The Goban Saor: 'The Backward Horse'

The Goban had somehow managed to acquire a very fine horse. It was a fiery steed, difficult to manage, but that didn't prevent the Goban from being very proud to be seen sitting astride it.

One day, dismounting and tossing the reins carelessly to one of the local lads standing by, the Goban strode into the tavern to quench his thirst after the exertions required to manage such a beast.

The villagers of course immediately gathered round the horse to admire it and it wasn't long before mischief entered their heads.

While some of them went in to engage the Goban in a conversation about horses, others took the horse away to the farrier who quickly took off the horse's shoes and nailed them on again back to front.

The Goban was immediately suspicious on leaving the tavern to be greeted by a cheerful, gleeful crowd around his mount and the horse itself seemed restless.

He hadn't trotted more than fifty yards before he found out why.

The horse, puzzled and annoyed by the new, uncomfortable feeling at his feet, suddenly gave vent to his irritation with a mighty buck which landed the Goban in the bushes by the roadside, to the great delight of the onlookers.

Ruefully getting to his feet and squinting after the fast-disappearing horse, the Goban called loudly to the villagers to help him catch it.

The villagers eventually arrived, out of breath, shaking their heads and pretending to be puzzled as to where the horse could have gone:

"..He's just disappeared into the forest, not a minute ago !" shouted the Goban in frustration "..After him! After Him!"

Cairbre O Loingsigh , the sea-captain's son - in fact ringleader of the pranksters - assumed an innocent expression, scratching his head and protesting:

"..But Goban, we've examined the hoof-prints on the road and clearly the horse has galloped off in the opposite direction to what you're telling us!"

The villagers tittered gleefully and the Goban limped over to ease his backside ruefully onto a fallen tree-trunk:

"..It's bad enough dealing with a backward horse .." he muttered darkly "..besides having to deal with backward humans!"

"..What did you say, Goban?" called one of the onlookers gleefully.

"..I said:" said the Goban through gritted teeth "..People don't always look in the right direction for what they're seeking!"