They say in the TV and film professions, 'never work with animals', mainly because you can never be quite sure what they will do. I endorse that.
However, I quite like most creatures great and small. I'm not sentimental about them, and there's no way that I'd ever leap into white water or a frozen lake to rescue someone's pet, but I do agree that well-disposed, well-behaved animals are pleasant to be with. And I completely see that with some animals you can develop a very good rapport.
They all know who is their enemy and who is their friend. It's no good trying to put them off if basically you know, and they know too, that in the end you will be nice to them.
Thus I will declare firmly that I'm not the sort of person who gets soppy over dogs. But this doesn't deter them. They ignore all the negative vibes, and roll their eyes appealingly at me, whining for my touch. God knows why they want to revel in my company. No sensible humans do. Couldn't they check out how men and women behave, and take their cue from that? Not a chance. I'd positively never want to own a dog, but you can't avoid their company, and actually I get along fine with nearly all of them. Cue some excellent dogs I've known:
I was a cat owner (or at least lived with cats) for twenty three years in my Old Life, but similarly I am not besotted with them and want no more in my daily life. But they always seem to know that if they are presentable I will have them up on my lap, and tickle their chin, and gently tug their ears, and stroke them just so. And find myself anchored to the sofa for hours. Sigh.
Thank goodness you can't be quite so intimate with horses. My riding experience with horses (covered in my post South of England Show 2 - The Silence of the Lambs on 10 June 2013) has not been good. Noble animals to be sure, but wilful, and too large and heavy for my liking. Horses represent potential injury so far as I am concerned. That said, horses have an intelligence and sensitivity that seems supernatural, and there's no denying that the right horse will be a friend indeed. Anyway, the other evening I had the opportunity to be in a big field with a lovely South Downs view, and I made friends with a diminuitive Shetland pony called Larry. Here we are, in a photo taken by my friend R---, who was looking after Larry and the three other horses:
Isn't he sweet? Also featured is my new shawl, seen better in this close-up:
It was close to sunset, and there was a slight nip in the air. That shawl was just the thing to keep nice and warm, especially as I'd forgotten to put on a bra! I'm anticipating that it will get worn to death next month in the West Country, when I'm walking on beaches or pubbing in the evening.
Back to horses. They all seem to be very individual. You can sense their character in their faces, can't you, as in these past shots of mine:
I think that part of the appeal of horses is that they have those big eyes, and can give you a deep gaze. It doesn't happen with insects; and no matter how interesting their actions, they always seem unaware of you as anything other than a possible building-sized threat. This bee, for instance, at Sissinghurst yesterday - way too preoccupied sticking its head into flowers to notice how close my lens was:
Oblivious of me. But I was still careful not to get in its way. There were an awful lot of bees at Sissinghurst, the most I've seen so far this year. They were all very busy indeed.