Ham and cheese sandwich for my very late lunch, and a good swig of iron tonic, as I feel very weak and tottery after all that coffee and work. I reflect ruefully on my absolute lack of stamina.
I go down to do the horses in wild winter sunshine. By the time I get back, have a quick game of ball with Stanley the Dog, and settle back to my desk, it is pitch dark. I had forgotten to turn my iTunes off, so Mozart is still playing (Eine Kleine Nachtmusik this time), but there is no more rose pink outside my window, only indigo blue sky with the very last black shadows of the trees, and a light shining on the granite wall to the left.
We had a slight field drama. The poor little pony has a cut by her eye. It’s only a tiny thing, and we have been amazingly lucky with our lack of field incidents, but still, it must be seen to. I get water and a special white sort of lint from the first aid kit, and approach the wounded warrior very, very gently. She is a little head-shy at the best of times, and does not like having her ears touched, so this was going to be a fair challenge.
I caught her at once, ran my hands all over her to make sure there were no other wounds, and spent about five minutes just loving and soothing her. Then, I had to get the scary white lint and, if at all possible, the water bottle, near to her eye, so I could bathe it.
In the end, it turned into an excellent desensitising exercise. Here is this nice bottle. NO NO NOT THE SCARY BOTTLE. If you stand still, I’ll take it away. STILL BLOODY SCARY. If you give it a sniff, you will find it is not going to eat you. I’M ON THE VERGE OF TAKING YOUR WORD FOR IT.
And so on.
This is what I like about natural horsemanship. In the old days, I would have thought, oh, bloody-minded naughty little pony; let’s just get this over with. I would have been firm and fast, and probably scared her a bit. As it is, I think: she is a flight animal, and this strange white stuff and weird plastic thing are making her want to run for the hills. So how do I get her over that feeling? It’s by slowness. Patience, baby steps, showing it to her, taking it away, praising every small sniff, congratulating every brave moment of standing still instead of pulling away.
And in the end, the thing is done, and the pony feels pleased with herself instead of alarmed and exhausted.
Of course the irony is, that by the time I get to bathe the minute scratch, it has pretty much dried up and started to heal. But still, care must be taken.
I think: small life lesson, right there. This new technique took probably twenty minutes longer than the old approach. But in those twenty extra minutes was all kinds of goodness. We both learnt something; we were both happy. Just because of taking time.
I have another hour and a half or so of work to do, and then, at last, I can look at the news. Because, apart from it being the twelfth of the twelfth of the twelfth, and Kauto Star going for dressage, I have absolutely no idea what is going on.
I never have any pictures of me with the horses, and because it was an historical day, I decided this was the time, despite the fact that my hair was a mess and and I was not at all ready for my close-up. Horses are very, very good for teaching one to eschew vanity, although I do still slightly wish that I had spent ten minutes putting in some nice product for you, so that I did not look as if I had just run through a hedge. Ah, well.
Me with my dear, dozy mare:
Finding Myfanwy’s sweet spot:
Donkey ears, as she polishes off her evening haynet:
The Beauty, even with hay on her ear:
Last of the light:
Lichen, because a day is not a day without lichen:
Or moss, for that matter:
The last of the hill:
The light had really gone by the time we got to the ball, so these are very bad. But Stanley the Lurcher must be recorded, even if he is a bit blurry:
Sorry about the tenses. All over the place. By this time of day, my writing brain has fled for the hills.