It was such an ocean-going, fur-lined, five-star, Red Letter Day today, that one blog post is not enough.
This is the first.
This is a little photo essay. It was the day that, after weeks of gentle but intense work, Autumn the Filly was finally backed. She has had everything on her, from trousers filled with water bottles, to astronaut space blankets. She has been led through rivers and into the dark woods and even down to the village to see a bus.
Step by easy step, the process unfurled. Everything was done with quietness and patience, so that she had plenty of time to get used to each new thing. She is only three, and quite often young horses, when they first feel the weight of a saddle and then a human on their back, will bronc and buck and rear.
Not this filly. It got to the stage when cunning plans were being hatched to find something, anything, that would surprise her.
The reason all this matters is that, by the time the humans got on her, she was so relaxed and trusting and accustomed to the unexpected, that it was just one more simple progression for her. Her first sense memory of being ridden will be one of ease and pleasure. This is profoundly important, because horses remember like elephants.
She took it all in her lovely stride. She did not so much as swish her tail.
I have to say that I was so proud of her that I had a small tear in my eye. It was a great day for the herd, and a testament to the thought and care and effort that has gone into her handling.
This took an hour and a half. First of all the leaning, then the weight, then the walking with the weight, and finally, finally, when she was completely ready, the great moment when she was sat upon for the very first time -
The gentle start:
Testing the waters. The waters are fine:
Even the kicking up of heels does not bother her remotely:
At this stage, mild curiosity was her strongest emotion:
A little rest and some congratulation:
Notice the low head and pricked ears. She is alert, but completely accepting of this strange new procedure:
The first sit:
Proud owner, with admiring dog:
At this stage, they are FLYING:
What a wonderfully good girl:
Could this filly BE any more relaxed?:
Silhouetted against the dazzling Scottish sun:
Meanwhile, the lead mare, seeing that her charge is in very good hands, has a little doze:
The quality of these photographs is not what I would wish, since this all took place in the middle of the day, the worst time for the light. But I don’t care, because it’s such a lovely story. And today, that story was what mattered.