Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (33) Love at a Gallop (Part 02)
Hazel was almost 29 years old and had thought by the time she reached that age she would have been starting a family or perhaps had already started one and maybe that might have happened had her husband not gambled everything away.
She was fairly slim, slimmer certainly since she had to watch every penny, with bright orange hair which was thick and unruly.
She desperately needed to pay a visit to a hairdressers but it wasn’t something she could afford while she still owed money.
So she kept it tied in a ponytail, which she always thought quite apt for her line of work.
“Six more months” she said to herself meaning she would be debt free and then she could treat herself, and by the time she reached her milestone 30th birthday the following year her life would have begun again.
After the three inhabitants of Copper Beach Farm had succeeded in their match making scheme things on the farm settled down to a peaceful rhythm and by the beginning of June Hazel began to take on extra work in her spare time to train horses.
Her ambition in the long term was to have a sanctuary for old horses and ponies, even donkeys for that matter.
So when a local man Chris Harper approached her with a proposition to train a horse or in particularly an older horse, which required retraining, as he had been ridden, she jumped at the chance.
He was a retired racehorse and like so many others when their racing days were over they were thrown on to the scrapheap, they weren’t even put out to pasture.
Chris Harper was a therapist who used horses to help physically and mentally handicapped people of all ages and his philosophy was that it would be therapeutic for the horses as well to help people.
They just had to unlearn some of the things they had learned in their former lives and that was where Hazel came in.
It was not an easy fix and it took time and infinite patience, which she had plenty of.
Chris had already passed his 29th birthday and was knocking loudly on the door of his 30th.
He was quite rugged looking with weathered skin and sandy hair and he stood an inch or two taller than Hazel.
He hadn’t always been a therapist in fact until two years earlier he had been a serving officer in the Downshire Light Infantry and until his discharge he had never ridden a horse.
Lynda Radcliffe soon remedied that however.
He became interested after a friend of his from the regiment was brain damaged by a road side bomb in Afghanistan.
He was greatly shocked by the severity of his handicap when he first went to visit him.
But a year later when he saw him again at a rehabilitation facility in Nettlefield he was amazed by the connection he had formed with a horse.
When he shared his amazement with his friends doctor.
“It’s such a great therapy” Doctor Martin agreed
“It’s just a shame we don’t have enough horses or therapists”
During his final year he resolved after his discharge he would rectify the situation.