Bound for Follyfoot
The great consuming and abiding passion in Tara’s life was horses. Ever since she was a small girl, se had lived and loved the idea of being around and working with horses. Her mother thought it was because she used to watch and read books like the Pony Rider’s Club or the Follyfoot novels, but as soon as she could Tara started to work at a local stable and clean out the horses’ boxes in return for riding lessons. Eventually her mother gave in to the idea that this is what she wanted, even to the extend of supporting her when at the age of 16 she legally changed her name from Jane Smith to Tara Smith.
So when she went to university in the South-West of England, and discovered she was going to room with the daughter of the finest racehorse trainers in Britain, it truly was a dream come true for her. Lucinda Ponsonby-Benson was the same age as Tara, and if anything horses were even more ingrained in her blood, so they soon became fast friends, and when the long summer vacation came around Lucinda persuaded her dad to give Tara a summer job at the stables she jumped at the chance. To be able to spend three long months working with the animals she loved, and with people she felt she belonged with – it was her idea of Nirvana.
Tara stayed with Lucinda and her parents, working at the training stable during the day and talking through the night with Lucinda about boys, jobs and of course horses. The first two weeks passed on this way, but at breakfast on the Saturday of the second week Lucinda’s father spoke to them at breakfast.
“Lucinda, I have to go to the racecourse today to run trials with some of the horses.”
“Will Raging Storm be one of them, Daddy?”
“No – I’m resting him before the race meeting next week. Would you and Tara like to go riding this morning?”
Both girls looked at each other and said “Yes” in unison.
“Very well – Trigger and Lovely Day need some exercise, so go down to the stable and take them through their paces. You can check with the staff down there that Raging Storm is all right as well. I’ll see you both later.”
As Colonel Ponsonby left, Tara turned to Lucinda.
“Who is Raging Storm?”
“A horse daddy has entered in the Gold Cup – he’s one of the fastest out there, but a completely unknown quantity. The racing touts would love to get their hands on him.”
“Come on – let’s get dressed and we’ll drive down in the Porsche.”
A few minutes later, Tara came down into the hallway. She was dressed for riding, with a white blouse tied at the waist, blue jodhpurs and black riding boots. Her blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail and secured with a green band. Lucinda joined her shortly afterwards, also wearing a white blouse tied at the front but with white jodhpurs and black riding boots. Both girls grabbed helmets and whips, and they drove off in Lucinda’s Porsche, her chestnut hair blowing in the wind as they went along.
As they drove along, Tara began singing to herself…
Down in the meadow where the wind blows free,
In the middle of the field stands the Lightning Tree.
The Tree’s grown tall since the day it was born,
For the tree was born in a thunderstorm……
“What’s that song?” Lucinda asked.
“It’s the theme to an old TV series set on a horse stud,” Tara shouted back, “My mum used to sing it to me all the time.”
“Oh right – Follyfoot, wasn’t it? My mum told me about that show as well. In fact, that’s why my dad named a horse he bought for her that.”
“I did wonder – that’s what brought the song to mind.”
Lucinda turned into the stable yard and pulled into a parking space. The yard was quiet, with only a horse box parked in the area.
The two girls got out of the car, and carrying their helmets in their hands they headed for the stables.
“That’s funny.” Lucinda said.
“I wonder where everyone is – normally I’d expect to see at least one or two of the stable boys around, but there’s no-one in sight.”
“They’re probably just having a meeting or lunch. Come on – let’s go and get the horses.”
Tara opened the door to the large block at the side of the courtyard, and allowed Lucinda to enter first. They walked down the side of the boxes, looking for Trigger, when a noise from the far side of the block caught their ear.
“Hello,” Lucinda called out, “Who’s there?”
The two girls walked quietly down to the end box, where Raging Storm was kept, but before they could get much further they were both grabbed from behind, and rough hands clamped over both their mouths to stifle their screams.
A young man stepped out from the shadows, wearing a tweed jacket and casual trousers. He looked at the two young riders with a look that was a mixture of disdain and triumph at the same time.
“Well, well, well – look who decided they would go for a ride today. The colonel’s daughter and her friend from university. Well, I’m afraid your plans today have just been cancelled ladies. Now, if you promise to be good girls and not scream, my friends behind you will take their hands away. Are you going to be good little girls?”
The two frightened women nodded, and the hands were removed from their mouths.
“What the hell do you want here? My father will kill you when…..”
“Your father will do nothing to me if this goes properly, and you are not going to get in the way of that, are you Ms Ponsonby-Benson?”
“How dare you talk to me like that? You can’t do anything to us, you have no right to, and you have to MMMMM”
As Tara was shouting at the man, he walked up to her and drew a large handkerchief from his pocket. Rolling it into a large ball, he pinched Tara by the nose and stuffed the handkerchief into her mouth.
“Stop her from spitting that out for a minute, will you?” The young man said, and as his unseen assistant put his hand back over Tara’s mouth he walked over to a shelf in the stable and took a beige bandage that was used to bind the legs of injured horses. Returning to Tara, he nodded to his assistant and as he withdrew his hand the bandage was wrapped tightly around Tara’s mouth, making a very effective gag.
“Now, I don’t want either of you to make any more loud noises,” the man said turning to Lucinda, “and if you don’t want to end up like your friend you’ll do exactly what I say. Is that clear?”
Tar looked at Lucinda with pleading eyes, and her friend simply nodded and whispered “Yes.”
“That’s much better. Now, we want Raging Storm, but he’s not in his stable. We know he’s here somewhere – do you know where your father’s hidden him?”
Lucinda nodded slowly.
