Saturday 12 March 2011

In love with a horse

I love horses. I think I've always loved them. There is something about them; the beauty, the smell (everything about a horse smells good; yes - even that), the grace, the dignity, the gentleness. Of course not all horses are gentle, but that is usually because they have been ill-treated or are in pain. Essentially, the horse is a gentle animal; harmless in the best sense of the word.

The horse has the largest eyes of any mammal. This is strange since they are far from being the largest animal (think giraffe; think whale). Large eyes always appeal, don't they; "the windows of the soul". Eyes are important.

All this came to mind this morning, when I was reading Melanie Reid's weekly column in The Times. Melanie broke her neck and her back in a riding accident last April, and she writes of her experiences in what she calls her "spinal column". She is making a slow recovery, but has limited use of her hands, and little function in her legs (although she is heroically learning to walk again). In today's article she writes of horses, and her thoughts of ever sitting on one again. "Part of me yearns to be close to a horse, to bury my face in its neck and inhale that smell. But the sense of loss that will come with that is terrifying".

I can so identify with that. Part of me knows that soon I too will probably have to hang up my riding boots. To career around the Wiltshire downs on a very energetic (and not always obedient) ex-racehorse at my age is not the most sensible thing to do. But then I look at my horse - beautiful, dark, leggy, with those huge brown eyes; by far the most beautiful animal (or even posession) I have ever owned) - and I think, no. Not yet. Not for a while.


  1. This is a lovely post, Frances.
    I didn't know that about their eyes.
    Don't hang your riding boots up yet!

  2. I used to ride a bit, and then lost my confidence rather. I keep saying I'm going to start again, although I'd be equally happy just to be around horses and not riding them. They are such interesting animals.

  3. Hi, Teresa. No - no-one seems to know about their eyes! I probably will carry on, but my kids worry about me, and I have had a couple of scrapes/falls in the last few months. The trouble is, if I give up now, I know I'll never ride again. Another door will close...(By the way, I loved your latest story! I've been reading WW fiction in order to try and get back into it. It's a long time since I wrote short stories).

    Hi, Joanne. I think yo've hit the nail on the head. Horses are lovely just to be around. I sometimes sit in the stable with mine and listen to that soothing chomping noise as he eats his hay. Every so often, he gazes round at me with a "what on earth are you doing?" expresion. Just admiring, I tell him. That's all.

  4. Much to the disappoinment of my paternal great grandparents (who bred horses), and my grandfather (who wanted nothing more than to be a jockey), horses scare me witless. They're big. They bite. And they're smelly.

    But I have to admit there is nothing more beautiful than the sight of a healthy happy horse gambolling in a field or racing around the last curve and into the straight of that last 100 meters on the track...

    Maybe I have more horsey blood in me than I realise! :)

    Judy (South Africa)

  5. Oh Judy - how sad! Yes, they're certainly big, but they rarely bite (unless they mistake you for a treat - I have a bruise to prove this!) and they smell wonderful! But of course smell is subjective...

  6. I love horses and have only had the opportunity to ride a couple of times, but they are some of the absolute best moments of my life. I ache to to ride again and someday would love for my wife and me to be able to ride on a regular basis.

    But their huge eyes freak me the heck out.

  7. They are the most beautiful creatures. We live near Lambourn and are surrounded by thoroughbreds.

    Since I was seven I wanted to own my own horse. Our move here happened too late. I should have been living here in my teens or twenties, before matters equine all became even more expensive.

    There's nothing sadder than knowing your dream come true has kind of come true too late in life. Meanwhile, my daughter is riding so I get some vicarious joy from that. We can really only afford one of us doing it--every other week.

    But my heart still lights up when I see them.

  8. Erm, that (and this) was me, Eliza, that last comment. Can't seem to sign out of this account but it is me, honest!

  9. Eliza - I've only just seen your comment, but I would say it's never too late to ride! I took it up again (after a long, long break) in my fifties, and it has brought me such joy and pleasure. if and when you can, do go for it!

    Nevets - how can you be freaked out by those amazing eyes? They are beautiful!

  10. I'm not sure what is with enormous eyes. Huge fish with big eyes do the same thing to me. Something deeply psychological, I'm sure.