Why Look at Animals?

The eyes of an animal when they consider a man are attentive and weary. The same animal may well look at other species in the same way. He does not reserve a special look for man. But by no other species except man will the animal’s look be recognized as familiar. Other animals are held by the look. Man becomes aware of himself returning the look.

The animal scrutinizes him across a narrow abyss of non-comprehension. This is why the man can surprise the animal. Yet the animal – even if domesticated – can also surprise the man. The man too is looking across a similar, but not identical, abyss of non-comprehension. And this is so wherever he looks. He is always looking across ignorance and fear. And so, when he is being seen by the animal, he is being seen as his surroundings are seen by him. His recognition of this is what makes the look of the animal familiar. And yet the animal is distinct, and can never be confused with man. Thus, a power is ascribed to the animal, comparable with human power but never coinciding with it. The animal has secrets which, unlike the secrets of the caves, mountains, seas, are specifically addressed to man.

Berger 1977: 13/14

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Horse Woman – The Walks

I found the book ‘The Bridleways of Britain’ a few weeks ago and have decided to use it as a guide to complete a series of performance walks. Although I have started Horse Woman this will simply assist in controlling the exercise which I believe it needs. Prior to this I have simply chosen walks that were close to where I was living or staying, using this book will push me to visit a number of areas across Britain. The walks are chosen for the book as they have been highly recommended by horse riders who often own their own land and horses. I am aware that this may take some time but I feel that the project now has an aim, it will also be an interesting investigation into performance and endurance (through both the projects commitment and also the length of some of the walks).

Alongside these walks, performances are being made indoors such as in gallery spaces as well as this, the text for the story continues to be developed with the aim of becoming a book. One of the works created from the story of Horse Woman will be performed at Hatch:Scratch, Leicester, Sunday June 17th from 6pm.

 

Horse Woman – Poem /Text (unfinished)

I have been walking for a very long time.

Hoping to call something mine,

I could not climb high enough to be able to reach you.

 

Looking out at the view,

I followed the old roads made by the mines,

I have been walking for a very long time.

 

Hoping for a sign,

In search of something true,

I could not climb high enough to be able to reach you.

 

Noticing someone new,

Following each line,

I have been walking for a very long time.

 

All I could do is pine,

Looking for my muse,

I could not climb high enough to be able to reach you.

 

Praying at the pew,

Constantly in whine,

I have been walking for a very long time.

 

I could not climb high enough to be able to reach you.

 

I have walked coast to coast along the Mineral Trails of Cornwall,

Round in a circle at South Elmham,

And through the valleys of Snowdonia,

I have been searching for years and years,

I have nearly found my fortune a few times,

Then,

Finally,

Off the trail in-between the Mineral and the Valley I saw you,

It was May,

Evening,

The sun still shone,

Reflected from my boots and off your Stubbs muzzle,

I reached over and my hand slipped through the strap so that I could guide you along,

I burnt my hand encouraging you over,

But we did it,

I had you,

And you me.

 

I asked you nicely to lower your back.

Looking at your top,

I asked you kindly if I could climb up.

 

I attempted to hop,

But all I managed was to whack,

I asked you nicely to lower your back.

 

I quickly realised I knew Jack,

That I was no Jock,

I asked you kindly if I could climb up.

 

All I needed to do was hop,

But all I had was his rack,

I asked you nicely to lower your back.

I asked you kindly if I could climb up.

 

 

On top I feel your might.

I’m clinging to your white,

I guide you down the paths.

 

I look at the stars,

I see your fight,

On top I feel your might.

 

This night is ours,

Something is holding down the bars,

I guide you down the paths.

 

Your skin contains wars,

I am demoted by your height,

On top I feel your might.

 

In the far distance are cars,

Here is a horse ridden by his knight,

I guide you down the paths.

 

I notice scars,

Despite the dark night,

On top I feel your might,

I guide you down the paths.

 

 

At the end we see the gate,

All I can do is initiate,

This is home now,

You’ll enjoy it here.

 

Stay still,

Hand me your muzzle strap,

I’ll guide you,

Inside my path.

 

The garden,

It’s not big but as but has a pleasant view.

There’s a field not too far,

We’ll visit,

If you’re good.

If you’re good.

 

This is how it will work,

By following you’ll get some perks,

If you follow.

