I read an advertisement for a horse today on the internet. It said: ‘He will need time to settle before anyone can ride him.’
In the last six weeks or so, something remarkable has happened between my mare and me. There were many remarkable things before; I’ve banged on about them endlessly. There were marks of trust and moments of revelation. But it felt like 90%. There was the 10% still to go.
That is the part that has now clicked. I rode her today round a huge rough meadow. We ambled round as if we were out on a cowboy trail. You can feel the slightest tension in a horse, like the princess and the pea. I sometimes liken it to the feeling of a faint butterfly, beating its wings, somewhere low in the equine belly. It’s a tremor or a shiver. It’s hardly discernable, but it’s there. There can be a faint feeling of tightness too, the calling ancestral memory of the flight animal, getting ready to run.
Those are not there. There is just a feeling of depth and ease. It’s not just riding her. It’s in everything I do with her: leading, groundwork, guiding her through a gate, bringing her her hay, standing together in the field watching the sun go down.
It is time that did it. We took time to settle. Time gives you the lovely luxury of a routine that reassures and soothes. Time is where you can show your horse that you are consistent and reliable. Time is what gives them the confidence that you will never raise your voice or bring them your problems or punish them or take out your frustrations on them.
I think it is like this with humans too. When you meet a new person, with whom you think you might be friends, you can be charming and funny and show off your better angels. But it’s not like throwing a switch. There must be time, so they can see your faults and your quirks and your messy, muddly bits, and take you anyway. There must be time to settle.
Red the Good:
This morning at HorseBack, looking south:
Jura, the heavenly HorseBack puppy, with Western instructor Jess March:
He’s getting so grown-up:
Stanley the Dog, giving his enormous stick a good talking-to:
Rather dramatic hill today:
Digest of the day: sunshine, laughter, good horsing, work, family, dog, friendships, learning, gentle feeling of accomplishment. The last one is thanks to my good girl and her remarkable trainer, who just makes everything so much easier for us both.
Oh, and it’s QUEVEGA DAY. An hour to go before the big race at Punchestown and I am quivering with anticipation. It’s her biggest test for a long time, and I can see the brave darling getting beat. There are serious in-form horses up against her, and the ground is testing, and at Punchestown anything can happen. Up hill and down dale they go, bunched tightly through sharp turns and unforgiving undulations. But I stick with the great mare, from love and loyalty. She carries my money and my heart, and if she should taste defeat there will be no disgrace in it. She is so stamped with greatness that nobody can take that away.