I’ll probably be on Charlie tonight.

You can’t miss him: his 17hh frame notwithstanding, he’s got presence, elegance, he’s sensitive, he’s a gentleman. He’s also a bugger to ride.

For me, anyway. I watch everybody else when they’re on him, and they’re fine. I’d had my eye on him for ages, knowing that I’d have really gotten somewhere once I was let ride him, and finally I couldn’t wait anymore and I asked Emma if I could have a go.

‘He’s got a different gait from Argo or Delilah,’ she said, warning implicit.

How different could he be?

Really different. He’s high, and he’s long, and the communication between left diagonal and right diagonal is like the kind of satellite delay you sometimes get on international phone calls. There’s the anticipation of response, and you respond, but then the other party has as well, and the rhythm of the conversation is bollixed and you just want to hang up.

In equestrian terms, this translates into a bouncy seat, and back to leaning on my hands too much. I’m back to the beginning again and I don’t like it.

I hadn’t been let into this particular Thursday night lesson since the beginning of the ‘summer’, as it’s pure beginners, but I’ve missed a couple of hours, paid-in-advance hours, and I wanted to make them up—and it’s kind of a waste of time, last week Delilah and I were bored breathless, but if I get Charlie… I’ll fit right in with the rest. I saw Fiona on Tuesday and she was still shaking her head over my presence in last week’s lesson, and I rushed in with, ‘Well, Charlie’s pretty tough for me, maybe I could ride him.’ Feck.

I’m nervous. It’s not a terrible thing, and I think— I know— I’ve gotten into trouble whenever I’ve forgotten to be nervous. Not the kind of nervous that freaks the horse out, the sort of… apprehension that comes out of a healthy respect for the circumstances. Horse. Unpredictable. Thrill. Possibility of physical mishap. Ergo: nerves.

And I’m struggling with wanting to stay in the comfort zone I’ve gotten into versus wanting to be able to ride Charlie so that I’m not making him crazy, pulling on his mouth, thumping him on the spine. In some ways it’s worse than my first lesson, because I know what I’m getting into.

Maybe Fiona forgot…

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