Anecdotes

Shopping on horseback

As a little girl I longed for a pet of my own; it wasn't until I was a teenager during the war, and my baby sister was born, that I had something small and cuddly of my very own to hold and love.Our house was not suitable for pets: pets are messy and need a lot of attention,and I realised that there was no point in asking.

However, I did have a team of horses, six in all. We lived on a hill, within walking distance of Brighton Racecourse, and I often climbed up the grassy slopes on Race Week and sat all alone by the track, waiting for the thunder of hooves and the bright flash of the jockeys' satin jackets as the horses galloped by. My horses were racers too, but I rode them when I went shopping for my Mum.

Nobody knew about the horses except me. I kept them outside a little Grocers shop which was quite a distance from my house, and before I could go shopping I would climb the steep hill,take the first left turn into Baden Road and walk to the railing where the horses were tied. I often wonder what any passing adult would think I was doing!

I would choose two, one to ride and the other to gallop beside us. My favourites were Ladybird and Prunella. Ladybird was a rich chestnut colour with black patches, and Prunella was entirely black. Occasionally I would take Rusky, who was a dapple-grey.

Now I could travel at speed! I would untie Ladybird and mount her, then take Prunella's reins in my right hand with my shopping bag and off we would go! Down Baden Road at a canter, then right into Coombe Road, which was a steep downhill gallop.

When we reached the Co-op in Lewes Road I would rein in, dismount and tie up both horses outside. It never occurred to me that I might have looked a bit odd! Shopping over, I would untie the horses, giving Prunella a long rein because of the shopping bag, and we would take our time on the way home.

Perhaps the strangest part of the whole procedure was that I would ride slowly past my house, up the hill and round the corner to the Grocers shop and tie up both the horses before I took the shopping back to Mum!

I grew older, and the horses became part of history.

I did have a pet caterpillar, and for a brief time a MOUSE! But these are stories for another time......

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