The Granny Hack

We’re both so old now, my friend and I. Wizened, enfeebled muscles, dodgy knees and hips, unreliable ears, eyes. And we forget so much, mostly that we’re old. We wear old frayed clothes, filthy with ancient mudstains and dog drool. Our boots are scuffed and cracked and our gloves have holes in them. Our high viz is so faded and stained that it’s probably not very high viz anymore. But our helmets are pristine. That’s not just because you should replace your hat if it gets cracked, but because we are conscious of the need for dependable protection. After all these years, we should take care of our heads outside and in. That’s what the horses are about.

We amble along on the Granny hack and we talk entirely about horses. We talk about how well the horses we are riding are going. We talk about their movements and gait, about their states of mind, about their anxieties and tempers. If they feel the ground a little, we have extended discourses on summers long gone and try to avoid stoney paths. We talk of how in 1976 horseracing in England was cancelled because the racecourses were too hard for horses to gallop safely on. We talk about the horses we have ridden as children, teenagers, bold young professionals, wives, mothers, and now grandmothers. We recollect long gone narrow escapes involving bulls, bad weather and how fast the light fades when you’re still far from home. We talk about prizes, past glories, loss. After more than twenty years of riding out together on average twice a week, we never run out of things to say. Surely by now we must have told all the tales, shared all the fears and memories. Surely by now we must have covered most of each others lives, all those small details somehow wedged in, nearly lost in horse and family conversations. Two women constantly chatting for all those hours over twenty plus years must surely have run out of things to say. But no, there is always more.

We talk entirely about horses and only sometimes in the spaces in between are there shared intimacies, sorrows, hopes and all that other stuff that women are supposed to talk about. We are agreed that we do not like to talk about the things women are supposed to talk about. It’s part of a matrix of unwritten and unspoken rules. We do not talk about our sex lives or what our men are like in bed. We do not talk about anything that is none of anyone else’s business.

Perhaps this is why the Granny hacks are so important. The Granny hacks are a shared space of like-minded, unconventional women, still young girls in their heads and for their horses. And despite our silly name for them, the Granny hacks are not so Granny-ish. Yes we creak along at first but once warmed up, our knees functioning, we are almost as bold as we once were. Almost. At least we talk about what things once were like. We remember. We face the traffic, we go fast (sometimes), we risk actions that might lead to bucking and similar misdemeanours (sometimes), we follow unfamiliar paths (sometimes). But mostly we talk. And mostly we talk entirely about horses. In this shared space, the horses and the hacking out put all the other spaces into a gentler and kinder perspective. It is a precious thing, the Granny hack. 

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