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The rain it raineth every day

Posted by Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley has not set their biography yet
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on Wednesday, 27 June 2012
For every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction. This time last week I was roaring home perhaps the greatest racehorse I ever saw, giddy with euphoria, only slightly cross that mere words on a page could not express what I saw. (There is a visceral, elemental nature to horses which means that often they defy prose.) Now I gaze out onto a drowned landscape, everything brown and sodden under a low, grumpy sky.

There are particles of sadness floating in the air. I’m really sad about Nora Ephron dying. Seventy-one is no age; she was so clever and funny and witty and true. She gave an awful lot of pleasure to an awful lot of people, and that’s not a bad thing to be able to say about your life. Someone else who gave pleasure was the young jockey, Campbell Gillies, who won me money and brought me great joy at Cheltenham this year, when Scotland triumphed in the Albert Bartlett, with the lovely Brindisi Breeze. Gillies also died yesterday, in one of those freak accidents that make no sense. (I suppose no dying makes an awful lot of sense, but some makes less than others.)

Crash, crash, back to earth I come.  The sensible great-aunt in me says: spit, spot, this is life. It’s not a carnival ride. The rain rains, and work must be done, and people depart, and that’s how it goes. The not sensible part says: bugger this for a game of soldiers.

I stomp up crossly to the mare. It’s so nasty out that I was not going to do any work with her, but I have some bizarre puritan streak that pushes me on. As if sensing that I need some good news, she is immaculate, at her sweetest and funniest and dearest. She actually rather loves this weather. Too much sunshine is far too vulgar for her grand sensibilities. A low, soft day is her absolute favourite. She is willing and responsive and I get the sudden thrill of achievement.

tania june27

Just as the horse is doing something particularly impressive, my step-niece comes out to feed the chickens. The hens are nearly as grand as the mare, and get the remains of the great-nieces’ porridge for their breakfast. ‘Oh,’ says the step-niece in delight, ‘look what she is doing.’ I feel idiotically proud. I have a witness. See what I can do, with my horse whispery skills. See how clever and brilliant my lovely girl is.

The lovely girl, obviously overcome by her own cleverness, sticks her nose into the silver saucepan and eats all the hens’ porridge. For some reason I find this inexpressibly funny. I never heard of a horse eating porridge before. ‘So Scottish and good for her,’ I say, laughing. The mare nods her head, very pleased with herself. I scratch the velvety spot behind her ears and think this really is much, much cheaper than therapy.

Determined to counter the dreich, I come home and make yellow split pea soup with saffron and drink a pot of coffee so strong that I can feel it jump-starting my brain. On I bash. At least the rain means I don’t have to water the garden. It keeps the flies away from the horses. It means we live in a green and pleasant land, instead of an arid desert. It’s just a little bit of precipitation. Out in the east, beyond the beeches and the Wellingtonias and the venerable oaks, a faint gleam of light appears in the sky.
The rain it raineth every day.

For every reaction there must be an equal and opposite reaction. This time last week I was roaring home perhaps the greatest racehorse I ever saw, giddy with euphoria, only slightly cross that mere words on a page could not express what I saw. (There is a visceral, elemental nature to horses which means that often they defy prose.) Now I gaze out onto a drowned landscape, everything brown and sodden under a low, grumpy sky.

There are particles of sadness floating in the air. I’m really sad about Nora Ephron dying. Seventy-one is no age; she was so clever and funny and witty and true. She gave an awful lot of pleasure to an awful lot of people, and that’s not a bad thing to be able to say about your life. Someone else who gave pleasure was the young jockey, Campbell Gillies, who won me money and brought me great joy at Cheltenham this year, when Scotland triumphed in the Albert Bartlett, with the lovely Brindisi Breeze. Gillies also died yesterday, in one of those freak accidents that make no sense. (I suppose no dying makes an awful lot of sense, but some makes less than others.)

Crash, crash, back to earth I come.  The sensible great-aunt in me says: spit, spot, this is life. It’s not a carnival ride. The rain rains, and work must be done, and people depart, and that’s how it goes. The not sensible part says: bugger this for a game of soldiers.

