• Charli


I brought Bibi in from her field this morning in preparation for the young people joining the session at Muirfield Riding Therapy. C was a bit concerned because Bibi hadn’t been spotted on first check, and the hope was that she was in her shelter.

C and I approached her field, hopes high that she was in her shelter, but there was no sign of Bibi. We looked around and eventually spied her – in another field in the long grass. She had trampled down the electric fence and looked quite chuffed with herself. Until we started walking towards her, and then she just looked guilty.

The field was thick with mud and getting her out was no mean feat/feet! We three stepped gingerly through the squelch and soft wet clumps and headed away fro the field towards the long shelter where the ponies tug at the hay in their nets, and wait to have their rugs removed before being groomed and tacked for the session.

I have always loved horses – riding, petting, feeding and grooming them. I am never happier than pottering around horses, turning down their beds, cleaning tack and grooming, picking poo from the fields.

I am lucky – I have had my own horse, and shared a few others and never tire of that magical smell which is a combination of hay, grass, horse pee and horse sweat.

When L was barely 3, I was teaching full time in a village primary and sharing a horse called Charisma. I would drop L off at the child minder first, and three times a week head to the stable, muck out Chizzy and then go to work.

Invariably there were a few tell-tale signs of my early morning activity lingering about my person. Kath, a wonderful general assistant at school would remark ‘Charli your stuffing’s falling out’ when I turned up for work with bits of straw and hay on my jacket.

Back to this morning and Bibi had obviously amused herself by rolling in the mud before she made her bid for freedom and had a fairly matted mane and fetlocks. I started brushing her down, gently removing the dried mud on her nose and neck, and working my way around her body. She is sensitive about having her feet picked , but otherwise seemed content to let me brush her thick winter coat.

Time is short at these sessions and the ponies have to be warmed up before the young people prepare for mounting, and so much as I could have spent the morning making Bibi shine, I was thwarted in my attempt.

My confidence is building as I spend time on Saturday mornings fulfilling so many lifelong wishes and desires – being part of an amazing team, supporting young disabled riders and being with horses.  Seeing the relationships build between rider and horse makes it all worthwhile – whatever the disability, there is a magical connection which offers a unique healing and supportive therapy.

Horses – a poem

Languidly you lift your head

and regard me

majestically you lift your hooves

and follow me

patiently you bide your time

and humour me

carefully a rider mounts

you trust me.

Herd animal, you flight not fight,

let me attend to you and make it right.

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