I've always loved horses. I used to fill in WH Smith's Win a Pony competition every year, and pray fervently that I would win. Anyone remember that competition? I'm sure I wasn't alone, though few of my friends at school shared my absolute obsession with horses. I never did win it. My family didn't have money to spare, but they supported me as much as they could - I rode every 8 weeks or so (and it was much cheaper then!) and on our annual summer holiday they would treat me to one or two hacks from whatever the local stables were. I never did enough to satisfy my craving, but it was something.
I love everything about them. I love that they are all different - different personalities, different coats, different sizes - but also that they are always so keen to please. I love the complexity - the fact they can sense your mood sometimes before you can. Humans have heaped so much on them, and still they work for us, and often work so hard for little if no gain. So it's been a real treat to have a couple of days away with my youngest immersing ourselves in all things horse... and discovering lots of other animals along the way. Funniest of all were a pair of alpacas we christened Sally and Sue - not their names... they turned out to be male in fact - but we thought the names rather suited them. Here's Sue:
We said hello to all sorts of horses, from the smallest:
to the biggest:
He is beautiful (all the horses we had the pleasure of meeting were - these are seriously well looked after horses, and pretty special ones as well, and it shows in their whole demeanor). But he really is a stunner. He has a lovely nature and he loves people. I've never heard a horse winny so desperately when we left each time we visited him. Unfortunately he bullies other horses, so there's nobody he can share his field with. Horses hate to be kept alone - it's unfair as it makes them very insecure. So he shares with...
...a whole load of cows (and there seemed to be some bullocks in there as well). It was very funny to see him cuddled up with them whenever we visited. Not the ideal, but if he bullies other horses, there's not an easy answer and he seems to rather like the company.
You may be able to spot him in the centre of the herd above. Apparently he's brilliant when used by the local hunt.
We read extracts from this book, much of which explains the horse-human thing better than anything I've ever read and my littleun loved the extracts:
And we stumbled on the inevitable barn kittens, all well cared for:
So, it was a lovely and memorable trip away.
Now he (youngest) wants to learn to ride. Serious gulp at the expense. He had one lesson while we were away and it was fabulous. He's tricky to please in terms of activities, but horse riding seems to really encourage his confidence in so many ways. We met some wonderful people, and had a ball.
He was a star, and it's been fab to share some precious time.