Saturday, May 12, 2007

You can lead a horse to water ...


... but you can’t make it drink. They are big, powerful beasts, these creatures that I adore; big, powerful beasts with minds of their own. People who say racing is cruel don’t understand that: you can’t make a horse race if doesn’t want to. My sister has three ex-racehorses, one of which ran four times before it became obvious this was not the life for him. He has the breeding, but not the desire.

Similarly, you ‘ask’ a horse to do something, you don’t ‘tell’ them, because if they don’t want to, you can’t make them. My friend asked her new horse to stand still today. The horse reared vertical, overbalanced and fell over backwards. For one long, long moment, they were both rolling around on the ground. Horses can break their back and kill their rider when they do that. That rear came out of the blue; there was no warning. You can't legislate for something like that. The horse is going back from whence it came.

I, and everyone I know who rides, have had some crashing falls. I have jumped jumps without my mount, I have been dropped on top of post and rail fencing, I have been concussed, I have slammed flat on my back on the road, winded and shocked, so that when I managed to stand up, I vomited. I could go on …

The air ambulance visits these parts at least once a year. Whenever I see its collecting box on a shop counter, I put my change in. I see it as investing in my future.

My friend was lucky today: she escaped with bruises and got back on the horse. You have to. It’s a bit like life.

24 comments:

Sarnia said...

My sister-in-law would concur with you. (She who trains)

My 16 yr old daughter would also. (She who rides)

Me? I love watching them race and love watching them generally - but that's it!

The world would be a sadder place without horses.

Andres Carl Sena said...

I am afraid of horses. my wife loves horses. should we get a horse?

james higham said...

Concussed, winded, vomited - I love your violent posts.

occasional northerner said...

I put an excerpt from "Right Royal" by John Masefield on oversixtynow.com this morning. If you don't know it I think you'd like it.

@themill said...

I was kicked by a bad tempered little shetland when I was five and I managed to avoid all contact for the next forty years. We then inherited a blind, 20 year old ex polo pony from some friends who were emigrating and she is the most wonderful thing. She is the first horse I've met I'm not afraid of -I groom her, talk to her and cuddle her, but I will never, ever be tempted to learn to ride. And I just don't get racing.

Anonymous said...

Oh what a wonderful post. This blog is ten times better than Wife in the North. Don't bother writing a book - I feel that a new television series is on its way. It would be far more gritty, real and truthful about life in the north than bloody 'heartbeat', which is the era most people think
oop north is still stuck in.

The Secretary said...

I have to confess that horses frighten me a bit. You never quite know what they are going to do. However, having said that, I think they are beautiful creatures and a pleasure to watch in motion.

Nunhead Mum of One said...

I got back on Bandit after he threw me but only back to the stables - and then never got on a horse again. Will be blogging about this subject shortly though - am girding my loins and going for it. Horses are magnificent - in motion or just standing in a field looking majestic.

Omega Mum said...

I read your things about horses (and the alarming tags) for a frisson of terror about my own daughter on a horse. I have now seen her fall off a dozen times, each time from a greater height. But you are still alive, which gives me hope.

Mopsa said...

Memories of younger times came flooding back reading this - that one where your riding hat-enclosed head bounces on the tarmac and you just have time to think "I hope there aren't any cars about to run over my bonce" before you black out.

lady macleod said...

..and I thought getting shot at was dangerous! Good tale. I am pleased your friend is still standing.

rilly super said...

darling, I hate to say this but you don't make an awfully good case for taking up your noble sport. I think a nice game of golf, or ten rounds with
Ruslan Chagaev, sounds much the safer bet.

Anonymous said...

eminem - you were mentioning Echo Beach yesterday, and it seems Gordon Brown has picked up the theme with 'Eco Towns'...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6650639.stm

If he puts them near enough to the coast, global warming will see to it that there will be a beach nearby..

beta mum said...

And my daughter wants to learn - yikes.

mutterings and meanderings said...

