My parents were distinctly non-horsey people. We always had a house full of animals; we had cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, budgies and even a goldfish, but horses belonged to another world and it wasn’t the world my parents lived in. I grew up loving all animals, and it is easy to see where I got my love for them, but for as long as I can remember I was drawn to horses in a far more profound way. My earliest drawings were of horses, clumsy egg-shaped bodies on match-stick legs and wobbly heads on long thin necks, but horses nonetheless. I played at being a horse, galloping around the back-garden and I dreamed of horses. Where did that come from? Is there a horse gene? Are horses so submerged in our subconscious that we don’t even need exposure to them to love them?
I did have one early encounter, I met my first horse when I was barely two and it was because of my granddad. I even have a photograph. My granddad died last week, so I went back home to help my mother with the funeral. My granddad was determined to live to 100, and I’m sure he would have made it on will-power, but unfortunately he fell out of bed a couple of weeks ago and he didn’t survive the complications. He just missed his 97th birthday. After the funeral, I helped my mother to clear out his room, which had to be done within a week. Sorting through all his belongings brought up a lot of memories. My Granddad had a whole box full of very old black and white photographs and I discovered parts of his life that I hadn’t known anything about. His boyhood years, his life as a young man. I never knew that he was a Red Cross officer at the start of the Second World War, responsible for the transportation of wounded soldiers, but there were several photographs that show him in action. He made good friends and with some he always stayed in touch. It was interesting to see this unknown part of his life laid out in black and white. Then there were wedding pictures and photo’s of my mother and my aunt as children. Eventually, some baby pictures of myself popped up.
Here we are visiting the farm of one of my granddad’s friends. I am sitting on my dad’s arm. The mare is huge, she is a real working horse, but I am obviously not daunted by her size at all. I just love this picture!