A young stable girl upsets a horse’s owner with painful consequences
By Kenny Walters(Illustration by Neville Moore)
“Whoa! Easy, easy, Jacob! Easy, boy!”
Even in skilled hands like Sally’s, the large black stallion took some effort to slow from gallop to walk by the time they reached the open gate entrance to the yard.
“Hi Kate!” Sally jumped out of the saddle and brought the reins over Jacob’s head as they came to a stop by an old Land Rover from which Kate Arbor was unloading bales of straw.
“Miss Webb wants to see you.” Kate carried on unloading the bales without so much as a glance round.
“Does she?” Sally’s voice sounded hesitant. “Any idea what about?”
“Best to go and find out, if you ask me.” Kate piled the last bale on top of the pile, took a deep breath and bunched her collar length dark hair back into a ponytail. “Suppose you want me to look after Jacob?”
“I can do it,” Sally offered, not wanting to burden the other girl with what should, rightfully, be her task. Kate, one of the few full-time workers at the stables, could be abrasive at the best of times and reckoned she worked hard enough anyway without having to do extra. “I can see Miss Webb after that.”
“Got the feeling your presence was wanted sooner rather than later, if you ask me.”
“Oh!” Sally felt an increased tension. “Well, if you wouldn’t mind?”
Kate took the reins out of Sally’s hands and led Jacob slowly away towards his stall while she whispered encouraging noises in his tall ear. After a few yards, she looked round just in time to see Sally climbing the three steps at the front of the building used as Miss Webb’s office and as a store room for riding tack. “Nice bum!” She murmured in Jacob’s ear as she stared at Sally’s bottom clothed in very tight-fitting white jodhpurs.
“You wanted to see me, Miss Webb?” Sally asked cautiously as she peered through the open doorway into her boss’s office at the end of a short corridor. Immediately, Sally recognised the woman sitting opposite Miss Webb. “Oh, hello Mrs Castle. I’ve just come back from giving Jacob a bit of a run.”
Mrs Castle, an attractive dark haired woman in her late thirties, glared back without comment before returning to Miss Webb. Sally flicked nervously at her long wavy blonde hair, only too certain all was not well.
“I told you to give Jacob a walk and a short canter, young lady.” Miss Webb stared grimly up at the slim eighteen year old. “Did you do that?”
“Well, yes.” Sally answered almost automatically. “Well, he seemed keen to get on, so we had a bit of a short gallop too.”
“For how far?”
“No more than a mile.” Sally thought for a moment. “Well, maybe a little longer. Perhaps two miles or so.”
“That would not be my impression of ‘a walk and a short canter’, young lady.” Miss Webb commented gruffly. “Now I’m supposed to tell Jacob’s owner, Mrs Castle here, that Jacob is just nicely warmed up for a good afternoon’s exercise, am I?”
“Well, if he’s allowed to have a bit of a rest for half an hour I’m sure he’ll be fine.” Sally coughed, fully aware a full hour’s break or perhaps even longer would be more likely, given Jacob’s history.
“Sally, I know you only work part-time here on your days off college but I really can’t have you ignoring my explicit instructions like this. They are made for a reason.”
“I know, Miss Webb. I really am very sorry, Mrs Castle. It won’t happen again.”
Mrs Castle momentarily looked up at the blonde girl, causing her own long dark hair to shimmer in the sunlight pouring through the office window.
“Too right it won’t!” Miss Webb glared. “You’re fired! Get your things and get on your way.”
For a moment, Sally stood dumbfounded. Her eyes felt watery and she sniffed back a tear. “I’m so sorry! Please! I really love it here, with the horses and everything.”
“You should have thought about that earlier, before you ignored my instructions.”
“We didn’t gallop that far, honestly!”
“I was watching you, Sally.” Mrs Castle spoke quietly. “It was quite a way, and I specifically asked Miss Webb not to gallop him so I could try him out this afternoon.”
“I’m sorry!” Sally sobbed.
“Yes, and I’m sorry too, Sally.” Miss Webb interrupted. “You’re sacked, and that’s an end to it.”
Just as Sally began to turn away back out of the door, Mrs Castle turned to Miss Webb. “Sheila, she is only young, you know, and I’m sure she didn’t mean any harm.”
