If Wishes were Horses…

Someone once asked me what horses meant to me, and my immediate vision was the usual cliché of galloping along the beach, riding on a long relaxed rein homeward bound after a ride through fields, rain or shine my life always seemed to feature horses.

rumbera and wensYet somehow the question stuck with me for some months and I reflected on the many times my life has sparkled around horses, and the reflection became moving, joyous and both within myself and external to myself, a great feeling that seemed to be able to be contained in my body – a body that I might add carried proud scars from equine adventures from falling off a pony at a gentle walk on a soporific Sunday afternoon in Richmond Park (resulting in a broken nose in 2 places and a dramatic dash to local A & E with a heavily blood stained T-shirt) through to a small deep dark scar on my shin from being double barrelled by a food protective mare somewhat blinded by a heavy mosquito head mask!

Coming from a good working class family, getting on the back of a horse was dictated by how much time I was willing to spend trailing through muddy fields to catch merrily galloping horses through to shovelling the inevitable brown and sticky stuff – and what fun it was to whoop and shriek on these canny ponies – what fun to feel the pony knee trembling and just about to roll in a swampy ditch on a hot day, an early test of resolve was to see how late we could leave it to leap off – now all I want is a horse that will take care of me and enjoy the adventures and who will banish any idea of any such caper…

At school naturally we were encouraged to strive for best grades and writing was a bit of a talent for me; when a famous daily newspaper ran a ‘Win a Pony’ competition for the best essay I jumped at it ! Honestly, you have never seen such relieved parents when the results came out to discover that I had not won but had been placed in the top 5 – one of the few times I can remember being enthusiastically congratulated for not winning something…

From those early days the seeds of equine fascination were sown – and any friend who fretted about mucky straw on their carpet or in their car or the faint whiff of horse – that distinct sweet smell that we miss when away from our quadrupeds for too long, sure there must be a market for ‘eau de neigh’ or something “designery” – perhaps for wearing at Hunt Balls..

So my life with horses and their lives with me started from very humble beginnings and now I simply cannot imagine my life without them – this is a piece of poetry I can relate to so well – and I hope you enjoy it too…

 

When I am an old Horsewoman

I shall wear turquoise and diamonds, and a straw hat that doesn’t suit me.

And I shall spend my social security on white wine and carrots, and sit in my alley-way of my barn and listen to my horses breathe.

I will sneak out in the middle of a summer night, and ride the old bay gelding, across the moonstruck meadow if my old bones will allow.

And when people come to call, I will smile and nod as I walk past the gardens to the barn and show instead the flowers growing inside stalls fresh-lined with straw.

I will shovel and sweat and wear hay in my hair as if it were a jewel.

And I will be an embarrassment to all, who will not yet have found the peace in being free to have a horse as a best friend, a friend who waits at midnight hour with muzzle and nicker and patient eyes.

For the kind of woman I will be when I am old.

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Our Grading System

  1. Basic knowledge, willing to clean stables/groom etc - needs induction and support training.
  2. Basic knowledge, willing to clean stables/groom etc - needs induction, support training, can catch a horse, halter, tie up, pick out feet, basic riding
  3. Some knowledge, needs induction and support training, can catch and halter a horse, pick out feet, groom, saddle up, generally handle
  4. Confident around horses, at least 2 years experience, handling horses, some riding, can feed, make up hay nets, can supervise junior staff
  5. Confident around horses, at least 2 years experience, handling horses, riding, feed/hay/supervise staff, some veterinary first aid, can identify signs of colic, deal with minor injuries
  6. Confident around horses, a lot of experience with handling, riding, feeding/can oversee a farm, some veterinary experience ie colic signs, minor injuries, can prepare horses for show (plaiting etc) - strip clean tack, load horses, attend at shows, handle horses in most situations
  7. Confident around horses, a lot of experience with handling, riding, feeding/can oversee a farm, some veterinary experience ie colic signs, minor injuries, can prepare horses for show (plaiting etc) - strip clean tack, load horses, attend at shows, handle horses in most situations - can lunge, exercise, ride out
  8. Confident around horses, a lot of experience with handling, riding, feeding/can oversee a farm, some veterinary experience ie colic signs, minor injuries, can prepare horses for show (plaiting etc) - strip clean tack, load horses, attend at shows, handle horses in most situations
  9. Confident around horses, a lot of experience with handling, riding, feeding/can oversee a farm, some veterinary experience ie colic signs, minor injuries, can prepare horses for show (plaiting etc) - strip clean tack, load horses, attend at shows, handle horses in most situations including young stock, energetic horses, stallions, ride well within my disciplines
  10. Confident around horses, a lot of experience with handling, riding, feeding/can oversee a farm, some veterinary experience ie colic signs, minor injuries, can prepare horses for show (plaiting etc) - strip clean tack, load horses, attend at shows, handle horses in most situations including young stock, energetic horses, stallions, ride well within my discipline and show

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