Monday, 6 January 2014

A most surprising day.

It was a cold, dirty, wet, windy day. The slip and squelch of mud could be heard three fields away. The sky was the colour of doleful pigeons. Yet two astonishing and rather unexpected things happened, which brought out the internal sunshine in a mighty blaze.

I was offered a new and thrilling opportunity which I had not foreseen at all, and which will transform my daily life.

And I learnt a new way of riding the red mare.

I haven’t been doing riding lessons for a while. The mare and I have just been mooching about, having fun, being a pair of old cowgirls, growing in harmony and confidence and joy together. But a horsewoman I know had been learning a new way of teaching and needed a guinea pig. I offered myself at once.

It was fascinating. It is a sort of melange of old classical and new theory. It’s very English, but it’s got a dash of Western in it. It is technical and delicate and very accurate, but it is also wide and philosophical. It is physical and cerebral. It made me think so much my head almost fell off.

It was good, serious teaching. I found it hard, and I adored it. I was concentrating so much that I forgot the weather, the time, the place, everything but my own body and this generous horse.

I feared the red mare might object. I feared she might roll her eyes and say: What are all these new questions you are asking me? It is very intense and requires a lot from the horse’s mind.

Instead of baulking, she pricked her ears and said: ah, yes, I see. This is new. Like this? And this? And this? I could almost feel her thinking: well, that is interesting. She was very happy afterwards, and gently pleased with herself.

I love her cleverness. But perhaps I love her willingness more. Offered a radically different way of doing things, she walked forward into the open spaces of novelty, without taking a beat. I was so proud of her that I whooped into the dirty air.

So, as the Christmas season comes to its close and real life obtains again, instead of scrabbling about to get organised, instead of sighing at my hopeless time management, instead of panicking at all the things which must be done, I was smiling in the face of two lovely things. An opportunity, which, in the way it was offered, is in itself an act of faith. And a reminder of how amazingly, gloriously, dazzlingly great my horse is. I don’t know how I ended up with such a mighty mare, but on that ordinary spring day when I first saw her face, the equine gods were smiling indeed.


No pictures today. Too gloomy. But this was the sight which greeted me yesterday morning, when the frost was glittering and the light was singing, and the girls were happy as clams:

6 Jan 1

As the new year kicks back into gear, and I have now more work than ever, there will be changes to the blog. I adore doing it, as you know, and I love most the responses from the Dear Readers. I cannot do without those, they cheer me so. But my nose shall be to the grindstone, with new projects and new demands. My plan is that the prose shall stay, but there will be fewer pictures. I can write at 75 words a minute, but choosing and editing the photographs is a long, slow process. I’m afraid also that it shall probably become more personal than ever, since I won’t have time to address the big things happening in the world. It will reduce to snapshots of an ordinary life. It has already been moving in this direction. I know well that I risk dancing with the wilder fringes of self-indulgence in this, but I hope very much that you will stick with me, and forgive.


  1. Too curious about your new, thrilling opportunity! When will you reveal it??? Soon, PLEASE!

  2. I will be happy to read whatever you choose to write about and must say how much I enjoy your blog. Your photos are superb, but in the end it is the words that matter.


  3. Some of us readers are (or were, in a previous, more financially excellent life) horse people, and I for one would like to hear more about the mechanics of your new riding lessons. Are you working reinless / stirrupless, or is this a new set of cues to the horse using feet and mouth? Inquiring minds, and all that.


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