Thursday, 20 September 2012

Good day, in brief.

Today, I saw something really marvellous. Well, many, many marvellous things, in fact. There was an entire day, from nine to five, of marvellousness. I learnt things, and laughed like a drain, and was so interested that my brain almost danced out of my ears.

Write it down, write it down, shouts the blog voice. The Dear Readers must know everything.

Are you mad? yells the real life voice, which is so tired it does not know what its name is. You can hardly type a coherent sentence.

I’m tired because I was standing outside most of the day and I neglected to take my iron tonic. I spent the day with the glorious HorseBack UK, of which I have written before and shall write again. I shall tell you the whole story tomorrow, and everything I learnt.

One thing I was reminded of, which I shall leave you with before I collapse, is that I really, really like being around people who are good at things. The things do not have to be grand or screen-worthy; they need not bring fame and fortune. The things I admire the most would not trouble the front page of any newspaper, or win prizes, or get a paparazzo snapping. A man who can build a really fine dry stone wall can send me into a haze of pleasure.

Today, I watched people being outstandingly good at things. It’s not just about admiration, although there is that. There is also some aesthetic pleasure. But most of all, it is vastly calming. When someone can do something really well, there is no need to shout about it. There is no Look at me, on my unicycle. There is no flying of flags, or one-upmanship. There is no zero sum: none of the mean-spirited If I am good, you must be bad.

There is a lovely ease and certainty, when a talent is honed and worked and brought to its crest and peak. It is contained and actual, with no need for braggadocio or fanfare.

It also contains wonderful seeds of possibility. Perhaps, perhaps, if I too work and concentrate and practise, I might achieve that pitch of ability. It is a generous thing, at home with itself.

That was one of the things I learnt today.

Afterwards, I went up to see the mare. After the slight tensions of the last two days, I had been worrying that she was really missing her herd. I saw herd horses today, and there is nothing more natural or delightful to watch horses being horses, with each other. Red had that in her old home. Now she just has Myfanwy the Pony and me. (And the Horse Talker, who makes a huge difference in our lives.)

It’s fine, but it’s not the same as running with a pack. I fretted that she missed the good leadership of her old lead mare, whom I saw in action this summer, and is a leader not to be crossed. I had become obsessed with expanding my own herd, to give her some of what she had lost.

But tonight, she was back to her dozy, relaxed persona; still, biddable, affectionate, all the wind and drama out of her. We did twenty minutes of work on the ground, the tiniest, most basic steps, and it was as if she had been up last night reading the book, everything was so delicate and gentle and correct. I stood with her for a while and rubbed her forehead and she went into her trance of pleasure. The lower lip wibbled. All was right in her world.

Perhaps it’s not the herd, I thought. She just has her days, like all horses, like all humans. (I myself was hideously grumpy yesterday and had to apologise to my poor mother for snapping. Snapping. The Pigeon, who never has moods, looked horrified.) Every day, as I say over and over again, cannot be Doris Day. Today, though, by wonderful happenstance, was a good one, for us both.


Today’s pictures, of some of the charmers amongst whom I was lucky enough to spend my day:

20 Sept 1

20 Sept 2

20 Sept 3

20 Sept 5

20 Sept 6

20 Sept 8

20 Sept 9

And my own little charmers:

20 Sept 11

20 Sept 12

Link for HorseBack UK here:

If you haven’t already, do go and have a look. They do really remarkable things.


  1. Yes, drystone walling is a wonderful art but your blog brought to mind our gardener, growing up in Surrey, he was an expert with the scythe. Oh, I could stand and watch someone who really can use a scythe for hours. It is so calming.

  2. "It also contains wonderful seeds of possibility. Perhaps, perhaps, if I too work and concentrate and practise, I might achieve that pitch of ability. It is a generous thing, at home with itself."

    Tania, what on earth makes you think you don't achieve that 'pitch of ability' every time you put pen to paper? (Or these days, fingers to keyboard, I suppose.) Whenever I want to lift my spirits with a dose of intelligence, humour and reality, I return to BIHH. I am presently mildly dismayed to find that it isn't yet available in electronic format, as my beautiful hardback copy is probably too heavy for inclusion in luggage for my forthcoming Big Exciting Holiday, and I shall miss my own personal bible. (Is that a blasphemous thing for a Rector's wife to say?!)

  3. Ditto from Dominic. Penmanship is the wrong word, but good writing, really fine writing, is what we've come to expect from TK.
    Incidentally, one place you might think of visiting if you want to see outstanding communication between horse and rider - is Mongolia. I was there this time last year and saw riding to die for, by 7 year-olds and 70 year-olds. Not only do they ride like princes, they are wonderful wrestlers and archers too!
    Go East, young girl…


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


Blog Widget by LinkWithin