I was fortunate enough to go to the Monty demo at The Hand last night. I guess anyone is lucky to go, but I felt particularly pleased because my two young children were almost accepting of me going, as having been to an all-day Recommended Associate Meeting on the day before, I felt I was pushing goodwill a bit!
It’s a pleasure to watch such an accomplished horseman work, and I’ve done it on many, many occasions. Still, sometimes I find myself curious about something that I think I know how he does; how, precisely, does he handle the lines? Is his body position as I remember it? Then there are the variations that he’s introduced, continuous improvements and adjustments. I remember the days when he always put a bridle with a bit on the horse, and the rider rode from this. He used a different pad. There wasn’t a breast plate, that sort of thing. Kelly has been the source of some of these changes, and has also adopted others.
Of course, in the early tours Monty rode Dually, and that was pretty spectacular. He even cut cattle! Then there was a long stint in the middle of his UK touring career when he always worked on the ground, leading some people to believe that he doesn’t actually ride. But watching him ride Corky at the demo last night was something else.
It should be mentioned that Corky is big. He makes Pie and Copy look like rather small ponies. And I’ve seen Monty motor around the arena on various Western horses and slide to dramatic stops, but Corky is rather different. And he was powering around the arena, learning his flying changes, pretty faultlessly, and Monty looked amazing. Bearing in mind that he’s 76 years, old! Although to mention his age as if it was necessary to know that to be impressed is misleading.
Of course there are other things I’ll remember, particularly Martin Clunes being so proud of his Clydie babies (“I’m so proud of him, Monty! He’s literally going round and round!”), and his willingness to have a go at something which, I think most people would agree, is probably not his natural milieu. But Monty charging around the arena in front of a packed audience on Corky is definitely something I won’t forget.