I seem to have acquired another boy to look after – but this one is only two days a week. Meet Lucas:
I can’t quite believe my luck.
Since I was seven years old, I have longed for a horse of my own. I used to actually shake with excitement before my riding lessons. Every year from the age of about eight to thirteen I asked for “Pony for the Week” for my birthday – it was the highlight of my year to spend five whole days at the stables, grooming and feeding and riding the ponies.
Of course around the age of 14 it became more important to spend my money at Topshop than the tack shop. I’d spend the weekends planning, going to and then analysing who we’d kissed at the Archaos unders. My purple grooming kit lay forgotten in the garage, I outgrew my jodhpurs and my horsey days were over. I always tried to go for a hack on holiday – I still loved it and it’s a great way to discover a new place. My friend Dionne and I rode ponies western style across the Andes in Chile in 2005 and my friend Mairi and I would randomly book a three hour hack on the beach – took us days to recover.
But now I am right back there in the midst of my childhood obsession and I am happy as a pig in shit.
It’s all thanks to Facebook. A friend reposted Louise‘s request to find a new person to horse share and I happened to see it. I saw how close her stable was and thought I’d just send her a message and see what happened. The next evening we met up, had a chat, went for a ride (she has another horse called Corky) and it all just fell into place. It was as if it was meant to be.
It has taken a fair bit of juggling to find the time to properly commit to this. Luckily Louise is flexible and I work for myself, so between us we make it work. I turn up, I muck out his stable, I lay new shavings, I fill his haynet, I collect him from the field and bring him into the stable where I take off his rug and groom him. He is so affectionate and easy to be around – the only thing he’s not too keen on is having his rear hooves picked out – we do a wee dance round the stall while I try to persuade him. When he’s gleaming I tack him up and have the joyous freedom of what happens next. For someone who’s only ever had lessons on riding school ponies, this is definitely the best bit. Today we did some work in the school without stirrups so I could improve my balance and then we went for a hack through the fields in the sunshine. Bliss.
I’ve come to realise that horse riding is the ultimate exercise in mindfulness. While I’m out with Lucas all I think about is him and me. He’s a big horse (16hh) with plenty of energy and strength, you can’t afford to lose focus. But more than that, when I’m out in the countryside, with the sound of the birds and the gorgeous views up to the Pentlands and across empty hayfields, you lose yourself in the experience. It’s exhilarating and relaxing at the same time. It’s one of the only things I do that doesn’t involve any technology. No one talks to me. I don’t need to say a word (except maybe “whoa” or “good boy”). It’s very far-removed from my noisy, harassed daily life, and I appreciate every minute of it.
I even got that old grooming kit out of the garage.
Now, where’s the nearest tack shop? I need some new jodhpurs…