Friday, 9 March 2012

In which I start off with every intention of brevity, and end up rambling about all over the place

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Sleep is a sort of miracle. I slept all yesterday; ten more hours last night. I woke, literally dreaming of Cheltenham. I checked my bones and body for the viral aches and pains and decided that I did not feel quite such an old lady as yesterday.

I thought, acutely, of my father. That is something that is happening just now.

I attempted some admin. I organised the transport of the mare. She is going with the amazing Gillie family, who have been moving horses from Scotland to England and back again for over thirty-seven years. She will arrive next Thursday afternoon.

It is perfect timing. Friday will be a very stressful day. My heart shall be wrenched with the desire to see Kauto Star run his race in the Gold Cup.

My dream self says: there shall be one more fairy tale. My rational self says: it is too much to ask, for such an old campaigner. The hill, the extra two furlongs, the coming back from that schooling fall, the twelve years of age: all these mitigate against the glorious, dreamed ending. But if I am very sad, I shall be able to run down and see my red mare, and the heavy heart shall lift.

I went to say goodbye to her this afternoon. She nuzzled my hand and butted her head against my chest. She has had a clip, and looks new and smart. She is very, very dear, and I love her. It's one of the maddest decisions I ever took, and one of the very best.

Now, I must pack.

A few quick pictures:

9 March 9 09-03-2012 13-44-40

9 March 10 09-03-2012 13-44-53

Red, pre-clip, still a bit woolly:

9 March 3 09-03-2012 13-39-49.ORF

And post-clip, smart as a whip:

9 March 5 09-03-2012 14-47-48

9 March 6 09-03-2012 14-47-52.ORF

(Don't be too alarmed. First clip is always a bit dramatic. It shall settle down soon.)

Oh, and the lovely Kauto Star did a gentle canter round Wincanton racecourse this afternoon. Whatever happens, he looks magnificent, and it was a treat to see him bowling along, full of beans, happy as a bug.
There was no sign of stiffness or soreness; he was pulling hard at Ruby Walsh's hands, as if impatient to get on with the job. It is impossible to tell what will happen next Friday, but this afternoon was a pleasure to watch, anyway.

Lovely picture, uncredited, from Paul Nicholl's Betfair column today:

9 March Kauto Star at Ditcheat

As I type this, sighing a bit, thinking about getting on the road, The Four-Year-Old puts The Pigeon's lead on, and takes her for a little walk round the house.

'Come on, Pigeon,' she says. 'You are a very good little dog.'

The Pigeon trots along beside the small figure. The funny thing is that the Nine-Year-Old used to do exactly this very thing with both my dogs, when she was four. There is a singing flash of deja vu. The Pigeon gives me the same slightly baffled, resigned look as she used to, before she was dragged round the kitchen table one more time.

The Four-Year-Old stops abruptly, hurls herself into a chair, and the Pigeon sits politely upright beside her. The Four-Year-Old proceeds to read the dog a back number of Country Life.

'That is a house,' she tells the Pigeon. (I bet it is, I think, imagining some vast mansion that only the new Russians can afford.)

It's a sort of crazy Nancy Mitford moment that makes me laugh. I shall think of it tomorrow, as I drive up the M6.

I'm always sad to leave this house. But I am always happy to get home to my hills. And this time, very soon, the hills shall have a red mare in them.

PS. I know I should not go on about comical children stories, but when one does not live with children, the interesting things they do and say are very, very interesting and funny indeed. The Four-Year-Old has just told me that she is 'going to my office'. She sits down with her notebook and starts to write.

'Where is the Pigeon?' I say.

'She's with me,' says The Four-Year-Old. 'She's an office dog.'

So that's the Pidge, for the evening. She is an office dog.

Never fear, no more cute small people stories for a while, as I flee north. Although of course next week can only be worse, since it is Cheltenham, and there will be just one damn equine story after another. And endless antic tales of bets lost and won, yankees and accumulators and patents and doubles and trebles. I am not my father's daughter for nothing. I blame that wild, gambling blood.

Pigeon, on the right, doing her last pose with her dear Southern Friend:

9 March 2 09-03-2012 13-44-03.ORF

I love the expression on that dog's face. She is only three years old, but she has the lore of the ages in those half-closed eyes.

Her sister, so very like the late Duchess:

9 March 3 09-03-2012 13-44-11

One final Kauto picture, from this afternoon at Wincanton, by Alan Crowhurst for Getty Images:

9 march Kauto Star at Wincanton Alan Crowhurst Getty Images

Very tired writing this now; too tired to edit. Forgive howlers and typos and general ramblings.


