Denis Lehane: Prince Charming horse whisperer

Next weekend my missus and myself will celebrate 18 years of marital bliss, writes Denis Lehane.

The West Cork farmer’s knowledge of bloat came in handy at Buckingham Palace.

And bar one incident in London recently, it has been an unbridled success.

Before I delve into what happened in London, I beseech you not to mention a word of this to my missus. There are some things a man needs to keep to himself.

As I mentioned here last week, I was in England with a few of our youngsters, taking in the sights. It was while stationed outside Buckingham Palace that my marriage almost came asunder.

I had been peering through the gates, hoping to get a glimpse of the Queen or some other old toff, when a carriage came racing out of nowhere. One of the horses was galloping in an uncontrollable fashion and, but for me grabbing the reigns as it sped past, all on board would surely have been killed.

Relieved that I had saved her from certain death, this lady then disembarked from the carriage, a most beautiful redhead. “We are most grateful to you, kind sir,” says she, as English as be damned.

And she went on to claim that there wasn’t a man in the whole world who could have done what I did.

And I took her word for it, because in fairness to myself, I’m pretty unique.

She asked if I had any idea why her horse had gone bananas. Her driver too was puzzled.

It was no puzzle for me.

“Was this horse grazing on lush grass earlier today, m’lady?” I asked, already knowing the answer. She responded by saying that yes, the horse had been grazing.

“Ha, Ha!” says I. “There’s your answer! Late grass this year is exceptional in west Cork, it’s exceptional here. Your mare is as bloated as a man after 20 pints, and this is the cause of her distress.”

“Bloat?” the lady responded, clearly sheltered from such common ailments.

Denis knew that mineral oil reaches the hindgut intact and can act on the impaction site.

I told her all about it, explaining that her horse was full of wind, gas that needed to be released by administering a large dose of waste oil. Whether ’twas from a nearby garage or Buckingham Palace itself, but in an instant, out came a large saucepan of waste oil. This woman was clearly well connected. “Grab hold of her mouth,” says I to the driver, “and I’ll shoot the oil into the old girl.”

“Do you mean the horse?” he inquired. “Yerra no,” says I, “I mean her ladyship.”

Well, if we didn’t all break down into a fit of laughter. Even her ladyship collapsed into a heap and needed to fan herself vigorously to recover. It was the best joke they had ever heard.

Soon my work was done, and her mare started backfiring like there was no tomorrow.

Clearly smitten by my charm, looks and knowledge of bloat, the redhead wasted no time in laying out her stall. She had divorced, had two grown up daughters and was on the lookout for a gentleman of my calibre.

She had money to burn, big houses scattered all over the world, and assured me that if I ran away with her, I need never worry again about on-farm inspections or scouring calves.

It was an offer few could refuse. But I did, citing my wonderful marriage back home as a reason not to stray. “There’s a big difference,” says I, letting her down and gently as I could, “between releasing bloat and a good marriage.”

And with that I checked the horse one final time, and slapping her rear end, I sent her ladyship on her way.

My dalliance over, my marriage as sound as ever.


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