It’s been a very long and productive day. I went up to HorseBack UK. I am working on a new project for them at the moment and it means I go and see them quite a lot. Today I had the great joy of going up into the hills to see the horses who live there. (They are based at two different locations; one just west of me, and one about five miles to the north.)
The snow has come again. Down here in the valley it is miserable and wet and dirty and slushy. Red the Mare makes her most disapproving duchess face, and uses the filthy weather as an excuse to vamp for extra love. Which of course she gets. But up in the hills, the snow is glorious and white and thick and deep.
The horses were happy as grigs in their good rugs, and gathered round to say hello. There were some old friends and some I did not know so well, so I spent time introducing myself. By the end, I was surrounded by six or seven enquiring faces, all of them sniffing at me and mouthing the toggles on my coat and attempting to eat my fur hood. They were all so dear and gentle, and I was in absolute horse heaven.
Time still continues to gallop away from me, and I read myself stern lectures on self-improvement which do not amount to a hill of beans. One day, I think; one day I shall catch up with everything. In the meantime, I canter about like an unbroken colt, from unfinished thing to unfinished thing. I dream a little dream of The Organised People, and how lovely and calm and clear their lives must be. Still, I suppose it’s not the worst failing in the world. Even though my report card says Could Do Better, some things did get done.
Most of all, today made me keenly aware of luck and chance. The work I do for HorseBack and the people and equines there give me a satisfaction so profound I can’t really put it into words. It was through getting Red the Mare that I met them. And I only got her on the merest whim.
One of the Dear Readers asked a few days ago how it was that I came to have her. The story is so filled with near misses that I can hardly believe it came true.
For some reason, almost a year ago, I decided I would like to go back to horses. I think it had something to do with my dad dying. He was a horseman to his bones, and perhaps the idea was to keep some connection to him.
At that exact time, I was staying with the Beloved Cousin, whose husband makes polo ponies. I mentioned my whim, diffidently, to The Old Fella, and he said he happened to have a mare who was for sale. She was not good enough for high-goal, and she had been sold to China, which has recently rediscovered polo, but the man with the lorry had never pitched up, so she was still in the field.
The Old Fella offered to give me a look. I walked out of the back door to see him riding up on a chestnut mare, and I took one look at her white face and fell in love. ‘I’ll take her,’ I said. I rang up a transport firm and booked her to Scotland, and that was that.
So, if I had not been there at that particular time, and if the man with the lorry to China had arrived, and if she had been brilliant enough for high goal, and if and if – there would have been no Red. Even the thought of not having her in my life leaves me breathless. The fates indeed conspired; the stars aligned.
I worked with her for an hour this morning, and afterwards she stood quietly with her head on my chest. She likes to rest it there and close her eyes and let me gentle her sweet spots. No matter how distrait I am, no matter how fretful about my appalling time management, no matter how many things I have to do, that daily moment never fails to lift my heart and soothe my frayed nerves and bring me peace. It’s an idiot thing to say about a horse, but she is, without a doubt, the love of my life. I don’t need a valentine, because I have this glorious creature.
The amazing HorseBack horses and one very special Shetland pony:
The herd, with their astonishing view. That is looking due south over the Dee valley:
It was too blizzardy when I got back to take the camera out, so here is a quick selection from the archive:
My golden girl with her dopey, donkey face on:
With her friend Autumn the Filly:
STANLEY HAS A STICK: