Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Sweet, slow day. The sun almost appeared. There was at least one patch of blue sky. The mare whinnied with greeting when she saw me, which of course made my soft old heart beat in my chest.
We went for an epic two hour ride through the hayfields. There was one scary building, a startling deer leaping out of the high grass, and a perfectly terrifying water and rutted mud combination; all were negotiated successfully. I learnt more about her; she threw up a couple of challenges; I had to use my head. In honour of the July Cup, we did a furlong half speed gallop, which was quite exciting. We rode home gaucho-style, no reins, relaxed as a pair of old hounds.
It was absolutely brilliant. For the first time, I really felt some of my proper riding skills come back. I did some work with her, figures of eight and serpentines, and felt her polo training come back.
I did think how good she is. She gets very zoomed up when we go out into the wild spaces, but she still pays attention to me. A lot of thoroughbreds would see that much open grass and think they were at the races, and I would find myself at Inverness before I knew it. But although she yearns to go fast, she is much too polite to tank off like a crazy horse.
The other lovely thing about this riding is how I get to see this great country. I would never walk that far on my actual feet, not in a million years. I was not bred for hiking. But from Red’s lovely back, I can go out into the mountains and the woods and watch the wind making shimmering patterns in the last of the uncut hay. It is a fine privilege, and I do not take it for granted.
Tired now, from physical exertion, from a bit of unexpected dog grief last night. I suddenly missed my old duchess fearfully. Waves of remembering are such odd and unmapped things. They can still buffet me about as if I am a ship at sea.
The mother is home from the hospital, which is excellent news. Everything is very quiet and still. The Wellingtonias and the beeches stand green and stately outside my window, for once not drowned in rain. The only sound is the gentle breathing of the Pigeon, as she dozes by my side.
This is where Red and I rode:
Myfanwy the pony, stoical about being left behind:
This is what Red looks like when she ambles over to greet me:
Relaxing after her long ride:
The Pigeon says: if you think that big red dog is sweet, I see her dopey donkey face and raise her a questing look:
A blinky eye:
And a yearny face: