WE horse people are funny critturs. That thought occurred to me this morning – not for the first time – as I stood holding my horse’s bucket under his nose while he ate his breakfast.

I should add that he doesn’t need me to perform this service – he’s perfectly capable of lowering his beautiful bonce to reach his own tucker.

But like many horses, he likes to rootle around in it for a little while, then lift his head to gaze contemplatively over the field, clearly ruminating on life in general while chewing, and all the while dropping great scads of the aforementioned feed onto the ground.

Being a true and canny Scot, this waste always horrifies me, so I have got into the habit of holding the bucket and following the direction of his nose with it to catch the dropout. He’s not a fast eater, so it can take a while, but that’s absolutely fine.

Even on a morning like today when the rain was dinging down and the wind was blowing a hooley. He was snug as a bug in his rug, but my alleged raincoat was fast proving it could do far better service as a sponge, hungrily soaking up every raindrop that came its way.

And yet I was perfectly content to be there, holding his bucket and just enjoying the time with him. Funny crittur indeed.

It brought to mind a day years ago when I was one of a group of riders making our way over one of the Lake District passes with Clydesdale horses.

The weather was positively biblical that day, with lashing rain and skin-stripping winds and we were battling to even stay on our feet.

Because the going was so tough, we were walking alongside our horses rather than riding and I had to resort to hanging on to a stirrup just to stay upright. One of the other riders glanced back at me with a wry grin.

‘Great day huh?’ She had to yell to make her words heard above the wind.

‘Certainly is,’ I shouted back. ‘Would you rather be snug and dry in the office right now?’

‘Hell no!’

Actually I’ve been in that ‘Hell, no!’ situation with horses lots of times. I imagine that’s true of most riders, especially in this part of the world where the weather can be a challenge to put it mildly.

Sometimes the moment can be strangely magical – like the time I was riding my boy Bounce along Silloth beach when it started to snow. There was something positively otherworldly about cantering along the sand as the white flakes cascaded down around us.

Then there was the day I got caught in a hailstorm. My equine partner Rummy took great umbrage at being pelted from the sky by icy little arrows, so he turned his bum to the worst of it and we rode a considerable portion of the way home backwards.

Or how about the winter’s day when I rode out along peaceful, traffic-free forest tracks on a sensible, steady, trekker who utterly deserved to be described as positively bombproof until a tree chose the very second we were underneath it to shed a heavy load of snow from its branches.

That day I discovered you should never underestimate the Grand Prix capabilities of the trekker to pivot 180 degrees and reach top speed in mere milliseconds.

And I’ll never forget that time at Kingwater when just about everyone else present decided discretion was the better part of valour and dry clothes were definitely better than soggy jodhpurs and cancelled their plans to ride in a cross-country competition.

I however decided to cast all pretence of good sense to the winds and just go for it.

I was riding Seth that day and he could be stroppy if conditions didn’t suit him, but somehow he and I were both caught up in the sheer daftness of the situation and went powering round the course, clearing everything as the rain fell in sheets around us.

We won our class by default simply because nobody else had been crazy enough to do it, but I didn’t care. I don’t think I ever deserved a red rosette more.