“Plenty of harm done without it being meant, Elspeth.”
Sally had already paused in the doorway, hoping against hope that Mrs Castle might persuade her boss to relent.
“No, I’m not saying that some sort of, well, disciplinary action might not be appropriate. It’s just that sacking her seems awfully heavy-handed.” Mrs Castle glanced up at Sally and saw a faint glimmer of hope in the pretty blonde girl’s face.
“What sort of disciplinary action?” Miss Webb answered with a curious uncertainty.
“I could do extra work,” Sally suggested brightly. “You know, work longer and not be paid for it.”
“I’m sure Miss Webb knows the meaning of ‘extra work’, Sally.” Elspeth Castle smiled, sending a knowing glance in the direction of the robust riding stables boss. “There are, of course, other options.”
“Yes.” Sally shrugged, not at all certain what Mrs Castle meant. “Anything.”
“Anything?” Elspeth Castle’s eyes sparkled, causing even more confusion to the young blonde girl.
“Steady on, Elspeth.” Miss Webb countenanced. “Sally isn’t one of our, well, regular girls.”
“Yes, I am!” Sally retorted. “Well, I’ve been here every week for six months. Even during the school holidays!”
Elspeth Castle chuckled. “That’s not quite what Miss Webb meant, Sally. It’s just that some of the girls live in and become, sort of, like a part of the family. Then, when things go wrong, they get dealt with more, shall we say, in the way a family might do things.”
Sally nodded. “Yes, I see.” In fact, Sally understood as far as the girls who lived on the stables property being part of the so-called family and not a lot further. “Well, I know I don’t live here but I think I’ve fitted in pretty well. And I have been here a long time now. I’m sort of like family.”
Both Sheila Webb and Elspeth Castle sniggered when Sally described her six months at the stables as being a long time.
“In that case, Sally.” Mrs Castle reached down into her bag by her feet and brought out a thin black riding crop. “Perhaps there is an easy solution to our little dilemma.”
“Without sacking me?” Sally sounded hesitant. The sight of the small riding crop confused her. Was Mrs Castle suggesting some sort of ride together? How would that constitute some form of punishment? She expressed her uncertainty. “I’m sorry. I don’t understand.”
“It’s very simple, my darling.” Elspeth Castle smiled sweetly. “What would you do if a horse disobeyed your instructions?”
“I’d, er, speak sharply to him? Let him know by the sound of my voice that I wasn’t happy?”
“And if he persisted?” Elspeth Castle tapped the riding crop against her palm.
Sally took the hint. “I suppose I’d give him a couple of reminders with my crop.” As soon as she’d uttered the words, the look on Mrs Castle’s face said it all.
“It’s entirely up to you, of course.” Jacob’s owner said innocently.
“I take a whacking or lose my job. That’s what you’re saying.”
“It is only a part-time job, so I suppose it depends on just how much you like spending your time here, doesn’t it? If you really want to continue then I’m sure a little family discipline from Miss Webb will be gratefully received, won’t it?”
“Miss Webb would do the, um, the…?”
“She is your employer, my dear. It seems only right, unless she’s unwilling, of course, in which case I’m sure I would manage.”
Sally looked at the stables boss out of the corner of her eye. The short, robust frame surmounted by a small, square head with very short silver hair appeared disinterested until she became aware of Sally looking at her. A brief nod of the square head suggested Miss Webb would be amenable.
“How many would I get?”
“How about a dozen?” Mrs Castle quickly suggested.
“Twelve! Oh God!” Sally responded in horror.
“Elspeth!” Miss Webb added.
“Ten?” Mrs Castle tried, but soon realised both Sally and Miss Webb were unsupportive. “Eight, then. Surely eight for such disobedience?”
“She’s a good worker, Elspeth. Eight would be more than sufficient.” Miss Webb stated firmly in a manner that didn’t encourage argument.
“Eight it shall be then.” Mrs Castle smiled in satisfaction.
Miss Webb looked up at Sally and raised an eyebrow in silent query.
Sally, who had never received so much as a smack to her shapely bottom, nodded in acceptance without really comprehending exactly what she was letting herself in for.
