Death By A Dark Horse*

“So, these two boys are both from the same police force,” the retired detective says, as he stands by their stable door, stroking the face of one of the horses.  “One came here, and then two years later his friend arrived.  They cantered up to each other and wrapped their necks around each other.  If they could’ve hugged, they would’ve done.  There was a photographer here to capture the moment and he said he would never have believed it, if he hadn’t seen it with his own eyes.”

We’ve come to a home for retired police horses.  They are all from UK forces but have come here, to a beautiful home in the French countryside.  It’s run by the aforementioned retired detective and his wife, daughter and son-in-law.

Some of the horses have come here after twenty years of service, and some after just two or three.  

“So, this chap was bought by the police,” the detective says, as an enormous horse is led over to us.  “He’s half Shire Horse and half thoroughbred, but he’s a big baby, wasn’t cut out for the work at all.  So after a year they sent him here.  He wouldn’t come out of his stable at first – just hid.  And now look at him: he just loves the camera, thinks everyone’s come just to see him.”

“Tanya, let me take a photo of you with him,” Mum says.  
Stroking his neck, I rest my cheek against his huge one.  Here he is:

  
We meet all the horses and hear their stories of brave service.  It’s so moving.  They have ended up in a wonderful place where they seem content.

“This is part of their rehabilitation,” the ex-detective says.  “Seeing all of you and having a fuss made of them.”

It’s not just me, the parentals and their friends here.  There’s a group of about thirty English people, some with their dogs.

In the shop, I see a painting of a running hare.

“Do you think Seb will like this?” I ask Mum.

“Yes, it’s beautiful,” Mum says.  “Why don’t you buy it for him?”

“He might not like it,” I say, looking at the painting.  “He’s difficult to buy presents for because…”

“Just get it,” Mum says.  “You can decide whether or not to give it to him later.”

So I do.

“Wasn’t malaria in the end,” Seb’s message comes through at 5.49pm.  “Obviously just a bug.  Going on a bat survey tonight.  Hope you’re having a lovely time xxx.”

“Phew!  Am very happy to hear that,” I say.  “Hope you find plenty of bats.  Have a present for you xxx.”

“Oooohhhh,” Seb says.  “Can’t wait xxx.”

Really hope he likes the painting.

Happy Wednesday everyone!
*2013.  By Susan Schreyer.  Book 1 in the Thea Campbell murder mystery series.

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