'When I turn into a grown-up, can I ride a foal Mummy?' Betty asked me as we drove back from the pub along the narrow country roads. 'Yes of course you can learn to ride a horse when you are a little bit older,' I replied, through gritted teeth.
I have had many run-ins with horses in my time, and don't particulary like them very much now. The combination of the subject of horses and the fact we were driving along a remote country lane, took me right back to a Christmas when my best friend and I thought it would be fun to foster a horse over the holiday period. This meant proper responsibility - feeding, mucking out, and riding...
Weirdly I really didn't mind the feeding and mucking out bit, but was absolutely terrified of the riding part. The one thing that made it slightly more bearable was that my friend and I did it together; one would lead the horse and one would sit on it.
On Christmas morning my friend announced that she was far too busy opening presents for horse duties and that I had to go it alone. I was pretty annoyed about this. Not only was the whole looking after a horse for the Christmas holidays her idea, but also I was desperate to play with my new much anticipated midi hi-fi.
As I rode Simba, the horse, down the remote country lane, with not a single soul in sight, we began our decent down a fairly steep hill. A couple of seconds in I felt a very weird sensation, and one I hadn't experienced in my limited riding experience. I quickly realised, to my absolute horror, that we were now sliding down the icy hill on Simba's hooves. I glanced at him to see if he seemed in control of the situation, but his eyes looked big and frightened. I, in turn, was terrified.
Skidding down the hill, and landing in a heap at the bottom with a chestnut horse lying on top of me, possibly dead, and no one being around to rescue us (because they were all in their nice warm houses opening presents and drinking sherry), and dying of hypothermia, and all on Christmas morning, was what went through my head.
In fact, none of this happened. We probably slid for all of a second before the horse regained control, and we turned around and slowly walked back to the paddock. But this, and many more subsequent horse incidents have put me off horses for life, and I have been dreading the day when my kids would bring up the whole 'I want a pony' thing.