I've spent two days away riding with Brena, exploring an area sixty miles away. I rode there briefly last year, and wanted to see more. I wasn't disappointed, discovering long stretches of grassy trail across quiet hills. Some of these supported lovely long canters.
I managed to find a farm that offered inexpensive accommodation, a slightly ramshackle place run by a man who must be at least eighty years old. At breakfast he told me about what it was like working in agriculture as a boy during the second world war. I had the use of a comfortable bedroom from which - even sitting in bed - I could see Brena enjoying a small and fortunately well-fenced pasture. It was nice to go to bed early, sit and read, a glass of wine at my elbow. In the twilight beyond, Brena walked about, grazing here and there.
At home rain fell solidly for two days. Where I was, however, just a little rain came at night plus a brief smattering of drizzle this morning. What a difference sixty miles can make.
My occasional riding companion K came out yesterday, bringing a large-scale map. This we used to decipher some local intricacies. Although well mapped, trails tend to be poorly marked in Wiltshire. At times my wilderness sense, developed in places far more remote, was required.
This morning Brena, full of fresh grass, was lively by her standards. The mare was impatient to go. Trying to catch my attention, she kept lifting a front foot over the rope that tied her. She didn't really want to stand still next to the portable mounting block, which I kept needing to reposition. Once I was seated Brena walked off with a spring in her step. But there was no need for concern. As usual in such circumstances, after a mile she had settled down to a steady walk, which she maintained for the next three hours interspersed by occasional trots and canters on rising grassy stretches. We passed a gamekeeper shooting, a man applying trimming a hedge with an electric saw, tractors pulling machinery, even a field containing plump and rather noisy pigs, all without problems. I do like that mare.