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For bohemians everywhere

Samvida Swift

The Man In The Movie

I would go to St Helen’s Woods at least once a week hoping to practice my Equine Craniosacral Therapy on the group of horses grazing there. Otherwise I’d just sit or stand and watch them interact in their herd and let them come to me if and when they wished.
It was late November and was very cold and frosty that weekday morning. I took a brisk walk to the woods and found the horses all huddled together in the muddiest spot of the whole field. I was in the woods close by and could see that to get near them I would have to get very muddy. I watched them for a while and was just about to turn away when I realised that I was not just staring at horses.
There were about eight horses grouped tightly around a man lying in the mud. It took me a few seconds to register the implications of what I was seeing, then, a little nervously I zigzagged my way into the meadow, picking out the drier areas until I reached the gathering.
The horses had not always been friendly; I had been seen off by an irritable alpha male and had once been nipped by the ‘sweet’ chestnut foal. This was different. I felt at one with the horses as they parted just enough to let me in, nudging me and apparently welcoming my arrival.
They had been warming the man with steamy breath and loving little snorts. He wasn’t wearing a jacket, and on his feet he only wore slippers. The poor man was freezing. He was gazing up at the sky, shivering, glazed eyes and all streaked with mud, though he didn’t actually look distressed. He couldn’t tell me his name or where he was from, but he was quite sure that he was in a cowboy film. The cameramen were just over the hill filming the Indians.
I managed, followed by my herd of helpers, to lead (drag) him up the hill to a drier spot, but the only way out of the field was through a locked gate, which was not an option. The romantic old man, (mid-seventies perhaps), couldn’t understand why we didn’t get on the horses and ride away together.
I left him with the horses again at this stage while I went to find help, and luckily the owner of the first house on the track was home and he was great – he cut a hole in his hedge so that we were able to bring through the old man from the movie and warm him up inside the house with hot sweet tea and blankets. I had never met David before, but the parts we played flowed without need for words. I glanced through the window and smiled at the horses out the back there.
I gave the old man a craniosacral treatment (meant for the horses that day), which turned into a simple but much needed hug, while David dug out a pair of thermal socks and called the hospital.
It turned out he’d been missing from a care home in Bexhill since two days. Nobody knew how he had found his way to St Helen’s Woods. It’s likely that he’d spent the night there and that if I had not come by looking for the horses, watching them so closely, he may not have been found for some time and I think that had the horses not been surrounding him and breathing on him (perhaps all night) he may not have survived the movie.

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