I stomp up crossly to the mare. It’s so nasty out that I was not going to do any work with her, but I have some bizarre puritan streak that pushes me on. As if sensing that I need some good news, she is immaculate, at her sweetest and funniest and dearest. She actually rather loves this weather. Too much sunshine is far too vulgar for her grand sensibilities. A low, soft day is her absolute favourite. She is willing and responsive and I get the sudden thrill of achievement.

Just as the horse is doing something particularly impressive, my step-niece comes out to feed the chickens. The hens are nearly as grand as the mare, and get the remains of the great-nieces’ porridge for their breakfast. ‘Oh,’ says the step-niece in delight, ‘look what she is doing.’ I feel idiotically proud. I have a witness. See what I can do, with my horse whispery skills. See how clever and brilliant my lovely girl is.

The lovely girl, obviously overcome by her own cleverness, sticks her nose into the silver saucepan and eats all the hens’ porridge. For some reason I find this inexpressibly funny. I never heard of a horse eating porridge before. ‘So Scottish and good for her,’ I say, laughing. The mare nods her head, very pleased with herself. I scratch the velvety spot behind her ears and think this really is much, much cheaper than therapy.

Determined to counter the dreich, I come home and make yellow split pea soup with saffron and drink a pot of coffee so strong that I can feel it jump-starting my brain. On I bash. At least the rain means I don’t have to water the garden. It keeps the flies away from the horses. It means we live in a green and pleasant land, instead of an arid desert. It’s just a little bit of precipitation. Out in the east, beyond the beeches and the Wellingtonias and the venerable oaks, a faint gleam of light appears in the sky.

More horse, of course

Posted by Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Up in the high woods, it’s just me and the horse. I should think profound and uplifting thoughts, but I don’t. I think of visceral, physical things, like how every bit of my body moves, very, very slightly, with the rhythm of the mare’s walk. I’m not swaying about like a drunken sailor; the best way I can describe it is a sort of give. It’s the opposite of stiffness. It’s not a feeling I specifically remember, from my youth, although it is oddly familiar, as if there is some buried muscle memory. I find myself liking it very much, because it makes me feel at one with a living creature. (At which point, the inner hippy bursts out and tries to teach the world to sing.)

I also like trying to figure out what is going on in her horsey old head. The sharp reverses of the first week have stopped, but she is still familiarising herself with radically new surroundings. She will suddenly pause and put her head up as high as it will go, looking, I am quite convinced, for mountain lions. The things that alarm her change from morning to morning. One day, she found a small, wooden cottage inexpressibly startling; on another it was a scarlet boat out on a glittering loch. This morning, she decided that the post box, past which she had walked without remark for eight days, was bloody scary.

I suspect that she might be testing me a bit. Or even teasing me. On the other hand, her sudden fears do seem real. I concentrate very hard on being calm and firm and reassuring. I beam good thoughts at her with my mind. By the end of the ride, she is sweetly docile and relaxed, and each day brings small, potent progressions.

I love the riding. I love the getting to know a new creature. I love the sense that my muscles are growing strong. I love looking out over the blue hills I would not otherwise see.

Oddly, though, the things I like about this new life are the very small. Perhaps my favourite part is when I go to turn the mare out in her sunny little paddock. I put her smart new headcollar on, and she walks beside me like a faithful hound, head down, ears pricked. I don’t have to pull on the lead rope; we just saunter along together, in perfect step.

I stop at the corner to give her a pick of grass. I lean on her shoulder as she eats. I remember my mother telling me that an old trainer she knew used to go and dig up dandelion roots for his horses because he believed they had miraculous health powers. I must dig her some dandelions, I think, picturing myself searching through the woods for them, like a truffle hound on the scent. Quite frankly, I am so in love with her that I would do anything for her just now. She has captivated every inch of my heart.

As I think that last thought, I look down at her. She is concentrated entirely on grazing. She has no time for sentiment. She is a horse. I am mooning away like Keats after Fanny Brawne, and she is entirely concerned with eating. This feels like some sort of salutary corrective. Whatever it is, it makes me laugh quite a lot.



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