Sometimes it seems that writing a blog is akin to ploughing a lonely furrow, but then someone out there gets in touch and you find you think the same way about certain things, even if they’re half a world away, and suddenly, it makes sending your own mad thoughts out into the ether not such a crazy idea after all.
So I’m hugely grateful that Michelle at www.thehorsemaster.wordpress.com got in touch with me and has been a really inspiring correspondent as well as writing her own blog, on her horses and views on life, which is highly readable, stimulating and challenging. Ignore at your peril!! Whilst she’s kept me from sinking into the proverbial slough of despond while I’m malingering here with my broken leg (my temporary world is pictured below),
our off-piste discussions have thrown up all sorts of new trains of thought to blog about.
I’ve chosen Julie Gold’s “From a Distance”, as sung by Nanci Griffith, as today’s theme tune. With its ringing, hymn-like chords, even tempo, and peacenik message – it’s a utopian rallying call, rousing human beings to unite, but then………. human nature just doesn’t lend itself easily to universal peace and love.
Michelle wrote in her blog about what makes a rider and how we gravitate towards our riding tribe, be it Western, dressage, showjumping, endurance. The groups and subgroups are endless and they all promote their own cause by propounding their clan’s methods and modes, implicitly, or explicitly as superior to some other group’s. And then they compete amongst themselves to see who performs best to their own rules. Even the “natural” horsemen seem to get chippy about just who is closer to nature.
Riders choose their horse tribe, but horses are born into their breed, as we humans have no choice over our nationalities. Born English, I have Irish, Scottish, Norwegian, French and goodness knows what other genes in my make-up. I have been enormously influenced by American culture through TV, music, books and films (got to do a special TV roll call here; from Champion the Wonder Horse and Rin Tin Tin through Petticoat Junction, the Beverly Hillbillies, High Chapparal, Dallas and Soap to Friends, Frasier and Sex and the City then Desperate Housewives and I’m still a great fan of US TV; in Europe we get the programmes with much fewer ad. breaks and I freely admit to being an unashamed child of the TV age, with questionable taste!!). And Texaco, as my father’s employer paid for my upbringing and made my father a confident man with a cosmopolitan outlook, which in turn rubbed off on my mother and me.
Then I fell in love with France and everything about French culture to the point of coming to live here. And one of the main reasons my husband and I have been able to try and take part in French life is by being able to speak the language. The lovely girl who comes to give me physiotherapy sessions three times a week tells me she has had many elderly Brits as patients and often only one partner of a married couple speaks some French. (Usually the wife – just because women have a greater need to communicate!) And I can attest to this from my own experience, having seen many unhappy Brits fail to “live the dream” because they may be able to buy a slice of Brie in the market, but when it comes to chatting with neighbours and making friends it’s just too much of an uphill grind.
At the same time ex-pats tend to be sniffy about mixing with each other as much as the French love to start a feud at the drop of a hat. The collection of semi-ruins we bought once housed 3 families, only two of whom ever spoke to each other, and then sparingly and refused to use the same well. Within families everywhere it can be even worse; the closer we are more we have to argue over!
My point is this; we need to speak the same language, look for a common point of view, share a sense of humour and try to be less rigid about our chosen rules – whether that applies to the way you ride your horse, the music you listen to or the way you choose to celebrate your religion or express your views on politics. However hard it is, let’s respect our differences, have a good argument even, but not come to blows over them, because this world is now so overcrowded there just isn’t the elbow room for people to keep their distance any more.
Of course none of this is ever going to happen and how daft am I to still be hoping for a better world – must be the painkillers I’m still taking!
Hopefully, I’ll be walking again in a couple of weeks and back to more down to earth thoughts about horses and gardens. Meanwhile I’m celebrating Aly’s 27th birthday today, my own “Champion the Wonder Horse” pictured below.