I’ll be back in time for lunch!” I called out to Mum as I shut the front door behind me and jogged down the lane to the yard where I keep my pony, Alfie. My best friend Harriet and I had been planning on hacking together for weeks, but the winter weather meant we kept having to postpone. This weekend it finally looked as though the weather would hold out long enough for us to stay dry. We couldn’t wait to get going!
Harriet was already at the yard grooming Smokey, her gorgeous grey pony. “It’s meant to start raining after lunch,” she grumbled to me, “so you had better hurry up and get Alfie ready!” I quickly got to work grooming and tacking up. “Shouldn’t we tell Lisa where we’re going?” I asked, as I led Alfie over to the mounting block. Lisa was the yard owner and always insisted we told her where we were going hacking.
“She’s over in the far fields, poo-picking,” Harriet replied. “She’ll take ages to come back over and we don’t want to get caught in the rain! We know where we’re going and we’ll be back in a couple of hours anyway.” I was slightly apprehensive to break the yard rules, just in case Lisa found out, but as soon as we reached the woods where we could have a nice long canter, I forgot all about it. I couldn’t help but laugh as Alfie tossed his mane with excitement as he cantered alongside Smokey.
Harriet and I were chatting away as we continued on through the woods. All of a sudden, Harriet abruptly halted Smokey, looking concerned. “What’s the matter?” I asked. “I don’t recognise this part of the woods,” she said, worriedly. “I think we must have taken a wrong turn while we were cantering.”
I looked around at our surroundings, slowly realising that Harriet was right – I had no idea where we were. “Why don’t we try to go back the way we came, until we find a point we recognise?” I suggested. Harriet nodded, “Good idea. Once we get to the canter track I know the way back to the yard.”
We set off in the direction we had come, but an hour later, we still hadn’t figured out where we were in the woods. Thick, black rain clouds filled the sky and the woods were getting darker every minute. “I’ve seen that same tree stump at least twice now,” I said. “We must be going in circles – this is no use!” We stopped, frustrated, and tried to think about what we could do. Alfie kept snatching at my reins and trying to walk off. “Alfie, will you just stand still! You’re not helping me think!” I snapped.
“Hold on, the ponies must have a better sense of direction than us,” Harriet exclaimed. “Maybe they can help us find our way back!”
Ponies to the rescue!
I softened my reins and let Alfie take the lead. Harriet did the same with Smokey. The two of them began to walk confidently in the same direction and eventually they led us back to the canter track. I was so relieved when we finally recognised our surroundings! As we made our way out of the woods, the storm clouds above finally let loose and it began to pour with rain. By the time we reached the track leading up to the yard, we were absolutely soaked to the skin and feeling rather sorry for ourselves.
Home at last
“Where have you two been?” Lisa bellowed at us as we slithered out of our wet saddles at the yard gate. “Your parents have both been on the phone, concerned that you weren’t back yet. You know you’re meant to tell me where you’re going – I was about to send out a search party!”
“We’re sorry,” I gulped, “We got lost in the woods and couldn’t find our way back, but Alfie and Smokey rescued us! We promise it won’t happen ever again.”
After dinner, I headed back up to the yard to check Alfie had dried off and was warm enough. I’d snuck out the leftover carrots Mum hadn’t used, and patted Alfie as he munched on them happily. I realised how lucky I was to have such a special pony and promised him I would never get us lost again!