Ahhh horses. I do like horses. These companion animals that were so crucial to the process that built the world we have. These days they are a luxury that few can afford, needing space and exercise.
My mum did well for me when I was young. I learnt to ride small and confident, so there’s always a muscle memory despite the long gaps. Now though I’m tall. I have weight and I haven’t my own horse. As an unknown at a stable, they’ll put me on a plodding old shire horse for safety. We might hack a bit but it won’t really be listening – it does that walk every day. The only real way to build up is to ride consistently. To find a good stable, build a good relationship with the hands and the horses. That requires a consistent pattern of living that I have never really had. So my love of horses has been parked for some time. Lou is bored of me saying how I want to find a way to start riding again.
Problem is, it’s a useful skill for my primary job. If I’m known to be confident on a horse then there are lovely parts that open up.
Today I turned down a beautiful opportunity because it required a good rider and it isn’t worth my reputation to say I am and then not live up to it. On set there are a lot of people who just need the actors to turn up and do their part of the web. If you hold things up you harm yourself. People talk. Yes if I bagged a big enough part then the riding lessons would be part and parcel of it. But I’m not Christian Bale.
Saying no to that chance today? It has spurred me to finally stop talking about it and start doing something. I’m gonna get back on that horse, get my confidence back and then make sure that casting director knows it. I’ve been digging around looking for active and varied residential courses in summer. A bit of basic confidence and hell, maybe a grounding in horse archery or similar.
It’s amazing how far we have moved away from horses. All the mews flats in London – they used to be stables. Ponds at the tops of hills. The layout of pubs. The most visible house in the village often used to be the blacksmith, making much of their revenue shoeing horses. In England now it’s almost a lost art and firmly associated with the rich. There must be ways to ride when you’re six foot tall, live in London and you aren’t minted.
I take such great pleasure making something GO while I’m in it. Just a few days ago in an A-class merc I howled with joy as I took it down active and clear bright country roads with good visibility. I think that giving a horse its head and joining a living thing in the joy of speed – it’ll add to my happiness and it’s much more alive and ancient than these fiberglass and rubber toys we have made.
If you know any courses let me know. I’m happy with some jacked up Latvian fight choreographer who talks about the horse psychology, just as much as I’m happy with some troupe of keen jousters who drink real ale and wassail every Friday. I just need people with a horse that won’t hate me, and time to remember the things I have forgotten. I can make the time.