I did something today which I absolutely hate and loathe doing. I asked for help.
I detest doing this. I resist it with every atom of my being. It is a weak strain in my character and not something of which I am proud.
I don’t quite know where the irrational loathing comes from. I have an idiot idea that I must always be doing things for myself: look, Ma, no hands. Somewhere in my foolish brain, I have a wrong construction which equates asking for help with pitiful weakness. The irony is that of course it is the other way round.
There were several lovely things about the outcome. First of all, it did not feel like help. It felt like pleasure. Second of all, it was educational and instructive and fun. Third of all, it was both beautiful and useful, in my cherished William Morris tradition.
There is a remarkable woman who comes and works with The Horse Talker’s little paint filly. She has backed Autumn and is schooling her and bringing her on, and each week, the lovely filly takes another giant step forward. As the winter closes, and the months of inactivity are over, I want to bring Red back into serious work. We’ve been doing quite a lot of gentle groundwork, but this new method of horsemanship is novel to her and to me, and we are both green at it. I need to step up a level, and for that, I need an expert.
I don’t ever know quite what name to give this sort of approach – natural horsemanship, empathic horsemanship, intelligent horsemanship. There are many schools of it about now, and I pick and choose among them. I listen to my mare and see what works for her. She is my best teacher.
The essence of it is that you work with the horse’s nature, with the grain instead of against it. The way I think of it is speaking politely in horse, instead of shouting in human.
The Remarkable Woman knows all this; she is a keen observer of herd behaviour and can make an equine react with a mere shift of her body position or a movement of her eyes.
Of course there is a part of me that wants to do the whole thing myself. Red is mine; my best beloved, my special project, the beat of my heart. And yet, that is childish and absurd. So, I bite the bullet, The Remarkable Woman appears, the good work is done, Red gets twenty compliments which make my spirit sing, and I do not feel belittled or made to feel a needy failure, but am filled with hope and possibility for the season to come.
Apart from that, it was a day of elemental beauty. Gales roared and rushed and skidded through the trees; the sun dazzled and danced; perfect rainbows hovered over the mountains. I did a little drive, which I have not had time for in a while. It was just a seven mile loop, through the birch woods, past my favourite mountain, into the rich farmland above the river. I was reminded of the ridiculous riches which I have here. This much wild beauty should not really be allowed. And yet, there it all is, on my doorstep. Sometimes I don’t know what I did to deserve it.
As the news comes dark and unreal from the radio, and the people of Boston mourn, I lift my eyes, as I always do when troubles come, to these hills, which stay the same, day after miraculous day.
Red the Mare, being perfect despite the gales, with her remarkable new trainer:
And afterwards, with her friend Autumn:
Very muddy and very happy:
M the P, sunbathing:
Mr Stanley has a stick:
First time since November that the hill is almost free from snow: