With His birthday coming up, I thought I’d found the most perfect present — a hack around Windsor Great Park. Multiple stables offered the opportunity to ride around the iconic and beautiful place, and I soon found myself signing us up for a morning ride.
We had just come out of a stressful time with work and exams, so were looking forward to a relaxing, calm ride — I should have learnt by now that He and I are rarely capable of this!
We arrived to find we were hacking with another couple and our guide, and mounted some seriously quality horses — all were ex-eventers, showjumpers or racers (so no plods here!).
Early into the ride, the other gentleman asked to swap horses with Him, as he was newer to riding and finding his mount a bit much. As He was taller and more experienced, He gallantly agreed, and soon swapped onto an impressive 17hh glossy tank of a horse, who was evidently pleased to be out and letting Him know about it!
It was incredible to ride through the park, especially with all the ‘equestrian crossings’ and impressive views. The guide explained that the latter half of the hack was faster, with lots of cantering on winding sand tracks. The five horses set off at a fairly sensible pace, although His horse was trying to come up alongside mine. The couple ahead were cantering side-by-side, and it looked rather romantic, so I thought, ‘why shouldn’t we?’. I should have known…
As He let his horse come alongside mine, they both suddenly exploded and acted like two feuding stallions, ears back and lashing out. We soon realised that there was some previous beef between the two geldings, and His horse had been keen to catch up to mine to carry on the quarrel!
By the next canter, the horses’ blood was up, and the pace became faster. My horse was more worried about His horse behind him than thinking about where his hooves were going, and would begin squealing and lashing out if He came within a mile of us. Suddenly, my horse leapt up a bank on the side of the track, with His soon following. During this flat-out, high-speed horse chase, I thought, ‘of course it is us that ends up on the two horses that were intent on killing each other…’
Before the final canter, there was a chance for a photo opportunity at one of the iconic statues in the Park. The other couple were grinning and holding hands as their horses stood side by side, which made for a beautiful shot. By this point, we accepted we would have to keep our distances from each other for our picture, but as we tried to line the horses up, mine decided it was keener on going on to the next canter. Performing a beautiful (but uncalled for) piaffe and half-pass, my mount and I were soon exiting stage left, just as the photo was being taken. The result was a wonderful picture of Him and His horse, and in the corner of the photo you can just see one bay leg and a hoof representing my mount and I.
How a first date was almost a last
We survived the ride scratch free, feeling refreshed and energised — although He had aching arms from stopping His mount from catching mine. We decided to get the photo framed, as it made us laugh and reminded us of such a special ride. Although we thought we wanted a chilled-out time, sometimes the best remedy for life’s stresses is a flying galloping ride (even if I was being chased by a tank-horse intent on quarrelling!).