The sun shone. A brilliant man from Perthshire came and manipulated the mare’s back. He gave me a lesson in equine anatomy as Red shuddered and leaned and made most unladylike groaning noises. She’s tight and knotty in all the places you would expect someone who has done the work she has done to be. The brilliant man was not whimsical and new age, although some people think massaging horses is a load of nonsense. He was one of those proper, bone-deep horseman, the kind you can meet once and immediately start talking the same equine language. He is practical and earthy and not prone to flights of fancy, I should not imagine. All the same, he wants me to massage my mare every day. And so I shall. We shall bend and stretch until our ears squeak. She shall be the most limber horse in Scotland.
I then rushed back to watch the show-jumping phase of the three day event. It was absolutely thrilling. For a moment, I hoped the doughty Britons might overhaul the coruscating Germans, but no one was getting past them. Still, Olympic silver is an extraordinary thing. The team rode so well and tried so hard and took equine excellence to a high plain. I salute them all.
I felt quite teary, watching the ceremony. The riders all looked so happy and proud, and the horses so gleaming and bonny. The great New Zealand team won bronze, and everyone cheered their heads off for Mark Todd, who at fifty-six is really stretching the Olympic spirit to its farthest ends. He is so good it would not surprise me if he were in Rio in four years’ time.
So that was happy and good, and even though the lovely Michelangelo got beat in the big race at Goodwood, carrying my money with him, I was rewarded with an unexpected treat, because friend of the blog Shirley Teasdale had a big winner at Ayr. She had a difficult ride last week when her horse ran off his true line and she was hauled in front of the stewards. I always think that must be a terrifying carpet to be up on for a young apprentice. But there, she bounced back in glory.
My own tiny champion, the younger great-niece, rode Myfanwy the pony, with the usual blissed out expression on her face. I’m not sure I ever saw a four year old person quite so happy. For a lot of small people, getting on the back of even the dopiest pony can feel alien and alarming. It’s so foreign, and so far off the ground. Not for this one. She goes into a trance of bliss. ‘Can I steer myself? Let me steer myself!’ she cried, with her Lester Piggott face on. I thought: I must record this now, so that when she is winning Olympic gold or riding in the Grand National, her first steps shall have been marked. (It may turn out that she is a poet or a breeder of rare sheep, but I like to have my equine dreams.)
Her joy was so infectious that the other children clamoured to have a go. So we got all the tiny relations on the small white pony, and it made me think of my own childhood, and it was very, very sweet indeed.
I must concentrate now on serious things. I must get back to my work and take in world events (no idea what is happening beyond my gate just now) and put my serious hat on. But today, as the dancing Scottish sun beamed down on us, all was horsey joy.
Pictures of the day:
Red, looking particularly magnificent after her manipulation:
I don’t know what that fella did to her, but she was bucking round her field like a two-year-old:
Myfanwy the Pony had a bath today. Does she not look clean:
The ponies have new neighbours. The farmer brought them up yesterday. They are just weaned, very curious, and ravishingly beautiful:
Sometimes she has to go into capital letters because lower case is just not enough.