“God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses!”

So wrote Robert Bontine Cunningham Graham in 1917. And I fully agree with him. This love affair I have with horses doesn’t go back that far. In fact I’ve never been on a horse in my life. Yes I’ve always liked horses but it’s only recently that I’ve started really paying any real attention to them and buying books about them.

When I lived in England and went on my cycling tours in the countryside I would frequently pass ladies and the occasional gentleman on their horses and I would always slow down as I passed. One reason is because some horses get nervous if a bike or a car passes by at speed. The other reason is I simply liked looking at the horses.

Now I’ve been living in Downpatrick these past six months and that’s the closest I’ve ever come to living in the countryside. Before that I was living in London and before that in Belfast and neither city is terribly conducive to horses.

So you may be wondering why I, a born and bred city dweller, should have any interest at all in horses. I’ve always liked girls’ stuff and I’ve been interested in what girls are generally interested in, and that includes horses. Even though I was a boy and am now a man I never had much interest in boys’ toys. I wanted to have things that my female friends had and I couldn’t have them because I was the wrong sex. And that’s probably why I’ve become interested in horses.

Now, I’ve no interest in keeping a horse, that’s for sure. To say it’s hard and expensive work is something of an understatement. The work that goes into training a horse is huge. And they’re blooming heavy too. Goodness knows, it can be difficult enough keeping a Yorkshire terrier.

But, provided you have the money and the wherewithal to keep a horse, it can be very rewarding. If you train your horses right and treat them right then you will be rewarded with a lifetime of love and unstinting loyalty. That’s probably why so many teenage girls dream of having their own horses.

There’s ample evidence of it on the internet. May I direct you to Pony magazine.

And afterwards you might be interested in Horse and Country TV on Sky Channel 280.


9 responses to “Horses

    • Your teacher must have imagined heaven as a place of nothing but blue skies and white fluffy clouds and angels singing and twanging golden harps.

      And to answer your question, no, I’ve never been on a horse in my life, and I think I’m a bit long in the tooth to start now.

  1. I’ve always found it funny that cowboys and jockeys are usually men and hang out with horses, yet it’s girls and women you see at all the local riding stables. But there are exceptions, it seems to have changed with the passing of generations. I used to work in a stable that catered to older riders, beginners included and both men and women rode. We didn’t have anyone under 18 but it was fun to consider the huge variation in ages.
    I am sure there are horses in heaven. It’s a bit arrogant to think only humans can get in In fact, I think riding one is rather like a bit of heaven brought to earth.

  2. Up until the First World War, equestrian sports and just about anything to do with horses was usually seen as a man’s business. But now men have got motor cars and motorbikes and countless other power vehicles, horses seem be very much a lady’s business. Which, to my mind, can only be good for the horses. Ladies tend to treat animals better than men.

    And I can understand why many women would prefer a horse to a car. Horses have souls. Cars haven’t.

  3. It’s so interesting how in today’s world (especially in the western world!) boys and men often scorn horses and their women riders. They say it’s a girl’s sport and that it’s not a “manly” thing to do. The irony is that at the upper levels of equestrian competition, especially in Europe, the arena is often dominated by men.
    Lovely post. I hope you continue to see horses on your cycling tours!

  4. Thanks for your comment. I don’t have a bike any more, but I am within walking distance of the racecourse in Downpatrick, down the Ballydugan Road. Also, there’s the old abandoned racecourse near the Killough Road where I sometimes meet people out on their horses.

  5. I am 16, and I have horses, ride and train. It is very rewarding. What men who say it’s not “manly” to ride a horse don’t understand, is it’s more physical exercise riding a horse than it is to toss a football or to drive a vehicle! My grandfather is 89, has a replacement hip, and bad back, and still gets up and rides a horse better than any person I’ve ever seen. If you have found a good, sound horse to work with, you can learn to ride one at any age! Though, older people tend to ride horses with a gait so it doesn’t jostle them as much.
    I hope you have many more horse filled journeys ahead of you.

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