Fretting about small things; fretting about big things. And then I have to go out into the Scottish sunshine and take photographs of the herd up on the hill for the HorseBack Facebook page, and all the frets stop.
Horses are not a definitive or enduring solution for the slings and arrows. How I wish they were. But when you are with them, in that very moment of human existence, everything does go away, so the poor battered brain may have a rest, and gear itself up to fight another day.
They give one not solutions, but respite. They are so actual, so present, so rooted in the moment; their needs are such simple ones, their concerns so filled with clarity. They are absolutely unsentimental, and they combine kindness and honesty and flintiness to a wonderfully paradoxical degree.
And there were the hills of course, blue as blue as blue.
Then, before returning to my desk, I went to work the red mare. We’ve been doing some steady walking in hand and a bit of very gentle riding on account of her leg. Today, I thought I’d go back to basics and run her through her foundational steps.
Foot perfect. She is so clever.
Then we did a little bit of free schooling, in the new paddock, which is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. We have not done that for ages, and I wondered if she would have forgotten how it works and get bored and fall to grazing. Not a bit of it. There she was, her gentle, enquiring face watching my every move, her feet matching mine, all softness and intelligence and harmony.
She was so very brilliant that I am afraid to say I fawned all over her. You are not really supposed to do this. A horse’s best reward is stillness, and space. Some of them love a bit of a rub on the face. Most of them do not especially appreciate having an exclaiming body hurled at them.
The lovely thing about Red is that she does love it. She is as affectionate and tactile as an old Labrador. When I step back, aware that I am breaking every rule in the book, she turns her white face towards me, asking for more. I restore some decorum and stop with the flinging and the fawning and just stand beside her, allowing her to rest her head against my chest, rubbing her cheek so she falls into the familiar swoon of pleasure. We stand like that for a very long time, while Stanley the Dog amuses himself by searching for pheasants.
I go back into the real world, where all the frets still exist. But as well as being a professor and a Zen mistress, my red girl is a doctor. In that fleeting hour, she gives me the best medicine, which is a relief from all existential angst. Sometimes I could swear, as I look at her equine smile and her glinting eye, that she knows exactly what she is doing. Come on, old girl, she is saying, it can’t be all bad; chin up and stiff upper lip and keep buggering on. And she is damn well right.
Even though this is completely out of focus, I love the sweet friends together:
My very best beloved: