The grey mare and I have just celebrated our fifth anniversary together. As far as relationships go, I think it’s very satisfactory: she carries me on her back, and I feed, worship and adore her.
Prior to the grey mare, I had acquired my horses: she is the first one I paid for. Hunting for a horse can be a harrowing business. I saw four unsuitable candidates before we met. Each time, I expected to meet my partner; each time my hopes were dashed. But I was smitten with her immediately. She was a bigger, prettier version of my last pony. My sister says: “I knew as soon as you saw her head over the stable door.”
I wasn’t disappointed: I started trying to barter while I was still on her back. The dealer refused to budge, but he did give me back £20 ‘luck money’ when I paid for her.
She arrived without a name, without travelling gear and with a horrible rope halter. Standing at the top of the lorry ramp, she whinnied loudly to find out whether there were any other horses in this strange place, then tail held high, she marched down confidently.
She had a slight cough when I tried her. Within a day, this had magnified and there was thick green mucous pouring down her nose. This was ‘the Irish cough’, a problem commonly caused when horses are transported across to England. For a week, she had penicillin injections.
For a week, too, she listlessly wandered along the line of the fence, looking sorry for herself and being ignored by the rest of the horses. I fretted that she’d never settle. At the end of the first week, evidently feeling healthier in her body, she jumped the fence into the next field where the company was obviously more conducive to conversation.
We brought her back, and gradually she secured her place in the herd. Now, it’s hard to remember what life was like without her.