My name is Pickles. I am a black Shetland pony.
I was only a bit of a thing when the lady found me but I didn’t care, because I was on a special mission and when you’re on a special mission it doesn’t matter what size you are.
The people who first owned me weren’t nice at all, they beat me and kicked me because I was small and I couldn’t run very fast. In fact, I couldn’t run at all, because there was something wrong with my front legs from the day I was born. I lived with a lot of other little ponies, who also got beaten, but they didn’t get it as bad as me because they could run away. One by one the other ponies were sold but nobody wanted me because of my bad legs.
Then, one afternoon in autumn, when it was raining like mad, they put me into a horsebox, with my best friend Freddie. Freddie was a coloured pony, a bit bigger than me, but there was nothing wrong with his legs and he was very clever. It was Freddie who first told me about my special mission.
“Where do you think they’re taking us, Freddie?” I said, but Freddie said he hadn’t a notion, we’d have to wait and see when we got there.
We didn’t travel far before we stopped and they made me get out of the box but they left Freddie inside and I was frightened then, because I’d never been anywhere without Freddie. He used to smack the other ponies when they tried to bite me.
We were on a road next to some trees and I could see a big lake down below and I thought perhaps we were going for a swim because they used to put us in lakes and rivers to wash us. I got quite excited then, because I liked swimming in lakes. I could take the weight off my legs and move around in the water and pretend that I was walking like Freddie, but suddenly two big men picked me up and threw me down the hill. I rolled and rolled and rolled until I came to the bottom and all the breath was knocked out of me. I heard the box drive away and Freddie calling and I called back but I don’t think he heard me.
I must have fallen asleep and when I woke up it was dark and raining and I was very cold and hungry. I could hear cars driving past and I thought if only I could get up to the road someone might see me and help me but every time I tried to get up I fell down again. Eventually I did it, but my ribs were aching and my legs felt quite wobbly and not only my front legs, which I was used to, but my back legs were wobbly, too. When I looked up at the hill and saw how steep it was, I thought, I’ll never get up there, what am I going to do?
Then I spied a little zig-zag path amongst the bracken. I started to climb the path, but I had to stop every few steps and it was daylight before I scrambled to the top. The horsebox was gone and I was all alone. Lots of cars drove past and some of them slowed down but nobody stopped and one person even shouted at me to get out of the way but, by then, my legs had stiffened up and I couldn’t move. I was sore all over and I was afraid to lie down in case I couldn’t get up again. There was lots of grass next to the road and I was very hungry but I couldn’t put my head down to eat it, because my neck was so sore, so I just stood next to the road, in the pouring rain, hoping somebody would stop and help me. It was hours before a car stopped and a lady got out and walked over to me.
“Oh my goodness,” she said. “Where have you come from? Are you lost?”
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