A different kind of equine experience

After a day out with friends, I have been down to give the donkeys their evening feed. For once, they were less interested in the food and more interested in me. At least for a few moments. Matilde was sniffing my pullover sleeves, Morris was sniffing my jeans and Rubí was fascinated by the scent still remaining in my boots. They had picked up the heavy scent of horse.


Before today I had never mounted a horse and I have never really felt comfortable in the presence of horses. That comment may seem strange, coming from one who spends a considerable time in the company of donkeys. I suppose they are simply a different kind of animal, and it is not simply the larger size; although the proximity to hooves that are twice the size of my largest donkey’s hooves was a little disconcerting to begin with!
I went riding with a group of friends who had arranged a morning’s ride for a mixed group of experienced and partly experienced riders, so it was an opportunity to have a go for the first time, without having all the focus on me if it was a one-to-one riding lesson. That was a good plan in the end: I feel terribly badly coordinated when it comes to any physical activity, like dancing, wind-surfing, or anything requiring physical responses to an instructor’s verbal commands. It always goes quite wrong and makes me feel self-conscious about my chaotic coordination; there’s a kind of disconnect between verbal instruction and the putting into action of a physical response that matches – even remotely – what is being described! Today was great because I could just get used to the horse, while riding in the group, and not worry too much about constantly failing to do the right thing…
This was a very satisfying first experience of riding a horse and I am grateful to Helen and Wendy for a good introduction to riding a horse, which was something I had not imagined myself doing until very recently! I can thoroughly agree with the statement on the website of Equus Horse Riding that their horses “are wonderful teachers”. My horse Diamante was a very good teacher indeed. He even gave me a very special nose rub on my shoulder when I dismounted, just to say “Well done!” That was the scent picked up by my donkey Matilde, as soon as I got home!


About Gareth Thomas

After a mixed career as an aircraft technician, London fringe theatre playwright, Franciscan friar, and secondary school teacher, I find myself dividing my time mostly between looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca and preparing a legal case against the corrupt management of my monstrous last employer - the Elians group - for unfair dismissal. I like to hear the wind in the pine trees. I do not like struggling to get a duvet into a duvet cover. My musical tastes are extinct and I have mostly given up cycle racing.
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3 Responses to A different kind of equine experience

  1. kathleen says:

    Hi Rabit,
    Did you have a sore bum afterwards? I used to ride as a child and adolescent, and then left it when I married and had children. When I first went back to it some years later (riding in Las Alpujarras) I was so achey, I could hardly sit down for days!
    Just popped over to your blog and realised I’ve been missing a lot of fun these last many months since my last visit! 🙂

    Anyway, I wanted to pass this message onto you that perhaps nobody has told you about. It arrived on CP&S over a week ago:

    Name: Grover Stuart
    Email: groversells@gmail.com
    Message: In the post The Mirror and the Crucifix Posted on September 11, 2010 by Frere Rabit, there is a link (now dead) to a high resolution image of the San Damiano crucifix. I’d love to have a copy. Is it available anywhere, or could you email me the image please? Thank you.

  2. Frere Rabit says:

    Hi Kathleen,

    Thank you for your comment. I did indeed have a copy of the high resolution photograqph of the San Damiano Crucifix and I was given it by the photographer, who was a Conventual Friar in Assisi. He died a few years ago and the copyright has passed to a German picture agency.

    Since he gave me permission to use it (for non-commercial purposes) I illustrated an episode of my St Clare and St Agnes series with the photograph. I did not complete that series of posts for CP&S but I may complete it one day. There were at the time a number of problems with editorial decisions.

    If the photo reappears on CP&S it will be a unique presence on the internet. The photo was taken at close range with a large format camera when the Crucifix was taken down for cleaning and was photographed at ground level. If I can find my original notes I may re-post the series and complete it as a Lent exercise in recognition of Pope Benedict and his great witness to the Church during his papacy.

    At present, however, going through all my files (in this rather disorganised winter arrangement of my Spanish farmhouse), I have not found the picture file! I will update Burrito on the matter and you might mention it to him as a possible editorial contribution for later in Lent, with the final episode in the letters of St Clare to St Agnes of Prague. These are two of the greatest writers in the whole of Christian spirituality.


  3. kathleen says:

    Wow Rabit, this is such exciting news!! Yipee! I can’t express how much I enjoyed your series of posts on St. Clare, and I was really disappointed when you left and they were never completed.

    Yes, I’ll show Burrito your comment above. I’m sure the whole Team at CP&S will be equally delighted. Thank you very much.

    Perhaps you could e-mail a reply to Grover Stuart yourself though.

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