They say that your horse is a reflection of you. This is not completely true, but it is quite true. My mare at the moment mostly appears wonderfully calm and happy. She moves slowly and gracefully over the ice field, her head low, her step quiet and careful. She does not get het up at feeding time. She is gentle with Autumn the Filly and Myfanwy the Pony.
Today, I took her for a walk round the paddock and she was immaculate. Taking your horse for a walk sounds completely nuts, but it’s one of the things I love doing. It reminds her that I am her Dear Leader, makes her mind my stride, keeps us in harmony. It’s the dottiest, simplest thing, but she enjoys it, and it makes me smile.
All the same, she has a very faint anxiety line over her eyes.
I’ve noticed this for a few days and I did not want to think about it. At first, I believed that this was because I could not bear my dear girl to have any cloud on her horizon. In fact, she is a horse, and a sensitive one, it is stupid to think that into her life no rain shall fall. She is also the lead mare, so she has responsibilities to mind.
I think I did not want to think about it because it is a reflection of my own state of mind.
I’m pretty good, on the surface. I go to breakfast with The Mother and Stepfather and make jokes and talk politics and racing. I do my work. I bond with Stanley the Lurcher. I miss my old dog, but that’s to be expected. I’m getting used to it. I enjoy things; I follow the racing, and smile when my bets come in. (Another very pleasing Twiston-Davies special this afternoon.) I do the blog and take pictures and feel grateful for the beauty of this place.
But at the same time, there is a tight, humming tension in me. It’s not just that I am up against a hard deadline. I’m not sure quite what it is. I’m always rushing everywhere, feeling distrait and behind. I’m lashing myself to do more, write better, get organised. The critical voices are shouting loudly in my ears.
Perhaps this is just life. Perhaps I feel it because I am a little battered by the sadness of the Pigeon. You can’t just ignore the loss of such a companion. Perhaps it is just the time of year.
I always know something is wrong when I get stupidly upset by absurd things. After all that mad writing yesterday, I went to look at my numbers. I never do this, because I write the blog for love, not fame, and as long as one Dear Reader is made happy that is enough for me. I don’t want one of those huge public blogs; the pressure of that would undo the point of the whole thing. It is an amateur enterprise, in the true sense of the word, and that is what gives it its sweetness.
But yesterday I was suddenly furious, as I looked at the mostly flat line of the graph, bumping along the bottom. Is that the best you can do? yelled the critical voices. What pathetic, paltry numbers those are, they crowed. It took me 24 long hours to talk myself down off the ceiling.
I think it is because I have suffered a pretty major setback. I’m pretending it’s all fine, because I’m so bloody brilliant at dealing with failure, but I think its spectre is haunting me, and I have to look the damn thing in the face and deal with it. Oh, it’s so dull. Sometimes I long to brush things under the carpet and make believe that they never happened. This is not, it turns out, an effective technique. I must be brave, and see the whites of its eyes.
Thinking of all this, I took the evening feed very slowly today. Instead of hurrying and worrying, I mooched about with the horses, and spent a long time just being with my mare, letting the glorious scent of her into my nostrils, feeling the soft teddy bear fur on her neck, gentling her and chatting to her. I stopped fretting about the ice and the weather forecast and the fact that our work is interrupted because of the elements. I just let it all be.
She went drowsy and still, and the small lines over her eyes smoothed out, and she made little sighing noises which almost broke my heart.
There it is, I thought. How many damn times do I have to say it? Every day can’t be Doris Day. I am not impervious to the slings and arrows, nor was meant to be. And that is my very, very small Thought for the Day.
Today’s pictures are not awfully good, but I show them to you in my new spirit of imperfection:
Myfanwy doing comedy face:
Stanley, waiting politely to be taken for a walk:
Blurry blue hill:
PS. I had a nice time on Pinterest today. I’m still not quite sure entirely what the point of it is, but it turns out there are lots of nice horse people on there, so I found lovely pictures of Nijinsky and Northern Dancer, Red’s illustrious grandsire and great-grandsire, so you can imagine how happy I was. My page is here, should you be interested: