Friday, April 24, 2009

The eternal tourist

I squeeze in an early hack, and I’m so glad I bothered. The weather is cool and cloudy, but still and quite bright. The common is blissfully deserted; Harry and I have it to ourselves.

He’s in a great mood: calm but eager, perfect equine company. The eternal tourist, he looks at everything with intense curiosity. He draws my attention to things I would never usually see: a couple of tiny muntjak deer grazing unconcernedly near the path; a distant dog walker with two bounding red setters, a white house on the horizon. He whinnies at that – perhaps he thinks it’s his field companion, Snoopy, who’s a little white pony!

At times like this I love to ride Harry on a really loose rein. It’s such fun cantering him ‘on the buckle’, feeling like a cowboy, seeing him turning his head this way and that as things catch his eye. Even when he’s startled by something his reaction is moderate, he recovers quickly and carries on. Being allowed to behave naturally must be less stressful than being checked and ‘ridden’ all the time. I make a mental note to allow as much rein as I can when Harry is tense.

Heading for home, we gallop up and over the brow of a hill, with half of Hampshire spread out beneath us. This is the kind of thing I dreamed of when I was a little girl. I thank my lucky stars that now I have my own lovely horse and can live my dream –though I’m not a little girl any more, by any stretch of the imagination!

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