Just got back from Blair Castle Horse Trials. This year, it was home to the European Championships, so some of the best horses and riders in the world were there. I enjoyed myself vastly and Stanley the Dog made friends wherever he went. (Except with two angry terriers and a disaffected dachshund, to whose snarls and yaps and barings of teeth he reacted with sweet charity and slight bemusement. Luckily, a ravishing lady Labrador soon cheered him up.)
I think perhaps a year ago I would have felt some chagrin. My mare would never look like those horses, or be able to do the things they do. I would never look like those riders or be able to do the things they do.
This year, I felt filled with love and joy. I admired and felt inspired. I adore watching people who are really, really good at what they do. These people were really, really good. There were some charming horses, with character and grace, courage and talent.
But I would not have swapped one of those world-class athletes for my own sweet girl. On the way home, through the mighty slopes of Glenshee, I had to watch my speed, I was so impatient to get home to her.
Back at the ranch, even though it was six o’clock and time for her tea, I leapt into the saddle and took her out into the amber evening light. The sun poured down like honey and she pricked her ears in polite surprise, not being accustomed to an evening ride. Round we went, in our old cow pony lope. She did actually do her dressage diva trot, as if to say: those world-beaters are not the only ones who know self-carriage. And then, just to show them that there was one event in which she would beat them all to flinders, she practised for the Standing Still Olympics.
I wrote yesterday that when I am in the saddle on that horse, I feel as if I have come home. Today, it was a literal thing. I was tired after the long day and the long drive, but I felt my shoulders come down and my heart lift.
There are thousands of horses out there who are better than she, who are even more beautiful than she, who have skills to which she, and I, shall never aspire. But there is not one single horse who suits me so well and makes me so happy.
Don’t compare, I think to myself. The way to hell is paved with comparisons. It’s a terrible human imperative. If only I had that, if only I were this, if only I could do what that person could do. Love what you have, I tell myself; love the one you’re with. This evening, in the glancing Scottish light, in my peaceful green field, on my glowing red mare, all that was fine and true.
The road to Blair:
The Great Event:
The sweet face that greeted me when I got home. Slightly quizzical look, as if to say – Where have you BEEN all day?:
After the lovely ride, spotting Stanley the Manly capering about in the set-aside:
My little man was so good today: