JUNE 2007 We’re out in the field, going over the cross country fences. Three in a row, Delilah loves it, loves being outside, she’s fast and it’s uphill over the tires, then a plank fence, then up and around to a log, maybe 30 cms, not much.

We’re coming around, and she feels… sluggish? I give her a tap with the whip, and we approach the fence, I’m struggling as usual to get her straight, I think she’d pop over the fences sideways if she could, and we’re going, and we’re up—

And the landing is wrong, weird, and I’m going over on the right, we’ve landed with a bang, and I land with a bang, and I can’t— I can’t breathe. I’m fine, I know it, except for the not breathing bit.

The girl behind me pulls up as I gasp and yell. I think the girl yells for Nikki, I’m trying to rise, I can’t breathe, and then Nikki’s there, ‘Got the wind knocked out of you?’ and I gasp, ‘Yeah,’ and I sit up.

The rest of the ride is at the bottom of the field, and it’s a big ride, there are nine people in the lesson [which sucks]. They’re all looking up at us— what happened?

I breathe and breathe. Delilah has fecked off down the field a bit, no sympathy this time, this time it was my fault.

I lead her over to a log and get back on. We proceed to the upper field to canter, and for the first time, I’m not sure. I’m not sure I know how to stay on, stay balanced, how to do this, why am I doing this, again?

I am not giving this up.

We canter up the field.

We go back to the arena.

My fear of the great outdoors is back.

My third fall.

[Several weeks later, I remark to Nikki that the lesson numbers fell drastically after that. This is no bad thing.]

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