Walking from the pub last night, I ended up in a field full of horses. It was dark and they loomed like faint ghostly images. I could hear them shuffling heavily about.
I walked on and a brown and white friesan style, decorated like one of those grey WW2 warships, followed close behind.
It walked so slow and close, nuzzling my arm, it really was walking with me. So I chatted to him. I have spent close time with horses over the years, chasing girls, friends’ sisters, that kind of thing. So I whispered, ‘come on, come on over here’, you know, click click, horse talk.
And the horse followed. The path descended and to the right a slight embankment rose under a laden hawthorn. I waited for the horse and he pulled up by my side.
He was now slightly lower than me, and I was looking down onto his back. I thought what to me was a very obvious thought. I could climb onto the horse easily from here. The horse stood still, looking at me.
Calm and quiet, he gave off no edginess or nervousness at all, moving towards me when I pulled his neck gently nearer so it was easier to climb. He had no bridle, no saddle, no lead rope, no halter, nothing. Nothing at all. Just a horse.
I was thinking what to do. Should I climb on? Should I? I was nervous. What if he bolted? But it was an obvious thing to do.
So I did. I climbed onto the horses bare back. He stood firm, calm as I floundered about. Struggling to lift my leg so high I fell off at first, but this did not bother him. It is not easy to climb onto a horse with no stirrups. At last I sat comfy, holding his mane tight, just in case. I click clicked him on ‘giddy up’ I said. What else do you say to a horse you only just met? And he moved forward ever so slowly, ever so carefully, down the path.
I had no control of this horse at all. No reigns, nothing to hold onto other than his mane, but he ambled along. He could have bucked, he could have reared, he could have gone bonkers, but this I could tell was a calm horse. It was clear to me he was very happy to have me on his back for sure. But I held onto its mane in case he did go bonkers. I knew he would not, and the horse knew I would not do anything stupid too. We were communicating very clearly with each other. Another sense. Horses are famous for their sensitive nature. When you think of champion cross country winners, crashing through and over barriers – that is not a horse. That is a highly stressed, highly humanised horse!
Further down the path he came to a peaceful stop, as if to say ‘you can get off now, if you want’, which I did. As I walked further down the path, he followed me, pulling at my sleeve in such a gentle playful manner. Horses are calm creatures and this one was telling me something. I stopped and rubbed his nose, stroked his face gently encouraging him to follow me.
He stopped once more rubbing his head against my back. I talked to him again scuffing his forehead hard as they enjoy, a place they cannot touch. He stood bolt still. And I climbed back on.
Again he could have thrown me in the air, tossed me onto the grass, into the dry stone wall nearby. But this was far from his mind. I patted his back, making those silly noises you make to horses. I had no way of steering him, no way of controlling him, though I did nudge him on with my feet, clutching the mane tight in my hand. For sure he was happy to walk me down the hill a little more.
It was one of the most serene and intimate experiences of my life. This horse was taking me of its own volition. It was the horses choice. He took me where he wanted to go. It was the first time in my life an animal had taken me somewhere it wanted to go.
There was no danger, no fear. I felt I was being shown what horses are really about. Calmness, peace, serenity, grace.
He walked a little further, lulling to the left then the right, as if I had become too heavy for his back. And then slowly he came to a stop. He stood there not moving, un-stirred. I slid off in the proper manner.
I imagined being the first ever human to climb on a beasts back. The first to climb onto a horse. Knowing it would not mind, in fact, that it would be very happy for me to be there. We would go places together.
It is so comfortable on a horses back, with no saddle, as if it was made for me to sit there. It really is the perfect seat.
I walked home amazed by my experience. My closest of friends think I made this up. I have not made it up. It happened. A horse took me for a walk.