Gales and rough weather have battered Highclere this week, cedar trees have lost limbs but it is nothing like the desperate situation in Lebanon with refugees facing freezing conditions, sheltering in cedar forests without the solid walls that Highclere’s stone face affords us. The instability and unhappiness in this crowded area have probably helped spark the tragedy in France.
To distract ourselves from leaky tiles, cascading guttering and wobbly walls we went to watch a young horse, a two year old filly, being broken in. We always ask Gary Witheford, an English horse whisperer, who is near Highclere, to help. His way of asking the horse to listen and work with you, accepting you as their leader is fascinating to watch and seems such a kind way to begin the working life of any horse.
I have taken lessons from him to understand how to help correct something before it goes completely wrong and take a horse back to the beginning again. Gary began to build his profile here at Highclere 15 years ago, with his Spanish Andalucían stallion, Brujo, and a rather unique Arab mare of mine. Now he works with many extraordinary racehorses, such as Sea the Stars, a Derby winner, and is renowned for his experience.
At 2:00pm the filly Ambuscade had never been bridled or ridden, by 2.30pm she was cantering in a circle, listening and then the rider actually stood up on her back. She did not move.
It was a great interlude in the week before we turned back to other challenges. John Gundill our General Manager reported that luckily someone had notice some shutters had blown open on the top floor. The rain was coming in and had soaked the carpet but hopefully nothing else. I do not know why they had opened and suggested as joke it was probably a ghost lifting the shutter bar to have a look out. John replied that he wished they would close the shutters when they have finished looking out.
It is all very Highclere.