I have just been watching the TV programme Horsepower presented by Martin Clunes exploring the relationship between man and horse and the history of the horse. I hadn't appreciated that it was the start of a series and have just spent the last hour enthralled. I was bought up around horses and learnt from an early age how to socialise with them. I had heard of horse whisperers but never seen them in action and it was lovely to see the response from the horses and the interaction between them and Martin by using a simple technique and it was magic to watch.
Although I was bought up around horses from an early age I never learned to ride (my great aunt had a riding school. She owned Wellingore Hall in Wellingore near Lincoln a large country house and country estate that was turned into private rented rooms for professional people. Many of the horses were around when I was tiny, they were gradually sold off or passed from old age.
However, I certainly remember Symphony and Refuge who had a filly called Kitty named after my great aunt (Great Aunt Kit or Clara). Kit or Kitty was blind in one eye a birth defect but she was sold to a kind lady owner who thought she might be suitable for flat racing. Despite nearly crippling her after Kit was frightened and reared and chucked her, she persisted with the training and eventually entered her for a well known race. She won and not long after that was retired with a permanent home. Not bad eh!
My cousin passed all her riding exams to teach and run her own riding school and she used to take me on a leader rein but I was never taught to ride (she was always far too busy but I learned to love horses as a result).
I started to go and stay at the Hall every summer holiday right from when my brother was born and I was sent to them whilst mum got used to the new bundle of joy. Every year after I went to stay during the summer holidays. It was a wonderful place to go because I was free to roam within the grounds wherever I wanted to go as there were no roads - I just had to keep away from the woods as there was a large pond and the racing Victorian Square block stables but they were the only restrictions. There were old fashioned fall through the floor hay lofts and also a couple of stallions in residence so I had to keep out of the way. The Hall stood on the crest of a hill and overlooked an extremely large park. The horses used to be turned out into the park during the summer, but come harvest they were moved out because they used to burn the surrounding fields.
One of my greatest memories though is that my cousin's chesnut hunter Mella (My Melita) was having her second foal and I was allowed to be present at the birth. I remember my cousin coming and getting me out of bed in the early hours to see the birth and then putting my fingers in the filly's mouth and it suckling it was a natural wonderful experience for a horse mad girl and one I have never quite forgotten. The gentleness of the young filly, the smell of the hay and straw.
I learnt to ride after I got divorced and paid out for riding lessons. I got as far as learning how to show jump and took part in a gymkhana (and got a rosette) but not long after that I was thrown by the mare I was riding who had a very thick stubbly mane that was like wire. She chucked me forward and as I fell, I fell on her mane with my eye open and ended up sustaining a whole in the cornea which subsequently ulcerated. So despite my best intentions to get back on - it never kind of happened.
I would love to get back into riding even if to only go for a hack now and again but I think I would have to go for refresher lessons first. There is nothing nicer than the freedom of letting a horse run free in a freshly harvested field. I would certainly love to gallop across a beach alongside the sea. Just a dream at the moment but maybe one day. Its one of the things on my to do list.
But watching this programme was a blast from the past in many respects and made me remember so many things that had slipped my memory. I shall certainly be watching the next part of this lovely programme. I hope you watch it too it is well worth it.