Into the past

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!


11 thoughts on “Into the past

  1. Sandra, that photo is so beautiful. What a kind face the mare has – and your dad too! I love the way your dad is looking at you, and you are looking so intently at the mare, and the mare is just being there. I love your wee hand!

    Sounds like your granddad was maybe born in 1914? That was the year my father was born – he made it to 91 1/2 years old. My dad could remember the end of the First World War. He remembered riding the big farm horse, perched in front of his grandfather, into the village to the bonfire celebrations that day. We will sorely miss that generation.

  2. That picture is a true treasure, and I hope you look into having it blown up and framed so you can enjoy it every day. I, too, am sorry to hear about your grandfather–but it sounds like he had a wonderful life full of many adventures. I was raised in the city, so my exposure to horses was really limited, too–but I drew them obsessively, collected Breyer model horses, read all the horse books I could get my hands on, and even tried to be friends with a girl who had horses in the hopes that she might invite me over one day and I could ride. I think there is something to the idea that we may have a built-in urge to be around these creatures.

  3. Thanks everyone for your comments!

    Wolfie, my granddad certainly had an interesting and full life. He had friends in Canada, Australia and New Zealand and after he got his pension he went to visit them all.

    June, my granddad was indeed born in 1914. That generation lived through both World Wars and it shaped them. My mother and my aunt were born during the Second World War in Amsterdam, a terrible responsibility when food was incredibly scarse and life was hard and dangerous.

    Shannon, if I live to the age of my granddad and get to see as much of the world as he did, I’ll be one lucky woman!

    Fetlock, I love that pic but is very small. I’m hoping if I get it photographed to create a new negative it might be possible to enlarge.

  4. What a fab photo – one to treasure, and a great way to remember your grandad. You can really look at that and say “That’s where it all started”
    Hope you manage to get it enlarged successfully

  5. Sorry for you loss, it sounds like your grandfather had a wonderful eventful life. Love the picture of you with that kind mare. Hope you can get it made up successfully, it will be a treasured memory.

  6. what a special photo to find! I love the memories old photos hold, but the mysteries in them can also be frustrating when I want to know the whole story! I’m sorry for the passing of your granddad, in September we remembered the 5 year anniversary of my grandfather’s death- we still miss him so much! My mother found old black and whites of my grandfather riding with her when she was a girl; she had them blown up, framed, and are hanging in her hallway at home!

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