I thought it would be a good idea to try Rinaldo in a private lesson. Less pressure to keep up with the ride if I couldn’t make him go, with the added benefit [or greater pressure, depending on your point of view] of undivided attention from the instructor.

I went to mount, just about got my foot in the stirrup, and he reared a little, started jigging back with intent, I almost had it, realised in a split second that no way in hell did I have it, and down I went. I saw a flash of hoof over my head, and I hit the sand.

We couldn’t figure out why he did it. I got on, second time lucky.

And off we went, into what was probably the worst performance I’ve ever delivered on the back of a horse. Even worse than my worst early days, which actually weren’t as bad because what could be expected anyway, and Argo, whilst jittery, was never as highly strung as this guy.

I managed to get a reasonable trot, but the cantering was an unmitigated disaster. It felt great, don’t get me wrong, amazing impulsion, when we managed to put together a few paces, but he ignored my half halts, and the downward transitions? Oy.

I got off, and just felt like crap. I couldn’t do anything right, and I was sure I’d reached the limit of my development. I can’t ride Rinaldo. I suck, and I’m never going to get better.

And then, you know, I copped on, and gave the experience some thought. As I processed both outings on this guy, I realised that I wasn’t getting anything from him. I wasn’t getting any feeling of consciousness, of him acknowledging me, of him wanting to engage. I realised that he was a blank. A cipher. Aloof. Distant.

Apart from when he was objecting to my bouncing hands. I can’t blame him for that. They were awful, like I was trying to juggle, or something.

Rebel lets me know I’m there, even if it’s via grumpy little bucks. He’s not trying to get me off, he’s just testing me to see how badly I want to go. It’s a communication, not of the highest order, but an exchange all the same. It’s become something of a game, really, and I don’t take it personally anymore.

Which was the gold I looking for on the dross. For whatever reason, Rinaldo is disinterested, and that’s not interesting to me. I don’t have anything to prove. And that is excellent news.

Unfortunately, my outing on him last Thursday was captured for posterity on videotape. Did I mention that I’m going to be on TV? Stay tuned…

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