Suddenly, overnight, my wardrobe has shifted from long floaty skirts, linen tops and lipstick to jeans or jodhpurs with my hair scraped back into a scrunchie under an industrial sized hat covered in black moleskin (tho’ I don’t think any moles suffered in the making of this).
The reason for this dramatic change of wardrobe is of course due to the arrival of Tommy. The little native Irish horse that will transport me along my pilgrim route. He is settling in to his new environment really well at Steda Lowarth thanks to Jo and Keith, and whilst I wait for a suitable saddle to be fitted I have a moment to reflect on the momentous thing that I have just done. Taking on the care of an animal such as a horse comes with a huge responsibility, both in terms of cost, time and energy. And while I was having doubts about these things, I was kindly lent a saddle by Jo and together with Donna, we went off for a short ride together around the lanes. Being on the back of a horse again after so long felt wonderful and all my worries just melted away and I remembered why I was doing this. It was a lovely evening and the sun was setting as the three of us rode home.
So now the real work begins. It is less than a week since Tommy arrived and as he settles into the herd and finds his feet (make that hooves), I must also establish myself as an important part of his herd too. He has only just turned 7 (or so I thought until I decided to check his passport only to discover that he was born in 2008 which makes him 6! Doesn’t it?) which would explain some of his childish behaviour and, like a human child, he is already testing his boundaries. I am not overly assertive so before we get stuck into bad habits, I have contacted someone who practises natural horsemanship who is going to help me establish some basic ground rules with him. Such as standing still instead of fidgeting and respecting my space without walking into me, even when there are distracting things going on around us. Two things that are vital to both our safety and security on the journey ahead. So the ground work starts here.