Posted by Tania Kindersley.
There were NO SPOOKS TODAY.
This goes in capitals because it is such a huge step forward. There were a couple of pauses, a quick scan of the horizon for mountain lions, but that was all. It was a happy, carefree, confident ride. Also what I find fascinating is that the mare is listening to me a lot more. The steering, which was occasionally erratic, is now pin-sharp. I like that she is clever with her feet, and I trust her enough to let her pick her way over a stony and knotty forest path, knowing she will find the best way.
There is a very nice balance now. Some of the time I am strictly in control, telling her exactly where I want her to go, and at what pace. Then, once I’ve got some work into her and we are both as relaxed as lounge lizards, I’ll let the reins out and, apart from a tiny bit of leg control, let her follow her nose. Half the time she knows where I want her to go anyway, without me having to shout about it.
This is all a bit in the weeds. If I were writing about politics, I would describe it as a process story. People sneer at process stories, but I’ve always found them fascinating. The process of the horse is equally riveting to me, although I hope this is not a self-indulgence too far.
The vet was due today, for her tetanus shot. The livery seemed most affronted that I had called in my own vet, rather than theirs. There was a wounded pause, when I told them. But this is the Alpha Vet, the man who saved the very life of the Pigeon. As far as I am concerned, there are no other vets.
Before he arrived, I gave the mare a pick of grass and leaned on her shoulder and chatted to her a bit. The sun was warm as July. When I saw the car, I walked down to meet him, Red ambling at my side.
‘I have a new addition to the family,’ I said, grinning all over my face.
‘You have,’ he said, smiling. ‘She’s a beauty.’
He was very polite to Red, calling her by her name, admiring her, soothing her as he prepared to give her an injection.
‘Doesn’t matter with a horse,’ he said, as she made a small objection to having her teeth filed with a great raspy implement, ‘as long as the underlying nature is all right.’
That’s exactly what I have been saying all along. Red can get a bit fussed, indulge a little in freaks, and occasionally be stubborn as a mule. But her default mode is goodness and sweetness. She is not mean, or ornery, or wicked. She is not, as some rogue horses are, looking for trouble. It’s just that sometimes she finds post-boxes perfectly terrifying.
‘Yes,’ I said. ‘She is a very dear old thing.’
The vet looked at us, appraisingly.
‘And she is obviously very attached to you,’ he said.
Now, this is, as I have told you before, the North-East of Scotland. People do not do vapid compliments or flannelly gush here. There is a lot of bare, hard truth. Attached, in this context, is like being given a bunch of flowers and a prize and a medal. I actually blush, I am so happy.
We are attached.
The vet drives off. The Pigeon and Red the Mare and I walk down to the paddock together, entirely as one in the laughing Scottish sun.
A very few quick pictures. I had to do something with pictures today and it took ages and shockwave kept bloody crashing and I almost pulled out all of my hair. So only a couple, for the road:
My two girls: