Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Today was going to be a family walk round the glen, with me riding, like the Queen of the May. It was my idea. I had visions of us trooping over the hills like the Von Trapps. In the end, the logistics were too much, and it turned out just to be The Older Brother and his Beloved, The Pigeon, Red, and me.
It was quite enchanting.
The only thing about the glen on Sundays, it transpires, is that it is like Piccadilly Circus. There was a marvellous moment when a perfect troupe of hikers wearing quite extraordinary headgear appeared over the hill, all kitted out with rucksacks and special poles. The mare stared at them in rank disbelief.
‘They are only humans,’ I said, out loud, to their slight surprise.
The Brother regarded their retreating hats with some interest. He contemplated for a moment.
‘Finnish, do you think?’ he said.
Then there were the cyclists, in their day-glo colours, and one rather alarming moment when Red spotted a bright scarlet boat out on the loch and decided that was too astounding for words. Then there was a sudden train of small riding school ponies, which made her snort a bit.
‘Come on, old lady,’ I said. ‘No mountain lions. We are perfectly all right.’
And we were. It was one of the finest walks I ever took. It was lovely to have the company and we talked and laughed all the way round, and Red, apart from her couple of moments of startle, was immaculate.
I do think that riding out with two strange humans and a dog, and with all the hikers and bikers and trail riders and boaters in the glittering sunshine, was really quite a test for a thoroughbred in a new place. She was bloody brilliant and I love her. I rewarded her with a fast two furlong canter to get the twinkles out of her toes, and she went like the wind.
One interesting riding note. (Or, at least, interesting to me. Perhaps not quite so fascinating for the general readership.) The Brother’s Beloved took some pictures, and in them, I see I am leaning a little too far forward in the saddle. My legs and seat are fine, but, where I thought I was sitting straight, I see I am on a slight incline. I think that subliminally I must be so intent on willing the mare on, that instead of sitting straight and deep, and urging her forward with my bottom, I am doing a faint lean. Thank goodness I have caught it in time. As the Cousin’s Old Fella says, very wisely: good habits make good horses.
The other very sweet thing is that the Pigeon has decided the big red dog is not a threat, but a joyous and welcome addition to the pack. The old girl adored her walk. I don’t take her usually, because of her great age, but since we were going slowly, and there were two people on foot, I thought it would be a Sunday treat. She is so alive and agile for her years that I don’t want to start treating her like an old-age pensioner. We all ambled along at an easy pace, and the Pidge scampered about in the woods and went off and flirted with some of the hikers in a most shameless fashion.
When we came to the canter, I said I would circle back and meet my walkers. I expected the Pigeon to stay with the Brother, of whom she is inordinately fond. As I rounded a turn, I caught a flash of a little black figure behind me. The Pigeon was galloping with us. As I pulled up, I looked round in concern, worried it would have taken it out of her. She was grinning in delight, hardly out of breath. My faithful shadow, I thought. She really is my very own little Kauto Star.
The other rather touching thing was that the mare seemed very happy to have a canine companion. Perhaps she thinks the Pigeon is a very small black pony, just as the Pidge clearly assumes she is an enormous dog.
So, that was my Sunday delight. It was a high delight, on about eight different levels.
The Brother’s Beloved said such a nice thing, as we were tracing the path that runs along the river. She looked up and said: ‘You are very happy here, aren’t you?’
‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I am. I have all the melancholies and griefs that flesh is heir to, but mostly, I am happy.’
I looked down at the mare, and stroked her neck. ‘And,’ I said, ‘I am even happier now I have this.’
I wrote to the Cousin’s Old Fella a couple of days ago. He sold me the horse, and I like to keep him informed of her progress. ‘Thank you for letting me have her,’ I wrote. ‘Best thing I ever did.’
Perhaps not quite the very best thing. But up in the pantheon of best things, it ranks pretty high. My beautiful, brave girl; I love her so.
Pictures of the Day.
The river, from the high bridge where we cross over:
The path through the woods:
Red the Mare, The Brother, The Pigeon, and me:
Her glorious face, staring out over the wilderness:
I put this one into sepia, for some reason. If it weren't for that awful hat, we would look like an Edwardian lady and her horse. I got the basic helmet because I was in a rush. I must get a nicer one, eventually:
Doesn't she look good, though? You can see she is already building up some muscle. She will be fit as a butcher's dog before you can say knife.
Back in the garden, a few flowers:
The Pigeon in the glen, happy as a clam:
And taking a little rest on the lawn at home afterwards:
And the hill, faint and blue in the dazzle: