THURSDAY, 21 FEBRUARY I was running a little late for my private lesson— ran into some lads I used to work with, in the road by the taxi rank, and got talking.

And then the taximan took completely the wrong way, after having asked me which way I’d like to go, and then utterly disregarding it.

Got there in good time, regardless, time to organise all my clobber for a reverse Houdini at the end of the lesson, get everything on as quickly as possible and start the long walk to the bus. Plaited my hair, got out my money and stuck in my glove, shoved my stick into the half-chap on my right leg. Passed the dudes unloading feed from an enormous truck, and walked up the aisle to Rebel’s stable.

His head did not appear over the door. My thoughts immediately rushed to Kildare.

‘Hey—’ I said— inquired— querously. And there he was, stretched out on the sawdust like a horse-skin rug, flat out, all the scene was missing was a cartoon bubble stuffed full of Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz’s. ‘Hey!’ I said, and Rebel… he got right up. He heard my voice, and he got right up.

Well, I chose to perceive this as a response to my voice. Perhaps any human tone would have had him rushing to stand [there might be food.] I don’t think I’m so delusional that I think he likes me; I don’t think he hates me, either. I think he’s fairly tolerant of humans in general, and knows we’ll never plumb the workings of his mind, a superiority that allows him to look at us little folk fondly. Maybe. So, no, didn’t think he was jumping up for joy that I was there, but I certainly felt recognised, and that feels like something verging on ‘heartwarming’ and ‘cool’.

Right. So, this was practically a scene from a movie, in which the accomplished horsewoman rocks up to the barn to fetch her trusty steed, said steed scrambling to his feet to greet his mistress. Keen to keep the film unspooling, I bustled back to the tack room, taking down Rebel’s bridle, hooking it over my right shoulder, grabbed a numnah, and took down his saddle, draping it over my right arm.

And for about ten minutes— no, it didn’t take that long, did it? Anyway, for a moment in time, I had a horse, and I was tacking him up. I hung the bridle on the nail on the wall outside his stable, I hooked the saddle and numnah over his door, I went in, took off his rug— Reb going immediately for the Polo mints in my pocket— hung the rug over the door, grabbed the bridle, got it on him in no time, hallelujah! And then saddled him up. Ready to go, inner eight-year-old as proud as if she’s just gotten a hundred on a math test.

Except that this was way more fun.

It all went on from there. Having demonstrated, I believe, my ability to at least dress him up properly, Rebel moved for me today. And having demonstrated to myself that I could dress him properly, I was far more confident with him than I have been since the arseful of sand, and while I haven’t completely mastered the thing about smacking him on the bum, I’m getting there.

I did it right, once, and I knew I was doing it right— not least because he was moving forward— and I said, aloud, ‘Ah, right. Ah. Ha.’ So there we go.

Jumped, as well, I love jumping in a private lesson, you just go and go at the fence, no stopping. As I approached the fence for the last round, Ruth and I talked about making progress with him, and I passed some comment about how I’ll know when I’m better at riding him. And her reply was, basically, that no matter how much better I get, that Rebel is so tough mentally, he’ll just come up with some other way to torment me. Great.

Ah, well. Never a dull moment. And floating over that last fence, after a good, strong canter to it, after landing and not falling off even though he cut hard left, after sitting back and having had a good, solid forty minutes, it doesn’t feel as unachievable as it did last week [a lesson so bad, I’ll have to blog about it in future— hoo, boy, the worst yet!]. It feels worth it, and once again, it feels like fun.

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