The opposite of love is not hate, according to Carl Jung, but the will to power.

I’m not feelin’ the love where Rebel is concerned.

‘Sue, you’re down for Rebel,’ Emma said, and turned to allocate the next horse.

CanIhaveDelilah,’ I muttered, my shoulders— my whole body—drooping.Someone else was down for Delilah, and I made the mistake of telling Emma that Reb and I had a typically difficult experience on Tuesday ; Emma brooks no resistance to reengaging with a challenging mount, and I suppose it’s to the good, as it’s confidence building, and all that… right?

Where does it cross the line, though, into irreparability? Is there room for compromise, for example? The thing is, as soon as the horse in front of Rebel takes off to canter, he stops dead. He will not move. This is where I am instructed to ‘get after him’ and get after him I must. And he starts to buck. And I start to wobble. And somehow, slippery girths notwithstanding, we manage to get going again, but at what cost? We both end up eff’ed off at each other, both of us engaging in a power struggle, and again I wonder: should I be able to ride every horse in the wide world?

We did craft a compromise, and Emma allowed Rebel to go into walk after Michelle and Ruby went off to canter. This worked wonderfully well. When it was our turn, Rebel’d already started picking up his feet, as if to say, ‘Hey, I can do this! Let’s do this!’ and stepped up into the trot, and then further into a couple of lovely canters. So there’s scope for negotiation.

But that’s Emma. Another instructor may not be so magnanimous— in fact, I know of one or two who would not allow that leniency. This is not the way I want to ride. I don’t think I have that much to prove. [Do I?] Given the choice between a power struggle and a graceful withdrawal, I’d just as soon step away, thanks. Nobody wins, at the end of the day.

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