I've never been a fan of horses.
Actually, I ought to qualify that statement. I've got nothing against the beasts themselves, they look pretty majestic without a saddle, stirrups and all that other horsey paraphernalia. It's the people that ride horses that get my goat.
I suppose if I were to examine my dislike of horsey people I'd probably remember when I was a boy and was bitten by a mangy old thing that wasn't long for the glue factory. His owner, some circus numpty, simply laughed. And I suppose the fact that ex-wife/partner (no.1) was a lover of horses and told me the following might have alienated me slightly:
'I doubt we'll remain together because my love of horses will outlive and outshine what I feel for you.'
Sure enough, ex-wife/partner (no.1)'s love for horses is as strong today as it was back then (1983) and Yours Truly is nothing but a memory and a name on a filed away Decree Absolute.
So when I met Jon Vann today for an eight mile run on Epsom Downs the likelihood of meeting at least one beast and man in unison was as sure as the Pope saying his prayers.
Actually, an experience of my meeting horse riders while out running was detailed within this blog. That's now lost like tears in rain since I deleted everything after being taken to task for my online mutterings. But it involved an over confidence in map reading and being geographically confused while being borne down upon by half a dozen race horses. In that instance a promise of the rapid and close quarter delivery of a left hook/right hook combination, to rider and horse alike, was enough to deter the mounted zealots from a continued confrontation.
Sure enough, as Jon and I ran toward Langley Vale, we caught up with four or five race horses, clip-clopping along the road, with riders on their backs clad in colourful riding garb. The fact that we caught up with them ought to provide a clue as to their speed.
I felt anger and despair well up inside me. Why, when you're onboard an animal that's bred and trained to move quicker than a German eyeing the remaining sunbed, would you travel at a snail's pace?
As we approached the group, which as you might imagine was followed by a line of cars that snaked up the hill and into the distance; one of the horses began to leap about in fright.
'Do you mind?' asked the rider, as his mount pirouetted around like an organic fairground ride. 'The horse is young and scares easily. If you wait there til we're gone. Thanks.'
In the past I might have told him where to put his request and continued running. Because that's what we were doing....running. Not standing around getting cold and looking at the disappearing sight of a knob end on a horse. But just lately I've been working hard at being nice. After all, it's nice to be nice. So I stopped and waited.
Now Jon's not a guy that enjoys conflict. He witnessed my previous meeting with the mounted zealots and still comments on it to this day. But just lately I've noticed a shortening of his fuse, a less liberal approach to fools and idiots.
'You shouldn't be on the road with it if you can't control it,' said Jon.
I don't think the rider heard as his charge leaped about like a loony as the group disappeared up the hill.
'I though I might have seen you in action, there,' Jon remarked. 'Getting soft in your old age? Poof.'
'It's nice to be nice, Jon,' I replied. 'They're gone now, let's crack on.'
And crack on we did. Jon must have been training pretty hard recently because I couldn't keep hold of him. He was way in front of me as we crossed the race course and made our way off-road toward Headley.
As I rounded a corner I saw another horse approaching being ridden by a young fella in a riding smock reminiscent of a Dennis the Menace jumper. I got closer and slowed down so as not to scare the beast. In my new found guise as Mr Nice Guy I even said 'good morning' to Dennis the Menace.
As I began to speed up I heard it. It was a muttered comment but the wind was from behind and it carried the word from the rider's mouth to my ear.
I turned around but Dennis had quickened the horse's speed to a canter and was disappearing from view. I fumed and ran on, attempting to close the distance between Jon and I. When I eventually caught him he said:
'I suppose you stopped for that horse as well.'
'I don't stop for horses anymore, mate. The people that ride them are all twats and I hope they spend all eternity in a fiery hell turning knackered old donkeys into glue.'
'That's more like it,' said Jon. 'Welcome back, mate.'
I've never been a fan of horses.
Posted by Subversive Runner at 16:02