A Writerly Life

Horses For Courses

I’m sure you’ve heard of actors who use ‘method acting’ – that is, they live, eat, sleep and breathe their subject so that they can portray him/her as accurately as possible using their own experiences, emotions etc. Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am a method writer.

But what has it to do with my Despenser books I hear you ask? Well, apart from visiting the sites where important things took place, I have also felt the need to soak up experiences which 14th century people would have been used to (or as near as I can get anyway).

Today was one such ‘experience’ day. I started to learn to ride horses.

Oh boy!

The creature that I was blessed with for my first lesson – someone obviously thought it funny to call him ‘Shorty’ – was, I have to admit, a wonderfully quiet Welsh cob. He was getting on a bit in years and to be honest there was the odd moment when I actually thought he was about to fall asleep on the hoof. A good introduction then. Well, yes – apart from the fact that I was still so terrified that he might take off any second that it was difficult to just sit back, relax and enjoy – especially when going down a steep slope.

I’m not just a wuss – honest! I have done a small bit of riding in the past and had a few nasty scares involving farm machinery and a horse that insisted on walking backwards. So I just sort of assume that any ride is going to be perilous. But Shorty was – for most of the time – a true gentleman. Apart from trying to scrape me off against a tree and doing a short, unexpected trot, his behaviour was impeccable. I was still glad to see the riding yard again after an hour though. Upon dismounting I then made the discovery of some muscles I didn’t know I had – I shall probably be walking like John Wayne tomorrow.

Despite this, I shall be going back for another hack out next week on the basis that the more I do it, the less terrified I will be. Maybe after a couple of sessions I might try trotting (if I can figure out how to do it without holding on to the pommel for dear life!) and after that – at this rate probably next year – I may even be boasting of breaking into a canter.

I suppose the men and women of the 14th century who rode got used to the saddle from an early age; after all it was a prime form of transport and rather essential. Even so, I salute them – especially the knights who could ride those testy destriers. However, at nearly 42 years of age, I am content to suffer for my art in a less spectacular fashion – I don’t think I will be doing any jousting just yet!


I’m sure regular readers will already have noticed that I have changed the background template. I’m afraid the original one was starting to make me feel oppressed!! This one is so much lighter while still keeping the side menus on the left, where I like them!


About Jules Frusher

With an MA in Creative and Critical Writing, I am passionate about the written word. The other great loves of my life are all things Medieval (especially Hugh le Despenser the Younger) and animal behaviour (especially canids and corvids). Give me a castle in the wilderness (with Broadband!) and I'll be happy!
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