The Horse Physio - Delivering care with expertise since 1992

26.5.2022 Who Inspires You?

A Guest Blog by Jan Daley

I’m not sure if “inspire” is the right word. Incite frustration, irritation, shock, incredulity, love, humour, drama; there was never room for insipid!

I grew up listening to fireside tales of post-war smuggling of rationed foodstuffs, of travel, and music, and travel, and animals. Of building a gypsy caravan, buying an Irish Draught mare, and leaving the Belfast shipyard for the 2 week summer shutdown, only to return 2 years later, after unplanned wandering and adventure around Ireland. Of permaculture and self-sufficiency, preserving wildlife and habitat.

We didn’t have a tv or phone – not unheard of in the early 1970s, but no mains electricity, water or sewage was a bit more unusual, even in Northern Ireland. We used paraffin oil hurricane and tilly lamps, and carried buckets of water from the well at the bottom of our garden to be heated at the side of the fire, or on the gas cooker. Hand washing clothes – and worse, drying them! – in winter became the stuff of nightmares. Cash flow didn’t happen – there was very little of it.

And yet … Our needs we met. We were clean, our home was dry and warm, we were never hungry, we ran free. No discipline. We were supplied with Shetland ponies as feral as ourselves, and taught them how to break out – by accident. We taught them to jump or climb over stone walls, and crawl under barbed wire fences, not realising that Shetlands apply knowledge, not context or conformity! We would disappear for days; ride to our friends’ houses miles away, then realise we and the ponies were too tired to make it home, and be unable to contact home.

We were actively encouraged to stay away from school, “help me move the goats/walk the dogs/sort the ponies – I’ll give you a note!” The return-to-school “note”! Our peers would listen in jealous disbelief that we had to forge our own “sick” notes to return to school! “I’ll give you a note!” is a comment still gleefully used by our community when someone is being encouraged to temporarily abscond from duty! State indoctrination via the curriculum was regarded with deep suspicion and contempt.

Yes, we had a wild, chaotic, unconventional upbringing, interspersed with long holidays with an aunt and uncle who worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, going from the ridiculous to the sublime in luxury and culture. Yes, we received a solid education, and pursued normal careers and conventional lifestyles, despite the offer of “the note”.

But as age and life experience have crept insidiously upon me, and as I cynically observe current trends and ideals, and indeed what I perceive as deprivation of necessary childhood innocence, fun and freedom, how I long to turn back the clock and revisit those old days of learning resilience and strength of character; of learning life skills, and to risk assess, and the value of individuality.

Inspire me? Yes; my father inspired me.