Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Of horses and weather and old friends

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Oh, oh, the weather. I know I must not speak of the weather, as it is clichéd and dull. But oh the dreich. It was a paltry three degrees when I went up to see Red this morning, and rain coming at right angles. Poor horse, I thought, feeling guilty that we have not yet built her a shelter. She does have a stand of trees and the new rug technology, but still. I don’t know which of us yearns for the sun on our back more.

Although, having said that, she does not seem at all fussed by the weather. She was grazing calmly when I arrived, and could take or leave my offering of carrots. (Interestingly, she is not at all a greedy horse; she quite likes a bit of a treat, or a bit of food, but she is delicate and discerning. There is one supposedly marvellous horse treat I bought from The Millers which she elegantly spits out. Luckily, the Pigeon likes those, so all is not lost.)

I start to think that I have to remember to think like a horse. For instance, sometimes my heart contracts when I think of her up in her field, in a new place, in the dark. Oh, poor lovely mare, I think, all sentimental and filled with angst. Then, I read in the most excellent book Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin, that of course horses absolutely love the dark. They are prey animals and they have excellent night vision. They are probably much happier at night, when they can see well and feel safe from mountain lions, than they are in the day. So what I think of as filthy weather, as a human, might be water off a duck’s back to Red.

We work and work together and learn and discover about each other and I love every part of it.

But I do wish the sun would come and shine on our backs.

Today, out of the corner of my ear, I heard some news. But it annoyed me quite a lot so I turned it off again. Instead I drank a lot of coffee and did a pitch, and pretended that I was being very professional and not nervous at all, when actually I want to go and hide behind the sofa.

A very old friend called. ‘I found your blog,’ she said. ‘And you have a horse.’

She sounded most astonished. I sometimes forget that hardly anyone I know in life reads this blog, and must stop assuming that they know what I am up to through some kind of untrammelled telepathy.

‘Yes,’ I said, blissfully. ‘I have a horse.’

We catch up for a while. Her boy is doing exams. I don’t know how that happened. I remember him when he was three weeks old. We discuss our own A levels, through a mist of nostalgia. (Everything is so different now, for the young people.)

‘Did you do S levels?’ she said.

‘Oh, yes,’ I said. Even after almost thirty years, I could still feel my dander rise. YES YES, I did S levels. I was the one at the front of the class with my hand up. That’s the problem with being a girly swot, it never quite leaves you, even when you are old enough to know better.

Up I go to see the mare. A momentary sunshine has shown itself, shy and teasing, after the gloom of the day. Red is by the west gate, communing with the lambs. They are skipping about for her amusement. There is a trio of very naughty little fellows, who are showing off, boldly running around far away from their mothers, who watch from an anxious distance.

The mare seems to find this soothing. She quite likes the chickens as well. I am anxious for her equine companion to arrive, but, in the meantime, at least there is a bit of wildlife for her.

We chat for a while. She has an itch on her head, and she offers me her forehead to scratch. This sends her in a daze of ecstasy. I feel oddly privileged, that she knows I can deal with it. I am her person; I can fix her little worries. I check her rug and give her some carrots. She nods her head and blinks in the light.

I walk away, as always, feeling better than I did when I arrived.

That is her gift, and it is a great one.


Pictures of the day.

Excellent lamb action:

17 April 1 17-04-2012 17-38-35 2652x2728

17 April 2 17-04-2012 17-39-12 2536x2288

17 April 4 17-04-2012 17-39-24 2966x2289

17 April 5 17-04-2012 17-39-35 2598x1779

Red's view:

17 April 7 17-04-2012 17-39-52 4014x1880

Garden, in the only light we saw today:

17 April 9 17-04-2012 17-57-31 4032x3024

17 April 10 17-04-2012 17-58-23 3024x4032

17 April 11 17-04-2012 17-59-21 4032x3024

17 April 12 17-04-2012 18-01-48 3024x4032

17 April 13 17-04-2012 18-02-08 4032x3024

17 April 14 17-04-2012 18-03-45 3024x4032

Red the mare:

17 April 15 17-04-2012 17-40-36 2132x3510

Sunbathing, as if she were on the Riviera:

17 April 16 17-04-2012 17-40-46 2895x2639

Pigeon, waiting for me to throw the ball:

17 April 16 17-04-2012 18-04-46 3024x4032

Yeah, well, it's my ball; what are you going to do about it?:

17 April 17 17-04-2012 18-04-53 3024x4032

The hill:

17 April 20 17-04-2012 18-05-05 4002x2253


  1. I saw three lambs behaving just like yours. They were the (slightly) bigger kids on the block, larking around together on a tree stump. Smaller newborns were looking on shakily from their mother's side. You'll be just like them soon I thought.

