Smudge, on Dartmoor.

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Seventh June Blog
With apologies, I have photographs but cannit seem to upload them.
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Managed both photographs, yea!

Pastime delights, still remembered…….

Quite a few years ago, I holidayed in Canada. Part of that trip involved a horse riding session. Of course, at that time I could not ride. It wasn’t a big event and we did not go far but I did enjoy that time sitting astride a gentle horse, leastwise, I rhink it was gentle.

The next visit to Canada involved staying at various places. Part of which meant driving to a kind of farm where my friend’s sisters resided at the time. We all had a nice meet up, talking about all sorts of things? There were several horses kept out in a field. We had all decided to go for a ride that morning. This involved catching or should I say, rounding up several of the animals, bringing them up to the farm house where they were bridled and saddled

It was decided that my mount was a Palamino and the harness had lots of silver on it. All these years later, I have no idea what its name was, but I have fond memories of that horse. But first I must tell you, before ‘the off’, we had a visitor. A raccoon that had invited itself in and my friends, being animal lovers had fed it. I personally was able to pick it up, but then it got antsy. So I let it go.

So, I mounted my mount, OK, I should have rephrased that, but I am not going to! The others went ahead of me. I should have mentioned that, in front of the house, there was a huge depression, like a gully. Not sure why. Not sure it was natural either, but it was quite deep, spreading out from the house about 50 yards or so. Everyone had ridden their horses down to the further end of the hollow. I started my horse down the steep slope. Partway down, my left rein broke. Panic!

Now, I was not a developed horse rider at this time. What should I do? How would I steer the animal and not fall off? My self preservation instinct took over. I grabbed the long mane and held my legs tight to the flanks for all I was worth. Luckily, the animal seemed to know my dilemma! At least, that is the way I saw it, at the time. Of course, he stopped where the other horses were standing and my friend’s sister was able to go back to the house and procure another rein.

At the far end of the depression, was the main highway. Something we had to cross and I cannot remember how we managed that. So much water under the bridge! We had our ride and near the end, one friend started cantering down this long pathway ( for want of a better term) that eventually ended facing that same highway, I was soon to find out, like a T junction. My Palamino took up the challenge. There we were, not cantering, but galloping down this path which led to that main highway, for all we were worth. I saw cars going back and forth. Getting closer every moment. Was I worried!? You bet! At the last minute, a few feet from a gate closing off the pathway, she turned her horse, and mine came to an abrupt halt as well. Whew!

It was an enjoyble afternoon. Back at the house we all dismounted, took off the tack and went in for some food.

Next morning, I had a shock. The whole of my thighs, from groin to knee, and down my legs were black to purple. You see, I was not used to riding and my body apparently protested at the abuse. Gradually, over time, the bruises went. A few months later, at home, i came across a stables, a bus ride away, and joined. I rode every Saturday or Sunday for about an hour or two, with different horses.

The name of the last horse I regularly rode was Little Dolphin or Dolf. He was a Pacer. For those unfamiliar with that term, he moved in a different way to the normal horse way, both legs on one side moved forwards at the same time, alternating with the two legs on the other side, it took a little time to get used to his ‘gait’, but in the end, I kind of preferred it.

I was thrown three times, on various steeds, mostly my own fault for not holding on so tightly. Once on my first ride out, kids were playing cricket in the field and my horse kind of shied at the white sticks they were using as cricket stumps. Another time the mare I was riding was acting as a pacemaker for the stable’s trotting stallion. Again, end of a long track came abruptly, and I did not judge she would move one way to stop. Consequently, I went the other way, kanding on the track. Both times, my horse stood for me and I was able to remount. I did enjoy those times. The third time, I did not actually fall off, more, the horse slid diwn a dip, it was autumn and the grass was icy wet. I sort of heaved him up by the reins. Luckily he was able to gain his front feet. Needless to say, after that, we turned and headed back to the stables. I was alone that morning.

I even went pony trekking on Dartmoor for a week. Mostly, the moor is high rolling ground with not a lot of grass! Plenty of rocks higher up. The weather came down that June. One evening, there was thick fog. So thick, you could not see more than one foot in front of you. I was out with a couple other riders at a pub and getting back to the farm was hairy, I can tell you. The rain, absent at around 7 a.m., was coming down by about 9 a.m. most every day, so the ground got muddy as the week progressed.

Seeing Dartmoor from the perspective of the top of a horse is pleasant. I never knew there were pine forests on Dartmoor, hidden away in steep valleys not apparent from the top of the moor. Streams to be crossed. All kinds of wild creatures down in the dells. And that is only a small part of the Moor. The last day, a Friday, we trekked to Widdecombe in the Moor ( there is a song about the place). We approached with trepidation.

We were at the top of a hill. The continual rain had made the slope of the hill, a sea of mud. We were asked to dismount and lead our horses down. This was the hard part because my horse, at least, wanted to go faster and his hooves were sliding in the mud. I held his halter tight, using my weight as the fulcrum. Somehow, slowly, we traversed the slope together, moving inexorably downhill until at last, we reached flat ground.

Moving on, we were led into a small compound, divesting our mounts of their saddles and bridles. We were then able to go and explore Widdecombe in the Moor. It was when we collected our animals, bridled and saddled them that my horse trod on my foot. Trying to move a horse’s hoof from your foot is not the easiest of tasks. They tend to lean on their legs a lot! Luckily, I had some cowboy boots on or my foot might have been crushed. Anyway, I keaned a lot back. He was quite a big lad, this mount of mine. Eventually, well, it seemed a long time, he must have decided I wanted him to move, and he did.

So, memories like these help me write pieces such as this. I have many more memories that I really must put down on paper, computer or Ipad, before they disappear forever. Such is the writers lot. Use your memories of happenings in your past as well as current events, that may be significant or amusing. They may be the start of a new project. A book, a poem, a play even ( and I have even written a small one of those too)’ a memoir. Go on, you know you can!

Take care, my friends,

Evelyn

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2 thoughts on “Smudge, on Dartmoor.

  1. Evelyn, I really enjoyed this post. I just read an article on ‘platform building’ for writers where it said the best thing we could do was to share our stories as that was what gave readers confidence that they’d enjoy our books and ebooks, so you are doing a fantastic job!

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