Monday, 3 May 2010

Blessing of the Horse

Today my author took me to a Blessing of the Horse at Cockington Court, where she used to go riding as a girl. Back in those days there was a riding stable in the village (now closed with its barns converted into houses) and hundreds of horses would come to the Blessing, filling the green. Today just a handful turned up, mostly the heavy horses who pull the carriages to give tourists rides through the park. But the tradition continues.

The horses were a bit frisky because – unlike most humans – they can see unicorns, and I think I startled them a bit with my horn glittering in the spring sunshine. The vicar came out of the church in his splendid robes and held the service in the open air. There were hymns, a reading from the Book of Numbers about a donkey with a cruel owner, and a special Horse's Prayer that might equally apply to all who serve others… muses included! The original author of this prayer is unknown (an unknown horse?) and there are several variations.

To thee, O Master, I offer my prayer:
My life and health I give into your safekeeping,
From you I ask food and water
Shelter in winter and summer
A kind hand and a quiet voice.

Do not use the whip unfairly
Or spur and hit me cruelly,
But give me the understanding
To do your will.

Thus I will serve you cheerfully
On the long trail and in battle,
In the race and over big fences,
So shall we enjoy our time on earth together.

And when I am old
And have served you well,
Pray O my master,
Do not sell me into slavery and a cruel end.
But send me to my rest with tenderness and kindness
And my gratitude will be your reward.

This I ask in the name of him who was born in a stable.

The Muse thinks the masters of this world would do well to remember their responsibility to all those who serve and depend on them, horses or not.


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