Finding something you really love doing is almost like finding someone to love. It really does take a lot of heart and courage. Suffice to say, I seem to have had better luck with Yoga and horses. The mind battle with the heart is like a little precept that my late, and very much loved, mum used to say: ‘Nowt t lose but yer ‘ead, and only if it’s loose!’ I think I can attest to having a secure head, as that infamous rollercoaster showed me.
Having a secure head and an open heart is all I needed when I began riding ponies, at aged 9. My first real pony was Toby. Toby was more of a Toby jug than a Toby, as he did resemble a stout old man represented, in form, on a beer mug,. You know, the ones that were so infamously described, satirically, by the comedic genius of Norman Thelwell.
My parents soon realised that two years of Saturday riding lessons were best saved, in one lump payment for Toby. And, in true Yorkshire, cost-effective style, my late father, (who was a true, hard-
working and hard saving Yorkshireman), purchased my own little lump for 100 pounds. My dear parents were always thinking of the best (and cost effective) way to secure a Christmas surprise, so even though they had the best intentions at heart, their heads must definitely, have been a little loose in the week leading to up to my surprise. A surprise that had been stabled for just under a week, with a lovely selection of Sid’s (the local horse supplies outlet) pony nuts. Now, I’m no expert on how many kilojoules to feed a 350kg pony, who is in a low to sedentary exercise period, but, I did work as a personal trainer for 9 years, so, if that is a good reference to relate to, I do know
that, too much food + too little exercise = too much energy.
Ponies, however, are meant to graze, walk, graze, climb, graze, run etc. to manage all that energy, Toby, suffice to say, was in a stable, 10 metres square, for one whole week, gift wrapped, under his new Christmas stable rug. I have to say, that our first Christmas Day encounter was emotional. The heartfelt love that I had for Toby was immense. I had only ever dreamed of owning my own pony,
and, for me, my heart was just overwhelmingly full. As a child, I would draw endless pictures of horses, and my bedroom was wall to wall with posters of Harvey Smith, Caroline Bradley and Dick Turpin’s Black Bess. My love of horses has always remained constant and close, and Black Bess certainly made her presence known with one particular black horse, during my life in New Zealand, but that’s another story.
It’s often said, that horses are in the blood, and for me, that is powerfully true. I have undoubtedly nearly lost my head riding horses, but as my dad would say (usually following my latest trajectory from the back of one), ‘thas med o rubber’.
Toby was tacked up and ready, with a saddle and bridle from Sid’s, (on sale of course) selection of harnesses. It was momentous. There was fire in my heart and even more fire in Toby’s belly. I’m not sure if my head was even aware right then of the outcome and not even my secure head and one of Sid’s riding hats could change that. The ride lasted about as long as my rollercoaster ride at Thorpe Park, and I could relate, but, at least on Nemesis, I was strapped in. Hitting the ground at speed was definitely a stunt that not even Tom Cruise could train for, I was very hurt and completely winded and, I was aching and dazed... a bit like falling in love?
You see, that is where my late mothers’ advice made sense. She would be relieved to know, I haven’t lost my head, and my heart remains unchanged around horses, the only thing that has changed though, is my body is no longer made of rubber, but my (rubber) Yoga mat knows that.