Tania Kindersley
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What I Want.

Jul 11, 2022

I never know quite what to call myself, in the work I now do. I set up shop four or five years ago as a tutor, wanting to help the young people learn to have no fear of Shakespeare and the Napoleonic Wars. (English and history, in other words.) Then I started working with writers, thinking I would teach them to write. I quickly discovered they all knew how to write. What they needed help with was clearing away the gremlins in their heads. Luckily, I’d had to learn how to do that for my red mare (mares hate gremlins), so that was right in my wheelhouse. I became perhaps a coach, or a mentor. 

Then I started working with people who wanted to deepen their relationship with their horses and that needed a new name. A guide, maybe? An encourager? Someone who could say, ‘You are not alone.’

I’ve just had my first new group of horse people in a while. The two existing groups are old now, in the most lovely way; I know them inside out and upside down. A new group is both thrilling and daunting. I want, always, to give them everything. I want to give them my best self. I can feel all my sinews stretching.

Afterwards, I go out into the still Scottish night. It is a shade after ten and everything is as light as day. I look at the trees and feel the stretch in me, after all that striving. And then I remember that they don’t need every single thing. They just need me to show up, to be there, to listen to them and see them and honour them. I can do that. I can do that because the people I work with are so damn brave. Everyone I have ever worked with has something - some old wound, some fresh grief. I realise now that is because they are human beings, and that is what human beings have. I stare at them in awe and wonder as they tell me their stories, with courage and grace. 

I suddenly realise that courage and grace are two of the words I use most about thoroughbreds and that makes me smile. They are qualities I love in horses and humans. 

I feel humble, and grateful. 

This afternoon, one of the first writers I ever worked with rang me up. She happens to be my oldest and dearest friend. By lovely chance, when I was setting up my business, she happened to be writing a book, so she was my beta client, the one I got to test all my ideas on. She taught me how to be a supporter to and lifter up of writers. It was her first novel so we, rather wonderfully, learnt together.

We’ve gone through so much effort and angst. We’ve gone over that book over and over again. We are in the approaching agents stage, and that is a bruising process. We’ve had to learn resilience and optimism together, because I am as invested in her success as she is. She is a truly marvellous writer and I can’t bear the idea that the market won’t find a place for her. 

So we’ve been bashing away, looking for our way in. 

And finally, someone in the industry sent not the usual standard ‘So sorry, blah, blah’ reply, but an email of glory. 

This person loved the book and, much more than that, got the book. There were sentences and sentences of superlatives.

I was standing in the field with the mares when I heard this. I was scratching their itchy places, because they were fretful with the heat and the flies. When this soaring email was finally finished, I burst into tears.

They were tears of relief and vindication. They were tears for all those hours and days and weeks that we threw everything we knew into this great story. They were tears for my brilliant friend, who did not give up, and who finally got what she deserved.

There is something peculiarly sweet about being profoundly happy for someone else’s triumph. If you love someone and admire someone and they finally, finally get the recognition which is their due, you feel it all through your body. I felt it so hard that it made me cry.

I want, I realise, everyone to be able to tell their story, to sing their song, to be heard and acknowledged. I want their voices to fly high into the air, because everyone has a tale to tell, and all those stories matter. 

At the beginning of every course, when I start with every client, I ask them to take away a question and ponder it. The question is: what do you want?

I’ve wanted many things in my life. I wanted, a hundred years ago, to win the Booker Prize. (The giddy ambitions of youth.) I wanted, more lately, to have a happy horse, and the red mare showed me how that was done. She was my coach and my guide, and I took everything she taught me and passed it on. I want now for other people to tell their stories, whether it is in their books or with their horses, and I want to help them get there. 

And, amazingly, that is what I get to do. 

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