My chestnut mare has almost as many emotional problems as me. There was a time when this suited us both, being two badly behaved women together. I bought her when I was feeling rebellious and free spirited. I liked the flash of defiance in her eyes. I enjoyed being accosted every time I turned up at the yard by another owner striding towards me shouting, ‘Your mare!’
From biting the top of a bald man’s head to pulling the rug off another horse’s back and ripping it to shreds, her misdemeanours demand frequent apologies and offers of financial compensation. Her temper is as erratic as mine and she is just as expert at throwing tantrums. She once turned up to greet me at the gate of her field with a huge gash on her head after picking a fight with a tree (and the tree came off worse). She ripped her nostril open throwing a paddy when she was the last horse in the block to be served breakfast.
If she can’t get what she wants with hysterics she fakes illness. She hobbles around the ménage, tripping and stumbling with every step when I try to school her. When I get off and start leading her back to her stable she breaks into a lively trot. Her bucks are legendary. She once launched me into the air in the middle of Ockham Common and galloped off into the distance. While I limped home despairing of ever seeing my beloved mare again, she cantered happily along the country lanes of Surrey, turned up at the front entrance of the yard and, casual as you like, walked into her stable and put herself to bed.
The yard owner has had to adapt her whole management strategy to cope with Tara.