I currently have two horses in my life (Philip the Mini and his pony pals in the diet paddock don't count, otherwise I would have to say "five" and that is too many and I would have to have a stern talk with myself).
The two horses I will confess to are Bryn and Chalkie. Bryn is a small, compact nearly-black beastie, while Chalkie is a tall and goober-ish horse-mountain with not only a long face, but huge feet, solid legs and a big bottom.
Bryn has a serious look about him - a focused, no nonsense, "let's gallop over there and jump that" kind of look. It's all lies.
Bryn is, as my daughter unkindly puts it, a delicate cream puff. A hairy, hooved cream puff.
There is a fairly comprehensive list of things that worry and perplex Bryn. It starts with Velcro. Velcro bothers him.
It's not the feel of Velcro, which I could understand because it can be scratchy. No, it's the sound Velcro makes. You'd think this would not be an issue with a horse, which lives in a paddock, which is traditionally a Velcro-free sort of space.
No. In their wisdom the makers of horse-covers have embraced Velcro with both hands, using it to hold covers on, hold them up and hold them together.
To get Bryn's cover on and off requires five Velcro-related manoeuvres and a lot of reassurance that it's not going to hurt him.
At least this year he has stopped running to the far corner of the paddock and trying to hide, so I'm taking that as a win.
Then there is his own saddle blanket. That's the nice, soft quilted square that goes under the saddle. It's there for the horse's comfort.
Bryn doesn't find his saddle blanket at all comforting. From the moment I bring it out and hang it on the fence ready to put it on him, he stares at it with the utmost suspicion. If it wafts even faintly in the breeze he rolls his eyes at it and snorts.
If it blows off the fence he takes that as confirmation that it's going for his jugular and he flees.
I did wonder, initially, if it was the colour. In hindsight maybe powder blue was a mistake and I should have gone with something a little more staunch. So I bought him one in dark navy instead.
Turns out dark navy saddle blankets harbour as many, if not more, horse-eating sentiments as powder blue ones.
I've tried to explain to him that the quilted square bears him no ill will. "See, sniff it," I have said. "Watch me sniff it, see, it's fine."
All that does is make people wonder why the strange woman in the paddock is sniffing a saddle blanket.
Shadows can also be an issue.
That's problematic because they tend to be around a lot. I have tried riding at noon, so the shadows are shorter, but there's a small issue of having to be at work during the centre part of the day so inevitably I find myself riding in the evening.
There are a lot of shadows in the evening. Not only do they hang about on the edges of things, but they often poke out across the track and you have to - gasp - step over them.
And according to Bryn there is no knowing when a shadow is just going to leap up and grab you. You can't trust shadows.
After a few weeks of not trusting shadows Bryn and I were to a point where he was satisfied they would stay still, as long as he kept a darned good eye on them.
Then I decided it would be an excellent idea to get up early and ride in the morning, when it was cool and quiet.
Bryn was horrified. The shadows had broken the rules of engagement. They had all moved. Instead of going from left to right, they were going from right to left! We're back in negotiations.
Water poses its own challenge.
Water in a bucket or a trough can be trusted. Water from a hose is unwelcome but tolerated.
Water in a river is okay if I am leading him from the ground in which case he barges in and expects me to as well. Water in a river, if I am riding him, needs serious thought. Water in a puddle is a very firm no.
I have yet to find out what happens if I pour perfectly trustworthy water from a bucket, on to the ground to make a puddle.
Life with Bryn is never dull.
Whereas Chalkie ... Chalkie only runs from one, small thing. A small, nearly-black, hairy and hooved thing.
Chalkie, the half-tonne hairy horse-mountain, is afraid of Bryn.
I am fomenting a plan to soak Chalkie in puddle water, Velcro saddle blankets on him and stand him in some shadows. I think Chalkie and I would both like that.