“Excellent – then you can take me and my friend holding you to him, and we can do what we came here to do. You – make sure her friend is kept nice and safe.”
The young man walked off, and Tara watched as Lucinda was frogmarched behind him by a large man in brown overalls. She then felt herself been pushed onto the floor.
“Hands behind your head, girlie, and don’t move.”
She watched as another brown overall-clad man went over to the wall and took down some lengths of white rope that were to be used for horse training. Taking a knife from his pocket, he cut a length and knelt down beside the frightened girl.
“Hands behind your back, and cross your wrists.” Tara did as he asked, and he began to bind her wrists together, wrapping several turns around her wrists before using the remaining rope to cinch the tie. Tara tried to pull her wrists apart, but the rope was too tight. Both girls had rolled their sleeves up before coming into the stable, and the rope was starting to cut slightly into her skin as she struggled.
The man then cut another length of rope, and crossed her booted ankles before tying them together in the same way he had tied her wrists. Finally, he pulled her bound ankles up behind her back, and used the remaining rope to tie Tara in a strict hogtie.
“Now, girlie, don’t you make a move and you’ll be just fine.” With that, the man in overalls stood back and watched Tara as she lay still on the floor.
After a few minutes, the young man in the jacket came back, leading Lucinda by the arm. She now had her hands tied together, palm to palm, in front of her, and a black horse bandage had been wrapped around her mouth so that she was as effectively gagged as Tara.
“Go and help Bert with the horse,” the man said as he pushed Lucinda in. “As for you, my dear, go and sit down against the wall opposite your friend.”
Lucinda did as she was asked, and the man took some more rope down from the shelf. Working quickly, he tied Lucinda’s ankles together side by side, and after cinching her ankles he took more rope and tied the soles of her boots together, taking care to cinch those bindings as well.
“Right, Ms Ponsonby-Benson, I want you to pull your knees up and touch your toes with your fingers.”
Lucinda looked at him in a quizzical manner, but did as he asked. As soon as her bound hands were over her ankles, he took another length of rope and bound her arms to her legs, making it almost impossible for her to move.
The henchman looked around the stable door. “All done boss –we got the horse loaded up.”
“Thank you, George – I’ll be right with you. Well, ladies, try not to struggle too much or you’ll hurt yourselves. I’m sure someone will be around eventually to set you free.”
The man left the stable, closing the door behind him, and Tara and Lucinda stayed very still as they listened for the sound of anyone coming.
As time passed, Tara kept trying to free herself from the hogtie, undoing the ends of the blouse tied in her midriff in the process. Lucinda, meanwhile, was rocking quietly back and forth, when she stopped suddenly and looked thoughtful for a moment.
Turning her head towards Tara, she indicated that she wanted her friend to try and make her way towards her. Tara looked up as she caught her breath, and began to crawl on her stomach in the direction of Lucinda. In turn, Lucinda started to shuffle on her bottom across the floor towards Tara. In the process, she had to steady herself on her knees, which led to the slightly ungainly sight of her legs spread while still bound by the ankles.
Over time, the two girls came to where they had dropped their riding helmets when they were first captured, when Lucinda began to sway from side to side and eventually fell onto her left side. Tara finally managed to get level with her head, and turned to try and see what her friend wanted her to do.
If truth be told, however, both girls were exhausted from their exertions, and for some further time they both lay looking at each other, wondering what they could do next to get free. The gags in their mouths were so effective that only the barest murmur could be heard from either of them, and both were slowly beginning to fall asleep, only to jerk their eyes open every few minutes. Tara was the most tired, but she could tell Lucinda was trying to reassure her that everything would be all right.
The sun was slowly beginning to set when the girls were woken by the sound of a car approaching. Both started to scream out as loudly as they could, and attract as much attention as possible, but it was still several minutes before the stable door was flung open and Colonel Ponsonby rushed in with one of the head stable lads.
Dashing towards his daughter, he undid the gag and pulled a large handkerchief from her mouth as well. “My god, Lucinda, are you all right? I was worried when you didn’t come home, and when I heard what had happened here…..”
“Please, daddy, get that gag out of Tara’s mouth as well before she chokes.” The stable boy went to ungag Tara as Lucinda was held by her father. “It’s all right , daddy, I’m a bit stiff but I did exactly what you said to do if anything like this happened. They took Follyfoot instead.”
“AAAhhhhhh”, Tara exclaimed as she stretched her legs out after being untied, “that’s better. You mean you thought someone might to steal Raging Storm.”
“It was a possibility,” Colonel Ponsonby said, “Which is why I put my wife’s horse in his place here and took him elsewhere. I’m sorry you got caught up in this, Tara, but Lucinda knew what to do, and she would have made things worse if she tried to help at that time.”
“It’s all right,” Tara said as she stood up and rubbed her wrists, “We’re not badly hurt anyway. What I really need is a shower and a change of clothes.”
“Come on, I’ll drive you both home.”
It took several hours for the police to take their statements, and start searching for the horse thieves. In the meantime, the two girls returned home and changed.
At Lucinda’s house, Tara knocked on Lucinda’s door after dinner.
“Lucinda,” she asked as she came in, “Is that the first time you’ve ever been tied up?”
“Truthfully, no. We’ve been robbed a couple of times, and I was tied up then with my parents, and I was kidnapped once as well.”
“I see – so you’re used to that?”
“You might say I’ve learned the ropes – why?”
“Well and Tara smiled as she said this, “Do you think you could do that to me again some time? I kinda liked it.”
Lucinda smiled. “Why not – although next time somewhere more comfortable than a stable floor, perhaps?”
Tara nodded, and the two girls collapsed in fits of laughter both of relief and of nervousness from the day’s events.