As the lockdown regulations in Scotland ease slightly, our beautiful mares, Chexy and KayCee, have taken advantage of the new rules by visiting a very special household indeed. They have been up to the Balmoral Stud to visit one of the exceptionally handsome Highland stallions that live there. The meeting was a grand success, and now we wait with fingers crossed to see whether they might be in foal. The thought of new life is profoundly cheering after these long weeks when everything seemed stalled.
Actually, one of the things which lifted our spirits during this time was the lambing season. Everyone who has livestock knows that life really has to go on, whatever may be happening in the world. Up and down our valley, the farmers were working and the ewes were giving birth. They are out in the fields now, with their little ones, happy in the sunshine. In the evenings, as the twilight falls, we can hear them calling.
We get the same feeling of hope from our new puppies. Gordon and Rosie are so lively and bright and filled with the possibilities of existence that they act as a tonic. The Scottish spring, which came later than usual this year because of the dry weather, has finally sprung too so that, everywhere we look, the land seems to be dressed in twenty shades of singing green.
It’s very easy to feel stuck, to get caught up in the horror headlines and the endless stream of bad news. Sometimes, we have to take ourselves away from the rolling reporting and centre ourselves back in the small, hopeful, everyday things. We look at the horses basking in the Scottish sunshine. We watch the last of the great trees spring into life. (The oaks are only just putting out their first leaves.) We dream of the foals that might one day be born.
And then we go back to another sense of newness – our plans to adapt our work for a changed world. Although the team has been furloughed for the duration, we’ve started having catch-up meetings on Zoom so that we can wave at each other and grin at each other and talk about how HorseBack will come back, when we return to something like normality.
We will probably be a little different, but we’ve decided to see this as a good thing, as a fine challenge, as an opportunity for imagination and growth.
This charity has done a lot of things which seemed improbable, when we first thought of them. We trained an ex-racehorse to work with a paralysed young athlete in a motorised chair. We’ve got people with brain damage and missing limbs into the saddle. We’ve watched veterans who thought they were afraid of horses ride out into our great valley, as confident as cowboys. We’ve seen people who had shut themselves down come back to life. We’ve never found a problem yet that did not have a solution, and we are not going to change now.