I love this little 6th edition (1966), The Manual Of Horsemanship published by The British Horse Society, Warwickshire. It is divided into advice about handling ponies and riding (Equitation), saddlery and horsemastership. My favourite section as a teenager was Horsemastership and Stablemanagement; in other words, caring for my pet.
' In dealing with horses there is a right way and a wrong way of doing things. Sometimes there are several right ways of doing the same thing. The man who does things the right way is said to possess horse sense. If he does it instinctively he is said to be born with horse sense'.
I liked to think I had horse sense; that I was a natural. I am an animal lover after all. This belief helped to give me confidence and jump the cavalletti of what I found to be a rather intimidating world to enter into. I did not live in the countryside. I lived in an industrial city; Dundee a jute city. I was working class. Not from the horsey set at all. My family did not own transport. How do I find my first pony? Where do I keep him/her? How will I fund the welfare of such an expensive animal?
Me with Misty and Barney Rubble
Misty was renamed from Bacardi, after a book I read, Misty Of Chincoteague, by Marguerite Henry (1947). A better fitting name I thought.
It is all a blur but I did it! I first of all cared for a Highland pony called Bluebell on free loan from a Scottish trekking centre. I borrowed my mother's bicycle to travel to the local stables (Quite dilapidated old farm buildings at the back of the city). Amazingly my mother funded the weekly DIY stable fees. My little Manual of Horsmanship tucked into my rucksack. This experience, when I was fifteen years old, helped to drive my determination to have a pet of my own. In time I became the proud owner of Misty, Barney Rubble and later Sheika.