You may think it’s strange that a sane woman in her 50s has a schoolgirl fondness for enormous horses, but bear with me. The handsome fellow in the photo is Gilbert, half Shire, half racehorse, all character. He is 16 hands high, which is too tall for me to be able to see over his saddle and I’m no munchkin; he weighs a majestic 800kgs – that’s 3/4 of a UK Ton – and he has a white curly moustache like some delightful ex-military man. He knows which pocket I keep the Polo mints in and cheerfully nudges it with his nose to remind me that handsome chaps deserve sweeties after a ride. He’s a hoot. He’s even adorable when you see him taking part in Pony Club alongside teeny little Shetland ponies, picking up his soup-plate-sized feet very carefully to make sure he doesn’t step on anyone.
One of the nicest things about Gilbert is his smell. He smells of fresh air, hay, wood shavings, sweat (but never BO – why don’t horses get BO given how much they sweat?) and lots of leather. When I’ve been to see him, he also smells of mints, but we’ll gloss over that because giving horses too many treats teaches them bad manners like biting. (Gilbert doesn’t bite, he’s too much of a gent.) One of the reasons I am so very fond of Gilbert is because he takes me back to my childhood. He is so large he makes me feel small, like a child does. If you remember standing at your Mother’s skirt hem with your arm held up high to reach her hand for that reassuring clasp that meant you were safe, you will know the strangely secure feeling of being dwarfed. Even as an adult we have an inner need for that security and reassurance that there is a being larger than us that gazes at us benignly; for some that being is a deity, for me it is a horse.
You can hug a horse; throw your arms around that great muscular neck and bury your face in it. Gilbert puts up with it very sweetly, sometimes snuffling at the back of my head in return. I rode a lot as a teenager and I can testify to the zen-like peace you can attain after hours of brushing a horse until it shines. Like dogs, horses are great listeners, and I know many friends who have poured out their angst to a four-legged friend. Another reason why I find it so calming and reassuring to be among these creatures – they judge you purely on the basis of how you treat them. Whether your eyebrows are ‘on fleek’ or your outfit is out of style matters not one jot to them.
Given that this is a perfume blog, my equestrian preamble may seem excessive, but I’m getting there, I promise. There is one perfume that gives me the same scents and feeling of reassurance and cozy affection as a trip to visit Gilbert: L’Artisan Parfumeur’s masterpiece from Olivia Giacobetti called Dzing! It has a note of sweaty saddle leather that has been used for years and polished regularly to take off some of that green sharpness that new leather can have. The woody notes of the fragrance that call to mind the straw and wood shavings of Gilbert’s bedding add warmth and roundness, and sweet hay balances the musks that remind me of the big fella’s neck. There is a soft, woody vanilla note that emerges in the base, just to amp up the comfort factor. Overall, wearing this fragrance is as heartwarming and reassuring as a trip to the stables. It’s an olfactory hallucination that you can choose any time you want to calm and comfort yourself. Try wearing it in a city. You will feel much less stressed straight away, I promise.
[PS if you are a fan of horseracing, today is Cheltenham Gold Cup day and would you believe there’s a horse named Tea for Two running? A perfect day to wear Dzing! for luck.]