Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Up and down

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

The very first thought I have when I wake is:

I have a horse.

I think this happy thought as I eat my breakfast sausages and drink my breakfast coffee and check my breakfast Kauto Star news. (Racing Post website, Twitter, general Google search; it is belt and braces with me.)

I do work. I then go to a saddler in Cirencester and buy a bridle and a headcollar. Bridles, it turns out, are amazingly good value. A nice headcollar, on the other hand, is an arm and a bloody leg.

My agent calls. I tell her about the horse. She sounds momentarily frightened, worried that I shall now be so busy on horse and dog island that I shall never write a word again. 'It won't be the dog ate my homework?' she says, nervously.

'Don't be silly,' I say. 'I shall have to write twice as many books because horses are so damn expensive.'

Gusty sighs of relief issue down the telephone.

Also: I have a theory that the physical fitness will mean my brain is firing on forty-seven cylinders. This means production will soar.

Then I get a very nice rug and take home two chic saddles to try.

I'll just do some more work, I think. At which point the brick wall strikes again. Same as day before yesterday, like a combination of fog and stone. I am typing this whilst lying on my bed, attempting to chivvy my poor bashed brain into some kind of coherence.

I have tried iron tonic, caffeine, vitamin C, vitamin D, and green tea capsules. I am drinking plenty of water. I had a very healthy lunch. I don't know what this horrid physical feeling is. My mind could not be happier or more joyful, it's just the body is all fagged and fogged.

I wonder if perhaps I have sleep debt. I have been getting up at six-thirty every morning to try and get work done whilst being in the middle of family life. (I say again, to you parentals: HOW DO YOU DO IT?) I am not used to such early rising; at home, I amble downstairs at nine. Perhaps my circadian cycles are in turmoil.

If my mother were here she would look at me sternly and say: Too much excitement. Certainly the thrill of the glorious new equine has exercised my adrenal glands to their very limit.

Either that, or there is just some horrid low grade virus going round, and even the brilliant bottle of Floradix is no match for it. My glands are up like footballs.

I wonder: if I lie very, very still, and go to bed like an old lady at seven, will I feel normal again in the morning? Because I must feel fit enough to do my I've got a horse dance.



I did look up the breeding. I can hardly tell you who her ancestors were, they are so grand. She was an absolutely rotten racehorse though; thirteen out of thirteen at Thirsk last time out, after which they clearly gave up.

I do remember how breeding can be deceptive. There was the famous Seattle Dancer in the eighties, the most expensive yearling ever sold, bred like a dream. Thirteen million guineas later, and all the owners were left with was one paltry Grade One as a three-year-old. No Guineas, Derby, Leger, Arc De Triomphe; no classics at all. And his progeny did not win much either. So bloodlines are not everything.

On the other hand, I am slightly hysterical that my mare appears to be descended from Hyperion and Gainsborough, two of the most brilliant horses of their generation.


6 March 2 07-03-2012 16-54-56


7 March 4

This is Red's grandsire, Nijinsky. I almost didn't want to say his name, because it would just sound like bragging. It's sort of like saying oh, my grandfather was the Duke of Devonshire, or the King of France:

7 March 1

Can you see the family resemblance? Really not sure. That fella was a world-beater. My lovely girl is just a very dear, ordinary creature, who happens to have some champions in her distant past:

7 March 5 02-03-2012 13-50-53.ORF

In some ways, she is a perfect example of the vagaries of the horse world. After all, Desert Orchid was by nothing, out of nothing. One horsey neighbour told his breeder to shoot the dam and start again, if he wanted to make a success of breeding. Luckily Jimmy Burridge ignored this sage advice, and the resulting grey foal went on to win a Gold Cup, two Whitbreads and four King Georges, and became one of the most beloved horses in an entire century, perhaps ever.

And, talking of breeding, this mutt would be disdained by the Kennel Club, not let anywhere near Crufts, and sniffed at by all serious dog breeders everywhere. Yet just look at the beauty:

7 March 5 01-03-2012 12-56-39.ORF

Stopping now, because my head feels as if it's about to fall off.

But thank you thank you for all your kind wishes. It does seem to be very popular that the blog now has a horse. So that is double joy for me.


  1. Have you considered that you might not be very well? It might be why your glands are up and you feel rotten - just a thought. You can't really expect iron tonic, vitamins and green tea to work like a magic spell. Just because you have a lovely horse and 'think' you should feel well doesn't mean you are, you daft item! Give yourself a little break and recover. We need you well to get our daily Pigeon and now Red fixes, I need to know more about the pig too.

    Chillax Tania!