 

It’s all in your hands,

It’s all a matter of discipline,

My head full of routine.

 

The gate,

To be closed at all times,

I attached a lock, no room for tries.

 

It may seem strict,

It may be starched,

I’ll make it work,

No depart.

 

It will be best in the back,

Too beautiful for glaring eyes,

Too much.

 

I stay inside,

Please abide,

I’ll pay kindly.

 

 

And so we slept,

Eight, nine full of recline.

Rested fully,

On the             garments,

In order of course,

To the mirror,

To the door.

 

 

Stood tall, waiting for instruction.

Ready for the taking,

The daylight highlights your unique markings.

 

Not a work of fiction,

Working only with feelings,

Stood tall, waiting for instruction.

 

Approach is presented with tension,

It’s all in the learning,

The daylight highlights your unique markings.

 

Slight hesitation,

Who knows your previous dealings?

Stood tall, waiting for instruction.

 

To pose the question,

To which you and I are facing,

The daylight highlights your unique markings.

 

Which is the direction?

Are you leading?

Stood tall, waiting for instruction.

The daylight highlights your unique markings.

 

 

I climb to grasp your neck.

Lighting the wick,

Letting the reins out a little, kick with the heals and a click, click, click.

 

Aim for the trek,

Ready for the pick,

I climb to grasp your neck.

 

Admiring the flecks,

Hoping to go quick,

Letting the reins out a little, kick with the heals and a click, click, click.

 

Not to be confused with a pet,

Yet flicking the tick,

I climb to grasp your neck.

 

Ready and set,

Boiling and sick,

Letting the reins out a little, kick with the heals and a click, click, click.

 

What the heck!

To be named Dick,

I climb to grasp your neck,

Letting out the reins a little, kick with the heals and a click, click, click.

Horse Woman – Brampton – Beccles (Attempted)

I attempted to walk from Brampton to Beccles in Suffolk following an equestrian path; however I found myself stuck at Shadingfield and Willingham due to a busy carriageway and endless private fields. This is the first walk I have made during this investigation that I have completed on my own, as a result of this it became the most difficult one. I am not brilliant with directions and I can’t help but wonder that if I had taken a documenter with me that they may have suggested a way to overcome the obstacle. Having said that, doing this alone was very much a valuable quest to have made.

A fellow artist commented the other day, he asked when I would be making some performances. I thought I’d been making them all along. Though is a walk a performance? I think it is.

I have been writing a lot recently hence I haven’t blogged for a while, though I have been continuously working on the project. I am aiming to have it ready to take to venues by May time. As well as completing the story I am writing an essay on my findings and am putting my research into a document that is easier to follow, more concise and edited of unimportant findings.

I feel I am close to coming face to face with a horse soon also, I am moving to Machynlleth where Matt Collishaw recently filmed some of his video work at a local stables, which means they should be more accommodating than the Cornish horse stables were. Hopefully.

The Horse and His Lover

They met quite some time ago;

Around mid May.

It was evening,

definitely,

that they were certain.

She first saw him in the centre of the field,

the one bordered with thick leaved trees that cause a dark linear shadow, framing the beast.

He looked like what she’d been looking for;

She knew instantly he had the potential to be perfect.

Black and tall,

slender and sheen,

a medalled animal he glared at her.

He made her feel small,

inferior,

but that just increased the sensation of desire.

Strong and muscular,

all anyone wants,

focused and admirable,

a voice with fight.

 

They’d  go walking;

It was romantic

They’d  go across the fields,

past the lake

and over the bridge.

They’d walk for hours and hours

and talk and talk.

He was such a wonderful listener

She felt she could tell him anything.

He educated her

He protected her across crumbling paths.

He seemed to be just what she’d been looking for,

he wanted the same things.

 

After many days of walking,

it occurred to her what a kind gentleman he had been,

not once had he tried it on.

But now she was ready,

her attraction to this unusual fellow had grown and she wanted to show it.

She asked if she could stay the night and without hesitation he said yes.

He made a wonderful bed in the middle of the field where they had first met

and there she lay, waiting.

He stood tall and gestured her to jump.

she exclaimed she couldn’t reach,

but his encouraging eyes made her trust him.

She ran and ran as fast as she could and jumped crashing into his left ribs.

