There are people who won’t buy a mare. Mareish is the horrid insult that gets hurled about, meaning tricky, temperamental, hormonal. (Human females know only too well what it is to be accused of that.)
I think it’s all a load of buggery bollocks. It’s lazy prejudice and I’m not having it. Admittedly, there are also people who say that once you get a mare to love you, she will do anything for you in a way a gelding might not. This may also be fanciful, but as I stood in the field this morning with Red, I wondered if there might not be a spark of truth in it.
She continues in her most joyful state. The way she shows she is happy is not by skipping about, not by doing her circus tricks or kicking up her heels. When she is at her most profound bone-deep content, she goes very, very still. It is quite lovely, as if every atom in her mighty body is calm and at rest. She can twitch and fuss sometimes, shake her head, shift about. When the deep joy is in her, she is like the rock of ages.
It was, as it should be on a Sunday, our day of rest. I did no work with her, apart from a bit of ground tethering. (This is where you teach them to stand by dropping the rope on the ground. It’s a brilliantly useful tool, and Red, being immensely clever, has learnt it fast and well.) I was not planning to stay long, but she was so enchanting that I ended up standing with her for almost an hour. That was all we did, stand together in a field, as high, light clouds traced the blue sky, and the indigo mountain gazed down on us.
She leaned her head against my stomach, and I rested my chin on her forehead, and murmured to her. I find myself doing a kind of low, rhythmic hum; it is wordless and instinctive, as if I were crooning to a baby.
A lot of horses won’t do that. They don’t like to be attached to a human in that way; they don’t like to stand still for long periods. The small pony won’t do it. She likes being scratched on the top of her neck, or gentled under her forelock, but she does not do this close resting thing that her big red friend adores.
It’s a gift she gives me, this great mare. I get the oceanic feeling, of love, of communion, of not know where I begin and she ends.
Out in the world, the mares have been doing marvellous things this year. There was Snow Fairy yesterday, of course, waltzing home in Ireland; today, there was the imperious Mince, up against the colts, giving away weight, making it look easy, as she cast off the field and strolled home, all power and grace and balance and ease, breaking the course record for fun. The delightful Australians, Ortensia and Black Caviar, have given me joy; Izzi Top and Great Heavens have made me laugh and shout out loud. Other girls have given me delight: the classy Certify, the gutsy Prussian, the tough Show Flower, who won four on the trot earlier in the season. (And, of course, never forgetting the dear old Ducking Stool, with Shirley Teasdale up.)
It’s not that I don’t love the colts. Anyone who has put up with my endless adoring rambles about Frankel will know that. But there is something special about watching the dancing fillies. So I say: let’s hear it for the girls.
Today’s pictures have a faint inevitability about them. The love has taken over my shutter finger.
It turns out that The Pigeon is not the only one who excels at blinky eyes:
With Myfanwy the Pony:
And, of course, the greatest girl of them all, The Divine Miss Pigeon. Doing Sphinx face:
(Actually that is really her I’m not falling asleep at all actually face. But sphinx sounds grander.)
Her ball face:
And her happy face: