Goodnight – Tessa Waugh’s hunting diary: Piccadilly Circus on the farm *H&H Plus*

  • While channelling her inner Enid Blyton farmer’s wife persona, Tessa Waugh takes a break from fruit-cake baking to ride out her holidaying horse and discovers his old habits die hard

    As alarm calls go you can’t beat it: 500 or so sheep blaring for their lambs, gates clanking, quad bikes revving, men whistling, dogs barking. Who said the country is a peaceful place? Central London is more tranquil than a farm on shearing days. Once the shearers arrive, the tempo increases – more clanking, clippers whirring, fleeces are removed and collected, packed into bags as 100 decibels of Dua Lipa’s Physical rings out across the valley.

    On shearing days, I try to embody one of those farmers’ wives from the Enid Blyton books, popping up at opportune moments to furnish the main protagonists with fruit cake and lashings of ginger beer.

    In between producing rolls and cake there is time for a quick ride on my horse, Jim. I wondered beforehand how he would behave after a six-week break – the longest he’s had in the three years that we’ve had him.

    He was such a rebel when he first arrived, I didn’t dare give him any time off for fear that he would start misbehaving all over again. Would he retain his crown of useful (and much loved) family horse? It would be interesting to see.

    I’m afraid to say, where Jim’s concerned, old habits die hard. Not the napping, but plenty of others that used to get on my wick. Refusing to wait at gateways and then rushing through them at a million miles an hour. Swinging around and marching off as soon as my foot touched the stirrup and a couple of rolling bucks for good measure.

    The difference these days is in me. I am no longer crouching on top, imagining my body broken on the ground. I growl at him and he ambles on agreeably enough. A relationship with a horse is a bit like a marriage – you practise some give and take until they do something that makes your blood boil.

    With the demise of the old trailer, which is starting a new life as a Prosecco bar, Adam has bought me a new one. It was only its fourth outing when I managed to break the power cable by twisting it the wrong way. When I went outside later in the day, Adam was bending over the trailer, looking at the plug with an imperious expression that could only mean one thing – white-hot fury. He didn’t shout, but somehow that was worse.

    “This will have to be replaced,” he managed to say, before stomping off, “married to a moron” written in smoke above his head.

    Feeling chastened, I walked inside to ring the garage – best to give him a wide berth for the rest of the day.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 2 July 2020