  1. Drive safely! How absolutely wonderful to return home with a real live horse of your own. For me it probably was the proudest day of my life. (Some bruises and heartache followed but it was well worth it.) Could we please have many pictures. Not forgetting dear Pigeon.

    1. Niinpa niin - you WILL get many, many pictures. I promise.

  2. Will she be hard by you, in stables where you live, or at livery? Please let us see her in her new home soon. So excited for you. I'd be happy with the second dog, but The Husband says no, not whilst he lives and breathes. I can see I am going to have to get to work on him...

    1. Goldenoldlady - livery, two miles away. Very lovely place, with 30,000 acres of hill and mountain to ride over. Keep working on that husband.

    2. I have a retirement pipedream where we buy part of the field over our hedge in Wales and damn a trickle of a stream to form a pond and Get Ducks. In addition to this I ask if I may lodge an alpaca or two with the stock in the remainder of the field and the farmer says yes. As the stock consists of sheep and their lambs, and brood mares (Welsh ponies) and their foals, alpacas will co-exist beautifully; protecting the ovines and calming the equines (esecially the stallion who is with them much of the time). This is a very detailed pipedream, and who knows one day it may bulk out into A Plan, if we ever have a few thou to spare. Big If.

      We retire there in April as The Husband has recently been made redundant. You can read about all that in my blog, if you have a mind to...

    3. Damn a stream? Ha ha! Damn my proofreading...

  3. Very nice pic of Red with her Kauto Star clip - and she will look even finer as her hogging(?) grows out. Love the photo of that amazingly grand Lab with her eyes half shut (just photograph me and get done with it).
    We will be of at the crack of dawn on Friday on our way to Cheltenham and I will bet on everything Irish, be it horse, trainer or jockey!

    1. Return of the Native - love that you spotted she has the same clip as Kauto Star. How thrilling you shall be at Cheltenham. Think of me watching on the television.

  4. One of my favourites of all time, Zeleznik, won Velka Pardubicka for the fourth time (the only four-times winner in history) when he was 13 - after losing his jockey in a collision; he remounted and the pair caught up. It can be done!

    1. Sabina - that is such a lovely, hopeful thought.

  5. The Kauto Clip - sounds like a new dance, LOL.

    Safe travels to you and the Pigeon and Red. I'll miss the children stories, but can well understand your feelings on getting home. The beech avenue awaits. Also will miss the pics of the Pigeon's friends; her visit is coming to an end too (wonder what the dogs think?).

    All fingers and toes crossed for Kauto next week.


  6. Don't tell my dog, but I am really looking forward to the horse stories and pictures now. As well as the pigeon tales. It is hopeless!

  7. That's a racing clip! I guess it runs in her family.

  8. Hope you and the Pigeon have a safe journey back, Red is looking gorgeous, I am looking forward to reading about Red's adventures with her new family. I am intrigued by the Pigeons Southern friend, she definitely has a touch of Lady Bracknell about her.

  9. You and I have a lot in common... we're the same age, we love dogs and all furry critters, Scotland, and horses have been in our blood and under our butts since youth. Like you (until recently, of course) I have not ridden in ages.

    And so... it is all I can do not to roll around on the floor and wail in sheer and unadulterated jealousy that not only do you live IN Scotland, with the glorious Pidge, but now you also have A HORSE!

    Jealousy is really not an attractive trait, I know... but egads, there's only so much a girl can take. Suffice it to say that it's tempered with pure joy for you and Pidge and Red, and I'll be living vicariously through your blog for the foreseeable future.

  10. You can tell all the comical children stories you like...they are both therapeutic and enjoyable to read. Also looking forward to tales of Red and the Pigeon. Glad you got lots of rest! Have a safe journey.

  11. Do hope you are feeling much better and have had a safe trip home. Have so enjoyed your posts from down south and look forward to all the pics and news about your lovely Red.
    We've been in the process of moving house and I must tell you that in the midst of all the chaos I still checked in with you every morning. Unfortunately had some trouble leaving any comments. Fingers crossed you get this one...

  12. I like your small people stories.


    but you probably already know that!



  15. I've never watched a horse race but I'm going to watch for Kauto Star. The weird thing is that the bookies already know this because I had some spam from Paddy Power!

  16. So many lovely comments, and I am hopelessly behind in my replies. Please forgive. I really love the fact that you are all now in FULL HORSE MODE. I can't tell you how much it is making me smile.

  17. Have a lovely time with Cheltenham. The races always remind me of my father-in-law, a keen race goer who sadly died too young. Lovely post.


  18. I hope this comment finds you settled. I hope you enjoy Cheltenham and am glad you were rested before the long drive.

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