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Róisín Tierney, from The Spanish-Italian Border

Oouf!

I could tell he was different, the minute he walked into my field.
It wasn’t the stripes, or the French accent. It was his Zebra smile.
Flashy. And when he spoke about the Big Top and life on the road
(‘Riding the Tiger’ he called it), I knew I’d gallop that extra mile

to catch his wild oats. Of course, no ties. On that we were both clear.
Anyhow, I am a Shetland mare. We’re known for our solid temperaments.
I am no filly, innocent, unsure. And when it happened he was sheer –
Horse. If you know what I mean. Afterwards he leant

against me in the dark and smoked a Gauloise. Within a week
he had gone on to pastures new. I put on weight, grew listless,
chewed on the wooden posts that ringed my field. I reeked
of longing, not for my one-time, flash-in-the-pan, feckless

paramour, but for the foal growing in my belly. And when he dropped
one morning onto the grass (after much labour, this isn’t Disneyland)
and shakily raised his head to view the world, his long ears lopped
the known world in twain, his tawny stripes quivered as they spurned

the natural order. I searched his eyes in vain for any sign
of good, old-fashioned Shetland Island muck, but saw instead
a tightrope reeling out above a ring – and along its near-invisible line
there came my Zetland, dancing the cha-cha on his head.