He said to try again,

She did,

She crashed,

and it hurt.

He said try again but this time from over there and run fast

She did,

She fell,

She hurt.

He said again

She said no it hurt,

he said she wasn’t trying hard enough.

She ran from the very corner of the field

She ran as fast as her legs would carry her

she ran

and ran

and landed on his middle.

He lifted with a push and she was on top of him,

high,

higher than she had ever been before.

She felt scared yet exhilarated

and then he began to gallop.

She didn’t feel ready and felt herself slipping

he told her to hold his reigns

and she gripped them so tight her palms started to bleed.

He galloped across the fields

and past the lake where they had walked,

and after a while she began to feel safe and happy.

 

They went for a walk across the field,

over the bridge

and past the lake

it was beautiful.

He said how much he loved her;

he held her close

and lowered his back so that they might gallop.

She jumped and they ran fast and fast across the fields.

They galloped to the top of his favourite hill

and they could see for miles and miles.

There she sat on his back,

She felt protected and secure

She felt so loved.

..

In the distance a rabbit watched and stared,

She could feel him stiffen with angst.

She suggested they turn back.

He stared and glared and sneered,

the rabbit moved closer and she felt utter fear,

but believed he would protect her.

The rabbit came closer and tantalised him,

sneering at him.

His long legs began to lift

She screamed for him to be careful,

they went down and then up again,

and down and up higher and higher

with a loud sneer

and higher

and she fell from the top of the sky

and on to the ground with a loud crunch,

as she looked over at him to help her

he had gone.

He chased the rabbit out of the field

through the valley

and up the mountains

until she couldn’t see him anymore.

 

 

Development

(The Beginning )

 

It was quite some time ago that we first met;

I think it was around mid May.

It was evening,

definitely,

that I am certain.

I first saw him in the centre of the field,

the one bordered with thick leaved trees that cause a dark linear shadow, framing the beast.

He looked like what I had been looking for;

I instantly knew he had the potential to be perfect.

Black and tall,

slender and sheen,

a medalled animal he glared at me.

He made me feel small,

inferior,

but that just increased the sensation of desire.

Strong and muscular,

all anyone wants,

focused and admirable,

a voice with fight.

 

(Flirtation – Courtship)

 

We go walking;

It’s romantic

We go across the fields,

past the lake

and over the bridge.

We walk for hours and hours

and talk and talk.

He is such a wonderful listener

I feel I can tell him anything.

He educates me

He protects me across crumbling paths.

He seems to be just what I’ve been looking for,

he wants the same things.

 

(The Beginning )

 

It was quite some time ago that we first met;

I think it was around mid May.

It was evening,

definitely,

that I am certain.

I first saw him in the centre of the field,

the one bordered with thick leaved trees that cause a dark linear shadow, framing the beast.

He looked like what I had been looking for;

I instantly knew he had the potential to be perfect.

Black and tall,

slender and sheen,

a medalled animal he glared at me.

He made me feel small,

inferior,

but that just increased the sensation of desire.

Strong and muscular,

all anyone wants,

focused and admirable,

a voice with fight.

 

(Riding – Jumping)

 

After many days of walking,

it occurred to me what a kind gentleman he had been,

not once had he tried it on with me.

But now I was ready,

my attraction to this unusual fellow had grown and I wanted to show it.

I asked if I could stay the night and without hesitation he said yes.

He made a wonderful bed in the middle of the field where we had first met

and there I lay, waiting.

He stood tall and gestured me to jump.

I exclaimed I couldn’t reach,

but his encouraging eyes made me trust him.

I ran and ran as fast as I could and jumped crashing into his left ribs.

He said to try again,

I did,

I crashed,

and it hurt.

He said try again but this time from over there and run fast

I did,

I fell,

I hurt.

He said again

I said no it hurt,

he said I wasn’t trying hard enough.

I ran from the very corner of the field

I ran as fast as my legs would carry me

I ran

and I ran

and landed on his middle.

He lifted with a push and I was on top of him,

high,

higher than I had ever been before.

I felt scared yet exhilarated

and then he began to gallop.

I didn’t feel ready and felt myself slipping

he told me to hold his reigns

and I gripped them so tight my palms started to bleed.

He galloped across the fields

and past the lake where we had walked,

and after a while I began to feel safe and happy.

