Janet Biggs, Part 1

The ability to control an animal so much bigger than herself gave her a sense of awe and wonderful power. It was, however, not only gratifying in a physical sense; the caring for, riding, and showing of the horse also represented the mastery of a world that was completely mysterious to the uninitiated.

John E. Schowalter, "Some Meanings of Being a Horsewoman"

Velvet's dreams were blowing about the bed. They were made of clouds but had the shapes of horses. Sometimes she dreamed of bits as women dream of jewelry. Snaffles and straights and pelhams and twisted pelhams were hanging, jointed and still in the shadows of a stable, and above them went up the straight, damp, oiled lines of leathers and cheek straps. The weight of a shining bit and the delicacy of the leather above it was what she adored. Sometimes she walked down an endless cool alley in summer, by the side of the gutter in the old red brick floor. On her left and right were open stalls made of dark wood and the buttocks of the bay horses shone like mahogany all the way down. The horses turned their heads to look at her as she walked. They had black manes hanging like silk as the thick necks turned. These dreams blew and played round her bed in the night and the early hours of the morning.

Enid Bagnold, National Velvet


A little girl's horse-craze betrays either her primitive autoerotic desires (if her enjoyment is confined to the rhythmic movement on the horse); or her identification with the caretaking mother (if she enjoys above all looking after the horse, grooming it, etc.); or her penis envy (if it is her ambition to master the horse, to perform on it, etc.).

Anna Freud, "Normality and Pathology in Children"

Velvet mounted Sir Pericles. She had ridden Miss Ada for eight years, hopped her over bits of brushwood and course bushes, and trotted her round at the local gymkhana. Once she had ridden a black pony belonging to the farmer at Pendean. She had a natural seat, and her bony hands gathered up the reins in a tender way. But she had never yet felt reins that had a trained mouth at the end of them, and, as she cantered up the slope of the sunny field with the brow of the hill and the height of the sky in front of her, Sir Pericles taught her in three minutes what she had not known existed. Her scraggy, childish fingers obtained results at a pressure. The living canter bent to right or left at her touch. He handed her the glory of command.

When she slid to the ground by the side of the head groom she was speechless, and leaned her forehead for a second on the horse's flank.

Enid Bagnold, National Velvet

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