An early spring hack and a slice of sanity

Arsenal were playing on Sunday – must-watch TV for my husband. Not so much for me.

So I took advantage of a few hours with no plans and glorious sunshine to get straight to the stables and go out for a quick hack.

Ben is 23 now, and I’m pregnant, so we take things easy and we really don’t go very far or very fast any more. In fact my 16-year-old self, and my then seven-year-old horse would have looked on the present us with disgust. I would have said there wasn’t even any point in tacking up!

During the winter, I’m at work during all daylight hours, so I can only ride on the weekends. And recently, for one reason and another (injury, ilness, family commitments, etc), I’ve hardly ridden at all.

I had a really nice half an hour bonding with and grooming Ben and scraping mud from him – the joys of horses in winter are that they are literally never clean.

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Then I hopped on board and within five minutes had remembered why I have a horse. And in particular, why I have that horse and will have him until the day he dies.

I was bought up in the countryside, and could never live in a city, but there really is something soothing about being outside in the fresh air, away from the hustle of a High Street. My shoulders immediately relax, I breathe a huge sigh and relax and enjoy the world around me.

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I was so lucky as a teenager that my mum and dad finally gave in and let me buy Ben. I’d spent years of asking for a horse at every Christmas and birthday, and borrowing others’ horses to ride and mucking out all weekend for a chance to ride or groom or just be with the horses. And finally, they gave in and I felt like the luckiest girl alive. I was 14 years old and Ben had come up for sale at the yard I was riding at.

My mum softened, but said we would have to ask my dad, and I waited with butterflies in my tummy for him to get home and for my mum to raise the subject. After long conversations, he finally agreed and the excitement was another level. That was nearly 19 years ago and I still have Ben now.

Sometimes, the routine of caring for him in the depths of winter make me begrudge him a little, and I’m sure there are times when he begrudges me. But those times are very rare and if I didn’t have him, I would actually go mad. If I couldn’t have that hour of quiet when I get up and feed, turn out, muck out etc and then that time after work before I settle in for the night, I genuinely think I would be an absolute cow to be around.

It gives you time to get ready for and then to process the day. It gives you peace and quiet. It gives you some alone time to ready yourself for whatever else life throws at you.

I realise this is not for everyone and other people think I’m crazy, but it’s whatever works for you, I guess.

Anyway, back to Sunday…

We are lucky to be on a working farm in the middle of acres and acres of land, so we can ride out for ages without seeing a soul, or a road. And the wild flowers, little birds and animals are just gorgeous to watch. And as the sun went down, the countryside was so pretty.

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Ben would still like to go faster than we actually do, so we usually spend the last stretch of a ride bouncing around and jogging and refusing to walk. But I even love that, as it shows that despite being 23, he still feels good and has life in him and he still has his cheeky nature. We’ve grown older together, but neither of us has really fully grown up.

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Well deserved dinner!

I know people always talk about me-time, and don’t get me wrong, I love a spa day as a treat as much as the next girl, but give me a few hours at the stables with my bestie, and for me – life doesn’t get much better than that.

What do you do to get that slice of sanity?

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