Saturday, 7 January 2012
Hillary was born in 1997. So she was twelve when I bought her. She spent eight years on a riding school; three years of which, I believe, she was living out. She is a 16hh warmblood X cob type, although I don't actually know anything of her breeding. She is a dark bay with three white socks, often covered in mud, and a lovely wide blaze. Her tail is thick and wavy, and her mane grows quickly with big kinks. She is not very fine, and yet not too heavy; she is perfect.
When I bought Hillary, I remember the specific feeling: dread. Not happiness, or excitement like I'd always imagined, but dread. Suddenly, this magnificent animal was my responsibility. If she was ill, it would be my responsibility. If something happened, it was down to me. I was terrified. I often felt awkward about not feeling excited or happy. I know that my parents went through a lot to lend me the money, and for a long time, I felt as though I was ungrateful. But when I look at Hills now, I feel a sense of achievement, a pride and love that I have never felt. I think that in the early stages, I had built up so much expectation of what it would be like, that I was overwhelmed. I knew that I had to repay my parents, and look after a horse all by myself. I was entering the unknown and didn't know what to expect. I was simply being cautious, and I'd rather be that than end up losing her by throwing caution to the wind.
I originally kept Hillary at the riding school while she was on a trial with me. The facilities there are great: indoor and outdoor schools, a horse walker, a cross country course, solarium etc etc. Super. However, I soon realised that whenever I rode her, or did anything with her, everyone knew her and had something to say about it. Since owning Hills (which is not long at all really), I have come to accept that owning horses is something of an ambiguous thing- different people look after their horses differently. There are, and always will be, people that think their way is best. I have never been one of those people. I always want to help people, and make their lives easier, but I never imagine myself to be someone who knows more than anyone else.
Needless to say, the day the money for Hillary exchanged hands, I emptied her stable, and moved somewhere else. A place where people would look at me and Hillary as we are, rather than judging us. This place, Thorncliffe, on the outskirts of Manchester, is a place I have come to love, and a place where hopefully Hillary and I will always be. It is here that I have laughed and cried, made and lost contact with friends. But more importantly, it is a place that Hillary feels comfortable, and where the routine suits her down to the ground. I work full time as I always have done, and at the end of a difficult day, this is the place I long to be. We are both happy here, and hope that we will continue to be for many years to come.