 

(The Beginning )

 

It was quite some time ago that we first met;

I think it was around mid May.

It was evening,

definitely,

that I am certain.

I first saw him in the centre of the field,

the one bordered with thick leaved trees that cause a dark linear shadow, framing the beast.

He looked like what I had been looking for;

I instantly knew he had the potential to be perfect.

Black and tall,

slender and sheen,

a medalled animal he glared at me.

He made me feel small,

inferior,

but that just increased the sensation of desire.

Strong and muscular,

all anyone wants,

focused and admirable,

a voice with fight.

 

(Rabbit – Chasing)

 

We went for a walk across the field,

over the bridge

and past the lake

it was beautiful.

He said how much he loved me;

he held me close

and lowered his back so that we might gallop.

I jumped and we ran fast and fast across the fields.

We galloped to the top of his favourite hill

and we could see for miles and miles.

There I sat on his back,

I felt protected and secure

I felt so loved.

In the distance a rabbit watched and stared,

I could feel him stiffen with angst.

I suggested we turn back.

He stared and glared and sneered,

the rabbit moved closer and I felt utter fear,

but believed he would protect me.

The rabbit came closer and tantalised him,

sneering at him.

His long legs began to lift

I screamed for him to be careful,

they went down and then up again,

and down and up higher and higher

with a loud sneer

and higher

and I fell from the top of the sky

and on to the ground with a loud crunch,

as I looked over at him to help me

he had gone.

He chased the rabbit out of the field

through the valley

and up the mountains

until I couldn’t see him anymore.

 

(The Beginning )

 

It was quite some time ago that we first met;

I think it was around mid May.

It was evening,

definitely,

that I am certain.

I first saw him in the centre of the field,

the one bordered with thick leaved trees that cause a dark linear shadow, framing the beast.

He looked like what I had been looking for;

I instantly knew he had the potential to be perfect.

Black and tall,

slender and sheen,

a medalled animal he glared at me.

He made me feel small,

inferior,

but that just increased the sensation of desire.

Strong and muscular,

all anyone wants,

focused and admirable,

a voice with fight.

 

The Steeple

Our forbears saw the steeple

Stand bold against the Blue,

A landmark to the people

Who sought for porch and pew;

And while the tall spire bade them

To prayer and praise withdraw,

How it might further aid them

Our sporting fathers saw.

 

So when men matched their horses

To gallop fast and far,

Before the days of courses

Built up with birch and bar,

That needle-cloud embordered                                    

Our fathers chose for guide,

And dropped the flag and ordered:

‘Straight for the Steeple – ride!’

 

Now, oe’er the hamlet houses

We watch the lifted spire,

And in each heart it rouses

Some old and smouldering fire;

And many cheery people,

Though far removed from grace,

Look kindly on the Steeple,

That gave the Steeple-chase.

 

Will Ogilvie

 

To the Farmers

When we bid a farewell to the season

And turn out our hunters to grass,

‘Twould be surely the blackest of treason

To go without filling a glass

To the men who have furthered our pastime

By lending their fields for the fun!

Here’s ‘The Farmers’- Once, twice and a last time –

And ‘Grandfather, father, and son!’

 

Looking back on the season that’s ended,

We blush for our track in the seeds,

For the fences we left to be mended,

And the damage we did in the Swedes;

And so, when we know there’s no brooding

And the mending is cheerfully done,

Let us drink to the farmers; including

The grandfather, father, and son!

 

From that rattling good day in November

Up to yesterday’s wonderful burst

There is scarcely a run we remember

When a farmer was other than first.

It’s because when the pace becomes clinking

They can ride us with second to none

That we drink – with our hearts in the drinking –

‘The Farmers! Sire, grandsire, and son!’

 

Will Ogilvie

‘Yonder He Goes!’

Always our fathers were hunters, lords of the pitiless spear,

Chasing in English woodlands the wild white ox and the deer,

Feeling the edge of their knife-blades, trying the pull of their bows,

At a sudden foot in the forest thrilling to ‘Yonder he goes!’

 

Not for the lust of killing, not for the places of pride,

Not for the hate of the hunted we English saddle and ride,

But because in the gift of our fathers the blood in our veins that flows

Must answer for ever and ever the challenge of ‘Yonder he goes!’

 

Will Ogilvie