Saturday, 15 September 2012

Of horses and hearts

Of course, the moment I give Camelot my damn heart, he takes it and smashes it. He lost by a length and a half, beaten by a smart 25-1 outsider. Such is racing.

But Frankel, I think, Frankel never did that. Frankel never, ever broke my heart. My heart was safe with him.

It made me realise too, all over again, what a mighty champion Nijinsky was. That elusive Triple Crown was steady on his head, as he sauntered home in the 1970 Leger, with Lester Piggott cheekily dropping his hands before the line, as if he were out for a schooling canter.

Horses, especially the Thoroughbred, are entirely mysterious. Camelot looked a picture going down to the start, relaxed nicely in the early stages of the race, and then, asked to pick up, could only labour past his rivals. Instead of his mighty dashing acceleration, there was a dour plugging on. To win two Derbies, a Guineas and be second in the Leger is a pretty fine record, but there was not the fiery spark today. People will blame the jockey, search for excuses, but it shall remain a mystery.

It is a mystery too why it is that my astonishingly well-bred mare, who can trace her bloodlines back to any amount of champions, from Hyperion to Northern Dancer, who has delightful confirmation and a sweet temperament, was so useless on the racecourse that her last run was thirteenth out of thirteen at Thirsk. (I occasionally look at the figures and feel a bit weepy for her.) But thank goodness she was so slow, because otherwise she would never have come to me, and I cannot imagine life without her.

This morning, away from fine breeding and aristocratic bloodlines, I went up to look at quite different kind of horse, as a possible project. I was not going to take on a rescue, but someone who knew someone got in touch, and just north of Aberdeen there is a mare who needs a new home. There is some Thoroughbred in her somewhere, but a lot of motley else, and she has been through at least three yards, one of which treated her abominably. She looked at me with sad eyes, and I wanted to take her home, so that Red could cheer her up by doing her circus tricks.

Because she is a project, because she has no history and so is a huge risk, and because no one knows her breeding, I had to put in a low offer, which may not be accepted. It’s a bit of a nutty thing to do on my part, because I was saving up for a nice Quarter Horse. But despite the fact that she arrived at her present owner half-starved, and with a gag on her bridle (a hideous bit which should never be allowed, in my opinion) she still has willingness in her.

She joined up with me in a round pen, and was polite and responsive on the leading rein. Whatever horrid humans have done to her, she still has it in her heart to try and please. That is the other mystery of the horse. You really have to do an awful lot of ghastly things to them before they give up. Their default mode is to try. That is why I love them, and that is why I hope that, in days to come, you may find a new girl on this blog, a little bashed and battered, uncertain and sensitive, with the chance of a new start.
Rather shattered after my Camelot disappointment, so just the energy left for some quick pictures of my own little champions, and some nice cows:

15 Sept 2

15 Sept 2-001

15 Sept 3

15 Sept 6


  1. Oh dear, you are going to be a bonkers Brit with a field full of wonky donkeys! It's not good, is it? Let one animal into one's home and heart and a nice orderly queue forms behind it...

    1. Don't take a look at Paul O'Grady at Battersea Dogs' Home on ITV on Monday evenings, or you'll be bowling down south in a hired van to pick up pack of pups as well...

  2. Camelot broke my heart too, or rather big bad Fate did as no luck came the way of Camelot and his young Knight today. But they had the guts to try and in my book that matters most of all. Courage, as the Cowardly Lion knew well, is a rare and precious thing. Good luck with your new project, quite big hearted of you. Know those sad eyes touch our hearts. x

  3. Hmmm....being a woman "of a certain age" surrounded by horses has a lot more cachet about it than being a "cat lady".
    Just sayin'...

    (PS I seem to be headed for cat ladydom. I need to find loving homes for the three kittens who are growing up & out of their baby "cuteness"...)

    1. The Husband's first wife was "miaow mad" as he terms it. At top whack they had four. He reckons any more than three is in the realms of irrational fondness. We also know a family of two parents and three fast-growing boys where they have five cats and explain this away by saying "it's only one each..."

      I wonder how multiple moggie owners manage as they aren't pack animals and even family groups aren't very cohesive, apart from mum and kittens while the offspring are small, are they? I have always understood it that most grown cats are of a solitary disposition.

      I'm afraid I can't offer a home, as can't do cats because of sneezing and wheezing, much to The Dog's relief, I suspect, and anyhow Belgium to Wales is a bit of a stretch. Good Luck, though!

  4. How exciting Tania. I hope your offer is accepted.

  5. Both our dogs are rescues (one is a collie x lab now 12 and a half years young), and I wouldn't swap them for anything. Rescues give you their heart, so I hope the mare comes home with you where she will be loved, and learn to trust again.

  6. Fingers crossed and bless your big heart.

  7. Seconding someone ahead of me - Letters to Trigger - that the important fact was that O'Brien tried with Camelot. And no offense to Frankel, but that is the one 'hole' in his resume. He has not stepped out of his comfort zone or traveled much. Second thoughts all around on Camelot - should have been a pacemaker, etc. - but that's just racing. Lovely horse, even if he hasn't really got the flamboyant excitement factor of Frankel.



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