“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.