Afternoon at The Equestrian Centre for Disabled Riding

My New Friend Paddy

We have a horse ready for you, she said, He’s called Paddy.
I thought today was an assessment to see if I was suitable half hoping I wasn’t so I could say at least I’d tried. But there I was and there was he, padding the ground with his big hooves and tossing a snowy mane with a touch of attitude. Ive never given horse riding a thought, not my kind of thing; it’s something other people do especially pretty young girls with long blonde hair and money.

But life is different now and I want rid of the label that I stamped firmly upon myself the day I was diagnosed, the one that said “Fragile, handle with care”.

Paddy was kind but I could see a stubborn streak in his velvet-brown eyes; we were a good match. I was lowered carefully onto him, my nervous frame meeting his strong back; I was clumsy at first working against him but he slowly taught me his rhythm as we moved around the arena and before long it was as though we were one and the same. This was a good lesson in trust, first in Paddy, trusting he wouldn’t decide to play games and throw me off and secondly in my leaders who reassured me that if he did they would  catch me! I felt alive for the first time in two years.

After the lesson was over I gave Paddy a carrot to say thank you and stroked his head;
he licked my hand to say well done, and nuzzled my chest. This was a moment to savour and to save in a special corner of my heart; I have brought it out several times since during quiet moments of reflection; it always evokes a warm smile for Paddy and a sense of achievement for me, something to hold onto in times of self-doubt.

When I arrived home I stood in front of the mirror. There was no pretty young girl with long blonde hair but the woman who faced me was determined and strong. We smiled at each other, and then together we slowly took firm hold of the label that said “Fragile” and ripped it off.







For Theodore, aged 3

How you

made me laugh today
when you brought out a train
to put in a car park we had made
on the garden seats

and how I made you laugh
when one of my cars rolled off
into the hole where the garden umbrella
will sit when summer arrives

and how your eyes met mine
and in that moment
you taught me
that these are the treasured things
that I can still do and
all the other stuff doesn’t matter
because love is the key
and yours pours out from you
like a gushing waterfall
a glistening bright sparkly one
that flows and flows and
doesn’t stop at all.

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