Rebel got his wintertime haircut and was tormented by itches the entire lesson. Which made things interesting.

He was particularly skittish pre-mounting; I thought he was trying to push me around. Well, I had decided to do what I ought to do, on the ground, and I asserted my authority with him… which I came to discover, wasn’t the problem. Whilst I was attempting to get him to stay still, I noticed that every so often his whole body looked like he was having a spasm— the only way he could, under saddle, try to work out the irritation he was so clearly feeling. I gave him a scratch, and he immediately started licking and chewing, and I reckoned that was that.

Not even close. It was the usual battle in open order to get him to go. Once we began as a ride, Fiona wanted to have us up in front, but he was not having it himself. So, in we go, back behind Delilah, and wouldn’t you know, his ears went straight up and we commenced the struggle: he to get up her bum, and me to prevent it. ‘No!’ I administered the half halt. ‘You didn’t want to be there, so get off her butt!’ His ears flicked down, but he kept it up— and so did I.

Relatively fine whilst in the trot, once we’d stop, his whole body would start twitching again, in waves, and he’d nap, buck a little, the usual. At one stage he reached his whole head back to the left, pushing my foot out of the way to get to the tickly place. I reached down and gave it good going over, and I swear he sighed with relief.

Poor sausage. [I think that now; in the midst, I was back in the land of frustration, and dare I say, embarrassment, and this was, so plainly, not about me!] He skipped and skittered, and refused to go when we started to jump. But the thing is, I made some progress in my own assertiveness. I would not let him act out. I put the leg on and [mostly] kept it there. As I increased in fortitude, he increased in attentiveness, and now, down on the ground, blogging, I see that it’s up to me to first of all, not take it personally, and second of all, give him the aids with strength so that he knows that there’s someone serious on his back. This felt like true communication to me, and rather than feeling like a bully, I felt that I was taking my proper role as partner in this ride.

I passed the message of the haircut on to the next rider, and hoped that Reb would get the chance to have a good, long roll and give himself some relief. I’ll try him again on Tuesday— we have a conversation we need to continue.