THAT WHICH DOESN’T KILL YOU… The wind was blowing again last night, less strenuously, and Rebel was either less bothered by it, or inured. He was shaking his head a lot, still adjusting to his fancy new bridle— it’s always something with this guy— and everything was fine…

I had said to Nikki, before the lesson, that I was certain that my circles were getting worse. We’ve begun fine tuning our actions— hands, legs, seat— and all this new knowledge was, I was certain, resulting in my utter inability to do them right. It’s one thing letting the horse do it himself; another thing entirely to start actively crafting the bend.

So we circled: nice big ones from B to E, round and round, and I don’t know, it feels like a crap shoot with Reb. He was going so well in the trot, not doing his falling in thing, following sharply behind Murdo, and yeah, they were circular circles, not the flat, oval kind, the egg-shaped kind, so that was something. I’m still not really feeling the outside-leg-behind-the-girth business. I know that ideally I’ll be shifting from the hip, not my bum, and maybe I was doing that, but I still feel like I’m lifting myself out of the saddle.

The thing is, though, that I am improving. I can feel it. My leg was not lazy, equally due to my resolution and to the continuing gales. I was quite happily limping into work this morning, having truly given the old shanks a workout. Last night, running for my second bus, I almost fell down, they were so wobbly. Fantastic!

Rebel once again lived up to his name and would not go when we were asked to canter alone. I ‘went after’ him— and this would have been the time to try something I’ve wanted to try. There were only three of us in the lesson. I wonder what would happen if, when he refuses like this, I just sat there? Would he get curious enough to wonder what the heck I was doing, just sitting there? The pressure to go when told to go is enormous, inherent in the work, and not something that I feel I have much choice about. But I wish I had thought of it, then. I’d like to have at least broached the idea…

So, no go, and I was instructed to take him back up, and bring down Delilah, who I brought down, got on, and proceeded to canter in those big twenty metre circles. A warm up trot reminded me of her bounciness, as opposed to Rebel’s smoothness, and of her narrowness, as opposed to Rebel’s comfortable width. But I got up there, and we did it, and Delilah got the Polo mints.

In the car on the lift to the bus, Val and I talked about what a great lesson it was, and this, I believe, speaks to our desire to do this well. Riding around in circles for almost half an hour?

Are we serious?

Yes, we are.

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