Remember how last Tuesday was amazing?

This Tuesday was crap.

The mood in the barn was… edgy, jumpy, something, the horses, post-prandial, literally feeling their oats. The music was too loud and I turned it down as always— poor Argo is directly across from the speakers, and the noise drives him demented. Mr Bojangles initiated grooming with me [oookaaay… should I allow that?] and nipped me on the back of the neck, forcefully enough that I checked for blood. Rebel and I grappled with the bridle, a battle that was to extend itself to the arena.

Full of oats indeed— full of something, he and I fought over the bit for most of the session. The girth kept slipping— it wasn’t his own saddle, I didn’t recognise it— and I had to turn in and get a hand from Nikki [still can’t tighten it myself, from the saddle, whilst walking]. We circled and circled, and fought and fought, and Ruby was spooking at who-know’s-what, and Tango was grumpy, and Vegas was somnambulant, and Delilah was sluggish…

And then Reb wouldn’t canter, but I soon understood why: the alien saddle was fitting him poorly, so poorly that, as we began to canter a 20m circle, he swerved off to the right, completely off the curve, and Nikki started shouting, and I discovered that I can’t talk and slide sideways off a horse at the same time. I hit the dirt and the saddle shifted entirely to Rebel’s off side.

I swear, I have never been so angry in a lesson. Couldn’t everybody see what was happening? I stalked off to get the block, my lesson mates looking at me like, ‘Jesus, there she goes again, falling down again,’ and I didn’t get a decent canter, and I am so sick of Rebel and his effing moods, and: grrrrrrrrrrrgh! Okay, okay, I realise that Rebel was communicating with me in an absolutely perfect fashion, but I think we’re both fed up with each other, and it’s time for that holiday I’d been thinking about. I hate going behind his back, but I’ve talked it over with Nikki, and I’m off him for the next while.

I wonder if I ought to be able to ride every horse. I think not. I think not. I’m not sure. I think, yet again, that horses are like people, and I’ve heard it said that there’s going to be at least fifty per cent of folk that you’re not going to like, or that aren’t going to like you, and then the other half will do— or something.

Reb and I may have the kind of relationship that doesn’t do well with too much, er, togetherness. The kind of friends who meet every now and again, enjoying the short blast of the other’s company, but are not terribly invested in the day-to-day of each other’s lives. More than mere acquaintances, but not into the nitty gritty of details and feelings and aspirations. So Reb and I will meet for the occasional film, or book launch, or the equine equivalent, and I’ll renew camaraderie with Delilah, or move laterally to— oh, just wait for it— Tango, which Nikki suggested I do. Tango! A reasonable alternative? I can’t imagine that. And if Reb and I are the sort of happily detached friends, are Tango and I even friends at all?

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