How I’ve been getting on, on my high horse

6 me and AlmonzoOne night, not too long ago, I was walking home from work when I got a phone call.

It was the Daily Mail.  ‘We have a question for you,’ the voice said.  ‘Our readers really want a historian’s professional view, if you’d be so kind.’

‘Okay,’ I said cautiously, ‘What is it?’

‘Good!’ my interlocutor responded.  ‘Here’s the burning question of the day: WHAT MAKES POLDARK THE PERFECT HUNK?”

I responded with pleasure, digressing about how Ross Poldark is placed in the gaps between the various ranks of society of the ancien regime, and how therefore nobody can quite place him, and therefore the rules of courtship and love don’t apply to him in the normal way: creating tension, and therefore drama.

4 Ben AtkinsonThey didn’t exactly quote everything I said but I do adore the way the completed article begins ‘Is Poldark the Perfect Hunk? Experts Reveal …’

And I’m always pleased to answer questions about the eighteenth century, in whatever shape or form, so thank you Poldark for that.  Last night’s episode in our house was spent playing our usual game of spotting the Action Horse.  Let me expand.  Mr Poldark himself (Aidan Turner) does most of his own riding, having learned specially how to do it, but sometimes if you see him in the distance on a galloping horse, then it isn’t really him, it’s my very own riding teacher, Ben Atkinson, of Atkinson Action Horses.  I’m not very good at telling which of them is which, but then again, I’m not very good and telling which horse is which either.  Ben was slightly in despair with me this week when I mistook another white horse for my own special horse Almonzo.  That unbreakable bond between rider and steed has not yet formed between Almonzo and me.

7 Bolsover Riding HouseAnyway, the reason I’ve been learning to ride is that for BBC Four I am going to make a performance of the seventeenth century art of horsemanship (and that’s definitely Ben, in the wonderful pictures that link takes you to) in the riding house at Bolsover Castle.  I’ve taken a theoretical interest in this for many years, having done my PhD about one of the seventeenth century’s greatest proponents of the art of teaching horses how to dance, William Cavendish, the builder of the country’s best surviving riding house at Bolsover.  I could never have predicted this when I sat in my viva thirteen years ago answering questions about him, but I’m now making a practical effort to follow in his footsteps.

So far I have mastered the walk.  (Yes, it’s harder than it looks!) Also stopping, also going backwards, and sideways, and a fancy kicking-out kind of walk called the Spanish Walk.  I’ve also reared up, and done some trotting (but not much). I’ve also had the pleasure of visiting lots of horse-related places and meeting lots of horse-related people, and there’ll be more anon.

I hope that you’re all very well, blog-readers, and it’s nice to be back with you after a hiatus.  I’ve had a few website issues, and I’m sorry to tell you that because of spam, to my great regret, I’ve had to turn off the comment function.

One thought on “How I’ve been getting on, on my high horse

  1. Lucy Post author

    I’m sorry that I’ve had to turn off the comment function! For some reason I was getting masses of spam…

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