“Alright, let’s do it then.” Miss Webb stood up and started clearing papers and a calculator from the end of her desk nearest to the doorway, where Sally stood watching. “May I borrow that?”
Elspeth Castle handed over her thin black riding crop before she too stood up. “You’d better come round this side, Sheila.”
The two changed places and Mrs Castle now found herself standing between Sally and the desk. She took a step back and waved her hand to beckon Sally forward. “Come along my little lovely, bend yourself over the end of the desk and have your pert little bottom smacked.”
Sally moved slowly towards the desk, clearly disliking the apparent relish Mrs Carter had for the punishment. As soon as Sally leaned over the end of the desk she felt Mrs Carter’s hand on her back, needlessly smoothing her shirt in a circular motion and pressing her down onto the hard surface. The eighteen year old allowed herself to be pushed down until her forearms rested on the top of the desk and her bottom felt like it was sticking out.
“It would be best for you if you keep still and take your hiding, Sally.” Miss Webb said coldly as she tapped the tip of the riding crop against the open palm of her left hand. “It’s going to hurt, but there’s no point in trying to delay things by bobbing up and down. It doesn’t make it any easier.”
“I’ll be with you all the way, precious.” Mrs Carter added before Sally could respond.
“I’ll try.” Sally gasped, finding Mrs Carter’s restraining hand was affecting her breathing. “Yeeeouch!!”
The sudden sharp searing pain across the seat of her white jodhpurs ensured Sally found her breath, and a watery sensation forming in both eyes.
“Aaaahh!” A second stroke made the girl take another sharp intake of breath as the crop hit her just a fraction lower on her bottom.
When the third stroke lashed down, Sally tried to raise herself up from the desk but Mrs Carter’s restraining hand kept her down. “Steady, girl!” The lady encouraged her.
‘I’m not a bloody horse!’ Sally thought to herself. Moments later another sharp crack reverberated round the small room as the crop lashed the tight seat of her white jodhpurs for the fourth time. “Arrgh!!”
The fifth stroke whipped into the lower part of Sally’s bottom, very close to the tops of her thighs, and pushed her into the edge of the desk.
“Urrrgh!!” She snorted as the wooden edge squashed into her stomach.
The sixth stroke wasn’t much higher and stung like hell.
Then came a duller, thudding stroke that cracked in a diagonal line across the seat of the girl’s tight white jodhpurs.
Miss Webb delayed the final stroke for some seconds, to the point Sally was beginning to wonder what was happening. It came suddenly, lashing straight across the girl’s bottom.
“Ooooooowww!!” Sally cried as she felt the most stinging blow of the eight.
“That’s that, then.” Miss Webb slapped the thin riding crop on her desk right next to where Sally’s upper body still lay. The stocky woman took a brief look at the tearstained face and said to the woman still holding the girl down: “You can let her go now, Elspeth!”
“Eh? Oh, sorry.” Mrs Carter was still engrossed in her study of the seat of Sally’s tight jodhpurs. “Let me help you up, my dear.”
With Mrs Carter’s help, Sally soon found herself on her feet, although she kept one hand on the edge of the desk while she regained her balance. She moved her other hand to the seat of her jodhpurs, but as soon as she began gentle rubbing she found Mrs Carter’s hand performing a similar task. As their hands touched, Sally gave Mrs Carter a less than friendly glare. Mrs Carter simply smiled innocently.
“Better get back to work, girl.” Miss Webb saw what was happening. “That was the purpose of the exercise, all said and done.”
Sally was silently grateful for the excuse to remove her bottom from Mrs Carter’s reach. She couldn’t prevent the woman watching her move along the corridor to the front door.
“Quite satisfied, thank you Sheila.” Mrs Carter smiled. Then she noticed Miss Webb was looking at her in a strange way. “What?”
“Come off it, Elspeth. That wasn’t just to punish a silly, naughty girl.”
“Oh dear!” Mrs Carter put a finger to her lips, feigning naughtiness herself. She picked up her small black riding crop from the desk and pretended to examine it. “Perhaps, if you feel I’ve stepped out of line, you ought to punish me?”
Sheila Webb cast her eyes to the ceiling before taking the riding crop from Elspeth Carter.