Tuesday, 28 February 2017

My good Samaritan. Or: faith in humanity restored.

Today, I went from sheer joy to sheer terror within ten minutes.
I had ridden up to HorseBack for my riding lesson. It’s about two and a half miles along the Deeside Way and it’s a pretty ride. The red mare was then very brilliant and very brave in her lesson and did many new and gloriously clever things that made me smile and whoop. An old friend appeared which was a real treat and so I started the ride off home in tearing spirits.

Perhaps that was the problem. Perhaps the spirits were too high. Perhaps the hubris demons were chattering in my ear. Across the road there is a place where I have to get off and fiddle with a gate. It’s quite tricky, with a chain and a padlock and not much room to move and it’s on a slope. Usually, I loop the reins over my arm, but what with the spirits being so high and the head full of hubris demons having a bloody cocktail party, I just put a hand on the rein. It’s the red mare, I thought; she invented the Standing Still Olympics.
And then something flew out of the bushes and made her start and that rein was out of my hand and I stared in horror and disbelief as her great thoroughbred quarters disappeared round the corner.
She’ll stop, I thought. She just got a fright. She’ll trot off and then she’ll stop.
She did not stop. She’d had a long morning and she’d worked hard and she was damn well going home.
I famously can’t run. I don’t really know how to run. I ran. I sprinted after her, breath coming in great fearful gasps. I could see death and disaster in my mind, as if I had walked into the middle of a horror film. Panting and sobbing, I called in the cavalry. ‘Don’t worry,’ said the soothing voice of my brilliant teacher. ‘I’ll get the quad bike out.’
The path ahead was ominously empty. I’ve ruined everything, I thought, running and sobbing. One moment of thoughtlessness and I’ve lost the light of my life.
A car, coming slowly down the road, flashed its lights and stopped. The most wonderful gentleman in Scotland said: ‘Have you lost a horse?’
I scrambled madly over a fence and across a ditch and into his incredibly clean car. A beautiful liver chestnut spaniel put its comforting wet nose into my hand as if in reassurance. ‘You are so kind,’ I said, my breath coming in great gulps. ‘I’m so afraid.’
He turned round and went back up the road and there were kind, clever people who had stopped their cars and were not panicking. There, galloping up the road as if she were in the Oaks, was the red mare, right as rain. Another brilliant gentleman leapt out of his car and I leapt out of my brilliant gentleman’s car and the red mare saw the gap and swerved into a heavenly safe green field. I’ve never loved a field so much in my life. I showered garbled thanks on my saviours and ran after her. She stopped, and looked at me, as if to say: where the hell have you been? She dropped her head and I picked up the rein and I had her back.
There had been no death and disaster. Everyone was all right. I had been petrified by the thought that not only would the mare be injured, but that she might cause a crash. But there, in the pale Scottish sun, was everyone in one lovely piece. I rang the cavalry to tell them they could stand down. I rode home, chastened by my own stupidity.
This morning, the news was truly awful. There was one horrifying story after another. There was cruelty and abuse in care homes and prisoners barricading themselves in their cells because they were too frightened to come out and helpless refugee children from Syria facing unspeakable dangers from predatory men. I had thought that I was going to write a blog about how on earth one could maintain one’s faith in human nature against that barrage.
I do have faith in human nature. I have a great big fat belief in the human heart. I choose to think that most people are mostly good. I think that they try hard, often against horrendous odds, and that they all want to love and be loved and that they want to leave the world a little better than they found it. This is my most profound creed. The news was battering that creed. Perhaps I had been wrong all along and I was going to have to face that wrongness.
And then my good Samaritan stopped his clean car and took me to save my mare.
One kind act in a world of sorrows does not make everything all right. It does not wipe away all that bad news. But you know, it’s something. It’s Shakespeare: ‘How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.’ It’s an amulet, a totem, a mark of faith.
I could not even thank my kind gentleman properly. I was in such a state and although I think I did say ‘thank you, thank you’ I was mostly panting and gabbling. I have a tiny dream that someone might see this, on the internet, that someone might know a practical, generous man with a maroon car and a beautiful liver Spaniel, one that looks as if it is a proper working dog, and that person might ask that man if he was driving along the A93 at lunchtime today, and might say: you know, that lunatic woman with the horse would like to thank you from the bottom of her heart. And all the other people in cars were so good and kind and sensible, and seemed to know exactly what to do, and did not hoot their horns or look furious, but seemed concerned and ready to help.

