A passion for horses has always been a part of me. I’ve owned them (as much as anybody can ever really own a horse), dreamed of them, played with them, ridden them and loved them all my life. I’m not alone in this. Not the only little girl to draw nothing but horses, filling reams of paper with bays, blacks and greys, as if sketching them might conjure them into reality. Not the only child to go everywhere at a walk, trot or canter, and write poems and love letters to favourite ponies. But for some, this intense horsiness is a passing phase. At around fifteen or sixteen, a lot of my friends discovered boys, and began scrawling the name of their latest crush on their exercise books, instead of the name of their dream horse. Not me. If anything, my passion for horses grew stronger as I grew older.
What is it, I wonder, that makes horses such powerful figures in the lives of many women? Why is there such a natural affinity? I think it’s because horses are both mystical and intensely physical. I like how they ground me, link me to the natural world, to the wind, rain and sun. Riding requires me to understand and respect my own body. It doesn’t matter how much I weigh, or what I look like, or how old I am. All that matters is how my body can best work with my horse.
Yet the sweat and straining muscles of a pounding gallop, also has a spiritual side. I’m at one with the universe. My focus turns inward. My senses heighten in a kind of meditation. I stop thinking about bills, and car services and deadlines. I see and hear what my horse does: the flash of a wallaby hide through the trees, the liquid song of a butcher bird, the rise and fall of the trail ahead.
I’ve been blessed to share my life with many fabulous horses, but you don’t need to own or ride one to feel this special connection. I get a tingle from seeing a horse in a painting, or a photo or just reading about them. When I started writing, I learned that horses also inspire creativity. Their mystery and beauty fires my imagination, taking it from limitation to freedom. ‘Since the dawn of civilisation, the horse and the Muses have been companions in all the heroics of mythology and history.’ – Robert Frothingham. There isn’t a book I’ve written that doesn’t involve horses to one degree or another. For me, horses embody sensuality, power, beauty, trust and freedom. What’s not to love?