WHO KNEW? It didn’t look to be an especially exciting hour. Late arrivals and a general feeling of chaos as untried riders joined the lesson, and some n00bs were mounted on unfamiliar horses. We trotted and trotted, and I reckoned, well, a good sweat is a good thing.

I cannot sing the praises of the long stick enough. I’m sure I’ve noted that since wielding it, I paradoxically hardly ever employ it. This seems to be holding true. Rebel gives me the canter at the lightest flick- to be honest, I’m not even convinced I’m touching him- and off we go. On the right rein, he gave an irritated little buck before the transition, I think just to remind me that he’s got opinions, but we flew right into it, and it made me laugh.

And then we were preparing to jump. That was a surprise, but an excellent one. I’m still struggling with my recovery seat, and with making sure that Reb doesn’t go haywire after the landing… because he knows I’m not entirely balanced, and he’s just letting me me know that he knows.

We took a couple in trot, and I worked on A] taking the fence with him, which I failed to do last Thursday and B] keeping him going straight after the fence. The approach is a crapshoot: he’s easy enough to manage until he gets warmed up and keen to go.

The first few fences were fine, and then Tango behaved astonishingly badly, even for him, and Nikki took him out of the class. She changed the jump from crosspoles to straight, and I went large and then into the canter.

The first one was about average for our lessons, anywhere between 40 and 60 cms, I think. It’s impossible to tell from horseback. Everything looks low- until they get higher.

We took that one cleanly, all in a days work.

‘Come again!’ Nikki shouted, and I turned him, picked up the canter, and noted that the pole had gone up. 70, maybe? I’ve done that before. Haven’t I? I kept Reb in the turn as well as I could- his ears were up, he was ready, and bum in the saddle stride-stride-stride-stride-stride bum out of the saddle up and over-

‘Come again!’ And we started to come again, and I looked, as I’m meant to, as I came down the long side of the arena, and I- did I squeak, or something?

‘Don’t look!’ Nikki laughed, and Reb started to cut the corner, and I sat on my bum, shortened the reins, straightened him out, looked up, breathed, and stride-stride-stride-stride and we flew, we flew, up and over, power and speed, over a fence that I swear to God had to have been at least 90cms.

‘YEAH!’ I shouted as we landed, me imperfectly, a bit heavy on his neck, my new bad habit, Rebel only slightly jigging to the right, a canter round to join the rest of the ride in the middle of the arena. For some completely insane reason , I apologised for shouting. What the fuck? I suppose I felt that I had betrayed any trace of burgeoning horsewoman taciturnity by my gleeful bellow.

Fuck it. It was AWESOME. It went so fast, I barely knew it was happening, but it was amazing and I kept my head, but I didn’t even think to be nervous or afraid [I am now, a little] because Rebel was so present, so engaged, so able, I knew he was able, and he wanted to do it, and I trusted him.

I did everything right without thinking about it, I can feel in my body, still, both of us leaving the ground: I am looking ahead, up and ahead, I am beginning to smile, I know it, I must have, and he has collected himself and with less effort that a feather floating in a breeze, we took the fence.

It had to be 90cms, it had to be. I swear it was as high as my hip. Was it? Nikki wouldn’t tell me how high; I am obsessed with measurement, I want to be able to say, ‘Oh, yeah, jumped 90cms last night.’ I was beaming, absolutely beaming, I did everything right without thinking, and reb was there one hundred per cent, and I trusted him, and I want to go again NOW.

[I won’t mention the minor buzzkill around transportation after the lesson, Val may be reading, and sure it could have happened to anyone. :)]

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