So, I’ve become complacent, I know that. In light of trying not to be lazy, I took Tango for my private lesson.

Big, windy sigh. I can’t begin to know what is really going on with him — you can’t get close enough to get a physical feeling off him. It’s not just that he’s so damn big. It’s that the minute you touch him, he starts to try to eat your face, or knock you around with his ginormous head. Oh, Tango. If you were a date, I’d be boosting myself out the window of the loo after I’d dumped a pint in your lap. Take it easy! Calm down! One thing at time!

He’s in better humour than before he was turned out for those several weeks, pretty much going when you asked for ‘go’, and in the two previous instances, he’d given me the canter without too much fuss. Someone had had him in the Tuesday lesson, two days before, and he wouldn’t give the canter, and I was sitting there thinking, He listens when you tap him on the bum, tap him on the bum!

So when Ruth told me to canter him, and he wouldn’t go, I tapped him on the bum… and he bucked, threw that big head down, and off I went.

I lay there in the dirt, and looked up at him. He gazed off into the middle distance. What are you doing down there? Who, me? Just looking out the half door, me…

I got back up, annoyed, shaky. It’s a long way down, so it is. But I got back up, and got him to canter.

But the argument continued. I was too afraid to use the stick. We came across the C end, and I tickled him again, and he threw down that big head, and I grabbed mane —

And Ruth bellowed from the center of the arena: ‘DO NOT FALL OFF THAT HORSE!’

And, er, I didn’t.

We managed the rest of the lesson, and his canter is totally worth it once it’s gotten, long, loping, powerful strides, direct from those massive hindquarters, like flying, like dancing.

And yet, by the end, I was spooked. We finally slowed to the walk, and I gave him some rein. Not bad, Ruth said, which I felt was awfully kind of her, but my contact isn’t great with him, and I tend to shorten one rein as opposed to the other… I got spooked, and will need to get back up there, work on the contact, work on trusting him.

But I did not fall off that horse. DO NOT FALL OFF THAT HORSE!

I wish had someone to counsel me as vociferously in my non-horsey life:

DO NOT BUY THAT CAKE!

PUT AWAY THAT CREDIT CARD!

DO NOT BOTHER FANCYING THAT GUY!

And it is kind of like life coaching, in a non-touchy-feely kind of way. As I drew Tango to a halt in the middle of the indoor, Ruth said that you can’t not do something because you’re afraid of it, you just have to learn how to do it properly.

I hesitate to confess how much therapy I’ve had, how many self-help books I’ve read… but damn if those aren’t words to live by. Could have saved myself some dosh, I suppose, but hey, better late than never.

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