My other favourite horse by Wendy Barsley
I can't wait to get back again to Exmoor. Excitement starts as the car leaves the motorway, and cuts through Tiverton towards Dulverton and across Winsford Hill. There is a jigsaw piece of land cut back from the road, too soon for most people to stop, unless they are aware to slow down in good time. I rather pompously like to think this insignificant little layby as Wendy's Webbers Post! This is because I am a teeny bit envious of Mary's Seat (Mary Gaskall 1919-1965) at Webbers Post, and harbour hopes that a similar accolade could be installed for me after I've long gone!
Today, however, I am just content to stand, and gaze across the landscape. It is a ritual each time I arrive on the Moor after the journey from London. Sometimes, if I am lucky, I can spot a new-born foal, the mother standing proudly by. Way, way in the distance I can see the high-viz jackets of holidaymakers enjoying a hack out from The Exmoor Pony Centre. The sun transforms the early layer of dawn. Away I go, onwards to Exford, and an itinerary of packed days enjoying the hospitality of Mike, and Myra, good food, and the mandatory trip to Mole Valley Farmers, South Molten, for their seasonal wares.
Is it a wrench to leave Exmoor? Of course it is! But I have a standby safety net to soften the blow of returning to 'The Smoke'. His name is Forrester, and he is owned by Anthea Chambers at Wildwoods Riding Centre Surrey. He stands 17 hands plus, and is every inch the gentleman. This is comforting, because the transition of riding an Exmoor pony at app 12.2 to a horse of this size gives a sudden rush of adrenaline. No need to worry! Forrester is a limousine, and can purr from walk to canter like the proverbial Rolls Royce. In fact, it is very like sitting in an armchair, bacause Forrester is a horse who can switch to a Western saddle like a duck to water! His canter becomes a 'lope' even riding out on the Epsom Downs.
Why is this 'other' horse so special? Well, we both share a common denominator. Injury! Following a minor mishap, I tore a tendon in my right shoulder, and he had a tear in the deep flexor tendon in a hind leg, and also a small bone chip under the sesamoid.
Forrester is only 12 years old, so regardless of vet's bills, he, Anthea and myself travelled to the Equine Hospital at Liphook Hampshire. After an op and a brief stay we went back to collect him. He was overjoyed to see us, and let out the loudest whinny as Anthea went towards him. The journey back to Tadworth culminated in a cheer from The Junior Riding Club, as we trundled into Wildwoods, and Forrester exited down the ramp like a true celebrity!
It then became a waiting game. Box rest for 'Forrey', and a rotator cuff operation for me. How are we doing now? Well, I think the picture speaks volumes. We are doing just great!
Wendy Barsley May 2012