Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The horses of Haworth

As I mentioned in a previous post, my husband and I just got back from a trip to Haworth, England, the home of my favorite classic authors, the Brontë sisters. (We also went to Edinbrough, London, and Paris, but for me Haworth was the highlight.) I wasn't thinking that I would have much about the trip to write about on my horse blog, but in fact I was pleasantly surprised to have several horsey encounters in Haworth.

The first was in the morning of our first full day in Haworth. We were walking up the very steep cobblestone main street in Haworth, and heard a steady clip-clop clip-clop behind us. Sam (one of Michael's best friends and our traveling companion on this trip) commented, and I turned around to see two ladies coming up the hill on horseback.

I didn't get any pictures because I felt too foolish about standing there taking pictures of the locals riding their horses up the hill, but I was naturally excited and awestruck to see it. As they passed me, one even nudged her horse into a trot to catch up with her friend. Both horses had blanket clips, which I actually find rather unattractive, but they were pretty horses nonetheless.

I remember thinking as I watched them ride up the hill that the steep stone road had to be a bit slippery for the horses -- and sure enough, Elizabeth Gaskell commented on that fact in her biography of Charlotte. We later saw that quote repeated several times throughout the exhibits, museum guide, and in other places.

"The flag-stones with which it is paved are placed end-ways, in order to give a better hold to the horses' feet; and, even with this help, they seem to be in constant danger of slipping backwards."

While waiting for the museum and gift shop to open, we walked through a little field behind the parsonage, which was enclosed with a low stone wall. On the far side of the field I noticed several horses eating hay in the field next door. I clucked a few times, and one of the horses, a short but stocky black and white draft horse, looked at me with some interest. After a few more clucks, he came over to check me out.

A short, stocky, shaggy black-and-white horse in Haworth, England

Although the black and white horse was clearly the most social, one of his companions, a dun who was much smaller in stature and sweeter in personality, joined him at the wall. They seemed appreciative of the attention (the dun especially liked having his soft nose kissed, and presented it frequently for that purpose), and we were fast friends.

The soft nose of a sweet gelding in Haworth, England

The next day Michael and I tried and failed to hike up to Top Withens. It was cold and the wind was driving tiny hail into our faces, and even my Brontë obsession could not stand up to that kind of abuse. So to console ourselves we stopped by to visit the horses again on the way back. This time the third horse, who was considerably shier, stopped over to check us out, and I had an opportunity to give him (her?) a kiss as well.

Three horses greeting me over a pasture wall in Haworth

Me kissing a bay horse's nose over a pasture wall in Haworth

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2 Comments:

At March 17, 2009 at 4:09 PM, Blogger luisa said...

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At March 17, 2009 at 7:12 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

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