I was a horse-mad child. Well, actually I was a mad child, but horses were definitely in the mix. It's probably just as well, because when I was young, for girls it was either horses or ballet, and, let's face it, ballet and I were never meant to be. I can't do the tights, for a start. Ballet is all neat hair and tutus, legs and shoes, and I am not noted for any of these things.
So, since ballet was out of the equation, given my legs and total lack of poise, grace and tutus, I took to horses. I've occasionally been asked, by people who've read How I Wonder What You Are (out in paperback from next Thursday) about my riding history, since How I Wonder features the inestimable Stan, a horse for whom the word 'recalcitrant' may have been invented. Horses in fiction are, I have found, almost inevitably spirited and elegant, all wind-tossed manes and powerfully muscled bodies.
Which explains why our family pony, Jack, on whom Stan is not so much modelled as grafted, was a Fell pony with the temperament and build of a large sideboard.
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