HOW MANY IS THREE? Three of us in the car on the way to the yard. Lainie had pony camp this past week, and I fired questions at her, left, right, and centre. She had brought her rosette, awarded from their end-of-pony-camp show. I squeal and examine it closely. We are both delighted. Loraine, who rides in my lesson, and I discuss the possibility of grown up pony camp.

I ask Lainie all about the week. Did it go straight through, or they make her eat lunch? [Yes, they had to stop and eat.] Who did she ride? [Loads of ponies, all the good ones.] How many were girls were there? [There were five girls and three boys.]

Boys! Were they cute? And yes, at least one of them was very cute, and three females giggle all the way to the barn.

Three: the number of riders in the lesson. Happy days! I’ve got Rebel, who is still cantankerous; Emma says they’re thinking he needs some time off. I picture him at the beach, Club… Shed, in board shorts and Ray Bans, checking out the mares.

He needs a break. He’s sour, he doesn’t want to go. [Is he hurting somewhere? This is starting to weigh on my mind, this possibility.] He gets going, and gives me the canter without too much bother. We all gets loads of attention, and the ride goes well, despite my feeling that I’m taking up a lot of time, trying to get Reb to go and stay going.

Three counts to the fence. Emma tells us to call out out ‘one, two, three, fold’ when we get to the spot that we think that third stride falls. It goes hilariously wrong for me the first time. Okay, keep the trot going, keep the approach straight, keep the leg on, and then count? The counting’s not the problem, it’s having to shout it out. I get completely flummoxed, and Rebel just about steps over the poles. I have to laugh. Too many things to cognitively distribute.

“I think already am counting,’ I say to Emma, trying to save face, but only a little. I’m not really that bothered. ‘I mean, I’m not thinking about it, but I know when to fold…’

The [excellent] point is to use the counting as a mode of confidence reinforcement for the rider. She said, when she rides a new horse, that the counting gives her self-assurance, keeps her focused, and let’s the horse know she knows what she’s doing. Sounds like something to use with Tango, now that I know how frangible his mentality is.

I know this, how to do this, when to start the count. I know this, and I don’t know how I do, but I do, and I’m more secure the second time at the fence, and I’m determined to do this— something new!— and I pick the moment, ‘One-two-three-hup!’ and we’re over, and I am delighted with myself. Don’t ask me to go out there with a tape measure— I just know when it’s three. I’ll keep practicing this though, so that I do know that I do know, somewhere, in my body, that I know it.

We go one more time, the third. Three songs of three.

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