Friday, 7 February 2014

Good and bad, light and dark, up and down, round the houses. Or: usual ramble.

1342 words today. I am still doing my twenty minute rule. Everything is broken down into increments of twenty minutes. I actually set a timer. When the thing beeps, I reset it, so that the work may spread into hours, but because all I am faced with is twenty minutes, I do not feel overwhelmed. I love this new experiment and think perhaps I shall do it forever.

Down at the paddock, the sun has come out and the winds have dropped and all is golden and calm. The red mare is so delighted that she falls into her softest and sweetest self, her lower lip curving itself into an equine smile. The floods which cover half the fields have frozen over, so that we have skating rinks everywhere. The Horse Talker and I wonder what the dear equines will do. They consider for a while, then strike out across the ice to reach us, not flinching as it cracks under their hooves. They break the ice to make their way through, as if they are pioneer women, going out to settle the west. They pick up their feet like dowager duchesses on their way to a ball, as they feel the slivering shards against their fetlocks. It is one of the most charming sights I ever saw. I think how good and brave they are.

I have a ride of such ease and joy that I don’t have words for it.

I work with the mare in many different ways. Some days I concentrate on collection, or straightness, or not dropping her shoulder. Some days I work on soft cues, or steering. Some days I simply want to get her to be her best, most relaxed self. Today, I go for the cowgirl and cowpony. I want to be able to ride her with one hand, on a loose rope (we are in the halter), and to get her to keep a steady pace, going kindly within herself without me having to niggle or nag. I want to ride with thought, almost more than cues. We’ve been stymied by the weather lately, and are out of practice, and I’m not sure if this programme is too ambitious. But suddenly, there she is, going right when I merely think right, loping into a steady trot when I think trot, gathering herself for a joyful canter when I think canter.

There have been a few two steps forward one step back lately. I had to go back to the beginning, and concentrate on the fundamentals. I was reminded keenly of the humility that horses teach, and how you cannot tick boxes, or take them for granted. Today, that going back to Square One was rewarded with such loveliness that I whooped out loud and fell on her neck and showered her with garlands of love. She is one of the most remarkable creatures I ever met. Today, she gave me the great gift of making me feel like a champion.

And then, just as I was finishing the section above, smiling, with happy memories of a gentle morning, the demands of work crashed in, and the twenty minute rule did not help, and my head became stretched and maddened, and suddenly I had forty-seven things to do and not enough time to do them all.

I think this is called: being human.

As I dashed back to the field, fraught and tense, desperate to get the evening stables done in the smallest time possible, so I could tear back to my desk and attempt to dig myself out of the avalanche, I suddenly saw the look on my mare’s face. It was very, very slightly disapproving. Are we such creatures to be done in a rush? she seemed to be saying.

She was right, of course. Bugger the work. I’ll get it done. I took a deep breath and looked at the sky and looked at the trees and looked at the floods which lay like mirrors on the winter land. I looked at the light, which we have not seen for so long. I stood, perfectly still, with the mares, one on either side.

Don’t miss your life, I told myself, just because you have things to do.


Today’s pictures:

Really are from today.

Horse Talker leading Autumn the Filly across another stretch of cracking ice:

7 Feb 4-001

The fields:

7 Feb 7

7 Feb 8

7 Feb 8-001

My lovely girl, posing after our ride:

7 Feb 4

And looking pretty pleased with herself, as well she should:

7 Feb 6

Stan the Manly Man, striking out:

7 Feb 18

The little HorseBack filly, in surgery as we speak, still fighting the filthy infection which has her in its grip:

7 Feb FB1

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