Sunday, June 28, 2009

a girl & her horse

This is gonna be a long one. I care not, it’s my blog and I can rattle on as much as I like.
*sticks tongue out and giggles*
It’s Sunday morning. I’m drinking coffee, swaying gently to the sweet sound that is The Shins and typing this entry. I’ve been up for a few hours researching. This entry did need a little know-how behind it even though it is a knowledgeable topic for me. There are so many aspects to it that I love but have never really experience first hand.
I grew up in a horsey family, my grand and aunt especially. Both my parents rode as youngsters but never really LOVED it. I got the love genes all right. When I was a little girl my Auntie Lu used to train race horses at some huge yard. On some Saturdays she used to pack me into her golf along with little Sammie, her dog, and off we would go. I would follow her around all day with hearts in my eyes. All those big beautiful horses…
I know a lot of people are scared of them, this I don’t really understand. I know you should have a healthy respect for a creature that towers over you and would whip your ass in a weigh in but truly they are just like huge dogs. Better by far actually. Highly intelligent & emotional creatures who have larger than life personalities of their own.
Later I used to go to shows on Sundays with my aunt. Sunny South African afternoons watching the riders go round the course, boereworse rolls and later the nearby river for a dip to cool off. Great memories.
I would beg my Gran for horse. PLEAD. One day I got home and there standing at the bottom of the field was a huge dapple grey. He looked like a heavenly storm cloud hovering over the long grass. I went hysterical.
A contact of my Gran’s had given him to her. He was four years old. No use to the racing yard he had come from because he had manky knees. “No good for jumping” according to them. I didn’t care. I was in love. We named him Stormy Skies and so the love affair between a girl and her horse began. I have so many happy, special, sad, nail biting, funny, scary but mostly exceptional memories of him:

♥ Bron & I riding double donkey on the way home from a lesson, singing at the top of our lungs, all of a sudden stormy getting a fright and the two of us dangling on for dear life and gently thudding to floor with hysterical laughter
♥ Galloping all the way home the wind, sometimes the rain, whipping across my face.
♥ Terrified Lee-Anne, standing behind the gate, throwing a carrot at Stormie and expecting him to “go fetch” because we told her he was like a huge dog.
♥ Sitting in his feild with his head in my lap, crying my eyes out because the stupid VET wouldn't hurry the hell up. That terrifying feeling of not know what was wrong with him. The VET arriving 7 hours later & the relief when he finally stood up.
♥ Bron, climbing up onto the roof off the stables, at the speed of light, because she was petrified of the bad tempered old boy Humba (he was Stormies stable mate).
♥ Stormie nibbling my hair.
♥ How bruised my foot was after he stood on it that one particular time.
♥ The way he used to rub his head up and down me after I took his bridle off, leaving green foam all down my one side.
♥ The way he jumped over that snake on our way to a lesson one afternoon.
♥ Waking up at 3am knowing how long its going to take me to entice him into a horse box . I could go on forever…
♥ Winning my first "Clear Round" on his back.

Sadly Stormie Skies left this planet two years ago. I will miss him dearly.
This passion for horses got me hooked on another of my passions. Reading. I hated it when I was younger. HATED it. My Gran gave me “The Horse Whisperer” by Nicholas Evans and convinced me to read it. That was the first book I ever read from start to finish that wasn’t assigned reading from school. It took about three months to finish but I loved it. I then moved onto my mom’s Jilly Cooper novels. “Polo” was the first. WOW. WOW. WOW. A new passion was born in me there and then. When I was younger & braver I really wanted to learn how to play polo, I fancied myself as a bit of a "Perdita MacCloed". Now I would be content with just attend regular matches, enjoying a glass and stomping the divots in between chukkas.

POLO - The sport of Kings. First played in Persia in the 6th Century. Polo has long been played by the wealthy because it’s very expensive to own and maintain a stable of horses. Polo’s played all over the world; England, USA, Argentina, and Arabia to name a few. A game that has been a past time of the Royal Family for many years. Prince Charles is a long time player as well as his two sons William and Harry who both maintain a 1-goal handicap. You might also know Ignacui “Nacho” Figueras the 6-goal handicap player from Argentina. He is the face of “POLO Blue” by Ralph Lauren.
Basically polo is played with two teams. There are four on a team. A match is made up of 4-6 chukkas depending on where you are in the world. The aim is to hit the ball through the opponent’s goal post. After every goal scored the teams change sides. Whoever scores the most goals wins. The handicap reflects the individual ability and range from a negative two, for an absolute beginner, up to a max of ten for the best players in the world.
Here is an interview with Nacho from Vanity Fair if you want to know more about the game and his delicious self: because I’m a Twilight & Polo fan here is something cool. Robert Pattinson beat Nacho by a landslide in the Vanity Fair “The world’s most handsome man” poll. Robert got 51% of all the votes and Nacho came second with 17%. Totally awesome? Dam right it is. Aren’t the gorgeous?

Polo’s a very fast game with highly skilled and polished riders and ponies. I have never seen a polo match with my own eyes. Well I have from a far. On the road home if you look left into the valley there is a polo club. We sometimes see the bug-sized horses & riders all swarming across the field after the ball you can’t see. I was trying to find a website this morning but couldn’t. I need to find out when there is a match we can go watch. I will have to get in the car and go adventuring into the valley. I once saw an Argentine polo player at the Spar in his breeches and baby blue Argentina shirt buying a bag of carrots. He was angelic. Dark curly hair pulled away from his oh so beautiful dark Argentine face. I went bright red when I saw him grabbed Lands by the hand and ran looking for my mother. The things an Argentine polo player can do to girls head?
Mel and I want to get our own horses. For Christmas last year she took me for a ride at the Voortrekker Monument. We rode Cape Mountain Horses (I think?). It was so much fun. I hadn’t ridden in years and it was like coming home after a really long holiday. We were allowed to gallop for a short stretch. Too short a stretch for Smellers and me. Mel had only ever ridden once before and she walked for the whole ride! It was so funny watching Mel bouncing and giggling her head off. We slowed down because home was approaching. Well that just was not good enough for Mel. She wanted more and kept urging her pony on and the leader dude kept telling her to slow down until she finally did. That experience confirmed our need to own our own horses. One of our friends dad has a whole lotta appaloosa’s. They’re proper Cowboy & Indian horses. See picture below. He said he would sell us each one for a very reasonable price.

I found this awesome place on the Pretoria highway. It’s called SA Trails, , and they specialise in Western riding, which is exactly how I want to ride & it will be way easier for Mel, and maybe Nina, to learn. We will hopefully keep our horsies there. They have the most amazing out rides. I don’t want to compete, just ride for the love of being on horse back with great friends and enjoy the fresh air.
I hope this inspires you go out and love something other than the usual or get on a horse because you’ve always wanted to or spend an afternoon in the sun watching a polo match, maybe even read POLO or Twilight. Go on, have an adventure.
Sooo, I like totally told you it was gonna be a long one. It’s Sunday afternoon now and I’ve spent hours researching, writing and doing layout. I absolutely loved every minute of it. Time to curl up on my bed with a hot cuppa and read. Bliss.
I hope your Sunday has been as chilled as mine.
Much love,


Mel said...

amazing. what an adventure.

i want more...

Mr Potta said...

In a Twakkie voice---AWWWESOME!!!