My little world had spun towards the weekend and straight into it at top speed, and I had been on the go non-stop when I drew into the yard, jumped out of the car, grabbing my coffee flask, and made my familiar way across the yard to the stable block where my beautiful boy – tuned long ago to the sound of my engine and jangling keys – stood expectantly, toes lined up at the stable door.
Without fail, each time I step in there, reaching for the outstretched black nose straining to greet me – and wondering what treats I have brought him – I feel an almost imperceptible shift in pace, and find myself once more on “horse time”. We have joked about the strange phenomenon of how time stands still when at the yard many a time over the years as we’ve realised time and time again, gathered around watching the horses graze, leaning on brushes and sipping chipped mugs of hot chocolate, that whole afternoons have been lost – or that a 6pm visit has stretched til 8 with other halfs promised a 7ish return. It’s as though the concept of time means nothing here, the whole of everyday life can be pulsing at a high rate one minute but as the line is crossed into the yard the next it simply can’t be – as the bolt is slid back on the stable door and a fluffy chest moved deftly back to step inside, nuts fill a bucket and then give way to the steady crunching of a nose thrust into it, rhythmic and unrushed. There is no option of high speed here, no chance of multi-tasking. Things take as long as they take, one activity is done at a time and everything takes place at the easy pace of the animals around you.
There is no better therapy, no better escape from the busyness of life, than a few hours lost at the farm, and this weekend was no exception. Tacking up to head out riding for the first time in a while, we took things at an easy pace, but enjoyed every moment as we ambled along the country lanes in the warming late winter sunshine.
Back at the yard, breakfasting and mucking out, moving round each other with a familiar ease, Charmer and I took our time together, gathering ourselves up and heading out to the field. I spent a long time standing there, watching my fluffy pony grazing further down the field (winter coat beginning to come out now!!) and the sparkling sea behind him, sipping at my coffee and enjoying the complete tranquility.
Parting at last, finishing the sweeping out in the shady stable block and changing out of my farm boots once more, it had been three hours of outside-world time and the next part of the day was beginning. For that time though, in the moment – there had been nothing but the clop of hooves, the smell of haylage in the barn, the clang of the field gate and my boy’s snuffling nose looking for treats in my pockets.
A barn truly is a sanctuary in an unsettled world, utterly still, all about the horses – and yet somehow with the unique ability once it’s been left behind to bring the rest of the day into sharper focus too, make it easier to handle, and to approach with a strength and a philosophy gleaned from those hours of nothing and everything, where the present is all that matters.