It’s only 43 inches of flexible plastic covered in a polyester weave, but let me tell you something, sistuhs, this long stick has effected an utter transformation.

I think I now understand that Rebel doesn’t recognise a rider without one of these babies. Everything that happened when I had the AMSW is now consistently happening— and paradoxically, I rarely have to even tap him with the thing.

He knows it’s there.

I know it’s there. And my confidence has grown by leaps and bucks [nothing will cure him of that!]

He just goes, now. We transition into the canter properly, that is, without my hands flying around in the air, by giving him the aid correctly, without me leaning forward trying to will him into transitioning. It feels great. We flew around in twenty metre circles yesterday, and I was free to truly look where I was going, free to forget about him, free from worry as to what nonsense he was going to pull next. I was able to think about sitting on my bum, moving him up into my hand. [I think I know what that means, but I can’t articulate it; its meaning floats around the edge of my brain like a name I’m trying to remember.]

My jumping sucked, though. Really shite. But I know why: I was very focused on getting Reb to turn when I wanted him to turn, rather than letting him motorbike it to the fence, and also too concerned about the recent need for me to work on my recovery seat aprés jump. Consequently, I neglected to take the fence into consideration a’tall, and only hit one of them right. So we’ll work on that.

At the end of the lesson, Ruth said: ‘Your groundwork is better.’

Well. I nodded, calm, but I spent the rest of yesterday and a good bit of this morning repeating those words to myself. It’s like a Emmy, the Pulitzer, and an OBE combined. A simple statement of fact, one that I knew— I knew it was better, I knew it, as I was working through the circles and serpentines— but that simple statement of fact, delivered in horsewoman terms and tones, is just totally feckin’ awesome.

My big design job premiered yesterday, and the kudos are coming in, but I am content to play and replay those four words, laconic, direct, and unadorned, over and over again. Not that I wouldn’t hold out my hands to graciously accept the Nobel Prize for Whatever— but today, now, at this moment, no prize or praise could please me more.

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