Some people presume that my fashion editor credentials and urban lifestyle mean that I don’t do country. They would be wrong: I grew up in a small village in Kent in South-East England, and spent most of my holidays playing on our friends’ farm. I know my slurry from my silage, can dam a stream, drive a tractor and milk a cow.
On my mother’s side I come from a very, very horse-y family, (Grannny & Grandpa were known as Granny & Grandpa Horse, and G’pa even had his racing colours painted on his car bonnet mascot), so I was taught to ride from the age of six.
Unfortunately lil’sis inherited the riding skill and I, in the immortal words of my hard riding to hounds grandmother, have hands of lead and a seat like a sack of potatoes. I would fall off jumping over cavaletti (a mere 12″ jump) and never managed to go faster than a very bumpy rising trot. But it’s enough – on a docile horse I can fudge it to go on a hack or trekking cross-country. Knowing how to hold the reins, give aids with your legs and mount/dismount gets you surprisingly far, I’ve found. (Knowing how to do Scissors or Round the World on the saddle has proved less useful.)
It stood me in good stead a few years ago when I was commissioned to write about horse riding in Central Park for The Sunday Times, and spent two hours perched up on the most enormous police horse. The lovely Parks Mounted Policewoman breathed a visible sigh of relief when I told her I could ride – she had been expecting a total beginner and no doubt had been envisioning me splatted on a sidewalk somewhere.
The piece is here, and researching it remains one of the most extraordinary things that I have done in Manhattan.
Top: with my Uncle A at this home in Somerset
Middle: with lil’sis perched on my saddle bow
Bottom: at riding school in Kent
I’m dedicating this post to my lovely, lovely friends in Los Angeles, Bumble & H, who really CAN ride. In fact H rides so well, she wins show jumping prizes. She has serious guts to go with her serious skill.