    1. Can't seem to find the usual comment button, but it is quite late in the evening, and I am tired, and wine has been partaken of, so I will piggy-back on Lucille's, if I may.

      In mid-Wales we have so many lambs to enchant us it just gets silly with loveliness. They are often right behind us in the fields beyond our hedge, and the older boys play king of the castle on some grassy tussocks and I laugh and laugh.

      Here in Herts (in which we still have a house to get ready to sell, so it's two-site living for a while yet, even though The Husband has retired) there is a teeny-tiny new shire foal with its mother in a nearby field, so I have an insane urge to buy Tesco Value carrots, or Waitrose Essential carrots, and give them all away to chomping teeth and velvet muzzles. Our pond has lots of spawn, our hedges and trees are teeming with flirtatious and busy birdlife, nest-building. Can April and May be beaten? Other months please apply...

      And I can now 'fess up that I too did S Level in one of my subjects, and got a Grade 1, and it doesn't seem such a shabby thing so why have I kept quiet about it since 1975? Swotty Girls frighten the boys, or some such utter bollocks. The 1970s/80s S Level is not to be confused with modern AS levels (which are only half an A level). S levels were A Grade A Levels AND some. They wouldn't even mark the papers if we didn't get an A in the main papers, if I recall aright.

      Let's say it loud and proud. I got an S Level - wanna start?

    2. Lucille - love the thing about the envious newborns watching.

      Goldenoldenlady - so sorry about technical hitches. Hurrah for the swots!

  2. I just love learning new words, so thank you for swot. It really is too bad that girls/women who are smart and/or studious are made to feel like that is a bad thing or something to be downplayed, especially to men. I hope that is changing for this new generation, I have read that there are now more women than men entering college. At least in the US.

    Absolutely adorable lamb photos today.

    1. Nancy - I so agree. Very glad you like the lambs. They really are absurdly sweet.

  3. 'I walk away, as always, feeling better than I did when I arrived. That is her gift, and it is a great one' ... Dear Tania with this reference to your lovely Red you concluded your latest blog entry and reading it I felt inclined to finally drop my British reticence and say a heartfelt thank you. I found your spot in the ether at a time when I felt completely cast adrift. I had lost both of my parents in the space of three days. Mum had been ill but died unexpectedly, dad died suddenly walking to collect her death certificate from the doctors. With all my bearings gone, I found turning to your writing at a point in my day to be something I could look forward to. Your reflections be they on grief or dogs or books or politics or cooking are always illuminating, always completely honest and refreshing, always you. On one occasion I recall I laughed out loud surprising myself that I was laughing and could laugh again ... Exactly a year after my parents died I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had major surgery. I'm now recovering well and enjoying catching-up on all the blog entries I missed when I couldn't get up to the top of the house to turn the computer on. I am not and have never been a dog-lover but find myself looking out for the daily 'Pigeon' photograph and on finding it muttering something akin to 'ah, there she is...'
    Before I win prizes for the longest comment ever, may I just again say Thank you for doing what you do here ... 'I walk away, as always, feeling better than I did when I arrived'.

    1. Anon - that is the most extraordinary comment. I am amazed that you can raise your hands to type, after all that. Almost a year on, I am still a little cast away over my father, but to lose both like that, so quickly, and then to be ill yourself. I think you are a bloody miracle, quite frankly. The idea that any small word I have written here has in any way brought a smile to your poor face makes me feel incredibly glad and humble. So thank you for casting aside your British reticence; you have made my day. I hope that your luck changes, and you may have some sunny days ahead.

    2. I too look for The Pigeon photo and giggle a bit and think, there she is. I had thought it was because she is so like my old dog (another - long gone - collie & black lab cross I have mentioned before in comments), but no! If a person who is not a dog lover can feel it too then it isn't resemblance, it is her, or rather you and her; the photos you catch of her when she is full of beans and loving life.

      She is a Life-Enhancer, with as many capital letters as you like, and you, Tania are her channel.

      Did you know it was healing work you did? I think it is. Some ladies take their special dogs to hospital wards or Old Folks Home (The Terrier is a great hit when he goes to visit Our Ma in hers). You are doing the same work here. Floreat Pigeona.

  4. Waiting for your more posts !
    Christian Louboutin


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