It was a busy Thursday for me, with writing commitments and a very small horsey window before collecting my son from pre-school. I headed up to the stables — a term I regularly use, although more often than not I am just going to my horse Badger’s field, which is currently a 10-minute walk from the yard itself — and noted that my time window was laughably small.
My saddle and my bareback pad, which I sometimes use for short hacks around the fields when I don’t have my tack with me, were both at the yard itself. I cursed. It was a beautiful day — the clouds white and fluffy, the ground cover nice and springy, and the sun at just the right temperature. Sod it, I will go bareback, I thought.
This is something I haven’t done for … actually I can’t remember the last time I went for a bareback blast. I have never done it with Badger (getting on him is a mission!) and with my last whizzy horse, it was probably suicidal. Maybe the last time was in my teens?
Anyway, I scrambled on from my mounting block feeling mightily pleased that Badger hadn’t barged off to eat a hedge and dropped me in it, and we set off across the fields and tracks surrounding his field. My sedate walk turned into a wonderful exhilarating fast canter — a long, ascending grassy track, a keen horse and a relaxed rider — what’s not to like? And I laughed out loud from the fun of it. THIS is what riding is about. Maybe we forget about the unadulterated joy of it, when we are focused on shows, events, PBs and flatwork?
My husband later stared incredulously. “You galloped up a hill without a saddle? But you were scared $hitless to sit on the back of my motorbike?” It’s true, he’d bought a new motorbike recently and having convinced me to ride pillion, was bemused when I took my helmet off with tears in my eyes because I had found the experience of leaning with the bike at seemingly fast speeds immensely scary and panic-inducing. Ah well, it’s horses for courses, I proposed.
The next issue to contend with was the horse hair-covered legs ahead of the pre-school collection; but I’m hardly the most fashion conscious Mum at the gates. Hubbie wasn’t phased by my inappropriateness. He is still aghast at me calling the svelte and gorgeous Imogen Mercer, whom I interviewed, ‘Burly.’
‘No. BURGHLEY groom!’ I keep hissing.