Perhaps the loveliest thing a horse can do is choose to remain with its human. It is a half ton flight animal. It could flick you over with a shift of its powerful hindquarters. It could canter off into the four acres of its wide paddock. It could pretty much do anything.
There are mornings when Red has stuff to get on with. She is the lead mare in her little herd, and she has responsibilities. Sometimes, when I have finished with her, she will dwell for a moment, and then politely lead her band off to start the next part of their day. But sometimes, she is in her still Zen trance, the one where every atom in her great, muscular, thoroughbred body is at rest. Sometimes, she appears to love being in human company. Everything in her goes soft: her eyes, her ears, her velvet mouth. She stays and stays, lowering her head for love. She breathes gently and is at one with her world and with her person. A profound content comes out of her as if it is a gentle, living thing. I feel it going from her body to mine, and that’s where I run out of words.
As we walk slowly down our long and winding path together, this happens more and more often. I work with her pretty well now. I know a lot more than when I started. I understand more about how equines think; I understand a great deal more about her, as an individual. I study her and can map her moods. I can get her to perform some fairly technical manoeuvres.
But these moments of stillness and togetherness, when our hearts are at rest, give me more deep, singing joy than anything else. It feels like my greatest achievement, by a country mile, that there are slow Sunday mornings when she simply chooses, generously, kindly, freely, of her own lovely volition, to be with me.
Oh, that face:
With her sweet little Paint friend:
Ready for their close-up:
I stood with her for perhaps twenty minutes this morning, as the Horse Talker and I chatted and chatted. (I mean: did some serious observation of herd behaviour.) Red ducked her head so I could scratch her sweet spot and sometimes rested on my shoulder. The dear Paint filly came up on the other side, and stood too. So there we all were, in a little circle of calm, doing nothing, doing everything. I am not experienced enough to give anyone advice about equines, but if I were asked, I would say: one of the most important things you can do is spend time with your horse. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for them is just be.
Mr Stanley and I had a very important visitor on Friday. I think he had a pretty good time:
And the full beauty and nobility which is Stanley the Dog, cleverly matching the autumn leaves:
No hill today. The cloud is low.