26 MAY, 2007 I’d had Tango once before, in a small class of only three. I got up, he immediately began stepping backwards. I’m trying to get the length of the leathers right— ‘Tango!’— I keep letting out the reins, kicking him on, he stops, I adjust a stirrup, he dances back.

Bugger.

We get going: he’s a tough one, but he feels good, apart from the backwards-walking thing every time we halt; he jumps like a dream, a star, I yip with joy as we clear the fence at the canter, his whole body collecting and rising and it feels like a proper jump.

So I’m happy enough to try him again, he’s still slow into the gaits, I know my leg isn’t strong enough, I know— but we get a good canter up, I’m passing out the ride, and we’re coming around to the front, and I’m shifting just that bit to shorten up the reins—

And he kicks out at Mercury! We’re miles away, but he bucks and kicks, and I feel it again, the slow, inexorable slide, this time I see my right foot slipping out of the stirrup, and despite his height, it’s slow, and in a strange way, kind of easy, and I’m flat on my back, the reins still in my hand.

That’s it for Tango, and he’s off to the stables, Nikki’s decision, banished due to his bad manners, and I’m not good enough yet to make sure, if one can make sure, he doesn’t go for somebody again. Argo and I reunite for the rest of the lesson, and while I don’t feel quite so stupid this time, I still need to work on my balance. Damn.

My second fall.

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