Having just ‘sat’ an exam, as they say over here, I’m thinking about learning.

I love learning new things. As I explained in item number one here, I’m a bit of a chancer when it comes to studying. In this case, as always, I managed to study the right things, enough to know, once I turned the exam paper over and gandered at the choices, that I could actually, with confidence and only a moderate amount of spoofing, satisfy the necessary three topics from four different blocks of two. I also had the gratification of seeing a few choices that I passed over in my [astonishingly brief] study time, had shown up, too. Ah, well. I guess it’s something to be able to second guess the test setter. I expect that’s an instinct that’s gotten me through elementary school to post-post graduate study. Sheesh.

The thing is, this seat-of-my-pants thing is something that I’ve mused about for a number of years now. Used to learning things on the job [I taught myself desktop publishing from a book; I graduated from art college before the new technology had hit], I’m also used to cherry-picking what I want to know and hoping for the best. I’ve always so admired those that I think really, truly, fully know what they’re doing, like, I don’t know, electricians and carpenters and the like, and I’v always felt that I know just enough about stuff to get by…

This has changed since— waait for it— I got involved with the horses.

It was a big ride last night, eight people, and us veterans of the Tuesday night 18.45 lesson were grumbling at each other over our mounts’ heads. I know I was a n00b once, I know, but this lesson, like the Saturday class, has been moving right along at a nice pace. Nothing like new people to slow us down.

The thing was, of course, that our instructor knows what’s she’s doing. Once it became apparent that the last three riders were struggling to get their horses to keep up— Tango was in the ride, so what could we expect— Nikki split the ride in two, and had us trotting in separate twenty metre circles in the indoor arena.

Now, twenty metre circles would usually be, how shall I say, an occasional element to a lesson, not the focus. So all that stuff about keeping the inside leg on, getting the horse to bend, and preventing falling in [thanks, risingrainbow, for the clarifying comment!] was knowledge to be grasped at, perhaps, if not fully understood, simply because there wasn’t enough time to work it out.

Well, we had nothin’ but time. I reckon we circled for the better part of fifteen minutes. In human time, this is inconsequential; in horseback time, this is a geological era. Round and round and round, with the opportunity to watch Sharon, who was doing it right… do it right, and try to replicate the thing myself.

And I learned something. I learned how to do it. Most importantly, I learned what it felt like. ‘Feeling’ it is a hurried commodity in most lessons, and it’s only after much repetition that I get it. Got it, now, thanks, to the degree that, wonder of wonders, I got Rebel to turn well around my leg when we were going large. Who knew!

I also learned that I get really lazy in the auld leg, allowing the horse to do his or her thing, following along. So I can add seriously focusing on keeping the leg on in the next while. Overcrowded lessons tend to bring out the spoofer in me— but I so want to do this right, I am applying myself so fully, I am reading the books and the magazines and the website, I realise I may be learning the best lessons of life right now.

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