  2. There is a low level bug doing the rounds that just wipes you - but at the same time it also sounds like you have been rather busy. Whatever it is I hope you feel better soon, and allow yourself a little bit of rest to knock it on the head.

  3. Low grade virus is my bet. Your glands are telling you something and the reason you keep feeling struck down is that you are not listening to them. I feel sorry for your glands, and sorry for you. Listen to them! Stay in bed!

    And heavens to betsy, am I impressed: Nijinsky's grand daughter? Woo hoo! Best that Red doesn't know, really.

  4. Just wondering if you suffer from 'Spring tiredness'. Don't laugh. It's a real condition but I think only known on the Continent. I always love how that sounds by the way. I am very happy living on an island but I love saying that I grew up on the Continent as if it was some far away place.

    Anyway, Spring tiredness means you feel a bit down and are tired, its a bit like waking up from hibernation. Fresh air and exercise are meant to help, I am afraid. I have not tried it yet either though and am rather happy indoors. I know I can't avoid the gym and park for much longer. A horse and a dog must be much more tempting to make you venture outside. Good luck.

  5. Take care of yourself. Drink plenty of water and green tea along with more sleep and rest. You must have some sort of virus brewing. Congrats on Red, what a beauty and wonderful addition to your family! Pigeon may not like sharing camera time... Feel better. ~Tammy

  6. Such kindness and good, sage advice. Thank you all. :)

  7. Even in the Antipodes, with a non-racing background, I know those names! It does add a little extra frisson, a bit like knowing that you have a book in a totally unremarkable cover, but it's inscribed by the rather famous author to another equally famous contemporary (direct analogy from my bookcase, one Australian poet to another).

    Like your mother, I prescribe too much excitement. Of the best sort naturally, so one cannot be expected to have feet on the ground and do mundane things for a few days. Call this a few days of celebration!

    Welcome Red!

  8. Tania, I hadn't cottoned on to the fact that the mare you have been riding is by way of being yours (insofar as any animal belongs to anyone - I am more of the mind that we belong to them...). Will she be travelling to Scotland at some point, or are you carrying the cost of her keep in Glos and visiting when you can? Nosy impertinence that may seem, in which case, SOZ! but it is more that I am wonderimng whether we can expect daily images of equine beauty amidst the canine. Soopah-doopah, if so.

  9. Echinacea!
    - Oh and WOW...wouldn't your Dad have been proud and so pleased? I bet he is smiling rainbows at YOUR horse! back once again with the capitals...

  10. I think you have low blood pressure; therefore drink a large bottle of Coke ... I know that sounds totally non U but it works.

    My lovely stepfather (who was a chum of your father) had a great mare who was a daughter of Hyperion and was the same colour as your newly found Red. She was quite a big mare which was strange as Hyperion was a little hoss and she broke the track record at Epsom a million years ago.

    Am going to Cheltenham for the Gold Cup - hope that KS will run - or do I? Perhaps he should retire on his laurels. Talking to an Irish friend yesterday she said to me 'Just back anything Irish, be it the hoss, the trainer or the jockey'.

  11. All go and get your B12 levels checked!

  12. Do love Red's royal bloodlines. And look on the bright side ~ you don't want a horse who's off to the races (pardon the pun) every time you go out. Some of her folks knew how to keep themselves sound, never mind the trophies. ;-)

    I met Nijinsky once when he was an old fellow. Had gone to the farm to visit another stallion and my guide that day was an elderly stud groom just off retirement named Clay Arnold. It was a quiet morning and I was by myself, so Clay took out several of the big names for me to look over (quite nice, as I hadn't a dime and clearly was not a potential client ~ he must have seen that I just loved 'em). At the end, as I got ready to leave, he said, "Wait a moment, you can't go until you've see the best of them all. I'm not supposed to, but it's nearly time for him to go to his paddock." In a few minutes he came back with a dark bay stallion who was obviously a senior citizen (he was 24 at the time), but still a looker. He walked pretty slowly, as old aches had caught up with him, but he had that indefinable air of greatness about him. They were so touching, Clay and Nijinsky, two old campaigners, very quiet and gentle with each other. They're both gone now, but I still have the photo I shot of them and have never forgotten the moment. Nijinsky was everyone's champion, but he was one man's best friend.

    Best to Red. And you. Feel better.


  13. Not only beautiful and kind but also aristocratic, is there no end to Red's qualities? Maybe your lack of energy is just called February/March - surely the grimmest moment of the year.

  14. Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Oh your days will be filled with indescribable joy. I am absolutely thrilled for you. A most excellent thing you have done. Sending masses and masses of love. xxxxxx

  15. It does have a really amazing service and product. Good job!


Your comments give me great delight, so please do leave one.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin