Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The Small Victories. Or, a slightly unexpected event.

More dull rain. Working working working. Head full of book. Excellent HorseBack meeting. Galvanised.

Despite the weather, I worked the red mare on the ground this morning for the first time in a couple of weeks. I’ve been away, and it’s been pouring and pouring, so she’s had a long holiday. Usually, she goes round like an old dote, running through the steps she knows so well, her head low and her neck relaxed. Today, I don’t know what it was, she suddenly felt all her racehorsey, thoroughbred blood. Whoop, whoop, she went, putting on her best Spanish Riding School of Vienna act, leaping and plunging, letting out mighty bucks which made me laugh. I let the rope out and sent her on. You want me to do WHAT??? she said. Huge amounts of snorting, tail stuck vertically in the air so it flew like flags, that astonishing thing where she grows a hand before my very eyes. She is normally so low and relaxed that I sometimes forget how big she is. When her dander rises, I remember, with awe and respect, that I am in the presence of a half-ton flight animal.

After about five minutes of this malarkey, she returned to her poised, dowager duchess incarnation, and was as cool and immaculate as a dressage horse. She remembered the merest voice cue, the lightest bit of body language. Once again, her ears twitched towards me, listening to what I wanted. The gentle harmony between us was restored.

I don’t know what it was – the long time off, the awful weather, a testing of the boundaries, a pure moment of high playfulness. I loved it, because it reminded me that she is, after all, descended from storied champions, and all that glorious animating spirit lives in her, however sweetly trained she becomes. There is nothing dull or shut down about her.
I loved it because I knew how to deal with it. In the old days, I would have been frightened, and possibly even grown cross or fractious in my fright, as humans do. Now, I know the good techniques, I know exactly what to do, and more than anything, I know her. I took care to remain away from those bucketing back hooves, but I was not afraid. And with a little steady calm and perseverance, I got my kind girl back. There was no shouting or drama; I let her work it out of her system, and steered her through it. I admit, I felt quite proud of myself.

As always, I log the small things, the tiny, private victories. I made my mother laugh, I wrote a decent line or two for a good charity, I was not fazed by a mighty red mare challenge. The book goes along, and I start to see the shape of it and know the people who inhabit it. Stanley the Dog searches doggedly for mice in the feed shed, only his determined lurcher tail visible, sticking out of the hay. He never actually catches a mouse, but he never gives up trying.

This dreich could bring one down. The atmospheric conditions at the moment make me feel as if I am swimming in a bowl of old soup. Everything is brown and drowned. It is relentless, day after day of low, brooding skies and despairing rain. But there are enough tiny, existential sparkles of light to illuminate my days. On, on, on I bugger, recording my small victories, the ones that are of absolutely no importance to anyone but me, winning my own, tiny, challenge cups of the mind.

No time for pictures today, just a couple of shots from the archive. Hard to believe that this dozy, butter would not melt person can transform herself into a fiery, plunging, snorting creature. It was only for a moment. Just to show she's still got it going on.


  1. Book? Book? Is this the one you just finished & are now polishing? Or have you already started yet another book -- with -- to my mind -- barely a breather between?

    PS Beautiful instant visual of your beloved Red with tail up & flying.

  2. I really needed that this morning - please don't ever stop writing your blog!

    The relentless dreich of old Aberdeenshire continues to seep in but your reminder to celebrate the small stuff feels to me, vital today.


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