Thursday, February 7, 2008

My Kind Of Oz

There is a narrow country lane in the middle of Cheshire that always prompts me to slow right down before I turn in, so that I don’t fling my car against the postbox on the other side of the road. Yet as I slow down, my heart speeds up with delight as the lane turns and curves around the fields and hikes up to the top of a gentle hill until a field unravels inside a fence and I proceed down the ribboned passage flanked by trees and bushes. I always think that this is my land of Oz, this is my yellow brick road where my black-and-white and depressing working life turns into technicolor, and all that is sour in my day fritters away without leaving as much as a crumpled memory behind. This is where Mervin, my horse, lives. I went to see him today after weeks of mundane occupations and a poorly back kept me away. My heart fluttered and my lips curled into a smile of Grinch-like proportions as soon as I got out of the car and breathed in the familiar air warm with soil, mud and hay. There is nothing as evocative as smell. There are currently many more peacocks around than last year and although I tried to gently approach them in a non-confrontational manner, I guess my camera was threatening enough by itself, never mind my 5'10", over-11 stone ungraceful shape in squeaky wellies barely squat behind the naked bushes. They quickly dispersed in the fields and up the trees, getting set for the night. There has been a spell of good weather this week and getting out of the house after so much pain made me feel much better. I had a walk in the fields and even brought Merv back to the stables, for a friend to give him some exercise later in the evening. Merv has just turned 16 and is an ex hunting horse, a huntsman. He is a fabulous horse and although I myself never was a nervous rider, he was recommended to me as a horse particularly good for beginners and scardey cats who still persist on riding. I have progressed enormously ever since we partnered up and no matter the level of my riding, what is most comforting to me is just spending time with him, picking up hooves, brushing his coat and ears and when the weather permits even giving him a bath. I have found that a horse is good for the soul on many levels, one of these being teaching you how to get in control of your emotions. People who are ignorant of horses (or, more generally and perhaps cruelly, people who just are more ignorant than others) are baffled by this, yet it shouldn’t come as a surprise that an animal as sensitive as the horse can teach humans how to get in control of themselves by its presence alone. The close proximity of a one-ton animal is not a good place where to be scatty and edgy. And hoof-proof boots help too.
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