One year I stayed with my Uncle in Canterbury during the summer and I remember him coming across a property advert in the local paper. It was advertising a few acres of woodland (I`m not sure if it was good woods or bad woods for those of you who read Let Your Imagination Go Wild) which came complete with a hermit and his hut.
From then on, it`s been a standing joke that when life`s taken over, got too frantic, or you`re feeling the pressure, then you say “I`m going to become a hermit in the woods.”
For me, one of the ways I take time out is to go for a hack, and I`m sure it`s exactly the same for many riders. Because I tend to be hacking at fluid times (depends how long it`s taken me to travel to the yard or whether I`ve been delayed at a previous job) and in the middle of the day I more often than not go out on my own. When I have a busy day a hack on a clients horse forces me to chill out and reset, so in many respects it`s one of the perks of the job.
Today however, I think I had too much of a good thing. My first job was to hack this heavy horse, who is getting much better and didn`t nap once. Whilst we went through the woods I sifted through the last couple of days, checked I`d remembered all my appointments; planned the rest of my day and lessons; checked tomorrow`s itinery; thought about who I needed to text about next week and Christmas; planned a couple of blogs; recited my dressage tests; remembered the present idea for my brother that I`d thought of yesterday but completely forgot by the time I got home; and contemplated the likelihood of my newly repaired clippers arriving in the post tomorrow and if I would be able to clip Otis on Saturday before going showjumping.
It was at this point I decided that the best Christmas present someone could give me would be a P.A. who could sit on my shoulder as I rode and I could dictate my blogs, texts and emails to; order that present; fill in the diary; and write down any jobs I realised I needed to do, such as clean my tack or order wine for the wedding.
I was feeling that my mind had had a good spring clean by the end of that hour, but luckily for me I had another horse to hack out!
This is where I begin to think that I would be a candidate for madness. My mind goes into overdrive and the rubbish it comes out with when there isn`t a problem or theory for it to wrestle with, would be enough to drive anyone insane. To prove my point, here is a snippet of what the poor horse I was riding (and me) had to endure.
“Ooh look at the robin (he was sat on a branch very close to me) … what is that bush with the cottonwool-like seeds? … oh look that`s ivy. No it`s not, but it looks like ivy without the triangular leaves. It`s a creeper, I wonder what it`s name is … the row of silver birch trees. Are they silver birch trees? There`s no leaves to help me but the bark is smooth. Is it birch trees that have smooth bark? And there`s a rogue evergreen between the birches … yep that`s a holly tree with those red berries. I wonder how that got there … Is this holly? No it looks different. I think it might be mistletoe. Does mistletoe have red berries? I`m pretty sure it does and it`s the right time of year … Sloe berries?! They`re late. I think they`re sloes anyway, I wonder if Dad has made any sloe gin this year. Wasn`t it last year when I managed to let some berries fall into the glass vat when we were siphoning off the gin? … Right, let`s have a canter here, it`s pretty dry. Oh, low branch – duck! … some yew trees there, they always look so sad and droopy … And some laurel. When was it that Otis decided to reach over the fence and eat some laurel from the woods behind his field? He looked like a hamster with fat pouches … Ah that`s a nice moped man, going really slowly past us … right we`re nearly home. What rugs do you want on? I wonder what you wore last night. I don`t think he needs a neck on, but then he`s freshly clipped. Maybe the thickest of the non-neck stable rugs … What on earth are you doing?! Driving like a maniac past a horse? Why would anyone want to come and learn to drive with someone who goes so fast? … I guess that`s the problem of having an advert on your car. You`re being judged 24/7 … Ah, we`re back and it`s not looking like it`s going to rain yet … I wonder what they`re building? It looks like another barn …”
See what I mean? I drive myself insane, let alone anyone else. And the worst part is when I start looping. So every time I see the not-quite-ivy-but-looks-like-it, I have the same conversation in my head about what it is. No wonder I have problems sleeping or sitting still some days.
With that, I was home, and after quickly untacking and stabling that horse, I had to get on with another hack. Slightly afraid of my own musings, I found an unplayed episode of one of my favourite podcasts, No Such Thing as a Fish, which would definitely make me think of anything but what I could see.
I think perhaps I`ve overdone the alone time today, but luckily for me tomorrow is much more sociable with a couple of lessons and a ladies` lunch.