Rebecca laid down her book and stretched lazily. The sun was moving round and the balcony would soon be too hot. She would have to move. Having just left school she was in Tenerife waiting to hear her exam results. She had offers from two universities and the results would greatly influence her final choice.
Her geoligist father worked for a company which was interested in installing windfarms on Tenerife and he had been sent out for two months to survey some sites. An apartment was provided and Rebecca had taken the chance to have a few weeks holiday. Her mum and elder sister had remained at home because of their work comittments and of course to look after the much-loved family dog.
Rebecca had been to the beach several times and had sunbathed on the black volcanic sand. She felt she had had enough sun for the moment and wanted instead to explore a little further inland. Donning her hiking boots she packed a rucksack with sunhat water and an apple.Scribbling a hasty note for her dad she set off on her walk. It wasn’t too far till she had left the houses behind and found herself in an area of banana plantations and fields. Several tracks meandered off from the road and Rebecca chose one which looked appealing and did not loook as if it were a private way.
Soon she spotted a rather scruffy and forlorn looking pony in a roadside field. Rebecca loved horses and at home most of her weekends were spent at the local riding stables either taking riding lessons or working with the horses as a volunteer. She immediately felt sorry for this rather neglected pony and tried to tempt it over with a handfull of grass from the roadside. The pony took a tentative step or two then nervously shied away. Then Rebecca remembered the apple in her rucksack. She would gladly forego her lunch if she could make friends with the pony. She produced the apple and held it out making encouraging noises as she did so. Again the pony took a step or two before stopping. Rebecca crushed the apple under the heel of her boot and held out half which was now dripping with juice. The pony could clearly smell it and came a little nearer. Suddenly with a lunge it swept the apple from the flat of Rebecca’s hand and wheeled away crunching the apple as it went. The pony hesitated less when the second half of the apple was offered but still stayed as far off as possible taking the apple delicately off Rebecca’s hand with its neck at full stretch. Rebecca made her way home thinking about the pony. She stopped off at the supermarket again to stock up with apples and bought a brush as near as she could find to a grooming brush. She had high hopes that eventually the pony would come to trust her.
She got up early the next day, eager to see the pony again. She added a knife to her rucksack thinking she could hold the pony’s interest for longer with little pieces of apple rather than one or two whole ones. This time the pony was a little less hesitant and Rebecca was able to stroke its neck while feeding it the apple pieces. She visited the pony every day gradually winning its confidence until the big day when she climbed the wall and stood beside it. It had become used to being stroked and stood calmly when Rebecca started to use the grooming brush instead of her hand. Rebecca was so intent on what she was doing that she failed to notice an old lady making her way towards her. The lady introduced herself as Señora Martinez, the owner of the horse. She said that she had been watching Rebecca working with the pony every day and could see that she knew what she was doing. The señora explained that she was still able to feed and water the pony but worsening arthritis made it impossible for her to groom it. If Rebecca wanted to call at her cottage she would be welcome to use the pony’s halter and grooming tools. Rebecca readily agreed to call at the cottage the next morning and this became the pattern for the following days.
The pattern was altered one day however when Señora Martinez motioned to Rebecca to follow her into one of the outbuildings and showed her a beautiful saddle and richly decorated tack for the pony. “You have worked so hard on the pony.” she said “You have restored its beautiful coat. This is the special tack that I used to use when the village held its annual fiestas. The grand mounted parade is an important part of the celebrations. It would give me great pleasure if you would ride the pony in the fiesta next week.” Rebecca hardly knew what to say she was so delighted. “Of course” continued Señora Martinez “you will have to ride the pony every day until then so that you become used to each other.” Rebecca did not hesitate for a second in agreeing and worked even harder over the following days in preparing the pony for the special occasion. She found the pony was easy to ride and felt confident that on the big day neither of them would let Señora Martinez down.
The day of the fiesta arrived at last. Rebecca’s father had taken the day off work to see her ride in the parade and drove her over in good time to get the pony and herself ready for the fiesta. About twenty riders mustered at the edge of the village and Rebecca concentrated on keeping her pony calm in the midst of the hustle and bustle. By now everyone in the village knew the story of this girl who had worked so hard to restore the pony to its former beautiful conditiion and when the senior horseman signalled to Rebecca to lead off the parade she thought she would burst with pride. Señora Martinez had a tear in her eye as she watched the parade pass and later presented Rebecca with a beautiful antique riding crop. She said if Rebecca ever returned to Tenerife she must promise to visit her and the pony. This Rebecca was very happy to do.
By Jim Rankin