Friday, 22 February 2013

Horses, work, time and slightly surprising hats. Or, the end of a really rather lovely week.

Another packed day. There was so much to do that I did not have time to do any serious work with my mare. Still, we achieved something rather miraculous yesterday, so I decided to give her a complete day off.

This morning, I found her, with her little herd, standing under the great tree in the middle of the paddock, which is her favourite place. I stood with her for twenty minutes, and told her, for the hundredth time, of the great day in 1970 when her grandsire won the Derby.

‘See,’ I said. ‘No one really knew if he would stay. He’d never run over that distance before. But Lester thought he would stay; Mr O’Brien thought he would stay. And he came rolling down that hill with a double handful.’

She nodded and dozed and rested her head against my chest and let me ramble on. She is very forgiving, like that.

I should really be getting her ready for riding now. I should be doing all the proper groundwork that goes into that. Even though today’s hiatus was officially because my time management is in tatters, actually sometimes I think one of the best things you can ever do with a horse is simply be.

That is my story and I am sticking to it.

Then I went up to HorseBack, to see Jim Dukes, their most excellent vet, in action. There is almost nothing I love more than watching really good vet at work, and, when it comes to horses, Jim is the high crest and peak.

But there was also a serious purpose. I’m trying a new thing with HorseBack, which is to show all the work that goes on behind the scenes.

There are the banner days, such as on Tuesday, when a member of the government comes to visit, and there are the busy days which will start again quite soon, when the courses are in full swing.

Yet, even on the quiet, unsung, ordinary days, keeping an organisation such as theirs ticking over takes a whole team, working hard together. I thought it would be interesting to show some of that, so I took a little photo essay of the vet doing his job.

Then there was work; then there was a very quick peek at the 3.25 at Sandown; then there was the making of a soup and the considering of all the logistical things which keep my own tiny organisation going.

There are so many things that happened this week which I would like to tell you, but the brain is frazzling now, and it is time to stop. My eyes squint and my fingers crab and my grasp of the English language grows faint.

Still, it was a good week. I had high excitement, a moment of very private achievement, some new ideas, a lot of animal love, the good feeling of being part of something more important than I, a great deal of laughter, a handy little treble which came in at 14-1, a surprising hat moment, a rather unexpectedly touching communication with a stranger on the internet, and, just this morning, in real life, one damn fine compliment.

It was a short compliment, not more than five words. It contained no curlicues or flourishes, no flowery language such as I would employ. It came from someone who does not hurl the things about like confetti.

It meant a lot.


Today’s pictures:

The vet at work at HorseBack UK:

22 Feb 1

22 Feb 2

Rodney, the most patient patient:

22 Feb 4

With my friend The Horse Talker, who is a long-time volunteer there:

22 Feb 6

In the beautiful granite stables, for a little box rest:

22 Feb 7

Meanwhile, out in the paddock, there is my special friend Gus the Foal, with his heavenly white face, and his insatiable curiosity:

22 Feb 7-001

Some quick garden pictures for you:

22 Feb 10-001

22 Feb 11-001

22 Feb 12

22 Feb 12-001

22 Feb 12-002

Myfanwy has had a lovely time this week, getting very muddy indeed:

22 Feb 15

Autumn the Filly, on the other hand, is looking very pretty and pleased with herself, after a series of excellent adventures:

22 Feb 16

Since the inexplicable hat proved such a hit, I can’t resist giving you a couple more of those:

22 Feb 10

That dozy face never fails to lift my heart. (Red’s face, not mine.)

I’m starting to think this might have to be my Cheltenham outfit. It’s the kind of thing Sprinter Sacre would surely appreciate:

22 Feb 11

Stanley the Dog has been exceptionally good and sweet this week, and had a lot of fine stick action:

22 Feb 20

22 Feb 21

And through it all, sails the calm blue presence of my beloved hill:

22 Feb 25

And since it is a Friday, and if you can’t be a bit self-indulgent on your own blog I don’t know where you can be, here is one final shot of Red and me. I like it because there is the funny juxtaposition of my most speccy geekish incarnation with the affectionate dreamy sweetness of Herself:

22 Feb 26

I hope you are all having a lovely Friday afternoon, wherever you are.


  1. I think the earth has revolved just that wonderful couple of degrees this week when the Northern hemisphere gets a few hours of warmer sun, longer daylight hours and bluer skies. It's the point every early spring when life seems that tiny bit more possible again.

    We too have had A Good Week, here in beautiful mid-Wales.

    Here's to many more sunny days soon!

  2. Tania, you are simply fantastic xxxx

  3. Plesae teach me how to do doubles/trebles, I used to do a 10p e/w lucky 15 and have no idea if this is stll available, all my bets now are win or e/w, someone help please| x

  4. Tania, your photos are really beautiful as always.
    The hat is wonderful - the feathers!
    And, lovely to see you in amongst all your loves as well. Enjoy your weekend. xx

  5. How great to have a horse to talk to, the two photos of you the horse and the red hat are rather wonderful.

  6. I repeat myself, I know -- but seeing images of you within your own stories is quite wonderful.

    (I'm jealous that (northern?) Scotland is in the thick of prespring, while we, in Wisconsin have snow and bare limbs and really not much else.)

  7. Oh I love the hat! You look so *pretty* and that wonderful jacket...the tailoring of it is so smart+you look country but so so very chic.
    I rarely talk of clothes as I always look like I've stumbled up an embankment, but I had to today as you are shining.

  8. Such wonderful photos. It's lovely to see such contented horses -obviously the result of being so well cared for. And Mr Stanley -doesn't he look wonderful with his stick in his 'action' shots? I also think your jacket is very chic. The HAT is stupendous.

  9. I'd love to make a copy of that hat, it makes my fingers itch.


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