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The Horse People

Posted by Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley
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on Wednesday, 25 April 2012

There are horse people visiting. I am beside myself with delight. It means that the full beauty of the mare may be appraised by an expert eye. I find I crave an expert eye.

Getting a horse after thirty years of not having one obeys several laws of unintended consequences. One of them is monomania. I suppose I might have expected that, but I did not. I thought I’d just go for a ride each day, and have someone whose ears I could pull. Instead, I plunge into equine obsession. I am like the little pony girls who only read the Pullein-Thompsons and think that all other literature is bosh. (I actually was one of those little girls; clearly, that jodhpur-booted child still lives in me.)

So when the horse people arrive, I am in seventh heaven. I may speak the language of horse without having to stop and explain myself. There are little things I notice, too. I find an odd, keen pleasure in watching someone who knows how to approach an animal they have never met. There is a rather touching politesse in it. The thing is to come slightly from one side, so the creature can see you, with an open, relaxed body, and to hold out a hand so that it can be smelt. Some people do this with an open palm, some with a slightly curled fist, knuckles upward. The horse then can have a good sniff. Scent is very important. Then there is a miniscule pause, almost a little exchange of information, like businesspeople swapping cards. The horse will lower its head, almost give a small nod of acquiescence, and only then may one give it a stroke.

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