Posted by Tania Kindersley.
So many things today. First: proper, warm sun. A huge amount of family sweetness. 1768 words of book. Sudden, dramatic spring beauty, after the days of blah. But now it is half past seven and I have only just got back from the horse and I am so tired I do not know what my name is.
But there is one story I must tell you. It is a horse story, but luckily I am so shattered that you shall only get the truncated version. Still, it is too important not to be told; I must write it down.
There is a thing called join-up some of you will know. It’s the great Monty Roberts technique. In very basic terms, you send the horse away, and then, when it gives you the signal, you let it come back in, and it does this thing called joining up, where it will then follow you at the shoulder. It is much more subtle and complicated than this, and it has a lot of good equine psychology behind it, but there is no time to go into that now.
Enough to say: you are supposed to do it in a small, enclosed arena. I have a three acre field. But today, for some reason, sun or new week or spring fever, I thought what the hell, let’s see what the old girl makes of extemporised version.
Woo, woo, crazy new game is what she made of it. She galloped flat out, circled, bucked, jumped for joy and a little bit of devilry. The pony looked quite surprised and slightly indignant, as if such antics were way beneath her dignity. I trudged after my circus act, keeping on, keeping on. (The thing is: you have to keep them moving; it’s a herd thing.)
I had resigned myself to failure, thought at least it’s bloody good exercise for us both, and Red has had the chance to have a huge joke. (I remain convinced that she has a fairly developed sense of humour.) And then, suddenly, and I don’t really know quite how it happened, she locked on. I could hardly believe it. There she was, at my shoulder, head down, like an ambly old dog. She had gone from bronco to Labrador. We walked for a bit, doing some turns, in perfect step. Then I stopped, to see what would happen. I had no hold on her; she had a huge field to run off into.
What happened was that she rested her head against my chest, and stayed there for fifteen minutes. We had a moment a little like that a couple of weeks ago, but that was the hors d’oeuvre. This was the main course, with bells and trumpets. I’m not sure I ever felt anything like it. It was that kind of profound communion which has no words.
Just now, I went up to check on her. I did a little re-run of this morning, to see if it had been some kind of fluke. It had not. That first session took about forty minutes of dogged determination, my cussed streak in full cry. This evening, in the glancing amber sun, she joined up in five minutes, and then rested with me as before, as still and calm as an ancient monument.
I stroked her face very gently, and murmured to her a bit, and we stood and looked at the view and I thought nameless thoughts, to do with love, and the extraordinary gifts that an essentially wild creature can give to a domestic old human. I thought: I don’t really have to worry about anything, because I have this. I have this.
The Pigeon and I went out into the glorious evening sun to inspect the garden. She did a lot of vital snuffling; I took some pictures. I felt very lucky to have her, too. I got the great good fortune to have the good companions, both quite by chance, really. If my sister had not decided to go and live abroad for a year, I should never have inherited the Pigeon. If the man who was going to buy Red and take her to China had not changed his mind and never turned up, she would not have been sitting in my cousin’s field, waiting for me. I really do bless those random shifts of chance, and feel quite breathless at my luck. I do not know what I would do without my beautiful girls.
Red, gazing out over her view:
And with her dozy face:
The Pigeon, doing her grave, noble face: