An incredibly busy and productive day. I’m not sure I quite followed my own advice to go slowly, but then nobody’s perfect.
The sun shone, and it was balmy until the chill suddenly descended at three. I wrote and worked and sent things off. I met lovely people from Help for Heroes at HorseBack and watched the little filly foal kick up her heels as if she were practising for a rodeo and saw an ex-sprinter do a collected canter in a rope halter. I rode my own mare all the way down the lime avenue in a racing canter to see my mother.
What I mean by racing canter is not that we are going at great speed, but that I am standing in the saddle with my hands up her neck and letting her run. Since I have been teaching her slowness, my newest experiment is to see how fast she wants to go when I am not confining her in any way. To my intense delight, she does not pull or rush or zoom, but goes beautifully within herself, as contained and elegant as the most dowagery of dowager duchesses.
Her ears are pricked and she is having a ball, but she is in no hurry. So we breeze along, past the gnarly old trees, a flash of red joy.
We surprise a few walkers. I am so delirious I wave at them madly and bawl HELLO, which astonishes them even more. And then, after all that excitement, my good mare comes to a gentle halt at my mother’s door, and pricks her ears in greeting, and watches the happy smile that she inspires.
My mum is not very mobile these days. She cannot much come to Red, so I take Red to her. It is one of the most keenly touching things we do together.
The lovely Stepfather feeds her apples. We are quite strict about not feeding by hand, as it can make a horse pushy, but honourable exceptions are sometimes made, and this is one of them. Red is enchanted and polite, and I admire her manners. My mother is very hot on manners, both human and equine.
And then we canter away, on the springing Scottish grass, back to the quiet field.
I settle my beautiful girl, and return to the real world.
Oh, and the other piece of dancing joy in my busy day came early on the card at Newbury, where a delightfully honest and genuine and bonny horse called Top Dancer won his chase in glorious fashion. He had my money on his back, but it was not that which made me smile. It was the manner of his running. Some horses just have blatantly true hearts. You can see those hearts shining like beacons, even on the murkiest day. These are the horses which never deviate, but run straight and true, with willingness and enthusiasm, answering every question with a ringing Yes. They may not always be the most naturally brilliant or excessively talented, but they are a delight to watch because of their absolute, authentic goodness. Top Dancer is such a horse. He is only six, and he should go into all the notebooks.