When I was in school I learnt a poem by Thomas Hood called November. It went “No sun – no moon!/ No morn – no noon/ No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day” and finished “November”. Maybe it has conditioned me to thinking badly about November or maybe the lack of light with the clocks going back does this. But somehow, although the autumn colours are glorious right now, it seems that November weather has come in with rain and storms lashing us and settling around this part of the world with no break in sight.
I see Ben and Rosie by dark only on the days I work. They spend these days on the track with no grass and haynet filling is a chore I do not enjoy. Out in the wider world, economic gloom and fear prevail, brought about by the greed and stupidity of a few. It is easy for me to forget the blessings and the little joys that life brings.
One of those joys is that Cinderella went to the ball last Saturday. My youngest daughter took part in the riding school’s halloween show. We brought Rosie along, who was a star and much admired by all the girls there (I think I saw all of 2 boys). Together they did the starter stakes which consisted of walking around the course of jumps, the poles being on the ground. And to her joy, Claire took her around, her mother being dismissed to the role of spectator.
Another joy is the walks in hand I have been taking with Ben. We have been experiencing a really nice give and take on these walks. Ben loves to greet other horses and do his stallion act. This little fellow in a field by himself is one.
I have been having Ben on a long lead rope and bringing him to the gate to exchange greetings and assert himself. He became very excited over this one day when time was running out and we had to head back home. I was relaxed as I stood by him and watched the drama of his exchange with the youngster. But he stayed excited as we walked away and I suddenly did not like it. I imagined myself riding and did not feel safe. I put a hand on his chest and he stepped back instantly, but his head was up and he was still focused on the youngster. I just touched the lead rope under the headcollar and said “Ben I am too small, this is not safe”. He instantly lowered his head, his eye softened and we walked back home, both of us energised, he from his recent encounter and me from the knowledge of how softly Ben responded to my need.
Thinking about this afterwards I realised that I was in the moment at that time and therefore authentic and acted spontaneously without planning. And Ben responded to this authentic communication with softness and absolutely no brace.
Ben never wants to return to the paddock after those walks. He would walk for miles I think.