He is splendid; a big dark bay New Zealand thoroughbred with a splashy white star. He’s very solid for a TB, like a scaled-up pony, legs like tree trunks. He’s quiet and sweet, but it was cold on Saturday morning and the wind got under his tail and he gave some great bucks. I stayed on! Which was lovely, and made up for the fact that I ride very untidily these days. David took one look at me and laughed.

But I did stay on, and even got a couple of decent canter transitions. Laz has a huge athletic canter like Noah’s, the sort of canter that makes life worth living.

When I was a kid, bored in English class, I used to design my perfect stable block, with a courtyard in the middle and wash bays and a proper high hay loft and a break room. David’s new barn is like that. The old one, with its swaybacked roofline and rotting timber, is completely gone. The new complex sits back up the hill, commanding a sweep of lawn down to a restored Los Trancos Creek.

It’s very beautiful. It’s also very strange to see a place I knew so well and loved so much, completely changed, and yet to feel happy about it. The things I really liked about the property – the creek, the trees, the grass, the sunshine – are the same or better, and the things I didn’t care for so much – the damp, dark stables, the tack room in a shipping container – have been replaced with clean bright well-constructed stalls. It’s the opposite of entropy! Postponing the heat death of the universe as we speak!

Claire loved the horses, and the horses loved her. They’re so gentle with kids, breathing warmly on them and touching their faces with sweet velvet lips.

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