Instead of being filled with despair at the state of the world and the battering ram of the bad news, I am now filled with a diffuse, almost disbelieving love for all those people whose names I shall never know, because they were so stalwart and good and proper. I was an idiot, and I deserve a rap on the knuckles and a stern talking to, but instead I got the benign consolation of the group. It was as if, in that moment, on that country road, with the slumbering blue hills looking down on us, there was the wisdom of crowds instead of the madness of crowds. It was as if, just for a few minutes, everyone gathered together to do what they could for that errant horse, all their focus and purpose directed like a laser on restoring the situation to safety and normality.
Perhaps that is a little romantic of me; perhaps some of them were drumming their fingers on the steering wheel and cursing. But it did not feel like that. It felt as if that disparate group cohered, and put its arms around me, for all my folly, and said: don’t worry, it will be all right. And it was all right.

I was so blinded by fears and imaginings that I would not even recognise my rescuer. But somewhere out there is one man and his dog, who did a very, very good turn to a frantic human in dire need. And that candle throws his beams an awful long way.


  1. So glad both you and the Red Mare are both fine. It does not surprise me at all that the good people of your part of the world were so calm and helpful.

  2. All's well that ends well. But what a scare you had! So happy that all your guardian angels were on duty.

  3. I also believe angels watch over us and keep humans and our animals safe from harm against all odds.... what a lovely story and I am sure the man in the maroon car does know how thankful you are. So now it is your turn to pay it forward one day- to someone; some time, somewhere...

  4. This is terrifying. I have been in this situation and like you I consider myself calm but when something like this happens you can only imagine the worst. I am so glad for your lovely motorists on the A93 and how the universe wanted to tell you something. People are fundamentally good. Thank God. Xx

  5. I am so behind in reading blogs of all of those I follow, let alone writing mine. But I do love to read yours, I find your writing always close to the edge, filled with emotion, it soars. Even though my genre is dealing in vintage items, and few of my readers are interested in racing or horses, your blog still appears on my recommended reading list on my blog. My heart was pounding as I read this, and then the tears came. I'm with you in your terror, every time a horse gets lose at the track, I am so scared for it. Our responsibility to our animal companions is so huge. Then there is the strange almost alien landscape in which we live now, but there are still 2 and 4 legged Angels in it. Thank God they found you and the Red Mare and made her safe. x

  6. It only takes the blink of an eye for things to go awry, doesn't it? I'm glad there were kind people in just the right place at the right time, and that you and the red mare are both safe.

  7. Whew! That story was like a steeplechase! Glad all turned out for the best. Thank you, man in the clean car with the spaniel, whoever you are!

  8. I found this blog yesterday, through someone I follow on Facebook, and spent about 2 hours going back and reading old posts. They were mostly about the dogs, so a good half hour was taken up with mopping up tears or reading through them. I have an almost 14 year old chocolate lab who is special to me in ways that I imagine the Pigeon was special to you. In fact, he is kind and gentle (at the vet's boarding facility, they often have him nanny the younger, and/or frightened newbies), always wants to please, and he follows me everywhere (unless my husband offers a car ride). I am gearing up to losing him sometime in the next little while (he had the equivalent of a stroke last October, not 2 months after my father died, which had left me already weakened from my normal "deal with it" attitude). Although he recovered from the stroke, I know our life together is going to end, still hoping it's later than sooner. My other labs died at almost 11, and 12 and a bit, both giving plenty of warning although one never recovered from a squirrel chasing accident and the other death was from age related illness. I want to thank you for your graceful, affecting and wholly honest telling of the Pigeon's story. It helps immensely.

  9. Needed to read this. Some days I just look around and think, 'Who on earth are all these people who seem to take delight in hurting others?' It's hard to maintain a belief in people's fundamental goodness. Time for an attitude adjustment, and you have provided the images: every small good deed glows like a candle with very long beams.

    Very glad the Red Mare is okay. And thank you for using normality, rather than normalcy. :-)

  10. My heart was in my throat as I read this. I am so relieved that everyone is all right.

  11. I really like your site and content so much,thanks for sharing the information keep updating, looking forward for more posts.



Your comments give me great delight, so please do leave one.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin