Monday, 18 October 2010

BT: Not Very Brave

I am not much of a rider, in spite of having lessons all through the school holidays of my childhood. It was the jodhpurs that put me off. They were the old fashioned type made of non-stretch cavalry twill that ballooned at the hip, and getting them off was hell. And while hacking out was fun, schooling, with all that 'Round the World', figures of eight and such like was really, really tedious.

I've only had one fall, when a cousin in Essex took me out for a gallop on a hunter. I lost the stirrups and came off, but landed on my feet and wound up running alongside hanging onto the reins (it was drummed in from an early age; "If you come off, never let go"). As falls go it was probably quite elegant, but it wasn't the competently casual look I'd been aiming for.

The last time I rode with any serious intent was when I was first dating the SS; I got run away with, but managed to remember one was meant to turn the thing, and that worked. I suppose I must have passed whatever test as a potential life partner she was putting me through.

There have been a few pony trekking outings since in the Highlands. On the last occasion we came down a slope so steep that the rear of my mount was more or less sitting on the ground, and I found my feet doing the sort of bent-kneed walking that children do in pedal cars. That time the SS and K so liked one of the Highland ponies that they bought it, which raised a few logistical problems, as we were returning on the sleeper.

Another piece of equestrian lore I was regaled with is that one should always try and stop a loose horse. The favoured technique is to stand in front of it as it careers towards you, and stretch out one's arms. Needless to say, when this has happened at point-to-points, I find a compelling reason for setting off in the opposite direction. While doing this once, I was put to shame by my 70 year old mother who stood her ground doing the heroic arm thing.

What all this is leading to is yesterday afternoon, when the SS received a call about an escaped horse. I don't know why they called her, but she went down and recognised the escapee as a stallion belonging to a neighbour. The beast had been trying to get to a mare, and was some way from home (the mare was a grey pony; apparently they use grey mares to get stallions in the mood at stud, which suggests gentlemen horses prefer petite blondes).

The stallion was very steamed up and overexcited, but with help they managed to get a halter onto it and walk it home. Since then we've been shown this video of the same horse, before it came here. It provides a clue as to how he got out of his field...and also as to why I prefer to leave catching horses to other, braver folk (sorry about the music; it's French).

Friday, 1 October 2010

A Summer Sabbatical

BT been a bit distracted.

There's been a bit of this:

Butter wouldn't melt? Don't be deceived; she's the hound from hell. Escapologist, sadist, roller in and eater of the unspeakable. Chews cookbooks for breakfast and consumes fingers as a sign of affection.

A lot of this:

Bob's first car isn't the little runabout I'd anticipated. I can't tell you the hours we've spent under it. We can now change a gearbox with our eyes closed, and putting in a replacement engine (off eBay) was so far out of my comfort zone it might as well have been brain-surgery. What I don't know about bodywork would fit on a postage stamp. Some good father-son bonding in there somewhere, though.

Some of this:

One perfect day Bob and I paddled a couple of miles to get here - mostly in circles. The bay may have a proper name, but it's always been 'Houpadout Bay' to my family, ever since, on some picnic expedition in the 1930s, a visiting aunt exclaimed, "Hope I don't fall in".

And plenty of this: