Feelin’ kinda flat (da dee da duh)
Got no-one to ride with an’ my horse is gettin’ fat,
I got those January blues……….”
Yep, it’s that time of year again. The turkey carcass is long picked clean and only the pine needles stuck in the gaps between floorboards remind us of the animation, if not necessarily the gaiety of Christmas. The New Year has lost it’s shiny, novel gleam and it’s far too early to wonder if you’ll get any Valentine cards. Diets and resolutions may already have foundered, and the most appealing idea on a chill and drizzly Sunday is the old-fashioned notion of toasting crumpets in front of an open fire and guzzling them dripping with melted butter….
With apologies to those of you struggling under snowdrifts or coping with an actual case of SAD – and believe me, I really sympathise – my seasonal moan is being forced to ride on my own. And though I do enjoy one-to-one time with my lovely horse, there are other times when it takes two, or more, to feel like you aren’t ploughing an eternal lonely furrow.
Now I’m back to regular riding, I’m finding that, during the time I was grounded, there have been many changes among my previous riding companions. Patrick (who turns 50 today, many happy returns!) is working harder than ever; his job is under threat and he hasn’t got the time to ride. Flo sold off all but one of the Connemara ponies she raises and claims she’s had enough of horses. Teenage Mélodie’s hormones took over and poor old Denver was sold within a year of his acquisition. Julie who kept her horses at livery with Patrick has moved to another stable far away and suddenly there’s no-one around for a convivial outing “à cheval”.
So I decided to advertise. I felt all the vulnerability of a Lonely Heart as I put out my request to meet other riders and horse-owners. How to make yourself sound sufficiently experienced yet not a know-all; friendly but not a limpet; sensible but not dull; fun, yet on the right side of lunacy?
It wasn’t easy. Writing back to the first couple of replies, I managed somehow to imply I was a showjumper, when what I was trying to say was that I hadn’t jumped in years. Then, that I was keen on training endlessly without stirrups, when in fact complaining that an overzealous instructor had nearly killed me (and my enthusiasm), when I’d gone along to a lesson as moral support for a younger friend. Oh dear, I fear humour is a dicey commodity in the world of equine WLTM. Must just stick to the facts!
Anyway, it seems that there are plenty of friendly, interesting folk out there (well, just women actually) who have horses and are getting together to do rallies and organise talks and demonstrations, fun shows and dressage classes, outside the more formal competitive world organised through riding clubs and national federations. Just nobody in my immediate vicinity that I can take a casual ride with, just for the pleasure of it. And riding on my own is going to be my continuing fate, unless I have transport for my horse.
And here’s the rub. We have a car that can pull one. A driving licence that lets you. A horse that loads well and, at a pinch, we could probably afford a reasonable second-hand trailer. But – for all his wonderful qualities (see previous post; Horse Husbands: An Essential Guide!) – the husband is deeply resistant to letting me make the investment. I just can’t seem able to make him see that, isolated as we are, I can’t go for training or take part in any group activities that would make life for me and my horse so much more enjoyable unless I have regular access to a trailer.
I think the way to start is to hire one and I’ll take it from there …..wish me luck (and any suggestions are welcome – as always!).
PS Here’s a January treat, photo-wise. There is an exhibition at the Paris-Vincennes racecourse of the works of the famous photographer Robert Doisneau, whose “Kiss” is one of the most memorable images of the last century. This is his “Arrival of the Trotters at Vincennes, 15th February 1955”.