Oh no, parent people, I didn't mean to put you off! Riding is a marvellous thing for children, it teaches them so much about life.

To horse, people, to horse!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Could you not get a rabbit instead? They are far gentler!
Do you wear one of those bullet proof vests? How things have moved on since I bounced around stirrup-less...
Pigx

mountainear said...

I'm very nervous around horses - and I think they sense that - but I'm working on it. A short while ago, our neighbour who is a physiotherapist (horse and human) was treating Eric her endurance horse. I got to stand and stroke his velvety muzzle and inhale those musky horse smells as she gently worked on some minor muscular problem. He seemed to enter a sort of trance-like state, and me, I forgot my fear and dread in the warmth of his breath.

And the air ambulance is a wonderful thing which deserves all the pennies as we can wring from our purses and pockets.

Marianne said...

I admire you enormously, M&M, but will stick to cats and rabbits I think at this slightly late stage in the game. And one day, I hope, there will be another black labrador to replace my lovely girl, Rosie, who was stolen over four years ago from my home.

Enjoy your horses. It sounds like you have found the thing that makes you happy in your life. Love the blog.

Brom said...

I have had a fair few dealings with horses. Out walking once past a field which contained a few four legged friends that my companions were aquainted we came across one who had got the wire of the fence jammed under one of its rear shoes, was stuck and far from happy. My friends went into a bit of a flap and went running off to get help. I had a closer look at the situation, decided that it was a simple engineering excercise to break the wire by inducing a bit of rapid bending and let metal fatigue take over. The horse and I exchanged glances and I bent down and got on with it. Two minutes later the wire was out and dobbin wandered off to munch at some grass. My friends returned with the farmer to find me staring at the clouds with no sign of the horse. "Oh, It managed to free itself they said" I recounted my actions to looks of sheer horror. Apparently that particular horse (the biggest in the field) was a known kicker and no one ever went near its backside. Ah well!

ziggi said...

bloody hell!
I was only thinking today, I think i'll finally buy a back protector! I haven't been concussed or fallen off since 1991 - do I win the record? I hope to f*** I haven't just tempted fate! Glad your friend was ok

Anonymous said...

This is my favourite horse poem. You probably already know it - although possibly not in the guise of a horse poem.

http://whitewolf.newcastle.edu.au/words/authors/A/ArnoldMatthew/verse/Poems/sohrabrustum.html

In fairness it is not known as a horse poem, but it is of course, especially in these lines:

and Ruksh, the horse,
With his head bowing to the ground and mane
Sweeping the dust, came near, and in mute woe
First to the one then to the other moved
His head, as if enquiring what their grief
Might mean; and from his dark, compassionate eyes,
The big warm tears roll’d down, and caked the sand.
But Rustum chid him with stern voice, and

mutterings and meanderings said...

Pig, my sister has four rabbits - and four horses. I occasionally wear a 'bulletproof vest'...

Mountainear, they are generally soft souls, it's only occasionally you get a wrong 'un and that's generally been cuased by a person. And yes, they do pick up on our vibes ...

Marianne, Thankyou. I am so sorry about your dog. We have always had black labs at home...

Brom, it's a bugger when that happens, but most of the horses here are now 'barefoot' so we escape it. The kicker obviously knew he was dealing with someone who knew what they were doing and meant him no harm...

Ziggi - first rule of back protectors is you don't fall off when you're wearing them, it's when you're not that you hit the ground hard!! That is some record girl - my best is three years and I felt invincible (laughs hollowly...)

Anon, that's lovely. Thankyou.

debio said...

It is essential to live - but it is also essential to feel alive.

No vicarious living for you, I see.

Well done, take care and love the horses dearly.

Posie Rosie said...

And just as I was about to pluck up the courage to have a go at riding again when my daughter's apparently 'bomb proof' horse arrives, gave up after happy farmer slapped the horse I was on, she reared up and chucked me off, riding never felt safe again. Thanks for this lovely blog about horses and riding, now I feel super confident!!