmer’s wife, “That was two weeks ago so we’ve both been deceived.” My friend’s shock turned to anger.
The next week was filled with emails in an attempt to resolve things amicably. It was not to be. Bea’s solicitor wrote a pricey letter which was ignored, and a small claims court application followed in December. The courts were closed for weeks over Christmas and by mid-January Bea still hadn’t heard anything. She called them and was told by a disinterested clerk her application had been misplaced and she needed to resend all relevant forms - although her cheque had been cashed the previous month.
Sick of the whole process, she reapplied and weeks later is still awaiting a court date and destination. Meanwhile, Cob is still to care for. Bea knows if she wins it doesn’t guarantee the defendant will pay. Further court applications might be needed, resulting in a few pounds back every week. She’s contemplated dropping the whole thing but is driven by principle.
“He cannot behave like this and escape the repercussions. Imagine if a child had got on that horse?” I’m behind her 100 per cent, I just hope the legal system doesn’t let her down.