Monthly Archives: October 2016

First days…

It’s an amazing feeling, that first moment of contact, the first glimpse as the ramp of the horsebox is unfastened and lowered, hitting the ground with a heavy thump. The smell of sweat and ammonia released in a puff of warm air, the sound of hoofs against the wooden boarded floor, and the soft nickering of tentative communication. Stepping up the ramp and grasping the aluminium divider, pulling the retaining pin and swinging the hinged partition back I get my first look at the newcomer. Beautiful and scruffy at the same time the yearling colt steamed from the heat of the lorry and the stress of the journey, muscles bunched like coiled springs, ready to unleash the raw, animal power that even as a youngster, this beast had at his disposal. He was big for a yearling, well put together, with clean limbs and a well shaped back and neck. Red and white, not uncommon colours for the breed, but in beautiful proportions marking him out as one to watch in the ring, his size and shape and markings were what had first caught my eye when I saw his photos.

He was unhandled beyond the effort to get him onto the horsebox. He didn’t fit the criteria of his breeders, so he was a cast off, but there was little doubt that in the right hands he had a lot of potential, and his bloodlines confirmed that initial assessment. I’d paid top dollar for what was essentially a reject, but I had an instinct for these things picked up over years of experience and time spent with some of the finest horses the World has known. Those first few moments confirmed my initial instincts, that this little chap was something a bit special, something with that elusive secret ingredient that makes a horse stand on and more importantly makes a judge take a second look in the competition ring. There was a purpose to the purchase, this wasn’t a heart ruling the head moment. This youngster was the start of something that would grow and flourish and become not just sustainable, but worthwhile for the development of a different type of sports horse. One based more firmly on the ‘cob’ type that had been overlooked as nothing but a throwback to the days of horses being beasts of burden. One that elevated the cob cross to the status of the Irish sports horse as a multipurpose competition animal. Bred to succeed in any form of equestrian competition. 

He clattered down the ramp, leaping off the end into the field of lush summer meadow grass and as he flicked his back legs, bucking and squealing, galloping to the hedgeline before lifting his head and tail and trotting along the fence as though he owned the place I smiled, happy with my choice and certain that I had made the right decision….



Waking up, the first conscious breath of the day drawn painfully through cracked lips, rolling over to silence the alarm, wincing as joints creak and twist. Eyes closed, the lids barriers against the World outside, protecting the senses from the onslaught that comes every day, all day, overwhelming and shattering, splintering the already fractured mind that sits behind the eyes. The brutalising reality of the combination of physical pain and mental torment, never a possibility or respite, no option to relieve the ongoing suffering. 

“If I was a dog they’d have put me down years ago! I’m fit for nothing and I can’t remember the last time I found any pleasure in a new day. If I had the strength and resolve I’d do it my bloody self but I couldn’t even get that right! I’m finished, done, I can’t go on like this….”

The girl sighed, her eyes heavy with lack of sleep, moistened by tears that had long ago stopped falling. She looked up from the chair she had spent the night sitting in at the older mans bedside ;

“Come on Dad, don’t be like that, the snookers on later, you like the snooker!”

She tried to force the smile on her lips into something other than a rictus of pain but she struggled to remember the last time she smiled for real. A moments weakness allowed her mind to voice the thoughts she fought against every time they had this conversation.

‘Maybe he’s right. Maybe he would be happier if he could just slip away, get some rest finally, get some relief from his pain… Oh my God, what am I doing? How can I be thinking these things? How can I be wishing him dead?’

She tried again to force the smile, her cheeks painful with the effort as blinking back the tears she looked at him again and said quietly ;

“Come on, let’s get you washed and dressed and you’ll start feeling a bit more human. You know the mornings are always worse…”

“I know, I swear its, getting worse though..”

“I know, but we’ll find a way, we always do.” 

she pauses for a moment….

“I love you Dad”