A lot of sweetness around today. I hare about, doing my work, as a brilliant and properly hot Scottish sun beats down from a ridiculously blue sky. After a frantic morning, the Remarkable Trainer comes and she, the Horse Talker and I go out for the gentlest of gentle rides.
Riding out is a thing that is happening in increments for various different reasons. Autumn the filly is a baby and only recently backed. Red the Mare is still getting used to riding in her rope halter and has spent her entire working life going out in a serious pack for proper exercise. Teaching her to switch off and relax in new environments is a number one priority and we take it slowly. Sometimes, I just take her out for a walk on foot so that she can accustom herself to new things, views, places.
Today, we decided that the quiet of the lunch hour would be the perfect time to roam into a wilder blue yonder. No traffic, we thought. Just us, and the sheep. But then the farmer roared up in his ancient Landrover and some of the sheep made a break for freedom and an assortment of vans and off-road motors decided it was time to put in an appearance. So we found ourselves wrangling sheep in front the The Landlord (very important person) and a small traffic jam.
‘Come on,’ I yelled, with a rush of blood to the head. ‘They are cow ponies after all.’
This is not in fact quite true. Red is a thoroughbred who goes back to the Byerley Turk, and Autumn, whilst almost certainly descended from ancestors who have rounded up cattle in their time, has never had anything to do with livestock herself. Despite my hyperbolic carelessness with actual facts, Red turned out to be a wrangler supreme; she turned and backed and seemed quite unfazed by a bunch of skittery ovines passing under her neck. We got the sheep back into the field, had a happy chat with the farmer, and everyone got back into their vans and trucks and drove off.
‘What a lovely sight,’ said The Landlord, gazing at the clever horses.
Then we went up to see The Mother and The Stepfather, who duly admired all the equine delightfulness. Turning for home, we stopped to have a chat with the World Traveller, who was passing with the Great-Nephew (he blew us happy summer kisses), and then headed back through the dandelion meadow. It was one of the best rides I ever had.
The funny thing about all this is that I was in slightly manic, very determined mode when I arrived at the field. My impossible workload has pushed me into an antic, active state; must get things done, must get things done.
‘Let’s work on transitions,’ I said sternly, to the Remarkable Trainer.
But the sun was shining and everyone was relaxed and happy, so we went for our funny amble instead.
‘Bugger transitions,’ I said, laughing.
It depends what you want from life. I could seriously school my mare in all kinds of technical things. I could work hard on developing my own rusty riding muscles. I see people out there, in magazines, on the internet, getting their equines up to show level, winning prizes, being poster people of the horsey world.
But really, I suddenly realised, all I want is a happy horse who can walk on a loose rein through the dancing sunshine, whilst I gaze up at the blue hills.
When we do that, all the work and the stress and the worry about time management fade away, and it’s just me and this glorious girl and our little pack, both human and equine. I’m in my middle age, and life has bashed me up a bit, as it does to everyone over the age of twenty-one. I don’t need to prove anything. I just want to go for a bit of an amble and wrangle a few sheep. That is my glittering prize. It is literally and metaphorically, all I could wish.
Herd this morning, relaxed and dozy:
Then up to HorseBack, where wonderful things are happening under a blue, blue sky:
Veterans who have never sat on a horse before are riding:
Newest arrival Mr Fox has made a friend:
And then back home, where the Remarkable Trainer is doing a bit of desensitising before we set out on our travels. Rather than being startled, Red seems to regard the whole thing as a nice head massage:
Me, up on Red, for the best view in the world, which is the one between a horse’s ears:
Autumn the Filly and the Horse Talker might be in Wyoming rather than northern Scotland:
My brilliant sheep-wrangling girl gets a good stroke and a huge smile:
Barefoot and bitless with an ex-racing mare. I have become such a horse hippy.